The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none. - Thomas Carlyle 1975-1881
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 1, No. 143, Part I, 21 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

*COMMUNISTS LIKELY TO DROP NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE


*ROKHLIN'S COMMENTS TO BE INVESTIGATED


*GEORGIAN PRESIDENT SAYS DISTRIBUTION OF MILITARY PROPERTY
UNFAIR

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RUSSIA

COMMUNISTS LIKELY TO DROP NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE. Following the
21 October meeting between President Boris Yeltsin and leaders of
the seven registered State Duma factions, Duma Speaker Gennadii
Seleznev, a Communist, told Interfax he expects the Communist
faction to drop plans to hold a vote of no confidence in the
government on 22 October. Nikolai Ryzhkov, the leader of the
Communist-allied Popular Power faction, agreed, noting that the
president "took steps to meet practically all our demands," according
to Reuters. Communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov told journalists that
Yeltsin promised to release a letter replying to opposition demands
on 21 October, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. The Communist
faction will then decide whether to pursue the no-confidence vote,
Zyuganov said. Interfax quoted Yeltsin as telling the Duma faction
leaders that the 22 October session will determine whether Russia
has "political stability" or whether there will be a "fight" between the
executive and legislative branches.

KREMLIN MAKES SOME CONCESSIONS AT "COUNCIL OF FOUR"
MEETING. Yeltsin on 20 October met with Seleznev, Prime Minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin, and Federation Council Speaker Yegor Stroev
in the Kremlin. Chernomyrdin described the meeting of the "council
of four" as "very constructive," adding that the participants had
agreed on "all the main points" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 October
1997). The president pledged that the parliament will have more air
time on Russian Television (RTR) and on state-controlled radio
stations. Parliamentary representatives will be invited to join new
councils to be created to supervise RTR and Russian Public Television.
In addition, Yeltsin agreed to hold regular meetings of the "council of
four" and round-table talks on major policy questions. But
Chernomyrdin stressed that the government will keep those
promises only if the Duma removes the no-confidence vote from its
agenda. "The government cannot be kept hanging in suspense," he
said.

FIRST ROUND TABLE TO DISCUSS LAND CODE. Zyuganov told
journalists that the first meeting of the round table will take place on
22 November and that the land code will be the main item on the
agenda, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported on 21 October. The Duma
recently overrode a presidential veto of a code that would prohibit
the purchase and sale of farmland. Yeltsin has repeatedly said that
he will not sign any code that does not grant farmers full ownership
rights. The Federation Council has yet to vote on whether to override
the presidential veto. Council Speaker Stroev told journalists on 20
October that 23 people will take part in the round table discussion,
ITAR-TASS reported. The Duma will nominate eight people, the
Council nine, and the president and government three each, Stroev
said.

FATE OF LAW ON GOVERNMENT UNCLEAR. Following the "council of
four" meeting, Stroev announced that Yeltsin agreed to sign the law
on the government if the Federation Council revokes its appeal to the
Constitutional Court over Yeltsin's refusal to sign that law, Russian
news agencies reported on 20 October. RFE/RL's Moscow bureau
reported the next day that Yeltsin agreed to sign the law only if
certain amendments are made. Communist Party leader Gennadii
Zyuganov has indicated he is willing to discuss amending the law,
which would force the entire cabinet to step down if the prime
minister were dismissed. The law would also grant the Duma the
right to confirm deputy prime ministers, not just the prime minister,
"Kommersant-Daily" reported on 18 October. First Deputy Prime
Ministers Anatolii Chubais and Boris Nemtsov would be unlikely ever
to win confirmation from the current Duma.

ROKHLIN'S COMMENTS TO BE INVESTIGATED. The Prosecutor-
General's Office has instructed the Main Military Prosecutor's Office
to investigate Duma Defense Committee Chairman Lev Rokhlin's
recent statements on plans to remove Yeltsin and his "hated regime"
by next spring, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported on 20 October. No
criminal case has yet been opened against Rokhlin, who told Ekho
Moskvy he was expressing his own opinion and plans to act within
constitutional limits, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 21 October.
Military analyst Aleksandr Zhilin told RFE/RL on 20 October that he
has discussed Rokhlin's comments with numerous army officers,
none of whom supported Rokhlin's stated plans. However, Rokhlin
remains very popular and influential in military circles, Zhilin said,
and some officers have expressed doubt that Russian media quoted
Rokhlin accurately.

