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Vol 1, No. 4, Part I, 4 April1997
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 1, No. 4, Part I, 4 April1997 This is Part I of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Newsline. Part I is a compilation of news concerning Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia. Part II, covering Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe, is distributed simultaneously as a second document. Back issues of RFE/RL NewsLine are available through RFE/RL's WWW pages: http://www.rferl.org/newsline/search/ Back issues of the OMRI Daily Digest are available through OMRI's WWW pages: http://www.omri.cz/Index.html ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^= ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ IMF RECOMMENDS FURTHER LOAN DISBURSEMENTS TO RUSSIA ALLEGED ARMS DEALS IN ARMENIA, AZERBAIJAN DE CHARETTE ON KARABAKH TALKS RUSSIA IMF CHIEF RECOMMENDS FURTHER LOAN DISBURSEMENTS, WITH CONDITIONS. IMF Managing Director Michel Camdessus says he will recommend that the fund release the next $340 million tranche of its $10 billion loan to Russia soon, provided that the government submits a new tax code to the parliament, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reports. Following a friendly meeting with President Boris Yeltsin, Camdessus praised the Russian government's commitment to economic reforms. He signed a joint statement with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin saying that 1997 "could see the beginning of sustainable economic growth" if the government sticks to its reform program, AFP reported. However, Camdessus warned that further IMF support will depend on the government's ability to improve tax collection and crack down on corruption. Camdessus also met with leading State Duma deputies. Opposition representatives denounced the IMF's recommendations, which they said would harm living standards in Russia. AMNESTY CONDEMNS WIDESPREAD "TORTURE" IN RUSSIA. Amnesty International charges that Russian law enforcement agencies and security services systematically violate human rights and subject thousands of prisoners, especially members of ethnic minorities, to torture. Mariana Katzarova, one of authors of a new Amnesty report, told RFE/RL's Washington correspondent yesterday that prison conditions in contemporary Russia are worse than in the Soviet period, primarily because of severe overcrowding. Beatings and diseases have killed thousands of prisoners, especially in pre-trial detention cells. Amnesty charged that several anti-crime decrees issued by Yeltsin since 1993 violate international human rights standards. Katzarova also denounced the widespread hazing that continues to claim the lives of many young Russian soldiers. Interfax ignored the Amnesty report entirely, while the official ITAR-TASS agency reported only on Amnesty's condemnation of the abduction of journalists in Chechnya. PROCURATOR-GENERAL SAYS CHUBAIS PAID TAXES. Yurii Skuratov has informed parliamentary officials that First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais paid 517 million rubles ($95,000) in taxes on his 1996 income, which totaled $278,000, Interfax reported. The State Duma asked Skuratov to investigate whether Chubais broke the law after Novaya gazeta alleged in January that Chubais evaded his taxes. Chubais paid his taxes soon after the story broke, saying he earned the money through "lectures and consultations" before he was appointed presidential chief of staff last July. However, Skuratov said Chubais earned most of his 1996 income on the stock market. Meanwhile, Chubais has been appointed to head the government's Interdepartmental Commission on the Socioeconomic Problems of Mining Regions, ITAR-TASS reported. He replaces Vladimir Potanin, who was sacked during last month's cabinet reshuffle. LABOR MINISTER RESIGNS. Labor Minister Gennadii Melikyan, a survivor of the March cabinet reshuffle, has resigned, citing "different tactics" from the new first deputy prime ministers, Anatolii Chubais and Boris Nemtsov. He told ITAR-TASS that he decided to step down after last week's nationwide demonstrations against wage arrears, which involved an estimated 1 million people across Russia. Melikyan is expected to contest a by-election for a State Duma seat in Rostov Oblast, which Sergei Shakhrai left when he was appointed presidential representative to the Constitutional Court. Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Sysuev, who joined the government last month, is likely to replace Melikyan as labor minister. CHECHEN UPDATE. An OSCE spokesman announced yesterday that Tim Guldimann, head of its mission in Chechnya since January 1996, has resigned. Danish diplomat Rudolf Thorning-Petersen has been appointed to replace him. The Russian Foreign Ministry said today there is no need for further OSCE mediation in Chechnya because the Russian and Chechen leaderships are now engaged in direct talks. Meanwhile in Moscow, Russian State Duma speaker Gennadii Seleznev and Duma Security Committee chairman Viktor Ilyukhin have criticized Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov's appointment of field commander Shamil Basaev as first deputy premier. Seleznev said Basaev was not a capable administrator, while Ilyukhin called him "odious." REPORT SAYS RUSSIA HAS NEW ANTHRAX TOXIN, NERVE GAS. The latest issue of Jane's Land Based Air Defence 1997- 98 claims that Russia has developed a new form of the anthrax bacteria and three new types of nerve gas. The report cites both Russian defectors and Western intelligence agents, who say the new anthrax toxin is resistant