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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 236, 99-12-07

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: Newsline Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>

RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 3, No. 236, 7 December 1999


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] INVESTIGATION OF ARMENIAN PARLIAMENTARY
  • [02] ...AS PRESIDENT EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER MURDER
  • [03] ARMENIAN POLITICAL PARTIES REJECT CALL FOR
  • [04] GEORGIAN BORDER GUARDS DETAIN MERCENARIES ON
  • [05] INVESTIGATIONS UNCOVER FINANCIAL IRREGULARITIES
  • [06] EXPORT OF AZERBAIJANI OIL VIA GEORGIA RESUMES
  • [07] MILITARY CADETS, ISLAMIC MILITANTS CLASH IN
  • [08] KAZAKH OPPOSITION AGAIN CALLS ON PRESIDENT TO
  • [09] KAZAKHSTAN, CHEVRON FAIL TO REACH AGREEMENT
  • [10] MONGOLIAN PRESIDENT VISITS KYRGYZSTAN
  • [11] TAJIK GOVERNMENT, OPPOSITION REACH AGREEMENT
  • [12] OSCE CRITICIZES PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS IN

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [13] EU OIL TRUCKS REACH NIS
  • [14] EU EXPANDS TRAVEL BAN FOR YUGOSLAV ELITE
  • [15] SERBIAN COMMUNISTS THREATEN MEDIA LAWSUITS
  • [16] MONTENEGRO, SERBIA 'COOPERATE' IN CURRENCY
  • [17] KOSOVA ARCHBISHOP CRITICIZES SERBIAN PATRIARCH
  • [18] ROBERTSON APPEALS FOR MONEY FOR KOSOVA
  • [19] ALBANIAN PRESIDENT CONDEMNS VIOLENCE AGAINST
  • [20] ALBANIAN SOCIALIST LEADER CALLS FOR OPEN
  • [21] NATO CONFISCATES BOSNIAN SERB WEAPONS
  • [22] OSCE SAYS 'SOME' VOTE-RIGGING IN MACEDONIA
  • [23] EIGHT JUDGES JOIN TOP CROATIAN COURT
  • [24] BULGARIAN, ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTERS DISCUSS
  • [25] ROMANIAN RAILWAY STRIKE CONTINUES
  • [26] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT SIGNS LAW ON SECURITATE
  • [27] COUNCIL OF EUROPE CALLS FOR COMPROMISE ON
  • [28] BULGARIA, TURKEY AGREE TO RE-EXAMINE COMMON
  • [29] MULTINATIONAL PEACEKEEPING EXERCISE BEGINS IN

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [30] YABLOKO PLAYS UP CONCRETE ACHIEVEMENTS

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] INVESTIGATION OF ARMENIAN PARLIAMENTARY

    KILLINGS CONTINUES...

    Armenia's Military Prosecutor Gagik

    Jahangirian told journalists in Yerevan on 6 December that

    police continue to gather evidence concerning the shootings on

    27 October of eight senior officials, including the prime

    minister and parliamentary speaker, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau

    reported. Jahangirian said that some 256 people, including 52

    parliamentary deputies and 37 journalists, have been

    questioned about the killings. At least 12 hypotheses

    concerning the motives of the five gunmen are being assessed.

    Jahangirian confirmed media reports that the gunmen have

    implicated some Armenian political groups and politicians, but

    he declined to name them. LF

    [02] ...AS PRESIDENT EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER MURDER

    TRIAL DELAY

    Noyan Tapan on 7 December quoted President

    Robert Kocharian's spokesman, Vahe Gabrielian, as telling

    Armenian state television that Kocharian fears the repeated

    postponements of the trial of former Interior Minister Vano

    Siradeghian may totally undermine public confidence in the

    justice system. Siradeghian is accused of having ordered a

    series of contract killings. Following his refusal to appear in

    court last week, his trial has been adjourned until January (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 December 1999). LF

    [03] ARMENIAN POLITICAL PARTIES REJECT CALL FOR

    PRESIDENT'S RESIGNATION

    Tigran Torosian, deputy

    chairman of the Republican People's Party of Armenia (HHK),

    one of the two members of the majority Miasnutiun faction

    within the Armenian parliament, on 6 December downplayed

    the demand voiced two days earlier for President Robert

    Kocharian's resignation and new presidential elections,

    RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Speaking at a congress in

    Yerevan of the Yerkrapah Union of Veterans of the Karabakh

    war, Minister for Industrial Infrastructure Vahan Shirkhanian had

    argued that Kocharian should resign (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6

