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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

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

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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.







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