Browse through our Interesting Nodes for Financial Services in Greece A)? GHT="50">
Compact version
Today's Suggestion
Read The "Macedonian Question" (by Maria Nystazopoulou-Pelekidou)
HomeAbout HR-NetNewsWeb SitesDocumentsOnline HelpUsage InformationContact us
Saturday, 10 April 2021
 
News
  Latest News (All)
     From Greece
     From Cyprus
     From Europe
     From Balkans
     From Turkey
     From USA
  Announcements
  World Press
  News Archives
Web Sites
  Hosted
  Mirrored
  Interesting Nodes
Documents
  Special Topics
  Treaties, Conventions
  Constitutions
  U.S. Agencies
  Cyprus Problem
  Other
Services
  Personal NewsPaper
  Greek Fonts
  Tools
  F.A.Q.
 

RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 246, 99-12-21

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. 246, 21 December 1999


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] FORMER ARMENIAN PRESIDENTIAL AIDE CHARGED IN PARLIAMENT
  • [02] KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT IN U.S.
  • [03] KAZAKHSTAN, U.S. DISCUSS DEFENSE COOPERATION
  • [04] RUSSIAN OFFICIAL REQUESTS ACCESS TO 'SEPARATISTS' DETAINED IN
  • [05] KYRGYZ SUPREME COURT OVERRULES ELECTION BAN RULING

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [06] HAGUE COURT HAILS ARREST OF BOSNIAN SERB GENERAL...
  • [07] ...WHILE SERBS PROTEST...
  • [08] ...AND HOLBROOKE RAISES QUESTIONS
  • [09] U.S. PULLS PLUG ON BOSNIAN PRIVATIZATION
  • [10] FOUR LEGAL HOLIDAYS IN BOSNIA
  • [11] SNOW CONTINUES TO PARALYZE BOSNIA
  • [12] UN POLICE ARREST ALBANIANS
  • [13] ROW OVER MITROVICA HOSPITAL
  • [14] UNMIK, ALCATEL FINALIZE MOBILE PHONE DEAL
  • [15] BELGRADE CONTINUES DIVERSION CAMPAIGN...
  • [16] ...AND FIRES JUDGES
  • [17] SWISS BLOCK SERBIAN ASSETS
  • [18] CROATIA TO ELECT PRESIDENT ON 24 JANUARY
  • [19] CROATIAN COMMISSION: PAVLETIC NOT BUGGED
  • [20] SPLIT: OPPOSITION IN NO HURRY FOR TUDJMAN
  • [21] ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT MARKS REVOLUTION ANNIVERSARY
  • [22] ROMANIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RULES AGAINST OPPOSITION APPEAL
  • [23] ANOTHER POLL PUTS OPPOSITION FAR AHEAD IN ROMANIA
  • [24] MOLDOVAN PREMIER-DESIGNATE ON GOVERNMENT PROGRAM
  • [25] MOLDOVAN CAPITAL RISKS COLD, DARKNESS OVER NEW YEAR
  • [26] TRANSDNIESTER SEPARATISTS ASK FOR OBSERVER STATUS IN RUSSIA-
  • [27] BULGARIAN CABINET DRASTICALLY RESHUFFLED

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [28] AN 'EPOCH-MAKING' TREATY FOR HALF A YEAR?

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] FORMER ARMENIAN PRESIDENTIAL AIDE CHARGED IN PARLIAMENT

    SHOOTINGS

    Aleksan Harutiunian, who resigned last week as

    President Robert Kocharian's foreign policy advisor, has been

    charged with inciting the five gunmen who killed eight senior

    officials in the Armenian parliament on 27 October, RFE/RL's

    Yerevan bureau reported on 20 December. Ruben Sahakian,

    Harutiunian's lawyer, had said on 18 December after studying the

    charges that there is no hard evidence to substantiate charges

    against his client. Sahakian said that the charges against

    Harutiunian were based on testimony given by the leader of the

    five gunmen, Nairi Hunanian. Sahakian added that Harutiunian had

    received the impression when brought face to face with Hunanian

    for questioning that the latter had been beaten. LF

    [02] KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT IN U.S.

