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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 245, 99-12-20

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. 245, 20 December 1999


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN PREMIER, REPUBLICAN PARTY DENY SEEKING TO OUST
  • [02] RUSSIAN AIRCRAFT AGAIN TARGET NORTHERN GEORGIA
  • [03] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT SAYS STALIN SHOULD BE REBURIED IN GEORGIA
  • [04] RUSSIA TO RESUME SUPPLYING GEORGIA WITH GAS
  • [05] NEW TAJIK PRIME MINISTER APPOINTED
  • [06] TAJIKISTAN HOSTS MEETING ON REGIONAL ECONOMIC COOPERATION
  • [07] TURKMENISTAN, RUSSIA REACH AGREEMENT ON GAS SALES

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [08] SFOR NABS BOSNIAN SERB COMMANDER
  • [09] CROATIAN INTELLIGENCE SERVICE REJECTS SFOR CHARGES
  • [10] EU, U.S. WANT SERBIAN OPPOSITION TO HAVE JOINT PLAN
  • [11] SERBIAN OPPOSITION ENDS PROTEST RALLIES
  • [12] MORE PUNISHMENTS FOR INDEPENDENT SERBIAN MEDIA
  • [13] MILOSEVIC'S PARTY EXPELS TWO CRITICS
  • [14] MOMO'S BIG WEEKEND
  • [15] PODGORICA, MILITARY AGREE ON INFORMATION EXCHANGE
  • [16] HELICOPTERS OVER PRISHTINA
  • [17] ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT LINE-UP SHOWS FEW CHANGES
  • [18] ROMANIAN CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS ENDS
  • [19] ROMANIAN MAIN OPPOSITION PARTY SEALS PACT WITH TRANSYLVANIA
  • [20] FORMER ROMANIAN KING CRITICIZES 'POLITICAL CLASS'
  • [21] MOLDOVAN PRESIDENTIAL AIDES DENY VENICE COMMISSION OPPOSED TO
  • [22] BULGARIAN PREMIER WANTS CONSTITUTION REVISED...
  • [23] ...WILL RESHUFFLE CABINET
  • [24] BULGARIAN OLYMPIC COMMITTEE CHIEF FINED

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [25] THE END OF THE 'NATIONALITY QUESTION'

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN PREMIER, REPUBLICAN PARTY DENY SEEKING TO OUST

    PRESIDENT

    Aram Sargsian told journalists on 18 December that his

    differences with President Robert Kocharian have been

    exaggerated, and that he is not pushing for Kocharian's

    resignation, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. He also rejected

    media speculation that the 15 December detention of former

    presidential aide Aleksan Harutiunian was politically motivated

    (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 December 1999). Sargsian argued that

    even if evidence is found linking Harutiunian to the 27 October

    Armenian parliament shootings, it would not necessarily mean

    Kocharian too was involved. Also on 18 December, Andranik

    Markarian, chairman of the Republican Party, one of the two

    members of the ruling Miasnutiun coalition, affirmed that party's

    support for Kocharian provided that he continues to implement his

    pre-election program. On 17 December Kocharian met with

    representatives of the People's Party, Miasnutiun's other member,

    to seek their support in ending political tensions. LF

    [02] RUSSIAN AIRCRAFT AGAIN TARGET NORTHERN GEORGIA

    Combat aircraft

    entered Georgian airspace on 18 December and dropped bombs near

    the village of Shatiliti, close to Georgia's frontier with

    Chechnya, Caucasus Press reported. No damage or injuries were

    reported. It is the third such incident in recent months (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 August and 18 November 1999). LF

    [03] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT SAYS STALIN SHOULD BE REBURIED IN GEORGIA

    On

    20 December, Eduard Shevardnadze in his traditional Monday radio

    broadcast characterized Joseph Stalin as "a unique phenomenon"

    whose historical significance is "difficult to overestimate,"

