|To live is so startling, it leaves little time for anything else. - Emily Dickinson|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 124, Part I, 25 June 1999
________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 124, Part I, 25 June 1999 A daily report of developments in Eastern and Southeastern Europe, Russia, the Caucasus and Central Asia prepared by the staff of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. This is Part I, a compilation of news concerning Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia. Part II covers Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe and is distributed simultaneously as a second document. Back issues of RFE/RL NewsLine and the OMRI Daily Digest are online at RFE/RL's Web site: http://www.rferl.org/newsline xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part I * FEDERATION COUNCIL APPROVES RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPERS * NEW IMF TALKS SLATED FOR END JUNE * OSCE MONITORS KARABAKH FRONT LINE END NOTE: A Kosova Balance Sheet xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx RUSSIA FEDERATION COUNCIL APPROVES RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPERS. A total of 126 senators in the Federation Council voted in favor of Russian participation in the Kosova peacekeeping force (KFOR) in Moscow on 25 June. An additional 32 senators who were absent gave their support in writing. No senator voted against and three abstained from the vote after closed-door hearings, Reuters reported. Oleg Korolyov, the chamber's deputy speaker, said the deployment is necessary to help preserve Yugoslavia's territorial integrity and to ensure stability in that part of Europe, AP reported. Other lawmakers objected that Russian KFOR commanders will be junior to NATO commanders. Tatarstan's President Mintimer Shaimiev argued that the Russian troops will be "incapable of radically influencing the situation." FS WHAT IS LEFT FOR RUSSIA IN UNMIK? President Boris Yeltsin told UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in Moscow on 24 June that Russia wants to participate actively in both peacekeeping and civil administration efforts in Kosova, AP reported. It remains unclear, however, what position Russian officials will hold in the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). With the appointment of Daan Everts of the Netherlands as OSCE representative in Kosova (see Part II,) all four positions for deputies to the UN representative have been filled. Annan has not yet appointed a permanent head of UNMIK. FS IVANOV SAYS YELTSIN, ANNAN WANT 'MULTI-POLAR-WORLD.' Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov told Interfax that Yeltsin and Annan agreed that "a multi-polar world model must be enhanced. [...] It is the only right way to ensure security and stability in Europe, and it meets the interests of all countries, the large and small ones." Observers noted that "multi-polar" is a favorite catchphrase of Russian diplomats, who resent what they see as U.S. efforts to dominate the new world order. Ivanov added that both men agreed that "a new world order must be built on respect for international laws and a strengthening of the UN's role." FS CHERNOMYRDIN WANTS WEST TO PAY FOR YUGOSLAV WAR DAMAGE. "Segodnya" of 24 June quoted Russian special envoy to Yugoslavia Viktor Chernomyrdin as saying in Strasbourg on 23 June that Russia is ready to help Yugoslavia restore its economy, but that "it must be done at the expense of those who bombed the country." Chernomyrdin added that Yugoslav President Slobodan "Milosevic was elected by the population of Yugoslavia and nobody but the citizens of Yugoslavia can dismiss him. As for Russia, it will not interfere." In other news, Aeroflot resumed flights to Belgrade on 25 June after Hungarian officials approved an air corridor, Reuters reported. Aeroflot suspended flights to Belgrade on 26 March. Jugoslovenski Aerotransport (JAT) resumed international flights the same day. FS DUMA APPROVES FUNDING FOR NUCLEAR FORCES. The State Duma passed a law on funding Russia's Strategic Nuclear Forces until 2010, "Izvestiya" reported on 25 June. According to the daily, the law "restores some semblance of financial order to the Strategic Nuclear Forces" by requiring the Finance Ministry to transfer the forces' funds to the Nuclear Energy and Defense ministries every three months. It also prohibits the government from using budget funds allocated for the forces to repay debts. Duma Defense Committee Chairman Roman Popkovich said earlier that it was essential to pass this bill before the Duma could start addressing the issue of ratifying the START-II treaty. The Duma is scheduled to deal with the treaty's ratification during its first fall session after the summer break (see "RFE/RL Newsline" 21 June 1999). JAC MILITARY CONTEMPLATING MORE DOCTRINE CHANGES. Colonel-General Yurii Baluyevskii, first deputy head of the Armed Forces' chief of staff, said on 24 June that Russia's national security concept and military doctrine may undergo changes as a result of the large military exercises being conducted from 21-26 June in Kaliningrad, the Baltic Sea, and other areas. He added that "it may take a year to analyze in detail and process all the data." He also said that a single air defense system for the joint Russian-Belarusian military grouping was developed within the framework of the exercises. Defense Minister Marshall Igor Sergeev said the previous day that the exercises will pay particular attention to cooperation between Russian and Belarusian troops in countering aggression from the West. Sergeev told Interfax a Russian- Belarusian command system "must certainly be worked out." JAC SLIGHT CHILL STILL AFFECTING U.S.