As courage endagers life even so fear preserves it. - Leonardo Da Vinci
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 10, Part I, 16 January 1998



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

* CHERNOMYRDIN DEALS NEW BLOW TO CHUBAIS

* CHECHEN PRESIDENT UNVEILS NEW CABINET

* UTO PULLS OUT OF RECONCILIATION COMMISSION

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RUSSIA

CHERNOMYRDIN DEALS NEW BLOW TO CHUBAIS... Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin has redistributed the
responsibilities of top cabinet officials, ITAR-TASS reported on
16 January. First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais will
continue to oversee some economic policies and agencies such
as the tax inspectorate and tax police. However, Chernomyrdin
will now be directly responsible for the Finance Ministry,
budget and monetary policy, and development of the banking
sector. (Mikhail Zadornov reportedly insisted on being directly
subordinate to Chernomyrdin before he replaced Chubais as
finance minister.) In addition, Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir
Bulgak, who was previously charged mainly with issues
relating to culture and science, will replace Chubais as the
government's coordinator of media-related issues. On 15
January, Bulgak was appointed chairman of the collegium of
state representatives in the 51 percent state-owned network
Russian Public Television. LB

...REPLACES NEMTSOV AS ENERGY POLICY
COORDINATOR. Under the redistribution of responsibilities,
Chernomyrdin will coordinate the activities of the Fuel and
Energy Ministry, ITAR-TASS reported. First Deputy Prime
Minister Boris Nemtsov previously supervised that ministry's
work, even after Yeltsin removed him as fuel and energy
minister last November. Chernomyrdin ran the USSR Ministry
of the Gas Industry during the Gorbachev period and is
considered close to major companies in the Russian energy
sector, especially the gas monopoly Gazprom. Nemtsov will
continue to coordinate the government's policies on
restructuring state subsidies for housing and utilities. LB

CHERNOMYRDIN DENIES RUMORS ON HEALTH. Also on 16
January, Interfax quoted Chernomyrdin as denying that he
went to the Barvikha sanitarium the previous day (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 15 January 1998). The prime minister said he feels
fine, adding that he may take a short vacation after Yeltsin
returns to work. The president has been at a government
residence in Valdai for nearly two weeks and is scheduled to
resume work in the Kremlin on 19 January. LB

RUSSIA AGAIN OPPOSES USING FORCE AGAINST IRAQ.
An Iraqi spokesman on 16 January welcomed the offer made
by Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeev in Paris the previous
day to provide surveillance aircraft to monitor Baghdad's
compliance with UN Security Council rulings, AFP reported.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Valerii Nesterushkin on 15
January again affirmed that "any use of force against Iraq is
inadmissible" and that the ongoing tensions between Baghdad
and the UN should be resolved exclusively by political and
diplomatic means, Interfax reported. Commenting on plans by
Russian Liberal-Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky
to send a further consignment of humanitarian aid to Iraq next
month,  Nesterushkin said that the cargo would be transported
by a direct non-stop flight with UN approval. Communist Party
leader Gennadii Zyuganov told Interfax on 15 January that
Russia should intensify its efforts to secure the lifting of
international sanctions on Iraq. LF

CHECHEN PRESIDENT UNVEILS NEW CABINET. Aslan
Maskhadov on 15 January signed a decree listing the new 24-
member cabinet. Shamil Basaev is one of two first deputy
prime ministers and  acting premier for a period of six months.
As anticipated, former First Deputy Prime Minister Movladi
Ugugov is appointed foreign minister, while Basaev's brother,
Shirvani, is chairman of the State Committee for Fuel and
Energy. Endorsement of the new cabinet by the Chechen
parliament may prove problematic.  Parliamentary speaker
Ruslan Alikhadzhiev on 15 January pointed out that most
members of the new government served in the old cabinet,
which Maskhadov had accused of inefficiency. Former Russian
Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed told Interfax that
Moscow should overlook Basaev's former involvement in
terrorist activities and embark on a dialogue with his new
government, given that "only authoritarian people with a firm
will can control the situation in Chechnya." LF

