We have flown the air like birds and swum the sea like fishes, but have yet to learn the simple act of walking the earth like brothers. - Martin Luther King Jr
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol 1, No. 39, Part I, 27 May 1997


Vol 1, No. 39, Part I, 27 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

* YELTSIN SIGNS FOUNDING ACT, SAYS MISSILES WILL NOT TARGET NATO

* LEBED SLAMS YELTSIN FOR SIGNING ACCORD

* CIS COUNTRIES MEET TO DISCUSS AFGHANISTAN

End Note : Taliban Take Control in Afghanistan
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

RUSSIA

YELTSIN SIGNS FOUNDING ACT, SAYS MISSILES WILL NOT TARGET NATO. President
Boris Yeltsin signed the Founding Act on relations between Russia and NATO on
27 May in Paris, hailing the document as a "historic victory for reason" that
will "promote stability throughout Europe." The accord, which was also signed
by high-level representatives of the 16 NATO members, gives Russia a say in
Europe's future security arrangements and creates a permanent joint council
that will discuss policy twice a year. After the signing ceremony, Yeltsin
surprised observers by announcing that Russia will no longer target its
missiles at NATO countries. (The U.S. and Russia agreed not to target each
other's cities in 1993.) The announcement followed tough talk on 26 May from
Yeltsin and his spokesman, Sergei Yastrzhembskii, who warned NATO against
failing to take Russia's views into account or expanding to include former
Soviet republics.

LEBED SLAMS YELTSIN FOR SIGNING ACCORD... Former Security Council Secretary
Aleksandr Lebed says that in concluding an agreement with NATO, Russia is "the
losing side, signing an act on its own capitulation." Lebed argued in the 27
May issue of Izvestiya that the Founding Act is not a legally binding document
but only a "high-level political assurance" through which NATO hopes to gain a
"moral right to expansion in order to conceal its aggressive intentions." He
said the accord "does not in any way protect our country against possible
actions of NATO" and will not allow Russia to influence events in Europe. He
slammed Yeltsin for putting his own personal interests "ahead of Russia's
interests." Given Russia's current situation, Lebed argued, Moscow should not
sign anything less than a legally binding treaty.

...WHILE LUZHKOV PRAISES AGREEMENT. Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov says the
signing of the NATO-Russian accord is a "great result" and a "victory," as it
shows NATO is assuming certain obligations with respect to Russia, Russian
news agencies reported on 26 May. Luzhkov also argued that the agreement will
help "contain" NATO expansion.

HEAD OF U.S.A., CANADA INSTITUTE SAYS ACCORD SERVES RUSSIA'S INTERESTS. Sergei
Rogov, the director of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of the
U.S.A. and Canada, argued in the 27 May issue of Izvestiya that given Russia's
limited financial and military resources, Moscow's decision to sign the
Russia-NATO Founding Act is its only reasonable alternative. Diplomacy is the
art of the possible, Rogov noted, reminding readers that today's Russia has
half the population and only a quarter of the GDP of the former Soviet Union.
Under those circumstances, Moscow can protest against NATO, but that is
unlikely to stop the alliance's planned expansion. Rather than a policy based
on "emotions" that would lead to Russia's "isolation," Rogov said, engagement
in NATO's decision-making process serves Russia's interests and will allow
Moscow to shape European security into the next century.

NEW DEFENSE MINISTER TO USE "UNCONVENTIONAL METHODS" FOR MILITARY REFORM.
Maj.-Gen. Anatolii Shatalov, the press secretary of Defense Minister Igor
Sergeev, says Sergeev is looking for "unconventional methods" of military
reform, Russian news agencies reported on 26 May. Shatalov gave few details
but said Sergeev hopes to consolidate the work of the Defense Ministry,
Security Council, and Defense Council. He did not mention the two new
governmental commissions on military reform that First Deputy Prime Minister
Boris Nemtsov recently said Yeltsin had created (see RFE/RL Newsline, 23 May
1997). Several observers, including Lebed, have speculated that Sergeev will
not last long as defense minister and will ultimately be replaced by Defense
Council Secretary Yurii Baturin, a civilian.

