A host is like general: calamities often reveal his genius. - Horace
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol 1, No. 14, Part I, 18 April 1997


Vol 1, No. 14, Part I, 18 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 UPBEAT ON RUSSIAN-NATO CHARTER

* RUSSIA UNHAPPY ABOUT EU WARNING TO BELARUS

* GEORGIAN WARLORD SAYS SHEVARDNADZE WITNESSED
1993 EXECUTIONS
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RUSSIA

YELTSIN UPBEAT ON RUSSIAN-NATO CHARTER. Following
his meeting with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl in Baden-
Baden, President Boris Yeltsin told journalists yesterday that
Russia will sign a charter with NATO leaders in Paris on 27
May. The announcement came as a surprise since only a few
hours earlier, presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii
had said it was premature to suggest the charter would be
signed next month. Kohl said Russia and NATO have agreed
on 90% of the first four articles of the charter. However, he
noted that the two sides still have considerable differences
over the last article, which deals with the military facilities of
new NATO members. Russia insists that NATO promise not to
build military infrastructure in new member states, but
Western officials say new members will not be offered "second-
class status" in the alliance.

YELTSIN MAKES GESTURE ON TROPHY ART ISSUE. At his
meeting with Kohl yesterday, Yeltsin handed over some
archival materials taken from Germany during World War II.
The Russian leader gave back microfilmed archives of the
Central Committee of the former East German ruling party, as
well as 11 files from the archive of former German Foreign
Minister Walther Rathenau, who signed the treaty establishing
diplomatic relations with the USSR in 1922. According to
ITAR-TASS, Yeltsin also gave Kohl an inventory of art works
and other materials taken to the USSR at the end of the war as
well as a list of property the Russian Orthodox Church wants
Germany to return.

RUSSIA UNHAPPY ABOUT EU WARNING TO BELARUS. The
Russian Foreign Ministry says it regrets the tone of a recent
EU statement calling on Belarus to undertake genuine political
and economic reforms, Reuters reported. A statement issued
by the ministry yesterday said the EU warning amounted to
political interference in Belarus's internal affairs. Last week,
the European Parliament accused Belarusian President
Alyaksandr Lukashenka of a dictatorial style of government
and said it would not recognize a union treaty between Belarus
and Russia until the Belarusian parliament was consulted on
the issue. It also said that unless reforms were implemented in
Belarus, the EU would block a planned trade and aid
agreement with Minsk.

FEDERATION COUNCIL FAVORS INTERNATIONAL STATUS
FOR SEVASTOPOL. The Federation Council has asked Yeltsin
to consider whether the Crimean port city of Sevastopol, where
the Black Sea Fleet is based, might be governed jointly by
Russia and Ukraine, Russian news agencies reported
yesterday. It also asked the president to insist that Ukraine
recognize there are problems surrounding the legal status of
Sevastopol. Last December, the upper house passed a
resolution claiming Sevastopol as Russian territory, prompting
protests from Kyiv. The Russian Foreign Ministry rejected the
resolution, saying Moscow recognized that "Sevastopol and all
of Crimea belong to Ukraine." Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov,
who has frequently declared that Sevastopol "is and will
remain Russian," was absent from yesterday's Federation
Council session. He flew to the U.S. for several days of
meetings with politicians and business leaders.

CHUBAIS SAYS REGIONS WILL HAVE SAY IN DRAFTING
BUDGET. First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais says
the government will seek input from regional governors and
deputies when drafting the 1998 budget, ITAR-TASS reported
yesterday. Chubais told reporters that the Finance Ministry is
already working on next year's budget and that a government
delegation will discuss budgetary issues with leaders of several
Siberian regions in May. Federation Council Speaker Yegor
Stroev said that consulting regional leaders about the budget
would prevent "stupidities such as passing a budget in order
to cut it two months later." Yesterday, Chubais told Federation
Council deputies that the 1997 budget would have to be
substantially revised because of low revenues in the first
quarter.

DUMA SPEAKER ADVOCATES MONETARY EMISSION.
Gennadii Seleznev says the government should issue an
additional 20-30 trillion rubles ($3.5-5.2 billion) to pay wage
and pension arrears, Russian news agencies reported
yesterday. He said printing the extra money would not
significantly affect the inflation rate. Economics Minister
Yakov Urinson sharply criticized Seleznev's proposal, saying
any unplanned monetary emission would spark inflation and
would hurt "the most vulnerable layers of the population."

SUPREME COURT AFFIRMS LEGITIMACY OF ELECTORAL
LAW. The Supreme Court has ruled that electing half of the
State Duma using a proportional representation system does
not violate voters' constitutional rights, ITAR-TASS reported.
Under the law on parliamentary elections, half of the 450
Duma deputies are chosen from party lists. Only electoral
blocs that gain at least 5% of the vote can receive any party-
list Duma seats. In the December 1995 Duma elections, the
four parties that crossed the 5% threshold won only some 50%
of the total party-list votes cast. Mikhail Martynyuk, who voted
for an unsuccessful bloc in 1995, lodged the appeal, claiming
that he had been denied his right to representation in
parliament. In an apparent attempt to call the Duma's
legitimacy into question, the presidential administration
publicized Martynyuk's case and sent a legal representative to
support him at the court hearings.

