Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid. - Dostoevsky
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 88 Part I, 11 May 1998


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 88 Part I, 11 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

* YELTSIN FILLS OUT CABINET

* KIDNAPPERS DEMAND RANSOM FOR YELTSIN'S ENVOY

* GEORGIA TO BECOME 'ASYMMETRIC FEDERATION'?
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RUSSIA

YELTSIN FILLS OUT CABINET... President Boris Yeltsin
completed the major government appointments on 8 May,
RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. The president left Yevgenii
Adamov in charge of the Atomic Energy Ministry, a post
Adamov has held since March. Aleksandr Pochinok will remain
head of the State Tax Service, which he has run since April
1997, ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin appointed Oleg Rutkovskii,
until now head doctor at Moscow's First City Hospital, as
health minister. He replaces Tatyana Dmitrieva, who had run
that ministry since August 1996. Meanwhile, Nikolai Khvatkov
has become head of the government apparatus. State Duma
First Deputy Speaker Vladimir Ryzhkov of Our Home Is Russia
was reportedly offered that job several times. Like Prime
Minister Sergei Kirienko, Khvatkov is a former banker from
Nizhnii Novgorod. Along with 10 other ministers, he is new
to the cabinet (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 April and 4 May
1998). LB

...LEAVES TRADE AND INDUSTRY MINISTER WITH 'ACTING' STATUS.
Also on 8 May, Yeltsin appointed Georgii Gabuniya as acting
trade and industry minister, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau
reported. Presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii said
Gabuniya was appointed acting minister because the Trade and
Industry Ministry is new and "its formation will be
difficult," according to Interfax. Before his appointment to
the cabinet, Gabuniya served as first deputy head of the
Foreign Trade Ministry, which no longer exists. He has been
Russia's top negotiator on trade issues, such as the
country's bid for membership in the World Trade
Organization. Former Foreign Trade Minister Mikhail
Fradkov's dismissal from the government was long
anticipated, although he survived a mini-reshuffle in late
February. LB

PERM LEGISLATOR BECOMES REGIONAL POLICY MINISTER. Yeltsin on
8 May appointed Yevgenii Sapiro as head of the Ministry on
Regional and Nationalities Policy. Until now, Sapiro has
been chairman of the Perm Oblast legislature and head of the
Federation Council Economic Policy Committee. His
appointment in effect rules out a cabinet post for Ramazan
Abdulatipov. Abdulatipov, who is from Dagestan, gave up a
seat in the State Duma last August to become deputy prime
minister in charge of nationalities policy--a post that no
longer exists. Yeltsin may yet appoint Abdulatipov as his
envoy to the North Caucasus. LB

TRADE UNION LEADER TO SUPERVISE TRANSPORT MONOPOLIES.
Yeltsin also appointed Vitalii Budko as head of the Federal
Service for Regulating Monopolies in the Transportation
Sector. For the last seven years, Budko has headed the
Independent Trade Union for Coal Industry Workers. Tariffs
for shipping cargo on Russian railroads are high, which has
helped subsidize passenger rail traffic but has hurt
industry, particularly the coal sector. Budko replaces
Mikhail Kislyuk, who became head of the service last summer,
shortly after Yeltsin fired him as governor of Kemerovo
Oblast. At least one trade union representative was expected
to be named to the cabinet, since union leaders had spoken
out in support of Kirienko's nomination as prime minister.
LB

WOMEN TO HEAD TWO MINISTRIES. Tatyana Dmitrieva's departure
as head of the Health Ministry leaves two women out of the
26 ministers in Kirienko's cabinet: Culture Minister Natalya
Dementeva and newly appointed Labor Minister Oksana
Dmitrieva. Three other women appear likely to retain
cabinet-level posts: Natalya Fonareva, the head of the State
Anti-Monopoly Committee, Irina Khakamada, the head of the
State Committee on Development and Support for Small
Businesses, and Tatyana Regent, the head of the Federal
Migration Service. LB

YELTSIN SACKS HEAD OF CUSTOMS COMMITTEE... Presidential
spokesman Yastrzhembskii announced on 8 May that Yeltsin has
dismissed State Customs Committee head Anatolii Kruglov,
RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. Valerii Draganov, up to now
deputy chairman of the service, will replace Kruglov. The
government recently approved new revenue targets for the
customs service, which is now expected to collect 78 billion
rubles ($12.7 billion) this year--4.3 billion rubles more
than the level projected under the 1998 budget. The
committee collected 18.5 billion rubles in customs duties
during the first quarter of this year. According to
"Kommersant-Daily" on 8 May, the customs committee has
recommended that the government increase revenues by
reviewing the customs breaks currently granted to
Kaliningrad Oblast. The committee estimates that 55 percent
of all reductions in customs duties during the first quarter
of the year were granted on goods imported to Kaliningrad.
LB

