Issue No. 232 - July 26, 2001
Contents:

1. FRY/ Montenegro: SILK DIVORCE
         By Slobodan Rackovic

2. Azerbaijan: NEW ASSAULT ON THE OPPOSITION
         By Mustafa Hajibeyli

3. Ukraine: THE YUSHCHENKO PUZZLE MUST WAIT
         By Ivan Lozovy

4. Special addition: NEW AT TOL
 
 


FRY/ Montenegro: SILK DIVORCE
     By Slobodan Rackovic
     Referendum for independence is supported by majority of
Montenegrins, it is scheduled for February or March 2002, but it
is possible for Montenegro to restore its ancient independence
even before that.
    Support to Montenegrins on their very complicated road to
independent state often comes from place they least hoped for -
Serbia, the other republic that forms Yugoslav federation with
Montenegro! All public opinion polls show a rising number of those
Serbs who want as quick divorce as possible, mostly provoked by
Montenegrin separatist tendencies, but also by finding out that
forced marriage between two republics, incompatible with their
sizes of territory and population, is impossible.
    From March to July, the number of such Serbs has grown from 18
to 29 per cent which was unimaginable only yesterday, because
Serbia has always thought of Montenegro as of its younger sister,
an inseparable part of its own territory, and Montenegrins were
seen as the purest Serbs.
    "Yugoslavia is only a fiction, a country that doesn't exist!"
said Serbian prime minister Zoran Djindjic, one of the most
powerful leaders of the ruling DOS coalition, to an American
newspapers a couple of days ago.
    Such unexpected turn of events in Serbia is giving additional
weight to independence supporters in Montenegro. Although counting
more followers than pro-Yugoslav current, which they proved at
the parliamentary elections of April 22, 2001, they still didn't
find a painless way to bring their tiny state of 700,000 people to
independence.
    More and more people both in Serbia and Montenegro think that
Djukanovic and Djindjic are secretly conspiring to destroy
leftovers of the former Tito's Yugoslavia, which broke-apart in
blood in 1991 and 1992. In that way, Djukanovic could have his
independence dream shared by many Montenegrins come true without
many internal troubles. On the other side, Djindjic would
strengthen his rule in Serbia and eliminate his great rival
Vojislav Kostunica, current Yugoslav president, head of
practically non-existent country with authorities of an English
queen. If everything unfolds according to Djukanovic's and
Djindjic's plans, it is possible that the silk break-apart between
two republics imitates the one between Czech and Slovakia, without
huge upheavals and war conflicts that have been often looming over
relations between Serbia and Montenegro during Milosevic's reign.
    Such outcome would be fiercely attacked by Serbian
nationalists who subscribe to still strong idea of "Greater
Serbia". They would see split of Yugoslavia as an end of their
dream about large country. However, the international community
and western powers would surely be satisfied with the epilogue,
especially because the world fears that unilateral exit of
Montenegro could significantly disturb status quo in this uneasy
region and create domino effect of secessionist processes in
Kosovo and Macedonia, perhaps even Voivodina.
    Besides secretly siding with Djindjic, Montenegrin authorities
also fight a difficult struggle for independence in Montenegro
itself. Following election victory in April, the two ruling
parties (Democratic Socialists' Party and Socialdemocrat Party)
formed a minority government with the help of Liberal Alliance in
the parliament. This government must prepare new referendum law
by the end of September and to organize referendum about future of
Montenegro by next February/March. Government in Podgorica, which
has already missed June as deadline for referendum, is in no
hurry. As president Milo Djukanovic said, they wish to draw as
many new supporters of Montenegrin independence and thus
overwhelmingly win now very strong Yugoslav supporters. "In only
nine years, number od supporters of Montenegrin independence rose
from 10 to 55 percent so we think that per cent is going to rise
on a daily basis", said Djukanovic lately. Still, the fact is that
standard of Montenegrin citizens fell, since the international
community redirected its financial streams to Belgrade and,
accordingly to decrease of standard, came decrease in enthusiasm
for the independent state. On the other hand, political events in
Serbia are much supporting independence processes on a global
level. DOS is breaking apart, fighting between Djindjic and
Kostunica is escalating into a personal war, Yugoslav governments
cannot remain complete for not even two, three months, Hague
Tribunal is delivering always new demands to Belgrade, there is a
significant decrease of enthusiasm for FRY and its president; the
world is slowly beginning to see that third Yugoslavia is
unsustainable... Positive is also the fact that antagonism
between Montenegrin and Yugoslav political blocks is weakening.
Victory of one or another option isn't seen anymore as a
cataclysm. For better illustration, let's mention that the chief
of Yugoslav block Predrag Bulatovic who is eagerly in favor of
the preservation of Yugoslavia, said few days ago that he doesn't
discount the possibility of being elected as president of
independent Montenegrin state someday. All of this is supporting
Djukanovic's idea to persuade as many opposition parties as
possible to participate at the referendum, which would give full
legitimacy to Montenegrin independence in the eyes of the
international community so there would be no issues raised
regarding the international acknowledgment.