LUZHKOV SUPPORTS CHECHEN INDEPENDENCE,
PREVENTIVE STRIKES. Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov told
journalists on 15 January that Russia should allow Chechnya to
become an independent state, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau
reported. He noted that he opposed the cease-fire agreement
negotiated in August 1996 by Maskhadov and then Russian
Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed on the grounds
that it was a "capitulation." But having implemented that
agreement, Luzhkov argued, Russia should recognize that it lost
the war in Chechnya. He again praised Interior Minister
Anatolii Kulikov's widely condemned proposal to bomb some
targets in Chechnya (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 and 8 January
1998). Luzhkov argued that "this is done by other countries in
the civilized world" in order to keep "bandits" from attacking
their territory. He added that if a neighboring state carries out
terrorist acts, then "the side defending itself should have the
right to carry out preventive strikes." LB

GOVERNMENT APPROVES MILITARY HOUSING
PROGRAM. The government on 15 January approved a five-
year, 25 billion ruble ($4.2 billion) program intended to
provide housing for some 210,000 families of retired military
personnel, Russian news agencies reported. The program is to
cover 160,000 families of soldiers who have already left the
armed forces and 50,000 families of those who will be retired
during upcoming military reforms. Families will receive
housing certificates to cover 80 percent of the cost of
apartments. They will have the right to take out low-interest
bank loans to cover the remainder of the cost. LB

SERGEEV SAYS MILITARY REFORM TO TAKE MORE
TIME. Defense Minister Sergeev acknowledged on 15 January
that owing to financial difficulties, military reform will not be
completed by 2000, ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin issued a
decree in May 1996 promising to end conscription and create a
professional army by 2000. Speaking to reporters in Paris,
where he is meeting with French officials, Sergeev said Yeltsin's
orders will be fulfilled but gave no timetable. The government
has yet to approve a detailed military reform program; experts
in the Defense Ministry and Defense Council are still drafting
proposals. LB

FORMER ROSVOORUZHENIE HEAD FIRED FROM NEW
POST? ITAR-TASS on 15 January reported that Aleksandr
Kotelkin has been fired from his post as first deputy minister
for foreign economic relations and trade. He had been
appointed to that post in September 1997,  following his
removal the previous month as head of the arms export
company Rosvooruzhenie (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15
September 1997). The official reason cited for Kotelkin's
removal from his new post was personnel cuts,  but ITAR-TASS
and "Kommersant-Daily" on 16 January suggested his strained
relations with Deputy Prime Minister Yakov Urinson was the
real reason.  Foreign Economic Relations Minister Mikhail
Fradkov, however, told Interfax that all four first deputy
ministers will be fired by 7 March 1998 and that only three
first deputies will be reappointed. LF

YELTSIN TO REJECT COALITION GOVERNMENT
PROPOSAL. Sergei Shakhrai, the president's representative in
the Constitutional Court, told Interfax on 15 January that
Yeltsin will reject proposals on forming a coalition government
that would have the support of a majority in the parliament.
State Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev has pledged to submit
proposals on forming a coalition government to Yeltsin by the
end of January. He claimed in December that the president had
agreed to consider the issue (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10
December 1997). LB

ZYUGANOV SAYS DUMA WON'T CHANGE ELECTORAL
SYSTEM. Communist Party leader Zyuganov has vowed that
the Duma will unanimously reject the president's proposals on
changing the law on parliamentary elections, Interfax reported
on 15 January. Yeltsin recently urged the Duma to abolish the
proportional representation system whereby half of Duma
deputies are currently elected (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22
December 1997). Zyuganov denounced the president's proposal
as "unconstitutional and absolutely immoral." He noted that
Yeltsin himself introduced the proportional representation
system in fall 1993. Zyuganov added that Yeltsin's proposal to
elect all Duma deputies in single-member districts would harm
the development of Russian political parties and would "turn
the Duma into a corporation of mafia clans." LB

CRIMINAL CASE OPENED IN OLD BANKING SCANDAL.
Vladimir Kazakov, who heads the Department on Especially
Important Cases in the Prosecutor-General's Office, told
Interfax on 15 January that a criminal case has been opened
concerning alleged embezzlement of hundreds of millions of
dollars in state funds. Last July, Central Bank Chairman Sergei
Dubinin accused several former officials, MFK bank, and
Unikombank of arranging the allegedly fraudulent deals (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 14 and 18 July 1997). In particular,
Dubinin's accusations involved Former First Deputy Finance
Minister Andrei Vavilov, who in February 1997 authorized the
transfer of government funds to finance a contract on
supplying MiG fighter planes to India. Vavilov became the head
of MFK bank, which is part of the Oneksimbank empire, after
leaving the Finance Ministry in April 1997. Oneksimbank
President Vladimir Potanin was first deputy prime minister
from August 1996 until March 1997. LB

