The salvation of mankind lies only in making everything the concern of all. - Alexander Solzhenitsyn
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 46, Part I, 9 March 1998


___________________________________________________________
 RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 46, Part I, 9 March 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

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

RFE/RL CAUCASUS REPORT: A WEEKLY REVIEW OF POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS IN THE
NORTH CAUCASUS AND TRANSCAUCASIA FROM RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY
This new email weekly covers Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Russia's
North Caucasus. To subscribe, send an email message to
caucasus-report-request@list.rferl.org with the word "subscribe" in the subject
line or body of the message. The first issue (March 3, 1998) and all future
issues will be online at the RFE/RL Web site.
http://www.rferl.org/caucasus-report/

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Headlines, Part I

* RUSSIA ESCALATES RHETORIC OVER LATVIA

* CONFUSION OVER RUSSIA'S COMMITMENT TO BUSHEHR

* ARMENIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES PLEDGE FAIR ELECTIONS...

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


REGIONAL AFFAIRS

RUSSIA ESCALATES RHETORIC OVER LATVIA. Russian officials have raised the
volume in condemning the breakup of the 3 March demonstration staged by
Russian-speaking pensioners in Riga. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on
6 March slammed his Latvian counterpart, Guntars Krasts, for suggesting
that Russia may have helped stage the rally. Chernomyrdin said it is a "big
shame" that Latvia has a premier such as Krasts, adding that it is
"impermissible to live like this in Europe at the end of the 20th century
with the humiliation of entire nations," Reuters reported. On 7 March,
presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii told Interfax that imposing
trade sanctions against Latvia would be a "justified" response to the
treatment of the demonstrators. He said President Boris Yeltsin's foreign
policy advisers have already recommended that the president curtail
economic relations with Latvia, noting that the Latvian economy relies on
Russian energy supplies. LB

DUMA DEMANDS 'ALL NECESSARY MEASURES' AGAINST LATVIA. The Russian State
Duma on 6 March unanimously approved a non-binding resolution asking
Yeltsin to take "all necessary measures," including possible economic
sanctions, to protect the "political, social, and economic rights of
Russian compatriots" in Latvia, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. According
to Russian news agencies, the resolution also called for delaying a Duma
delegation's visit to Latvia, which was scheduled for 17 March. Deputies
had rejected a proposal to postpone that trip on 4 March. The Duma also
asked the CIS Inter-parliamentary Assembly and the Parliamentary Assembly
of the Council of Europe to "pass judgment in terms of international law"
on the Latvian authorities' response to the pensioners' rally. Meanwhile,
the pro-government Our Home Is Russia Duma faction has put off a visit to
Riga by several of its members, which had been scheduled for 9 March. LB

LATVIA AGAIN DENIES WRONGDOING. Following a special cabinet session on 7
March, Latvian Premier Krasts told journalists that the police had acted
"properly" and there had been no violation of human rights at the 3 March
demonstration, BNS and Interfax reported. Interior Minister Ziedonis Cevers
likewise stressed that the police had not beaten the demonstrators. An
Interior Ministry report presented to the cabinet said that police officers
used "special means, including truncheons, because the demonstrators had
tried to  attack the policemen, striking and pushing them." The report also
said the rally was illegal and had blocked one of the capital's main
streets. Meanwhile, the Latvian Socialist Party and the Equity movement are
seeking permission to stage a rally in downtown Riga on 17 March to protest
irregularities in issuing passports to non-citizens. JC

CIS PREMIERS MEET. Addressing his CIS counterparts in Moscow on 6 March,
Russian Prime Minister Chernomyrdin called for "unconventional measures" to
expedite economic integration among CIS countries. At the same time, he
argued there are  "no political differences" between member states.
Chernomyrdin advocated the creation of a free trade zone and told
journalists after the meeting that participants had agreed to the
Russian-Ukrainian proposal to convene a CIS inter-state conference to
drafting guidelines on reforming the commonwealth. Of the 25 documents
submitted for discussion at the meeting, 11 were signed, including accords
on trans-national corporation, a common agrarian market, and cooperation
between law enforcement agencies. However, those accords were not signed by
all members. Georgia, for example, declined to sign an agreement on
developing military cooperation within the CIS. LF

