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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 1, No. 138, Part I, 14 October 1997



A daily report of developments in Eastern and Southeastern Europe,
Russia, the Caucasus and Central Asia prepared by the staff of Radio
Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

This is Part I, a compilation of news concerning Russia, Transcaucasia
and Central Asia. Part II covers Central, Eastern, and Southeastern
Europe and is distributed simultaneously as a second document.
Back issues of RFE/RL NewsLine and the OMRI Daily Digest are online
at RFE/RL's Web site:
http://www.rferl.org/newsline

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Headlines, Part I

*CHERNOMYRDIN RAISES STAKES ON NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE


*SELEZNEV REJECTS INDEPENDENCE FOR CHECHNYA


*NEW GOVERNMENT FORMED IN KAZAKHSTAN


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RUSSIA

CHERNOMYRDIN RAISES STAKES ON NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE... Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin told ITAR-TASS on 14 October that if
the State Duma approves a vote of no confidence in his government,
the cabinet will respond quickly "within the framework of the
constitution" and will not wait three months, "as some are hoping."
Chernomyrdin said he favors "direct dialogue" between the
government and the parliament, "not [no-confidence] votes and
squabbles." At a 15 October plenary session, the Duma is scheduled
to consider a Communist proposal to put a no-confidence vote on the
agenda. Chernomyrdin's remarks suggest that if the Duma passes a
no-confidence vote, the government will request that deputies
consider a second confidence motion within 10 days, as the
government did following such a vote in June 1995. President Boris
Yeltsin can legally dissolve the Duma and call new parliamentary
elections if two no-confidence votes are passed within three months.

...AMID RUMORS OF HIS POSSIBLE RESIGNATION. Chernomyrdin
neither confirmed nor denied a statement by Aleksandr Shokhin, the
leader of the pro-government Duma faction Our Home Is Russia, who
told Interfax on 14 October that the prime minister will resign if the
Duma approves a no-confidence vote. Shokhin said Chernomyrdin
informed Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev of his plans the previous
day. Although government spokesman Igor Shabdurasulov told
ITAR-TASS that Chernomyrdin does not plan to step down, Seleznev
confirmed that Chernomyrdin told him he will "probably" resign if
the no-confidence motion is approved. Seleznev also said that the
Duma's likely no-confidence vote will be directed against First
Deputy Prime Ministers Anatolii Chubais and Boris Nemtsov, not
against Chernomyrdin. For his part, Nemtsov charged on 14 October
that the Duma will do enormous damage to the Russian economy if it
provokes a government crisis.

SPOKESMAN SAYS NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE WOULD BE
COUNTERPRODUCTIVE. Presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii
on 14 October announced that while the Duma is constitutionally
entitled to pass a no-confidence vote, such a move would solve no
problems and yield no "positive result," Russian news agencies
reported. Yastrzhembskii said Yeltsin will speak with Seleznev before
the Duma's 15 October session, but the spokesman refused to
speculate on the president's possible reaction to a no-confidence
vote. (In a recent radio address, Yeltsin told Duma deputies they
should cooperate with the government, because his patience has
limits.) Yastrzhembskii also said Yeltsin is counting on Duma deputies
to show "reason" in their approach to revising the 1998 budget in
order to reach a mutually acceptable compromise.

IS OPPOSITION UNAFRAID OF DISSOLUTION? Duma Legislation
Committee Chairman Anatolii Lukyanov, a prominent Communist,
told RFE/RL's Moscow bureau on 14 October that the Communist
Party does not fear the dissolution of the Duma. If early
parliamentary elections are held, Lukyanov added, the left
opposition will win even more seats. Communist Party leader
Gennadii Zyuganov announced the same day that his party will insist
on a no-confidence vote on 15 October despite rumors that
Chernomyrdin may resign, Interfax reported. Duma Defense
Committee Chairman Lev Rokhlin on 13 October said his Movement
in Support of the Army also favors a no-confidence vote, RFE/RL's
Moscow bureau reported. Rokhlin predicted that if Yeltsin disbands
the Duma, "patriotically-minded forces" will win a majority of seats
in the next parliamentary elections. Opinion within the Communist
Duma faction is reportedly divided over whether to pass two no-
confidence votes and risk the Duma's dissolution.