LAWYER SAYS SACKED GENERAL DENIED RIGHT TO ATTORNEY. A lawyer representing
Konstantin Kobets, the sacked Army general and former deputy defense minister,
says Kobets has been unable to see his attorney since his 21 May arrest.
Dmitrii Shteinberg sent a telegram to Procurator-General Yurii Skuratov
complaining that Kobets was being denied his right to defense and that the
case against him was merely a "political stunt," Interfax reported on 26 May.
Kobets is accused of corruption, abuse of office, and illegal possession of
firearms.

YELTSIN SIGNS ACCORDS. Yeltsin on 26 May signed treaties and agreements on
Russian troops' use of bases in Armenia, cooperation between Azeri and Russian
border guards, the transference of citizenship for Russians living in
Kazakstan and Kazaks living in Russia, as well as accords with Venezuela and
Russia, ITAR-TASS reported. He also put his signature to the border agreements
signed by China, Russia, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. Col.-Gen.
Aleksandr Golbakh, the commander of the Far East Border Troops, said the final
demarcation of the Russian-Chinese border will be completed by the end of this
year. However, politicians in the Far East are still resisting the planned
demarcation, claiming it will mean the loss of land vital to Russia's
interests in the area.

YELTSIN REJECTS LAW ON GOVERNMENT. Yeltsin has refused to sign the law on the
government, citing procedural violations in the way it was adopted, ITAR-TASS
reported on 26 May. The law would force the entire cabinet to resign if the
prime minister left office. It was passed by the Federation Council using the
same procedure of written ballots used for the trophy art law, which Yeltsin
rejected last week. The law on the government now goes back to the parliament,
and Yeltsin could still use his veto if the parliament passes the law again.
Also on 26 May, Yeltsin returned the law on terrorism to the Duma, saying some
of its provisions were unconstitutional or contradicted current legislation.
However, the president signed the law outlining how road funds will be
collected and distributed by federal authorities (see RFE/RL Newsline, 15 May
1997).

SHUMEIKO, OUR HOME IS RUSSIA TO FORM NEW UNION. Reforms--New Course leader
Vladimir Shumeiko says his movement and the pro-government bloc Our Home Is
Russia are forming a Union of Progressive Reformist Forces, Russian news
agencies reported on 26 May. Shumeiko described the new union as a "marriage
of convenience and love." He said the groups that join the alliance, which is
expected to include former presidential chief of staff Sergei Filatov's Union
of People's Homes, would nominate common candidates in the next parliamentary
and presidential elections. Shumeiko, a Yeltsin ally, is believed to have
presidential ambitions. He was speaker of the Federation Council from 1994
until January 1996 and further developed contacts with the regional elite by
endorsing candidates in many of last fall's gubernatorial elections.

CHECHEN ROUNDUP. Combined police and army patrols have begun checking
transport and searching buildings in Grozny and other Chechen towns, ITAR-TASS
reported on 26 May. Unofficial Sharia guards have also intensified
anti-alcohol raids. Also on 26 May, Yakub Usmanov, who intends to run for
mayor of Grozny in the 31 May elections, was released two days after being
abducted. His main opponent in the mayoral race will be a comrade-in-arms of
Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov. Meanwhile in Moscow, Security Council
Secretary Ivan Rybkin chaired a meeting of the working group monitoring
compliance with the 12 May economic cooperation agreement signed by Maskhadov
and Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. Efforts to secure the release
of seven journalists abducted in Chechnya in recent months were also discussed
at the meeting, Radio Rossii reported.

BAIKAL SEALS THREATENED BY POLLUTION? Russian environmental activists say
waste water from a cellulose factory on Lake Baikal may be responsible for
poisoning dozens of the lake's indigenous seals. The animals are the world's
only freshwater seals. Russian Public TV on 26 May, showed pictures of around
50 seal carcasses washed up on the lake's southern shore. Ivan Blokov, a
campaign coordinator for Greenpeace, told NTV that the seal bodies showed high
concentrations of doxins. He blamed sewage from the pulp mill as the source of
the pollution. Environmentalists have long pushed for the plant's closure, but
local authorities say shutting the factory down would ruin the local economy.
There have been two previous cases of mass deaths of Baikal seals--in the
1930s and in 1988. Scientists attributed both incidents to an infectious
disease.