-RUSSIA RELATIONS? The government newspaper, "Rossiiskaya Gazeta," on 25 June quoted U.S. President Bill Clinton as saying in Skopje that "NATO could repeat an operation similar to the Yugoslav one 'anywhere else tomorrow, in Africa or Central Europe.'" It argued that Clinton's statement means that "henceforth the U.S. will assume the role of a world police officer who will use force when it wants without heed to any UN organizations or security councils." The daily argued that other countries will respond to Washington with an arms race in all types of weaponry, including weapons of mass destruction. The previous day, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported that "it is now common to discuss where Washington will arrange the next Yugoslavia. The three spots most commonly named are Belarus, Kashmir, and the Korean peninsula." The daily cautioned that Russia should listen attentively to Washington's announcements, arguing that "key words such as 'humanitarian catastrophe'" are "omens of bloodshed." JAC NEW IMF TALKS SLATED FOR END JUNE... Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin will hold talks in Moscow with a new IMF mission on 30 June, Interfax reported on 24 June. First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko predicted the previous day that "if all goes well, we can expect IMF funds by the end of July." State Duma Budget Committee Chairman Aleksandr Zhukov was also optimistic, noting that Duma deputies had rejected only one bill from the government's IMF-inspired package of legislation. On 24 June, Duma deputies passed a series of laws on restructuring credit organizations and imposing a tax on luxury vehicles (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 June 1999). JAC ...AS LEGISLATION PASSES TO THE UPPER CHAMBER. The IMF's permanent representative in Moscow, Martin Gilman, on 24 June said the IMF places strong emphasis on the Federation Council's approval of the legislation, Interfax reported. Commenting on the recent agreement between the government and the country's energy and rail enterprises on capping prices, Gilman told the upper chamber's budget committee that such controls could result in economic disaster and would be impossible to implement under current legislation, Interfax reported. Federation Council Budget Committee Chairman Konstantin Titov said the previous day that he does not support any new taxes or tax hikes, because "we still have not collected on the old taxes." Titov, who is the informal leader of the Golos Rossii (Voice of Russia) movement, added that the IMF is not insisting that Russia introduce new taxes but rather that budget revenues be large enough to cover expenditures. JAC NEW CHUNK OF LUKOIL UP FOR GRABS. State Property Committee Chairman Farit Gazizullin announced on 24 June that an investment tender for a 9 percent stake in LUKoil will soon be announced, Interfax reported. According to Gazizullin, the shares will be sold in a single lot. The government currently holds a 26.6 percent stake in the company. JAC KIROV REGION IMPOSES PRICE CONTROLS ON FOOD... The Kirov Oblast legislative assembly voted on 24 June to allow the oblast's administration to impose price controls on certain food products, industrial goods, and services, "EWI's Russian Regional Report" reported that day. Kirov is the third region in Russia, after Khabarovsk Krai and Tyumen Oblast, to impose price regulations on food, according to Nikolai Garyaev, chairman of the Kirov Oblast administration's committee for price policy. Among the goods and services now governed by price controls are rental housing, heating, hot and cold water, sewer services, and public transportation. JAC ...AS KEMEROVO OBLAST OFFICIALS FEAR BREAD CRISIS. Kemerovo Oblast authorities are trying to prevent a "bread crisis," which has been looming since a recent increase in the price of bread, "Izvestiya" reported on 22 June. According to the daily, the population has been buying up bread and making rusks out of fear of another increase. The problems started on 15 June when the price of bread rose 15 percent. After that, the oblast administration started issuing monthly "bread chervonets" or 10 rubles (41 cents) to 208,000 of the region's poorest residents as compensation. JAC NEW SPORTS TSAR NAMED. President Boris Yeltsin on 24 June appointed Boris Ivanyuzhenkov to the post of sports minister. Ivanyuzhenkov is a former wrestling coach. His predecessor at the ministry left following accusations in the press of misusing government funds. In other news, the former deputy chief of the presidential administration, Oleg Sysuev, will join Alfa Bank as a supervisor of its regional subsidiaries, Interfax reported. Yeltsin accepted Sysuev's resignation from the presidential administration this week, after a long delay. JAC RUSSIA CONCERNED THAT CIS BORDERS NOT ADEQUATELY GUARDED. Lieutenant-General Aleksandr Manilov, who heads the International Treaties department of Russia's Federal Border Service, said in Moscow on 24 June that "polarization" within