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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 1, No. 146, Part I, 24 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

* RUSSIAN PRESIDENT ON CIS'S SHORTCOMINGS

* YELTSIN DENIES MAKING CONCESSIONS TO OPPOSITION

* BULATOVIC CALLS OFF PROTESTS IN MONTENEGRO

End Note : LANGUAGE POLITICS HEATING UP IN CRIMEA

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REGIONAL AFFAIRS

RUSSIAN PRESIDENT ON CIS'S SHORTCOMINGS.  Addressing his fellow
presidents at the 23 October CIS summit in Chisinau, Russia's Boris
Yeltsin conceded that little has been done to implement the
agreement, reached at the previous summit in March, that the CIS
be more effectively integrated "on a new, democratic, market basis,"
ITAR-TASS reported. He said the "chronic rift" between joint
decisions and their implementation was "ruinous," and he blamed
this partly on "bureaucratic inertia" and partly on the "groundless
fears" of unnamed states that "someone will snatch away part of
their sovereignty." Yeltsin advocated restructuring the CIS apparatus,
especially the Secretariat, and reducing its personnel to ensure its
effective functioning. Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka
told Interfax after the summit that the Georgian, Azerbaijani, and
Moldovan presidents harshly criticized Russia's approach to resolving
conflicts on the territory of their countries. Russian Presidential press
spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii admitted that this latter criticism
is justified. Participants agreed the next summit will take place on 23
January 1998.

YELTSIN ON TROOP WITHDRAWAL FROM TRANSDNIESTER. Yeltsin
told a press conference in Chisinau that he is ready to do whatever
the Moldovan authorities say: "If you say 'now,' we withdraw [our
troops from the Transdniester] immediately. If you agree to wait two
to three months, we will postpone the removal till the situation is
stabilized," Infotag reported.  Moldovan presidential adviser Anatol
Taranu told the news agency that although the summit ended
without the signing of a document on the Transdniester, the meeting
will "eventually have a favorable impact" on the process of finding a
settlement. He said the absence of Transdniestrian leader Igor
Smirnov from the summit (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 October 1997)
was proof of Tiraspol's reluctance to work within a legal framework
and its attempts "to play backstage politics." Taranu also said
Presidents Yeltsin, Petru Lucinschi (Moldova), and Leonid Kuchma
(Ukraine), agreed that Russia must play a more active role in the
settlement.

TRANSDNIESTER APPLIES TO JOIN CIS. Meanwhile, Smirnov sent a
letter to participants demanding that the "Transdniestrian Moldovan
Republic [be included] in the full-scale political and integration
process of the CIS," Infotag reported on 23 October. Smirnov said that
during the past seven years, the Transdniestrian Republic has
"proved its viability." He emphasized that under "current conditions,"
it is necessary to preserve the sovereignty of both Moldova and
Transdniester and "to build a common state consisting of two equals."

AGREEMENT REACHED ON COMMON AGRICULTURAL MARKET. CIS
prime ministers, excluding those from Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan,
signed an agreement in Chisinau on 23 October creating a common
agrarian market, Russian agencies reported. Russian Deputy Prime
Minister Valerii Serov told ITAR-TASS that the initiative came not
from Russia but from unspecified other CIS member states. He
suggested that the reasons for Azerbaijan's and Uzbekistan's refusal
to join were "non-economic." Uzbek President Islam Karimov  backed
Yeltsin's call for more systematic economic integration within the CIS.
At the same time, Karimov argued such integration should take place
across the board. He again condemned creating alternative alliances
within the commonwealth.

MANDATE OF ABKHAZ PEACEKEEPING FORCE EXTENDED. The CIS
heads of state voted on  23 October to extend until 31 December the
mandate of the peacekeeping force currently deployed along the
border between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia, Russian agencies
reported. The previous CIS summit in March had decided to broaden
the force's powers to enable its members to protect returning
fugitives more effectively, but that decision was not implemented,
prompting the Georgian parliament to demand its withdrawal.
Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze told CAUCASUS PRESS on
24 October that he proposed to the summit that the mandate of the
peacekeeping force be extended to expedite the return of fugitives.
He added that the restoration of economic ties between Georgia and
Abkhazia and free passage across Abkhazia's borders with Georgia
and Russia will be discussed only after all fugitives have returned.