    Nursultan Nazarbaev, who is

    currently on a working visit to the U.S., held talks with Vice

    President Al Gore in Washington on 20 December, an RFE/RL

    correspondent in the U.S. capital reported. The two men jointly

    chair the U.S.-Kazakhstan Bilateral Commission. Gore informed the

    Kazakh President of his concern over the clandestine sale of MiG-

    21 aircraft to North Korea earlier this year, which Nazarbaev

    said took place without the knowledge of Kazakhstan's leadership.

    Gore also expressed concern over the conduct of this year's

    presidential and parliamentary elections, adding that he hopes

    Kazakhstan will "soon" become a true democracy. Also on 20

    December, representatives of a dozen international corporations

    engaged in litigation with the Kazakh government over thwarted

    investment projects addressed an open letter to Nazarbaev urging

    him to crack down on corruption and create a transparent judicial

    system and adequate legal safeguards for foreign companies

    operating in Kazakhstan. LF

    [03] KAZAKHSTAN, U.S. DISCUSS DEFENSE COOPERATION

    Kazakhstan's

    Defense Minister Sat Tokpakbaev held talks in Washington on 17

    December with U.S. Defense Secretary WIlliam Cohen, ITAR-TASS

    reported. The talks focussed on cooperation in fighting

    terrorism, regional security, peacekeeping, and U.S. assistance

    to reform Kazakhstan's armed forces. On 20 December, the

    Department of Defense said Cohen and Tokpakbaev had signed a

    "Defense Cooperation Plan for 2000" that provides for personnel

    exchanges and military cooperation, according to dpa. The U.S.

    also pledged support for Kazakhstan's proposed peacekeeping

    battalion. LF

    [04] RUSSIAN OFFICIAL REQUESTS ACCESS TO 'SEPARATISTS' DETAINED IN

    KAZAKHSTAN

    Russian Consul Vladimir Nestoyanov has requested a

    meeting with the Russian citizens arrested in East Kazakhstan

    Oblast last month on suspicion of preparing to declare an

    independent Russian republic there, "Nezavisimaya gazeta"

    reported on 21 December quoting the oblast's governor, Vitalii

    Mette (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 and 23 November 1999). LF

    [05] KYRGYZ SUPREME COURT OVERRULES ELECTION BAN RULING

    Melis

    Eshimkanov, one of the leaders of the opposition El (Bei-Beshara)

    Party, told RFE/RL's Bishkek correspondent on 20 December that

    the Supreme Court has instructed a Bishkek district court to

    reconsider its ruling upholding the ban imposed by the Central

    Electoral Commision on the party's participation in the 20

    February parliamentary elections under the party list system (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 December 1999). The Central Electoral

    Commission based that decision on the absence from the party's

    statutes of any statement of intention to contest parliamentary

    elections. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [06] HAGUE COURT HAILS ARREST OF BOSNIAN SERB GENERAL...

    War crimes

    tribunal spokesman Paul Risley said in The Hague on 20 December

    that NATO troops arrested former Bosnian Serb General Stanislav

    Galic under a sealed indictment from the tribunal (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 20 December 1999). Chief Prosecutor Carla del Ponte

    added: "This latest arrest...is in line with my policy of

    targeting senior figures in the chain of command for crimes

    committed during periods of armed conflict." Bosnian Serb wartime

    leaders Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic still remain at

    large, as do top Belgrade leaders, including Yugoslav President

    Slobodan Milosevic. PM

    [07] ...WHILE SERBS PROTEST...

    Some 20 peacekeepers took part in the

    capture of the man who led the wartime siege of Sarajevo and led

    him away with a hood over his head, AP reported from Banja Luka

    on 20 December. The Republika Srpska Defense Ministry said in a

    statement that the arrest is "a serious blow to efforts of the

    Republika Srpska to cooperate with the Hague tribunal." Deputy

    President Mirko Sarovic of Radovan Karadzic's Serbian Democratic

    Party charged that SFOR overstepped its mandate by arresting the

    general. Observers note that Prime Minister Milorad Dodik was

    slated to visit The Hague recently but that the trip was

    postponed, allegedly because of fog at Banja Luka airport (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 December 1999). PM

    [08] ...AND HOLBROOKE RAISES QUESTIONS

    U.S. Ambassador to the UN

    Richard Holbrooke said in New York on 20 December that "today's

    news from Banja Luka that SFOR troops have captured the very high

    ranking war criminal is evidence enough that we have not finished

    with the problems of Bosnia, we're not turning away from Bosnia."

