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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 1, No. 151, Part I, 3 November 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

* YELTSIN, HASHIMOTO PLEDGE TO SIGN TREATY BY 2000

* RUSSIA, FRANCE URGE IRAQ TO BACK DOWN

* ARMENIAN PRESIDENT ARGUES NEED FOR KARABAKH CONCESSIONS

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RUSSIA

YELTSIN, HASHIMOTO PLEDGE TO SIGN TREATY BY 2000... Russian
President Boris Yeltsin and Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro
Hashimoto on 2 November agreed to sign a peace treaty by 2000, an
RFE/RL correspondent in Krasnoyarsk reported. The pledge was the
main achievement of the two-day "summit without neckties" in
Krasnoyarsk Krai. Neither Yeltsin nor Hashimoto gave details on
possible solutions to the territorial dispute over the four Kuril
Islands seized by the Soviet Union near the end of World War II.
That dispute prevented Japan and the Soviet Union from signing a
treaty to end the war. According to ITAR-TASS, some 17,000 Russian
citizens now live on the islands. First Deputy Prime Minister Boris
Nemtsov, who held talks with Japanese officials in Krasnoyarsk,
downplayed prospects that the islands will be returned to Japan,
Reuters reported. He noted that the Russian president is the
guarantor of the constitution, which protects Russia's territorial
integrity. lb

...SEEK INCREASED ECONOMIC, POLITICAL COOPERATION. The
previous day, Yeltsin and Hashimoto approved several initiatives on
increasing Russian-Japanese trade and promoting joint projects in
energy, transportation and business management training, Reuters
reported. The two leaders also endorsed measures to boost Japanese
investment in Russia. (Yeltsin's spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii
announced on 31 October that direct Japanese investment in the
Russian economy to date totals $227 million, Interfax reported.) In
addition, Hashimoto expressed support for Russian membership in
the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. Yeltsin said Russia
will back Japan's bid to become a permanent member of the UN
Security Council, according to dpa. Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii
Primakov is to visit Japan in November to follow up on the
Krasnoyarsk summit. lb

RUSSIA, FRANCE URGE IRAQ TO BACK DOWN. In a joint statement
issued after their talks in Moscow in 1 November, Russian Foreign
Minister Primakov and his French counterpart, Hubert Vedrine, said
Iraq's refusal to cooperate further with UN weapons inspectors is
"unacceptable" and violates UN Security Council resolutions. The two
ministers called on Baghdad to reverse its decision and allow the UN
commission in Iraq to continue its work, saying this would signal
"de-escalating tensions." Noting that the lifting of the UN oil embargo
is conditional on Iraq's full cooperation with the UN special
commission, they affirmed support for UN Secretary-General Kofi
Anna's plan to send a special UN mission to Baghdad to persuade the
Iraqi leadership to cooperate. lf

PRIMAKOV PROPOSES MID-EAST PEACE CODE. Speaking at a news
conference in Cairo on 31 October, Primakov again argued that
Israel's failure to abide by agreements signed with the Palestinians is
to blame for the present deadlock in the Middle East peace process.
He proposed a 12 point peace and security code for the entire Middle
East region, including Turkey, North Africa, Iran, and Iraq. The code
affirms that the security of individual states in the region cannot be
ensured in isolation from the peace process or solely by military and
technical means. It also calls for "decisive counter-action to all forms
of terrorism and extremism." Meeting in Moscow on 1 November,
Primakov and French Foreign Minister Vedrine agreed to hold
regular consultations to render their support for the Middle East
peace process more effective, AFP reported. lf

IMF POSTPONES LOAN TRANCHE. The IMF has delayed issuing a $700
million tranche of a three-year $10.1 billion loan to Russia until at
least early 1998, an RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported
on 31 October. A joint statement issued by the IMF and First Deputy
Prime Minister and Finance Minister Anatolii Chubais said continuing
poor tax collection in Russia has prevented the IMF from completing
its planned quarterly review. According to data released by the
Russian government the previous day, tax revenues totaled some
158.5 trillion rubles ($27 billion) during the first nine months of
1997, 40 percent below budget targets. "Kommersant-Daily" argued
on 1 November that the IMF helped Chubais "save face" by delaying
the loan tranche without officially refusing to grant it, which, the
newspaper said, could have hurt Russia's credit rating. lb

