The business of art lies just in this--to make that understood and felt which, in the form of an argument, might be incomprehensible and inaccessible. - Leo Tolstoy
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol 1, No. 23, Part I, 2 May 1997


Vol 1, No. 23, Part I, 2 May 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

* ALBRIGHT, PRIMAKOV MAKE LITTLE PROGRESS ON
RUSSIA-NATO CHARTER.

* RYBKIN CONFERS WITH CHECHEN LEADERSHIP.

* ATTACK ON TAJIK PRESIDENT CONDEMNED.

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RUSSIA

ALBRIGHT, PRIMAKOV MAKE LITTLE PROGRESS ON
RUSSIA-NATO CHARTER. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright and Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov
made no breakthrough in negotiations over a charter between
Russia and NATO, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported
yesterday. Albright said she made progress with Primakov and
had "an encouraging phone call" from President Boris Yeltsin,
but noted that "there is still some way to go." Primakov
characterized yesterday's talks as "successful" but said signing
a charter is not a "goal in itself" for Russia. Moscow wants
NATO to pledge not to build military infrastructure on the
territory of new member states, but Albright and other western
officials have said new members will not be offered "second
class status" in the alliance. En route to Moscow on 30 April,
Albright told journalists that no further concessions on the
charter would be made: "Basically, we are at our bottom line,"
Reuters reported.

RYBKIN CONFERS WITH CHECHEN LEADERSHIP. Russian
Security Council secretary Ivan Rybkin flew to Grozny on 30
April for six hours of talks with Chechen President Aslan
Maskhadov and first deputy prime minister Movladi Udugov,
Russian and Western agencies reported. Rybkin and Udugov
subsequently issued a joint statement repeating their
commitment to the peace process. They also denounced the
recent bombings in Armavir and Pyatigorsk in which five
people were killed, Interfax reported. Maskhadov told ITAR-
TASS that he is ready to meet "any time, anywhere" with
Yeltsin, as only "direct and frank talks" can ease the tensions
between Moscow and Grozny. Maskhadov and Yeltsin will
meet next week to sign a formal peace agreement, Reuters
reported today.

CONFUSION OVER WOMEN NAMED AS PERPETRATORS
OF PYATIGORSK BOMBING. On 30 April, Chechen Interior
Minister Kazbek Makhashev told journalists that one of the
two Chechen women whom Kulikov said had confessed to the
Pyatigorsk bombing had been killed in September 1996, and
the other was in Grozny. Rybkin said that he met with the
second woman while in Grozny, according to Interfax. Rybkin
and Maskhadov agreed to set up a joint commission to
investigate the case of the two women. Speaking on NTV
yesterday, Kulikov rejected Chechen claims that the two
women he had named were not responsible for the bombing as
"absolute nonsense" and called on the Chechen interior
minister "to cooperate" in investigating the incident.

COMMUNIST RALLIES ADVANCE POLITICAL DEMANDS. An
estimated 1.5 million people across Russia demonstrated
against the government yesterday, mostly in rallies organized
by the Communist Party, Russian news agencies reported.
Addressing a crowd near Moscow's Red Square, Communist
Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov denounced NATO expansion
and demanded the government's resignation, along with rapid
unification with Belarus. Workers' Russia leader Viktor
Anpilov called for massive demonstrations on 12 June, the
anniversary of Yeltsin's 1991 election victory. Organizers said
the Moscow rally attracted about 100,000, while law
enforcement officials estimated the crowd at 20,000. In St.
Petersburg, about 40,000 protesters demonstrated outside the
Winter Palace, and Communists collected signatures for a
referendum to remove St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir
Yakovlev from office. Rallies in other regional cities attracted
several hundred to several thousand participants.

TRADE UNIONS PROTEST ARREARS. The Federation of
Independent Trade Unions (FNPR) also organized rallies to
mark yesterday's holiday, but trade union leaders made only
economic demands. FNPR leader Mikhail Shmakov led a crowd
of about 20,000 to the Moscow mayor's offices. He criticized
the government for "moving backwards" on social policy and
not solving the wage and pension arrears problem. Moscow
Mayor Yurii Luzhkov addressed the demonstrators and
promised to help provide Russians with work and a decent
standard of living, ITAR-TASS reported. In a nationwide radio
address broadcast yesterday, Yeltsin said "we fought for the
right" for citizens to spend holidays as they saw fit, whether
staying home with their families or attending anti-government
protests.

