You see things and you say 'Why?' But I dream thing that never were; and I say, 'Why not?'. - Geroge Bernard Shaw
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 1, No. 154, Part I, 6 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

*BEREZOVSKII SLAMS CHUBAIS, NEMTSOV


*RUSSIA RATIFIES CHEMICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION


*RUSSIA RATIFIES CHEMICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION

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RUSSIA

BEREZOVSKII SLAMS CHUBAIS, NEMTSOV... Former Security Council
Deputy Secretary Boris Berezovskii told journalists on 5 November
that his dismissal was instigated by First Deputy Prime Ministers
Anatolii Chubais and Boris Nemtsov, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau
reported. He denied charges that he used his state post to promote
personal business interests, noting that he resigned from all
corporate boards after joining the Security Council in late 1996.
Referring to the first deputy prime ministers' avowed efforts to end
government favoritism toward certain financial groups, Berezovskii
accused Chubais of hypocrisy. He noted that during a recent visit to
London, Chubais said he supports a joint venture between Russia's
Oneksimbank and British Petroleum. (Oneksimbank and Berezovskii's
LogoVAZ empire have repeatedly clashed over privatization sales.)
Berezovskii argued that Nemtsov is incapable of carrying out "serious
tasks" and has no chance of being elected president in 2000, Russian
news agencies reported. LB

...CLAIMS CHERNOMYRDIN, RYBKIN NOT CONSULTED ON DISMISSAL.
At the same press conference, Berezovskii claimed that neither Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin nor Security Council Secretary Ivan
Rybkin was informed about his dismissal until after President Boris
Yeltsin had signed the decree, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. He
added that Rybkin threatened to resign when he heard the news but
that he urged Rybkin not to take any drastic action. Berezovskii
claimed that Chubais's behavior resembles practices common at the
Kremlin when Aleksandr Korzhakov was Yeltsin's top presidential
bodyguard. At that time, some bureaucrats could approach the
president and persuade him to sign any decree, he said. Now,
Berezovskii continued, Chubais has the power to push through any
personnel change he desires. Citing an unnamed source in the
Kremlin, "Kommersant-Daily" claimed on 6 November that
Berezovskii's dismissal may have been Yeltsin's own initiative and
that it may have surprised Chubais and Nemtsov as well. LB

NEMTSOV WELCOMES OUSTER, OTHERS KEEP QUIET. Nemtsov said
Yeltsin made "absolutely the right decision" in firing Berezovskii,
Interfax reported on 5 November. He noted that officials were
warned about not combining their government activities with private
business interests. Removing Berezovskii was an important step
toward leaving "oligarchy capitalism" behind, he said. There was no
comment on Berezovskii's dismissal from Yeltsin, presidential
spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii, Security Council Secretary Rybkin,
or Prime Minister Chernomyrdin, who remains on vacation. LB

TV COVERAGE OF OUSTER REFLECTS DIVIDE IN ELITE. Russian Public
Television's (ORT) Channel 1 network on 5 November depicted
Berezovskii as a key figure in reaching a peace settlement in
Chechnya. It devoted substantial coverage to Berezovskii's criticisms
of Chubais and Nemtsov. ORT is 51 percent state-owned, but
Berezovskii wields considerable influence at the network and
reportedly pays the salaries of its top executives (see "RFE/RL
Newsline" 5 November 1997). In its coverage of the dismissal, the
private network NTV praised Berezovskii's role in Chechnya. Owned
by Vladimir Gusinskii's Media Most, NTV has repeatedly criticized
Chubais and Nemtsov in recent months. At his 5 November press
conference, Berezovskii claimed that Chubais has vowed to "ruin" ORT
and NTV, Interfax reported. In contrast, fully state-owned Russian
Television (RTR), whose chairman Nikolai Svanidze is close to
Chubais, reported on Berezovskii's career in more neutral terms. LB

MEDIA CLOSE TO BEREZOVSKII WARN CHUBAIS COULD BE NEXT. Both
ORT and NTV reminded viewers in 5 November newscasts that
Yeltsin's leadership style involves maintaining a balance between
opposing groups in the government. This pattern suggests the
president may strike next against Chubais, commentators noted.
"Nezavisimaya gazeta," partly financed by Berezovskii's LogoVAZ
group, described recent events as a "temporary victory" for Chubais,
whose departure from the government is "inevitable." Ridiculing
Chubais's pledge to rid Russia of "bandit capitalism," the newspaper
charged that Chubais is himself the "father of bandit capitalism." In
contrast, the newspapers "Izvestiya" and "Komsomolskaya pravda,"
in which Oneksimbank is a major shareholder, both welcomed
Berezovskii's ouster in their 6 November editions. LB

