When two men in business always agree, one of them is unnecessary. - Anonymous
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 1, No. 79, Part I, 23 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

*YELTSIN VETOES RELIGION LAW


*ROKHLIN SLAMS MILITARY REFORM PLANS


*GEORGIAN PRESIDENT OPPOSES "HASTY" DECISION ON ABKHAZ
PEACEKEEPERS

End Note
ONE STATE, TWO FOREIGN POLICIES?

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RUSSIA

YELTSIN VETOES RELIGION LAW. President Boris Yeltsin on 22 July
vetoed the law on religious organizations, which would have favored
four "traditional religions"--Russian Orthodoxy, Islam, Buddhism, and
Judaism--over more recently established "religious groups." The law
has drawn criticism from human rights defenders and minority
religious groups in Russia, as well as from the Pope and the U.S. (see
Part II). In a statement issued from the Samara Oblast resort where
he is vacationing, Yeltsin said his decision was difficult and that he is
aware of the need to "prevent the infiltration of radical sects" in
Russia. However, he argued that "numerous provisions of the bill
curb constitutional human and civil rights and freedoms, make
[religious] confessions unequal, and are inconsistent with Russia's
international commitments." He sent proposed amendments to the
law to both houses of parliament. Article 14 of the Constitution says
that religious associations are equal under the law.

OPPOSITION BLASTS VETO. Communist Viktor Zorkaltsev, who chairs
the State Duma Committee on Political Associations and Religious
Organizations, blasted Yeltsin's decision to veto the religion law. He
told Interfax on 23 July that "Russia has been trampled on." Duma
Security Committee Chairman and Communist Viktor Ilyukhin
charged that the West is attempting to "brainwash the younger
generation [in Russia]." Valentin Kuptsov, also a prominent
Communist, predicted that the parliament will override Yeltsin's
veto, which he called a "public humiliation of Russia." There was no
immediate reaction from Russian Orthodox Church officials, who
strongly supported the law. Fifty Church leaders, including Patriarch
of Moscow and All Russia Aleksii II, recently issued an appeal urging
Yeltsin to sign the law (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 July 1997).

YELTSIN APPROVES PRODUCTION-SHARING LIST. Also on 22 July,
Yeltsin signed the law listing seven sites that may be developed in
accordance with production-sharing agreements, Russian news
agencies reported. The law is expected to pave the way for
substantial foreign and domestic investment in the approved sites:
five oil and gas fields, one iron ore deposit, and one gold mine.
Production-sharing agreements allow companies to invest in natural
resource deposits in exchange for a percentage of the resources
extracted in the future. Meanwhile, Yeltsin signed laws on the
procedure for adopting and revising the 1998 budget and on
calculating and increasing pensions for non-working pensioners.
Earlier this month, Yeltsin vetoed the witness protection law (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 16 May 1997). The president's veto message said
some of that law's provisions violated the constitutional rights of
criminal defendants to a fair trial, "Rossiiskie vesti" reported on 4
July.

YELTSIN SIGNS DECREE ON POLITICAL ASYLUM. Yeltsin on 22 July
issued a decree saying political asylum in Russia may be granted by
presidential decree to persons who risk persecution in their home
countries "for public and political activities and views that are not
inconsistent with democratic principles recognized by the
international community and international standards," Russian news
agencies reported. However, persons who are persecuted for actions
that are forbidden under Russian law will not be eligible for asylum.

NEW RUSSIAN PASSPORTS NOT TO LIST NATIONALITY. Vladimir
Kolesnikov, head of the Interior Ministry's passport and visa
department, announced that new Russian passports will not contain
the infamous "Line 5," on which Soviet citizens were required to list
their nationality, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 23 July. In
accordance with a recent government directive, the new passports
will begin to be issued on 1 October. All Soviet-era passports
currently held by Russian citizens are to be replaced by 2005.

