History is made out of the failures and heroism of each insignificant moment. - Franz Kafka
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 1, No. 177, Part I, 11 December 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 FALLS ILL, CHECKS INTO SANITORIUM

* ROKHLIN CALLS FOR IMPEACHING YELTSIN

* ARMENIANS DEMONSTRATE AGAINST KARABAKH
CONCESSIONS

* End Note: ARE RUSSIAN NUCLEAR SAFEGUARDS SAFE?

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RUSSIA

YELTSIN FALLS ILL, CHECKS INTO SANITORIUM.
President Boris Yeltsin on 10 December checked into the
Barvikha sanitorium. His spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii told
journalists that the president has a respiratory infection and is
likely to stay at Barvikha for 10 to 12 days so that he does not
develop the flu. However, the "Washington Post" on 11
December quoted unnamed sources as saying that Yeltsin has
in fact been hospitalized with heart problems and is being
attended by Renat Akchurin, the surgeon who performed
bypass surgery on Yeltsin in November 1996. A statement
issued by the presidential press service on 11 December said
the president's doctors have advised him not to record his
regular weekly radio address. The Kremlin also said Yeltsin is
receiving anti-inflammatory and anti-viral drugs. Because of
his poor health, Yeltsin spent the better part of eight months
out of public view after he was re-elected in July 1996. LB

ROUNDTABLE TALKS POSTPONED. Roundtable talks on land
reform, which were scheduled to take place on 11 December,
have been postponed indefinitely due to Yeltsin's illness. The
president was supposed to attend the talks, at which opposition
leaders had hoped to persuade him to sign the parliament's
version of the Land Code. LB

MARKETS SLUMP ON NEWS OF YELTSIN'S ILLNESS.
Russian stock and bond markets declined on 10 December after
Yeltsin's latest illness was announced, "Kommersant-Daily"
reported on 11 December. Values of the most liquid stocks,
such as LUKoil and Mosenergo, declined by more than five
percent. Prices fell for Russian bonds denominated in rubles
and especially for bonds denominated in foreign currencies.
According to "Kommersant-Daily," reports that Yeltsin will be at
Barvikha for 10 to 12 days sparked widespread selling of
Russian bonds by Russian banks as well as by foreign holders,
who have traditionally reacted negatively to news of Yeltsin's
health problems. LB

ROKHLIN CALLS FOR IMPEACHING YELTSIN. State Duma
Defense Committee Chairman Lev Rokhlin on 10 December
urged the Duma to create a commission to begin impeachment
proceedings against Yeltsin, Russian news agencies reported.
Speaking before Yeltsin's illness was announced, Rokhlin
warned that under Russia's current leadership, "Planes will
continue to crash in Russia, coal mines will continue to explode
and the economy will continue to fall apart." He also charged
that corruption is widespread in the Air Force and slammed its
commander, Petr Deinekin. The Duma did not vote on Rokhlin's
proposal, and Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov
declined to support or oppose Rokhlin's initiative pending
discussions within the Communist faction, "Nezavisimaya
gazeta" reported on 11 December. Yeltsin's representative in
the Duma, Aleksandr Kotenkov, discounted Rokhlin's proposal,
noting that he had not accused Yeltsin of anything specific.
Under the constitution, the president can only be impeached
for committing treason or other high crimes. LB

LUZHKOV PROMISES HELP FOR BLACK SEA FLEET. While
visiting Ukraine, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov promised that
the city of Moscow will help the Black Sea Fleet and do
"everything possible" to make sure that Russian sailors in the
fleet "do not feel cut off from their motherland," ITAR-TASS
reported on 10 December. Luzhkov noted that Moscow has
funded construction of some 500 apartments in Sevastopol,
where the fleet is based. He also called for restoring economic
cooperation between Russia and Ukraine at least to 1987 levels.
Luzhkov has repeatedly claimed that Sevastopol is a Russian
city. He recently appointed Konstantin Zatulin as his adviser on
CIS matters, "Russkii telegraf" reported on 6 December. Zatulin,
former chairman of the Duma's CIS Affairs Committee, has long
championed the cause of ethnic Russians living abroad. He
campaigned unsuccessfully for the Duma in 1995 on the party
list of the Congress of Russian Communities. LB

PASSENGERS DID NOT KNOW PLANE WAS HIJACKED.
Passengers aboard the Il-62 airplane which 59 year-old
Gennadii Todikov attempted to hijack on 10 December said
they were unaware anything was amiss, Reuters reported. (See
"RFE/RL Newsline" 10 December). Some said it was only when
they deplaned and found themselves surrounded by anti-
terrorist commandos that they knew something was wrong.
Todikov is in police custody and may face 15 years in jail.
Authorities are still investigating whether other passengers
aboard the flight may have been involved. Russian Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, while saying "All's well that
ends well," added that all people who engage in such activity
will "come to a bad end." BP

