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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 75 Part I, 20 April 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 75 Part I, 20 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 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part I * YELTSIN, HASHIMOTO MEET "WITHOUT NECKTIES" IN KAWANA * SELEZNEV SETS OUT TO SAVE DUMA * KOCHARIAN NAMES NEW ARMENIAN GOVERNMENT xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx RUSSIA YELTSIN, HASHIMOTO MEET "WITHOUT NECKTIES" IN KAWANA... Russian President Boris Yeltsin met with Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto at Kawana resort, 130 kilometers south of Tokyo, on 18-19 April. The two leaders, who were meeting for the second time "without neckties," reviewed progress on implementing agreements they had concluded in Krasnoyarsk last November. The two leaders agreed that a joint investment fund will be established involving both the two governments and private companies. Yeltsin proposed that a Japanese automobile factory be built in the Moscow region. Japan's Toyota Motor Corp. has already expressed interest in such a project. Yeltsin and Hashimoto also agreed that the joint commission on drafting a peace treaty between the two countries to end World War II must speed up its work. Yeltsin said he favors expanding the treaty to make it a "friendship" document as well. BP ...WHILE TWO VIEWS ON FOUR ISLANDS REMAIN. During their talks, Yeltsin and Hashimoto also discussed the four Kuril Islands, which both Russia and Japan claim as their territory. ITAR-TASS on 20 April reported that Japan was "flexible in discussing the line of the border in the South Kuril area." But the same source quotes Russian presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii as saying "the Constitution of the Russian Federation declares Russian territory inviolable and indivisible." Yeltsin proposed joint projects on the islands, in particular fishing ventures. Hashimoto, for his part, proposed re-drawing the Russian-Japanese border between the islands of Iturup and Urup, in accordance with the dividing line in the 1855 treaty of Shimoda. The Japanese premier is also reported to have made another proposal about the islands, but the details are being kept secret until later this year. Yeltsin, however, revealed that it is "an interesting proposal," Japan's Kyodo news agency reported. BP KIRIENKO SAYS CABINET POSTS NOT ON NEGOTIATING TABLE. Acting Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko has repeated that he will not use cabinet posts as bargaining chips in his battle to be confirmed by the State Duma. On 17 April, soon after the Duma rejected his candidacy for the second time, Kirienko said he is willing to hold more meetings with Duma members but will neither engage in "political discussions" nor "agree to any conditions," ITAR-TASS reported. In an interview with NTV on 19 April, Kirienko said he believes he has a "sufficiently high probability" of being confirmed in the third ballot. Even if the Duma rejects Kirienko on 24 April, he will become prime minister unless Yeltsin decides to withdraw his nomination. The constitution obliges the president to dissolve the lower house and appoint a prime minister if his nominee for that post is rejected three times by the Duma. LB SELEZNEV SETS OUT TO SAVE DUMA. Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev, a member of the Communist Party, announced on 17 April that he will definitely vote for Kirienko in the third ballot, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. In an interview with Russian Public Television the next day, Seleznev argued that "Russia will not forgive us if we sacrifice the State Duma over a nomination for the prime minister." On 19 April, Seleznev told Russian Television that at a meeting of the Communist Party leadership later this week, he will argue that the Communists "do not have the right" to "leave Russia without a legislative assembly" by rejecting Kirienko. Seleznev added that new parliamentary elections would require at least 2 billion rubles ($326 million) in government funds and suggested that the costs would be at the expense of teachers, doctors, and soldiers. LB ZYUGANOV SAYS STANCE ON KIRIENKO UNCHANGED. Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov told NTV on 19 April that his party considers Kirienko "not acceptable" for the post of prime minister and will not support him in the third vote. Kirienko could be confirmed without the support of most Communist Duma deputies if the Agrarian and Popular Power factions back him. Four Agrarian deputies and five members of the Popular Power faction voted for Kirienko on 17 April, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. Nikolai Kharitonov, the leader of the Agrarian faction, has called on Yeltsin to come to the Duma on 24 April to present Kirienko in person. A similar gesture by Yeltsin last December was credited with securing the approval of the 1998 budget in the first reading (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 December 1998). LB ZHIRINOVSKY AGAIN DEMANDS GOVERNMENT POSTS. Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky has said his faction will support Kirienko in the third ballot if two or three "professionals" nominated by the LDPR are appointed to cabinet posts. Kirienko is unlikely to be confirmed without the support of the 51 LDPR Duma deputies. LDPR opposition is primarily responsible for Kirienko's relatively poor showing in the 17 April vote in the Duma, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. In the first vote on Kirienko's candidacy on 10 April, most deputies from Zhirinovsky's party voted to confirm Kirienko. LB YABLOKO NOT TO BACK KIRIENKO. In an interview with RFE/RL's Moscow bureau on 18 April, Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii confirmed that his faction will not support Kirienko on the third ballot. He criticized Yeltsin for insisting on a prime ministerial candidate who has so little support in the Duma. He also called on the president to solve the political crisis by nominating someone for prime minister who does not belong to any political party and does not plan to run for president but has the experience to manage the economy. Yavlinskii declined to name possible candidates who, in his view, meet those requirements. LB REGIONAL LEADERS WEIGH IN FOR KIRIENKO. Several regional leaders have called on Duma deputies to approve Kirienko on the third try, Russian news agencies reported on 17 and 18 April. They include St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev, Kemerovo Oblast Governor Aman Tuleev, and Chelyabinsk Oblast Governor Petr Sumin. Before the Duma voted on 17 April, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov said Kirienko "will be useful to Russia as prime minister" because he "is intelligent, can listen to others and find solutions," Interfax reported. Kirienko secured Luzhkov's support in part by signing a deal on transferring shares in the Moskvich car factory to the Moscow city government (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 April 1998). LB RUSSIA OFFICIALS SAY COOPERATION WITH IMF ON TRACK. Yevgenii Yasin, acting minister without portfolio, on 17 April said Russia's economic program for 1998, negotiated with IMF officials, will be implemented on schedule, an RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 April 1998). At the same press conference, Central Bank Chairman Sergei Dubinin said Russia's 1998 budget meets 90 percent of the IMF's new code of principles for fiscal transparency. Yasin and Dubinin said the Russian political situation was not discussed during the spring meetings of the IMF and the World Bank, and Dubinin told Interfax that the Duma's rejection of Kirienko will not affect talks between Russia and the fund. However, "Russkii telegraf" on 18 April quoted an unnamed Russian government official as saying it took a long time to persuade IMF officials that the Russian delegation in Washington has sufficient authority to conduct talks, given the uncertainty surrounding the next government. LB RUSSIA CHAFES AT SECOND-CLASS MEMBERSHIP IN G-8. Russian officials in Washington skipped a 15 April meeting of G-8 finance ministers because they were not invited as full participants, an RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported on 16 April. It was the first time in five years that Russian officials did not attend the annual spring meeting of the finance ministers. As in previous years, they were invited only to report on economic reform in Russia. In explaining his intention to stay away from the meeting, Central Bank Chairman Dubinin called for Russia to be treated as a full member of the G-8 in economic as well as political matters. The next G-8 summit is to be held in the United Kingdom in May. Several member states believe Russia is not ready for full membership concerning economic matters. LB LUZHKOV DISPUTES COMPARISON WITH LEBED. Moscow Mayor Luzhkov on 17 April denied that there any political similarities between himself and former Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed, Russian news agencies reported. The influential businessman Boris Berezovskii announced the previous day that he is supporting Lebed's gubernatorial bid in Krasnoyarsk Krai in order to boost Lebed as a viable competitor with Luzhkov for the nationalist vote in the next presidential election (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 April 1998). Luzhkov described himself as a "citizen of my country" and an outspoken patriot but claimed that Berezovskii had confused "sincere patriotism" with "chauvinism and nationalism." The mayor charged that Lebed is a "dangerous" and unpredictable politician who might impose "ruthless and bloody" dictatorial rule if