A man seldom thinks with more earnestness of anything than he does of his dinner. - Samuel Johnson
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 102 Part I, 29 May 1998


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 102 Part I, 29 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
RUSSIAN MEDIA EMPIRES III
A new prime minister has taken office, Boris Berezovsky's
now a CIS official, and the state plans to form a new media
holding company. See our updated media report.
http://www.rferl.org/nca/special/rumedia3/index.html
(English)
http://www.rferl.org/bd/ru/russian/content/reports/rumedia3/
index.html
(Russian)

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Headlines, Part I

* MOSCOW MOVES TO CUT SPENDING, BOOST REVENUES

* GOVERNMENT SACKS TOP ROSNEFT EXECUTIVES

* RUSSIA CONDEMNS ABKHAZ STATE OF EMERGENCY
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

RUSSIA

MOSCOW MOVES TO CUT SPENDING, BOOST REVENUES. The government
on 29 May issued a directive on measures to cut federal
spending by 41.9 billion rubles ($6.8 billion) this year,
Reuters reported. The directive calls for raising 5 billion
rubles in tax arrears from 20 large firms next month and
revoking a March decision to cut excise duties on oil.
President Boris Yeltsin on 29 May issued a decree on
measures to boost revenues, Interfax reported. According to
presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii, the decree
will make it easier to seize property owned by tax debtors.
Meanwhile, Yeltsin has sacked State Tax Service chief
Aleksandr Pochinok and replaced him with State Duma deputy
Boris Fedorov, a former finance minister. Also on 29 May,
the extraordinary presidential commission on tax and budget
discipline is meeting to discuss tax arrears of more than a
dozen large firms. LB

IMF LEADERSHIP TO RECOMMEND DISBURSEMENT OF LOAN TRANCHE.
The IMF's leadership will recommend that the fund's board of
directors agree to disburse the next $670 million tranche of
a four-year loan to Russia, Interfax reported on 29 May,
citing a press release from the fund's Moscow office. Senior
IMF Russian expert John Odling-Smee arrived in Moscow the
previous day for talks concerning the tranche. Some Russian
media have reported that the government is seeking a special
multi-billion-dollar IMF credit to help calm the markets.
Deputy Finance Minister Oleg Vyugin on 28 May said such a
loan would play a great "psychological" role but added that
there are "real chances to save the situation without extra
help," according to Reuters. The newspaper "Vremya MN" on 29
May quoted Central Bank First Deputy Chairman Sergei
Aleksashenko as saying that he did not discuss any special
credit during his meeting with Odling-Smee. LB

YELTSIN POSTPONES MEETING WITH BANKERS. Presidential
spokesman Yastrzhembskii told Interfax that a meeting
between Yeltsin and influential businessmen scheduled for 29
May has been postponed until 2 June to allow the president
to prepare "concrete proposals." The meeting is to include
the founders of six major Russian banks, Gazprom head Rem
Vyakhirev, Unified Energy System Chief Executive Anatolii
Chubais, and LUKoil President Vagit Alekperov (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 26 May 1998). On 27 May, Prime Minister Sergei
Kirienko discussed the situation on Russian markets with
four of the businessmen who have been invited to meet with
Yeltsin: Oneksimbank founder Vladimir Potanin, Media-Most
head Vladimir Gusinskii, SBS-Agro bank head Aleksandr
Smolenskii, and Menatep bank founder Mikhail Khodorkovskii.
The same day, Central Bank Chairman Sergei Dubinin met with
representatives of several leading Russian and foreign
investment banks, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 29 May. LB

MARKETS SHOW SLIGHT IMPROVEMENT. Russian share values rose
on 28 May by an average of 6 percent, Reuters reported.
Yields on government treasury bills fell slightly the same
day but remained about 70 percent, according to the "Moscow
Times." In an interview published in "Vremya MN" on 29 May,
Central Bank First Deputy Chairman Aleksashenko claimed that
the bank has "completely turned around" the situation on the
currency market and has begun buying back some of the
dollars sold in recent days to shore up the ruble. He said
Russia's gold and hard-currency reserves now exceed $14.5
billion. LB

