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Issue No. 187 - August 24 , 2000.
Contents :

1. Azerbaijan: THE PASSING AWAY OF THE GREAT NATIONAL LEADER
By Mustafa Hajibeyli

2. FRY/Serbia : THE REGIME AND OPPOSITION BALANCED IN MUTUAL HELPLESSNESS
By Sanja Vukcevic

3. Slovakia: REFERENDUM BRINGS CERTAIN DAMAGE
By Peter Mikes

4. Special addition: CUBA - URGENT APPEAL

5. Special addition: NEW AT TOL



Azerbaijan : The PASSING AWAY OF THE GREAT NATIONAL LEADER
    By Mustafa Hajibeyli
    On August 22 2000, Abulfaz Elchibey, the leader of the
Azerbaijani national freedom movement, first president of the
independent republic, and chairman of the Popular Front Party, one
of the leading political parties of the country, died.
    Mr. Elchibey was suffering from a prostate inflammation and had been
undergoing medical treatment in Turkey since July 7 2000.
During his treatment, persons accompanying him were stating that
Elchibey did not have any serious problem with his health. Mr. Elchibey
was receiving politicians, journalists visiting him in Turkey, and
even did not stay outside of the political processes during his
treatment in Turkey.
    During that period, the formation of an election coalition of
the democratic forces of Azerbaijan-"Elchibey-Isa Gamber" election
bloc was the last gift of Elchibey to the democratic movement of
Azerbaijan. Even on August 21, Mr. Elchibey was feeling normal.
But the next day, suddenly his health became worse, and Abulfaz
Elchibey, who dedicated all his life to the struggle for sacred
goals, died at his 62.
    Abulfaz Elchibey was born in Kalaki village of Nakhichevan in
1938. After graduating from the Baku State University (faculty of
oriental studies), worked at the USSR embassy in Egypt in 60s. On
returning to Baku, Mr. Elchibey began to work as a teacher at the
Baku State University. Being a democrat in essence Abulfaz
Elchibey even during the strongest period of the Soviet empire
gave anti-Soviet, anti-Communist lectures to his students. And
that is why, he was arrested and imprisoned for 2 years in
1974-76. Being a dissident, Elchibey headed the underground
organization "Varlig" in 80s. Elchibey was a leader of the
national freedom movement began in 1988 and became the leader of
the Popular Front in 1989-the organization that made the country
independent.
    He was elected a president at the first democratic elections
held in the independent Azerbaijan in 1992. In 1993, as a result
of revolt supported by Russia, Elchibey refused, voluntarily, of
his authorities for preventing the civil war in the country. In
1993-97, he lived in Kalaki village of Nakhichevan in a political
and economic blockade. Elchibey returned back to Baku in 1997 and
began to head the democratic movement in Azerbaijan.
    Most of the achievements gained by the Azerbaijani nation
during the last 12 years are mainly related with the name of
Elchibey: gaining of our national independence, withdrawing of the
Russian troops from Azerbaijan, issuing of national currency in
revolution, using of new- not allowing to bribery- entrance system
at the high schools, and others.
    At present, most of the public organizations, political