BUSINESS COMES FIRST DURING FRENCH PREMIER'S VISIT. French
businessmen who accompanied Prime Minister Lionel Jospin on his
three-day visit to Moscow signed contracts on deals worth 4 billion
francs ($680 million), AFP reported on 1 November. The car
manufacturer Renault signed a letter of intent with the Moscow city
government on a joint venture involving a $350 million investment
from Renault. Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin told
journalists that a 31 October session of a Russian-French cooperation
commission discussed ways to increase bilateral trade generally and
several joint projects in space exploration, aeronautics, oil and gas
production, and the automobile industry, Interfax reported. At the
same press conference, Jospin praised the prospects for Russian-
French economic relations. He also said the U.S. should not put
pressure on Russia's Gazprom and the French firm Total, which have
signed a contract on developing a gas field in Iran. lb

RUSSIA WOULD USE NUKES TO COUNTER ATTACK ON "ALLIES."
Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin stressed that it is important
that Russia preserves its ability to respond with a nuclear strike to
aggression against either itself or its allies, whom he did not name,
"Russkii telegraf" reported on 30 October. Rybkin was speaking the
previous day at an unspecified Russian Defense Ministry research
establishment. Earlier this year, Rybkin said Russia did not exclude
the first use of either nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons to
repel a conventional attack (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 April 1997). lf

ATTACK ON HQ OF CHECHEN ANTI-KIDNAPPING BRIGADE.
Unidentified men on 31 October attacked the Grozny headquarters of
the brigade that President Aslan Maskhadov set up to crack down on
abductions, Russian media reported. The attackers succeeded in
releasing four men who had been detained on suspicion of
kidnappings. Also on 31 October, the EU announced it will release
700,000 ecus (more than $798,000) in humanitarian aid to Chechnya
for war victims and infrastructure projects, according to ITAR-TASS.
lf

YAVLINSKII STILL INSISTS ON WITHDRAWAL OF TAX CODE. Yabloko
leader Grigorii Yavlinskii on 31 October sharply criticized the
government for persuading Yeltsin to change his mind about
withdrawing the proposed tax code from the State Duma, RFE/RL's
Moscow bureau reported on 31 October. Yavlinskii again argued that
the code is repressive and will prevent economic growth by failing to
reduce the tax burden on the business sector. Yeltsin on 21 October
instructed the government to withdraw the tax code from the Duma.
However, government ministers and most Duma members, including
leading Communists, opposed such a move. At a 30 October meeting
with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Yeltsin announced he now
doubts the wisdom of making "serious, essential concessions on the
tax code" in return for a "formal show of accord" with the Duma,
Interfax reported. lb

DUMA, MINISTERS ON REVOLUTION ANNIVERSARY. The Duma on 31
October adopted an appeal marking the 80th anniversary of the
October Revolution, Interfax and Reuters reported. The Communist-
sponsored motion, which was opposed by the Yabloko and Our Home
Is Russia factions, states, "The ideals of the revolution...remain alive
in the hearts of millions of our compatriots, and they are cherished
by working people in many countries." Appearing on Russian
Television on 2 November, Prime Minister Chernomyrdin noted that
7 November "is a special date, especially for the older generation,"
Reuters reported. "The 1917 events are part of our history and I
think they should be respected and treated in what I would call a
humane way," Chernomyrdin added. Meanwhile, Justice Minister
Sergei Stepashin issued a statement on 31 October urging "all
responsible political figures" to show restraint on 7 November (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 30 October 1997). lb

NEW HEAD OF SMALL BUSINESSES COMMISSION OUTLINES
PRIORITIES. Irina Khakamada, the new head of the State Committee
on Support and Development of Small Businesses, outlined her
priorities in an interview with RFE/RL's Moscow bureau on 2
November. Khakamada said in her new cabinet post, she will support
policies to alleviate three major obstacles facing small businesses in
Russia: the heavy tax burden, pressure to pay criminal groups for
protection, and high costs for office space and equipment. She also
said she hopes to attract more media interest in small businesses,
noting that Russian financially-oriented publications currently focus
primarily on banking or industrial "giants." Yeltsin appointed
Khakamada to head the committee on 30 October. Asked why she
gave up her Duma seat to join the cabinet, Khakamada explained that
she had virtually no influence on the lower house's legislative
activities because she did not belong to any registered faction. lb