CHUBAIS SAYS FOREIGN CREDITS WILL HELP SOLVE
ARREARS CRISIS. First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii
Chubais says renewed disbursements from an IMF loan and
new World Bank loans will allow the Russian government to
pay off all pension arrears and make progress on paying wage
arrears by the end of June, an RFE/RL correspondent in
Washington reported on 30 April. If the IMF board approves
Russia's 1997 economic targets later this month,
disbursements of a three-year, $10 billion loan will be
resumed in quarterly tranches of about $700 million. The IMF
has not yet decided on what to do about several monthly
tranches of about $340 million each, which it withheld from
Russia in 1996. Chubais and Central Bank Chairman Sergei
Dubinin also initialled an agreement for a $600 million
structural adjustment loan from the World Bank, which will
be considered by the bank's board in June.

DUMA DEPUTIES CONCERNED ABOUT U.S.
ORGANIZATIONS IN RUSSIA. Three State Duma deputies
from the Popular Power faction have asked Foreign Minister
Primakov and Federal Security Service director Nikolai Kovalev
to examine whether foreign assistance missions are consistent
with Russia's national security interests, Russian news
agencies reported on 30 April. The deputies include Duma
Deputy Speaker Sergei Baburin and Sergei Glotov, who heads
the Anti-NATO group uniting more than 200 deputies. Noting
that "dozens if not hundreds" of American organizations are
operating in Russia, with branches in "almost all strategically
important cities, from Vladivostok to Smolensk," they asked
whether Russian organizations in the U.S. are accredited on
the same terms. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said it was
"difficult" to speak of a reciprocal principle on assistance
missions, since there are no Russian organizations seeking to
aid the development of the market economy in the U.S.

CONSTITUTIONAL COURT CONFIRMS LEGITIMACY OF
DECREE ON REGIONAL LEGISLATURES. The Constitutional
Court has upheld a 1996 presidential decree allowing regional
legislatures to extend their terms, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau
reported on 30 April. The ruling confirms the legitimacy of 44
regional legislatures that postponed new elections until late
1997 or 1998. The leaders of those legislatures are also
deputies in the Federation Council, the upper house of the
Russian parliament. The State Duma's court challenge
claimed that the decree exceeded Yeltsin's authority. However,
Sergei Shakhrai, presidential representative to the
Constitutional Court, argued that in the absence of a federal
law on the procedure and timetable for electing regional
legislatures, the president and regional lawmakers acted
within their rights.

ANOTHER DECREE ON ALCOHOL MARKET. Yeltsin has
signed a decree imposing new restrictions on the Russian
alcohol market, ITAR-TASS reported on 30 April. The decree
instructs local governments to issue licenses for the
production and wholesale trade of alcohol, and to ban kiosks
and small shops from selling spirits with more than 12%
alcohol content. The measure is intended to strengthen the
"state monopoly on alcohol" that Yeltsin reintroduced in a
December 1996 decree. A 1993 presidential decree also
required the licensing of all alcohol production and sales, but
it was never implemented. Last month, the government raised
the minimum price of vodka by nearly 40% in a move officials
said was intended to curb black market sales.

DIRECTIVE ON RUSSIAN FOOD LABELS TAKES EFFECT. A
government directive requiring Russian-language labels on all
imported food went into effect yesterday, ITAR-TASS reported.
Under the directive, issued last December, imported food must
have Russian labels listing the country of origin and the
ingredients, as well as information about calories, vitamin
content, shelf-life and proper storage. A Foreign Trade Ministry
official had suggested earlier this week that the government
might delay the requirement until January 1998, following
protests from food importers who say they need more time to
adapt to the new rules. More than half of all food consumed in
Russia is imported.

SHAFRANIK BREAKS WITH CHERNOMYRDIN. Former Fuel
and Energy Minister Yurii Shafranik has been removed as
adviser to Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Nezavisimaya
gazeta reported on 30 April. Shafranik, who became
Chernomyrdin's adviser after being sacked in an August 1996
cabinet reshuffle, recently became chairman of the board of
directors of the Central Fuel Company, which is considered
close to the Moscow city government. The paper said Moscow
Mayor Luzhkov wants the Central Fuel Company to purchase
a large stake in the Tyumen Oil Company. Shafranik also
heads the board of directors of the Tyumen firm.

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

ATTACK ON TAJIK PRESIDENT CONDEMNED. Many
countries and Tajik political groups denounced the 30 April
attempt on the life of Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov in
the northern Tajik city of Khujand, international press
reported. Russia, Iran, China, the U.S., Tajikistan's Central
Asian neighbors and the United Tajik Opposition and National
Revival Movement made official statements condemning the
attack. The incident left two dead and more than 70 injured,
including Rakhmonov. Tajik authorities have taken 20-year-
old Firdaws Dostoboyev into custody but more arrests are
promised soon. At a meeting of the Tajik government and
parliament yesterday, a statement "by many of the
participants" claimed "practically 40% of employees in the
power structures of Tajikistan" are criminals or have close
connections with mafia groups, ITAR-TASS reported.

