|Greatness lies not in being strong, but in the right use of strength. - Henry Ward Beecher|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 1, No. 142, Part I, 20 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 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part I * SELEZNEV LEAVES DOOR OPEN ON NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE * REGIONAL LEADERS GAIN CONCESSIONS ON BUDGET * AZERBAIJAN WANTS "SPECIAL PARTNERSHIP" WITH NATO End Note THE SECURITY NATO CAN'T PROVIDE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx RUSSIA SELEZNEV LEAVES DOOR OPEN ON NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE. State Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev, a prominent Communist, told NTV on 20 October that the Duma may remove a planned no-confidence vote from its agenda for 22 October if the authorities demonstrate they are ready for genuine cooperation with the opposition. Seleznev made the remarks shortly before he was to attend talks in the Kremlin with President Boris Yeltsin, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, and Federation Council Speaker Yegor Stroev. According to presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii, the "council of four" is to discuss upcoming "round table" negotiations between the government and opposition, the draft budget for 1998, and the proposed land code. Meanwhile, Grigorii Yavlinskii confirmed on 18 October that his Yabloko faction will vote no confidence on 22 October. Yabloko will change its stance only if the government agrees to withdraw its proposed tax code, Yavlinskii said. COMMUNISTS TO CONSIDER OUTCOME OF KREMLIN TALKS. During his 20 October meeting in the Kremlin, Seleznev is expected to discuss several demands outlined in a recent letter signed by Communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov, Agrarian faction leader Nikolai Kharitonov, and Popular Power faction leader Nikolai Ryzhkov. The letter demanded that Yeltsin clarify the prospects for adopting the law on the government, which would force the entire cabinet to step down if the prime minister resigned, and that the parliament be given more radio and television air time. Other demands are that rent and utility payments be frozen for at least two years and that "round table" negotiations involving all branches of government cover major issues, such as the land code and tax code. A closed plenum of the Communist Party's Central Committee on 18 October instructed the Communist Duma faction to decide whether to pursue the no-confidence vote following Seleznev's talks. WHICH COMMUNIST DEMANDS WILL GOVERNMENT MEET? First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais and Prime Minister Chernomyrdin have indicated that the government is willing to meet parliamentary demands for more exposure on state-controlled television and radio. The Kremlin has also indicated that major policy issues will be discussed during round-table talks. However, Chubais and other ministers have made clear that the government will not agree to a two-year freeze on rent and utility payments, which would directly contradict the government's housing policy, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported on 17 October. Likewise, Yeltsin is not expected to change his position concerning the law on the government, which he refused to sign this summer even after both houses of the parliament overrode his veto. The previous day, Duma Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin said the Communists may demand that Chubais be sacked, but Prime Minister Chernomyrdin and Yeltsin's spokesman Yastrzhembskii have both ruled out any cabinet reshuffle. ROKHLIN ON PLANS TO OUST YELTSIN. Duma Defense Committee Chairman Lev Rokhlin may face criminal charges after announcing that his Movement to Support the Army plans to remove Yeltsin and his "hated regime" in spring 1998, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported on 20 October. The previous day, Interfax quoted Rokhlin as saying his movement will hold a "rehearsal" in February to determine whether it is strong enough to "overthrow the regime." Rokhlin was elected to the Duma on the pro-government Our Home Is Russia ticket, but since moving into open opposition in June, he has repeatedly called for Yeltsin's resignation. Ekho Moskvy quoted unnamed law enforcement officials as saying Rokhlin's statement is an illegal appeal to change the country's constitutional structure by violent means. The offense is punishable by up to five years in prison. REGIONAL LEADERS GAIN CONCESSIONS ON BUDGET. First Deputy Prime Minister Chubais announced on 17 October that the trilateral commission on the 1998 budget has agreed to raise federal funds transferred to regional governments to 14 percent of total revenues, Russian news agencies reported. The government's original draft lowered such transfers from 15 percent of total revenues to 13 percent. The commission also agreed to restore a separate budget item on expenditures for transporting winter supplies to far northern regions, although the amount to be allocated for that purpose has yet to be agreed. The concessions indicate that Federation Council deputies are playing an influential role on the commission. Also on 17 October, ITAR-TASS reported that the commission has agreed to increase budget expenditures by 4.8 billion new rubles to 344.8 billion new rubles ($59 billion). Projected GDP for 1998 has been increased to 2.84 trillion new rubles. MINISTER PROMISES HELP FOR FOOD PRODUCERS. Economics Minister Yakov Urinson announced on 17 October that the government will take steps to protect Russian food producers, although he stressed that tariffs on imported food will not be raised, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. The opposition Agrarian faction has called for higher customs duties on imported food. Urinson said such a policy would lead to retaliatory measures against Russian exports and cause the quality of domestically produced food to deteriorate. He added that Russian efforts to protect domestic food producers will be in compliance with rules of the World Trade Organization, Interfax reported. Russia hopes to join the WTO. Minister without portfolio Yevgenii Yasin suggested on 14 October that tariffs on food imports, especially meat and dairy products, may be gradually increased. LUZHKOV KEEPS UP ATTACK ON TAX CODE... Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov on 17 October warned that the Russian economy will collapse within six months if the government's proposed tax code is adopted, Interfax reported. Speaking to mayors representing the Union of Russian Cities, Luzhkov said the code would grant the federal government all proceeds from taxes that are easy to collect, while local governments would have more trouble collecting revenues. On 16 October, Luzhkov sent a letter to Prime Minister Chernomyrdin warning that electricity and heating may be cut to federal buildings in Moscow that have not paid their energy bills. Luzhkov strongly opposes the government's plans not to provide 1998 budget funds to compensate Moscow for the costs of maintaining federal facilities in the capital (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 October 1997). Chernomyrdin met with Luzhkov on 17 October, but no details about their discussion were released. ...ACCUSES MILITARY IN KHOLODOV MURDER. Luzhkov on 18 October said the Russian military was behind the October 1994 murder of "Moskovskii komsomolets" journalist Dmitrii Kholodov, who was killed by a booby-trapped briefcase while investigating military corruption. On 17 October, Vladimir Kazakov, the head of the department on high-priority cases in the Prosecutor-General's Office, told Russian news agencies that those investigating the Kholodov murder will be able to report "good results" in the near future. Several army officers are suspected of involvement, Kazakov said. Since 1995, Russian law enforcement officials have periodically said they know who killed Kholodov or are on the verge of cracking the case, but no arrests have been made. DUMA CALLS FOR INVESTIGATING COSTS OF NO-CONFIDENCE DEBATE... The Duma on 17 October asked its Budget and Security Committees to investigate whether the political instability surrounding efforts to vote no confidence in the government caused Russia economic harm on foreign financial markets, ITAR-TASS reported. Several government officials have warned that by pushing for a no-confidence motion, Duma deputies could cause share values of Russian corporations to lose billions of dollars on foreign markets (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 October 1997). The Central Bank issued a press release on 17 October saying Russian financial markets were not influenced by recent Duma debates over a no-confidence vote. ...APPEALS TO CONSTITUTIONAL COURT ON TROPHY ART LAW. Also on 17 October, the Duma voted to appeal to the Constitutional Court against Yeltsin's refusal to sign the law on cultural valuables, ITAR- TASS reported. The law would prohibit the transfer abroad of trophy art seized by Soviet troops during the Second World War. The Federation Council has already filed a similar court appeal, claiming Yeltsin was obliged to sign the trophy art law after parliament overrode his veto. On slightly different grounds, the Duma recently asked the Constitutional Court to rule on Yeltsin's refusal to sign the law on the government (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 October 1997). RUSSIA CHANGES CASPIAN POLICY. Moscow has dropped its proposal that Caspian littoral states have jurisdiction over a 72-kilometer offshore zone and that all those states have equal rights to develop the mineral resources elsewhere, Interfax reported on 17 October, quoting an unnamed Russian Foreign Ministry official. That proposal, floated at a meeting of littoral states in November 1996, was supported by Iran and Turkmenistan but not by Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. The spokesman hinted that Moscow will make an alternative proposal for dividing the sea. He denied that talks on defining its legal status are deadlocked. Also on 17 October, a Foreign Ministry official told Interfax that Moscow rejects Kazakhstan's objections to a Russian tender for exploration rights to a sector of the Caspian. He argued that the tender "corresponds to the current legal status of the Caspian." RUSSIA WANTS TO REPLACE BELARUS AS CUSTOMS UNION CHAIR. Moscow will propose at the CIS summit on 22 October that Belarus cede the chairmanship of the four-nation CIS customs union, AFP and Ekho Moskvy reported on 19 October. The news agency quoted an unnamed Kremlin official as saying Russia is "disappointed" that the union, which comprises Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, has not achieved more since its creation in 1995. The official did not, however, specify any grievances with Belarus. Ekho Moskvy cited a presidential administration official as saying Russia will propose that either Kazakhstan or Russia take over the chairmanship. RUSSIAN-JAPANESE RAPPROCHEMENT CONTINUES. Cooperation between Russia and Japan has increased in several areas since the two sides decided to ignore for the time being the territorial dispute that has kept Moscow and Tokyo at odds for many years. Vasilii Saplin, a senior Russian diplomat, told ITAR-TASS on 18 October that some progress has been made toward an agreement on fishing rights. Meanwhile, Japan is preparing a proposal for participation in the development of a major Siberian gas deposit near Irkutsk, the news agency reported the next day. And the Sakhalin authorities have called for a bilateral working group to prepare proposals for the upcoming Russian-Japanese summit in Krasnoyarsk on 1-2 