The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion. - Thomas Paine
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 1, No. 141, Part I, 17 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

CENTRAL ASIA IN TRANSITION: Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. This
six-part report on the RFE/RL Web site details how much has
changed since the collapse of the USSR -- and how much has not.
http://www.rferl.org/nca/special/asia/index.html

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Headlines, Part I

* YELTSIN CALLS FOR ROUND-TABLE TALKS WITH OPPOSITION

* U.S. THREATENS SANCTIONS AGAINST GAZPROM

* TAJIK POLICE DETAIN FOUR IN CONNECTION WITH KILLINGS

End Note
HOW THE CIS MAY END

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RUSSIA

YELTSIN CALLS FOR ROUND-TABLE TALKS WITH OPPOSITION.
President Boris Yeltsin, speaking in his weekly radio address on 17
October, appealed to opposition leaders in the Duma to hold round-
table talks ahead of a no-confidence vote planned for 22 October.
Yeltsin said representatives of the executive and the legislature
should search for compromises in the current political crisis over the
draft 1998 budget. But he added that whatever happens, Russia's
political system is now stable enough to "survive all political
cataclysms without fear." Yeltsin said the time of putsches and plots
has gone forever.

COMMUNISTS HINT THEY MAY DROP NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE DEMAND.
Duma speaker Gennadii Seleznev on 16 October hinted that
communist deputies, who put the no-confidence motion on the
agenda, may be willing to support the government if Yeltsin agrees
to certain conditions. He told ITAR-TASS the Communists' main
demand is that Yeltsin sign a law whereby a successful no-confidence
vote against the government would mean the automatic resignation
of the prime minister and the cabinet. Under current rules, the Duma
must pass a second no-confidence motion in three months before any
action can be taken. The president can then dissolve the lower house.

U.S. THREATENS SANCTIONS AGAINST GAZPROM. Meeting in Moscow
on 15 October with Rem Vyakhirev, the chairman of the Russian gas
monopoly Gazprom, U.S. Ambassador James Collins warned that the
U.S. may apply sanctions against the company because of its
participation in developing an Iranian gas field together with
Iranian, French, and Malaysian oil companies. Vyakhirev responded
that the deal is purely commercial and that Gazprom "has never
violated Russian, Iranian, or international laws and does not intend
to do so", Interfax reported. He added that the threat of sanctions "is
unacceptable for Gazprom." Previously, Vyakhirev had said his
company had considered the possibility of sanctions but had
concluded it would be "madness" not to participate in the $2 billion
deal (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 October 1997).

FOREIGN MINISTRY DENIES CONTACTS WITH PKK. Spokesman
Gennadii Tarasov has denied that the Foreign Ministry coordinated
contacts between the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and
Russian State Duma deputies. The denial was released to Interfax for
circulation on 16 October. Tarasov said Russia supports a peaceful
political settlement of the Kurdish problem whereby the territorial
integrity of those states with a Kurdish minority is preserved.
Chairman of the Duma Committee for Geopolitics Aleksei Mitrofanov
had told journalists on 10 October that Duma deputies from several
factions, including those of Vladimir Zhirinovksy's Liberal Democratic
Party of Russia, Yabloko, and the Communist Party, met with PKK
chairman Abdullah Ocalan in an unidentified country in early
October. Those deputies later advocated that Turkey and Kurdistan
create a federation. Ocalan went on trial in absentia in Turkey on 13
October. He is charged with treason.

DEFENSE MINISTER SAYS MILITARY ENTERPRISES MUST
CONSOLIDATE. Igor Sergeev has said the military-industrial complex
must be consolidated and made more efficient if it is to survive.
During his two-day tour of military bases in Central Russia, Sergeev
said the Defense Ministry will be able to pay only 500,000 workers
and soldiers this year out of its budget and only 780,000 in 1998,
"Krasnaya Zvezda" reported on 16 October. The newspaper noted that
some 2.5 million people currently work in the military sector.
Sergeev also said research institutes and military manufacturers will
have to compete in the market place to stay afloat. He noted that it
makes little sense for Russia to have 37 separate aircraft
manufacturing plants and for its design bureaus to be developing six
new fighter jets, when the U.S. is working on just two and Europe
one.

