We are all apt to believe what the world believes about us. - George Eliot
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 1, No. 140, Part I, 16 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

*DUMA POSTPONES NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE


*COMMUNISTS SET FOR NEGOTIATIONS WITH GOVERNMENT


*ATTACK ON TAJIK PRESIDENTIAL GUARD LEAVES FOURTEEN DEAD

End Note
IS YELTSIN'S PROPOSED KARABAKH SUMMIT A NON-STARTER?
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RUSSIA

DUMA POSTPONES NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE. The State Duma on 15
October postponed a vote of no confidence in the government
following a last-minute appeal from President Boris Yeltsin, RFE/RL's
Moscow bureau reported. Shortly before the vote was to take place,
Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev announced that Yeltsin had phoned
him twice to ask communist deputies to withdraw their appeal for a
no-confidence vote. He quoted Yeltsin as saying that he does not
want early parliamentary elections and that the government will
"draw conclusions from the criticism voiced today." He also offered to
create a "round table" involving all branches of government.
Following Seleznev's remarks, the Duma took a recess, after which
the communist faction called for delaying consideration of the
confidence motion until 22 October. That motion passed with 228
votes, just two more than the 226 needed for passage. The Agrarian,
Popular Power, and Liberal Democratic Party of Russia factions all
supported the motion.

PRO-GOVERNMENT FACTION REGRETS DELAY. The pro-government
Duma faction Our Home Is Russia (NDR) opposed the decision to
postpone the no-confidence vote, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported.
In an interview with RFE/RL, Duma First Deputy Speaker Vladimir
Ryzhkov of NDR argued that Russia now faces yet another week of
"mutual recriminations and uncertainty," during which the state will
be "paralyzed." He noted that Yeltsin asked communist deputies to
withdraw, not merely delay, their demand for a no-confidence vote.

COMMUNISTS SET FOR NEGOTIATIONS WITH GOVERNMENT. Duma
Speaker Seleznev on 16 October announced that Yeltsin has agreed to
meet with the prime minister and the speakers of both houses of the
parliament on 20 October, Interfax reported. Duma Security
Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin, like Seleznev a prominent
Communist, said that during negotiations with the government, the
opposition will seek the dismissal of some cabinet members,
including First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais. Ilyukhin also
said the opposition will demand "broad access to the media." The
previous day, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin promised Duma
deputies that the lower house will be given its own newspaper and a
regular program on state-owned television, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau
reported. Chernomyrdin also said Seleznev will be invited to join
public councils to be formed at Russian Public Television and Russian
Television, the nationwide networks that broadcast on Channels 1
and 2.

YAVLINSKII BLASTS COMMUNISTS. In an interview with RFE/RL's
Moscow bureau on 15 October, Yabloko leader Yavlinskii blasted the
Communists for their tactics over the no-confidence vote. Yavlinskii
argued that the Communists had first drafted a confidence motion
criticizing economic reforms, which "no one but they could vote for,"
and had then backed off from a no-confidence vote. In his speech to
the Duma earlier that day, Yavlinskii said the Communist Party must
share responsibility for the current state of affairs in the country,
since most Communists and their allies voted for the 1997 budget
and for other government initiatives. He added that "the left-wing
majority [in the Duma] will do what it is told." Yavlinskii has
frequently described his own movement as the only "real opposition"
in the parliament, charging that the government has a secret alliance
with the Communists and with Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal
Democratic Party of Russia.

FEDERATION COUNCIL APPEALS TO CONSTITUTIONAL COURT... The
Federation Council on 15 October voted to appeal to the
Constitutional Court against Yeltsin's refusal to sign the trophy art
law and the law on the government, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" and
"Kommersant-Daily" reported. The Duma and the Council overrode
Yeltsin's vetoes of both laws earlier this year. Although Article 107
of the constitution requires the president to sign laws within seven
days if the parliament overrides his veto, Yeltsin charged that
unconstitutional voting procedures were used to achieve the
necessary two-thirds majority in the parliament. The Duma recently
appealed to the Constitutional Court against Yeltsin's refusal to sign
the law on the government (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 October
1997).