the CIS may weaken security along the borders of the CIS, Interfax reported. Manilov mentioned the creation of alternative alliances such as that between Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Moldova, as an example of this trend. He said that almost all those CIS states that have scrapped agreements on jointly guarding their borders with Russian forces will find it difficult to train the personnel and acquire the equipment to do so on their own. Russian border guards are already withdrawing from Georgia, and Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan have both announced that they intend to take over full responsibility for guarding their own frontiers. Turkey and the U.S. are helping Georgia train and equip its own border troops. LF DUMA SPEAKER MEETS WITH CHECHEN COUNTERPART. Gennadii Seleznev and Ruslan Alikhadzhiev met "unofficially" for the first time in Moscow on 24 June, ITAR-TASS reported. The two men discussed preparations for a planned meeting between President Boris Yeltsin and his Chechen counterpart, Aslan Maskhadov. Seleznev said preparations for the meeting are continuing, but he declined to specify when it might take place. He also said he hopes the Duma's Committee for Nationalities will help to ensure regular contacts between Russian and Chechen legislators. In Grozny on 24 June, Maskhadov named national guard commander Magomed Khambiev to head the newly-created defense ministry, Interfax reported. LF TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA OSCE MONITORS KARABAKH FRONT LINE. OSCE officials inspected the Mardakert section of the Line of Contact between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces of Karabakh on 24 June, an RFE/RL correspondent in Stepanakert reported. Mardakert was the scene of a three-hour exchange of fire between the two sides on 14 June in which two Azerbaijanis were killed and four injured. Each side accused the other of starting the fight (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 June 1999). One of the OSCE officials subsequently told RFE/RL that fighting had indeed taken place on 14 June, but that it did not involve 300 Armenian troops as Baku had claimed. The official declined to specify which side was to blame for the fighting. But the OSCE observers did confirm that the Azerbaijani front line has been moved forward by 400-500 meters. LF NKR PRESIDENT SACKS PREMIER, GOVERNMENT. Arkadii Ghukasian, president of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, dismissed Prime Minister Zhirayr Poghosian and his cabinet on 24 June, RFE/RL's Stepanakert correspondent reported. Ghukasian criticized the government's performance in the economic, health, and social sectors as well as its tax policy, according to Noyan Tapan. He said that the government's failures in those spheres were eroding the population's trust in the enclave's leadership. Ghukasian will assume the role of acting prime minister and a new cabinet will be formed soon. During the first four months of 1999, the volume of industrial output in the NKR grew by 2.5 percent compared with 1998. Production in the state sector fell by 5.2 percent but grew in the private sector by 33.3 percent, Noyan Tapan reported on 17 June. LF GEORGIA TO PROPOSE NEW ABKHAZ SETTLEMENT PLAN? Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili said in Tbilisi on 24 June that President Eduard Shevardnadze may propose new measures for resolving the Abkhaz conflict if there is no progress in settling the dispute within the next two to three months, ITAR-TASS reported. He declined to specify what those proposals might entail but added that during 22 June talks with the EU in Luxembourg, Shevardnadze had also proposed that an international conference be convened on Abkhazia. Menagharishvili also criticized the CIS peacekeeping force, which has been deployed along the internal border between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia since June 1994. He said the CIS troops had failed either to prevent the large-scale fighting in southern Abkhazia in May 1998 or to create secure conditions for displaced persons within Georgia to return to their abandoned homes in Abkhazia. LF KAZAKH PARLIAMENT, CABINET STILL AT ODDS... Kazakh Prime Minister Nurlan Balghymbaev told parliament deputies on 24 June that his cabinet will make every effort to curb inflation and the budget deficit, although the latter task may prove difficult, Interfax reported. He criticized the parliament's opposition to further budget cuts as "populist." Earlier on 24 June, the parliament narrowly failed to achieve the two-thirds vote required to pass a vote of no confidence in the government. Balghymbaev had called for such a vote on 21 June after the parliament rejected the proposed budget cuts, which are now considered passed (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 June 1999). But Marat Ospanov, speaker of the lower house of parliament, argued on 24 June that Balghymbaev's economic policy is inefficient, noting that pension and wage arrears have multiplied since his appointment as prime minister in the fall of 1997. Ospanov said the prime minister's policy of issuing securities to cover the budget deficit is doomed to failure. LF ...AS INDUSTRIAL LOBBY SEEKS TO PROTECT OWN INTERESTS. In the wake of the 24 June no confidence vote, five deputies from the lower and one