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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 1, No. 102, Part I, 25 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

* ROSVOORUZHENIE'S NEW HEAD DOWNPLAYS REORGANIZATION

* CIS PEACEKEEPERS FREED IN ABKHAZIA

* SHOTS FIRED AT UN HELICOPTER IN TAJIKISTAN

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RUSSIA

ROSVOORUZHENIE'S NEW HEAD DOWNPLAYS REORGANIZATION.
Yevgenii Ananev, appointed by President Boris Yeltsin on 21 August
to head the arms export company Rosvooruzhenie, said the
presidential decrees restructuring the organization are no more than
a "routine personnel reshuffle," "Izvestiya" reported on 23 August.
The same day, "Rossiiskaya gazeta" quoted Ananev as saying that all
contracts concluded by Rosvooruzhenie to date will be honored. An
RFE/RL correspondent in Moscow, however, quoted unnamed
Rosvooruzhenie officials as expressing concern at the company's loss
of its virtual monopoly on arms exports and the sacking of former
director Aleksandr Kotelkin. They said those measures will increase
pressure on the company's managers and may affect plans to double
its exports this year.

CHERNOMYRDIN MEETS WITH FINNISH COUNTERPART. Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and his Finnish counterpart, Paavo
Lipponen, on 23 August opened a new border crossing capable of
processing 500 vehicles per day, ITAR-TASS reported. State Customs
Committee Chairman Anatolii Kruglov told Interfax the same day
that another new Russian-Finnish border crossing will be opened in
the first half of 1998. During two days of talks in Russia's Republic of
Karelia, Chernomyrdin and Lipponen also agreed to set up a
commission to oversee logging in Karelian old-growth forests near
the Finnish border, Interfax reported on 22 August. Chernomyrdin
said such logging should be done "without inflicting damage on the
environment but at the same time bearing in mind the reciprocal
economic interest." Environmental groups seeking to block Finnish
companies from logging in the ancient forests have been accused of
harming the Karelian economy (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 July 1997).

DEPUTY DEFENSE MINISTER ON NEW MILITARY DOCTRINE. Andrei
Kokoshin says the upcoming military reform is prompted by a new
military doctrine based on the idea that Russia is threatened by
potential localized armed conflicts rather than wars or large-scale
aggression, ITAR-TASS reported on 22 August. Speaking to political
leaders and defense industry managers from several Urals regions in
Yekaterinburg, Kokoshin said that as military units are restructured
to reflect the new conception of major threats to Russia, some units
of the army and navy will be liquidated. Kokoshin, the highest-
ranking civilian in the Defense Ministry, is believed to have had
considerable influence over the drafting of the latest military reform
plans. Those plans include merging some branches of the armed
forces and reducing the number of serving soldiers and officers.

SEMAGO CALLS FOR CREATING RUSSIAN FBI. Communist State Duma
deputy Vladimir Semago, who heads a Duma anti-corruption
commission, has recommended that Russia establish an agency
similar to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate
corruption, ITAR-TASS reported on 25 August. Semago argued that a
Russian bureau of investigation should monitor civil servants for five
to 10 years after they leave office. Those officials should be
prosecuted if it transpires that they abused their posts while in
office, he added. Semago also called for granting his Duma
commission the right to check the accuracy of income declarations
submitted by state officials and to question officials at parliamentary
hearings if discrepancies are uncovered. Similar commissions should
be created in regional legislatures, he argued. Semago has recently
claimed top Duma officials have obstructed his committee's work (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 4 and 7 August 1997).

TAX COLLECTION UPDATE. Ten tax police officers were killed during
the first half of 1997, 40 were injured, and two reported missing,
according to Vyacheslav Soltaganov, head of the State Tax Service's
Department of Internal Security, ITAR-TASS reported on 22 August.
Soltaganov said that during the same period, 520 crimes against tax
collecting agencies or their employees were registered, ranging from
arson and death threats to theft of documents. Vasilii Cheremiskin,
head of the legal department of the State Tax Service, recently
announced that from January through June 1997, taxpayers won 54
percent of the 2,859 lawsuits filed against tax collectors,
"Kommersant-Daily" reported on 22 August. During the same period,
the State Tax Service won 96 percent of its 54,905 court cases
against delinquent taxpayers. The paper commented that courts tend
to find in favor of taxpayers seeking small refunds from tax
collecting agencies but tend to reject suits seeking larger amounts.

