We have flown the air like birds and swum the sea like fishes, but have yet to learn the simple act of walking the earth like brothers. - Martin Luther King Jr
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 81 Part I, 28 April 1998


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 81 Part I, 28 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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Headlines, Part I

* OFFICIAL SAYS NEW CABINET WILL BE YOUNGER

* ZHIRINOVSKY STILL HOPING FOR CABINET POSTS

* AZERBAIJANI, GEORGIAN, TURKISH PRESIDENTS ISSUE JOINT 
STATEMENT

End Note: BENEFITING FROM NATO EXPANSION
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RUSSIA

OFFICIAL SAYS NEW CABINET WILL BE YOUNGER. Aleksandr 
Kotenkov, President Boris Yeltsin's representative in the 
State Duma, announced on 27 April that the new cabinet will 
be far "younger" than the government of former Prime 
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Russian news agencies 
reported. Russian commentators have named many Duma deputies 
as possible ministers in Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko's 
cabinet. Kotenkov said that "there are many worthy people" 
in the Duma but argued that only around 10 of them are "fit 
for ministerial posts." Aleksandr Shokhin, the leader of the 
Our Home Is Russia Duma faction, submitted his faction's 
proposals on the composition of the new cabinet during a 27 
April meeting with Kirienko, Russian news agencies reported. 
Yeltsin is expected to make the first appointments following 
a 28 April meeting with the prime minister. LB

ZHIRINOVSKY STILL HOPING FOR CABINET POSTS. Liberal 
Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) leader Vladimir 
Zhirinovsky on 27 April stepped up his efforts to obtain 
cabinet appointments for members of his party. He claimed 
that the LDPR faction, which unanimously voted to confirm 
Kirienko on 24 April, persuaded 30 deputies from other Duma 
factions to support Kirienko, Interfax reported. Zhirinovsky 
told journalists that he is to meet with Kirienko to discuss 
the composition of the government, although he acknowledged 
that the premier has not offered any specific cabinet posts 
to his party. Meanwhile, senior Communist Party official 
Valentin Kuptsov told Interfax that Kirienko did not hold 
consultations with Communist leaders on 27 April. The 
Yabloko faction's press service said Kirienko has not sought 
to meet with the Yabloko faction to discuss cabinet 
appointments. LB

SELEZNEV SEES NO 'REPRISALS' AGAINST COMMUNISTS WHO BACKED 
KIRIENKO. Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev says Communist Duma 
deputies who defied party discipline to vote for Kirienko on 
24 April will not be punished, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau 
reported on 27 April. Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov has 
said the party will consider expelling members who supported 
Kirienko (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 April 1998). However, 
Seleznev said "score-settling" would have "grave 
consequences" for the party. Citing unnamed Communist 
sources, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 28 April that the 
party leadership planned for Kirienko to be confirmed in the 
third Duma vote and approved in advance a list of Communist 
deputies who were to support his candidacy. However, the 
sources said Communist leaders wanted Kirienko to be 
approved by a very narrow margin and were dismayed when he 
won confirmation easily, with 25 votes to spare. LB

REACTION TO FIRST ROUND OF KRASNOYARSK ELECTION. In an 
interview with NTV on 26 April, Krasnoyarsk Krai Governor 
Valerii Zubov said he intends to warn voters that if former 
Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed becomes governor, 
the vast resources of Krasnoyarsk will be used "for 
political ends rather than for the good of the krai." Lebed 
outpolled Zubov by a margin of 10 percent in the first round 
and is the favorite going into the runoff election. The 
opposition newspaper "Pravda" argued on 28 April that 
Lebed's financial backers, who reportedly include 
businessman Boris Berezovskii and Lev and Mikhail Chernyi, 
powerful figures in the aluminum industry, plan to "use" 
Lebed to gain control over government institutions. In an 
interview with the French daily "Le Figaro" on 28 April, 
Lebed said influential businessmen are financing his 
campaign because they "have had enough of living in a 
country where to be rich is dangerous for your health," AFP 
reported. LB

