When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece. - John Ruskin
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol 1, No. 52, Part I, 13 May 1997


Vol 1, No. 52, Part I, 13 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/

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Headlines, Part I

* RUSSIA, CHECHNYA AGREE ON TRANSIT OF AZERBAIJANI OIL

* YELTSIN ADDRESSES RUSSIANS ON NATIONAL HOLIDAY

* UN MANDATE EXTENDED IN TAJIKISTAN

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RUSSIA

RUSSIA, CHECHNYA AGREE ON TRANSIT OF AZERBAIJANI OIL... Russian Prime Minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin and Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov, meeting in the
Black Sea resort of Sochi, have signed a "memorandum" that includes an
agreement on the transit of Azerbaijani oil, ITAR-TASS reported on 13 June.
The agreement envisages that the "early oil" from Azerbaijan's offshore fields
will be exported to the Black Sea port of Novorossiisk via a pipeline
transiting Russia. The 153-km stretch of the pipeline that transits Chechnya
was badly damaged during the war. Earlier, First Deputy Prime Minister Boris
Nemtsov, who is also minister for fuel and energy, said Moscow is confident it
will raise the $2 million that Chechnya needs to finish repairing the
pipeline, Reuters reported. Chechen Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Zakayev said
that, despite Moscow's objections, Grozny will also sign a separate oil deal
with the international consortium developing Azerbaijan's oil fields.

...DISCUSS WIDE RANGE OF OTHER ISSUES. Officials said the talks focused on a
"very wide range" of economic and political issues. Maskhadov noted that the
two sides reached agreement on a large number of questions and that their
major task is to find practical ways of implementing earlier agreements, AFP
reported. Boris Berezovskii, deputy secretary of the Russian Security Council,
said a "mutual understanding" was reached during the talks. Chernomyrdin
reportedly asked the Chechen leaders about the kidnapping of Russian
journalists in the breakaway region, but no details were reported about the
Chechen reaction. Meanwhile, ITAR-TASS quoted Chernomyrdin as saying a customs
agreement may be signed on 13 June

YELTSIN ADDRESSES RUSSIANS ON NATIONAL HOLIDAY. President Boris Yeltsin
addressed Russians on national television on 12 June, the anniversary of the
1990 declaration of sovereignty by the Russian Congress of People's Deputies.
He argued that Russia is "moving forward on a path of real political and
economic transformation" and hailed recent accords signed with Belarus and
Ukraine. Yeltsin said that for the first time in 80 years, world recognition
of Russia's importance was not based on fear. He noted that NATO is taking
Russia's interests into account and that the G-7 group of industrialized
countries will move toward including Russia at an upcoming summit. While
acknowledging that the people have many "fair complaints" about himself and
the authorities in general, he commented that "no one can say that the voice
of the discontented in Russia is not heard." Yeltsin also renamed the 12 June
holiday from Russian Independence Day to the Day of Russia.

OPPOSITION DECLINES TO CELEBRATE HOLIDAY. State Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev
told reporters in the Belarusian city of Brest that he does not consider 12
June a holiday. Seleznev argued that Russia's gain of sovereignty "was one of
the causes of the Soviet Union's collapse," Interfax reported. Opposition
politicians who regret the disintegration of the USSR have frequently mocked
the idea of celebrating Russia's independence.

FLAGS CHANGED ON BLACK SEA FLEET. In line with a recent presidential decree,
Soviet flags on the Russian ships of the Black Sea Fleet were replaced on 12
June with the tsarist-era blue-and-white flags, RFE/RL's correspondent in
Sevastopol reported. Defense Minister Igor Sergeev, Navy Commander in Chief
Feliks Gromov, and Black Sea Fleet Commander Viktor Kravchenko attended the
ceremonies. Sergeev said joint Russian-Ukrainian naval exercises might be held
later this year, Interfax reported. However, he confirmed that Russia will not
take part in the NATO-led "Sea Breeze" naval exercises scheduled for August
off the Crimean coast. Meanwhile, Moscow First Deputy Mayor Oleg Tolkachev
told reporters in Sevastopol that the Moscow city government will finance
construction of a 300-apartment building for Black Sea Fleet sailors, as well
as a school in Sevastopol, ITAR-TASS reported.

