Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought. - Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 16, Part I, 26 January 1998


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 16, Part I, 26 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

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Headlines, Part I

* GROZNY NAMES ALLEGED MURDERER OF RED CROSS
PERSONNEL
* DUMA REJECTS DRAFT LAWS ON STATE SYMBOLS
* ARMENIAN LEADERSHIP RIFT DEEPENS
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

RUSSIA

GROZNY NAMES ALLEGED MURDERER OF RED CROSS
WORKERS. An aide to Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov on
25 January accused Adam-Shamala Deniev, head of the
movement For the Rebirth of the Chechen People of plotting the
December 1996 murder of six Red Cross workers in the
Chechen village of Novie Atagi. Chechen Foreign Minister
Movladi Udugov told ITAR-TASS the same day that Chechen
Prosecutor-General Khovash Serbiev has demanded Deniev's
extradition from Moscow to Grozny.  Deniev has denied any
involvement in the killings and accused the Chechen leadership
of seeking to implicate him because of his political activities,
AFP reported, citing RIA. LF

RUSSIAN-CHECHEN TALKS AGAIN FAIL TO MAKE
PROGRESS.  Delegations headed by Russian Security Council
Secretary Ivan Rybkin and Chechen Foreign Minister Udugov
held three-hour talks in Nazran on 23 January but failed to
reach a compromise on the wording of Article 1 of a
comprehensive treaty, Russian agencies reported. Udugov
warned the next day that the issue of Chechnya's status could
be manipulated by candidates contesting the Russian
presidency in 2000 if the issue has not been resolved by then.
LF

DUMA REJECTS DRAFT LAWS ON STATE SYMBOLS. The
State Duma on 23 January rejected two versions of a federal
constitutional law on Russia's state symbols, RFE/RL's Moscow
bureau reported. Just 108 deputies supported the version
submitted by President Boris Yeltsin, while 243 voted against
and seven abstained. The president's version would have
established the double-headed eagle as the state emblem, a
white, blue and red Russian flag, and a song by the composer
Mikhail Glinka as the national anthem. The Duma also voted
down a Communist-backed version of the law that would have
reinstated the red flag and the Soviet-era national anthem as
the state symbols. The Communist draft was supported by 273
deputies, with 75 voting against and three abstaining. Federal
constitutional laws require the support of two-thirds of the
Duma (300 deputies) rather than a simple majority. LB

DUMA DECLINES TO INTRODUCE 'IMPERATIVE
MANDATE'... The Duma has rejected a proposal to allow
factions to strip some members of their mandates if they
violate party discipline. A proposal to introduce the
"imperative mandate" was voted down when the Duma
approved a new set of regulations on 22 January,
"Kommersant-Daily" reported. Duma Speaker Gennadii
Seleznev, a member of the Communist faction, has advocated
introducing the imperative mandate, saying the 225 Duma
deputies elected to the chamber on party lists should be
obliged to cooperate with the group that offered them a seat in
the Duma (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 August and 2 September
1997). LB

...BUT COMMUNISTS RETAIN LEVERAGE OVER ALLIES.
The new regulations approved by the Duma provide for the
annual re-registration of Duma factions, "Segodnya" reported
on 23 January. The rules allow the Communist faction to retain
leverage over its allies, the Agrarian and Popular Power
factions. Both of those factions would fall short of the 35
members required for official registration if the Communist
faction recalled deputies elected to the Duma as Communists
and "donated" to the Agrarian and Popular Power groups.
"Kommersant-Daily" reported on 24 January that Duma Defense
Committee Chairman Lev Rokhlin could split the Communists in
the Duma if he decided to form his own Duma faction. However,
Rokhlin told the newspaper that he will not form his own
faction without the blessing of Communist Party leader
Gennadii Zyuganov, who, he said, has so far told Rokhlin he
would be against the creation of such a group. LB

DUMA DEMANDS 'URGENT MEASURES' ON COAL MINES.
The Duma on 23 January appealed to Yeltsin to take "urgent
measures" to provide for safe working conditions in coal mines,
ITAR-TASS and AFP reported. According to the resolution,
accidents at coal mines in 1996 killed 174 miners and injured
3,350. In 1997, accidents killed 277 miners and injured 15,180.
The Duma resolution claimed that 38 miners have already been
killed in work-related accidents this year. An 18 January
explosion at a coal mine in Vorkuta (Komi Republic) killed 27
miners. Meanwhile, Interfax reported on 23 January that
workers at the Komsomolskaya coal mine have called for a
nationwide extraordinary congress of miners. They blame the
"increasing number of tragedies" in coal mines on "thoughtless"
government policy on restructuring the industry, insufficient
financing, and a lack of funds for safety measures. LB

