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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 1, No. 72, Part I, 14 July 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/ xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part I * ALBRIGHT DISCUSSES NATO WITH PRIMAKOV * FORMER SENIOR OFFICIAL IMPLICATED IN NEW SCANDAL * RUSSIAN-CHECHEN-AZERBAIJANI OIL AGREEMENT SIGNED End Note UNDERMINING NATO'S TIMETABLE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx RUSSIA ALBRIGHT DISCUSSES NATO WITH PRIMAKOV... U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met with Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov on 12-13 July in St. Petersburg, international media reported. Primakov echoed statements by President Boris Yeltsin that the admission of the Baltic States to NATO sometime in the future would be "dangerous." Primakov said he was in favor of Russian assurances as the means to guarantee that the Baltic States maintain their "sovereignty." He added that the Baltic States are an area of "special interest" for Russia. Albright noted that NATO membership did not depend on where countries "are on the map." She added that membership is open to all "democratic market systems in Europe." ...AND OTHER ISSUES. Albright and Primakov announced that talks on the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty will be extended until the end of July in the hope that a framework agreement on reducing weapons ceilings can be reached by then. Progress on arms reduction will be reviewed "on the sidelines" of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting in Kuala Lumpur on 24 July. Responding to Russian Foreign Ministry criticism that recent NATO- led operations against war criminals in Bosnia-Herzegovina were a "cowboy raid," Albright asked Primakov if he could suggest any "better methods." The two also agreed that the U.S. and Russia should make all efforts to remove obstacles to stability in the Middle East. Primakov said the two sides would hold regular consultations on that issue. BASAEV'S RESIGNATION "FINAL." Speaking on local television on 12 July, Chechen First Deputy Prime Minister Shamil Basaev said his decision to resign "is final," but he declined to offer an explanation for that decision, according to ITAR-TASS. "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 12 July that President Aslan Maskhadov has not yet accepted the resignation of either Basaev or security chief Abu Movsaev. The previous day, radical field commander Salman Raduev had said he is ready to take a public oath of loyalty to Maskhadov but that he reserved the right to espouse opposing political views, Interfax reported. On 13 July, gunmen in Grozny opened fire on a car belonging to the Russian government office, but no one was hurt. Both Chechen and Russian officials said they are certain the shooting was not politically motivated. FORMER SENIOR OFFICIAL IMPLICATED IN NEW SCANDAL... Central Bank Chairman Sergei Dubinin on 14 July released a statement accusing former First Deputy Finance Minister Andrei Vavilov of arranging two fraudulent deals in 1996-1997 that allegedly cost the state budget $275 million and $237 million, Interfax reported. Dubinin's statement said then Finance Minister Aleksandr Livshits and then Presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais had been unaware of Vavilov's misuse of budget funds. On 11 July, the Procurator-General's Office confirmed that Vavilov and former First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Potanin will be questioned in a criminal investigation surrounding $237 million transferred in February to the International Financial Corporation (MFK), an Oneksimbank affiliate, Russian media reported. The funds were ostensibly intended to finance a purchase of MiG fighter jets by India. However, India reportedly had not signed a contract to buy the fighters, and the budget funds were said not to have reached MAPO, the company that manufactures MiGs. ...WHILE SPOKESMEN REJECT ALLEGATIONS. A spokesman for MAPO told Interfax on 14 July that the company did receive a government loan to construct MiGs for India. Vavilov and Potatnin have not commented on the criminal investigation, but spokesmen for Oneksimbank and the MFK have portrayed the allegations as false rumors sown by unscrupulous business competitors. Potanin was re- elected as president of Oneksimbank after his dismissal from the government in March. Vavilov became head of MFK after leaving the Finance Ministry in April. MFK press secretary Oleg Sapozhnikov issued a statement saying that media reports implicating company officials were inspired by rivals that cannot compete with MFK honestly, "Izvestiya" reported on 12 July. Oneksimbank spokesman Modest Kolerov said that newspaper articles on the scandal were "placed and paid for by our competitors," according to the "Financial