Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece. - Vladimir Nabokov
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 1, No. 78, Part I, 22 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

*YELTSIN VOWS TO SACK 500 GENERALS


*MORE APPEALS FOR VETO OF RUSSIA'S RELIGION LAW


*MINSK GROUP CO-CHAIRMEN TRAVEL TO STEPANAKERT, YEREVAN

End Note
POLITICAL COMBAT INSTEAD OF BLOODLETTING IN TAJIKISTAN

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


RUSSIA

YELTSIN VOWS TO SACK 500 GENERALS. Meeting on 21 July with
Defense Minister Igor Sergeev to discuss the implementation of his
decrees on downsizing the armed forces, President Boris Yeltsin said
that the number of generals will be cut by some 500 to a maximum
of 2,300, Russian media reported. Yeltsin later told journalists that
the reform is aimed at creating a "mobile army equipped with
advanced weaponry" and that the greatest consideration would be
shown toward demobilized officers, for whom approximately
100,000 apartments will be built. Alluding to bitter opposition to the
reform plans within the Defense Ministry, Yeltsin vowed that "we
shall sweep aside the Rokhlins with their counterproductive actions...
We do not need such assistants," according to "Kommersant-Daily" on
22 July. Four days earlier, State Duma Defense Committee Chairman
Lev Rokhlin had told Interfax that the proposed reforms will lead to
"the destruction" of the armed forces.

SERGEEV SAYS HE WILL RESIGN IF MILITARY REFORM FAILS.
"Izvestiya" on 22 July quoted Sergeev as saying he intends to enlist
the support of middle-ranking officers to counter opposition to the
reform from the upper echelons of the Defense Ministry. He added
that if he is unable to implement the proposed reform, he will resign.
Four days earlier, Sergeev had told journalists that Yeltsin supports
the Defense Ministry's proposal that social benefits military
personnel who lose their jobs constitute a separate article in the
1998 budget, Interfax reported. Sergeev said that servicemen's
wages would double before 2001. On 19 July, Sergeev noted that the
final draft of the seven-point concept for reforming the armed forces
will be submitted to Yeltsin in late September. The previous day,
former Russian Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed told
Interfax he doubted that the reform concept was workable, saying it
was unclear how it could be implemented or funded.

MORE APPEALS FOR VETO OF RELIGION LAW. Representatives of
several minority religious groups have appealed to Yeltsin to veto
the controversial law on religion, which they consider "undemocratic"
and "unconstitutional," RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported on 21 July.
Yeltsin is to consider the religion law on 22 July and is expected
either to sign or veto it during the next few days, according to
Interfax. Opponents are likely to appeal to the Constitutional Court if
Yeltsin signs the law. Sergei Shakhrai, Yeltsin's representative in the
Constitutional Court, recently predicted that outside pressure on
Yeltsin to veto the law, in particular from the U.S. Senate, will most
likely encourage the president to sign it (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18
and 21 July 1997). Shakhrai added that support for the religion law
is probably strong enough in both houses of the Russian parliament
to override a presidential veto.

INGUSH, NORTH OSSETIAN PRESIDENTS ADDRESS RUSSIAN SECURITY
COUNCIL. Ruslan Aushev and Akhsarbek Galazov addressed a 21 July
meeting of the Security Council on the deteriorating situation in
North Ossetia's disputed Prigorodnyi Raion, Russian media reported.
Aushev again argued that the only solution is to impose presidential
rule on the district, but Galazov rejected this option, arguing it would
lead to further violence. Galazov said it was time to stop "unilateral"
attempts at destabilization and to "bury once and for all" territorial
claims on Prigorodnyi Raion, according to "Kommersant-Daily" on 22
July. Galazov later told journalists that if presidential rule is imposed
in Prigorodnyi Raion, North Ossetia may quit the Russian Federation.
Security Council First Deputy Secretary Mikhail Mityukov, who
chaired the session, told Ekho Moskvy that the council opposed
presidential rule and will submit to President Yeltsin alternative,
unspecified proposals for resolving the tensions, Reuters reported.