    Caucasus Press reported. Shevardnadze noted Stalin's contribution

    to the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II, but also added

    that the "Stalin phenomenon" demonstrates "the advantages of

    democracy over totalitarianism." Shevardnadze said he thinks that

    all prominent Georgian leaders buried outside Georgia should be

    reinterred in Georgian soil. He mentioned specifically Stalin,

    who is buried in the Kremlin wall, Noe Zhordania, President of

    the Georgian Democratic Republic, whose grave is in France, and

    Zviad Gamsakhurdia, who is buried in Grozny. LF

    [04] RUSSIA TO RESUME SUPPLYING GEORGIA WITH GAS

    Gazprom and ITERA

    representatives agreed during talks in Tbilisi on 17 December

    with Georgia's Minister of State Vazha Lortkipanidze to resume

    normal gas supplies to Georgia for a period of three months,

    until March 2000, ITAR-TASS reported. Supplies were halved on 3

    December because of Georgia's failure to pay for previous

    deliveries. Georgia's $60 million debt to ITERA must be paid in

    full by May 2000. LF

    [05] NEW TAJIK PRIME MINISTER APPOINTED

    Tajikistan's President

    Imomali Rakhmonov on 20 December appointed Akil Akilov as

    Tajikistan's new premier, dpa and Reuters reported. Akilov, who

    is 55, graduated from a Moscow Construction Institute and from

    1976-1992 served as a Communist Party functionary. In 1993 he was

    appointed Construction Minister, from 1994-1996 he served as

    deputy prime minister, and since June 1996 he has been deputy

    governor of Leninabad Oblast, according to Asia Plus-Blitz. In a

    press statement after his appointment, Akilov endorsed

    Rakhmonov's policies. LF

    [06] TAJIKISTAN HOSTS MEETING ON REGIONAL ECONOMIC COOPERATION

    Addressing the prime ministers of the Central Asian Economic

    Union member states (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and

    Uzbekistan) in Dushanbe on 17 December, President Rakhmonov

    expressed his regret that regional economic integration is

    proceeding only slowly, Asia Plus-Blitz reported. The premiers

    discussed, and created a working group to address, the problem of

    joint recycling of nuclear waste, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau

    reported quoting Premier Amangeldi Muraliev. The previous day,

    Rakhmonov had met separately with Kazakhstan's Prime Minister

    Qasymzhomart Toqaev to discuss various joint economic projects,

    including extraction of mineral resources and bauxite. Also on 16

    December, Toqaev and his Tajik counterpart Yahyo Azimov signed

    two agreements on military cooperation and several bilateral

    economic agreements, including one on the mutual convertibility

    of the two countries' currencies. LF

    [07] TURKMENISTAN, RUSSIA REACH AGREEMENT ON GAS SALES

    After a two-

    year hiatus, Gazprom head Rem Vyakhirev and Turkmen President

    Saparmurat Niyazov reached agreement during talks in Ashgabat on

    17 December on a resumption of Turkmen natural gas sales to

    Russia, Russian agencies reported. The agreement is for Russia to

    purchase 20 billion cubic meters of gas at a price of $36 per

    1,000 cubic meters. Forty percent of that sum will be paid in

    cash and the remainder in food and consumer goods, according to

    AP. Niyazov had initially demanded $42 per 1,000 cubic meters.

    Vyakhirev and Niyazov had twice failed to reach agreement on a

    price for Turkmen gas, in August 1997 and January 1998, (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 August 1997 and 15 January 1998). Interfax

    reported that Niyazov also invited Gazprom to participate in

    construction of the planned Trans-Caspian gas pipeline via

    Azerbaijan and Georgia to Turkey. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [08] SFOR NABS BOSNIAN SERB COMMANDER

