Issue No. 264 - March 16,  2002

            By Ivan Lozowy


            By Slobodan Rackovic

    By Ivan Lozowy

    With general elections less than 20 days away, Ukraine is
bracing for a dose of democracy. There are clear indications,
though, that these elections will be anything but democratic.
    First a look at what the polls are giving the 33 parties and
coalitions set to participate on the proportional side of the
March 31 elections:

    Communist Party: ........................ 18-24%
    Our Ukraine (Yushchenko): ............... 18-24%
    Social Democratic Party United - SDPU(o): . 5-8%
    Green Party: .............................. 5-7%
    For a United Ukraine (Lytvyn): ............ 4-6%
    Women for the Future: ..................... 4-6%
    Tymoshenko Block: ......................... 2-4%
    Moroz Block: .............................. 2-3%
    Vitrenko Block: ........................... 1-3%
    Unity (Omelchenko): ......................... 1%
    Post-winter Group: ........................ < 1%

    Polls can be misleading, however. The communists, for
instance, are set to sink to a record low, possibly a lot less
than 20%. In 1998 they received 24.65%. This time their vote will
be shared with the Communist Party of Workers and Peasants, which
shortens to "KPRS," the cyrillic acronym for the USSR, and the
Communist Party of Ukraine Renewed. Both these parties are the
products of "divide and conquer" tactics by President Leonid
Kuchma's administration (or "Bankova").
    The fragmentation of communist sympathizers is mirrored for
the other major out-of-power contender, Viktor Yushchenko's "Our
Ukraine." The Post-winter Group (meaning essentially
post-communist) includes a motley crew of inconsequential
politicos themselves tied to oligarchic leaders. The Group are
laying claim to the classical liberal tending toward libertarian
portion of the political spectrum and are set to take votes away
from Yushchenko.
    In the capital Kyiv mayor Oleksandr Omelchenko is pushing his
newly-hatched "Unity" party, which is out of the running to pass
the 4% threshold, but will take a percentage point or two away
from Yushchenko. Then there is Bohdan Boyko's "Popular Rukh
coalition," which is bankrolled by Bankova through
intermediaries. This "political project" has rebuffed attempts to
reunite Rukh and is receiving lots of air time on the national TV
    Thus Yushchenko's attempt not to rile the powers-that-be has
fallen through (See The Ukraine Insider, Vol. 1, No. 6 from
December 5, 2001). He is not only the target of Bankova's "divide
and conquer" tactics. Yushchenko's tour through the regions over
the past month has been a roller-coaster ride of interference by
local government: closed meeting halls, electricity cut off,
cancelled broadcasting on local media. This proves that orders
from Bankova are to "mochyty" (literally "wet," in slang: "put
down" or "kill") the "Our Ukraine" block.
    The SDPU(o) has been accused this past week of already
exceeding by a factor of two the limit on campaign spending.
Their pet TV channels, including the national channel "Inter,"
have broken records for overt party propaganda, particularly
during news programs. They are counting on at least 7% of the
vote and will probably get it.
    As for the Greens, they look a shoo-in as well, largely
because they were able to fend off an attempt to divide their
electorate by the "Raiduha" ("rainbow") party, allegedly financed
by Vadim Rabinovitch.
    "Women for the Future," another Bankova project, has sunk in
the ratings, but may be carried through on the strength of
    The Tymoshenko and Moroz blocks look doubtful. On straight
numbers, they may well pass 4%, but Bankova will make sure that
adminresurs cuts enough votes to put them just below the
    And that is the real story behind these elections. On March
31 Ukraine will see the an unprecedented exercise of
"adminresurs" - government pressure and falsification. The last
time Ukrainians voted, in the referendum of April 16, 2000, can
be viewed as a rehearsal. Then, by conservative estimates, over
50% of the votes were falsified.
    The reason for the upcoming falsification is that, for the
first time, Kuchma himself has a direct stake in the elections.
His chief lieutenant, Wolodymyr Lytvyn, who has been busy making
gaffes during the campaign, heads up the "For a United Ukraine"
list. In the more reliable polls, this list gets no more than 6%
of the vote, a complete disaster. Moreover, the For a United
Ukraine list has taken its name seriously and united, if not
Ukraine, then most of its oligarchs with the notable exceptions
of the SDPU(o) and the Democratic Union.
    A host of politicians and analysts across the political
spectrum have already predicted mass falsifications. In their own
way, Wolodymyr Horbulin and Vyacheslav Pikhovshek of the
oligarchic Democratic Union party confirm the falsification
plans. They recently declared initiatives to conduct parallel
vote-counting "unnecessary."
    Also indicative of the general attitude is the wariness of
the SDPU(o), a party once close to Kuchma, but now embarked on an
all-out solo grab for power. The SDPU(o) has organized a parallel
vote-counting operation in each of Ukraine's over 36,000 polling
stations. Kuchma's Administration, or "Bankova," has recovered
from the "cassette-gate" scandal of over a year ago and does not
fear protest demonstrations. Kuchma himself has undergone plastic
surgery in order to remove the bags from under his eyes and
generally improve his appearance. His plans have not gone
unnoticed and, among others, Tymoshenko has publicly accused him
of preparing to go for a third term (See The Ukraine Insider,
Vol. 1, No. 5 from September 20, 2001). What Kuchma knows he
needs is not democracy, but high results - on the order of at
least 15% - for his pet election block.