KAZAKSTAN PRESIDENT DISSATISFIED WITH NATIONAL
BANK. Nursultan Nazarbayev says there is still room for
improvement at the National Bank, despite signs of progress,
according to Interfax and ITAR-TASS. The bank reports
published on 28 April show net assets increased by 21.7% in
1996. International reserves rose by 30.8% and gold reserves
by 45.7%, compared with the beginning of 1996. Gold reserves
now make up 49.95% of the country's hard currency reserves.
Nazarbayev noted that the National Bank is purchasing less
gold from local producers and that gold production dropped to
10.2 tons in 1996, far short of the government goal of 60-70
tons annually. The bank blamed decreased production on the
drop in gold prices last year, but Nazarbayev recommended
that more gold be put into the country's reserves. He also said
he is against selling gold mines and processing facilities to
foreign entrepreneurs.

NEW ROUND OF KARABAKH TALKS SCHEDULED. Another
round of OSCE-mediated talks on Nagorno-Karabakh will take
place in the U.S. later this month, Interfax reported yesterday.
Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov and U.S.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met in Moscow yesterday
with the three co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk group and
expressed their shared concern at the recent ceasefire
violations and ongoing lack of progress toward a political
settlement, according to ITAR-TASS.

ELCHIBEY, GAMBAR ELECTED CHAIRMEN OF
AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION BLOC. Former Azerbaijani
president Abulfaz Elchibey and Musavat Party chairman Isa
Gambar were elected co-chairmen of the Democratic Congress
bloc on 30 April, Interfax and RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service
reported yesterday. The bloc unites seven pro-Western right
wing opposition parties.


END NOTE

Outflanked On CFE

by Paul Goble

  As the deadline for ratification of the CFE flank
modification agreement approaches, Russia's neighbors from
the Baltic Sea to the Caspian are concerned that the new
accord may threaten their national security.
  While all these countries acknowledge the need for updating
the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe accord to reflect new
geopolitical realities, they are disturbed by both the
modifications and the way in which these modifications have
been negotiated.
  And as the May 15 deadline for ratification approaches,
they have become increasingly vocal about their worries, even
as NATO countries have pressed them to agree.
   The countries in this region vary widely in the stress
they give to any particular issue, but they share three
concerns about the way in which the modifications were
developed and five concerns about the modifications
themselves.
  With respect to the way in which the modifications were
developed, these countries were upset by the way in which the
Russian government used brinksmanship to advance its own
demands for changes. Moscow insisted on getting its way by
threatening to violate the accord if it did not.
  They are troubled by the extent to which Russian-American
agreement has, in their view, been imposed on them. Many of
them believe that once again, their fate has been negotiated
over their heads if not behind their backs.
  And perhaps most important, they continue to be concerned
that the proposed modifications in the CFE treaty may have
the effect of legitimizing Russian dominance over the
territory of a country that no longer exists, namely, the
Soviet Union.
  Their five specific concerns include, first of all, a
conviction that the new accord gives Russia far too much
military power in key regions.
   While the actual numbers of treaty-limited equipment
involved in any particular place are in fact small, they
often seem very large to these states.
   Second, those countries in the Commonwealth of Independent
States fear that the new flank agreement effectively annuls
an earlier agreement among them permitting shifts of CFE
forces there only by consensus.
  Third, these countries are concerned that Moscow will seek
to coerce particular countries into allowing the Russian
acquisition of CFE limited equipment and thus put pressure on
third countries.
   This is especially true in the southern Caucasus where
both Georgia and Azerbaijan have indicated that they believe
Moscow will try to do just that with Armenia.
   And they are not reassured that they will be able to stand
up to such pressure or will be much assisted by an American
offer to mediate such disputes.
   Fourth, they are troubled by the agreement's failure to
define the "temporary" stationing of troops thereby opening
the door to the introduction of Russian forces on a virtually
permanent basis.
   And fifth, they are concerned that the accord does not
address the numbers of permitted equipment in the so-called
"white spots," conflict areas like Abkhazia and Karabakh in
which potentially massive forces could be placed and not be
in violation of CFE norms.
  In each case, these countries might be reassured by the
arguments of some that such bilateral accords are the basis
of the international system in the broader world and that in
many cases Russia would receive no more rights than NATO
countries already have.
  But such arguments, in the minds of many in these
countries, ignore their often complicated history with Russia
and the fact that the CFE enterprise was launched precisely
to control the deployment of Russian power.
   Consequently, discussions about ratification of these
accords over the next two weeks will be about far more than
the simple CFE equipment limits. They will be the occasion
for a full-dress review of just where these countries stand
in the world.
  No one wants to see the CFE accord fail, but for the
countries in the zone next to Russia, that is not the only
question. They do not want to see the accord ratified in a
way that will confirm their fears rather than their hopes.


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                     All rights reserved.
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