he came to power. In addition, Luzhkov again denied that he harbors presidential ambitions but claimed that Lebed is running for governor only as a springboard for a future presidential bid. LB LEBED RULES OUT PRESIDENTIAL BID IF HE LOSES IN KRASNOYARSK. Lebed told the network TV-Center on 19 April that his performance in the upcoming gubernatorial election in Krasnoyarsk Krai will determine whether he runs for president in 2000, Interfax reported the next day. Lebed said that if he loses the governor's race, he "will not waste either the time or the nerves" on running in the next presidential election. Many Russian media have predicted that Lebed will lose in Krasnoyarsk (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 April 1998). He finished third in the first round of the 1996 presidential election with some 15 percent of the vote. LB FORMER GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL WINS DUMA SEAT IN KAMCHATKA. Aleksandr Zaveryukha, former deputy prime minister in charge of agriculture, won a 19 April by-election for a State Duma seat from Kamchatka Oblast, Russian news agencies reported. Zaveryukha won some 20 percent of the vote, followed by Vladislav Shved of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (17 percent) and Communist candidate Yurii Golenishchev (13 percent). According to ITAR-TASS, some 20 percent voted against all the candidates. Zaveryukha was a founding member of the Agrarian Party of Russia, but that party revoked his membership in March 1996 after he supported a presidential decree giving farm workers the right to own and sell farmland (see "OMRI Daily Digest," 12 and 14 March 1996). Finance Minister Mikhail Zadornov won the Kamchatka seat in 1995 as a Yabloko candidate, but Yavlinskii's party failed to come up with a strong contender for the by-election. LB FACTORY OFFICIAL WINS DUMA SEAT IN SVERDLOVSK. Dmitrii Golovanov, a 25-year-old deputy director of a factory in Yekaterinburg, has been pronounced the winner of a controversial by-election for State Duma seat from Sverdlovsk Oblast. Golovanov gained more votes than his rival, but a plurality of voters--some 40 percent--cast their ballots against all candidates, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 April. The Central Electoral Commission pronounced Golovanov the winner, "Segodnya" reported on 18 April, even though the 1997 law on guarantees of voters' rights calls for elections to be declared invalid if more votes are cast "against all" than for the leading candidate. The newspaper also criticized Central Electoral Commission Chairman Aleksandr Ivanchenko for supporting the decision to annul a mayoral election in Nizhnii Novgorod, despite the fact that no court has ruled on alleged violations during the campaign (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 and 8 April 1998). LB STEPASHIN BLAMES CHECHENS FOR ATTACK ON RUSSIAN MILITARY. Acting Russian Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin has demanded that Chechnya extradite to Moscow Jordanian field commander Khottab, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 18 April. Stepashin claimed that Khottab masterminded the 16 April ambush of a Russian military convoy on the North Ossetian- Ingushetian border. Lieutenant-General Nikolai Mukhin, who was wounded in the attack, told "Noviye izvestiya" that he is not certain that the attackers were Chechens. At the same time, he said he is convinced that they had been notified by an informer of the convoy's planned route. Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov on 18 April rejected accusations of Chechen involvement. He suggested that subordinates of former Russian Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov perpetrated the assault in the hope of taking advantage of the Russian government crisis to come to power, Interfax reported. Russian President Yeltsin blamed the attack on the "irresponsibility" of local military commanders, who, he claimed, failed to take the necessary security precautions. LF TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA KOCHARIAN NAMES NEW ARMENIAN GOVERNMENT. Armenian President Robert Kocharian issued several decrees on 20 April approving the new cabinet of Prime Minister Armen Darpinian. Acting Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian was confirmed as foreign minister, while Defense Minister Vazgen Sargsian and Interior and National Security Minister Serzh Sargsian (no relation to Vazgen) retained their posts. Eduard Sandoian, the head of the Armenian Central Bank Department for Control, Regulations, and Licensing, was named to replace Darpinian as finance and economy minister. Levon Mkrtchian of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), which was legalized by Kocharian immediately after the February resignation of President Levon Ter-Petrossian, was appointed minister of education and science. Addressing the parliament