parties, newspapers acting in Azerbaijan were founded just during
the Elchibey's power. During his one year presidency, Mr. Elchibey
made the Azerbaijani nation to feel the real democracy. Elchibey
has brought new moral values to the political arena. He could do
more things, he had possibility and tendency to do it, but his
time was not enough.
***
FRY/ Serbia : THE REGIME AND OPPOSITION BALANCED IN MUTUAL HELPLESSNESS
    By Sanja Vukcevic
    According to Sonja Biserko, the president of the Helsinki Committee
for Human Rights in Serbia,  In the upcoming federal, presidential and local
elections, to be held on 24th September, Serbia has no choice,
and no chance of substantial changes, since the regime of Slobodan
Milosevic as well as the Serbian opposition remain in the same
positions as they have been during the last fifteen years.
    There is an ongoing election campaign in Serbia. Opposition
parties failed in their attempt to put forward just one candidate
who would round up most voters and defeat Slobodan Milosevic and
end his ten-year old regime. Besides the current Yugoslav
president, other candidates are Tomislav Nikolic, vice president
of the extreme right Serbian Radical Party, within the ruling
coalition; The Serbian Renowal Movement (SPO) nominated Vojislav
Mihajlovic, one of the closest colleagues of the party president
Vuk Draskovic and grandson of the Chetnic WWII leader Draza
Mihajlovic, while other smaller opposition parties supported the
nomination of "silent" nationalist politician Vojislav Kostunica,
president of the Serbian Democratic Party. In such conditions,
some independent Serbian analysts sarcastically note, it would be
best for Milosevic to stay in power since his policy is well known
to the west and catastrophic enough for Serbs themselves.
    About the current pre-election situation in the country, at
the time when it is still unknown whether Montenegro will
participate at the elections due to recent harmful constitutional
changes Milosevic's regime enforced without consultations with
representatives of that other Yugoslav republic, Sonja Biserko
says:
    During the last year since NATO intervention situation in
Serbia can be characterised as a balance of mutual weakness of
both opposition and the regime, since the opposition parties
failed to organise themselves and offer an alternative program to
mobilise Serbian citizens interested in change. After a year of a
barren activity of opposition parties, people are in even greater
confusion for whom to vote. All candidates for the presidential
elections lack conviction and they offer no alternative program
for the Serbian future, which complicates the outcome of the
elections in Serbia. Regime has a relative advantage not only
because it's stronger, better, more organised or offering more,
but because it's in power and confusion and division of Serbia, as
well as the general moral devastation of the whole society can
actually lead to a great abstention of many voters. In such
atmosphere, it might happen that Milosevic once again emerges
victorious.  If he doesn't win at the regular and fai r elections,
then he certainly won't turn over the power.

