We are so bound together that no man can labor for himself alone. Each blow he strikes in his own behalf helps to mold the universe. - K. Jerome
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 1, No. 98, Part I, 19 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/

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Headlines, Part I

* YELTSIN, MASKHADOV AGREE ON ECONOMIC, DEFENSE
COOPERATION

* RUSSIAN POLITICIANS EVALUATE FAILED 1991 COUP

* TAJIK OPERATION AGAINST MUTINEERS ALMOST OVER

End Note
FORGET THE FORMER SOVIET UNION

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RUSSIA

YELTSIN, MASKHADOV AGREE ON ECONOMIC, DEFENSE COOPERATION.
Following his meeting in Moscow on 18 August with Russian
President Boris Yeltsin, Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov told
journalists that he and Yeltsin agreed on the need for economic and
defense cooperation, given that "our strategic interests coincide."
Yeltsin refused Maskhadov's request that he sign an inter-state
treaty recognizing Chechnya's independence, which Maskhadov
argued would contribute to stabilizing the entire Caucasus region. But
the Russian president did agree to conclude a new bilateral treaty
defining relations between Chechnya and Moscow giving Chechnya
broad autonomy. A joint committee will be created to draft this
treaty. Russian Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin told Interfax
that regardless of the nature of Russian-Chechen relations and the
content of the proposed treaty, Chechnya will remain a constituent
part of the Russian Federation.

NTV JOURNALISTS RELEASED IN CHECHNYA. Three NTV journalists
abducted in Chechnya in mid-May were freed on 18 August, Russian
media reported. Their release came one day after two employees of
the Russian television production company VID were allowed to
return home (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 August 1997). Speaking at a
news conference in Moscow, VID's senior manager Aleksandr
Lyubimov, who is also executive director of Russian Public Television
(ORT), proposed that all Russian television companies agree not to
send their reporters to Chechnya in future. Lyubimov praised the
role of Security Council Deputy Secretaries Boris Berezovskii and
Boris Agapov in securing the journalists' release. Lyubimov also
expressed his admiration for Maskhadov's "honesty and sincerity"
but said he fears the Chechen authorities do not have complete
control over the situation in the republic. He estimated that
"professional kidnappers" in Chechnya total 300, saying that they
have the tacit backing of middle-level authorities, including some
police officials.

YELTSIN ORDERS INVESTIGATION INTO ST. PETERSBURG
ASSASSINATION. Yeltsin has ordered the Federal Security Service
(FSB), the Interior Ministry, the Procurator-General's Office and the
tax police to investigate the assassination of Mikhail Manevich,
deputy governor of St. Petersburg and chairman of the city's
Property Committee, RFE/RL's correspondent in St. Petersburg
reported on 19 August. The FSB will lead the investigation. St.
Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev vowed that his government
will not be intimidated by the assassination. Former St. Petersburg
Mayor Anatolii Sobchak said Manevich had been under pressure
from criminal groups and that the murder shows those groups feel
"very comfortable." First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais
expressed shock at the killing, describing Manevich as a friend since
student days. Manevich had been scheduled to meet with Chubais in
Moscow on 18 August. Meanwhile, State Property Committee
Chairman Maksim Boiko demanded better protection for
privatization officials at the federal and regional level, Russian news
agencies reported.

POLITICIANS EVALUATE FAILED 1991 COUP. Six years after the
State Committee for the State of Emergency (GKChP) attempted to
seize power, State Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev described those
who planned the coup as "honest people" trying to prevent the
collapse of the USSR, Interfax reported on 18 August. Communist
Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov said GKChP members undertook a
"daring but unsuccessful attempt to rescue the country's integrity."
Liberal Democratic Party of Russia leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky also
praised the coup organizers, adding that the day the tanks entered
Moscow in 1991 was "the happiest day of my life." In contrast, Duma
Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Vladimir Lukin of Yabloko
argued that "Russian democracy of the 20th century was born"
during the three days in which coup opponents defended the White
House. Yeltsin, who gained worldwide fame by defying the coup, on
19 August said Russia would have been set back several decades if
the coup had succeeded.

