A disagreement may be the shortest cut between two minds. - Kahlil Gibran
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 13, Part I, 21 January 1998


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 13, Part I, 21 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

* YELTSIN REPLACES AIR FORCE COMMANDER

* RUSSIA PROPOSES DISARMAMENT EXPERTS FOR IRAQ

* ARMENIAN RULING PARTY TO DEMAND
GOVERNMENT'S RESIGNATION?

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RUSSIA

YELTSIN REPLACES AIR FORCE COMMANDER. President
Boris Yeltsin on 20 January issued a decree dismissing Petr
Deinekin as commander of the Air Force, RFE/RL's Moscow
bureau reported. The same decree appointed Colonel-General
Anatolii Kornukov, who has headed the Moscow district of the
Air Defense Force since 1991, as commander of the combined
Air Force and Air Defense Force. Deinekin was criticized
following a crash of a military cargo plane in Irkutsk in
December. Soon after, Deinekin turned 60, the mandatory
retirement age, and Yeltsin refused to make an exception to
allow Deinekin to continue to serve. Military expert Aleksandr
Zhilin argued that Deinekin's dismissal is most likely connected
not to plane crashes, but to an investigation of commercial
deals involving the Air Force (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12
December 1997). Zhilin said Kornukov is highly respected as a
"first-class pilot" and a principled officer. LB

SPACE AGENCY, DEFENSE MINISTRY TO COORDINATE
ACTIVITIES. Yeltsin on 20 January signed a decree
authorizing the Russian Space Agency to create a "unified
policy" for the aerospace industry's civilian and military
activities, Russian media reported. The agency is responsible
for developing strategic military rockets, missile-attack
warning systems, space reconnaissance, space aided-navigation,
and other space equipment. However, Svetlana Savitskaya,
former cosmonaut and a Communist State Duma deputy, said
the situation in the space industry is already grim owing to
years of underfunding and that this latest step is "beneficial
only for certain political forces." Those forces, she claimed,
want to "control what has not been misappropriated" and
"influence the military." BP

YELTSIN SAYS RESISTANCE TO MILITARY REFORM
OVERCOME. While chairing a 20 January Defense Council
meeting, Yeltsin announced that "we have managed to break
down the resistance to the military reform among the military
itself, among politicians, and even among the opposition,"
Russian news agencies reported. The president claimed that
military personnel were reduced by 200,000 in 1997, although
he gave no figure for the current number of troops in service.
He has previously promised to cut the armed forces to 1.2
million by the end of 1998. It is unclear how much the cuts will
affect the number of troops subordinated to other ministries
and government agencies, such as the Interior Ministry and the
Federal Border Service. Meanwhile, Interfax reported on 19
January that Yeltsin has instructed Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin and Defense Minister Igor Sergeev to draft
proposals on raising wages of military personnel. LB

CUTBACKS CONTINUE IN AIRBORNE TROOPS. Lieutenant-
General Nikolai Staskov, the deputy commander of the
Airborne Troops, announced on 18 January that Sergeev has
approved a plan to complete the reorganization of the troops
by mid-1998, ITAR-TASS reported. Staskov said the number of
paratroopers will be cut from 46,000 to 36,000. Cutbacks in the
Airborne Troops have been among the most controversial
proposals related to military reform, and last year Yeltsin
halted planned personnel cuts (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 and
21 May 1997). Former Security Council Secretary Aleksandr
Lebed, himself a former paratrooper, has been one of the most
vocal critics of the downsizing plans. LB

RUSSIAN MILITARY CALL-UP A SUCCESS IN 1997?
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 21 January that while the
number of draftees for the call-up last fall reached 188,000,
which meets the quota for that period, the number of draft
dodgers increased to 40,000 in 1997 from 31,000 the previous
year. Most of the draft dodgers were from the Moscow region,
St. Petersburg, and Dagestan. The newspaper also claimed that
law enforcement officials do little to apprehend such people.
Also, one-third of prospective conscripts are not signed up for
health reasons. BP

