Issue No. 157. - January 15 , 2000.
1. Russia: FROM WAR TO PRESIDENT
By Valekh Rzayev
2. Georgia: ON THE THRESHOLD OF FINANCIAL BREAKDOWN
By Ivlian Haindrava
3. Croatia: ALL TUDJMAN'S SUCCESORS
By Goran Vezic
4. Kyrgyzstan: PREELECTIONS REPRESSION
By Ramazan Dyryldaev
5. Special addition: TRANSITIONS ONLINE
Russia: FROM WAR TO PRESIDENT
By Valekh Rzayev
At the end of the December 1999, Russia created its own near future in the parliamentary elections. According to experts, people were much more active in the last elections. In 1995, about 65 percent of the Russian population caste ballots, 3 percent more than voted in this year's December elections.
The Russian people, inflamed by the unprecedented information war that took place among the political opponents, expressed their views in the following manner: the Communist Party took first place, as was expected, collecting almost 24 percent of the vote. Receiving just one percent less was the young pro-government Unity Party, which supports Vladimir Putin. By taking second place, the party became a true sensation in the elections. The Fatherland-All Russia block lagged behind in a larger gap of ten percent, taking third place. Just a few months ago, their leaders, Evgeny Primakov and Yury Luzhkov, were thought to be the uncontested favorites. The Union of Right Forces took an unexpected fourth place with eight percent. The Union, a party composed of a block of young "reformers" with Western types of activities, gave birth to hundreds of anecdotes during times of massive privatization of government property and industry. Vladimir Zhirinovsky's supporter were the fifth to enter t he parliamentary chairs barely passed the post, receiving 6 percent of the vote. The liberal Yabloka block took last place [among those parties to enter parliament] falling behind Zhirinovksy's friends by .05 percent of the vote. Russian elections at the threshold of the new millennium took place in a very particular situation, which could be best be described as a general lack of faith among Russians. For the first time in the history of the parliamentary races, elections in eight districts were declared invalid because a majority of the voters voted "against all candidates." This took place in Primorskii kray, Kamchatskii, Leningrad, Sverdlovskii and St. Petersburg. It was amazing that a similar reaction didn't spread to other voting districts, since this sort of public outpouring of disgust for everyone and everything could have been unpleasant for all the candidates.
There were massive violations in election procedure concentrated in the regions predominantly controlled by the core of the OVR movement: Moscow, Bashkiria, Tatarstan. In connection with these violations, activists from the Union of Right Forces sent the corresponding documents to the attorney general to request a detailed investigation. However, representatives of the Central Election Commission had already hurried to announce that the results of the election would not be subject to review Regardless of such violations, the voting results pleased all of the parties that made it into the parliament. The communists took first place, but at great cost, losing both strength and money. According to many journalists, Fatherland-all Russia Party thought then entire weight of its gubernatorial-mayoral economic strength on the political scene, yet still received much less that it had expected even in the worse possible case. The Unity party's breakthrough was celebrated as a triumph of the young head of state, Vladimir Putin. Unity now benefits from an ideal correlation of forces that took third place. In fact, people voted for the picture of a strong man with democratic mannerisms. They voted not according to words, but according to actions they believe can surmount the political and economic chaos in Russia. It is doubtful whether that sort of person could be a representative of the military of militia, an organization about which compromising stories are legendary. Colonel Putin came from the former KGB (the current FSB). People believed in Putin more than anyone else because he was a man from the least comprised system. However, this faith will only be justified if there isn't a return to the Soviet past, including limitations on free speech and other civil rights, after his victory.