    Q: What is offered to citizens in the election campaign?

    A: It is very hurtful that the presidential candidates have
the same radical positions towards Kosovo and Montenegro. Local,
presidential and federal election campaign can be viewed in the
context of the final phase of break-apart of this Yugoslavia,
since the main election speeches concern whether Montenegro will
participate at the elections or not. Opposition argument that
Montenegro with its abstention from elections works for Milosevic
is only a phrase since it is the Serbian citizens that can change
the government in Serbia. Once again opposition view is that
Montenegro is part of Serbia which is no different from the
attitude taken by the government. So now, but in much better
light, we can again see the mechanisms behind the fall of the
whole former Yugoslavia at work.
    Regime, meaning Milosevic, and the leading parties are basing
their campaign on the integrity of present Yugoslavia, Kosovo and
Montenegro, on defence of security and sovereignty of the state.
Main issues of the election campaign are external politics, while
at the fringe are those that are important to citizens, like
economic situation, corruption and all the issues that would
motivate them to vote.
    The month that remains before the elections is a re-run of all
that we have seen during the past ten years, only on a much
smaller area. Of course, the regime will "fake" elections in
Kosovo since dislocated Serbs will be organised at two or three
election points that will serve to simulate that province. It is
still unknown what scenario will be seen in Montenegro since it is
most probable that Montenegrins will boycott the elections, but
there is a possibility to either provoke incidents or simulate
elections in some military barracks. The country will thus have
virtual state and virtual president.

    Q: Are there possible any radical changes and if yes what
would it be since there are four candidates with similar party
programs, especially concerning the foreign politics?

    A: I think there will be no basic changes at this point, only
the relations between Serbia and Montenegro will become more
transparent. After constitutional changes, Montenegro is well on
its way to leave for good Yugoslavia where it has not even the
minimal guarantees for an equal status. Montenegro can be equal
with Serbia only if independent state, since it is the only way to
establish its relationship with Serbia which is of great interest
for both countries and both nations. Only independent, Montenegro
can define how to live with Serbia and all other neighbouring
countries. Process of disintegration of this Yugoslavia cannot be
avoided and it is in a way a condition for reintegration of this
whole region, not as a state, but as an economic and cultural
area. Neither the Stability Pact can be enforced until this
process comes to an end. Only then one can speak about restoration
of the whole region.