RUSSIA PROPOSES DISARMAMENT EXPERTS FOR IRAQ.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Gennadii Tarasov on 20
January told journalists that Moscow has submitted to the UN
special commission on Iraq a list of some 60 experts who could
oversee destruction of Iraq's nuclear, biological, and chemical
weapons, Interfax reported. Tarasov also said that Russia could
provide the commission with an aircraft for surveillance flights.
Speaking in Lulea, Sweden, where he is attending the Barents
Euro-Arctic Council meeting, Foreign Minister Yevgenii
Primakov again said that Baghdad's compliance with the UN
Security Council resolutions is "essential." But he  also called for
increasing the effectiveness of the special commission's work
and ensuring Iraq's constructive cooperation with that body.
This, Primakov argued, could pave the way for lifting sanctions
against Iraq. LF

YELTSIN ASSESSES INTER-CIS RELATIONS. Speaking to
journalists on 20 January prior to a meeting with Deputy Prime
Minister Valerii Serov, Yeltsin predicted a period of intensified
activity for the CIS in 1998. In an apparent reference to
Georgia, Yeltsin added that last year, "some had considered
opting out" of the CIS. Serov, however, affirmed that the
presidents of all CIS member states wholeheartedly endorse
Yeltsin's December appeal for suggestions as to how the CIS can
be made more effective. The presidents of Belarus, Uzbekistan,
and Tajikistan have responded with specific proposals. LF

BABURIN STRIPPED OF AUTHORITY TO SUPERVISE CIS
ISSUES. State Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev announced on
20 January that Duma Deputy Speaker Svetlana Goryacheva of
the Communist faction will replace Duma Deputy Speaker
Sergei Baburin as the deputy speaker responsible for CIS
issues, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. Baburin, one of the
leaders of the Popular Power faction, told RFE/RL that
Seleznev's decision is an "anti-Russian action" motivated by
Baburin's opposition to treaties Russia has signed with Ukraine,
Moldova, and Georgia. Baburin believes those treaties do not
sufficiently protect ethnic Russians in Crimea, the
Transdniester, and Abkhazia. Seleznev told RFE/RL that under
Baburin's leadership, "we have damaged relations with CIS
states" and hearings on vital documents have been delayed.
Russian media have speculated that Baburin will soon be
removed as Duma deputy speaker as well. He was appointed to
that post under a January 1996 agreement among the seven
Duma factions. LB

AGREEMENT REACHED ON REPLACING DEFENSE
COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN? Aleksandr Shokhin, the leader of
the pro-government Our Home Is Russia (NDR) faction, told
RFE/RL's Moscow bureau on 20 January that Lev Rokhlin will
soon be replaced as chairman of the Duma Defense Committee.
NDR appointed Rokhlin to that post under the January 1996
agreement among the Duma factions. However, Rokhlin was
expelled from the NDR faction in September 1997, a few
months after he began to sharply criticize the government and
Yeltsin. He has since formed an opposition movement. Shokhin
said the Communist faction, which has supported Rokhlin's new
movement, has agreed to let NDR appoint Roman Popkovich to
head the Defense Committee. He also charged that Rokhlin has
slowed down military reform because he is busy trying to
register his new movement and is looking ahead to the 1999
Duma elections. LB

FORMER ROSVOORUZHENIE HEAD "HAS NOT BEEN
FIRED."  General Aleksandr Kotelkin has not been fired from
the post of first deputy minister of foreign economic relations
and trade, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 21 January, citing
Kotelkin's assistant Vladimir Vasyutkin. Kotelkin was
appointed to the deputy minister post in September 1997,
following his replacement one month earlier as head of the
arms export giant Rosvooruzhenie.  Foreign Economic Relations
and Trade Minister Mikhail Fradkov on 15 January denied
reports that Kotelkin had been dismissed during personnel
reductions at the ministry (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 January
1998). LF

NEMTSOV SAYS YELTSIN RE-ELECTION BID WOULD BE
'STABILIZING' FACTOR. First Deputy Prime Minister Boris
Nemtsov said on 21 January that a third presidential bid by
Yeltsin could be a "stabilizing" factor in Russian politics,
RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. Speaking on Ekho Moskvy
radio, Nemtsov again said he has no plans to run for president
in 2000, adding that Yeltsin's candidacy would "not be the
worst variant," provided that the Constitutional Court rules that
Yeltsin is legally entitled to seek a third term. Nemtsov noted
that Chernomyrdin and Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, whom
he described as the potential candidates from the "party of
power," would not challenge Yeltsin. In an interview published
in "Izvestiya" on 20 January, Nemtsov predicted that the
Russian bureaucracy will back Luzhkov in the next presidential
race if Yeltsin does not run. He added that the bureaucrats'
support could be a "decisive factor." LB