                          * * *

Azerbaijan: NEW ASSAULT ON THE OPPOSITION
     By Mustafa Hajibeyli
    Over the past months one independent broadcasting company
was closed and 44 people were arrested on political charges.
    What is the government worried about?  Pressure on the
opposition in Azerbaijan has been increasing, and political
Aliev's government has been suppressing freedom of speech and of
conscience and using other unconstitutional means of staying in
power, which is hardly news to anyone familiar with the political
process in Azerbaijan.  But as a rule, anti-democratic measures
become more harsh either directly before elections or at times when
the public is mobilized against the regime -- during mass protests.
There are no elections planned for the near future, nor have there
been any large-scale protest actions.  Nevertheless, the government
has begun a broad-based assault on the elements of democracy.
    In July alone, another 44 people were added to the long list of
political prisoners in the country.  In the Shaki region, 27 people
were arrested for participating in a local protest in November 2000.
In addition, 17 veterans were tried in connection with the February
2001 protests demanding an increase in their pensions.  Out of the
44 people arrested, 27 were sentenced to jail terms and 17 were put
on probation.  Some of those imprisoned are members of opposition
parties (the Musavat, Democratic, National Independence and Vahadat
Parties). None of the charges leveled at these 44 were ever proved
in court. The public has no doubt that these arrests were motivated
by political factors.
    More evidence of this assault on democracy is the increased
pressure on the influential National Independence Party.  Government
officials are attempting to take away the NIP's central office. One
official has refused to renew the Party's lease on its office, and
has suggested another building, which is not fit for use.
    Beyond this, ABA, the only television station not under state
control, was closed in July.  Over the past two years, ABA has been
faced with regular pressure from government officials, illegal
searches and interference from law-enforcement agencies.  The
government has neutralized another obstacle on its control over
public opinion.
    Political observers do not think that these events are accidental.
Some hold that this assault is connected with Aliev's increasing
health problems and the nearing of the "X" day.  Possibly,
understanding that the government will not automatically pass to the
genetic heir -- to the president's son Ilham Aliev, the government
has deemed it important to use "preventative" measures to weaken the
position of the democratic opposition.

