Absence makes the heart grow fonder. -
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol 1, No. 33, Part I, 19 May 1997


Vol 1, No. 33, Part I, 19 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

* CHIRAC VIEWS RUSSIA-NATO ACCORD AS "PERSONAL
VICTORY" FOR YELTSIN

* IMF APPROVES RUSSIA'S ECONOMIC PROGRAM,
RELEASES LOAN TRANCHE

* NEW TAJIK AGREEMENTS

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

RUSSIA

CHIRAC VIEWS RUSSIA-NATO ACCORD AS "PERSONAL
VICTORY" FOR YELTSIN. French President Jacques Chirac
says the Russia-NATO Founding Act is a "great victory for
Russia and a personal victory for [Russian President] Boris
Yeltsin," Reuters and AFP reported yesterday. Speaking to
journalists after meeting with Yeltsin during a brief
stopover in Moscow, Chirac said Yeltsin displayed vision in
affirming Russia's interests while recognizing "the need to
ensure peace through this historic accord." Meanwhile,
Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov on 17 May again
denounced the Russia-NATO deal as an "act of capitulation."

IMF APPROVES RUSSIA'S ECONOMIC PROGRAM,
RELEASES LOAN TRANCHE. The IMF's board on 16 May
approved Russia's 1997 economic targets and agreed to
resume disbursements of a three-year loan worth $10.1
billion, RFE/RL's Washington correspondent reported.
Disbursements of about $697 million each will be issued
quarterly. Before each disbursement, an IMF team will
review whether Russia is adhering to its economic targets.
First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais has said that
the IMF credits will allow the government to keep its
promise to pay all pension arrears and some wage arrears
by the end of June.

RUSSIAN, JAPANESE DEFENSE MINISTERS SIGN
PROTOCOL. Defense Minster Igor Rodionov and his
Japanese counterpart, Fumio Kyuma, met in Tokyo on 17
May and signed a protocol on the creation of a bilateral
working group of defense officials. Rodionov expressed
Russia's desire for Japan's participation in a new Pacific
security organization, adding that Russia would be
interested in holding naval exercises with Japan and the
U.S. He added that U.S.-Japanese security was "necessary"
for the stability of the region. Col.-Gen. Leonid Ivashov, a
member of the Russian delegation, assured the Japanese
that aid from Russia to North Korea did not represent a
threat as it was only "minor deliveries" of spare parts. He
denied Russia had sent any MiG-29s to North Korea. This
was the first visit by a Russian defense minister to Japan
at least since the beginning of this century.

JAPAN DROPS OBJECTIONS TO RUSSIAN ENTRY INTO
G-7. Also during Rodionov's visit, Japan announced it is
withdrawing its objection to Russia joining the G-7 at the
group's summit next month in Denver, Colorado, according
to Reuters and AFP. Japan was the sole G-7 country
opposed to Russian membership. Its objections were
related to the former Soviet Union's annexation at the end
of World War II, and Russia's continued possession, of the
four southern Kuril Islands. But while Japan is no longer
objecting to Russian membership in the G-7, a Japanese
official said it would be pointless to include Russia in talks
on international finance or aid to developing countries
because Russia's "market economy is still insufficient."
Russia, and earlier the Soviet Union, has been sending
observers to G-7 summits since 1991.

UN SECRETARY-GENERAL IN MOSCOW. Kofi Annan held
talks in Moscow on 17 May with Foreign Minister Yevgenii
Primakov, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, and
President Boris Yeltsin. Yeltsin backed Annan's plans for
reforming the UN, noting that Russia will intensify its
cooperation with the organization and pay its dues on time,
Russian agencies reported. Annan told journalists that the
UN is interested in increasing its role in mediating the
conflicts in Tajikistan and Abkhazia in conjunction with
Russia. The UN has observer missions in both regions.