SELEZNEV REJECTS INDEPENDENCE FOR CHECHNYA. Duma speaker
Seleznev on 13 October rejected as "absolutely unacceptable" the
Chechen draft of a treaty between Russia and the Chechen Republic
that provides for establishing bilateral diplomatic relations, Russian
agencies reported. But Duma Defense Committee Chairman Rokhlin
told journalists the same day that attempts to "tie Chechnya to
Russia" are wrong and that "the sovereignty of Chechnya must be
recognized", according to Interfax. Vladimir Zorin, who is chairman of
the Duma's Committee for Nationalities, said the closed Duma
hearings on 14 October are intended "not as a confrontation but as a
search for consensus on settling the problems Russia faces in the
North Caucasus." Grozny announced on 12 October that it will not
send delegates to attend the Duma hearings (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
13 October 1997).

BUDGET COMMISSION HOLDS FIRST MEETING. The trilateral
commission seeking a compromise on the draft budget for 1998 held
its first meeting on 13 October, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported.
First Deputy Prime Minister Chubais said the representatives of the
government, Duma and Federation Council are to finish revising the
budget in nine days. Duma Budget Committee Chairman Mikhail
Zadornov of Yabloko told ITAR-TASS on 13 October that the
government has already agreed to revise its projection for 1998 GDP
up from 2.75 trillion new rubles ($470 billion) to 2.8 trillion new
rubles. The second session of the commission is scheduled for 14
October. However, Zyuganov told Interfax that negotiations over the
1998 budget are "completely senseless." He charged that the
trilateral commission is not operating as Duma deputies had
anticipated. He also accused Chubais of trying to "force through" his
own budget figures.

CHERNOMYRDIN OPTIMISTIC ON FOREIGN INVESTMENT. Prime
Minister Chernomyrdin was upbeat at a 13 October meeting of the
Foreign Investment Advisory Council, comprised of government
officials and representatives of major foreign companies. He said
Russia attracted $6.7 billion in foreign investment during the first six
months of 1997, more than triple the level for the same period in
1996. (Foreign investment was particularly low during the first six
months of 1996 because of investors' fears that Communist Party
leader Zyuganov might win the presidential election.) Chernomyrdin
said accumulated foreign investment in Russia amounts to $20.2
billion. He pledged that the government hopes to attract up to $20
billion a year in foreign investment by 2000. To this end, he said the
government is considering restoring customs duty reductions and tax
concessions for foreign investors, which were suspended last year,
Interfax reported.

DEPUTY SAYS CORRUPTION IN DUMA WIDESPREAD. Duma deputy
Konstantin Borovoi on 13 October called for passing a law on
lobbying to fight corruption in the Duma, which, he claimed, is
rampant, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. Borovoi said deputies
frequently take bribes to lobby for legislation that benefits corporate
groups or foreign countries. He did not name any specific
corporations but said that state monopolies and companies in "the
military-industrial complex" have paid Duma deputies to lobby on
their behalf. One large corporation spent $3 million on buying the
support of Duma deputies, he claimed. Borovoi, a wealthy
entrepreneur, was elected to the Duma from a single-member district
and does not belong to any faction. He has generally supported the
government's economic policies and is a vocal anti-communist.

DUMA PASSES LAW ON SUBSISTENCE LEVEL. The Duma on 10
October passed a law on the minimum subsistence level, ITAR-TASS
reported. Under the law, each Russian region would calculate the
subsistence minimum every three months, based on the prices of
essential consumer goods. Citizens whose incomes fell below the
subsistence level would be eligible for financial assistance from the
state. Yeltsin's representative in the Duma, Aleksandr Kotenkov,
hailed the law as the "foundation of the state's new social policy." The
government has called for restricting most social benefits payments
to those with low incomes rather than making payments to
categories of citizens, such as relatives of veterans or law
enforcement officials.

ZHIRINOVSKY ACCUSES NEMTSOV OF CORRUPTION. Liberal
Democratic Party of Russia leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky has again
accused First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov of taking bribes
and embezzling a total of $18 million while serving as governor of
Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast, ITAR-TASS reported on 13 October.
According to "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 14 October, the businessman
Andrei Klimentev, who first lodged the accusations against Nemtsov,
was scheduled to testify before a Duma commission on corruption
and to give a press conference in the capital. However, the Nizhnii
Novgorod Oblast Court did not allow Klimentev to leave the region,
because he is under criminal investigation. Nemtsov's lawyer, Vitalii
Khavkin, has dismissed the accusations as lies intended to damage
Nemtsov's political career. Khavkin said that in the summer, Nemtsov
requested that the Prosecutor-General's Office open a slander case
against Klimentev (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 August 1997).

