Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most times he will pick himself up and carry on. - Winston Churchill
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol 1, No. 53, Part I, 16 June 1997


Vol 1, No. 53, Part I, 16 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

* YELTSIN ISSUES DECREE ON PENSIONS

* DUMA DEMANDS YELTSIN SIGN LAWS ON TROPHY ART, GOVERNMENT

* MINSK GROUP'S KARABAKH PEACE PROPOSALS REVIEWED

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


RUSSIA

YELTSIN ISSUES DECREE ON PENSIONS. President Boris Yeltsin has issued a
decree, effective 1 January 1998, stipulating that the minimum pension be at
least 80% of the subsistence level for pensioners, Russian news agencies
reported on 14 June. Yeltsin has vetoed several attempts by the State Duma to
raise the subsistence level. In a 15 June interview with RFE/RL's Moscow
bureau, Deputy Presidential Chief of Staff and former Finance Minister
Aleksandr Livshits again said that all debts to pensioners will be paid off by
1 July. Government officials estimated in May that pension arrears total 10.5
trillion rubles ($1.8 billion).

DUMA APPROVES TAX ON FOREIGN-CURRENCY PURCHASES. The Duma has approved an
amendment to the law on fundamental principles of the Russian tax system that
would impose a 0.5% tax on foreign-currency purchases by individuals and
companies, Russian news agencies reported on 13 June. Withdrawals of cash from
foreign-currency bank deposits would not be taxed, nor would foreign-currency
purchases from the Central Bank by commercial banks. Revenues from the tax
would be divided 60:40 between federal and regional budgets. Also on 13 June,
the Duma failed to overturn a presidential veto of another amendment to the
law on principles of the tax system, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. That
amendment would have exempted enterprises from fines for not paying taxes if
they lacked the funds to pay workers' wages.

DUMA PASSES BUDGET CODE IN FIRST READING. The Duma on 13 June unanimously
approved in its first reading the draft budget code, which defines the
procedure for drafting, adopting, and revising the budget, RFE/RL's Moscow
bureau reported. According to Yabloko member Oksana Dmitrieva, who chairs the
Duma's subcommittee on the budget system, the new code would prohibit a
sequester of more than 10% of budget spending, regardless of the size of
revenue shortfalls. The code will not be applied to the 1997 budget and will
be considered in the second reading in late September at the earliest. The
government has proposed cuts in 1997 budget expenditures amounting to some 20%
of planned spending.

DUMA DEMANDS YELTSIN SIGN LAWS ON TROPHY ART, GOVERNMENT. The Duma has
approved an appeal to Yeltsin demanding that he sign the trophy art law and
the law on the government, Russian news agencies reported on 13 June. The
appeal passed by a vote of 351 to one with one abstention. Both the Duma and
the Federation Council overturned presidential vetoes on the laws. But Yeltsin
returned the laws to parliament a second time, charging they were passed with
procedural violations. The Federation Council recently voted to send both
bills back to Yeltsin for signing (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June 1997). The
Duma's appeal says Yeltsin exceeded his constitutional authority by not
signing the laws. It also defends the use of mailed ballots in the Federation
Council and the practice of proxy voting in the Duma.

DUMA SEEKS CLOSER COOPERATION WITH LIBYA. The Duma on 13 June passed by a vote
of 266 to six with one abstention a draft law on cooperation with Libya,
RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. The law was proposed by Duma Geopolitics
Committee Chairman Aleksei Mitrofanov of the Liberal Democratic Party of
Russia. Under the law, Russian companies would be allowed sell any products to
Libya other than weapons. Libyans would be entitled to have accounts in
Russian banks. In addition, the Russian government would be prohibited from
spending state funds on maintaining international economic sanctions against
Libya. On 4 June, the Duma passed a similar draft law calling for closer ties
with Iraq (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 June 1997). Yeltsin is almost certain to
veto both laws if they are approved by the Federation Council.

CONSULAR AGREEMENTS WITH TURKMENISTAN, AZERBAIJAN RATIFIED. The Duma on 13
June ratified separate consular conventions with Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan,
ITAR-TASS reported. Under the agreements, diplomats and their families will
have full diplomatic immunity and persons wanted on criminal charges will be
extradited immediately. According to ITAR-TASS, the agreements are broader in
scope than the provisions of the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

UPDATE ON RUSSIAN-CHECHEN AGREEMENTS. The 13 June Russian-Chechen memorandum
stipulates the conclusion of an agreement between the Russian Fuel and Energy
Ministry, the Chechen State Oil Company Yunko, and the Azerbaijan
International Operating Committee on the transit from Baku to Novorossiisk via
Grozny of oil from three offshore Caspian deposits, Russian and Western
agencies reported. The memorandum was signed by Russian Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin and Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov in Sochi (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 13 June 1997). Yunko President Khozh-Akhmed Yarikhanov warned on 15
June that Chechnya will continue to insist on being an equal partner in oil
transportation, according to Interfax. Following talks the previous day with
Chernomyrdin and head of the Russian Customs Service Anatolii Kruglov,
Maskhadov signed an agreement on customs cooperation, ITAR-TASS reported. That
accord confers international status on Grozny's Sheikh Mansour airport.

