It is the chiefest point of happiness that a man is willing to be what he is. - Erasmus
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol 1, No. 27, Part I, 9 May 1997


Vol 1, No. 27, Part I, 9 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

* YELTSIN SAYS RUSSIAN-NATO CHARTER ´98%
AGREED└

* RUSSIAN SECURITY COUNCIL ADOPTS NEW NATIONAL
SECURITY GUIDELINES

* ATTEMPT TO ASSASSINATE GEORGIAN LEADERS
THWARTED?

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RUSSIA

YELTSIN SAYS RUSSIAN-NATO CHARTER ´98%
AGREED.└ President Boris Yeltsin says a charter between
Russia and NATO has been ´98% agreed└ and may be
finalized at a meeting next week between Foreign Minister
Yevgenii Primakov and NATO Secretary-General Javier
Solana, Russian news agencies reported yesterday.
However, he repeated that NATO ´must not deploy
weapons and military hardware, especially nuclear [ones]└
in new member states. NATO officials have refused to make
a binding pledge on deployments in new member states.
Yeltsin said he may participate in the sixth round of talks
between Primakov and Solana, adding that NATO┘s
expansion plans are the ´most acute issue└ in U.S.-Russian
relations since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.

RUSSIAN SECURITY COUNCIL ADOPTS NEW NATIONAL
SECURITY GUIDELINES. The Russian Security Council on 7
May adopted a four-part security concept detailing
perceived potential threats to Russia--including economic
crisis, social upheaval, and terrorism--and how to counter
them. Yeltsin, who chaired the meeting, raised the
possibility of "good cover in the East" as a response to
NATO expansion, according to Reuters and AFP. The draft
concept, which was summarized in a recent article by
Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin in Nezavisimaya
gazeta (see "Endnote," RFE/RL Newsline, 30 April 1997) has
been criticized as too vague and for "failing to reflect
Russia's social and philosophical roots", Izvestiya reported
yesterday.

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT HOPEFUL ABOUT YELTSIN┘S
UPCOMING VISIT. After meeting with Yeltsin yesterday in
Moscow, Leonid Kuchma said the Russian president┘s
upcoming visit to Kyiv ´will remove all the remaining
obstacles and misunderstanding in our bilateral relations,└
ITAR-TASS reported. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin
is to visit Ukraine on 28 May, and Yeltsin is tentatively
scheduled to arrive in Kyiv two days later. Yeltsin has
postponed visiting Ukraine repeatedly over the last
several years, largely because of the continuing dispute
over the division of the Black Sea Fleet. Meanwhile, Russian
Foreign Ministry spokesman Valerii Nesterushkin
yesterday confirmed that Moscow has no territorial claims
on Sevastopol and is not seeking to change the city┘s
status. Last month the Federation Council asked Yeltsin to
consider pursuing a special international status for
Sevastopol, where the Black Sea Fleet is based (see RFE/RL
Newsline, 18 April 1997).

LUZHKOV GIVEN LEEWAY ON HOUSING REFORM. Moscow
Mayor Yurii Luzhkov and First Deputy Prime Minister Boris
Nemtsov are to present competing proposals on housing
reform at a special cabinet meeting next week, Russian
news agencies reported yesterday. That meeting will be
chaired by Yeltsin. The announcement follows Yeltsin┘s
decision during a 7 May meeting with Luzhkov to allow
Moscow to carry out its own version of housing reform. In
the early 1990s, Luzhkov was allowed to pursue his own
privatization program in the capital, rather than that
developed by First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais.

JOURNALISTS CALL FOR INFORMATION BOYCOTT ON
ZHIRINOVSKY. Vsevolod Bogdanov, chairman of the Union
of Journalists, and Aleksei Simonov, head of the watchdog
Glasnost Defense Foundation, have called on journalists ´to
ignore the existence└ of Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of
the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), Russian
news agencies reported yesterday. Zhirinovsky attacked
two Moscow TV journalists yesterday after he was denied
access to a wreath-laying ceremony at the Kremlin┘s Tomb
of the Unknown Soldier. He twisted the arms of one of the
journalists before shoving her into his car. Luzhkov
denounced Zhirinovsky┘s ´insulting, vulgar behavior└ and
advised the journalists to sue the LDPR leader. Interior
Minister Anatolii Kulikov vowed to investigate why police
on the scene did not intervene on the journalists┘ behalf.

KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA EDITOR REPLACED. Holders
of 98% of the shares in the daily Komsomolskaya pravda
have voted to replace chief editor Valerii Simonov with
Vladimir Sungorkin, previously chairman of the
newspaper┘s board of directors, RFE/RL┘s Moscow bureau
reported on 7 May. Sungorkin told RFE/RL that the paper
would not be changed significantly and that only one or two
journalists would be fired. In March, Sungorkin supported
selling a 20% stake in Komsomolskaya pravda to
Oneksimbank rather than to the gas monopoly Gazprom, as
had been planned. Simonov opposed the measure, warning
that the newspaper, one of the most popular Russian
dailies, would lose its independence.

ZYUGANOV SAYS BUDGET SEQUESTER IS
´ORGANIZATION OF FAMINE.└ Communist Party leader
Gennadii Zyuganov says the government┘s proposal to cut
some 108 trillion rubles ($19 billion) in spending this year
is tantamount to ´the organization of famine,└ Russian
news agencies reported on 7 May. In particular, he objected
to plans to cut agricultural subsidies by 55%. Zyuganov and
some trade union leaders have called for printing more
money to fill the budget gap rather than cutting spending.
Government officials oppose such a measure, saying it
would be inflationary.

STATE OF EMERGENCY DECLARED IN VLADIVOSTOK.
The Vladivostok city authorities declared a state of
emergency yesterday as power cuts to enterprises and
homes reached ´unprecedented└ levels, according to
RFE/RL┘s correspondent in Vladivostok. Residents only
have electricity for a few hours a day, and the power cuts
have hit the Primorskii Krai administration building. The
city┘s sewage system is also not functional, as there is not
enough electricity to operate water pumps. Miners stopped
shipping coal to power plants in Primore on 1 May (see
RFE/RL Newsline, 6 May 1997). Although 43 billion rubles
($7.5 million) has since been paid out to cover their
December wages, they have refused to resume coal
shipments until wage arrears are paid in full. Primore┘s
governor, Yevgenii Nazdratenko, yesterday appealed to
the miners to remember their ´civic duty,└ ITAR-TASS
reported.

SAKHALIN GOVERNOR PROTESTS PLANS TO MOVE U.S.
MARINES TO HOKKAIDO. Sakhalin Oblast Governor Igor
Farkhutdinov says he will ask the governor of Japan┘s
Hokkaido Island not to allow U.S. marines to be stationed
there, Interfax reported yesterday. In an interview with
the local newspaper Gubernskie novosti, Farkhutdinov
described the plans to move some U.S. troops from
Okinawa to Hokkaido as an attempt to station ´clearly
offensive units closer to Russian borders.└ He said Russia
has only border troops stationed in the disputed Kuril
Islands but warned that if U.S. marines were moved to
Hokkaido, ´we will work for the deployment of alternative
Russian military formations in the Kuril Islands and
Sakhalin.└

GOVERNMENT TO AUDIT NINE MAJOR COMPANIES. The
government has ordered audits of nine companies in which
it holds a controlling stake or the largest block of shares,
ITAR-TASS reported on 7 May. The companies to be audited
in 1997 are the gas monopoly Gazprom, the utility Unified
Energy System, the coal company Rosugol, the oil
companies Rosneft and Transneft, the insurance company
Rosgosstrakh, the airline Aeroflot, Moscow┘s Sheremetevo
airport, and the shipping company Sovkomflot. Regional
branches of the Railways Ministry will also be audited.
Government officials have vowed to more actively control
state-owned shares in companies, particularly those that
have large debts to the federal budget and Pension Fund.
Private firms, to be selected by competitive bidding, will
carry out the audits.

MAN TO LEAD GOVERNMENT COMMISSION ON WOMEN.
Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Sysuev has been appointed
chairman of the government┘s special commission on
improving the status of women, ITAR-TASS and Reuters
reported on 7 May. Sysuev┘s spokeswoman, Svetlana
Krystanovskaya, said he would ´balance out└ the women
who form a majority on the commission. But a government
spokeswoman commented that ´a woman would be in a
better position to address these issues.└ The only woman
in the cabinet is Health Minister Tatyana Dmitrieva.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

ATTEMPT TO ASSASSINATE GEORGIAN LEADERS
THWARTED? Georgian security services yesterday
defused two anti-personnel land mines planted on the road
from Tbilisi to the village of Tskhneta, where Georgian
President Eduard Shevardnadze and parliamentary speaker
Zurab Zhvania have summer homes, Russian agencies
reported. Several thousand displaced persons from
Abkhazia are also quartered in the village. Zhvania termed
the placing of the explosives a further attempt on
Shevardnadze's life, saying it was comparable to the failed
bomb attack of August 1995.

