The greatest happiness is to know the source of unhappiness. - Dostoevsky
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 1, No. 168, Part I, 26 November 1997



Note to Readers: "RFE/RL Newsline" will not appear on Thursday, 27
November (a public holiday in the U.S.) or on Friday, 28 November.

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

* RUSSIA ADMITTED TO APEC

* GAZPROM TO INVEST $600 MILLION IN IRAN

* TAJIKISTAN RECEIVES $56 MILLION PLEDGES AT DONOR
CONFERENCE

End Note : LIGHT AT THE END OF THE ABKHAZ TUNNEL?

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

RUSSIA

RUSSIA ADMITTED TO APEC. On the second day of the Vancouver
conference, the 18 member nations of the Asian Pacific Economic
Cooperation organization voted unanimously to admit Russia, along
with Vietnam and Peru. Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto
expressed his satisfaction with the vote, noting his country strongly
supported Russia's admission to APEC, Russian media reported on 25
November. He noted that Russia will participate as a full member at
the 1998 APEC session in Malaysia. ITAR-TASS reported the next day
that at the 22-23 November APEC meeting, Australia, Singapore, the
Philippines, and Mexico had expressed doubts about admitting
Russia. BP

YELTSIN WANTS MORE INFORMATION ABOUT FINANCIAL MARKETS.
President Boris Yeltsin has said he and the government need more
information about international finance markets in order to defend
Russia against economic turbulence, Interfax reported on 25
November. Yeltsin said he receives a lot of information on political
matters from his Security Council, the Federal Security Service, and
the border service. But he complained that he does not get "enough
systematic information on economic matters." Central Bank head
Sergei Dubinin said the same day that world financial turmoil has
upset Russia's ambitious plans for privatization this fall. He said
Russian banks are finding it increasingly difficult to borrow money,
forcing the cancellation of some privatization auctions. First Deputy
Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais said recently that the present
upheaval on the world's financial markets poses a "real danger to
Russia." JB

YASIN SAYS NEGATIVE PERCEPTION OF RUSSIA MUST CHANGE.
Former Economics Minister and current Minister without Portfolio
Yevgenii Yasin says it is imperative to change foreign investors'
negative image of Russia. Yasin spoke to ITAR-TASS on 25 November
from California, where he is attending the second annual Russo-
American Investment Forum. He said changing Russia's image abroad
is crucial to increasing investment and noted that many negative
articles in Western newspapers are often directly picked up from the
Russian press. Yasin said the government intends to organize an
economic forum on the West Coast of the U.S. to try to mobilize
American business leaders to invest in Russia. JB

GOVERNMENT MAY FAIL TO PAY WAGE ARREARS. Deputy Prime
Minister Oleg Sysuev said the government may fail to meet its year-
end deadline for paying off public-sector wage arrears, Russian
media reported on 25 November. Sysuev said wage arrears totaling
3.3 trillion rubles ($568 million) have been paid off since 1 July,
leaving 9.6 trillion rubles to be paid before January 1. The deadline
was set by President Yeltsin in the summer. JB

CHUBAIS SAYS REGIONAL AUTHORITIES NOT COOPERATING. First
Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais told Russian Public
Television on 25 November that regional authorities are not
cooperating with the government's efforts to pay off public-sector
wages. In his first interview since being stripped of the finance
portfolio following corruption allegations, Chubais said the
government is "very worried" about the issue. He noted that some
regions are not paying their half of the debt, as agreed under a plan
proposed by Yeltsin. Chubais estimated the total arrears owed to
state workers at 26 trillion rubles ($4.45 billion). JB

GAZPROM TO INVEST $600 MILLION IN IRAN. A top Gazprom official
said on 25 November that the gas giant will invest some $600 million
in the controversial $2 billion deal to develop Iran's South Pars gas
field. Pyotr Rodionov, the deputy chairman of Gazprom's board of
directors, told ITAR-TASS that his company is "absolutely
indifferent" to complaints raised in the U.S. about the deal recently
reached between Iran and Gazprom in partnership with France's
Total and Malaysia's Petronas. JB

PRIMAKOV SAYS RUSSIA HAS RIGHT TO SELL ARMS. Foreign
Minister Yevgenii Primakov told a news conference in Buenos Aires
on 25 November that Russia has "as much right as any other country
in the world to export arms, except where there are international
restrictions." But he added that he did not want his visit to be
"associated with the desire to promote Russian arms exports to Latin
America." Earlier this year, the Russian arms export agency,
Rosvooruzhenie, launched a new marketing drive in Asia, the Middle
East, and Latin America. Russia has sold military helicopters to
Colombia and MiG-29 fighter jets to Peru. Primakov is currently
touring several Latin American countries. JB

