Greatness lies not in being strong, but in the right use of strength. - Henry Ward Beecher
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol 1, No. 10, Part I, 14 April 1997


Vol 1, No. 10, Part I, 14 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

* NEMTSOV SAYS GOVERNMENT NOT EARNING PROFITS FROM GAZPROM

* YELTSIN SACKS FOUR TOP OFFICERS

* IRANIAN PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER ASSESSES COOPERATION WITH RUSSIA
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RUSSIA

NEMTSOV SAYS GOVERNMENT NOT EARNING PROFITS
FROM GAZPROM. First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov
says the government has not received its share of the gas
monopoly Gazprom's profits, adding that he does not know
what has happened it. He told NTV yesterday that the
government does not even have a copy of the trust agreement
whereby Gazprom executives manage 35% of the company's
shares--or almost all of the government's 40% stake. Nemtsov
and First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais recently
called for reviewing the agreement with Gazprom management,
which Nemtsov says was signed by former First Deputy Prime
Minister Oleg Soskovets. Soskovets was sacked last June.
Meanwhile, the State Duma on 11 April passed a resolution
denouncing as "inadmissible" any attempts to break up
Russia's single natural gas supply system, Interfax reported.
Deputies again rejected a Yabloko-sponsored proposal to have
the state's Audit Chamber audit Gazprom within three
months.

NEMTSOV ON ANTI-CORRUPTION MEASURES. Chairing a
government meeting on implementing new anti-corruption
measures, Nemtsov noted that the 1997 budget allocated 170
trillion rubles ($29 billion) for state purchases, ITAR-TASS
reported on 12 April. Saving even 10% of this amount through
competitive bidding for government contracts would leave
enough money to pay all the government's wage and pension
arrears, he argued. Nemtsov also told Russian Public TV (ORT)
the same day that he advocates increasing civil servants'
salaries, since "the most dangerous and corrupt official is a
poor official." Meanwhile, in a recent Public Opinion
Foundation poll, 45% of the 1,500 respondents said they trust
Nemtsov, making him Russia's most trusted politician, NTV
reported yesterday. About 37% of respondents said they trust
Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, while 35% said they trust
former Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed.

YELTSIN SACKS FOUR TOP OFFICERS. President Boris
Yeltsin has fired Army Gen. Vladimir Semenov as ground
troops commander, Russian news agencies reported on 11
April. Yeltsin also sacked Col. Gen. Anton Terentev, Semenov's
deputy in charge of combat training; Vice Admiral Vyacheslav
Kharnik, the deputy Northern Fleet Commander; and Admiral
Igor Smirnov, the chief of Navy headquarters. Semenov was
suspended last December amid allegations of corruption,
which he has repeatedly denied. However, Deputy Presidential
Chief of Staff Yevgenii Savostyanov told Interfax that Semenov
was fired primarily because of his ineffective leadership of
ground troops in Chechnya. Some Russian commentators
have suggested that Semenov was removed because he
disagreed with Defense Minister Igor Rodionov's plans for
downsizing the army.

RENEGADE CHECHEN FIELD COMMANDER REPORTED
CRITICALLY INJURED. Salman Raduev was badly injured
when a bomb exploded under his car on 9 April, his military
consultant Sultan Miyev told journalists in Grozny two days
later. But according to Interfax, the Chechen Interior Ministry
denied any knowledge of the attack, while spokesmen for
Grozny's hospitals told ITAR-TASS he had not been admitted.
AFP, meanwhile, reported that Raduev was transported to an
unknown destination outside Chechnya, where he underwent
surgery on 12 April. Miyev blamed Russia for the
assassination attempt and threatened reprisal attacks against
Russian cities. Chechen First Deputy Prime Minister Movladi
Udugov and a spokesman for the Russian Federal Security
Service both expressed concern that such threats could
jeopardize the ongoing Russian-Chechen peace talks.

MASKHADOV LEAVES GROZNY, POSSIBLY ON HAJJ.
Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov and Udugov left Grozny
by plane on 12 April, ITAR-TASS reported. Official sources said
that Maskhadov was finally heading for Saudi Arabia, after
having postponed his departure on pilgrimage by several days.
Some observers speculated that he was en route for Moscow
for further peace talks. Meanwhile, Mauro Galligani, the
Italian photographer abducted in Grozny in February, was
released unharmed on 13 April.

IRANIAN PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER ASSESSES
COOPERATION WITH RUSSIA. Ali Akbar Nateq Nouri told
journalists in Moscow on 12 April that Western concern that
Russian-Iranian military cooperation upsets the regional
balance of power is unfounded. The previous day, he met with
the chairmen of both houses of the Russian parliament to
discuss economic and regional cooperation and the legal
status of the Caspian Sea. The three leaders also signed a
protocol on inter-parliamentary cooperation, Interfax reported.
Also on 11 April, the Russian and Iranian deputy foreign
ministers signed a memorandum of understanding on export
controls, which Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov
said would finally dispel fears that Moscow's relations with
Iran "contradict international standards."

