The last of the human freedoms- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's way. - Victor Frankl
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 101 Part I, 28 May 1998


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 101 Part I, 28 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

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx SPECIAL REPORT xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
CRISIS ON UKRAINIAN FARMS
The decline of Ukraine's agriculture sector has been
continuous since Kyiv declared independence from the Soviet
Union in 1991. This report includes articles and photos.
http://www.rferl.org/nca/special/ukraine-farms/index.html

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Headlines, Part I

* YELTSIN MOVES TO CALM MARKETS

* GOVERNMENT TO LOWER STARTING PRICE FOR ROSNEFT

* ABKHAZ PRESIDENT IMPOSES STATE OF EMERGENCY IN GALI

End Note: ABKHAZ OFFENSIVE RUINS PEACE PROSPECTS
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

RUSSIA

YELTSIN MOVES TO CALM MARKETS... President Boris Yeltsin
told Russian Television viewers on 28 May that the central
bank has enough reserves to defend the ruble and that
ordinary Russians will not suffer from the recent market
uncertainty. He said foreign investors should "feel
confident" that there will be "no collapse" of Russian
financial markets. At the same time, Yeltsin indicated that
"several heads will roll" as a result of recent
developments. The Russian president met with his senior
advisers to discuss plans for coping with the crisis.
Central Bank chairman Sergei Dubinin said after the meeting
that the Russian government is confident that it will not
only cope but will do so in a way that "there will be no
such problems again in Russia." PG

...AS MELTDOWN CONTINUES. Russia's stock and bond markets
continued their downward slide on 27 May and yields on
government treasury bills climbed above 80 percent. At a
joint press conference, Central Bank Chairman Dubinin and
Finance Minister Mikhail Zadornov held and repeated that no
sharp ruble devaluation is in the works, despite the
activities of "speculators" leading the latest attack on the
ruble, Russian media reported. Dubinin announced the second
hike in the Central Bank's refinancing rate in as many
weeks--this time from 50 percent to 150 percent (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 19 May 1998). According to Dubinin, efforts to
prop up the ruble have depleted the Central Bank's gold and
hard-currency reserves by $1.5 billion over the last two
weeks. Those reserves now total some $14 billion. LB

KIRIENKO SAYS TAX POLICE WILL TARGET RICHEST RUSSIANS. Prime
Minister Sergei Kirienko said on 28 May that as part of
Yeltsin's effort to cut the budget deficit by enforcing the
tax laws, the tax police will single out the country's
richest citizens, "the majority of whom," he noted, "do not
pay taxes," ITAR-TASS reported. In a related move, Deputy
Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko told NTV that the Russian
government plans to identify on 29 May firms that are to be
subject to bankruptcy proceedings because they have not paid
taxes. PG

DEPUTY PREMIER DOUBTS CONSPIRACY THEORIES. In an interview
with NTV on 27 May, Khristenko said he does not believe
there is a conspiracy behind the latest crises facing the
government. Some Russian commentators have charged that
financial groups are trying to destabilize the political and
economic situation on many fronts, including orchestrating
the recent protests by coal miners and leading a drive to
devalue the ruble. (For instance, some media financed by
Oneksimbank have seen the hand of CIS Executive Secretary
Boris Berezovskii at work.) Khristenko dismissed speculation
about a grand conspiracy as a "myth" but argued that certain
political and financial groups, which he did not name, are
taking advantage of the crises to promote their own
interests. LB

GOVERNMENT TO LOWER STARTING PRICE FOR ROSNEFT. First Deputy
State Property Minister Aleksandr Braverman on 27 May told
journalists that when the government tries again to sell a
75 percent stake in the oil company Rosneft, it will lower
the starting price, Russian media reported. For the auction
that fell through on 26 May, the minimum bid was $2.1
billion plus $400 million to invest in the company.
Braverman suggested that the government's next asking price
will correspond to the evaluation of the international firm
Dresdner Kleinwort Benson, which in March determined that
$1.6 billion-$1.7 billion would be a fair price for a 75
percent stake in Rosneft. The terms for the new auction are
to be announced no later than 1 June. LB

