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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 218, Part I, 9 November 1999


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 218, Part I, 9 November 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

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Headlines, Part I

* CLINTON CALLS FOR CONTINUED U.S. ENGAGEMENT IN RUSSIA

* RUSSIA SENDS REINFORCEMENTS TO NORTH CAUCASUS GEORGIAN

* PRESIDENT SAYS RUSSIA WANTED TO ATTACK CHECHNYA FROM
GEORGIA

End Note: HOW AUTHORITARIAN REGIMES USE ELECTIONS
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RUSSIA

CLINTON CALLS FOR CONTINUED U.S. ENGAGEMENT IN RUSSIA... In a
speech at Georgetown University in Washington on 8 November
marking the 10th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall,
U.S. President Bill Clinton called the U.S.'s stake in
Russia's success "profound," RFE/RL's Washington bureau
reported. He declared that "years from now, I don't think we
will be criticized, any of us, for doing too much to help"
establish a stable and democratic Russia engaged with the
West. Clinton refrained from criticizing Russian actions in
the North Caucasus, saying only that Russia "has mired itself
again in a cruel cycle of violence in Chechnya that is
claiming many innocent lives." He added, however, that the
U.S. "should protect [its] interests with Russia and speak
plainly about actions that we believe are wrong." He
continued that Washington should "also remember what Russia
is struggling to overcome and the legacy with which it must
deal." JAC

...AS STATE DEPARTMENT SAYS RUSSIA VIOLATING GENEVA
CONVENTION. State Department Spokesman James Rubin said on 8
November that Russia's "current campaign [in Chechnya] is not
in keeping with [its] commitments" under the OSCE code of
conduct and the Geneva convention, Reuters reported on 9
November. Rubin also repeated the U.S.'s call for dialogue
between Moscow and "legitimate Chechen partners." On 9
November, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin responded to U.S.
criticisms, telling reporters that "we are dealing with
groups which are well armed, trained and financed from
abroad." "Our actions are fully appropriate in view of the
threat Russia is facing," he added, according to Reuters.
First deputy head of the administration Igor Shabdurasulov
stressed the same day that Russia's actions do not constitute
"a war against the Chechen people" but an operation to
"suppress terrorism," according to ITAR-TASS. JAC

RUSSIA SENDS REINFORCEMENTS TO NORTH CAUCASUS... An
unspecified number of Russian Interior Ministry troops have
been sent to Daghestan, from where they will be dispatched to
the besieged town of Gudermes, AP reported on 8 November.
Meanwhile, air and artillery bombardment of Gudermes, Grozny,
and Bamut continued on 8 November. Nine civilians were killed
and 50 injured in Grozny alone, according to unconfirmed
Chechen reports. Snow and fog halted both air and ground
attacks on 9 November. LF

...AS CIVILIAN EXODUS FROM CHECHNYA CONTINUES. Speaking in
Geneva on 9 November, UNHCR spokesman Kris Janowski said that
fleeing Chechen civilians continue to cross the border from
Chechnya into Ingushetia at the rate of approximately 4,000
per day, Reuters reported. He said a total of 20,000 have
left Chechnya since the border crossing was opened on 5
November. Janowsksi said the UNHCR is "gravely concerned
about the scope of the humanitarian crisis and the mounting
toll of Russia's military actions on Chechnya's civilian
population." LF

RUSSIA HOPES TO USE FOOD AID PROCEEDS FOR INVESTMENT FUND. In
an interview with "Segodnya" on 6 November, Agriculture
Minister Aleksei Gordeev called for using the proceeds from
the sale of the next U.S. food assistance to establish an
investment guarantee fund as well as a "Russian company for
agricultural development, a joint agrarian bank for
reconstruction and development, and a wholesale investment
bank." According to Gordeev, U.S. companies such as John
Deere and Case are prepared to invest as much as $200 million
in Russian agribusiness provided they have some guarantees
for their investments. In April, Deputy Prime Minister
Gennadii Kulik claimed that the two companies had agreed to
invest up to $400 million; at the time, a spokesman for John
Deere denied that a contract was even close to being signed.
Proceeds from the sale of the last food assistance package
were supposed to have been directed to the Pension Fund, but
some regions have been slow to comply with that requirement
(see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 10 November 1999).
JAC