                                    * * *

    The Russian military forces are continuing special operations
or "mop-ups" in Chechnya's cities and towns. They "mop-ups" have
been particularly frequent during the last three months,
beginning in November of 2001. According to the Russian military
command, the special operations are being carried out for
purposes of passport control and rooting out separatist fighters.
    These "mop-ups" are carried out against the backdrop of
Chechnya's horrible humanitarian conditions.
    The mop-ups have been conducted in almost all the villages in
the foothills: Duba-Yurt, Chiri-Yurt, Starye Atagi, Novye Atagi.
They were also conducted in villages in the regions of
Nazhi-Yurtovskii, Vedenskii, and Kurchaloevskii, and in the
cities of Grozny, Argun, and Urus-Martan.
    In one special operation in the city of Argun, 33 people were
killed and 25 were wounded, including women, children, and the
elderly. The facts are irrefutable.  Photographs of the mutilated
corpses were shown throughout the city. Representatives of the
military and the Russian-backed Chechen interim administration
promised city representatives that the guilty parties would be
found and punished. But the perpetrators have not been found.
Then, at the beginning of January of 2002, Russian soldiers
carried out another special operation in  Argun. This operation,
like the previous one, included abuses of the civilian
    Widespread human rights violations were committed under the
pretext of special operations. In the course of these "mop-ups,"
homes were destroyed and Russian soldiers committed theft,
extortion, and looting. Dozens of people were killed, and
hundreds disappeared without a trace. The residents of these
cities and towns were forced to pay large ransoms not only for
living relatives, detained during the course of the "mop-ups,"
but also for the bodies of the dead. Among Russian soldiers, the
business of ransoming both people and corpses has become an
everyday occurrence.
    In the city of Argun and the village of Starye Atagi, the
Russian armed forces carried out mop-ups several times in the
course of a single month. Such repeated operations happen
    A mop-up in the village of Tsotsin-Yurt in the Kurchaloevskii
region of Chechnya was especially brutal. According to
investigations carried out by local residents and  human rights
organizations, on the morning of December 30, 2001, Russian
troops with columns of tanks and armored personnel carriers
surrounded the village and blocked all the exits.
    The front column of the troops pursued a small car that was
driving towards the village. The people in the car drove up to
the first house they saw and ran inside. The house was
immediately surrounded by soldiers. Other soldiers immediately
arrested men living in neighboring homes.  A little later, the
house was blown up, and everyone inside, both the occupants and
the people seeking refuge, was killed. The owner of the house, an
elderly man, was wounded. The house was completely destroyed, and
several other houses in the village were partially destroyed.
    Separate groups of Russian soldiers, with armor support, then
began to outflank the doors and arrest anyone looking
"suspicious," that is men and boys between the ages of 16 and 60.
According to local residents, 29 people were arrested on the
first day of the special operation, and 20 people on the second.
    Men who were carrying money were able to bribe themselves
free immediately. The rest were taken away to the outskirts of
the village, where they were strip-searched. Many were beaten so
cruelly that they could not move on their own. The soldiers took
those who had been beaten unconscious in armored personnel
carriers and threw them onto the street.
    The soldiers interrogated and tortured the captives in their
yards, in plain view of family members. They then demanded that
parents sign statements affirming that their sons were rebel
fighters. After forcing them to sign the statements, the soldiers
then demanded money from the frightened people as payment for
being related to the rebel fighters. When no men were found in a
house, the soldiers arrested and threatened the women, accusing
their husbands of either being or having been separatist fighters
and demanding payment. At one house, when no adult men were
found, the soldiers made three boys between the ages of ten and
thirteen stand outside against a wall and beat them until they
lost consciousness and fell in the snow.
    Some of the detainees were not released and spent the
freezing winter night on the outskirts of the village. Among them
were women and elderly people. They were all beaten and harassed,
and soldiers demanded that they confess to cooperation with the
rebel fighters and indicate where the fighters were hiding.
    The Tsotsin-Yurt special operation included mass theft,
larceny, and extortion. All the stores and kiosks in the center
of the village were looted. The homes of local residents were
also subjected to robbery if their owners did not have the means
to pay a bribe. The size of the bribe was set at anywhere from
