Every individual has a place to fill in the world, and is important, in some respect, whether he chooses to be so or not. - Nathaniel Hawthorne
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 77 Part I, 22 April 1998


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 77 Part I, 22 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 TO MEET SPEAKERS OF PARLIAMENT

* ZYUGANOV TO URGE COMMUNISTS TO REJECT KIRIENKO

* MORE TURKMEN DISSIDENTS RELEASED
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

RUSSIA

YELTSIN TO MEET SPEAKERS OF PARLIAMENT. President Boris 
Yeltsin has agreed to meet with Federation Council Speaker 
Yegor Stroev and State Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev on 23 
April, one day before the Duma will vote for the third and 
last time on the nomination of Sergei Kirienko as prime 
minister, Seleznev announced on 22 April. In an interview 
with RFE/RL's Moscow bureau, Seleznev said he will raise 
three issues with the president. First, he will ask Yeltsin 
to come to the Duma in person to present Kirienko's 
candidacy. Second, he will request that Kirienko specify who 
will be appointed to some cabinet posts and which ministers 
will be kept on from the previous government. And third, he 
will ask Yeltsin to share with the parliament any draft 
documents or plans concerning the disputed Kuril Islands 
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 and 21 April 1998). LB

VOTING PROCEDURE TO BE DECIDED AT LAST MINUTE. The Duma on 
22 April declined to consider which procedure will be used 
for the final vote on Kirienko's candidacy, RFE/RL's Moscow 
bureau reported. Communist deputy Vladimir Semago sought to 
have the matter included on the Duma's agenda for the day, 
but the procedure will be determined on 24 April. Liberal 
Democratic Party of Russia leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky has 
advocated a secret ballot, and politicians and commentators 
alike agree such a vote would increase Kirienko's chances of 
being confirmed. The acting premier received less support in 
the Duma on 17 April, when an open vote was held on his 
candidacy, than in the first vote one week earlier. Duma 
deputy Valentin Kuptsov, a high-ranking Communist Party 
official, has said the Communist leadership will propose an 
open vote on Kirienko, Interfax reported on 21 April. LB

ZYUGANOV TO URGE COMMUNISTS TO REJECT KIRIENKO... Communist 
Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov says that at a plenary 
meeting of the party's Central Committee on 23 April, he 
will urge Communists to vote against Kirienko, Russian news 
agencies reported. Speaking to journalists the previous day, 
after he laid a wreath at the Lenin Mausoleum on the 
occasion of the first Bolshevik leader's birthday, Zyuganov 
repeated that his party is ready for new parliamentary 
elections (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 April 1998). In an 
interview with RFE/RL's Moscow bureau on 21 April, 
commentator Andrei Piontkovskii speculated that Zyuganov is 
pushing for new elections because he fears that he may lose 
the post of party leader if he agrees to let Kirienko be 
confirmed. Piontkovskii argued that beginning with the 
Communist leader's appearance on NTV on 19 April, a "new 
Zyuganov" has appeared who is less willing to cooperate with 
Yeltsin than he has been in the past. LB 

...WHILE SELEZNEV TO ARGUE OPPOSITE CASE. Duma Speaker 
Seleznev announced on 21 April that he will try to persuade 
the Communist Party's Central Committee not to sacrifice the 
Duma and allow Yeltsin to rule by decree in the absence of a 
functioning parliament, Russian news agencies reported. 
Speaking to ITAR-TASS, Popular Power faction leader Nikolai 
Ryzhkov also argued against "leaving the country without a 
parliament," noting that Yeltsin will be able to appoint 
Kirienko prime minister in any case after 24 April. Ryzhkov 
predicted that the Duma will confirm Kirienko. However, the 
Popular Power faction is not united over the acting premier. 
Speaking in Strasbourg on 21 April, faction member Sergei 
Glotov said he opposes Kirienko's candidacy because, 
according to Glotov, Kirienko once held dual Russian-Israeli 
citizenship, AFP reported. LB

