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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 1, No. 183, Part I, 19 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

RFE/RL's 1997 Year in Review and Top Ten Stories Web page
assesses developments in its listening region over the past 12
months.
http://www.rferl.org/nca/special/yearend97/index.html

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Headlines, Part I

* CONFUSION SURROUNDS YELTSIN'S HEALTH

* PRIMAKOV OUTLINES RUSSIA'S VISION OF OSCE

* ARMENIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN COPENHAGEN

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RUSSIA

CONFUSION SURROUNDS YELTSIN'S HEALTH. President
Boris Yeltsin on 19 December visited a Moscow Cardiological
Center for a routine checkup, but accreditation for a briefing
on the results of that examination was limited to just a few
journalists, AFP reported. Interfax on 19 December quoted
Yurii Yarov, deputy head of the presidential administration, as
saying Yeltsin may need another week in the Barvikha
sanatorium, where he has been treated since 10 December.
However, the news agency withdrew that report and later
quoted Yarov as saying Yeltsin may leave Barvikha at any
time. Yeltsin said on 18 December that he was ready to leave
the clinic the following day, but his spokesman, Sergei
Yastrzhembskii, told journalists later that the president will
stay in the clinic until he has spent 10 to 12 days there.
Kremlin officials continue to insist that the president is
suffering from an ordinary respiratory infection. LB

PRIMAKOV OUTLINES RUSSIA'S VISION OF OSCE.
Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov argued at the meeting of
foreign ministers of the Organization on Security and
Cooperation in Europe in  Copenhagen on 18 December  that
only an organization including all European states, such as the
OSCE, can play the central coordinating role in ensuring
European security. Primakov argued that NATO cannot do so,
since not all European countries are alliance members.
Primakov also rejected the proposal, backed by the U.S. and
Germany, that the OSCE adopt the principle of "consensus
minus one" in decision-making in order to preclude one of its
54 members imposing a veto. He said the "consensus-minus-
one" principle would hinder a settlement of the Karabakh and
Abkhaz conflicts, Interfax reported. He affirmed that Russia
would welcome a greater OSCE role in mediating CIS conflicts.
The OSCE charter currently under discussion should not
empower the organization to interfere in the domestic affairs
of member states, Primakov argued. LF

SELEZNEV WARNS CLINTON AGAINST 'PRESSURING'
DUMA. State Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev on 18
December warned U.S. President Bill Clinton not to try to
"pressure" the Duma to ratify the START-2 arms control
treaty, Russian news agencies reported. U.S. and Russian
officials have recently said that Clinton and Yeltsin have
agreed that the U.S. president will not come to Russia in 1998
until after START-2 has been ratified. Seleznev said a date for
consideration of the treaty by the lower house of the
parliament "may never be set" if Clinton seeks to "impose
terms" on the Duma. LB

DUMA CONDEMNS YELTSIN'S STATEMENTS IN
STOCKHOLM. Also on 18 December, the Duma passed a
resolution condemning statements made by Yeltsin in
Stockholm as "irresponsible" and "inconsistent with Russian
laws." While in Sweden, Yeltsin said Russia would unilaterally
reduce its nuclear stockpile and cut its troops in northwestern
Russia by 40 percent. Other officials confirmed Yeltsin's
statement on the troop reductions but clarified his remarks on
the nuclear arsenal, saying the president was only talking
about making reductions "in parity" with U.S. disarmament.
Presidential spokesman Yastrzhembskii on 18 December
accused some Duma deputies of distorting the meaning of
Yeltsin's statements. LB

YELTSIN SAYS TAX COLLECTION COMMISSION MUST
RESPECT LAWS. Aleksandr Livshits, presidential economic
adviser and deputy head of the presidential administration,
announced on 18 December that Yeltsin has instructed Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to make sure decisions of the
government emergency commission on tax and budgetary
discipline comply with Russian laws, ITAR-TASS reported. In
particular, Yeltsin told Chernomyrdin to bring decisions
adopted by that commission on 8 December into line with the
law. First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais chaired the
8 December meeting, which approved the seizure and sale of
property of two companies in order to pay their tax debts.
Chernomyrdin chaired the next meeting of the commission, at
which those companies were given more time to pay their tax
arrears (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 December). LB

