|If you are not allowed to laugh in heaven, I don't want to go there. - Martin Luther|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 1, No. 104, Part I, 27 August 1997
From: SipkovaE on Wed, Aug 27, 1997 3:03 PM Subject: RFE/RL Newsline, No. 104, Part I, 27 August 1997 To: firstname.lastname@example.org Cc: wwwsitemgr RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 1, No. 104, Part I, 27 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 *GOVERNMENT SUBMITS 1998 PRIVATIZATION PROGRAM TO DUMA *RUSSIA DENIES SUPPLYING MISSILE TECHNOLOGY TO IRAN *AZERBAIJAN THREATENS COURT ACTION OVER PIPELINE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx RUSSIA GOVERNMENT SUBMITS 1998 PRIVATIZATION PROGRAM TO DUMA. State Property Committee Chairman Maksim Boiko on 26 August announced details of the government's draft 1998 privatization program, which was submitted to the State Duma the previous day along with the draft 1998 budget. In accordance with a new privatization law that recently went into effect, the government must seek parliamentary approval for its annual privatization plans. The 1998 program includes a list of 37 companies in which some state- owned shares may be sold. However, "Kommersant-Daily" argued on 27 August that Duma deputies are likely to advocate shortening that list and passing special laws on the largest privatization deals. The program also would provide more social protection and insurance for privatization officials. Boiko said the recent assassination of St. Petersburg Property Committee head Mikhail Manevich underscored the need for such measures. RUSSIA DENIES SUPPLYING MISSILE TECHNOLOGY TO IRAN. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Valerii Nesterushkin on 26 August rejected as "unfounded" the claims by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Russia is helping Tehran develop guidance and delivery systems for long-range ballistic missiles, Russian media reported. Nesterushkin said that Russian-Iranian military cooperation does not violate either international law or international agreements on nuclear non-proliferation that Moscow has signed. Nesterushkin confirmed that Netanyahu recently wrote to Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov. But Nesterushkin said the subject of that letter was not alleged nuclear technology transfers but the Middle East peace process, to which, he said, Russia remains committed. ARMS CONTRACT SIGNED WITH CHINA. A $100 million contract for military equipment was signed in Moscow on 27 August by the arms manufacturer Rosvooruzhenie and the chairman of China's Central Military Council, Liu Huaqing, ITAR-TASS reported. The signing took place during a session of the Russian-Chinese intergovernmental commission for military-technical cooperation. Also discussed at the session was construction of Russian Sovremenny-class destroyers for China, payment of Russian debt to China with military hardware and when to handover to the Chinese the blueprint for the assembly of the Russian Sukhoi-27 fighter. Liu and the Chinese military delegation will tour Russian military facilities in Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, and Khabarovsk before returning to China on 4 September. JAPANESE BOATS TRESPASS RUSSIAN WATERS. A Russian border guard vessel chased four Japanese fishing boats from Russian waters on 26 August, ITAR-TASS reported. The Russian ship spotted the Japanese boats at a point, off Sakhalin Island, about 12 kilometers inside Russian waters. It fired a warning shot when the fishing boats failed to respond to radio and light signals. In a separate incident the same day, a Japanese fishing boat was detained by the Russian coast guard and taken to the port of Nevelsk. On 27 August, the command of the Russian Pacific Border Guard District announced it will double patrols in Russian waters. FOREIGN MINISTRY REQUESTS RELEASE OF VESSEL DETAINED BY U.S. The Foreign Ministry on 27 August sent a note to the U.S. government requesting the release of a Russian trawler detained in the Alaskan port of Kodiak since 18 August, ITAR-TASS reported. The trawler was detained by the U.S. Coast Guard for trespassing U.S. waters in the Bering Sea. The captain of the trawler denies he was in U.S. waters and said that in any case he was not fishing. U.S. authorities are conducting an investigation and have confiscated the ship's log. They stress, however, that those sailors who wish to return to Russia and have money to do so may leave. Russia has sent diplomats based in the U.S. to Kodiak and is asking for copies of the ship's log. YELTSIN ON WAGE ARREARS, MILITARY REFORM. President Boris Yeltsin on 26 August promised that all wage arrears to military personnel will be paid by 1 September, Interfax reported. Speaking to journalists during a one-day visit to Saratov Oblast, Yeltsin praised the efforts of Defense Minister Igor Sergeev: "He does not whine like his predecessor [Igor Rodionov] but works" to advance military reform. Yeltsin replaced Rodionov with Sergeev in May, and Rodionov has since been an outspoken critic of military reform plans. WILL SOLDIERS' WAGES BE PAID ON TIME? "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 26 August said the government has not transferred enough funds to pay off all wage arrears to military personnel. The Finance Ministry recently allocated 5.9 trillion rubles ($1 billion) to the Defense Ministry to cover back wages. Finance Ministry officials have warned that local commanders will be to blame if some soldiers are still unpaid