    On 20 December, NATO

    peacekeepers in Banja Luka arrested Stanislav Galic, who was a

    commander of the Bosnian Serb corps that besieged Sarajevo from

    1992 to 1995. SFOR troops blocked his car, broke a window to drag

    him out, and wrestled him to the ground before taking him away,

    AP reported. Since the war, Galic has been an adviser to hard-

    line leader Nikola Poplasen. PM

    [09] CROATIAN INTELLIGENCE SERVICE REJECTS SFOR CHARGES

    On 17

    December, SFOR deputy commander General Charles-Henri de Monchy

    said that the Croatian intelligence HIS has tried to subvert his

    forces by conducting espionage operations in Bosnia and by

    recruiting SFOR interpreters as informants (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 11 November 1999). Two days later, HIS issued a

    statement in Zagreb in which it denied the charges. The statement

    stressed that Croatia actively cooperates with NATO. HIS

    suggested that unnamed persons have "manipulated SFOR for

    political purposes," Reuters reported. Milan Kovac, who is a

    candidate for the governing Croatian Democratic Community in the

    upcoming parliamentary elections, made a similar statement. In

    Mostar, Ivica Primorac, who heads the Herzegovinian Croat

    intelligence service (SNS), denied that his organization has a

    formal cooperation agreement with HIS, RFE/RL's South Slavic

    Service reported. The SFOR general told "Jutarnji list" of 20

    December that he stands by his charges. He stressed that he

    blames HIS and not the Croatian government. PM

    [10] EU, U.S. WANT SERBIAN OPPOSITION TO HAVE JOINT PLAN

    Dragoslav

    Avramovic, who is former head of the National Bank and the man

    most often tipped to head an opposition-led government, said in

    Belgrade on 19 December that the EU and U.S. have given the

    fragmented opposition a two-month deadline to work out a joint

    strategy to end the rule of Yugoslav President Slobodan

    Milosevic. Avramovic added that he does not "know exactly why two

    months, but that was clearly stressed," AP reported. German

    Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer presented the demand to "define

    a program for joint political action" to opposition leaders at a

    meeting with G-8 foreign ministers in Berlin on 17 December. The

    ministers pledged humanitarian aid for opposition-run

    municipalities and unspecified aid for Montenegro. They turned

    down a request by opposition leaders to lift sanctions on Serbia.

    The opposition politicians stressed that the sanctions hurt

    ordinary people. The G-8 ministers said that sanctions will go

    only after free elections, "Danas" reported. PM

    [11] SERBIAN OPPOSITION ENDS PROTEST RALLIES

    Nearly three months

    after the rallies began, leaders of the opposition coalition

    Alliance for Change held the last of their daily protest rallies

    in Belgrade on 18 December. Avramovic told a crowd of about 400

    people that he personally wanted to continue holding the

    meetings, but that the majority of Alliance leaders voted to end

    them, at least temporarily. The BBC reported that the decision to

    stop the rallies is a tacit admission by the opposition of defeat

    in their attempt to force Milosevic from office through popular

    protests. Most Belgrade residents remained apathetic or were

    preoccupied with making ends meet, Reuters added. PM

    [12] MORE PUNISHMENTS FOR INDEPENDENT SERBIAN MEDIA

    Officials of the

    independent ABC Grafika printing company said in Belgrade on 18

    December that tax office officials confiscated large amounts of

    Grafika's electronic equipment in lieu of non-payment of punitive

    fines. The authorities also took equipment from Grafika on 11

    December as well. The government had fined the printer for

    printing the bulletin of the Alliance for Change (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 18 October 1999). The government of Serbia--and to a

    lesser extent those of Croatia and Bosnia--have often used

    financial pressures to bankrupt or close down independent media.

