On this shrunken globe, men can no longer live as strangers. - Adlai Stevenson
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 94 Part I, 19 May 1998


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 94 Part I, 19 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
INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE: MAKING IT WORK FOR HUMANITY
Next month, work will begin on the creation of a permanent
International Criminal Court. This four-part series explores
the ramifications of a new criminal court and how the
current war crimes tribunals are handling cases related to
the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
http://www.rferl.org/nca/special/courts/index.html

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Headlines, Part I

* CENTRAL BANK RAISES INTEREST RATES AMID MARKET TURMOIL

* LEBED SETS AGENDA AS KRASNOYARSK GOVERNOR

* ARMENIAN NEWSPAPER ROW ENDS
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RUSSIA

CENTRAL BANK RAISES INTEREST RATES AMID MARKET TURMOIL. The
Central Bank on 19 May raised the refinancing rate and the
Lombard rate to 50 percent, an 18-month high. The rate hikes
were announced the evening of 18 May, after the Russian
stock market posted a 12 percent fall earlier that day and
Russian bond markets were battered. Market analysts quoted
by Western news agencies attributed the declines to flight
by foreign investors and nervousness related to the market
turmoil in southeast Asia. According to AFP, the Russian
stock market has fallen 40 percent since the start of the
year. On 15 May, the Central Bank announced plans to raise
the Lombard rate from 30 percent to 40 percent, effective 18
May, but said the refinancing rate would remain unchanged at
30 percent. The rate hikes are intended to stave off a sharp
devaluation of the ruble. LB

OFFICIAL SAYS RATE HIKE 'SHORT-TERM' MEASURE. Interfax on 19
May quoted Central Bank Deputy Chairman Aleksandr Potemkin
as saying the "harsh" measure to increase the refinancing
and Lombard rates to 50 percent will be "of a short-term
nature." He expressed the hope that "in the near future we
will be able to return to a more acceptable level of
interest rates that are easier on the economy." Earlier this
year, the Central Bank announced plans to bring the
refinancing rate down to between 15 percent and 18 percent
by the end of 1998. Inflation is expected to register in
single digits for the year. LB

LEBED SETS AGENDA AS KRASNOYARSK GOVERNOR. Aleksandr Lebed
outlined several priority tasks he will address after he is
inaugurated as governor of Krasnoyarsk Krai during a lengthy
interview with NTV on 18 May. Lebed said he is preparing a
package of more than two dozen agreements to supplement a
power-sharing treaty that President Boris Yeltsin and then
Krasnoyarsk Governor Valerii Zubov signed last November on
behalf of the federal and krai authorities. He also said he
plans to work within the Federation Council to change
policies on taxation and transportation fees, which, he
said, are hurting industry in Krasnoyarsk. (All regional
leaders automatically become deputies in the upper house of
the Russian parliament.) Lebed repeated that he will try to
prevent "fires" in the North Caucasus region from being
"rekindled," adding that "I have authority and influence
there. People there respect me." LB

KREMLIN OFFICIALS SAY THEY WILL COOPERATE WITH LEBED.
Presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii told Ekho
Moskvy on 18 May that the presidential administration will
cooperate with all three winners of the 17 May regional
elections, including Lebed. Aleksandr Livshits, the deputy
head of the presidential administration, told journalists in
Moscow that "we are ready to work with any governor,"
Interfax reported. He added that "political and ideological
qualities vanish" after someone is elected governor and
needs to tackle the region's economic relations with the
federal authorities. Meanwhile, Communist Party leader
Gennadii Zyuganov on 18 May described Lebed's victory as a
"misfortune" for Russia. But Lebed, who is likely to face
Zyuganov in a future presidential campaign, told Interfax
that the Krasnoyarsk election shows the Communist leader is
"out of the game." Zyuganov has described Lebed as "a young
Yeltsin, but three times worse," RFE/RL's Moscow bureau
reported on 13 May. LB

YELTSIN TO PUSH PARLIAMENTARY LEADERS ON START-2. President
Yeltsin is to make the case for ratifying the START-2 arms
control treaty during a meeting of the "big four" (Yeltsin,
Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko, Federation Council Speaker
Yegor Stroev, and State Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev)
within the next few days, presidential spokesman
Yastrzhembskii announced during an 18 May appearance on Ekho
Moskvy. Both Russian and U.S. officials have said the next
summit meeting between Yeltsin and U.S. President Bill
Clinton will not take place until Russia has ratified the
treaty. The Duma was scheduled to hold closed hearings on
the treaty next month (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 May 1998),
but Duma Geopolitics Committee Chairman Aleksei Mitrofanov
of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia told Russian news
agencies on 19 May that the hearings have been postponed
until September. LB

RUSSIA NEEDS AID TO DESTROY CHEMICAL WEAPONS. Colonel-
General Stanislav Petrov, commander of the Defense
Ministry's Radiation, Chemical and Biological Defense
Forces, says Russia currently lacks the funds to destroy its
chemical weapons stockpiles within the time frame imposed by
the Chemical Weapons Convention, ITAR-TASS and AFP reported
on 18 May. Appearing at a conference in The Hague on
Russia's chemical weapons, Petrov said Russia faces
"significant financial and political problems" and will need
to attract non-budgetary sources of financing, as well as
foreign aid and technical assistance, in order to meet the
deadline for destroying the stockpiles. The Chemical Weapons
Convention, which Russia ratified last November, requires
treaty members to destroy their chemical weapons within 10
years of ratification. Russia has the world's largest
chemical weapons stockpile, estimated at 40,000 tons. LB

RUSSIA STILL PLANS TO CONSTRUCT NUCLEAR POWER PLANT IN
INDIA. Atomic Energy Minister Yevgenii Adamov told
journalists on 18 May that recent nuclear tests conducted by
India will not affect his ministry's plans to construct a
nuclear power plant in Kudankulam, India, Russian news
agencies reported. He said that if Russia were to abrogate
the contract on building the plant (signed during the Soviet
era), it would look as if Moscow is imposing sanctions
against India, "which is not Russia's stand." Georgii
Kaurov, press secretary of the Atomic Energy Ministry, told
Interfax that while the ministry does not welcome India's
nuclear tests, it distinguishes between peaceful and
military uses of nuclear energy. Meanwhile, presidential
spokesman Yastrzhembskii announced on 16 May that during a
visit to India planned for 6-8 December, Yeltsin will urge
India to join treaties on non-proliferation and on banning
nuclear tests. LB

SELEZNEV SUPPORTS INDIA'S NUCLEAR TESTS. Duma Speaker
Seleznev on 16 May said that India "acted correctly" in
conducting nuclear tests, Russian news agencies reported. He
argued that "one can only rejoice at India's enhanced
feeling of national pride. It has not curtailed its nuclear
program, despite U.S. pressure." LB

MINERS' PROTESTS CONTINUE TO SPREAD. Unpaid coal miners in
Anzhero-Sudzhensk (Kemerovo Oblast) blocked the Trans-
Siberian railroad on 19 May for the fifth straight day,
RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. A trade union official in
Kemerovo told RFE/RL by telephone that miners in Prokopevsk
may block another section of the Trans-Siberian, which would
cut off all rail traffic from the Far East. Meanwhile,
miners from the Donbass region of Rostov Oblast on 18 and 19
May blocked the North Caucasus railroad. A trade union
official in Tula Oblast told Interfax on 18 May that miners
may block six major railroads and highways if the federal
government does not meet miners' demands. On 19 May, Deputy
Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov is to meet with leaders of
regions that have a substantial coal industry. Nemtsov
chairs a government commission on the socio-economic
problems of coal-mining regions. LB

SCIENTISTS BLOCK MAJOR ROAD IN PRIMORE. More than 200
scientists from research institutes in Primorskii Krai
blocked a major road connecting Vladivostok and Khabarovsk
for two hours on 19 May, ITAR-TASS reported. They were
protesting the low level of state support for the sciences
and monthly wages averaging a mere 300-400 rubles ($49-65)
for scientific workers. Also on 19 May, teachers across
Primorskii Krai interrupted their classes to stage
demonstrations outside local administration buildings. Wage
arrears to teachers in Primore are estimated at 110 million
rubles. LB

GREECE TO EXTRADITE KEY FIGURE IN CORRUPTION CASE. The Greek
Supreme Court on 15 May decided to extradite Andrei Kozlenok
to Russia, where he faces charges in connection with a $180
million embezzlement case, Russian news agencies reported.
The Greek Justice Ministry, which has the final say on the
extradition, is expected to approve the ruling. Kozlenok
argued that the case against him is politically motivated
and that the Russian authorities will intimidate or silence
witnesses who could vindicate him, "Kommersant-Daily"
reported on 16 May. He also claimed that if he returns to
Russia, he will suffer the same fate as a former associate
who was found hanging in his jail cell (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 20 February 1998). Several former high-ranking
officials in the government and the State Committee on
Precious Metals may be implicated in the case, which
involves the sale of diamonds and precious metals. LB

LAWYERS DECRY CHARGES AGAINST ENVIRONMENTALIST. Genri Reznik
and Yurii Shmidt, who are representing retired Navy Captain
Aleksandr Nikitin, said on 15 May that the criminal charges
against their client violate Russian law and the
constitution, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. Nikitin
helped write a report for the international environmental
group Bellona about possible radioactive contamination from
Russia's Northern Fleet. He was arrested in February 1996
and held in pre-trial detention for 10 months before being
released and ordered not to leave St. Petersburg. Criminal
charges were recently filed against him for the seventh
time. Federal Security Service officials and Atomic Energy
Minister Yevgenii Adamov, among others, have claimed that
Nikitin revealed state secrets in the Bellona report. Reznik
and Shmidt say the charges are based on secret Defense
Ministry documents and note that the constitution prohibits
charging citizens with a crime based on unpublished
information. LB

CE CRITICIZES PRESIDENTIAL POWERS, HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD. The
Council of Europe has warned in a report released on 15 May
that the broad powers of the Russian presidency could in
"cases of abuse" lead the country to a "presidential
dictatorship," AFP reported. The report suggested that a
dictatorship could arise if the growing activity of
organized crime groups enhanced popular support for a
"commanding figure" to restore order. The report also
charged that prison conditions are in some cases "tantamount
to torture" and alleged that prison overcrowding is partly
caused by the "excessive use of arrest as a means of
repression." The report slammed what it called the "basic
failure to observe recent rules and regulations," citing
Russia's failure to adopt a legislative ban on the death
penalty. Abolishing capital punishment is a condition of
membership in the council, which Russia joined in early
1996. LB

EXTREMIST LEADER DENIES RESPONSIBILITY FOR SYNAGOGUE
BOMBING. Aleksandr Barkashov, leader of the national-
socialist group Russian National Unity (RNE), on 15 May
denied that his group carried out the 13 May bombing at a
Moscow synagogue, Interfax reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
14 May 1998). Earlier on 15 May, Interfax quoted Moscow
police sources as saying an anonymous caller claimed
responsibility for the bombing on behalf of the RNE. But
Barkashov alleged that the act was a "callously planned
provocation mounted by the victims themselves." The RNE
publishes neo-Nazi literature and claims that Jews,
Chechens, and other minority groups are subjugating ethnic
Russians. Regional and Nationalities Policy Minister
Yevgenii Sapiro speculated during a 15 May press conference
that one of Russia's parties whose members wear "black
uniforms and swastikas"--a description that fits the RNE--
may have carried out the bombing, ITAR-TASS reported. LB

GROUP'S LEGAL STATUS UNCERTAIN. Barkashov's movement is
registered in some Russian regions, and paramilitary units
trained by the RNE have helped the police patrol the streets
in a few cities, such as Voronezh. However, the Justice
Ministry, which is in the process of re-registering
political parties and movements, has refused to register
Barkashov's movement at the federal level. In January, the
RNE lost an appeal against that decision in a Moscow
district court, and last month it lost another appeal in the
Moscow City Court, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 29
April. High-ranking members of the movement have vowed to
take the case to the Supreme Court. Even if that appeal is
rejected, the RNE could still be registered later this year
if it holds a congress to approve certain changes to its
charter, according to "Nezavisimaya gazeta." LB