                          *  *  *

 
Ukraine: THE YUSHCHENKO PUZZLE MUST WAIT
      By Ivan Lozovy
    On April 26, 2001, the day he was removed from office, Viktor
Yushchenko said "I am leaving, in order to return." Such a bold
statement contrasted with his meek posture in the face of mounting
pressure from the newly formed Communist-oligarch union.
Yushchenko had, for example, earlier signed what observers agreed
was a lamentable document in support of President Leonid Kuchma,
battered by the "cassette-gate" scandal.
    Yushchenko was appointed by President Kuchma in
December, 1999. His prior history had given little indication of
preparedness for the role he assumed, that of Ukraine's first
nationalist, reformist Prime Minister.
    According to one version, Yushchenko had risen through the
ranks of the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) thanks to the support
of former NBU head Vadym Hetman and current parliamentary
Chairman Ivan Pliushch. Overseeing the orderly introduction of
Ukraine's currency, the hryvnia, Yushchenko also reformed
Ukraine's electronic banking system, making it one of the most
advanced in Europe.
    Yet it is Yushchenko's stint at the NBU that provided grist
for the mill turned by the oligarchs and their Communist allies.
Their dismay at the way Yushchenko easily shut down loopholes
allowing for hundreds of millions of dollars to be siphoned from
the state budget knew no bounds. Thus Viktor Suslov, first a
Socialist then a member of the oligarchic "Yabluko" party,
ferreted out exaggerations of currency reserves the NBU made
during Yushchenko's tenure.
    Little wonder, then, that the first piece of "kompromat," or
compromising material, publicized following Yushchenko's dismissal
came from the notorious head of the Yabluko party, Mykhailo
Brodsky. Brodsky, who recently served a term in prison for
financial misdeeds, again returned to the "NBU theme" to accuse
former Prime Minister Valery Pustovoitenko of misappropriation of
state funds. This Pustovoitenko allegedly achieved with the
"assistance" of Yushchenko.
    That the oligarchs and Communists should be bent on
compromising Yushchenko is not surprising. His unprecedently
high poll ratings, anywhere from 30 to 60 percent approval,
present a danger of which all those in and around the ruling
elite are well aware.
    The real question lies in Yushchenko's future plans. Though
he promised to return, the real questions are when and how. The
next general elections, scheduled for March, 2002, would seem
the logical focus. Assembling a strong democratic coalition to
stand up to the oligarchs and Communists is a real option. Given
Yushchenko's approval ratings, such a coalition can count on at
least a quarter of the vote, translating into a minimum of 80-100
seats in the Verkhovna Rada out of a total 450. For comparison,
currently the largest faction in parliament by far is the
Communists' 112 seats.
    Yushchenko's statements on the subject of his future plans
have been sparse, to put it mildly. He has talked of the need to
form a broad coalition. He has hinted at an alliance with
parliamentary speaker Ivan Pliushch. He has bided his time and
rested up after a very trying year. Yet, unfortunately, a
multitude of indications from both inside and outside his inner
circle point to Yushchenko's simply not knowing exactly what to
do.
    To some extent, Yushchenko's hesitation is understandable.
The assembled might of the national-democratic parties - the two
Rukh parties, Reform and Order, the Congress of Ukrainian
Nationalists - hovers at only 10-15%. More importantly, such a
coalition would almost completely leave out vast swathes of the
decision-making elite, local and national.
    It is precisely as a representative of the ruling nomenklatura
that Ivan Pliushch proposed in the past week that Yushchenko head
up a coalition of Pustovoitenko's People's Democratic Party, the
oligarch-rich "Trudova Ukrayina" and tax supremo Mykola Azarov's
Regions Party. Anything but a coalition of national-democrats.
    Other ploys aimed at diverting Yushchenko from choosing his
natural allies include the threat of future "kompromat" and
negative publicity through the government and oligarch controlled
mass media. Yet there are indications that President Kuchma and
others in power understand Yushchenko's nature better than the
latter's many admirers.
    To begin with, Yushchenko has no serious political experience.
His name first cropped up following successful reforms at the NBU
and as a potential presidential candidate in 1999. For Yushchenko
himself, however, campaigning was never an option. To a
substantial degree it was Yushchenko's obedience in not seeking to
challenge Kuchma that allowed the latter to nominate him for Prime
Minister.
    Most importantly, however, in the rough-and-tumble world of
Ukrainian politics Yushchenko, quite possibly for the first time,
is faced with the serious task of building a political grouping in
the face of determined and more powerful opposition. In this
context, the requisite skills of "banging heads together" or
intricate political maneuvering seem to be sadly lacking.
    In this respect the contrast could not be greater with another
politician recently removed from office, Yushchenko's former
oil-and-gas tsar, Yulia Tymoshenko. Despite much worse starting
conditions, Tymoshenko has mobilized quickly, launched
initiative after initiative and declared openly that she seeks to
become President of Ukraine. On the other hand, in the world of
Ukrainian politics this has made her into a fixed target and thus
much more vulnerable. Come this autumn the incentive to form a
democratic coalition will be greater. Also, Yushchenko will have
had time to get his thoughts together. So there is still a little
bit of time. It is, after all, in Ukraine's historic traditions
that its rulers are reluctant ones.

