If a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, it shows he is a citizen of the world, and that his heart is no island cut off from other lands, but a continent that joins to them. - Francis Bacon
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 67 Part I, 7 April 1998


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 67 Part I, 7 April 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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RUSSIAN MEDIA EMPIRES II
Businessmen, government leaders, politicians, and financial 
companies continue to reshape Russia's media landscape. This 
update of a September report identifies the players and 
their media holdings via charts, tables and articles. 
http://www.rferl.org/nca/special/rumedia2/index.html

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Headlines, Part I

* YELTSIN STANDS BY KIRIENKO DURING ROUNDTABLE TALKS

* YELTSIN TO COMPLY WITH RULING ON TROPHY ART LAW

* WERE GAMSAKHURDIA SUPPORTERS BEHIND ZUGDIDI SHOOTINGS?

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RUSSIA

YELTSIN STANDS BY KIRIENKO DURING ROUNDTABLE TALKS. 
President Boris Yeltsin on 7 April called on the State Duma 
to confirm Sergei Kirienko as prime minister, RFE/RL's 
Moscow bureau reported. In his opening remarks at roundtable 
talks attended by deputies from both houses of the 
parliament and trade union leaders, Yeltsin said he 
considered several possible nominees for prime minister 
before settling on Kirienko. Referring to some of the 
politicians whose names have been floated by the media and 
by opposition groups, Yeltsin said he had considered 
Federation Council Speaker Yegor Stroev, acting Deputy Prime 
Minister Ivan Rybkin, acting Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir 
Bulgak, and Saratov Oblast Governor Dmitrii Ayatskov. While 
Yeltsin called on members of the parliament to help make 
1998 a "non-confrontational year," he emphasized that he 
will not agree to form a coalition government. Rather, the 
president said he supports a "government of businesslike 
people." LB

DUMA SCHEDULES VOTE ON KIRIENKO. The Duma Council on 7 April 
scheduled a vote on Kirienko's candidacy for 10 April, 
RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. Duma deputies are expected 
to vote by secret ballot, which is likely to increase the 
level of support for Kirienko. However, his prospects of 
being confirmed on the first try still appear slim. 
Presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii on 6 April said 
Yeltsin has no "reserve" candidate for prime minister and 
will nominate Kirienko again if the Duma rejects him on the 
first vote. Russian Regions faction leader Oleg Morozov and 
Duma First Deputy Speaker Vladimir Ryzhkov of Our Home Is 
Russia want Yeltsin to go to the Duma to present Kirienko on 
10 April. Yeltsin paid a surprise visit to the Duma last 
December to lobby for the 1998 budget, and his gesture was 
considered important in securing support for that document 
in the first reading. LB

NDR STILL UNDECIDED ON ACTING PREMIER. The Our Home Is 
Russia (NDR) Duma faction has not decided whether it will 
vote to confirm Kirienko as prime minister, NDR Duma leader 
Aleksandr Shokhin announced on 6 April. Shokhin said the NDR 
wants to know who will be appointed to key economic posts in 
the new government, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. He 
added that Kirienko should not count on the NDR's support if 
he plans to blame all problems in the near future on his 
predecessor, according to ITAR-TASS. Former Prime Minister 
Viktor Chernomyrdin, who heads the NDR movement, expressed 
support for Kirienko during a 5 April interview with NTV but 
added that Russia's future depends not only on the identity 
of the next prime minister but also on "who stands next to 
[him]." LB

BEREZOVSKII BACKS KIRIENKO. Speaking in Bonn on 6 April, 
former Security Council Deputy Secretary Boris Berezovskii 
said Yeltsin made the "right choice" in nominating Kirienko, 
"despite the president's health problems and somewhat 
diminished sense of reality," Reuters reported. Berezovskii 
described Kirienko as a "choice in favor of reform." One of 
Russia's most influential businessmen, Berezovskii is 
considered close to Yeltsin's daughter and chief of staff. 
Kirienko is a protege of acting First Deputy Prime Minister 
Boris Nemtsov, with whom Berezovskii has traded harsh 
allegations since last August. LB