COMMISSION RECOMMENDS REVISING TAX CODE BY 1
FEBRUARY. The government commission on economic reforms
has recommended that the government send a revised tax code
to the parliament by 1 February, Russian news agencies
reported on 24 January. First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii
Chubais, who chaired the commission meeting, acknowledged
that the code still needs substantial revisions. However, he
argued that the government should resubmit its version to the
Duma before deputies begin considering other tax code
proposals. According to "Kommersant-Daily" on 24 January,
seven alternative tax codes have been submitted to the Duma,
and versions backed by Federation Council Speaker Yegor
Stroev and Sverdlovsk Oblast Governor Eduard Rossel are
considered the "most promising." The daily also reported that
State Tax Service chief Aleksandr Pochinok is displeased with
the Finance Ministry's revisions to the code and has tried
unsuccessfully to delay the submission of the new version to
the government for approval. LB

YELTSIN, NAZARBAYEV MEET. Yeltsin met "informally"
with his Kazakh counterpart, Nursultan Nazarbayev, outside
Moscow on 23- 24 January, Russian media reported. The two
presidents later released a statement calling for the Russian
and Kazakh governments to finalize by 1 March the terms for
Russia's continued use of the Baikonur cosmodrome in
Kazakhstan. The statement also called for the two countries to
complete a draft Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian
Sea, which would then be given to the other three littoral
states--Turkmenistan, Iran. and Azerbaijan--for review. Both
sides confirmed their desire for the transport of oil from
western Kazakh fields to world markets to begin "as soon as
possible." BP

PRIMAKOV MEETS WITH CHEVRON PRESIDENT. Russian
Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov met with the president of
the U.S. company Chevron in Moscow on 23 January, ITAR-
TASS reported. The two discussed the activities of the Caspian
Pipeline Consortium. Russian "Nezavisimaya gazeta" and
"Rossiiskaya gazeta" recently reported that Kazakhstan is
seeking to replace consortium director-general Vladimir Stanev
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 January 1998).  The Chevron
president said he favors transporting oil from the Tengiz field
in northern Kazakhstan to the new Russian terminals at
Novorossiisk, which, he said, is  the shortest, most economical
route for carrying oil to world markets. Kazakh President
Nazarbayev has hinted that he will support whoever can get oil
from his country to world markets first. BP

GREECE TO EXTRADITE SUSPECT IN EMBEZZLEMENT
CASE. Greek Justice Minister Evangelos Giannopoulos told
ITAR-TASS on 24 January that Greece plans to extradite Andrei
Kozlenok, who is wanted in Russia on charges of embezzling
some $180 million in state funds through a fraudulent contract
with the State Committee on Precious Metals (Roskomdragmet).
However, Giannopoulos said that if Kozlenok appeals to the
Greek Supreme Court, the extradition process could take
several months. The Roskomdragmet case threatens to become
politically explosive if Kozlenok is tried in Russia or cooperates
with Russian investigators. In addition to former
Roskomdragmet Chairman Yevgenii Bychkov, several other
high-ranking former officials may have been involved in the
case (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 January 1998). LB

SOBCHAK SAYS WILL RETURN WHEN HEALTH PERMITS.
Former St. Petersburg Mayor Anatolii Sobchak says he will
return to Russia as soon has he has finished a course of medical
treatment in Paris, where he has been since mid-November. In
an interview published in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 24
January, Sobchak said his treatment will require another one-
and-a-half months. Russian investigators are seeking to
question him in a corruption case against his former associates,
but Sobchak said he does not trust Prosecutor-General Yurii
Skuratov or Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov, because, he
alleged, they have not punished the investigators who "caused
me to have a heart attack" during an interrogation in October.
Sobchak also confirmed that he plans to run for the Duma when
he returns from France (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"14 November
1997). LB

PRIVATE CONVICTED FOR CAUSING AMMO DEPOT
BLAZE. A military court has sentenced private Sergei Chugaev
to 10 years in prison for causing a fire last April at an
ammunitions depot, ITAR-TASS reported on 24 January. Some
300 billion old rubles ($50 million) in damage was caused by
the fire and accompanying explosions at the depot in Bira
(Jewish Autonomous Oblast). Chugaev is said to have caused
the fire by accidentally dropping a cigarette while on duty.
Some analysts have argued that explosions at Russian arms
depots have been set deliberately to conceal illegal arms sales
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 April 1997). LB