last week, Darpinian had said his ministers will be selected on the basis of their professionalism, regardless of their party affiliation. LF ABKHAZIA ASKS GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT TO RECOGNIZE ITS INDEPENDENCE. The Abkhaz parliament on 17 April issued a statement requesting that the Georgian parliament formally recognize the region's independence, Interfax reported. The statement said that no lasting peace is possible until Georgia abandons its "unjustifiable and unworthy" claims on Abkhazia. The following day, Abkhaz Foreign Minister Sergei Shamba criticized what he termed Russia's policy of agreeing to all Georgia's demands to increase pressure on Abkhazia. Shamba rejected as "unacceptable" measures outlined in the draft document "Decision on Additional Measures for Resolving the Conflict in Abkhazia," which is to be discussed at the upcoming CIS summit. In particular, he rejected the proposed creation in Abkhazia's southernmost Gali Raion of an interim administration that would include representatives of the UN and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. LF GEORGIA SAYS BAKU-SUPSA PIPELINE TO BE COMPLETED ON SCHEDULE. Two Georgian companies engaged in repairs to the Georgian sector of the Baku-Supsa oil export pipeline issued a statement on 17 April denying press speculation that completion of the project may be delayed, Russian agencies reported. The statement affirmed that the pipeline will be completed on schedule by the fourth quarter of 1998, but it conceded that a decision has still not been taken on whether to expand the pipeline's capacity (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 April 1998). If such a decision is taken, the schedule for completion of the project will be amended, the statement added. Also on 17 April, a spokesman for the Turkish company repairing the Azerbaijani sector of the pipeline told Turan that work on that sector is 80 percent completed. LF U.S. AGAIN AFFIRMS SUPPORT FOR CASPIAN ENERGY CORRIDOR. U.S. Ombudsman for the Newly Independent States Jan Kalicki and U.S. Assistant Energy Secretary Robert Gee held talks in Baku on 17 April with Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev, Foreign Minister Tofik Zulfugarov, and Azerbaijan state oil company chairman Natik Aliev. The U.S. officials underlined Washington's support for the planned construction of an oil export pipeline from Baku to the Turkish port of Ceyhan and of Trans-Caspian oil and gas pipelines to complement the existing northern pipeline from Baku via Grozny to Novorossiisk and the Caspian pipeline from Tengiz via Astrakhan to Novorossiisk, Turan reported. Heidar Aliev said Azerbaijan will "speed up" implementation of both the Baku- Ceyhan and the Trans-Caspian projects. But a final decision on their construction has not yet been taken, and it is unclear how they will be funded. LF TURKMEN OPPOSITION LEADER DETAINED IN ASHGABAT. Turkmen authorities took opposition leader and former Foreign Minister Avdy Kuliev into custody upon his arrival in Ashgabat on 17 April, RFE/RL correspondents reported. Kuliev was accompanied by his wife and Russian human rights activist Vitaly Panamarov. Kuliev's wife was briefly detained also, but Panamarov was put on a airplane back to Moscow. Kuliev is charged with trying to organize a coup, extortion, and organizing an unauthorized protest rally in July 1995. He told RFE/RL correspondents in early April that he would return to Turkmenistan following President Saparmurat Niyazov's announcement to the parliament in February that he is prepared to allow opposition parties in the country (see also "End Note"). BP RAKHMONOV ELECTED PARTY LEADER IN TAJIKISTAN. President Imomali Rakhmonov has been elected chairman of the Tajik People's Democratic Party, Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported on 18 April. Rakhmonov, who has been president since November 1994, is not a member of any party. His membership in the party paves the way for his nomination to the presidency in 1999 elections. BP RUSSIAN RADIO BECOMES VICTIM OF UZBEK CENSOR. State censors in Uzbekistan are prohibiting the dissemination of information about the launching of the radio station Evropa Plus Tashkent, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 17 April. The station is an affiliate of Moscow's Evropa Plus, and its broadcasts are in the Russian language. "Kommersant-Daily" noted that the radio station is not the first Russian organization to have problems with the Uzbek censor. Articles about Uzbekistan in the Russian newspapers "Argumenty i Fakti" and "Trud" (which are also printed in Uzbekistan) are regularly cut by local censors and replaced with "Uzbek advertising blocks." BP END NOTE WHEN INTERESTS COLLIDE by Paul Goble Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov's visit to the U.S. this week highlights the difficulties Western countries often face in