ADVISER VIEWS GOVERNMENT LEAKS TO WESTERN
INSTITUTIONS. Also on 18 December, Livshits told
journalists that information "known to a very limited circle" of
Moscow officials has been leaked to western financial
institutions, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. He cited recent
letters sent to Prime Minister Chernomyrdin by World Bank
President James Wolfensohn and IMF Managing Director
Michel Camdessus. Livshits said the letters contained details
about the implementation of decisions adopted by the
government commission on 8 December. Livshits's charge
echoes recent allegations in "Nezavisimaya gazeta," which on
18 and 19 December accused IMF and World Bank officials of
trying to control Russia's economic policy. "Nezavisimaya
gazeta," financed by Boris Berezovskii's LogoVAZ group, has
previously accused Chubais of taking instructions from the U.S.
Treasury (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 September and 18
December 1997). LB

YELTSIN REPLACES REPRESENTATIVES IN GAZPROM...
Yeltsin on 18 December signed a decree replacing several state
representatives in the 40 percent state-owned gas monopoly
Gazprom, Interfax reported. Yeltsin appointed Fuel and Energy
Minister Sergei Kirienko to chair the collegium of state
representatives. He also appointed Livshits, Anti-Monopoly
Committee head Nataliya Fonareva and Deputy Economics
Minister Nikolai Shamraev to the collegium, Yeltsin
simultaneously removed  First Deputy Prime Minister Boris
Nemtsov, Economics Minister Yakov Urinson, and Aleksandr
Kazakov from the collegium. Kazakov was dismissed from the
presidential administration in November during a scandal over
book fees, but previous reports had indicated that he would
keep his position on the Gazprom board. LB

...BUT TRUST AGREEMENT WITH GAS MONOPOLY STILL
UNSIGNED. Yeltsin's latest decree appears to reflect the rising
influence of Chernomyrdin, who has close ties to Gazprom, and
the diminishing clout of Nemtsov and Chubais, who pledged
earlier this year to restructure state management of "natural
monopolies" in the energy and transportation sector. A new
trust agreement on management of the government stake in
Gazprom still has not been signed, although Yeltsin on 2
December instructed Gazprom head Rem Vyakhirev and
Nemtsov to sign it "as soon as possible." Nemtsov on 14
December told ITAR-TASS that the agreement was not signed
before his recent visit to Mexico and South America because of
an "annoying misunderstanding," which he did not clarify. LB

YELTSIN PRAISES WORK OF SECURITY FORCES. In an 19
December radio address, Yeltsin praised the work of the
security forces on the eve of the "day of the employees of
Russia's security forces" and the 80th anniversary of the
creation of the Cheka, ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin said people
could proudly remember security work carried out against the
Nazis during World War Two and in obtaining information for
developing the "fatherland's atomic weapons," which, he
argued,  "helped prevent a third world war." He also noted
that security workers are invaluable in keeping the
government informed about modern-day trouble spots and in
combating terrorism. Yeltsin assured Russian citizens that
security forces would never again act as the "ideological
watchdogs of society." BP

COMMISSION VOWS TO TIGHTEN CONTROL OVER
MILITARY FUNDING. The government's emergency
commission on tax and budgetary discipline on 17 December
approved steps intended to tighten control over defense
spending, ITAR-TASS reported. Chairing the meeting, Prime
Minister Chernomyrdin slammed as "disgraceful" the frequent
diversion of funds allocated to pay the salaries of military
personnel. Defense Minister Igor Sergeev said the commission
approved measures to improve accounting techniques in the
military and eventually process all military funding through
the treasury system. (Although many government agencies
have been ordered to close their accounts in commercial
banks, some of those banks are still authorized to handle
Defense Ministry funds.) Sergeev said the financial system in
the armed forces is to be reorganized "no later than during the
first half of 1998." LB

YELTSIN WANTS BETTER MANAGEMENT OF DEFENSE
INDUSTRY. Yeltsin on 17 December ordered the government
to draft proposals to better manage the defense industry,
Russian news agencies reported. Spokesman Yastrzhembskii
said Yeltsin's instruction was a response to a recent request by
Duma Speaker Seleznev and Federation Council Speaker Yegor
Stroev. Seleznev and Stroev favor recreating a special
government agency to manage the defense industry (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 10 December 1997). LB

