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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 70, 00-04-07

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. 4, No. 70, 7 April 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIA ISSUES ARREST WARRANT FOR MISSING EX-MINISTER
  • [02] AZERBAIJAN REPEAT LOCAL ELECTION RESULTS PUBLISHED
  • [03] SURVEY SUGGESTS SUPPORT FOR INCUMBENT WANING ON EVE OF
  • [04] MORE SHOOTINGS IN ABKHAZIA
  • [05] KAZAKH OPPOSITION PROPOSES REFERENDUM ON NEW ELECTIONS
  • [06] KAZAKH OPPOSITION LEADER SENTENCED
  • [07] KYRGYZ PROTESTERS MOVE PICKET TO U.S. EMBASSY
  • [08] KYRGYZ PRESIDENT CREATES WORKING GROUP TO AMEND ELECTION LAW

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [09] SLOVENIAN PARLIAMENT DEBATES GOVERNMENT'S FUTURE
  • [10] KRAJISNIK PLEADS 'NOT GUILTY'
  • [11] BOSNIA VOTES IN LOCAL ELECTIONS
  • [12] U.S. AMBASSADOR WARNS BOSNIAN VOTERS
  • [13] HERZEGOVINIAN LEADER THREATENS MIGRATION TO CROATIA
  • [14] KFOR, MILOSEVIC BACKERS CLASH AT MONASTERY...
  • [15] ...AS KOSOVA SERB MODERATES APPEAL FOR CALM
  • [16] FIRE SWEEPS OFFICES OF SERBIAN INDEPENDENT MEDIA
  • [17] PROTESTS IN VOJVODINA'S SECOND CITY
  • [18] U.S. CRITICIZES AUSTRALIA OVER EMBASSY APPOINTMENT
  • [19] BELGRADE'S AMBASSADOR TO VATICAN TO STAY IN ROME
  • [20] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT REBUKES STATE UTILITIES MONOPOLIES
  • [21] ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES LOCAL ELECTION HURDLE
  • [22] ROMANIAN SUPREME COURT BACKS CLUJ MAYOR
  • [23] MOLDOVAN PREMIER RESPONDS TO RECOMMENDATIONS ON RUSSIAN
  • [24] BULGARIAN ENVOY MEETS WITH IMPRISONED MEDICS IN LIBYA

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [25] UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIA ISSUES ARREST WARRANT FOR MISSING EX-MINISTER

    Armenian police on 6 April issued an international arrest

    warrant for former Interior Minister Vano Siradeghian,

    RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The same day, the Yerevan

    district court where Siradeghian is being tried for having

    ordered a series of contract killings suspended proceedings

    for seven days. Siradeghian is believed either to have left

    the country or gone into hiding after his fellow

    parliamentary deputies voted on 4 April to lift his immunity

    from detention (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 April 2000). Members

    of his family have denied any knowledge of his whereabouts

    and expressed concern for his safety. LF

    [02] AZERBAIJAN REPEAT LOCAL ELECTION RESULTS PUBLISHED

    The

    Central Electoral Commission announced on 7 April that repeat

    municipal elections held on 26 March were valid in 74 out of

    75 districts, Turan reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 March