combining the economic, political, and geopolitical interests they have in many of the post-Soviet states. At the same time, his visit calls attention to the dangers of pursuing one set of interests to the exclusion of others. It consequently highlights the need for an approach that takes all those interests into account. As media coverage in advance of Niyazov's arrival has made clear, Turkmenistan now presents three very different faces to the world, some extremely attractive to the West and others precisely the opposite. First, Turkmenistan has one of the largest reserves of natural gas in the world. Because of that, Ashgabat has already attracted enormous Western interest. Several former senior U.S. officials have taken up the cause of developing the gas fields there. And many of them have suggested that U.S. interests in securing access to this energy source should define U.S. policy toward Turkmenistan. Indeed, while some of those former officials have argued that the development of Turkmenistan's natural gas sector will lead to economic and later political change in that country, most have suggested that the stability provided by the current regime is so valuable that it should be exempt from the kind of withering criticism that its political system would seem to invite. Second, the Turkmen government is one of the least democratic in the entire region. Not only does Turkmenistan have a dismal record on human and civil rights, as documented by the U.S. Department of State and human rights groups, but the Turkmen authorities continue to show their contempt for both Western public opinion and the rule of law. With an eye on his upcoming visit, Niyazov said on 26 March that he would be willing to yield some of his enormous political powers to the parliament and that he favors giving the citizens of his country an expanded role in the government. He even announced plans to amend the constitution to do so just that. Not unexpectedly, Niyazov's promises were greeted by many in the West as an indication that "Turkmenbashi," as Niyazov styles himself, really plans to change. But any optimism on that score must be tempered both by his own statement and by the more recent actions of his officials. While the Turkmen president said he was prepared to devolve power to the parliament and the people, he noted that he would introduce the necessary constitutional changes only after the December 1999 elections. And on 17 April, on the eve of Niyazov's visit to the U.S., Turkmen officials detained Avdy Kuliyev, the former Turkmen foreign minister and leader of the opposition in Turkmenistan, as he attempted to return to Ashgabat from Moscow. Third, Turkmenistan--by virtue of its geographic location--will play a key role in the establishment of a new, post-Soviet balance of power in Central Asia and the Caspian basin. How Ashgabat relates to Russia, Iran, and the other countries of this region will define not only the direction Turkmenistan is likely to go but also the status of other countries as well. If Turkmenistan remains dependent on Russia for pipeline routes to the West, then Moscow will be able to project power far more easily across all Central Asia. If it reaches an accommodation with Iran, the geopolitical balance will tilt in a different direction. And if it moves its gas in another direction, that balance will again shift. Because the consequences of Turkmenistan's decisions are so fateful, many foreign policy analysts have urged that they should be at the center of U.S. and Western concerns and should determine how the U.S. and other Western countries deal with Ashgabat on economic and human rights concerns. Advocates of giving primary attention to one of these three areas--economic, political, and geopolitical--often take positions that suggest the West should virtually ignore the other two. For example, supporters of economic involvement urge that the West downplay its human rights concerns, and human rights advocates sometimes dismiss the West's obvious economic interests. While superficially attractive, a Western approach to Turkmenistan or other countries in the region that reflects only one of these sets of interests will almost certainly prove self-defeating, just as has happened elsewhere when Western countries have focused on only one of the three and neglected the other two. Consequently, President Niyazov's visit offers an opportunity to demonstrate that the West's interests in Turkmenistan are far broader than natural gas: they include a commitment to the democratic transformation of that country and a new geopolitical arrangement that gives the Turkmen people the chance to have a better future, both politically and economically. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1998 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word "subscribe" as the subject or body of the message. 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