GOVERNMENT SACKS TOP ROSNEFT EXECUTIVES. The government on
28 May dismissed Yurii Bespalov, chief executive of the
state-owned oil company Rosneft, and Aleksandr Putilov, the
chairman of the company's board of directors. Interfax and
Reuters quoted an unnamed government official as saying the
firings are linked to the recent failure of an auction to
sell a 75 percent stake in Rosneft (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
27 and 28 May 1998). The source said Bespalov and Putilov
opposed the government's plans to privatize the company,
adding that the government will sack leaders of other
companies in which the state has a controlling stake if
those leaders "do not carry out government decisions." LB

CHUBAIS IN U.S. TO MEET WITH EES SHAREHOLDERS. Chubais flew
to the U.S. on 28 May to meet with foreign shareholders in
the Unified Energy System (EES) company, Russian news
agencies reported. Yeltsin recently signed a law that limits
the number of shares in EES that can be held by foreigners,
and some government officials have blamed that law for
provoking the steep declines on the Russian markets.
"Russkii telegraf" on 29 May suggested that during his U.S.
visit, Chubais will also hold negotiations on taking out
foreign loans to help EES pay its tax debts. LB

RUSSIA DEPLORES PAKISTANI NUCLEAR TESTS. The Russian Foreign
Ministry issued a statement on 28 May expressing "deepest
concern" that Pakistan went ahead with nuclear weapons tests
despite "persistent appeals by the world community to show
restraint," Interfax reported. The statement said that "a
real threat is emerging" of the spread of nuclear weapons,
and it urged all states that have not yet done so to accede
to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. State Duma
International Affairs Committee chairman Vladimir Lukin
(Yabloko) and Geopolitics Committee chairman Aleksei
Mitrofanov (Liberal Democratic Party of Russia) said that
"the struggle for nuclear non-proliferation is lost." They
predicted that Iran, Israel, and possibly Saudi Arabia,
South Africa, and South Korea will redouble their efforts to
acquire nuclear potential. LF

RUSSIA MAY NOT MEET OBLIGATIONS FOR NEW SPACE STATION. Yurii
Koptev, director of the Russian Space Agency, said at a
cabinet meeting on 28 May that if his country cannot finance
its share of the international space station, its status may
be downgraded from partner to contractor, Interfax reported.
Koptev said Russia is unlikely to meet its part of the
construction schedule owing to lack of finances. However, he
said other countries participating also have problems
meeting their deadlines, adding that the original time frame
was "overly optimistic." The first stage of construction is
slated to begin in the last quarter of this year but now
seems likely to be delayed again by nearly one year. With
regard to the fate of the "Mir" space station, Koptev said
there are options for closing it down late this year or
early next year. The agency is also considering moving the
aging station into a higher orbit rather than crashing the
140 ton station into the Pacific Ocean. BP

RUSSIA, CHECHNYA SIGN LEGAL COOPERATION AGREEMENTS. Meeting
in the Ingushetian capital, Nazran, on 28 May, Russian and
Chechen officials signed three cooperation agreements,
Russian agencies reported. The agreements focus on
coordinating anti-crime activities and exchanges of
information between Prosecutor-General's Offices and Justice
Ministries as well as between the Russian Interior Ministry
and the Chechen Shariat Security Ministry. A preliminary
protocol on such cooperation was signed in Nazran earlier
this month (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 May 1998.) Russian
Prosecutor-General Yurii Skuratov, who attended the Nazran
talks, told journalists that there are no legal grounds to
close the criminal case against Chechen Prime Minister
Shamil Basaev for his role in the 1996 Budennovsk raid,
Interfax reported. But Skuratov added he did not discuss
Basaev's case during the 28 May talks. LF