ROKHLIN, ILYUKHIN COLLECTING SIGNATURES TO IMPEACH YELTSIN. 
Duma Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin announced 
on 7 April that he and Duma Defense Committee Chairman Lev 
Rokhlin are beginning to collect signatures among Duma 
deputies in favor of impeaching Yeltsin, RFE/RL's Moscow 
bureau reported. Ilyukhin is considered part of the radical 
wing of the Communist faction, and Rokhlin has been one of 
Yeltsin's most outspoken critics since last summer, when he 
broke ranks with the pro-government Duma faction Our Home Is 
Russia. The effort to remove Yeltsin from office will almost 
certainly not succeed, but the Duma may temporarily protect 
itself from dissolution if it launches impeachment 
proceedings (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 and 31 March 1998). 
LB 

YELTSIN TO COMPLY WITH RULING ON TROPHY ART LAW... 
Presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii and Sergei 
Shakhrai, presidential representative in the Constitutional 
Court, confirmed on 6 April that Yeltsin will sign the 
controversial trophy art law, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau 
reported. Although Yeltsin still intends to contest the 
substance of that law in court, Yastrzhembskii and Shakhrai 
noted that the president is obliged to comply with 
Constitutional Court rulings. The court found that in line 
with Article 107 of the constitution, Yeltsin must sign laws 
after both houses of the parliament override his veto (see 
"RFE/RL Newsline," 6 April 1998). In an interview with 
RFE/RL, Shakhrai argued the trophy art law was not adopted 
since illegitimate balloting procedures were used in the 
Duma and Federation Council. However, Yeltsin has signed 
other laws passed using those same procedures (proxy voting 
in the Duma and mailed-in ballots in the Council). LB

...WHILE DEBATE OVER SUBSTANCE OF LAW CONTINUES. 
Yastrzhembskii and Shakhrai both argued on 6 April that the 
trophy art law violates international obligations assumed by 
Russia, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. The law would ban 
the transfer abroad of any cultural valuables that were 
seized by the Soviet Union during World War II. Germany, 
which is Russia's largest trading partner and which is 
seeking the return of many works of art, reacted calmly to 
the Constitutional Court's ruling. A German government 
statement expressed the hope that "further treatment of the 
[trophy art] law" will validate the view that it violates 
international law and Russia's legal commitments, Reuters 
reported. But Duma Culture Committee Deputy Chairman Nikolai 
Gubenko of the Communist faction told NTV that there is no 
basis for such claims. He argued that the trophy art has 
been legally recognized as compensation for the damage 
inflicted on Russia during the war. LB 

RUSSIA, IRAN DISCUSS FALLING OIL PRICES. Meeting with acting 
First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov in Moscow on 4 
April, Iranian Petroleum Minister Bijan Namdar-Zanganeh 
proposed that Russia and other international oil producers 
follow Tehran's example in reducing output in response to 
the recent fall of oil prices, Russian agencies reported. 
Nemtsov replied that Moscow is implementing a consistent 
policy of support for Russian oil companies aimed at 
countering the effects of falling prices. Most of those 
companies are privately owned, The previous day, Russian 
Deputy Fuel and Energy Minister Yelena Telegina told 
Interfax that Russia will not reduce its oil output and 
opposes attempts to coordinate policy, Reuters reported. LF

RUSSIA MAY BUILD RESEARCH NUCLEAR REACTOR IN IRAN. Yevgenii 
Adamov, who replaced Viktor Mikhailov as Russian atomic 
energy minister in March, told journalists on 6 April that 
Moscow wants to sign a new contract with Iran on 
constructing a nuclear reactor for research purposes, 
Interfax reported. The reactor would use uranium with 
enrichment of 20 percent or less in compliance with 
International Atomic Energy Agency requirements. Adamov said 
he will try to persuade the Russian leadership to endorse 
the project, which was first discussed in 1996, rather than 
"wait for the Americans to come ... and build a reactor." He 
added that his ministry "does nothing without a political 
decision." LF