LUKOIL, ONEKSIMBANK FORM PARTNERSHIP. LUKoil President Vagit
Alekperov and Oneksimbank founder Vladimir Potanin on 27 May
signed a partnership agreement, ITAR-TASS and RFE/RL's
Moscow bureau reported. The oil company and the bank will
cooperate on some oil projects, but Alekperov and Potanin
said they will be involved in different consortiums for the
next Rosneft auction. In addition, the new partnership will
not involve the sale of the Sidanko oil company (in which
Oneksimbank owns a controlling stake) to LUKoil. LB

CHINA CONDEMNS RUSSIAN SHOOTING INCIDENT. The Chinese
Foreign Ministry on 28 May denounced as "drastic" an
incident three days earlier in which Russian border guards
killed two Chinese fisherman, Western agencies reported.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao said that "these
measures are not consistent with friendly and good-
neighborly relations with China." Earlier, Russian officials
had said that the Chinese fisherman failed to respond to
repeated warnings, but Zhu said Beijing believes the
killings could and should have been avoided. PG

RUSSIA REGISTERS CONCERN AT PAKISTANI NUCLEAR TEST...
Russian Deputy Minister of Nuclear Energy Nikolai Egorov
told ITAR-TASS on 27 May that he is concerned about the
political and environmental repercussions should Pakistan
conduct a nuclear test in response to those carried out by
India two weeks ago. But Egorov added that he has no precise
information about Pakistan's nuclear plans. Pakistan
exploded the device on 28 May. LF

...CALLS ON TURKEY TO WITHDRAW TROOPS FROM IRAQ. The Russian
Foreign Ministry issued a statement on 27 May calling on
Turkey immediately to withdraw the troops it has sent to
northern Iraq to target Kurdish insurgents, ITAR-TASS
reported. The statement said the troop deployment is "a
serious violation by Ankara of the fundamental norms of
international law, the sovereignty and territorial integrity
of a neighbor country." It called on Turkey to resolve its
problems with the PKK "not by force but by civilized
political methods." LF

OFFICIAL SAYS NEW TAX CODE TO TAKE BITE OUT OF REGIONAL
REVENUES... Konstantin Laikam, the head of the Economics
Ministry's Finance Department, predicted on 26 May that the
new tax code will lead to a 15 billion ruble ($2.4 billion)
decrease in regional tax revenues, Interfax reported.
Appearing at a conference in Moscow on prospects for tax
reform, Laikam estimated that two-thirds of Russia's 89
regions, including the city of Moscow, would face declining
revenues. The Duma has approved the new draft tax code in
the first reading, but the document may be substantially
amended before a final version is passed. Laikam noted that
transfers of tax revenues from the regions to the federal
budget comprised nearly a third of all federal tax revenues
in 1993 and 1994, but that figure rose to nearly 46 percent
in 1997 and is projected to reach 50 percent this year. LB

...CALLS FOR REVISING DISTRIBUTION OF TAX PROCEEDS. At the
same conference, Laikam called for changing the distribution
of tax proceeds so that the federal government would receive
56 percent of profit tax revenues (instead of the current 75
percent) and 20 percent of income tax revenues (instead of
the current 6 percent). He advocated retaining the current
distribution of value-added tax revenues, which, he said,
are equally divided between federal and regional budgets.
Last year, the government proposed a new tax code that would
have earmarked most revenues from easy-to-collect taxes
(such as the value-added tax) for the federal government.
That code provoked strong opposition from many regional
leaders and was never approved by the Duma. LB

ELECTION COMMISSION CONCERNED ABOUT 'CHARITABLE'
ACTIVITIES... Central Electoral Commission Secretary
Aleksandr Veshnyakov says his commission supports a ban on
charitable activities by candidates for political office or
by their campaign structures, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported
on 27 May. He noted that the commission has received
complaints about former First Deputy Finance Minister Andrei
Vavilov, who is competing in a 31 May election for a State
Duma seat in the Altai Republic. Critics say Vavilov is
trying to disguise his attempts to buy votes as charity.
Agrarian Party leader Mikhail Lapshin, Vavilov's main rival
for the Duma seat, and two other candidates have appealed to
the central and local electoral commissions, the Prosecutor-
General's Office, and the Duma over alleged violations of
electoral procedures by Vavilov, Interfax reported on 25
May. They charge that Vavilov is bribing voters and
benefiting from unlawful support by the Altai authorities.
LB

...SUPPORTS PROCEDURES FOR RECALLING REGIONAL LEGISLATORS.
The Central Electoral Commission has sent regional
authorities a model draft law on procedures for recalling
deputies in legislatures, "Russkii telegraf" on 27 May. Such
laws already exist in 20 regions. The commission's proposal
would allow groups of at least 50 voters to initiate
procedures for recalling legislators whom they do not trust,
or who, they believe, have failed to perform their duties,
broken the law, or disgraced their office. Local electoral
commissions would have the right to set an election on
revoking a deputy's mandate if more votes are cast for
recalling the deputy than were received by the deputy when
elected. The newspaper argued that such a law would allow
groups to remove legislators on purely political rather than
legal grounds. It also said the Constitutional Court ruled
in December 1996 that a recall system has no place in
democratic legislative bodies. LB

MOSCOW COURT DEFIES HIGHER COURT RULING ON RESIDENCE
PERMITS. A Moscow municipal court has ruled against a
citizen who appealed against the city authorities' refusal
to register him as a long-term resident of the capital,
"Kommersant-Daily" reported on 27 May. Andrei Inozemtsev, a
native of Lipetsk Oblast, sought a five-year registration
but was told that residence permits can be issued only for
up to six months. The Constitutional Court has ruled that
city authorities do not have the right to refuse to register
Russian citizens as local residents, and Inozemtsev cited
that ruling in his court appeal. The Moscow court upheld the
city's registration rules, although the authorities did not
send a representative to the hearings. Moscow Mayor Yurii
Luzhkov has vowed to retain the "propiska" system of
residency permits, despite the conclusions of the
Constitutional Court (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 and 13 March
1998). LB

PROSECUTORS LOSE COURT APPEAL AGAINST SARATOV LAND LAW. The
Saratov Oblast Court has rejected attempts by the
Prosecutor-General's official to strike down 14 articles in
the Saratov land law adopted last November, "Kommersant-
Daily" reported on 27 May. Among other things, the
prosecutor's office argued that the constitutional guarantee
of private land ownership rights is not a sufficient legal
basis for a regional law allowing the purchase and sale of
farmland. Representatives of the regional administration and
legislature argued that the Saratov law is bolstered by
several presidential decrees, government resolutions, and
existing federal laws. Yeltsin has praised the Saratov land
law and has encouraged other regions to adopt similar
legislation. LB

SAMARA LEGISLATURE PASSES LAND LAW IN FIRST READING. Samara
Oblast is the latest Russian region to move toward
legalizing the purchase and sale of farmland. The Samara
Duma approved a land law in the first reading on 26 May,
"Russkii telegraf" reported. However, contrary to the wishes
of Samara Governor Konstantin Titov, the legislature amended
the law to prohibit foreigners from buying land. Like its
Saratov counterpart, the Samara law will allow foreigners to
rent land. LB

NEW PARLIAMENT SPEAKER ELECTED IN TATARSTAN. Prime Minister
Farit Mukhametshin was elected the new speaker of
Tatarstan's State Council on 27 May, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau
reported. Seventy-seven deputies voted for Mukhametshin's
candidacy, which was proposed by President Mintimer
Shaimiev, and 50 for Challi mayor Rafgat Altynbaev.
Mukhmetshin served earlier as parliament speaker from 1991-
1995 before being appointed premier. LF

RUSSIAN BORDER GUARDS RELEASED IN CHECHNYA. The last seven
of the 10 Russian border guards abducted in the Ingushetian
capital, Nazran, last month (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 April
1998) were released on Chechen territory on 27 May following
a joint operation by Chechen and Ingush security forces,
ITAR-TASS reported. Their three colleagues had been released
earlier. Meanwhile the search continues for Russian
presidential envoy to Chechnya Valentin Vlasov, who was
abducted on 1 May. Chechen Deputy Prime Minister Kazbek
Makhashev, who is in charge of the investigation, rejected
Russian media reports that Vlasov's kidnappers have demanded
a ransom. Russian Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin
affirmed on 15 May that Vlasov is alive and that his
whereabouts are known approximately. LF

