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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol 1, No. 22, Part I, 30 April 1997


Vol 1, No. 22, Part I, 30 April 1997

NOTE TO OUR READERS:
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Republic.

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
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Headlines, Part I

* KULIKOV ACCUSES CHECHENS OF PYATIGORSK
BOMBING

* CHUBAIS PRAISES TOUGH STAND ON NATO

* ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT ON TAJIK PRESIDENT

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RUSSIA

KULIKOV ACCUSES CHECHENS OF PYATIGORSK
BOMBING... Russian Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov told
journalists in Moscow yesterday that two Chechen women
have confessed to planting the bomb that killed two people in
Pyatigorsk on 28 April, Russian and Western agencies
reported. Kulikov said that the two women were wanted in
connection with the 1995 Budennovsk hostage-taking crisis.
Chechen Vice President Vakha Arsanov denied any Chechen
involvement in the bomb attacks in Pyatigorsk and in Armavir
last week. He said that ongoing peace talks with Russia should
be suspended until Kulikov apologized. Arsanov suggested that
Kulikov had organized the Pyatigorsk bombing to sabotage the
peace process, according to Interfax. Kulikov has repeatedly
said that Chechens are planning new terrorist attacks but
those attacks have, in fact, never happened. Maverick field
commander Salman Raduev, who ITAR-TASS claimed had
engineered the Armavir bomb, also denied responsibility for
either attack.

... BUT BOTH SIDES PLEDGE TO CONTINUE PEACE
TALKS. Chechen First Deputy Prime Minister Movladi Udugov
later contradicted Arsanov and said that the peace talks will
continue. He made the announcement after a telephone
conversation with Deputy Security Council Secretary Boris
Berezovskii. Berezovskii cast doubt on Kulikov's allegations,
which he termed "irresponsible." Former Security Council
Secretary Aleksandr Lebed said he doubted that Chechens
were responsible for the Armavir and Pyatigorsk bombs.
Speaking in Bratislava, Russian Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin reaffirmed Russia's commitment to the
Chechen peace process but condemned the Pyatigorsk
bombing as "vandalism," Reuters reported. Federation Council
Chairman Yegor Stroev told journalists in Moscow that "we
cannot support, encourage, and finance those who use such
barbaric methods," ITAR-TASS reported.

CHUBAIS PRAISES TOUGH STAND ON NATO. First Deputy
Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais says Russia's tough stand
against NATO expansion has made the U.S. more willing to
help Russia gain entry to the Paris Club of government
creditors and the World Trade Organization, Interfax reported.
Chubais was speaking to journalists yesterday after meeting
with U.S. Vice President Al Gore in Washington. He warned
that if a Russia-NATO charter is not signed in May, "extremist"
sentiments in Russia would rise. But he said that during the
next few weeks, Washington could do much to ensure that
U.S.-Russian relations will "not be undermined in the long-
term." Meanwhile in Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister
Yevgenii Primakov is to meet with U.S. Deputy Secretary of
State Strobe Talbott today and U.S. Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright tomorrow.

KREMLIN CRITICIZES DUMA FOR NOT RATIFYING
CHEMICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION. President Boris Yeltsin
has expressed concern about the State Duma's failure to ratify
the Chemical Weapons Convention, ITAR-TASS reported
yesterday, citing presidential spokesman Sergei
Yastrzhembskii. Yeltsin slammed the Duma for wasting time
on non-binding resolutions and said deputies have put Russia
in a difficult position by not ratifying the treaty. In voting to
delay ratification last week, Duma deputies argued that Russia
currently lacks the funds to comply with the treaty's
provisions on destroying chemical weapons. Lev Fedorov,
leader of the environmental group For Chemical Security, told
ITAR-TASS yesterday that Russia is not ready to ratify the
treaty. He noted that Russia has no program or federal law on
destroying its stockpile of some 40,000 tons of chemical
weapons.

NEMTSOV SAYS YELTSIN HAS GUARANTEED HIM TWO
YEARS IN GOVERNMENT. First Deputy Prime Minister Boris
Nemtsov says Yeltsin has promised not to remove him from the
government for at least two years. In an interview with today's
Komsomolskaya pravda, Nemtsov said his reform efforts will
take time to achieve results and noted that he faces stiff
opposition from the "elderly" in the bureaucracy. Asked
whether he had "lost the first round" in his effort to
restructure the gas monopoly Gazprom, Nemtsov said, "It's not
a boxing match. I think we found the golden mean." He argued
that the government will strengthen its management role,
while Gazprom will remain the most powerful company in
Russia. However, he said he was disappointed that the Duma
had not ordered audits of monopolies that have a large volume
of foreign trade to find out where their "gigantic positive trade
balance" is going.

