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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 83 Part I, 30 April 1998


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 83 Part I, 30 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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Note to readers: RFE/RL Newsline will not appear tomorrow,
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Headlines, Part I

* CHUBAIS TO HEAD ELECTRICITY GIANT

* CIS SUMMIT SIGNS OFF ON PERSONNEL APPOINTMENTS

* KYRGYZ PRESIDENT WRAPS UP VISIT TO CHINA

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RUSSIA

CHUBAIS TO HEAD ELECTRICITY GIANT. The board of directors of
the electricity giant Unified Energy System (EES) on 30 April
appointed former First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais
as the company's chief executive, Interfax reported.
Opposition politicians and some influential businessmen have
spoken out against putting Chubais in charge of EES, which
owns controlling stakes in most Russian regional utilities
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 April 1998). Also on 30 April,
President Boris Yeltsin and Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko
met at Yeltsin's residence outside Moscow to discuss the
composition of the new government. At press time, no new
cabinet appointments had been announced. LB

OFFICIALS DEFINE DUTIES OF DEPUTY PRIME MINISTERS. Kirienko
announced during a cabinet session on 30 April that Deputy
Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko's duties will be similar to
those performed by former First Deputy Prime Minister Chubais
in the last government, NTV reported. Khristenko will
supervise budget revenues and expenditures, placing special
emphasis on budget relations between the federal and regional
governments. Federal officials have repeatedly said that
regional authorities will have to comply with certain
policies (for instance, plans to reduce subsidies for housing
and utilities) in order to receive transfers from the federal
budget. Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov will
supervise energy policy and natural monopolies in the energy
and transportation sectors, Reuters and AFP reported on 29
April, citing a document posted to Nemtsov's official page on
the Internet. The third deputy prime minister will be in
charge of social policies, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 April. LB

WHO IS VIKTOR KHRISTENKO? Deputy Prime Minister Khristenko is
not well known in Moscow or outside the capital. Although
some media have described him as a technocrat, he is no
stranger to partisan politics. He managed Yeltsin's re-
election campaign in Chelyabinsk Oblast in 1996, RFE/RL's
correspondent in Chelyabinsk reported on 29 April. (Yeltsin
outpolled Communist candidate Gennadii Zyuganov in the region
by 58.5 percent to 35 percent.) After a Communist-backed
candidate won the December 1996 gubernatorial election in
Chelyabinsk, Khristenko lost his job as first deputy governor
in charge of economic issues but was appointed presidential
representative in the region. Like fellow Chelyabinsk native
Aleksandr Pochinok, who became head of the State Tax Service
in April 1997, Khristenko is considered an ally of Chubais.
He was appointed deputy finance minister in July 1997, four
months after Chubais became the head of the Finance Ministry.
LB

MIXED REACTION TO BEREZOVSKII APPOINTMENT. Prime Minister
Kirienko was restrained in his comments on Boris
Berezovskii's appointment as executive secretary of the CIS.
Kirienko said the Russian government is "ready to work with
all people" oriented toward developing the commonwealth,
ITAR-TASS reported on 29 April. Speaking to journalists in
Israel the same day, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov said his
attitude toward Berezovskii remains unchanged, adding that "I
do not believe that Berezovskii can do anything useful for
Russia," Interfax reported. Popular Power State Duma faction
leader Nikolai Ryzhkov also criticized the appointment. In
contrast, former Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed
told reporters in Krasnoyarsk that Berezovskii's "energy and
enthusiasm" will help move CIS integration forward, Interfax
reported. (Berezovskii is helping finance Lebed's
gubernatorial campaign in Krasnoyarsk.) Chechen Foreign
Minister Movladi Udugov also praised the appointment,
describing Berezovskii as "one of the sober-minded
politicians" able to assess the situation in the Caucasus. LB