DEFENSE MINISTER ON "RAPID REACTION UNITS." Sergeev unveiled plans to create
four "rapid reaction units" of unspecified size next year, ITAR-TASS reported
on 11 June. He said two of the "units of the future" will be deployed in the
Moscow military district, one in the Far East and one in the North Caucasus.
Interfax quoted military experts as saying the units are likely to be
rapid-response mobile formations with their own air and naval support.

CHUBAIS SAYS RUSSIA CAN BECOME WORLD'S "MOST DYNAMIC ECONOMY." Addressing the
council of the Russia's Democratic Choice (DVR) party, First Deputy Prime
Minister Anatolii Chubais said the government has an opportunity to make
Russia "the most dynamic economy in the world," as well as the "most
attractive financial market," RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported in 12 June.
Chubais said "millions and millions of people understand and accept" the ideas
that guided Yegor Gaidar when he was acting prime minister in 1992. He added
that the government does not need to perform a miracle to lead Russia to
prosperity since "the miracle has been performed.... Now we need only to avoid
stupidities." Chubais has been a leading member of the DVR since its creation
in 1994. He was also a prominent figure in the Russia's Choice movement, the
predecessor of the DVR.

GAIDAR STRESSES IMPORTANCE OF ADOPTING NEW TAX CODE. In his address to the DVR
party council, party leader Yegor Gaidar said tax reform is "the main thing
standing between us and serious, dynamic economic growth," RFE/RL's Moscow
bureau reported on 12 June. He praised the government for improving tax
collection and moving toward an "honest budget," but he argued that the
adoption of a new tax code was essential. Gaidar and experts from his
Institute of Economic Problems of the Transition Period helped draft the code,
which is scheduled to be considered by the State Duma in the first reading on
19 June. Gaidar added that Yeltsin would be forced to consider dissolving the
Duma if deputies failed to adopt the tax code. Failure to approve the code
would not in itself give Yeltsin legal grounds for disbanding the Duma.

NEMTSOV WELCOMES DUMA SCRUTINY OF TRIP TO JAPAN. First Deputy Prime Minister
Nemtsov says he welcomes scrutiny of his recent trip to Japan, ITAR-TASS
reported on12 June. Nemtsov took some 80 people with him to Tokyo (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 9-11 June 1997). A resolution asking the Audit Chamber to examine
expenditures for Nemtsov's trip has been placed on the Duma's agenda. Nemtsov
said he thought such checks were "absolutely normal" and suggested that
foreign trips by Duma deputies also be audited.

DUMA FAILS TO OVERTURN VETO OF LAW ON OPPOSITION. The Duma on 11 June fell 34
votes short of the 300 needed to overturn a presidential veto of the law on
guaranteeing the right of opposition activity, ITAR-TASS reported. The law
would protect citizens' right to demonstrate and to make alternative proposals
to government and presidential policies (see "OMRI Daily Digest," 5 March
1997). It would also allow the opposition to create a shadow cabinet. If at
least one-third of Duma deputies supported the shadow cabinet, shadow
ministers would be entitled to participate in meetings of the executive
branch. Yeltsin's representative in the Duma, Aleksandr Kotenkov, said the law
was unconstitutional. In particular, he noted that it sought to define legislatu
 res
as opposition groups. A law on the opposition should deal with political
parties or organizations, Kotenkov argued.

OKUDZHAVA DIES. The popular author, poet, and songwriter Bulat Okudzhava died
aged 73 in a hospital near Paris on 12 June. Okudzhava, who had a history of
heart problems, was recently hospitalized with pneumonia. Beginning in the
late 1950s, Okudzhava was a "half-official dissident" in the Soviet Union. He
was a member of the Communist Party and the Union of Writers, and his work was
not officially prohibited. At the same time, many of his writings and songs
did not find favor with the Soviet authorities and were widely distributed
only in "samizdat" or bootleg tape recordings. In 1994, Okudzhava won the
Russian Booker Prize for his last novel.

PATRIARCH NOT TO MEET WITH POPE. Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Aleksii II
has confirmed that he will not meet with Roman Catholic Pope John Paul II in
June, ITAR-TASS reported on 12 June. The Holy Synod, the forum which brings
together the top clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church, said in an 11 June
statement that unspecified outstanding differences prevented the meeting from
taking place, AFP reported. The Synod's statement also included a "historical
note" restating Orthodoxy's opposition to Catholic efforts to win converts in
Russia. Church officials in Russia said recently that the Vatican and the
Patriarchate were discussing a possible meeting between the John Paul and
Aleksii in Vienna on 21 June ahead of an European Ecumenical Conference in
Graz.