RUSSIA

YELTSIN DENIES MAKING CONCESSIONS TO OPPOSITION. President
Boris Yeltsin says he and his government made no concessions in
order to deter the State Duma from holding a no-confidence vote,
Interfax reported on 23 October. Speaking to journalists in Chisinau,
where he was attending the CIS summit, Yeltsin said he merely
"resolved problems" and made clear which contentious issues can be
settled through negotiations (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 and 22
October 1997). In contrast, "Kommersant-Daily" alleged on 24
October that a secret agreement with the Communist opposition
prompted Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to order the
postponement of a 23 October cabinet meeting on pension reform.
Citing unnamed government sources, the newspaper reported that
consultations with Communist representatives will be held before the
government adopts important policy decisions. The agreement is
intended to limit the influence of the government's so-called "young
reformers," especially First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais,
the newspaper claimed.

MINISTER SAYS NO AGREEMENT REACHED ON OLD SAVINGS
DEPOSITS. Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Sysuev has denied that Yeltsin
and opposition leaders reached agreement in recent negotiations to
index savings deposits opened in Sberbank before 1992, ITAR-TASS
reported on 23 October. Sysuev said that within two weeks, the
cabinet will consider a plan on compensating citizens whose savings
were rendered worthless by inflation between 1991 and 1996. The
government's minimum estimate for the value of those savings is
300 trillion rubles ($51 billion). Sysuev argued that it will take at
least 25 years to compensate citizens for the old savings accounts.

ZYUGANOV SAYS HE DOES NOT TRUST GOVERNMENT. Communist
Party (KPRF) leader Gennadii Zyuganov on 23 October said he does
not believe promises made by the current government or executive
branch, which he accused of pursuing policies that please "Western
monopolies, its patrons and masters," Interfax reported. Speaking to
workers at a Moscow factory, Zyuganov said that at upcoming
roundtable negotiations, the opposition will again demand the
formation of a "government of national trust." Meanwhile, Viktor
Tyulkin, who leads the radical Russian Communist Workers' Party,
slammed Zyuganov and the KPRF in an interview published in
"Pravda-5" on 24 October. Tyulkin charged that the Communist Duma
faction dropped plans to vote no confidence in the government
without gaining any concrete concessions, such as the immediate
payment of wage arrears or a freeze on energy prices. He denounced
the KPRF as an "appeasing, social-democratic party" and predicted it
will soon split.

DUMA COUNCIL TO DECIDE FATE OF TAX CODE. Duma Speaker
Gennadii Seleznev announced on 23 October that the Duma Council
will decide on 28 October how the proposed tax code will be revised,
RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. That council consists of Seleznev
and deputy speakers from each of the seven registered Duma
factions. Seleznev said the code need not be withdrawn from the
Duma, as Grigorii Yavlinskii's Yabloko faction has demanded. Instead,
he argued, the trilateral commission currently working on the 1998
budget should revise the code, after which Duma and Federation
Council deputies will discuss the changes before the document
receives  a second reading in the Duma. Yavlinskii believes that a
recent presidential instruction compels the government to withdraw
the code from the Duma, but his faction is likely to be outvoted on
the Duma Council (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 and 23 October 1997).

DUMA REQUEST ON PASSPORTS SPARKS CONTROVERSY. Duma Foreign
Affairs Committee Chairman Vladimir Lukin of Yabloko and Liberal
Democratic Party of Russia leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky on 24
October sharply criticized Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev for
asking the government to restore the line listing the holder's
nationality on the new Russian passports, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau
reported. In speeches to the Duma's plenary session, Lukin and
Zhirinovsky said Seleznev had no right to send such a letter in the
name of the Duma, since deputies have not voted on the issue. They
also argued that "no civilized country" lists the nationalities of its
citizens in passports (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 October 1997).
Anatolii Greshnevikov of the Communist-allied Popular Power faction
retorted that "Russians need not be ashamed of their nationality,"
although "sons of lawyers" are understandably against listing their
nationality. Zhirinovsky, whose father was Jewish, once said his
mother was Russian and his father a lawyer.

CHECHEN PRESIDENT FIRES LEADING OFFICIALS. Aslan Maskhadov on
23 October issued decrees dismissing key government and state
officials, Russian agencies reported. Those fired include Deputy Prime
Minister Musa Doshukaev, Economics Minister Isa Astamirov, and
Khozh-Akhmed Yarikhanov, the president of YuNKO, the Chechen
state oil company. Presidential press secretary Kazbek Khadzhiev
told ITAR-TASS that the sackings were not political but intended
solely to improve the government's efficiency. He added that the
dismissed officials will remain part of Maskhadov's team and will be
appointed to new positions soon. Yarikhanov noted his dismissal and
the simultaneous reorganization of YuNKO into four separate entities
was not unexpected. Also on 23 October, the Chechen parliament
rejected Maskhadov's request to be endowed with special powers for
a period of two years, AFP reported.