ZYUGANOV SLAMS NEW GOVERNMENT. Communist Party leader
Gennadii Zyuganov on 30 April described the new cabinet as
the "third edition" of the government of former acting Prime
Minister Yegor Gaidar, "with the teeth of Chubais," NTV
reported. He argued that "the course of the new government is
the same," saying Kirienko will implement policies supported
by the IMF. However, Zyuganov said "the situation in the
country continues to deteriorate" and again called for the
formation of a "government of popular trust" in order to
change Russia's policy priorities. Zyuganov said the
Communist Party will not carry out "witch hunts" against
members who broke party discipline by voting to confirm
Kirienko, ITAR-TASS reported. He said the grassroots party
organizations that nominated those people for seats in the
State Duma will examine their actions and take the "necessary
decisions." LB

NEWSPAPERS CONCERNED ABOUT IMF'S INFLUENCE. "Tribuna" argued
on 29 April that Russia's economic policies harm the
interests of the country's own citizens and favor
international creditors. The newspaper criticized the
government and Central Bank's joint statement on economic
policy for 1998, which, it said, was prepared in the IMF's
Moscow office (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 April 1998). Among
other things, it charged that policies outlined in that
statement would allow foreign investors to buy Russia's
remaining strategic natural resources. "Moskovskii
komsomolets" also criticized numerous aspects of the joint
policy statement in its 28 April edition, arguing that
"Russia has lost all its economic sovereignty." "Tribuna"
(formerly "Rabochaya tribuna") is financed by the gas
monopoly Gazprom. "Moskovskii komsomolets" is close to Moscow
Mayor Luzhkov, who has described Russia's "dependence" on the
IMF as a "disgrace" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 December
1997). LB

ZYUGANOV OPPOSES START-2 RATIFICATION. Zyuganov told
journalists on 30 April that "it makes no sense" to ratify
the START-2 arms control treaty now, when, in his view, all
aspects of Russian security have been weakened, ITAR-TASS and
AFP reported. U.S. and Russian officials have expressed hope
that the treaty will be ratified during the first half of
1998, paving the way for a summit between Yeltsin and U.S.
President Bill Clinton later this year. But on 29 April, the
State Duma's analytical department issued a report concluding
that the START-2 treaty contains several clauses that
"jeopardize [Russia's] national security interests," Interfax
reported. The report argued that the treaty allows the U.S.
to "reduce" its nuclear stockpile without "dismantling"
weapons, allowing it to more than double its nuclear arsenal
if an emergency arose. LB

RUSSIA, NATO OFFICIALS DISCUSS TACTICAL NUKES. The NATO-
Russia Permanent Joint Council discussed short-range nuclear
weapons at a regular monthly session in Brussels on 29 April,
Reuters and an RFE/RL correspondent in the Belgian capital
reported. Officials from both sides confirmed that Russia and
NATO are not targeting their nuclear arsenals at each other.
U.S., British, and French officials gave detailed
presentations about reductions of their countries' nuclear
stockpiles. Russian officials at the meeting said Russia has
reduced its tactical nuclear arsenal by some 50 percent, but
their account was not as detailed as the presentations by
their NATO counterparts. An unnamed NATO official told
journalists that the Western alliance is interested in more
information about what type of tactical nuclear weapons
Russia plans to keep. LB

TYUMEN OIL COMPANY GETS ANOTHER CHANCE. The president's
commission on strengthening tax and budget discipline has
approved a schedule of payments to the Pension Fund for the
Tyumen Oil Company, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 April. Prime
Minister Kirienko chaired the meeting and warned that if the
oil company does not meet the payments schedule, the state
will take all possible legal measures against it. If there
are no grounds for annulling the contract under which the
state sold a 40 percent stake in the company last year,
Kirienko said that officials in the State Property Ministry
and Russian Federal Property Fund will be punished. Kirienko
recently warned that the government would annul the
privatization of the Tyumen Oil Company if it did not meet
its obligation to pay 600 billion old rubles ($98 million) in
debts to the Pension Fund (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 April
1998). LB