YELTSIN WANTS FREE MEDIA TO SUPPORT STATE POLICIES...
Yeltsin on 28 May told the top executives of Russia's three
major television networks that the state has no plans to
restrict media freedom but added that "we have the right to
ask you to promote state policy," Russian news agencies
reported. Yeltsin arranged the meeting with Kseniya
Ponomareva, director-general of 51 percent state-owned
Russian Public Television, Mikhail Shvydkoi, chairman of
fully state-owned Russian Television, and Oleg Dobrodeev,
director-general of the private network NTV after
presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii accused unnamed
Russian media of going "beyond reasonable limits" in their
coverage of recent protests by coal miners (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 26 May 1998). ITAR-TASS quoted Shvydkoi as saying
the president wants media coverage to help "common sense and
national interests triumph." LB

...AND NOT LEAVE OUT GOOD NEWS. In a nationwide radio
address on 29 May, Yeltsin argued that it is important for
the media "not to forget to tell their readers, listeners,
and viewers" good news about what is going on in Russia. He
acknowledged that it is "not possible to keep quiet" about
bad news but said journalists often concentrate too much on
violence, crime, and catastrophes. He added that "the
principle of freedom of the press does not mean
premissiveness and open cynicism and does not mean
irresponsibility and forgetting about professional ethics."
LB

NTV DIRECTOR, FOUNDER DEFEND NEWS COVERAGE. NTV Director-
General Oleg Dobrodeev told RFE/RL's Moscow bureau on 28 May
that he defended his network's coverage of the recent
miners' protests during Yeltsin's meeting with top
television executives. Vladimir Gusinskii, whose Media-Most
holding company owns a controlling stake in NTV, also
defended the network's broadcasts in an appearance at a
Moscow conference organized by the U.S.-based watchdog group
Freedom Forum. He argued that Yeltsin's recent decree
creating a holding company for state-owned electronic media
violates Russian legislation on the mass media. Gusinskii
told RFE/RL after the conference that the authorities should
do their job, such as collecting taxes and paying state
employees, and leave journalists to do theirs. LB

ANOTHER NEWSPAPER BEGINS PUBLICATION. The newspaper "Vremya
MN," which was launched on 20 May and currently appears
three times a week, is expected to begin daily publication
in the coming months. The newspaper's editor-in-chief is
Vladimir Gurevich, a longtime economic reporter and deputy
editor of the weekly "Moskovskie novosti." There are already
more than a dozen daily newspapers in Moscow, but in an
interview with "RFE/RL Newsline" on 27 May, Gurevich
dismissed as an "illusion" the belief that the market is
oversaturated. He argued that there is a niche for a
"quality newspaper" that presents a balanced point of view
and differentiates between news reports and opinion columns.
The Central Bank is not formally involved in "Vremya MN" but
is close to several banks, including the Sberbank savings
bank, that are providing indirect financial support through
the newspaper's partner company, Media Finance. LB

AGRARIAN LEADER CLAIMS ALTAI LEADER BREAKING CAMPAIGN RULES.
Agrarian Party leader Mikhail Lapshin on 28 May charged that
Semen Zubakin, the head of the Altai Republic, is "openly
using all acceptable and unacceptable measures" supporting
the campaign of former First Deputy Finance Minister Andrei
Vavilov, who is running in a 31 May by-election for a seat
in the State Duma. Lapshin is Vavilov's main rival for the
seat, which Zubakin gave up when he was elected to the top
post in Altai last December. Lapshin has already accused
Vavilov of trying to buy votes, an allegation Vavilov denied
in an interview with "Kommersant-Daily" on 28 May.
Meanwhile, Gazprom head Rem Vyakhirev arrived in Altai
Republic on 28 May to support Vavilov, who is an adviser to
Vyakhirev. According to "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 28 May, the
popular singer and Duma deputy Iosif Kobzon will fly to
Altai on 29 May in order to support Vavilov. The same day,
Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov is scheduled to
campaign on behalf of Lapshin. LB