'FINANCIAL TIMES' ENDS PUBLICATION WITH
'IZVESTIYA.' As of late April, the "Financial Times" and
"Izvestiya" will no longer jointly publish "Finansovye izvestiya,"
a Russian-language supplement to "Izvestiya" dealing with
economic news, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 24 January.
"Finansovye izvestiya," which has appeared twice a week since
October 1992, will continue to be published after April but will
no longer include materials from the "Financial Times." Ben
Hughes, the "Financial Times" regional director for continental
Europe, explained that although the joint project has been
successful, the "Financial Times" plans to concentrate on
developing its market in the U.S. "Kommersant-Daily"
speculated that the London-based newspaper may have ended
the project in order to remain independent of large financial
groups. LUKoil and Oneksimbank are major investors in
"Izvestiya." In recent months, news coverage in "Kommersant-
Daily" has been sympathetic to Oneksimbank's business rivals
and political opponents. LB

REGIONAL AFFAIRS

RUSSIAN DUMA CONCERNED ABOUT BALTIC CHARTER,
NATO EXPANSION. The Russian State Duma on 23 January
passed a resolution expressing concern about the U.S.-Baltic
partnership charter, Russian news agencies reported. The
resolution said the charter is seen by the Baltics as "a step
toward [their] admission into NATO." It warned that NATO
expansion is incompatible with the Founding Act signed by
Russia and NATO last May. In addition, the resolution
expressed the hope that protection of human rights in the
Baltics will be improved when the Baltic charter is
implemented. Also on 23 January, the Duma approved a
resolution asking the Russian president and government to
devise a program to counteract NATO expansion. The resolution
described NATO enlargement as the "most serious military
threat to our country since 1945" and charged that NATO
member states "have not renounced the use of force as a
method to resolve foreign-policy problems." LB

COUNCIL OF BALTIC SEA STATES ISSUES DECLARATION.
In a declaration following the 22-23 meeting in Riga (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 23 January 1998), the prime ministers of
the 11 member countries of the Baltic Sea Council confirmed
their desire to promote regional cooperation in order to
establish a Europe "without dividing lines." The council
discussed various economic issues, focusing on a proposal to
create a "Baltic Ring" that would link the gas and electricity
systems of the eastern and western Baltic shores. It also
extended the mandate of an organized crime task force, set up
at the previous council meeting in 1996. JC

CHERNOMYRDIN SAYS EU EXPANSION MUST NOT HARM
RUSSIAN INTERESTS... Addressing the council on 23
January, Russian Premier Viktor Chernomyrdin warned that EU
enlargement must not be at Russia's expense. "It is important
that, in the context of the forthcoming expansion of the EU, the
trade and economic interests of Russia and other members of
the CIS are taken into consideration," Interfax quoted him as
saying. Chernomyrdin also stressed that Russia is prepared to
assume a leading role in creating a "climate of mutual
confidence" in the Baltic Sea region, BNS reported. He added
that Russian President Boris Yeltsin's October 1997 offer of
security guarantees to Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania affirms
Moscow's desire to base security in the Baltic region "not on
balanced military potential but on practical cooperation and
confidence." At his meeting with German Chancellor Helmut
Kohl the previous day, Chernomyrdin had stressed that
Russian-EU cooperation must complement the union's eastward
expansion, dpa reported. JC

...WARNS LATVIA'S ULMANIS OVER RUSSIAN
MINORITY. At his 23 January meeting with Latvian President
Guntis Ulmanis, Chernomyrdin stressed that Moscow considers
the situation of Russian speakers living in Latvia to be a
"priority issue" in Russian-Latvian relations. He warned that if
Riga does not take concrete steps to grant ethnic Russians
citizenship, it cannot count on progress in its relations with
Moscow, ITAR-TASS reported. At the same time, Chernomyrdin
welcomed Ulmanis's efforts to meet the recommendations of
the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on
improving the situation of Latvia's ethnic Russians, who
constitute some 40 percent of the Latvian population. In an
interview with the Russian news agency, the Russian premier
said it is "unacceptable for people living in the middle of
Europe at the end of the 20th century to be humiliated the way
Russians are in Latvia." JC

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN LEADERSHIP RIFT DEEPENS. Defense Minister
Vazgen Sarkisian has again pledged support for Prime Minister
Robert Kocharyan and his government, saying that Kocharyan's
resignation is "impossible," RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported
on 23 January. Sarkisian charged that the Armenian Pan-
National Movement stage-managed three recent attacks on
senior officials as a pretext for demanding the government's
resignation. He added that the three officials targeted had been
warned in advance. But Deputy Interior Minister Major-General
Artsrun Markaryan, who was wounded in a shooting on 21
January, refused  to comment on Sarkisian's allegations, saying
he does not want the attack on him to be exploited for political
ends. National Security and Interior Minister Serzh Sarkisian
told the newspaper "02" on 24 January that the APNM's
reaction to the shootings is aimed at destabilizing Armenia. LF