COMMUNISTS OPPOSE BOTH CANDIDATES IN KRASNOYARSK. Former
Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed's gubernatorial
campaign received a boost on 29 April when the Krasnoyarsk
Krai branch of the Communist Party decided to advise its
supporters to vote against both Lebed and incumbent Valerii
Zubov in the runoff election on 17 May. Communist candidate
Petr Romanov, who received 13 percent of the vote in the
first round of the election, told Interfax that he will not
tell his supporters to back either Lebed or Zubov, even if
the Communist Party leadership changes its mind on the
matter. The Communist stand will make it even more difficult
for Zubov to beat Lebed after trailing by 10 percent in the
first round. LB

NEWSPAPER SEES PLAN TO ANNUL ELECTION. "Segodnya" speculated
on 29 April that the ground is being prepared to annul the
Krasnoyarsk election. The newspaper noted that Central
Electoral Commission Chairman Aleksandr Ivanchenko has said
Lebed received two warnings about violations of campaign
regulations (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 April 1998). The
mayoral election in Nizhnii Novgorod in late March, which a
controversial candidate won, was annulled because of alleged
violations during the campaign. Meanwhile, Communist Party
leader Zyuganov told journalists on 30 April that the
violations before the first round of the Krasnoyarsk election
were more flagrant than in any other regional campaign he has
witnessed, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. He alleged that
Lebed's campaign handed out numerous gifts for prospective
voters in the countryside. Support for Lebed was strongest in
rural areas and small cities (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 April
1998). LB

COURT STRIKES DOWN ELECTORAL RULES IN BASHKORTOSTAN. The
Constitutional Court has struck down provisions of
Bashkortostan's constitution and electoral law that set
residency requirements and age limits for the republic's
president, "Russkii telegraf" and "Kommersant-Daily" reported
on 28 April. Formally, the court did not strike down the
requirement that presidential candidates know both the
Bashkir and Russian languages (which would exclude most of
the republic's residents) on the grounds that Bashkortostan
has no legislation specifying the required level of language
proficiency. Pending the adoption of such regulations, the
court said that citizens' right to participate in the
electoral process should not depend on language proficiency.
The court has therefore ordered that language restrictions
not be applied during the runup to the presidential election
in Bashkortostan, scheduled for 14 June. LB

BASHKORTOSTANI LEGISLATION NOT ISOLATED CASE. "Russkii
telegraf" noted on 28 April that language restrictions on
candidates for political office violate both the Russian
Constitution and the law on guarantees of voters' rights. But
Bashkortostan is not the only republic with such requirements
for presidential candidates. According to the 28 April
edition of "Kommersant-Daily," Buryatia, Sakha (Yakutia),
North Ossetia, Ingushetia, Tatarstan, Tyva, and Adygea also
require that presidential candidates know the republic's
titular language as well as Russian. LB

REGIONAL AFFAIRS

CIS SUMMIT SIGNS OFF ON PERSONNEL APPOINTMENTS...  In
addition to appointing Berezovskii as CIS executive
secretary, the CIS summit participants decided that Yeltsin
will remain chairman of the CIS Heads-of-State Council until
2000. They also appointed Uzbek Prime Minister Utkir Sultanov
chairman of the CIS Council of Heads of Government and
Aueznur Kazhenov as chairman of the CIS Economic Court.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma told Interfax on
29 April that by re-electing Yeltsin as chairman of the CIS
Council of Heads of State, CIS leaders have stressed "there
is no alternative" to the commonwealth. He added the Moscow
summit showed that reform has begun in the CIS. Commenting on
Berezovskii's appointment  as CIS executive secretary, Kuchma
said "I like intelligent people." LF/JM

...BUT FAILS TO ADOPT KEY DOCUMENTS. Participants at the 29
April CIS summit failed to adopt proposals drafted by Kazakh
President Nursultan Nazarbaev on creating a single economic
space and a free trade zone within the CIS. They did agree,
however, to discuss proposals for its reform at a CIS
interstate forum in July.  The presidents also failed to
adopt a draft Declaration on Further Equal Partnership and
Cooperation, which, according to a Ukrainian official quoted
by Interfax, was rejected by unspecified participants because
it did not explicitly affirm the territorial integrity of CIS
member states. But Caucasus Press quoted a member of the
Georgian delegation as saying that the draft affirms support
for the territorial integrity of member states and that
Armenia has therefore refused to sign it. At a session of the
CIS Foreign Ministers' Council on 28 April, the
representatives of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine,
Turkmenistan, and Moldova refused to sign the draft, Noyan
Tapan reported. LF