ALIEV ACCUSES TURKEY OF INSUFFICIENT SUPPORT...
Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev has accused Turkey of
inadequate financial support for Azerbaijan, Interfax and
Asbarez reported, citing the Armenian-language Turkish
newspaper Marmara. Addressing the Turkish parliament on
6 May, Aliev complained that Turkey's EximBank was
demanding Azerbaijan pay interest on a $70 million credit
drawn by the previous Azerbaijani leadership. He added
that Ankara has refused a request for $117 million in aid
and that Turkish companies are investing in Central Asia
but not in Azerbaijan. Aliev called on Turkey not to expand
trade with Armenia. He also implicated unnamed Turkish
political figures in the so-called coup attempt of 17 March
1995. Democratic Left Party leader Bulent Ecevit
responded by calling for an official investigation, the
Turkish Daily News reported yesterday.

...AND THREATENS FORCE TO REGAIN OCCUPIED
TERRITORY. Aliev told a meeting in Izmir on 7 May that if
a peaceful settlement to the Karabakh conflict is not
reached, "we will definitely take back our lands under
occupation, whatever this will cost," AFP reported. (The
Azerbaijani-Turkish agreement on military cooperation
signed on 5 May does not provide for one side to assist the
other during hostilities.) Several Azerbaijani troops were
wounded in border clashes with Armenian troops near the
town of Kazakh in northwestern Azerbaijan on 6-7 May,
according to Turan. Also on 7 May, the director of an
Armenian organization for the protection of prisoners of
war told journalists in Yerevan that all of the eighteen
Armenian prisoners released by Azerbaijan in recent
weeks were maltreated or tortured, ARMENPRESS
reported.

ABKHAZ ROUNDUP. The UN Security Council has approved
Secretary-General Kofi Annan's proposal that, together
with Russia, the UN should expand its role in mediating a
political settlement to the Abkhaz conflict, ITAR-TASS and
dpa reported yesterday. But Abkhaz President Vladislav
Ardzinba told Interfax on 7 May that further talks with the
Georgian leadership are "impossible" at the present time.
Speaking to journalists in Tbilisi the same day, Georgian
First Deputy Security Minister Avtandil Ioseliani denied
reports that Ardzinba has visited Tbilisi to discuss
dividing control of Abkhazia between the central
government in Tbilisi and the separatist government in
Sukhumi. Also on 7 May, the Georgian army held
unannounced military exercises in Senaki Raion, which
borders on Abkhazia.

ANOTHER HOSTAGE-TAKING IN TAJIKISTAN. Three men
sent to negotiate with an armed group operating east of
Dushanbe were taken hostage on 7 May, UN sources told
RFE/RL┘s Tajik service today. Two of the men were
members of the Joint Commission monitoring the cease-
fire in Tajikistan and the third was from the Tajik Security
Council. They went to the village of Rokhati, nine
kilometers east of Dushanbe, to discuss re-establishing
militia posts there with the armed group's leader, who
subsequently took them hostage. Two were released hours
after their capture and a third was freed today after UN
mediation. The United Tajik Opposition┘s leadership
ordered the release of the final captive, according to UTO
deputy leader Ali Akbar Turajonzoda.

DECISION UPHELD AGAINST KYRGYZ NEWSPAPER. A
Bishkek appeals court reviewing the case against Kriminal
has stood by the original verdict to suspend the
newspaper┘s publication, RFE/RL correspondents in
Kyrgyzstan reported. The paper was accused of insulting
government officials in its only two issues, which appeared
at the beginning of this year. The Kyrgyz Justice Ministry
filed suit against the newspaper, whose editor says he
intends to appeal to the Supreme Court. The trial took
place only days after Amnesty International released a
report on Kyrgyzstan criticizing the use of Kyrgyz courts
to silence political opposition. U.S.-based Freedom House
on 3 May changed Kyrgyzstan┘s media status from
´partially free└ to ´not free.└

