The fool wonders, the wise man asks. - Benjamin Disraeli
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol 1, No. 73, Part I, 15 July 1997


Vol 1, No. 73, Part I, 15 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/

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Headlines, Part I

* PRIMAKOV CRITICIZES ARRESTS OF ACCUSED WAR CRIMINALS IN
BOSNIA

* FORMER SENIOR OFFICIAL IMPLICATED IN BANK SCANDAL
DEFENDS HIS ACTIONS

* TAJIK PRESIDENT SIGNS MUTUAL FORGIVENESS ACT

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RUSSIA

PRIMAKOV CRITICIZES ARRESTS OF ACCUSED WAR CRIMINALS IN
BOSNIA. Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov says NATO's arrests of
accused war criminals in Bosnia are "counterproductive" and will
complicate the situation in Bosnia, Russian and Western news
agencies reported on 14 July. Speaking to journalists after meeting
with British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, Primakov said, "I wouldn't
want operations of this kind to be repeated." But Cook refused to rule
out further arrests. A Russian Foreign Ministry statement on 11 July
condemned as a "cowboy raid" the recent operation in which one
Bosnian Serb was arrested and another killed. Meanwhile, Primakov
said he and Cook did not discuss the illegal export of British beef to
Russia because the beef was shipped by a Belgian company (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 11 July 1997). Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin has vowed to raise the issue of the illegal exports in
upcoming talks in Brussels.

FORMER SENIOR OFFICIAL IMPLICATED IN BANK SCANDAL DEFENDS
HIS ACTIONS... Former First Deputy Finance Minister Andrei Vavilov
on 15 July said he approved transfers of federal funds to commercial
banks in full compliance with Russian law, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau
reported. Central Bank Chairman Sergei Dubinin recently charged
that fraudulent deals approved by Vavilov had cost the federal
budget $275 million and $237 million (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14
July 1997). Vavilov left the Finance Ministry in April to head the
International Financial Corporation (MFK), which was involved in one
of the deals criticized by Dubinin. MFK was to purchase internal
hard-currency Finance Ministry bonds with state funds and remit
the bonds to a Unikombank account owned by MAPO, the company
that manufacturers MiG fighter jets. Vavilov said high government
officials knew about that arrangement and understood that the funds
were being used to finance purchases of MiGs by India.

...AS DOES IMPLICATED BANK. Unikombank, which is implicated in
both alleged fraudulent deals cited by Dubinin, has released a
statement denying all wrongdoing, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on
15 July. Dubinin accused Unikombank of misusing $275 million
worth of internal hard-currency bonds purchased with federal funds,
which was intended to pay wages of state workers in Moscow Oblast.
Dubinin also said Unikombank had not transferred funds intended to
finance the purchase of MiGs to the MAPO company. But Unikombank
says it can document that money was transferred to accounts
belonging to the Moscow Oblast administration and MAPO under
arrangements cleared by the Finance Ministry. The bank's statement
also claims that the Central Bank has conducted six audits of
Unikombank without finding any legal violations. At his 15 July
press conference, Vavilov said that the Central Bank found no
violations during a recent audit of MFK.

REACTION TO NIZHNII NOVGOROD ELECTION. First Deputy Prime
Minister Boris Nemtsov on 14 July hailed the election of Ivan
Sklyarov as governor of Nizhnii Novgorod as a "victory for common
sense," Russian news agencies reported. Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin said voters had chosen "real deeds" over "loud
political slogans." Duma deputy Valentin Kuptsov, a leading member
of the Communist Party, said the result was not a "great tragedy,"
since the new governor would be forced to take into account the
opposition of nearly half of the oblast's voters, "Nezavisimaya gazeta"
reported on 15 July. But the opposition paper "Sovetskaya Rossiya"
charged the same day that the authorities "bought votes" and
violated numerous laws to ensure Sklyarov's victory. RFE/RL's
correspondent in Nizhnii Novgorod reported on 14 July that several
concerts were held in Nizhnii on election day to deter locals from
spending the weekend at their dachas instead of voting.

PRESIDENTIAL DECREE BROADENS POWERS OF REGIONAL
REPRESENTATIVES. Appointed presidential representatives in
Russian regions have been given substantially broader powers under
a long-anticipated presidential decree issued on 9 July, the official
newspaper "Rossiiskie vesti" reported on 15 July. The appointees will
be responsible for supervising the personnel of regional branches of
federal agencies so that officials in those branches will be less
dependent on local politicians. Presidential representatives will also
coordinate the activities of regional branches of all federal agencies
and will monitor the use of federal funds in the regions. Previously
Yeltsin had granted broad powers only to his representative in
Primorskii Krai, Viktor Kondratov (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 June
1997). Kondratov told journalists on 14 July that the new decree
expands his already considerable authority, RFE/RL's correspondent
in Vladivostok reported.

