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Vol 1, No. 44, Part I, 4 June 1997
Vol 1, No. 44, Part I, 4 June 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 * OFFICIALS PRESS FOR DUMA TO PASS TAX CODE * NEW TWIST IN RUSSIAN-JAPANESE RELATIONS * ANOTHER RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPER KILLED IN ABKHAZIA End Note : The Revival of Fascism xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx RUSSIA OFFICIALS PRESS FOR DUMA TO PASS TAX CODE. President Boris Yeltsin has urged the State Duma to pass the new draft Tax Code in its first reading before the Duma's summer recess begins in late June, Interfax reported on 3 June, citing presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii. First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais told Kommersant-Daily the same day that Russia's economy will be set back by a year and a half and the draft 1998 budget ruined if deputies fail to pass the code. Although failure to pass the either the code or the 1998 budget would not in itself give Yeltsin grounds to disband the Duma, the comments by Yeltsin and Chubais have fueled speculation that the president may be seeking early parliamentary elections. Meanwhile, Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev said the Duma will consider legislation according to its own schedule. He added that "we're not the fire brigade," RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. WOULD GOVERNMENT BENEFIT FROM EARLY ELECTIONS? Although some Yeltsin supporters argue that new parliamentary elections would diminish the influence of the opposition, others say that, given Russia's current economic conditions, early elections would improve the opposition's standing in the lower house of parliament. Duma deputy Vladimir Ryzhkov of the pro-government Our Home Is Russia faction warned against dissolving the Duma, Russian news agencies reported on 3 June. He argued that the opposition Socialists in France soundly defeated the governing party after French President Jacques Chirac called early parliamentary elections. Ryzhkov also noted that Communist candidate Nikolai Kolomeitsev won twice as many votes as former Labor Minister Gennadii Melikyan in a 1 June by-election for a Duma seat in Rostov. Similarly, Duma Speaker Seleznev, a Communist, commented on 3 June that Yeltsin's advisers should consider Chirac's mistakes before moving to disband the Duma. GOVERNMENT SUBMITS TO DUMA MEASURES TO INCREASE REVENUES... The government has submitted proposals for collecting some 34 trillion rubles ($5.9 billion) in additional revenues this year, Russian news agencies reported on 3 June. The measures include plans to bring in 4 trillion rubles by cutting aid to enterprises that owe taxes, 3.5 trillion rubles by limiting access to export pipelines to oil companies that owe no money to the federal budget, 5 trillion rubles by selling state-owned shares in some enterprises, and 8 trillion rubles through changing customs regulations. The government has proposed spending cuts of 108 trillion rubles from the 1997 budget, but the Duma postponed discussion of the proposed cuts pending government proposals on collecting more revenues. The Duma is scheduled to consider the budget reductions on 11 June. ...AND NEW GROWTH FORECAST. Also on 3 June, the government submitted to the Duma a revised forecast for Russia's economic performance in 1997. The government now predicts that GDP will be between 2,550 trillion and 2,600 trillion rubles ($450 billion) in 1997--zero growth at best and a 2% decline from 1996 levels at worst. Earlier this year, the government had predicted GDP growth of up to 2% in 1997. Meanwhile, the Financial Times on 3 June cited a new forecast by analysts of the Chase Manhattan Bank, who predict that Russia's GDP will increase by up to 5.4% this year, mostly due to the growing "shadow economy." YELTSIN TELLS LUZHKOV NOT TO "QUARREL" WITH GOVERNMENT. President Boris Yeltsin has told Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov not to "quarrel with the government," Russian news agencies reported on 3 June. During a meeting with Luzhkov, Yeltsin also expressed his disagreement with the mayor's statements on Sevastopol, where the Black Sea Fleet is based. Luzhkov has repeatedly claimed that the Crimean port is a Russian city. Luzhkov reportedly told Yeltsin that he has no fundamental objections to government policy, except over housing reform. The mayor recently accused the federal government of imposing an "economic blockade" on Moscow and of "spitting on" a festival planned to mark Moscow's 850th anniversary (see RFE/RL Newsline, 28 May 1997). MOSCOW GOVERNMENT APPROVES HOUSING REFORM PLAN. Moscow residents whose apartments are larger than limits defined by the city will have to pay more in rent and municipal services for the extra space beginning on 1 July. According to a reform program approved on 3 June by the Moscow city government, the higher charges will apply to