We do not live an equal life, but one of contrast and patchwork; now a little joy, then a sorrow, now a sin, then a generous or brave action. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 1, No. 152, Part I, 4 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

*AIDE SAYS YELTSIN NOT HAPPY WITH TAX COLLECTION


*ACTIVISTS FORM NEW GROUP TO DEFEND RELIGIOUS FREEDOM


*ARMENIAN GOVERNMENT DELEGATION IN TEHRAN

End Note
AS ONE DOOR CLOSES, ANOTHER OPENS FOR KAZAKH ELITE
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RUSSIA

AIDE SAYS YELTSIN NOT HAPPY WITH TAX COLLECTION... Aleksandr
Livshits, the deputy head of President Boris Yeltsin's administration,
told journalists on 3 November that Yeltsin is not satisfied with
current levels of tax collection, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau and Russian
news agencies reported. Livshits noted that the revised 1997 budget
called for 21.8 trillion rubles ($3.7 billion) in tax revenues in October,
nearly 13 trillion rubles of which were to be in cash. However, tax
receipts in October totaled just 14.7 trillion rubles, with 11 trillion
rubles in cash. Livshits said the government must increase tax
collection to some 25 trillion rubles a month by the end of the year.
Yeltsin has also instructed the government to take steps to settle
debts of 9 trillion rubles to the armed forces, 20 trillion rubles in
wage arrears to state employees, and 13 trillion rubles owed by
regional budgets in child allowances. lb

...CRITICIZES 1998 BUDGET COMPROMISE. Livshits also criticized some
concessions that the government made during recent negotiations
with parliamentary representatives over 1998 budget targets,
RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. In particular, he cited the
decision to increase planned revenues by 27.5 billion new rubles
($4.7 billion), in part by revising the estimated GDP upward (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 20 and 27 October 1997). Livshits predicted that
GDP growth will be insignificant in 1998. He went on to warn that
similar compromises made during last year's budget negotiations--
when he was finance minister--led to the passage of an unrealistic
budget and a cabinet reshuffle in March. Appearing on Russian
Television on 2 November, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin
defended the spending increases agreed during the negotiations. He
argued that various economic indicators have shown improvement
during the last three months. lb

POLITICIANS ASSESS PROSPECTS FOR RUSSIA-JAPAN TREATY.
Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov on 3 November said he
supports signing a peace treaty with Japan but warned that Russia
should not compromise its territorial integrity, Interfax reported.
Yeltsin and Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto recently
agreed to sign a peace treaty by 2000 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3
November 1997). Duma First Deputy Speaker Vladimir Ryzhkov of
the Our Home Is Russia faction said negotiating the treaty would be
"difficult and dangerous" and should be approached cautiously to
avoid "serious internal political consequences." Duma deputy Sergei
Ivanenko of Yabloko praised attempts to normalize Russian-Japanese
relations but expressed doubt that a treaty can be negotiated within
the next two years. Duma Geopolitics Committee Chairman Aleksei
Mitrofanov of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia said
negotiations should be conducted for at least 15-20 years before
signing a treaty with Japan. lb

GAZPROM OPTS FOR UNDERSEA PIPELINE TO TURKEY. Gazprom board
chairman Rem Vyakhirev on 3 November announced his company
has finally decided on the trans-Black Sea route for its new gas
export pipeline to Turkey, ITAR-TASS reported. Vyakhirev said
alternative routes running west through Ukraine, Moldova and
Romania or east through Georgia and Armenia were rejected because
of "instability and high political risk" in the Balkans and North
Caucasus. The underwater route is, however, the most expensive and
technically most demanding option (see "End Note", "RFE/RL
Newsline," 28 August 1997) Two companies from Italy and The
Netherlands will bid for the contract to build the 396 kilometer
underwater section of the pipeline. Vyakhirev also announced that
Gazprom is about to sign an agreement with a consortium of Russian
and foreign banks for a $3 billion loan, according to Interfax. lf