CHERNOMYRDIN AGAINST PUTTING CHUBAIS IN CHARGE OF 
ELECTRICITY GIANT. Former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin 
told journalists on 21 April that he opposes the possible 
appointment of former First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii 
Chubais as chief executive of the electricity utility 
Unified Energy System (EES). Chernomyrdin argued that 
Chubais is a "politician, and it would be wrong today to 
bring confrontation to a company like EES," Russian news 
agencies reported. The government owns a controlling stake 
in EES and consequently can choose the company's top 
executive, but acting Prime Minister Kirienko has refused to 
say whether Chubais will get the job. Speaking to RFE/RL on 
22 April, Seleznev said that in his 23 April meeting with 
Yeltsin, he will seek assurances that Chubais will not be 
appointed to head EES. Seleznev claimed that Chubais was 
nominated "by the American side." Foreign shareholders in 
EES reportedly nominated Chubais to head the company. LB

GAZPROM EXECUTIVE PREDICTS ROSNEFT AUCTION TO FAIL. Petr 
Rodionov, former fuel and energy minister and current deputy 
chairman of the Gazprom board of directors, has predicted 
that the auction for a controlling stake in the oil company 
Rosneft will not take place on the scheduled date of 26 May, 
Interfax reported on 21 April, citing an interview with 
Rodionov on Russian Television. Rodionov said the gas 
monopoly may not bid for the stake, adding that other 
potential bidders may also pull out (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 
7 April 1998). Vladimir Potanin, the head of the Interros 
group, on 20 April said the oil company Sidanko still plans 
to take part in the Rosneft auction, although Potanin argued 
that the government's asking price is "fairly high." Last 
November, British Petroleum agreed to purchase a stake in 
Sidanko, and the two companies formed a consortium to bid 
for Rosneft. LB 

RUSSIA FLOATS ANOTHER EUROBOND. The Russian government on 21 
April issued a five-year, 500 billion lira ($280 million) 
Eurobond, Russian news agencies reported. Deputy Finance 
Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said the volume of the issue may 
be expanded to 750 billion lira if there is sufficient 
demand. According to ITAR-TASS, the government initially 
planned to float a 750 billion lira bond, and Finance 
Ministry officials have refused to say why the volume was 
reduced. It is the federal government's fifth Eurobond issue 
in all and the second in as many months. Russia floated a 
seven-year, DM 1.25 billion bond last month, one day after 
Yeltsin fired the entire cabinet (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 
March 1998). LB

YASTRZHEMBSKII TOURS KURIL ISLANDS. Russian presidential 
spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii on 21 April told residents 
of Iturup and Kunashir islands that although Russia "would 
like to solve the political and psychological problem" 
surrounding ownership of the disputed Kuril Islands, it has 
no "spare territory," Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported. While 
Yastrzhembskii assured them that the islands will remain 
Russian territory and not be handed over to Japan, he also 
noted that the islands of Kunashir and Shitokan are "a 
social disaster zone." Yastrzhembskii pointed out there are 
no schools on Shitokan, no hospital on Iturup, and an 
insufficient number of jobs on Kunashir. Energy on all the 
islands is expensive, and although the average wage on the 
islands is 300 rubles ($49) a month, the cost of sending a 
child to kindergarten is 600 rubles a year, while an 
airplane ticket to Sakhalin Island costs some 700 rubles. 
The trip was a fact-finding mission, and Yastrzhembskii will 
make recommendations to the government when he returns to 
Moscow. BP

TROPHY ART LAW GOES INTO EFFECT. The law "on cultural 
valuables moved to the USSR as a result of World War II and 
located on Russian territory" went into effect on 21 April, 
when it was published in the official government newspaper 
"Rossiiskaya gazeta." Yeltsin's appeal to the Constitutional 
Court against the trophy art law was also published in the 
newspaper. The president claims the law violates the Russian 
constitution as well as Russian international obligations. 
Sergei Shakhrai, the president's representative in the 
Constitutional Court, has claimed that the law will be 
"dead" until the court rules on Yeltsin's appeal. However, 
Interfax quoted Constitutional Court Chairman Marat Baglai 
as saying the law will be applied fully while Yeltsin's 
appeal is pending. The court is not expected to rule on the 
legality of the trophy art law until late this year. LB