RUSSIA

CONFUSION OVER RUSSIA'S COMMITMENT TO BUSHEHR. Russian Atomic Energy
Ministry spokesman Georgii Kaurov confirmed on 6 March that Moscow and
Tehran have agreed "in principle" that Russia will build a third and fourth
reactor at Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant, Reuters reported. But
another ministry spokesman, Vitalii Nasonov, told ITAR-TASS the same day
that no talks have yet taken place on building those reactors. Nasonov also
said Russia will not sign any further nuclear energy agreements with Iran
until the Bushehr plant is completed. He added that Russian contractors
will supply the required turbines for Bushehr following Ukraine's 6 March
decision not to do so (see Part II). On 9 March, "The New York Times"
quoted unnamed senior U.S. officials as saying Washington is prepared to
offer Russia the chance to increase launches of commercial satellites if it
undertakes to stop selling nuclear missile technology to Tehran. LF

NEMTSOV WRAPS UP TALKS IN GERMANY. First Deputy Prime Minister Boris
Nemtsov on 6 March wrapped up a three-day visit to Germany, an RFE/RL
correspondent in Berlin reported. Nemtsov's talks with German Chancellor
Helmut Kohl, German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel, and German Economics
Minister Guenter Rexrodt focused on preparing the agenda for the 25-26
March summit in Yekaterinburg between Kohl, Russian President Boris
Yeltsin, and French President Jacques Chirac. Foreign investment was also
high on the agenda of Nemtsov's talks with German political and business
leaders. AFP quoted Kinkel as saying on 5 March that Russia must improve
its legal framework and economic conditions in order to secure increased
German investment there. During his visit, Nemtsov also urged that Europe
recognize Russia as a market economy, which, he said, would pave the way
toward lifting some anti-dumping penalties against Russian goods. LB

YELTSIN PRAISES WOMEN'S TRADITIONAL VIRTUES. In a televised address to mark
International Women's Day on 8 March, Yeltsin praised women for their
ability to "make the home comfortable...[and] to reach agreement and find
compromises," ITAR-TASS reported. After citing many qualities traditionally
viewed as women's virtues, the president told women that although their
current role is for the most part restricted to the family, "I am certain
that if your experience is needed for your region, your republic, and even
the entire country, you won't let us down." Yeltsin also noted that the
women in his family play an important role in his life. First lady Naina
Yeltsin is credited with helping Yeltsin boost his popularity before the
1996 presidential election, and Yeltsin's younger daughter, Tatyana
Dyachenko, is an influential member of the presidential administration. LB

ZYUGANOV PREFERS LESS INQUISITIVE WOMEN. Communist Party leader Gennadii
Zyuganov says he prefers women who "do not ask too many questions and,
after offering advice, do not insist the next day that their advice be
acted on." In a 5 March interview with ITAR-TASS regarding International
Women's Day, Zyuganov added that women "should not argue about the most
important  matters." The Communist Duma faction includes 18 women,
approximately as many as the combined total of women in all other Duma
factions. LB

MOVEMENT CALLS FOR COMMISSIONS ON WOMEN'S RIGHTS. Alevtina Fedulova, former
Duma deputy and leader of the Union of Russian Women, told ITAR-TASS on 6
March that her organization is seeking to set up a network of commissions
on women's rights in the Russian regions. She said the commissions will
provide women with legal advice on how to counter infringements of their
rights. Fedulova also said she hopes every Russian region will establish a
women's rights commissioner. The Union of Russian Women is preparing a
report on violations of women's rights, and Fedulova predicted that the
report will place special attention on discrimination against women in the
workplace. Fedulova, one of the leaders of the Women of Russia movement,
lost her seat in the Duma when Women of Russia failed to gain 5 percent of
the vote in the 1995 parliamentary elections. LB

ACTIVISTS DEMAND STEPS TO COMBAT VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN. Human rights
activists from several organizations have called on Russian authorities to
fight violence against women and especially family violence, which is
estimated to claim the lives of thousands of women in Russia each year,
RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported on 5 March. They cited a recent Human
Rights Watch report, which assailed the treatment of women victims by the
Russian law enforcement and criminal justice systems (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 16 January 1998). The activists called for adopting a law on
domestic violence, which would increase penalties for violent crimes within
the family. They also advocated educating police investigators,
prosecutors, and judges about violence against women and evicting batterers
from state-owned housing developments. A new series of public-service
advertisements promotes the message that "violence against women is not a
private family matter but a problem for all of society." LB