    Q: Is there a possibility of fight because of elections or
rejecting election results if the opposition gets  majority of
votes?

    A: It is hard to believe that Milosevic's regime will
peacefully give over the power, since what is happening now is not
an ordinary campaign but a campaign for his survival. Situation in
the country, the whole region and wide international context of
elections, all say that the government did its best to organise
them at the time when the international community is unable to
react as usual. Serbian elections are month before the American,
when election campaign of both candidates is at the peak. The
regime is counting on that international circumstances which will
not allow any serious intervention. As has been shown during the
past ten years, all that is happening in Serbia is a lost battle.
It is only prolonging of the agony of the whole Serbian society.
The end is inevitable, sooner or later. Of course, if one takes a
side historical viewpoint, all that becomes irrelevant, but the
life in Serbia is becoming very tedious and boring. For 15 years
there has been one system that has been going on without any new
impulses. New alternative is just emerging, but it hasn't enough
room and four main election candidates for the Yugoslav president
show that Serbian citizens in fact have no choice.

    Q: What will happen in Kosovo?

    A: Kosovo is for Serbia completely finished episode for the
next 10, maybe even 20 years. What Serbia can do now, but it
unfortunately doesn't, is to secure quality return of those Serbs
who wish to come back to Kosovo, to enable them to regain their
property and find a kind of "modus vivendi" with Albanians and
international community. However, exactly the opposite happens.
There are very few Serbs in Pristina so that the focus of the
Serbian government is pointed to the northern part around Kosovska
Mitrovica with intention to divide the province. Such a policy
stands no chance of success and will lead to complete exodus of
Serbs from the whole area. It is happening along the same lines as
ten years before in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina and is
objectively worsening the situation in Serbia. In long terms,
Serbia will be a real ethnic state due to many open issues in
country. Foremost it is the unregulated status of minorities, and
then status of Voivodina as autonomous region what even the
opposition fails to recognise in the election campaign. Besides,
refugees from Kosovo, Bosnia and Croatia interact with minorities,
so that the minority nations were leaving for the last ten years
causing an end to ethnic concept of Serbia. Still, there are many
minorities which won't leave so Serbia has multi-ethnic character
that can be saved only be resolving all open issues. It is
important for the future of the whole region and possible since
there was no war or burning of the villages in Serbia, contrary to
Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

***

Slovakia: REFERENDUM BRINGS CERTAIN DAMAGE
    By Peter Mikes
    The former Slovak prime minister and the leader of Movement for a
Democratic Slovakia Vladimir Meciar gave to the Slovak president
Rudolf Schuster on August 8 the requirement for a plebiscite. The
question in this plebiscite (referendum) is  whether  the people
are in favor of early elections in 2001, which should take place
six months after the announcement of the referendum results. In
normal circumstances, elections in Slovakia should take place in
the fall of 2002. The support for this referendum was signed by 700
000 people. The president will check until the end of August if
all formal requirements are ok, and the he needs to announce the
referendum to be held at the beginning of this December. Schuster
already signalized that he was advised by constitutional lawyers
who told him that the question in the referendum would be - from
the constitutional view of point- allowed and ok. So it seems very
likely, that Schuster will announce the referendum. Another
question is, if there will be enough people, who will take part in
this referendum. All past referendums in Slovakia were
unsuccessful, because they were invalid and the number of people
who came to referendum was always very low . Also this referendum
proposed by Meciar can attract - judging by the polls- only 40
percent of people. To be valid, there should take part more than
50 percent of people in this referendum. Meciar hopes, that
referendum will be supported not only by the parties of the
opposition- his HZDS and the Slovak national party {SNS} but also
by the new party Direction {SMERf Robert Fico, who is the most
popular political person in Slovakia and his party is the second
strongest party in Slovakia supported by 16 percent of voters.
Fico at the beginning opposed the referendum, than changed his
mind and supported it and now in the very recent time, he signaled
that he needed more time to decide if he will ask his supporters
to take part in the referendum. It is likely, that it will be Fico
and his supporters, if the referendum will be valid. If there will
be more than 50 percent of voters, who will take part in the
referendum and it will be valid, than it is likely, that there
will be in 2001 elections in Slovakia. The parties of governmental
coalition advised already their supporters, that they should not
to take part in the referendum, so if the referendum will be held
despite of the warning, it is likely, that the voters who will
take part in it will be the supporters of opposition and SMER, who
will favor the question of elections. In the case, that referendum
will be successful, the members of Slovak parliament might vote
about the earlier elections. But it is not likely, that the
politicians could vote against the will of 50 percent of people-
if they will favor the elections, it will be politically very hard
for the members of the parliament to oppose the wish of the
people. So it is very likely, that there will be a referendum
about the earlier elections. It is a big question if there will be
enough people, who will take part in it. But if there will be
enough people and the referendum will be valid, thare is a high
probability, that Slovakia will face in 2001 earlier elections.
But what is not likely but is the fact a, that in the case, that
there will be earlier elections, it will cause severe damage for
Slovakia abroad by foreign investors, who are already now have
doubts about political stability in Slovakia.