CAUCASIAN REACTION TO BEREZOVSKII'S DISMISSAL. Chechen Vice
President Vakha Arsanov told Interfax on 5 November that Yeltsin's
decision to fire Berezovskii was a "big mistake" since Berezovskii
"was making great efforts" to resolve relations between Moscow and
Grozny. Chechen First Deputy Prime Minister Movladi Udugov said
the dismissal was Russia's internal affair but added that he hopes
Berezovskii will remain a member of the Russian-Chechen
commission tasked with drafting a treaty on bilateral relations,
ITAR-TASS reported. Ingush President Ruslan Aushev attributed the
firing to "internal Kremlin intrigue." Praising Berezovskii's role in
Chechnya, Aushev recalled he had asked Yeltsin to appoint
Berezovskii presidential envoy to the North Caucasus, according to
Interfax. Berezovskii told Ekho Moskvy on 5 November that he will
continue to be involved in the Chechen peace process in a private
capacity. LF

RUSSIA RATIFIES CHEMICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION. Yeltsin signed
the ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention on 5 November
within hours of the Federation Council's passage of a law on ratifying
the treaty. The relevant documents were delivered to UN
headquarters in New York the same day, just meeting the deadline to
allow Russia to participate in a conference on chemical weapons in
early December in The Hague, AFP reported. While debating the
convention, several Federation Council deputies expressed concern
that if Russia were excluded from the December conference, it would
lose substantial potential aid from the U.S. and the EU to fund
chemical weapons destruction, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported.
Russia's stockpile of some 40,000 tons of chemical weapons is stored
at seven sites: two in the Republic of Udmurtia and one each in
Bryansk, Kirov, Kurgan, Penza, and Saratov Oblasts. LB

MASKHADOV PROCLAIMS CHECHNYA ISLAMIC REPUBLIC. Chechen
President Aslan Maskhadov claimed on 5 November that Chechnya
has won independence and is now adopting a new administrative
system as an Islamic Republic, according to the "Turkish Daily News."
He added that Chechnya is ready to fight another war if Russia
"dabbles in intrigues to obstruct our independence," Reuters
reported. Maskhadov was speaking at a reception in his honor in the
Turkish resort of Antalya. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" commented that the
Chechen parliament may oppose amending the Chechen Constitution
to designate Chechnya an Islamic state. A vote on expanding
Maskhadov's powers has been postponed three times by Chechen
lawmakers. LF

YELTSIN AIDE IMPLICATES CHECHEN LEADERS IN HOSTAGE-TAKING.
Yevgenii Savostyanov, the deputy head of the Russian presidential
administration, has named Chechen Vice President Arsanov and
acting Prime Minister Shamil Basaev as among "numerous" top
Chechen leaders suspected of direct involvement in hostage-takings.
Addressing the Federation Council on 5 November, Savostyanov said
that more than 170 people have been kidnapped in Chechnya since
January 1997, Interfax reported. NTV President Igor Malashenko
accused Arsanov in August of being behind the kidnapping of a
group of NTV journalists (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 and 21 August
1997). LF

FEDERATION COUNCIL CONCERNED ABOUT NEW PASSPORTS. The
Federation Council on 5 November unanimously approved a letter to
Yeltsin and Prime Minister Chernomyrdin requesting changes to the
format of the new Russian internal passports, Interfax reported. The
letter requests that an extra page be included, which, in republics of
the Russian Federation, would print information about the holder in
the titular language of the relevant republic. The Council's letter also
asks that regional authorities be empowered to list the holder's
nationality in the new passports if the holder desires it. This would
be in accordance with Article 26 of the constitution, which entitles
citizens to "determine and indicate" their nationality. The letter did
not ask the government to remove the two-headed eagle from the
cover of the new passports. Some politicians in the North Caucasus
have said the eagle symbolizes Russian imperialism. LB