    2000). A total of 556 deputies were elected, representing 10

    political parties and four public organizations. Voter

    turnout was 48.2 percent. Commission chairman Djafar Veliev

    said he believes the poll was free and fair. LF

    [03] SURVEY SUGGESTS SUPPORT FOR INCUMBENT WANING ON EVE OF

    GEORGIAN PRESIDENTIAL POLL

    Caucasus Press on 7 April cited

    the findings of recent opinion polls that indicate that

    incumbent President Eduard Shevardnadze may not win the 50

    percent of the vote needed for an outright, first-round

    victory in the 9 April presidential election. Support for

    Shevardnadze is said to have slipped by 11.3 percent over the

    past two months to 43.1 percent, while his closest rival and

    successor as Georgian Communist Party first secretary,

    Djumber Patiashvili, has seen his backing leap from 5.7

    percent to 20 percent. Adjar parliamentary chairman Aslan

    Abashidze now has only 4.3 percent support compared with 12.4

    percent two months ago. The chances of the remaining four

    candidates are regarded as minimal. Shevardnadze met with

    Abashidze in Batumi on 6 April, but no details of their talks

    were revealed (see also "End Note"). LF

    [04] MORE SHOOTINGS IN ABKHAZIA

    A Georgian civilian bystander and

    an Abkhaz customs official were killed in an exchange of fire

    between the Abkhaz patrol and Georgian guerrillas near the

    village of Chuburkhindji early on 6 April, Interfax and

    Caucasus Press reported. A second customs official was

    wounded. LF

    [05] KAZAKH OPPOSITION PROPOSES REFERENDUM ON NEW ELECTIONS

    Galym

    Abelsiitov, chairman of the opposition Azamat party, told a

    press conference in Almaty on 6 April that Azamat wants a

    nationwide referendum to be held in fall 2000 on removing

    President Nursultan Nazarbaev from office and disbanding the

    parliament, Interfax reported. The party is also demanding

    that the governors of Kazakhstan's 14 oblasts be elected,

    rather than appointed, by the president. Abelsiitov

    characterized his party's "main task" as "creating a truly

    multi-party system" in Kazakhstan. He expressed skepticism

    that the various opposition factions would be able to unite

    and coordinate their activities. LF

    [06] KAZAKH OPPOSITION LEADER SENTENCED

    An Almaty district court

    on 6 April sentenced Workers Movement leader Madel Ismailov

    to 15 days' imprisonment for participating in an unsanctioned

    demonstration in that city on 30 January, Interfax reported

    (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 April 2000). LF

    [07] KYRGYZ PROTESTERS MOVE PICKET TO U.S. EMBASSY

    Some 100

    protesters who were forcibly removed by police from the

    square in front of the government building in Bishkek late on

    4 April have taken up position outside the U.S. embassy,

    RFE/RL's bureau in the Kyrgyz capital reported. Protest

    participant Kural Usubaliev, a retired policeman, was

    sentenced by a district court in Bishkek on 6 April to five

    days' imprisonment on charges of resisting the police. LF

    [08] KYRGYZ PRESIDENT CREATES WORKING GROUP TO AMEND ELECTION LAW

    Askar Akaev issued a decree on 6 April setting up a working

    group charged with drafting amendments to the existing

    election law by 1 July, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. The

    groups comprises the chairman of the Central Electoral

    Commission, a member of the presidential administration, and

    deputies to the parliament elected in February-March, some of

    whom represent moderate opposition parties. The new

    parliament will meet for its first session on 14 April. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [09] SLOVENIAN PARLIAMENT DEBATES GOVERNMENT'S FUTURE

    The

    legislature on 7 April began a debate on the proposed new

    cabinet of Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek following the recent

    resignation of nine ministers from the People's Party (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 April 2000). The parliament will vote by

    9 April on whether to approve the new government. Drnovsek

    has said he will resign and call early elections if he does

    not receive a vote of confidence for his minority cabinet,

    Montenegrin Television reported. Elections are due in the

    last quarter of 2000. The parliament is the center of

    political power in Slovenia. PM

    [10] KRAJISNIK PLEADS 'NOT GUILTY'

    At the Hague-based war crimes

    tribunal, Momcilo Krajisnik pleaded "not guilty" on 7 April

    to charges of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity,

    and grave breaches of the Geneva conventions, including

    counts of extermination, murder, willful killing, and

    inhumane acts, AP reported (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 4

    April 2000). The former deputy to Radovan Karadzic added "no,

    no" for emphasis when denying the charge of genocide. The

    judge denied his request "to say a few words in my defense."

    Krajisnik could face up to life in prison if convicted on any

    of the various counts. He is the highest-ranking defendant to

    appear before the court to date. Chief Prosecutor Carla Del

    Ponte called for the arrest of Karadzic so that he can stand

    trial together with Krajisnik, Reuters reported. PM

    [11] BOSNIA VOTES IN LOCAL ELECTIONS

    On 8 April, some 2.5 million

    Bosnian citizens are entitled to cast their votes at 3,500

    polling stations in elections for local and municipal

    officials, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Some 68

    parties and coalitions, as well as 18 independent candidates,

    will appear on the ballot. The OSCE is supervising the vote,

    and some 6,500 foreign and domestic monitors will be present.