    When reporters asked him why top war criminals are still loose

    there, he said: "I will not share with you my thoughts on why

    they're at large. I find it absolutely...I find it very, very

    difficult. I've long taken the view that they must be brought to

    justice. My views on this are very well known.... I'm glad that

    this man was picked up this morning, and I feel that it is

    absolutely imperative that the rest be brought to justice." Asked

    why criminals are living quite openly in the U.S. sector, he

    replied without elaborating: "That's a very good question." PM

    [09] U.S. PULLS PLUG ON BOSNIAN PRIVATIZATION

    A spokesman for USAID

    said in Sarajevo on 20 December that Washington has stopped all

    funding for privatization in the mainly Muslim and Croatian

    federation. USAID noted that only an inconsiderable number of

    small enterprises have been privatized, and not a single one of

    the larger ones, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The U.S.

    aid agency holds the federal government, the privatization

    agency, and the management of the large enterprises responsible

    for the lack of progress. Observers have long noted that Bosnian

    reconstruction efforts have been hampered by the continued

    presence of communist-era structures, attitudes, and practices.

    PM

    [10] FOUR LEGAL HOLIDAYS IN BOSNIA

    The joint Council of Ministers

    approved a proposal to declare four days national holidays for

    all Bosnia. They are: New Year's Day, 1 May, 21 November (marking

    the signing of the Dayton peace agreement in 1995), and 25

    November (day of statehood), "Oslobodjenje" reported on 21

    December. PM

    [11] SNOW CONTINUES TO PARALYZE BOSNIA

    Fresh snow added to last

    week's accumulation on 20 December, seriously affecting power

    lines and transportation across Bosnia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17

    December 1999). Public transportation in Sarajevo was halted and

    the airport closed. People in central Bosnia were told not to go

    outside unless absolutely necessary, Reuters reported. Heavy

    snowfalls also affected Croatia, Serbia, and Montenegro, RFE/RL's

    South Slavic Service reported. PM

    [12] UN POLICE ARREST ALBANIANS

    The UN police force announced in

    Prishtina on 20 December that it has arrested four ethnic

    Albanians in connection with the recent murders of at least five

    Serbs and Roma in a nearby town. PM

    [13] ROW OVER MITROVICA HOSPITAL

    The UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK)

    halted funding to the hospital in the divided city of Mitrovica

    on 20 December, "Koha Ditore" reported. The move was a response

    to the refusal by the Serbian medical staff to allow 22 ethnic

    Albanian doctors and nurses to return to their workplace. Local

    UN administrator Stefano De Mistura warned the Serbian staff on

    18 December that the UN will begin to fund another hospital in

    the ethnic Albanian-dominated southern part of the city unless

    the Serbian staff fully cooperates in the return of ethnic

    Albanian employees. The Serbian staff the same day made their

    cooperation with UNMIK conditional on the return of Serbian

    doctors to other parts of Kosova and on the return of Serbian

    refugees to their homes. FS

    [14] UNMIK, ALCATEL FINALIZE MOBILE PHONE DEAL

    UN Administrator

    Gerhard Fischer told AP on 20 December that UNMIK officials and

    representatives from the French telephone company Alcatel signed

    an agreement last week, providing for the construction of a

    mobile phone network in Kosova. In early December, UNMIK

    suspended the director of Kosova's Post and Telecommunications

    (PTK), Agron Dida, who had refused to sign the deal (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 10 December 1999). Dida told "Koha Ditore" of 20

    December that "UNMIK totally disregarded the rules governing the

    tender." He argued that Siemens had offered to sell technical

    equipment to PTK at low interest rates, while Alcatel will fully

    finance the installation but remain the owner of the entire

    mobile phone system. UN officials favored Alcatel, arguing that

    the company will install the equipment faster. The Serbian

    company Mobtel also maintains its network in parts of Kosova. FS

    [15] BELGRADE CONTINUES DIVERSION CAMPAIGN...