$30 to $250, depending on the wealth of the owner.
    The Russian soldiers stole cars, video equipment, rugs, and
dishes. When the owners refused to give up their property
voluntarily, it was destroyed. The soldiers stole gold jewelry
from women: those who refused to surrender it were threatened
with the arrest of one of their relatives. The soldiers not only
took money and valuables, but also food. Periodically, the
Russian soldiers exchanged gunfire with each other, quarreling
amongst themselves over the spoils. According to residents, there
were casualties among the soldiers in these gunfire exchanges.
    During the special operation a mosque was also desecrated.
The Russian soldiers walked over the carpets with filthy boots
and used the mosque as a toilet during their stay in the village.
    On December 31st and January 1st, the soldiers held a New
Year celebration in the residents' homes. They demanded food and
vodka from the owners and shot up their livestock. Occasionally
they held drunken shootings, exchanging gunfire between
    According to the local residents, Russian soldiers extorted
money from almost every house, threatening to plant weapons or
ammunition to be found during a search.
    On the third day of the special operation, some of the troops
raided the village of Geldagen, where they arrested 15 young men
and took them to Tsotsin-Yurt, where five were killed. In
addition, the soldiers beat up several young boys who were
returning from school.
    When the relatives of those who had been killed demanded that
at least their bodies be returned, the soldiers demanded money
and alcohol in exchange, and threatened to burn the bodies if
they did not receive payment. These poor people had lost all
their belongings during the course of the war, so they were
forced to collect money from throughout the entire village,
literally in kopeks, so that they could bury their dead.
    Moreover, even after paying the ransom, the relatives were
forced to sign statements that the deceased had been rebel
fighters before the bodies would be handed over. Nearly everyone
in the village whose relatives had been arrested or killed had to
sign such statements.
    The criminality and brutal human rights violations of the
Russian soldiers took place in front of the military prosecutor
and two deputy prosecutors of the Russian backed interim
administration of the Chechen Republic. All told, several local
residents unconnected to armed units were killed, more than seven
people disappeared without a trace, approximately one hundred
people were beaten, a mosque was desecrated, many people living
in the village were robbed, one home was destroyed, and several
more homes were partially destroyed.
    The residents of the village of Tsotsin-Yurt, outraged by
what took place, have turned to the UN, OSCE, the Council of
Europe, and the European Parliament to request that the Chechen
Republic be protected from genocide. At the end of their appeal
they write:
    We can not understand why, over the course of the past two
years, the world has silently observed the senseless cruelty of
the Russian administration in Chechnya, which is shielded by
hypocritical discussions about the battle against terrorism, and
why European politicians, speaking about democracy, about human
rights, about humanity, so indifferently allow the Russian army
to kill us again and again. How is it possible to explain such a
position? Why have politicians become entangled in lies? When do
you intend to put an end to this war?
    The UN, the Council of Europe, and the OSCE have already long
known that Russia is not fighting terrorists in Chechnya and that
what is actually happening there is the destruction of a nation.
    We therefore propose that you not kill us so slowly and
cruelly. If we are being handed over to the harsh treatment of
Russia, then kill us immediately, in one day, in one hour,
everyone together. At least in this way you will alleviate our
suffering and resolve all of our problems. Judging by your
indifference and apathy, we suspect that you are at one with
Russia. If this is not so, then in the name of God, in the name
of everything sacred, save us from these barbarians!
    After the special operation in Tsotsin-Yurt received wide
publicity, thanks to the information supplied by human rights
organizations, representatives of the Russian military command
met with representatives of several human rights organizations
working in the conflict zone. At the end of the meeting, the
representative of the Russian military declared that the Russian
troops would continue their anti-terrorist operation in Chechnya;
in spite of everything, special operations would continue as
    The current situation in the Chechen Republic indicates that
these are not empty words. Immediately after the events in
Tsotsin-Yurt, Russian troops began special operations in the city
of Argun and in the villages of Starye Atagi, Novye Atagi, and
   * DISPATCHES FROM CHECHNYA no. 22 published by LAM - Center
for Pluralisam , Grozny /Nazren and IDEE , Washington