..AND TO GOVERNMENT. Also on 15 October, the Federation Council
appealed to the government to allocate more funds to the State Tax
Service and the court system. The resolution said funding for the tax
service was 1.13 trillion rubles ($193 million) short of budgeted
levels in 1996 and 800 billion rubles down on projected amounts for
the first eight months of 1997. During the first nine months of this
year, the Constitutional Court faced a funding shortfall of 2.2 billion
rubles, the Supreme Court 5.5 billion rubles, arbitration courts 37
billion rubles, and other federal courts 343 billion rubles. The same
day, the Council approved a law outlining the method for calculating
the subsistence level (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 October 1997).
However, deputies failed to override a presidential veto of a law on
protecting Lake Baikal, ITAR-TASS reported.

DUMA OBJECTS TO CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS. The Duma on 15
October asked its Security Committee to prepare an appeal to the
Prosecutor-General's Office to examine recent allegations by Duma
deputy Konstantin Borovoi, Russian news agencies reported. Borovoi
alleged that there is widespread corruption and lobbying on behalf of
corporate interests within the Duma (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14
October 1997). The Security Committee will ask prosecutors to
investigate whether Borovoi can be charged with "slandering the
Duma."

AGRICULTURAL WORKERS PICKET WHITE HOUSE. Some 3,000
agricultural workers demonstrated outside government headquarters
on 15 October in a protest organized by the opposition Agrarian
Party of Russia, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported. Duma Speaker
Seleznev, Popular Power faction leader Nikolai Ryzhkov, and
Communist Duma deputy Vladimir Semago were among the
politicians who addressed the demonstration. According to ITAR-
TASS, Prime Minister Chernomyrdin met with representatives of the
demonstrators and promised them that the government "will work in
close contact" with representatives of agricultural workers to solve
the problems of the agrarian sector. The draft budget for 1998 calls
for sharp cuts in agricultural subsidies.

KOKH CONFIDENT HIS CASE WON'T GO TO COURT. Former State
Property Committee Chairman Alfred Kokh told ITAR-TASS on 15
October that he believes the criminal case against him will not go to
court because, he stressed, he has committed no crime. He argued
that he declared and paid taxes on a $100,000 payment from the
Swiss firm Servina, which, according to Kokh, purchased the rights to
his forthcoming book on privatization. "Segodnya" argued on 11
October that the 1995 law on state service prohibits officials from
collecting fees or royalties for speeches or publications based on their
civil service. The newspaper argued that Kokh is therefore not legally
entitled to receive payment for a book about privatization in Russia.

NEWSPAPER EDITOR RESIGNS FROM MOSCOW CITY GOVERNMENT.
Pavel Gusev, the editor in chief of the popular Moscow daily
"Moskovskii komsomolets," has resigned as minister of information in
the Moscow city government, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 15
October. He had held that post since January 1992. Gusev will
continue to advise the Moscow government but will not draw a
salary in that capacity. "Kommersant-Daily" argued that Gusev's
resignation may be connected with a recent court complaint filed by
Moscow Prosecutor Gennadii Ponomarev, who charged that anti-
monopoly legislation does not allow officials to conduct business
activities (such as running a newspaper). As minister of information,
Gusev was responsible for placing advertisements on Moscow streets.
"Moskovskii komsomolets" has consistently supported Mayor Yurii
Luzhkov. During the last year, it has published a number of articles
implicating some federal government officials, especially First Deputy
Prime Minister Chubais, in crimes or corruption.

'IZVESTIYA' SLAMS 'BANK WAR' AGAINST GOVERNMENT. Writing in
"Izvestiya" on 15 October, economist Andrei Illarionov accused
unnamed leading businessmen of continuing the "bank war" sparked
by controversial privatization auctions in the summer and of
coordinating their actions with the government's communist
opponents. Illarionov charged that Russia's "fat cats" are angry
because the government ended its long-standing practice of in effect
subsidizing commercial banks through loan guarantees and allowing
the banks to handle budget funds. He accused the businessmen of
fighting back by "generously paying the media under their control,"
threatening to release compromising information about government
figures, and even resorting to "Stalinist" warnings that Russia's
national security is threatened. (The last point is an apparent
reference to Security Council Deputy Secretary Boris Berezovskii's
recent charge that U.S. citizen Boris Jordan, who heads a bank linked
to Oneksimbank, has gained access to state secrets.) Oneksimbank is
a major shareholder in "Izvestiya."

'NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA' SKEPTICAL ABOUT SERIES ON SIBERIAN
MAYOR. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 15 October questioned the motives
behind an investigative series published in "Izvestiya" last month on
alleged crimes committed by Gennadii Konyakhin, the mayor of
Leninsk-Kuznetskii, Kemerovo Oblast. Yeltsin praised the "Izvestiya"
reports and sent a special investigative team to Kemerovo.
Konyakhin has since been arrested. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" argued
that the "Izvestiya" series was inspired either by one organized
crime group to discredit another or by the Kremlin to launch the
president's battle against corruption in the regions. The 16 October
"Izvestiya" published an angry front-page article denying that the
series on Leninsk-Kuznetskii was "paid for" or motivated by anything
other than the search for the truth. "Izvestiya" lamented that Russian
journalists have stopped believing in one another. It also warned
that such cynicism could eventually cost journalists not only the
public's trust but media freedom as well.

COURT ADDS TO CONFUSION OVER VLADIVOSTOK LEADERSHIP
DISPUTE. The Primorskii Krai Court has ruled that the regional
legislature acted within its powers when it suspended Viktor
Cherepkov as mayor of Vladivostok and appointed Yurii Kopylov
acting mayor, ITAR-TASS reported on 15 October. The court
overturned a ruling by a Vladivostok district court that had declared
Kopylov's appointment illegal. Primore's top prosecutor and
presidential representative have also denounced the Kopylov
appointment, and a criminal case was recently opened against
Kopylov (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 and 8 October 1997). Cherepkov,
who remains hospitalized following an operation, does not recognize
the krai legislature's action and has designated Nikolai Markovtsev to
serve as acting mayor during his convalescence. Kopylov also
checked into hospital recently with heart problems, according to the
16 October "Kommersant-Daily."

OREL COURT RULES AGAINST WOULD-BE CANDIDATES. The Orel
Oblast Court on 15 October rejected appeals by two would-be
candidates in the upcoming gubernatorial election, "Kommersant-
Daily" reported. Sergei Isakov of the Liberal Democratic Party of
Russia and Vladimir Kapustyanskii, a former head of the Orel branch
of the Interior Ministry, say they were unfairly denied registration
by the regional electoral commission. They have vowed to appeal to
the Supreme Court, but the case is unlikely to change the outcome of
the race. Current Governor Yegor Stroev is expected to win the 26
October election hands down.

NEW MOVES TO OVERCOME NORTH OSSETIAN-INGUSH TENSIONS.
Akhsarbek Galazov and Ruslan Aushev, the presidents of North
Ossetia and Ingushetia, and Russian Prime Minister Chernomyrdin
have signed a 50-point program outlining measures to be
undertaken jointly to deal with the aftermath of the November 1992
fighting in North Ossetia's disputed Prigorodnyi Raion, ITAR-TASS
reported on 15 October. The Russian government is required to
ensure that the 1998 budget includes funds for the reconstruction of
housing for families whose homes were destroyed. The program also
targets the region's high crime rate and provides for a conference of
representatives of federation subjects to discuss the situation in the
North Caucasus. The signing of the program was delayed for several
weeks because Galazov had been ill.

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

ATTACK ON TAJIK PRESIDENTIAL GUARD LEAVES FOURTEEN DEAD.
Some 80 gunmen attacked the Dushanbe headquarters of the
presidential guard during the early morning of 16 October, killing up
to 14 servicemen, including five officers. Four of the gunmen were
also killed. Presidential guard commander Gafur Mirzoyev said the
identity and affiliation of the attackers are unknown. President
Imomali Rakhmonov will personally monitor the Interior Ministry
investigation into the attack. At a meeting on 14 October in
Dushanbe, the opposition field commanders who control Lenin and
Kofarnikhon Raions, east of Dushanbe, had agreed to comply with
United Tajik Opposition leader Said Abdullo Nuri's orders for tougher
discipline and a halt to looting and unauthorized attacks. They had
also agreed to cooperate with government forces in the fight against
crime and unauthorized military formations, according to
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" and Interfax on 16 October.

IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN DUSHANBE. Kamal Kharrazi met in
Dushanbe on 15 October with President Rakhmonov to discuss
bilateral relations, the implementation of the peace accord, and the
situation in Afghanistan. Kharrazi also met with Prime Minister
Yakhya Azimov with whom he discussed the possibility of increased
Iranian investment in prospecting for oil and gas in Tajikistan and of
creating a quadrilateral commission for trade and economic
cooperation in Central Asia, according to ITAR-TASS. At a meeting
with Nuri, the UTO leader expressed his gratitude to the Iranian
leadership for its role as a guarantor of the peace process. In Tehran,
however, Minister of Culture Ataollah Mohajerani issued a statement
on 15 October protesting the removal of signs in Farsi from shop
fronts and other public places in Dushanbe as well as the closure of a
Farsi-language bookstore in the Tajik capital.

SUPPORT GROWS FOR KAZAKH PROTEST MARCHERS. A member of the
lower chamber of the parliament has called on the government to do
everything in its power to expedite the payment of wage arrears to
the 2,000 workers from the Achisay Polymetal Plant, RFE/RL's
Almaty bureau reported on 16 October. The workers and their
families began a protest march to Almaty earlier this month but
were intercepted by police near the city of Turkestan (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 8 and 15 October 1997). Meanwhile the marchers released
a statement to Kazakh and foreign journalists appealing to all
political parties and movements for their backing. Miners in the
eastern city of Leninogorsk have organized a support group, which
has begun to collect food and money to be sent to the marchers.

UKRAINE, KYRGYZSTAN PLEDGE TO INCREASE TRADE. Meeting in
Bishkek on 15 October, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and
Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev said their countries will increase the
volume of bilateral trade at least tenfold in 1998, ITAR-TASS
reported. Total turnover between the two countries so far this year is
less than $6 million.

AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT PROPOSES AMNESTY FOR DESERTERS.
Heidar Aliev has submitted to the parliament a draft law calling for
an amnesty for those serving prison sentences for desertion and
other military crimes, Turan and Interfax reported on 15 October.
The amnesty covers not only servicemen who participated in the
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict but also invalids and people whose close
relatives or underage children died in the war. In a swipe at the
Azerbaijan Popular Front government, Aliev said it is unjust that
people should serve prison terms for military crimes committed
during a period of "havoc and anarchy" in the armed forces. This
anarchy, Aliev continued, resulted from the "absence of a regular
army, discipline, and military command."

ARMENIAN, FRENCH PRESIDENTS MEET. Commenting on his talks in
Paris with his French counterpart, Jacques Chirac, Levon Ter-
Petrossyan expressed satisfaction that France gives a high priority to
relations with Armenia, Noyan Tapan reported. Chirac termed
bilateral relations "favorable." Both presidents were cautiously
optimistic about the prospects for resolving the Karabakh conflict,
but Ter-Petrossyan later made it clear that Armenia will attend the
Moscow summit on Karabakh proposed by Chirac and Russian
President Boris Yeltsin only if representatives from Nagorno-
Karabakh are also invited. No date has yet been set for that meeting.
Ter-Petrossyan rejected suggestions that discord exists between
Armenia and Karabakh over the peace process. Ter-Petrossyan also
appealed to Chirac to release former ASALA activist Varouzhan
Karapetian, currently serving life imprisonment in France for his role
in the 1983 Orly airport bombing, in which seven people were killed.

END NOTE

IS YELTSIN'S PROPOSED KARABAKH SUMMIT A NON-STARTER?

