The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be ignited. - Plutarch
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 87 Part I, 7 May 1998


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 87 Part I, 7 May 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

* KIRIENKO SAYS FINAL CABINET APPOINTMENTS TO COME SOON

* LEBED CONTESTS WARNINGS FROM ELECTORAL COMMISSION


* AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION MAY BOYCOTT PRESIDENTIAL VOTE

End Note: READING FUNDAMENTALISM RIGHT
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***
Note to readers: RFE/RL Newsline will not appear on Friday,
8 May, a holiday in the Czech Republic.
***

RUSSIA

KIRIENKO SAYS FINAL CABINET APPOINTMENTS TO COME SOON. Prime
Minister Sergei Kirienko announced at a 7 May cabinet
meeting that he will meet with President Boris Yeltsin on 8
May, after which the president will make final cabinet
appointments, NTV reported. The posts still to be filled
include the trade and industry minister, the nationalities
minister, and the health minister. Aleksandr Shokhin, the
leader of the Our Home Is Russia (NDR) faction in the State
Duma, on 6 May denied rumors that he has been asked to head
the newly created Trade and Industry Ministry, RFE/RL's
Moscow bureau reported. The NDR has reportedly proposed Duma
deputy Sergei Mitin for that post, although Shokhin has
expressed doubts about the wisdom of creating a Trade and
Industry Ministry that is separate from the Economics
Ministry. LB

OUR HOME IS RUSSIA NOT HAPPY WITH CABINET APPOINTMENTS. Duma
deputies Sergei Boskholov and Vitalii Linnik of the Our Home
Is Russia (NDR) faction say some NDR members are "perplexed"
over how the new government is being formed, Interfax
reported on 6 May. No Duma deputies from the NDR have been
named to the cabinet, although the faction unanimously
supported Kirienko's confirmation in the third and decisive
vote in the Duma. In contrast, Russian Regions faction
member Vladimir Goman is slated to become chairman of the
State Committee on the North, and Yabloko member Oksana
Dmitrieva was given the labor portfolio, even though Yabloko
opposed Kirienko's confirmation in all three Duma votes.
Several ministers are formally NDR members, such as Science
and Technology Minister Vladimir Bulgak, Minister for
Emergency Situations Sergei Shoigu, and Deputy Prime
Minister Viktor Khristenko, but they are not active in the
movement. LB

ARE REGIONAL LEADERS DESERTING CHERNOMYRDIN'S MOVEMENT?
"Kommersant-Daily" reported on 6 May that regional leaders
are "running away" from the NDR now that its leader, Viktor
Chernomyrdin, is no longer prime minister. Valerii Kokov,
the president of the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria, has
announced plans to resign as deputy chairman of the
movement. Formally, Kokov said he is stepping down because
Kabardino-Balkaria's constitution does not allow him to be a
member of political parties and movements. But "Kommersant-
Daily" noted that the restriction did not deter Kokov from
holding a seat on the NDR council while Chernomyrdin was
prime minister. The newspaper predicted that more leaders
will follow Kokov's example, which will substantially weaken
the influence of the NDR in the regions. Saratov Oblast
Governor Dmitrii Ayatskov, who is on the NDR political
council, recently announced that he plans to create his own
political party (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 April 1998). LB

MORE ON KARIMOV VISIT TO MOSCOW. Following talks with
Russian President Boris Yeltsin on 6 May, Uzbek President
Islam Karimov said he was "completely satisfied with the
results," Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin said, "We
agreed on everything." The two agreed to fight the spread of
what the called "fundamentalism" both in Central Asia and
the northern Caucasus, though neither elaborated on what
form that cooperation would take. They did say both their
countries would increase efforts to help Tajikistan, the
third party in the fight against fundamentalism, recover
following its five-year civil war. Yeltsin and Karimov
expressed their alarm at renewed fighting in Afghanistan
after the Afghan peace talks broke down earlier this week
and called on the warring parties to resume negotiations.
Concerning an agreement on the status of journalists,
Russian presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii said it
would " liquidate the existing legal vacuum and create safer
conditions for the work of Russian journalists in
Uzbekistan." BP