LESBIAN COUPLE MARKS HOLIDAY WITH WEDDING. Two women held a mock wedding
ceremony in a St. Petersburg night club on the eve of International Women's
Day, Interfax reported on 7 March. Same-sex marriages are not legal in
Russia, but the couple had previously traveled to The Netherlands in order
to register their marriage. LB

CHERNOMYRDIN DENIES PLANNING FOR PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. Prime Minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin says he is not yet thinking about the next presidential
election, scheduled for 2000. In his debut appearance on his weekly call-in
show on Russian Television, Chernomyrdin said that "the government wants
people to feel changes for the better. That's what we should think about,
not elections," ITAR-TASS reported on 7 March. Many Russian media reports
have interpreted the premier's weekly television appearances as a sign that
Chernomyrdin is trying to boost his prospects for succeeding Yeltsin. LB

HOW WOULD PREMIER FARE IN PRESIDENTIAL RACE? In recent weeks, the private
network NTV has portrayed Chernomyrdin as a strong presidential contender
who is gaining power and stature. However, opinion polls reported nearly
every week on NTV, most recently on 8 March, consistently make no mention
of the level of support for Chernomyrdin. The polls, conducted by the
Public Opinion Foundation, show Communist Party leader Zyuganov leading
First Deputy Prime Minister Nemtsov, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, former
Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed, and Yabloko leader Grigorii
Yavlinskii. In hypothetical second-round matches, Luzhkov defeats Zyuganov,
Lebed, and Nemtsov. In an article for a February edition of the weekly
"Argumenty i fakty," sociologist Nuzgar Betaneli published results from the
latest poll by his Institute of the Sociology of Parliamentarism. That
survey placed Chernomyrdin eighth among possible presidential candidates,
with 3.7 percent support. LB

CHUBAIS SLAMS 'NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA'... In an interview published in
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 7 March, First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii
Chubais argued that "Nezavisimaya gazeta" "is not a newspaper in the
ordinary sense of the word" because it reflects the interests of only one
person: its financial backer, Boris Berezovskii. He said his friends read
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" with "loathing" and "disgust," and quoted one
acquaintance as suggesting the newspaper is for hire. Chubais, long
considered one of Russia's least popular politicians, also claimed that
Berezovskii is far more hated in Russia than is Chubais. Until last summer,
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" provided largely--though not exclusively--favorable
coverage of Chubais. But since he and Berezovskii fell out over
privatization sales, the newspaper has repeatedly criticized the first
deputy premier in extremely harsh terms (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 and 26
September and 18 December 1997). LB

...WHILE NEWSPAPER'S EDITOR RETURNS FIRE. In a commentary published on 7
March, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" editor-in-chief Vitalii Tretyakov leveled
numerous accusations against Chubais. Tretyakov alleged that when Chubais
headed the State Property Committee several years ago, he secured the
support of one unnamed newspaper by giving it a large building in the
center of Moscow. Tretyakov also suggested that shortly before the 1996
presidential election, Chubais personally asked him to publish false
stories about Communist paramilitary units in "Nezavisimaya gazeta." In
addition, Tretyakov claimed that in fall 1996, he witnessed Chubais (then
Yeltsin's chief of staff) warning the editor of "Komsomolskaya pravda" that
"you will do what the newspaper's owner says. And if you don't, bones will
be broken!" The October 1996 dismissal of Security Council Secretary
Aleksandr Lebed was accompanied by a wave of negative coverage of him in
many Russian media outlets. LB

YELTSIN SUPPORTS SARATOV LAND AUCTION. Yeltsin announced on 6 March that he
will "fight to the end" to give farmers full land ownership rights,
ITAR-TASS reported. The president praised an auction held the previous day
in Balakovo (Saratov Oblast). In accordance with a law passed in Saratov
last November, 18 plots of land, two of which were farmland, were sold for
a total of 468,000 rubles ($77,000). The Duma has criticized the Saratov
law for allowing the purchase and sale of farmland, which would be
prohibited under a land code passed by the Duma. But Yeltsin has vetoed
that code, and on 6 March he confirmed will not sign a law that does not
give farmers the right to buy and sell land. However, Yeltsin has agreed in
principle to certain restrictions on transactions involving farmland (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 29 December 1997). LB

