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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol 1, No. 51, Part I, 12 June 1997


Vol 1, No. 51, Part I, 12 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

* DUMA PASSES LAND CODE


* NEMTSOV SIGNS AGREEMENT WITH PRIMORE AUTHORITIES ON ENERGY POLICY


* ARMENIAN PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER TENDERS RESIGNATION


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RUSSIA

DUMA PASSES LAND CODE. The State Duma has passed a draft land code by a vote
of 285 to 10 with six abstentions, Russian news agencies reported on 11 June.
An earlier version was passed by the Duma in May 1996 but rejected by the
Federation Council the following month. The revised code would allow
individuals or legal entities to own or lease land that previously belonged to
municipalities. Former members of state or collective farms could own or lease
farmland, but its purchase and sale would still be prohibited. The code also
would not allow foreigners to buy land, although foreigners could lease land
for a maximum of 50 years. Also on 11 June, the Duma passed in the second
reading a draft law on mortgages, which would not allow mortgages on land that
is currently state or municipal property.

DUMA TO CREATE COMMISSION TO EXAMINE BUDGET CUTS. The Duma voted by 259 to 70
with four abstentions to create a commission to examine the government's
proposed 1997 spending cuts and announce its conclusions by 18 June, RFE/RL's
Moscow bureau reported on 11 June. The same day, the Duma voted down a
proposal calling for an additional monetary emission of 330 trillion rubles
($57 billion), which was backed by Duma Security Committee Chairman and
Communist Viktor Ilyukhin. The Duma also rejected a draft law supported by
Budget Committee Deputy Chairman Aleksandr Zhukov of the Russian Regions
faction. Zhukov's proposal would have given the government the right to impose
cuts in non-essential spending without parliamentary approval, provided that
the cuts were applied proportionally in all areas. First Deputy Prime Minister
Anatolii Chubais did not attend the Duma session, but, speaking to reporters,
he praised the Duma for rejecting Ilyukhin's proposal.

SEQUESTER ALREADY BEING IMPLEMENTED. The government has not waited for Duma
approval before implementing its proposed budget cuts. First Deputy Finance
Minister Vladimir Petrov announced on 11 June that expenditures for June
conform to the figures outlined in the draft law on the budget sequester,
ITAR-TASS reported.

DUMA ADOPTS RESOLUTION CONDEMNING PRIVATIZATION RESULTS. The Duma has passed a
final version of a resolution condemning the results of Russian privatization
policy as unsatisfactory, Russian news agencies reported on 11 June. The
resolution calls on the government to file lawsuits to cancel privatization
auctions carried out "in violation of Russian legislation." It also demands
that the government draw up a list of "strategic property" that cannot be
privatized and provide annual reports to the parliament on the previous year's
privatization results. The resolution was inspired by a highly critical report
recently issued by the chairman of a special Duma commission on privatization
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 June 1997).

FEDERATION COUNCIL CONFIRMS CONSTITUTIONAL COURT JUDGE. After twice rejecting
presidential nominees to the Constitutional Court in recent months, the
Federation Council voted by 104 to 10 to approve Lyudmila Zharkova to fill a
vacancy on the 19-member court, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported on 11 June.
Zharkova, a little-known judge from the Constitutional Court of the Republic
of Karelia, will be the third woman on Russia's Constitutional Court. The
presidential press service announced her nomination only one day before the
Council vote. RFE/RL's legal affairs analyst Leonid Nikitinskii commented that
Zharkova's confirmation follows a pattern: the less that is known about a
presidential nominee for a judicial post, the more likely the Federation
Council is to approve that nominee. Also on 11 June, the Council confirmed
four judges President Boris Yeltsin had nominated for Russia's Supreme Court,
ITAR-TASS reported.

FEDERATION COUNCIL REJECTS LAW TO PROTECT RED SQUARE. The Federation Council
on 11 June rejected a law that would ban reconstruction and new construction
on Moscow's Red Square, Russian news agencies reported. ITAR-TASS said only 26
deputies supported the measure, which would grant Red Square the status of a
national cultural heritage. The agency did not report how many deputies voted
against the law, which now goes to a conciliatory commission. Meanwhile,
Yeltsin on 11 June again advocated removing Vladimir Lenin's body from the
mausoleum on Red Square. The Communist opposition strongly opposes such plans.

NEMTSOV SIGNS AGREEMENT WITH PRIMORE AUTHORITIES ON ENERGY POLICY... First
Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov on 11 June signed an agreement with
Primorskii Krai Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko outlining the responsibilities
of federal and krai authorities in energy policy, RFE/RL's correspondent in
Vladivostok reported the next day. In line with recommendations of a federal
government commission, electricity rates for local residents will be raised.
Nemtsov warned local officials against encouraging residents not to pay the
higher charges, according to Reuters. Nemtsov also suggested that both
Nazdratenko and his longtime enemy, Vladivostok Mayor Viktor Cherepkov, should
step down, saying that their political rivalry has damaged the krai, ITAR-TASS
reported. Meanwhile, First Deputy Prime Minister Chubais told journalists in
Moscow that Nazdratenko bears "personal responsibility" for the problems that
have afflicted Primore.