PRODUCTION-SHARING LIST PASSED IN FIRST
READING. By a vote of 229 to 95, the State Duma has
passed in the first reading a draft law that lists natural
deposits to be offered for development on a production-
sharing basis, Russian news agencies reported on 16 May.
The bill lists five oil and gas fields, one gold deposit, and
one iron ore deposit in which foreign companies would be
allowed to invest in exchange for a portion of the
resources extracted. The law on production-sharing,
passed in 1995, cannot be applied until a list of authorized
sites is approved. The failure of several previous attempts
to pass such a list has deterred foreign investment.
Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia
denounced the bill as a "theft of the country's natural
resources." But Nikolai Ryzhkov, head of the left-leaning
Popular Power faction, argued that without foreign
investment, the deposits in question would have to be shut
down.

YABLOKO SEEKS NO CONFIDENCE VOTE IN
GOVERNMENT. Arguing that the government, not the
budget, should be "sequestered," Grigorii Yavlinskii has
said his Yabloko faction is collecting signatures to call a
vote of no confidence, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported on
16 May. Yabloko will also demand that the implementation
of the 1997 budget be halted and that the Duma reject the
government's proposed budget cuts. Yavlinskii slammed
the government for seeking 108 trillion rubles ($19 billion)
in budget cuts while not making any concrete proposals to
increase revenues. A no-confidence vote is unlikely to
pass, since the Duma risks dissolution by Yeltsin if it votes
no confidence in the government twice within three
months. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin
announced on 16 May that the government has not made a
final decision on the size of the budget cuts and is willing
to negotiate with the Duma, Russian news agencies
reported.

REACTION TO ANTI-CORRUPTION DECREE. Moscow
Mayor Yurii Luzhkov has praised Yeltsin's latest anti-
corruption decree (see RFE/RL Newsline, 16 May 1997) but
cautioned that the provision requesting family members of
officials to release income and property declarations is a
violation of human rights, Interfax reported on 17 May.
Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Vladimir Lukin
of Yabloko said the decree would "improve the moral
climate" in Russia, ITAR-TASS reported on 16 May. Duma
Speaker Gennadii Seleznev also welcomed the decree but
said it was issued three years too late. Seleznev added
that the effects of the decree would depend on how it is
enforced. If the anti-corruption campaign is restricted to
officials like former presidential adviser Sergei
Stankevich, he argued, the decree would become a
"laughing-stock throughout Russia."

STANKEVICH RELEASED FROM POLISH PRISON. Sergei
Stankevich was released from prison by the Polish
prosecutor's office on 16 May, RFE/RL's correspondent in
Warsaw reported the next day. The Russian authorities
accuse Stankevich of taking a $10,000 bribe in 1992 and are
continuing to seek his extradition. Stankevich will have to
report to the Polish police twice a week. Polish
commentators view his release as politically motivated.
The daily Rzeczpospolita on 17 May cited an unnamed
Polish prosecutor as saying his office had been under
"pressure from above" to release Stankevich.

DEPUTY DEFENSE MINISTER CHARGED. Army Gen.
Konstantin Kobets has been charged with taking bribes,
abusing his office, and illegal possession of firearms,
Interfax reported on 16 May, citing aides in the Military
Procurator's Office. The main charge involves alleged
bribes from firms that were awarded contracts to build
military housing. Kobets, currently hospitalized with a
heart ailment, has denied the charges. He became famous
when he defended the White House during the attempted
August 1991 coup. Duma Defense Committee Chairman Lev
Rokhlin leveled the corruption allegations against Kobets
last July. At the time, Kobets was considered a leading
contender to replace Pavel Grachev as defense minister.

THREE CHARGED IN MOSCOW CEMETERY BOMBING.
Valerii Radchikov, the first head of the Foundation of
Afghan War Invalids, has been charged with orchestrating
the November 1996 bombing in Moscow's Kotlyakovskoe
Cemetery, Russian news agencies reported on 16 May. Two
unnamed Afghan war veterans who allegedly carried out
the bombing have also been charged. The explosion during
a memorial service for another former head of the Afghan
War Invalids foundation killed 14 people and injured nearly
50. Radchikov and five others were arrested on suspicion
of involvement in the bombing last month.

