OPPOSITION ORGANIZES PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS IN BELARUS
Moskovsky Komsomolets, May 11, 1999, p. 2
The ballot is supposed to take place on May 16.
Democrats cite the old Constitution, by which Alexander Lukashenko’s term in office expires as soon as June 1999. Hence the elections organized by the opposition. The list of candidates includes Zenon Poznyak, leader of the Belarussian Popular Front and political emigrant residing in Warsaw, and Mikhail Chigir, ex-premier who quarrelled with Lukashenko. When the election campaign got into full swing, Chigir was arrested on charges of embezzlement. In other words, voters will have to choose between a political emigrant and a political prisoner. Lukashenko has already branded the election organizers as rebels, and all local election commissions have gone underground. Lists of voters were compiled and ballots printed this way, too. Almost 2,500 commissions have been set up, involving 14,000 people. Carrying ballot boxes in satchels, these people go door-to-door in the evening. Actually, the procedure resembles young Pioneers’ waste paper drives in the past. All one has to do is put the ballot into the box. Neither a name nor a passport are required. Viktor Gonchar, Chairman of the Central Election Commission, explains this simplicity in the following manner: Belarussians should not be afraid to vote.
TWO CHECHEN DEPUTY PREMIERS ARE EXPECTED IN MOSCOW
Moskovsky Komsomolets, May 11, 1999, p. 2
Lom-Ali Alsultanov and Akhmed Zakayev will meet with state executives of Boris Yeltsin’s administration and with members of the government tomorrow.
If the negotiations are successful, the parties will announce the date of a Russian-Chechen summit. According to Grozny, the status of the republic is not to be discussed at the negotiations or during the summit.
Zakayev: The status of Chechnya is defined by the Constitution of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. The Constitution is not negotiable. We will only discuss economic matters, because Russia has not fulfilled its obligations made two years ago: compensation to Chechnya for the war.
THE OPPOSITION CELEBRATES VICTORY DAY
NTV (Independent Television), “Segodnya” program, May 9, 1999, 16:00
The left opposition organized its traditional rallies and demonstrations in Moscow. Supporters of the Communist Party and the Working Russia movement gathered near the Byelorussky Railroad Terminal an hour and half in advance.
Opposition activists split even before the march began. Communists kept close to Gennadi Zyuganov, and national Bolsheviks to Limonov. General Makashov was noticed in the columns. Some monarchists with anti-Semitic slogans marched near Communists.
Kurds with anti-NATO slogans formed a separate column.
A column of the Spiritual Legacy movement under Aleksei Podberezkin walked right behind the Communists. Its only political slogan was “Down with NATO’s war against Yugoslavia!”
Every column ended its demonstration with a rally. Addressing his followers, Zyuganov urged them to come out onto the streets if the Primakov Cabinet should be dismissed.
Zyuganov: If they come up with another government crisis, we should instruct members of the Federation Council to convene an emergency session. We all should gather in all squares in all cities to demand a peaceful and democratic way out of the situation.
The police force was fairly active, an indication that provocations were expected. So far, no provocations have taken place, fortunately.
CHERNOMYRDIN RETURNS TO MOSCOW
ORT (Russian Public Television), “Vremya” program, May 9, 1999, 21:00
At about 5 p.m. a plane with Presidential Envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin on board landed at Vnukovo-2, a VIP-only airport. Chernomyrdin returned to Moscow from Bonn, where he had several important meetings regarding the Yugoslavian problem. Chernomyrdin initially planned to fly on from Bonn to Belgrade, but he says that the situation changed. As always, he is being rather secretive about details of his trip, and revealing only the most general matters.
Chernomyrdin: Some work is needed here, in Moscow. No, I won’t leave tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. We will meet again with American leaders and with representatives of other NATO countries. After that we will make a decision, and then I will probably depart for Belgrade.
While in Germany, Chernomyrdin had a telephone conversation with President Slobodan Milosevic. According to Chernomyrdin, the Yugoslavian president was satisfied with results of the negotiations in Bonn. Chernomyrdin himself is describing them as hopeful, and keeping his cards close to his chest.
Negotiations at the Petersberg residence near Bonn ended late last night. Those present included Chernomyrdin himself, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, representative of the UN General Secretary Carl Bildt, and Ibrahim Rugova, leader of the Kosovo Albanians. The latter was present at Chernomyrdin’s personal request.
Chernomyrdin: He stands for a broad autonomy for Kosovo. He also thinks that an international military presence is a must. Actually, everybody agrees with that, even Milosevic. We only have to talk over all the details.
CHINESE RALLY NEAR THE US EMBASSY IN MOSCOW
ORT (Russian Public Television), News program, May 10, 1999, 15:00
Representatives of the Chinese community are rallying near the US Embassy in Moscow for the second day in a row. Today the rally began at 1 p.m. Several dozen Chinese are present, waving anti-American slogans and Chinese flags.
The picket was permitted by the Moscow authorities. By approximately 4 p.m. the number of protesters is expected to increase. Organizers claim that they expect up to 1,500 participants.