...PROMISES TO HELP TRANS-SIBERIAN RAILROAD. Nemtsov on 11 June promised to
introduce a series of measures to encourage foreign companies to ship cargo on
the Trans-Siberian Railroad, RFE/RL's correspondent in Vladivostok reported.
Speaking in the Primorskii Krai port of Nahodka, where the railroad begins its
westward run, Nemtsov said he hopes reduced tariffs and taxes, as well as a
simplification of the customs and border procedures, will make the railroad
more commercially viable. The head of Nahodka's port, Gennadii Zhebelev, said
a drop in freight traffic on the Trans-Siberian is costing Russia $800 million
a year, ITAR-TASS reported on 11 June. Zhebelev added that the railroad
carried only 20,000 cargo containers to Western Europe in 1996, down from
140,000 in 1981.

TWO MORE JOURNALISTS ABDUCTED IN CHECHNYA. Two journalists from the Russian TV
production company VID were kidnapped in Grozny on 11 June, Russian and
Western agencies reported. Chief of staff of the Chechen security service
Lecha Khultygov said one of the two men, Ilyas Bogatyrev, was implicated in
earlier kidnappings of journalists, according to RFE/RL's correspondent in
Grozny. On 10 June, the imam of a Grozny mosque was shot dead in what Chechen
security officials called a "spontaneous quarrel" rather than a clash between
representatives of rival sects, Reuters reported. The imam's relatives
apprehended and shot the murderer.

AGAPOV SLAMS RUSSIA'S NORTH CAUCASUS POLICY. In an interview with Interfax on
11 June, newly appointed Russian Security Council Deputy Secretary Boris
Agapov said the federal authorities' failure to expedite the repatriation of
some 40,000 ethnic Ingush expelled from North Ossetia's Prigorodnyi Raion in
1992 was "offensive" to both the Ingush and Ossetian peoples. Agapov warned
that the conflict between North Ossetia and Ingushetia is "on hold rather than
resolved and an explosion may occur sooner or later." Agapov said that the
creation of an "Organization for Security and Cooperation in the Caucasus,"
proposed by Chechen representatives at a meeting of North Caucasus leaders in
Kislovodsk on 31 May, similarly demonstrates Russia's failure to play an
adequate role in the North Caucasus.

YELTSIN COURTS LOCAL LEADERS BY TELEPHONE. Yeltsin on 11 June spoke by
telephone with Vladimir Yelshin, the head of a raion in Kostroma Oblast,
ITAR-TASS reported, citing the presidential press service. Yeltsin reportedly
promised to think about ways to solve the problems in Yelshin's raion,
including wage arrears to state employees totaling some 5 billion rubles.
While chairing the first session of the Council on Local Self-Government on 10
June, Yeltsin promised to "turn the Kremlin's head toward local
administrations and local self-government," ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin
created the council in late May. On 9 June, he had spoken by telephone with
the mayor of Chelyabinsk and promised to grant a two-year tax exemption to the
Chelyabinsk Tractor Factory.

PARLIAMENT TO ESTABLISH OWN NEWSPAPER. The Federation Council has decided to
establish an official newspaper of the Russian parliament, ITAR-TASS reported
on 11 June. A working group of deputies from the Council and the Duma have
drafted plans for the daily newspaper. One of its primary goals will be to
advance "the formation of objective public opinion on the work of the
legislative branch." Newspapers sympathetic to Yeltsin frequently portray the
parliament, especially the Duma, in an unflattering light. The parliament has
been without an official publication since October 1993, when Yeltsin forcibly
disbanded the Supreme Soviet and "Rossiiskaya gazeta"--at the time the
parliamentary newspaper--became an official government publication.

GOVERNMENT TO SHUT DOWN STATE-FUNDED MAGAZINE. The government has decided to
shut down the monthly magazine "Rossiiskaya Federatsiya," citing revenue
shortfalls and the need to reduce 1997 budget spending, ITAR-TASS reported on
10 June. The magazine's editor, Yurii Khrenov, was fired in May. At the time,
First Deputy Prime Minister Chubais said Khrenov's dismissal had "nothing to
do with freedom of the press." But he commented that "it is impossible to
understand...a person who receives a salary from the government criticizing
[the executive] in his publication," RIA-Novosti reported on 23 May.

NEW DATA INDICATE CONTINUING ECONOMIC DECLINE. New data released by the State
Statistics Committee indicate that Russian GDP declined by 0.2% in the first
five months of 1997 compared with the same period last year, Interfax and
ITAR-TASS reported on 11 June. Earlier this year, the committee said the
Russian economy had begun to grow, but critics charged that accounting tricks
produced the optimistic figures. The government recently revised its earlier
positive economic forecast for the year and said a decrease in GDP of up to 2%
was now expected (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 April and 4 June 1997).