DEFENSE MINISTRY FUND-RAISES AMONG BANKERS. Meanwhile in
Moscow, the Defense Ministry is renewing its attempt to enlist
financial support from the country's bankers, "Kommersant-Daily"
reported on 16 October. At a conference entitled "Non-Budgetary
Sources of Financing--The Needs of National Defense," senior defense
officials met with representatives of leading Russian banks in a fund-
raising effort. Among those attending were managers from Menatep
Bank, Oneksimbank, Sberbank, and Bank Rossiiskii Kredit, all of
whom said they are willing to help the ailing defense sector but
noted the ministry must open its accounting books and draw up
precise rules for involvement. "Kommersant-Daily" commented that
no agreements were signed and the atmosphere among the bankers
and generals remained somewhat strained.

RUSSIA SIGNS DEAL TO MODERNIZE MALAYSIA'S MIG FIGHTERS.
Representatives of Russia's state-owned arms export agency,
Rosvoorzuzhenie and the MiG aircraft manufacturer, have signed a
$32 million deal to modernize Malaysia's current fleet of MiG-29
fighter planes. Interfax reported on 16 October that under the
contract, concluded in Kuala Lumpur, 18 jets received by Malaysia in
1994 will be equipped with a mid-air refueling system that meets
NATO standards, a larger payload, and more advanced weaponry.

RUSSIA STILL MAIN TRANSIT ROUTE FOR ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS TO
EUROPE. Tatyana Regent, the head of the Russian Federal Migration
Service, has said Russia remains the main transit route for illegal
immigration to Central and Western Europe. Speaking to RFE/RL
during a visit to Prague, Regent said illegal immigrants in Russia are
currently thought to number some 700,000. She said the main
destinations for illegal immigrants transiting through Russia are
Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania. Smugglers charge $10 dollars a head
for passage to Belarus and as much as $1,000 for other destinations.
Regent said the flow of illegal immigrants into Russia is facilitated by
the visa-free travel regime with other CIS countries. She added that
she hoped an agreement on joint efforts to combat organized crime
will be reached at the summit of CIS leaders in Chisinau on 22-23
October.

NO HEATING IN VLADIVOSTOK. The heating season in the port of
Vladivostok has been postponed for an indefinite period, despite the
fact the temperatures inside apartments now average only 9 -14
degrees Celsius, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 October. Dalenergo, the
region's monopoly energy supplier, published a statement in the local
press saying the fault lies with the mayor's office, which the
company says owes it 559 billion rubles ($100 million). The mayor's
office, however, says it is the one that is owed money.

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

TAJIK POLICE DETAIN FOUR IN CONNECTION WITH KILLINGS. Tajik
police on 16 October detained four men suspected of involvement in
the attack earlier the same day on the headquarters of the Tajik
presidential guard. Fourteen guards and four assailants died in the
attack, which Tajik Presidential spokesman Zafar Saidov said was
politically motivated and perpetrated by forces opposed to the peace
accord concluded between the government and the opposition earlier
this year. United Tajik Opposition leader Said Abdullo Nuri told
Interfax that "none of the opposition units could or did take part in
this crime." Also on 16 October, the bodies of four Tajik soldiers
killed in two separate incidents were found near Dushanbe.

CONFUSION OVER TAJIK REFUGEES. A spokesman for the
International Red Cross said on 16 October that some 5,000 Tajik
refugees have fled from the Sakhi camp in northern Afghanistan to
Turkmenistan, Reuters reported. But an official with the UN High
Commission on Refugees denied the report, telling an RFE/RL
correspondent that the refugees are still at the Sakhi camp.

KYRGYZ FOREIGN MINISTER IN DUSHANBE. Muradbek Imanaliev met
with Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov on 16 October to discuss
bilateral ties and Tajikistan's involvement in various regional
initiatives, Russian agencies reported. Imanaliev told journalists at
the end of his two-day visit that talks focused on Tajikistan's
participation in the construction of a railway linking Central Asia and
China and in economic projects being jointly implemented by
Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, specifically involving water
resources, electrical and power engineering. He added there are no
obstacles to Tajik participation in the proposed Central Asian
peacekeeping battalion. Imanaliev and Rakhmonov expressed
support for a UN sponsored conference on Afghanistan and on how to
repatriate some 17,000 Tajik refugees currently in Kyrgyzstan,
according to "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 16 October.