CHECHNYA CELEBRATES PEACE ACCORD. Thousands of
Chechens congregated in Starye Atagi, near Grozny,
yesterday to celebrate the peace accord signed on 12 May
in Moscow by Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Chechen
President Aslan Maskhadov. Addressing the rally,
Maskhadov insisted on compliance with his April decree on
disbanding informal military units but said the units'
members are free to join the national guard, the
presidential guard, or the republic's police force.
Maskhadov also affirmed his determination to crack down
on crime and secure the release of seven journalists
abducted over the past three months. A congress of the
so-called Gen. Dudaev Army and Dzhokhar's Way movement
scheduled for yesterday was postponed because maverick
field commander Salman Raduev, who heads the movement,
is still recovering from a recent assassination attempt,
Radio Mayak reported.

INDEPENDENT WINS DUMA BY-ELECTION IN MAGADAN.
Prominent local lawyer Vladimir Butkeev was elected to
the State Duma from Magadan Oblast yesterday, ITAR-
TASS reports today. Butkeev, who was running as an
independent, won a plurality of some 13.5% of the vote in a
crowded field of 14 candidates. He replaces Valentin
Tsvetkov, who was elected governor of Magadan last
November.

MINERS PROTEST IN VLADIVOSTOK. More than 1,000 coal
miners protested outside the Primorskii Krai
administration building on 16 May, RFE/RL's correspondent
in Vladivostok reported. Although local media have
reported that 51 trillion rubles ($8.8 billion) will be
transferred to the krai to pay the miners, that money has
not yet arrived. Even if it is paid soon, it is expected to
cover only back wages through January. Miners are
demanding payment of wage arrears at least through March
before they resume coal shipments to power stations.
Primorskii Krai Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko met with
miners' representatives for three hours and agreed with
their demand that a federal government commission be
sent to Primore to examine the energy crisis.

YELTSIN SIGNS LAND OWNERSHIP DECREE. Yeltsin has
signed a decree making it easier for property owners to
buy the land on which their buildings stand, Russian news
agencies reported on 16 May. Until now, most owners of
privatized enterprises have been unable to buy such land.
The decree covers only urban real estate, not agricultural
land. The parliament has not yet passed a land code that
would set the regulations for overall land reform. A
version of a land code approved by the Duma in May 1996
was rejected by the Federation Council the following
month.

TRANSCAUSASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

GEORGIAN PRESIDENT INVITES POPE TO VISIT. At a
meeting in the Vatican on 16 May, Eduard Shevardnadze
invited Pope John Paul II to visit Georgia, AFP reported.
Shevardnadze also held talks in Rome with Italian leaders
and with officials of the UN Food and Agriculture
Organization, which will implement a special program to
increase agricultural production and crop yields in Georgia,
according to ITAR-TASS. A declaration on political and
economic cooperation and several bilateral agreements
were signed, including one on military cooperation,
Interfax reported.

AZERBAIJAN BELATEDLY RATIFIES CFE FLANK
AGREEMENT. The Azerbaijani parliament ratified the 1996
CFE flank agreement on 16 May, 24 hours after the official
deadline for doing so expired, ITAR-TASS reported. A
senior official in Baku told Interfax yesterday that the
provision stating that signatory states may cede part of
their armament quotas to Russia or permit the stationing
of Russian troops on their territory does not apply to Baku.
Azerbaijan was the last signatory state to ratify the
accord. The Moldovan parliament approved it on 15 May,
according to BASApress.

KAZAK PRESIDENT CRITICIZES RUSSIAN OFFICIALS.
Nurusultan Nazarbayev told a journalists' conference in
Almaty at the weekend that Kazakstan "has no debts to
Russia," according to Interfax and AFP. Nazarbayev was
responding to Russian Minister for CIS Affairs Aman
Tuleev's statement that Kazakstan owes Russia 134
kilograms of gold and 6.5 tons of silver. The Kazak
president claimed Russia owes Kazakstan $480 million in
rent for the Baikonur space center. He also noted that
Russia is doing little to promote "equality and respect for
the sovereignty of other CIS countries." And he criticized
Russia's military presence in other CIS countries, notably
Armenia and Tajikistan, which, he said, reflected a "pro-
communist mentality" in the Russian bureaucracy.