to all known antibiotics. Jane's said the lethal nerve gases could be manufactured without using any of the chemicals that are banned by the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention. NON-PAYMENTS LEAD TO MASSIVE POWER CUTS IN PRIMORE. The largest power plant in Primorskii Krai has run out of fuel, causing power cuts across the region and blackouts for up to 12 hours a day in the city of Vladivostok. The city was already experiencing power cuts for a few hours each day. The power plant cannot buy more coal because Primore's coal mines, which are unable to pay for fuel, have suspended production. Maintenance workers at Vladivostok's State Automobile Inspectorate warned the mayor's office that they will switch off all traffic lights in the city if they are not paid back wages for the past six months by 9 April, RFE/RL reported. TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA ARMS SUPPLIES TO ARMENIA, AZERBAIJAN. Vechernyaya Moskva yesterday cited a November 1993 letter allegedly sent by then Armenian Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisyan to his Russian counterpart, Pavel Grachev, requesting assistance in acquiring spare parts for hardware supplied by Russia and guaranteeing payment. This follows Lev Rokhlin's revelations at a 2 April closed session of the State Duma on the extent of clandestine Russian arms shipments to Armenia. Moskovskii komsomolets quoted Rokhlin as saying shipments continued after Grachev's dismissal last summer but without the knowledge of his successor, Igor Rodionov. Meanwhile, Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev has called on Yeltsin to launch a new investigation into Rokhlin's disclosures, ITAR- TASS reports. Nezavisimaya gazeta's Armenian correspondent claimed yesterday that in 1994, Turkey purchased arms from Russia worth over $3 billion and passed them on to Azerbaijan. DE CHARETTE ON KARABAKH TALKS. French Foreign Minister Herve de Charette told Armenian President Levon Ter- Petrossyan in Yerevan earlier this week that he favors direct talks between Baku and Yerevan and possibly between Baku and Stepanakert in order to expedite a solution to the Karabakh conflict, RFE/RL reported. De Charette also disclosed that Iran, which is not an OSCE member and is therefore excluded from the mediation process, is pleased France has become one of the three co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group. Gasparyan praised Russia's role as "an honest and impartial" co-mediator, but he complained that Azerbaijan is trying to undermine Russia's role in the mediation process. ARMENIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH OPPOSITION REPRESENTATIVES. Levon Ter-Petrossyan says his talks earlier this week with representatives of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation--Dashnaktsyutyun were "very positive and constructive," Armenpress reported. Ter- Petrossyan suspended the activities of the opposition ARFD in 1994 on the grounds that the party was implicated in terrorist activities. Prime Minister Robert Kocharyan also met with ARFD members earlier this week. He affirmed his readiness to cooperate with all Armenian political parties, according to Asbarez on Line. GEORGIA ADOPTS NEW SECURITY CONCEPT. The Georgian parliament has adopted new foreign-policy guidelines aimed at expediting the country's integration into European structures, Russian new agencies reported yesterday. Parliamentary speaker Zurab Zhvania said the new concept reflects the current state of Georgia's relations with Russia, which he termed the main threat to Georgian security. Zhvania said that if Russia fails to assist Georgia in restoring control over the breakaway republic of Abkhazia, Georgia will revise its present policy of military cooperation with Russia. NEW PLANS FOR KAZAK OIL. Kazakoil, the new national oil company, says it plans to export more than 1 million tons of oil to Iran this year, AFP and Interfax reported. This is in keeping with a 1996 deal providing for 2-6 million tons to be shipped to Iran annually over a 10-year period. Kazakstan has already sent 70,000 tons of oil to Iran so far this year. Kazakstan also intends to start sending oil to China beginning in the second half of 1997. Shipments will initially go by rail but eventually through planned pipelines. KYRGYZ PRESIDENT COMMENTS ON ECO. Askar Akayev says Kyrgyzstan considers relations with the 10-country Economic Cooperation Organization extremely important. Akayev was speaking after his meeting with the organization's Secretary-General Ondar Ozal earlier this week. He noted that 45% of Kyrgyzstan' s foreign trade is with ECO member states but that the potential for trade "was far from being exhausted." The construction of the Karakorum highway is one of Kyrgyzstan's top priorities because it would create a trade route stretching from China to the Indian Ocean, Akayev said. Besides Kyrgyzstan, the ECO member states are the other four former Soviet Central Asian republics, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. TURKMEN CHIEF PROSECUTOR FIRED. President Saparmurat Niyazov has sacked the country' s chief prosecutor, Bayrammurat Ashyrliyev, RFE/RL reported. Niyazov criticized the country's prosecutors in general, saying they too often failed to sentence real criminals and instead prosecuted " innocent people." He said failures among law enforcement officials were to be blamed for the level of crime and corruption in Turkmenistan. Prosecutors were all too susceptible to bribery, Niyazov commented. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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