RUSSIA BROADENS COOPERATION WITH LIBYA. Building on
cooperation in the development of nuclear power, the Russian
Federation and Libya have signed an accord to cooperate in the areas
of communications,  transport, and oil and gas development, Russian
Foreign Ministry spokesman Gennadii Tarasov announced, according
to Interfax on 23 October. Tarasov stressed that all aspects of Russian
cooperation with Libya "have to do with civil spheres, to which the
UN sanctions of 1992-93 do not refer."

DEFENSE MINISTRY DENIES LEAVING RADIOACTIVE SUBSTANCES IN
GEORGIA. The Defense Ministry has denied that radio-active
substances were abandoned at former Soviet military bases in
Georgia, CAUCASUS PRESS reported on 23 October. A ministry
spokesman said the cesium containers found on the territory of the
former Russian military base in Lilo belonged to laboratory
equipment used for measuring radiation levels. The previous day, a
Georgian Health Ministry official said that six of the Georgian
servicemen who contracted radiation sickness from exposure to the
cesium capsules will be sent to France and Germany, for medical
treatment, according to Interfax.

DUMA CONCERNED ABOUT SOROS, JORDAN. The Duma on 23 October
asked the government to investigate the business activities in Russia
of George Soros and Boris Jordan, who are both U.S. citizens, Interfax
reported. In September, Jordan was named to head the MFK
investment bank, which is part of the Oneksimbank empire. Jordan
and Soros were both involved in the Oneksimbank-led consortium
that won a July auction for a 25 percent stake in the
telecommunications giant Svyazinvest. In a request sent to Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii
Chubais, and Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov, the Duma expressed
concern that the activities of Soros and Jordan could harm Russian
national security. Jordan was recently stripped of his multiple-entry
visa and allowed to return to Russia on a single-entry visa, but ITAR-
TASS reported on 23 October that he has been issued a new
multiple-entry visa.

'NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA' SLAMS JORDAN, KOKH. "Nezavisimaya
gazeta" charged on 24 October that a relative of Boris Jordan works
for the Swiss firm Servina, which paid then State Property
Committee Chairman Alfred Kokh $100,000 earlier this year. Kokh is
under criminal investigation for accepting the payment, which he
declared as book royalties (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 and 16 October
1997). He claims he had no knowledge of connections between
Servina and the Oneksimbank empire when he signed a contract with
the Swiss firm. Oneksimbank won two major privatization auctions in
July and August, shortly before Yeltsin dismissed Kokh.
"Nezavisimaya gazeta," partly financed by the LogoVAZ empire of
Security Council Deputy Secretary Boris Berezovskii, has repeatedly
criticized Kokh and Oneksimbank since July.

BEREZOVSKII'S LAWSUIT AGAINST 'FORBES' NOT TO BE HELD IN U.K.
The London High Court on 22 October refused to hear Security
Council Deputy Secretary Boris Berezovskii's libel lawsuit against the
U.S. magazine "Forbes," Interfax reported on 23 October. Berezovskii
disputes charges made in the December 1996 "Forbes" article entitled
"Godfather of the Kremlin?" That article suggested that Berezovskii
became wealthy through illegal means and may have been involved
in contract killings. Berezovskii claimed the article damaged his
reputation in the UK, but the court recommended that he file suit
either in the U.S. or in Russia. It is far easier for plaintiffs to win libel
suits against journalists and publications under British law than
under U.S. law.

NEW 'IZVESTIYA' PUBLISHES PILOT ISSUE. The pilot issue of the
daily newspaper "Novye Izvestiya" appeared on newsstands on 24
October, ITAR-TASS reported. Chief editor Igor Golembiovskii
launched the project after being forced out as editor of "Izvestiya" in
the summer, and he took several of the newspaper's prominent
journalists with him (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 August 1997).
According to Golembiovskii, "Novye Izvestiya" is the first Russian
daily to publish in color. It is being distributed in Moscow, St.
Petersburg, Rostov-na-Donu, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, and
Samara.