ZHIRINOVSKY RECEIVES DOCTORATE. The Sociology Department of 
Moscow State University awarded Liberal Democratic Party of 
Russia leader Zhirinovsky a doctorate following his defense 
on 24 April. In lieu of a single doctoral thesis, 
Zhirinovsky submitted 10 small books and numerous newspaper 
articles on the subject of "The Past, Present, and Future of 
the Russian Nation." For a successful defense, he needed the 
support of two-thirds of the 15-member faculty committee. 
"Izvestiya" reported on 28 April that he barely cleared that 
hurdle, with the scholars voting 10 to four with one 
abstention to give him the title. Communist Party leader 
Gennadii Zyuganov has also received a doctoral degree from 
Moscow State University. LB

FORMER NDR OFFICIAL SEEKS TO UNITE 'CONSTRUCTIVE' FORCES... 
Sergei Belyaev, former leader of the Our Home Is Russia 
(NDR) Duma faction, says his new movement, the Russian 
Progressive Union, seeks to unite all "constructive" forces 
in society, "Kommersant-Daily" and "Nezavisimaya gazeta" 
reported on 28 April. Belyaev convened a session of the 
political council of his movement on 25 April, the same day 
that the NDR held its fifth congress. Belyaev fell out with 
the NDR last year and sharply criticized then Prime Minister 
Viktor Chernomyrdin (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 August and 1 
September 1997). But he failed to attract enough defectors 
from the NDR to set up a new Duma faction, and the Russian 
Progressive Union so far has neither significant financial 
backing nor a broad base of supporters. LB 

...WHILE SARATOV GOVERNOR PLANS TO FOLLOW SUIT. Dmitrii 
Ayatskov on 27 April announced plans to create his own 
party, which will aim to unite all "democratically inclined" 
parties and public associations, ITAR-TASS reported. 
Ayatskov is believed to have political ambitions at the 
federal level. During the 25 April NDR congress, he 
advocated naming "at least three" potential presidential 
candidates from the ranks of the NDR. (The NDR has confirmed 
that it will back Chernomyrdin's presidential bid in 2000.) 
Ayatskov's party may come to dominate politics in Saratov, 
but like many previous attempts to unite Russia's 
"democratic forces," it is unlikely to have an impact 
nationwide. Last year, former Federation Council Speaker 
Vladimir Shumeiko announced that his Reforms--New Course 
movement and the NDR were forming a Union of Progressive 
Reformist Forces (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 May 1997), but 
little has since been heard about that union. LB 

RUSSIA GAINS CONCESSION FROM EU ON TRADE. The foreign 
ministers of the EU member states agreed during a 27 April 
meeting in Luxembourg to stop classifying Russia as a non-
market economy, Reuters reported. The change will allow 
Russian industries to be considered on a case-by-case basis 
when the EU is weighing whether anti-dumping penalties are 
justified. Sir Leon Brittan, the European trade 
commissioner, announced that the change, which also applies 
to China, reflects the fact that "Russia and China have made 
real economic progress toward becoming market economies." 
However, a statement issued by the European Commission noted 
that "the onus is upon the exporter to demonstrate that it 
is operating in market economy conditions." Russian 
officials are likely to be pleased with the change, despite 
having sought a broader recognition of Russia as a market 
economy in general (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 January 1998). 
LB

TRENDS MIXED IN BANKING SECTOR... Addressing the eighth 
annual congress of the Association of Russian Banks, the 
association's president, Sergei Yegorov, said the combined 
capital of Russian commercial banks rose 26.5 percent in 
1997 and totaled 112.3 billion new rubles ($19 billion) as 
of 1 January 1998, Interfax reported on 27 April. At the 
same time, the public's confidence in Russian banks and in 
the ruble appears to be limited. Speaking to the congress, 
Inkombank head Vladimir Vinogradov estimated that Russian 
citizens held some $35 billion worth of foreign currency in 
cash as of 1 January. Yegorov said it has become much easier 
for Russian businesses to borrow money, as annual interest 
rates for three-month commercial loans issued by banks have 
dropped from roughly 66 percent to 25 percent. However, real 
interest rates remain extremely high, since inflation in 
1998 is expected to total less than 10 percent. LB 