                                *  *  *
 
Special addition: NEW AT TOL                            July 23, 2001
 

--- WEEK IN REVIEW ---
    Czech Republic: Don't Get on that Plane
    A new British measure aimed at preventing Romani asylum
applicants from leaving the Czech Republic for the United Kingdom
draws criticism.
    by Petra Breyerova
    http://www.tol.cz/week.html
    Belarus: And Then There Was One Belarusian opposition parties
choose Hancharyk as their single candidate for the presidential
elections.
    by Alex Znatkevich
    http://www.tol.cz/week.html
    G8 Summit: More Than Protests
    The G-8 summit concludes with a Bush-Putin agreement to talk
about reducing nuclear stockpiles.
    by Robert Earley
    http://www.tol.cz/week.html
    Kazakhstan: Clean Slate or Blank Check?
    Kazakhstan's capital amnesty law brings nearly $500 million
back to the country, but some wonder at what cost.
    by Didar Amantay
    http://www.tol.cz/week.html
    Georgia: A Call to Arms
    A stand-off between a group of hostage-takers and a volunteer
paramilitary group highlights the tensions in Georgia's Pankisi
gorge.
    by Dima Bit-Suleiman
    http://www.tol.cz/week.html
    MORE WEEK IN REVIEW
    http://www.tol.cz/week.html
    Assassination in Tajikistan Highlights Security Concerns
Albanian Socialist Party Looks Set to Stay in Power Little-Known
Official Named Yugoslav Prime Minister Lithuanian "Street
Politician" Could Face Criminal Charges Report Indicates Uzbek
Women Face Abuse on Two Fronts
    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
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reaches the region like TOL - visit our mediakit for more
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    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    --- OUR TAKE: Won't Back Down ---
    In the Czech Republic, a little more diplomacy and a little
less arrogance would be a welcome addition to the Temelin debate.
    http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=22&NrSection=16&NrArticle=1590
    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    --- IN FOCUS: Romania's New Diplomacy ---
    Romania's Jekyll and Hyde
    With an eye on the history books, President Ion Iliescu tries
to don a new pro-Western jacket.
    Opinion by Sorin Moisa
    http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=22&NrSection=3&NrArticle=1521
    Burnishing His Image In an interview with TOL, Ion Iliescu
explains why words are less important than actions in contemporary
Romania.
    Interview by Jeremy Druker
    http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=22&NrSection=2&NrArticle=1523
    Against the Grain Romania would be ill-advised to keep up its
diplomatic campaign in criticizing the Hungarian Status Law.
    Opinion by Aron Ballo
    http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=22&NrSection=3&NrArticle=1522
    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    --- OPINIONS ---
    Hidden Agenda
    The authorities billed the recent destruction of an
"underground" mosque as part of an effort to clean up Baku, but
the move was almost surely aimed at controlling unwanted forms of
Islam.
    by Jerzy Rohozinski
    http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=22&NrSection=3&NrArticle=1539
    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    --- MEDIA ---
    A Step Ahead The Albanian media set the tone for the recent
elections, and the results were noticeably different.
    by Llazar Semini
    http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=22&NrSection=4&NrArticle=1533
    A Tempest in a Teacup
    Milosevic's extradition to The Hague has made the difference
between Djindjic and Kostunica more visible, but it has also
proven Serbian media's increasing maturity and independence.
    by Vladan Radosavljevic
    http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=22&NrSection=4&NrArticle=1534
    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    --- COLUMNS ---
    Letter from Dagestan: Guilty as Charged, of Course It's easy
for Russian prosecutors to have a high conviction rate when
procedural laws are flexible.
    by Nabi Abdullaev
    http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=22&NrSection=17&NrArticle=1505
    EU Insider: Schengen, Schwengen Even after accession, will the
citizens of EU newcomers still be queuing at the "non-EU-member"
gate?
    by Gyorgy Foris
    http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=22&NrSection=17&NrArticle=1506
    From the newly launched Balkan Reconstruction Report.
    (http://balkanreport.tol.cz)
    Balkan Beauty
    After a drought, Bulgaria is once again reviving its tourism
industry.
    by Anelia Baklova
    http://balkanreport.tol.cz/look/BRR/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=9&NrIssue=1&NrSection=4&NrArticle=1502&ST_max=0
    Back to the Black Sea Coast
    An interview with Bulgarian Deputy Economy Minister Mariana
Assenova