TATAR PRESIDENT ADVOCATES DUAL CITIZENSHIP. Addressing the
Federation Council in Moscow on 5 November, Mintimer Shaimiev
argued that the new Russian passports should identify the holder's
nationality and that inhabitants of Tatarstan should be allowed to
hold dual citizenship, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. In an
interview published in "Izvestiya" on 6 November, Shaimiev called
for a division of powers between the center and federation subjects
whereby the former would decide "strategic questions" and the latter
all others. Shaimiev said Tatarstan's most pressing problem is the
conversion of the military-industrial complex. LF

FEDERATION COUNCIL WITHDRAWS COURT APPEAL... The Federation
Council on 5 November agreed to withdraw its appeal to the
Constitutional Court over Yeltsin's refusal to sign the law on the
government after both houses of parliament overrode his veto,
ITAR-TASS reported. Council Speaker Yegor Stroev said the appeal
was no longer necessary since Yeltsin recently promised to sign the
law. In fact, Yeltsin said he will sign the law on the government only
if certain passages in it are amended (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 and
21 October 1997). The Council has not withdrawn its Constitutional
Court appeal against Yeltsin's refusal to sign the trophy art law after
both houses of the parliament overrode his veto. According to
"Russkii telegraf" on 5 November, the State Duma is drafting a law
that would prohibit the president from vetoing the same legislation
twice. LB

...EXPRESSES CONCERN ABOUT POWER CUTS, DEFENSE INDUSTRY. Also
on 5 November, the Federation Council approved an amendment to
the criminal code introducing fines and prison sentences of up to five
years for officials responsible for illegal power cuts to non-paying
consumers of electricity, ITAR-TASS reported. The same day, the
Council adopted a resolution demanding the creation of a federal
agency to supervise the defense industry, whose head would have
the rank of deputy prime minister. The Defense Industry Ministry
was eliminated in a cabinet reshuffle in March. That move was
criticized by some leaders of regions that have high concentrations of
defense plants (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 April 1997). LB

NEMTSOV CALLS FOR CREATING A MIDDLE CLASS. First Deputy
Prime Minister Nemtsov announced on 5 November that forming a
middle class will be a priority of the government and the main task
of the State Committee on Support and Development of Small
Businesses, ITAR-TASS reported. Introducing Irina Khakamada, the
new head of that committee, to the committee's staff, Nemtsov said
small and medium-sized businesses currently employ some 12
million citizens. He called for efforts to increase that figure to 30-40
million, which, he said, would help form a middle class and solve the
problems of unemployment and non-payment of wages and
pensions. Nemtsov also noted that small and medium-sized
businesses currently account for about 12 percent of GDP, which, he
said, is more than either the gas monopoly Gazprom or the electricity
utility Unified Energy Systems, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 6
November. LB

RUSSIAN ECOLOGIST CRITICIZES NUCLEAR COOPERATION. In an
article published in "Novye izvestiya" on 6 November, Aleksei
Yablokov, the chairman of the Russian Center for Ecological Policy,
argues that the Ministry for Atomic Energy is directly contributing to
nuclear proliferation. Yablokov singled out the contracts signed with
China and Iran in 1993 and 1995 respectively on providing
technology on enriched uranium production. He also asserted that the
nuclear facilities that the former USSR built in North Korea have
enabled that country to produce nuclear weapons. A former
presidential adviser on environmental security, Yablokov recently
supported the controversial claim by former Security Council
secretary Aleksandr Lebed that the Soviet Union produced suitcase-
sized nuclear weapons (see "End Note" in "RFE/RL Newsline," 1
October 1997) LF

MORE CRITICISM OF DECISION TO AIR CONTROVERSIAL FILM. The
presidium of the Communist-led Popular-Patriotic Union of Russia on
5 November issued a statement accusing the private network NTV of
ignoring the views of "an absolute majority" of Russians by planning
to air Martin Scorsese's film "The Last Temptation of Christ," ITAR-
TASS reported. NTV is scheduled to broadcast the film on 9
November (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 November 1997). Patriarch of
Moscow and All Russia Aleksii II said on 4 November that the
Russian Orthodox Church is not trying to ban the film, which, he said,
interested people may rent on video. However, he warned that
showing the "blasphemous" film on nationwide television would lead
to "divisions" in society. A statement issued by the Union of Muslims
of Russia the previous day said showing the film would be
destructive and immoral, "insulting God's messenger and all
believers," Interfax reported. LB