UZBEKISTAN SIGNS AGREEMENT WITH OSCE OFFICE. Foreign Minister
Abdulaziz Khomilov and Gerard Stoudmann, the director of the OSCE
Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, have signed a
memorandum in Tashkent on promoting democracy and developing a
civil society, an RFE/RL correspondent in the Uzbek capital reported
on 16 October. The agreement covers 10 projects including an
educational program on human rights and programs on training
Constitutional Court judges as well as on organizing and conducting
free elections.

ARMENIAN PRESIDENT ON KARABAKH PEACE PROCESS. In an
interview published in "Le Monde" on 16 October, Levon Ter-
Petrossyan said Armenia and Azerbaijan have accepted the first
stage of the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe
Minsk Group's two-stage peace plan as a basis for further
negotiations. The first stage foresees a withdrawal of Armenian
forces from six occupied Azerbaijani raions, the repatriation of
displaced persons, and other confidence-building measures.
Presidential press spokesman Levon Zurabian told journalists in
Yerevan on 16 October that Ter-Petrossyan believes the summit on
Karabakh proposed by Russian and French Presidents Boris Yeltsin
and Jacques Chirac should take place only after "serious results" have
been achieved in the negotiation process, Noyan Tapan reported.

AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT ON OSCE PEACEKEEPING FORCE. Heidar
Aliev said on 15 October that OSCE peacekeeping troops will "without
doubt" be needed to monitor the withdrawal of Armenian troops
from occupied territory and the repatriation process, Interfax
reported. British Foreign Office official Francis Richards told Aliev the
same day that Britain is ready to provide assistance in resolving the
conflict, according to Turan the next day. Britain is not a member of
the Minsk Group.

ARMENIAN PRESIDENT ON COUNCIL OF EUROPE MEMBERSHIP. Ter-
Petrossyan and chairwoman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the
Council of Europe Leni Fischer agreed during their talks at the 10-11
October summit in Strasbourg that the Transcaucasus states'
prospects for full membership in the council should be assessed
individually and not collectively, Noyan Tapan reported on 16
October, quoting presidential press spokesman Zurabian. Armenia,
Azerbaijan, and Georgia currently have "special guest status" with
the council. An April 1997 council resolution makes their full
membership contingent on progress in solving the conflicts in
Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh. Zurabian said that France, Romania,
and Bulgaria support full membership for Armenia.

ARMENIA-NATO TALKS. Armenian Prime Minister Robert Kocharyan
met with U.S. ambassador to NATO Robert Hunter in Yerevan on 15
October, RFE/RL's bureau in the Armenian capital reported, citing the
government press service. The talks focused on the "possibilities of
deepening ties" between Armenia and NATO within the framework
of the Partnership for Peace Program and on the prospects for
resolving the Karabakh conflict. Armenian Foreign Ministry official
Armen Kharazian, who also met with Hunter, said Armenia wants to
increase cooperation with the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and
to develop "direct political links" with NATO, according to Interfax.

RUSSIA TO GIVE GEORGIA WARSHIPS. A Russian senior military
delegation held talks with President Eduard Shevardnadze and
Defense Minister Vardiko Nadibaidze in Tbilisi on 14-16 October,
Russian agencies reported. Nadibaidze and delegation head Colonel-
General Sergei Maev, who heads the Russian Defense Ministry
General Automotive and Arms Directorate, initialed a draft
agreement on military cooperation. Maev said on 16 October that
Russia "is ready to help Georgia build its navy and air force" and
plans to give Georgia four warships, subject to President Yeltsin's
approval.

UN OBSERVERS PROTEST GEORGIAN MANEUVERS. UN observers have
lodged a formal protest over the large-scale military exercises
conducted by the Georgian army in early October on territory
bordering Abkhazia, Interfax reported. They made their protest at a
15 October meeting with Abkhaz and Georgian Defense Ministry
officials as well as representatives of the CIS peacekeeping force. The
UN observers said that the concentration of Georgian forces in the
area has exacerbated tensions in southern Abkhazia. Previously, the
Abkhaz Defense Ministry and the head of the CIS peacekeeping
forces lodged protests over the maneuvers with Georgian Defense
Minister Nadibaidze, who rejected them as unfounded, "Nezavisimaya
gazeta" reported on 7 October.

AZERBAIJANI GAS, OIL OFFICIALS FIRED. The cabinet on 16 October
dismissed Farman Veli-Zade, the head of the Azerigas joint-stock
company, and Sayad Ibragimov, a deputy president of the state oil
company SOCAR, according to ITAR -TASS. Veli-Zade is reported to
have spent $250,000 on renovating the company's headquarters,
although Azerigas owes its employees 9 billion manats ($2.25
million) in wage arrears. Ibragimov's alleged failure to adequately
supervise drilling and oil-refining activities is said to have led to a
"general deterioration" of SOCAR's financial position. The dismissals
must be approved by President Aliev.

END NOTE

HOW THE CIS MAY END

by Paul Goble

        The continued existence of the Commonwealth of Independent
States is now threatened both by the leaders of member countries
who think it is doing too much and by those who think it is not doing
enough. The only thing those two sides seem to agree on is that
Moscow is to blame, either because the Russian government has used
the CIS as a cover for its own national agenda or because it has
neglected to promote the organization's development.
        Both views are very much on public display as leaders of the
12 former Soviet republics prepare for the upcoming CIS summit in
the Moldovan capital of Chisinau.
        On 13 October, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze said in
his weekly radio address that Tbilisi may soon look for other
partners if Moscow keeps ignoring Georgia's interests and
prerogatives as an independent country. He said Georgians are
increasingly angered by what he described as Moscow's crude
Soviet-style approach to Georgia and the other members of the CIS.
Shevardnadze also indicated that unless the Russian government
changed its approach to Georgia, he would look for other partners in
the West, all of whom, he stressed, have shown greater respect for
his country and its interests.
        The next day, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma took a
different tack, blaming the organization's failure squarely on
Moscow. Kuchma said that Russia had done little or nothing to
promote the CIS as an institution. Kuchma made those remarks
during his visit to Kazakhstan, whose leader, President Nursultan
Nazarbayev, has regularly urged that the CIS be strengthened and
possibly transformed into what he calls a Eurasian Union.
        At one level, this debate is simply a continuation of the one
that has spanned the almost six-year history of the CIS. In March, for
example, the presidents of Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Ukraine, who
have been promoting cooperation among themselves at the expense
of CIS ties, considered not attending a CIS summit to protest both
Russian actions and the suggestions by several Moscow analysts that
the Russian government take an even tougher line toward CIS
countries.
        But the problems are deeper than that, reflecting divisions
inherent in the organization from the outset.
        Since the creation of the CIS in December 1991, some of its
members have viewed the organization as a kind of divorce court, an
institution that would allow them to negotiate the division of spoils
from the former Soviet Union. Other countries have hoped the
organization would serve as the basis either for continued
cooperation among the former Soviet republics or even for their
reintegration into a single political system.
        Neither side has been happy with what has happened, but the
reasons for their unhappiness vary widely and often in unexpected
ways. Some of the biggest advocates of the CIS, such as Kazakhstan's
Nazarbayev, have wanted a tighter organization not so much in order
to return to Russian domination but rather to rule out that possibility
by establishing rules Moscow would have to follow. And some of the
biggest opponents of improving CIS operation, including many in the
Russian capital, have opposed developing the organization in that
direction lest it restrict Moscow's freedom of action in dealing with
its neighbors.
        Thus, while many Russian officials have claimed that the CIS is
a regional security organization, they have been unwilling to fully
respect the rights of non-Russian countries, including Georgia, with
regard to the basing of troops and other matters.
        At another level, however, the arguments now being advanced
by Shevardnadze, Kuchma, and other leaders of CIS member states
may have more profound consequences. On the one hand, they could
lead to a new agreement among the current states, one covering
fewer issues but covering those in greater detail. This would
formalize something that has been true but has gone largely
unrecognized: namely, the 12 member countries are increasingly
independent and are not interested in a single plan for reintegration
sponsored by Moscow.
        On the other hand, those arguments could prompt current
members to decide, as Shevardnadze has suggested, that some
countries beyond the borders of the former Soviet Union are far
more reliable partners. Either of those developments would spell the
end of the CIS as it has existed until now.
        At the upcoming meeting in Chisinau, the first development is
by far the more likely outcome. But the second is also possible, and
Russian policy may even be promoting it. In addition to the actions
about which both Shevardnadze and Kuchma have complained,
Moscow is currently subverting the CIS by forming various bilateral
and multilateral relations with CIS member states, thus calling into
question the utility of the organization.
        As a result, the days of the Commonwealth of Independent
States now appear to be numbered. The only question still open is
whether it ends with a bang or a whimper.




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