    PM

    [13] MILOSEVIC'S PARTY EXPELS TWO CRITICS

    RFE/RL's South Slavic

    Service reported on 17 December that Milosevic's Socialist Party

    of Serbia (SPS) has expelled Slobodan Jovanovic, who is a former

    director of Tanjug and high SPS official. He recently said that

    the SPS's coalition partner--namely the United Yugoslav Left

    (JUL) of Mira Markovic, who is also Milosevic's wife--was created

    "to satisfy her ambitions." He called JUL a "center for war

    profiteers" and lamented that "the fate of the entire nation

    depends on one marriage." The SPS also expelled veteran member

    Radovan-Raka Radovic for having criticized the government of

    Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Marjanovic. PM

    [14] MOMO'S BIG WEEKEND

    Montenegrin Interior Minister Vukasin Maras

    said in Podgorica on 19 December that Yugoslav Prime Minister

    Momir Bulatovic, who is Montenegro's leading pro-Milosevic

    politician, "is preparing a scenario...to heighten tensions and

    provoke a civil war in Montenegro." Maras added that Bulatovic is

    preparing violence for 13-14 January to mark the second

    anniversary of the inauguration of his rival, Milo Djukanovic, as

    president, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. In Tivat,

    Bulatovic warned that Montenegro will lose some of its territory

    if it declares independence. He was presumably referring to the

    highland areas where pro-Serbian sympathy is strong. Elsewhere,

    he said in an interview that he is "proud" to be on the EU's list

    of persons denied entry visas. Bulatovic stressed that his

    presence on the list shows that he is a patriot and not one to

    "say that America is right," AP reported. On 17 December, the

    state prosecutor's office filed charges against Bulatovic for

    defaming the elected authorities. Bulatovic had publicly stated

    that the U.S. has "bought the president of Montenegro and the

    government." PM

    [15] PODGORICA, MILITARY AGREE ON INFORMATION EXCHANGE

    Officials of

    the Montenegrin police and federal military agreed in Podgorica

    on 17 December to improve cooperation and the exchange of

    information between them in order to reduce tensions in the

    mountainous republic (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 December 1999).

    The meeting came at the initiative of the Montenegrin Interior

    Ministry, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

    [16] HELICOPTERS OVER PRISHTINA

    NATO helicopters flew over the

    Kosovar capital after dark on 18 December to deter thieves and

    kidnappers. There is a growing concern for security in Prishtina

    in the face of the increasing boldness of gangs, many of which

    are from Albania and have connections to criminals in Western

    Europe. In Rahovec on 17 December, one Serb was killed and

    several injured when unknown persons hurled a grenade into a cafe

    and sprayed it with gunfire. PM

    [17] ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT LINE-UP SHOWS FEW CHANGES

    Mugur Isarescu on

    19 December presented in a statement released to the press his

    cabinet's composition and its program, RFE/RL's Bucharest Bureau

    reported. The main changes in the government are the setting up

    of an Economic-Financial Coordination Council headed by National

    Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD) member Mircea Ciumara.

    Ciumara will have the rank of deputy premier, as will three other

    ministers: Petre Roman, who replaces Andrei Plesu as Foreign

    Minister, Justice Minister Valeriu Stoica and Health Minister

    Hajdu Gabor. Together with Isarescu, the four deputy premiers

    will make up the government's Executive Bureau. Another novelty

    is the presence of a woman in the cabinet: Smaranda Dobrescu

    replaces Alexandru Athanasiu as Labor and Social Protection

    Minister. Athanasiu, who has recently been elected chairman of

    the Social Democratic Party, withdrew from the government

    voluntarily. MS

    [18] ROMANIAN CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS ENDS

    Radu Vasile on 17

    December tendered his resignation as Prime Minister, ending

    the country's constitutional crisis, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau

    reported. The move was preceded by a decision by the

    leadership of his PNTCD to lift "all punishments" handed down

    when he refused to resign. The PNTCD also announced it

    "accepts" a proposal of the Democratic Party that Vasile, who

    is once more PNTCD secretary-general, also take over the

    Senate chairmanship vacated by Roman. A public opinion poll

    conducted by the ISOMAR institute on 17 December revealed that

    55 percent back Vasile's dismissal as premier and 45 percent

    oppose it. Opposition leaders are ahead in preferences for the

    2000 presidential race: Party of Social Democracy in Romania

    leader Ion Iliescu is backed by 48 percent, followed by

    Alliance for Romania chairman Teodor Melescanu, supported by

    21 percent. Incumbent President Emil Constantinescu is third,

    with 16 percent backing. MS

    [19] ROMANIAN MAIN OPPOSITION PARTY SEALS PACT WITH TRANSYLVANIA

    NATIONALISTS

    Iliescu and Zeno Opris, executive chairman of

    the nationalist cultural organization Vatra romaneasca

    (Romanian Cradle) on 19 December finalized an electoral pact

    agreed on in July (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 August 1999)