ROKHLIN'S ALTERNATIVE CONCEPT FOR MILITARY
REFORM. Duma Defense Committee head Lev Rokhlin said on
17 December that not only has reform in the Russian army
over the past five years failed but "its concept has not even
been fully developed," according "Sovetskaya Rossiya" of 19
December. Rokhlin said the "Russian armed forces no longer
exist as a single military institution" and blamed the inability
to reform the army and navy on the "incompetence" of the
General Staff and the Defense Ministry. Rokhlin's movement in
support of the army has prepared a 40-page document that
provides for the "basic transformation of the 14 Russian power
structures into a military organization of the state with
centralized control."  BP

YELTSIN FIRES THREE TOP MILITARY BRASS. Yeltsin
issued a decree on 18 December dismissing General Viktor
Prudnikov, the commander-in-chief of the Russian Air Defense
Forces, who was named chief of staff for coordinating inter-CIS
military cooperation at the October CIS summit, Russian media
reported. One day earlier, Yeltsin had dismissed Colonel-
General Aleksandr Chindarov and Lieutenant-General Viktor
Sorokin, the first deputy and a deputy commander of the
Airborne Troops, as part of the overall downsizing of the
armed forces, ITAR-TASS reported. LF

YELTSIN TAKES ON RUTSKOI AGAIN. Yeltsin on 18
December signed a decree canceling several directives issued
this year by Kursk Oblast Governor Aleksandr Rutskoi, ITAR-
TASS reported. The decree says the directives, which regulate
the metals industry and the transfer of grain outside Kursk,
violate various federal laws and articles of the constitution.
Rutskoi was Yeltsin's vice president from June 1991 until fall
1993. He was arrested in October 1993 for helping lead
attempts to remove Yeltsin from office after the president
sought to shut down the Supreme Soviet. He was released
under an amnesty passed by the Duma in February 1994 and
continued to criticize Yeltsin. However, since being elected
governor of Kursk in October 1996, Rutskoi has kept a low
profile, mostly eschewing comment on national political issues.
LB

RUSSIA WILL PUSH FOR INTEGRATION WITHIN CIS.
Yeltsin has sent an unequivocal message to the presidents of
other CIS member states outlining proposals for further
integration within that body, presidential press spokesman
Yastrzhembskii told journalists on 17 December. The letter
focuses on issues raised at the CIS summit in Chisinau in
October, at which several participants expressed extreme
dissatisfaction at relations between member states and at
Russia's role. Responses to Yeltsin's letter will be incorporated
into his address to the CIS summit scheduled for late January
1998. Also on 17 December, Vladimir Lukin, the chairman of
the Duma Foreign Affairs Committee, criticized Russia's CIS
policy  and its mediation efforts in Abkhazia, Transdniester,
and Karabakh as "unsuccessful." But Vyacheslav Igryunov, the
deputy chairman of the Duma Committee for Relations with
the CIS, told "Nezavisimaya gazeta" of 18 December that the
Duma has no clear position on how to strengthen the CIS. LF

INSTITUTE DIRECTOR COMMITS SUICIDE. Yurii Mamatov,
the director of the Yaroslavl Institute for Computer
Technology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, shot himself
on 18 December, ITAR-TASS reported. Friends and relatives
said Mamatov had been depressed over a lack of funding that
forces his institute to sell equipment and furniture in order to
pay staff's salaries. In October 1996, the director of the
Federal Nuclear Center in Chelyabinsk Oblast committed
suicide, also reportedly over funding shortfalls that left him
unable to pay the wages of the center's employees. LB

NEW PROSECUTOR APPOINTED FOR ST. PETERSBURG.
The Prosecutor-General's Office has appointed Ivan Sydoruk as
acting prosecutor for St. Petersburg, "Kommersant-Daily"
reported on 18 December. He replaces Vladimir Yeremenko,
whose term of office ran out in May but who continued to
serve as acting prosecutor pending the appointment of his
successor. Yeremenko has been implicated in various
corruption scandals, including alleged misappropriation of
some $600,000 allocated to refurbish the building where his
office is located. The Prosecutor-General's Office sought to
appoint Sydoruk in the summer, but the St. Petersburg
legislature refused to confirm his candidacy. "Kommersant-
Daily" speculated that the city deputies may oppose Sydoruk
because he has recently investigated allegations of law-
breaking by legislators. LB