AUDIT CHAMBER ACCUSES SPORTS FUND OF MASSIVE FRAUD. Audit
Chamber Deputy Chairman Yurii Boldyrev has charged that the
National Sports Fund in 1995 alone defrauded the budget of 37
trillion rubles ($6.4 billion at current exchange rates), "Nezavisimaya
gazeta" and "Komsomolskaya pravda" reported on 19 August. A 1993
presidential decree granted the fund customs privileges on imports
of sports equipment, but the fund also claimed those privileges on
cigarette and alcohol imports. Yeltsin revoked the fund's privileges in
1995, but the fund continued to receive reimbursements for customs
duties paid on cigarette and alcohol imports. Boldyrev said the Audit
Chamber has sent documents on the fund to the Procurator-General's
Office, but no criminal case has yet been opened. In 1995, Sports
Fund head Boris Fedorov and State Sports and Tourism Committee
chairman Shamil Tarpishchev were close associates of Yeltsin's
bodyguard Aleksandr Korzhakov (see "OMRI Daily Digest," 9 July and
7 October 1996).

GOVERNMENT TO CRACK DOWN ON CUSTOMS DEBTORS. The
government has approved tougher measures to collect customs
duties and fines for customs violations, ITAR-TASS reported on 18
August. In accordance with a new government resolution, goods
intended for import or export by companies that owe duties or fines
will be impounded until all customs debts have been paid. The State
Customs Committee announced on 11 August that customs agents
confiscated illegal imports and exports worth 416 billion rubles ($72
million) and levied 613 billion rubles in fines during the first six
months of 1997, Russian news agencies reported. Customs agencies
reported some 105,000 violations from January through June, up
sharply from 72,000 in the first half of 1996.

NEMTSOV STILL MOST TRUSTED POLITICIAN. A poll by the All-
Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion (VCIOM) indicates that
First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov is still Russia's most
trusted politician. Of the 2,322 Russians surveyed in late July, 32
percent of respondents said they trust no politicians. Some 21
percent said they trust Nemtsov, down from 25 percent in May.
Former Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed placed second
with 16 percent of respondents, up from 15 percent in May but
down from 28 percent in January. Communist Party leader Gennadii
Zyuganov ranked third with 14 percent, unchanged from May.
Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii was considered trustworthy by 11
percent in both May and July, while Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov
was trusted by 10 percent in the latest poll, down from 14 percent in
May. Some 7 percent said they trust Yeltsin, down from 8 percent in
May.

GAZPROM SEEKS TO EXPAND NEWSPAPER HOLDINGS. The gas
monopoly Gazprom will soon purchase a 51 percent stake in the
newspaper "Rabochaya tribuna" and is negotiating to buy shares in
"Trud," according to the 19 August "Kommersant-Daily." Both
"Rabochaya tribuna" and "Trud" have long been considered politically
close to Gazprom and to Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin.
"Kommersant-Daily" claimed that Gazprom has been helping both
newspapers financially for several years. Negotiations with "Trud"
staff are reportedly stalled over the size of the stake to be sold to
Gazprom. Vyacheslav Boikov, the paper's commercial director, told
"Kommersant-Daily" that "Trud" will not sell a controlling packet to
any investor. "We will never be in a situation like 'Komsomolskaya
pravda' or 'Izvestiya,'" he added. (The editors of both those
newspapers were replaced this year following clashes with new
shareholders.) In June 1996, Gazprom bought a 30 percent stake in
NTV.

PATRIARCH WANTS CHURCH'S SPECIAL ROLE ENSHRINED IN LAW.
Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Aleksii II says the revised
version of the controversial law on religious organizations should
retain a passage noting the special role and significance of the
Russian Orthodox Church in Russian history, "Segodnya" reported on
19 August. Speaking in Moscow the previous day, Aleksii expressed
confidence that the "high evaluation" of the Church will remain in the
law's preamble but warned that some "forces are trying to cast doubt
on the significance of the Russian Orthodox Church and Orthodoxy." A
conciliatory commission of representatives from the Church, the
government, and the presidential administration are to agree on a
revised version of the law by 1 September. An earlier version was
approved by large margins in the State Duma and Federation Council
but vetoed by Yeltsin (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 July 1997).