    On 6 April, OSCE election organizers disqualified a small

    Croatian nationalist party from the vote on the grounds that

    it is opposed to the Dayton agreement. PM

    [12] U.S. AMBASSADOR WARNS BOSNIAN VOTERS

    U.S. Ambassador to

    Bosnia Thomas Miller said in Sarajevo on 6 April that voters

    in the 8 April local elections should think carefully before

    voting for the nationalist parties that have held sway in

    Bosnia for a decade. Miller stressed: "I'm not interested in

    recommending to my bosses in Washington that they put any

    money into areas where you have people who are doing all they

    can to obstruct Dayton implementation. But if we can show

    some achievement this year, we have the decent chance to

    convince the American people and leaders to continue the

    [economic, military, and political] assistance," AP reported.

    One analyst suggested, however, that most voters "will say to

    themselves: 'I'm more afraid of the other nationality than of

    my own crooks'" and will cast their ballots for one of the

    three main nationalist parties. PM

    [13] HERZEGOVINIAN LEADER THREATENS MIGRATION TO CROATIA

    Ante

    Jelavic, who is the Croatian member of the Bosnian joint

    presidency and head of that republic's Croatian Democratic

    Community (HDZ), said in Mostar that the government of

    Croatian Prime Minister Ivica Racan is trying to destroy the

    power of the HDZ in Bosnia at the urging of the international

    community. Jelavic noted that the Croatian authorities have

    held up or are threatening to cut pensions to Herzegovinian

    war veterans. He said that the only solution for the

    Herzegovinians might be to move en masse to Croatia,

    "Jutarnji list" reported on 7 April. Croatia recognizes

    ethnic Croatian citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina as Croatian

    citizens. PM

    [14] KFOR, MILOSEVIC BACKERS CLASH AT MONASTERY...

    Up to 200

    Kosova Serb supporters of Yugoslav President Slobodan

    Milosevic attacked the Gracanica monastery with axes and

    pitchforks on 6 April in a second day of protest against a

    decision by moderates to attend meetings of the UN's

    provisional council as observers (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6

    April 2000). One Serb was wounded in the leg when Swedish

    peacekeepers fired shots to disperse the angry crowd. Pro-

    Milosevic Serbs plan further demonstrations on 7 April. PM

    [15] ...AS KOSOVA SERB MODERATES APPEAL FOR CALM

    Father Sava, who

    is one of the moderate Serb political leaders cooperating

    with the UN, said at Gracanica on 6 April that KFOR troops

    unnecessarily angered the protesters by using dogs against

    them, "Vesti" reported. Sava added that he had been afraid

    that enraged protesters would set fire to the 16th century

    Serbian Orthodox building complex. Moderate spokesman

    Aleksandar Vidojevic said the protesters fear that the

    moderates will agree to independence for Kosova, adding that

    it is easy for the Belgrade regime to "manipulate their

    fears," AP reported. PM

    [16] FIRE SWEEPS OFFICES OF SERBIAN INDEPENDENT MEDIA

    Seven

    people were injured and one killed in a 6 April blaze

    destroyed the Novi Sad offices of independent Radio 021, two

    private television stations, and the bureaus of Montenegrin

    television and the Belgrade daily "Danas," Reuters reported.

    The cause of the fire has not been determined. Opposition

    leader Nenad Canak said, however, that "it means something

    that it happened in the offices of the only independent

    electronic media in Novi Sad." PM

    [17] PROTESTS IN VOJVODINA'S SECOND CITY

    Some 1,000 people

    demonstrated in Zrenjanin on 6 April to protest the detention

    by police of one opposition city council member and the

    sacking of two others. Some 25 members of opposition parties

    spent the night in the council offices to protest what they

    called the "illegal" detention and sackings, RFE/RL's South

    Slavic Service reported. PM

    [18] U.S. CRITICIZES AUSTRALIA OVER EMBASSY APPOINTMENT

    A U.S.

    embassy spokesman said in Canberra on 7 April that Australia

    is wrong to name a new ambassador to Belgrade at a time when

    most Western governments are trying to isolate the Milosevic

    regime. A spokesman for the Australian Department of Foreign

    Affairs and Trade defended his government's decision. He said

    that "we have an ambassador [in Belgrade] because we have a

    large Australian Serbian community and we recognize states,

    not governments," Reuters reported. The spokesman also denied

    press reports that Australia named the new ambassador as part

    of a deal in 1999 to secure the release from a Serbian jail

    of two Australian aid workers and their translator (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 September 1999). PM

    [19] BELGRADE'S AMBASSADOR TO VATICAN TO STAY IN ROME

    Dojcilo

    Maslovaric, who is Yugoslavia's ambassador to the Vatican,

    said in Rome that he will not return to Serbia even though

    his diplomatic appointment ended several days ago, "Vesti"

    reported on 7 April. He said that he will remain in Rome

    "temporarily" because of what he called "private reasons."