...AS NUMBER OF COMMERCIAL BANKS SET TO DECLINE FURTHER. 
Yegorov told delegates to the congress of the Association of 
Russian Banks that the Central Bank stripped 333 credit 
institutions of their licenses in 1997 and that the figure 
could be higher this year, Interfax reported. He said that 
since 1994, a total of 922 banks and lending institutions 
have had their licenses revoked. In his speech to the 27 
April congress, Central Bank Chairman Sergei Dubinin said 25 
percent of Russian banks have "serious problems" but added 
that those banks have a combined total of only 5 percent of 
all assets in the banking system, ITAR-TASS reported. During 
his trip to Washington earlier this month, Dubinin predicted 
that 350-400 Russian commercial banks will be closed over 
the next two years. As of January 1998, there were some 
1,700 commercial banks in Russia. LB 

COURT RELEASES POET CONVICTED ON DRUGS CHARGES. A Moscow 
municipal court has ordered that the poet Alina 
Vitukhnovskaya be released from prison on 27 April, three 
days after she was convicted on charges of possessing a 
small quantity of drugs with the intent to sell them, ITAR-
TASS and "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported. Vitukhnovskaya was 
sentenced to 18 months in prison but released because she 
spent 18 months behind bars awaiting trial and has 
reportedly expressed the intention to commit suicide. She 
was first arrested in October 1994, released a year later, 
and arrested again last fall (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 
November 1997). Her case has drawn protests from the Moscow 
PEN center and international writers' groups, who have 
accused law enforcement authorities of planting evidence 
against Vitukhnovskaya and pressuring her to reveal her 
sources for an article she wrote in 1994 about drug-taking. 
LB

RUSSIA, SWITZERLAND AGREE TO FIGHT ORGANIZED CRIME. Russian 
Prosecutor-General Yurii Skuratov and his Swiss counterpart, 
Carla del Ponte, signed a memorandum on 24 April aimed at 
fighting organized crime and money laundering, ITAR-TASS 
reported. According to Del Ponte, Swiss banks may currently 
be holding billions of illegally gained dollars. Skuratov 
said such money may be returned to Russia once it is proven 
to have been acquired illegally. The agreement provides for 
a better exchange of information on organized crime and will 
help in locating "criminal money" in Swiss banks. But Del 
Ponte stressed that no one will violate the secrecy of Swiss 
bank deposits. BP

DUMA WANTS GERMANY TO PRESERVE SOVIET MONUMENTS. The Duma on 
24 April voted unanimously to send a letter to the German 
government on "the inadmissibility of destroying monuments 
to Soviet soldiers who perished" during World War Two, ITAR-
TASS and Interfax reported. Valerii Varennikov, chairman of 
the Duma Veteran's Committee, said "destruction of several 
monuments to Soviet troops killed on German territory gives 
rise to concern." He noted that Germany signed an agreement 
with Russia in 1992 providing for the maintenance of the 
graves of military servicemen. The German government is 
currently debating closing down a memorial due to lack of 
financing. Varennikov said that for those who fought in the 
war, the monument has value as "a symbol of the victory over 
German fascism." BP

RUSSIA, CHECHNYA AGREE ON TRANSIT OF AZERBAIJANI OIL. 
Russian and Chechen government officials reached an 
agreement on 24 April on the export of Azerbaijani oil via 
the Baku-Grozny-Tikhoretsk pipeline, Interfax reported. 
Spokesmen for the Russian pipeline company Transneft, which 
operates that pipeline, said that it will handle as much oil 
as Baku wants but that agreement has not been reached on the 
transit tariff that Chechnya will receive. But Khozh-Akhmed 
Yarikhanov, Chechen presidential adviser for fuel and 
energy, told Interfax that the pipeline will transport 2.2 
million metric tons of oil in 1998 and that Chechnya will 
receive $3.58 per metric ton. Last year, Chechnya 
transported 200,000 metric tons of crude for which it 
received $0.43 per metric ton plus $854,000 toward the cost 
of renovating the pipeline. LF

