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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/ xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part I *PROCURATOR-GENERAL OPENS PROBE INTO CHECHEN EXECUTIONS *NAGORNO-KARABAKH PRESIDENT SWORN IN *TAJIKISTAN CELEBRATES INDEPENDENCE, WITHOUT OPPOSITION LEADER xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 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. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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