RUSSIAN SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES NORTH CAUCASUS. Security
Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin convened a meeting of his deputies
and staff on 22 July to discuss rising tensions between North Ossetia
and Ingushetia, Russian media reported. Among the proposed
measures for stabilizing the region were the restoration of direct
Russian government representation in North Ossetia's disputed
Prigorodnyi Raion. Russian Nationalities Minister Vyacheslav
Mikhailov named as a possible candidate for this post, according to
Interfax. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 23 July quoted North Ossetian
President Akhsarbek Galazov as affirming that all citizens of North
Ossetia are equal before the law, and that alleged discrimination
against the Ingush is a reflection of the catastrophic economic
situation in the region. The Security Council also discussed the
security of the Baku-Grozny-Tikhoretsk oil pipeline. The Chechen
stretch of that pipeline will be protected against terrorist attacks by
400 guards 24 hours a day, ITAR-TASS reported

ROKHLIN SLAMS MILITARY REFORM PLANS. Speaking in St.
Petersburg, State Duma Defense Committee Chairman Lev Rokhlin on
22 July described the military reform plan drawn up by Defense
Minister Igor Sergeev and approved by Yeltsin as a "disgrace for the
country," an RFE/RL correspondent in St. Petersburg reported. He
also criticized the growth of the "police forces," a reference to troops
subordinate to the Interior Ministry or other federal agencies, which
are not affected by recent presidential decrees on downsizing the
armed forces. Rokhlin told RFE/RL that he had not been allowed to
address generals of the Leningrad Military District. Before arriving in
St. Petersburg, he met with top officials and directors of defense
enterprises in Vladimir, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 23 July.
Rokhlin plans to tour several other Russian cities to drum up support
for his new movement to support the military and the defense
industry.

MIXED REACTIONS TO ROKHLIN INITIATIVE. Communist Party leader
Gennadii Zyuganov has praised Rokhlin for showing "statesmanship
in his approach to the needs of the army," Interfax reported on 22
July. Duma Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Valentin
Varennikov, also a Communist, said he too supports Rokhlin's new
movement to support the military, which will hold its founding
congress in September. Meanwhile, Duma First Deputy Speaker
Aleksandr Shokhin, a leading member of the pro-government Our
Home Is Russia (NDR) movement, criticized Rokhlin for creating a
"left-wing opposition movement in defense of the armed forces."
Rokhlin belongs to the NDR Duma faction, but Shokhin said Rokhlin
has "placed himself outside" the NDR because of the "extremist and
marginal membership" of Rokhlin's new movement. NDR Duma
deputies will consider whether to expel Rokhlin in September. Yeltsin
recently vowed to "sweep aside the Rokhlins with their
counterproductive actions" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 July 1997).

NEMTSOV ON PAYING SOLDIERS' WAGE ARREARS. First Deputy Prime
Minister Boris Nemtsov says the government will allocate 1.8 trillion
rubles ($310 million) in July toward paying wage arrears to those
serving in the armed forces, Russian news agencies reported on 22
July. He said that sum is about one-third of total wage arrears to
military personnel and pledged that the government will pay all
back wages to those serving in the military by 1 September, in
accordance with a recent presidential decree. However, "Trud"
reported on 22 July that wage arrears to military personnel total at
least 8 trillion rubles. The paper also noted that back wages are only
part of the government's debt to soldiers, many of whom have not
received other benefits payments for one and a half to two years.

GOVERNMENT COMMISSION TARGETS MORE TAX DEBTORS. Following
a meeting of the government's commission on tax collection, State
Tax Service chief Aleksandr Pochinok announced that four more
large enterprises have said they will keep to schedules for paying
their back taxes, Russian media reported on 22 July. The Mechel
metallurgical plant in Chelyabinsk will be forced to pay its debt of
some 100 billion rubles ($17 million) by 1 September. The Moscow
Oil Refinery was given six months to pay its back taxes, while the
Ulyanovsk and Urals automobile manufacturers are to pay their
arrears by early 1998. All tax debts must be paid in cash, NTV
reported. The commission's next meeting will focus on state-run
enterprises, according to "Kommersant-Daily" on 23 July. Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomryrdin warned that if such enterprises do
not stick to schedules for paying their back taxes, their directors will
be fired and in some cases may even be prosecuted.

