|A man seldom thinks with more earnestness of anything than he does of his dinner. - Samuel Johnson|
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 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 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 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 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. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Send an email to email@example.com with the word subscribe as the subject of the message. HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word unsubscribe as the subject of the message. 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