NEW TAJIK AGREEMENTS. President Imomali Rakhmonov
and United Tajik Opposition leader Said Abdullo Nuri signed
several agreements in Bishkek on 16-17 May. The two
leaders agreed to a general amnesty, continued prisoner
exchanges, and a plan to hand over 25% of the seats in the
Central Election Committee to the UTO. They also agreed
to allow 500 UTO members into Dushanbe to protect their
representatives on the committee. The issue of legalizing
the UTO has still not been fully resolved, and disarming
UTO armed formations remains an issue. The government
says this step must be completed before a reconciliation
council can begin planning new parliamentary elections,
scheduled to take place no later than summer 1998. The
UTO argues that the four or five months needed by the
government for this process would hinder its chances in
those elections.

NEW PRESIDENT FOR MONGOLIA. Natsagiyn Bagabandi of
the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party won
yesterday's presidential elections. He took just over 60%
of the vote to beat incumbent Punsalmagin Ochirbat, who
received about 30%. Bagabandi has promised to slow the
pace of reform in Mongolia, claiming the "shock therapy"
reforms introduced by Ochirbat and his Democratic
Coalition have lead to widespread unemployment and
poverty in Mongolia. However, the Democratic Coalition
still has a majority in Mongolia's parliament.

END NOTE

Wahhabism in the CIS

by Bruce Pannier

        Last week, a violent confrontation broke out between
rival Muslim groups in the Dagestani village of Chabani-
Makhi. Members of the Wahhabi group clashed with those of
local Tariqat Sufi orders. Two people were killed and three
hospitalized. Eighteen Wahhabis were briefly taken hostage
until special police sealed off the village and restored
order. These events underscore the tensions that have
arisen in many Soviet successor states following the
relaxation of Soviet-era restrictions on religious
proselytizing.
        The Wahhabi movement is looked upon with suspicion
in several CIS states. A Sunni group, the Wahhabis have
been active in Central Asia and Muslim regions of the
Caucasus since 1992. The group has a reputation of going
beyond simply teaching their form of Islam. It is usually
well funded -- mostly by Saudia Arabia -- helps construct
mosques, and distributes Korans in local languages. But the
Wahhabis' presence in the North Caucasus and the Fergana
Valley, in Central Asia, is resented by other sects,
particularly the various Sufi orders that have been present
in the Muslim areas of the CIS for centuries.
        The Wahhabi movement originated in Saudi Arabia in
the 18th century as a reformist Sufi movement aimed at
cleansing Islam in Arabia. The Wahhabis advocated an
orthodox view of Islam that refuted practices adopted by
some Muslims after the death of the Prophet Muhhammad.
Wahhabism rejected "magical rituals" and the veneration of
saints or any human being, something that had become
commonplace among Sufi orders. It united the Arabian
tribes in the mid-18th century and provided the
foundations for the modern state of Saudi Arabia in the
early 20th century. The Wahhabis' aggressive proselytizing
complements its strict interpretation of Islam and hence
has often been labeled fundamentalist.
        Islam in Central Asia and the Caucasus was preserved,
first in Tsarist Russia and then in the Soviet Union, through
Sufi orders (Tariqat is a term that denotes the Sufi
brotherhoods, which can be Sunni or Shia). The main order
was Naqshbandiya Sufism. Sufism was the major vehicle for
spreading Islam to countries outside Arabia. Though Islam
had spread north into the Caucasus and Central Asia during
the Arab invasions of the 7th and 8th centuries, Sufism
penetrated Central Asia in the 12th century and the
northern Caucasus in the early 18th century. Its success
was largely due to its ability to adapt some local beliefs or
customs into Islam--for example, the five pillars of Islam
set down in the Koran.
        As the religion spread from Arabia, it was
recognizable that one of those pillars, the Hajj (pilgrimage)
to the holy site in Mecca, was beyond the means of most of
the faithful. Sufis recognized that insistence on this
religious obligation would complicate the conversion
process in areas far from Mecca. In place of the Hajj, many
Sufi orders substituted pilgrimage to the tombs of saints,
who were usually the founders of, or inspiration for, the
various Sufi orders.
        The emergence of groups such as the Wahhabis poses
a dilemma for Muslims in the former Soviet Union, some of
whom have kept Islam alive by clinging to their familiar
Sufi orders, which differ from culture to culture and
country to country. While some people are willing to
accept Wahhabi interpretations of Islam, others remain
satisfied with the religion the way it has been practiced in
their region or even village for years, if not centuries. Sufi
masters especially object to the arrival of outsiders,
particularly the Wahhabis, who are teaching that these
masters and the tombs of previous masters do not deserve
any special respect.
        For heads of state, it is equally disturbing that
Wahhabis reject secular forms of government. The group is
the first among the Islamic orders to be mentioned in
Central Asian press as potentially disruptive, though no
state has yet gone so far as to ban Wahhabi activities. It
was thus inevitable that the Wahhabis would come into
conflict with the established religious orders.