REPORT SLAMS OFFICIAL RESPONSE TO VIOLENCE
AGAINST WOMEN. According to a new report by the
Women's Rights Project of Human Rights Watch, the Russian
law enforcement system "creates numerous and substantial
obstacles" to combating violence against women, an RFE/RL
correspondent in Washington reported on 15 January. For
instance, the report says police officers and prosecutors are
often hostile to women who have been raped. It urges the
Russian government to devote more attention and resources to
the problem but charges that diplomatic efforts by U.S.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and others "have done
little to change high-level indifference to the brutality Russian
women endure without recourse." Yekaterina Lakhova, who
heads a presidential commission on women, children, and
demographics, has estimated that some 14,000 women in
Russia each year are killed by husbands or family members
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 October 1997). LB

PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION PREPARING PROGRAM ON
HUMAN RIGHTS. Vladimir Kartashkin, who chairs a
presidential commission on human rights, announced on 15
January that the commission is preparing recommendations on
defending human rights in Russia, ITAR-TASS reported. He said
his commission will concentrate this year on tackling poor
conditions for soldiers and prisoners and widespread
infringement of social and economic rights. Yeltsin has declared
1998 the year of human rights in Russia. In an interview with
RFE/RL's Moscow bureau, Kartashkin said his commission has
encountered "administrative difficulties," since it has fewer
than half as many members as when it was chaired by
renowned human rights defender Sergei Kovalev. Kovalev and
several others quit the commission in January 1996 to protest
Russia's actions during the war in Chechnya. LB

DUMA DEMANDS QUICKER COMPENSATION FOR OLD
SAVINGS ACCOUNTS. The Duma on 14 January passed a
resolution urging the government to speed up compensation
payments to citizens whose pre-1992 savings accounts were
rendered worthless by high inflation in the 1990s, ITAR-TASS
reported. In particular, the resolution called for compensation
to be paid sooner to all citizens suffering from cancer. Up to
now, only citizens born before 1921 have been able to receive
compensation for their old savings accounts. Sberbank has
begun paying holders of those accounts up to 1,000 times the
face value of their deposits. LB

REGIONAL AFFAIRS

BALTIC PRESIDENTS SAY CHARTER WILL HELP TIES
WITH RUSSIA. The presidents of the three Baltic States have
defended the partnership charter with the U.S., saying it will
help, not damage, their relations with Russia.  Speaking in
Washington on 15 January, Latvia's Guntis Ulmanis said the
document shows that Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania support
attempts to increase mutual trust with Russia. Lithuania's
Algirdas Brazauskas said the charter is not directed against a
third country and that he does not believe it will worsen ties
with Russia. Estonia's Lennart Meri said his country wants to
look forward to improved relations with Russia in the future
and not dwell on the enmity of the past. U.S. President Bill
Clinton and his three Baltic counterparts are due to sign the
charter in Washington on 16 January. JC

RUSSIA RESPONDS CAUTIOUSLY TO CHARTER. Foreign
Ministry spokesman Valerii Nesterushkin told a news
conference in Moscow on 15 January that Russia welcomes any
steps aimed at establishing open, equal, and good neighborly
cooperation in the Baltics as part of the process of building a
new Europe without dividing lines. Nesterushkin said Moscow's
attitude to the U.S.-Baltic Charter will depend on the extent to
which its content meets that goal. He added that the Moscow
will renew its proposal to offer security guarantees to the
Baltics at international gatherings next week in Riga and
Sweden, Reuters reported. That proposal, first made by
President Yeltsin last fall, was rejected by all three Baltic
States. JC

ADAMKUS DENIES KALININGRAD STATEMENT.
Lithuanian President-elect Valdas Adamkus has denied he told
a Polish weekly that the status of Kaliningrad Oblast remains
an "international problem" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 January
1998), Russian agencies reported. Adamkus's spokesman issued
a statement on 15 January saying that the president-elect had
not given an interview to "Wprost." Adamkus "regards the
question of Kaliningrad Oblast as  having been  settled long  ago
and  firmly stands  for  good relations with Russia," the
spokesman stressed. The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry told
Interfax that Adamkus considers the "Wprost" report to be a
"provocation." JC