    When asked if his decision is linked to that of former

    Yugoslav Ambassador to Italy Miodrag Lekic to remain in Rome,

    Maslovaric stressed that "everyone has his reasons for not

    going back" to Yugoslavia. Maslovaric pointed out that Lekic

    is a "career diplomat and a Montenegrin." PM

    [20] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT REBUKES STATE UTILITIES MONOPOLIES

    President Emil Constantinescu told journalists on 6 April

    that it is "inadmissible" for the state utilities monopolies

    to regularly raise prices while paying "enormous salaries" to

    some of their employees. Saying the population is regularly

    subjected to "arbitrary hikes," he asked Prime Minister Mugur

    Isarescu to examine as quickly as possible the methods of

    calculating prices used by these companies as well as their

    economic performance. Constantinescu also said that only the

    breaking up of monopolies can bring about a free-market,

    competitive system based on genuine economic performance,

    RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS

    [21] ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES LOCAL ELECTION HURDLE

    The

    cabinet on 6 April approved an ordinance setting a 5 percent

    electoral hurdle for gaining representation on local

    councils, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Local elections

    are scheduled for June 2000. MS

    [22] ROMANIAN SUPREME COURT BACKS CLUJ MAYOR

    The Supreme Court on

    6 April rejected Cluj prefect Vasile Salcudean's appeal

    against a Cluj tribunal ruling that reinstated controversial

    Mayor Gheorghe Funar. The government had suspended Funar

    pending an investigation of allegations that he abused his

    position and harmed the interests of the Alimentara company

    (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 25 and 27 January 2000). The Supreme

    Court's ruling is final, Romanian Radio reported. MS

    [23] MOLDOVAN PREMIER RESPONDS TO RECOMMENDATIONS ON RUSSIAN

    BASES

    A civic organization called "The Republic" has

    suggested that Russia be allowed to maintain a military base

    in the breakaway region of Transdniester and that Moldova

    should adopt Russian as the country's second official

    language, AP Flux reported, citing "De Facto." The newspaper

    quoted Moldovan Prime Minister Dumitru Braghis as saying in

    an unofficial interview that he does not rule out the

    possibility of Russia's maintaining a base in the

    Transdniester in exchange for natural gas and other products.

    Nevertheless, Braghis noted that such a deal would run

    counter to the OSCE resolution on the Russian troop

    withdrawal and the Moldovan government's own declarations

    concerning neutrality and demilitarization. He ruled out the

    possibility of recognizing two official languages in Moldova.

    VG

    [24] BULGARIAN ENVOY MEETS WITH IMPRISONED MEDICS IN LIBYA

    Hristo

    Danov, an envoy of Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov, has

    met with the six detained Bulgarian medical workers accused

    of intentionally infecting 393 Libyan children with the HIV

    virus, BTA reported on 6 April. He said the medical workers,

    who say they are not guilty, are in good spirits and are

    hoping for a "fair and just trial." Danov informed them that

    Libyan leader Moammar Khadafy has assured Stoyanov that the

    trial will be fair. The trial is scheduled to begin on 30

    April. VG


    [C] END NOTE

    [25] UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

    By Liz Fuller

    No one doubts for a second that incumbent President

    Eduard Shevardnadze will be re-elected for a second term in

    the 9 April presidential poll in Georgia. But many of those

    who vote for Shevardnadze will do so not because they approve

    of his policies or because they believe his election

    promises. Rather, they fear that a victory by any of the six

    alternative candidates would result in even greater economic

    hardship and a return to instability.