INFANT MORTALITY SAID TO BE DECLINING. Mortality rates for
infants and mothers in childbirth are declining, according to
Aleksandr Tsaregorodtsev, director of the Scientific-Research
Institute of Pediatrics and Pediatric Surgery, "Segodnya" reported on
18 August. Deaths of children under one year dropped from 27,946
in 1993 (20 deaths per thousand births) to 24,840 in 1995 (18 per
thousand). He added that while 941 women in Russia died from
complications linked to childbirth in 1991, only 727 did in 1995.
Tsaregorodtsev said those trends were continuing in 1996 and 1997.
He attributed the declining mortality rates to a decrease in the
number of abortions. Registered abortions fell from 3.2 million in
1992 to 2.4 million in 1996. Specialists believe the number of
"criminal abortions" -- those not performed in hospitals, which are
more likely to cause health complications for the next child -- has
fallen as well, Tsaregorodtsev added.

YET MORE PROBLEMS ABOARD "MIR." The computer aboard the ill-
fated space station "Mir" crashed on 18 August, after the crew had
successfully docked with a cargo ship. As a result of the computer
crash, the station lost both its orientation toward the sun and its
power supplies. All systems, except life-support, were closed down.
The crew fired rockets periodically to temporarily reposition the
station's solar panels toward the sun and recharge the batteries. By
19 August, the computer had been repaired, but it will need two or
three days to begin fully functioning again. The computer problems
will delay repair work on the station's "spektr" modules, which were
damaged in late June when a cargo ship collided with the station
while attempting to dock.

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

TAJIK OPERATION AGAINST MUTINEERS ALMOST OVER. Forces loyal
to rebel Col. Mahmud Khudaberdiyev have lost several battles
against government troops, which are currently engaged in mop-up
operations in southwestern Tajikistan, according to RFE/RL
correspondents. Khudaberdiyev's unit was forced to retreat from
Kabodien on 18 August. By the morning of 19 August, they had also
withdrawn from the Shaartuz area. Gen. Gafar Mirzoyev, commander
of the presidential guard, said the only routes open to the mutineers
led to the Uzbek or Afghan borders. Forces loyal to the Tajik
government are seeking to prevent members of Khudaberdiyev's
troops from heading north. Uzbekistan has promised to hand over to
the Tajik government any mutineers who try to cross the Tajik-
Uzbek border . A lieutenant from Khudaberdiyev's unit was quoted
in the 19 August issue of "Nezavisimaya Gazeta" as saying "[the
government] did not understand us. They threw troops of Popular
Front units, mostly criminals, against us."

JAPAN GRANTS LOAN FOR TURKMEN RAILROAD. Japan's Foreign
Economic Cooperation Fund will lend Turkmenistan some $39 million
to upgrade its railroad network, Interfax reported on 18 August. The
30-year loan has a 2.7 percent annual interest rate with a 10-year
grace period. The Japanese fund will hold a tender in September for
companies to take part in upgrading the Turkmen rail system,
including the renovation of the Ashgabat depot, providing
maintenance equipment for locomotives, and computerizing the
traffic control system.

DATE SET FOR ELECTIONS TO KAZAKH SENATE. President Nursultan
Nazarbayev has signed a decree saying that elections to the Senate
(upper house) will be held on 8 October. RFE/RL correspondents in
Almaty reported that 17 candidates have already registered for the
vote. The Senate currently has 47 members.

KAZAKHSTAN TO BUILD NEW PIPELINE? Kazakh Prime Minister
Akezhan Kazhegeldin told two visiting U.S. senators in Almaty on 18
August that his country is assessing unspecified possible alternative
oil export pipelines as "one pipeline will in no way suffice for
transporting Kazakh oil," Interfax reported on 18 August. Despite the
disputed status of the Caspian Sea, Kazakhstan plans to proceed with
the distribution to Western companies of the rights to exploratory
drilling in its sector of the Caspian, according to "Nezavisimaya
gazeta" on 19 August.

