If you wish to live wisely, ignore sayings--including this one. - Heywood Broun
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol 1, No. 8, Part I, 10 April 1997


Vol 1, No. 8, Part I, 10 April 1997

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/

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HEADLINES, Part I

* YELTSIN PROMISES WAR ON CORRUPTION

* DUMA DELAYS DEBATE OVER START II

* TAJIK TALKS BREAK DOWN ON FIRST DAY
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RUSSIA

YELTSIN PROMISES WAR ON CORRUPTION. President Boris
Yeltsin says he has the political will to make it "scary to steal
and take bribes." In an address broadcast today on national
radio, Yeltsin said a recent presidential decree ordering
competitive bidding for state contracts would reduce
corruption. He also promised to end some tax and customs
benefits, which, he said, create opportunities for bribery, and
to make leading officials and their families submit income and
property declarations. Yesterday, Yeltsin said civil servants
should follow the example set by him and First Deputy Prime
Minister Boris Nemtsov, Russian news agencies reported.
During a televised meeting, the president told Nemtsov, "You
and I have the same credo: Never take bribes." He also ordered
Nemtsov to oversee preparations for an auction of foreign-
made cars used by government officials. Yeltsin issued a
decree last month ordering officials to drive Russian-made
cars.

DUMA DELAYS DEBATE OVER START II. The State Duma
has again postponed a debate on ratification of the START II
treaty, Russian news agencies reported yesterday. Duma
Defense Committee Chairman Lev Rokhlin of Our Home Is
Russia, who has expressed reservations about the treaty, said
the government should first advance proposals for
implementing the treaty. START II was signed by the Russian
and U.S. presidents in 1993 and ratified by the US Congress
in 1996. The Duma has repeatedly delayed consideration of
the treaty, and Communist deputies have said they will block
its ratification if NATO expands to the east.

GAZPROM HEAD ADDRESSES DUMA. Rem Vyakhirev says
foreign gas companies and the IMF are trying to use the
Russian Finance Ministry to break up the natural gas
monopoly Gazprom, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported
yesterday. However, Vyakhirev told Duma deputies that First
Deputy Prime Minister Nemtsov, who is leading the
government's campaign to reform the natural monopolies, had
agreed not to split up Gazprom. Vyakhirev also said the
government could solve Russia's non-payments crisis if it
increased the money supply by 10%, adding that such a
measure would not be inflationary. After Vyakhirev's speech,
the Duma rejected a resolution proposed by Yabloko for the
State Audit Chamber to examine Gazprom's finances.
Vyakhirev said Gazprom itself should carry out the audit and
release the results.

GOVERNMENT PLEDGES TOUGH ACTION AGAINST
DEBTORS TO PENSION FUND. Deputy Prime Minister Oleg
Sysuev says the government will restructure the debts of
companies that owe large sums to the Pension Fund, such as
oil refineries and the utility Unified Energy System (EES),
Russian news agencies reported yesterday. Sysuev also said
the government may sell off parts of companies--especially in
the oil industry--that do not pay their debts to the Pension
Fund. In addition, the volume of oil that private companies are
allowed to export through pipelines belonging to the state-
owned company Transneft will depend on the companies'
payments to the Pension Fund. The fund is owed more than 65
trillion rubles ($11 billion), and some of the largest debtors are
in the energy sector.

RYBKIN MEETS WITH CHECHEN LEADERS IN GROZNY.
Russian Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin and his
deputy, Boris Berezovskii, met with Chechen President Aslan
Maskhadov and First Deputy Prime Minister Movladi Udugov
in Grozny yesterday. No details of the talks were released, but
Nezavisimaya gazeta suggested today that they focused on
draft agreements on bilateral relations.  Meanwhile,
Maskhadov has denied that he plans to attend a conference in
Pitsunda next month of presidents of unrecognized states,
including Abkhazia and South Ossetia. He denounced the
report as an attempt to undermine Chechen-Georgian
relations.

SPIRITUAL HERITAGE DISCUSSES OPPOSITION
STRATEGY. Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov told
a congress of the Spiritual Heritage movement yesterday that
protests could lead to a "social explosion" if the opposition is
not sufficiently organized, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported.
He summed up the Russian national idea as "spirituality, great
statehood (derzhavnost), community, and justice." Aleksei
Podberezkin, leader of Spiritual Heritage and one of
Zyuganov's closest advisers, argued that the opposition must
create a new "state-patriotic ideology." He said recent cabinet
changes prove that the government has not drawn the right
conclusions from its mistakes. Nezavisimaya gazeta yesterday
published extracts of a document by Podberezkin describing
"radical protests" as ineffective and advocating a tactical
compromise with the government.

PRIMAKOV SUGGESTS NATO CHARTER COULD BE
SIGNED NEXT MONTH. Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov
has said Yeltsin may go to Paris to sign a charter between
Russia and NATO on 27 May, provided that an agreement is
reached by then, Reuters and AFP reported yesterday. French
President Jacques Chirac extended the invitation to Yeltsin
during a meeting with Primakov in Paris. However, there are
major  outstanding differences over the terms of the charter,
particularly whether NATO will pledge not to build military
facilities on the territory of new member countries. Russian
Deputy Foreign Minister Nikolai Afanasevskii, who is
negotiating with NATO officials in Brussels, yesterday rejected
confidence-building measures proposed by the alliance as
insufficient.

YELTSIN APPOINTS NEW FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER.
Yeltsin has appointed career diplomat Sergei Prikhodko as his
new foreign policy adviser, Russian news agencies reported
yesterday. Yeltsin sacked Dmitrii Ryurikov last weekend,
reportedly because he was dissatisfied with documents on
Russian-Belarusian integration that Ryurikov helped prepare.
Presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii will continue to
coordinate foreign policy for the administration.