SELEZNEV UPBEAT ON START-2 RATIFICATION. Duma Speaker 
Seleznev has predicted that the lower house of the 
parliament will ratify the START-2 arms control treaty 
before its spring session ends in late June. He told 
Interfax on 6 April that the Duma is likely to approve 
ratification because the treaty "meets Russia's interests." 
Last December, Seleznev decried U.S. "pressure" to ratify 
the treaty and warned that the Duma would not debate START-2 
if such pressure continued. Soon after, officials announced 
that the lower house was not scheduled to consider the 
treaty during the first half of 1998 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 
19 December 1997 and 13 January 1998). But Duma Foreign 
Affairs Committee Chairman Vladimir Lukin of Yabloko has 
recently expressed optimism that the Duma will debate START-
2 this spring and will ratify the treaty. LB

CAMPAIGN TO DELAY ROSNEFT AUCTION CONTINUES. Mikhail 
Khodorkovskii, the head of the Yuksi oil company, on 6 April 
advocated postponing the sale of Russian oil companies until 
"a more economically feasible time," Interfax reported. 
Khodorkovskii cited low oil prices on world markets. 
Regarding the government's plans to sell 75 percent plus one 
share in Rosneft in May, Khodorkovskii again said the 
government set too high a price for the shares (see "RFE/RL 
Newsline," 30 and 31 March 1998). Also on 6 April, 
Khodorkovskii, on behalf of Yuksi, signed a cooperation 
agreement with French company Elf Aquitaine which is to 
purchase 5 percent of Yuksi shares for $528 million. 
Meanwhile, in an interview with "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 4 
April, Gazprom head Rem Vyakhirev charged that not only is 
the government asking too much for the Rosneft shares, but 
it has not released full financial information about the 
company. LB 

KRASNOYARSK CAMPAIGN HEATS UP. Former Security Council 
Secretary Aleksandr Lebed is running an active campaign for 
governor in Krasnoyarsk Krai, an RFE/RL correspondent in 
Krasnoyarsk reported on 6 April. Lebed supporters can 
already be spotted on the streets, handing out campaign 
leaflets in advance of the 26 April election. However, an 
anti-Lebed campaign is also in full swing, with supporters 
of his rivals charging that Lebed wants to use Krasnoyarsk 
only as a stepping stone to the next presidential election. 
Recent opinion polls show Lebed trailing Governor Valerii 
Zubov. Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov and Liberal 
Democratic Party of Russia leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky are 
to visit Krasnoyarsk in the coming weeks to campaign for 
Duma deputy Petr Romanov, who may have a chance of advancing 
to the second round of the gubernatorial election. LB

FORMER SPEAKER OF ST. PETERSBURG LEGISLATURE SLAMS GOVERNOR. 
Yurii Kravtsov, who was voted out as speaker of the St. 
Petersburg legislature on 2 April, has accused St. 
Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev of seeking to 
undermine the independence of the legislature. In an 
interview with RFE/RL's St. Petersburg correspondent on 6 
April, Kravtsov predicted that Yakovlev will attempt to 
water down the St. Petersburg charter and other laws that 
limit the power of his administration (see "RFE/RL 
Newsline," 10 February 1998). The legislature removed 
Kravtsov after adopting a new law to simplify the procedure 
for prematurely ending the speaker's term, "Izvestiya" 
reported on 4 April. Kravtsov says that law violates the St. 
Petersburg charter and the Russian Constitution. Last month, 
Kravtsov claimed that his political opponents have tapped 
his phone and bugged his office. More recently, he charged 
that Yakovlev is trying to impose "authoritarian" rule. LB

