|A disagreement may be the shortest cut between two minds. - Kahlil Gibran|
Vol 1, No. 18, Part I, 24 April 1997
Vol 1, No. 18, Part I, 24 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/ xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part I * CIS-CHINESE BORDER AGREEMENT SIGNED * CHECHEN AIR DEFENSE TO SHOOT DOWN INTRUDING AIRCRAFT * NEMTSOV APPOINTED FUEL AND ENERGY MINISTER xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx RUSSIA CIS-CHINESE BORDER AGREEMENT SIGNED. Chinese President Jiang Zemin, Russian President Boris Yeltsin, Kazak President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev, and Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov met in Moscow today to sign an agreement reducing military forces in a 200 km zone along the CIS-Chinese border. According to Yeltsin, the agreement follows "seven years of cautious negotiations." It is unclear, however, whether the accord provides for a reduction in forces or maintains those forces at their present strength. A Chinese Foreign Minister official is quoted by ITAR-TASS as saying that "not one of our soldiers will be withdrawn from the border." According to Russian military and diplomatic sources, the CIS signatory countries are permitted to keep a total of 3,900 tanks on the border (Russia's quota is 3,810). The Chinese are also allowed 3,900 tanks, but sources in Beijing say China will not fulfill its quota as it has long ceased keeping large forces on the CIS border, Interfax reported. CHECHEN AIR DEFENSE TO SHOOT DOWN INTRUDING AIRCRAFT. As of today, Chechnya's air defense has been ordered to shoot down all aircraft that violate Chechen airspace, Russian agencies reported. Vice President Vakha Arsanov said on Chechen TV yesterday that the decision was prompted by the increasing number of unsanctioned flights by Russian military aircraft over Chechen territory. He said the flights jeopardize the signing of a peace treaty with Russia. NEMTSOV APPOINTED FUEL AND ENERGY MINISTER. Yeltsin has appointed First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov to run the Fuel and Energy Ministry, ITAR-TASS reports today. Nemtsov replaces Petr Rodionov, who was considered close to Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and who resigned earlier this month. In a nationwide radio address today, Yeltsin appealed to governors, mayors, and other senior officials to appoint more young people because of "the novelty of their decisions, the boldness of their approaches, and the originality of their ideas." Yeltsin also told Chernomyrdin not to be afraid of young people, who, he said, "do not have time for intrigues." Chernomyrdin is 59 years old, while Nemtsov and First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais are 37 and 41, respectively. Yeltsin resumes his vacation in Sochi today. DISPUTE OVER TAX COLLECTION FIGURES. State Tax Service chief Aleksandr Pochinok says 47 trillion rubles ($8.2 billion) in taxes were collected during the first quarter of 1997, Interfax reported yesterday. Depending on the type of tax, revenues were between 39% and 66% of government targets. Pochinok said he hoped to raise collection rates to 90% by this summer. However, Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov yesterday accused the State Tax Service of manipulating the statistics, Reuters reported. Kulikov said debt cancellations to offset owed taxes amounted to 44% of tax revenues during the first quarter, but the offsets are being registered as collected funds. GOVERNMENT COMMISSION SLAMS HEAD OF FEDERAL ROAD FUND. The government's Temporary Extraordinary Commission for Tax Collection and Budget Discipline slammed Deputy Transport Minister Anatolii Nasonov for incompetence, Russian news agencies reported yesterday. An inspection carried out in 17 Russian regions revealed that 700 billion rubles ($122 million) from the Federal Road Fund, which Nasonov supervises, did not reach the projects for which the funds had been earmarked. In addition, more than 200 commercial banks were involved in distributing the road fund allocations. The commission decided to set up a new division within the Transport Ministry to monitor the use of funds earmarked for road construction and repairs. DUMA PASSES LAW ON ROAD FUNDS... By a vote of 280 to 17 with 3 abstentions, the State Duma yesterday passed a new version of the law on road funds, ITAR-TASS reported. Under the law, federal and regional road funds may be spent on highways outside cities. Subcontractors must be selected by competitive bidding. The new version allows Moscow and St. Petersburg, which have the status of Russian Federation subjects, to use road funds for work on major highways. An earlier version of the law, vetoed by Yeltsin, called for diverting all road taxes gathered in Moscow and St. Petersburg to federal coffers, prompting protests from Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov and St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev. ...AND LAW ON FREE ECONOMIC ZONES. The Duma yesterday voted by 250 to 5 to pass a law on free economic zones, Russian news agencies reported. Under the law, the government has the right to establish several types of free economic zones on Russian territory. Special benefits include tax breaks for companies operating in the zones and exemption from customs tariffs. Nineteen free economic zones have been created in Russia, but only Yantar in Kaliningrad Oblast and Nakhodka in Primorskii Krai have begun operations. Earlier this month, Russian officials agreed that subsidiaries of South Korean companies in Nakhodka will be exempt from taxes for eight years after they begin to make profits, according to ITAR-TASS. TERRORIST