ST. PETERSBURG COMMUNISTS ATTEMPT TO OUST
GOVERNOR. The St. Petersburg electoral commission has
registered a Communist-sponsored group seeking to oust the
city's governor, Vladimir Yakovlev, by a referendum, RFE/RL's
correspondent in St. Petersburg reported yesterday. Local
Communists object to the February decision to double the cost
of city housing and municipal services. If the group can collect
the required 140,000 signatures within 40 days, St.
Petersburg residents will be asked whether they think the
city's social and economic policies have lowered their standard
of living and whether they believe Yakovlev should step down.

DUMA TO APPEAL TO CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OVER
BASHKORTOSTAN'S ELECTORAL LAW. The Duma has voted
to ask the Constitutional Court to examine the law on
presidential elections in the Republic of Bashkortostan, ITAR-
TASS reported yesterday. Duma deputy Galina Starovoitova
said a provision restricting presidential candidates to those
who speak both Russian and Bashkir discriminates against
Russian-speakers and violates the federal constitutional
guarantee of equal rights for all citizens.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

RUSSIAN-BELARUSIAN ACCORD AS CORNERSTONE OF
NAZARBAEV'S EURASIAN UNION? Kazak President
Nursultan Nazarbaev has rejected suggestions that the Treaty
on Eternal Friendship, which he and Kyrgyz President Askar
Akaev signed earlier this week, is an alternative to the
Russian-Belarus union agreement, Nezavisimaya gazeta
reports today. Nazarbaev said that "if the CIS states unite in
Europe, then the countries of Central Asia could join them and
we would have a Eurasian Union." He first floated the idea of a
Eurasian union strengthening integration within the CIS in
1994. Akaev endorsed that idea in Almaty earlier this week.

GREEK FOREIGN MINISTER IN YEREVAN.  Theodoros
Pangalos has called for expanding Armenian-Greek economic
relations and for closer cooperation between Greece, Armenia,
Georgia, and Iran in unspecified "areas of mutual concern,"
Asbarez and Armenpress reported. Pangalos was in Yerevan
yesterday to meet with his Armenian counterpart, Alexander
Arzoumanian, President Levon Ter-Petrossyan, and Prime
Minister Robert Kocharyan. He told journalists later that
Greece supports the right of nations to self-determination,
"whether [in the form of] cultural autonomy or fully-fledged
independence." He said he believes the Karabakh conflict
should be resolved in accordance with this principle. Pangalos
also said Turkey's  position vis-a-vis Karabakh was
destabilizing and that Ankara should realize that the Ottoman
Empire is dead and cannot be revived.

ALIEV CALLS ON GEORGIA TO CONDEMN RUSSIAN ARMS
SUPPLIES TO ARMENIA.  Meeting in Baku yesterday with
visiting Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili,
Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev expressed the hope that the
Georgian leadership will condemn Russian arms shipments to
Armenia, Interfax reported.  Aliev intimated that Armenia
could use this hardware against Georgia.  Meanwhile in
Yerevan, Armenian Defense Minister Vazgen Sarkisyan said on
national TV that the reports on the arms shipments are aimed
at weakening the Armenian army and depriving the country of
aid. Last month, Sarkisyan had implicitly confirmed the
reports.

TAJIK TALKS BREAK DOWN ON FIRST DAY. The latest
round of Tajik peace talks broke down in Tehran yesterday
when the Tajik opposition representatives demanded the
release of 11 of their colleagues who, they say, were arrested in
Moscow. Ali Akbar Turajonzoda, head of the opposition
delegation to the talks, told RFE/RL's Moscow bureau
yesterday that the men had been arrested immediately before
the talks were scheduled to begin and charged with the
murders of Russian soldiers serving in Tajikistan.  He
described the arrests as typical Moscow tactics to discredit the
opposition and as pointless in view of an amnesty signed
earlier this year for Tajik opposition fighters.  Maxim Peshkov,
head of the Russian observer delegation to the talks, said one
of the detained Tajiks, Abdurahmon Nazarov, was a "Russian
citizen. "He denied any knowledge of the other ten detainees.

TURKMENISTAN DENIES HELPING TALIBAN.
Turkmenistan's Foreign Ministry has denied any role in aiding
Afghanistan's Taliban movement, ITAR-TASS reported today.
The denial followed an 8 April interview with Afghan warlord
Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum in Komsomolskaya Pravda in
which Dostum said the Taliban are selling narcotics and
receiving weapons via Turkmenistan. Turkmenistan has
consistently said that, as a neutral country, it neither
supports nor gives aid to any of the warring factions in
Afghanistan.

KAZAKSTAN TO INCREASE OIL PRODUCTION, EXPORTS.
Nurlan Balgimbaev, head of the new Kazak national oil and
gas company, hopes that oil production in 1997 will reach its
previous peak of 26.5 million metric tons, Nezavisimaya
gazeta reported yesterday. Balgimbaev said that Kazakstan
plans to export 7 million tons of oil this year via Russia--1
million by tanker across the Caspian Sea and then by rail from
Baku to Georgia and 1 million via Iran by means of a "swap."
The oil swap with Iran is problematic, however, as Kazak oil
contains such a high level of impurities that it cannot be
refined at the Tehran oil refinery, Delovoi mir reported
yesterday.  Balgimbaev was ambivalent about Kazakstan
joining the OPEC and expressed doubts that projected
pipelines either through Afghanistan and Pakistan or through
China would materialize in the foreseeable future.

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