    whereby the Vatra will support the PDSR's election campaign

    and its leaders will be candidates on the PDSR lists in the

    2000 parliamentary elections. Party of Romanian National Unity

    (PUNR) leader Valeriu Tabara turned down an offer to associate

    his formation to the agreement, on grounds that Vatra's

    statutes prevent it from political involvement. Vatra has long

    been considered by observers to be the PUNR's "political arm"

    and its desertion to the PDSR reflects the PUNR's loss of

    electoral support, as a result of repeated leadership crises

    and splits in the party. MS

    [20] FORMER ROMANIAN KING CRITICIZES 'POLITICAL CLASS'

    Former King

    Michael on 19 December told journalists in Bucharest that the

    country's post-communist constitution has not been properly

    designed and that the "political class" is "wasting its time with

    personal skirmishes" and is not supported by a properly-devised

    constitutional framework. Michael said he is not criticizing any

    political party in particular because his "position" calls for

    being above politics, and that his designated successor, Princess

    Margareta, has been educated in the same spirit. He said the

    monarchy has been "a source of pride for national history" and he

    cannot comprehend why some insult it and others chose to ignore

    its existence. Michael said he "has time to wait for an answer"

    to these questions and "when I shall no longer be around, my

    heirs will wait for it." MS

    [21] MOLDOVAN PRESIDENTIAL AIDES DENY VENICE COMMISSION OPPOSED TO

    PRESIDENTIAL SYSTEM

    Anatol Plugaru, a member of the

    constitutional commission charged by President Petru Lucinschi

    with drafting the constitutional amendments on introducing a

    presidential system, on 17 December denied that the European

    Commission's team of experts known as the Venice Commission

    has criticized the project. He said parliamentary deputy

    Vladimir Slonari has only expressed "his own personal opinion"

    on the commission's views, which have not been finalized yet

    (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 December 1999). Presidential staff

    chief Mihai Petrache said the commission is still working on a

    "preliminary report" and that "negotiations" are underway

    between the presidential staff and the experts. MS

    [22] BULGARIAN PREMIER WANTS CONSTITUTION REVISED...

    Prime Minister

    Ivan Kostov on 19 December said Bulgaria must amend its

    constitution to conform with EU standards, AP reported. He

    said changes will include lifting the ban on land ownership by

    foreigners, increasing the fiscal independence of local

    government and reducing the immunity from prosecution of

    parliamentary deputies Iin order to render the struggle

    against corruption more effective. Kostov called for a cross-

    party consensus on the amendments, which require the approval

    of 180 of the 240 parliamentarians. His own center-right

    coalition has 137 seats in the parliament. MS

    [23] ...WILL RESHUFFLE CABINET

    On 17 December Kostov told journalists

    that they can expect "serious and profound government changes"

    that will be announced on 21 December, BTA reported. He said the

    reshuffle is aimed at improving the cabinet's performance towards

    accession talks with the EU, streamlining public administration

    and improving economic performance. He said the number of

    ministries will be cut, and several will be merged into a "strong

    Economy Ministry." He also said there will be a "separation"

    between party positions in the ruling Union of Democratic Forces

    and government positions. On 18 December opposition Socialist

    Party leader Georgi Parvanov said his party wants the cabinet to

    resign and be replaced by a coalition government. MS

    [24] BULGARIAN OLYMPIC COMMITTEE CHIEF FINED

    A Sofia court of justice

    on 17 December fined Ivan Slavkov, head of the Bulgarian Olympic

    Committee and son-in-law of late communist dictator Todor

    Zhivkov, 1,000 leva ($500) for the illegal possession of two

    revolvers and three rifles, AP reported. Slavkov claims that the

    trial was politically motivated and that he will appeal the

    sentence. In other news, Balkan News Corporation, which is

    financed by media tycoon Rupert Mudroch, has been chosen from

    among seven bidders for the privatization of Efir 2, one of

    Bulgaria's television channels. The government must yet approve

    the decision of its commission that decided on the bids. MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [25] THE END OF THE 'NATIONALITY QUESTION'