DUMA MAY TRY TO FORCE CHUBAIS OUT OF NEW POST. Duma Speaker
Gennadii Seleznev says the Duma may ask the Prosecutor-
General's Office to check the legality of the recent
appointment of Anatolii Chubais as chief executive of the
electricity giant Unified Energy System (EES). According to
"Kommersant-Daily" on 7 May, the Audit Chamber has already
informed the prosecutor's office of its conclusion that
numerous laws were broken during an extraordinary meeting of
EES shareholders, which was held on 4 April. The chamber
maintains that all decisions made at that meeting should be
annulled, including the election of the EES board of
directors. That board appointed Chubais on 30 April. The
newspaper also claimed that a new law on the distribution of
shares in EES, which Yeltsin is obliged to sign, would place
the legality of Chubais's appointment in doubt (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 23 and 30 April 1998). LB

READING PUBLIC FACES LONG WAIT FOR HISTORY OF PRIVATIZATION.
A notorious book on the history of Russian privatization,
which was at the center of a scandal that cost several
officials their jobs last November, will not be published
before late 1998 or early 1999. Aleksei Kostanyan, the top
editor at the Vagrius publishing house, told Interfax on 6
May that the manuscript contained too much scientific jargon
and has been sent back to the authors for revisions. Vagrius
purchased the rights to the book from the Segodnya-Press
publishing house, which paid then First Deputy Prime
Minister Chubais and several of his political associates
$90,000 each for writing the manuscript. Segodnya-Press is
partly owned by Oneksimbank, the winner of two controversial
privatization auctions in 1997. In a recent interview with
the magazine "Novoe vremya," Chubais claimed that the book
is in the "final stages" of editing and will be published
between June and August. LB

ANOTHER POTENTIAL BIDDER LOSES INTEREST IN ROSNEFT. British
Petroleum chief executive John Brown has said his company is
unlikely to participate in an auction for a 75 percent stake
in the oil company Rosneft, given the price being asked for
the shares, "Kommersant-Daily" and "Nezavisimaya gazeta"
reported on 7 May, citing Bloomberg Business News. Last
November, British Petroleum agreed to become a minority
shareholder in the Sidanko oil company, in which Oneksimbank
has a controlling stake (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 November
1998). The British firm and Oneksimbank were expected to
submit a joint bid for the Rosneft auction, which is
scheduled for later this month. The Russian government has
set the starting price at some $2.1 billion, prompting other
potential bidders to say they will not take part. The
auction will be declared invalid if fewer than two bids are
submitted for the Rosneft stake. LB

LUZHKOV SEEKS TO DELAY LAST TSAR'S FUNERAL. Moscow Mayor
Yurii Luzhkov has proposed postponing the funeral of
Russia's last tsar, Nicholas II, ITAR-TASS reported on 6
May. The government has scheduled the funeral for 17 July,
the 80th anniversary of the murder of the tsar and his
family in Yekaterinburg. Government officials say exhaustive
testing has confirmed that the bones are those of the tsar's
family, but the Russian Orthodox Church has expressed doubt
about the authenticity of the "Yekaterinburg remains" (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 2 March1998). Luzhkov proposed interring
the remains in a symbolic grave until their authenticity has
been proven. Nicholas II is scheduled to be buried in St.
Petersburg, the final resting place of every tsar since
Peter the Great. Luzhkov, who has not previously expressed
doubt about the authenticity of the remains, had lobbied for
the funeral to be held in Moscow. LB