LUZHKOV ACCUSED OF MURDER... Sergei Dorenko, the host of an
"analytical" program on Russian Public Television, broadcast
on 7 November an interview with a friend of slain U.S.
businessman Paul Tatum who accused Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov
of being involved in Tatum's 1996 murder. According to
Tatum's friend, Tatum accused Luzhkov in the last words he
uttered before dying. The story is only the latest in a
series of programs by Dorenko critical of Luzhkov and former
Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov. Both men are leaders of the
Fatherland-All Russian election alliance. Dorenko is
considered a close ally of business magnate Boris
Berezovskii, a prominent foe of Luzhkov and Primakov. The
Media Ministry earlier declined a request by the Central
Election Commission to sanction Dorenko for his broadcasts
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 November 1999). However, "Segodnya"
reported on 6 November that media outlets may be fined a sum
equivalent to 200-500 minimum monthly wages for violating
campaign coverage rules. JAC

...WHILE PRIMAKOV ACCUSED OF COMPLICITY IN THEFT. On 4
November, "Novye Izvestiya," which is financed by
Berezovskii's LogoVAZ group, accused Primakov of obstructing
the investigation into the whereabouts of billions of dollars
worth of gold owned by the former Communist Party of the
Soviet Union. In 1991, at the time the investigation was
ongoing, Primakov was head of the Foreign Intelligence
Service. According to the daily, Primakov then refused to
allow investigators to search the service's archives because
such a service would "jeopardize the integrity of [Russia's]
intelligence networks." Later, Primakov "decided to give the
Prosecutor-General's office the cooperation it wanted, only
in order to be able to control the course of the
investigation" and "steer it in an direction where many
questions remain unanswered." According to the daily, this
gold was later used to establish Russia's top commercial
banks, which now owe Primakov a favor. JAC

LUKIN HARDENS STANCE ON POSSIBLE ABM CHANGES. State Duma
Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Vladimir Lukin (Yabloko)
told Ekho Moskvy on 8 November that if the U.S. were to
"withdraw" from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, Russian
might be forced to "spend more on an asymmetrical response--
the perfection of the system for bypassing anti-missile
defense," Interfax reported. "I think we shall find an
inexpensive way of bypassing anti-missile defense,
particularly the fragile system the U.S. may build at the
initial stage," he added. In August, Lukin had adopted a more
conciliatory approach than many Russian officials toward
amending the ABM treaty, saying he did not rule out
amendments to the treaty if those changes did not alter the
document's "backbone" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 August
1999). JC

RUSSIA, TURKEY FAIL TO SIGN PROTOCOL ON GAS DEAL. The
anticipated protocol to the 1997 Russian-Turkish agreement on
construction of the "Blue Stream" undersea pipeline to
transport Russian gas to Turkey was not signed during Turkish
Premier Bulent Ecevit's three day visit to Moscow last week.
But Russian Prime Minister Putin said that the failure to
sign the document is not "a tragedy," while Ecevit said it
will be approved and signed by the Turkish cabinet "in the
near future," according to Interfax. Ecevit termed the
project beneficial for both countries. Putin expressed
satisfaction at the development of bilateral relations,
noting that Turkey is one of Russia's major trade partners
and engages in military-technical cooperation with Russia,
despite its membership in NATO. The two premiers signed four
documents on 5 November, including a joint statement
condemning terrorism. Ecevit also met on 6 November with
Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov to discuss bilateral trade and
economic ties. LF