YELTSIN TO VISIT CHECHNYA. Addressing the Russian Security
Council on 25 November, Yeltsin announced his intention to visit
Chechnya, Russian media reported. But no date for that trip has yet
been set, according to Security Council secretary Ivan Rybkin. Rybkin
added that Yeltsin believes all deputy premiers and government
ministers involved in the reconstruction of Chechnya's infrastructure
should also visit the republic. Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov
said Yeltsin's announcement was "wise and courageous" and vowed
that no one would harm the Russian president while he is on Chechen
soil. Rybkin later told journalists that Moscow is offering Chechnya
the status of "a self-ruling republic" within the Russian Federation,
which, he said, would constitute a "high level of autonomy," Interfax
reported. Maskhadov, for his part, told journalists in Grozny on 25
November that Russia's refusal to recognize the republic's
independence is delaying a solution to the problem of Russian-
Chechen relations. LF

KVASHNIN PROMOTED TO "FULL GENERAL." Yeltsin on 25 November
gave Chief of General Staff of the Russian Armed forces Anatolii
Kvashnin the rank of "full general." The two men met to discuss
social problems stemming from the downsizing of the armed forces
and improving cooperation between the military and the Federal
Border Guards. In an article in "Segodnya" on 24 November, military
commentator Pavel Felgengauer had predicted Kvashnin's promotion,
attributing both it and Defense Minister Igor Sergeev's recent
promotion to marshal (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 November 1997) to
Yeltsin's desire to redirect officers' discontent away from himself.
Meanwhile the Main Military Prosecutor's Office has established a
"hot line" for victims of hazing in the armed forces, according to
"Moskovskii komsomolets" on 26 November. The incidence of such
mistreatment increased by 22.9 percent during the first nine months
of 1997, compared with the same period last year. LF

UNION OFFICIAL SAYS RUSSIAN WORKERS IN WORST CONDITIONS IN
70 YEARS. Bill Jordan, the secretary-general of the International
Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), told a news conference
in Moscow on 25 November that Russian workers are experiencing
the worst conditions since the 1920s. He noted that 40 percent of
workers did not receive their October wages and that only one-
quarter of workers are paid on time and in full. Jordan said that in
parts of Russia, people have not been paid for a year and one-eighth
of workers are now paid with items ranging from tinned pineapples,
manure, meat grinders, to coffins. JB

RUSSIA SAYS ORGANIZED CRIME NO THREAT TO FOREIGN COUNTRIES.
First Deputy Interior Minister Vladimir Vasiliev told a news
conference in Moscow on 25 November that Russian criminal groups
pose no threat to the security of foreign countries. But he admitted
that criminal activities by Russians abroad have grown five-fold
since 1991 and that more than 400 criminal groups are operating
beyond the country's borders. U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation
chief Louis Freeh had said in October that Russian organized crime
posed an "imminent danger" to the U.S. Freeh toned down that
statement during a recent visit to Moscow, saying such crime did not
directly threaten U.S. security. JB

JOURNALIST SEVERELY BEATEN IN DAGESTAN. Police in Dagestan
took the editor-in-chief of the newspaper "Dagestanskaya Pravda" to
hospital after finding her unconscious on the steps of her house,
Russian media reported on 25 November. Galina Beibutova had been
badly beaten and sustained severe back and head injuries. Interfax
reported that "Dagestanskaya Pravda," which is widely read in the
republic, recently published an article denouncing organized criminal
groups allegedly active in the republic. Ruslan Gitinov, a top police
official, and two other people were wounded in a bomb attack in
Dagestan recently. Gitinov had pledged to step up the fight against
organized crime in Dagestan. JB

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

TAJIKISTAN RECEIVES $56 MILLION PLEDGES AT DONOR
CONFERENCE. At the international donor conference in Vienna,
Tajikistan received pledges worth $56.6 million, some $9.4 million
short of the $65 million Tajikistan had hoped for. UN special envoy to
Tajikistan Gerd Merrem nonetheless found the results
"overwhelming in view of critical comments about security" in the
Central Asian state. The money will used for demobilizing the army,
preparing for multi-party elections to the parliament, the
resettlement of refugees and displaced persons, and generally
repairing the country's damaged economy. The Vienna conference
was attended by more than 100 representatives from 40 countries.
BP