senator from the upper house of parliament announced that they are joining the Civic Party of Kazakhstan, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 25 June. The parliamentarians - all of whom represent regions with strong industrial bases - said that party is the only organization capable of defending the interests of local industrialists and investors as well as workers at industrial enterprises. The party has some 50,000 members. Unlike the pro-government OTAN party, the Civic Party had opposed replacing Balghymbaev's cabinet, arguing that a government crisis would only exacerbate the country's economic difficulties. LF KAZAKH NEWSPAPER FORCED TO CEASE PUBLICATION. The editor and deputy editor of the Russian-language newspaper "Nachnem s ponedelnika" said in Almaty on 24 June that the paper must close for financial reasons, RFE/RL correspondents in the former capital reported. The paper's bank account was frozen on orders from the Almaty City Justice Department earlier this year after Marat Oqshibayev, the head of the Almaty Metrostroy Joint Stock Company, demanded 50 million tenges (approximately $308,000) in compensation for "moral damage" caused by articles the paper had published. The editors described the ruling as an attack on the free press. The previous day, Yevgenii Kosenko, a journalist working for the recently founded paper "Vremya," was heavily beaten by unidentified assailants outside his home in Almaty. Kosenko has been writing on the problems of private gasoline stations in Almaty. LF FOUR CENTRAL ASIAN PRESIDENTS MEET IN KYRGYZSTAN. The presidents of the four member-states of the Central Asian Union - Kazakhstan's Nursultan Nazarbaev, Kyrgyzstan's Askar Akaev, Uzbekistan's Islam Karimov and Tajikistan's Imomali Rakhmonov - met outside Bishkek on 24 June, RFE/RL's bureau in the Kyrgyz capital reported. According to a joint declaration issued after the summit, the four presidents agreed on strengthening economic cooperation between their countries and on taking "practical steps" to form a common Central Asian economic space that would include a free trade zone and a common market for goods, services, and capital. As expected, the presidents also agreed to extend the term of the rotating presidency of the union, which is currently held by Kyrgyzstan, from one year to two years. They also granted Georgia and Turkey observer status in the union. However, Ukraine did not receive such status although it was reportedly seeking it (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 June 1999). LF ANOTHER KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT DEPUTY ARRESTED. Marat Kalmurzaev, who is president of the Kyrgyzbusiness private company, was arrested in Bishkek late on 23 June, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported the following day. He is suspected of embezzlement, abuse of power, and tax evasion between 1996-1998, resulting in losses to the state of approximately 8,906,000 million som (about $200,000). According to Deputy Interior Minister Kurmanbek Kubatbekov, six earlier attempts to arrest Kalmurzaev failed because parliament refused to lift his parliamentary immunity from prosecution. LF TURKMEN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH U.S. OFFICIALS. Saparmurat Niyazov held talks in Ashgabat on 24 June with outgoing U.S. special envoy for Caspian energy issues Richard Morningstar and his successor, John Stern Wolf, Interfax reported. Wolf said after the talks that the U.S. will continue to support plans for the construction of an under-water Trans-Caspian pipeline for the export of Turkmen gas. Morningstar said Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan are "much closer" than they were one year ago to resolving their dispute over the delimitation of their respective sectors of the Caspian Sea and ownership of several offshore oilfields. The dispute has been blamed for delaying implementation of the Trans-Caspian pipeline project. Last month, the U.S. proposed a compromise solution to both Baku and Ashgabat (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 May 1999). LF UZBEK PRESIDENT ADVOCATES JOINT ASSISTANCE FOR TAJIKISTAN. Speaking at the Central Asian Union summit in Bishkek on 24 June, Islam Karimov said other Central Asian states should work together to promote a rapprochement between the Tajik government and opposition, AP and Interfax reported. He said that efforts by unnamed "individual forces" to build an Islamic state in Tajikistan run counter to the interests of other countries of the region. LF JAPAN SUPPORTS FOOD PRODUCTION IN UZBEKISTAN. The Japanese government has allocated 470 million yen ($3.85 million) to subsidize rice production in two regions of Uzbekistan, Interfax reported on 24 June. LF END NOTE A Kosova Balance Sheet by Patrick Moore "That's what you get when you treat a third-rate power like a first-rate one--and it decides to act accordingly." Such was the comment of one Western observer of the Moscow scene, reacting to Russia's recent move to occupy Prishtina airport before NATO could get its troops into Kosova. At the airport, one man identified only as "General Igor" gleefully told London's "The Independent on Sunday": "I'll be here for years." An agreement regulating Russia's role came later, after days of painstaking negotiations. One suspects that it could have been reached a lot sooner