NEMTSOV COMMENTS ON OIL COMPANY MERGER. Also on
21 January, Nemtsov said he is not against oil company
mergers such as that announced recently by Yukos and Sibneft,
"as long as the market is not monopolized," ITAR-TASS
reported, quoting comments made by Nemtsov on Ekho
Moskvy. He argued that "superholdings" are good "from the
point of view of international competition." But he noted that
the State Anti-Monopoly Committee must approve such deals
and would oppose mergers if the new company would control
more than 25-30 percent of the Russian market. Supervising
the Anti-Monopoly Committee is among Nemtsov's
governmental duties. LB

NEWSPAPER SEES MERGER LINKED TO PRESIDENTIAL
CAMPAIGN. "Russkii telegraf" charged on 20 January that
Yuksi, the company formed from the merger of Yukos and
Sibneft, will be "a campaign fund to elect [Prime Minister]
Chernomyrdin as president." Chernomyrdin spoke at the
signing ceremony on the merger (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20
January 1998). In addition to Mikhail Khodorkovskii, who will
be president of Yuksi, and Boris Berezovskii, a major investor
in Sibneft, the signing ceremony was also attended by
Aleksandr Smolenskii, who heads the SBS-Agro bank, and
Vladimir Gusinskii, who founded Most bank and currently
heads the Media-Most holding company. "Russkii telegraf"
claimed that media financed by Gusinskii and Berezovskii
coordinate their news coverage and are already preparing for
the next presidential campaign. "Russkii telegraf" is fully
owned by Oneksimbank, whose president, Vladimir Potanin, is
the main business rival of Berezovskii and Gusinskii. LB

POLISH COURT REJECTS REQUEST TO EXTRADITE
STANKEVICH. The Warsaw Appeals Court on 20 January
upheld a lower court ruling rejecting the extradition of Sergei
Stankevich, a former aide to Yeltsin and former deputy mayor
of Moscow. Stankevich, who was arrested in Warsaw in April
1997, faces charges in Russia that he took a $10,000 bribe in
1992. Last November, a Warsaw court cited several reasons in
its refusal to extradite Stankevich, including Stankevich's claim
that he is a victim of political persecution, RFE/RL's
correspondent in Warsaw reported. The European Convention
on Extradition, which Poland has ratified, bans the extradition
of persons who may be discriminated against for their political
beliefs. Stankevich is seeking permanent residence in Poland.
However, an unnamed Russian diplomat based in the Polish
capital told Interfax on 20 January that the Warsaw
Prosecutor's Office will probably appeal the case on
Stankevich's extradition to the Supreme Court. LB

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

MORE ASSASSINATION ATTEMPTS IN ARMENIA? Major-
General Artsrun Markarian, the commander of the Internal
Troops, was wounded in the legs when an unidentified gunman
opened fire on him near his home on 21 January,  RFE/RL's
Yerevan bureau reported. Markarian is said to be a protege of
Vano Siradeghian, the chairman of the ruling Armenian Pan-
National Movement  (HHSh) and mayor of Yerevan.  An HHSh
official, Ruben Hayrapetyan, was wounded by a hand grenade
on 20 January. LF

ARMENIAN RULING PARTY TO DEMAND GOVERNMENT'S
RESIGNATION? Leading members of the Armenian Pan-
National Movement , including its chairman, Vano Siradeghian,
told RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau on 21 January that they plan to
call on President Levon Ter-Petrossyan to fire Interior and
National Security Minister Serzh Sarkisian and possibly the
entire government. They argued  that the "indifference " of
Prime Minister Robert Kocharyan's government to the recent
assassination bids threatens to plunge the country into chaos.
The Pan-National Movement unequivocally supports Ter-
Petrossyan's insistence on resolving the Karabakh conflict
through compromise. Kocharyan, Serzh Sarkisian, and Defense
Minister Vazgen Sarkisian back the leadership of the
unrecognized Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh in its steadfast
rejection of the latest "phased" peace plan proposed by the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. LF