SHOKHIN FAVORS SUBSIDIES FOR MOSCOW. Our Home Is Russia Duma
faction leader Shokhin has expressed regret that compensation
payments for Moscow were excluded from the government's draft
budget for 1998, ITAR-TASS reported on 13 October. Shokhin noted
that while there is a "certain envy" for Moscow--which "puts on
celebrations, builds roads, and implements many projects"--the
federal government should recognize that most foreign investment in
Russia comes to Moscow. Consequently, the government should
allocate expenditures to compensate Moscow for the costs of being
the country's capital, Shokhin said. He argued that such a policy
would help not just Moscow but the whole country. Moscow Mayor
Luzhkov, a sharp critic of First Deputy Prime Ministers Chubais and
Nemtsov, has decried the government's plans to take away the
compensation payments.

LUZHKOV SAYS MOSCOW WILL PROVIDE TEXTBOOKS FOR RUSSIANS
ABROAD. Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov announced on 13 October
that the Moscow city government will provide Russian-language
textbooks for Russian-speaking students in Estonia, Lithuania,
Azerbaijan, and Georgia, ITAR-TASS reported. The textbooks will also
be sent to schools in Sevastopol, the Crimean port where the Black
Sea Fleet is based. Russia renounced all territorial claims against
Ukraine when Yeltsin signed a treaty with his Ukrainian counterpart,
Leonid Kuchma, in May. Luzhkov was an outspoken critic of that
treaty and has repeatedly declared that Sevastopol was, is, and will
remain a Russian city.

LEBED SEEKS COOPERATION WITH POTENTIAL CAMPAIGN RIVALS.
Former Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed says he hopes to
cooperate with both Moscow Mayor Luzhkov and with Yabloko
leader Grigorii Yavlinskii during the next presidential campaign,
scheduled for 2000. In an interview published in "Komsomolskaya
pravda" on 11 October, Lebed said he is also ready to work with First
Deputy Prime Minister Nemtsov, who, he commented, has "many
positive qualities." Lebed and Yavlinskii held unsuccessful
consultations on forming an electoral alliance during the 1996
presidential campaign. Luzhkov has sharply criticized Lebed in the
past, especially for the peace agreement Lebed negotiated with
Chechnya in August 1996. Although Luzhkov has frequently denied
harboring presidential ambitions, he, like Lebed, is seen as a leading
contender for support from the "patriotic" wing of the Russian
electorate.

COMMUNISTS GAIN GROUND IN BELGOROD ELECTIONS. Candidates
representing the Communist Party made a strong showing in the 12
October elections to the Belgorod Oblast Duma, RFE/RL's Moscow
bureau reported. Communists won 13 out of the 35 seats in the
legislature. The remaining seats were won by candidates with no
political party affiliation. Turnout was some 45 percent. The previous
Duma approved virtually all the initiatives of Belgorod Governor
Yevgenii Savchenko, but the new legislature is expected to be a force
for the governor to reckon with. Communists candidates sharply
criticized the oblast authorities during the Belgorod campaign.

SHOW OF SUPPORT FOR ARRESTED LENINSK-KUZNETSKII MAYOR.
More than 1,000 people demonstrated in Leninsk-Kuznetskii,
Kemerovo Oblast, on 12 October demanding the release of Mayor
Gennadii Konyakhin, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported on 13
October. Konyakhin was recently arrested in Moscow on
embezzlement charges and is in custody in Kemerovo (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 9 October 1997). In a telephone interview with RFE/RL,
acting Leninsk-Kuznetskii Mayor Mark Guskov said more
demonstrations in support of Konyakhin are planned. State Duma
deputy Teimuraz Avaliani, the leader of the Kemerovo branch of the
Communist Party, has asked the Prosecutor-General's Office to
release Konyakhin pending trial, ITAR-TASS reported on 14 October.
Vladimir Popov, the chairman of the Kemerovo Electoral Commission,
has also said that Konyakhin has the right to continue to serve as
mayor, despite the criminal case opened against him, according to the
14 October "Kommersant-Daily."