on 1 September. But according to "Nezavisimaya gazeta," Defense Ministry figures indicate that wage arrears to military personnel total more than 5.9 trillion rubles. Defense Ministry data also show that as of 18 August, only 48 percent of planned 1997 defense spending was allocated. The Defense Ministry has received only 37 percent of planned budget funding so far this year, if the budget cuts imposed by the government in the spring are not taken into account. YELTSIN AWARDS RTR RIGHT TO OPERATE NEW CHANNEL. Yeltsin on 25 August signed a decree awarding state-owned Russian Television (RTR) the right to operate a new nationwide television network, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. Under the decree, the head of the new network, called Kultura, will be appointed and dismissed directly by the president (as is the chairman of RTR). Kultura will essentially be a division of RTR and will produce its largely cultural programs in Moscow. It will start broadcasting nationwide on 1 November, except in the city of St. Petersburg and in Leningrad Oblast, where it will broadcast for at least three hours a day on the wavelength currently used by the state-run network St. Petersburg Channel 5. Under the decree, Channel 5 will be reorganized into a joint-stock company to be 51 percent controlled by St. Petersburg city authorities. WHO WILL CONTROL NEW NETWORK'S FINANCING? The decree making Kultura fully state-owned is a blow to powerful financial groups that had sought to gain a stake in the new network and broaden their influence over the electronic media. Kultura and RTR will receive joint financing from the state budget totaling some 2 trillion rubles ($340 million) annually. However, RTR and Kultura will likely need at least 300 billion rubles in additional funding, according to RFE/RL's Moscow bureau. Since Kultura will not run commercial advertising, sponsors will have to provide the extra financing. RTR Deputy Chairman Mikhail Lesin is expected to have a strong say in choosing those sponsors. He was one of the creators of the Video- International advertising agency and is considered to have been an influential figure in Yeltsin's 1996 election campaign. DUMA TO REDUCE NUMBER OF ACCREDITED CORRESPONDENTS. The number of journalists with permanent accreditation to work in the Duma will be cut from 1,500 to about 300 in September, Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev told Interfax on 26 August. Another 200 journalists will receive temporary accreditation, he added. Seleznev also said that for now, the lower house of parliament will not prohibit television companies from filming in the Duma chamber. Earlier this year, the Duma voted to ban television cameras from the chamber and to provide journalists with videos prepared by the Duma's press service (see RFE/RL Newsline, 17 April 1997). The Duma will again consider that issue in early 1998, Seleznev said. The Duma speaker also blasted what he called biased coverage of the Duma's activities in the electronic media and on state-controlled television, in particular. Major television networks frequently portray the Duma in an unflattering light. OFFICIAL NAMES CELEBRITY TAX DODGERS. Col. Yurii Korotkii, first deputy head of the operations department of the Tax Police, has accused world chess champion Garry Kasparov and several other Russian celebrities of evading taxes, ITAR-TASS reported on 26 August. Korotkii said Kasparov and popular singers Aleksandr Mailinin, Dmitrii Malikov, Vika Tsyganova, Aleksandr Buinov, and Filipp Kirkorov have not submitted income declarations for 1995. Meanwhile, Sergei Frolov, first deputy of the investigation department of the Tax Police, told Interfax on 26 August that Russian law enforcement agencies and Interpol are conducting an international search for Vadim Kisin, former deputy CIS Affairs minister. Frolov said Kisin, who disappeared three months ago, has not paid taxes on some $400,000 in income. Former State Duma deputy Sergei Mavrodi, founder of the infamous MMM pyramid scheme, is also being sought on suspicion of fraud and tax evasion, according to Frolov. COURT ORDERS FURTHER INVESTIGATION IN BANKRUPTCY CASE. The Saratov Oblast Court on 26 August referred the case against Federal Bankruptcy Administration deputy head Petr Karpov to the Moscow City Procurator's Office for further investigation, ITAR-TASS reported. The court ruled that procedural violations were committed during the investigation against Karpov, who is accused of taking a 5 million ruble ($860) bribe from a Saratov businessman in 1994. Karpov spent three months in pre-trial detention in 1996 and more than one month in custody earlier this year on the bribery charge (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 June 1997). Some observers have claimed the case against Karpov is intended to silence him from revealing methods used by companies to evade taxes. YELTSIN PRAISES SARATOV GOVERNOR. During his visit to Saratov Oblast on 26 August, his first trip to the region since 1992, Yeltsin said Saratov has "good leaders and a good team," Interfax reported. Yeltsin also said, "We should give more rights to [Russian] Federation subjects," according to ITAR-TASS. Speaking to journalists after meeting with the president, Saratov Governor Dmitrii Ayatskov said his region's officials have "never had problems" with the federal authorities, Interfax reported. Yeltsin appointed Ayatskov as governor in April 1996. Ayatskov easily won an election to that post in September of that year. Saratov officials signed a power-sharing agreement with federal authorities in July 1997. SARATOV GOVERNOR ON PRESIDENT'S REGIONAL REPRESENTATIVES. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 26 August published an interview with Saratov Governor Ayatskov in which he warned that if the powers of appointed presidential representatives in the regions are enhanced, "I will liquidate the post of presidential representative in Saratov Oblast, because [that post] is unconstitutional." A July presidential decree vastly expanded the powers of Yeltsin's representatives in the regions (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 July 1997). The Federation Council, which is made up of regional leaders, is expected to contest the legality of that decree. YELTSIN RENAMES MILITARY ACADEMY AFTER PETER THE GREAT. Yeltsin has issued a decree changing the name of the Feliks Dzerzhinskii Military Academy to the Peter the Great Academy of Strategic Missile Forces "in order to revive historical traditions of the Russian military and to recognize the unique contribution of [Tsar] Peter I" toward creating a Russian army, Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported on 26 August. Located in Moscow, the academy is an elite officers' training school. During the Civil War, Dzerzhinskii founded the Cheka, the first in a series of notorious Soviet-era security services. OREL GOVERNOR LOWERS BREAD PRICES. Yegor Stroev, who is Federation Council Speaker and governor of Orel Oblast, has ordered cuts in local bread prices, ITAR-TASS reported on 26 August. The price of a loaf of black bread is to fall by 200 rubles to 1700 rubles ($0.29). Stroev told ITAR-TASS that "administrative intervention" on bread prices did not contradict the rules of a market economy but rather took into account the situation on the market. He noted that a bumper harvest of cereal crops made the price reduction possible. Stroev, who was elected governor of Orel in 1993, faces an election on 26 October to retain his post. Losing the Orel gubernatorial race would force Stroev to give up his seat in the Federation Council as well. NEW PRIME MINISTER IN DAGESTAN. The People's Council of Dagestan on 25 August unanimously approved former Audit Chamber chairman Khizri Shakhsaidov as prime minister, ITAR-TASS reported. An ethnic Kumyk, Shakhsaidov was proposed for that post following the dismissal of Abdurazak Mirabekov. "Segodnya" on 25 August said Shakhsaidov's appointment was intended to maintain the balance between the two largest of Dagestan's numerous ethnic groups. According to tradition, if the post of chairman of the People's Council is held by an Avar (as is currently the case), the prime minister must be a Kumyk. A similar correlation is observed at local council level. TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA AZERBAIJAN THREATENS COURT ACTION OVER PIPELINE. Following Chechen Vice President Vakha Arsanov's disclosure in Baku on 25 August that repairs to the Chechen sector of the Baku-Grozny- Tikhoretsk oil pipeline have not yet begun, Azerbaijani officials are considering other options. Natik Aliev, the deputy president of Azerbaijan's state oil company SOCAR, told Interfax that Azerbaijan may choose to refine the oil in Baku or to export it by rail to Batumi. In the latter case, shipping the oil to world markets would depend on Turkey's willingness to allow increased tanker traffic through the Turkish Straits. Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem will visit Baku in September. Prime Minister Artur Rasi-Zade hinted that Azerbaijan may sue Russia in an international court for breach of contract if the repairs to the pipeline are not completed in time for the export of the first "early" Caspian oil to begin on 1 October. WORLD BANK APPROVES LOANS TO ARMENIA. The World Bank on 26 August announced that it has approved two International Development Association credits to Armenia worth $65 million, Reuters and dpa reported. The first $60 million credit is intended to help consolidate macroeconomic stability and lay the foundations for sustained growth led by the private sector. The second loan is to finance technical assistance to underpin the government's economic reform program. MAYOR FLEES FROM STRIKING MINERS IN GEORGIA. The mayor of the west Georgian town of Chiatura has fled to Tbilisi to escape enraged miners and pensioners, the Caucasian Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development reported on 26 August, citing "Rezonansi". Several hundred miners from the Chiatura Manganese Joint Stock Company, one of 14 enterprises that have declared bankruptcy, launched a strike on 20 August to protest not having been paid for 15 months. Together with local residents who have not received their pensions, the miners then began blockading the mayor's office and called on President Eduard Shevardnadze to dismiss him. The government has transferred to Chiatura an unspecified sum for payment of back wages and pensions. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx SUBSCRIBING: 1) To subscribe to RFERL-L, please send a message to email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 2) In the text of your message, type unsubscribe RFERL-L 3) Send the message CURRENT AND BACK ISSUES OF RFE/RL Newsline: RFE/RL Newsline is available online on the World Wide Web. http://www.rferl.org/newsline/ BACK ISSUES OF OMRI Daily Digest: Back issues of the OMRI Daily Digest are available on the World Wide Web and by FTP. 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