VLADIVOSTOK MAYOR THREATENS WALKOUT BY CITY
ADMINISTRATION... Appearing on local radio, Viktor Cherepkov has
warned that Vladivostok city officials will go on strike beginning on
28 July if the Primorskii Krai administration does not pay 211 billion
rubles ($36 million) reportedly owed to the capital, RFE/RL's
correspondent in Vladivostok reported on 22 July. Cherepkov and
krai Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko have been bitter political
opponents for years. Also on 22 July, some 2,000 municipal workers
demonstrated outside the Vladivostok city administration building
for the second straight day. They are demanding a contract with the
city on providing services, payment of wage arrears, and Cherepkov's
resignation. Doctors are warning of possible outbreaks of epidemics
in Vladivostok as the strike by municipal workers, and in particular
garbage collectors, continues. The mayor has attributed the strike to
"political intrigues" by Communists who oppose reforming the city's
housing and municipal services.

...AS PRESIDENTIAL REPRESENTATIVE CRITICIZES
"UNPROFESSIONALISM" OF PRIMORE LEADERS. Viktor Kondratov,
Yeltsin's representative in Primorskii Krai, has criticized the
"unprofessionalism" of those in power in Primore, RFE/RL's
correspondent in Vladivostok reported on 22 July. Kondratov
dismissed Cherepkov's threat of a walkout of Vladivostok officials as
"nonsense." He also charged that krai officials flout presidential
decrees by continuing to distribute federal funds without
Kondratov's consent. As a result, he argued, the funds are being
spent "unfairly" and state employees in Vladivostok and the port of
Nakhodka are being shortchanged. Kondratov said he has informed
Yeltsin about the violations. He has also requested that First Deputy
Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais discipline the head of the Primore
branch of the Finance Ministry. Kondratov's remarks indicate that
Moscow will have trouble enforcing a recent presidential decree
expanding the powers of Yeltsin's representatives in the regions (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 15 July 1997).

GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN QUESTIONS REPORTS ON ALLEGED
CHUBAIS MEETING. Government spokesman Igor Shabdurasulov has
questioned the veracity of newspaper reports on alleged secret
meetings between First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais and
the Danish businessman Jan Bonde Nielsen, Interfax reported on 22
July. Some newspapers have published photographs of Chubais
meeting Bonde Nielsen, and the weekly "Novaya gazeta" noted that
Bonde Nielsen has a "shady reputation," citing Danish journalists. An
RFE/RL stringer in Denmark reported on 16 July that Norwegian
television networks have broadcast footage shot from hidden
cameras showing Chubais and Bonde Nielsen meeting on a yacht.
Neither the subjects they discussed nor the nature of Bonde Nielsen's
business interests in Russia are known. According to the Danish
newspaper "Ekstra Bladet," Bonde Nielsen was charged with
embezzlement in Denmark during the 1980s but escaped prosecution
by residing in the United Kingdom until the charges against him were
dropped in 1995.

NIZHNII NOVGOROD GOVERNOR INAUGURATED. Ivan Sklyarov on 22
July was sworn in as governor of Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast, RFE/RL's
correspondent in Nizhnii Novgorod reported. First Deputy Prime
Minister Nemtsov spoke at the ceremony, although relations between
him and Sklyarov have been strained since the election (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 16 and 18 July 1997). Aleksandr Livshits, deputy head of
the presidential administration, cited Nizhnii Novgorod's importance
as Russia's "third capital" (after Moscow and St. Petersburg). Moscow
Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, whom the new governor has credited with
helping his campaign, also spoke at the inauguration. He described
Sklyarov's election as a "most difficult victory of democratic forces."
But Luzhkov warned against "euphoria," noting that 42 percent of the
oblast's voters supported the opposition candidate. The Moscow
mayor also called for cooperation among cities and regions, "so as not
to allow foreigners to take over the economy."