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER TENDERS RESIGNATION. Babken Ararktsyan offered
his resignation on 11 June after his proposed draft law on military
conscription received only 55 votes, Reuters and Armenian agencies reported.
Ararktsyan's law retained deferment for students. Deputies voted instead to
consider an alternative draft law drawn up by Defense Minister Vazgen Sargsian
after President Levon Ter-Petrossyan proposed that its provision on abolishing
deferment for students go into effect only next year. Ararktsyan said he was
resigning because the Defense Ministry had exerted "brutal" pressure on
deputies to vote for Sargsian's draft, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The
parliament voted by 131 votes to 11 not to accept Ararktsyan's resignation.
Also on 11 June, Prime Minister Robert Kocharyan dismissed rumors that
Ter-Petrossyan is to receive medical treatment abroad, saying "as far as I
know, the president is in good health," Noyan Tapan reported.

GEORGIAN, ABKHAZ REPRESENTATIVES MEET IN MOSCOW. Georgian Ambassador to Russia
Vazha Lortkipanidze and an Abkhaz delegation that included President Vladislav
Ardzinba met in Moscow on 11 June to discuss a peace settlement, Interfax
reported. Ardzinba told journalists later that a number of bilateral
Abkhaz-Georgian agreements, including one on repairing the Inguri
hydro-electric power station, are currently being drawn up. Col.-Gen. Andrei
Nikolaev, the head of the Russian Federal Border Service, told Interfax on 11
June that an eventual withdrawal from Abkhazia of the CIS peacekeeping force
deployed there will not affect the Russian border troops stationed on the
frontier between Abkhazia and Russia.

UTO GIVES ITS VERSION OF RECENT BORDER INCIDENT. Ali Akbar Turajonzoda, the
deputy leader of the United Tajik Opposition, has refuted accounts by Russian
border guards of violence that reportedly broke out along the Tajik-Afghan
border. Various media sources reported that 30 fighters were killed when a
group of 80-100 armed men tried to force their way past Russian border guards
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June 1997). According to some sources, the armed
men were members of the UTO. But in an interview with RFE/RL's Tajik service,
Turajonzoda said no UTO fighters have attempted to cross into Tajikistan. He
claimed that, in an act of "pure provocation," Russian border-guard
helicopters and artillery fire were directed at the northern Afghan village of
Nusahir, where UTO fighters have a base. Turajonzoda also questioned why any
UTO fighters would fight their way into Tajikistan when they will be able to
enter the country legally after the 27 June signing of the final treaty with
the Tajik government.

CHINESE DEFENSE MINISTER IN KAZAKSTAN. Chi Haotian, met with his Kazak
counterpart, Mukkhtar Altynbayev, in Almaty on 11 June, and discussed
expanding military ties, ITAR-TASS reported. Chi said after the meeting that
China will offer boats to Kazakstan for patrolling the Caspian Sea and that
some Kazak officers will learn Chinese to facilitate future exchanges and
negotiations. Chi is also scheduled to meet with Kazak President Nursultan
Nazarbayev. His visit is expected to accelerate the implementation of the
troop reduction treaty that Kazakstan signed with China in late April.

URANIUM SHIPMENT IMPOUNDED IN KAZAKSTAN. Two freight cars carrying 60 tons of
raw uranium have been impounded by Kazak customs officials, ITAR-TASS reported
on 11 June. Customs officers in Aktyubinsk halted the shipment when the proper
documentation could not be found for the uranium. It was later discovered that
the uranium originated from the Karabaltinskii ore-processing factory in
Kyrgyzstan and was sold to the U.S.-based Allies Signal company through the
mediation of Russia's Izotop company. The Kyrgyz supplier of the uranium
claims it did not know the rules for transporting uranium through Kazakstan.
In addition, radiation levels were above admissible norms. The cargo is
nonetheless expected to continue after correct documentation has been
obtained.

IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN KYRGYZSTAN. Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev met with
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati on 11 June and said he is pleased
with his country's relations with Iran, according to RFE/RL correspondents.
Akayev noted that trade between the countries was $3.9 million in the first
quarter of 1997 and is steadily increasing. An Iranian consulate will soon
open in Kyrgyzstan's second-largest city, Osh, while a Kyrgyz consulate will
begin operations in Meshhed, Iran. Velayati praised Akayev and Kyrgyzstan for
the role played in the Tajik peace process and said he hoped Kyrgyzstan would
send a representative to the 27 June signing in Moscow of the final Tajik
peace treaty.



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                     All rights reserved.
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RFE/RL NEWSLINE
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. 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

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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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                     All rights reserved.
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