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

SUBSCRIBING:

1) To subscribe to RFERL-L, please send a message to
        listserv@listserv.buffalo.edu
2) In the text of your message, type
        subscribe RFERL-L YourFirstName YourLastName
3) Send the message

UNSUBSCRIBING:

1) To un-subscribe to RFERL-L, please send a message to
        listserv@listserv.buffalo.edu
2) In the text of your message, type
        unsubscribe RFERL-L
3) Send the message

ON-LINE ISSUES OF RFE/RL Newsline:

On-line issues of RFE/RL Newsline are available through the World
Wide Web: http://www.rferl.org/newsline/

BACK ISSUES OF RFE/RL Newsline:

Back issues of RFE/RL Newsline are available through the World
Wide Web: http://www.rferl.org/newsline/search/

BACK ISSUES OF OMRI Daily Digest:

Back issues of the OMRI Daily Digest are available through the World
Wide Web, and by FTP.

WWW: http://www.omri.cz/Publications/DD/
FTP: ftp://FTP.OMRI.CZ/Pub/DailyDigest/

REPRINT POLICY:

To receive permission for reprinting, please direct
your inquires to Paul Goble, publisher.

Email: goblep@rferl.org
Phone (U.S.) : 202-457-6947
International: 001 202-457-6947
Postal Address: RFE/RL, Connecticut Ave. 1201, NW, Washington D.C., USA

RFE/RL Newsline Staff:

Paul Goble (Publisher), goblep@rferl.org
Jiri Pehe ( Editor, Central and Eastern Europe),  pehej@rferl.org
Liz Fuller (Deputy Editor, Transcaucasia), carlsone@rferl.org
Patrick Moore (West Balkans),  moorep@rferl.org
Michael Shafir (East Balkans), shafirm@rferl.org
Laura Belin (Russia), belinl@rferl.org
Bruce Pannier (Central Asia), pannierb@rferl.org
Jan Cleave, cleavej@rferl.org.

Newsline Fax: (420-2) 2112-3630.

Current and back issues are available online at:
http://www.rferl.org/newsline/

[English] [Russian TRANS | KOI8 | ALT | WIN | MAC | ISO5]

F&P Home ° Comments ° Guestbook


1996 Friends and Partners
Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole
Please visit the Russian and American mirror sites of Friends and Partners.
Updated: 1998-11-

Please write to us with your comments and suggestions.

F&P Quick Search
Main Sections
Home
Bulletin Board
Chat Room
F&P Listserver

RFE/RL
1999
1998
1997
1996
1995
1994
1993
1992
1991
Search

News
News From Russia/NIS
News About Russia/NIS
Newspapers & Magazines
Global News
Weather

©1996 Friends and Partners
Please write to us with any comments, questions or suggestions -- Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole