Coleridge declares that a man cannot have a good conscience who refuses apple dumplings, and I confess that I am of the same opinion. - Charles Lamb
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 92 Part I, 15 May 1998


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 92 Part I, 15 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

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxSPECIAL REPORTxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
COMMUNIST HOUSING: A FLAW IN THE DESIGN
More than 170 million people in Eastern Europe and the
former Soviet Union live in decaying housing complexes. This
five-part series examines the issues, compares East Berlin's
rehabilitation success story with Prague's less than
successful efforts, and describes the state of U.S. public
housing.
http://www.rferl.org/nca/special/housing/

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Headlines, Part I

* COAL MINERS TAKE EXTREME MEASURES TO PROTEST WAGE ARREARS

* DUMA TO HOLD CLOSED HEARINGS ON START-2

* UN PROLONGS OBSERVER MISSION IN TAJIKISTAN
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

RUSSIA

COAL MINERS TAKE EXTREME MEASURES TO PROTEST WAGE ARREARS.
Some 1,000 unpaid miners in Anzhero-Sudzhensk (Kemerovo
Oblast) blocked the Trans-Siberian Railroad on 15 May, the
eighth day of their strike, ITAR-TASS reported. In Komi
Republic, more than 100 miners are on hunger strike and
hundreds more have blocked the Vorkuta-Moscow Railroad since
13 May, although they allowed some passenger trains through
on 15 May. Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov met with
representatives of miners' unions in Moscow the previous day
and promised that the government will take steps to help the
coal industry. He estimated total wage arrears to miners at
3.5 billion rubles ($573 million). RFE/RL's Moscow bureau
reported on 13 May that since ordinary strikes and
demonstrations gain little attention, coal miners more
frequently stage hunger strikes, block railroads, and
blockade coal enterprise directors and city officials in
their offices (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 May 1998). LB

RADIOACTIVE CESIUM STOLEN IN VOLGOGRAD, TULA. Police in
Volgograd Oblast have discovered that six lead containers of
radioactive cesium have been stolen from a local oil
refinery, NTV reported on 14 May. The theft may have
occurred as long as a week ago, the network said. Citing a
representative of the Federal Security Service, ITAR-TASS
reported on 15 May that two containers of cesium were stolen
in Tula Oblast but have already been found. The official
said the containers are not dangerous if they remain sealed
but would release high levels of radioactivity if opened.
ITAR-TASS said similar containers were stolen from a
chemical factory in Volgograd in 1994. Six people who
allegedly intended to sell the cesium abroad were arrested
and convicted for that crime. LB

DUMA TO HOLD CLOSED HEARINGS ON START-2. The State Duma
voted on 14 May against a proposal by its Foreign Relations
Committee to form a 20-strong commission to conclude the
Duma's review of the START-2 treaty and to prepare
ratification documents relating to the 1972 U.S.-Soviet
agreement on limiting anti-ballistic missile systems. At the
same time, the lower house instructed the committee to hold
closed hearings on 9 June on ratifying START-2, Russian
agencies reported. Speaking in Moscow on 14 May, Duma
speaker Gennadii Seleznev argued that the Duma does not have
the right to begin debating ratification until the Russian
government allocates the necessary funding for implementing
the treaty. No such funds are included in the 1998 budget.
Former Russian Deputy Defense Minister and Duma deputy Boris
Gromov argued in favor of ratification on the grounds that
it would cost more to maintain Russia's "exhausted" nuclear
potential than to reduce it, Interfax reported. LF

TURKEY WARNS RUSSIA OVER S-300S. Defense Minister Ismet
Sezgin told journalists in Izmir on 14 May that Ankara will
purchase arms only from those countries that "support our
causes." He condemned as "madness" the planned deployment in
southern Cyprus of Russian S-300 air defense missiles. The
Russian Foreign Ministry and the arms export concern
Rosvooruzhenie said earlier this week that Moscow intends to
proceed with the planned deployment, which Turkish Chief of
Staff General Ismail Hakki Karadayi has called the most
serious threat to Turkey's security since World War II. LF

DUMA CONCERNED ABOUT CHUBAIS APPOINTMENT... The Duma on 14
May instructed its committees on legislation, privatization,
and industrial policy to examine the Audit Chamber's
findings on an April shareholders' meeting at the
electricity giant Unified Energy System (EES), Russian news
agencies reported. The board of directors elected at that
meeting later chose former First Deputy Prime Minister
Anatolii Chubais as the company's chief executive (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 30 April and 7 May 1998). The Audit
Chamber says the meeting was conducted in violation of
Russian legislation and the EES charter. Also on 14 May, the
Duma appealed to President Boris Yeltsin to reconsider his
decision to eliminate the State Committee on Youth Affairs,
which was among several committees abolished under a recent
presidential decree (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May 1998). LB

...FORMS COMMISSION TO INVESTIGATE FALL 1993 EVENTS. The
Duma on 14 May formed a commission to investigate the events
that took place in Moscow in September-October 1993, ITAR-
TASS reported. On 21 September of that year, Yeltsin issued
a decree disbanding the Supreme Soviet. His opponents did
not comply with the decree, which the Constitutional Court
declared unconstitutional, and sought to replace Yeltsin
with then Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi. Yeltsin
ultimately settled the standoff by ordering tanks to shell
the parliament. According to official estimates, almost 150
people died during the street fighting in the capital (other
estimates put the figure at several hundred). LB

RYBKIN BECOMES YELTSIN'S ENVOY TO CIS. Yeltsin has appointed
Ivan Rybkin as his envoy to the CIS states, Russian news
agencies reported on 14 May. According to presidential
spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii, the holder of the new post
in the presidential administration will have a rank
equivalent to that of deputy prime minister. In March,
Yeltsin transferred Rybkin from Security Council secretary
to deputy prime minister in charge of CIS issues, but that
government post no longer exists. Last month, the CIS
presidents voted to appoint Boris Berezovskii, an ally of
Rybkin, as CIS executive secretary (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
29 and 30 April 1998). LB

NEMTSOV TO HEAD STATE REPRESENTATIVES IN GAZPROM. Yeltsin
has appointed Deputy Prime Minister Nemtsov as chairman of
the 10-member collegium of state representatives in the gas
monopoly Gazprom, Russian news agencies reported on 14 May.
Yeltsin created the collegium in May 1997, and then First
Deputy Prime Minister Nemtsov repeatedly promised to
increase the state's influence in managing the company. (The
state owns a 40 percent stake in Gazprom.) But Yeltsin
removed Nemtsov from the collegium last December in a move
seen as a signal of the rising influence of then Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 and
23 December 1997). Chernomyrdin headed Gazprom before
joining the government in December 1992. LB

CHERNOMYRDIN CONSIDERING BID FOR DUMA SEAT. Aleksandr
Shokhin, the head of the Our Home Is Russia (NDR) Duma
faction, announced on 14 May that Chernomyrdin, the NDR
leader, is considering a bid for the State Duma, Russian
news agencies reported. Several NDR deputies want him to run
for the seat in Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug that has been
vacated by Vladimir Goman, who left the Duma's Russian
Regions faction to become chairman of the State Committee on
the North. Shokhin said the former premier has not decided
whether to run. Yamal-Nenets has immense gas reserves, and
Gazprom has vast political influence in the okrug.
Meanwhile, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 13 May that
Vladimir Babichev, head of the NDR's political council and
former head of the government apparatus, plans to compete in
a Duma by-election in Chukotka Autonomous Okrug. LB

NEWSPAPER ASSAILS 'DEBT PYRAMID,' CENTRAL BANKER.
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 14 May charged that the federal
government's system of issuing treasury bills (GKOs) has
created a dangerous "debt pyramid." Noting that new GKOs are
issued to repay the holders of old GKOs and that one-third
of federal expenditures are currently spent on internal debt
servicing, the newspaper drew repeated comparisons between
the GKOs and Sergei Mavrodi's infamous MMM pyramid scheme,
which defrauded millions of investors in the mid-1990s.
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" also slammed Central Bank Chairman
Sergei Dubinin, saying that under his leadership the bank
has failed to create a stable banking network, make the
ruble fully convertible, or protect Russian financial
markets from "shocks" in the world economy. "Nezavisimaya
gazeta," which is financed by Boris Berezovskii's LogoVAZ
empire, has accused the Central Bank of contributing to
instability on Russian financial markets (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 24 February 1998). LB

BANKER FINED FOR REFUSING TO DISCLOSE CONFIDENTIAL
INFORMATION. A city court in Vladivostok has fined Valentina
Panteleeva, the acting head of the Primorskii Krai branch of
the Central Bank, for refusing to reveal confidential
information about a local commercial bank, "Kommersant-
Daily" reported on 12 May. Panteleeva refused to comply with
a request from krai prosecutors to send information obtained
during a Central Bank audit of the commercial bank. The case
highlights the contradictions between the federal law on the
activities of Russian prosecutors (which gives prosecutors
the right to demand information necessary for conducting an
investigation) and the federal law on banking secrets (which
does not list the prosecutor's office among the agencies
that have the right to ask for confidential information
about banks). LB

KRASNOYARSK INCUMBENT WAGES ACTIVE CAMPAIGN. In the final
days before the runoff gubernatorial election in Krasnoyarsk
Krai, incumbent Valerii Zubov is waging a far more active
campaign than is his challenger, Aleksandr Lebed, RFE/RL's
correspondent in Krasnoyarsk reported on 14 May. The pop
singer Alla Pugacheva arrived in Krasnoyarsk on 14 May and
held a press conference and television interview in support
of Zubov. Although she did not attack Lebed, she said he
would not be a good governor. Another famous singer,
Lyudmila Zykina, has come to the krai in order to give two
concerts in support of Zubov, Russian news agencies
reported. Meanwhile, Lebed and his supporters continue to
express confidence about the election. A newspaper published
by his campaign staff has appeared with a headline heralding
"the final hours" of the current authorities. LB

FORMER POLITICAL ALLY SLAMS LEBED. Duma deputy Dmitrii
Rogozin, the chairman of the Congress of Russian Communities
(KRO), sharply criticized Lebed at a 14 May press conference
in Moscow, Russian news agencies reported. Lebed ran on the
KRO's party list for the 1995 Duma elections, but relations
soured after he became Security Council secretary in summer
1996 and especially after he negotiated a ceasefire
agreement in Chechnya. Rogozin recently returned from a
visit to Krasnoyarsk, where the KRO is campaigning against
Lebed. He accused Lebed of spending $10 million, some of it
foreign money, on his gubernatorial bid. Rogozin also
charged that Lebed's campaign staff have broken campaign
rules more than 60 times but have received only three
warnings from the krai electoral commission. LB

CAMPAIGN HEATS UP IN KARELIA. Emotions are running high in
the final days before the 17 May runoff election for the top
post in the Republic of Karelia. The incumbent, Viktor
Stepanov, has the backing of the Communist Party and the
heads of many large enterprises. Supporters of former
Petrozavodsk Mayor Sergei Katanandov include the Our Home Is
Russia movement, the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia
(LDPR), and the Moscow city government. In the first round,
Katanandov narrowly outpolled Stepanov (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 27 April 1998). LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky
blasted Stepanov during a recent appearance on local
television. The incumbent subsequently announced plans to
sue Zhirinovsky for going beyond "all acceptable boundaries"
of human behavior and the television station "for providing
air time during the campaign to a citizen having dubious
personal characteristics," ITAR-TASS reported on 14 May. LB

NIZHNII COURT CONSIDERS WOULD-BE MAYOR'S APPEAL. A Nizhnii
Novgorod raion court is considering Andrei Klimentev's
appeal against the decision to annul the 29 March mayoral
election in the city, ITAR-TASS reported on 13 and 14 May.
Klimentev won the election by a narrow margin, but the city
electoral commission canceled the results, citing violations
committed by several candidates during the campaign (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 31 March and 1 April 1998). Klimentev is
in custody facing trial for alleged embezzlement. Because of
mistakes made by his representative in filing court papers,
he is not allowed to attend the hearings on the election
annulment. LB

DUMA CALLS ON CHECHEN PARLIAMENT TO EXPEDITE VLASOV'S
RELEASE. The Duma Nationalities Committee appealed to the
Chechen parliament on 14 May to take all measures to secure
the release of abducted Russian presidential envoy to
Chechnya Valentin Vlasov, ITAR-TASS reported. Russian
government envoy to Chechnya Georgii Kurin said on 14 May
after meeting with Chechen Deputy Prime Minister Kazbek
Makhashev that he believes Vlasov may be freed within the
next few days. Kurin also discussed with Makhashev the
planned reopening of a Russian Interior Ministry mission in
the Chechen capital. Sixty Chechen police officers are to
undergo a training course in Moscow, Interfax reported on 14
May, quoting Russian Deputy Interior Minister General
Valerii Fedorov. LF

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

UN PROLONGS OBSERVER MISSION IN TAJIKISTAN. The UN Security
Council on 14 May voted unanimously to extend for six months
(until 15 November) the mandate of its 70-strong observer
mission in Tajikistan. The subsequent council resolution
expressed concern at the recent renewal of hostilities
between government and opposition troops. Meeting with Paolo
Lembo, the UN representative in Dushanbe, United Tajik
Opposition leader Said Abdullo Nuri expressed reservations
about UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's proposal that
parliamentary elections scheduled for later this year be
postponed, according to an RFE/RL correspondent in the Tajik
capital. LF

KYRGYZ RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS FORM COMMITTEE TO PROTECT
ISLAM. A number of religious organizations have established
a committee in Bishkek to counter anti-Islamic measures by
the Kyrgyz leadership, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported on
14 May. Human Rights Movement of Kyrgyzstan Chairman
Tursunbek Akunov said that the Kyrgyz government is cracking
down on religious organizations under the pretext of
combatting Wahhabism, which, he claimed, does not pose a
threat in Kyrgyzstan. Also on 14 May, Russian presidential
spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii invited Kyrgyzstan to join
the tripartite alliance created by Russia, Uzbekistan, and
Tajikistan earlier this month to combat religious extremism,
ITAR-TASS reported. LF