Times." The official government newspaper "Rossiiskaya gazeta" is among the papers that have accused Potanin and Vavilov of wrongdoing. "PARTY OF POWER" WINS NIZHNII NOVGOROD ELECTION... Nizhnii Novgorod Mayor Ivan Sklyarov won the 13 July gubernatorial election in Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast with about 52 percent of the vote, compared with 42 percent for Communist State Duma deputy Gennadii Khodyrev, Russian news agencies reported on 14 July. Turnout was about 49 percent, higher than in the first round of the election. Former governor and First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov recently spent three days in the oblast campaigning for Sklyarov. In addition, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin visited the nuclear research center in Sarov on 11 July and promised federal support for the center. Although spokesmen said Chernomyrdin's visit was "not connected to the election," RFE/RL's correspondent in Nizhnii Novgorod noted that Khodyrev outpolled Sklyarov in the district containing Sarov in the first round. Even though Sklyarov's program and campaign rhetoric differed little from Khodyrev's, a Communist victory in Nizhnii would have damaged Nemtsov's political standing. ...BUT LOSES IN SAMARA. Georgii Limanskii, deputy chairman of the Samara Oblast legislature, gained 54.6 percent of the vote to win a 13 July runoff mayoral election in Samara, Russian news agencies reported on 14 July. Former Mayor Oleg Sysuev, who was appointed deputy prime minister in March, had supported Deputy Mayor Anatolii Afanasev, who polled about 38 percent. Turnout was just over 40 percent. Limanskii heads the Samara Oblast branch of former Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed's Russian People's Republican Party, and Lebed campaigned for Limanskii in Samara in June. Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii and Forward, Russia! leader Boris Fedorov also backed Limanskii. DAY OF PROTEST IN KEMEROVO. Trade unions staged a "day of protest" across Kemerovo Oblast on 11 July, but the demonstrations drew modest crowds and no enterprises were hit by strikes, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. Protesters demanded the payment of back wages, changes in federal economic policies, and the resignation of the president and prime minister. Trade union leaders had long planned an oblast-wide strike for 11 July but changed their plans following the recent appointment of Governor Aman Tuleev (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2-3 July 1997). In an interview with RFE/RL, Tuleev said he supported the protesters' economic demands and said he had already moved to pay some wage arrears and child allowances. On 12 July, the Railroads Ministry signed an agreement with the Kemerovo Oblast administration to lower freight charges for enterprises in Kemerovo, a move Tuleev said would help the region's economy, ITAR-TASS reported. MILITARY CORRUPTION UPDATE. Maj.-Gen. Viktor Maluzov, the head of the armored vehicle department of the North Caucasus Military District, has been arrested and charged with unspecified "violations related to the decommissioning of damaged armored vehicles" during the war in Chechnya, sources in the Military Procurator's Office told Interfax on 11 July. In addition, procurators have sent the case against the Navy's former Chief of Staff Igor Khmelnov to court. In June, Khmelnov was charged with misusing the proceeds from the sale of 64 ships to India and South Korea while he was Pacific Fleet Commander. Meanwhile, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 12 July that the poor health of former First Deputy Defense Minister Konstantin Kobets, who was arrested in May on corruption charges, has stymied attempts by investigators to interrogate Kobets. However, the newspaper said other high-ranking Defense Ministry officials had been questioned in that case. SUSPECTS IN 1996 MOSCOW METRO BOMBING ARRESTED. Law enforcement officials on 11 July arrested two people suspected of involvement in the June 1996 explosion in the Moscow metro after a year-long investigation involving the Procurator-General's Office, the Federal Security Service (FSB), and the Moscow police, Russian media reported. An FSB spokesman said investigators are still searching for nine other suspects in the case. No details were released about those arrested or possible motives for the bombing. Four people were killed and 12 injured in the blast, which took place just five days before the first round of the presidential election. Meanwhile, no one has claimed responsibility for planting a bomb discovered outside the Chief Military Procurator's office in Moscow at 2 a.m. on 13 July, Russian Public Television reported. A guard carried the bomb away from the building; no one was injured when it eventually exploded. TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA RUSSIAN-CHECHEN-AZERBAIJANI OIL AGREEMENT SIGNED. Senior Russian officials, including First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Fuel and Energy Boris Nemtsov and Security Council Deputy Secretary Boris Agapov were in Baku on 11 July. Nemtsov signed a five-point agreement with the heads of the Chechen and Azerbaijani state oil companies, Khozh-Ahmed Yarikhanov and Natik Aliev, on the export via Chechnya of Azerbaijan's Caspian oil, Turan and Russian agencies reported. Under an Azerbaijani-Russian agreement signed in January1996, Russia will receive $15.67 transit fees per metric ton. Yarikhanov declined to divulge what percentage of this Chechnya will receive under the 11 July agreement. Russian and Chechen oil executives signed another agreement in Grozny on 12 July whereby Russia undertakes to finance repairs to the pipeline in return for Chechen guarantees of the safety of Russian workers engaged in repair work, Interfax and AFP reported. ARMENIAN RULING PARTY HOLDS CONGRESS. The ninth congress of the Armenian Pan-National Movement--the senior member within the majority Hanrapetutyun bloc--ended in Yerevan on 13 July, RFE/RL correspondents in Yerevan reported. Observers had predicted a competition for the post of chairman of the movement's board between Yerevan mayor Vano Siradeghyan and parliamentary Legal Affairs Committee chairman Eduard Yegoryan (see End Note, "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 June 1997). The congress elected a new board with 40 members proposed by Siradeghyan, not including Yegoryan. Siradeghyan then proposed postponing the election of a new board chairman for two months. Addressing the congress, President Levon Ter-Petrossyan enumerated the movement's achievements since its creation in 1989, including Armenia's declaration of independence, the successful defense of Nagorno-Karabakh, and the adoption of a new constitution. Ter-Petrossyan had earlier endorsed Siradeghyan's candidacy as chairman. GEORGIA DEMANDS GIORGADZE'S EXTRADITION. Georgian Prosecutor- General Dzhamlet Babilashvili on 11 July released the text of a letter to his Russian counterpart, Yurii Skuratov, again demanding the extradition from Moscow of former Georgian Security Service chief Igor Giorgadze, Reuters reported. Georgian officials claim that Giorgadze was a key figure in the unsuccessful August 1995 attempt to assassinate Eduard Shevardnadze. The following day, Giorgadze's father, who heads the United Communist Party of Georgia, told a news conference that he received a telephone call from his son denying he was in Russia, according to ITAR-TASS. Meanwhile, Georgian parliamentary Security and Defense Committee chairman Revaz Adamia told journalists on 11 July that Tbilisi is demanding Russia provide financial compensation for weaponry worth $4 billion removed from Georgia after the collapse of the USSR. UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN YEREVAN... Hennady Udovenko held talks in Yerevan on 11 July with his Armenian counterpart, Alexander Arzoumanian, and with President Levon Ter-Petrossyan, Armenian and Russian agencies reported. Udovenko called for increased bilateral and trilateral economic cooperation, with Russia as the third partner, and undertook to support Armenia's stated wish to participate in the TRASECA transport project. He also expressed support for proposals by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Minsk group aimed at resolving the Karabakh conflict. ...AND TBILISI. Also on 11 July, Udovenko met with Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili and President Eduard Shevardnadze in Tbilisi. He assured them that Kyiv still backs Georgia's claim to part of the Black Sea fleet, according to ITAR-TASS. Interfax quoted Udovenko as telling journalists that Russia should continue to play the key role in mediating a settlement of the Abkhaz conflict, but ITAR-TASS quoted the Georgian presidential press service as saying Ukraine wished to participate in a proposed peace conference on Abkhazia convened by Western states. Udovenko said Ukraine is prepared to provide a contingent of peacekeeping forces to serve in Abkhazia under UN auspices if the Security Council decides to deploy such a force. KYRGYZ PRESIDENT IN U.S. Askar Akayev is currently in the U.S. on a seven-day visit, RFE/RL correspondents reported. He has met with billionaire philanthropist George Soros, who has invested several million dollars in Kyrgyzstan, and with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. In Washington on 11 July, he met with the IMF Deputy Managing Director Alassane Outtara. The surprise growth in Kyrgyz GDP from 1.3 percent in 1995 to 5.6 percent in 1996 led the IMF to increase credits to Kyrgyzstan. Also on 11 July, Akayev told a conference organized by the Carnegie Endowment that his country's transition from communism to