ACTIVISTS FORM NEW GROUP TO DEFEND RELIGIOUS FREEDOM. More
than 20 religious and human rights groups have formed an All-
Russian Movement for Freedom of Conscience and a Secular State,
RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported on 3 November. Representatives
of the movement say Russia's religion law has already led to
numerous cases of discrimination in the month since it went into
effect. They cited attempts to remove a judge from the city court of
Noyabrsk, Tyumen Oblast, revoke the registration of a Lutheran
mission in Khakassia, and deny registration to a Jewish congregation
in Bryansk (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 and 31 October 1997).
Anatolii Pchelintsev, the director of the Institute of Religion and the
Law, criticized attempts to organize Russian Orthodox congregations
within the Russian armed forces, which, he argued, should be secular.
Pchelintsev told RFE/RL that the new movement is preparing to
appeal the religion law before the Supreme Court and the
Constitutional Court. lb

GOVERNMENT REPRESENTATIVES FOR ORT HOLD FIRST MEETING. A
council of government representatives for the 51 percent state-
owned network Russian Public Television (ORT) held its first meeting
on 3 November, two days after Prime Minister Chernomyrdin signed
an order creating the council, Russian news agencies reported. State
Property Minister Maksim Boiko chairs the 12-member council,
which also includes presidential adviser Tatyana Dyachenko
(Yeltsin's daughter), presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii,
government spokesman Igor Shabdurasulov, First Deputy Finance
Minister Aleksei Kudrin, ITAR-TASS director-general Vitalii
Ignatenko, and deputy head of the presidential administration
Mikhail Kommissar (one of the founders of the Interfax news
agency). At its first meeting, the council discussed preparations for a
13 November ORT shareholders' meeting, which will choose a
director-general and a new board of directors. lb

FORMER HEAD OF STATE TV SKEPTICAL ABOUT NEW NETWORK. Oleg
Poptsov, who chaired the state-run network Russian Television from
its creation in 1990 until his dismissal in February 1996, has
expressed skepticism about the prospects for the new network
Kultura, which began broadcasting on 1 November. Poptsov told
RFE/RL's Moscow bureau two days later that it is "absurd" and
"ignorant" to think that Kultura will be able to survive only on state
funding, without advertising. He predicted the network will soon be
partly privatized, as was the Channel 1 network Russian Public
Television in 1995. Poptsov noted that the focus on cultural and
educational programming is unlikely to continue if financial groups
acquire shares in Kultura. lb

GERMAN LOANS TO FUND HOUSING FOR RETIRED MILITARY. The
government plans to borrow a total of DM 150 million ($87 million)
from German banks in 1998-1999 to fund the construction of
housing for military retirees, Interfax reported on 3 November.
According to current reform plans, 300,000 military posts are to be
cut by 2000. The government has begun distributing "housing
certificates" to some soldiers, which theoretically can be used to buy
apartments upon leaving the armed services, "Segodnya" reported on
27 October. However, the paper expressed doubt that the face value
of the certificates will be enough to cover the cost of purchasing an
apartment. It also questioned whether anyone would agree to sell
housing in exchange for a certificate that must be reimbursed by the
Defense Ministry, which is known to have trouble meeting its
financial obligations. lb

ZYUGANOV DEFENDS COMMUNIST STRATEGY. Communist Party leader
Zyuganov answered criticism from the radical wing of his party in an
interview published in "Pravda-5" on 4 November. Some Communists
opposed the decision in mid-October to drop a planned vote of no
confidence in the government. "Pravda-5" published harsh criticism
of that strategy from Communist Duma deputy Tatyana
Astrakhankina on 29 October and from Central Committee member
Leonid Petrovskii two days later. Zyuganov argued that the Duma did
not show "weakness" or capitulate to the Kremlin. Rather, he said, it
obtained important concessions from the government and more
access to the media. Zyuganov also argued against holding new
parliamentary elections, which can be called if the Duma votes no
confidence twice within three months. Although new elections would
increase the representation of "radicals" in the Duma, he said, those
radicals would be unprepared for parliamentary work. lb

DUMA COMMISSION EXTENDS PRIVATIZATION INVESTIGATION. The
Duma commission investigating the conduct of four controversial
privatization auctions has extended its work until 10 December,
ITAR-TASS reported on 3 November. The Duma formed the
commission in September to investigate the sales of major stakes in
the telecommunications holding company Svyazinvest, the metals
giant Norilsk Nickel, and the Tyumen and Subneft oil companies. It
was to have completed its work by 1 November. However,
commission chairman Valerii Vorotnikov of the Communist faction
said deputies are awaiting the results of examinations conducted by
the Prosecutor-General's Office and the Audit Chamber, which are
expected to release their conclusions in November. lb