VORKUTA COAL MINERS END STRIKE. Work has resumed at all the coal enterprises
in Vorkuta (Komi Republic) where workers went on strike on 1 June, ITAR-TASS
reported on 12 June. A Finance Ministry official said some 110 billion rubles
($19 million) out of a 250 billion ruble government emergency aid package has
arrived in Komi. The money will cover part of the back wages owed to the
miners. A local trade union official said recently that the work stoppage in
Vorkuta would continue until "strategic measures" to help the Pechora coal
basin were adopted (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 and 9 June 1997).

ANOTHER FORMER GOVERNOR ARRESTED. Yurii Komarovskii, former governor of Nenets
Autonomous Okrug, has been arrested, ITAR-TASS reported on 11 June.
Komarovskii is accused of "exceeding his authority while serving as governor,"
but no further details about the charges were available. Komarovskii was
appointed by Yeltsin in 1991 and resigned in early 1996. At the time, the
okrug legislature accused him of misappropriating budget funds and of granting
dubious credits to certain enterprises. Nikolai Sevryugin, the former governor
of Tula Oblast, was recently arrested on corruption charges (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 9 June 1997).


TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

UN MANDATE EXTENDED IN TAJIKISTAN. The UN Security Council on 12 June voted
unanimously to extend by three months the mandate of the UN observer mission
in Tajikistan. The team of more than 70 observers, military and civilian, will
remain in the country until 15 September.

FIGHTING REPORTED IN SOUTH TAJIKISTAN. RFE/RL correspondents report that units
of the Tajik army's First Brigade, commanded by Col. Mahmud Khudaberdiyev,
have moved into Yavon, some 60 kilometers south of Dushanbe, and its
surrounding areas. Khudaberdiyev is reported not to have received orders from
the government to take this action. He says he sent forces from their base in
Kurgan-Teppe to the area to restore order. The move may have been made to oust
Sher Abdullayev, a former commander in Tajikistan's pro-government Popular
Front, from Yavon. Meanwhile, the mayor of Kumsangir has been forced out of
office.

TURKMENISTAN TO KEEP DEATH PENALTY. The parliament on 12 June approved a
criminal code that provides for the death penalty, ITAR-TASS reported. The
code details 17 crimes that are considered capital offenses, for which
punishment ranges from 20 years' imprisonment to execution. Capital offenses
specified in the code include premeditated murder, crimes against the
government, attempts on the life of the president, and the manufacture or
possession of narcotics. The parliament also adopted legislation on refugees
that brings Turkmenistan closer into line with the 1951 UN Convention and the
1967 Helsinki Act.

KRASNOVODSKII GULF RENAMED AFTER "TURKMENBASHI." Following "numerous" requests
by "workers and local authorities," the Krasnovodskii Gulf in the Caspian Sea
has been renamed "Turkmenbashi Gulf," RFE/RL's Turkmen service and Reuters
reported. The gulf's main port city, once called Krasnovodsk, was renamed
Turkmenbashi City in 1993, after President Saparmurad "Turkmenbashi" Niyazov.

UZBEKISTAN CRITICIZED OVER RELIGIOUS FREEDOMS. The US Commission on Security
and Cooperation in Europe published an open letter on 12 June calling on Uzbek
President Islam Karimov complaining about the "erosion of religious liberty"
in Uzbekistan. The letter, a copy of which was obtained by RFE/RL's Uzbek
service, addresses "missionary activity." It mentions the confiscation from
the Uzbek Bible Society of 24,960 Bibles translated into Uzbek and the case of
Pastor Rashid Turibayev, who is charged with conducting "illegal Church
services" and faces a possible three-year jail sentence. The letter notes that
Uzbekistan is a "participating state" of the OSCE and requests that Tashkent
"comply with its commitments." The letter does not address problems with
Islamic groups in Uzbekistan.

U.S.-UZBEK COMMISSION FORMED. Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov met with U.S.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and her deputy, Strobe Talbot, in
Washington on 12 June, RFE/RL's Uzbek service reported. State Department
spokesman Nicholas Burns later announced that a joint commission has been
formed to seek ways to expand cooperation in the areas of defense, military,
trade, investment and energy, AFP reported. The commission is expected to
begin work this fall.