ARMENIAN RULING PARTY  MOVES TO STRENGTHEN ITS
POSITION. Also on 23 January, Defense Minister Sarkisian
said the "Armenian armed forces will not intervene in the
political struggle," ITAR-TASS and RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau
reported. The defense minister claimed that people whom he
refused to identify had sought unsuccessfully to recruit the
support  of senior army commanders against the government.
"Golos Armenii" quoted Khachik Stamboltsian, a former
prominent APNM member, as claiming that the APNM is
creating its own armed units to counter those loyal to Vazgen
and Serzh Sarkisian. The newspaper added that weapons are
being distributed to the movement's Yerevan branches. "Azg"
reported that Mesrop Harutyunian, the editor of the official
daily  "Hayastani Hanrapetutytun," resigned on 23 January at
the request of the National Assembly. LF

NAGORNO-KARABAKH OFFICIALS RESPOND TO
YEREVAN. Zhanna Krikoryan, a spokeswoman for the
government of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic,
has rejected criticism by Armenian Presidential press
spokesman Levon Zurabian as "unfounded," RFE/RL's
Stepanakert correspondent reported on 23 January. Zurabian
had told RFE/RL three days earlier that statements by
Karabakh president Arkadii Ghukasyan in support of Armenian
Premier Kocharyan constitute interference in Armenia's
internal political affairs. Krikorian argued that neither
Stepanakert nor Yerevan can be considered to have a monopoly
on the unresolved Karabakh conflict. On 24 January, the NKR
government issued an official statement condemning
"irresponsible leaders" of the APNM for linking the recent
shootings in Armenia to disagreement over how to resolve the
Karabakh conflict. The statement said  the charges were
"provocative" and intended to destabilize Armenia. It called on
all Armenian politicians to be "guided by pan-national rather
than parochial interests." LF

STROEV IN YEREVAN...  Federation Council speaker Yegor
Stroev met with Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan
and parliamentary speaker Babken Ararktsian in Yerevan on
23 January, ITAR-TASS and Noyan Tapan reported. Stroev later
told journalists that talks focused on Nagorno-Karabakh and
that Ter-Petrossyan had made proposals for gradually
resolving the conflict, which the Armenian leader had asked to
be passed on to Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev. Stroev
expressed support for Ter-Petrossyan's insistence on resolving
the Karabakh conflict through concessions. But he noted that
rejection of such an approach by hard-liners within the
Armenian leadership would not impact on Russian-Armenian
relations, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported.  Ter-Petrossyan
affirmed that there are no outstanding problems in Russian-
Armenian relations, but Stroev noted mutual concern that
economic cooperation accords are not being fully implemented.
LF

...AND BAKU. Karabakh also figured prominently in Stroev's
talks with President Aliev and parliamentary speaker Murtuz
Alesqerov in Baku on 23-24 January. Stroev said that Moscow
continues to support a peaceful solution to the conflict and
Azerbaijan's territorial integrity but warned against pressuring
the conflict sides to take "hasty decisions." Stroev affirmed that
Russian relations with all three Transcaucasian states are
improving, but Aliev stressed that Russia's deliveries of arms
to Armenia and the presence of Russian military bases in
Armenia and Georgia are hindering an improvement in
bilateral relations. Stroev assured Aliev that those bases "are
not directed against Azerbaijan."  Meanwhile, the Russian State
Duma on 23 January voted overwhelmingly in favor of
ratifying the Russian-Azerbaijani and Russian-Armenian
treaties on friendship and cooperation, signed last July and
August, respectively. LF

KAZAKH UNIONS SAY GOVERNMENT FIGURES ARE
WRONG. The Federation of Trade Unions claims the
government's figures on unemployment and migration are
grossly inaccurate, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 January. The
official unemployment figure is 4 percent but the unions say
25-28 percent is more realistic. Despite government claims that
emigration has slowed and is offset by immigration, the unions
say that in the last nine months of 1997, 230,000 people left
Kazakhstan while only 28,000 moved to the country, of whom
most are ethnic Kazakhs. The unions have sent a letter to
President Nazarbayev asking him to seek to rectify the social
situation in the country. BP

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
               Copyright (c) 1998 RFE/RL, Inc.
                     All rights reserved.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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 Eastern Europe, 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-in-Chief, CarlsonE@rferl.org
* Patrick Moore, Team Leader, 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
* Pete Baumgartner
* Jeremy Bransten
* Jolyon Naegele
* Anthony Wesolowsky
* Julia Guechakov

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