DUMA COMMITTEE AGAINST SEX EDUCATION PROGRAM. The Duma
Committee on Women, Family and Youth Affairs is concerned about a
federally funded sex education program that encourages the practice
of "safe sex," committee chairwoman Alevtina Aparina told ITAR-
TASS on 3 November. Aparina, a member of the Communist faction,
said budget funds earmarked for children's programs are financing
the program, which is being actively promoted in many cities by the
Russian Association for Family Planning. She said her committee
shares the position of the Russian Orthodox Church, which, she said,
has argued that the sex education program is "in reality aimed at
destroying morality, corrupting children, and reducing birth rates in
our country." Aparina said her committee plans to take unspecified
legislative action to block the program. lb

ELECTION CONFLICT IN TYUMEN. A new dispute threatens to derail
the 14 December elections to the Tyumen Oblast Duma, ITAR-TASS
reported on 4 November. With two weeks remaining before the
registration deadline for candidates, the oblast Duma amended
legislation to bar deputies from simultaneously holding seats in other
legislative bodies. The amendment is aimed at preventing legislators
from Khanty-Mansi and Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrugs from
winning seats in the Tyumen Oblast Duma. The oil- and gas-rich
okrugs have their own governors and legislatures, although they are
also part of Tyumen. Okrug leaders, who seek more economic
autonomy from Tyumen, say the last-minute amendment by the
oblast Duma is unconstitutional. Khanty-Mansi and Yamal-Nenets
may refuse to conduct the Tyumen elections on their territory (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 16 September 1997). In January, the okrugs
boycotted the Tyumen gubernatorial election. lb

HOMELESS GROUP PROTESTS ELECTORAL LAW IN TOMSK. A
movement representing homeless people has filed a court appeal
against the refusal to register one of its members as a candidate in
the upcoming Tomsk Oblast legislative elections, "Kommersant-Daily"
reported on 4 November. Petr Kurennyi, a homeless resident of
Tomsk, was denied registration by a district electoral commission on
the grounds he does not have a passport. The oblast electoral
commission refused to hear his complaint. Tomsk Mayor Aleksandr
Makarov told "Kommersant-Daily" that he supports Kurennyi's claim,
since the constitution grants all citizens the right to vote and run for
office. Makarov noted that no federal law requires citizens to have a
passport and a residence permit in order to run for office. lb

ENERGY WORKERS CALL ANOTHER STRIKE IN PRIMORE. Energy
workers in Primorskii Krai began an indefinite strike on 3 November,
slightly reducing output at the region's power plans, RFE/RL's
correspondent in Vladivostok reported. Trade union leaders warn
that the strike could soon lead to power cuts. First Deputy Fuel and
Energy Minister Sergei Kirienko said in Primore in October that he
had reached agreement with krai authorities and the regional utility
Dalenergo on settling wage arrears to energy workers. However, the
schedule for paying the workers some five months in back wages has
not been met. Meanwhile, Primore's coal miners, who went on strike
for several weeks in September, are threatening to resume the strike
in December. Unpaid workers at the Zvezda and Progress defense
plants have also staged protests. lb

COMMISSION POSTPONES DECISION ON BURIAL FOR TSAR'S FAMILY.
First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov announced on 3
November that a government commission on reburying the remains
of Russia's last tsar and his family will submit its recommendations
to the president in January, Russian news agencies reported. Yeltsin
will then decide whether the remains should be buried in
Yekaterinburg, Moscow, or St. Petersburg. Nemtsov said that
although the bones have been identified with 99.9 percent certainty,
the government will fund more tests to remove all doubts about
their authenticity. Nicholas II and his family were killed in
Yekaterinburg in 1918. Sverdlovsk Oblast Governor Eduard Rossel,
who believes the remains should be buried in Yekaterinburg, told
Interfax that he will ask Yeltsin not to allow the bones to be
transferred to Moscow for further tests. Rossel argued that the
remains could be damaged or stolen in transit. lb