    Yugoslav Information

    Minister Goran Matic said in Belgrade on 20 December that Bernard

    Kouchner, who is the UN's chief representative in Kosova, and his

    Nobel Prize-winning Medecins sans frontieres carry out "legalized

    espionage" on behalf of the French government. In Prishtina,

    Kouchner's spokeswoman denied the charges. Matic's remarks are

    the latest installment of a bizarre disinformation campaign aimed

    at distracting attention from Serbia's domestic problems and

    discrediting the interim administration of Kosova (see "RFE/RL

    Balkan Report," 3 December 1999). PM

    [16] ...AND FIRES JUDGES

    The Serbian parliament fired Constitutional

    Court Judge Slobodan Vucetic on 21 December because of his

    membership in the opposition organization G-17 Plus. The previous

    day, parliament sacked Supreme Court Judge Zoran Ivosevic and

    municipal Judge Bozidar Prelevic, who also oppose the regime.

    Vucetic protested his sacking, saying that parliament can fire

    judges only for health reasons or if they are convicted of a

    crime. He stressed: "This regime is doing everything against the

    constitution. Repression is their last means to stay in power,"

    AP reported. PM

    [17] SWISS BLOCK SERBIAN ASSETS

    Othmar Wyss, who heads the Swiss

    government's export control and sanctions department, said in

    Bern on 20 December that his office has frozen Yugoslav and

    Serbian assets in Swiss banks. He declined to say exactly how

    much money was involved, but noted that it was a "not

    insignificant sum," AP reported. Swiss police officials added

    that no solid evidence has emerged of bank accounts linked to

    Milosevic personally. In June, Bern agreed to freeze assets

    belonging to top Belgrade officials indicted for war crimes.

    Unconfirmed reports in Western and private Serbian media have

    long suggested that Milosevic and his entourage have huge funds

    stashed away in banks as far afield as Russia, Cyprus, South

    Africa, and other places. It is widely believed that one of the

    main duties of Yugoslav Ambassador to Russia Boris Milosevic--the

    brother of Slobodan--is to oversee money laundering operations

    there for the Belgrade elite. PM

    [18] CROATIA TO ELECT PRESIDENT ON 24 JANUARY

    The government on 21

    December approved a proposal by the governing Croatian Democratic

    Community (HDZ) to hold the presidential vote to succeed the late

    Franjo Tudjman on 24 January. Croatia will elect a parliament on

    3 January. The HDZ plans to announce its presidential candidate

    after that vote. PM

    [19] CROATIAN COMMISSION: PAVLETIC NOT BUGGED

    A parliamentary

    commission concluded on 20 December that the intelligence

    services have not bugged the offices or telephone of acting

    president and Speaker of Parliament Vlatko Pavletic (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 8 December 1999). Pavletic said that the time has

    nonetheless come to reduce the number of conditions under which

    the intelligence services can legally use wire taps. He argued

    that such practices are not necessary given the current levels of

    "security, stability, and democracy in Croatia," RFE/RL's South

    Slavic Service reported. PM

    [20] SPLIT: OPPOSITION IN NO HURRY FOR TUDJMAN

    HDZ members of the

    Split city council walked out of the 20 December session

    following the refusal of the opposition-led body to take up

    immediately the question of renaming a major thoroughfare after

    Tudjman. The majority of the council members felt that the matter

    could be referred to the municipal commission dealing with public

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

    [21] ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT MARKS REVOLUTION ANNIVERSARY

    A 21 December

    joint session of the two chambers of the parliament marking the

    tenth anniversary of the 1989 revolution was marred by the speech

    of a representative of the revolutionaries. Gheorghe Zanea,

    chairman of the Jilava 21-22 December Association, attacked

    President Emil Constantinescu and the National Peasant Party

    Christian Democratic (PNTCD), reproaching them with failure to

    respect electoral promises and with having enriched themselves

    and their families and impoverished the bulk of Romanians. Zanea

    was cheered by opposition parliamentarians and booed by deputies

    and senators from the PNTCD. In other news, PNTCD spokesman Remus

    Opris said the new ministers in the Mugur Isarescu cabinet will

    have to abide by the provisions of the recently passed law on

    access to the communist secret police files and declare in

    writing whether they had collaborated with the Securitate,

    RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS

    [22] ROMANIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RULES AGAINST OPPOSITION APPEAL

    The Constitutional Court on 20 December turned down on

    procedural grounds an appeal by 51 members of the parliament

    against the recently passed Law on Civil Service. The

    opposition parliamentarians from the Greater Romania Party

    (PRM) and the Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR) objected

    to the stipulation providing that civil servants who have

    contact with the public in localities with 20 percent or more

    national minorities have to speak the language of those

    minorities. The court said the appeal had been submitted after

    President Constantinescu had already promulgated the law. PUNR

    chairman Valeriu Tabara said the decision was "a strictly

    political one," Romanian radio reported. MS

    [23] ANOTHER POLL PUTS OPPOSITION FAR AHEAD IN ROMANIA

    According

    to a public opinion poll conducted by Metro Media Transylvania

    in December, the opposition Party of Social Democracy in

    Romania would garner 39.9 percent of the vote if elections

    were conducted now, and would be followed in second place by

    the opposition Alliance for Romania (APR), with 18.7 percent.