CHUBAIS CLOSES MOST BANK ACCOUNT. First Deputy Prime Minister
Chubais has closed his personal account in Most Bank, citing
unspecified "personal reasons," Russian news agencies reported on 31
October. Until this summer, Chubais had good relations with Most
Bank founder Vladimir Gusinskii and almost always received
favorable coverage in the media controlled by Gusinskii's company
Media-Most, including the private network NTV, the radio station
Ekho Moskvy and the newspaper "Segodnya." However, since a
consortium involving Gusinskii failed to win an auction for a stake in
the telecommunications giant Svyazinvest, Media-Most outlets have
frequently criticized Chubais, his economic policies, and his main ally
in the government, First Deputy Prime Minister Nemtsov. lb

NEW TV NETWORK BEGINS BROADCASTING. The state-run network
"Kultura," which will feature cultural and educational programs but
no advertisements, began broadcasting on 1 November. Kultura will
be received by a potential audience of some 100 million in European
Russia, using a frequency formerly used by St. Petersburg Channel 5
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 August 1997). The first program shown
on the network was an address by Yeltsin, who also chairs the
Kultura board of trustees. Numerous prominent cultural figures are
on the board, including theater director Mark Sakharov, academician
Dmitrii Likhachev, cellist and symphony conductor Mstislav
Rostropovich, writer Fazil Iskander, and film-maker Edvard
Radzinskii. lb

NTV TO SHOW CONTROVERSIAL FILM. The private network NTV will
broadcast Martin Scorsese's film "The Last Temptation of Christ" on 9
November, in accordance with the outcome of a televised mock trial
on 1 November, ITAR-TASS reported. The network had twice
cancelled plans to show the film following protests by the Russian
Orthodox Church (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 October 1997). Various
prominent political and religious figures offered "testimony" during a
1 November NTV program in which a lawsuit by the church against
the network was played out. Although the "jury" of six experts was
evenly divided, the case was decided in favor of the defendant, NTV.
lb

LUZHKOV SLAMS TV VIOLENCE, PRAISES WOMEN. Moscow Mayor
Yurii Luzhkov has charged that television programs depicting
murders and violence damage the moral foundations of the family,
ITAR-TASS reported on 30 October. Addressing a conference
organized by the Union of Russian Women, Luzhkov advocated a "law
on protecting morality, language, national traditions and culture" and
criticized most popular music for failing to uphold family values. He
also called on women to become more active in public life, since
women are "by nature guardians of the household and incapable of
taking extreme decisions that harm society." In particular, Luzhkov
argued that women would be more cautious in deciding on radical
economic changes. lb

CHITA GOVERNOR DECLARES STATE OF EMERGENCY. Chita Oblast
Governor Ravil Geniatulin on 31 October declared a state of
emergency to deal with a mounting energy crisis in the east-Siberian
region, Russian news agencies reported. Unpaid workers at Chita's
largest power plant went on strike on 12 October, leading to massive
power cuts as the plant began to operate at half-capacity. Since
temperatures dropped to sub-zero levels, heating systems in the
oblast capital have been in danger of freezing. Leaders of trade
unions representing energy workers agreed to end the strike on 31
October after the Chita administration allocated 10 billion rubles
($1.7 million), enough to pay half the wage arrears to the strikers.
First Deputy Prime Minister Chubais announced the same day that
the federal government will also take steps to help settle the energy
crisis in Chita. lb

CHERNOMYRDIN APPROVES ENERGY SUBSIDIES FOR FAR EAST
REGIONS. Prime Minister Chernomyrdin on 31 October signed a
government directive on providing quarterly subsidies for Primorskii
and Khabarovsk Krais to ensure uninterrupted heating supplies in
those regions, Russian news agencies reported. Chernomyrdin signed
the order following a meeting with Primorskii Krai Governor Yevgenii
Nazdratenko. Strikes by unpaid energy workers have led to frequent
power cuts in Primore. lb