    December 1999). Torosian said Shirkhanian was expressing

    only his personal opinion. David Lokian of the Armenian

    Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutiun expressed support for

    Kocharian. And the National Unity Oukht condemned

    Shirkhanian's statement as a call for the ouster of the

    commander-in-chief of the Armenian armed forces and "the

    establishment of a military junta." LF

    [04] GEORGIAN BORDER GUARDS DETAIN MERCENARIES ON

    BORDER WITH CHECHNYA

    Georgian border guards on 6

    December detained 12 men who had attempted to cross from

    Georgian territory into Chechnya, ITAR-TASS reported. The

    men--nine from Turkey and one each from Northern Ireland,

    France, and Jordan--were unarmed but said they had intended

    to fight on the side of the Chechens against Russian forces.

    Also on 6 December, the Georgian State Border Department

    and the Ministry for Refugees and Forced Migrants issued a

    joint statement warning that Georgia will restrict the entry of

    refugees from the Chechen fighting, given that the country is

    hard pressed to provide adequate living conditions for its own

    citizens displaced by the fighting in Abkhaia and South Ossetia,

    according to Caucasus Press. LF

    [05] INVESTIGATIONS UNCOVER FINANCIAL IRREGULARITIES

    IN GEORGIAN DEFENSE, CULTURE MINISTRIES

    Following

    allegations of corruption within the Defense Ministry (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 December 1999), Georgia's Military

    Prosecutor has discovered four instances of unsanctioned

    expenditures totaling 5 million lari (some $2.7 million),

    Caucasus Press reported on 3 December, citing "Rezonansi." All

    four cases involved the purchase of uniforms, fuel, and food for

    the Union for the Support of the Georgian Army, which is

    headed by the brother of Defense Minister David Tevzadze. On

    4 December, Caucasus Press reported that Deputy Minister of

    Culture Razhden Mikaberidze has been charged with

    misappropriating 150,000 lari. LF

    [06] EXPORT OF AZERBAIJANI OIL VIA GEORGIA RESUMES

    Pumping of oil through the Baku-Supsa export pipeline resumed

    on 4 December, Caucasus Press reported, quoting Georgian oil

    official Irakli Kelbakhiani. But according to ITAR-TASS on 6

    December, pumping has not yet reached full capacity. Last

    month, pumping was suspended after torrential rains in

    western Georgia washed away the ground from under a 50

    meter section of the pipeline. On 3 December in Tbilisi,

    Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze met with David

    Woodward, president of the Azerbaijan International Operating

    Company, to discuss the ecological safety of the pipeline. LF

    [07] MILITARY CADETS, ISLAMIC MILITANTS CLASH IN

    SOUTHERN KAZAKHSTAN

    The independent television

    station 31 Kanal reported on 6 December that two Islamic

    militants were shot dead in an exchange of fire on 26

    November with a group of cadets from the Almaty Military

    Academy, RFE/RL's correspondent in the former capital

    reported. The incident occurred at Darbaza, near the Kazakh-

    Kyrgyz border. LF

    [08] KAZAKH OPPOSITION AGAIN CALLS ON PRESIDENT TO

    RESPOND TO FORMER PREMIER'S PROPOSALS

    Leaders of

    the opposition movements and parties aligned in the

    Democratic Forum convened a press conference in Almaty on 6

    December, RFE/RL's Almaty correspondent reported. The

    opposition leaders castigated President Nursultan Nazarbaev

    for failing to respond to former Prime Minister Akezhan

    Kazhegeldin's call for political dialogue and demanded that he

    do so before leaving for the U.S. on 17 December. LF

    [09] KAZAKHSTAN, CHEVRON FAIL TO REACH AGREEMENT

    ON TENGIZCHEVROIL SALE

    Nazarbaev held talks in Almaty

    on 3 December with Richard Matzke, president of Chevron

    Overseas, but the two men failed to agree on terms for the

    sale of part of Kazakhstan's 25 percent stake in the joint

    venture to develop the Tengiz oil field, Interfax reported.