COMMUNIST POISED TO WIN SMOLENSK GUBERNATORIAL RACE. 
Smolensk Mayor and Communist Party candidate Aleksandr 
Prokhorov has a commanding lead going into the second round 
of the gubernatorial election in Smolensk Oblast, 
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 28 April. According to the 
preliminary results of the first round of the election, held 
on 26 April, Prokhorov gained 46.5 percent of the vote. His 
nearest rival, incumbent Governor Anatolii Glushenkov, 
garnered just 26.9 percent and is not expected to win the 
runoff election, to be held in May. The strong showing for 
Prokhorov is consistent with recent election trends in 
Smolensk. The Communist Party gained 32 percent support in 
the oblast in the 1995 Duma elections, and Communist 
candidate Gennadii Zyuganov outpolled Yeltsin in the oblast 
in the 1996 presidential election by 56 percent to 38 
percent. LB 

BURYATIAN PRESIDENT CALLS REFERENDUM ON LAND REFORM. Leonid 
Potapov has signed a decree ordering that Buryatia's voters 
be asked whether they support a four-year moratorium on the 
purchase and sale of farmland in the republic, ITAR-TASS 
reported on 26 April. The referendum will be held on 21 
June, the same day as presidential and legislative elections 
are scheduled in Buryatia. Yeltsin supports the right to buy 
and sell farmland, but such far-reaching land reform is 
unpopular in many largely agricultural regions of the 
country, such as Buryatia. LB

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

AZERBAIJANI, GEORGIAN, TURKISH PRESIDENTS ISSUE JOINT 
STATEMENT. At their summit in Trabzon on 26 April, Heidar 
Aliev, Eduard Shevardnadze, and Suleyman Demirel affirmed 
their collective support for the planned Baku-Ceyhan 
pipeline as the optimum means of exporting Caspian oil. They 
also stressed their commitment to the TRACECA project, 
including the planned rail link from the south Georgian town 
of Akhalkalaki to Kars, and their readiness to cooperate to 
resolve regional conflicts in Nagorno-Karabakh, South 
Ossetia, and Abkhazia while preserving the territorial 
integrity of the states involved. The three presidents noted 
that deepening neighborly relations is a necessary 
precondition for peace, stability, and economic development 
throughout the Caucasus. LF

NEW GEORGIAN DEFENSE MINISTER NAMED. Shevardnadze on 27 
April named Colonel David Tevzadze, head of the Georgian 
military inspectorate, to succeed Vardiko Nadibaidze as 
defense minister. Tevzadze joined the Georgian military 
during the early 1990s after graduating from NATO training 
courses and a U.S. military college. Shevardnadze fired 
Nadibaidze for his failure to provide military aircraft to 
escort Shevardnadze's plane to Trabzon (see "RFE/RL 
Newsline," 27 April 1998). LF

GEORGIAN PRESIDENT SAYS HE IS 'PURE AS CHRIST.' Shevardnadze 
has denied that either he or former Prime Minister Otar 
Patsatsia were culpable to any extent in the sale of nine 
Georgian ships, saying he is as "pure as Christ," Caucasus 
Press reported on 27 April. Shevardnadze was responding to 
allegations made by Adjar Supreme Council chairman Aslan 
Abashidze at a press conference in Batumi on 24 April that 
the president made a huge personal profit from those sales. 
Shevardnadze said that he had issued an edict empowering the 
Georgian navigation department to sell the vessels for scrap 
in order to finance the purchase of new ones. LF