AZERBAIJAN REACHES AGREEMENT ON BYPASS PIPELINE...
Azerbaijan's state oil company SOCAR has reached agreement with
the U.S.-Kazakh joint venture TengizChevroil to build a 46 kilometer
bypass pipeline from Dashkil to Ali-Bayramli, Interfax reported on
18 August. The pipeline, which TengizChevroil will finance at an
estimated cost of $5-6 million, will run parallel to an existing
pipeline leased to Caspian Trans Oil in order to transport oil from
Kazakhstan's Tengiz field to Ali-Bayramli, from where it is shipped
by rail to Batumi. The new bypass pipeline will transport
Azerbaijan's domestically produced oil to Baku for refining.

...WHILE RUSSIA CONSIDERS PIPELINE BYPASSING CHECHNYA.
Speaking at a press conference in Moscow on 18 August, Russian
Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin reiterated Russian Deputy
Fuel and Energy minister Sergei Kirienko's suggestion that a new
pipeline be built for transporting Caspian oil that will bypass
Chechnya (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 August, 1997), Interfax
reported. Rybkin said that one pipeline is inadequate for exporting
Caspian oil, but he did not refer to the planned pipeline from Baku to
Supsa on Georgia's Black Sea coast (that is, bypassing Russian
territory),scheduled to be completed in late1998. The president of
the Chechen state oil company told Interfax on 18 August that there
is no need for an additional agreement to be signed by Moscow and
Grozny on the transportation of Caspian oil through the Baku-Grozny-
Tikhoretsk pipeline.

CASPIAN OIL ROW CONTINUES. Azerbaijan's state oil company SOCAR
has released a statement reaffirming its commitment to develop the
Kyapaz/Serdar Caspian oil field. The statement also said that SOCAR
has not yet received official notification that its Russian partners,
Rosneft and LUKoil, have annulled the 4 July memorandum of intent
on developing the field, Interfax reported on 18 August. Meanwhile,
the Turkmen Embassy in Washington recently issued a letter from
President Saparmurat Niyazov inviting tenders for oil and gas fields
on its Caspian shelf. "Delovoy mir" pointed out on 15 August that any
foreign company that wants to engage in exploration in
Turkmenistan's sector of the Caspian will have to enlist the
cooperation of either Russia or Azerbaijan, since Turkmenistan has
no drilling platforms.

DELAY IN CREATING COMMISSION TO INVESTIGATE RUSSIAN ARMS
SUPPLIES. Russian President Yeltsin has written to Azerbaijani
President Heidar Aliev asking him to name Azerbaijan's
representative to the trilateral Russian-Armenian-Azerbaijani
commission that is to investigate Russian arms supplies to Armenia
and Azerbaijan, Turan reported on 16 August. Yeltsin noted that
Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan has already nominated
his country's representative. A group of international military
officials is to visit Baku from 18-21 August to inspect Azerbaijan's
military facilities within the framework of the 1990 Treaty on
Conventional Forces in Europe.

RUSSIA REFUTES ALIEV'S ALLEGATION OVER MILITARY BASES. Yurii
Yukalov, Russia's former co-chairman of the Organization for Security
and Cooperation in Europe's Minsk Group, has rejected as an
"unfounded provocation" Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev's claim
that Moscow offered to liberate Armenian-occupied regions of
Azerbaijan contiguous to Nagorno-Karabakh in return for the right to
maintain military bases in Azerbaijan, Asbarez-on-Line reported on
18 August, citing "Respublika Armeniya" and the Snark News
Agency. Aliev made the claim during a recent meeting with three
U.S. senators in Baku (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"14 August 1997).

AZERBAIJAN EXPERIENCES PROBLEMS DISTRIBUTING
PRIVATIZATION VOUCHERS. The distribution of privatization
vouchers among the 7.5 million population officially ended on 15
August, "Azadlyg" reported the next day. Distribution had begun on 1
March. The State Privatization Committee may appeal to President
Heidar Aliev to extend the distribution period, since some people
have not yet received vouchers as a result of "bureaucratic
shortcomings." The process has been complicated by the existence of
some 780,000 displaced persons who have no registered place of
residence. Each inhabitant is to receive four vouchers whose total
nominal value is 1 million manats ($250).