WILL RUSSIA BORROW $2 BILLION FROM FOREIGN
BANKS? Finance Minister Mikhail Zadornov announced on 10
December that Russia will not borrow $2 billion from foreign
banks this month, Russian news agencies reported. Zadornov
said Russia hopes that in the coming weeks, the World Bank
will approve loans to Russia worth more than $1 billion, and
the International Monetary Fund will issue a $700 million loan
tranche. Russia had been negotiating with Credit Suisse First
Boston, Deutsche Morgan Grenfell, Salomon Brothers and Chase
Manhattan over the possible $2 billion loan. Deputy Finance
Minister Mikhail Kasyanov told Reuters on 9 December that
Russia has suspended negotiations with those banks. However,
ITAR-TASS on 10 December quoted Luigi La Ferla, director of
Deutsche Morgan Grenfell, as saying that the four banks are
ready to lend Russia $2 billion and will present the credit to
the Russian government "within the next three weeks." LB

AGRARIAN LEADER EXPLAINS STANCE ON LAND SALES.
Mikhail Lapshin, the leader of the Agrarian Party, says
allowing the purchase and sale of farmland would be a
"devious mechanism" for "taking land away from the peasants,"
RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported on 10 December. Lapshin
said farmland should belong to the peasantry and vowed that
his party will not allow another redistribution of land in Russia.
The Kremlin supports land legislation that would grant rural
dwellers full land ownership rights. Agrarian and Communist
politicians, among others, warn that legalizing the purchase and
sale of farmland would allow speculators to buy up large
quantities of land and convert it from agricultural use. LB

DUMA BLASTS GOVERNMENT ON CHILD ALLOWANCES.
The Duma on 10 December passed a resolution denouncing the
government's efforts to clear backlogs in payments to citizens
with children, ITAR-TASS reported. The resolution said the
government owed some 14 trillion rubles ($2.4 billion) in child
allowances as of November 1997. It asked the government to
submit to the Duma a plan on settling the debts and to consider
amending the 1998 budget to provide more funds for those
with children. Earlier this year, the Duma twice voted down
government-backed laws that would have made only poor
families eligible to receive child allowances and other social
payments. LB

MEDIA-MOST FORMS HOLDING COMPANY. Vladimir
Gusinskii's Media-Most company has combined its media assets
into a new company called NTV-holding, RFE/RL's Moscow
bureau reported on 10 December. NTV-holding includes the
influential television network NTV, the satellite network NTV-
plus, the radio station Ekho Moskvy, the satellite company
Bonum-1, and TNT-teleset, which will provide programming
and financing for some 50 regional television stations
beginning in January 1998. NTV President Igor Malashenko has
been appointed general director of NTV-holding. Yevgenii
Kiselev, the anchor of the weekly program "Itogi," will chair the
board of NTV-holding. Asked what role Gusinskii will play in
NTV-holding, Malashenko told RFE/RL, "Gusinskii carries out
the main function: the function of the owner." LB

ECONOMICS MINISTER SAYS 86 COAL MINES TO BE
CLOSED. Yakov Urinson says 86 out of some 200 coal mines in
Russia will be shut down in 1998, Interfax reported on 9
December. Addressing a meeting of the Russian Independent
Trade Union of Coal Miners, Urinson said the government will
provide adequate funding for mine closures, including social
payments to employees of those mines. (Prime Minister
Chernomyrdin on 9 December signed a government directive
on providing financial assistance to workers affected by mine
closures, ITAR-TASS reported.) Deputy Fuel and Energy
Minister Igor Kozhukhovskii told the union representatives
that wage arrears to coal miners totaled 3.5 trillion rubles
($590 million) as of December 1, and overall debts to coal
miners totaled 9 trillion rubles. Kozhukhovskii said energy
producers owe most of that debt. He also charged that some 30
percent of government funds earmarked for the coal industry
are misappropriated. LB

UNION LEADER SLAMS UNSAFE CONDITIONS FOR
MINERS. Vitalii Budko, leader of the Russian Independent
Trade Union of Coal Miners, claimed on 9 December that every
Russian coal mine is as unsafe as the Zyryanovskaya mine in
Novokuznetsk, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 10 December.
A recent explosion at that mine claimed 67 lives. According to
Budko, the mine's managers had sought to economize on safety
equipment. He added that unsafe conditions make Russian
mines unattractive to potential investors. During a recent visit
to Novokuznetsk, Chernomyrdin promised that the government
will seek to enhance safety in mines. Restoration work has
begun at the Zyryanovskaya mine, but it will not be reopened
for at least two months, ITAR-TASS reported on 9 December.
LB