    Chevron is the senior partner in that consortium, with a 45

    percent stake. The proposed sale has generated serious

    disagreements within the Kazakh leadership. LF

    [10] MONGOLIAN PRESIDENT VISITS KYRGYZSTAN

    Visiting

    Bishkek on 4-6 December, Natsagiyn Bagabandi held talks with

    his Kyrgyz counterpart, Askar Akaev, Prime Minister Amangeldi

    Muraliev, and the speakers of both chambers of the Kyrgyz

    parliament, RFE/RL's bureau in the Kyrgyz capital reported. The

    two presidents signed a joint declaration pledging to

    strengthen bilateral relations. Akaev told journalists that the

    two countries espouse similar approaches to democratic and

    economic reform and intend to expand economic ties,

    especially in agriculture, according to Interfax. LF

    [11] TAJIK GOVERNMENT, OPPOSITION REACH AGREEMENT

    ON ELECTION LAW

    Government and opposition

    representatives on the Commission for National Reconciliation

    on 3 December finally reached agreement on the number of

    deputies to be elected to each chamber of the new Tajik

    parliament, Asia Plus-Blitz and RFE/RL's Dushanbe

    correspondent reported. The lower chamber will consist of 63

    deputies and the upper chamber 33 senators. Disagreement

    over the optimum number of deputies was one of several

    issues that delayed approval of the new law, which was to have

    been completed by 20 November (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22

    and 29 November 1999). President Imomali Rakhmonov told

    United Tajik Opposition leader Said Abdullo Nuri on 3 December

    that completion of the draft law was "the most difficult stage"

    in laying the groundwork for free and democratic local elections

    which are scheduled for February 2000, Interfax reported. LF

    [12] OSCE CRITICIZES PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS IN

    UZBEKISTAN

    OSCE official Madeleine Wilkens told journalists

    in Tashkent on 6 December that the Uzbekistan failed to

    guarantee that the parliamentary poll the previous day was

    free, fair, equal, and transparent, Reuters and Interfax reported.

    She added that local authorities interfered in the nomination of

    candidates and that local election commissions were neither

    unbiased nor independent. Central Electoral Commission

    spokesman Sherzod Kudratkhodjaev rejected that criticism,

    however. He pointed out that some local officials failed to win

    election, and he cited observers from Russia and Moldova as

    saying they registered no procedural violations, according to

    ITAR-TASS. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [13] EU OIL TRUCKS REACH NIS

    All 14 trucks carrying EU

    heating oil had arrived in Nis by 7 December after Yugoslav

    customs officials held them up at the Macedonian border for

    almost two weeks (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 December 1999).

    One truck drove directly to the heating plant, but customs

    officials told the rest to proceed to the customs office at the

    airport. It is unclear whether the Serbian authorities have

    ceased efforts to delay the delivery of the oil to opposition-run

    Nis and Pirot municipal heating plants or whether the cat-and-

    mouse game has simply entered a new phase. Nis Mayor Zoran

    Zivkovic added: "This is not a good sign." EU Belgrade

    representative Michael Graham told Reuters: "I'm extremely

    cautious after what happened over the last 13 days." He

    suggested that the Serbian authorities may have allowed the

    trucks to enter the country in order to "cause confusion" at an

    ongoing meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels. PM

    [14] EU EXPANDS TRAVEL BAN FOR YUGOSLAV ELITE

    The EU

    on 6 December expanded its list of Yugoslav citizens banned

    from receiving EU visas from 305 to 688 persons. Several

    individuals on the original list were dropped from the new one.

    Brussels first imposed the visa ban in 1998 as a form of

    embargo directed at Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, his

    family, top government officials, businessmen, media figures,

    and others believed closely tied to the regime. It is widely

    believed in Serbia that the visa ban has proven particularly

    irritating to the elite. PM

    [15] SERBIAN COMMUNISTS THREATEN MEDIA LAWSUITS

    Ivan

    Markovic of the United Yugoslav Left (JUL) said in Belgrade on

    6 December that his party will soon take legal measures

    against unnamed media that "daily insult patriots because they

    refuse to betray their country or serve NATO purposes." JUL is

    headed by Mira Markovic, who is the wife of Milosevic. Serbian

    Deputy Prime Minister Vojislav Seselj's Radical Party recently

    announced that it plans lawsuits against the independent

    dailies "Danas" and "Blic" as well as against Studio B Television.

    Hounding independent media with costly lawsuits has been a

    frequent practice in recent years in Serbia and to a lesser

    extent in Croatia and Bosnia. PM

    [16] MONTENEGRO, SERBIA 'COOPERATE' IN CURRENCY

    CRACKDOWN?