...AND HEAD OF BROADCASTING SERVICE. Also on 8 May, Yeltsin
dismissed Valentin Lazutkin, who had headed the Federal
Television and Radio Broadcasting Service for three years.
Duma Culture Committee Deputy Chairman Mikhail Seslavinskii,
a Nizhnii Novgorod native and member of the Our Home Is
Russia faction, will replace Lazutkin. In an interview with
RFE/RL's Moscow bureau on 8 May, NTV-holding director-
general Igor Malashenko said Lazutkin's dismissal was long
expected in media circles. He characterized Seslavinskii as
a "professional" with a good reputation, despite his lack of
experience working in the media. Malashenko added that
Seslavinskii's appointment did not bear out the "worst
fears" of journalists, namely that Lazutkin would be
replaced by someone with "political commissar" tendencies
who would blindly follow orders from above. NTV-holding
manages the influential private network NTV and other
companies involved with broadcast media financed by Vladimir
Gusinskii's Media-Most company. LB

DECREE REORGANIZES STATE-OWNED BROADCAST MEDIA. Yeltsin has
signed a decree on reorganizing state-owned electronic media
into a single holding company, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau
reported on 8 May. Details about the decree remain sketchy,
but RFE/RL described it as a "revolutionary" measure that
will transform state-owned radio and television stations in
the regions into affiliates of the All-Russian State
Television and Radio Company (VGTRK), which is more commonly
known as Russian Television (RTR). The holding company will
also include state-owned broadcasting facilities, such as
television towers, but it is not yet clear whether those
facilities will be subordinated to VGTRK. According to
RFE/RL, the new holding company will seek to counteract the
influence of privately owned media. Since last summer, some
high-ranking government officials have received unfavorable
coverage on the private network NTV and on Russian Public
Television, which is 51 percent state-owned but considered
under the influence of Boris Berezovskii. LB

NDR ADOPTS CAUTIOUS STANCE TOWARD NEW CABINET. Aleksandr
Shokhin, the leader of the Our Home Is Russia (NDR) Duma
faction, announced on 7 May that his faction no longer
considers itself responsible for the government's actions,
RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. During Viktor
Chernomyrdin's tenure as prime minister, the NDR was a pro-
government movement and was informally known as the "party
of power." But Shokhin told Interfax that Kirienko had not
accepted any of the NDR's recommendations when forming the
new government. (A few ministers are formally NDR members
but are not actively involved in the movement.) At the same
time, Shokhin praised Nikolai Khvatkov as a "worthy"
successor to Vladimir Babichev, the close Chernomyrdin ally
and longtime head of the government apparatus. For his part,
Chernomyrdin told RFE/RL's Moscow bureau on 8 May that his
movement will judge the new government by its work. LB

OPPOSITION SLAMS GOVERNMENT APPOINTMENTS. Duma deputy
Valentin Kuptsov, a high-ranking Communist Party official,
sharply criticized the latest cabinet appointments in an
interview with Interfax on 8 May. He cited Gabuniya's
appointment as evidence of the general neglect of industrial
policy. Kuptsov argued that Yeltsin could have chosen a
"sensible" trade and industry minister from some 10,000
directors of industrial enterprises. Also on 8 May, Duma
Geopolitics Committee Chairman Aleksei Mitrofanov of the
Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) dismissed
Kirienko's cabinet as a "government of bleak functionaries"
that will be "weak and fully dependent" on Yeltsin and the
presidential administration. But Vladimir Gusev, another
LDPR member who chairs the Duma Committee on Industry, said
his committee will seek opportunities to work with
Kirienko's government. LB

RYBKIN TO BECOME SPECIAL ENVOY FOR CIS? Unnamed government
sources told Interfax and ITAR-TASS on 8 May that Ivan
Rybkin may be appointed Yeltsin's special envoy for the CIS.
Rybkin flew to Baku on 8 May to congratulate Azerbaijani
President Heidar Aliev on his 75th birthday on behalf of
Yeltsin. The sources said Rybkin's new job would have a rank
equivalent to that of a deputy prime minister. Rybkin was a
deputy premier in the government Yeltsin sacked in March,
but Kirienko has only three deputies: Boris Nemtsov, Viktor
Khristenko, and Oleg Sysuev. Rybkin is considered close to
Boris Berezovskii, who was recently appointed executive
secretary of the CIS. LB

INTERIOR MINISTRY TROOPS TO HAVE NEW COMMANDER. Yeltsin on 9
May appointed Pavel Maslov as deputy interior minister and
commander of the troops subordinated to the Interior
Ministry, Russian news agencies reported. Until now Maslov
has been first deputy interior minister and head of the
ministry's General Staff. He replaces Leontii Shevtsov, who
announced in March that the Interior Ministry troops will be
downsized from 257,000 to 220,000 by the end of 1999 (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 25 March 1998). The troops substantially
increased in number when Anatolii Kulikov was interior
minister from June 1995 to March 1998. LB