GEORGIAN PRESIDENT WELCOMES MOSCOW TALKS ON ABKHAZIA. Eduard Shevardnadze has
welcomed the 11 June meetings between Georgian and Abkhaz representatives in
Moscow (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 June 1997), Interfax reported on 12 June.
The Abkhaz delegation, headed by President Vladislav Ardzinba, also met with
senior Russian officials. Shevardnadze, however, warned that the peace talks
and peacekeeping forces should not serve to "legitimize ethnic cleansing or
genocide" in Abkhazia. Interfax also reported that Revaz Adamia, the chairman
of the Georgian parliamentary Defense and Security Committee, has accused
Russia of resuming arms supplies to Abkhazia. Adamia said the fact that
Ardzinba was received "at a high level" in Moscow should be interpreted as
Moscow's support for the "separatist regime" in Abkhazia.

ARMENIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN IRAN. Aleksandr Arzumanyan on 12 June held talks
with outgoing Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Foreign
Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, AFP reported, citing the Iranian news agency
IRNA. Arzumanyan welcomed Iran's "key role" in resolving regional crises and
added that Armenia gives "special priority to its relations with Islamic
Iran." Arzumanyan also called for multilateral cooperation with other
countries in the region, "particularly with Turkmenistan, Georgia, and
Greece." Velayati, for his part, said Tehran is interested in an "honorable
and just" peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan.





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RFE/RL NEWSLINE
Vol 1, No. 29, Part I, 13 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/

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Headlines, Part I

* REACTIONS TO RUSSIAN-CHECHEN TREATY

* YELTSIN SAYS HOUSING REFORM MUST NOT HURT
POOR

* AZERBAIJAN CLAIMS ARMENIA HAS CHEMICAL
WEAPONS

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RUSSIA

REACTIONS TO RUSSIAN-CHECHEN TREATY. Chechen
President Aslan Maskhadov says the treaty on Russian-
Chechen relations that he and Russian President Boris
Yeltsin signed yesterday in Moscow is a "historic step."
Vice President Vakha Arsanov said the accord "puts an end
to the state of war" and makes Chechnya a subject of
international law, Interfax reported. The treaty affirms
both sides' aspirations to "firm and equal relations" based
on the principles of international law. It also stresses their
rejection of the use of force. No mention is made of
Chechnya's status. Russian Security Council Secretary Ivan
Rybkin said the treaty will "introduce an element of
sincerity" into relations between Moscow and Grozny.
Ingush President Ruslan Aushev said it will provide
impetus for positive changes in Chechnya. Bashkortostan's
President Murtaza Rakhimov termed the document a
"breakthrough" and a "basis for confidence."

MORE RUSSIAN-CHECHEN AGREEMENTS. Maskhadov and
Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin yesterday
signed an agreement on economic cooperation that
provides for coordination between Russian and Chechen
ministries on reconstruction in the republic, pensions, and
compensation to those who suffered during the fighting,
Russian agencies reported. Sergei Dubinin, the director of
Russia's Central Bank, and his Chechen counterpart signed
an agreement on coordinating banking operations.

OIL EXPORT PROSPECTS IMPROVED. Khodzh-Akhmed
Yarikhanov, chairman of the Chechen oil company Yunko,
told Interfax yesterday that the 150 km stretch of the
Baku-Tikhoretsk export pipeline running through Chechnya
can be repaired within 20-30 days if $2 million is made
available. The pipeline has already been filled as far as the
Azerbaijani-Russian frontier with Azerbaijani oil that is to
be exported under the terms of an agreement between the
Azerbaijani government and Russia's Transneft. Turan on 12
May quoted a spokesman for the Azerbaijan International
Operating Company as saying that the treaty on Russian-
Chechen relations, which was signed yesterday in Moscow,
"inspires optimism" that the export of so-called "early oil"
via the Baku-Tikhoretsk pipeline will now begin on 1
October 1997. It was originally scheduled to start in fall
1996.