U.S. BANKER BLAMES COMPETITORS FOR VISA PROBLEMS. U.S. citizen
Boris Jordan, the head of the investment bank MFK and the
Renaissance Capital fund, has denied Security Council Deputy
Secretary Boris Berezovskii's claim that his visa was revoked because
he gained access to classified information, "Kommersant-Daily"
reported on 14 October. At a Moscow press conference, Jordan
blamed "unscrupulous competitors" of the Oneksimbank group, which
includes MFK, for the incident. He also warned that the "provocation"
against him will hurt Russia's image with foreign investors (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 10 and 13 October 1997). "Nezavisimaya gazeta,"
partly financed by Berezovskii's LogoVAZ group, reported on 14
October that MFK services accounts of the Russian arms exporter
Rosvooruzhenie. The newspaper also said Jordan's investment
activities have long been monitored by Russian security services. It
suggested that Jordan's September appointment as head of MFK
prompted the decision to revoke his visa.

TATARSTAN TO WORK WITH IRAQ IN PETROLEUM PRODUCTION.
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev met with Iraqi Deputy Minister
of Petroleum Faiz Abdulla Shakhen and Iraqi Ambassador to Moscow
Hassan Fahmi Djuma in Kazan on 13 October, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau
reported, citing Radio Tatarstan. An agreement was reached whereby
specialists from the Tatar national oil company Tatneft will
participate in petroleum production in Iraq and provide production
equipment in exchange for the assembly in Iraq of Kamaz trucks. An
April 1995 agreement on cooperation in the oil sector was never
implemented because of the lack of relevant Russian legislation.

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

NEW GOVERNMENT FORMED IN KAZAKHSTAN. First Deputy Prime
Minister Akhmetzhan Yesimov, Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr
Pavlov, Foreign Minister Kasymjomart Tokaev, and Interior Minister
Kairbek Suleimanov retain their posts in the new Kazakh
government, Russian agencies reported on 13 October. President
Nursultan Nazarbaev has appointed a new minister of justice and
upgraded the national press and media agency to the status of
ministry. Despite having told the parliament in his10 October address
that the new government would have no more than15 ministers,
Nazarbaev apparently did not abolish any ministries. Meanwhile,
many of the protest marchers halted by police near the southern city
of Turkestan have begun a hunger-strike (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8
October 1997), ITAR-TASS reported on 13 October.

IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN ASHGABAT. During his one-day visit
to Turkmenistan on 13 October, Kamal Kharrazi met with President
Saparmurad Niyazov to discuss cooperation in the oil and gas sector,
Russian agencies reported. The talks focused on the export of
Turkmenistan's oil and gas via Iran. Turkmen Oil and Gas Minister
Batyr Sardzhaev told Interfax that when construction of the
Korpedzhe-Kurd-Kui pipeline is completed in December,
Turkmenistan will begin exporting to Iran 3 billion cubic meters of
gas each year. Niyazov and Kharrazi also discussed the possibility of
constructing a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Turkey via Iran
and an oil pipeline from Turkmenistan through Iran to the Persian
Gulf. Niyazov proposed creating a joint commission for exploiting
Caspian mineral resources.

KYRGYZ PREMIER SAYS RUSSIAN TV BROADCASTS TO CONTINUE.
Apas Djumagulov on 13 October confirmed he will not allow the
rebroadcasting of Russian Public Television (ORT), Russian Television
(RTR), and Radio Mayak programs to be halted, ITAR-TASS reported.
Kyrgyz TV and radio relay stations had decided to stop
retransmission until the three broadcasters pay their outstanding
debts to the Kyrgyz Ministry of Communications. Oruzbek Kaiykov,
the head of the Kyrgyzstan Information Agency, told journalists in
Bishkek on 13 October that ORT owes some 3 billion Russian rubles
($600,000) RTR 837.5 million rubles, and Radio Mayak 869 million
rubles, according to an RFE/RL correspondent in the Kyrgyz capital.
Kaiykov said Djumagulov asked the parliament to include in the
1998 draft budget some 6 million soms ($350,000) toward the cost of
rebroadcasting Russian television and radio programs in Kyrgyzstan.

ARMENIAN PRESIDENT RATIFIES HAIRUSGASARD AGREEMENT.
Levon Ter-Petrossyan has ratified the 30 August agreement creating
the Hairusgasard joint venture, Interfax reported on 13 October . The
agreement, concluded by the Armenian government, Russia's
Gazprom, and the ITERA international gas transportation company,
covers the construction of a pipeline network and the use of that
network to export Russian gas via Armenia to Turkey and from there
to other countries (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 September 1997). The
Armenian government ratified the agreement on 23 September.

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