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN GOVERNMENT DELEGATION IN TEHRAN. Chief of
government staff Shahen Karamanukian met with Iranian President
Mohammad Khattami in Tehran on 2 November to discuss bilateral
cooperation, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Karamanukian
handed over a letter from Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan
and reached an agreement with Khattami on unspecified "concrete
steps." Together with Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei
Manasarian, Karamanukian also met with Iranian Foreign Minister
Kamal Kharrazi and the construction, oil, and finance ministers,
according to Noyan Tapan. Arkadii Ghukasyan, the president of the
unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, proposed in October that
Iran, along with Russia, France, the U.S. and Armenia, should
guarantee Karabakh's security under any formal peace agreement. lf

WORLD BANK ON ARMENIAN ECONOMY. Johannes Linn, the World
Bank's deputy director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, has
approved Armenia's economic policies, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau
reported. Linn said the World Bank will grant Armenia credits worth
some $200 million in 1997-1998. To date, Armenia has received a
total of $360 million in interest-free loans under 16 programs from
the World Bank's International Development Agency (IDA). Those
credits have been used largely to finance the budget deficit and
rebuild the infrastructure. First Deputy Foreign Minister Vartan
Oskanian has predicted that in 1998, Armenia and Russia will
become the first CIS countries to be admitted to the World Trade
Organization, according to Noyan Tapan on 3 November. lf

SOVIET-ERA ARMENIAN DISSIDENT DIES. Ashot Navarsardian, an
Armenian parliamentary deputy and head of the Republican Party of
Armenia (HHK), died of a heart attack on 2 November, RFE/RL's
Yerevan bureau reported. Navarsardian, who was 47, served three
jail sentences totaling 12 years for dissident activities during the
Soviet era. In 1989, he founded the paramilitary Independence
Army, which fought in Nagorno-Karabakh. The following year, he set
up the HHK, a member of the majority Hanrapetutyun bloc. lf

ABKHAZ PARLIAMENT CHARGES GEORGIA WITH GENOCIDE. The
parliament of self-proclaimed Abkhaz Republic has said that
Georgian reprisals against ethnic Abkhaz and other ethnic groups
during the 1992-1993 war constituted "genocide." It recommended
that President Vladislav Ardzinba institute legal proceedings against
the central Georgian government for the internment of Turks, Greeks,
and Laz, CAUCASUS PRESS reported on 4 November. The Abkhaz
parliament also tasked the government with developing a
demographic program and with restoring Abkhaz place names that
were replaced with Georgian ones. Before the exodus of the some
250,000 ethnic Georgians in 1992-1993, the Abkhaz constituted a
minority within their republic, accounting for only 18 percent of the
500,000-strong population. lf

"NO PROBLEMS" IN GEORGIAN-ADJAR RELATIONS. Speaking at a
press conference in Batumi following his 30 October meeting with
Adjar Supreme Soviet Chairman Aslan Abashidze, Georgian President
Eduard Shevardnadze denied there are any problems in relations
between the central Georgian government and the autonomous
Republic of Adjaria, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 4 November.
Abashidze, however, said he has documentary evidence that
unnamed politicians in Georgia want to deprive Adjaria of its
autonomous status. Tamaz Kharazi, the former mayor of Batumi,
recently claimed that Georgian parliamentary speaker Zurab Zhvania
tried to enlist his help in ousting Abashidze (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
21 and 22 October 1997). Abashidze's All-Georgian Union for Revival
is the third largest party in the Georgian parliament. lf

TAJIK PRESIDENT, UN MISSION HEAD ASSESS PEACE PROCESS.
Following a meeting in Dushanbe on 4 November with Imomali
Rakhmonov, UN mission chief Gerd Dietrich Merrem told journalists
that he and the Tajik president agreed that the National
Reconciliation Commission's plan on implementing the summer's
peace accords is ambitious but realistic, Interfax reported. The
commission is composed of representatives from both the
government and from the main Islamist-led opposition. Merrem said
that the cease-fire,. which ended years of civil war, has been fully
observed for 11 months. He also praised implementation of
agreements on the registration of opposition fighters and on an
amnesty for former combatants. In an interview published in the
"Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" on 4 November, Merrem praised
Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov's contribution to the
Tajik peace process. lf