RUSSIA MARKS V-E DAY. Yeltsin, Kirienko, and Defense
Minister Igor Sergeev were among the officials who stood on
the Lenin mausoleum to observe a military parade on Moscow's
Red Square on 9 May, the Russian holiday marking the allies'
victory in World War II, Russian news agencies reported. War
veterans held rallies across Russia to celebrate the
anniversary. In Moscow, tens of thousands attended an
alternative rally organized by communist groups, Reuters
reported. Addressing the crowd, Communist Party leader
Gennadii Zyuganov said that "we won in 1945 because we were
a united people...and were led by the Communist Party,"
Interfax reported. Zyuganov added that the current
"aggressors" against Russia "sit in the Kremlin." He said
the Popular Patriotic Union of Russia, a Communist-led
umbrella movement, will stage a nationwide protest in early
October to demand Yeltsin's resignation and express no
confidence in Kirienko's government. LB

PARLIAMENTARY NEWSPAPER LAUNCHED. "Parlamentskaya gazeta,"
the official newspaper of the parliament, published its
first issue on 7 May, Reuters reported. A front-page
commentary by Federation Council Speaker Yegor Stroev hailed
"a special day in the history of domestic journalism," and
Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev wrote that "the people's
deputies now have a solid platform for an active dialogue
with the electorate." The parliament has been without a
newspaper since October 1993, when "Rossiiskaya gazeta"
became the official paper of the Russian government. Yeltsin
agreed to the creation of "Parlamentskaya gazeta" last
October, as one of the concessions aimed at dissuading the
Duma from voting no confidence in the government (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 21 October 1997). The editor in chief of
the new paper is Leonid Kravchenko, who headed ITAR-TASS
from 1988 to 1990 and has been first deputy editor of
"Rossiiskaya gazeta" since 1993. LB

KIDNAPPERS DEMAND RANSOM FOR YELTSIN'S ENVOY. The abductors
of presidential envoy Valentin Vlasov have demanded a "very
large" sum for his release, despite acting Deputy Premier
Ivan Rybkin's warning that no ransom will be paid, Russian
media reported on 9 May. Vlasov was taken from his car at
gun point on 1 May and his exact whereabouts remain unknown.
Chechen intelligence sources and Russian Interior Minister
Sergei Stepashin have both said that Vlasov is alive. Rybkin
met on 9 May in Baku with Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov
to discuss the investigation into the abduction. Also on 9
May, five armed Chechens were detained in the Kursk district
of Stavropol Krai, bordering on Chechnya, but were later
released. LF

AZERBAIJANI TRADER STABBED TO DEATH IN MOSCOW. A young
Azerbaijani was stabbed to death in a dispute at Moscow's
Luzhniki stadium market on 7 May. Fellow Azerbaijanis who
tried to stage a protest march in central Moscow bearing the
body of the murdered man were dispersed by OMON police. Six
suspects in the murder were arrested the following day.
Russian Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin and Moscow Mayor
Yurii Luzhkov both denied claims by Azerbaijani human rights
activists that the killing was ethnically motivated.
Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev is personally following
the investigation, according to ANS-Press. LF

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

GEORGIA TO BECOME 'ASYMMETRIC FEDERATION'? In his
traditional weekly radio broadcast on 11 May, Georgian
President Eduard Shevardnadze said that within the next few
days, he plans to unveil a new proposal whereby Georgia will
become an "asymmetric federal state," Caucasus Press
reported. Shevardnadze argued that this proposal
demonstrates Georgia is seriously concerned about resolving
the Abkhaz conflict. The Abkhaz government last week placed
its armed forces on combat alert after some 300 fighters
from the unofficial Georgian White Legion crossed into
Abkhaz territory. Tamaz Nadareishvili, the chairman of the
Abkhaz parliament in exile, warned on 6 May that support for
the White Legion will grow if the repatriation of Georgian
displaced persons to Abkhazia is not expedited. LF

AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION ACTIVISTS CHARGED AFTER PROTEST.
Police used force to disperse some 400 members of the
Movement for Democratic Elections who staged an unsanctioned
demonstration outside the parliament building in Baku on 8
May, Turan and Interfax reported. The demonstrators were
protesting the new presidential election law, passed in the
second reading on 6 May, which they say is undemocratic and
renders free and fair elections impossible. Police arrested
some 50 demonstrators, including former Prime Minister Panah
Guseinov and former State Counselor Arif Gadzhiev. Some of
the detainees have been charged with obstructing police or
violating legislation on demonstrations. LF