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN PRESIDENT ARGUES NEED FOR KARABAKH CONCESSIONS.
In an article published by most Armenian dailies on 1 November,
Levon Ter-Petrossyan castigated the opposition for responding with
"insults, smear, and slander" to his 26 September statement that it is
unrealistic for Armenia to demand independence for Nagorno-
Karabakh, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Ter-Petrossyan said it
is neither possible nor desirable to maintain the status quo
indefinitely and that "mutual concessions" are the only way to ensure
that Armenians continue to populate Karabakh. He suggested that the
"phased" and "package" options for resolving the conflict "may easily
be combined." Ter-Petrossyan warned that "serious complications"
may arise if a draft document that could serve as a basis for
negotiations is not signed before the Organization on Security and
Cooperation in Europe's foreign ministers meet in December. He
called for the resumption of talks with Azerbaijan, which were put
on hold in November 1996. lf

OPPOSITION PROTESTS KARABAKH POLICY. Some 10,000 people took
part in an opposition demonstration in Yerevan on 31 October to
denounce the leadership's Karabakh policy, RFE/RL's bureau in the
Armenian capital reported. Rally organizers accused President Ter-
Petrossyan of preparing for what they called Nagorno-Karabakh's
surrender and capitulation to Azerbaijan. They also demanded that
Armenia not sign any peace agreement subordinating Karabakh to
Azerbaijan and that the details of a peace plan proposed by the
OSCE's Minsk Group be disclosed. lf

UN SECRETARY-GENERAL ON ABKHAZ SITUATION. Kofi Annan has
warned that the withdrawal of the CIS peacekeepers and UN
observer mission stationed on the border between Abkhazia and the
rest of Georgia could lead to a resumption of the conflict, ITAR-TASS
reported on 1 November. The CIS heads of state summit in Chisinau
on 23 October prolonged the mandate of the peacekeepers until 31
December1997, but Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Boris
Pastukhov warned five days later that the force will be withdrawn
unless there is progress toward a political settlement of the conflict.
Meanwhile, addressing the Georgian parliament on 31 October,
Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili implied that Tbilisi may
reject further Russian mediation in favor of the peace talks that
several Western countries and Russia initiated in August under the
aegis of the UN, Interfax reported. lf

ECHIBEY CRITICIZES OSCE KARABAKH PEACE PLAN. Former
Azerbaijani President Abulfaz Echibey told journalists in Baku on 31
October that the latest OSCE peace proposal is "unacceptable" because
it fails to preserve Azerbaijan's territorial integrity, Russian agencies
reported. The Azerbaijani leadership has agreed to that plan.
Elchibey said Karabakh should have no more than "cultural
autonomy" and that he advocates military action to resolve the
Karabakh conflict if it proves impossible to do so by peaceful means.
He added he has not yet decided whether to contend the 1998
presidential elections or to support an alternative opposition
candidate such as Musavat Party chairman Isa Gambar. He noted he
will advocate a boycott if the elections are not held under democratic
conditions. lf

KAZAKHSTAN RESTRICTS ALCOHOL SALES. The Eastern Kazakhstan
Oblast administration has banned street sales of alcohol, according to
ITAR-TASS on 2 November. Over the past two years, 677 people are
reported to have died from alcohol poisoning after drinking
adulterated alcohol. So far this year, police have impounded 800 tons
of inferior contraband alcohol from China. lf

TAJIK OPPOSITION FIGHTERS CONTINUE TO REGISTER. Tajik Prime
Minister Yakhye Azimov and United Tajik Opposition leader Said
Abdullo Nuri were in Garm on 31 October to monitor the registration
of former opposition fighters who recently returned to the region
from Afghanistan, Interfax reported. The two men will also study the
economic situation in eastern Tajikistan in anticipation of a $10
million World Bank loan to help restore the region's economic
infrastructure. The UTO and the Russian peacekeeping force in
Tajikistan have recently disagreed over which border crossing the
returning UTO fighters are to use, according to "Nezavisimaya gazeta"
on 31 October. lf

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               Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc.
                     All rights reserved.
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