SHEVARDNADZE, BEREZOVSKII DISCUSS CIS, ABKHAZIA. Georgian
President Eduard Shevardnadze said after his 14 May meeting
with CIS Executive Secretary Boris Berezovskii that their
views on the CIS "are not contradictory" even if they do not
coincide. The two men did agree, however, on the need to
overcome what Berezovskii termed "political alienation"
within the CIS and on priorities for reform within that
body. Alluding to the unresolved Abkhaz conflict,
Shevardnadze said the CIS cannot function effectively if it
is unable to guarantee the territorial integrity of member
states, an RFE/RL correspondent in Tbilisi reported.
Berezovskii said he believes it is "quite possible" that a
solution to that conflict can be reached. He called for
increasing efforts to that end, including bilateral
negotiations between the Georgian and Abkhaz leadership. LF

ABKHAZ LEADERSHIP AGAIN REJECTS FEDERATION. Abkhaz Foreign
Minister Sergei Shamba continues to insist that Abkhazia's
status is already defined in the region's constitution and
is not a subject for discussion with Tbilisi, Interfax
reported on 14 May. Shamba ruled out the idea of a
federation with Georgia. Shevardnadze has advocated that
Georgia become an "asymmetric federal state" in which
Abkhazia would have broader autonomy than Adzharia or South
Ossetia. LF

MINSK GROUP CO-CHAIRMEN IN STEPANAKERT. The three co-
chairmen of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in
Europe's Minsk Group met with the leadership of the
unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic behind closed doors
in Stepanakert on 14 May. Those taking part included the
republic's Foreign Minister Naira Melkumian and President
Arkadii Ghukasian, Noyan Tapan reported. Ghukasian stressed
his commitment to a peaceful settlement of the conflict and
appealed to the co-chairmen to ensure that negotiations
resume. LF

ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT SPEAKER ARGUES AGAINST PRE-TERM
ELECTIONS. Khosrov Harutiunian said on 14 May that there is
no need to dissolve the parliament and hold pre-term
parliamentary elections as there is no "internal political
crisis" in Armenia, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. He
said the current parliament should be allowed to complete
its four-year term, which expires in the summer of 1999.
Some of the political parties aligned in the Justice and
Unity bloc, created in March to support acting President
Robert Kocharian's presidential bid, want early elections as
they are under-represented in the legislature. President
Kocharian met on 14 May with members of the Justice and
Unity bloc to discuss their proposal for creating a
"consultative political council" on which all main political
parties would be represented. LF

REGIONAL AFFAIRS

CONTINUED CONTROVERSY OVER RATIFYING RUSSIA-UKRAINE TREATY.
Russian State Duma Chairman Gennadii Seleznev told ITAR-TASS
on 14 May that "the treaty with Ukraine will be ratified
when the Supreme Council of Ukraine considers the issue of
the division of the Black Sea Fleet." Hennadiy Udovenko,
former Ukrainian foreign minister, commented to the news
agency that Seleznev's stance is "absolutely erroneous" and
that the ratification of the treaty should not be linked to
the ratification of a package of three agreements on the
Black Sea Fleet's division. Meanwhile, speaking to
journalists on 13 May and in an interview with the Kyiv
official daily "Uryadovyy kuryer" published the next day,
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk said he hopes the
Russian-Ukrainian treaty will be ratified prior to Russian
Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov's visit to Kyiv scheduled
for 26-27 May. The treaty was signed by the presidents of
the two countries last May. JM

UKRAINE, BP DISCUSS CASPIAN OIL EXPORT. President Leonid
Kuchma held talks in Kyiv on 14 May with the president of
British Petroleum, Ian Rushby, Interfax reported. The talks
touched on the export of Azerbaijani Caspian oil via the
Odessa-Brody pipeline, which is currently under
construction. A major partner in the first international
consortium created to develop Azerbaijan's offshore oil
fields, BP is lukewarm about the proposed construction of
the Baku-Ceyhan oil export pipeline. Rushby confirmed that
more than one pipeline would be used for the export of
Azerbaijani oil from Baku. Also on 14 May, the Ukrainian
government issued instructions to the State Committee for
the Oil and Gas Industry to draw up plans for creating an
international consortium to complete construction of the
Odessa-Brody pipeline and the Odessa oil terminal, which
will have an annual capacity of 12 million metric tons. LF

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