BEREZOVSKII ASSESSES CHECHEN SITUATION. Speaking at a press conference at
Interfax headquarters on 14 June, Russian Security Council Deputy Secretary
Boris Berezovskii reiterated that Chechnya is an "unalienable part of the
Russian Federation" and that a final settlement of the conflict could take
more than "one generation." Berezovskii excluded a resumption of hostilities
while Yeltsin remains president but said this could not be ruled out if
"brainless people" come to power in Russia. He expressed support for Chechen
President Maskhadov, implicitly corroborating speculation in the Russian press
that Maskhadov is under pressure from rival political groups in Chechnya.
Berezovskii also criticized Russian Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov for
blocking implementation of an agreed exchange of Russian and Chechen
prisoners, according to Reuters.

KULIKOV ON ORGANIZED CRIME... Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov has warned
that Russia has at least 9,000 criminal groups with an estimated 100,000
members, Russian news agencies reported on 13 June. Kulikov briefed
journalists after a cabinet meeting to discuss anti-crime measures. The number
of registered crimes by organized groups rose by almost 95% during the last
five years, Kulikov said. He argued that law-enforcement agencies are solving
more crimes than in the past but acknowledged that at least 3,700 murders
committed so far in 1997 remain unsolved. Also on 13 June, the U.S. tobacco
company Philip Morris announced that it has flown two of its executives and
their families out of Russia after receiving threats. On 15 June, assailants
gunned down Larisa Nechaeva, the commercial director of the Spartak Moscow
soccer club, in an apparent contract killing.

...AND CURBING ILLEGAL ALCOHOL TRADE. Kulikov announced that in the future,
only the federal government will issue licenses to produce alcoholic
beverages, Russian news agencies reported on 13 June. The move is intended to
curb the illegal trade in low-quality or fake alcohol. Kulikov said that in
1996, law-enforcement agencies inspected some 6,000 alcohol-producing
enterprises and seized about 10 million liters of alcohol worth an estimated
15 billion rubles ($2.6 million). Kulikov added that law-enforcement agencies
have shut down about 700 unlicensed alcohol producers and revoked the sales
licenses of about 2,000 enterprises. Meanwhile, fake vodka containing methyl
alcohol killed nine people and caused another 10 to be hospitalized in Kurgan,
ITAR-TASS reported on 14 June. A similar incident recently killed 22 people in
Krasnoyarsk.

FORMER ST. PETERSBURG MAYOR UNDER INVESTIGATION? Kulikov also told reporters
that former St. Petersburg Mayor Anatolii Sobchak is among the prominent
figures currently being investigated for corruption, Interfax reported on 13
June. Duma deputy Galina Starovoitova, a co-leader of the Democratic Russia
movement, has charged that trumped-up corruption charges are being used to
attack prominent "democratic" politicians in Russia, RFE/RL's correspondent in
St. Petersburg reported the same day. Sobchak has so far denied that he is
under investigation.

POLISH JUSTICE MINISTER SEES "PROBLEMS" WITH STANKEVICH EXTRADITION. Leszek
Kubicki says there are "problems" with the extradition of former Yeltsin
adviser Sergei Stankevich, RFE/RL's correspondent in Warsaw reported on 13
June. Kubicki will have the final say on whether Stankevich is extradited to
Russia, where he is accused of taking a $10,000 bribe in 1992. Kubicki argued
that a person should be extradited only if the crime with which he is charged
is prohibited in Poland as well as in the country requesting extradition. It
is unclear whether a bribe taken in Russia can be considered a crime under
Polish law, Kubicki added. He also said no efforts through "diplomatic
channels" could influence the decision on the Stankevich case. Some Russian
officials have charged that Poland is unnecessarily delaying Stankevich's
extradition (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 and 11 June 1997).

YELTSIN AIDE SAYS PRESIDENT CAN FIRE ELECTED GOVERNORS. Mikhail Krasnov,
Yeltsin's legal affairs adviser, says the president has the authority to sack
governors or presidents of Russian republics if the regional leaders break
federal laws or ignore presidential decrees, Interfax reported on 13 June.
Krasnov argued that under Article 77 of the constitution, Russia has a "single
system" of executive power. He also pointed out that Article 80 names the
president as the guarantor of the constitution. In recent weeks, speculation
has increased that Yeltsin plans to fire Primorskii Krai Governor Yevgenii
Nazdratenko. Such a move would be strongly opposed by other regional leaders.