RUSSIA, INDIA BOOST DEFENSE TIES. Russia and India have
signed an agreement on cooperation in the military sphere.
Speaking to journalists after the signing in New Delhi on 5
November, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov
said the accord provided for the joint production of Su-30
fighter jets to begin next year and for Russia to lease and
eventually sell to India early warning airborne systems,
aircraft carriers, and strategic bombers. The two sides also
discussed the licensed production of Kilo class submarines
and overhauling the submarines India already has. Klebanov
added that the accord forms the "foundation" for future
military cooperation that will be discussed during President
Yeltsin's visit to India in early 2000. JC

PRIMAKOV WARNS ABOUT LOSS OF TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY. Speaking
in Kaliningrad Oblast last week, Fatherland-All Russia
alliance leader Primakov warned that one of the main tasks of
the state is to preserve its integrity, stressing that
Fatherland would never agree to ceding Kaliningrad to anyone.
Primakov made that comment following a visit to Lithuania,
where he had told political leaders that he is opposed to the
Baltic countries' joining NATO, ITAR-TASS reported on 4
November. The former Russian premier also urged Kaliningrad
officials to use the region's geographic location to its
advantage. As "Novoe Vremya" remarked on 6 November, Moscow
is likely to insist on concluding a special treaty with the
EU to protect the oblast's interests during EU expansion. If
such a treaty were concluded, the newspaper continued,
Kaliningrad may become the first Russian region to cooperate
with the EU in the 21st century. JC

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

FORMER ARMENIAN JOURNALIST CHARGED IN PARLIAMENT SHOOTINGS.
Armenia's military prosecutor has brought criminal charges
against pollster and former journalist Nairi Badalian in
connection with the 27 October murders of eight senior
officials, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported on 8 November.
Badalian has been formally charged with "assisting in the
crime," according to an official from the military
prosecutor's office. He faces a 10-year sentence if
convicted. Badalian runs the independent polling organization
"Logos." Like the gunmen's leader, Nairi Hunanian, he is a
former member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation-
Dashnaktsutyun. LF

POPE VISITS GEORGIA. President Eduard Shevardnadze and the
head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Ilia II,
greeted Pope John Paul II on his arrival in Tbilisi on 8
November. The pontiff later held talks with Ilia II in the
11th century cathedral of the former Georgian capital,
Mtskheta, during which Ilia pointedly failed to respond to
the pope's call for "new bridges" between the Roman Catholic
and Orthodox Churches, the "Los Angeles Times" noted the
following day. The two clerics also issued a statement
condemning terrorism and characterizing the situation in
Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh and the North Caucasus as a threat
to world peace. On 9 November, the pope celebrated Mass for
Georgia's tiny Roman Catholic community at a sports palace in
Tbilisi. LF

GEORGIAN PRESIDENT SAYS RUSSIA WANTED TO ATTACK CHECHNYA FROM
GEORGIA. Shevardnadze said on 8 November in his weekly radio
address that the Georgian Security Council last week rejected
requests from Russian leaders for permission to launch
attacks on Chechen fighters from Georgian territory, Caucasus
Press reported. He did not disclose who those Russian leaders
were. Shevardnadze added that Georgia's refusal was "in
Russia's interests," according to ITAR-TASS. LF

AZERBAIJAN DEMANDS PAYMENT FOR RENT OF RADAR FACILITY.
Azerbaijani Deputy Premier Abbas Abbasov told Aksenenko on 5
November that Azerbaijan wants an annual payment of $4
million plus utility fees for Russia's continued use of the
Gabala radar facility in central Azerbaijan, AP reported,
citing Interfax. LF

KAZAKHSTAN PLANS TIGHTER EXPORT CONTROLS. Kazakhstan is
cooperating with its "partners," especially the U.S., to
improve export controls, Foreign Minister Yerlan Idrisov told
journalists in Almaty on 8 November. He linked those measures
to the need to prevent a repeat of the illegal sale to North
Korea of MiG-21 fighter aircraft. Also on 8 November, the
National Security Ministry press service announced that
materials summarizing the investigation into those sales will
be forwarded to the Almaty City Court within one week,
RFE/RL's bureau in the former capital reported. LF