                                * * *
FRY/Montenegro: Yugoslavia is no more BIRTH OF A MONSTER BALKAN STATE
   By Slobodan Rackovic

      The recently created Union of Montenegro and Serbia is,
according to citizens and many analysts in Podgorica and
Belgrade, a creation that has slim chances to survive three
years, after which both have the possibility to go their separate
ways. Since Thursday, 14th March 2002, Yugoslavia is no more. On
that date the highest representatives of Serbia and Montenegro, the
only two republics to form the third Yugoslavia (after the second
toppled in blood in 1992), signed the Agreement on creation of
community of equal countries Yugoslavia and Montenegro, under
unprecedented pressure from the EU.
      "Neither federation, nor confederation, nor union or
alliance... it is an unprecedented creation that will soon fall
apart" - said Serbian minister of justice Vladan Batic. "A
monster of state!" - said, even more aggravated, Serbian
nationalist and leader of Serbian Radical Party Vojislav Seselj.
"The President of the now non-existent Federal Republic of Yugoslavia,
Vojislav Kostunica, can say what Croatian president Stjepan Mesic
said in 1992: Yugoslavia doesn't exist anymore" - ran commentary
of Milosevic's Serbian Socialist Party. "Now nothing is clear and
the Agreement will only serve to high EU representative for foreign
politics and security to brag about it in Brussels" - said Mladan
Dinkic, governor of Yugoslav National Bank.
      In smaller Montenegro, reactions are almost identical, if we
disregard the faked euphoria of pro-Serbian parties because of
alleged preservation of joint state of Serbia and Montenegro.
Their only goal is to compromise and topple down president Milo
Djukanovic, one of the signatories of the Belgrade Agreement. «This
is a Quasimodo country, a freak nobody can be satisfied with and
which will soon collapse, we fear not peacefully» - thinks
majority of Montenegrin citizens and independent analysts, who
claim that a country like this has never been encountered neither
in theory nor in practice of international law. While Serbian
citizens are rather indifferent because of a fictious
preservation of community between Serbs and Montenegrins, which
was the chief goal of Belgrade government, Montenegrins felt very
emotional about this event. It was especially hard on those who
dreamed about complete independence of their country. There were
many tears, people were consoling each other because  of
their state, Montenegrin flags with two-headed eagle were
lowered.. Among euphoric and unreserved bursts of displeasure on
both side, wise seem the words of Sonja Biserko, president of Serbian
Helsinki Committee for Human Rights: «The European Union couldn't
prolong the life of Yugoslavia, which has been non-existent for some
time. The EU was forced to acknowledge the situation in the field,
and it is natural that the Agreement, brought to life by
political elites, caused different reactions in two republics,
especially in Montenegro which was promised referendum on
independence in May. But we are talking about a process since
that referendum was postponed (and guaranteed by the EU) for
three years. During that time, Montenegro will crystallize its
view on independence and, if wished, use that right».
      Montenegrin prime minister Filip Vujanovic, one of the
negotiators among Belgrade-Podgorica-Brussels, has only words of
praise for Union of independent countries of Montenegro and
Serbia. «For the first time since 1918 (when Serbian occupation
forces eradicated Montenegrin nation, church and language -
author's remark), Montenegro will be represented in the world by
its own name, as an equal partner of international community.
This formal community won't be formed by a constitution brought
by federal parliament, but by constitutional declaration to be
adopted by parliaments of both Serbia and Montenegro. Agreement
is especially important to us because the EU verified our right
to referendum. There's no more doubt about when referendum will
be held and whether the EU will accept its outcome... We have
preserved our monetary sovereignty thanks to euro and our Central
Bank, as well as custom service with our extremely low customs
rates and Montenegrin Board of Customs. We have also pres
 our foreign trade sovereignty along with our liberal regime of
trade so we will be able to integrate our economic system into
the EU. We also continued our partnership with the EU, and one
fine day we will become one of its members. We have agreed on
very limited joint institutions of member states and are equal to
Serbia. We want to develop friendly relations with that country,
which were before hindered by joint state that was setting us
      The main culprit for why Montenegrins won't be able to vote on