NIZHNII COURT CONVICTS WOULD-BE MAYOR. The Nizhnii Novgorod
Oblast Court on 27 May found the businessman Andrei
Klimentev guilty of embezzling some $2 million of a Finance
Ministry loan, Russian media reported. Klimentev received a
six-year prison sentence, which will include time he has
already spent in detention (18 months when his case was
first being investigated and tried plus eight weeks since
his re-arrest on 2 April). Klimentev won the 29 March
mayoral election in Nizhnii, but his victory was annulled by
the city's electoral commission, with the approval of
federal officials. He will now almost certainly be barred
from competing in the repeat mayoral election, to be held
later this year, unless the Supreme Court overturns the
oblast court's ruling. LB

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

RUSSIA CONDEMNS ABKHAZ STATE OF EMERGENCY. In a statement
issued on 28 May, the Russian Foreign Ministry called on the
Abkhaz to comply with the 25 May cease-fire protocol,
Interfax reported. The statement condemned President
Vladislav Ardzinba's 28 May decision to impose a state of
emergency on Gali and parts of two adjoining raions, terming
it an attempt to prevent the return to their homes of ethnic
Georgians who fled during the fighting. Such restrictions
are "blatantly inconsistent with international standards"
and with the repatriation agreement signed by Abkhaz,
Georgian, Russian, and UN representatives in April 1994, the
Russian statement concluded, adding that the repatriation of
fugitives is essential to restoring peace in the region. LF

UN, OSCE, TURKEY EXPRESS CONCERN OVER ABKHAZ FIGHTING. The
UN Security Council issued a statement on 28 May registering
"grave concern" at the recent hostilities in Abkhazia and
the resulting loss of life, Reuters reported. It called on
Secretary-General Kofi Annan to secure the support of all
sides for deploying additional UN troops to protect the
unarmed UN Observer Mission in western Georgia. OSCE
Chairman-in-Office Bronislaw Geremek likewise expressed
concern over the deteriorating situation in Gali Raion,
saying it "seriously threatens UN-led efforts to achieve an
overall solution of the conflict and poses a danger to the
security of other regions of the Caucasus." The Turkish
Foreign Ministry affirmed Ankara's support for steps to
resolve the Abkhaz conflict "through peaceful means,
[preserving] Georgia's sovereignty and territorial
integrity." Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze canceled
a planned visit to Turkey on 28 May because of the Abkhaz
crisis, Caucasus Press reported. LF

GEORGIA, ABKHAZ WEIGH PEACEKEEPING OPTIONS. Georgian
presidential press spokesman Vakhtang Abashidze said on 28
May that Tbilisi is hoping the UN will agree to launch a
peace-enforcing operation in Abkhazia, Interfax reported.
Shevardnadze had proposed such a Bosnia-style intervention
earlier this year before the recent fighting erupted (see
"End Note," "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 January 1998). But
Ardzinba signaled he will reject such a proposal, which he
told Interfax would "trigger a new blood bath that will
spill over the borders of the region." He suggested that if
such a peace-enforcing operation is launched it should be
directed against Georgia, which he called the aggressor in
the conflict. LF

GEORGIAN OPPOSITION BLAMES SHEVARDNADZE FOR DEFEAT. Several
Georgian opposition parties and the Coordinating Council of
Political Organizations of Abkhazia, which represents ethnic
Georgian displaced persons from the region, have all
condemned the Georgian leadership's handling of the past
week's fighting, specifically its failure to provide
military support to the Georgian guerrillas, according to
Caucasus Press. Nationalist Party leader Zaza Vashakmadze
and Union of Traditionalists of Georgia Chairman Akaki
Asatiani both called for Shevardnadze's resignation.
Asatiani and Vakhtang Bochorishvili, the chairman of the
Konstantine Gamsakhurdia Society, have identified Russia as
"the winner in this game." LF

ARMENIAN PRESIDENT STRESSES NEED FOR STRONG ARMY. In a radio
address to the nation on 28 May to mark the 80th anniversary
of the First Armenian Republic, President Robert Kocharian
said contemporary Armenia must have a "strong state
structure" and "galloping economic growth." "We are obliged
to become the best organized state in the region," Kocharian
said. "We are simply doomed to have a powerful army, without
which the balance of forces in our complicated and unstable
region will be disrupted." Also on 28 May, "Hayastani
Hanrapetutyun" quoted Murad Petrosian, chairman of the
Defense and Security Committee of the Nagorno-Karabakh
parliament, as advocating that Prime Minister Leonard
Petrosian should resign to make way for "new people" who are
"clever and creative organizers" such as Defense Minister
Samvel Babayan. LF