were it not for Moscow's desire to savor its coup-on-the-ground and drag the talks out accordingly. The Russian troops arrived from Bosnia-Herzegovina, where they were part of SFOR, formerly known as IFOR or UNPROFOR. They were there partly because of Russia's longstanding desire to serve notice that it remains a great power, at least as far as the Balkans are concerned. But they were also there partly because of a Western desire to involve Russian troops in the peacekeeping effort. Part of the irony in this is that the cornerstone of Western policy for decades had been to keep Soviet or Russian ground troops out of the Balkans. Now, 200 paratroopers left their NATO-supervised peacekeeping posts in Bosnia to elbow in on Kosova. Whatever happens, General Igor and his friends will not have their own zone of occupation, at least under the current arrangements. Many observers had feared that any Russian zone would turn into a local version of the ethnically-cleansed Republika Srpska, which would attract the province's Serbs to settle but would not welcome ethnic Albanians. Meanwhile, the Kosovars have been coming home in droves despite the dangers of landmines (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," No. 24). On the military side, NATO now has a document from the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) in which the guerrillas pledge to demilitarize and partially disarm according to a fixed time table. It is too early to tell whether the UCK will stick to its word. But perhaps the most disturbing phenomenon on the ground involves continuing reports from various parts of Kosova regarding attacks on Serbian civilians, abandoned Serbian property, and Serbian cultural monuments, including historic churches. The big question is whether these are isolated acts of revenge or something more sinister. On the diplomatic front, three young prime ministers have shown a willingness to look forward and stress reconstruction and regional cooperation. Macedonia's Ljubco Georgievski, Albania's Pandeli Majko, and Hashim Thaci of the UCK's provisional government are political products of the 1990s. (And when considering those who belong to the new generation of Balkan leaders, one might also add Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic and Macedonian Albanian leader Arben Xhaferi.) Their taking office marks the end of an era in which the political leadership rested--and that seems truly the right word--with persons whose politically formative years were under communism. Macedonia's President Kiro Gligorov and the Kosovar shadow-state leader Ibrahim Rugova have both made their marks on the region's history, but time now seems to have passed them by, along with their Tito-era styles. The main issue on the horizon, however, remains the democratization of Serbia. The Serbs are the numerically largest people of the former Yugoslavia and live at the very center of the Balkans. They also have a stronger democratic tradition than most of their neighbors. They therefore cannot be "written off" as inherent warmongers, any more than the Germans could after having started and lost two World Wars. It is precisely the example of post-1945 Germany that suggests that there is ample time and opportunity for Serbia to reclaim its democratic heritage and take its place politically as well as geographically at the center of the Balkans. But NATO ended the war with a "Saddam Hussein peace" that left in office a dictator who first came to power by manipulating nationalist sentiments and after 10 years of economic downturn. Many Western leaders are now predicting Milosevic's eventual demise, but not necessarily in the coming weeks. Part of the reason for this is that the domestic opposition presents no readily identifiable alternative to Milosevic. Some opposition leaders have no large followings, while others are tainted by a history of opportunism or mercurial behavior. Still others are extreme nationalists who might have no qualms about launching new wars or waves of ethnic cleansing. Perhaps the most serious threat to Milosevic could come from below, including from Serbs who lost their homes as a result of his wars. That sort of discontent could, however, as easily be harnessed by the extreme nationalists as by democrats. In order to help promote a non-nationalist alternative to Milosevic, some Western governments and NGOs have actively begun to promote the democratization of Serbia. This involves support for democratic political forces and the independent media. It also means launching the German-sponsored Balkan stability pact for regional peace and development, which Serbia will be welcome to join once it has rid itself of Milosevic. A tantalizing prospect would be for the international community to use its de facto protectorate over Kosova to promote democracy in Serbia as a whole. The province could become a center for a free and vibrant Serbian press and independent electronic media. NGO's and the opposition could also operate freely there. Kosova could once again become a "cradle of Serbian civilization." xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word subscribe as the subject of the message. HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE Send an email to email@example.com with the word unsubscribe as the subject of the message. 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