    The ruling Democratic Convention of Romania trails them with

    18.1 percent, followed by the PRM (7.2) and the Democratic

    Party (4.3). The Union of Rightist Forces and the Hungarian

    Democratic Federation of Romania would each garner 4.2

    percent, while 17 percent of those polled werere undecided.

    PDSR leader Ion Iliescu and Alliance for Romania leader Teodor

    Melescanu would be forced in a runoff in a presidential

    contest, being backed by 37.6 and 21.7 percent, respectively.

    Constantinescu is in third place, with 17.1 percent backing.

    MS

    [24] MOLDOVAN PREMIER-DESIGNATE ON GOVERNMENT PROGRAM

    Premier-

    designate Dumitru Barghis on 20 December told representatives

    of the parliamentary groups that he envisages to propose "a

    set of extraordinary measures" aimed at improving

    microeconomic activity. Barghis said that Moldova's most

    serious problem is that of servicing its foreign debt. He also

    said the lineup of his government has not been finalized, with

    four portfolios being still unmanned, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau

    reported. MS

    [25] MOLDOVAN CAPITAL RISKS COLD, DARKNESS OVER NEW YEAR

    Chisinau

    might be plunged into a blackout and its inhabitants may be

    left in the cold over Christmas and New Year, the independent

    Flux agency reported on 20 December. On 18 December the

    Russian Gazprom concern announced its refusal to grant another

    debt deferment to Moldova and to sign an agreement for

    deliveries in 2000. Since Gazprom halted deliveries earlier

    last week, power plants in Chisinau are being supplied by

    private Russian firms which cannot meet more than 30 percent

    of the country's energy needs. MS

    [26] TRANSDNIESTER SEPARATISTS ASK FOR OBSERVER STATUS IN RUSSIA-

    BELARUS UNION

    The Supreme Soviet of the separatist

    Transdniester republic passed a resolution congratulating

    Boris Yeltsin and Alexander Lukashenka on the recent agreement

    on strengthening the union between their countries and asked

    that the republic be admitted to the union with the status of

    observer, Flux reported on 20 December (see also "End Note").

    MS

    [27] BULGARIAN CABINET DRASTICALLY RESHUFFLED

    Prime minister Ivan

    Kostov on 20 December announced that he plans to change 10 out of

    16 ministers in his government. The parliament is to vote on the

    streamlined cabinet on 21 December. There will be only one deputy

    premier in the cabinet instead of three. He is Petar Zhotev, who

    currently heads the Bank Consolidation Agency, and who will be in

    charge of the Economy Ministry, which replaces the Industry and

    the Trade ministries. Former Deputy Premiers Evgeni Bakardzhiev,

    Alexander Bozhkov and Vesselin Metodiev are no longer in the

    cabinet. Also departing are Defense Minister Georgi Ananiev, who

    is replaced by Boiko Noev, currently Bulgaria's ambassador to

    NATO and the EU. MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [28] AN 'EPOCH-MAKING' TREATY FOR HALF A YEAR?

    by Jan Maksymiuk

    On 8 December, the eighth anniversary of the Soviet Union's

    demise, Russian President Boris Yeltsin and his Belarusian

    counterpart, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, signed a treaty on the

    creation of a union state of Russia and Belarus. This was the

    third attempt by those politicians to breathe life into the

    common state project, which had remained largely on paper.

    Yeltsin commented that the treaty is "epoch-making." Lukashenka--

    who had called the document a "laughing stock" in October--was

    quick to remark that he will sign another accord with Yeltsin

    before the end of the Russian president's term in office. He

    revealed to journalists that the next treaty will deal simply

    with a union state, not with the creation of a union state.