CHECHEN OFFICIAL PROPOSES CAUCASIAN PEACE-KEEPING
BATTALION. Commenting on the tensions between neighboring
Ingushetia and North Ossetia, Chechen First Deputy Prime Minister
Movladi Udugov suggested on 21 July creating a pan-Caucasian
security organization modeled on the Organization for Security and
Cooperation in Europe that would serve as a forum for resolving
regional conflicts, ITAR-TASS and AFP reported. Specifically, Udugov
proposed the formation of a Caucasian peacekeeping battalion that
would be sent to Prigirodnyi Raion. Udugov denied that a Caucasian
security organization would have an anti-Russian orientation, arguing
that Russia has a vested interest in the creation of such an
organization.

SHOTS FIRED AT APARTMENT OF CENTRAL BANK CHAIRMAN. Shots
were fired at the Moscow apartment of Central Bank Chairman Sergei
Dubinin on the evening of 21 July, Interfax reported, citing the
Moscow police. An unnamed Central Bank official told the agency
that the incident was most likely "a warning and a means of exerting
psychological pressure" on Dubinin rather than an assassination
attempt. Dubinin recently charged that more than $500 million of
government funds have been misused in fraudulent banking deals
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14-16, 18 and 21 July). An unnamed Central
Bank official told Interfax on 21 July that the banking supervision
committee of the Central Bank is seeking the dismissal of several top
executives at Unikombank, which was at the center of Dubinin's
allegations. Dubinin's apartment was fired on in March 1996.

DECREE PAVES WAY FOR DIAMOND EXPORT AGREEMENT WITH DE
BEERS. Yeltsin has issued a decree on diamond exporting procedures
in accordance with a government recommendation that the Russian
diamond monopoly Almazy Rossiya-Sakha continue to cooperate with
the South African-based multinational company De Beers, Russian
news agencies reported on 21 July. The decree paves the way for
Almazy Rossiya-Sakha to sign a new agreement with De Beers, which
controls some three-quarters of the world's diamond market. A five-
year agreement between the two companies expired at the end of
1995. A framework agreement signed in February 1996 expired on
31 December, after which diamond exports were halted pending a
new accord. According to "Kommersant-Daily" on 22 July, the
presidential decree revokes the right of the Republic of Sakha to sell
abroad 20 percent of the diamonds mined on its territory. Russia
extracts about 26 percent of the world's diamonds, mostly in Sakha.

CONTROVERSIAL NORILSK NICKEL AUCTION PROCESS BEGINS. The
Russian Federal Property Fund on 22 July began accepting
applications to participate in an upcoming sale of a 38 percent stake
in Norilsk Nickel, ITAR-TASS reported. The shares were acquired by
Oneksimbank in November 1995 in exchange for a $170 million loan
to the government. The acquisition was one of the most controversial
loans-for-shares deals, which were said to have benefited
commercial banks with close ties to the Kremlin. The London-based
Trans-World Metals group recently appealed to the Russian
government to postpone the Norilsk Nickel auction for at least a year,
arguing that the planned sale is rigged in favor of Oneksimbank,
"Kommersant-Daily" reported on 22 July. Trans-World Metals is itself
a controversial player in the Russian aluminum industry (see "OMRI
Daily Digest," 7 and 11 March 1997).

GOVERNMENT PLANS PENSION INCREASES. Deputy Prime Minister
Oleg Sysuev says the government is drafting a law that would
increase pensions by 10 percent beginning on 1 October and another
10 percent as of 1 December, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 July. He said
the law will be submitted to the parliament before the start of the
State Duma's fall session. Sysuev added that the proposed increases
will not lead to new delays in pension payments. As wage arrears to
state employees are paid, he explained, the resulting contributions to
the Pension Fund will provide funds to pay higher pensions. A recent
presidential decree ordered all wage arrears to state workers to be
paid by 1 January 1998. The Federation Council recently rejected a
law passed by the Duma that would have raised pensions by 20
percent beginning on 1 July (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 July 1997).

NOVGOROD, TVER GET FINAL APPROVAL TO CONDUCT TAX
EXPERIMENT. Yeltsin on 21 July signed a law to allow the cities of
Novgorod and Tver to introduce a real estate tax, ITAR-TASS
reported. The tax experiment was approved by the Duma in June and
the Federation Council on 3 July. Novgorod and Tver will replace
three current taxes--on property belonging to individuals, on
property owned by enterprises, and the land tax--with a real estate
tax. All of the revenues from the new tax will go to the cities'
budgets.