YELTSIN REPLACES PRESIDENTIAL REPRESENTATIVE IN PRIMORE. Yeltsin has replaced
Vladimir Ignatenko, his representative in Primorskii Krai, with Federal
Security Service Lt.-Gen. Viktor Kondratov, RFE/RL's correspondent in
Vladivostok reported on 26 May. While the sacked presidential representative
was an old friend of krai Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko, Kondratov is known
for his "cool relations" with the governor. He is charged with monitoring the
activities of federal agencies in the krai. Meanwhile, the local press in
Vladivostok continues to speculate that Nazdratenko may resign or be removed
from office because of this month's energy crisis in Primore. It is unclear
how Nazdratenko could be dismissed, since he won a gubernatorial election in
December 1995.

ST. PETERSBURG COMMUNISTS DIVIDED OVER REFERENDUM. Communist groups in St.
Petersburg are divided over whether a referendum should be held to remove the
city's governor, Vladimir Yakovlev, RFE/RL's correspondent in St. Petersburg
reported on 26 May. The radical Russian Communist Workers' Party and the
Russian Party of Communists led the signature collection campaign and have
already submitted petitions to the city's electoral commission (see RFE/RL
Newsline, 20 May 1997). However, after it emerged that former Mayor Anatolii
Sobchak supports the referendum, activists from the Workers' Russia movement
asked to withdraw their signatures. Nina Andreeva, under whose name a famous
letter defending Stalinism was published in 1988, told RFE/RL that her
Communist Party of Bolsheviks was also against the referendum. She said it was
"unprincipled" and "senseless" to try to remove Yakovlev from office, given
that his successor would likely carry out the same policies.

YASIN, KOVALEV HOSPITALIZED. Minister without portfolio Yevgenii Yasin, who
deals with economic matters, has been hospitalized, Reuters reported on 26
May. Yasin was scheduled to address a bankers' conference the same day but did
not appear. Bankers at the conference said they were informed Yasin had heart
problems. Government sources told Interfax that Yasin had checked into Central
Clinical Hospital for a routine examination. Meanwhile, Interfax reported on
26 May that renowned human rights activist Sergei Kovalev had a successful
heart bypass operation last week in Germany. Kovalev suffered a heart attack
last July and had an angioplasty in the U.S. last September.

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

CIS COUNTRIES MEET TO DISCUSS AFGHANISTAN. Representatives of nine CIS states
meet in Moscow today to suggest options should the problems in Afghanistan
spill across the border into the CIS, AFP reported. All countries represented
signed the CIS collective security pact, which calls for concerted actions if
one member comes under attack. The countries represented at today's meeting
are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia,
Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Border force commander Gen. Andrei Nikolayev said
on 26 May that forces along the border with Afghanistan are sufficient to
repel any attack by Taliban forces. In related news, Saudi Arabia on 26 May,
became the second country to recognize the Taliban government (see "End Note"
below).

TAJIK AGREEMENT INITIALED... Representatives of the Tajik government and
United Tajik Opposition, meeting in Tehran on 26 May, initialed a protocol for
implementing the accord on peace and national reconciliation agreed to in
August 1995, Russian press reported. The protocol is scheduled to be signed in
the Iranian capital on 28 May. Afterward, the work of the reconciliation
council will begin. The council is charged with amending the Tajik
Constitution so that new elections can be held next year.