CHECHENS CONTINUE SEARCH FOR KIDNAPPED RUSSIAN ENVOY.
Chechen Deputy Prime Minister Kazbek Makhashev told ITAR-
TASS on 6 May that the release of kidnapped Russian envoy
Valentin Vlasov was a "matter of honor" for Chechnya, but he
said that there was as yet no progress to report in the
search. But Chechnya's acting prime minister, Shamil Basaev,
took a different position. He said on 6 May that there was
no evidence yet that Vlasov had been kidnapped in Chechnya
and that consequently his government was "not going to show
special concern over what happened," ITAR-TASS reported. The
same day, the Russian news agency reported, Chechen forces
released two Dagestani policemen who had been kidnapped in
November 1997. But in a sign that relations between Chechnya
and Dagestan are anything but smooth, Dagestan's minister
for nationalities and external relations, Magmetsalikh
Gusaev, denounced the recent Chechen-promoted Congress of
Peoples of Chechnya and Dagestan as an "unfriendly act,"
ITAR-TASS said. PG

LEBED CONTESTS WARNINGS FROM ELECTORAL COMMISSION. Former
Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed has filed a court
appeal challenging the two warnings his gubernatorial
campaign has received from the Krasnoyarsk Krai Electoral
Commission, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported on 6 May.
Lebed's supporters were accused of breaking the rules on
printed campaign materials. The commission has accused other
candidates of breaking the rules as well, and some
commentators have predicted that those warnings may be used
as a pretext to annul the election if Lebed wins the runoff
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 April 1998). "Moskovskie novosti"
claimed in its 3-10 May edition that Viktoriya Mitina, the
deputy head of the presidential administration, and
Yeltsin's representative in Krasnoyarsk both favor
cancelling the election result in the event of a Lebed
victory. LB

DUMA SPEAKER SLAMS LEBED. Duma Speaker Seleznev says "it
will be a tragedy for Russia" if Lebed wins the
gubernatorial election in Krasnoyarsk, "Nezavisimaya gazeta"
reported on 7 May. Seleznev compared Lebed to former Chilean
dictator Augusto Pinochet and said his gubernatorial
campaign is being financed with "dirty money." The
Krasnoyarsk Krai branch of the Communist Party has called on
its supporters to vote against both Lebed and incumbent
Governor Valerii Zubov in the second round of the election,
but Seleznev described that decision as having been made too
"hastily," Interfax reported. Citing unnamed sources in the
Communist Party leadership in Moscow, "Nezavisimaya gazeta"
said some Communist leaders have decided to provide "hidden
support" for Zubov before the runoff election. Communist
Gennadii Zyuganov recently drew an analogy between Lebed's
gubernatorial bid and Adolf Hitler's rise to power in
Germany (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 May 1998). LB

DUMA DEPUTY EXCLUDED FROM BASHKORTOSTAN PRESIDENTIAL
ELECTION. The Republic of Bashkortostan's Electoral
Commission has revoked the registration of State Duma deputy
Aleksandr Arinin as a candidate in the presidential election
scheduled for 14 June, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 7 May.
Officials say the republican branch of the Interior Ministry
found that seven percent of the signatures endorsing
Arinin's candidacy were invalid, which exceeds the amount
allowed under the republican electoral law. But Arinin
claimed at a Moscow press conference that police went from
door to door and forced people to disavow their signatures
in support of his candidacy. Arinin, a member of the Our
Home Is Russia faction, blamed incumbent President Murtaza
Rakhimov, whom he described as "the top policeman in a
police state." The Central Electoral Commission is sending a
group of monitors to Bashkortostan to investigate the
decision to exclude Arinin from the race. LB

NOVOSIBIRSK GOVERNOR DEMANDS PAYMENT FROM FEDS. Novosibirsk
Oblast Governor Vitalii Mukha has announced plans to cut off
deliveries of goods to federal facilities that owe debts to
the oblast, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 6 May.
Novosibirsk is owed an estimated 900 million rubles ($146
million) from the federal authorities in unpaid state orders
for foodstuffs and other goods. Mukha made the announcement
after local trade unions organized a 5,000-person rally on 1
May in Novosibirsk. Union leaders warned the governor that
if the situation does not improve, they will launch a
general strike in the oblast at the end of the month.
Krasnoyarsk Governor Zubov recently threatened to stop
transferring tax payments to the federal budget if federal
authorities do not pay their debts to his region (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 5 and 6 May 1998). LB