Muscovites whose apartments are larger than 30 square meters per family member, ITAR-TASS reported. Under the reform plans, costs for rent and municipal services will be shifted to city residents in full by the year 2006, although subsidies will be provided if these costs amount to more than 25% of a family's income. Under the federal government's planned housing reform, costs for rent and municipal services would be fully shifted to the population by the year 2003. YELTSIN HAPPY WITH FOREIGN POLICY RESULTS. In a partly-televised meeting with First Deputy Prime Minister Chubais, Yeltsin hailed the government's achievements during the first five months of the year, especially in foreign policy, Russian news agencies reported on 3 June. Yeltsin noted that in May, Russia signed agreements or treaties with Chechnya, Belarus, Ukraine and NATO. He told Chubais that the government's next important task is paying pension arrears and other debts to Russian citizens. Government officials have repeatedly pledged that all back pensions will be paid by 1 July. MORE RUSSIAN-CHECHEN ECONOMIC TALKS. A Chechen government delegation headed by First Deputy Prime Minister Movladi Udugov held talks in Moscow on 3 June with Russian First Deputy Premier Anatolii Chubais and Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin, Russian and Western agencies reported. The talks focused on implementing several points of a 12 May economic agreement that deal with a draft customs accord, banking, and the transit through Chechnya of Azerbaijan's Caspian oil. Interfax reported that Russia and Chechnya have not yet agreed on the tariff for transporting Caspian oil via Chechen territory, but NTV quoted Udugov as saying that the talks were "productive and successful." NEW TWIST IN RUSSIAN-JAPANESE RELATIONS. Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov has said the issue of the Kuril Islands will not be on the agenda when he visits Japan on 9-11 June, Interfax reported on 3 June. Nemtsov said that talks will focus on economic cooperation, adding that the Kuril problem is "an issue for the Russian tsar," meaning Yeltsin. Russia's expected admission to the Group of Seven leading industrial nations is almost certain to be discussed. But Japanese Deputy Foreign Minister Kadzuo Ogura said on 4 June that Russia must show "not only a political but also an economic contribution to world affairs," ITAR-TASS reported. He commented that Russia places more emphasis on relations with Europe and the U.S. than with Asia. He added that if Russia is admitted to the G-7, Japan will propose China as a candidate for entry as China's foreign trade is twice that of Russia. RUSSIAN-MONGOLIAN MILITARY COOPERATION. A Russian Security Council delegation led by the council's deputy secretary, Leonid Mayorov, has agreed to strengthen ties with Mongolia, ITAR-TASS reported. The Russian delegation is on a five-day visit to Mongolia to improve cooperation between the security structures and regular armies of the two countries. Mayorov said that although there is currently no apparent military threat against either country, it is prudent to reach agreement on cooperative action should the situation in the region change. RUMORS OF IMPENDING TULEEV DISMISSAL. CIS Affairs Minister Aman Tuleev told Interfax on 3 June that a decree on his dismissal is on the president's desk, although he does not know whether Yeltsin has signed it. Tuleev did not accompany Yeltsin on his recent trip to Ukraine and criticized the agreement on dividing the Black Sea Fleet. Kazak President Nursultan Nazarbayev called for Tuleev's dismissal after Tuleev criticized the treatment of ethnic Russians in Kazakstan. Kommersant-Daily argued on 3 June that Tuleev has damaged Russia's relations with leaders of all CIS countries except Belarus. Appointed last August, Tuleev is the cabinet minister with the closest ties to the opposition. He supported Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov's presidential bid last year and is a leading figure in the Communist-led Popular-Patriotic Union of Russia. NOVOSIBIRSK GOVERNOR CRITICIZES PROPOSED TAX CODE. Vitalii Mukha says that while the proposed new Tax Code has many merits, its terms do not fully take into account regional interests, ITAR-TASS reported on 3 June. Mukha praised efforts to lower tax rates and simplify the tax system by reducing the overall number of taxes. However, he criticized a provision that would allow the federal government to collect all value-added tax revenues. Mukha said he and other Siberian leaders had expressed their concerns about the new Tax Code to First Deputy Prime Minister Chubais at a May meeting of the Siberian Accord association. Yeltsin spoke with Mukha by telephone on 3 June, but no details of their conversation were released. Presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii said Yeltsin will have more frequent conversations with regional leaders in the future. BANKRUPTCY OFFICIAL RELEASED