    In a rare display of apparent cooperation

    between the authorities in Belgrade and Podgorica, police in

    Montenegro and Serbia have arrested an unspecified number of

    black-market currency dealers in several municipalities, Reuters

    reported on 6 December. Montenegrin government economist

    Dimitrije Vesovic said, however, that the Montenegrin and

    Serbian authorities acted for different reasons. He denied that

    the arrests were coordinated. Vesovic argued that Belgrade

    wants to shore up the value of the dinar, while Podgorica seeks

    to prevent Montenegro from being flooded with increasingly

    weak dinars. In Serbia, the dinar is officially valued at 6 to 1

    German mark, although the black market rate in recent months

    has been more than double that. Montenegrin Television

    reported on 7 December that the official exchange rate in that

    republic is now 20 to DM 1. PM

    [17] KOSOVA ARCHBISHOP CRITICIZES SERBIAN PATRIARCH

    Serbian Orthodox Archbishop Artemije said in a statement on 6

    December that Patriarch Pavle "turned his back" on the Serbian

    people by attending a reception that Milosevic held on 29

    November to mark the Day of the Republic. Artemije added:

    "After all that Mr. Milosevic did to the Serbian people in the

    past 10 years--and not only to the Serbian people--and after

    the tragedy he created in [Kosova] for both the Albanian and

    the Serbian people...your decision to respond to his call and

    kiss Milosevic's feet...astonished and raised doubts among the

    honorable clergy and the majority of the Christian Orthodox

    people." AP noted that Artemije's letter confirms long-standing

    rumors of a deep political rift within the Orthodox hierarchy.

    Artemije added that the division "no longer can or should be

    hidden. The truth is more important than anything." PM

    [18] ROBERTSON APPEALS FOR MONEY FOR KOSOVA

    NATO

    Secretary-General Lord Robertson said at the UN in New York

    on 6 December that if the international community "makes a

    very small investment [in Kosova] now, it will save a colossal

    amount of money later if it all goes wrong." He stressed that

    "there's a very thin line between success and failure in

    [Kosova], and we're walking that line at the moment," AP

    reported. He concluded that "the problem that we are faced

    with is that a very small investment now could make all the

    difference, but for the lack of it, we are risking a security

    challenge that will cost the international community much

    more." Robertson seeks money for the UN-backed police force

    and the civilian administration (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3

    December 1999). PM

    [19] ALBANIAN PRESIDENT CONDEMNS VIOLENCE AGAINST

    SERBS

    President Rexhep Meidani of Albania said in Bucharest

    on 6 December that recent incidents in which Kosovars

    attacked elderly Serbs should be "condemned." He added,

    however, that "there is a great difference between these

    isolated incidents...and those which were provoked by state

    policy of Milosevic in Kosova against the Albanians," AP

    reported. In Prishtina, OSCE human rights monitor Gerard

    Stoudmann said that the recent OSCE report on violence in

    Kosova suggests that "there are clear hints of degrees of

    organization behind the current violence" against Serbs (see

    "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 7 December 1999). OSCE chief

    representative Daan Everts called for an investigation of the

    possible involvement of the leadership of the former Kosova

    Liberation Army in the violence, Reuters reported. PM

    [20] ALBANIAN SOCIALIST LEADER CALLS FOR OPEN

    BORDERS

    Fatos Nano said in Tirana on 6 December that

    ensuring freedom of movement throughout the region is the

    best way to deflect nationalist calls for establishing a "greater

    Albania." Nano stressed that the solution to the ethnic

    Albanians' problems in the Balkans is not to redraw borders but

    to "make them irrelevant," Reuters reported. Nano said he

    wants to "create new ways of co-existence--first of all among

    [ethnic] Albanians--so that we are seen as emancipated,

    democratic, and a factor for stability in the Balkans...so no one

    will maltreat us as in the past or look down on us." The former

    prime minister added that he is "convinced that Kosova will

    become integrated into Europe faster than Serbia and at the

    same pace as Albania and other Balkan countries, such as

    Macedonia and Bulgaria." Observers note that one of many

    obstacles to promoting Balkan cooperation is the existence of

    tough visa requirements between many of the countries of the

    region. PM

    [21] NATO CONFISCATES BOSNIAN SERB WEAPONS

    SFOR

    peacekeepers seized an unspecified quantity of weapons from

    a Bosnian Serb military storage depot near Zvornik on 6

    December. NATO troops took the weapons to an unnamed

    location, where officials of the Hague-based war crimes tribunal

    will inspect them in conjunction with investigations into the

    1995 Srebrenica massacre. SFOR will return the weapons to

    Zvornik after the inspection. PM

    [22] OSCE SAYS 'SOME' VOTE-RIGGING IN MACEDONIA

    OSCE

    chief election monitor Mark Stevens told Reuters in Skopje on 6

    December that "whilst the [5 December presidential] election

    proceeded smoothly in some polling stations, it is clear that in

    others serious breaches of the law occurred" (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 6 December 1999). He noted that there were some