At least for the moment, the military campaign in Chechnya, according to the generals, is heading to it logical conclusion. But, Chechnya testified to the rebirth of severe censorship on information in the Northern Caucasus. Many independent journalists claim that there are heavy losses among the federal forces in battles with the Chechen combatants. They speak about colossal destruction in areas with civilian population. According to some experts' predictions, even if the Russian Army takes Grozny and the mountain regions of Chechnya, Russian federal forces will still run into tactical partisan warfare in the near future. Such partisan warfare would include unexpected diversions and random murders. How long the insurrection can last will depend on whether the federal forces will be able to find a common language with the local population, eradicate the army's maraudering and drunkenness, and strengthen the disciplinary responsibility for unjustifiable brutalities against the civilian population. The Moscow analytical journal Media Forum has suggested that success in the Chechen War directly depends on the success of battles with criminal revelry and the bureaucratic tyranny in Russia. This is something quite clear. Otherwise, the military operation in the northern Caucasus will look like a surgeon who cuts off his patient's nose to cure a cold. Putin himself understands this, and is careful not to make any hasty movements. Similarly, careless steps could set the rate of the ruble against the dollar on a crash course, bringing about destructive changes in the economic alignment of forces. It is possible that while all the newspapers and stock markets are on New Year vacation until January 13, President Boris Yeltsin made a good move by appointing December 31 as the day of his resignation. A tired and sick democratic emperor of Russia left his throne to a former agent of the KGB, assuring that property in Russia will not be divided up even more, with extremely bloody consequences.
The nation believes that Yeltsin's resignation will prompt a new epoch in Russian history. Although the presidential elections will be earlier than the previously planned, set in March, few doubt that the new president will not be Yevgeny Primakov, who hasn't exactly shown his best side, nor the eternal leader of the Communists already at retirement age, Gennady Zyuganov, but rather, Vladimir Putin. At the very least it is said that when the former monarch through himself at Putin with a joyful shout, "we won," then Putin replied coldly "The electorate won, not us." Time will show whether this is in fact the case.
Georgia: ON THE THRESHOLD OF FINANCIAL BREAKDOWN
By Ivlian Haindrava
The end of the last year was marked by the intensification of activities on the part of international financial institutions in Georgia. As Mr. John Odling-Smee, Director of the European Department of International Monetary Fund (IMF) said during his visit to Tbilisi, "IMF is willing to witness Georgia's success and is determined to provide its recommendations to the Georgian government and, in case of methodical implementation of such recommendations and sustainable continuance of reforms, IMF will renew its financial support to Georgia."
Mr. Odling-Smee characterized the present condition of Georgia's economy as "very difficult, even critical". He emphasized that in 1994-1997 Georgia accomplished good results in the implementation of reforms, however, during the subsequent years those accomplishments were less significant.
In 1997, the economic growth in Georgia reached 10 per cent, however, later this rate went down to 2-3 per cent a year. The same year the GDP growth made up 9 per cent, while since than it has not given any indication of further growth. According to John Odling-Smee, investment climate in Georgia "has been unattractive to both foreign and domestic investors and such a situation is connected with the fact that there is no superiority of law in Georgia." Mr. Odling-Smee believes that the government has to encourage the development of land market and cope with the serious problems the country's energy sector suffers from. According to him, an important role in solving manifold problems is to be played by the privatization of major government-owned companies in energy and telecommunications sectors, as well as seaport facilities. Mr. Odling-Smee considers that the government should make all efforts in order to keep the inflation rate on as lowest a level as possible and to encourage the influx of investments.
The reduction of public spending and struggle with corruption are the issues that require particular attention. The process of reorganization of government should be finalized keeping in mind that the role of government under the conditions of market economy is entirely different from that of the centralized planning system of governance. According to Mr. Odling-Smee, it is requisite that the number of governmental officers be significantly reduced and the legal framework regulating the publicity in terms of financial conditions of governmental officers and members of parliament be improved. This would enable the government to exercise its legitimate power to collect taxes.
What Georgia faces today is not the lack of tax law, but the problem of enforcement of tax law û Mr. Odling-Smee said and called on the Ministry of Interior of Georgia to intensify its activities against the corrupted high-level governmental officials. At the same time, it is essential to fight against the corruption in the Ministry of Interior itself, as well as other law-enforcement agencies û Mr. Odling-Smee added. He believes that nothing else but corruption is the reason for a low level of tax revenues. According to him, there are several dominant groups in Georgia's economy who use their political and financial influences to slow down the speed of economic reforms. If Georgia wants to continue cooperation with IMF, it must address the two major and interrelated problems û corruption and inadequate fiscal revenues.