    By Paul Goble

    On 17 December 1986, a clash between demonstrators and the

    militia in Alma-Ata, capital of the then Kazakh Soviet Socialist

    Republic, put an end to the Soviet "nationality question" as it

    had been traditionally understood and pointed toward the eventual

    demise of the Soviet empire.

    Until that date, Soviet leaders had proudly claimed that

    they had "solved" the "nationality question," and most in the

    West assumed that ethnic problems in the USSR were simply a human

    rights issue. But after the Alma-Ata demonstrations, both Moscow

    and the West recognized that what each had viewed as a minor

    concern had become one of the central issues of Soviet life.

    The events in Kazakhstan on that day were dramatic enough.

    Thousands of Kazakhs poured into the streets of Alma-Ata and

    other cities in Kazakhstan to protest the unilateral decision by

    Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to name Gennadii Kolbin, an

    ethnic Russian, as party chief in place of Dinmukhamed Kunaev, an

    ethnic Kazakh.

    Until that time, Russians and non-Russians alike had

    accepted such decisions without protest. But over the previous

    generation, both had come to accept the principle that the party

    leader of a union republic should be a member of the titular

    nationality, even if real power remained in Moscow and in the

    hands of an ethnic Russian second secretary on the scene.

    In the name of fighting an entrenched, corrupt and deeply

    conservative bureaucracy, Gorbachev violated that rule, arguing

    that only an outsider could clean up the mess that Kunaev had

    created. But faced with massive public opposition to what he had

    done, the Soviet leader displayed three qualities which

    ineluctably led to the end of the USSR.

    First, by his actions from the beginning and by the way he

    discussed this event, Gorbachev demonstrated to all that he had

    little understanding of the importance of ethnic ties for

    increasingly more Soviet citizens, or any willingness to take

    these attachments into consideration as he elaborated his new

    policies.

    Second, Gorbachev refused to sanction the kind of massive

    crackdown that might have intimidated the Kazakhs and others.

    Faced with several hundred dead on the first days of the clashes

    between Kazakhs and the militia, he refused to order the kind of

    repression that had been second nature to those who came before

    him.

    And third, Gorbachev immediately undercut his own claims

    that he could not find a reliable Kazakh by naming an ethnic

    Kazakh as Kolbin's second secretary. In doing so, Gorbachev

    unintentionally encouraged resistance to his own policies,

    particularly among non-Russian elites who felt that he was a

    clear threat to their interests.

    Within a remarkably short time, people in the other 11

    Soviet republics and three occupied Baltic states began to act on

    the lessons of Alma-Ata. Party and Soviet leaders in all those

    regions understood that they could build up their own power

    relative to Moscow by playing on the growing nationalism of their

    own populations.

    And the non-Russian populations themselves recognised that

    for the first time, they could act against the Soviet system with

    relative impunity and that such actions on their part could in

    fact gain them the concessions that they sought.

    In some republics, the party elite took the lead; in others,

    such as Armenia, the people; and elsewhere, the two combined. But

    in every case, the result was the same: a heightened sense of

    nationalism, on the one hand, and a recognition that Moscow was

    no longer all powerful or even willing to take the actions

    necessary to stop them, on the other.

    Within five years of the Alma-Ata clashes, the Soviet Union

    no longer existed, testimony of the remarkable power of the

    previously powerless who gain the courage to act in defense of

    their interests, and the impotence of the powerful when they are

    unwilling or unable to act in defense of theirs.

    20-12-99


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


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