OFFICIAL SPIN ON PRESIDENTIAL DECREE. Anton Fedorov, the head
of the department on coordinating the activities of presidential
representatives in the regions, argued in the 15 July "Rossiiskie
vesti" that Yeltsin's 9 July decree would not put the president into
conflict with elected governors. Rather, Fedorov said, the decree will
"relieve part of the burden" on governors, "giving them the
opportunity to focus on solving local problems." However, regional
officials are sure to object to the decree. By taking powers away from
elected governors, who cannot be fired by Yeltsin, and handing them
to presidential appointees, Yeltsin's new decree represents an
attempt by Moscow to reassert control over the regions. The
Federation Council, which is made up of regional leaders, recently
asked Yeltsin to revise his May decrees granting extensive powers to
his representative in Primorskii Krai, saying those decrees were
unconstitutional (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 July 1997).

LABOR UNREST CONTINUES IN PRIMORE. About 2000 unpaid medical
workers picketed the Vladivostok city administration on 15 July and
vowed to stage protests across Primorskii Krai, RFE/RL's
correspondent in Vladivostok reported. Wage arrears to Primore's
doctors alone total 160 billion rubles ($28 million), and hospitals lack
the funds to buy medicine or pay salaries. Viktor Kondratov,
presidential representative in Primore, has promised that a
presidential decree will soon authorize special financial aid for
Primore's health sector. Meanwhile, Kondratov announced on 14 July
that the federal government has transferred 20 billion rubles to
Primore to pay some back wages to workers at the Zvezda submarine
repair plant, as well as 56 billion rubles to pay wage arrears to
teachers, RFE/RL's correspondent reported. But the Zvezda workers,
who only recently received their wages from November 1996, have
not called off their strike, according to ITAR-TASS on 15 July.

CHOLERA BACTERIA FOUND IN RIVERS NEAR MOSCOW. Cholera
bacteria have been detected in the Moskva and Medvedka rivers in
several areas of Moscow Oblast, "Kommersant-Daily" and
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 15 July. Swimming has been
prohibited downstream from the contaminated areas. Olga
Gavrilenko of the Moscow Oblast State Sanitary and Epidemiological
Center told Interfax on 14 July that the contamination was caused by
recent sewage leaks into the river. Gavrilenko added that the leaks
occurred downstream from the city of Moscow and that the
enterprise that runs the sewage facility has been fined. The last
death from cholera registered in Moscow was in the summer of 1995,
when a man was infected after drinking from the Moskva river.

HEAD OF ST. PETERSBURG TV CHANNEL RESIGNS. Oleg Rudnov, the
chairman of St. Petersburg's Channel 5 television, has resigned in
protest at plans to move the network's broadcasting center to
Moscow, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 15 July. During a recent
visit to St. Petersburg, Yeltsin suggested turning Channel 5, which
now broadcasts mainly to European Russia, into a nationwide cultural
and educational network (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 June 1997).
Rudnov's resignation letter alleged that under a presidential decree
to be issued soon, the new cultural network will broadcast out of
Moscow. In exchange, St. Petersburg will be given a channel with a
broadcasting radius of just 70 kilometers, which is insufficient to
reach all of surrounding Leningrad Oblast, according to Rudnov. St.
Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev announced on 12 July that
he, too, opposes transferring Channel 5 to Moscow and will appeal to
Yeltsin to prevent such a move.

INGUSH PRESIDENT WARNS TENSIONS ARE RISING. Ruslan Aushev
sent a telegram to Russian President Boris Yeltsin on 14 July warning
of "unpredictable consequences" if measures are not taken
immediately to defuse growing tensions between Ingush and North
Ossetians, Russian media reported. The previous day, Ingush
refugees who fled North Ossetia's Prigorodnyi Raion during the
fighting in November 1992, in which 500-600 people died, staged a
demonstration in the Ingush capital, Nazran, to demand the more
systematic implementation of Yeltsin's program of measures
intended to stabilize the situation and enable the refugees to return
to their homes. Those measures include imposing direct federal rule
in the disputed Prigorodnyi Raion. Russian media reports suggest
Aushev, a former Russian army general, intends to resign as
president and may be offered a military post in Moscow.

RYBKIN MEETS WITH CHECHEN, INGUSH PRESIDENTS. Russian
Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin flew to Nazran on 14 July for
talks with Aslan Maskhadov and Aushev at the latter's residence,
ITAR-TASS reported. Rybkin and Maskhadov discussed restoration of
Chechnya's oil industry, the funding of economic and social programs,
and measures to implement the 11 July trilateral agreement on
exporting Caspian oil via Chechnya. It is unclear whether Aushev
held separate talks with Rybkin.

NORTH OSSETIAN PRESIDENT WANTS REFUGEES TO RETURN TO
GEORGIA. Akhsarbek Galazov has issued a special decree on the
repatriation to Georgia of ethnic Ossetians who fled during the
fighting in South Ossetia in 1991-1992, according to "Nezavisimaya
gazeta" on 15 July. Galazov considers that the present situation in
South Ossetia is conducive to the refugees' return and that the
Georgian government should assume responsibility for its own
citizens. South Ossetia's autonomous status within Georgia was
abolished by President Zviad Gamsakhurdia in late 1990. Several
rounds of talks between Georgian and South Ossetian representatives
have failed to yield an agreement on the region's future status.