Furthermore, Georgia has to develop a rational economic policy. In the meantime, the IMF experts have been dissatisfied with a draft of the State budget for the year 2000. "The government of Georgia must take more decisive steps in order to have access to the IMF resources," Mr. Odling-Smee said. "A new three-year program of assistance proposed by IMF for 2000-2002 will be the continuation of the program of macroeconomic stabilization of Georgia which will lay foundation to the economic growth and the reduction of inflation in the country", Mr. Odling-Smee concluded.
As Mr. Johanness Linn, Vice-President of the World Bank, who arrived in Georgia shortly after the departure of Mr. Odling-Smee, noted the World Bank agreed with the IMF's assessment of Georgia's economic status. Mainly, all problems existing in fiscal policy are related to the unsolved problem of mobilization of revenues which, in turn, is an immediate result of corruption.
Mr. Linn emphasized that in terms of some WB projects Georgia had failed to meet its obligations. Specifically, this had been the case with the requirements of the Third Structural Adjustment Credit (SAC III) and the Energy Sector Adjustment Credit (ESAC). The total value of WB commitments under these two programs amounts to US $75 millions out of which Georgia has already received US $32.4 millions as a first trenche.
According to Mr. Linn, the government of Georgia should have reduced the budget deficit and improved its performance in terms of mobilizing fiscal revenues. If this is not the case, the support provided by the international lending agencies to Georgia may turn into a mere factor of growth of the country's foreign debts. Georgia has already received a total of US $400 millions from the World Bank. Last year this international financial institution allocated to Georgia a package of loans with a total value of almost US $114 millions. However, Georgia may receive the next trenche worth of US $32 millions only in spring provided the government meets the World Bank's requirements. Georgia has to make a gradual transition from the support of international financial institutions to financial autonomy û such is the general opinion of all experts of the world's leading financial and lending institutions. In the commonly spoken language this means that monetary support to Georgia will be suspended until the government will have established order in the budgetary sphere and, first of all, within the system of government itself.
As to the high-level government officials of Georgia, of course they did not leave these statements without their comments. State Minister Vazha Lortkipanidze noted that the government was about to evaluate the process of implementation of the three-year program of structural reforms and outline the main directions for the next phase of cooperation between Georgia and IMF. According to him, the government had to analyze the reasons for the deterioration of financial situation in Georgia and the problems of fiscal policy. "The Georgian government recognizes the need for a radical reform in the areas of tax policy, as well as struggle against corruption and shadow economy", Mr. Lortkipanidze said.
"Corruption has broadened to such an extent that unless it is rooted out it may ruin our statehood", says Mr. Kakha Targamadze, Minister of Interior. According to him, time has come to do away with this evil "by use of force within the limits of applicable law". He said that corruption will be interdicted within the system of Interior Ministry too, specifically, struggle will be conducted against "certain units which had been involved in corrupted practices". Targamadze said that only during the last year his ministry had filed more than 1,000 cases of economic crimes, out of which more than 300 ones had had a relation with high-ranking government officials. Budgetary cuts in reference to a number of lines of the State Budget for 1999 were approved by the newly elected Parliament as late as in the end of December 1999 (!) According to Finance Minister, David Onoprishvili, this mainly resulted from the fact that actual revenues were less than projected ones, while the government's spending in relation to certain budgetary lines exceeded the projected spending. Specifically, as Finance Minister noted, the printing and transporting of excise labels cost the government GEL 4.9 millions, while the State Budget had stipulated as little as GEL 1.5 millions. Below the projected revenues proved to be the proceeds from the sales of treasury bonds and the privatization of government-owned enterprises. Also, less significant than was expected proved to be foreign financial assistance provided to Georgia. All the above resulted in the post-hoc cuts of a number of budgetary lines for the Year 1999. In short, there is strong impression that the country has arrived onto the threshold of complete financial breakdown. Total confusion in the highest echelons of power û in particular, among the high-level government officials who seem not to have any idea how to deal with the problems which have been mounted over the years û just makes this impression stronger. Besides, to be frank, one can have little confidence that the people, who are responsible a great deal for the above problems, now will take care of them in earnest. It's really too hard to struggle with oneself.