BUDDHISTS IN BURYATIA STILL OUTRAGED. More than 1,000
Buddhists in held a demonstration in the Buryat capital
Ulan-Ude on 6 May to protest the removal of an "Atlas of
Tibetan Medicine" to the United States for a museum tour
(See "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 and 6 May 1998), ITAR-TASS
reported. Meanwhile, a commission from Russia's Interior
Ministry has arrived in Ulan-Ude to investigate reports that
local police used excessive force to clear Buddhist monks
from blocking the removal of the book from the museum where
it was kept. BP

LAW SCHOOL HEAD GETS LESSON ON CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM.
Aleksandr Lbov, the head of the law school in the Vladimir
Polytechnical University, has been arrested on charges of
systematic bribe-taking, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 May.
According to Yurii Yevtukhov, the senior investigator on the
case, law students were expected to pay 50,000 to 100,000
old rubles ($8 - $16) in order to pass certain tests, while
a high grade on exams cost 100,000 to 150,000 old rubles. LB

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION MAY BOYCOTT PRESIDENTIAL VOTE. Five
leading opposition figures released a joint statement on 5
May indicating that they would not participate in this
fall's presidential elections if a new election law goes
into effect, AFP reported on 6 May. Isa Gambar, Albufaz
Elchibey, Lala Shovket, Ilyas Ismailov and Rasul Guliyev
said the legislation gives the government of Heidar Aliyev
an unfair advantage and will encourage vote fraud.
Meanwhile, Aliyev granted amnesty to 81 convicts, including
several involved in the attempted coup of October 1994, and
he proposed a resolution to the parliament that would allow
for pardoning 10,000 additional convicted criminals,
Interfax reported. PG

ARMENIAN PRESIDENT REINSTATES DASHNAK PARTY. President
Robert Kocharian issued a decree on 6 May lifting a ban on
the activities of the Dashnak Party that had been imposed by
his predecessor in December 1994, RFE/RL's Armenian Service
reported. Dashnak leaders told RFE/RL that they were pleased
by Kocharian's move because he did not suggest that the
Dashnak's were ever in violation of the law, as the Justice
Ministry had implied in February 1998 when it lifted the ban
on the basis of a finding that the Dashnaks were now in
compliance with the law. PG

ARMENIA: OUTSIDE PEACEKEEPERS MAY NOT BE NEEDED IN KARABAKH.
Speaking in Bonn, Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian
said on 6 May that there would be no need for any outside
peacekeepers if all the parties to the conflict could reach
agreement, Itar-Tass reported. In other comments, Oskanian
praised Russia's role in helping to resolve the conflict and
said that only proposals "without preliminary preconditions"
have any chance of leading to a resolution of the conflict,
an obvious swipe at the OSCE Minsk Group and the Lisbon
Principles. PG

KAZAKH CAPITAL BECOMES 'CAPITAL'. Kazakh President Nursultan
Nazarbayev signed a decree on 6 May changing the name of the
country's new capital from Akmola to Astana, RFE/RL
correspondents reported. Nazarbayev said negative
translations of the word "Akmola" prompted the move. The
word can be translated as "white grave" or as Interfax
reported on 6 May "white welfare." Astana, on the other
hand, is the Kazakh word for "capital." When Kazakhstan
became independent in 1991 the city was called Tselinograd.
BP

UZBEKISTAN CUTS GAS SUPPLIES TO KAZAKHSTAN BY HALF.
Uzbekistan has cut supplies of natural gas to regions in
southern Kazakhstan by nearly half, according to RFE/RL
correspondents and ITAR-TASS. The Belgian company Tractabel,
which is responsible for purchasing gas from Uzbekistan and
delivering it to customers in Kazakhstan, cited unpaid bills
from consumers in Kazakhstan as the reason the company could
not pay its Uzbek supplier. Supplies were reduced from
40,000 cubic meters per hour to 25,000. BP