LUKOIL, YUKOS CONTEND NORTH CASPIAN TENDER
RESULTS. On 10 December the Russian government
commission conducting the tender for the "Northern" section of
Russia's sector of the Caspian named Russia's largest oil
company, Lukoil, as the winner, Russian agencies reported.
Lukoil received 14 votes, and Yukos, which ranks second to it
in size -- seven. Yukos immediately protested the decision,
citing alleged "flagrant procedural violations," and announced
that it will appeal the ruling in an international court, Interfax
reported. An earlier meeting of the commission on 2-3
December had failed to declare a winner. Lukoil has to date
concluded contracts worth $120 million  to develop various
Caspian oil deposits, according to "Izvestia" on 10 December. LF

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIANS DEMONSTRATE AGAINST KARABAKH
CONCESSIONS.  On 10 December, several thousand people
participated in a demonstration in Yerevan convened by
opposition parties to demand that the Armenian leadership
reject any Karabakh peace accord that would restore
Azerbaijan's sovereignty over Nagorno-Karabakh, RFE/RL's
Yerevan bureau reported. On 9 December, the Armenian
Foreign Ministry issued a statement accusing opposition parties
of adopting a "demagogic" and "adventurist" stance on
Karabakh, and appealing to the Armenian people to "refrain
from extremism" in the runup to the 18-19 December meeting
of Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe foreign
ministers in Copenhagen. The statement affirmed that the
Ministry "fulfills its obligations before the people, the country's
leadership, and future generations, and is not dependent on
outside influence," Noyan Tapan reported.  LF

KARABAKH ARMENIANS CALL ON YEREVAN
LEADERSHIP FOR SUPPORT. On 9 December, a dozen
Karabakh political parties issued a statement affirming their
commitment to independent status for the disputed enclave,
Noyan Tapan reported. The signatories expressed the hope that
the Armenian leadership "will find the courage and strength" to
defend the position of the leadership and people of Nagorno-
Karabakh in the international arena, and called on international
NGOs and government organizations to respect the right of the
people of Nagorno-Karabakh to self-determination and
security. LF

ARMENIAN TELEPHONE NETWORK PRIVATIZED.  The
Armenian government press service announced on 9 December
that a Greek consortium has won the tender to acquire the
national telephone network Armentel for $142.5 million,
RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The Armenian government
owns a 51 percent stake in Armentel, and will retain a 10
percent stake; the remaining 49 percent is owned by the U.S.
Trans-World Telecom Corporation. The Greek consortium is
headed by the partly privatized OTE state telecommunications
company together with the Greek Levantis Group. The
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development may
acquire a 10 percent stake in Armentel in the near future,
according to Asbarez-on-Line on 9 December. LF

AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT ON OIC  . . .  Addressing the
Organization of the Islamic Conference summit in Tehran on 9
December, Heidar Aliev listed as the basic goals of that
organization the protection of the rights of Muslim minorities
and communities, safeguarding the territorial integrity of
Muslim countries and the "stable progress" of the Muslim
world, Turan reported. Aliev expressed appreciation for aid
provided by several Islamic nations to Azerbaijanis displaced
during the Karabakh conflict. Aliev reaffirmed his country's
commitment to a peaceful solution of that conflict, which would
create conditions for Azerbaijan "to become a prosperous state
and provide aid to its Muslim brothers." Turkish President
Suleyman Demirel in his address to the summit likewise called
on the OIC to redouble its efforts to solve the Karabakh conflict
within the framework of the Organization on Security and
Cooperation in Europe Minsk Group, according to the "Turkish
Daily News" on 11 December. LF

. . . AND TIES WITH IRAN. In an interview with Turan on
10 December, Aliev denied that Azerbaijan's relations with
Iran have recently cooled, but expressed his displeasure at the
flourishing ties between Iran and Armenia. Aliev said that
during his 9 December meeting with Iranian President
Muhammed Khatami, "we agreed on the necessity to develop
relations in all spheres."  Aliev added, however, that he could
not predict whether Iran would drop its objections to dividing
the Caspian Sea into national sectors. But he argued that "there
is no alternative" to all Caspian littoral states doing so.  He said
no negotiations have yet begun on the possibility of building an
export pipeline for Azerbaijan's Caspian oil via Iran.  Aliev also
met on 10 December with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who
affirmed that "reliance on Islam is the prerequisite for the
success  of any government in Azerbaijan," IRNA reported.  LF

AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION PARTY SPLITS. Several former
prominent members of the Musavat Party, including former
Prosecutor-General Ikhtiar Shirinov, on 10 December
announced the creation of a new opposition party named
National Congress, Turan reported. The defectors from Musavat
have accused the party's leader, Isa Gambar, for his allegedly
authoritarian manner, and have demanded a review of his role
and that of former president Abulfaz Elchibey in the collapse of
the Popular Front leadership in June, 1993.  In an interview
with RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service, however, Gambar said that
the split in his party's ranks was triggered by the offer by
President Heidar Aliev of government posts to Shirinov and a
second former Musavat party member. LF