RUSSIAN MILITARY ENVOY MEETS NATO COUNTERPARTS. Anatolii
Kvashnin, chief of the Russian armed forces General Staff, on 23
October introduced Lieutenant-General Viktor Zavarzin to the
permanent military delegates of the 16 NATO countries in Brussels,
Reuters reported. According to a NATO spokesman, the delegates
agreed to create a Permanent Joint Military Committee in November.
Kvashnin also briefed the NATO officials on Russia's current military
reform plans.

GOVERNMENT APPROVES CONTRACT FOR GAZPROM STAKE. The
government has approved the text of a new contract that will allow
Gazprom executives to continue to manage a 35 percent state-owned
stake in the gas monopoly, Interfax reported on 23 October. Prime
Minister Chernomyrdin has instructed First Deputy Prime Minister
Boris Nemtsov to sign the deal with Gazprom head Rem Vyakhirev.
The agreement marks a retreat for Nemtsov, who vowed earlier this
year that the state would take a more active role in managing its
shares in Gazprom (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 September 1997). The
state owns a total of 40 percent of Gazprom shares.

ACTING LENINSK-KUZNETSK MAYOR LEAVES TOWN. Mark Gustov, the
acting mayor of Leninsk-Kuznetsk, Kemerovo Oblast, has left town
for fear of being arrested, and his current whereabouts are unknown,
"Kommersant-Daily" reported on 24 October. Gennadii Konyakhin
appointed Guskov acting mayor in early October before leaving for
Moscow. Konyakhin was subsequently arrested on charges of
corruption and embezzlement. Sergei Belyak, the lawyer who is
defending Konyakhin, told "Kommersant-Daily" that he advised
Guskov to leave town after hearing from a "reliable source" in law
enforcement agencies that the authorities plan to arrest Guskov and
several others in Leninsk-Kuznetskii. However, officials in the
Kemerovo Prosecutor's Office and the regional branch of the Federal
Security Service have denied those rumors.

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

YELTSIN SAYS HE FIRED YEREVANGATE CULPRITS.  Speaking at a
press conference after the CIS summit in Chisinau, President Yeltsin
said he has dismissed "many"  Russian military officials responsible
for the clandestine transfer to Armenia of arms worth $2 billion,
Interfax reported.  Yeltsin did not give the names of those fired.
Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev had earlier announced his
intention of raising the issue at the summit, arguing that a trilateral
intergovernmental commission created to investigate the arms
shipments had failed to identify those responsible. At a session of the
CIS foreign ministers in the Moldovan capital,  Armenia's Alexander
Arzoumanian angrily protested the demand by his Azerbaijani
counterpart, Hasan Hasanov, that participants view the 29 August
Russian-Armenian treaty on friendship, cooperation and mutual
assistance as a "military pact."

U.S. PREDICTS KARABAKH SETTLEMENT IMMINENT...  U.S. Under-
Secretary of State Stuart Eizenstat on 23 October said Washington
believes a "first-phase" agreement on resolving the Karabakh conflict
is possible before the end of 1997, Reuters reported.  The previous
day, the Turkish newspaper "Hurriyet" quoted Turkish Foreign
Minister Ismail Cem and Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit as
revealing details of the agreement on resolving the conflict that
Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan and his Azerbaijani
counterpart, Heidar Aliev, reportedly reached in Strasbourg earlier in
October, Asbarez-on-Line reported on 23 October, quoting the
Turkish Armenian-language paper "Marmara." Under that plan,
Armenian forces would be withdrawn from Kelbadjar and five other
occupied Azerbaijani raions,  whose displaced Azerbaijani
populations would return to their homes. The Armenian forces would
then withdraw from the Karabakh town of Shusha and the Lachin
district between Karabakh and Armenia, where international
peacekeepers under the OSCE aegis would be deployed.

...BUT ARMENIAN DEFENSE MINISTER NON- CONCILIATORY.  In an
interview broadcast recently on Nagorno-Karabakh television,
Vazgen Sargsian urged the Armenian people "to fight our last war to
the finish," RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported on 23 October.
Sargsian endorses Nagorno-Karabakh President Arkadii Ghukasyan's
proposal that the unrecognized republic and Azerbaijan establish
"horizontal relations" with the approval of the international
community. Sargsian insisted, however, that the Karabakh
Armenians will return neither Shusha nor the districts of Lachin and
Kelbajar to Azerbaijani control because those districts are "vital for
Karabakh's security." Sargsian, who is rumored to disagree with Ter-
Petrossyan's 26 September endorsement of a phased solution to the
conflict, affirmed that the "Armenian people from the president
down...stand behind Karabakh's cause."