PENDING TRIAL. A Moscow municipal court ordered on 3 June that Petr Karpov, deputy director of the Federal Bankruptcy Administration, be released from pre-trial detention, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. The charges against Karpov have not been dropped, and he had to sign a pledge not to leave Moscow. Karpov is accused of taking a 5 million ruble ($870) bribe in 1994, but many observers believe the case against him is driven by wider political or financial motives (see RFE/RL Newsline, 12 and 30 May 1997). In an interview with RFE/RL shortly after his release, Karpov said that he plans to return to work and denounced the charges against him as fabricated. IZVESTIYA SIGNS CHARTER WITH SHAREHOLDERS. The editorial board of Izvestiya has signed a charter with the paper's two major shareholders, the oil company LUKoil and Oneksimbank. The document, published in Izvestiya on 4 June, promises readers that the paper's editorial policy will be determined by its journalists "without any outside influence." The journalists also promised to ensure that Izvestiya's objectivity is not tainted by any "conflict of interests" or "corporate goals." The editor-in-chief will be nominated by journalists but must be confirmed by the paper's board of directors. Journalists are outnumbered by representatives of the shareholders on that board. The charter is aimed at settling the acrimonious dispute between Izvestiya's editorial board and LUKoil (see RFE/RL Newsline, 15 and 23 April, 16 May 1997). TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA ANOTHER RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPER KILLED IN ABKHAZIA. One Russian officer was killed and two servicemen injured on 2 June when their armored vehicle hit a mine in Georgia's Gali Raion, Russian and Western agencies reported. Abkhaz Security Minister Astamur Tarba blamed the incident on Georgian saboteurs. An unnamed Russian Defense Ministry official told Interfax on 3 June that his ministry is already making plans for the withdrawal of the peacekeeping force when its mandate expires on 31 July. The Georgian parliament has demanded its withdrawal after that date if the peacekeepers' mandate is not broadened to redeploy them throughout Gali Raion. Nezavisimaya gazeta on 4 June quoted Georgian Interior Minister Kakha Targamadze as saying that after the peacekeepers' withdrawal, Georgian and Abkhaz police could maintain order in Gali and protect ethnic Georgian repatriates from reprisals by Abkhaz militants. MORE DETAILS ON NEW KARABAKH PROPOSALS. The new plan for a settlement of the Karabakh conflict is based on several compromises, according to Asbarez-on-line of 3 June. Armenian forces must be withdrawn from seven Azerbaijani raions beyond the internal borders of Karabakh (including Lachin) and from the Karabakh town of Shusha. OSCE peacekeeping forces from the U.S., Russia, and Europe will be deployed in those raions, oversee the repatriation of displaced persons, and ensure road communications through the Lachin corridor, which links Karabakh with Armenia. Baku and Stepanakert will begin negotiations on the future status of Nagorno-Karabakh, which will be allowed to keep its well-trained armed forces until agreement is reached on its status. The Karabakh army will then be downsized to a military police force. However, an inventory will be made of Karabakh's armaments, which are to be considered part of Armenia's CFE quota. LEZGINS CLAIM AZERBAIJAN IS PERSECUTING ETHNIC MINORITIES. The Russian State Duma's Committee on Nationality Affairs has recently held hearings on the plight of the Lezgins, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 3 June. The Lezgins are a Caucasian ethnic group whose traditional homeland straddles the frontier between the Russian Federation and Azerbaijan. Shamil Murtuzaliev, chairman of the Union of Muslims of South Dagestan, claims that the Azerbaijani leadership has launched a harsh campaign of repression against the 1.2 million Lezgins in Azerbaijan and other ethnic minorities, including the Avars and Kurds. He also claims that Baku has banned the Lezgin National Movement, Sadval. Azerbaijan's Lezgins are lobbying for the transfer of the raions where they live to Russia and for dual (Azerbaijani and Russian) citizenship to facilitate communication within families whose members live on either side of the frontier. SIGNING OF TAJIK PEACE AGREEMENT POSTPONED. The signing of the final agreement between the Tajik government and United Tajik Opposition, scheduled to take place on 13 June in Moscow, has been postponed for "organizational and technical reasons," according to Interfax on 3 June. RFE/RL correspondents in Tajikistan say the reason for the delay is the opposition's insistence that prisoner exchanges begin prior to the signing ceremony. The official signing is to take place after 20 June. DEMONSTRATORS BEATEN IN BISHKEK. Four people taking part in a demonstration in the central square of Bishkek