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

ABKHAZ PRESIDENT IMPOSES STATE OF EMERGENCY IN GALI.
Vladislav Ardzinba on 27 May imposed a state of emergency in
Gali and parts of neighboring Ochamchira Raion for three
months, Interfax reported. Speaking later that day at a news
conference in Sukhumi, Ardzinba accused Georgian leaders,
including Tamaz Nadareishvili, chairman of the so-called
Abkhaz parliament in exile, of deliberately provoking the
fighting in Gali in order to bring the entire district under
Georgian control and establish joint local administrative
bodies there, Interfax and Caucasus Press reported. The
resolution on Abkhazia adopted by the CIS Moscow summit in
April mandates the creation of such bodies in order to
expedite the repatriation to Gali of Georgian displaced
persons. Ardzinba expressed his willingness to work for
peace and reconciliation but added that the restoration of
good neighborly relations with Tbilisi is contingent on "a
desire for mutual understanding and compromise." LF

GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT DEBATES GALI EVENTS. Georgian lawmakers
on 27 May adopted a statement accusing Abkhazia of a
deliberate policy of genocide and ethnic cleansing toward
the region's Georgian population, Caucasus Press reported.
The statement claims that since early 1994 some 1,500
Georgian inhabitants of Abkhazia's southernmost Gali Raion
have been killed and 1,000 homes destroyed. It blames the
Abkhaz leadership and the Russian peacekeeping force for the
latest round of fighting and calls on the OSCE and the UN to
raise with the UN Security Council the question of replacing
the CIS peacekeeping force with an international contingent.
Caucasus Press on 28 May quoted Abkhaz Television as
reporting that 300 Abkhaz were killed during the fighting of
the past week. LF

CONTROVERSIAL GEORGIAN PARAMILITARY ORGANIZATION STILL
ACTIVE. The paramilitary organization Mkhedrioni, formally
banned in late 1995 on charges of terrorism and involvement
in the August 1995 attempt to assassinate Shevardnadze, is
still functioning, Caucasus Press reported. Tornike
Berishvili, one of the group's new leaders, told journalists
on 27 May that some 100 Mkhedrioni members took part in the
recent fighting in Gali along with other Georgian guerrilla
units. LF

SOUTH OSSETIAN PARLIAMENT ADOPTS NATIONAL SYMBOL. The
parliament of Georgia's former autonomous republic of South
Ossetia has passed legislation adopting a snow leopard
against a mountain background as the region's national
symbol, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 28 May. That
symbol is very similar to the state symbol of the Republic
of North Ossetia--Alania. South Ossetian parliamentary
chairman Kosta Dzugaev said that South Ossetian citizens had
"persistently demanded" that the region's parliament adopt a
symbol similar to that of North Ossetia. LF

OFFICIAL, UNOFFICIAL RALLIES MARK AZERBAIJANI INDEPENDENCE.
Two demonstrations were held in a Baku suburb on 28 May to
mark the 80th anniversary of the declaration of the
Azerbaijan Democratic Republic in 1918, RFE/RL's Baku bureau
reported. Some 4,000 people congregated near the cemetery
where the family of Mehmet-Emin Rasulzadeh, one of the ADR's
founders is buried, while 600 people attended a rally
convened by the ruling Yeni Azerbaycan party at a nearby
statue of Rasulzadeh. Police have cordoned off Azadlyg
Square in central Baku to prevent opposition supporters
gathering there. LF

AZERBAIJAN CASTS DOUBT ON ARMENIAN SPY CLAIMS. The press
service of Azerbaijan's National Security Ministry has
rejected as "pure invention" a 23 May Armenian Television
broadcast reporting the arrest of a Russian former colonel
recruited by Azerbaijan to carry out espionage activities in
Armenia, Turan reported on 27 May. The Russian was charged
with infiltrating the military leadership of either Armenia
or Nagorno-Karabakh, according to Interfax. LF

KYRGYZ PREMIER COMMENTS ON ISSIK-KUL DISASTER. Kubanychbek
Jumaliev held a press conference in Bishkek on 28 May to
report on the consequences to date of the sodium cyanide
spill into the Barskoon River, RFE/RL correspondents
reported. Jumaliev said more than 1,000 residents of the
southern Issik-Kul area have sought medical treatment and at
least 93 have been kept in the hospital. Two people have
died, while eight are in a serious condition and have been
moved by helicopter to better facilities in Bishkek, he
noted. The previous day, Deputy Premier Boris Silayev said
the Kumtor Mining Company was irresponsible in its handling
of the situation, pointing to the company's failure to
inform the Kyrgyz government or local residents for several
hours after the spill. A team of experts from the World
Health Organization is due to inspect the scene of the
incident on 28 May. BP