ABKHAZ PRESIDENT MAY DISREGARD CIS SUMMIT RULING. Vladislav 
Ardzinba told journalists in Sukhumi on 27 April that 
Abkhazia will refuse to endorse any ruling adopted at the 29 
April CIS summit revising the mandate of the CIS 
peacekeeping force in Abkhazia unless such a ruling is 
coordinated beforehand with the Abkhaz leadership, Interfax 
reported. A draft document on resolving the conflict was 
approved by Abkhazia and subsequently amended without 
consulting the Abkhaz leadership (see "RFE/RL Caucasus 
Report," Vol. 1, No. 8, 1998). Meanwhile the chief of police 
in the west Georgian town of Zugdidi has appealed to the 
local branch of the youth wing of the Union of Citizens of 
Georgia to abandon plans to hold a mass demonstration on 29 
April at the Rukhi bridge on the border between Abkhazia and 
the rest of Georgia. The police fear violent reprisals by 
the Abkhaz, Caucasus Press reported on 28 April. LF

ARMENIA MOVES TOWARD LEGALIZING POSSESSION OF WEAPONS. 
Lawmakers on 27 April approved in the first reading a bill 
permitting citizens to acquire non-automatic weapons 
provided that they have a license from the local police, 
RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The draft law also permits 
the production of and private trade in such arms but imposes 
restrictions on the purchase of ammunition. Razmik 
Martirosian, the chairman of the parliamentary Committee on 
Defense and Security and a member of the majority Yerkrapah 
group, argued in favor of the bill. State and Legal Affairs 
Committee Chairman Viktor Dallakian, also a member of the 
Yerkrapah group, opposed it, arguing it will contribute to 
an upsurge in violent crime. LF

AZERBAIJANI PARTY SUPPORTS "CONFEDERATION" WITH IRANIAN 
AZERBAIJAN. Fazail Agamaly, chairman of the pro-government 
Ana Vatan Party, has advocated creating a confederation of 
the Azerbajian Republic and Iranian Azerbaijan as the first 
step toward unification of the two regions, Turan reported 
on 27 April. In December 1997, former President Abulfaz 
Elchibey founded the Single Azerbaijan Union to lobby for 
the unification of the two Azerbaijans. Speaking at Ana 
Vatan's third congress in Baku on 25 April, Agamaly 
expressed support for the leadership of President Heidar 
Aliev, in whose favor he rejected a bid by delegates to 
nominate his candidacy for the October presidential 
elections. Agamaly also affirmed that if a peaceful solution 
is not found to the Karabakh conflict, "we are all ready to 
put on full-dress uniforms." LF

KYRGYZ PRESIDENT IN CHINA. Meeting in Beijing on 27 April, 
Askar Akayev and his Chinese counterpart, Jiang Zemin, 
signed a declaration of friendship and vowed to further 
improve ties, RFE/RL correspondents in the Chinese capital 
reported. The two presidents also exchanged the ratification 
instruments of the border demarcation agreements they signed 
in June 1996. China has promised to invest 100 million yuan 
(some $8 million) to build a factory producing cardboard in 
the Kyrgyz city of Tokmok, near Bishkek and will provide a 1 
million yuan grant to help develop the Kyrgyz health care 
system. Akayev said his government "stands wholly on the 
side of China and firmly opposes national separatism and 
religious extremism," a reference to China's western 
Xinjiang Province, which is inhabited mostly by Turkic 
Muslim peoples and borders Kyrgyzstan, AFP reported. BP

IRAN WANTS INFORMATION ON U.S.-TURKMEN DEALS. Iranian 
Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi said at a press conference in 
Tehran on 27 April that his country will "at the first 
opportunity" ask Turkmenistan about a deal to build a 
pipeline on the bed of the Caspian Sea with help from the 
U.S., AFP and Iranian Television reported. Kharazi said that 
once Turkmen authorities have clarified the details of the 
agreement, Iran will "adopt a position." He noted that both 
his country and Russia are opposed to such a pipeline 
"because of environmental considerations." Last week, the 
Iranian ambassador to Russia complained about a Russian-
Kazakh proposal for dividing the sea (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 
27 April 1998). BP