November. MVD DENIES PLANS EXIST TO REVIVE NKVD. Igor Zubov, the deputy chief of the Main Staff of the Interior Ministry, told journalists on 17 October that there is no truth to press reports suggesting Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov wants to restore the Stalin-era's NKVD by assuming control of all criminal investigations, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 18 October. Zubov was responding in particular to an article in the 16 October issue of the newspaper that said Kulikov wants to act much as his Soviet-era predecessors had done and control all criminal investigations. COURT REJECTS SLANDER LAWSUIT AGAINST NEMTSOV. A Nizhnii Novgorod district court has rejected State Duma deputy Gennadii Khodyrev's slander lawsuit against First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 October. Khodyrev ran unsuccessfully for governor of Nizhnii Novgorod in the summer. His court appeal argued that Nemtsov slandered him and all Communists when, in televised remarks, the first deputy prime minister asked an audience in the Republic of Mordovia whether they would like to see a "Communist or a normal person" as governor of neighboring Nizhnii Novgorod (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 July 1997). INCUMBENT WINS LANDSLIDE VICTORY IN KEMEROVO. Aman Tuleev won the 19 October gubernatorial election in Kemerovo Oblast with nearly 95 percent of the vote, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported on 20 October. Preliminary results showed that State Duma deputy Viktor Medikov of the Russian Regions faction came second with 2 percent. Duma deputy and Communist Nina Ostanina finished last with 0.4 percent. (On a national level, the Communist Party supported Tuleev, rather than Ostanina, as did the Kremlin.) Turnout was 53 percent. Tuleev, a former head of the Kemerovo legislature, has long been an outspoken critic of Yeltsin and his government. He supported Gennadii Zyuganov's presidential bid in 1996. But Yeltsin appointed Tuleev to the cabinet in August 1996 and governor of Kemerovo in July 1997. HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST DENOUNCES OFFICIAL RACISM IN KRASNODAR. Duma deputy Sergei Kovalev, the leader of the human rights organization Memorial, has denounced official racism in Krasnodar Krai, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported on 16 October. Kovalev said pervasive discrimination against some ethnic minorities, especially Meskhetians, has worsened since Communist Nikolai Kondratenko was elected governor last December. Having been deported to Central Asia under Stalin, thousands of Meskhetians were forced to leave Uzbekistan following ethnic clashes in 1989. In Krasnodar, some 12,000 Meskhetians are unable to receive permanent residency permits and must pay to renew their registration with the police every 45 days, ITAR-TASS reported. They are regularly harassed by Cossacks charged with patrolling the streets. In addition, Krasnodar authorities do not recognize marriages between Meskhetians. A new krai charter adopted since Kondratenko's election declares Krasnodar the "historical territory of the Kuban Cossacks" and "place of residence for the [ethnic] Russian people." TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA AZERBAIJAN WANTS "SPECIAL PARTNERSHIP" WITH NATO. Foreign Minister Hasan Hasanov said on 19 October that Baku wants a "special partnership" with NATO on the basis of Azerbaijan's "strategic position" and its present level of cooperation with the West, AFP reported, citing Interfax. Hasanov had met with U.S. Ambassador to NATO, Robert Hunter, in the Azerbaijani capital the previous day. Hunter similarly stressed the importance of Azerbaijan's location and expressed support for Baku's desire for closer integration with the alliance. Meanwhile on 16 October, the Armenian National Committee of America reported that Azerbaijan's annual military expenditure is four times higher than Armenia's and constitutes 2.8 percent of GDP. MILITARY CENSORSHIP PERSISTS IN AZERBAIJAN. President Heidar Aliev's 17 September decree abolishing military censorship in Azerbaijan is being ignored, according to Arif Aliev, the chairman of the independent journalists' union Yeni Nesil. Arif Aliev told "Ekspress-Khronika" on 11 October that military and political censorship persists. He added that of the material excised by the military and political censors' offices last year, 40 percent were on human rights and 25 percent were statements by opposition politicians. ARMENIAN INTELLECTUALS DENOUNCE PRESIDENT'S KARABAKH POLICY. Meeting in Yerevan on 17 October, several hundred Armenian intellectuals and opposition leaders condemned Levon Ter-Petrossyan's recent statements on Nagorno-Karabakh, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. They singled out Ter-Petrossyan's acceptance of the "phased" solution to the conflict, proposed by the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe's Minsk Group, whereby Armenian forces would be withdrawn from occupied Azerbaijani territory before a decision is taken on Karabakh's future status vis-a-vis Baku. Speakers also rejected any status for Karabakh within Azerbaijan. Rafael Ghazarian--who, like Ter-Petrossyan, is a former member of the Karabakh Committee created in 1988 to support the unification of Karabakh with Armenia--suggested that Prime Minister Robert Kocharyan, Karabakh's former president, and the "power" ministers should seek to oust Ter-Petrossyan, according to Noyan Tapan. ABKHAZ UPDATE. Talks on resolving the Abkhaz conflict scheduled to take place in Geneva from 14-16 October under UN auspices were postponed at the request of the Abkhaz, Georgian Ambassador to Moscow Vazha Lortkipanidze told "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 18 October. The agenda of the talks included the status of the CIS peacekeeping force currently deployed