SOBCHAK AGAIN DELAYS RETURN TO RUSSIA. Former St. Petersburg 
Mayor Anatolii Sobchak says he will not return to Russia 
until the Prosecutor-General's Office admits that its 
treatment of him violated the law, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 
April. Speaking in Paris, he said he plans to run for the 
Duma in 1999. Sobchak fell ill last October while being 
questioned about corruption charges against his former 
associates. He spent a month in hospital in St. Petersburg 
before leaving for France. He and his wife, Duma deputy 
Lyudmila Narusova, initially said Sobchak would return by 
the end of 1997; later, he said would return after 
completing his medical treatment (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 26 
January 1998). Speaking to "Izvestiya" on 2 April, Vladimir 
Lysenko, an investigator with the Prosecutor-General's 
Office, denied that Sobchak has been mistreated. He 
confirmed that Sobchak is only a witness in the corruption 
case. LB

REGIONAL AFFAIRS

RUSSIAN NATIONALIST SUSPECTED IN LATVIAN BOMBINGS. Latvian 
state television said on 6 April that at least some members 
of the country's police believe that a member of an 
extremist Russian nationalist group may have been behind the 
recent bombings of the synagogue and the Russian embassy in 
Riga. Latvian officials have suggested that the explosions 
were the work of those who want to discredit Latvia 
internationally. Police have already concluded that the same 
individual was behind both bombings, and they have 
identified the explosives as being of Soviet origin, BNS 
reported. More than 2,000 Latvian police and agents of the 
U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation are currently working 
on the case. The manhunt has already led to the confiscation 
of several weapons and the arrest of a former Soviet OMON 
officer, who was wanted on other charges. PG

LATVIAN PRIME MINISTER CALLS FOR FIGHT AGAINST EXTREMISM. In 
an interview with Riga's "Diena" newspaper on 7 April, Prime 
Minister Guntars Krasts said the recent wave of bombings 
will not succeed in threatening the stability of the 
country. In the interview, he repeated calls he made the 
previous day for Latvians to fight all forms of extremism 
that may threaten the country. But again he sought to calm 
the situation by saying "my view is that we will control the 
situation." PG 

BOMBINGS AFFECT LATVIAN ECONOMY, POLITICS. Latvian Transport 
Minister Vilis Kristopans told a Riga press conference on 6 
April that the recent increase in tensions with Russia has 
contributed to a significant decline in trade volume passing 
along Latvian railroads and through Latvian ports, Reuters 
reported. Meanwhile, leaders of the various political 
parties in the Latvian parliament focused on amending the 
country's citizenship law to make it easier for at least 
some ethnic Russians who do not yet have Latvian citizenship 
to acquire it, BNS reported. The factions are expected to 
submit their ideas and plans on this point by 9 April, but a 
consensus is emerging that there will be significant support 
for at least one amendment allowing for automatic 
naturalization of children born after 21 August 1991 to non-
citizens. PG

INTERNATIONAL REACTION TO LATVIAN BOMBINGS. Moscow Mayor 
Yurii Luzhkov on 7 April repeated his call for Moscow to 
impose economic and other sanctions on Latvia, Interfax 
reported. The previous day, Saratov governor Dmitrii 
Ayatskov had urged the Russian government to develop a 
special program in support of ethnic Russians abroad, ITAR-
TASS reported. Ayatskov said "the explosion in Riga puts 
Latvia on par with countries where terrorism is the main 
method of deciding political disputes." The U.S. and other 
Western countries, meanwhile have condemned the bombing of 
the Russian embassy in Riga. U.S. State Department spokesman 
James Rubin on 6 April called on Latvia and Russia to begin 
a dialogue in order to overcome problems in their bilateral 
relationship. Meanwhile, the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry 
expressed both concern over the situation in Latvia and 
support for Riga's efforts to expose the organizers of the 
attacks, BNS reported on 7 April. PG