RUSSIAN BORDER GUARDS TO REDUCE TAJIK
CONTINGENT. The commander of the Russian Border Guards,
Colonel-General Andrei Nikolaev, announced in Moscow on 10
December that border guard forces in Tajikistan would be cut,
ITAR-TASS reported. Though Nikolaev noted the cut from
16,000 to 14,500 would be "insignificant," he also said the role
of the guards had changed with the establishment of peace in
Tajikistan. He said their role is now focused on narcotics
interdiction. The general added that the position of forces still
in Tajikistan allows a rapid reinforcement of any area which
may be threatened. BP

UZBEK SPEAKER OF PARLIAMENT IN MOSCOW. The
speaker of Uzbekistan's parliament, Erkin Khalilov, was in
Moscow on 10 December and met with top officials of the
Russian government, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported.
Khalilov discussed inter-parliamentary relations with Russia's
Federation Council speaker Yegor Stroev. Stroev encouraged a
more visible Uzbek presence in the Russian market and
extended an invitation for Uzbekistan to send a representative
to future CIS Inter-Parliamentary Assembly meetings though
Uzbekistan is not a member. Khalilov also met with Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to consult on the latter's trip to
Uzbekistan at the end of December and next year's exchange of
presidential visits. Khalilov also saw Foreign Minister Yevgenii
Primakov. The two reviewed CIS relations and the situation in
Central Asia.  BP

ARE RUSSIAN NUCLEAR SAFEGUARDS SAFE?

By Paul Goble

         The American intelligence community has concluded that the
Russian government currently has reasonably effective control over
its stockpile of nuclear warheads and missiles.
        But at the same time, the Director of the Central Intelligence
Agency said, Washington is "very concerned" about the status of
Russian safeguards against the illegal sale of the components needed
to manufacture such weapons.
        In a report released in early December by the U.S. Senate Select
Committee on Intelligence, George Tenet said that he did not believe
that Moscow had lost control over any warheads or nuclear missiles,
although the reason he gave for that is not entirely encouraging.
        "We do not believe that Russian ICBMs are as vulnerable to
theft or sales as missile components," Tenet said. "A conspiracy of
many government officials would be necessary to purloin an entire
ICBM."
        Instead, Tenet said his institution feared that Russia might be
losing control over the components needed to make a bomb,
including large and widely dispersed stores of plutonium and highly
enriched uranium.
        Tenet argued in the report that Russia's "continuing social and
economic difficulties, corruption in the military and the potential
activities of organized crime groups" put government control of these
materials at risk.
        And he pointed out that "Russia's ability to enforce export
controls remains problematic because of resource shortages, weak
customs enforcement and corruption."
        Tenet's report is likely to trigger a new debate on how to
prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons after the Cold War.  At
the very least, it seems certain to introduce a new clarity into just
what the problem is.
        Since the collapse of the Soviet Union six years ago, Western
analysts and governments have debated whether Moscow has been
able to control the nuclear weapons and materials on its territory.
        In general, that discussion has focused on the question of
whether the Russian government has control of nuclear weapons
rather than on whether it has control of the nuclear materials needed
to make weapons.
        That debate flared anew most recently when Aleksandr Lebed,
a former Russian general and aide to Boris Yeltsin, made a dramatic
suggestion  that Moscow might have lost track of dozens of "suitcase-
sized" nuclear weapons.
        Tenet's report suggests that Lebed's claims are almost certainly
untrue. But if that conclusion is reassuring, Tenet's discussion of
Moscow's gradual loss of certain control over the components of
nuclear weapons is frightening in the extreme.
        The CIA report notes that there are some 1,200 tons of highly
enriched uranium and 200 tons of plutonium stored in a large
number of sites spread across the Russian Federation.
        Because producing such materials is the hardest part of
building a bomb and because only a few pounds of either substance
are needed to make one, any loss of control over even a small part of
such stockpiles could quickly lead to disaster.
        Obviously, both Russia and the entire world have a vested
interest in making sure that the Russian authorities maintain
effective control over such materials. But how that is to be done
remains very much an open question.
        In contrast to nuclear weapons and their delivery vehicles, the
movement of such materials is far more difficult to monitor and thus
extraordinarily difficult to prevent -- especially in a country as
troubled as Russia now is.
        Tenet's report may now prompt both Moscow and the West to
explore some new means of making sure that the safeguards over
nuclear materials are just as effective as those over nuclear weapons.
        If that does not happen, his report strongly implies, the
dangers of future proliferation of weapons of mass destruction will
only increase.

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