...BUT OPPOSITION ACCUSES, ADVISES GOVERNMENT. The United Tajik Opposition has
released a statement on the recent arrests of demonstrators in the northern
Tajik city of Khojand. The statement, sent to Interfax on 25 May, claims that
the Tajik government is using the 30 April assassination attempt against
President Imomali Rakhmonov as grounds for persecuting those involved in the
1996-97 demonstrations in Khojand, particularly members of the UTO and
National Revival Movement. The brother of Abdumalik Abdullajonov, the National
Revival Movement's leader, was arrested on 23 May. In a second UTO statement,
released on 26 May and obtained by RFE/RL's Tajik service, the Tajik
government is urged to remember there are still many Tajik refugees living in
camps in northern Afghanistan. Provocative action on the part of Dushanbe
toward the Taliban could lead to the worsening of conditions for those
refugees, the statement warned.

UN COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES IN CENTRAL ASIA. Sadato Ogata, the UN High
Commissioner for Refugees, is touring the CIS Central Asian states, according
to ITAR-TASS. Ogata's first stop was Kazakstan, where she said the situation
was not particularly alarming for the UNHCR. From Almaty, Ogata travels to
Kyrgyzstan, where there are currently an estimated 40,000-45,000 refugees from
Tajikistan. Kyrgyz border guards are preparing for more refugees in the wake
of the Taliban's taking control of the northern regions of Afghanistan, near
the Tajik border. Ogata is scheduled to visit Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and
Turkmenistan on her 10-day tour of the region.

GEORGIA CELEBRATES INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY. Some 4,000 troops from all
branches of the armed forces and power ministries--escorted by 100 tanks,
seven warplanes, and five military helicopters--participated in a parade in
central Tbilisi on 26 May to mark the anniversary of the formation of the
first independent Georgian Republic in 1918, Russian and western agencies
reported. In a clear warning to the leadership of the breakaway Abkhaz
republic, Defense Minister Vardiko Nadibaidze, according to Reuters, told
troops that their first obligation was to restore the country's territorial
integrity, by force if necessary. President Eduard Shevardnadze affirmed that
the only acceptable solution to the Abkhaz conflict is by peaceful means. One
person was hospitalized after police intervened to break up an unsanctioned
demonstration by several dozen supporters of deceased President Zviad
Gamsakhurdia, BS-press reported.

ABKHAZ PRESIDENT DENIES IMPOSING STATE OF EMERGENCY. Vladislav Ardzinba told
journalists on 26 May that Russian media reports of a state of emergency
throughout the region to prevent clan warfare were untrue, ITAR-TASS reported
(see RFE/RL Newsline, 26 May 1997). Ardzinba said that "the situation in
Abkhazia is now calm as never before." The news agency reported on 25 May that
a curfew had been introduced.

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT DELEGATION IN ARMENIA. A Ukrainian parliament delegation
headed by speaker Aleksandr Moroz arrived in Yerevan on 26 May on a two-day
visit, Armenian agencies reported. Addressing the Armenian National Assembly,
Moroz said that a "certain stagnation" in bilateral relations has been
overcome and that Ukraine is ready to maximize the potential for cooperation
between the two countries, especially in the economic sphere. In an allusion
to Armenian perceptions that the emerging Baku-Tbilisi-Kyiv axis could pose a
threat to Armenia, Moroz said Ukraine rejects the concept of a "friendship
with somebody aimed against a third party" and affirmed that Ukraine is ready
to discuss any draft agreement proposed by Armenia, according to ITAR-TASS.
Ukraine's ambassador in Yerevan, Aleksandr Bozhko, told Respublika Armeniya
that bilateral trade in 1996 more than doubled to reach $30 million.