TAJIK PEACE PROCESS AT STANDSTILL. The 23 May decision of
the parliament to ban religious parties has brought the
Tajik peace process to a halt. A 26 May meeting of
representatives of the nations and organizations
guaranteeing that process yielded only a statement
encouraging the two sides to engage in further talks, ITAR-
TASS reported. The following day, President Imomali
Rakhmonov met with United Tajik Opposition leader Said
Abdullo Nuri behind closed doors, but no details were
provided. Also on 27 May, U.S. State Department spokesman
James Rubin called on Rakhmonov to use his powers to veto
the parliament's decision on political parties. Rubin said
the decision violates the terms of the peace accord. He also
hinted that international aid to Tajikistan may be
threatened if the provisions of the UN-mediated peace accord
are not fulfilled. BP

TAJIK OPPOSITION SAYS NO FOREIGN TERRORISTS ON TAJIK SOIL.
Sultan Khamadov, the UTO's press secretary, told ITAR-TASS
on 27 May that the UTO is neither training nor harboring
foreign terrorists. Khamadov invited the UN observer mission
in Tajikistan to send representatives to UTO camps to verify
his statements. He was responding to the Uzbek and Kyrgyz
governments' claims that the UTO is providing bases for
terrorists whose aim is to commit acts of sabotage in
Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. BP

NAZARBAYEV WRAPS UP MIDDLE-EAST VISIT. Kazakh President
Nursultan Nazarbayev concluded his three-day official visit
to the United Arab Emirates on 27 May, following a trip to
Qatar, ITAR-TASS and RFE/RL correspondents reported. The two
Arab countries have promised to provide $100 million in
loans for developing Kazakhstan's new capital, Astana, and
improving environmental conditions around the Kazakh section
of the Aral Sea. Nazarbayev invited both countries to
participate in Kazakh natural gas and oil projects. He also
signed agreements on trade and economic cooperation and on
setting up embassies in both countries. BP

REGIONAL AFFAIRS

RUSSIA SAYS 'POSITIVE DYNAMICS' IN RELATIONS WITH UKRAINE.
In a statement released following Russian Foreign Minister
Yevgenii Primakov's visit to Ukraine, the Russian Foreign
Ministry said Russian-Ukrainian relations have assumed
"positive dynamics." Primakov and his Ukrainian counterpart,
Borys Tarasyuk, told journalists after their 27 May meeting
that both sides showed "a constructive approach and good
will" in discussing bilateral relations, Ukrainian
Television reported. Tarasyuk said that a "zero option" was
considered for dividing the property of the former USSR and
that significant progress was made toward delimiting the
Russian-Ukrainian maritime border in the Azov Sea. JM

..WHILE PRIMAKOV REAFFIRMS RUSSIAN OPPOSITION TO NATO
EXPANSION. Primakov also stressed in Kyiv that Russia "has
been, is, and will be against NATO expansion," Itar-Tass
reported. The Russian foreign minister added that there is
no chance that Russia will become a member of the alliance
but will cooperate with it in order to reduce tensions in
Europe. Primakov's remarks came on the first anniversary of
the signing of the NATO-Russia partnership accord. The same
day, Colonel General Leonid Ivashov told "Nezavisimaya
gazeta" that Europe will become "unstable" if NATO were to
make "former Soviet republics" candidates for NATO
membership. And NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana wrote
in "Izvestiya" that he hoped people in Moscow can maintain
an open mind about the alliance. PG