KARELIAN LEADER SEEKS TO CHALLENGE ELECTION RESULT. Viktor
Stepanov, who lost his job as the top official in the
Republic of Karelia in a 17 May election, says he has
appealed to the republican Supreme Court to examine possible
vote fraud, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported on 18 May. State
Duma deputy Aleksandr Salii of the Communist faction, who
observed the Karelian elections, says ballots were handled
carelessly and were printed on newsprint without any special
precautions against falsification. But "Kommersant-Daily"
reported on 19 May that both the Karelian Prosecutor's
Office and the republican electoral commission have
announced that the election results were valid. During the
final week of the campaign, Stepanov accused the campaign
staff of his opponent, Sergei Katanandov, of using "dirty
methods," including slander, according to the 14 May "IEWS
Russian Regional Report." LB

DAGESTANI OFFICIAL ASSASSINATED. Kurban Kurbanov, head of
the local administration of Daghestan's Akusha Raion, and
his driver were shot dead by unidentified killers early on
19 May, an RFE/RL correspondent in Vladikavkaz reported.
Kurbanov was elected district administration head in March,
after his predecessor was killed in the same way. LF

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN NEWSPAPER ROW ENDS. The staff of the Russian-
language daily newspaper "Respublika Armeniya," which is
funded by the parliament, has ended its standoff with
parliamentary speaker Khosrov Harutiunian and agreed to his
appointee as the newspaper's new editor, Ramkavar-Azatakan
Party member Shamiram Aghabekian, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau
reported on 18 May. The newspaper's staff had protested that
Aghabekian's appointment was illegal, and some launched a
strike to demand that acting chief editor Ashot Gazazian be
appointed permanently to that post. Gazazian and four other
journalists have resigned, however, rather than work under
Aghabekian. LF

MORE GUERRILLA CLASHES IN ABKHAZIA. Georgian guerrillas
killed 17 Abkhaz policemen in a surprise attack in the
village of Repi in Abkhazia's southernmost Gali Raion on 18
May, according to an RFE/RL correspondent in Tbilisi. Also
on 18 May, the Russian-Georgian Inter-Parliamentary
Commission met in Sochi to discuss means of resolving the
Abkhaz conflict. Two Abkhaz parliamentary deputies also
attended the session. Kakha Chitaia, chairman of the
Georgian parliamentary Commission on International Affairs,
stressed Georgia's readiness to achieve a peace settlement
based on compromise. LF

BAKU-SUPSA PIPELINE TO BE COMPLETED ON SCHEDULE. Meeting in
Baku on 18 May with Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev,
Georgian parliamentary speaker Zurab Zhvania said that
reconstruction of the oil export pipeline from Baku to the
Georgian Black Sea port of Supsa and construction of
terminals at Supsa and Poti will be completed by October
1998, Interfax and Turan reported. He said he is confident
that the financial problems connected to the pipeline
repairs can be overcome. Estimates of the cost of those
repairs were recently raised, triggering disagreements
between the Azerbaijani International Operating Company
exploiting three offshore Caspian oil fields and
Azerbaijan's state oil company SOCAR (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
7 and 20 April 1998) over how the repairs will be funded. LF

TURKEY, AZERBAIJAN, GEORGIA AFFIRM SUPPORT FOR BAKU-CEYHAN
PIPELINE. Following three days of talks, Turkish Energy
Minister Cumhur Ersumer and senior Georgian and Azerbaijani
oil sector officials signed a memorandum of intent in
Istanbul on 15 May, Caucasus Press reported on18 May. That
document affirms their support for the Baku-Ceyhan route for
the main export pipeline for Caspian oil. The presidents of
the three countries are to sign an agreement to this effect
in September, 1998. LF

TURKMEN PRESIDENT ON CASPIAN PIPELINES, CIS. In a speech to
foreign diplomats in Ashgabat on 16 May, Saparmurat Niyazov
affirmed his opposition to the Russian and Kazakh demand
that the Caspian seabed, but not its waters, be divided into
national sectors, Interfax reported. Niyazov said that the
proposed Trans-Caspian pipeline is contingent on resolving
the dispute between Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan over the
delineation of their respective sectors of the Caspian. He
added that the Trans-Caspian pipeline is not an alternative
to planned Trans-Iranian pipelines for exporting Turkmen gas
to Europe and the Persian Gulf. He also invited Russian
participation in the construction of pipelines and the
exploitation of Turkmenistan's hydrocarbon resources. And he
repeated his objection to the creation of supranational
regulating agencies within the CIS, expressing skepticism
that the planned CIS interstate conference will yield
solutions to the problems facing the organization. LF

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