Genius is an African who dreams up snow. Vladimir Nabokov - Vladimir Nabokov
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 1, No. 166, Part I, 24 November1997



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

EUROPE: Has The West Embraced The East? -- a five-part series about
Europe's multilateral organizations and whether and how they've
aided the integration of Central and Eastern Europe with the West --
is online at the RFE/RL Web site.
http://www.rferl.org/nca/special/multilateral/index.html

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Headlines, Part I

* CHERNOMYRDIN SAYS CABINET RESHUFFLE OVER

* AUTHOR OF TAX REFORM PLAN QUITS

* AZERBAIJAN REJECTS PASSPORTS PRINTED IN FRANCE

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx




*RUSSIA

CHERNOMYRDIN SAYS CABINET RESHUFFLE OVER... Prime Minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin on 22 November said there will be no more
cabinet reshuffles, Interfax reported. Two days earlier, First Deputy
Prime Ministers Boris Nemtsov and Anatolii Chubais had been forced
to give up their posts of minister of fuel and energy and of finance,
respectively. Chernomyrdin stressed there was "no question" that
Labor Minister Oleg Sysuev, Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov,
Agriculture Minister Viktor Khlystun, and Economy Minister Yakov
Urinson--all of whom are deputy prime ministers--will similarly be
forced to give up their portfolios. The reshuffle involving Chubais
and Nemtsov came after President Boris Yeltsin had reportedly
approved a plan to bar deputy premiers from holding ministerial
posts. That move was seen by some observers as a way of saving
face amid opposition pressure to remove Chubais from office
altogether. Chubais is involved in a scandal over payments for an
unpublished book on privatization. AW

...ANNOUNCES ZADORNOV WILL REPORT TO HIM. At a 21 November
meeting with senior Finance Ministry officials, Chernomyrdin said
new Finance Minister Mikhail Zadornov will report directly to him,
Reuters reported. Chernomyrdin reassured Chubais he will not be cut
off from the work of the ministry, although he stressed Zadornov will
not report to him. "I think this is also no secret, the minister of
finance works directly with the prime minister," he said.
Chernomyrdin insisted the decision to remove Chubais as finance
minister was taken to ease his work load and not in connection with
the book scandal. Noting Zadornov will be under a lot of pressure,
Chubais, who also attended the meeting, said he will continue to
work with him. "The situation on the financial markets is complicated
and of course, responsibility rests on the shoulders of the finance
minister," he added. AW

CHERNOMYRDIN, NEMTSOV DIFFER OVER MEANING OF GOVERNMENT
CHANGES. Chernomyrdin on 21 November said his government has
emerged more stable than ever as a result of the recent cabinet
reshuffle, Interfax reported. "Russia has entered a new stage of
political maturity," Chernomyrdin said. "The state is getting stronger
and its role is growing in every sphere, especially in the economy."
But while introducing Sergei Kirienko as his successor at the Fuel and
Energy Ministry, Nemtsov said the same day that the shake-up is the
result of a much deeper, "ideological" crisis. "This is about a choice of
ways--either free privatization benefiting a narrow circle of people
or privatization for great sums of money benefiting all who honestly
participate in auctions run under state rules." Nemtsov had been
discussing the planned privatization of the state oil company Rosneft
before making that remark. AW

RUSSIAN PRESS DECLARES CHERNOMYRDIN VICTOR IN RESHUFFLE.
Russian newspapers on 21 November generally agreed that
Chernomyrdin has emerged as the winner in the cabinet shake-up.
"Chernomyrdin, who has long been in the shadow of his first
deputies, has sharply changed the balance of forces in his favor," the
business newspaper "Kommersant-Daily" said. The newspaper noted
that Mikhail Zadornov, who has replaced Chubais as finance minister,
"is on very good terms with Chernomyrdin." The daily "Russkii
Telegraf," which is owned by Chubais ally Vladimir Potanin, admitted
on 22 November that Chernomyrdin has come out on top. The prime
minister is now striving to "capitalize on his victory" and to draw
"concrete benefits" from it. In a sign of his diminishing role, Chubais
was passed over in favor of Nemtsov as acting prime minister during
Chernomyrdin's visit to Vietnam, which began on 23 November. AW

CHUBAIS TO SUE JOURNALISTS FOR LIBEL. Chubais is planning to sue
for libel two Russian journalists who accused him of corruption,
Chubais spokesman Andrei Trapesnikov said on 21 November,
according to Interfax. Legal action will be taken against "Novaya
Gazeta" correspondent Aleksandr Minkin and Russian Public
Television journalist Sergei Dorenko, who claimed that the payments
Chubais received for the unpublished privatization book were bribes.
AW