END NOTE

Taliban Take Control in Afghanistan

by Bruce Pannier

        Less than a week after one of Abdul Rashid Dostum's commanders staged a
revolt, the general's headquarters were overrun by both the mutineers and the
Taliban. Gen. Dostum has fled to Turkey, and other forces in the anti-Taliban
coalition are under attack or perhaps already defeated. It seems that the
Taliban are now in control of 80-90% of the country. Reactions from
Afghanistan's neighbors have ranged from alarm to unconcern.
        Abdul Malik launched a revolt in Faryab Province on 17 May. As it spread
  and
Dostum turned his troops on the mutineers, the Taliban began their own
offensive. By 24 May, Dostum had returned from the battlefield to his
headquarters in Mazar-i-Sharif to consult with his military commanders. He
then left in a jeep convoy, possibly because he feared the skies were not safe
following defections within his own air force. Dostum and some of his family
members reached the border with Uzbekistan around midnight and were in Ankara,
Turkey, by 7:00 a.m. on 25 May. By then, Mazar-i-Sharif had been under Taliban
control for several hours and Dostum's four northern provinces had been
overrun. Taliban forces were heading east to take the last pockets of
resistance.
        Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov had warned on 24 May that any
incursion by Taliban forces into CIS territory would activate the "mechanism
of the CIS Collective Security Treaty." He added that Russia would provide
"very tough and effective actions." Closer to Afghanistan, Tajik President
Imomali Rakhmonov called an emergency session of the country's border guard
command, the Defense and Security Ministries, and the Security Council.
Uzbekistan announced it was reinforcing its border with Afghanistan, and
traffic crossing the border from the Afghan side was briefly halted.
Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan are now bracing for waves of refugees.
Turkmenistan, which has bordered Taliban-controlled territories for some time,
said it "did not expect any complications." It also stressed it has not signed
any CIS military agreements.
        On 25 May, Pakistan became the first country to recognize the Taliban as
  the
legitimate government of Afghanistan. Islamabad called on other nations to do
the same. Saudi Arabia responded to that call the next day. Iran, however,
declined to do so, saying it would wait until the UN passed judgment.
        Initial reports from Mazar-i-Sharif indicate little change. The bulk of
 the
occupying forces are troops under Malik, who had already announced the arrival
of more Taliban forces and the imposition of the Taliban's strict version of
Shariat Islamic law. The Russian and Turkish consulates in Mazar-i-Sharif have
been evacuated, but the UN refugee program headquarters, though ransacked,
continue to function.
        Radio broadcasts from Islamabad claim former Afghan President Burhanuddi
 n
Rabbani has fled to either Tajikistan or Iran. They also report that several
more of the anti-Taliban coalition commanders have gone over to the Taliban
and are urging Ahmed Shah Masoud, Rabbani's military chief and the last major
leader to hold out against the Taliban, to do the same. Taliban forces are
reported to be advancing into the eastern provinces and the central Bamiyan
Province, the last areas to have evaded Taliban control.
        The Taliban would like to have Masoud join their cause voluntarily for
several reasons. First, he has been a capable and well-known commander in
Afghanistan since the Soviet occupation. Second, unlike Dostum--whom they
refer to as a communist, pointing to his ties to Moscow during and after the
Soviet occupation--Masoud fought against Soviet occupying forces. And, perhaps
most significant, he is an ethnic Tajik. Until now, the reason most often
given by countries for not recognizing the Taliban, who are mostly ethnic
Pushtuns, as the legitimate government is the lack of representatives of other
ethnic groups. When Pakistan recognized the Taliban government, it pointed out
that the movement now "genuinely comprises various ethnic groups in
Afghanistan," which may have been a reference to Malik's ethnic Uzbek origins.
An alliance with Masoud might go far to bringing Afghanistan's 6 million or so
Tajiks under Taliban control without bloodshed.
        The Taliban's capture of the northern provinces came as suddenly as thei
 r
seizing control over Kabul last September. Before Malik's mutiny, it had
appeared that a long bloody campaign would last at least through the summer.
How control will be maintained in the northern provinces is now a major
question. The Taliban, who are mainly ethnic Pushtuns, now find themselves in
areas where few Pushtuns live. The majority peoples in the north are Tajiks,
Uzbeks, and other ethnic groups, all of which have potentially sympathetic CIS
states close at hand. Tajikistan, for example, has already expressed interest
in the conditions of Tajik refugees who are now living on Taliban territory.
        Moreover, the peoples of the northern provinces are generally better edu
 cated
than those in the south. The Taliban will likely take a different course in
ruling there than they have in the south--possibly more liberal or, perhaps,
much more authoritarian.


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