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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 1, No. 113, Part I, 9 September 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

*PROCURATOR-GENERAL OPENS PROBE INTO CHECHEN EXECUTIONS


*NAGORNO-KARABAKH PRESIDENT SWORN IN


*TAJIKISTAN CELEBRATES INDEPENDENCE, WITHOUT OPPOSITION
LEADER

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RUSSIA

PROCURATOR-GENERAL OPENS PROBE INTO CHECHEN EXECUTIONS.
The Procurator-General's Office on 8 September launched a probe
into the recent public executions in Chechnya, Interfax and ITAR-
TASS reported. An aide to the procurator-general told ITAR-TASS
that Russian legislation does not provide "for such forms of court
proceedings and executions of sentences." A married couple were
executed by firing squad on a central square in Grozny on 3
September in front of some 2,000 onlookers and television cameras.
An Islamic court had found them guilty of murder. The executions
have been roundly condemned by Russian officials, including
President Boris Yeltsin, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, and
legislators in the State Duma.

CHECHEN-RUSSIAN OIL TALKS CONTINUE. Chechen state oil company
President Khozh-Akhmed Yarikhanov flew to Moscow on 8
September predicting that an agreement on the transport of
Azerbaijani oil via Chechnya to Novorossiisk would be signed the
same day. Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, who is
also fuel and energy minister, echoed that prediction but warned
Moscow would sign the agreement only on its terms, and "should not
be a hostage of Chechen leaders." The compromise currently under
discussion provides for Chechnya to receive $854,000 in payment for
the export in 1997 of 200,000 metric tons of oil, according to
Interfax. It remains unclear what tariff will be fixed for subsequent
deliveries remains unclear. Talks adjourned late on 8 September
with no agreement signed. They resumed the next day.

PRIMAKOV MEETS WITH FRENCH COUNTERPART. Russian and French
Foreign Ministers Yevgenii Primakov and Hubert Vedrine discussed
the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the unrecognized Nagorno-
Karabakh Republic during talks in Moscow on 8 September. Speaking
to reporters afterward, Primakov said fulfillment of the Dayton peace
accords should not occur at the expense of the dissolution or partition
of the Bosnia's Republika Srpska. Primakov said he and Vedrine
expressed support for the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, but he
added that the mostly ethnic Armenian exclave should be granted a
large degree of self-administration. Russia, France, and the U.S. are
co-chairmen of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in
Europe's Minsk Group, which is trying to resolve the Nagorno-
Karabakh dispute.

BELGIAN FOREIGN MINISTER APPEALS TO SELEZNEV OVER
ARCHIVES. At a meeting with Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev in
Moscow on 8 September, Erik Deryche appealed to the Duma to assist
in the restitution of Belgian archives seized during War World Two
and currently stored in Russian archives, Interfax and ITAR-TASS
reported. Duma deputies earlier this year overrode Yeltsin's veto on
legislation drawn up by the Duma that would have declared war
booty state property.

RUSSIANS CAN PURCHASE RAW DIAMONDS. German Kuznetsov, the
deputy finance minister and chairman of the state diamond
depository, announced on 8 September that Russians can now legally
purchase certified diamonds, ITAR-TASS reported. Speaking at an
international diamond trade fair in Moscow, Kuznetsov explained
that until now, Russians could buy diamonds only in jewelry form.
Kuznetsov said each diamond offered for sale will be accompanied by
a certificate indicating its carat and price. Earlier this year, President
Yeltsin lifted a ban on the acquisition by private individuals of gold
ingots.

RESTRUCTURING OF ARMS TRADE TO CONTINUE UNTIL 1998. In an
interview on 8 September with Interfax-AiF weekly, presidential
adviser on defense cooperation Boris Kuzyk said the restructuring of
the country's arms trade industry is likely to continue through next
year. Yeltsin's 29 August decrees on tightening control over arms
exports should result in increased sales abroad of Russian weapons
and parts, Kuzyk explained. Five or seven defense concerns, notably
in the aerospace sector, could be created with foreign partners in the
next few years, he added. The 29 August decrees granted
Rosvooruzhenie the status of federal state unitary enterprise. Other
decrees created two state enterprises: Russian Technologies will deal
with licenses and know-how, while Promexport will handle the sale
of obsolete military hardware and spare parts. Observers say the
decrees were aimed at abolishing Rosvooruzhenie's monopoly.

NEW TANKS ON DISPLAY IN OMSK. New models of the T-80 tank,
equipped with an anti-missile system, are on show at an
international weaponry exhibit in the Siberian city of Omsk. The
models were manufactured at the city's Transport Building Plant
with financing provided by Rosvooruzhenie, South Korea, and Cyprus,
according to the plant's chief designer, Boris Kurakin. An essentially
new tank model produced by the Omsk plant is also on display. Many
features of the so-called "Black Eagle" have been kept under wraps,
but the tank has elicited much interest from West European and U.S.
companies, Interfax reported. Military hardware produced by 126
Russian defense plants from 26 Russian regions, as well as Ukraine,
Belarus, and Kazakhstan, is currently on display at the exhibit,
Interfax reported.