SUSPECTED MAFIA BOSS CONVICTED IN ISRAEL. A court in 
Jerusalem has sentenced Grigorii Lerner, a notorious 
suspected Russian mafia boss, to six years in prison and a 
fine of 5 million shekels ($1.4 million), RFE/RL's 
correspondent in Tel Aviv reported on 21 April. Lerner, who 
now goes by the name of Zvi Ben-Ari, has been held in pre-
trial detention for 10 months. His sentence corresponds to a 
recent agreement under which Israeli authorities dropped 
charges of murder and attempted murder and Lerner pleaded 
guilty to 13 other charges against him, including fraud and 
attempted bribery of Israeli politicians. RFE/RL's 
correspondent said some opinion polls indicate that Lerner 
is a popular figure among the Russian-speaking Israeli 
population, and many people believe certain aspects of his 
investigation and prosecution were unfair and 
discriminatory. LB 

PROSECUTORS REOPEN CRIMINAL CASE AGAINST JAPANESE SECT. The 
Prosecutor-General's office has reopened a criminal case 
against the Japanese sect Aum Shinri Kyo, ITAR-TASS reported 
on 21 April. The case was closed last month because of 
unspecified "changes in the situation" surrounding the case 
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 March 1998). However, ITAR-TASS 
quoted Prosecutor-General Yurii Skuratov as saying that the 
decision to drop charges against the sect was hasty and not 
justified. He argued that it has not been proven that Aum 
Shinri Kyo has ceased to be a public threat. The sect was 
banned in Russia in April 1995. LB 

FRENCH ACTOR TO CAMPAIGN FOR LEBED... During the last week 
of the gubernatorial campaign in Krasnoyarsk Krai, the 
French film star Alain Delon is to visit Krasnoyarsk to 
support former Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed, 
Russian news agencies reported on 20 April. Lebed and Delon 
met for dinner when Lebed visited Paris in January to mark 
the publication of the French edition of his memoirs, 
RFE/RL's correspondent in Paris reported. They are both 
former paratroopers and admirers of Charles de Gaulle. 
Meanwhile, coverage of the Krasnoyarsk campaign on the fully 
state-owned nationwide network Russian Television tends to 
support the incumbent, Valerii Zubov, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau 
reported on 20 April. In contrast, coverage of the race on 
51 percent state-owned Russian Public Television (ORT) is 
more favorable to Lebed. Boris Berezovskii, an influential 
figure at ORT, is supporting Lebed's candidacy (see "RFE/RL 
Newsline," 17 April 1998). LB

...WHILE LUZHKOV CAMPAIGNS FOR INCUMBENT. Speaking in 
Krasnoyarsk on 21 April, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov urged 
voters not to support Lebed, ITAR-TASS reported. The mayor, 
who is backing Zubov, accused Lebed of seeking to use 
Krasnoyarsk to further his own political ambitions. He also 
criticized the August 1996 ceasefire agreement between 
Russia and Chechnya, which Lebed helped negotiate. According 
to Luzhkov, that agreement did not do enough to protect 
Russians. In addition, Luzhkov said Lebed's lack of 
opposition to NATO expansion is not in Russia's state 
interests. ITAR-TASS reported on 20 April that Luzhkov and 
Zubov were to sign an economic cooperation agreement during 
the mayor's visit to Krasnoyarsk. Acting on behalf of the 
Moscow city government, Luzhkov has signed similar 
agreements with the leaders of many Russian regions. LB

CHECHNYA COMMEMORATES DUDAEV'S DEATH. Several thousand 
Chechens congregated near the village of Gekhi-chu on 21 
April to mark the second anniversary of the death in a 
rocket attack of President Djokhar Dudaev, ITAR-TASS 
reported. Chechen Vice-President Vakha Arsanov told 
journalists that the site of Dudaev's grave will be made 
public only after Chechnya's independence is recognized and 
a full-scale treaty to that effect is signed with Moscow. LF

TATAR DISTRICT COURT SUSPENDS PUBLICATION OF OPPOSITION 
NEWSPAPER. The Yar Chally municipal court on 21 April 
suspended publication of "Altin Urda, " the newspaper of the 
opposition Ittifaq party, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported, 
citing Tatarstan State Television. The newspaper is accused 
of violating the law on the honor and dignity of the 
republic's president. LF 