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESMAN WARNS KARABAKH
ARMENIANS. Levon Zurabian, press secretary to Armenian
President Ter-Petrossyan, told RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau on 20
January that the leadership of the unrecognized Nagorno-
Karabakh Republic is free to take a position on any issue but
that "attempts to meddle in Armenia's internal politics are
unacceptable." Zurabian added, however, that Yerevan will not
release any official statement to that effect. The previous day,
Nagorno-Karabakh President Arkadii Ghukasyan had
condemned speculation about the possible resignation of
Armenian Prime Minister Robert Kocharyan, his predecessor as
president of Karabakh. Zurabian last week denied Armenian
press reports that Kocharyan tendered his resignation during
the 7-8 January Armenian Security Council session. That
meeting  failed to overcome differences between Yerevan and
Stepanakert, as well as within the Armenian leadership, over
the best way to resolve the Karabakh conflict. LF

ARMENIA UNVEILS NEW EUROPEAN POLICY. Foreign
Minister Alexander Arzoumanian on 12 January chaired the
first session of an inter-governmental commission on European
integration and cooperation with European regional
organizations. In an interview published in "Respublika
Armeniya" five days later, Arzoumanian's first deputy, Vartan
Oskanian, explained that Armenia's new European policy is
based on direct talks with the EU and the Council of Europe, in
the hope of eventually receiving associate member status, and
on more active participation in European regional initiatives.
Oskanian conceded that Armenia's integration into European
structures will be "extremely difficult" and may take decades.
But he added that creating a "new image" and disseminating a
"new geo-political ideology" will expedite Armenia's being
perceived as a European country and counter the erroneous
impression that Europe is not a top priority of Armenian
foreign policy.  LF

SPOKESMAN FOR GEORGIAN DISPLACED PERSONS
APPEALS TO UN.  Tamaz Nadareishvili, chairman of the so-
called Abkhaz parliament in exile (which is composed of ethnic
Georgian deputies elected to the Abkhaz parliament in
September 1991), has appealed to UN Secretary-General Kofi
Annan, Caucasus Press reported on 20 January. Nadareishvili
calls on the UN to take measures to expedite the repatriation of
ethnic Georgians forced to flee Abkhazia during the 1992-1993
hostilities, and to restore Georgia's territorial integrity.
Nadareishvili, who has in the past called for military
intervention to restore Georgia's hegemony over Abkhazia,
claimed that 1,200 ethnic Georgian repatriants to Abkhazia's
southern-most Gali Raion have been killed by Abkhaz militants
since the deployment in mid-1994 of CIS peacekeepers along
the internal border between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia
(see also "End Note" below). LF

FORMER AZERBAIJANI PARLIAMENT SPEAKER DENIES
COUP CHARGES. In a written statement released in Istanbul
on 20 January, Rasul Guliev again rejected claims by the
Azerbaijani Prosecutor-General's Office that he had planned a
coup to oust President Heidar Aliev, the "Turkish Daily News"
reported on 21 January.  In an interview with that newspaper
two days earlier, Guliev had accused Aliev of creating a
totalitarian regime and reaffirmed his intention to contend the
October presidential elections. In Yerevan, political
commentator David Petrossyan predicted that Aliev will not
run for reelection but that his son Ilham, vice president of the
Azerbaijani state oil company SOCAR, will do so, Noyan Tapan
reported. LF

TAJIK OPPOSITION COMMANDER MURDERED. A field
commander loyal to the United Tajik Opposition (UTO) and
three of his bodyguards were killed on the evening of 19
January, RFE/RL correspondents in Dushanbe reported.
Mahmud Rajabov was returning home from his unit's barracks
in the Kofarnikhon area when unknown assailants attacked him
and his guards. UTO representative Habib Sanginov said
Rajabov was one of the first commanders to officially declaring
his unit's support for the opposition and have his unit relocated
in accordance with last June's peace agreement. Both the Tajik
government and UTO have warned against further provocation
by any faction, including a "third party" not interested in
seeing peace in Tajikistan. That "third party" is being blamed
for the Rajabov's murder. BP

KYRGYZ JOURNALIST FREED. Kyrgyzstan's Supreme Court
has ruled to find  journalist Yrysbek Omurzakov guilty
according to the civil code, rather than the criminal one, RFE/RL
correspondents in Bishkek reported on 20 January. Omurzakov
was found guilty of libel for publishing an article in the
opposition newspaper "Res Publica" in January 1997 alleging
corruption on the part of a Bishkek factory manager. He was
sentenced last September to two-and-a-half years in prison
under provisions of the criminal code. The Supreme Court,
however, decided to find him guilty under the civil code
instead. Omurzakov was pardoned under a law on amnesty
signed on 1 January 1998. BP


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