YELTSIN SAYS HOUSING REFORM MUST NOT HURT
POOR. President Yeltsin says housing reform must not be
carried out at the expense of the poor, RFE/RL's Moscow
bureau reported yesterday. Chairing a special cabinet
meeting, Yeltsin admitted that mistakes were made during
privatization and said "we do not have the right to make a
mistake" in housing reform. He noted that Russia spends
119 trillion rubles ($21 billion) annually on housing and
municipal services, which is roughly 4% of GDP and 30% of
some local budgets. However, Yeltsin said, money is
currently used "ineffectively and unfairly," since owners of
larger apartments receive more in subsidized rent and
services. First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov
challenged the widespread belief that lower state spending
on housing will automatically mean higher rents and utility
bills. He argued that money could be saved by introducing
more competition among service providers.

NEMTSOV, LUZHKOV DOWNPLAY DIFFERENCES. After
yesterday's cabinet meeting, Nemtsov and Moscow Mayor
Yurii Luzhkov told journalists they have the same goals but
differ over the approach to housing reform. Luzhkov said
people's ability to pay rather than arbitrary deadlines
should determine how much rents and utility bills increase,
RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. Nemtsov countered that
state subsidies for low-income families would continue
after 2003, when subsidies to municipal service providers
will end. Yeltsin yesterday praised policies implemented in
both Moscow and Nizhnii Novgorod. However, he rejected
Luzhkov's request for a special presidential decree
allowing Moscow to implement its own housing policy,
according to ITAR-TASS. Nemtsov said all regions will be
allowed to draw up their own housing reform plans, as long
as they fit within the government's overall framework. He
noted that different climatic conditions make it impossible
to impose one nationwide program.

REPORT SAYS RUSSIA'S NUCLEAR MISSILES UNSAFE.
Faulty command-and-control equipment has caused some
Russian nuclear missiles to switch themselves to combat
mode recently, The Washington Times reported yesterday,
citing a classified CIA study. The study said this would not
necessarily result in an unauthorized missile launch
because of other safeguards. The CIA report was written in
March, after Russian Defense Minister Igor Rodionov had
warned the previous month of deteriorating control
systems for Russia's nuclear arsenal. Commenting on the
report, a senior unnamed Pentagon official quoted by
Reuters said he has seen no evidence of a heightened risk
of an unauthorized or accidental missile launch. The
condition of Russia's military is expected to dominate
talks between Rodionov and senior U.S. officials in
Washington this week.

YELTSIN TAKES UP PHONE DIPLOMACY ON NATO.
President Yeltsin phoned his French counterpart, Jacques
Chirac, yesterday to discuss the Russia-NATO charter,
Interfax reported, citing the presidential press service.
Yeltsin is expected to make similar calls to leaders of
other NATO countries this week. Russian officials have said
they want to sign a charter on 27 May in Paris but only if
the document provides adequate guarantees for Russia.
NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana is due in Moscow
today for the sixth round of his talks with Russian Foreign
Minister Yevgenii Primakov.

YELTSIN ISSUES DECREE ON GAZPROM. Yeltsin today
issued a decree establishing more control over the
government's 40% stake in the gas monopoly Gazprom,
ITAR-TASS reports, citing presidential spokesman Sergei
Yastrzhembskii. Under the decree, a board of government
representatives, to be chaired by Nemtsov,.will be
appointed to join Gazprom management. The decree will
weaken the authority of Gazprom head Rem Vyakhirev, who
since 1994 has managed most of the government stake in
the company. Nemtsov's press secretary Andrei Pershin
told reporters yesterday that Yeltsin will soon issue
decrees forcing government officials to declare their
incomes and ordering changes in the system whereby some
commercial banks are authorized to handle government
funds.

YELTSIN ENDS GOVERNMENT LOAN GUARANTEES. In a
another decree issued today, Yeltsin ordered the
government to stop providing guarantees for commercial
bank loans to enterprises, ITAR-TASS reports. In recent
years, the Finance Ministry has frequently guaranteed loans
that are unlikely ever to be repaid. The new decree will
force enterprises to provide their own guarantees in order
to secure bank financing--for instance, by offering
company shares as collateral.

ISLAMIC GROUPS CLASH IN DAGESTAN. Two people
were killed and three injured in fighting yesterday
between some 1,000 wahabis and members of local tarikats
(sufi brotherhoods) in the village of Chabani-Makhi in
Buynak Raion, some 30 km southwest of Makhachkala,
Russian and Western agencies reported. The village has
been cordoned off by police sent to the area.