AZERBAIJAN, UKRAINE DISCUSS OIL EXPORTS. Visiting Baku to
congratulate President Heidar Aliev on his 75th birthday,
Ukrainian Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko met with both
Aliev and his Azerbaijani counterpart, Artur Rasi-Zade, to
discuss the transport of Azerbaijani oil by tanker from the
Black Sea port of Supsa to Odessa. Some oil would be refined
in Odessa for domestic use and the rest exported via the
Odessa-Brody pipeline. In Washington, Ukrainian Ambassador
Yuri Shcherbak discussed with U.S. trade and energy
officials the Ukrainian option for exporting Azerbaijani
oil, according to Interfax. The Turkish government may
commission a private company to build the proposed Baku-
Ceyhan oil export pipeline if the Azerbaijani International
Operating Company that is exploiting three offshore
Azerbaijani oil fields declines to make a firm commitment on
that project, the "Turkish Daily News" reported on 9 May.
Royal Dutch Shell has expressed interest to the Turkish
government in building that pipeline. LF

AZERBAIJAN PROPOSES EXCHANGING POWS. the Azerbaijani State
Commission for Prisoners of War, Hostages, and Persons
Missing in Action has proposed that Azerbaijan and Armenia
exchange prisoners of war on an "all for all" basis, Turan
reported on 7 May. Some 700 Armenians and 800 Azerbaijanis
are currently listed as falling into those three categories.
LF

HEAVY FLOODING IN TAJIKISTAN. While the damage caused by the
recent flooding in central Tajikistan's Garm region is still
being assessed, reports from the country's southern Khatlon
region show even greater damage following flooding there,
ITAR-TASS and the Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran
reported. At least 100 people are dead or missing and 4,000
homeless. More than 11,000 hectares of cultivated land are
reported to have been ruined. Relief began arriving from
neighboring Uzbekistan on 7 May, while northern Tajikistan's
Leninabad Region and the Red Cross have sent supplies to the
region. Tajik Prime Minister Yahye Azimov, who was in
Khatlon to inspect the damage, described government relief
efforts as "unsatisfactory." He said the disasters in Garm
and Khatlon clearly show that ministries such as those for
Emergency Situations and Civil Defense "are not ready to
take necessary measures in an emergency." BP

WAHHABI TRIALS BEGIN IN UZBEKISTAN. The trials of 12 out of
a total of 27 suspected Islamic militants began in the
eastern city of Namangan on 7 May, RFE/RL correspondents
reported. The men, who are allegedly Wahhabis, have been
accused of planning the violence in Namangan last December.
Four of the accused have pleaded guilty to taking part in a
conspiracy to undermine the state. In an interview with
Uzbek Television the next day, President Islam Karimov said
the threat of fundamentalism and Wahhabism originates in
Afghanistan. He added that those involved want to make
Tajikistan an Islamic state and then import their "ideology"
into Uzbekistan through the Fergana Valley. BP

KYRGYZ MUFTIAT COMPLAINS ABOUT MEDIA COVERAGE OF MUSLIMS.
Kyrgyzstan's Muftiat or Spiritual Directorate of Muslims has
denounced the coverage of Islam by two of the country's
newspapers, RFE/RL correspondents and Interfax reported. The
statement by the Muftiat said articles in "Utro Bishkeka" on
25 April and in "Vecherny Bishkek" on 1 May attached "labels
of Wahhabites and fanatics to Muslims." Also, the statement
said the articles created a "negative opinion and hatred
toward practicing Muslims" and that authorities were
responsible for permitting the media to "openly provoke" the
population. The deputy editor-in-chief of "Vecherny Bishkek"
responded that the Muftiat is trying to generate anti-
Russian feelings by saying Russians do not respect Muslims.
BP

KAZAKH PRIME MINISTER IN CHINA. Nurlan Balgimbayev told
Chinese officials on 8 May that his country "does not have
and will not have" groups supporting Muslim separatists in
China's Xinjiang Province (the Uyghur Autonomous Region),
ITAR-TASS and Xinhua news agency reported. Kazakhstan
borders Xinjiang Province and has the largest population of
Uyghurs in the CIS. Balgimbayev said after his meeting with
Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongji the previous day that both
countries reaffirmed their commitment to the proposed $9
billion oil pipeline that will transport oil from western
Kazakhstan to China. According to Balgimbayev, a feasibility
study for the project will be completed this December. He
also said China will extend a $100 million loan to small
businesses in Kazakhstan and donate another $100,000 for
Kazakhstan's census next year. Xinhua reported that trade
between Kazakhstan and China totaled $101 million in the
first quarter of 1998, up 19.1 percent on the same period
last year. BP

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