KAZAKH PERIODICALS UNDER INVESTIGATION. Kazakhstan's
Procurator General's office has opened investigations into
some of the country's periodicals, RFE/RL correspondents in
Almaty reported on 6 May. The statement released by the
office did not specify which periodicals were under
investigation and added that the names would not be released
to the public until the investigations were over. The office
said the periodicals are under examination for inciting
"racial, tribal, ethnic and religious hatred." BP

END NOTE

READING FUNDAMENTALISM RIGHT

By Paul Goble

	Many Central Asian leaders have failed to recognize
that repressive policies are more likely to strengthen
Islamic fundamentalism in their countries than to weaken or
destroy it.
	That they should make such a fundamental error is not
surprising given their experiences in Soviet times, their
desires to remain in power regardless of the consequences,
and the often uncritical support they have received from
Russia and the West for just such an approach.
	But at least some Western leaders appear to be
changing their views on this point. And that shift is likely
to have major consequences for the policies of Central Asian
governments over the longer term, even if -- as seems
certain -- this change in the West will have little or no
impact in the near term.
	Two weeks ago, the current chairman of the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Polish
Foreign Minister Bronislav Geremek, met with Uzbek President
Islam Karimov to discuss how Tashkent is coping with a
rising tide of Muslim activism both in Uzbekistan and
elsewhere in Central Asia.
	As he has before, Karimov insisted that Islamic
fundamentalism was the main threat to stability in his
country and across the region, that such a movement could
either destabilize the situation as in Tajikistan or bring
to power a theocratic regime as in Iran. And he further
argued that the West must understand the need to take
strong, even repressive measures against such Muslim
activists.
	In the past, such arguments often were sufficient to
forestall most criticism from Western leaders who themselves
fear instability or Iranian radicalism. But in a meeting
that his spokesmen characterized as "frank," Geremek
responded to Karimov in a way that suggests that era may be
ending.
	During his April 20 meeting with the Uzbek president,
the Polish foreign minister pointed out that in many Muslim
countries, government moves against what some call
politicized Islam and others Islamic fundamentalism had
actually strengthened these groups. Indeed, Geremek
suggested, in many cases, such extremists had no chance to
win power unless they were perceived as being persecuted.
	Geremek's argument is interesting in three respects.
First, it is not directly about human rights. Instead, it is
about stability and thus challenges the claims of Karimov
and others that their policies will work to control the
situation. Second, it suggests that governments bear a heavy
responsibility for how much Islamic fundamentalism there is:
If they are repressive, there will be more. If they are not,
there will be less of it.
	And third, by focusing on the responsibility of
individual governments for dealing with Islamic challenges,
Geremek's argument undercuts those both in Uzbekistan and
elsewhere who suggest that Islamic fundamentalism is
spreading out like a tidal wave from Iran or Algeria or
Afghanistan or some other center of infection.
	Not surprisingly, Karimov has not been led to change
his position overnight. Last Friday, for example, he told
his country's parliament that Muslim activists were so
danger that they "must be shot in the head." And he added
that "if you lack the resolve, I'll shoot them myself."
Unless the parliament was prepared to follow his lead,
Karimov continued, "Tajikistan will come to Uzbekistan
tomorrow."
	In response, Uzbekistan's rubber-stamp parliament
adopted a new "freedom of conscience" law that requires all
religious groups with more than 100 members and all mosques
to register with the state. This measure will give legal
cover to what a variety of Western human rights groups,
Western journalists and Western governments have described
as Tashkent's increasingly repressive policies toward Islam.
	Many officials across Central Asia undboutedly still
feel that they have no choice but to follow Karimov's line,
especially since until recently, they could count on nearly
unanimous sympathy for such a position from both Russia and
the West.
	But now that Geremek has spoken out, perhaps ever more
people there and elsewhere will begin to understand what a
mistake it can be to purchase short-term control at the cost
of long-term stability. And to the extent that happens, they
can begin to correct a mistake that has already given rise
to so many tragic consequences.

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                     All rights reserved.
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