capitalism is taking longer than expected. END NOTE UNDERMINING NATO'S TIMETABLE by Paul Goble The timetable for NATO expansion announced at the Madrid summit on 8-9 July may break down even before the alliance takes in its first new members two years from now. The summit invited three countries--Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic--to begin accession talks leading to membership by 1999. The alliance leaders indicated they will consider inviting a second group of countries in that year and that they will keep the process of including ever more East European countries in the alliance both open and deliberate after that time. This carefully worked-out timetable reflected calculations by some NATO leaders about how both their own populations and Moscow would react. Many NATO leaders noted that they could not hope to win popular support for the costs of expansion if the alliance tried to take in too many countries too quickly. Even more NATO leaders suggested that a slow, step-by-step expansion is the only way to avoid offending Moscow and pushing Russia back into an adversarial role. But there are already at least three indications that the Western alliance may have a number of difficulties in holding to that script. First, many of the countries that had hoped to be invited into the alliance now or in the near future are stepping up their campaigns for membership rather than accepting the Madrid timetable. The countries that had hoped to make it into the first round--Slovenia, Romania, and the three Baltic States--indicated that they will increase their efforts to be included sooner than the Madrid schedule. Lithuanian President Algirdas Brazauskas, for example, pointed out on 9 July that "a long-term cataclysm could occur in three, four, or five years." As a result, he said, Vilnius wanted "guarantees for the future" sooner rather than later. Other East European countries that were not expected to be included took courage from the alliance's decision to expand and indicated that they, too, might press for membership far sooner than the NATO leaders had planned. Buoyed by their charter with the Western alliance, several Ukrainian political figures said they hoped Ukraine will achieve NATO membership in the not too distant future- -something no one in the alliance now appears to be contemplating. Second, the three countries that were invited to join at Madrid reportedly have agreed to press for the more rapid inclusion of the Baltic States into the Western alliance. The presidents of Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary met with their counterparts from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania on 9 July and told them they will press for Baltic membership in the alliance as soon as possible. Latvian President Guntis Ulmanis said he and his Baltic colleagues looked to the three Madrid invitees "to become advocates" of the rapid inclusion of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Such support for Baltic membership may be more difficult to resist than the NATO planners expected. In addition to Polish, Hungarian, and Czech support, the Balts received backing from Thomas Siebert, the ambassador to Sweden. Siebert told the Swedish newspaper "Dagens Nyheter" on 9 July that "we will not consider the expansion of NATO to be accomplished or successful unless or before the Baltic States' ambitions are fulfilled." Both the efforts of those who hope to join and the attitudes of those already invited to do so will put pressure on the alliance to move more quickly than it had planned, especially since those on the outside are likely to view any delay as a sell-out of their security. But the third indication that the Madrid timetable may not be kept suggests that NATO may not expand as quickly as the Madrid summit planned. The pressure on NATO from both those included and those not yet in inevitably raises the stakes of the first round of alliance expansion and thus virtually guarantees increased opposition to any growth in the alliance from both Moscow and many in the West. Russian leaders, including President Boris Yeltsin, have indicated that they can accept NATO's expansion only if it is both limited and deliberate. Consequently, at least some in Moscow are likely to consider the statements of those countries not invited in and especially of those invited to join at Madrid to pose a threat--one, moreover, that Russia is likely to respond to. Such a response will have an impact on the ratification debates in the current NATO member countries and provide ammunition to those who oppose any growth in the alliance. As a result, the euphoria about the Madrid NATO summit could quickly evaporate, as some countries discover that their own enthusiasms threaten their own interests. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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