    The conduct of the election campaign has highlighted

    numerous problems and weaknesses in the Georgian political

    system that Shevardnadze has so far proved powerless to

    solve. They include tensions between the central government

    and the regions (including Georgia's three autonomous

    formations); corruption, which Shevardnadze has been vowing

    for years to eradicate, without success; and the

    marginalization of all but a handful of political parties,

    partly as a result of the flawed law under which last

    October's parliamentary elections were conducted. Equally

    serious are the economic problems that the country faces: an

    external debt of $2.39 billion, which is equal to 85 percent

    of last year's GDP, pensions and wage arrears amounting to

    millions of dollars (Shevardnadze said last month that paying

    pensions arrears would raise his share of the vote by 20

    percent), and massive unemployment (despite Shevardnadze's

    1995 presidential election campaign pledge to create 1

    million new jobs).

    None of Shevardnadze's six rival candidates has an

    election program that offers convincing solutions to any of

    those problems. Indeed, only two of those rivals stand even a

    remote chance of polling more than 10 percent of the vote.

    They are Shevardnadze's successor as Georgian Communist Party

    first secretary, Djumber Patiashvili, and Adjar Supreme

    Council Chairman Aslan Abashidze. Both men are leaders of the

    so-called Batumi Alliance of five disparate opposition

    parties, which is the second-largest parliamentary faction.

    Patiashvili is still compromised in the view of many

    Georgians, as he himself admits, for his as yet unclarified

    role in the attack by Russian troops on demonstrators in

    Tbilisi on 9 April 1989. Under the rubric "We can and will

    give people back a better, dignified life," his election

    program focuses on reducing budget spending to fund social

    programs and on abolishing what he terms the "anti-

    constitutional" institution of regional governors appointed

    by the president. His foreign-policy program combines

    continued cooperation with the West and improved ties with

    Russia.

    The authoritarian Abashidze, widely regarded as Russia's

    stalking horse, has not campaigned beyond his native turf and

    was rumored on 6 April to have decided to withdraw his

    candidacy. Of the remaining four candidates, Tengiz Asanidze

    is in jail in Batumi, Abashidze having refused to release

    him, despite an amnesty from Shevardnadze. National Political

    Union of Georgia "Mdzleveli" leader Avtandil Djoglidze is a

    political unknown, as is Vazha Zhghenti, chairman of the

    obscure Progressive Party, who believes Georgia should turn

    its back on imported economic and political models and create

    a new "national" ideology and laws.

    By contrast, the seventh candidate, Chairman of the

    Corporation of Lawyers of Georgia Kartlos Gharibashvili, is a

    presidential election veteran: in 1991, he failed to collect

    the requisite number of signatures to run against Zviad

    Gamsakhurdia, and in the 1995 election he placed joint fourth

    in a field of six candidates with less than 1 percent of the

    vote. Gharibashvili told RFE/RL on 3 April that his program

    has nothing in common with those of the other candidates,

    being "that of a lawyer, not of a Communist Party official."

    He said that the main focus of that program is human rights,

    which he described as "as alien to a Communist Party leader

    as the kiwi fruit is to Georgia."

    The election campaign has been marred by voter apathy

    and by resentment on the part of several would-be candidates

    rejected by the Central Electoral Commission. (One of those

    rejected, former National Security Minister Igor Giorgadze,

    who is accused of masterminding the failed 1995 attempt to

    assassinate Shevardnadze, still ranks as the "wild card" in

    Georgian politics. He claims to enjoy the secret support of

    60-70 percent of the army and of the Interior and Security

    Ministries.)

    At the same time, there appears to be little support for

    calls by an alliance of some 25 extra-parliamentary parties

    to boycott the poll unless the authorities agree to postpone

    voting until after a census that would determine the exact

    number of potential voters and thus remove the potential for

    falsification of the outcome.

    Some segments of society have, nonetheless, signaled

    that they would not vote for Shevardnadze if he did not

    deliver on earlier promises: those groups include the

    500,000-strong population of the west Georgian region of

    Mingrelia (a stronghold of sympathy for deceased President

    Gamsakhurdia) and the ethnic Georgian displaced persons from

    Abkhazia, who are demanding payment of their monthly $12

    subsistence allowances.

    The key question left unanswered by the 9 April poll is

    not how many and which specific voters will reject

    Shevardnadze's candidacy but what he can realistically do in

    his second term to galvanize the economy, crack down on the

    most egregious manifestations of corruption, restore

    Georgia's control over its breakaway autonomous formations,

    and prepare a new leadership team in which the population has

    at least some degree of trust. The chances for a democratic

    and peaceful transition of power at the close of the

    Shevardnadze era depend in large part on his successful

    accomplishment of those tasks.

    07-04-00


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


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