***
Special addition: CUBA - URGENT APPEAL
    Physically Deteriorated, Cuban Prisoner of Conscience, Dr.
Oscar Elias Biscet, Fears for his Life at Maximum Security Prison
All his correspondence has been intercepted August, 2000
    On Monday August 14, 2000, accompanied by three family
members, Elsa Morejon was able to physically see her husband, Dr.
Oscar Elias Biscet at the maximum-security prison "Cuba Si" in
Holguin province after traveling 768 km. from Havana. Prevented by
Cuban authorities from visiting her husband for three months,
Morejon found him physically deteriorated and in a high state of
anxiety.
    The human rights activist denounced to his family that due to
the repressive hostile environment he finds himself in he fears
for his life and highly distrusts the medical personnel at the
prison facility. In addition Dr. Biscet confirmed that all mail he
had sent from prison had been intercepted since none had reached
its destiny to family and friends in Havana.
    On June 7th Dr. Biscet declared himself on a 40 day fast at
"Cuba Si" prison honoring a historical fast he successfully
promoted a year ago in which hundreds of peaceful human rights
activists in the Island united with Cuban exiles abroad demanding
freedom for all political prisoners and human rights for Cuba.
Consequently, prison authorities denied him access to his Bible
and family visits and from June 7 until July 19, 2000, Dr. Biscet
was punished in an isolation cell he described to his family as a
torture: dark, no running water, where he was fed such a deficient
diet that he lost 20 pounds.
    Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet Gonzalez, a leader in the peaceful
Cuban opposition movement is a devout Christian, follower of
Ghandi and Martin Luther King, and presides the Lawton Foundation
for Human Rights, a humanitarian organization that promotes the
defense of all human rights, particularly the right to life,
through nonviolent means (considered illegal by Cuban
authorities.) On February 25, 2000, Dr. Biscet was tried as a
common criminal, sentenced to three years in prison, and
transferred from Havana to "Cuba Sí " prison, located at the
eastern end of the Island.
    For his struggle, Dr. Biscet has been arbitrarily detained 26
times in 18 months, expelled on February 1998 from the Cuban
National Health System and, along with his family, evicted from
his home, depending on the charity of friends to survive. This
Cuban physician has suffered what all those who oppose this regime
face physically and psychologically: beatings, threats,
humiliations, blackmails, intimidating interrogatories and
arbitrary incarcerations in cells along with insane individuals
and common criminals. On several occasions, State Security has
tried to subject Dr. Biscet to psychiatric examinations and
pressures him to leave Cuba, to which this human rights activist
has reiterated that he will never abandon his country.
    We make the Cuban government responsible for the physical and
mental well-being of human rights activist, Dr. Oscar Elias
Biscet. We urgently ask all dignitaries of democratic nations,
human rights, and health organizations, the international press
and all men and women of good will to denounce the unjust
sanctions, incarceration, and physical and mental torture of this
Cuban physician, whose only crime is to honor the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights in his own country. Please send
telegrams/ telexes/ faxes/ express/ airmail letters in Spanish or
in your own language to Cuban officials inside Cuba, and
representatives of Cuba accredited in your country.
    Elsa Morejon's recorded testimony available. (Spanish)
    Support Committee for the Lawton Foundation, U.S.A.
    E-mail: LAWTON1997@aol.com
    CUBAN GOVERNMENT - ADDRESSES, FAXES
    "Cuba Si" Prison in Holguin -011-5324-424342 (direct from the
    U.S.)
    Dept. of Prisons in Holguin Province - 011-5324-425171
    Inspector of Prisons of the
    Attorney General's Office
    Sr. Eliecer Perez
    Telephone: 011-53 7 333164
    Fax: 011-53 7 570795
    011-53 7 669485
    Telex:011-53 7 511456
    Attorney General
    Dr. Juan Escalona Reguera
    Address: Fiscal General de La Republica
    Fiscalia General de la Republica
    San Rafael No. 3, La Habana, Cuba
    Telegrams: Sr. Fiscal General, Habana, Cuba
    Telexes: 511456 fisge
    Faxes: 011-53-7-66-94-85 / 011-53-7-33-31-64
    Minister of Foreign Affairs
    Sr. Pérez Roque
    Address: Ministro de Relaciones Exteriores
    Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores
    Calzada No. 360, Vedado, La Habana, Cuba
    Telegrams: Sr. Ministro de Relaciones Exteriores, Habana, Cuba
    Telexes: 511122 / 511464 / 512950
    Faxes: 011-53-7-33-3085 / 011-53-7-33-3460/ 011-53-7-33-5261
    (direct from the U.S.)
    Interior Secretary Director of Prisons
    General Abelardo Colome Ibarra Ministry of the Interior
    (MININT)
    Address: Ministerio del Interior Direccion de Carceles y
    Prisiones
    Plaza de La Revolucion, La Habana, Cuba Ministerio del
    Interior
    Telegrams: Sr. Ministro de Interior, Habana,Cuba Plaza de La
    Revolucion
    Telephone: 011-53-7-30-1566 La Habana, Cuba
    Fax: 011-53-7-33-5261 (direct from the U.S.)
    Tel: 011-53-7-301566
    Faxes:
    Raul Castro (Armed Forces) 011-53-7-333085
    Carlos Amat (Secretary of Justice) 011-53-7-333038
    Popular Power Assembly 011-53-7-330311
    Secr.of Foreign Affairs 011-53-7-333460
    Any phone or fax to Havana from the U.S. directly dial: 011+
    53 +7+ number
    CUBAN MISSION TO THE U.N.
    Fax: 212-661-9554
    Tel: 212-687-0511
***