    by Krassimira Olah
    http://balkanreport.tol.cz/look/BRR/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=9&NrIssue=1&NrSection=8&NrArticle=1501&ST_max=0
    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
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    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . ---
OUR TAKE: Won't Back Down ---
    A little more diplomacy and a little less arrogance would be a
welcome addition to the Temelin debate.
    A joke in the Czech Republic asks when the Temelin power
station will be completed: "In two years," is the answer. The
unfunny part is that they've been making the same joke for years.
    The largest construction project in Czech history, Temelin has
consumed an estimated 100 billion crowns ($2.6 billion) and has
yet to be completed. The plant's safety has been questioned
repeatedly, most vehemently by Austria whose border is only 60
kilometers away, because of the combination of Soviet-era reactors
and modern control systems supplied by Westinghouse. Last week,
Germany joined in the fray and on 17 July delivered a note to the
Czech cabinet calling on Prague "not to put the Temelin nuclear
power plant into operation."
    Temelin was initiated by the Communist government in 1986 and
re-endorsed by the Czech government in 1993. In the same year,
after a lengthy and controversial tendering process,
Westinghouse--which has not built a nuclear reactor in the United
States in 20 years--was awarded five contracts to replace the
entire Soviet-designed instrument and control (I&C) system. The
safety concerns are about the complexity of grafting a modern I&C
system-- which measures and monitors every condition in the plant
and sends information to the control room--onto Soviet reactors
designed in the early 1970s.
    The debate over Temelin has always been about much more than a
power station. Public opinion is generally shaped by small-nation
stubbornness, as in the case of the Czechs, or an overwhelmingly
anti-nuclear public, as in the case of the Austrians. Both publics
have likely hardened their positions because of a perceived
unwillingness to compromise rather than expertise on the issue.
    The complexity of the issue is thus worsened considerably by
arrogance and belligerence on both sides. After Germany's
condemnation last week, the Czechs refused to discuss the issue.
As Lubos Palata, a journalist with the Czech daily ***Hospodarske
noviny***, argues "the Czech government's careless and
undiplomatic reaction to the letter from Berlin runs the real risk
of provoking Germany into creating an anti-nuclear coalition with
Austria to lobby against Temelin within the EU." The Czechs are
fond of repeating the "sovereign states" argument, insisting that
every country has a right to decide its own energy policies. Of
course. But sovereign states also have the right to criticize
their neighbors.
    Austria's approach has been, at times, equally obstinate and
undiplomatic. If safety really is the biggest concern of Austria
and Germany, the countries should put their money where their
mouths are and offer to partially fund Temelin's closure,
otherwise the loss of such a major investment could bankrupt the
state-owned utility CEZ. That could be on the agenda. On 23 July,
the Czech daily ***Lidove noviny*** reported that Upper Austria
offered approximately  $18.6 million to shut down the plant,
provided that another Austrian region and the EU contributed
similar amounts.
    The Austrians and Germans could also help the Czechs invest in
alternative, safer, and greener energy solutions, and a lot of
that cash could go into energy efficiency. Energy analysts have
estimated that the Czech Republic could save up to $1.63 billion
with a state-sponsored program to replace inefficient electric
heaters installed in homes and offices during the communist era.
    The issue is about investing in the future. Had the Czech
government decided many years ago to invest $2.6 billion in the
search for alternative sources of energy and the pursuit of
efficiency in electricity production, the country's power market
might look a little different today. While shutting down Temelin
would endear Czech diplomats to their neighbors, it could also
backfire if it wasn't managed properly and fire up lingering
anti-EU sentiment within the country.
    Should the government now say that it is too late and push
ahead with the completion of Temelin? Or should it try to bring
its neighbors to the table and forge an agreement on the energy
needs of the Czech Republic and the entire region? A first step
toward creating a consensus would be to ask the Czech people
themselves what they think. A referendum would provide public
legitimacy to one of the two sides on the issue and create a basis
for resolving the disputes.
    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    -- Transitions Online - Intelligent Eastern Europe
    Copyright: Transitions Online 2001
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