Emil Danielyan and Liz Fuller

        Recent developments may either give new impetus to the
Nagorno-Karabakh peace process or deadlock it once again.
        Over a 10-course gourmet dinner in Strasbourg on the eve of
the 10-11 October Council of Europe summit, Russian President Boris
Yeltsin and his French counterpart, Jacques Chirac, decided to invite
the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Levon Ter-Petrossyan and
Heidar Aliev, to Moscow for talks under the auspices of the
Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe's Minsk Group,
which since 1992 has been engaged in mediating a settlement of the
Karabakh conflict.
        Russia and France, together with the U.S,. are the co-chairmen
of the Minsk Group, and Yeltsin said that U.S. participation would be
welcome. He did not, however, indicate whether Arkadii Ghukasyan,
the president of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, would
also be invited. Ter-Petrossyan and Aliev on 10 October issued a
joint statement calling for talks within the framework of the Minsk
Group that would include all three parties to the conflict.
        Their statement also described as "encouraging" the most
recent draft peace plan proposed by the Minsk Group. That plan
envisages a "step-by-step" approach to resolving the conflict
whereby a decision on Nagorno-Karabakh's status is to be preceded
by the withdrawal of Armenian forces from six occupied raions in
Azerbaijan, the lifting of Azerbaijan's blockade of Armenia, the
repatriation of displaced persons and refugees, and other confidence-
building measures.
        Azerbaijan gave its written consent to those proposals on 8
October. The following day, Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesman
Arsen Gasparyan said that Yerevan has officially accepted the plan
"as a basis for further negotiations" but has unspecified serious
reservations about it.
        The Karabakh Armenian leadership, for its part, has
consistently advocated a "package" solution to the conflict that would
resolve all contentious issues within a single framework document.
The Karabakh Armenians argue that a phased solution is dangerous
because it obliges them to withdraw from the Azerbaijani territory
under their control--their main bargaining chip--but gives no
guarantee that Baku will not attack Nagorno-Karabakh after the first
stage of the peace process. Having regained its lost territories, they
reason, oil-rich Azerbaijan may be tempted to solve the dispute by
force.
        Naira Melkumyan, Nagorno-Karabakh's permanent
representative in Yerevan, announced on 11 October that
Stepanakert has formally rejected the "step-by-step" peace plan. She
said a withdrawal from occupied Azerbaijani territory is possible
only if there are international guarantees of Nagorno-Karabakh's
"security and future status." She also proposed that Armenia and a
number of foreign countries, including Iran, act as guarantors of
Karabakh's security.
        Ghukasyan has similarly proposed a role for Iran in the peace
process. The U.S., however, will reject such a proposal out of hand,
and Azerbaijan and Turkey (which is a Minsk Group member) are
likely to express reservations. Moreover, Iran is not a member of the
OSCE, which Armenia and Azerbaijan have just termed the most
appropriate forum for talks on resolving the conflict.
         Diverging views within the Armenian leadership could pose a
further obstacle to the peace process. Speaking at a press conference
on 26 September, Ter-Petrossyan affirmed that "unilateral demands"
for Nagorno-Karabakh's secession from Azerbaijan are unrealistic
and will not be tolerated by the international community. Ter-
Petrossyan said Armenia must be ready to make "serious
concessions" if it is to become a "normal country" and if it is not to
lose more in the long run. He drew a parallel with the Croatian Serbs,
who lost their self-proclaimed republic in 1995.
        Predictably, Ter-Petrossyan's statements were condemned by
the Armenian opposition as "capitulation and surrender." But some
influential members of the Armenian leadership--including Prime
Minister Robert Kocharyan, Interior and National Security Minister
Serzh Sarkisyan (both former war-time leaders of Nagorno-
Karabakh) and hard-line Defense Minister Vazgen Sarkisyan--are
likewise believed to harbor objections.
        Some Armenian observers have speculated that Ter-
Petrossyan's 26 September statements were a diplomatic ruse aimed
at preempting international pressure over the Armenians' refusal to
recognize Azerbaijan's territorial integrity. By blaming the Karabakh
Armenians for that refusal, those observers argue, Ter-Petrossyan
wanted to create the image of a "realist" leader having to deal with
"intransigent nationalists." But Ghukasyan's repeated offer to cede
part of Karabakh's de facto independence and conclude an accord
creating a confederation with Baku that would preserve Azerbaijan's
territorial integrity in effect renders such an argument irrelevant, if
not invalid. At the same time, Baku will appear obdurate if it
refuses--as it almost certainly will-- to discuss the "confederation"
option for Nagorno-Karabakh.
        Paradoxically, while Ter-Petrossyan's and Ghukasyan's
expressed willingness to compromise over Karabakh's future status
could expedite a breakthrough in the peace process, disagreement
over long-term security guarantees for the Karabakh population
could just as easily deadlock it--unless, that is, the OSCE agrees to
provide those security guarantees for Karabakh in order to exclude
Iran. In fact, this may be precisely what Ter-Petrossyan, a
consummate strategic thinker, has in mind.

Emil Danielyan is an RFE/RL correspondent based in Yerevan.

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