END NOTE

ABKHAZ OFFENSIVE RUINS PEACE PROSPECTS

by Liz Fuller

	Clashes last week between Georgian guerrillas and
Abkhaz Interior Ministry forces in Abkhazia's southernmost
Gali Raion precipitated a major offensive that has claimed
more than 100 lives and in effect destroyed what tenuous
chances had existed for achieving a formal settlement of the
deadlocked conflict.
	On 18 May, Georgian guerrillas from the so-called
White Legion killed some 20 Abkhaz police officers in a
surprise attack. Two days later, Abkhaz forces armed with
heavy artillery launched a counteroffensive against several
Gali villages. Estimates of casualties differ widely, but it
appears that dozens of Georgian civilians have been killed,
as well as a similar number of Abkhaz and Georgian
combatants. In addition, 30,000-40,000 ethnic Georgian
repatriates who returned to the homes in Gali, from where
they had fled during the 1992-1993 war have again sought
refuge on the other side of the border between Abkhazia and
the rest of Georgia.
	 On 24 May, Georgian Ambassador to Russia Vazha
Lortkipanidze and Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba agreed
on the wording of a protocol on a cease-fire, the withdrawal
from Gali of Abkhaz reinforcements sent there over the past
few days, and the return of the Georgian fugitives. Meeting
in Gagra the next day, Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli
Menagharishvili and his Abkhaz counterpart, Sergei Shamba,
signed that protocol, while the UN special envoy to Georgia
and the commander of the Russian peacekeeping forces
appended their signatures to it.
	The cease-fire was scheduled to take effect at 6:00
a.m. local time on 26 May and to be followed within hours by
the withdrawal of forces from the 12-kilometer security zone
on the northern side of the border between Abkhazia and the
rest of Georgia. But hostilities continued for most of that
day, with each side accusing the other of violating the
cease-fire agreement. (Given that the Georgian leadership
has repeatedly disclaimed any connection with or control
over the Georgian White Legion and other guerrilla forces in
Abkhazia, it is unclear how the former intended to ensure
the latter would comply with the cease-fire.) On 27 May,
Abkhaz spokesmen claimed to have expelled the last Georgian
guerrillas from Abkhaz territory.
	It is also unclear, however, whether the White Legion
has in effect been neutralized. Before the most recent
fighting, spokesmen for the Georgian displaced persons from
Abkhazia predicted that failure to expedite the repatriation
of those persons could prompt thousands of Georgians to join
the partisans. Moreover, unclarity surrounds the alleged
links between the White Legion and the Georgian authorities
: the legion is said to take orders from Tamaz
Nadareishvili, the chairman of the Abkhaz parliament in
exile composed of the ethnic Georgian deputies from the
Abkhaz parliament elected in 1991. Nadareishvili is a member
of the Georgian National Security Council.
	The fighting over the past week has called into
question the effectiveness of both the CIS peacekeeping
forces that were deployed in the security zone in 1994 to
oversee the repatriation of the Georgian displaced persons
and of the UN observer force in western Georgia. One of the
White Legion's commanders has charged that the CIS
peacekeepers did nothing to prevent the Abkhaz from bringing
heavy artillery into the security zone in violation of the
cease-fire agreement signed in May 1994. Nadareishvili, for
his part, accused the peacekeepers of failing to take any
measures to protect the civilian population from Abkhaz
reprisals. As for the (unarmed) UN observers, they were said
to have done nothing except take photographs of the fighting
and compile reports to be sent to the UN secretary-General.
	The most serious consequence of the fighting, however,
is the setback to the process of repatriation. Abkhaz,
Georgian, Russian, and UN representatives had signed an
agreement on repatriation in April 1994, but the Abkhaz had
for years systematically sabotaged its implementation.
Moreover, many Georgians had simply circumvented the
repatriation procedure and returned spontaneously to their
homes. After they were forced last week to flee for a second
time, the Abkhaz torched many abandoned Georgian dwellings.
At the CIS summit in Moscow in late April, participants had
agreed on a new document detailing measures to expedite the
repatriation process. But its implementation was contingent
on the presence of the CIS peacekeeping force, whose
withdrawal the Abkhaz parliament subsequently demanded.
	There is also precious little hope that the two sides
can be persuaded to resume negotiations on Abkhazia's future
status vis-a-vis the central Georgian government in Tbilisi.
Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze recently proposed
that Georgia become an "asymmetric federation" in which
Abkhazia, Adjaria, and South Ossetia enjoy varying degrees
of autonomy. Abkhaz President Ardzinba, however, rejected
that variant out of hand, insisting that Abkhazia and
Georgia "establish state and legal relations as equal
subjects of international law." And following the actions of
the Georgian guerrillas over the past few days, the Abkhaz
leadership has even less incentive than before to agree to a
compromise with Tbilisi.

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