We are so bound together that no man can labor for himself alone. Each blow he strikes in his own behalf helps to mold the universe. - K. Jerome
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

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/

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Headlines, Part I

* CIS-CHINESE BORDER AGREEMENT SIGNED

* CHECHEN AIR DEFENSE TO SHOOT DOWN INTRUDING
   AIRCRAFT

* NEMTSOV APPOINTED FUEL AND ENERGY MINISTER

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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will be withdrawn from the border."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.

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