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

MORE TURKMEN DISSIDENTS RELEASED. On the eve of Turkmen 
President Saparmurat Niyazov's meeting with U.S. President 
Bill Clinton in Washington, more Turkmen dissidents have 
been released from detention, RFE/RL correspondents 
reported. On 17 April, Durdymurat Khojamukhammed, a co-
leader of Turkmenistan's Democratic Progress Party, was 
allowed to leave a psychiatric hospital in Goek-Teppe, where 
he had been detained since 1995. Khojamukhammed told an 
RFE/RL correspondent that the Turkmen authorities demanded 
he give up political activities. According to Erika Dailey 
of Human Rights Watch, Begmurat Khojayev and Batyr 
Sakhetliyev have also been released after being held by the 
authorities since they allegedly organized a demonstration 
in Ashgabat on 12 July 1995. Former Foreign Minister Avdy 
Kuliev was released from detention on 20 April, but reports 
suggest he remains under house arrest. BP

KAZAKH ENERGY MINISTER, OIL HEAD SACKED. President Nursultan 
Nazarbayev on 21 April dismissed Energy Minister Asygat 
Zhabagin and the head of the state oil company, Baltabek 
Kyandykov, RFE/RL correspondents reported. They are replaced 
by 35-year-old Mukhtar Ablyazov and 28-year-old Nurlan 
Kapparov, respectively. Both were involved until now in 
private business. Nazarbayev also criticized the 
government's performance in the first quarter of 1998, 
noting oil prices in the country have risen, despite a drop 
in prices worldwide. BP

UZBEK MINISTER POSTHUMOUSLY EXONERATED OF CHARGES. The 
Supreme Court on 21 April declared that evidence against 
former Cotton Production Minister Kahobjon Usmanov is 
insufficient and overturned the verdict of guilty handed 
down by the Supreme Court of the Soviet Union, ITAR-TASS 
reported. Usmanov was caught up in the cotton scandal of the 
mid-1980s during a Soviet anti-corruption campaign and was 
accused of taking bribes. Usmanov was found guilty in August 
1986 and executed. BP

KYRGYZ DEPUTIES RAISE QUESTIONS OVER LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY. 
Three members of Kyrgyzstan's Legislative Assembly have 
called for the body to be dissolved, RFE/RL correspondents 
reported on 21 April. Parliamentary deputies Anvar Artykov, 
Alevtina Pronenko, and Tokon Shailieva questioned the need 
for 20 parliamentary commissions when the assembly currently 
only has 33 members. The assembly has asked the Prosecutor-
General's Office to open a libel case against Artykov for an 
article he published in the 17 April edition of "Vecherny 
Bishkek" claiming that the chairmen of the 20 commissions 
and the speaker of the parliament and his deputy have used 
their two-thirds majority to turn the legislature into "a 
mafia-corrupted organization." BP

U.S. TO REMOVE FISSIONABLE MATERIAL FROM GEORGIAN REACTOR. 
The U.S. government will assist in the removal of some 4 
kilos of uranium and nuclear waste from a mothballed 
experimental nuclear reactor near Tbilisi, Western agencies 
reported on 21 April. The material will be transported to 
the British nuclear complex at Dounreay. The operation was 
requested by Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze in 1996 
to prevent terrorists from stealing nuclear materials. The 
Georgian experimental reactor was built in 1959 and closed 
following protests by Georgian ecologists in 1990. LF

ABKHAZIA CUTS GOVERNMENT STAFF. President Vladislav Ardzinba 
has fired three deputy premiers and the head of the cabinet 
office, Caucasus Press reported on 22 April. Financial 
problems will necessitate the closure of a number of 
ministries, and the funds saved will be used to pay salaries 
at the Defense and Interior Ministries, according to the 
news agency. LF