SBERBANK TO INDEX PRE-1992 DEPOSITS? Gennadii Melikyan,
deputy chairman of the board of Sberbank, says the bank has
prepared recommendations on indexing savings accounts opened
before 1992, "Segodnya" reported on 25 August. (Melikyan resigned
as labor minister in April, after which he campaigned unsuccessfully
for a State Duma seat in Rostov.) Melikyan said Sberbank is
considering not removing three zeroes from the value of old deposits
on 1 January 1998, when the ruble will be redenominated. If the
redenomination is applied to the old Sberbank deposits, he said,
another method of compensating holders of those deposits will be
found. Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev recently argued against
applying the ruble redenomination to the old Sberbank deposits,
which were rendered practically worthless by inflation beginning in
1992 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 August 1997). According to
"Segodnya," Sberbank accounts opened before 1992 contain some
315 billion rubles ($54 million).

FOOD MORE EXPENSIVE IN FAR EAST. The three most expensive cities
in Russia in terms of basic food are all in the Far East, Interfax
reported on 22 August. The average monthly price of a basket of 25
basic food items in Russia was 250,700 rubles ($43) in July. But in
Anadyr, the capital of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, the same basket
cost 811,100 rubles. Yakutsk, the capital of the Republic of Sakha
(Yakutia), was the second most expensive city for food, with a
monthly basket costing 526,600 rubles. Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskii,
the capital of Kamchatka Oblast, came third (515,400 rubles). Food is
traditionally more expensive in the Far East because of
transportation costs and distance from agricultural areas.

RUSSIAN ISLAMIC UNIVERSITY TO OPEN IN KAZAN. Meeting in
Kazan, Muslim leaders from Moscow, Kazan, Ufa (Republic of
Bashkortostan), and other cities agreed on 20 August to establish a
special Islamic University in the Tatarstan capital during the next
year, Tatar-Inform reported on 22 August. The Muslim leaders also
agreed to establish a Council of Rectors of Muslim educational
facilities in the Russian Federation.

CHECHEN, DAGESTANI ISLAMIC MOVEMENTS UNITE. Some 500
people -- including representatives of Islamic political parties in
Dagestan, the North Caucasus, and Transcaucasus -- attended the
founding congress of the Islamic Order Union, which took place in
Grozny on 24 August , Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported. The union
merges the Islamic parties of Dagestan and Chechnya. Its aims are to
prevent "anti-Islamic expansion in the Caucasus" and to promote the
consolidation of Islamic political forces as well as the unification of
the peoples of the Caucasus. The union is headed by Chechen
First Deputy Prime Minister Movladi Udugov, leader of the Chechen
Islamic Order coalition, which was created in late July and unites
some 20 Chechen political parties.

COSMONAUTS FINISH REPAIR WORK. Russian cosmonauts Anatolii
Solovev and Pavel Vinogradov have repaired the damaged "spektr"
modules of the "Mir" space station, according to Russian media on 22
August. The two cosmonauts reconnected cables to the station's solar
panels and were expecting full power to be restored to the station by
25 August. However, when the repairs took two hours longer than
expected, Russia's mission control ordered the cosmonauts back into
the station before they could complete a search for possible rips in
the station's hull. Solovev and U.S. astronaut Michael Foale are
scheduled to make a space walk on 3 September, when a further
examination of the hull will be carried out.

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

CIS PEACEKEEPERS FREED IN ABKHAZIA. The three Russian
servicemen recently kidnapped by members of the Georgia's White
Legion guerrilla organization were released on 22 August after
agreement was reached on returning to Georgia the bodies of two
Georgian guerrillas killed in Abkhazia on 13 August. Interfax
reported that Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov mediated
between the Georgian and Abkhaz leaderships to secure the
servicemen's release. Maj.-Gen. Dolya Babenkov, the commander of
the CIS peacekeeping force, vowed to act "more decisively" against
terrorist acts committed by the White Legion against his men. In
Tbilisi, some 500 fugitives from Abkhazia staged a demonstration on
23 August to protest the Georgian leadership's policy of
rapprochement with the Abkhaz government, Interfax reported.

GEORGIAN WARLORD ENDS HUNGER-STRIKE. Djaba Ioseliani on 22
August ended a 16-day hunger strike in his prison cell after his
demand to meet with a representative of the Organization for
Security and Cooperation in Europe was agreed to, Russian media
reported. The 71-year-old former Mkhedrioni leader is now
demanding that the Georgian authorities acknowledge his arrest in
November 1995 was violated immunity as a parliament deputy.
Ioseliani faces charges of treason, terrorism, and murder.