    improvements to correct the irregularities that took place

    during the 14 November ballot. He added: "However, in other

    polling stations, there was widespread ballot-stuffing and

    multiple voting, resulting in voter turnout figures which in some

    instances appear unrealistic." It is unclear whether the OSCE or

    Macedonian Supreme Court will call for yet another round of

    voting. PM

    [23] EIGHT JUDGES JOIN TOP CROATIAN COURT

    Parliamentary

    speaker Vlatko Pavletic swore in eight individuals as new

    justices of the 11-member Constitutional Court in Zagreb on 6

    December. Critics have charged that the appointments mark an

    attempt by the governing Croatian Democratic Community to

    pack the top legal body with party loyalists, some of whom are

    little known in the legal profession (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22

    October 1999). PM

    [24] BULGARIAN, ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTERS DISCUSS

    COOPERATION

    Romanian Defense Minister Victor Babiuc and

    his visiting Bulgarian counterpart, Georgi Ananiev, agreed on 6

    December that their countries will form a political-military

    working group, according to a BTA report, cited by the BBC.

    The ministers said the working group will help facilitate the

    implementation of the Balkan Stability Pact. Babiuc and

    Ananiev also agreed to establish a system for the regular

    exchange of planning and defense information. VG

    [25] ROMANIAN RAILWAY STRIKE CONTINUES

    After three

    hours of talks on 6 December, striking railway workers failed to

    find common ground with railway management on ending a

    strike, Rompres reported. The action began on 6 December

    after unions rejected an offer of a 20 percent wage increase

    from Transportation Minister Traian Basescu (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 6 December 1999). Basescu has reportedly ordered

    the Romanian Airlines Tarom to provide air transport to railway

    travelers, saying the company would receive compensation

    from the state that was originally earmarked for the railways,

    according to Hungarian Radio. VG

    [26] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT SIGNS LAW ON SECURITATE

    FILES

    Emil Constantinescu on 6 December signed a law on

    public access to the files of the former communist Securitate.

    The law was passed by the parliament in October (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 21 October 1999). In other news, a tribunal in

    Bucharest has approved the registration of the Party of

    National Reconciliation. Paul of Romania, the nephew of former

    Romanian King Carol II, had applied to register that group,

    Rompres reported on 6 December. VG

    [27] COUNCIL OF EUROPE CALLS FOR COMPROMISE ON

    MOLDOVAN CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES

    The president of

    the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, Lord Russell-

    Johnston, has called on the Moldovan president and parliament

    to establish a special commission to resolve their dispute over

    changes to the constitution, BASA-Press reported on 6

    December. Johnston, who was visiting Moldova, said the

    dispute should be resolved as quickly as possible because it

    could threaten democracy and have "terrible economic

    consequences." President Petru Lucinschi is pushing for

    constitutional changes that would give the president greater

    powers, while a group of parliamentary deputies have launched

    a separate initiative for a strong legislature. VG

    [28] BULGARIA, TURKEY AGREE TO RE-EXAMINE COMMON

    HISTORY

    Bulgarian Education Minister Veselin Metodiev and

    his visiting Turkish counterpart, Metin Bostancioglu, agreed on

    6 December to form a joint Bulgarian-Turkish education

    committee for reviewing history text books in both countries,

    BTA reported. Historians from both countries will exchange

    opinions on the textbooks used in Bulgarian and Turkish

    schools. Bulgarian academics are expected to complete an

    analysis of Turkish texts on the history of the Ottoman Empire

    by January 2000. The joint committee will then consider the

    views of the expert groups in both countries. Bostancioglu

    stressed that two countries have many things in common,

    adding "nobody is going to obliterate anybody else's history."

    VG

    [29] MULTINATIONAL PEACEKEEPING EXERCISE BEGINS IN

    BULGARIA

    The Multinational Peace Force of Southeastern

    Europe on 6 December began a peacekeeping exercise in

    Plovdiv, BTA reported. The exercise involves military

    representatives from Greece, Italy, Macedonia, Romania,

    Turkey, and Bulgaria as well as observers from the U.S. and

    Slovenia. The agency noted that representatives from Albania,

    who are also supposed to take part in the exercise, were not

    present for the opening. VG


    [C] END NOTE

    [30] YABLOKO PLAYS UP CONCRETE ACHIEVEMENTS

    By Laura Belin

    Perhaps the biggest problem facing Yabloko leader Grigorii

    Yavlinskii is his image as a talker who is unable or unwilling to

    take responsibility for running the country.