were beaten in the early hours of 4 June by members of the Kyrgyz militia, according to RFE/RL correspondents in the capital city. One of the four had to be hospitalized. They had taken part in a demonstration outside the government building the previous day to protest a 23 May court decision to imprison two journalists and bar two others from practicing journalism for 18 months (see RFE/RL Newsline, 26 May and 3 June 1997). The four demonstrators had remained in the square after beginning a hunger strike. They were beaten by militiamen when they refused to leave. END NOTE The Revival of Fascism by James Hooper The revival of fascism is a greater threat than most observers realize. In its various guises--ultra-nationalism, neo-fascism, post-fascism, proto fascism, or some other form -- it now endangers democracy in many countries. Unless recognized and checked in time, the rise of fascism will undermine hopes for democratic expansion and improved security in the post-Cold War international order. Extreme nationalist parties have scored unprecedented post-war success in Western Europe. Some have attracted broader constituencies through sophisticated propaganda that downplays their extreme nationalist roots and exploits mainstream concerns about immigration and corruption. But the goal shared by all European extreme nationalist leaders is political legitimization as responsible, democratic politicians. The public-policy issue for the U.S. is to determine the standard to be met by such leaders before deciding whether to accept them as legitimate democratic partners. The Balkans provide a grim reminder that the hard-knuckled fascism of the 1990s can induce political psychosis in societies where it takes hold and historical amnesia in leaders who have the capacity and responsibility to resist it. Serbian President Milosevic used classic fascist means to define and pursue national aims: dictatorship, aggression, seizure of territory by force, destruction of pluralism and democracy, concentration camps, genocide, and reliance on diplomacy as bluff, gamble, and institutionalized duplicity. By modeling a violent and intolerant style of politics for a new generation of European political activists, he projects the power and discipline the fascist myth can invoke. Russian ultra-nationalists benefit from Serbian fascism. While extreme nationalist groups have not gained executive power in Moscow, they have seized and distorted the democratic political agenda. If fascism moves from agenda setting to office holding, the U.S. and Europe will be faced with a threat more dangerous than Soviet communism. The issue for Western policy-makers is to determine whether concessions to self-professed Russian democrats on important matters of principle and policy contain or embolden the ultra-nationalists. In Asia, Japanese ultra-nationalism is an incipient but containable threat. China is a different matter. As noted in Bernstein and Munro's book The Coming Conflict With China, "early twentieth-century fascism," rather than democracy, is one possible outcome of China's political transition. The inability of China's repressed democrats to play an active role in the transition significantly weakens the democratic cause there and shifts the burden of responsibility to advocates of democracy abroad who have a stake in influencing the outcome. What is to be done? The first step is to recognize that democracy is imperiled when the aim of politics becomes the process of defining enemies, especially when the enemy is pluralism. For example, to forestall additional defections by their own supporters, some otherwise democratic parties have begun to advocate firmer measures to trim the numbers of and social services provided to immigrants and refugees. In this way, the agenda of fascists begins to shift the policies of democrats. The irony of fascism is that its recognized hostility to multiculturalism gives it a genuinely cross-cultural appeal. Fascism is equally accessible to Chinese leaders seeking an integrative nationalist ideology in the waning days of communism, to Hutu leaders pursuing tribal dominance, to Russian and Hindu ultra-nationalists to Iraqi Baathists, to Austrian neo-fascists; and to U.S. militiamen, skinheads, and racists. The most pressing need at the moment is to acknowledge the global nature of the problem and ensure that policy-makers are properly informed about it. This will stimulate debate that takes account of the regional diversity and differing implications of the challenges fascism poses. And from this will come a better perspective for framing practical public-policy decisions that reflect the U.S.'s strategic interests, democratic values, humanitarian concerns, and commercial goals. The author is director of the Program for the Study of Contemporary Fascism and Democracy at the Balkan Institute, Washington D.C. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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