SIBERIAN ASSOCIATION AGAINST SPECIAL
PRIVILEGES FOR REGIONS. Krasnoyarsk Krai Governor
Valerii Zubov says the leaders of the regional association
Siberian Accord are against special privileges granted by
the federal government to some regions, including the
republics of Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, and Sakha (Yakutia),
ITAR-TASS reports today. Zubov warned that if the
government does not change its policy in this area,
Siberian leaders may decide not to support government
plans for housing reform or the 1998 budget. The
government has signed power-sharing agreements with 26
of Russia's 89 regions, giving them varying degrees of
economic autonomy. First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii
Chubais flew to Krasnoyarsk yesterday to discuss the tax
code and the draft 1998 budget with top officials from the
17 regions that belong to Siberian Accord. However,
Chubais said the regional leaders would be consulted only
on the "parameters" of the 1998 budget, not on its overall
"ideology," Interfax reported.

ENERGY CRISIS CONTINUES IN VLADIVOSTOK. Several
hundred protesters blocked the main road in Vladivostok
yesterday, demanding that normal electricity supplies be
restored, according to RFE/RL's Moscow bureau. The
protest came despite reports that power cuts in the city
have been reduced to four to six hours per day, compared
with 18-20 hours late last week, Interfax reported. The
energy crisis prompted city officials to introduce a state
of emergency in Vladivostok on 8 May.

MEDIA UNDER PRESSURE IN NIZHNII NOVGOROD.
Journalists in Nizhnii Novgorod say they are coming under
pressure from local politicians and businessmen as the
June gubernatorial elections draw near, RFE/RL's
correspondent in the city reported yesterday. Nadezhda
Zaftarenko recently resigned as director of the city's
state-funded radio and television company, a post she had
held since its founding three years ago. City mayor Ivan
Sklyarov, a leading candidate for governor, said Zaftarenko
departed voluntarily. However, she told journalists that
she ran afoul of city officials after she violated the
"unwritten rule" to report only favorably on the city
administration. RFE/RL's correspondent reported on 1 May
that journalists from the daily Nizhegorodskaya pravda and
the weekly Delo received threats after publishing articles
on the privatization of a Nizhnii Novgorod factory. The
articles criticized the factory's new owners, who are
relatives of former State Duma deputy Yevgenii Bushmen.

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

AZERBAIJAN CLAIMS ARMENIA HAS CHEMICAL
WEAPONS. Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev claims
Armenia has been supplied with five truckloads of
"defensive" chemical weapons and ten truckloads of
"offensive" ones, Moskovskii komsomolets reports today.
Armenia ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention in
March 1994. Last week, Armenian First Deputy Foreign
Minister Vartan Oskanian expressed concern that
Azerbaijan has not yet done so, according to Noyan Tapan
on 8 May.

TAJIK TALKS RESCHEDULED. The next round of talks
between the Tajik government and the United Tajik
Opposition will not take place on 16 May as scheduled,
ITAR-TASS reported. Both sides agree that Tajik President
Imomali Rakhmonov and UTO leader Said Abdullo Nuri must
meet before representatives return to the negotiating
table. The two men are tentatively scheduled to hold talks
in the Kyrgyz capital on 17 May. Representatives would
then meet in Tehran on 20 May to resume discussions on
legalizing opposition parties in Tajikistan. ITAR-TASS
quotes a "diplomatic source" in Dushanbe as saying the
duration of the Tehran talks will depend on the success of
the meeting between Rakhmonov and Nuri.

FIRST WINNER IN KAZAKSTAN'S LATEST OIL TENDER.
An Indonesian company has bought a majority stake in one
of three state oil companies in Kazakstan undergoing
privatization this week, Interfax reported yesterday.
Central Asia Petroleum Ltd., a subsidiary of Indonesia's
Medco Energy Corp., took 60% of the shares in
Mangistaumunaigaz, located in western Kazakstan. Before
1991, the company produced 25 million tons of oil a year,
but following independence, annual production fell to 4.5
million tons. The new owner will invest more than $4 billion
over 20 years. An estimated 200 million tons of crude
remain to be exploited. Reuters reports that the two other
companies up for sale this week are Aktyubinskmunaigaz,
which is offering 85% of its shares, and Uzenmunaigaz,
believed to be located on Kazakstan's second-largest oil
field after Tengiz.





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