ONEKSIMBANK TO INVEST IN TATARSTAN. Oneksimbank president
Vladimir Potanin met in Kazan on 11 July with Tatar President
Minimer Shaimiev and Prime Minister Farid Mukhametshin to
discuss proposed investment opportunities, according to an RFE/RL
correspondent in Kazan. Potanin told Tatarstan television that he is
interested in the KamAZ truck-producing plant, the oil company
Tatneft, and participating in the planned issue of Tatarstan's
eurobonds. The government of Tatarstan recently acquired a 43
percent stake in KamAZ (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 July 1997). The
opening of a branch or affiliate of Oneksimbank in Tatarstan was also
discussed.

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

TAJIK PRESIDENT SIGNS MUTUAL FORGIVENESS ACT. Imomali
Rakhmonov on 14 July signed the Mutual Forgiveness Act drawn up
by the National Reconciliation Commission at their recent meeting in
Moscow (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 July 1997), according to RFE/RL
correspondents in Dushanbe. The act calls for "all those who during
the civil war and political confrontation took up arms and fought
against one another" to forget about their recent enmities. Anyone
who takes up arms again "will be brought to justice in line with the
laws of Tajikistan, " the act states. The document goes into force with
Rakhmonov's signature.

KAZAKSTAN TO DEVELOP SMALL, MEDIUM-SIZED ENTERPRISES.
President Nursultan Nazarbayev has appointed Umirzak Shukeyev
deputy minister of economics and trade, according to Interfax on 14
July. Nazarbayev said Shukeyev's appointment is aimed at helping
develop small and medium-sized businesses, which, he said, account
for only 6-7 percent of industrial output and employ only some
500,000 out of a work force totaling 9.2 million people. Shukeyev is a
33-year-old graduate of the Moscow Economics and Statistics
Institute.

UZBEKISTAN READY TO EXPORT PETROLEUM PRODUCTS. First Deputy
Prime Minister Ismail Jurabekov said on 14 July said that Uzbekistan
is now in a position to export petroleum products to other CIS
countries, Interfax reported. Jurabekov, speaking at the opening of a
compressor station at the Kokdumalak oil and gas field in the
Kashkadarya region, noted that Uzbekistan ceased importing
petroleum products in the second half of 1995. He also said the
station, which was built with U.S. and Japanese assistance, will allow
Uzbekistan to increase oil production in the area from 2 million tons
to 4.5 million tons annually. Gas condensate extraction will nearly
triple, headded. The Kokdumalak field is estimated to contain 98.7
million tons of oil and 96.3 million tons of gas condensate.

OSCE SECRETARY-GENERAL WRAPS UP UZBEK VISIT. Giancarlo
Aragona, the secretary-general of the Organization for Security and
Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), concluded his four-day visit to
Uzbekistan on 14 July, according to ITAR-TASS. Aragona met with
top ranking Uzbek officials, including President Islam Karimov.
Aragona highly assessed Uzbekistan's cooperation with the OSCE and
praised Karimov for efforts toward creating a nuclear free zone in
Central Asia.

TURKISH PRESIDENT IN GEORGIA. Suleyman Demirel arrived in
Tbilisi on 14 July for a two-day official visit accompanied by several
state ministers, including Foreign Minister Ismail Cem, and military
and economic officials, the "Turkish Daily News" reported on 15 July.
Demirel and his Georgian counterpart, Eduard Shevardnadze, signed a
declaration on boosting cooperation as well as agreements
delineating the joint sea border, on training Georgian military
personnel in Turkey, and on other issues, Russian media reported.
The two presidents discussed the construction of a railway from Kars
to the south Georgian town of Akhalkalaki. Demirel told journalists
that a third frontier crossing will be opened between the two
countries. He said that Georgia is the "guarantor of peace and
stability in the Caucasus" and underscored the "complete mutual
understanding and mutual respect" between the two countries,
according to "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 15 July.

ARMENIAN PAN-NATIONAL MOVEMENT BOARD ELECTS NEW
CHAIRMAN. Following the conclusion of the ninth congress of the
Armenian Pan-National Movement on 13 July, the movement's 40-
strong board elected Yerevan Mayor Vano Siradeghyan as its new
chairman to succeed Ter-Husik Lazaryan, Noyan Tapan reported.
Siradeghyan, whose candidacy was endorsed by President Levon
Ter-Petrossyan, had proposed delaying the election of a new board
chairman.

CORRECTION: "RFE/RL Newsline" incorrectly reported on 14 July that
Siradeghyan's rival candidate, parliamentary Legal Affairs
Committee Chairman Eduard Yegoryan, had not been elected to the
new board of the Armenian Pan-National Movement. According to
Noyan Tapan on 14 July, he was elected a board member.





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