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

GEORGIAN PRESIDENT OPPOSES "HASTY" DECISION ON ABKHAZ
PEACEKEEPERS. Eduard Shevardnadze said on his return to Tbilisi
from the U.S. on 22 July that the Georgian leadership will take no
"hasty or light-headed" decisions on expelling the CIS peacekeepers
after their mandate expires on 31 July, Russian media reported. But
Tamaz Nadareishvili, chairman of the Abkhaz parliament in exile, has
ordered Georgian volunteers to western Georgia to replace the CIS
force now deployed along the internal border between Abkhazia and
the rest of Georgia, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 23 July. Lev
Mironov, a Russian representative to UN-sponsored talks on the
Abkhaz conflict that opened in Geneva on 23 July, told Interfax it
will be difficult to avoid fresh violence if the peacekeepers leave.
Citing an unnamed UN source, AFP reported that the talks will not
address Abkhazia's future political status but are intended to secure
agreement that neither side will renew hostilities after 31 July.

AZERBAIJANI SENTENCES ETHNIC ARMENIAN FOR ESPIONAGE. A
military court in Baku on 22 July handed down the death sentence to
Karen Barashev on charges of spying for Armenia, an RFE/RL
correspondent in Baku reported. Barashev, an Armenian who was
born in Baku and served in the Soviet army in Azerbaijan, was
recruited in Russia by Armenian intelligence, according to
"Literaturnaya gazeta" on 16 July, quoting a senior member of
President Heidar Aliev's administration. Barashev agreed to return to
Azerbaijan, where he enlisted in an anti-aircraft unit and between
1993 and 1996 carried out systematic sabotage causing more than $1
million damage. Azerbaijani Security Minister Namik Abbasov has
frequently commented that Russian, Turkish, Iranian, and Armenian
agents are engaged in espionage in Azerbaijan. "Nezavisimaya gazeta"
on 23 July quoted the head of the Public Relations Department of the
Armenian National Security Ministry as saying that "you would think
the sole aim of the world's intelligence services is to organize a coup
in Azerbaijan."

ARMENIAN NUCLEAR POWER STATION CLOSED FOR MAINTENANCE.
The nuclear power station at Medzamor was closed down on 22 July
for two months, during which one-third of the nuclear fuel will be
replaced and the security system upgraded, Armenian media
reported. At a recent meeting with senior Armenian officials,
including Prime Minister Robert Kocharyan, Director-General of the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Hans Blix noted
"considerable progress" in ensuring the safe exploitation of the plant,
according to Noyan Tapan. Blix and Armenian Energy Minister Gagik
Martirossyan also discussed the possibility of building a second
nuclear power station in Armenia, Interfax reported on 17 July.

KAZAKH PRESIDENT CRITICIZES TAX, CUSTOMS OFFICIALS. At a 22
July session of the Kazakh Security Council, Nursultan Nazarbayev
blasted the work of the State Committees on Taxation and Customs,
RFE/RL correspondents in Almaty reported. According to
Nazarbayev, "inappropriate work" of the two committees was
responsible for the government losing an estimated 13 billion tenge
(about $170 million). Nazarbayev also told the session that criminal
proceedings have been initiated against 29 officials of the Taxation
Committee and 22 officials from the Customs Committee.

END NOTE

ONE STATE, TWO FOREIGN POLICIES?