KYRGYZ PREMIER NOT IN DANGER OF DISMISSAL. Presidential press
secretary Kanybek Imanaliev told journalists on 3 November that
President Askar Akayev has no intention of dismissing Prime
Minister Apas Djamagulov, Interfax reported. Imanaliev said Akayev
is concerned about criticism of the premier and believes it is time to
"abandon the illusion" that the appointment of a new prime minister
would lead to "revolutionary advances" in the economy. What
Kyrgyzstan needs is a "stable government to implement stable
reforms," according to the president. lf

HUNGARIAN PRESIDENT TOURS CENTRAL ASIA. Arpad Goncz has
recently visited Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan, where he
met with top officials to discuss boosting modest trade levels and
expanding economic cooperation, Russian media and RFE/RL's Almaty
bureau reported. lf

END NOTE

AS ONE DOOR CLOSES, ANOTHER OPENS FOR KAZAKH ELITE

by Merhat Sharipzhan

        In the six years since gaining independence from the former
Soviet Union, Kazakhstan has had three constitutions, three prime
ministers, and three parliaments.
        Prime Minister Nurlan Balgimbaev, recently appointed by
President Nursultan Nazarbayev, has put together his new cabinet.
Some Kazakh observers doubt that Balgimbaev and his team will last
long, given Nazarbayev's tendency to replace political appointees and
officials. But losing a post in the Kazakh government does not
necessarily mean the end of the line in career terms. Many Kazakh
officials have found that as one door closes, another opens--often to a
business career that is more lucrative than politics.
        For example, since leaving high office, former Premier Sergey
Tereshchenko, ousted Deputy Premier Asyghat Jabaghin, and former
Economy Minister Mars Urkimbayev have become owners of major
international business concerns.
        Moreover, involvement in an scandal does not necessarily
mean disbarment from high-ranking posts. Asyghat Jabaghin,
onetime governor of Pavlodar Oblast, northern Kazakhstan, and later
deputy premier, was dismissed consecutively from all his posts amid
allegations of involvement in dubious activities related to the
privatization process. But he has now returned to the political scene
as the minister of trade, industry, and economy in Balgimbaev's
cabinet.
        Former Education Minister Talghat Mamashev lost his position
owing to his involvement in a scandal over the presidential students'
exchange program, known as Bolashak-Future. Under that scheme,
many Kazakh officials--including Mamashev himself-- sent their
children to study at U.S. universities. Nonetheless, Mamashev is now
chairman of the official Foundation for Education Support.
        Amangeldy Bektemisov, who was sacked as governor of
Eastern Kazakhstan Oblast for financial mismanagement, is now chief
of the state agricultural company Ken Dala. This is a key company
through which the U.S. concern John Deer--the world's biggest
agricultural machinery manufacturer--sells tractors and combines to
Kazakhstan.
        Kazakhstan has attracted thousands of millions of dollars in
foreign investment in the last four years. Particularly under the
government of Sergey Tereshchenko, much money was directed
toward private companies owned by Kazakh officials or their
relatives. Some of those companies have since been dissolved, and no
information about the whereabouts of the foreign credits has been
given. There have been two other governments since Tereshchenko's
tenure, and by now it is practically impossible to determine what
happened to the money directed to private companies.
        During the privatization process, many industrial objects were
sold to Western companies for excessively low prices, leading to
rumors of bribery. Some members of the parliament's lower house,
the Majilis, pushed for discussion of the issue. Former Prime Minister
Akejan Kejegeldin told journalists just before he was ousted in early
October that privatization in Kazakhstan could be defined as the
division of national resources among an "oligarchy."
        Some parliamentary deputies have started discussing the
possibility of new legislation on conflict of interest laws in a bid to
crack down on such practices. It has been proposed that an official
who is sacked--especially from the spheres of finance, oil and gas
production, investments, or privatization--be barred from doing
business in those spheres for one or two years. Many Kazakh
observers, however, are skeptical that deputies will be able to
achieve much, given the tightly woven network of those benefiting
most from Kazakhstan's political and economic life.

The author is an editor for RFE/RL's Kazakh service.


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