KHLYSTUN ON CRISIS IN AGRICULTURE FUNDING.
Agriculture Minister Viktor Khlystun has told the Federation
Council that state funding for the agrarian sector in the first
quarter of 1997 was only 11% of budgeted levels, or 300 billion
rubles ($52 million), ITAR-TASS reported yesterday. Some
deputies in the upper house argued that regional funds should
be created to support agriculture, as has been done in the
republics of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan.

IZVESTIYA SAYS MEDIA FACE CENSORSHIP ON SEVERAL
FRONTS. Izvestiya says the Duma's recent attempt to limit TV
coverage of parliamentary activities is part of a larger trend of
diminishing press freedom in Russia. Journalist Stepan
Kiselev argues in today's edition that deputies are taking their
cue from officials in the government and presidential
administration who, he said, have recently sought to punish
newspapers for publishing criticism of leading politicians. Also
in today's edition, several intellectuals and cultural figures
published an appeal denouncing attempts to turn the paper
"into an obedient mouthpiece for its new masters." This follows
an Izvestiya commentary yesterday saying the oil company
LUKoil is seeking to replace the paper's top journalists in
violation of an earlier commitment not to interfere in the
paper's editorial policy. LUKoil owns a 41% stake in Izvestiya.

CONFERENCE IN MOSCOW ON COMBATING DRUG TRADE.
At the end of a two-day conference in Moscow on combating
the growing narcotics trade in the CIS, Russia has received
small financial commitments from the world community, ITAR-
TASS reported yesterday. While various international
organizations and law enforcement agencies recognized that
drug trafficking is a problem in Russia and other CIS states,
the UN said it would not allow Russia to take part in its
international drug-combating program, pointing to Russia's
insufficient means and technology to tackle the problem. But
both the UN and the U.S. pledged financial support to Russian
drug-combating programs, while Germany has offered funds
for police training.

NAKHODKA MEDICS END HUNGER STRIKE. Seven medics
working for an ambulance service in Nakhodka, Primorskii
Krai, have ended an 11-day hunger strike after receiving their
February wages, ITAR-TASS reported yesterday. The medics
are still owed several months of back pay, which the
authorities have promised to pay soon. Meanwhile in
Volgograd Oblast, more than 100 teachers blocked traffic on a
major highway yesterday. The teachers have not received their
salaries for five months and have not been paid other benefits
for a year.

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

GEORGIAN WARLORD SAYS SHEVARDNADZE WITNESSED
1993 EXECUTIONS. Dzhaba Ioseliani, former head of the
disbanded Mkhedrioni paramilitary force, says he was arrested
in November 1995 because he had informed the Georgian
parliament that he was present when Interior Minister Shota
Kviraya executed five men in Georgian leader Eduard
Shevardnadze's presence. Ioseliani said the executions were
carried out in western Georgia in October 1993. The date and
place suggests that the executed men were supporters of late
President Zviad Gamsakhurdia, who launched an
unsuccessful insurrection in fall 1993. Ioseliani has been
charged with treason in connection with the failed car bomb
attack on Shevardnadze in August 1995. He protests that his
arrest was illegal because, as a deputy, he had parliamentary
immunity. He added that there is no hard evidence to
substantiate the charges against him. Ioseliani made the
claims in a letter to Supreme Court chairman Mindia
Ugrekhelidze, published in the Georgian press on 16 April.

ABKHAZ PRESIDENT RULES OUT FURTHER TALKS WITH
GEORGIA. Vladislav Ardzinba says the re-routing of all
telephone communications from Russia to Abkhazia via
Georgia was "a political act" that showed Russia is trying to
force Abkhazia to agree to enter a federation with Georgia, AFP
reported yesterday, quoting Interfax. Ardzinba ruled out
further talks with Georgia on a political solution to the conflict,
while Georgian presidential adviser Shalva Pichkhadze told
Interfax that Georgia has exhausted almost "all areas of
compromise" with Abkhazia. He hinted that Georgia could be
forced to seek alternative mediators if the resolution adopted
at the March CIS summit on broadening the mandate of the
CIS peacekeepers in Abkhazia is not implemented.

WORLD BANK LENDS KYRGYZSTAN $44 MILLION. The
World Bank's International Development Association (IDA) has
approved a $44 million loan for Kyrgyzstan, RFE/RL reported
yesterday. The funds will be used to help reduce the budget
deficit and will cover the cost of privatizing or closing down
non-productive state enterprises. The loan is also intended to
help maintain essential public services slated for privatization.
It is repayable over 30 years with a10-year grace period.

TAJIK TALKS OFF AGAIN. Talks between the Tajik
government and the United Tajik Opposition have been called
off again, RFE/RL's Tajik service reported yesterday.
Discussions resumed on 16 April after breaking down the
previous week but have now been postponed until 16 May.
Both sides said they needed to consult with their leaderships
before continuing the discussions.

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               Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc.
                     All rights reserved.
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