RESIDENTS SEEK TO BLOCK NUCLEAR PROCESSING PLANT IN PRIMORE. Local residents
are seeking to prevent a floating nuclear waste processing plant from being
docked near the coastal town of Bolshoi Kamen (Primorskii Krai), Reuters
reported on 13 June. City officials said 94% of those who took part in a
recent non-binding poll voted against allowing the plant to be docked nearby.
Turnout for the poll was about 44%. The plant processes nuclear waste taken
from Russian submarines. According to Reuters, Primore governor Nazdratenko
has said the waste might be dumped in the Sea of Japan if no other way of
processing it can be found. Efforts to hold a referendum to halt further
construction of a nuclear processing plant in Krasnoyarsk-26 have so far been
rejected by the Krasnoyarsk Krai legislature (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 April
1997).

CENTRAL BANK LOWERS REFINANCING RATE. The Central Bank has lowered the rate at
which it lends to banks from 36% to 24% beginning 16 June, Russian news
agencies reported on 13 June. It is the third such reduction this year. The
rate was lowered from 48% to 42% in February and cut to 36% in April.

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

MINSK GROUP'S KARABAKH PEACE PROPOSALS REVIEWED. The U.S., French, and Russian
co-chairmen of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Minsk
Group visited Yerevan, Stepanakert, and Baku from 12-14 June, Russian and
Western agencies reported. Leaders in all three cities informed the
co-chairmen of their responses to the new Karabakh peace plan proposed two
weeks earlier, but there are no details either of the proposals or of the
involved parties' responses. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 14 June quoted the
Russian and French ambassadors in Yerevan as stressing the importance of
maintaining the confidentiality of the negotiating process. Commenting on
information leaked to Interfax by Azerbaijani sources, Russian ambassador
Andrei Urnov said that the composition of a proposed Karabakh peacekeeping
force is not being discussed at present.

DEMONSTRATIONS IN YEREVAN. Some15,000 people took part in a demonstration on
13 June in Yerevan to demand new presidential, parliamentary, and local
elections and the adoption of a new constitution, Western agencies reported.
Thousands more demonstrators attended similar protests in 16 other towns.
Meanwhile, Babken Ararktsyan has canceled all official meetings following his
resignation as parliamentary speaker on 11 June, according to Interfax.

GEORGIAN PRESIDENT ENDORSES PROPOSED ABKHAZIA CONFERENCE. Eduard Shevardnadze
has approved the proposal by his Ingush counterpart, Ruslan Aushev, to convene
a UN-sponsored conference on Abkhazia chaired by Russian President Yeltsin,
according to Interfax on 13 June. Presidential press spokesman Vakhtang
Abashidze said Shevardnadze is ready to discuss this idea personally with
Aushev, who advocated the participation at the peace conference of other North
Caucasus leaders. Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba told "Nezavisimaya
gazeta" on14 June that his recent talks in Moscow with Russian leaders focused
on the text of a Georgian-Abkhaz protocol on restoring official relations, but
not on Abkhazia's future status. Ardzinba greeted the proposed creation of an
Organization for Security and Cooperation in the Caucasus and expressed the
hope that the mandate of the CIS peacekeeping force currently deployed along
the border between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia will be extended beyond 31
July.

GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT DEPUTIES VOTE THEMSELVES RIGHT TO CARRY WEAPONS. The
Georgian parliament on 13 June passed a law giving deputies the life-long
right to carry handguns, Western agencies reported. Shevardnadze criticized
the law, saying that as president he should therefore be entitled to carry a
more substantial weapon, such as a grenade-launcher.

TURKMEN FOREIGN MINISTER ON AFGHANISTAN. Boris Shikhmuradov said on returning
from talks in Iran with his counterpart, Ali Akbar Velayati, that the
countries share many views on Afghanistan, ITAR-TASS reported on 14 June.
Shikhmuradov said the two governments would help the Afghan people form a
coalition government there. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is scheduled
to visit Tehran on 16 June to join Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Viktor
Posuvalyuk and Iranian officials for talks on the Afghan situation.

KYRGYZ WATER NO LONGER TO BE FREE FOR NEIGHBORS. The Kyrgyz parliament on 13
June formed a special commission to draw up legislation on charging
neighboring Kazakstan and Uzbekistan for water from Kyrgyz reservoirs,
RFE/RL's Kyrgyz service reported. Kyrgyzstan has informed those states of the
forthcoming change in policy, and an agreement signed by the three states in
February 1992 will be amended. Kyrgyzstan spends some $4 million annually for
maintenance of the reservoirs.

HIGH-LEVEL CAR THEFTS IN KAZAKSTAN. Militia are currently engaged in a special
operation against car thieves, ITAR-TASS reported on 13 June. The operation
was launched following the theft of a jeep belonging to Procurator-General
Stepan Shutkin. The search for the jeep was unsuccessful, but the militia
found instead vehicles belonging to the interior minister and the prime
minister. Authorities say the operation will continue and that 11 known
criminal groups are being targeted.





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