REGIONAL AUTHORITIES CAN OUST LOCAL OFFICIALS WHO BREAK
LAW. The Constitutional Court has ruled that regional authorities
have the right to remove elected local officials, but only after a court
has ruled that those officials have broken the law. The legislature of
the Republic of Buryatia asked the court to rule on an article in the
law on local government, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 18
October. The decision entitles the Buryatian authorities to fire Valerii
Shapovalov, the mayor of Ulan-Ude. (In May, the Buryatian Supreme
Court ruled that Shapovalov had broken the law.) "Kommersant-
Daily" noted on 17 October that under the decision, the arrested
mayor of Leninsk-Kuznetskii, Kemerovo Oblast, cannot be removed
from office unless he is convicted of a crime. The ruling also suggests
that the Primorskii Krai legislature was not entitled to suspend
Vladivostok Mayor Viktor Cherepkov without a court decision.

YELTSIN, CHRETIEN DISCUSS LAND MINE BAN. Yeltsin told visiting
Canadian Premier Jacques Chretien that he might participate in the
December Ottawa meeting at which the land mind ban is to be
signed, ITAR-TASS reported on 20 October. Yeltsin did not say when
Moscow might accede to that convention, but he did promise Chretien
that until that time, Russia will extend its existing ban on the export
of mines. Also meeting with Chretien on 20 October, Prime Minister
Chernomyrdin said Moscow's relations with Ottawa are good and that
he expects bilateral trade to double by the year 2000, Interfax
reported.

RUSSIAN PREMIER SAYS NIKITIN CAN EMIGRATE. Prime Minister
Chernomyrdin said 20 October that Aleksandr Nikitin, a former
Russian naval officer who has been accused of espionage, will be
allowed to emigrate to Canada after law enforcement agencies in
Russia complete their investigation, Interfax reported. But
Chernomyrdin did not say when that investigation will be completed.
Nikitin, whose case has attracted international attention, has been
accused of revealing a number of state secrets in a report he
prepared for Norway's Bellona environmental group about pollution
in the Barents Sea.

MILITARY ENVOY TO NATO APPOINTED. Defense Minister Igor
Sergeev on 20 October announced that Lieutenant-General Viktor
Zavarzin, currently chief of the CIS Joint Peacekeeping Forces in
Tajikistan, will be appointed Russia's military envoy to NATO,
Russian news agencies reported. Anatolii Kvashnin, the head of the
General Staff, is to present Zavarzin to NATO headquarters in
Brussels on 23 October, Sergeev said. Former Defense Minister Pavel
Grachev reportedly had sought an appointment as Russia's
ambassador or military envoy to NATO. Reuters on 20 October
quoted an unnamed NATO military official as saying, "We're glad it's
not Grachev. That would have been a comedy of errors."

YELTSIN NAMES NEW SECURITY COUNCIL DEPUTY SECRETARY. Yeltsin
has named Aleksandr Ageenkov deputy secretary of the Security
Council, ITAR-TASS reported on 20 October. The 28-year-old
Ageenkov has worked in the Central Bank since 1992, most recently
as head of the currency department in the bank's Main
Administration for Moscow, according to the 21 October
"Kommersant-Daily." Economic security questions will be among
Ageenkov's responsibilities on the Security Council. He replaces
Nikolai Mikhailov, a civilian who was appointed first deputy defense
minister in September after Andrei Kokoshin became chief military
inspector and Defense Council secretary.

SOROS ON AID, INVESTMENT PLANS. U.S. billionaire George Soros told
journalists in Moscow that over the next three years, he plans to
spend $300-500 million on humanitarian aid programs for Russia.
The projects will cover health, education, culture, the Internet,
military reform, the legal system, local government, and building an
open society in Russia. Soros said he hopes to cooperate with the
current government, "especially its reform element," an apparent
reference to First Deputy Prime Ministers Anatolii Chubais and Boris
Nemtsov as well as Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Sysuev. Soros's
Quantum Fund contributed nearly $1 billion toward the winning bid
for a 25 percent stake in the telecommunications giant Svyazinvest
in July. Soros confirmed that Quantum will participate in some future
auctions for oil and gas companies but said it will not bid for shares
in the oil company Rosneft.

FIGURES ON FAMILY VIOLENCE RELEASED. Some 30-40 percent of
murders in Russia are committed by one family member against
another and women and children are most frequently the victims,
according to Yekaterina Lakhova, who heads the Presidential
Commission on Women, Children, and Demographics. Lakhova has
estimated that 14,000 women in Russia are killed by husbands or
relatives each year, "Vechernyaya Moskva" reported on 18 October.
Interior Ministry statistics indicate that 36,000 incidents of family
violence have been reported this year. Lakhova also said some 2
million Russian children are physically abused by family members,
causing an estimated 2,000 child suicides each year. According to a
commentary published in the "St. Petersburg Times" on 13 October,
there are only two shelters for battered women in Russia: in St.
Petersburg, and in Langepas (Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug). The
Duma has yet to consider a proposed law on violence within the
family.

THREE MORE REGIONS AUTHORIZED TO ISSUE EUROBONDS. Yeltsin
issued a decree on 20 October allowing Krasnoyarsk Krai and
Sverdlovsk and Moscow Oblasts to issue eurobonds, ITAR-TASS
reported. While many Russian regional governments have expressed
interest in borrowing on international financial markets, only three
other regions have previously been allowed to issue eurobonds. The
city of Moscow floated a $500 million eurobond in May, St.
Petersburg a $300 million eurobond the following month, and Nizhnii
Novgorod Oblast a $100 million eurobond in September.

OFFICIALS, DIRECTORS WIN MOST SEATS IN NOVGOROD
LEGISLATURE. Most deputies elected to the Novgorod Oblast Duma on
19 October are either heads of local administrations or directors of
large enterprises, ITAR-TASS and an RFE/RL correspondent in
Novgorod reported on 20 October. According to preliminary results,
top executive officials in cities or raions won 11 of the 26 seats in the
regional legislature. Directors of industrial firms or agricultural
enterprises won another seven seats. Turnout was higher than
expected at nearly 35 percent. Representatives of political parties
fared poorly in Novgorod. The only successful candidate to campaign
with a party affiliation was a Communist, who was one of 12
incumbents re-elected to the legislature.

GOVERNOR SLAMS ATTEMPTS TO DERAIL KEMEROVO ELECTION.
Aman Tuleev, the newly elected governor of Kemerovo Oblast, has
slammed last-minute attempts by Kemerovo prosecutor Valentin
Simuchenkov to have the region's electoral law declared invalid.
Tuleev won the 19 October election with about 95 percent of the
vote. In a telephone interview with RFE/RL's Moscow bureau the
next day, Tuleev noted that Simuchenkov did not object when the
electoral law was adopted three months ago. Tuleev and
Simuchenkov have recently traded corruption allegations (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 7 and 8 October 1997). Meanwhile, two Duma
deputies from Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party of
Russia and Zhirinovsky's lawyer Sergei Belyak defended Gennadii
Konyakhin, the arrested mayor of Leninsk-Kuznetsk, in a 20 October
court hearing. However, the Kemerovo district court denied requests
to release Konyakhin pending trial. According to Belyak, Konyakhin
has declared a hunger strike, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 21
October.

TATARSTAN OBJECTS TO NEW RUSSIAN PASSPORTS. The Tatar
Ministry of Internal Affairs has stopped issuing new passports,
RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 20 October. Four days earlier, the
State Council adopted a decree saying that the failure to designate
the holder's nationality in the new passports is the "biggest
provocation in the history of Russia." The move, the decree
continued, is intended "to destroy interethnic harmony in the
country, "according to "Kommersant-Daily" on 18 October. One of the
new passports was symbolically burned at a public meeting in Kazan
on 15 October. Tatar parliamentary speaker Vassilii Likhachev has
discussed the new passports with officials from Bashkortostan,
Kabardino-Balkaria, and the Jewish Autonomous oblast who have
similar reservations.

PIPELINE DELAY. Khozh-Akhmed Yarikhanov, the president of
Chechnya's state oil company, has said the commissioning of the
Baku-Grozny-Novorossiisk pipeline has been delayed because of
unspecified problems in the Azerbaijani sector, ITAR-TASS reported
on 20 October. Two days earlier, Yarikhanov had said the 150
kilometer Chechen sector of the pipeline was ready to start
operating. Russian government officials say the first Azerbaijani
"early oil" will be pumped into the pipeline on 7 November.
Yarikhanov also denied statements by Chechen Vice President Vakha
Arsanov that Chechnya is planning to build a pipeline from Grozny to
Georgia's Black Sea coast to export Azerbaijani oil. Meanwhile,
experts from Russia, Bulgaria, and Greece have agreed form a joint
committee to design the planned pipeline from Burgas to
Alexandroupolis, ITAR-TASS reported. That pipeline would obviate
the need to transport larger quantities of crude from the Black Sea
through the Turkish straits.

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

GEORGIAN PRESIDENT SAYS DISTRIBUTION OF MILITARY PROPERTY
UNFAIR. In his Monday radio broadcast, Eduard Shevardnadze
affirmed on 20 October that Russia's recent transfer to Georgia of
four naval vessels is not adequate compensation for the withdrawal
from Georgia from 1991-19933 of former Soviet military property
worth several billion dollars, Interfax reported. Shevardnadze said
aircraft, tanks, and naval vessels were "quietly" removed from
Georgian territory and that no other former Soviet republic has been
treated in this way. (Shevardnadze apparently did not add that
Georgia, along with Moldova and the Baltic States, did not join the CIS
in late 1991.) He argued that Russia's action was "unfair" and that if
Moscow truly wishes to co-opt Georgia as a strategic ally, that
injustice must be redressed. Shevardnadze added that Russian
President Yeltsin "perfectly understands" the importance of a
strategic alliance with Georgia.

GEORGIA TO RAISE ISSUE OF PEACEKEEPERS AT CIS SUMMIT.
Georgian presidential adviser Levan Aleksidze told Interfax on 20
October that Tbilisi will ask participants at the upcoming CIS summit
in Chisinau to find out why their March 1997 resolution broadening
the mandate of the CIS peacekeeping force in Abkhazia has not been
implemented. The resolution called for deployment of the
peacekeepers in Abkhazia's southernmost Gali Raion to facilitate the
repatriation of ethnic Georgians forced to flee the region in 1992-
1993. Aleksidze rejected as legally untenable the Abkhaz authorities'
statement that the peacekeepers' mandate may not be amended
without Abkhaz consent. He urged the summit to set a deadline for
implementation of the March resolution, otherwise the peacekeeping
force would be withdrawn. Aleksidze further accused Abkhazia of
attempting to deadlock the peace process by linking repatriation and
the expansion of the security zone to a decision on Abkhazia's future
status.

GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT SPEAKER DENIES ANTI-ADJAR PLOT. Zurab
Zhvania on 20 October said that claims made by former Batumi
Mayor Tamaz Kharazi on Adjar Television the previous day are
"absurd," Interfax reported. Kharazi had accused Zhvania and Rostom
Dolidze, the chairman of the Georgian parliamentary Procedural
Committee of plotting to oust Adjar Supreme Soviet chairman Aslan
Abashidze. Zhvania and Dolidze have described the allegations as
slanderous and threatened Kharazi with legal action, Caucasus Press
reported on 21 October.

LEBANESE PREMIER IN YEREVAN. A government delegation headed
by Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was in Yerevan on 20 October for a
one-day visit, RFE/RL's bureau in the Armenian capital reported.
Hariri and his Armenian counterpart, Robert Kocharyan, signed an
agreement on friendship and cooperation that is intended to create a
legal framework for developing bilateral economic ties. Under that
accord, a Armenian-Lebanese bank will be set up to facilitate
business contacts between the two countries and air traffic will be
resumed between the two capitals, according to Interfax. Kocharyan
and Hariri told reporters later that bilateral cooperation is most
promising in the areas of banking, trade, and tourism.

OSCE MILITARY REPRESENTATIVES IN TRANSCAUCASUS. A military
working group from the Organization on Security and Cooperation in
Europe recently held talks in Stepanakert, Yerevan, and Baku on
regional security issues and the deployment of an OSCE peacekeeping
force, Russian and Armenian agencies reported. In Yerevan, Foreign
Ministry officials informed the OSCE representatives on 18 October of
Azerbaijani violations of the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty,
Interfax reported. Meeting with President Heidar Aliev in Baku two
days later, the OSCE representatives affirmed that the organization is
prepared to mount a peacekeeping operation for Nagorno-Karabakh.
They stressed, however, that the financial resources available for
such an operation are limited, ITAR-TASS and Noyan Tapan reported.

MOVE TO NEW KAZAKH CAPITAL POSTPONED. President Nursultan
Nazarbaev told the parliament on 20 October that the move from
Almaty to the new capital, Aqmola, will take place on 10 December
and not on 23 October as planned, Russian agencies reported. He said
an inspection commission has registered numerous unspecified
shortcomings. The move had originally been scheduled for mid-
October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 October 1997). Nazarbaev stressed
that Almaty will remain Kazakhstan's "southern capital," and he
signed a decree bestowing special status on that city. The existence of
two powerful centers will revitalize the country's economy, he
commented. Also on 20 October, Nazarbaev announced that Prime
Minister Nurlan Balgimbaev has completed forming his new cabinet.
The number of ministers has been reduced from 27 to 18, Reuters
reported.

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               Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc.
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