MOSCOW DUMA REVOKES DEPUTIES' IMMUNITY. The Moscow City
Duma on 5 November unanimously approved amendments to the law
on the status of city legislators, "Segodnya" and "Kommersant-Daily"
reported. Deputies will no longer be protected from criminal
prosecution. Moscow Duma Deputy Chairman Valerii Galchenko said
the amendments are aimed at heading off attempts by "criminal
structures" to place their people in the legislature during the
upcoming city Duma elections, scheduled for December. The Supreme
Court of the Altai Republic recently decided that deputies in the
republic's legislatures should not be granted immunity from
prosecution (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 November 1997). LB

DEMONSTRATION IN DAGESTAN. Residents of Dagestan's Khasavyurt
Raion staged a demonstration on 6 November to protest the recent
abductions of three ethnic Avars and eight local police officials, an
RFE/RL correspondent in Vladikavkaz reported. All the abducted
men are believed to have been taken to neighboring Chechnya. The
protesters intend to hold a larger demonstration in the Dagestani
capital, Makhachkala, to demand that the local government introduce
restrictions on cross-frontier traffic. Russia temporarily closed the
border between Dagestan and Chechnya on 25 October following the
abduction of the eight police officers. LF

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

KAZAKH OPPOSITIONIST ANNOUNCES PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDACY. At
a 6 November meeting of opposition parties and movements, Murat
Auezov, leader of the AZAMAT movement, announced his intention
to run as a candidate in the 2000 presidential election, RFE/RL
correspondents in Almaty reported. The leaders of several opposition
parties said they will support Auezov's candidacy, but Kazakh
Communist party leaders told RFE/RL that they are opposed to a
presidential system. LF

KAZAKH OPPOSITION PARTIES DISCUSS COOPERATION.
Representatives of several opposition movements and parties on 4
November attended the first session of a joint coordination
committee on creating an opposition union called National Front,
RFE/RL's Almaty bureau reported. Prominent opposition activist
Galym Abelseyitov was elected chairman of the front, which will hold
its first session in February 1998. AZAT, AZAMAT, the Communist
Party of Kazakhstan, the Workers' Movement, LAD (which represents
Kazakhstan's Slavic population), and the Socialist Party of Kazakhstan
have expressed their readiness to join the front. LF

WORKERS' PROTESTS CONTINUE IN KAZAKHSTAN. Twenty-four
representatives of workers at the Qaratau Phosphorus Producing
plant in Janatas (Jambyl Oblast), picketed the parliament building on
5 November demanding payment of wage arrears, RFE/RL's Almaty
bureau reported. The pickets said 202 workers at the plant have
started a hunger strike to demand that local authorities and the
plant`s administration begin paying some 560 million tenges ($7.3
million) in overdue salaries for the last two years. Meanwhile,
workers at the Kentau Achisay Polymetal Plant have ended their
protest. Over the past month, police have prevented them from
continuing their planned march on Almaty. The plant's
administration started paying off its debts to the Achisay workers
after receiving a credit worth 150 million tenges from the Kazakh
government. LF

TAJIK PRESIDENT CALLS FOR PURGE OF MILITARY, POLICE. In a 5
November televised address to mark the third anniversary of the
Tajik Constitution, Imomali Rakhmonov said the police and military
must be cleansed of "criminal elements," Interfax reported.
Rakhmonov added that measures must be taken to stop rival groups
from seeking to resolve political differences by the use of violence.
Also on 5 November, Russian Ambassador to Dushanbe Yevgenii
Belov told Interfax that 78 political prisoners have been released in
Tajikistan over the past three months. The National Reconciliation
Commission estimates that some 700 United Tajik Opposition
supporters still in prison are eligible to be amnestied. LF

ARMENIAN OPPOSITION LEADER SLAMS PRESIDENT'S KARABAKH
POLICY. National Democratic Union (AZhM) chairman and former
presidential candidate Vazgen Manukyan told RFE/RL's Yerevan
bureau on 5 November that President Levon Ter-Petrossyan's
foreign policy may put an end to Armenian control over Nagorno-
Karabakh and reduce Armenia to a nation living "at subsistence
level." Manukyan said that international pressure on Armenia to
recognize Azerbaijan's territorial integrity is not strong enough to
force Yerevan to make serious concessions. He said he opposes any
solution to the dispute with Azerbaijan that would restore Baku's
sovereignty over Nagorno-Karabakh. The AZhM and other opposition
parties have denounced Ter-Petrossyan's recent statement that
unilateral demands for the disputed region's secession from
Azerbaijan are "unrealistic." LF

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