END NOTE

THE PROBLEMATIC UKRAINIAN-ROMANIAN BASIC
TREATY

by Michael Shafir

        Predictably, the Ukrainian-Romanian basic treaty and
its annexes have been almost unanimously welcomed in
Kyiv but have met with opposition from many quarters in
Bucharest. The reason for this is simple. Initialed on 3 May
in Kyiv by Foreign Ministers Hennadii Udovenko and Adrian
Severin, the treaty puts an end to Romanian hopes that a
condemnation of the 1939 Ribbentrop-Molotov pact could
be squeezed out of Kyiv. The secret appendix to that
document paved the way for the 1940 annexation by the
Soviet Union of territories that today are part of either
Ukraine or the independent Moldovan Republic.
        Since 1993, when unofficial talks began on the basic
treaty, Kyiv had made clear it would never accept any
clause or formulation that questioned its current borders.
In April of that year, former Ukrainian President Leonid
Kravchuk told Adrian Nastase, then chairman of the
Romanian Chamber of Deputies, that Ukraine was ready to
discuss "anything but its human rights policies or questions
related to its current borders." Kravchuk's successor,
Leonid Kuchma, adhered to the same line on the border
issue but was somewhat more amenable on "human rights."
        As a result, Ukraine agreed to include in the treaty a
large section that includes many references to the rights of
the national minorities in either country. References are
made to international legislation on minority rights and
even to Recommendation 1201 of the Council of Europe's
Parliamentary Assembly. In view of these developments,
Severin's position that the treaty is "a compromise" is
largely accurate.
        Ironically, in reaching agreement with Kyiv over the
basic treaty, Romania found itself in the same position as
Hungary when Budapest concluded a bilateral treaty with
Romania in September 1996. The Hungarian daily
Nepszabadsag pointed out on 7 May that Budapest last year
and Bucharest last week agreed to the recognition of
"border inviolability" as enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act
because they both want to be accepted into an enlarged
NATO. The U.S. had made clear to Budapest that its chances
of NATO admission would be virtually nil if Hungary's
inclusion meant that border conflicts were imported into
the alliance. Consequently, Budapest agreed to recognize
the Hungarian-Romanian border as inviolable in exchange
for mention of Recommendation 1201 in the bilateral
treaty. Now, with an eye directed toward the NATO Madrid
summit this summer, Bucharest has agreed to recognize
the inviolability of its border with Ukraine in exchange for
major concessions on minority rights.
        As was to be expected, the two extreme nationalist
parties in Romania's parliament denounced the
renunciation of what Romanians view as their historical
territories of northern Bukovina and southern Bessarabia.
The Greater Romania Party called the treaty an "act of
treason," while the Party of Romanian National Unity
demanded a referendum on the document. But, as Severin
has pointed out, the Party of Social Democracy in Romania's
(PDSR) response was "less than genuine." The PDSR, the
former ruling party and now the main opposition
formation, wants the Soviet-Nazi pact to be denounced in
the treaty's annexes. But in 1990, Ion Iliescu, the former
president and the current PDSR leader, had been ready to
sign a treaty with the Soviet Union that made no mention of
the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact. Gorbachev's Moscow was
doubtless more legitimate an "inheritor" of the Soviet legacy
than is Kuchma's Kyiv.
        By no means are all problems between the two
countries resolved in the treaty. But in the annexes to the
treaty (scheduled to be exchanged in the form of letters
when the accord is signed), the two sides did agree to
continue negotiations on demarcating the continental shelf
around Serpents Island in the Black Sea, which was
annexed by the Soviet Union in 1946 and is now a military
fortress. The shelf surrounding the island is believed to be
rich in oil reserves. While not agreeing to return the island,
Ukraine pledged to deploy no "offensive weapons" on it and
agreed to consider it "uninhabited," which, under
international maritime legislation, means that Kyiv cannot
claim an exclusive economic zone around it. The two sides
agreed to take the issue to the Hague International Court of
Justice if they fail to reach a compromise within two years.
        Finally, although Ukraine did not give into Romania's
demands that the joint border on the Chilia branch of the
Danube River delta be moved to the middle of the river--in
accordance with international practice--Kyiv did agreed to
allow free navigation of Romanian vessels on that branch of
the river.

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                     All rights reserved.
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