their independence in May is Milo Djukanovic, Montenegrin
president, who was proclaimed by his coalition partner as
«colossal traitor». He defends himself by saying that he neither
broke the Montenegrin constitution nor his promises: «I believed and
still believe in the idea of independence, I worked and will work
on full reconstitution of Montenegrin statehood and its
international acknowledgment. I am equally convinced today that an
independent, internationally recognized country is condition not
only for dynamic democratic and economic development but also for
preservation of national, cultural and state identity of
Montenegro. I signed the Agreement only as one of the
negotiators, the final word rests with the Montenegrin parliament» - said
Djukanovic at a press conference in Podgorica several hours after
signing Agreement in Belgrade. Bombarded with very harsh
journalists' questions, accused of treason of Montenegro and
asked to leave the presidential office, Djukanovic explained that it
was not the time for final decisions. "I understand honest emotions of
Montenegrins, I myself was susceptible to them, but if we had
tried to use our right to referendum then, we would have had the
entire international community against us, and that would have
negatively influenced the outcome of referendum", said Djukanovic,
thus confirming that he was somewhat afraid of referendum's
outcome, taking into consideration the great division among voters.
Repeating Vujanovic's words about full economic and monetary
sovereignty of Montenegro, he emphasized that his country gained
points also at institutional level. Among else, he said that
Montenegro will command the army on its territory and that
recruits will serve their country in Montenegro, which discounts
possible tyranny this country was often subjected to by the
Yugoslav army. He especially emphasized that Montenegro would
like to ensure its full presence in institutions such as UN,
OSCE, EU and Council of Europe with the "rotation principle". It
means that a seat in East River is equally Montenegrin as Serbian
and that therefore his angry political rivals from
Serbian-Yugoslav bloc in Podgorica who euphorically celebrate
victory of the idea of "one chair" in UN have no room for
pleasure. According to Djukanovic, a similar principle will apply
to other international financial institutions - IMF, World Bank, etc.
      Djukanovic is right in many things and his compatriots are
wrong in labeling him traitor, but he forgets that antagonisms
between Montenegro and Serbia won't be removed either by Solana
or the Belgrade Agreement. On the contrary, they are likely to
escalate - it is not realistic to expect that the principle of
rotation and agreement among the ruling politicians of two
countries will function as well as envisioned. Furthermore, many
aspects of the so-called Constitutional Declaration signed on
14th March in Belgrade are rather unclear and can be interpreted
at will. That practice had began before the ink on the paper
dried - for example, Djukanovic is questioning validity of
federal elections scheduled for autumn, while Kostunica puts them
into foreground when he talks about the stability of the future
union, which should be functional starting this summer. Also, as
Montenegrin side cites full economic sovereignty as a joker for
its independence in the future union, vice-president o oslav
government Miroljub Labus, one of the authors of Belgrade
Agreement, says that some day two different economic systems
could merge into one. He especially has in mind introduction of
Yugoslav currency dinar throughout Union territory. "What is a
country with two separate currencies", is Labus' rhetoric
question. His colleague Milan Kovacevic, a professor at Faculty
of Economy at Belgrade University, says that trade between Serbia
and Montenegro will be more difficult to implement than trade
between Serbia and Macedonia or Russia. Various interpretations
of the Agreement have already started and it seems that the
people who say that this Union won't last long are right.  "This
will be a stillborn!", wrote director of Center for Democratic
Transition Nebojsa Medojevic. Already mentioned Vladan Batic
announced that his Christian Party and a sizeable part of DOS
promote campaign for referendum on full independence in Serbia.
«It is time to create independent, respectable, democratic,
European Serbia», said Batic, one of the most influential persons
in Serbian government. There is another indicator that new Union
between Serbia and Montenegro won't live long: mutual accusations
that another side had better terms have already started. We
should remember that was the cause for downfall of the second
Yugoslavia, the most successful of the three countries that has
existed in that name for nearly a year.