KAZAKHSTAN LOOKS TO SELL SOVIET-ERA WEAPONS. Kazakh Defense 
Minister General Mukhtar Altynbayev told reporters on 27 
April that his country is considering selling military 
hardware inherited after the collapse of the Soviet Union, 
Reuters reported. Altynbayev admitted that the weaponry is 
outdated and that "therefore it looks like third-world 
countries will buy [it]." Reuters quotes an unnamed Kazakh 
army colonel as saying MiG-21 and MiG-25 fighters would 
retail for $150,000-180,000 and Mi-8 helicopters for 
$70,000. BP

END NOTE

BENEFITING FROM NATO EXPANSION

by Paul Goble

	As the debate on NATO expansion intensifies, its 
supporters are pointing to the benefits it offers to new 
members, while its opponents are calling attention to how a 
larger NATO might harm Moscow's relationship with the West.
	But neither side in this ongoing debate has 
acknowledged that the expansion of the Western alliance--at 
least in the way that it is now taking place--may ultimately 
bring the greatest benefits not so much to the new members 
but to Russia itself--the country that some people suggest 
the alliance is still directed against. 
	First, in managing the expansion of NATO, Western 
countries have worked hard to give Moscow an unprecedented 
role in alliance decision-making. The NATO-Russia Charter 
signed last June certainly grants the Russian government a 
voice, if not a veto, in what the alliance will do in the 
future.
	Indeed, as Russian diplomats have regularly pointed 
out, Moscow obtained a seat in NATO councils long before the 
alliance offered membership to any of the other former 
Warsaw Pact states. The new Russian presence at alliance 
headquarters in Brussels means that the alliance itself has 
been transformed even before it has expanded.
	Second, in the course of the often intense public 
discussions about the expansion of the alliance, Western 
leaders have been at pains to specify what the alliance will 
and will not do in Eastern Europe. They have made 
commitments about the basing of various kinds of weaponry, 
the level of integration of commands, and transparency of 
the alliance with respect to Russia.
	In virtually every case, those Western statements have 
been intended to reassure Moscow that, as all alliance 
spokesman point out, NATO is not and never will be directed 
against Russia. Some have even suggested that at some future 
time, Russia itself could join the alliance, which was 
created to contain its Soviet predecessor.
	Consequently, even as Russian officials, politicians 
and commentators have complained about the growth of NATO, 
they have often welcomed, if far more quietly, those 
alliance commitments as a form of Western acknowledgment of 
a special Russian role in Eastern Europe and especially on 
the territory of the former Soviet Union.
	Moreover, the most thoughtful of Russian commentators 
have noted that the process of NATO expansion has led the 
West to make commitments to Moscow that it could not have 
made any other way.
	Third, the expansion of the alliance eastward benefits 
Russia in ways that many Russians may not appreciate now but 
will likely see in the future as a major force pushing for 
the democratic reform of that country and its further 
integration into Europe. By including some of the countries 
of Eastern Europe into its ranks, NATO effectively removes 
them as possible targets for those in Russia who would like 
to reverse the events of recent years or at least project 
Russian power in ways that will likely make it more 
difficult for Russia to reform itself.
	On the one hand, by providing a security guarantee to 
the new members, NATO will help transform the political 
debate in those countries, just as it did in Western Europe 
four decades ago. By taking foreign policy out of the center 
of that debate, NATO will give those countries both a chance 
to direct their primary energies to domestic affairs and the 
confidence to deal with Russia less as a political threat 
than as an economic opportunity. 
	And on the other hand, by defining more precisely the 
immediate international environment within which Moscow must 
operate, the Western alliance will help to limit the 
influence of nationalists in Russia who may be interested in 
reversing the changes following the collapse of the Soviet 
Union.
	But as was the case when NATO introduced forces into 
Bosnia, the chief beneficiaries of the alliance's 
preparations for expansion will be Russian reformers who 
find a way to use the opportunities the alliance offers 
rather than simply oppose it for domestic purposes. 


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