EBRD TO FUND INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS IN TURKMENISTAN.
Following four days of talks in Ashgabat, a delegation from the
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has reached
agreement with the Turkmen leadership on providing credits to fund
several projects, Interfax reported. The bank will allocate a $50
million credit to fund reconstruction of the 180 kilometer Tedjen-
Mary highway, which forms part of the "New Silk Road," linking
Central Asia with the Caucasus and Europe. A $30 million credit is
earmarked for rebuilding the goods terminal at the Caspian port of
Turkmenbashi. Further credits will fund railroad repairs and the
construction of a road and rail bridge over the Amudarya River.

END NOTE

LANGUAGE POLITICS HEATING UP IN CRIMEA

by Mubeyyin Batu Altan

        The 15 October decision of the Crimean parliament to make
Russian the official language of the region highlights the difficult
position in which the Crimean Tatars find themselves. Because the
Crimean Tatars form only a minority in the local parliament, they
could not block the measure; instead, they simply abstained. And
because of the complex political history of the area, the Crimean
Tatars are likely to face a dismal linguistic future unless they take a
series of actions soon.
        For most of the post-World War II era, Russian has been the
dominant language on the peninsula. The ethnic Russians there have
always spoken Russian. Owing to Moscow's Russianization policies,
even indigenous ethnic Ukrainians generally have gone to Russian-
language schools and now speak Russian more often than Ukrainian
in public, even if they learned their national language at home.
        The situation of the Crimean Tatars with regard to language is
even more serious. Deported to Central Asia by Stalin in 1944, the
Crimean Tatars did not have access to schools in their own language
there or even when they first began to return to the peninsula. The
Soviet authorities in Stalin's time refused to recognize Crimean Tatar
as a separate language and did not allow the publication of a
newspaper in Crimean Tatar until 1957 or a journal in that language
until 1980.
        As a result, many Crimean Tatars now speak Russian far more
often than they use their own language.  Some younger Crimean
Tatars do so because they have never been formally instructed in the
language. At present, for example, there are only a handful of
Crimean Tatar language schools in the Crimea, and there are none at
all in Uzbekistan, where the majority of Crimean Tatars still live.
        Many older Crimean Tatars who know the language well and
speak it at home increasingly  have found it either easier or even
necessary to use Russian in the workplace and in other public
functions.
        Unless something is done soon, the situation may deteriorate
beyond the point of no return for the Crimean Tatar language.
Fortunately, there are three steps the Crimean Tatars can take to
avoid the death of their language.
        First, the leaders of the community should encourage all
Crimean Tatars to speak their language. To that end, the leaders
should always use Crimean Tatar themselves when they are acting in
an official capacity.
        Second, the Crimean Tatar leaders should insist that the
Crimean parliament employ Crimean Tatar translators so that the
Crimean Tatar members can use their language rather than being
forced to speak Russian in order to be understood.
        There are plenty of graduates of the Crimean Tatar literature
and language department of Simferopol State University who could
perform this function. Consequently, if the Russian-dominated
parliament refuses to agree to this step, the Crimean Tatars can
argue that the rejection of their proposal is politically motivated and
they can then appeal to the European Union or other international
bodies.
        Third, the Crimean Tatars should insist that their national
language rather than Russian or Ukrainian should be the exclusive
language of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis (assembly). Once they take that
step, they should also make sure that they prepare news items in
Russian so that the ethnic Russian population of the region will not
decide that the Crimean Tatars are using their language in order to
conceal some broader political agenda.
        Obviously, the Crimean Tatars will find it hard to accomplish
those goals. Resistance by local Russians and Ukrainians is certain to
be great, and the Crimean Tatars themselves remain divided on this
issue, with many of them viewing the language question as
secondary to their political goals.
        But in fact, the language question is central to the survival of
the Crimean Tatars as a nation. Unless the Crimean Tatars are able to
maintain their own language, they will find it difficult to maintain
themselves as a people or to gain recognition by local authorities in
Crimea or further afield.
        The Russian decision to make Russian the official language in
Crimea thus forces the Crimean Tatars to act or to concede defeat.
Those Crimean Tatars who argue that it is more convenient to use
Russian now and who oppose making the language issue a major one
are sending the wrong message to everyone concerned.
        Indeed, they are perhaps without recognizing it raising the
white flag of surrender of their national cause.

The author is editor of the "Crimean Review."


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