COMMUNISTS TO LAUNCH ANTI-YELTSIN PETITION
DRIVE. Communist Party (KPRF) leader Gennadii Zyuganov
says that at the 1 May demonstrations, his party will begin
collecting signatures demanding Yeltsin's resignation, Interfax
reported yesterday. The petition drive was endorsed by the
recent KPRF congress, at which delegates decided to pursue
primarily "non-parliamentary methods of struggle" against the
regime. Meanwhile, Igor Malyarov, the head of the Communist
Youth League (Komsomol), yesterday criticized Zyuganov and
the KPRF leadership for being too willing to compromise with
the authorities, ITAR-TASS reported. Malyarov said the
Komsomol has 21,000 members, who are generally more
radical than KPRF leaders.

BANKS TO LEND MONEY FOR ALPHA SPACE PROJECT.
Russian Space Agency director Yurii Koptev says four Russian
banks will lend his agency 800 billion rubles ($140 million) to
fund further construction of the Alpha space station, Russian
news agencies reported yesterday. He said that 24 banks have
sought to participate in the project and that the Finance
Ministry had chosen the Eurofinances Bank, the International
Industrial Bank, the Moscow National Bank, and Sobinbank.
Russian funding problems have delayed launching parts of the
Alpha station, a project involving Russia, the U.S., Canada,
Europe, and Japan (see RFE/RL Newsline, 14 April 1997).

ENVIRONMENTALISTS FILE SUIT OVER KRASNOYARSK
NUCLEAR REFERENDUM. Environmentalists seeking to halt
construction of a nuclear waste-processing plant in
Krasnoyarsk Krai have asked a court to decide whether a
referendum on the matter should be held, ITAR-TASS reported
yesterday, citing representatives of the Moscow branch of
Greenpeace. Last week, the Krasnoyarsk legislature decided
not to call a referendum, although the initiative group
supporting the measure had gathered enough signatures (see
RFE/RL Newsline, 24 April 1997).

SUSPECT ARRESTED IN ARMS DEPOT FIRE. Military
procurators in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast have arrested
an unnamed private suspected of accidentally causing a recent
arms depot fire in Bira, Russian news agencies reported
yesterday. Officials said the private had been smoking
carelessly while on duty. Earlier this week, some officials
suggested that a forest fire had spread to the depot, but
Military Procurator Aleksandr Fedotov said yesterday that
there had been no forest fire in the vicinity. The arms depot
blaze halted traffic on the Trans-Siberian Railroad, and
fragments of exploding shells were scattered several miles.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT ON TAJIK PRESIDENT. A
grenade was thrown today at Imomali Rakhmonov in the
northern Tajik city of Khujand, RFE/RL's Tajik service
reported. At the time, Rakhmonov was walking to a local
theater to give a speech marking the 65th anniversary of the
city's university. Rakhmonov was wounded in the leg, but his
condition is described as not "life-threatening." Two people are
reported dead and up to injured, Russian Public TV reported.
Authorities have taken two people into custody in connection
with the attack.

GEORGIAN FINANCE MINISTER RESIGNS. Davit Yakobidze,
who came under severe criticism last fall for alleged
incompetence, submitted his resignation to President Eduard
Shevardnadze on 28 April, Interfax reported. Yakobidze has
been targeted by the head of the parliamentary anti-corruption
commission. Shevardnadze has appointed Mikhail Chkuaseli,
prefect of Guria and an economist, to replace Yakobidze.

NEW PRIME MINISTER APPOINTED IN ABKHAZIA. Sergei
Bagapsh, a former first secretary of the Abkhaz Komsomol and
most recently a permanent representative of the Abkhaz
leadership in Moscow, has been appointed Abkhaz prime
minister, Interfax and BS-Press reported yesterday. Bagapsh
replaces Gennadii Gulua, who resigned for health reasons on
24 April. Bagapsh is a native of Ochamchire Raion, where
support for Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba is
plummetting.

ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT RATIFIES TREATY ON RUSSIAN
MILITARY BASE. The Armenian parliament voted yesterday to
ratify the March 1995 treaty permitting Russia to maintain a
military base in Armenia for a 25-year period, Russian
agencies reported. The vote was 118 to four with seven
abstentions. The Russian State Duma ratified the treaty on 18
April.

ARMENIAN EX-PREMIER TO FOUND NEW POLITICAL
PARTY. Former Armenian Prime Minister Hrant Bagratyan
told the first issue of the Armenian newspaper Menk that he
will head a new political party named Azatutyun [Freedom],
RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported yesterday. The founding
congress of the party is scheduled for 29 May. Bagratyan said
the party "will have a modern liberal ideology" and will
represent the interests of property owners and producers.

TURKMENISTAN PLANS NEW OIL CONSORTIUM. President
Saparmurat Niyazov and Turkish Energy and Natural
Resources Minister Recai Kutan met yesterday and announced
that a new consortium will be formed to attract investments
for the construction of pipelines, Interfax reported. The goal is
the construction of a Turkmenistan-Turkey-Western Europe
pipeline. Financing of the project will be discussed at the next
meeting of the 10-member Economic Cooperation
Organization, scheduled to start in the Turkmen capital
Ashgabat on 12 May.

RYBKIN CALLS FOR NEW RUSSIAN NATIONAL SECURITY
CONCEPT

by Liz Fuller


         In 4,700-word article published in yesterday's
Nezavisimaya gazeta , Russian Security Council Secretary
Ivan Rybkin suggested that Russia does not exclude the first
use of nuclear weapons to repel aggression. Rybkin stressed
the need for a new national security policy for Russia and
argued that one of the leadership's top priorities is to draft a
comprehensive document defining strategies to counter
international, military-political, and economic threats to
Russian security. He said it would have been premature to
draw up such a document earlier--that is, before "democratic
statehood" and "constitutional order" had taken root in Russia.
Last year, President Boris Yeltsin had called for such a concept
to serve as the "backbone" for state security policy in all
spheres.
        Rybkin said that Russia's security system should be
tailored to meet the present complicated requirements of the
international situation. He noted that Russia's economic
capacities (which, he admitted, are "anything but unlimited")
and the relative readiness of the country's population to accept
change should also be taken into account, but he did not
specify what sort of change he had in mind. Rybkin noted that
a new security concept would provide "the ideological basis for
the entire process of state building and policy-making" and
would enumerate national priorities both for the present and
the medium term. As such, Rybkin said, the document would
serve "to fill the ideological vacuum of recent years."
Awareness of the "true threats" to national security would help
every Russian citizen "adopt the correct attitude" and
"determine his civic position," he commented.
        Rybkin defined national security as constituting not
merely preservation of the state, its sovereignty, and its
territorial integrity but also as creating conditions in which its
citizens can live with dignity and maintain their national
culture, spiritual values, and civic rights.
        Rybkin suggested that territorial separatism poses no
less a threat to Russian security than does the country's
economic crisis. He said that relations between the federal
center and the regions must be based on the immutability of
the Russian Constitution and that problems should be
resolved on the basis of broad dialogue and the maximum
harmonization of federal and regional legislation.
        Economic stabilization, Rybkin argued, is a precondition
for reforming the army and restructuring the military-
industrial complex. It will also contribute, he continued, to
preventing social unrest, tensions between Russia's
constituent regions, and the growth of crime in society and the
economic sphere. Rybkin advocated draconian measures to
halt capital flight and the creation of conditions that would
exclude political risks for investors in the event of a change of
leadership.
        Rybkin's analysis of the dangers to Russian security
focused on internal rather than external factors. He did not,
for example, mention NATO by name. Discussing possible
unspecified external threats to Russian security, Rybkin
affirmed that "Russia does not threaten anyone and does not
wish to do so. We want to live in peace with everyone." But he
warned that Russia's response to aggression "would not
exclude any category of weapon." The fact that an adversary
could not be sure how Russia would counter an attack would
serve as a deterrent, he commented.
        This argument is in line with Russian Defense Minister
Igor Rodionov's statement last December that Russia should
maintain its strategic nuclear potential as a deterrent. Given
Russia's geopolitical situation, Rybkin argued, its limited
national resources should be focused on preparing to counter
those regional conflicts that pose the most serious threat to
national interests. He assessed the possibility of a "global
threat" as remote. Russia's security system, Rybkin said,
should be coordinated with international and regional
systems, in particular the CIS Collective Security system.




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               Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc.
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