    During a heated live television debate on 25 November,

    former Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais repeatedly invoked that

    image. "You cannot imagine how I envy you," Chubais taunted

    the Yabloko leader at one point. He said Yavlinskii stood on the

    sidelines for years, criticizing those in power but never shaping

    his own policy. Chubais also talked of Yavlinskii's rejection of

    several offers of high government posts, painting a picture of a

    party that is all talk and no action.

    During the last week, Yabloko has begun to air television

    commercials that seek to dispel that image. The new ads,

    which appear regularly during both free and paid air time,

    emphasize that candidates on the Yabloko ticket have solid

    policy achievements and are ready to put their plans into

    action.

    One commercial alludes to the benefits of the law on

    production-sharing agreements, which is designed to attract

    foreign investment in projects to extract natural resources. The

    Yabloko faction drafted that law and worked hard to secure its

    passage. But the campaign ad does not mention "production-

    sharing agreements," a term that would be unfamiliar to most

    Russians, nor does it make any reference to foreign

    investment.

    Instead, it shows Yavlinskii talking with a group of voters.

    One man asks, "Grigorii Alekseevich, will we live better than we

    do now?" Yavlinskii replies, "In our country we have everything

    we need in order to live better. On 30 July the Sakhalin-2 [oil

    well] project started to operate. That provided jobs for 2,500

    people. Two schools and a hospital have been built. Those

    people have already begun to live better, thanks to just one of

    Yabloko's laws. We have many laws like that. Everything we've

    thought up will work." At the end of the commercial, a voice-

    over says, "Yabloko--for a decent life."

    A similar commercial shows an elderly man asking, "When

    will you start to think about pensions?" Yavlinskii replies that

    thanks to Aleksei Arbatov, deputy chairman of the State Duma

    Defense Committee, the parliament passed a law to increase

    pension payments to veterans. But the current authorities are

    not implementing that law, Yavlinskii noted. "That's why we

    need to be in power...so that our laws can start to work, so

    that we can prove that there is money in the country, and it's

    possible to give it to the people. So that we can manage to

    help you."

    Yet another new commercial shows a woman asking,

    "Grigorii Alekseevich, when will things get better?" Yavlinskii

    replies that if his party gets into power, they will reduce

    expenditures on the presidential administration in the very first

    month, which will free up money for health expenditures,

    student stipends, and soldiers' pay. Yavlinskii also promises

    that Yabloko would strengthen the state and borders and

    would not allow stolen money to be spirited abroad. "Paradise

    won't arrive right away," he concludes. "But every day we will

    try to achieve stability and calm, and it will be better."

    Three other new advertisements feature former Prime

    Minister Sergei Stepashin, the number two candidate on

    Yabloko's party list. One shows Stepashin speaking to the

    camera: "The time has come when decent and honest people

    should be together." It concludes with a voice-over: "Honesty

    in the organs of power, order in the country. Yabloko."

    The other two new commercials end with the same slogan

    but include more information about Stepashin's

    accomplishments during his brief stint as prime minister this

    past summer. An interviewer asks, "Sergei Vadimovich, you

    were prime minister for three months. Was it possible to

    achieve anything in that time?"

    Stepashin replies, "It was possible, and we managed to do

    it. We paid salaries on time. We fully settled pension arrears,

    and the defense industry commission was created. The war

    waged by NATO and the US against Yugoslavia, as well as

    what's happening today in Chechnya and Dagestan, allow us to

    draw one conclusion: our country will be respected when it is

    strong. I think that reviving the military-industrial complex is

    one of the main tasks facing the country today."

    In another commercial, the interviewer asks Stepashin

    when order will be restored in the country. Stepashin answers

    that it will happen only when "professionals" are in power."

    Criminals have not yet been destroyed," he says. "They are

    straining to get into power, and our task is to get in their way.

    Because 'order' is not just a calling. Order and law are

    professions."

    In the last parliamentary elections, in 1995, Yabloko

    received just under 7 percent of the vote. The new

    commercials suggest that the party's leaders are using their

    campaign resources to directly confront their weak points and

    aim for a larger share on 19 December.

    The author is a Ph.D. student at the University of Oxford. She

    is currently in Moscow compiling the "RFE/RL Russian Election

    Report."

    07-12-99


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


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