KAZAKHSTAN, EES TO CANCEL PART OF MUTUAL DEBTS. Kazakhstan
and Russia's Unified Electricity Systems (EES) have agreed on
a deal for writing off part of their mutual debts and setting
up a joint venture under which each party will own a 50
percent stake in the Ekibastuz Power Generating Plant,
Interfax reported on 5 November. The agreement was apparently
reached at a meeting in late October between First Russian
Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Aksenenko, EES Director
Anatolii Chubais, and Kazakh railways officials to discuss
debts for shipments of coal from the Russian-owned Severnyi
coal mine in Kazakhstan to the Sverdlovsk power grid,
according to "Izvestiya" of 2 November. LF

INDEPENDENT TRADE UNION WANTS KAZAKHSTAN ELECTION RESULTS
ANNULLED. Meeting in Astana on 7 November, members of the
Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Kazakhstan sent
an open letter to President Nursultan Nazarbaev and to the
Kazakhstan office of the OSCE demanding that the results of
the recent parliamentary elections be declared void, RFE/RL's
correspondent in the capital reported. The trade unionists
also accused Almaty Mayor Adilbek Zhaqsybekov of condoning
violations of the election law during the poll. They demanded
his resignation. LF

KAZAKHSTAN'S AUTHORITIES RESORTING TO INTERNET CENSORSHIP?
Since 4 November it has been impossible to access the Website
"Eurasia" (http://www.eurasia.org.ru) which is controlled by
opposition parties, according to the director of the
Kazakhstan office of Internews. Technicians for the Internet
provider Nursat told Internews that access to the site will
be impossible for the foreseeable future owing to "technical
reasons." LF

KYRGYZSTAN SETS DATE FOR PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS. President
Askar Akaev will issue a decree later this week scheduling
elections to both chambers of Kyrgyzstan's parliament for 13
February 2000, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported on 8
November, citing an unnamed source within the presidential
administration. The People's Assembly (upper house) will be
composed of 45 deputies and the Legislative Assembly (lower
house) 60 deputies, of whom 15 will be elected under the
party list system. LF

UN SET TO PROLONG OBSERVER MISSION IN TAJIKISTAN. In an 8
November report to the Security Council, UN Secretary-General
Kofi Annan advocated extending for another six months the
mandate of the UN Observer Mission in Tajikistan, Reuters and
AP reported. Annan noted progress in the democratization
process in Tajikistan, including the September referendum on
amendments to the country's constitution. He said the
Observer Mission's mandate will not be extended again
following the parliamentary elections scheduled for February
2000. That vote is to mark the end of the transition period
envisaged in the 1997 peace agreement ending the civil war.
LF

U.S. NOTES IRREGULARITIES IN TAJIK PRESIDENTIAL POLL. A U.S.
State Department statement of 8 November identified
violations in the conduct of the 6 November Tajik
presidential poll, Reuters reported. It pointed to widespread
multiple voting, "a lack of transparency in the balloting
process," and the failure of the country's media to explain
opposition candidate Davlat Usmon's refusal to run. The
statement expressed the hope that the Tajik government will
take steps to ensure that the parliamentary elections in
February 2000 conform to OSCE standards. LF

UZBEKISTAN'S PRESIDENT BEGINS CHINA VISIT. Islam Karimov
arrived in Beijing on 8 November for a three-day state visit
and met with his Chinese counterpart, Jiang Zemin, to discuss
bilateral relations, international terrorism, and religious
extremism, ITAR-TASS reported. The two expressed satisfaction
at the development of bilateral cooperation and noted the
"huge" potential for expanding ties. Members of Kazakhstan's
Uighur minority staged a demonstration outside Uzbekistan's
embassy in Kazakhstan on 4 November to demand that Karimov
raise with his Chinese hosts the case of Uighur human rights
activist Rabia Qadir, who was arrested by Chinese authorities
in Xinjiang earlier this year. LF

CORRECTION: "RFE/RL Newsline" on 4 November incorrectly
identified Gerhard Glogowski as head of a German delegation
from Sachsen-Anhalt visiting Kazakhstan. Glogowski is in fact
prime minister of Niedersachsen.