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

UTO PULLS OUT OF RECONCILIATION COMMISSION. The
United Tajik Opposition on 15 January carried out its threat to
withdraw its representatives from the National Reconciliation
Commission (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 January 1998). UTO
leader and commission chairman Said Abdullo Nuri said the
government's failure to hand over 30 percent of government
positions to the UTO, the delay on an official amnesty for UTO
members taken prisoner during the five-year civil war, delays
in assigning permanent bases for UTO troops (now part of the
Tajik Army), and the failure to bring back the last of the UTO
fighters from Afghanistan all contributed to that decision. At
the same time, he stressed the UTO's withdrawal from the
commission is temporary only, depending on the government's
response. BP

TAJIK-CHINESE DEFENSE ACCORD. Tajik Defense Minister
Sherali Khairulloyev and his Chinese counterpart, Chi Haotian,
signed an accord on "broader contacts" between their
ministries, ITAR-TASS reported on 16 January. Khairulloyev
and Chi also discussed regional security, especially the situation
in Afghanistan. BP

DIRECT FOREIGN INVESTMENT IN KAZAKHSTAN IN
1997. Kazakh National Bank Chairman Uraz Jandosov has
announced that direct foreign investment in Kazakhstan last
year  totaled  $1.7 billion, Interfax reported on 14 January.
Jandosov speculated that 1998 would see a drop in direct
foreign investment owing to the economic crisis in some Asian
countries. He noted that two of Kazakhstan's biggest foreign
investors are the South Korean firms Daewoo and Samsung,
both of which are heavily affected by the financial problems in
Asia. BP

AZERBAIJANI EX-PARLIAMENT SPEAKER ACCUSED OF
PLANNING COUP.  The  Prosecutor-General's Office and
National Security Ministry on 15 January issued a joint
statement accusing former parliamentary speaker Rasul Guliev
of conspiring from abroad to overthrow President Heidar Aliev.
The statement claimed that while head of Azerbaijan's largest
oil refinery, Guliev systematically embezzled millions of dollars
with which he funded a series of meetings to discuss ways of
destabilizing the present situation in Azerbaijan and training
terrorists and assassins. Guliev denied the allegations in a
telephone interview with Reuters. Representatives of several
opposition parties  rejected the charges as "irresponsible" and
called on the authorities to provide concrete evidence to
substantiate them. Guliev was stripped of his parliamentary
deputy's mandate in December 1997  and subsequently
announced his intention to contend the presidential election
due later this year (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 December 1997
and 13 January 1998). LF

ARMENIA COMMEMORATES BAKU MASSACRE. Several
thousand Armenians staged a march in Yerevan on 15 January
to commemorate the anniversary of the 1990 pogroms in Baku,
in which dozens of ethnic Armenians were killed, RFE/RL's
Yerevan bureau reported. The mass killings, which forced
250,000 Baku Armenians to flee the city, served as a pretext
for the Soviet troops' belated intervention during the night of
19-20 January 1990. Up to 150 Azerbaijanis were killed on
that night. Representatives of the Iranian embassy in Yerevan
participated in the 15 January march to "pay tribute to
innocent victims," Noyan Tapan reported, quoting a senior
Iranian diplomat. The march was organized by the opposition
Dashnak Party (HHD) and the Organizational Committee to
Support Nagorno-Karabakh, which represents various
opposition parties. LF

ABKHAZIA ACCUSES GEORGIA OF "STATE TERRORISM."
In a statement released on 15 January, the Abkhaz Foreign
Ministry questions the international community's objectivity in
evaluating the Abkhaz conflict, Interfax reported. The
statement claims that Georgia has conducted "undeclared
sabotage and a terrorist war" against Abkhazia since the May
1994 signing of a formal cease-fire agreement, and alleged that
this policy of "state terrorism" has the tacit support of the
international community. The ministry called for a meeting of
Abkhaz, Georgian, Russian, UN, and OSCE representatives to
assess the situation. On 14 January, one of the members of a
group of Georgian saboteurs belonging to the so-called White
Legion was killed by an explosion that destroyed a water tower
in the Abkhaz town of Ochamchira, Abkhaz Security Minister
Astamur Tarba told ITAR-TASS.  LF

GEORGIAN PRESIDENT IN ISRAEL. During his visit to Israel
on 14 January, Eduard Shevardnadze met with Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu and signed a "declaration of friendship."
Shevardnadze invited Netanyahu and Infrastructure Minister
Ariel Sharon to visit Georgia later this year to discuss possible
cooperation in the energy sector. Shevardnadze was also
presented with an award by the Israeli Institute of Democracy
for his contribution to promoting democracy in Georgia. LF

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