TURKISH ENERGY MINISTER IN BAKU. Cumhur Ersumer met with 
President Heidar Aliev in Baku on 21 April to discuss the 
proposed Baku-Ceyhan oil export pipeline. Aliev expressed 
dissatisfaction with the Turkish government's delay in 
beginning construction of the pipeline. He added that its 
planned throughput capacity should be doubled, as estimates 
of Azerbaijan's oil reserves have been revised upward since 
the project was first discussed. The pipeline will also be 
used to transport oil from Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. 
Ersumer agreed that there is "no alternative" to the Baku-
Ceyhan route but said that Turkey is seeking ways to reduce 
the estimated $2.3 billion construction costs, Interfax 
reported. Meeting with Prime Minister Artur Rasi-zade and 
Natik Aliev, president of the state oil company SOCAR, 
Ersumer also discussed Turkish companies' participation in 
developing Azerbaijani oil fields and creating a joint 
energy system between Turkey, Georgia, and Azerbaijan, Turan 
reported. LF

BAKU HALTS RETRANSMISSION OF RFE/RL AZERBAIJANI BROADCASTS. 
The Azerbaijani Ministry of Communications on 20 April 
stopped the medium-wave retransmission of RFE/RL's 
Azerbaijani broadcasts on the grounds that RFE/RL has failed 
to comply with a requirement introduced last year that all 
electronic media acquire a broadcasting license. The 
Azerbaijani authorities notified RFE/RL of that requirement 
only three days before halting the broadcasts. Azerbaijan 
Popular Front Deputy Chairman Ali Kerimli demanded in the 
parliament on 21 April that the decision be revoked. Press 
Minister Siruz Tabrizli said that retransmission will be 
restarted if RFE/RL acquires the necessary license, an 
RFE/RL correspondent in Baku reported. LF

NEW ARMENIAN PRIME MINISTER GIVES FIRST NEWS CONFERENCE. 
Armen Darpinian on 21 April said members of his cabinet have 
been appointed for one year and that an extension of their 
term in office will depend on their performance, RFE/RL's 
Yerevan bureau reported. Darpinian commended Foreign 
Minister Vartan Oskanian's "high degree of responsibility" 
in giving up his U.S. citizenship to become an Armenian 
citizen. He also praised Interior and National Security 
Minister Serzh Sarkisian for "the deepest sense of 
[Armenian] statehood" and said he "cannot imagine the 
Armenian army" without Defense Minister Vazgen Sarkisian. 
The new premier stressed that Armenia will continue to 
adhere to cooperation agreements it has signed with 
international economic organizations. He forecast economic 
growth of 7 percent for 1998, compared with earlier 
predictions of 5.2 percent, and inflation below10 percent, 
according to ITAR-TASS. LF 

DEFEATED ARMENIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE TO RUN FOR 
PARLIAMENT. Karen Demirchian is one of eight candidates who 
will contend a vacant seat in the National Assembly, Asbarez 
reported on 21 April, citing the news agency Snark. The 
former ruling Armenian Pan-National Movement has proposed 
ex-National Bank chairman Bagrat Asatrian as a candidate. LF

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

HOW TO SUBSCRIBE
Send an email to newsline-request@list.rferl.org with the 
word "subscribe" as the subject or body of the message.

HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE
Send an email to newsline-request@list.rferl.org with the 
word "unsubscribe" as the subject or body of the message.
________________________________________________
CURRENT AND BACK ISSUES ON THE WEB
Back issues of RFE/RL Newsline and the OMRI Daily Digest are 
online at: http://www.rferl.org/newsline/search/
_________________________________________________
LISTEN TO NEWS FOR 18 COUNTRIES
RFE/RL programs for countries in Eastern Europe, the 
Caucasus, Central Asia, Russia and the South Slavic region 
are online daily at RFE/RL's 24-Hour LIVE Broadcast Studio.
http://www.rferl.org/realaudio/index.html
_________________________________________________
REPRINT POLICY
To receive reprint permission, please contact
Paul Goble, Publisher
Email: GobleP@rferl.org
Phone: 202-457-6947
Fax: 202-457-6992
Postal Address: RFE/RL, 1201 Connecticut Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20036 USA
_________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE STAFF
* Paul Goble, Publisher, GobleP@rferl.org
* Liz Fuller, Editor-in-Chief, CarlsonE@rferl.org
* Patrick Moore, Team Leader, MooreP@rferl.org
* Laurie Belin, BelinL@rferl.org
* Jan Maksymiuk, MaksymiukJ@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
_________________________________________________
RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC

[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