LENINGRAD OBLAST USES TAX POLICY TO COMPETE WITH ST.
PETERSBURG. In order to deter enterprises from moving to St.
Petersburg, the Leningrad Oblast legislature has passed a law
granting large tax breaks to investors in local industry,
"Kommersant-Daily" reported on 19 July. Enterprises that are the site
of new investment projects will be exempted from regional property
taxes for two years. During the same period, profit taxes on such
enterprises will be cut by 30 percent, 50 percent, or 100 percent,
depending on the size of the investment. In June, the Leningrad
legislature created more incentives for enterprises to stay in the
oblast, cutting regional taxes on profits, property and road use by 50
percent for enterprises. Former Leningrad Governor Aleksandr
Belyakov advocated merging the oblast with St. Petersburg, but
"Kommersant-Daily" noted that there is now little talk of such a
merger. Belyakov lost a gubernatorial election to Vadim Gustov in
September 1996.

FORMER JUSTICE MINISTER SUES NEWSPAPER. Valentin Kovalev has
filed a 5 billion ruble ($864,000) lawsuit against the tabloid weekly
"Sovershenno sekretno," according to "Kommersant-Daily" on 22 July.
Kovalev was fired shortly after "Sovershenno sekretno" published an
article and frames from a videotape allegedly showing Kovalev in a
sauna in a Moscow club reportedly frequented by the mafia (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 26 June and 2 July 1997). However, Kovalev is
suing the tabloid only for the material printed on the cover rather
than for the content of the article, which was printed on inside pages.
Frames from the video published on the cover showed Kovalev with
a towel around his waist in the company of nude women. The
accompanying headlines read, "The Minister Has No Clothes" and "The
Secret Mischief of Justice Minister Kovalev." Kovalev's lawyer,
Anatolii Kucherena, said the trial is only the "first step" in defending
his client's honor and dignity.

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

MINSK GROUP CO-CHAIRMEN TRAVEL TO STEPANAKERT, YEREVAN.
The three co-chairmen of the Organization for Cooperation and
Europe's Minsk Group met in Stepanakert on 19 July with leading
Karabakh Armenian officials, Noyan Tapan reported. The talks
centered on the need to strengthen the existing cease-fire regime
and to open a direct dialogue between Stepanakert and the
Azerbaijani leadership in the hope of finding a mutually acceptable
compromise solution to the conflict. The co-chairmen then traveled to
Yerevan the same day, where they discussed with Armenian
President Levon Ter-Petrossyan organizational issues related to the
negotiating process.

GEORGIAN PRESIDENT WANTS UN PEACEKEEPERS FOR ABKHAZIA.
Meeting with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the UN Security
Council in New York on 21 July, Eduard Shevardnadze again
advocated the deployment in Abkhazia of a UN peacekeeping force to
supplement the existing UN observer mission there. He subsequently
told journalists that Annan had expressed a "positive attitude"
toward this proposal, Reuters reported. The mandate of the CIS
peacekeeping force currently stationed along the border between
Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia expires on 31 July. Tbilisi opposes
its extension, while Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba will not
agree to the replacement of the CIS peacekeepers by an international
force. Meanwhile, Greek Defense Minister Apostolos Tsohatzopoulos
said during his recent visit to Tbilisi that Greece is prepared to
provide a contingent for a UN peacekeeping force, according to
"Delovoi mir" on 18 July.

UZBEK-KYRGYZ-CHINESE HIGHWAY OPENS. The prime ministers of
Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan met with Chinese officials on 21 July at
the new Erkecham customs post on the Kyrgyz-Chinese border for
the official opening of the Andijan-Osh-Kashgar highway, according
to RFE/RL correspondents in Kyrgyzstan and ITAR-TASS. Uzbek
Prime Minister Utkir Sultanov said the road will become the
"transcontinental bridge between Europe and Asia."

CENTRAL ASIANS DISCUSS WATER DISTRIBUTION. Representatives of
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan met in the
northern Tajik city of Khujand on 19-20 July to discuss water
distribution, according to RFE/RL correspondents in Tajikistan. The
Kazakhs and Uzbeks requested an increase in the volume of water
flowing from the Kairakum reservoir in Tajikistan into the Syr River.
Tajik representative Kosim Kosimov said such a decision can be made
only by the Tajik central government. Kyrgyzstan has already
announced it will begin charging its neighbors for water from the
Naryn River; it has not yet decided on a price, however. The sources
of most western Central Asia's rivers are found in the mountains of
Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

FOUR SENTENCED TO DEATH IN TURKMENISTAN. Four people from
Turkmenistan's Mary Province have been sentenced to death for
drug-trafficking, according to the Turkmen newspaper "Adalat" on
22 July. Two of the sentenced men had regularly crossed from
Turkmenistan into Afghanistan. The sentences are in contradiction to
a June amnesty that commuted the death penalty into life
imprisonment for most cases of drug-trafficking.