Special Edition : NEW AT TOL
    Transitions Online (TOL) http://www.tol.cz is the leading
Internet magazine covering Central and Eastern Europe, the
Balkans, and the former Soviet Union. If you aren't already a
member, fill out our registration form at http://www.tol.cz/trialsubscr.html
to receive your free two-month trial membership. If you'd like to become a TOL member
right away, go to http://www.tol.cz/member.html. And if you're a
citizen of a post-communist country, FREE annual memberships are
still available at http://www.tol.cz/trialsubscr2.html.

WEEK IN REVIEW
      (Free Access)
    http://www.tol.cz/week.html
    No Survivors in Russian Sub Tragedy
    Auschwitz To Get a Discotheque
    Public Decries Elections in Chechnya
    Abkhaz Human Rights Consultant Gunned Down
    Isarescu Will Run for Romanian President
    Lukashenka Sets Up New Media Agency
    Slovak President Leaves Hospital
    Battle Rages On in Southern Kyrgyzstan
    Fighting in Uzbekistan Petering Out
    Archeological Find in Bulgaria Raises Funding Questions
 
Our Take: Yugoslavia: Touch, But Be Gentle
    A TOL editorial
    http://www.tol.cz/ouraug21.html
    The full text of this article also appears below.
    As part of this month's "In Focus" sports package: Survival of
the Fittest
 
IN FOCUS: Fever Pitch
    by Nedim Hasic
    http://www.tol.cz/frartic/feverpit.html
    (Free Access)
    After plenty of pre-match politicking and a shaky start, the
new inter-ethnic Bosnia football league is under way. The first
match between a Croatian and Muslim team in Bosnia since the
1992-1995 war took place in Mostar on 13 August. Despite being the
country's most popular sport, football in Bosnia is a shadow of
its former self. Bosnian clubs are not run as businesses but are
the stomping grounds of powerful political individuals and
cliques; football is just another forum to exercise and reconfirm
existing ethnic divisions. Accompanying this piece is a sidebar,
by Gabor Czene, looking at Roma-led initiatives in Hungary aimed
at battling discrimination in football.
 
Field of Ghosts
    by Emin Mahmudov
    http://www.tol.cz/frartic/fieldofg.html
    (Free Access)
    Something went horribly wrong on the Azeri football field
after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. There were times
when Baku's central stadium was filled to capacity with throngs of
dedicated fans. During the Soviet championships the crowds would
line up for a chance to see the masters play. But since then, that
pride has faded, and war and political and economic strife have
emptied the stadiums, as Azerbaijan continues to struggle with its
new and independent identity.
 
On the Trail of Palace Bureaucrats
    by Ari Katz
    http://www.tol.cz/frartic/onthetra.html
    (Free Access)
    Talk to anyone on the street in Kyrgyzstan, and they'll be
able to tell you the obvious: Everyone who works in the government
is corrupt. That's why one month ago, Vecherniy Bishkek, the
capital's most widely read newspaper, introduced a contest called
"Home-$200,000." The paper invited readers to submit photographs
of local palaces belonging to those "magicians and sorcerers" who
could turn meager government salaries into such magnificent
dwellings. Such a bold challenge to the thieves of officialdom has
already sparked a predicable backlash.
 
In Their Own Words: Romania's Uncertain Victim
    http://www.tol.cz/itowa/aug00rom.html
    Ethnic Hungarian Laszlo Tokes is one of the most controversial
figures of post-communist Romania. The Protestant bishop is
considered by some a hero for his decisive role in initiating the
December 1989 uprising against the communist regime. But he also
stands accused of being a secret agent, either for the CIA, the
KGB, the Hungarian secret service, or the dreaded Romanian
Securitate--the Ceausescu-era secret police. According to Tokes,
the opposite is true--he considers himself a victim of the
Securitate. The Hungarian-language Kronika daily, based in Cluj,
interviewed Tokes on 10 August about his alleged collaboration
with the former secret police.
    The following article is part of TOL's series of Annual
Surveys for 1999: exclusive overviews of individual countries in
the region written for TOL by top local and Western analysts and
edited by regional specialist Professor Peter Rutland of Wesleyan
University. These valuable resources follow the fine tradition
established by the OMRI/East-West Institute Annual Surveys. Both
sets of reports, old and new, can be found in our expanded Country
Files http://www.tol.cz/links1.html along with links and maps
for the 27 countries in the post-communist world.
 
Ukraine 1999: No Coherent Plan
    by Ustina Markus
    http://www.tol.cz/countries/uaar991.html
    The most significant political event in Ukraine in 1999 was
the re-election of Leonid Kuchma to the post of president. Kuchma
won with a comfortable margin over Communist Party leader Petro
Symonenko, but the victory was marred by charges that he ran a
dirty election campaign against his opponents. Following his
victory, Kuchma announced he wanted to restructure the parliament
and change it into a bicameral legislature. This was seen as
considerably weakening its powers, and spelled renewed conflict
between the executive and legislature.