ARMENIA ACCUSES TURKEY OF OBSTRUCTING COOPERATION WITH
NATO. Armenian First Deputy Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian met
with a NATO delegation headed by Lt.-Gen. Nicholas Kehou, deputy
chairman of NATO's military committee, in Yerevan on 15 August.
Oskanian said that Turkey's attitude toward the Armenian-
Azerbaijani conflict is "non-constructive," Armenian agencies
reported. He also noted that Ankara's attitude is destabilizing the
situation in the region and obstructing both the development of
Armenian cooperation with NATO and a possible role for NATO in
resolving the Karabakh conflict.

END NOTE

FORGET THE FORMER SOVIET UNION

by Paul Goble

        Six years after a failed coup in Moscow sent the Soviet Union
toward its demise, many people around the world continue to search
for a single term to describe the group of countries that emerged
from the rubble. None of the terms proposed until now has proved
entirely successful. And with each passing year, the search for such a
term seems increasingly unnecessary, if not counterproductive.
        Among the terms most frequently suggested are the former
Soviet Union, the new independent states, and Eurasia. But, like all
other suggested terms, they fail to capture some important features
of the new landscape and carry some significant political baggage.
        The term "former Soviet Union" is perhaps the most obviously
problematic. The Soviet Union ceased to exist in 1991; continuing to
refer to it both diminishes the status of the successor states and
encourages those in Russia and elsewhere who would like to restore
the union. Equally important, it dramatically overstates the
similarities among countries whose only real feature in common was
Russian and Soviet occupation. While that had a major impact on
each, it did not wipe out the differences increasingly on view.
        At first glance, the term "new independent states" appears to
be more neutral; but, if anything, it is even more politically charged
than the other two. Prior to the demise of the Soviet Union, no
government in the world referred to independent countries arising
from the ruins of empires as "new independent states." Instead,
those countries were quickly viewed as countries much like all
others.
        Consequently, the use of this term so long after the end of the
USSR implies that the relationship between those countries and
Moscow is somehow different. That has led many people in the
region to wonder aloud whether their states are less equal than
others. Both the citizens of those countries and others are beginning
to ask just how long those countries will have to be "independent"
before they cease to be "new."
        The term "Eurasia" also has some negative connotations,
although they are perhaps less obvious. It indiscriminately lumps
together countries that are definitely part of the European cultural
world with some that most definitely are not. It also has a history
that is anything but encouraging. One group of Russian nationalists
popularized the term to suggest that Russia represented an amalgam
of European and Asiatic civilizations and that it had a civilizing
mission across the region.
        But if none of the terms advanced thus far is adequate, the
continued search for one highlights three more fundamental
problems.
        First, many people are unwilling to accept what happened in
1991 as an irreversible watershed in world history. When other
empires dissolved in this century, few world leaders felt compelled
to reiterate support for the independence and territorial integrity of
their successors five years after the fact. No one was saying such
things about the successors to the Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman, or
Russian empires in 1924. But in the post-Soviet case, many leaders
have done just that and thus have sent a message to those countries
very different from the one they say they intend to send.
        Second, many people are unable to recognize how diverse the
countries of the region are and how many now have far greater ties
with countries beyond the borders of the former Soviet Union than
with countries within those borders. Other than Russian and Soviet
occupation, Armenia and Kazakhstan, for example, have little in
common in almost any respect. And despite the impact of the past,
Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan are both looking beyond the Soviet
borders rather than to the former imperial center.
        Third, the search for a single term reflects an unwillingness on
the part of some Westerners to challenge the desire of some Moscow
circles to remain the dominant power in the region, regardless of the
wishes of people in those countries. Through instruments such as the
Commonwealth of Independent States and via statements about the
relevance of the borders of the former Soviet Union, the Russian
government has advanced a claim to a sphere of influence across the
region.
        Such assertions make Western terminological discussions all
the more important. To the extent that the West uses terms that
imply the territory once occupied by the Soviet Union is a single
region, some circles in Moscow will be encouraged to believe that the
West has recognized Russian claims. To the extent that the West uses
terms that treat the countries of the region as separate and unique
states, each of those states will be encouraged to develop along its
own lines.

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