END NOTE

HOW AUTHORITARIAN REGIMES USE ELECTIONS

By Paul Goble

	Authoritarian leaders regularly use elections to
legitimize or even enhance their powers rather than to
promote democracy, a strategy that poses special challenges
not only to those who live under their control but also to
others who want to advance the cause of popular governance.
	Nowhere is this pattern clearer than in the post-Soviet
states of Central Asia, where leaders proclaim their
adherence to the ideas of democracy but do everything they
can to subvert the power of the people to use elections or
any other means to determine their own destinies.
	The most egregious examples of this misuse of elections
are to be found in Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
The recent parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan, Bigeldin
Gabdullin told an RFE/RL press briefing in Washington on 2
November, were marked by "very serious violations of civil
and human rights."
	Opposition rallies were blocked, ballot boxes stuffed,
and opposition observers excluded--all to ensure that the
regime of President Nursultan Nazarbaev would have not just a
majority in the parliament but an overwhelmingly strong
position that would appear to block the emergence of any new
challengers in the future.
	In Turkmenistan last week, the Central Election
Commission announced that all candidates must be registered
as independents because President Sapurmurat Niyazov had
decided that his country will not be ready for a multi-party
political system for at least another decade.
	And in Uzbekistan, the authorities have routinely
employed coercion to stifle dissent and drive any criticism
of the regime of President Islam Karimov underground.
Tashkent has then attacked the opposition for linking up with
Islamist groups and demanded Western understanding in moving
against those "threats" to democracy.
	Because these regimes, together with others like them,
have been so apparently successful in using electoral forms
as a way of promoting the notion that they are democratic or
at least committed to the establishment of democracy in the
future, democratic activists both in these countries and
elsewhere have been divided on how to respond.
	In some cases, these activists have argued against
taking part in what they see as a charade of democracy and
have urged international monitoring groups like the OSCE to
stay away lest their presence be exploited by these regimes
as evidence of their claimed attachment to democracy.
	Advocates of this position have noted that the regimes
sometimes are able to coopt those who do participate in the
voting. And they have pointed out that the authorities
routinely invoke their willingness to allow outside
monitoring as a sign of good faith--even when these monitors
deliver blistering denunciations of fundamental violations of
democratic procedure.
	But in other cases, democratic activists take just the
opposite position, arguing that participation in virtually
any election enhances their power rather than that of the
regime. They also maintain that outside observers, however
the regime seeks to portray them, typically help push along
the slow but difficult process of democratization.
	Kazakhstan's Gabdullin falls in this latter camp. Even
though he and his colleagues were defeated by the
machinations of Nazarbaev and his regime, Gabdullin, who
edits that country's only independent newspaper, said the
election helped to multiply the number of opposition figures.
	Where before there had only been one major opposition
figure, the democratic activist said, now all 500 of the
candidates who were kept from having a genuine chance to
compete have become opponents of the regime as well. Now, he
continued, they are more ready not only to cooperate with one
another but also to stand up for democracy in the future.
	Even though Gabdullin argued that the outside observers
had seldom spent long enough in Kazakhstan to see all the
tricks Nazarbaev's people used to control the vote, he agreed
that the observers had played a role by focusing
international attention on the elections and by signaling to
democrats in Kazakhstan that they are not alone when they
stand up to authoritarian regimes.
	For most of the last century, dictators and would-be
dictators have sought to use electoral forms, but not genuine
elections, to enhance their power. But the experience of
Kazakhstan's Gabdullin and his colleagues in other Central
Asian countries suggests that these regimes may be
undermining their own power rather than strengthening it.
	With each electoral cycle, ever more people in these
countries as well as elsewhere are likely to demand a genuine
voice over their own lives. And to the extent that happens,
elections there are likely to become genuinely democratic, a
development that may ultimately lead to the departure from
the political scene of those who seek to use a democratic
instrument for patently non-democratic goals.

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               Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc.
                     All rights reserved.
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