CIS PRESIDENTS NOT UNANIMOUS IN SUPPORTING BEREZOVSKII? It is
still unclear from Russian media reports  how Berezovskii's
candidacy for the post of CIS executive secretary was decided
on. Yeltsin said that Berezovskii was proposed by Ukrainian
President Leonid Kuchma, but "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 30
April quoted Federation Council chairman Yegor Stroev as
claiming that Kuchma and Shevardnadze jointly suggested
Kuchma after a lengthy argument between the presidents.
Acting Russian Deputy Prime Minister Ivan Rybkin, rumored to
have been instrumental in proposing Berezovskii's candidacy,
said that a total of seven possible candidates were
discussed, including Yabloko faction leader Grigorii
Yavlinskii and Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Serhiy
Tyhypko. Russian Presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii
said that Berezovskii's candidacy was approved by all CIS
presidents except for Armenia's Robert Kocharian, who
canceled a scheduled post-summit press conference, Interfax
reported. LF

BEREZOVSKII OUTLINES CIS PRIORITIES.  In an interview with
ITAR-TASS on 29 April,  Berezovskii said his most immediate
task as CIS executive secretary will be preparing for the
planned July forum to discuss reforming the CIS. He declined,
however, to comment on how the CIS might be transformed into
a "real commonwealth." Berezovskii said that the CIS's main
achievements include  the fact that it has not fallen apart
and that relations between its members have been maintained
at a level that "exceeds the mundane." LF

PARTICIPANTS GIVE DIFFERENT POST-SUMMIT ASSESSMENTS. Georgian
President Eduard Shevardnadze told journalists that the
summit proved the CIS is needed "and will continue to exist
and develop,"  although he admitted that it needs radical
restructuring, ITAR-TASS reported. His Turkmen colleague,
Saparmurat Niyazov, commented that for the first time, "we
took into account...the experience and specifics of
independent development" of the CIS member states. Kazakh
President Nursultan Nazarbaev, however, said the CIS heads of
state summit was as fruitless as the previous day's CIS
Customs Union meeting was profitable. He deplored the lack of
progress toward reform. LF

LUKASHENKA CRITICAL ABOUT CIS SUMMIT. Belarusian President
Alyaksandr Lukashenka said in Moscow on 29 April that the CIS
summit has failed to agree on meaningful reform and
restructuring of the commonwealth, adding that those issues
will be discussed at the CIS interstate forum in July.
Lukashenka argued that as long as there are no mechanisms for
implementing CIS decisions, the commonwealth will remain a
"talking shop." He also expressed satisfaction over the
appointment of Boris Berezovskii as CIS executive secretary.
"Berezovskii is able to fulfill his functions with our
support," Interfax quoted the Belarusian leader as saying. JM

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

GEORGIAN PRESIDENT DISCLOSES DETAILS OF ABKHAZ SETTLEMENT.
Eduard Shevardnadze told Interfax on 29 April that the
document on resolving the Abkhaz conflict endorsed by eight
of the 11 CIS summit participants defines Georgia as a
federation of which Abkhazia is a constituent part. It also
proposes that an Abkhaz should head the federal Senate.
Shevardnadze expressed satisfaction that the summit agreed to
the redeployment of the CIS Abkhaz peacekeeping force
throughout Abkhazia's southernmost Gali Raion. He also
greeted the appointment of Major-General Sergei Korobko to
command that force, as did Abkhaz President Vladislav
Ardzinba. But Ardzinba has warned that Abkhazia will resort
to armed resistance if the peacekeeping force is redeployed
without its consent, while the Confederation of Peoples of
the Caucasus has offered Abkhazia military support,
"Izvestiya" reported on 30 April. The previous day, eight
Abkhaz were killed in a clash with Georgian guerrillas in
Gali, Caucasus Press reported. LF

AZERBAIJANI ARMY OFFICER SENTENCED FOR SUBWAY BOMBING.  The
Azerbaijani Supreme Court on 29 April sentenced former army
Captain Azer Aslanov to life imprisonment for masterminding a
bomb explosion in the Baku metro in April 1994 that killed 13
people, Turan and Interfax reported. Aslanov, an ethnic
Lezgin, pleaded not guilty to the charges. He said he was
taken prisoner by Armenia in January 1994 and coerced into
organizing the bombing; later, he said, he served in a
private military formation in Dagestan.  Armenian officials
have denied any connection with Aslanov, whom the Russian
Federal Security Service extradited to Azerbaijan in 1996.
Seven other Lezgins were sentenced in March,1997 for their
role in the explosion (see "OMRI Daily Digest," 21 February
and 20 March 1997).  LF

IRAN DENIES RUSSIAN STEEL SHIPMENT INTENDED FOR MILITARY USE.
An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman  on 29 April said the
consignment of stainless steel plates intercepted by
Azerbaijani customs officials on the Azerbaijani-Iranian
frontier last month was not intended for the production of
ballistic missiles (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 April 1998). He
added that the alloy could have been ordered by a company in
the private sector for civilian use. LF

PROMINENT ARMENIAN POLITICIAN ARRESTED FOR ASSAULT. Ararat
Zurabian, the deputy chairman of the former ruling Armenian
Pan-National Movement (ARFD), was arrested in Yerevan on 27
April, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Zurabian has been
charged with assault after he and a group of associates beat
up Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutiun (HHSh)
party member Aghvan Vartanian in a Yerevan cafe. Vartanian is
close to President Robert Kocharian and was his press
spokesman during recent  presidential election campaign.  The
ARFD newspaper "Yerkir" reported on 29 April that HHSh
chairman Vano Siradeghian was in the cafe and "watched
calmly" as Vartanian was beaten up. Siradeghian refused  to
comment on the incident when asked by RFE/RL the previous
day. LF

KYRGYZ PRESIDENT WRAPS UP VISIT TO CHINA... Askar Akayev
wrapped up his five-day official visit to China on 30 April,
RFE/RL correspondents in Beijing reported. During his visit,
Akayev met with Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongji and speaker
of the parliament Li Peng. Zhu noted that trade with
Kyrgyzstan has increased 1,000 percent since 1992. Akayev
invited China to buy antimony and hydro-electric power from
Kyrgyzstan and invest in Kyrgyz hydro-electric projects.
Talks with Li Peng centered on the CIS-Chinese border
agreement, to which Russia, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan are
also parties. BP

...AFTER RELEASING STATEMENT WITH CHINESE PRESIDENT. In a
statement released on 27 April, Akayev and Chinese President
Jiang Zemin praised the confidence-building measures provided
in the CIS-Chinese border agreement, Beijing's Xinhua news
agency reported. They agreed to further develop economic
ties, improve road, rail, and aviation links, increase
cooperation in environmental protection, and work together to
fight organized crime, terrorism, and drug and arms
smuggling. Kyrgyzstan affirmed its recognition of Beijing's
position on Taiwan, Tibet, and Xinjiang. In return, China
agreed to a "nuclear-free Central Asia," which is
particularly important for the Kyrgyz as China's Lop Nor
nuclear testing site is close to Kyrgyzstan's eastern border.
BP

FORCES OF TAJIK GOVERNMENT, OPPOSITION CLASH. Fighting broke
out between forces of the Tajik government and the United
Tajik Opposition 10 kilometers east of Dushanbe on 30 April,
RFE/RL correspondents reported. At least three government
soldiers are reported dead and eight wounded . UTO casualties
have not been reported. Opposition fighters attacked a road
checkpoint outside the town of Rokhaty. Gun fire was also
reported in the Kofarnikhon region, where last month the most
severe fighting between government and UTO forces took place
since the signing last June of the peace accord.  BP

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