    On 8 October, Russia's "Rossiiskaya gazeta" and Belarus's

    "Sovetskaya Belorussiya" published the draft treaty for "public

    discussion." That discussion reportedly resulted in 1,500

    proposals to amend the document, but no definitive version of the

    draft was made public before its signing. Belarusian officials

    working on the draft commented last month that 99 percent of the

    amendments included in it were "purely technical." However, it

    remains unclear in what kind of state the Russians and

    Belarusians have been living since 8 December.

    The discussion of the treaty draft, which was allegedly

    conducted in both countries, provoked a slew of sarcastic

    comments by Russian and Belarusian independent commentators

    alike. Belarusian official media reported that some 1.5 million

    people took part in this debate, including 1.1 million in

    Belarus. "It turns out that 400,000 Russians decided the fate of

    the remaining 150 million," one Russian newspaper commented

    wryly. Belarusian independent media reported that the "public

    discussion" in Belarus took the form of Soviet-style meetings at

    plants and factories, where management praised the unification

    with Russia, while workers--instead of stormily applauding as in

    older times--sat gloomily silent.

    According to the draft, the new union state will have the

    following joint bodies: a Supreme State Council, a bicameral

    parliament, a Council of Ministers, a court, and an Accounting

    Chamber. The signatory states are to voluntarily surrender part

    of their sovereign powers to these bodies. The document also

    calls for conducting coordinated foreign, military, and social

    policies. At the same time, however, Belarus and Russia will

    maintain their "sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity,

    political systems, constitutions, state symbols, and other

    statehood attributes." The draft does not explain how these

    contradictory goals can be achieved in practice.

    The signed treaty is accompanied by a timetable for the

    phased implementation of unification goals, for example, the

    introduction of a joint tax system in 2001 and a joint currency

    in 2005. The timetable, like the treaty itself, lacks any

    specifics regarding its implementation.

    For Lukashenka and his regime, the 1999 treaty--even if it

    does not differ in essence from those signed in 1996 and 1997--

    has several obvious benefits. First, it ensures Russia's

    political protection and patronage for the Belarusian leader, who

    has become a pariah in international politics. Second, it extends

    Russia's economic assistance to Belarus's unreformed economy

    (Minsk will continue obtaining cheap Russian gas and oil and

    selling its products, which are unwanted elsewhere, on the

    Russian market). Third, it increases Lukashenka's possibilities

    as a player on the Russian political scene and doubtless will

    help sustain his desire to make it to the Kremlin as the ruler of

    both Russians and Belarusians.

    Russia's benefits from the treaty are less obvious. From the

    economic viewpoint, there are virtually none. However, as some

    Russian commentators note, economic considerations in the union

    with Belarus are not paramount. Russia, those commentators argue,

    has never come to terms with the "loss" of Belarus and Ukraine

    eight years ago and is ready to pay dearly to get them back under

    its wings. Now, as Russian troops level Chechnya and Russians

    slowly recover their former sense of "imperial pride," Belarus's

    "voluntary" merger is a sign of brighter times for greater

    Russia. Besides, integration with Belarus is an important issue

    in the electoral rhetoric of all Russia's political forces.

    Although it cannot be ruled out, it is hardly conceivable

    that Yeltsin, as his health continues to deteriorate rapidly,

    would want to use the merger with Belarus as a pretext for

    extending his term in office for yet another five years. On the

    other hand, it is also highly unlikely that anybody succeeding

    Yeltsin in the Kremlin would allow Lukashenka to influence, let

    alone participate in, Russia's political decision-making.

    Therefore, an "epoch-making" treaty, the fourth of its kind in

    four years, is most likely to be the next chapter in the Russian-

    Belarusian integration story.

    It is difficult, however, to predict the end of this story.

    Will the Kremlin eventually absorb Belarus as the 90th subject of

    the Russian Federation? Or will it install a new leader in Minsk,

    as loyal to Moscow as Lukashenka, but devoid of pan-Slavic

    aspirations? The latter scenario might prove positive for the

    pauperized country of 10 million, all of whose energies seem

    harnessed either to fanning or hindering Lukashenka's personal

    ambitions.

    21-12-99


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


    Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: Newsline Directory - Previous Article - Next Article
    Back to Top
    Copyright © 1995-2016 HR-Net (Hellenic Resources Network). An HRI Project.
    All Rights Reserved.

    HTML by the HR-Net Group / Hellenic Resources Institute, Inc.
    rferl2html v1.01 run on Wednesday, 22 December 1999 - 8:49:17 UTC