RATIFICATION OF TROOPS AGREEMENT WITH MOLDOVA DELAYED. The 
Russian State Duma on 3 April postponed ratification of an 
October 1994 Russian-Moldovan agreement on the withdrawal of 
Russian troops from the Dniester region, ITAR-TASS reported. 
On behalf of the Russian Defense Ministry, General Valentin 
Bogdanchikov called on Duma deputies to ratify the 
agreement, saying it provides a "legal foundation for the 
temporary stay of the Russian military units on the 
territory of the Republic of Moldova." But Duma CIS Affairs 
Committee Chairman Georgii Tikhonov of the Popular Power 
faction argued against pulling out Russian troops before the 
conflict in Dniester has been settled. After a 40-minute 
debate, Yeltsin's representative in the Duma, Aleksandr 
Kotenkov, withdrew the agreement from proposed ratification. 
There is also considerable opposition within the Duma to the 
1990 basic treaty between Russia and Moldova (see "RFE/RL 
Newsline," 11 December 1997). LB

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

WERE GAMSAKHURDIA SUPPORTERS BEHIND ZUGDIDI SHOOTINGS? 
Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze and Security Minister 
Djemal Gakhokidze have both said that supporters of former 
president Zviad Gamsakhurdia were responsible for the 5 
April attack on mourners at the funeral of Gocha Esebua. Two 
of the five persons killed in that attack had participated 
in the February abduction of four UN observers but later 
surrendered to Georgian security forces. In his weekly radio 
address, Shevardnadze said the shootings testify to deep 
splits within the ranks of Gamsakhurdia's supporters and 
were aimed at further destabilizing the internal political 
situation and preventing reconciliation. LF

FINAL RESULTS OF ARMENIAN PRESIDENTIAL POLL RELEASED. The 
Central Electoral Commission on 6 April released the final 
results of the 30 March presidential runoff, RFE/RL's 
Yerevan bureau reported. Prime Minister and acting President 
Robert Kocharyan received 59.49 percent of the vote and 
former Armenian Communist Party First Secretary Karen 
Demirchyan 40.51 percent. Voter turnout was 68.14 percent. 
Of the 18 members of the Central Electoral Commission, two 
representing the National Democratic Union refused to sign 
the final protocol. The union is headed by Vazgen Manukyan, 
who came in third in the first round of voting on 16 March. 
Meanwhile, the commission is to rule later this week on 
whether Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe 
is entitled to continue its election observer mission in 
Armenia after the final election results have been announced 
(see also "End Note" below). LF

TURKISH, AZERBAIJANI LEADERS DISCUSS BAKU-CEYHAN PIPELINE. 
In a three-way telephone conversation on 5 April, 
Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev, his Turkish counterpart, 
Suleyman Demirel, and Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz 
agreed on the need to expedite the planned construction of a 
$2.5 billion oil export pipeline from Baku to the Turkish 
port of Ceyhan, Interfax and Turan reported. A meeting of 
the steering committee of the Azerbaijani International 
Operating Committee--the international consortium currently 
exploiting three offshore Caspian oil fields--has been 
postponed indefinitely due to disagreements between the AIOC 
and the Azerbaijani state oil company SOCAR, Akhmed 
Zeynalov, the vice president of SOCAR, told Turan. The 
meeting was to have discussed enlarging from 22 inches to 42 
inches the diameter of the existing pipeline from Baku to 
the Georgian Black Sea terminal at Supsa. That move would 
increase the pipeline's annual throughput capacity from 5 to 
10 million metric tons. LF

TAJIK OFFICIAL SAYS WITHDRAWAL FROM KOFARNIHON "COMPLETE." 
Tajik Deputy Prime Minister Abdurakhmon Azimov told Reuters 
on 6 April that the agreement reached the previous day on 
the withdrawal from the Kofarnihon region of both government 
and Islamic opposition forces "has been implemented in 
full." Azimov said several hundred opposition troops have 
been sent to a new base in the nearby Ramit Gorge, where 
they will be officially registered. Habib Sanginov, the 
chairman of the military sub-committee of the National 
Reconciliation Committee, told ITAR-TASS that the withdrawal 
of both sides' forces "encourages hope" for the 
consolidation of the peace process. Also on 6 April, a 
Russian military officer was shot dead by unidentified 
assailants in Dushanbe. LF