Croatia: ALL TUDJMAN'S SUCCESORS
By Goran Vezic
As soon as he became the head of state, late Croatian president Franjo Tudjman used to victoriously say that his party, Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), would rule Croatia during decades to come. He probably died with that conviction, unaware that his party is becoming history together with him. Today we know that the only cohesive elements in HDZ were Tudjman himself, HDZ's founder and president, and the fact that HDZ have been in power for ten years. The party members enjoyed all privileges of Croatian political capitalism and now, when that power has been lost, that movement which called itslef a political party can no longer find a meaning in its survival. Its latests joker for staying in power was long-time minister of external affairs dr. Mate Granic (53) who got unanonymous party support not because of his great influence in HDZ but because party members knew too well that of all HDZ leaders Granic was the only one with acceptable reputation to Croatian and international public and that he could save HDZ from total election defeat at presidental elections on 24th January. They were also spurred by polls conducted before parliamentary elections. Polls predicted opposition getting almost two-third majority in the parliament, with HDZ and its satellite parties, invincible for ten years, only a third. According to polls, Granic was presidential favorite. Today he feels sorry for not leaving the party earlier, right after Tudjman's death. He believes he would have won that way because a party with no respect became a burden.
Granic was also HDZ vice-president. He left that office during presidential campaign, explaining it with fraction clashes which degrade his chances to win. He stated to completely personalize his campaign, aware that - taking all into account - he runs an already lost race.
Drazen Budisa (52), leader of Croatian Social-Liberal Party, is the most serious presidential candidate. A former student leader and political prisoner during first half of seventies he was - unofficially - designated by Tudjman himslef to success him, "father of all Croats". This word of mouth will be probably become true tomorrow, but not by Tudjman's decision on succession, but by the will of the people. What is absurd is that the leader of Croatian Social-Liberal Party will perhaps become head of state, not by will and votes of Tudjman's HDZ but by Socialdemocrat Party headed by future prime minister Ivica Racan. Budisa and Racan made a coalition and forged and agreement: I president - you prime minister. That coalition agreement caused a nonsense in Croatia - the strongest party, Racan's SDP, has no presidential candidate. Budisa is mutual candidate of winning duo HSLS and SDP. Lifes of the two politicians became intertwined rather strangely. In 1971, after "Croatian spring", young Budisa went to prison for four years, while young Racan started its political career as an official of Croatian Communist Party. Thirty years later they are together in a political symbiosis. Reformed communist Racan took Budisa as a "fig leaf" to cover his communist past, and reformed anti-communist Drazen Budisa will make use of huge support of Socialdemocrat party voters in presidential race.
Thanks to fights in Granic's HDZ, Stipe Mesic (66) moved from third
position to the second place. He is candidate of coalition made of Croatian
Peasant's Party, Croatian people's Party, Liberal Party, Socialdemocrat
Action and Istria Democratic Assembly. If not the most successfull, he
is the funniest Croatian politician. He can rely on support of the firsxt
HDZ supporters who didn't forget his participation in creation of Croatian
state. He was the first prime minister of the first democratically - elected
government in 1990 andthe last president of then Yugoslavia in 1991. In
1994, he split ways with Tudjman because of Tudjman's policy towards B-H.
Later he affirmed himself as hard and consistent critic of Tudjman's government
so he can count votes of hard opposition to HDZ. Also, we should not forget
that, what he stresses himself, Mesic was in power and then quit it voluntarily.
In a country where being a politician is the most lucrative job, and politicians
are shown to be easily spoiled, such an argument may carry a certain weight.