RUSSIAN-KAZAKH CITIZENSHIP TREATY RATIFIED. Kazakh Minister
of Foreign Affairs Kasymjomart Tokayev and Russian Ambassador to
Kazakhstan Valerii Nikolaenko took part in an official ceremony in
Almaty on 21 July exchanged the instruments of ratification of an
agreement that makes it easier for Russian and Kazakh citizens to
transfer their country of residence, according to ITAR-TASS. The
original agreement was signed by the parliaments of the two
countries in January 1995.

END NOTE

POLITICAL COMBAT INSTEAD OF BLOODLETTING IN TAJIKISTAN

by Salimjon Aioubov

        The Tajik political scene is set to change significantly following
the signing of the peace accord that formally ended long years of
fighting in the country. The accord, signed in Moscow on 27 June by
Tajik President Imomali Rahmonov and the United Tajik Opposition
(UTO) leader Sayid Abdullo Nuri, creates a power-sharing
arrangement and legalizes some opposition parties and movements
that until now were banned, including the Islamic Renaissance Party,
the Democratic Party, the Rastokhez People's Movement, and the
Laali Badakhshan. All those parties amalgamated into the Islamic
Revival Movement while their leaders were in exile in Afghanistan in
1993. Last year, the movement renamed itself the UTO.
        Opposition leaders say they want to keep the UTO alive as an
umbrella organization until the parliamentary elections that are
scheduled to take place by the end of 1998. But at the same time,
they are also seeking to amend the Tajik election laws to allow each
opposition party to run their own candidates in the election. The new
National Reconciliation Commission, which was established in early
July, is now laying the groundwork for elections and recommending
amendments to election laws.
        The principal aim of the peace negotiations, which took place
under UN auspices, was to transfer disagreements among Tajiks from
the battlefield to the political stage. The first possible result of such a
transfer is that Tajik society will be aligned along two axes; namely
the current ruling party and the Islamic opposition. The Islamic
Renaissance Party is the main force on the opposition side, while the
National Unity Movement, created in June to put up a monolithic
front to the opposition, dominates on the pro-president, pro-
government side. Headed by Sulton Mirzoshoev, the former chief of
the presidential administration, the movement brings together the
People's Party and the Political and Economic Renewal Party, both of
which were formed by pro-government supporters after 1993.
        The upcoming election campaign is expected to be fought
vigorously. All the leaders say they look forward to an election
without intimidation, as opposed to earlier ballots, when heavily
armed men were often present at polling booths in an obvious
attempt to influence the vote. Rahmonov says that this time citizens
will be able to vote for whom they like without the presence of
weapons. Opposition leader Nuri has also pledged that his side will
not try to impose its will on the people.
        Both sides are facing the new political era with various
disadvantages. Rahmonov can still count on a solid ruling elite, but he
has bled away a lot of its strength through his purging of the ranks, a
process that continues today. The country's ruinous economic and
social situation has deeply scarred the ruling circles' image. For their
part, the opposition parties and leaders do not have a cohesive social
base. The government has tried to smear the opposition parties by
scaremongering about the threats of fundamentalism, which in the
past had some success. But now the opposition leaders say that
ideology is not the important factor but that they must demonstrate
instead their professionalism and dedication the concept of genuine
independence and reform for Tajikistan.
        Both sides have a credibility problem in that the war-weary
and anxiety-ridden population is highly skeptical about all
politicians. And both the opposition and the government sides are
courting Russia and neighboring Uzbekistan, which have considerable
influence on Tajik affairs. Russia still supports Rahmonov, and
Uzbekistan has improved its ties with the opposition.
        Yet another factor is the National Revival Bloc of former Tajik
Prime Minister Abdumalik Abdullajonov, which has no formal links
to either the opposition or the government but has some influence in
the northern region.
        In short, it can be said that, despite the peace agreement
between the two opposing sides, there are still severe threats to the
peace process. Those threats take the form of looming power
struggles, the possible fragmentation of political forces, and
underlying differences between Russia and Uzbekistan.

The author is an editor for RFE/RL's Tajik Service.


xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
               Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc.
                     All rights reserved.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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