END NOTE

DEJA VU IN ARMENIA

by Emil Danielyan

	History is repeating itself in Armenia following last 
month's presidential election. Once again, the opposition 
candidate refuses to admit defeat by the country's incumbent 
leader and is claiming election fraud. And once again, the 
authorities deny those charges. 
	But whereas in September 1996, supporters of the 
unsuccessful challenger Vazgen Manukyan took to the streets 
to protest alleged fraud, last month's defeated candidate, 
former Armenian Communist Party First Secretary Karen 
Demirchyan, has urged supporters to stay at home and prepare 
for a "civilized and constitutional struggle." However, the 
fact that many Armenians do not believe in the legitimacy of 
the new president is hardly conducive to the development of 
democracy. The presidential ballot has only reinforced their 
belief that the government cannot be changed through 
elections. The long-term consequences of that belief may 
prove serious.
	President-elect Robert Kocharyan, however, enjoys 
certain advantages over his predecessor, Levon Ter-
Petrossyan. First, the international community appears 
unlikely to question the validity of the official results, 
even though Yerevan will not gain a reputation of holding 
free and fair elections. Second and perhaps more important, 
a broad coalition of mostly leftist and nationalist parties 
has rallied behind Kocharyan, whom they consider to embody 
"national unity." Two of those parties, the Dashnak party 
and Self-Determination Union led by prominent Soviet-era 
dissident Paruyr Hayrikyan, are quite influential, although 
the leaders of the smaller parties may be better known to 
the public than the party names. Those political parties are 
united by their many years of opposition to and, especially 
in case of the Dashnaks, persecution by the Ter-Petrossyan 
regime. By joining the Kocharyan camp, those parties will 
enhance their status and may also obtain some government 
posts.
	A parallel may be drawn with the now defunct 
Hanrapetutyun bloc, cobbled together by Ter-Petrossyan in 
1995 to ensure the triumph of "right-wing ideology." But 
Kocharyan has replaced that ideology with one that attracts 
many parties and appeals to a majority of Armenian 
intellectuals: namely, nationalism, or as Armenians put it, 
"national ideology." Ter-Petrossyan had despised the 
intelligentsia and, pursuing his "wild liberalism," had 
pushed it to the fringes of society to make room for a new, 
often corrupt, economic elite. Now, the country's 
intellectuals are embracing nationalism in the desperate 
hope of regaining the privileged status they enjoyed during 
the last decades of Soviet Armenia. 
	Kocharyan's concept of national ideology is best 
defined as a set of ethical norms based on "Armenian 
traditions and values." He has also affirmed that he wants 
to give the intelligentsia a say in the new political order. 
But nationalist euphoria is not shared by the sizable 
portion of the population that voted for Demirchyan, 
primarily in the hope that their living conditions would 
improve, and is unlikely to be embraced by them in the 
future, as they grapple with more mundane matters. At the 
same time, the pro-government coalition will not be immune 
to splits. Despite his stated intention to share power with 
his allies, Kocharyan will almost certainly not cede control 
of various key ministries. One of the liberal economists 
from his entourage seems likely to become Armenia's next 
prime minister, but the economic policy of the new premier 
may not be approved by the satellite parties that want a 
rapid improvement in the country's economy.
	Moreover, discord may emerge among the various pro-
government groups in the runup to the early parliamentary 
elections, which are scheduled to be held by the end of the 
year. It is unclear whether the pro-government forces will 
stand in a single bloc. But tough competition is likely 
between local mafia-like clans and pro-Kocharyan parties. 
And together or separately, those parties that support the 
president-elect will have to face Demirchyan, who plans to 
set up his own political movement, and Vazgen Manukyan's 
National Democratic Movement. Both those parties will be 
determined to ensure that the next elections are free and 
fair.

The author is an RFE/RL correspondent based in Yerevan.

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