MORE ARRESTS IN TAJIKISTAN. Tajik law enforcement authorities on
25 November arrested another group of people in connection with
the 18 November kidnapping of two French nationals. Following
searches of villages outside the capital, 23 people were taken into
custody. Tajik officials said some of those detained may have been
involved in the wave of bombings that have plagued Dushanbe since
early September. The location of the two hostages is still not known,
but officials say the group responsible for the kidnapping may have
taken up to 12 local villagers captive as well. The U.S. embassy on 24
November warned U.S. citizens to leave the country, questioning the
ability of Tajik law enforcement bodies to protect them. BP

U.S. OFFICIAL CRITICIZES TURKMENISTAN OVER HUMAN RIGHTS.
Michael Hathaway, a member of the U.S. delegation to the
Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe conference in
Warsaw on 25 November, has sharply criticized Turkmenistan for
failing to respect human rights, an RFE/RL correspondent in the
Polish capital reported. Hathaway charged that Turkmenistan "still
finds political dissidents mentally ill and incarcerates them in
psychiatric institutions." He claimed the country's "misuse of mental
institutions against political dissidents violates...the most
fundamental norms of human decency." Hathaway called on
Turkmenistan to "put an end" to such practices and urged the OSCE to
"settle for nothing else." BP

TURKMEN PARLIAMENT APPROVES 1998 BUDGET. Legislators on 25
November approved the 1998 state budget, ITAR-TASS reported.
Revenues are set at 6.4 trillion manat ($1.5 billion) and expenditures
at 6.6 billion manat ($1.58 billion). The budget deficit is not expected
to exceed 1.4 percent of GDP. BP

NAZARBAYEV IN GERMANY. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev,
meeting in Bonn with leading German officials on 25 November,
encouraged Germany to invest in his country's oil and gas reserves.
Nazarbayev also discussed the situation of ethnic Germans living in
Kazakhstan. German officials said they are pleased with the
improved conditions of Kazakhstan's ethnic German community and
said more efforts will be made on its behalf. Both sides agreed it is
desirable to keep those Germans in Kazakhstan and thereby "create a
bridge between both nations." BP

ARMENIAN, TURKISH BUSINESSMEN SIGN PROTOCOL. Meeting in
Istanbul on 25 November, a delegation from the Union of
Businessmen and Industrialists of Armenia signed a protocol with a
group of Turkish businessmen calling for the normalization of
bilateral economic ties, the "Turkish Daily News" reported on 26
November. Union President Aram Vardanian argued that opening a
border crossing between Turkey and Armenia would contribute to
resolving unemployment in eastern Turkey and to attracting
investment to both countries. During their four-day visit to Turkey,
the Armenian delegation held unofficial meetings with Trade and
Industry Minister Yalim Erez and Minister of State Eyup Asik. Asik
stressed the interest of all members of the Black Sea Economic
Cooperation organization to resolve the Karabakh conflict, according
to ArmenPress. Armenia and Turkey do not have diplomatic
relations. LF

GEORGIAN-RUSSIAN BORDER DISPUTE INTENSIFIES. The Georgian
parliament's Committee for Defense and Security issued a statement
on 25 November criticizing the Russian Federal Border Service's
unilateral decision to move its Verkhnii Lars frontier post 1
kilometer into Georgian territory, CaucasusPress reported. The
committee intends to raise again the question of abrogating the
bilateral agreement whereby Georgia's frontiers with Russia are
jointly patrolled by Russian and Georgian troops. LF

REGIONAL AFFAIRS

QUADRILATERAL TALKS IN BAKU. The deputy foreign ministers of
Georgia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, and Moldova met in Baku on 25
November to discuss economic and security cooperation as well as
participation in such regional projects as the TRASECA transport
corridor, Russian and Azerbaijani agencies reported. Azerbaijani
Foreign Minister Hasan Hasanov proposed that the four countries
conclude an agreement on cooperation with NATO comparable to
those Russia and Ukraine have signed with the alliance. He also
argued that strengthening quadrilateral ties should take place at the
same time as the four countries' integration into European structures.
Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev expressed his satisfaction at
Moldova's recent accession to the informal Azerbaijan-Georgian-
Ukraine grouping, stressing that "our union is not aimed against
anyone." LF

END NOTE

LIGHT AT THE END OF THE ABKHAZ TUNNEL?