along the border between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia. Tbilisi intends to call for the peacekeeping force's withdrawal at the upcoming CIS summit in Chisinau if Abkhazia continues to block the force's entry into Abkhaz territory to facilitate the repatriation of Georgians forced to flee their homes during the 1992-1993 war. Some 3,000 displaced persons demonstrated in Tbilisi on 17 October to demand that the Georgian government take measures to expedite their return home, ITAR- TASS reported. PRISONER RELEASE UNDER WAY IN TAJIKISTAN. The first group of more than 80 Tajik government troops whom opposition field commander Mirzo Ziyeev had held prisoner in Tavil-Dara since 1993 were released on 19 October, Russian agencies reported. United Tajik Opposition chief of staff Davlat Usmon said their release is a "humanitarian action" within the framework of the peace accord signed by the Tajik government and the opposition in May. The release by the Tajik authorities of some 170 imprisoned opposition activists, scheduled for 17 October, was delayed because the Tajik government failed to provide fuel for transportation, according to "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 18 October. The same day, a bomb exploded outside a department store in downtown Dushanbe, but no one was injured. END NOTE THE SECURITY NATO CAN'T PROVIDE by Paul Goble Ever more East Europeans recognize that there are threats to their national security that NATO membership, in itself, will not solve. That recognition has not made most East Europeans any less interested in being included in the Western alliance. But it has transformed discussions about NATO in Eastern Europe and led an increasing number of countries in the region to take steps aimed at promoting their national security regardless of whether NATO invites them to join. With the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and then of the Soviet Union, virtually all countries in the region saw NATO membership as the foundation of their future security. Many even tended to view NATO membership as a panacea for all their problems. If they got in, they would be taken care of and their security would be assured. But if they did not, then they would be left without hope of a secure future. Such perspectives helped frame the debate about security in many of those countries, but three developments have helped change both the understanding of NATO and the role those countries can play in promoting their own national security. First, countries in Eastern Europe have had to deal with a West that has been anything but unanimous about the desirability or even the possibility of expanding the alliance eastward anytime soon. Many Western leaders have worried about the dangers involved in offending Russian sensibilities, and many Western populations have been concerned about the costs involved, which many in the West are reluctant to pay now that the Cold War is a thing of the past. As a result, East European countries have had to think about a future in which only a few may become members of the alliance soon and in which many of them will never join. Second, NATO's outreach programs such as Partnership for Peace have taught many East European leaders just what NATO can do and even more important what it cannot. As ever more of them understand, NATO is a military defense alliance intended, in the first instance, to prevent or, in the worst case, to respond to military aggression. Its goal is not to deal with violence within countries. And as the West's reluctance to become involved in Bosnia has shown, the alliance remains hesitant to deal with such violence. Moreover, NATO, as a political and military organization, provides neither the structure nor the weapons to combat other threats to national security that many countries in that region now face. The Western alliance cannot prevent illegal migration or develop a legal or judicial system for countries lacking such systems. Nor can it create a stable banking system or tax regime, without which any government is at risk of subversion. At best, the Western alliance can create a climate in which governments and peoples can take those often difficult steps. Indeed, many East European countries have learned that NATO member states face many of the same threats--such as illegal migration, organized crime, and subversion of banking systems--without being able to count on Brussels for a solution. Third, ever more East Europeans recognize that the threats that NATO cannot defend against are precisely the ones they must overcome and that the threat NATO was intended to combat is for most of them less immediate. Virtually all East Europeans continue to fear the possibility that Russia will once again seek to dominate the region; they thus see NATO membership as a guarantee against that possibility. But ever more of them also understand that the threat to their countries over the next decade is less likely to take the form of an invading army than that of the subversion of their banking systems or economies. They also recognize that improving their own domestic situations will have security consequences: it will attract ever more Western investment, and that investment will tend to provide a bulwark against the more immediate, non-military threats. Again, this new understanding in Eastern Europe has not made the governments and peoples there any less interested in joining NATO. Nor has it made NATO any less important for the future of Europe. But it has meant that the countries of the region now recognize just how much they must do to promote their own security rather than waiting for someone else to do it for them. Paradoxically, that, in itself, makes them even better candidates for inclusion in the Western alliance. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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