ATTACKS IN NORTH CAUCASUS. Three people were killed and 12 injured when a bomb exploded at Armavir railroad station last night, Russian agencies reported. Authorities have launched a criminal investigation, while Chechen Vice President Vakha Arsanov has denied any Chechen involvement. Meanwhile, Ingushetian First Deputy Interior Minister Rashid Aushev and his driver were killed yesterday when unknown assailants opened fire on their car. NIZHNII NOVGOROD LEGISLATURE WON'T RESCIND SALES TAX. The legislature of Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast has defied a Constitutional Court ruling and a presidential decree by refusing to rescind a 3% sales tax, RFE/RL's correspondent in Nizhnii Novgorod reported yesterday. Instead, deputies voted to suspend the tax. The oblast's procurator, Aleksandr Fedotov, urged deputies to revoke the tax once and for all, arguing that they had no legal authority to dispute a Constitutional Court ruling. However, legislator Boris Dukhan pointed out that the oblast is currently about 30 billion rubles in debt. He argued that the sales tax should not be revoked until an alternative source of revenue is found. KRASNOYARSK LEGISLATURE REJECTS REFERENDUM ON NUCLEAR PLANT. The Krasnoyarsk Krai legislature has rejected an initiative to hold a referendum on banning the construction of a nuclear waste processing plant, ITAR-TASS reported yesterday. The first part of the plant, which stores spent nuclear fuel, has already been built in Krasnoyarsk-26, and the Ministry of Atomic Energy has decided to continue construction despite public protests. Although supporters of the referendum collected 100,000 signatures, the legislature decided not to schedule a referendum until a commission of ecological experts inspecting the plant reached a conclusion. Last December, voters in Kostroma Oblast passed a referendum by an overwhelming margin to halt construction of a nuclear power station. TUMANOV ELECTED TO EUROPEAN COURT. Former Constitutional Court Chairman Vladimir Tumanov has been elected to the European Court on Human Rights in Strasbourg, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported yesterday. Tumanov will be the first Russian to serve on the court. He quit the Constitutional Court a few months after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70. DEBAKEY RECEIVES AWARD. U.S. cardiologist Michael DeBakey has received the Outstanding World Surgeon award from the Russian Military-Medical Academy in St. Petersburg, Russian news agencies reported yesterday. DeBakey, who pioneered bypass surgery, was a consultant to Yeltsin last fall before the president's heart operation. He said he would return to the U.S. immediately after receiving the award and did not plan to see Yeltsin in Moscow. Asked why Yeltsin appeared fatigued last week during his visit to Germany, DeBakey told reporters that the president had been recovering from the flu but "his heart is perfectly normal," Reuters reported. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA KYRGYZ PRESIDENT IN BAKU. Askar Akayev and his Azerbaijani counterpart, Heidar Aliev, signed a treaty on friendship and cooperation in Baku yesterday, ITAR-TASS and Turan reported. Akayev reiterated his interest in using the Transcaucasian transport corridor, for which his country has been granted a 50% reduction in tariffs, and noted that Kyrgyzstan wants to purchase crude oil and petrochemicals from Azerbaijan. A dozen or so intergovernmental agreements on economic, financial, and legal cooperation were also signed. FORMER AZERBAIJANI PRIME MINISTER CHARGED. Gazi Mamedov, the lawyer of former Azerbaijani Prime Minister Suret Huseinov, told journalists in Baku yesterday that his client has been charged with large-scale embezzlement and with "exceeding his authority," Turan reported. The Azerbaijani leadership has accused Huseinov of planning a coup against President Heidar Aliev in October 1994 and of drug smuggling. Criminal charges, however, have not yet been brought against him. Last month, Huseinov was extradited to Baku from the Russian Federation where he had been living since late 1994. GEORGIA'S SOCIAL DEMOCRATS PROPOSE FRONTIER CHANGES. The Social Democratic Party wants President Eduard Shevardnadze to take advantage of Georgia's harmonious relations with Azerbaijan by asking President Aliev to return Saingilo to Georgia, BS-Press reported yesterday. The Saingilo region comprises three raions on Azerbaijan's northern frontier that were part of the former kingdom of eastern Georgia. During the 1980s, Saingilo's Georgian population compiled samizdat documentation protesting discrimination by the Azerbaijani authorities. MAJOR OVERHAUL OF KAZAK CIVIL SERVICE. Erjan Outiembayev, chairman of the Kazak National Strategic Planning Agency, announced yesterday that the number of civil servants will be cut by half before year's end, AFP reported. Outiembayev noted that Kazakstan has a population of 16.5 million and 1 million civil servants, which he called "too many." Meanwhile, a presidential decree has incorporated Taldy Korgan Oblast into Almaty Oblast and divided Torgay Oblast into two. One half has merged with Akmola Oblast and the other with Kostanay Oblast, RFE/RL correspondents in Almaty reported. The moves are part of the government's bid to streamline administration. TURKMEN UPDATE. Turkmenistan's Foreign Economic Bank has signed a credit agreement with the Islamic Development Bank to build an oil tanker, ITAR-TASS reported yesterday. The tanker has a water displacement of 5,000 tons and will cost some $11 million. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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