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN COPENHAGEN.
Alexander Arzoumanian says that despite the OSCE's long-
term involvement in mediating a solution to the Karabakh
conflict, a political settlement has been impeded by
Azerbaijan's refusal to engage in direct talks with the
Karabakh leadership and by the OSCE chairman-in-office's
December 1996 statement pre-determining Karabakh's future
status within Azerbaijan. Arzoumanian was addressing the
meeting of OSCE foreign ministers in Copenhagen on 18
December. He accused Azerbaijan of seeking a military
solution to the conflict and of violating its Conventional Forces
in Europe commitment by engaging in a military buildup. He
also called for the resumption of negotiations for which  no
preconditions are set and in which Karabakh would have the
status of a full party to the conflict. Arzoumanian said a
settlement must allow Karabakh "full control over its
territory" and provide both security guarantees for Karabakh
and a "geographic contour that will end its enclave situation."
LF

ABKHAZ TALKS RESUME.  The first session of the
Coordinating Council on resolving the Abkhaz conflict opened
in Sukhumi on 18 December, Russian media reported. The
council was created at talks in Geneva in November under the
auspices of the UN,  and will oversee three bilateral working
groups that will address security and economic issues and the
repatriation to Abkhazia of ethnic Georgians forced to flee
during the 1992-1993 fighting. Vazha Lortkipanidze,
Georgia's ambassador to Russia, told journalists on 17
December that Tbilisi wants the commission's decisions to be
binding on both parties. Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba
told Interfax that UN representative Liviu Bota has ruled out
the attendance at the session of Tamaz Nadareishvili, the
chairman of the so-called Abkhaz parliament in exile in Tbilisi.
LF

RUSSIA MOVES DISPUTED POST ON BORDER WITH
GEORGIA.  Russian border guards on 17 December finally
restored the disputed Verkhnii Lars border post to its original
position on the frontier with Georgia, Russian agencies
reported. The post had been moved 1,300 meters into
Georgian territory in November without the consent of the
Georgian government, prompting protests by the Georgian
parliament and political organizations. At Russian Deputy
Prime Minister Valerii Serov's talks with members of the
Georgian leadership in Tbilisi on 9 December, it was decided to
move the post back to its original position.  LF

GEORGIA SIGNS PROTOCOL WITH GAZPROM. Georgian
President Eduard Shevardnadze and Gazprom chairman Rem
Vyakhirev met in Tbilisi on18 December and signed a protocol
on renewing cooperation, Interfax and Caucasus Press
reported. The protocol provides for the resumption of natural
gas supplies to Georgia and the export of gas via Georgia to
unspecified third countries. It also calls for the creation of a
joint-stock company, GruzRosGaz, but there is no agreement so
far on division of shares in that company. Vyakhirev told
journalists that Russia prefers the planned underwater Black
Sea pipeline for exporting gas to Turkey because it is shorter.
He said that Bulgarian claims that such a pipeline could pose
an ecological hazard are "groundless." LF

ENERGY SHORTAGE IN KYRGYZSTAN. The Kyrgyz Security
Council meets on 19 December to discuss the energy shortage
in the country, ITAR-TASS reported. In more than half of
Kyrgyzstan's regions, electricity is currently cut off for five to
six hours during the day, and many households are without
any power supplies during the night. Even hospitals, schools,
and the Ministry of Defense are often without electricity,
according to the news agency. The power company
Kyrgyzenergo claims the shortages are due to a 25 percent
reduction in the water level at  the Tokhtogul hydroelectric
reservoir, which is the largest in the country,  and the failure
of many people to pay their electricity bills. BP

AZAMAT LEADER JAILED IN KAZAKHSTAN. Galym
Abelseitov was taken into police custody on arrival at Almaty
airport on 18 December and sentenced to 15 days in jail for
his part in organizing the 30 November unsanctioned rally in
the Kazakh capital, RFE/RL correspondents reported.
Abelseitov, who was in Moscow for more than one month, has
launched a hunger strike in his cell. Leaders of Azamat and
other opposition movements in Kazakhstan held a press
conference on 19 December to demand Abelseitov's release. BP

STRIKING KAZAKH WORKERS CLASH WITH POLICE.
Striking workers from the Janatas Phosphorus Producing Plant
fought with police officers outside the Kazakh presidential
office in Almaty on 18 December when the police attempted to
disperse them, according to RFE/RL correspondents. The police
first tried ordering the workers from the area but met with
physical resistance from the strikers. The workers are
demanding the payment of $2 million in back wages. BP

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