RUSSIA TO RESUME FUNDING ALPHA SPACE PROJECT.
Yeltsin says Russia will meet its commitments on international
space projects, in particular the Alpha space station, Russian
news agencies reported on 11 April. Russian Space Agency
director Yurii Koptev told reporters after meeting with Yeltsin
that Russia will allocate 800 billion rubles ($140 million) to the
Alpha project this month and another 700 billion rubles ($122
million) in May. Alpha is supposed to replace the 11-year-old
Mir station by 2003. However, Koptev admitted in February
that because of funding problems, the first part of the space
station will not be launched in November 1997, as scheduled.

WORLD BANK TO INCREASE INVESTMENTS IN RUSSIA.
World Bank President James Wolfensohn says his bank will
extend up to $6 billion in loans to Russia over the next two
years "provided that reforms proceed vigorously," AFP reports
today. After three days of talks with Russian government
officials, Wolfensohn said that up to $2 billion of the credits
would be earmarked for urgent social problems, such as
helping the government pay wage and pension arrears. On 12
April, First Deputy Prime Minister Chubais said Russian
economic reforms will increasingly be financed by the World
Bank rather than by the IMF. The same day, the World Bank
agreed to guarantee $100 million in loans from foreign
commercial banks to finance the construction of the Sea
Launch project, which will launch commercial satellites from
floating platforms.

LEBED, YAVLINSKII PESSIMISTIC ABOUT ECONOMIC
PROSPECTS. Former Security Council Secretary Lebed says
corrupt and despotic authorities are holding back foreign
investment in Russia, Reuters and AFP reported on 12 April.
Speaking at a conference in London, Lebed called for a
"dictatorship of law" to replace the current system, which, he
said, makes the law subordinate to the authorities. He asked,
"What insane person would invest in a country where
legislation is changed all the time?" Addressing the same
conference, Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii predicted that
Russia's GDP would drop by at least another 2.0-2.5% in
1997. In contrast, Ronald Freeman, first vice president of the
EBRD, predicted that Russia will become the "growth story of
1997."

ELECTRICITY UTILITY TO CUT RATES FOR
ENTERPRISES. Anatolii Dyakov, president of the electricity
giant Unified Energy System (EES), announced on 11 April
that the monopoly will lower its rates to industrial consumers
by 13% this year and by another 25% in 1998, Russian news
agencies reported. First Deputy Prime Minister Nemtsov
sharply criticized EES management last week for keeping
tariffs artificially high. Electricity rates for individual
consumers are expected to rise gradually under a recent
presidential decree.

CONTROVERSIAL CAMPAIGN MONEY TO BE HANDED
OVER TO STATE. Procurator-General Yurii Skuratov has
announced that funds at the center of a Yeltsin presidential
campaign scandal will be handed over to the state, ITAR-TASS
reported on 11 April. In a letter to Duma Speaker Gennadii
Seleznev, Skuratov said an investigation had failed to establish
the rightful owner of the $538,000 that two Yeltsin campaign
officials were found carrying out of government headquarters
last June. The criminal investigation into the case was closed
last week (see RFE/RL Newsline, 8 April 1997).

MALAYSIAN INVESTMENT IN TATARSTAN. President of the
Tatarstan Republic Mintimer Shaimiev said on returning from
Kuala Lumpur yesterday that Malaysia will invest $500 million
in Tatarstan's economy, ITAR-TASS and RFE/RL reported.
Some $430 million will go toward the expansion of the
Mendeleevskii mineral fertilizer plant, while $70 million will be
used for the construction of a cargo transshipment facility in
Kazan. Shaimiev also announced that Tatarstan's
Nizhnekamskneftekhim company, which produces synthetic
rubber, will have its shares posted on the Kuala Lumpur stock
exchange.

YELTSIN NOT INVOLVED IN "YEREVANGATE." Neither
Yeltsin nor the Russian government authorized the transfer of
arms to Armenia between 1994 and 1996, Russian and
Western agencies report today, quoting the State Control
Directorate, which is subordinated to the president. An
investigation by the Directorate established, however, that the
arms shipments did take place and were in violation of the
procedures stipulated in presidential decrees and other
directives.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

KYRGYZ SUPREME COURT WANTS DEATH PENALTY FOR
DRUGS POSSESSION. Kyrgyzstan's Supreme Court is working
on an amendment to the criminal code whereby possession of
"large amounts" of narcotics would be a capital offense, ITAR-
TASS reported on 11 April. Askar Mameyev, chairman of the
government commission on drugs, said he estimates that 15-
20 tons of narcotics transited Kyrgyzstan in 1996. He added
that 10% of crime in Kyrgyzstan is drug-related. Compared
with its neighbors, Kyrgyzstan has lenient laws on drug
possession and use.

KAZAK URANIUM EXPORTS. Viktor Yazikov, head of the
Kazak National Company for Atomic Energy and Industry,
says that from 1993 to 1996, Kazakstan exported 7,000 tons
of uranium, Interfax reported on 11 April. Almost half (3,000
tons) went to the U.S. Yazikov said that in the first half of this
year, Kazakstan will ship another 540 tons to the U.S. Interfax
did not specify where the rest of the uranium was shipped.

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