That is confirmed by the latest polls which show Mesic will enter second
round of elections on 7th February. What is mutual to most favored candidates
for Croatian presidentis that they promise modesty in wielding power and
voluntary undermining of presidential authority - which means moving political
power from president to the parliament and government. Considering new
poltiical relations in Croatia, this country will not get another Tudjman
- after Tudjman - without regard to who is elected as a new president.
Today Croatia is firmly on a road to democracy.
The powers are increasingly repressing the opposition in order to prevent it from participation in future parliamentary elections. (Feb.20, 2000) Thus, on January 5, they instigated a criminal case against of the leader of opposition party "Ar- Namys" ( Dignity) Felix Kulov ( ex- vice president of Kyrgyz Republic, minister of Interior Ministry and Minister of the National Security, Governor of the Chu Region before and most recently the mayor of Bishkek city). He was actively supporting reforms of Akaev while he was a public official and in April, 1999 he resigned. He is accused of illegal seizure of 492 917 liters of spirit, being a governor of the Chu Region. (for about $1.5 million) in 1996.
In fact, the above seizure from Khimsintez company was in time an illegal action of powers. And that was one of the numerous illegal actions towards foreign businessmen who wanted to work in Kyrgyzstan. According to the sides of that business Kulov made an unlawful decision with ordering militia (police) to seize the spirit of Khimsintez accusing it of illegal bringing it from abroad. But the thing is that Khimsintez was "roofed" or protected by then vice-premier K.Nanaev. The Supreme Court then ruled in favor of Khimsintez, but Kulov managed to persuade President Akaev that means received from the spirit were spent for the needs of the government and turned to the Chairman of the Constitutional Court - Ch.Baekova. She, in her turn, succeeded through the Constitutional Court to revoke the decision of the Supreme Court. Thus, she found actually an unlawful action of the governor as a constitutional one. So, this way Kulov's action was made as legal. Those who benefited from this deal are clear. Ch.Baekova constructed a huge palace for the name of her son in central part of Bishkek and at the cost of seizure of land territory of a single women, whose home was there and who applied in many instances and failed to find a support of which we reported before.
Now, by instruction of President Akaev the case on Khimsintez has been resumed against of Kulov. Actually, the decision of the Constitutional Court can not be annulled. But, but - not in Kyrgyzstan where everything is possible, any means are good as soon as they work for the interests of powers.
F.Kulov realizing the outcomes of powers' unlawfulness (to which in his turn he was promoting himself being in a public service) became one of the strong opposition leaders. President Akaev is really fearing of him not only because of the high reputation of Kulov among the certain categories of electorates but also of a conflict, i.e. if Kulov wins the seat to the Parliament he can address the people which would result into a serious conflict of which Akaev recently told in his private conversation with other opposition leader - D.Sadyrbaev.
2)Prosecution office and militia of Jalal-Abad arrested on January
05, 1999 at 8.30 a.m. Samat Isakunov - leader of the non-governmental organization
"Association of veterans of Afghan war", member of the Kyrgyz Committee
for Human Rights in Jalal-Abad. The same day, investigator Kirimbaev
of Jalal-Abad GOVD (city Interior Department) , in absence of lawyers,
charged him with Article 171, part 3 of Criminal Code of Kyrgyz Republic,
then next day he changed the charges to "embezzlement of entrusted
property". S.Isakunov is accused of buying an apartment for
the state budget money. According to laws participants of Afghan
war are eligible for various benefits, i.e. they are also eligible to get
an apartment form the government free of charge. So far, for the
past years actions of S.Isakunov were considered as legal and
now, all of a sudden they instigated a criminal case against of him because
of his membership with KCHR and active human rights activities. He was
also acting as independent observer during the past elections to local
self-administrations (October 17, 1999) on behalf of the KCHR. Lately
he was criticizing prosecution office and militia of
Jalal-Abad for arbitrariness. Along with other members of the KCHR
he has been actively participating in pre-election observing in Jalal-Abad
region, during the military clashes in the southern regions of the
country last year (August-October , 1999) he was defending the country
with his fellows and at the same time criticizing the authorities for idleness,
bad supply with water, food and lack of support of solders' families.
About 30 members of KCHR and the Association of Afghan war veterans went
to protest rallies in support of S.Isakunov. On January 6,
prosecutor of Jalal-Abad region Bakiev released him, but the criminal persecution
of Isakunov has not been stopped however.
Special addition: TRANSITIONS ONLINE January Issue Transitions Online (TOL) (http://www.transitions-online.org), the leading Internet magazine covering Central and Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and the former Soviet Union, has now moved to a subscription-based system. You can still see TOL for FREE, with no obligation. Just fill out our registration form to receive your free two-month trial subscription or qualify for a free annual subscription.
A Czech nonprofit dedicated to promoting independent journalism, TOL is based in Prague and uses a network of local correspondents to provide unique, cross-regional analysis.
New at TOL: Dmitrii Babich argues that the Chechen war has bisected the Russian former dissidents into peaceniks and warmongers, at http://www.tol.cz/jul99/specr01001.html ... Vaclav Havel's New Year's address to the Czech nation, at http://www.tol.cz/itowa/jan00cz.html ... Belarusian opposition leaders look toward the future, at http://www.tol.cz/itowa/jan00by.html
Our January book issue provides a special focus on authors and new works throughout the region, with dispatches from six countries.
by Luke Allnutt http://www.tol.cz/jan00/exile.html
"The eXile" -- an English-language bi-weekly based in Moscow -- is renowned for its biting criticism of the West's support of so-called Russian reformers and for its scathing attacks on Moscow's Western press corps. "Sex, Drugs, and Libel in the New Russia" -- the editors' first book -- follows the paper's formula of pungent satire, crudity, and unabashed hedonism.
The Young and the Nameless
by Polia Tchakarova http://www.tol.cz/jan00/bulgar.html
As soon as the post-communist book market opened up in Bulgaria, internationally and locally produced "pink" romance novels led the way. Looking to make a fast buck, many artists jumped into the new genre without any qualms -- usually adopting a Western-sounding pseudonym, or even writing under the names of already established Western authors.
Coping with Stalinism
by Wojciech Stanislawski http://www.tol.cz/jan00/poland.html
Poland's boomerang past just keeps coming back. The ongoing debate about what to do with the objects and icons of Stalinism -- or more difficult still, how to document the barrage of painful memories -- has never really wilted. Despite a declining interest in history books, a new illustrated guide to Stalinist Poland has proven a roaring success.
by Najam Abbas http://www.tol.cz/jan00/outsiders.html
Tajik writer Mansur Surosh's new novel, "Chala," tackles an oft-neglected subject: Bukharan Jews, many of whom converted to Islam in the 18th century. Scorned as traitors by their former religion and never fully accepted by Islamic people, the so-called "chala" have lived an existence that has become a metaphor for the exclusion of minorities in the region.
A Writer from a Cracked World
by Andrej Dynko http://www.tol.cz/jan00/belarus.html
One of the most popular writers in Belarus, Svetlana Aleksijevich tackles high-voltage issues such as Chornobyl, war, and love, drawing from real-life interviews. But Aleksijevich has been criticized for sensationalizing people's pain, as well as for writing in Russian.
A Catalogue of Errors
by Nevin Andjelic http://www.tol.cz/jan00/bosnia.html
Though the world is more than ready for a thorough, itemized reference work, "Conflict in former Yugoslavia: An Encyclopedia" isn't it. This pretentious volume -- produced mostly by Western scholars at the University of Bradford -- is rife with flagrant errors and glaring inconsistencies. At least the authors cannot be accused of having a bias: all ethnic groups and republics are treated with the same carelessness and inaccuracy.
Also, read Claude Cahn's review of two Czech works that discuss nationalism and minorities, at http://www.tol.cz/books/bkjan001.html
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