by Liz Fuller

        Armenia has traditionally considered itself, and been regarded
by the international community, as Russia's closest ally in the
Transcaucasus, not least because of the two countries' shared
mistrust of Turkey. True, since coming to power in August 1990, the
post-communist leadership of Levon Ter-Petrossyan has consistently
sought to pursue a balanced foreign policy and to establish cordial
relations with all neighboring states, including Turkey. Russia
nonetheless remained the primary focus, and relations between
Yerevan and Moscow were so harmonious that, during his visit to
Armenia in fall 1994, Russian Federation Council chairman Vladimir
Shumeiko was hard put to name a single issue on which the two
countries' leaderships disagreed. (This is not to suggest that
Armenia's sovereignty is in any way subservient to Russia: it
behaves as a "model geo-political citizen" but not as a satellite.) From
Moscow's standpoint, the most crucial component of this "special
relationship" is military cooperation. Under a series of bilateral
agreements signed over the past few years, Russia maintains a
military base in Armenia, and the countries' armed forces regularly
conduct joint maneuvers.
        In terms of regional geo-politics, Russia and Armenia, together
with Iran, were until recently perceived as a counterweight to the
Western-oriented axis that originally comprised Azerbaijan and
Turkey. Over the past year, however, Georgia and Ukraine have
aligned themselves with Azerbaijan. Two factors contributed to this
configuration change: the search for the economically most viable
export route for Azerbaijan's Caspian oil that bypasses Russian
territory, and the ongoing debate over NATO's eastward expansion,
which offered the (admittedly long-term) possibility of alternative
security guarantees to the CIS Collective Security Treaty.
        The views of Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Ukraine on both those
issues have not always corresponded to those of the Turkish
leadership. Georgia and Ukraine propose pumping Azerbaijan's
Caspian oil to the Georgian terminal of Supsa, shipping it by tanker to
Odessa, and transporting it by pipeline from there to Western
Europe. Ankara, for its part, is intent on building a major export
pipeline from Baku to Ceyhan in southeastern Turkey. As for NATO
expansion, Turkish Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller threatened in
January to veto acceptance of any new NATO members unless
concrete assurances were given that Ankara would finally be granted
entry into the EU.
        The emergence of the Azerbaijan-Georgia-Ukraine axis appears
to have served as the catalyst for a revision of Armenia's
traditionally Russia-oriented foreign and security policies. (This
policy shift may also have been prompted by apprehension that
some circles within the Russian leadership who want Azerbaijan's oil
to be exported via the Baku-Grozny-Tikhoretsk-Novorossiisk pipeline
would make major concessions to Baku that could negatively impact
on the search for an acceptable solution to the Karabakh conflict.)
Yerevan has in recent months engaged in an intensive dialogue with
Kyiv. The Armenian Foreign Ministry has also drafted a new security
doctrine that provides for military cooperation with Russia and the
CIS as well as for Armenia's more active participation in NATO's
Partnership for Peace program; a role for Armenia, together with
international organizations, in guaranteeing the security of Nagorno-
Karabakh; and the proposed creation of a sub-regional security and
arms control system.
        (In this context Armenia is likely to support the recently
resurrected Russian proposal to beef up the security component of
the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Greek
Defense Minister Apostolos Tsohatzopoulos may have had this in
mind when he commented after recent talks in Yerevan with his
Armenian counterpart, Vazgen Sargsian, that "it is necessary to
establish a new body of collective security, proceeding from the
existence of regional institutions.")
        In late April, the Armenian Foreign Ministry advised
postponing ratification of a treaty permitting Russia to maintain a
military base in Armenia. In a document circulated among
parliamentary deputies and subsequently published in the
independent newspaper "Molorak," the ministry argued that by
formalizing the Russian military presence in Armenia, the treaty
limited the amount of heavy weaponry that Yerevan would be
permitted under the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe. If
Russia withdrew its troops, Armenia would not be automatically
entitled to increase its arms holdings and could therefore find itself
vulnerable to attack. However, this reasoning failed to convince the
parliament, which ratified the treaty by a large majority.
        To interpret this episode simply as a clash between two
foreign-policy visions--one traditional and static and the other
evolving in response to a more complex and changing geo-strategic
environment--would overlook three key points. First, the
phenomenon of two apparently divergent foreign policy orientations
reflects the growing professionalization of the foreign-policy
establishments of the former Soviet republics and, as such, is not
unique to Armenia. Second, the debate focuses on the priority to be
given to Armenia's relations with Russia; that is, it is a question of
degree, rather than of two mutually exclusive alternatives. Third,
both these orientations have their supporters within the Armenian
leadership and the opposition, as does the proposal that Armenia
accede to the Russia-Belarus Union. Which vision prevails will likely
be determined not by the relative strength of the domestic political
lobbies but by the nature and extent of the long-term security
guarantees provided for Nagorno-Karabakh under any proposed
political settlement of the conflict.




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