AUTHOR OF TAX REFORM PLAN QUITS. The official who drafted the
long-stalled new tax code has confirmed that he is quitting his post
as deputy finance minister, Interfax reported on 24 November.
Sergei Shatalov has devoted most of the last five years to drafting
the tax code, which will replace the ineffective tax law. It is unclear
whether Shatalov's departure is linked to the recent scandal
involving Chubais. AW

CHERNOMYRDIN URGES LARGER REVENUES, PASSAGE OF BUDGET... At
the 21 November meeting with senior Finance Ministry officials,
Chernomyrdin called for a renewed push to boost government
revenues and secure passage of the 1998 budget, Interfax and ITAR-
TASS reported. Chernomyrdin said the improved collection of tax
revenues is the ministry's most important task. "There's no
justification for a finance minister if this does not happen," he said.
Chernomyrdin accused opposition lawmakers of "artificially drawing
out" the process to adopt next year's budget. He warned that further
delays in passing the 1998 draft budget would cost the Russian
economy as much as 50 trillion rubles ($8.4 billion) in the first
months of 1998, although he did not explain how he made that
calculation. The budget was to be debated 21 November, but the
State Duma voted to put the budget draft on its agenda on 5
December. The lower house had been delaying discussion on the
draft in the hope of putting pressure on Yeltsin to oust Chubais. AW

...SAYS GOVERNMENT PREPARING STOP-GAP SPENDING MEASURE. As
the prospects of passing the budget by the end of the year grow
dimmer, Chernomyrdin said on 21 November that the government is
preparing a stop-gap spending measure for 1998, Interfax reported.
Chernomyrdin ordered the government to draft the plan roughly in
accordance with spending for this year, meaning that federal
expenditures in 1998 would be much lower than projected levels in
the draft budget. "Kommersant-Daily" said the same day that
Chernomyrdin was not greatly upset about the Duma's decision to
postpone debate on the budget until 5 December (see below). AW

SELEZNEV CALLS FOR COALITION GOVERNMENT. Duma speaker
Gennadii Seleznev has called for the creation of a coalition
government that would take into consideration the communists'
dominance in the lower house of the parliament, Interfax reported
on 23 November. Communist Party member Seleznev called for a
constitutional amendment allowing the government to be formed on
the basis of either the majority party in the Duma or a coalition
formed by the deputies. "It is time to speak frankly to the president
about the creation of a government based on popular confidence,"
Seleznev said. AW

ZYUGANOV LASHES OUTS AT GOVERNMENT. Communist Party leader
Gennadii Zyuganov has criticized government policies as bankrupt,
Interfax reported 22 November. "Within the next two months, the
bankruptcy of their policy will become so evident to everyone that
they will have to admit the choice to start seriously changing their
course or go," Zyuganov said. Chernomyrdin later dismissed
Zyuganov's remarks, saying the government "is not listening to
threats." With regard to the Duma's decision to delay debate on the
budget until 5 December, he accused the legislators of "saying one
thing before lunch and something different after lunch." AW

DUBININ SAYS FOREIGN INVESTMENT FLOWS OUT OF RUSSIA. Central
Bank President Sergei Dubinin told the Duma on 21 November that
foreign investment totaling $5 billion has been pulled out of Russia's
bond market as a result of recent worldwide market instability,
Reuters reported. Dubinin was upbeat, however, saying if world
markets stabilize in the coming weeks, the pressure on Russia also
will ease. In his remarks about currency instability, Dubinin
expressed optimism, saying the Central Bank and the government
will be able to stabilize the situation to prevent sharp fluctuations in
the value of the ruble. Speaking to reporters later, Dubinin said the
Central Bank's gross foreign-currency and gold reserves totaled $21.5
billion as of 21 November. AW

GAZPROM HEAD CALLS FOR REDUCING STATE SHARE. The chairman of
Gazprom has called for reducing the state's share in the natural gas
giant from just over 40 percent to just over 25 percent, Interfax
reported on 21 November. Rem Vyakhirev said the move will ensure
government control over Gazprom but allow greater managerial
flexibility. He also said it will reduce the number of seats the
government has on Gazprom's board. According to Interfax,
Vyakhirev claimed that frequent changes in the government mean
state representatives on the board did not last long enough to be
effective. AW

RUSSIA MAKES BID TO JOIN APEC. At their 22 November meeting in
Vancouver, the foreign and trade ministers from the Asia-Pacific
Economic Cooperation Organization (APEC) postponed the question of
admitting Russia , Vietnam, and Peru until the conference officially
opens, ITAR-TASS reported. Russian media reports on 21 November
that Russia had been admitted to the organization were denied the
next day. A number of participants reportedly remain undecided
about Russian membership, while agreement in principle has been
reached on Vietnam's and Peru's entry. The official conference takes
place from 24-25 November. BP