"NO RIFT" BETWEEN ARMENIAN GOVERNMENT, RULING PARTY.
Prime Minister Robert Kocharyan's recent decision to dismiss 24
deputy ministers and directors of state enterprises was based on
those officials' lack of professionalism rather than political
considerations, a government spokeswoman told RFE/RL's Yerevan
bureau on 23 August. Andranik Hovakimyan, the deputy chairman of
the ruling board of the Armenian Pan-National Movement (HHSh), to
which most of the dismissed officials belong, likewise denied that the
dismissals signaled an alleged rift between his party and Kocharyan.
Hovakimyan said the sackings were in line with the cabinet's efforts
to restructure the public sector. He argued that Kocharyan, like any
other "serious politician," understands that he needs a political
"support base" if his steps are to be implemented. The HHSh
constitutes such a base, Havakimyan added.

ARMENIAN-AZERBAIJANI GOLD DISPUTE INTENSIFIES. Reza Veziri --
the president of RV Investment Group Services, which recently
signed a $500 million contract with Azerbaijan to mine gold, silver,
and copper -- said on 22 August that his company will appeal to the
United Nations International Economic Court if it obtains proof that
Armenia is mining gold in Azerbaijan's Kelbajar Raion, according to
Interfax. Kelbajar has been controlled by Karabakh Armenian forces
since spring 1993. Also on 22 August, Armenian presidential press
secretary Levon Zurabian said Azerbaijani protests would not deter
Armenia from continuing to work the disputed Zod lode, which it
claims lies on Armenian territory. The Armenian government daily
"Hayastani Hanrapetutyun" on 23 August described the U.S.-
Azerbaijani contract "not serious," given that most of the mines in
question lie on occupied territory.

AZERBAIJAN AGAIN REJECTS TURKMENISTAN'S CLAIMS TO KYAPAZ.
In a 21 August note to its Turkmen counterpart, the Azerbaijani
Foreign Ministry has again affirmed Azerbaijani ownership of the
Azeri, Chirag, and Kyapaz oil fields. It also rejected Turkmenistan's
claims to partial or complete ownership of those fields as groundless,
Turan and ITAR-TASS reported. Azerbaijan expressed support for
the Turkmen proposal to divide the Caspian into national sectors and
proposed creating a joint commission to formalize the border
between the Azerbaijan and Turkmen sectors.

TURKEY WANTS AZERBAIJAN'S EARLY OIL SHIPPED TO SAMSUN.
Gunes Taner, Turkish minister of state with responsibility for
economic affairs, will shortly lobby in Moscow for the transportation
of Azerbaijan's Caspian oil from Novorossiisk to the Turkish Black Sea
port of Samsun, ITAR-TASS reported on 24 August. The first oil from
the Chirag field is to be exported from Baku via Grozny to
Novorossiisk in October,1997. The Turkish government opposes an
increase in tanker traffic through the Turkish Straits, which
constitute the only other currently existing outlet to world markets.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem is scheduled to visit Baku in
early September to discuss the proposed Baku-Ceyhan export
pipeline. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 23 August suggests that Japan
may provide the lion's share of funding for the project. Japanese
companies are represented in two of the five international consortia
set up to date to exploit Azerbaijan's Caspian oil.

SHOTS FIRED AT UN HELICOPTER IN TAJIKISTAN. A helicopter
carrying UN military observers and representatives of the Tajik
government and United Tajikistan Opposition (UTO) came under fire
on 23 August in the Tavil-Dara area, 20 kilometers east of Dushanbe,
according to RFE/RL correspondents. No one on board was aware of
the incident until the helicopter landed at Komsomolabad, 135
kilometers from Dushanbe, because of what the crew thought was a
malfunction. An examination of the helicopter revealed two bullet
holes. The next day, a Tajik government helicopter came under fire
15 kilometers east of Dushanbe. The UN observer mission in
Tajikistan has responded by suspending its operations in the eastern
part of Tajikistan.

WORLD BANK TO HELP UZBEK REGIONS. The World Bank on 21
August approved funds for water treatment facilities and
distribution systems in the Khorezm and Karakalpakistan regions,
near the Aral Sea, Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported. The bank will
extend a $75 million loan for the projects. Germany, Kuwait, and
Uzbekistan will also make contributions toward the $117 million
project. The water of the Aral Sea has decreased by more than half
since the 1960s, leading to the buildup of alkaline soil. Moreover,
fertilizers and chemicals used on crops wash down into the two
areas, causing a variety of health problems for local residents.




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