CHECHNYA THREATENS TO HALT OIL TRANSIT.  Chechen presidential spokesman
Mairbek Vachagaev warned on 9 March that Chechnya will shut off the
Baku-Grozny-Novorossiisk oil pipeline if Moscow persists in violating peace
agreements, AFP reported. Vachagaev was speaking in Baku, from where he
will accompany Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov to London. The previous
day, Maskhadov's motorcade was involved in a crash near the Chechen town of
Gudermes while heading for Baku. Maskhadov escaped uninjured. LF


TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES PLEDGE FAIR ELECTIONS... Five of the 12
presidential candidates, including Prime Minister and acting President
Robert Kocharyan and National Democratic Union Chairman Vazgen Manukyan,
have signed a memorandum pledging to make every effort to ensure that the
16 March poll is free and fair, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported on 7
March. The previous day, Union for Self-Determination Chairman Paruir
Hairikyan said that the Armenian authorities' failure to halt illegal
attempts by local officials to secure Kocharyan's victory will cast doubt
on the fairness of the vote. Also on 6 March, the Central Electoral
Commission voted by 13 to seven to register Kocharyan as a candidate.
Opposition representatives on the commission argued that Kocharyan, who
comes from the unrecognized Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh,  does not qualify
as an Armenian citizen. LF

...WHILE CAMPAIGN TURNS VIOLENT. Two Manukyan aides were attacked and
seriously injured while campaigning in Ararat, south of Yerevan, on 8
March. A third Manukyan supporter claimed that the half dozen assailants
were associates of Kocharyan, but  the premier's spokesmen have denied any
knowledge of the incident. The Armenian Prosecutor-General's Office has
launched an investigation. LF

RUSSIA DENIES TARGETING AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT. The Russian Embassy in Baku
issued a statement on 7 March saying Chechen Vice President Vakha Arsanov's
claim that Moscow plans to assassinate Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev
is "irresponsible and unfounded," ITAR-TASS reported. Such allegations are
aimed at disrupting "friendly relations" between Russia and Azerbaijan and
undermining stability in the Caucasus, the statement said. Also on 7 March,
ITAR-TASS quoted the Azerbaijani news agency Azertadj as reporting that a
large cache of weapons, including grenade-launchers and machine guns, have
been discovered in western Azerbaijan, close to the Georgian frontier. LF

UZBEK OPPOSITION LEADER CALLS IT QUITS. Shukrullo Mirsaidov, a leader of
the Democratic Opposition Coordinating Council, told RFE/RL's Tashkent
bureau on 6 March that the council has formally ceased to function.
Mirsaidov criticized "democratic opposition groups" for being out of touch
with the realities in the country. He said since it is impossible to bring
together all democratic forces, he had decided to quit politics. Mirsaidov,
who in the past has criticized the cabinet, said the government has "laid
down the foundations for establishing a democratic and legal state and
implementing reform program toward a free market-oriented economy." BP

UZBEK OPPOSITION FIGURE ASKED TO LEAVE TURKEY. Muhammed Salih, the chairman
of Uzbekistan's Erk opposition party, has left Turkey at the request of
Turkish authorities, RFE/RL's Uzbek service reported. Salih flew to Romania
on 5 March and is now in Bucharest. After running for the Uzbek presidency
in 1991 against incumbent President Islam Karimov, Salih went into
self-imposed exile. The Turkish move may be connected to the visit of
Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz to Uzbekistan at the end of this month.
BP

TURKMEN FARMERS MUST REPAY LOANS BY YEAR'S END. The Agriculture and Food
Ministry has announced that the target for cotton production this year is
to more than double the 1997 level. Interfax reported on 7 March. Last
year, cotton growers produced only  620,000 tons, less than half of the
targeted amount. The target for this year is 1.5 million tons. The Central
Bank has granted interest-free loans to farmers totaling 304 billion manat
($73 million). But according to Interfax, President Saparmurat Niyazov
signed a decree earlier this month stipulating a 2 percent interest rate on
those loans and ordering them repaid by year's end. BP

NAZARBAYEV SAYS LIVING STANDARDS IMPROVED IN 1997.  In an address to mark
International Women's Day, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev said
industrial production grew by 33 percent last year, the revenues of 200
privatized enterprises increased 10 percent, and real incomes rose 10
percent, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 March. The president also said there are
currently 1.36 million automobiles owned by Kazakhstan's 4.5 million
families and that 32 percent of rural residents own plots of land. BP

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

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 18countries
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