RUSSIAN, CHINESE REGIONS SIGN PIPELINE DEAL. The governor of
Russia's Chita region and the deputy chairman of China's Inner
Mongolia Autonomous Region signed an accord on 22 November to
build a 12-kilometer pipeline that will transport petroleum products
to China, ITAR-TASS reported. The news agency stated that the
pipeline will run from Zabaikalsk to the Chinese city of Manchuria
and will have a throughput capacity of 2,000 tons a day. BP

YELTSIN NAMES SERGEEV "MARSHAL." Russian President Boris
Yeltsin on 21 November gave Defense Minister Igor Sergeev the rank
of "marshal of the Russian Federation," Reuters reported. Sergeev is
the first member of the armed forces to receive that title since 1991.
BP

CHECHEN PRESIDENT RETURNS FROM U.S. VIA BAKU. Aslan
Maskhadov and Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev met behind
closed doors in Baku on 23 November, Russian media reported.
Maskhadov was on his way home from the U.S. via Turkey. On
arrival in Grozny later that day, Maskhadov told journalists he
succeeded in convincing U.S. officials (whom he did not name) that
Russia gives a distorted picture of the situation in Chechnya and that
political dialogue with the Chechen leadership is both possible and
necessary. He warned, however, that Grozny will not agree to
concessions over its status and that Chechnya "is and will be
independent," AFP reported. LF


TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

AZERBAIJAN REJECTS PASSPORTS PRINTED IN FRANCE. The
Azerbaijani government has refused to accept delivery of 4 million
passports printed in France, arguing that the quality is unacceptable
and pointing out that the Azerbaijani-language sections contain
orthographic errors, AFP reported on 22 November. French
Ambassador to Baku Jean-Pierre Guinhut told Turan that the
Azerbaijani leadership had insisted on the lowest possible price. He
commented that it is impossible to produce a world-standard
passport for only $1. Azerbaijani citizens are still using Soviet-era
passports, whose the validity has been extended by the parliament.
LF

AZERBAIJANI FOREIGN MINISTER IN LEBANON. Hasan Hasanov met
with his Lebanese counterpart, Fares Bweiz, Prime Minister Rafic Al-
Hariri and President Elias al-Hrawi in Beirut on 19-20 November.
The Central Committee of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation
(Dashnaktsutyun) in Lebanon issued a statement criticizing remarks
Hasanov made to Lebanese media, Asbarez-on-Line reported on 21
November. Hasanov was said to have argued that the Karabakh
conflict is an international one between Armenia and Azerbaijan. He
was also reported to have exaggerated the number of Azerbaijanis
forced to flee their homes during the fighting. Hasanov's visit was the
second stop in a Middle Eastern tour aimed at rapprochement with
Syria and Lebanon. Armenia enjoys cordial relations with both those
countries. LF

ARMENIAN OPPOSITION LEADERS TO STEP DOWN. Ruben Hakobian,
the leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation
(Dashnaktsutyun) in Armenia, and Gagik Mkrtchian, the editor of the
Dashnak party paper "Hayots Ashkhar," have asked to be relieved of
those posts, Noyan Tapan reported on 21 November. A senior
Dashnak party member told RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau on 22
November that Hakobian's decision was prompted by purely
personal reasons. The Armenian press, however, speculates that his
resignation reflects serious differences within the party over how to
resolve the Karabakh conflict. LF

WORLD BANK AID FOR ARMENIA NOT LINKED TO POLITICS. Vahram
Nersisiantz, the World Bank's representative in Armenia, told an
RFE/RL correspondent in Yerevan on 21 November that the bank
would not reconsider its loan programs for Armenia if the
government refused to recognize Azerbaijan's sovereignty over
Nagorno-Karabakh. Nersisiantz said the World Bank's future aid to
Armenia will be contingent only on "economic and not political
criteria." He praised the Armenian government for its policies of
economic reform, arguing that they have largely been a success,
despite "some minor drawbacks." In recent years, the World Bank
has granted Yerevan more than $200 million in credits and low-
interest loans. Most of the aid has been used for reconstructing the
country's infrastructure and covering its budget deficit. LF

DOES ARMENIA HAVE A DRUG PROBLEM? Ashot Mkrtchyan, the
government official in charge of monitoring drug-related crimes, has
warned that Armenia is a center and transit point for international
drugs smuggling, Asbarez-on-Line reported on 21 November, citing
Noyan Tapan. Mkrtchyan said 500 people are currently serving
prison sentences for drug-related crimes and that the volume of
drugs confiscated has increased by 30 times during the past four
years. But an Italian police official who recently visited Yerevan and
met with Prosecutor-General Genrik Khachatryan concluded that,
unlike other countries in the region (which he did not name), the
situation in Armenia gives no grounds for alarm, according to
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 22 November. LF

GEORGIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ASSESSES ABKHAZ TALKS. Irakli
Menagharishvili told journalists in Tbilisi on 21 November that since
the recent talks in Geneva on the Abkhaz conflict created the
foundation for ongoing negotiations, those discussions should not be
termed a failure, Russian media reported. Menagharishvili disclosed
that the Abkhaz delegation rejected the Georgian proposal to strike
from the agenda the question of Abkhazia's future political status. He
denied that the Georgian leadership's disapproval of the Russian
decision to import agricultural produce from Abkhazia would prompt
Georgian foreign policymakers to give greater priority to relations
with the U.S. Menagharishvili also denied that Russia's role in
mediating the Abkhaz conflict is being eclipsed by the growing
involvement of the UN Secretary-General's "Friends of Georgia"
group. LF

TAJIK PRESIDENT DISCUSSES HOSTAGE-TAKING WITH FRENCH
AMBASSADOR. Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov met with the
French ambassador to Tajikistan on 21 November to discuss the two
French nationals still being held by unknown abductors, Interfax
reported. Tajik authorities confirmed that there have been two
phone calls demanding the release of Bahrom Sadirov in exchange for
the hostages. On 24 November, 11 suspects were taken into custody
in connection with the kidnapping, and Deputy Prime Minister
Abdurahmon Azimov said the area where Rezvon Sadirov and his
gang are located, some 30 kilometers east of Dushanbe, has been
surrounded, ITAR-TASS reported. BP

THIEVES CAUGHT OUTSIDE BAIKONUR SPACE CENTER. Troops from
Kazakhstan's National Security Committee and Interior Ministry
apprehended a band of thieves as they were stealing sections of
electric power lines near the Baikonur cosmodrome, ITAR-TASS
reported on 23 November. The thieves used tractors to fell 46 pylons
and were loading some 2 tons of the aluminum wire onto trucks
when they were caught. All are unemployed and pleaded poverty.
Local officials say they do not have the money to repair the damage.
BP

TURKMENISTAN TO AUCTION OFF STATE ENTERPRISES. President
Saparmurat Niyazov announced on 21 November that his country
will hold auctions from January to March 1998 for 50 state-owned
enterprises, ITAR-TASS reported. Half of those companies are in the
textile sector, while others in the energy, industry, construction, and
food and fruit industries will be among those going on the block. By
the year 2000, Turkmenistan hopes to auction off a total of 350 such
enterprises. BP




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

SUBSCRIBING:
1) To subscribe to RFERL-L, please send a message to
        listserv@listserv.acsu.buffalo.edu
2) In the text of your message, type
        subscribe RFERL-L YourFirstName YourLastName

UNSUBSCRIBING:
1) To un-subscribe to RFERL-L, please send a message to
        listserv@listserv.acsu.buffalo.edu
2) In the text of your message, type
        unsubscribe RFERL-L

Current and Back Issues
Back issues of RFE/RL Newsline and the OMRI Daily Digest are online
at:
http://www.rferl.org/newsline/search/

Listen to news for 13 countries
RFE/RL programs for countries in the Caucasus, Central Asia, Russia
and the South Slavic region are online daily at RFE/RL's 24-Hour
LIVE Broadcast
Studio.
http://www.rferl.org/realaudio/index.html

Reprint Policy
To receive reprint permission, please contact
Paul Goble, Publisher
Email: GobleP@rferl.org
Phone: 202-457-6947
Fax: 202-457-6992
Postal Address:  RFE/RL,  1201 Connecticut Ave., NW
Washington, DC  20036  USA

RFE/RL Newsline Staff:
* Paul Goble, Publisher, GobleP@rferl.org
* Liz Fuller, Acting Editor, CarlsonE@rferl.org
* Patrick Moore, Acting Deputy Editor, MooreP@rferl.org
* Anthony Wesolowsky, WesolowskyA@rferl.org
* Bruce Pannier, PannierB@rferl.org
* Michael Shafir, ShafirM@rferl.org
* Jan Cleave, CleaveJ@rferl.org

Freelance Contributors
* Fabian Schmidt
* Matyas Szabo

RFE/RL Newsline Fax: (420-2) 2112-3630

[English] [Russian TRANS | KOI8 | ALT | WIN | MAC | ISO5]

F&P Home ° Comments ° Guestbook


1996 Friends and Partners
Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole
Please visit the Russian and American mirror sites of Friends and Partners.
Updated: 1998-11-

Please write to us with your comments and suggestions.

F&P Quick Search
Main Sections
Home
Bulletin Board
Chat Room
F&P Listserver

RFE/RL
1999
1998
1997
1996
1995
1994
1993
1992
1991
Search

News
News From Russia/NIS
News About Russia/NIS
Newspapers & Magazines
Global News
Weather

©1996 Friends and Partners
Please write to us with any comments, questions or suggestions -- Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole