When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 73 Part I, 16 April 1998


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 73 Part I, 16 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

* KIRIENKO PLAYS GOOD COP IN TALKS WITH DUMA

* THREE RUSSIAN OFFICERS SHOT DEAD IN INGUSHETIA

* ARMENIAN DEPUTY PROPOSES MORATORIUM ON KARABAKH MEDIATION

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RUSSIA

KIRIENKO PLAYS GOOD COP IN TALKS WITH DUMA... Acting Prime 
Minister Sergei Kirienko announced on 15 April that he has 
received more than 30 recommendations for cabinet 
appointments and will consider them all, RFE/RL's Moscow 
bureau reported. At the same time, he said ministers will be 
chosen according to their professional capabilities, not 
their political convictions. On 16 April, Kirienko is to 
hold consultations with the Communist, Agrarian, and Popular 
Power State Duma factions. He will need several dozen votes 
from those factions in order to be confirmed on 17 April. 
Kirienko is also to meet with the Our Home Is Russia and 
Russian Regions factions. The acting premier told the U.S. 
network CNN on 15 April that "we have an understanding with 
the Duma about the plan we are trying to implement and we 
now have a constructive relationship with the Duma," Reuters 
reported. LB

...WHILE SHAKHRAI PLAYS BAD COP. Sergei Shakhrai, Yeltsin's 
representative in the Constitutional Court, on 15 April 
predicted that the Duma will confirm Kirienko, RFE/RL's 
Moscow bureau reported. However, Shakhrai outlined a grim 
scenario for the Duma if deputies reject Kirienko's 
candidacy three times. He said Yeltsin would then appoint 
Kirienko prime minister and dissolve the Duma. If Duma 
deputies have managed to begin impeachment proceedings, the 
dissolution of the lower house would be delayed, but only 
for a few months, Shakhrai argued, explaining that the 
Supreme Court would soon rule that there were no grounds for 
impeachment. Yeltsin would then call new parliamentary 
elections for late September or October. In addition, 
Shakhrai claimed that Yeltsin could issue a decree changing 
the electoral procedures to eliminate the proportional 
representation system currently used to elect half the Duma 
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 February and 13 March 1998). LB

JUDGE SAYS YELTSIN CANNOT CHANGE ELECTORAL RULES. At a 16 
April press conference, Constitutional Court Chairman Marat 
Baglai decisively rejected Shakhrai's argument that new 
parliamentary elections could be held under different 
electoral rules, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. Baglai 
noted that an electoral law exists, and although the 
president objects to some provisions of that law, the 
constitution does not allow him to change it unilaterally. 
Article 90 of the constitution prohibits the president from 
issuing a decree that contradicts a federal law. In an 
interview with RFE/RL on 15 April, Duma deputy Viktor 
Sheinis of Yabloko also denied that Yeltsin has the right to 
introduce new rules for electing the Duma. Sheinis was one 
of the key authors of the electoral law, which was adopted 
in 1995. LB

COMMUNISTS IN A BIND. Communist Party leader Gennadii 
Zyuganov repeated during a 15 April press conference that 
the Communist Duma faction will oppose Kirienko's 
confirmation on 17 April, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. 
He also said the Duma has called for an emergency session of 
the Federation Council to be convened in order to persuade 
Yeltsin to alter his choice of prime minister. However, 
"Izvestiya" on 16 April published a letter to Zyuganov from 
Kemerovo Oblast Governor Aman Tuleev and Volgograd Oblast 
Governor Nikolai Maksyuta, who argued that Kirienko should 
be confirmed for the sake of political stability. (Tuleev 
supported Zyuganov's 1996 presidential bid, and Maksyuta was 
elected governor later that year with Communist backing.) 
According to Zyuganov, it was appeals from regional leaders 
that persuaded some Communist deputies to support the 1998 
budget in the fourth and final reading (see "RFE/RL 
Newsline," 5 March 1998). LB

OFFICIALS DENY LATEST RUMOR ABOUT YELTSIN'S HEALTH. 
Presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii on 15 April 
vigorously denied a rumor that Yeltsin had again been taken 
to hospital, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. Yastrzhembskii 
said Yeltsin was spending the day at his residence outside 
Moscow, adding that the president's doctors say his upcoming 
trip to Japan will not adversely affect his health. Acting 
Prime Minister Kirienko also denied the rumor, saying he 
spoke to Yeltsin many times by telephone on 14 and 15 April 
and can confirm that his health is robust. Citing unnamed 
Kremlin sources, "Russkii telegraf" reported on 16 April 
that the rumor about Yeltsin was first reported by the 
Otkrytoe Radio station and a little-known radio station 
attached to the news agency NSN. Otkrytoe Radio is rumored 
to be financed by Gazprom, and NSN is reportedly financed by 
the bank SBS-Agro. LB 

DECREE SEEKS ADDITIONAL REVENUE FROM SHARE DIVIDENDS. 
Yeltsin on 16 April signed a decree ordering partly state-
owned companies to pay dividends to the state as well as to 
other shareholders, ITAR-TASS reported. Previously those 
companies were allowed to keep the share of the dividends 
that would otherwise have gone to state coffers. Acting 
Prime Minister Kirienko said the decree will "substantially 
increase" budget revenues. He did not specify the amount of 
the projected additional revenues, saying "first we will 
receive [the money], then we will count it." The 40 percent 
state-owned gas monopoly Gazprom and the electricity utility 
Unified Energy System, in which the state owns a majority of 
shares, are among the firms affected by the new decree. Last 
year, First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov repeatedly 
complained that the state did not receive its share of 
Gazprom profits and dividends. LB

DUMA OVERRIDES VETO OF LAW ON ELECTRICITY GIANT. The Duma on 
15 April overrode a presidential veto of a law that would 
regulate the distribution of shares in Unified Energy System 
(EES), ITAR-TASS reported. The law would require the state 
to hold at least a 51 percent stake in the utility and would 
limit foreign ownership to 25 percent. Currently the state 
owns some 52-53 percent, and foreign shareholders hold an 
estimated 28 percent. Yeltsin vetoed the law last July, in 
part because the government plans to reduce its stake in the 
utility to 50 percent plus one share. If the Federation 
Council also overrides his veto, he will be forced to sign 
the law. "Kommersant-Daily" argued on 16 April that the law 
would put EES into a "legal vacuum," since foreigners 
already own more shares than the law would allow. LB

YELTSIN SIGNS TROPHY ART LAW. Yeltsin on 15 April signed the 
trophy art law and simultaneously filed an appeal to the 
Constitutional Court challenging the content of that law, 
Russian news agencies reported. Shakhrai, the president's 
representative in the court, told journalists that while the 
court case is pending, the contested provisions of the law 
cannot go into effect, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 16 
April. The court is not expected to hear the case until late 
1998. According to the 15 April edition of "Segodnya," the 
president's lawyers will argue that 11 provisions of the 
trophy art law violate the Russian Constitution and 14 
violate the UN Charter. In addition, they will claim that 
the procedures used to adopt the law involved six violations 
of the constitution. LB

MOSCOW ACQUIRES CONTROLLING STAKE IN CAR FACTORY. The Moscow 
city government has acquired from the federal government a 
59.07 percent stake in the automobile factory Moskvich, 
Interfax reported on 15 April. The planned transfer was 
announced last year (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 April 1997), 
but the handover was delayed by disagreements over who would 
pay nearly $600 million in company debts accrued from 
foreign loans, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 16 April. The 
newspaper said the agreement signed by acting Prime Minister 
Kirienko and Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov is a victory for the 
city, which will assume only $157 million of the debt from 
foreign loans. In addition, Moscow has guaranteed that over 
the next four years Moskvich will pay debts of of 497 
million rubles ($81 million) to the federal budget and 130 
million rubles to the Pension Fund, Interfax reported. Some 
751 million rubles in penalties for tax arrears will be 
rescheduled. LB

SPECIALIST CRITICIZES NEW NARCOTICS LAW... Vladimir Ivanov, 
a specialist on drug abuse, has criticized the law on 
narcotics that went into effect on 15 April, ITAR-TASS and 
RFE/RL correspondents reported. The law was adopted after 
consultations with "more than 1,000 specialists" and after 
the examination of comparable laws in 118 countries, 
according to the news agency. However, specialists such as 
Ivanov disagree with some of the law's provisions. In 
particular, Ivanov said the section requiring drug users to 
be treated only in state clinics or hospitals is pointless 
as the "effectiveness of drug treatment in clinics is zero." 
Ivanov claims 95 percent of those treated in such clinics 
are back on drugs within two days. He added that most drug 
users no longer even consider clinics and hospitals an 
option. BP

...WHILE DUMA DEPUTY ALSO COMPLAINS. Valerii Borshchev of 
the Yabloko faction told RFE/RL on 15 April that Article 46 
of the new law, which prohibits publishing information about 
narcotics, "makes no sense" in its current wording. That 
article is aimed at concealing from the general public 
information about manufacturing drugs. Noting that a key to 
combating drug use is the availability of information on the 
physical and social consequences, Borshchev said such 
information would also fall under the ban. Borshchev said in 
his opinion the new law is not so much against drug 
trafficking but rather is designed to punish "those who 
suffer from drug addiction." BP

DEMOCRATIC RUSSIA SUFFERS ANOTHER SPLIT. The three co-
leaders of the party and movement Democratic Russia--Lev 
Ponomarev, Gleb Yakunin, and Duma deputy Galina 
Starovoitova--have decided to pursue separate political 
paths. At a congress in Moscow on 11-12 April, Ponomarev and 
Yakunin announced that they are quitting the Democratic 
Russia party, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 16 April. They 
have asked Starovoitova to resign from the Democratic Russia 
movement. Ponomarev told the newspaper that the movement 
will join "the democratic opposition camp, whereas 
Starovoitova wants to be loyal to the authorities" and 
cooperate with Our Home Is Russia and Yegor Gaidar's party, 
Russia's Democratic Choice. Starovoitova told the newspaper 
last month that Democratic Russia was divided between a 
"liberal wing" (her supporters) and a "more left-leaning" or 
social-democratic wing. After the April congress, she told 
"Kommersant-Daily" that Ponomarev and Yakunin had trouble 
accepting a woman as party leader. LB

DIVIDE HAS DEEP ROOTS. Democratic Russia played an important 
role in bringing Yeltsin to power and was one of Russia's 
most influential political movements of the early 1990s, but 
it suffered many defections after the collapse of the Soviet 
Union, as members could not agree on a political agenda. In 
particular, members have disagreed on economic policies and 
on whether to continue to support Yeltsin as the number of 
veteran Democratic Russia activists in the president's 
circle has declined. During the campaign before the December 
1995 Duma elections, the movement threw its support behind 
Grigorii Yavlinskii's Yabloko movement--the democratic 
opposition. However, a sizable group within Democratic 
Russia favored an alliance with Gaidar's party, which 
opposed the war in Chechnya but otherwise backed Yeltsin. LB

TATARSTAN ADOPTS LAND CODE, CITIZENSHIP LAW. The Tatar 
parliament on 15 April adopted in the third and final 
reading a land code permitting the free sale and purchase of 
land, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. The code provides for 
state control over the sale of land to foreigners. 
Addressing the parliament, President Mintimer Shaimiev 
argued that "we will never reach a democratic civil society 
until the population acquires the right to the ownership of 
land." Saratov Oblast adopted legislation in November 1997 
allowing the sale and purchase of agricultural land, but not 
by foreigners. Also on 15 April, the parliament adopted in 
the first reading a controversial law on citizenship that 
provides for dual (Russian and Tatar) citizenship. Some 
Russian officials have objected that the provision violates 
the Russian Federation Constitution. The Tatar law also 
allows persons whose parents or grandparents were born in 
Tatarstan to claim citizenship. LF

THREE RUSSIAN OFFICERS SHOT DEAD IN INGUSHETIA. Russian army 
general Viktor Prokopenko and two colonels were killed on 16 
April when unidentified gunmen opened fire on their jeeps 
with rocket-propelled grenades. Two drivers were also killed 
and several other senior officers injured in the attack, 
which took place in Ingushetia's Malgobek Raion close to the 
border with North Ossetia, RFE/RL's North Caucasus 
correspondent reported. The previous day, 10 Russian border 
guards were abducted in the Ingushetian capital, Nazran. In 
response to a personal request by the commander of the 
Caucasus Frontier Troops, Ingush President Ruslan Aushev 
promised all possible assistance in apprehending those 
responsible for the abductions. LF

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN DEPUTY PROPOSES MORATORIUM ON KARABAKH MEDIATION. 
Hovannes Igitian, chairman of the Armenian parliamentary 
Commission on International Affairs, suggested on 15 April 
that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in 
Europe's Minsk Group should suspend its efforts to mediate a 
settlement of the Karabakh conflict until after the 
Azerbaijani presidential elections in October, RFE/RL's 
Yerevan bureau reported. Speaking at a press conference in 
Yerevan, Igitian accused the OSCE of trying to impose a 
"quick settlement" whereby Nagorno-Karabakh will be returned 
to Azerbaijani control. Igitian is a member of the leading 
minority Hanrapetutiun parliamentary faction, which 
supported former President Levon Ter-Petrossian. LF

ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT DISCUSSES NEW DRAFT ELECTION LAWS. 
Lawmakers on 15 April began debating three draft election 
codes, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The drafts are 
composed of separate laws on the procedure for electing the 
parliament, president, and local councils. The first draft, 
prepared by the Commission on State and Legal Affairs, 
provides for 50 of the total 131 deputies to be elected in 
single-seat constituencies and the remainder from party 
lists. The other two drafts, authored by former State and 
Legal Affairs Commission chairman Vigen Khachatrian and the 
Communist faction, put the ratio at 30:101. The drafts also 
differ in their provisions on the composition of electoral 
commissions. The final assessment by the OSCE of last 
month's pre-term Armenian presidential elections called for 
a "fundamental review" of the existing election legislation, 
which, it said, "does not guarantee transparency in the 
election process." LF

TURKISH CHIEF OF STAFF IN BAKU ... Meeting in Baku on 14 
April with Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev, General Hakki 
Karadayi said that the Karabakh conflict must be resolved in 
such a way that Azerbaijan's territorial integrity is 
preserved. Aliev termed the conflict a threat to Turkey. The 
two men also discussed the possibility of deploying NATO 
forces to protect oil pipelines in the Transcaucasus, 
Interfax reported. Karadayi praised Azerbaijan as "the star 
of the future in economic, commercial, and military terms," 
the "Turkish Daily News" reported on 16 April. He refused, 
however, to comment on reports that Azerbaijan is seeking to 
buy F-16 aircraft from Turkey, according to Turan. LF

...AND TBILISI. Karadayi held talks in Tbilisi the next day 
with Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze and Defense 
Minister Vardiko Nadibaidze, Caucasus Press reported. The 
talks focused on Turkish financial and technical support for 
the Georgian military and on the ongoing training program 
Turkey is offering Georgian army officers. Shevardnadze and 
Karadayi noted their "common interests" in exporting Caspian 
oil and gas via Georgia and creating a regional security 
system. LF

OSCE CHAIRMAN VISITS ALMATY... Polish Foreign Minister 
Bronislaw Geremek, the chairman of the Organization for 
Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), met with Kazakh 
President Nursultan Nazarbayev on 15 April, ITAR-TASS 
reported. Geremek said he appreciated Kazakhstan's efforts 
to promote stability in Central Asia, particularly in 
Tajikistan. Nazarbayev replied he was disappointed the OSCE 
did not play a more active role during the five-year Tajik 
civil war. He added that the OSCE pays too little attention 
to Central Asia in general. Meeting with Foreign Minister 
Kasymjomart Tokayev, Geremek said the understanding reached 
between Boris Yeltsin and Nazarbayev on the division of the 
Caspian Sea and its resources "largely eliminates 
apprehensions" that the sea will cause problems in the 
region, Interfax reported. BP

...AS DOES BELGIAN PRIME MINISTER. Belgian Prime Minister 
Jean-Luc Dehaene was also in Almaty on 15 April to meet with 
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, ITAR-TASS reported. 
At a press conference, they said an agreement has been 
signed on avoiding double taxation. Dehaene said the 
agreement paves the way for Belgian investment of up to $1 
billion within the next few years. There are currently seven 
Kazakh-Belgian joint ventures including Almaty Power 
Consolidated, the company responsible for supplying energy 
to the former Kazakh capital. ITAR-TASS noted that trade 
between the two countries amounted to $53.5 million in 1997. 
BP

KYRGYZ OFFICIAL WANTS INDEPENDENT AUDIT OF GOLD INDUSTRY. 
Mamat Aibalaev, the head of Kyrgyzstan's parliamentary 
commission on corruption in the gold industry, told RFE/RL 
correspondents in Bishkek on 15 April that the government 
should ask a foreign company to conduct an audit of the 
industry. A four-member parliamentary commission requested 
information on the gold industry from the Kumtor joint 
venture in February but has only just received it. The 
Kumtor facility had far exceeded its budget in January, 
while Apas Jumagulov's sudden resignation as premier in 
March followed media reports alleging that Jumagulov was 
involved in illegal sales of Kyrgyz gold through a company 
in Austria. BP

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