MANEVICH HAD DOCUMENTS CONTAINING DEATH THREATS. In an
interview with an RFE/RL correspondent in St. Petersburg on 9
September, Duma deputy Galina Starovoitova said that just one day
before he was shot dead on his way to work in mid-August, Vice
Governor Mikhail Manevich was ready to turn over documents
containing death threats against him. She added that those
documents purportedly contained suggestions from criminal
organizations on how Manevich, who was also St. Petersburg's
privatization chief, could "redistribute property." Starovoitova said
the documents were seized by police when they searched Manevich's
home shortly after the murder. She dismissed the theory that
Manevich's slaying was politically motivated. Rather, she argued, the
murder was over the distribution of local real estate, which is "of
interest to criminal structures."

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

NAGORNO-KARABAKH PRESIDENT SWORN IN. Arkadii Ghukasyan on
8 September took the oath of office as president of the self-
proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, RFE/RL's correspondent in
Stepanakert. Addressing a special session of the Nagorno-Karabakh
parliament, Ghukasyan vowed to guarantee the region's
"independence, democracy, and freedom." The swearing-in ceremony
was attended by a high-level Armenian delegation that included two
government ministers, the chairman of the Constitutional Court,
former Prime Minister Hrant Bagratyan, and the leaders of the three
main opposition parties. Ghukasyan is expected to appoint Nagorno-
Karabakh's new prime minister within the next few days.

ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT BEGINS FALL SESSION. The agenda for the
National Assembly's fall session includes approval of the 1998
budget and up to 70 draft laws, speaker Babken Araktsyan told
deputies on 8 September. He noted that the most important of those
bills deal with the economy and the reform of the legal system.
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 9 September reported that deputies will
also consider an investigation into allegations of misappropriation of
international credits. Meeting with representatives of the various
parliamentary factions on 7 September, Prime Minister Robert
Kocharyan said he hoped new legislation introducing a more
equitable tax system will be enacted before the end of the year. He
also called for a new privatization strategy, Interfax reported.

FOURTEEN DIE IN ARMENIAN PRISONS THIS YEAR. A senior law
enforcement official says 14 inmates have died this year in
Armenia's prisons because of harsh conditions and inadequate
medical care, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The official told a
meeting at the Prosecutor-General's Office on 8 September that those
shortcomings contribute to the spread of diseases, which threaten to
"double and even triple" the mortality rate in the country's jails. In
1995 and 1996, the death toll among prison inmates was 56 and 60,
respectively. Pneumonia is the most common cause of death. Some
400 convicts in Armenia are currently suffering from, and six have
already died of, that disease so far this year. The total prison
population in Armenia is estimated at between 5,000 and 6,000.

TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTER IN BAKU. Ismail Cem met with his
Azerbaijani counterpart Hasan Hasanov, parliamentary speaker
Murtaz Alesqerov, and with President Heidar Aliev in Baku on 8
September, Russian and Azerbaijani agencies reported. The
Azerbaijani leaders expressed concern at Turkey's "passivity" in
response to the Russian-Armenian strategic treaty signed in August
and the earlier clandestine shipments of Russian arms to Armenia.
Aliev noted that Turkish intelligence must have been aware of those
shipments. He called on Ankara to play a more active role within the
OSCE's Minsk Group, which is mediating a settlement of the Karabakh
conflict. Aliev conceded that some unspecified aspects of the latest
Minsk Group peace proposals "are not fully acceptable" to Azerbaijan
but that they constitute a basis for further negotiations, according to
ITAR-TASS. The Azerbaijani leaders also made clear their categorical
opposition to the opening of a Turkish frontier crossing with
Armenia.

CASPIAN OIL ROUNDUP. Aliev and Cem pledged their determination
to route the main export pipeline for Azerbaijan's Caspian oil from
Baku through Turkey to the eastern Mediterranean terminal of
Ceyhan, the "Turkish Daily News" reported on 9 September. The same
day, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" quoted Turkish Prime Minister Mesut
Yilmaz as saying Ankara will not compete with Moscow for the main
export pipeline. Aliev also announced that Azerbaijan plans to export
Turkmen gas via Turkey to Europe did not specify the route for
doing so, which would have to cross either Armenia or Iran,
according to Turan. Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Azerbaijan
International Operating Company engaged in developing three
Azerbaijani Caspian oil fields has denied Azerbaijani media reports
that the date for the export of the first "early oil" from the Chirag
field has been postponed from 1 October to 7 November, Interfax
reported on 8 September.

TAJIKISTAN CELEBRATES INDEPENDENCE, WITHOUT OPPOSITION
LEADER. The arrival of United Tajik Opposition (UTO) leader Said
Abdullo Nuri in Dushanbe for the 9 September Independence Day
festivities has been postponed owing to "technical reasons," RFE/RL
correspondents reported. Nuri was scheduled to be in Tajikistan for
the celebrations, but a last-minute disagreement over the number of
UTO members in the delegation caused the delay. In May, the
government and the opposition signed a peace agreement in Moscow.
This is the first time in Tajikistan's short history as an independent
state that the country has not been at war on its Independence Day.




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