by Liz Fuller

        Abkhaz and Georgian delegations met in Geneva from 17-19
November for a second round of talks under the aegis of the UN
Secretary-General's Friends of Georgia group, which comprises the
U.S., Germany, France, and the U.K (Russia has observer status within
that group). The meeting had been postponed for five weeks at the
request of the Abkhaz side and was preceded by a sharp
deterioration in Georgia's relations with both Abkhazia and Russia.
Yet despite the inauspicious omens, the outcome of the talks--in
conjunction with earlier Georgian domestic political developments--
gives grounds for cautious optimism that gradual progress towards
resolving the conflict is possible.
        The UN had assumed a more active role in trying to mediate a
political settlement of the deadlocked Abkhaz conflict in late July,
following the failure of an intensive Russian effort to persuade the
Abkhaz and Georgian leaderships to sign a Russian-drafted peace
protocol. The first round of talks to be sponsored by the Friends of
Georgia yielded an agreement between Tbilisi and Abkhazia to desist
from the threat or use of violence against each other--a pledge that
Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze and his Abkhaz
counterpart, Vladislav Ardzinba, reaffirmed at their meeting in
Tbilisi in mid-August. That meeting paved the way for lower-level
government talks on restoring economic ties between the central
government in Tbilisi and the breakaway Black Sea province.
        Significant progress toward that goal was precluded, however,
by Tbilisi's refusal to lift economic sanctions on Abkhazia until an
estimated 200,000 ethnic Georgian displaced persons are allowed to
return to the homes they had been forced to flee during the 1992-
1993 war . (The Abkhaz, for their part, want repatriation delayed
until sanctions have been lifted and the region's devastated economy
has begun to recover.) On 13 November, the Abkhaz government
drastically reduced electricity supplies to Georgia to protest an
explosion at a substation in Abkhazia's southernmost Gali Raion. It
blamed Georgian guerrilla formations for that incident.
        One week earlier, on 7 November, Russian Prime Minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin had signed a decree allowing the sale to Russia
without Tbilisi's prior permission of Abkhaz agricultural produce.
Such sales were prohibited in early 1996 at Georgia's insistence.
Russia's unilateral decision elicited an outraged response from
Shevardnadze, who accused Chernomyrdin of creating "special hot-
house conditions" for Abkhaz "separatists."
        Despite those setbacks, the Abkhaz and Georgian delegations in
Geneva agreed to create a coordinating commission to oversee the
activities of three working groups that will address security,
repatriation, and economic and social issues. Moreover, Georgian
Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili told journalists on his return
to Tbilisi that the atmosphere at the talks had been "far more
constructive" than at the meeting in late July. Russian First Deputy
Foreign Minister Boris Pastukhov noted, in an infelicitous marriage of
metaphors, that the two sides had opted to "untie political knots by
small but frequent steps" instead of focusing on the issue of
Abkhazia's future political status.
        In particular, the working group dealing with security issues,
which will meet at least once a week, could make a significant
contribution to confidence building. The group will seek to neutralize
the various guerrilla formations currently active in Gali Raion,
especially the Georgian White Legion, which systematically targets
members of the Russian peacekeeping force deployed along the
internal border between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia.
        The working groups have another advantage insofar as they
create a forum for low-level but regular talks on practical issues.
This contrasts with the high-level UN- and Russian-mediated talks
aimed at persuading both sides to sign a more comprehensive
document. Those talks have regularly raised, and then failed to
fulfill, expectations.
        Recent rifts in the ranks of the ethnic Georgian displaced
persons may similarly expedite the negotiating process. At a recent
congress of displaced persons in Tbilisi, delegates accused some
members of the so-called Abkhaz parliament in exile (which is
composed of the ethnic Georgian deputies to the Abkhaz parliament
elected in 1990) of misappropriating financial aid intended for
displaced persons.
        Those charges apparently prompted the parliament in exile to
align itself with the Georgian leadership. (Tamaz Nadareishvili, the
chairman of the parliament, had consistently exerted pressure on the
Georgian leadership by advocating a military campaign to restore
Tbilisi's jurisdiction over Abkhazia).In return, the exiled parliament
received the right to nominate a representative who would belong to
the Georgian delegation to the Geneva talks. The "Abkhazeti" faction
within the Georgian parliament is similarly threatened by internal
dissent over Russia's role as a mediator in the Abkhaz conflict.
         Such disagreements have reduced the displaced persons'
collective ability to exert pressure on the Georgian leadership,
thereby making the policy of "small but frequent steps" a viable
option. But it is still uncertain whether progress toward resolving
practical issues can be parlayed into a formal political agreement on
Abkhazia's status within Georgia.

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, Editor, CarlsonE@rferl.org
* Patrick Moore, Deputy Editor, MooreP@rferl.org
* Laurie Belin, BelinL@rferl.org
* Bruce Pannier, PannierB@rferl.org
* Michael Shafir, ShafirM@rferl.org
* Jan Cleave, CleaveJ@rferl.org

Freelance And Occasional Contributors
* Fabian Schmidt
* Matyas Szabo
* Jeremy Bransten
* Jolyon Naegele
* Anthony Wesolowsky

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