Standing, as I do, in the view of God and eternity, I realize that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness toward anyone. - Edith Cavell 1865-1915 (Spoken to the chaplain who attended her before her execution by firing squad, 12 Oct. 1915.)
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 1, No. 93, Part I, 12 August 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

*NORILSK DEAL SIGNED, AS MORE SHOTS FIRED IN INFORMATION
WAR

*MOP-UP CONTINUES IN WEST TAJIKISTAN, WHILE FIGHTING
DIMINISHES IN SOUTH

*MORE KARABAKH PEACE TALKS


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RUSSIA

NORILSK DEAL SIGNED... The government has signed a deal on the 5
August sale of a 38 percent stake in Norilsk Nickel to the Svift
company, but there were conflicting reports on when the document
was signed. A government spokesman told ITAR-TASS on 11 August
that Svift and government officials signed the deal sometime after
representatives of the Procurator-General's Office, State Property
Committee, and Russian Federal Property Fund had informed Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on 9 August that no laws were
violated during the Norilsk auction. (This report contradicted an
earlier ITAR-TASS report on 11 August, which said those officials
had not yet submitted their conclusions to Chernomyrdin.)
"Kommersant-Daily" on 12 August claimed that the deal transferring
the Norilsk stake to Svift, which is linked to Oneksimbank, was
signed on 8 August immediately after government officials told
Chernomyrdin that the sale was conducted in full compliance with
the law.

...AS MORE SHOTS FIRED IN INFORMATION WAR. "Segodnya" on 12
August noted that while the Procurator-General's Office agreed that
there are no legal grounds for challenging the Norilsk auction in
court, the procuracy's report to Chernomyrdin cited shortcomings in
Russia's privatization legislation. The same day, long-time "Izvestiya"
journalist Mikhail Berger published a separate article in "Segodnya"
arguing that the 1995 agreements under which Oneksimbank
acquired management rights over the Norilsk shares were
"detrimental and unfair but, within the framework of those unfair
rules, everything [connected with the 5 August sale] was honest."
Berger argued further that in selling the Norilsk stake, the
government had been forced to choose between "the rules" and
"fairness," owing to badly-drafted privatization legislation and rules
for loans-for-shares deals. Those loans-for-shares rules had been
"dictated" by Oneksimbank, Berger claimed. Vladimir Gusinskii's
Media-Most group owns "Segodnya," while Oneksimbank is a major
shareholder in "Izvestiya."

KORZHAKOV DISCUSSES MEMOIRS. Declaring that the people have a
right "to know the truth" about their leaders, State Duma deputy
Aleksandr Korzhakov on 12 August told journalists about his new
book, "Boris Yeltsin: From Dawn to Sunset," RFE/RL's Moscow bureau
reported. Korzhakov, former head of the Presidential Security Service
and a close confidante of President Boris Yeltsin, declined to talk
about the book's contents in detail but said it will appear in shops by
15 August. He claimed that individuals representing Security Council
Deputy Secretary Boris Berezovskii had offered him $5 million not to
publish the book. Korzhakov also charged that the authorities tried to
pressure Russian publishers not to print the book (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 8 August 1997). Excerpts from Korzhakov's book that
were published in London's "The Times" on 3 August depicted Yeltsin
as having a chronic drinking problem and offered an unflattering
portrayal of the president's younger daughter, Tatyana Dyachenko.

NEW COMMANDER OF INTERIOR MINISTRY TROOPS APPOINTED. Col.-
Gen. Leontii Shevtsov, who since October 1995 has commanded the
Russian contingent serving with the UN peacekeeping force in Bosnia,
has been appointed deputy interior minister and commander of the
Interior Ministry troops, Russian media reported on 11 August. The
51-year-old Shevtsov is a graduate of the Tashkent Higher Military
Command College, the Frunze Academy, and the General Staff
Academy, according to "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 12 August. He
served in East Germany as commander of a tank battalion and as
chief of staff of the combined Russian forces in Chechnya from
December 1994 to April 1995. Shevtsov replaces Col.-Gen. Anatolii
Shkirko, who was reported to have retired "for health reasons" (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 10 July 1997).

SERGEEV SEEKS TO ASSUAGE FEARS ON MILITARY REFORM. Defense
Minister Igor Sergeev on 11 August told commanders and officers of
the Far East Military District in Khabarovsk that military reform will
seek to provide "the highest possible level of military security"
without exceeding "feasible expenditures," ITAR-TASS reported.
Sergeev also stopped in Kamchatka and is to visit military
installations in Chita and Novosibirsk. According to the 12 August
"Nezavisimaya gazeta," the Far East, Trans-Baikal, and Siberian
Military Districts, along with the Pacific Fleet, have the worst wage
arrears problems in the armed forces, with backlogs of up to four
months. Speaking in Moscow on 7 August, Sergeev promised that
wage arrears to military personnel will be paid by 20 August, before
the 1 September deadline imposed by a recent presidential decree,
Russian news agencies reported. Sergeev added that as military
reforms are implemented, spending on soldiers' wages and benefits
will increase.

ROKHLIN'S MOVEMENT TO JOIN PLANNED OPPOSITION PROTESTS.
Duma Defense Committee Chairman Lev Rokhlin says that this fall,
his movement to support the armed forces and defense industry will
join with other opposition parties to "lead the people out into the
streets and stay there until the president and government resign,"
Interfax reported on 11 August. Rokhlin -- formally still a member
of the pro-government Our Home Is Russia Duma faction -- said he
plans to discuss possible cooperation with the Communist, Yabloko,
and Liberal Democratic Party of Russia Duma factions. The
communist opposition has strongly supported Rokhlin's recent
initiatives (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 and 7 August 1997). Rokhlin
also said his movement has formed 35 regional branches and hopes
to establish another 35 by September. In order to be registered as an
all-Russian public organization, a movement must have branches in
at least 45 of Russia's 89 regions.

FOREIGN BANKS TO FINANCE RUSSIAN SPACE PROGRAM. Speaking at
the Moscow-based Khrunichev State Space Research and Production
Center on 8 August, Yeltsin pledged that Russia will meet its
obligations for the construction of the "Alpha" international space
station, Russian news agencies reported. Yeltsin also said that he
favored centralizing management of the country's space industry. A
presidential decree will allow the Finance Ministry to borrow $99.5
million this year from foreign banks to allow the Russian Space
Agency to finance the "Alpha" project. Those loans will be backed by
government guarantees. Earlier this year, Russian Space Agency head
Yurii Koptev said four Russian banks would lend some $140 million
toward further construction of "Alpha" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14
and 30 April 1997). Because of funding problems on the Russian side,
the scheduled launch of the first module of the station has been
delayed from November 1997 until June 1998.

CATHOLICISM TO BE ADDED TO LIST OF "TRADITIONAL" RUSSIAN
RELIGIONS? Speaking in St. Petersburg, Duma Speaker Gennadii
Seleznev predicted that when the law on religious organizations is
amended, Catholicism will be named among Russia's "traditional
religions," ITAR-TASS reported on 11 August. The initial version of
the law, vetoed by Yeltsin in July, listed only the Russian Orthodox
Church, Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism as traditional religions. The
Vatican urged Yeltsin to veto the law. Yeltsin has called on
representatives of the presidential administration, the parliament,
and the Russian Orthodox Church to submit a revised draft of the law
by 1 September. Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Aleksii II has
argued that Catholicism cannot be considered a traditional religion
for today's Russia, since before 1917, most Catholics in the Russian
empire lived on territory that is no longer part of Russia (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 5 and 7 August 1997).

HALF OF RUSSIANS AGAINST SPECIAL STATUS FOR MEMBERS OF
RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH. In a recent nationwide poll of 1600
Russians by the All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion
(VCIOM), 49 percent of respondents said members of the Russian
Orthodox Church should not have a higher legal status than atheists
or representatives of other religious groups, "Izvestiya" reported on
9 August. Some 27 percent of respondents said members of the
Russian Orthodox Church should have a special status under the law,
while 14 percent expressed no opinion. Article 14 of the constitution
declares that all religious groups are equal under the law.

ENVIRONMENTALISTS PROTEST NUCLEAR PLANT UNDER
CONSTRUCTION IN ROSTOV. Some 150 environmental activists have
again blocked the road leading to a nuclear power plant under
construction in Volgodonsk (Rostov Oblast), RFE/RL's Moscow bureau
reported on 11 August. Construction of the plant was halted in 1990,
but the Atomic Energy Ministry decided last year to resume
construction. In a telephone interview with RFE/RL, Sergei Fomichev
of the group Defenders of the Rainbow said the protesters are
demanding an oblast-wide referendum on the plant. (Citizens of
Kostroma Oblast voted overwhelmingly against building a nuclear
plant in a similar referendum last December.) In the 6 August
"Izvestiya," Fomichev described how some 30 protesters blocking the
road to the Volgodonsk plant were beaten up on 29 July. "Segodnya"
on 7 August quoted officials in the Atomic Energy Ministry as saying
the Rostov environmentalists instigated the 29 July incident and are
in the pay of foreign sources.

TWO RUSSIAN OIL COMPANIES TO PURCHASE IRAQI CRUDE. The
Russian oil companies Zarubezhneft (Nostro) and Alfa-Ekho have
concluded agreements with Iraq's state oil company SOMO to
purchase Iraqi oil under the "oil for food" scheme, Russian media
reported. Both contracts must be approved by the UN. Zarubezhneft
is to buy 740,000 metric tons, which it intends to transport from
Kirkuk in northern Iraq to the Turkish terminal at Ceyhan later in
August. Alfa-Ekho will buy 354,000 metric tons, according to
Interfax.

LUKASHENKA PROPOSES BELARUS AS VENUE FOR MASKHADOV-
YELTSIN MEETING. Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has
proposed that the planned meeting between Yeltsin and Chechen
President Aslan Maskhadov take place in Minsk, Interfax reported
on 11 August. Maskhadov's deputy, Vakha Arsanov, told journalists
that the Chechen leadership considers either Belarus or Azerbaijan
an acceptable venue, Turan and Interfax reported. But Yeltsin's press
spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii said on11 August that the meeting
will take place in Moscow, according to "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 12
August. Yastrzhembskii said the talks would focus on why earlier
agreements are not being implemented. The Chechen side wants to
sign an "inter-state treaty" between Russia and the Chechen Republic.
On 11 August, Maskhadov traveled to neighboring Ingushetia where
he discussed the overall situation in the North Caucasus with his
Ingush counterpart, Ruslan Aushev.

CHECHENS WILL TRY TO OBTAIN JOURNALISTS' RELEASE.
Maskhadov's press secretary Kazbek Khadzhiev said on 11 August
that Grozny hopes to secure the release of five Russian journalists
abducted in Chechnya over the past three months before the planned
Yeltsin-Maskhadov meeting, ITAR-TASS and dpa reported. Vladimir
Lukin, the chairman of the Russian State Duma Foreign Affairs
Committee, told ITAR-TASS that "no serious accords" between
Moscow and Grozny should be signed until all Russians held hostage
in Chechnya are freed.

TYPHOID OUTBREAK REPORTED IN DAGESTAN. Some 168 people,
including 64 children have been hospitalized with suspected typhoid
fever in Dagestan, Russian media reported. The first four cases of
typhoid in Dagestan this year were reported in May in the town of
Kaspiisk, but almost all those affected in the current outbreak are
from the village of Tebekhmakhi in Akush Raion. The suspected
cause of the outbreak is contaminated supplies of drinking water.

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

MOP-UP CONTINUES IN WEST TAJIKISTAN... Forces of the
presidential guard are continuing to strengthen their positions in the
western regions of Gissar, Shahkr-i Naw, and Tursunzade , according
to RFE/RL correspondents. Troops under the command of the guard's
commander, Sukhrob Kasymov, have forced armed units of Customs
Minister Yakub Salimov and of Col. Mahmud Khudaberdiyev,
commander of the army's rapid reaction force, into gorges of the
nearby mountains and toward the Uzbek border. Uzbekistan has
closed that frontier and strengthened its forces there. Tajik army
troops loyal to the government have taken control of on the Tajik
side of the border. There is still no official figure for the number of
dead and wounded during this latest outbreak of fighting. The
government claims to have taken full control of Tursunzade and the
aluminum plant in the city. In Dushanbe, where the fighting started
on 9 August, the head of the city's police has been fired for failing to
take adequate measures to put down the conflict.

...WHILE FIGHTING DIMINISHES IN SOUTH. Tajik government
reconnaissance planes show that forces loyal to Col. Khudaberdiyev,
have pulled back from their positions in the Fakhrabad Pass, 35
kilometers south of Dushanbe, RFE/RL correspondents reported.
Khudaberdiyev claims that those planes bombed positions in
Kalininabad on 12 August, preventing the colonel from taking part in
negotiations with the head of the CIS peacekeeping force. Russia's
NTV on 12 August reported that he does not have sufficient forces
left "to put up serious resistance." Commander of the presidential
guard Sukhrob Kasymov told NTV that there was fighting in the city
of Kurgan-Teppe, where Khudaberdiyev's headquarters is located,
and that the city has been under artillery fire since the night of 11
August. He added that he expects to have order restored in "two or
three days."

RUSSIAN TROOPS, UTO PROMISE NEUTRALITY. Russian officials in
Moscow and a United Tajik Opposition (UTO) leader say they will
remain neutral in the current problems in Tajikistan. Russian Foreign
Ministry spokesman Valerii Nesterushkin told ITAR-TASS on 11
August that while the Russian military and border guards in
Tajikistan "are taking measures to prevent casualties," the response
of the Tajik government leads him to believe that the fighting there
can be localized. Interfax quoted an unnamed "top" Russian official at
the Defense Ministry as saying CIS peacekeepers are not interfering
in the conflict. Vladimir Lukin, chairman of the Russian State Duma
Foreign Affairs Committee, told Ekho Moskvy that Russian soldiers in
Tajikistan have not been targeted in the latest outbreak of fighting
but that participation in an "active fashion" might lead some forces to
"immediately turn on us." UTO deputy leader Ali Akbar Turajonzoda
told Voice of Free Tajikistan that his forces will also remain neutral.

KAZAKHSTAN COMPLAINS ABOUT RUSSIAN CUSTOMS. The chairman
of Kazakhstan's State Custom's Committee, Gani Kasymov, has sent a
letter of protest to Russian customs officials complaining about
violations of trade agreements, RFE/RL correspondents in Kazakhstan
reported on 12 August. Russian customs workers have been levying
taxes on goods transported by trucks from Kazakhstan. Both
countries are members of the four-country customs union (together
with Kyrgyzstan and Belarus) and are freed from such taxation.
Russia officials have said the practice will be stopped immediately.

RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR MEETS WITH KAZAKH DEMONSTRATORS.
Russian Ambassador to Kazakhstan Valerii Nikolaenko on 11 August
met with Kazakh journalists demonstrating outside the Russian
Embassy on 9 August, RFE/RL correspondents reported. The
journalists wanted to show solidarity with Russian journalists
currently detained in Belarus. They also demanded that their Russian
colleagues be released immediately. Nikolaenko said he had been
unable to meet with the journalists on 9 August because he had not
been in the capital. He also said the Russian government is closely
monitoring the situation.

MORE KARABAKH PEACE TALKS SCHEDULED? The U.S. intends in the
immediate future to intensify its efforts to achieve a political
settlement of the Karabakh conflict, AFP reported on 11 August,
citing an unnamed U.S. State Department source. He said that "very
serious discussions" will be held following the presidential elections
in the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic on 1 September.
An article in the Armenian state newspaper "Hayastani
Hanrapetutyun" on 6 August argued that Armenian society must
accept that "mutual concessions on key issues" are necessary to
resolve the conflict. The article sparked widespread speculation that
the Armenian leadership is preparing to make substantive
concessions. Writing in "Hayots ashkhar" on 7 August, Samvel
Babayan, the commander-in-chief of the Karabakh Armenian armed
forces, rejected such speculation. He asserted that "even if such a
document is signed, it won't be implemented."

TURKEY WANTS A STAKE IN RECENT US-AZERBAIJAN OIL
AGREEMENTS. The Turkish state oil company TPAO is lobbying to be
included in at least one of the four new agreements signed by
Azerbaijan's state oil company SOCAR and major U.S. oil companies
earlier this month, according to the "Turkish Daily News" on 12
August, quoting a statement released by the Turkish energy
ministry. Turkey is a participant in only one of the five international
consortiums created to date to exploit Azerbaijan's Caspian oil. TPAO
has a 6.75 percent stake in the consortium developing the Azeri,
Chirag, and Gyuneshli fields.

ETHNIC GEORGIAN REFUGEES FROM ABKHAZIA ISSUE NEW
ULTIMATUM... Representatives of the ethnic Georgians forced to flee
Abkhazia during the 1992-93 war held a congress in Tbilisi on 8-9
August, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 12 August. The
participants adopted a 16-point resolution declaring Abkhazia and
South Ossetia "annexed territories" and the Russian peacekeeping
forces currently deployed there "an army of occupation." They also
called for the annulment of the treaty permitting Russia to maintain
military bases in Georgia and for Tbilisi to quit the CIS, according to
Interfax. The congress participants threatened a "confrontation" with
the Georgian authorities if those demands are not met within one
month. On 11 August, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze
assured the fugitives in his weekly radio address that "until we
return Abkhazia [to Georgian jurisdiction], we are all refugees."

...WHILE SHEVARDNADZE QUERIES POINT OF PLANNED MEETING
WITH YELTSIN. Shevardnadze has warned that the withdrawal from
Abkhazia of the Russian peacekeeping force, whose mandate expired
on 31 July, "would inevitably lead to a new conflict." He also said that
he would meet in Moscow with Russian President Boris Yeltsin and
Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba only in order to sign a
document on resolving the conflict that is acceptable to both sides.
Shevardnadze has approved Yeltsin's still unpublished proposals,
while Ardzinba wants to use an earlier protocol drafted by the
Russian Foreign Ministry as a basis for further negotiations. Russian
Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov met with Ardzinba for several
hours in the Black Sea coast resort of Sochi on 9 August, according to
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 12 August. No details of their talks have
been released, however.



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