ARRESTS IN ARMENIAN CORRUPTION SCANDAL. Officials from the
Prosecutor-General's Office said on 27 May that several top
managers at the newly privatized ArmenTel telecommunications
company have been arrested on charges of taking bribes,
RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. They are to be detained
pending an investigation into the company's operations.
Former Communications Minister Grigor Poghpatian has already
been interrogated by the office in connection with the case,
according to Armenian media reports. Greece's OTE acquired
90 percent of ArmenTel's stock in late 1997 in a deal worth
some $500 million. The Armenian government retained the
remaining 10 percent stake. LF

ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER IN TASHKENT. Returning from China to
Israel on 28 May, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stopped
in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, according to Interfax and
Jerusalem Television Channel 2. Netanyahu met with Uzbek
President Islam Karimov and Prime Minister Utkir Sultanov to
discuss regional issues, particularly the possible
acquisition of nuclear arms by Iran. Netanyahu extended an
invitation to Karimov to visit Israel, which the Uzbek
leader accepted. Interfax reported there are 25,000 Jews
currently living in Uzbekistan, down from the 145,000
recorded in the 1989 census, and that 10 new synagogues have
been built since Uzbekistan gained independence in 1991. BP

NAZARBAYEV LAUDS SOUTH KOREAN INVESTMENT. At a ceremony
opening the LG Electronics Plant in Almaty, Kazakh President
Nursultan Nazarbayev praised South Korea for being the
biggest direct foreign investor in Kazakhstan, Interfax
reported. The plant will manufacture up to 300,000
televisions annually and employ more than 1,000 local
workers. Nazarbayev noted that South Korean direct
investment now totals $750 million. BP

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
               Copyright (c) 1998 RFE/RL, Inc.
                     All rights reserved.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

HOW TO SUBSCRIBE
Send an email to newsline-request@list.rferl.org with the
word "subscribe" as the subject or body of the message.

HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE
Send an email to newsline-request@list.rferl.org with the
word "unsubscribe" as the subject or body of the message.
________________________________________________
CURRENT AND BACK ISSUES ON THE WEB
Back issues of RFE/RL Newsline and the OMRI Daily Digest are
online at: http://www.rferl.org/newsline/search/
_________________________________________________
LISTEN TO NEWS FOR 18 COUNTRIES
RFE/RL programs for countries in Eastern Europe, the
Caucasus, Central Asia, Russia and the South Slavic region
are online daily at RFE/RL's 24-Hour LIVE Broadcast Studio.
http://www.rferl.org/realaudio/index.html
_________________________________________________
REPRINT POLICY
To receive reprint permission, please contact
Paul Goble, Publisher
Email: GobleP@rferl.org
Phone: 202-457-6947
Fax: 202-457-6992
Postal Address:  RFE/RL,  1201 Connecticut Ave., NW
Washington, DC  20036  USA
_________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE STAFF
* Paul Goble, Publisher, GobleP@rferl.org
* Liz Fuller, Editor-in-Chief, CarlsonE@rferl.org
* Patrick Moore, Team Leader, MooreP@rferl.org
* Laurie Belin, BelinL@rferl.org
* Jan Maksymiuk, MaksymiukJ@rferl.org
* Bruce Pannier, PannierB@rferl.org
* Michael Shafir, ShafirM@rferl.org
* Jan Cleave, CleaveJ@rferl.org

Freelance And Occasional Contributors
* Fabian Schmidt
* Matyas Szabo
* Pete Baumgartner
* Jeremy Bransten
* Jolyon Naegele
* Anthony Wesolowsky
* Julia Guechakov

RFE/RL Newsline Fax: (420-2) 2112-3630
_________________________________________________
RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC

[English] [Russian TRANS | KOI8 | ALT | WIN | MAC | ISO5]

F&P Home ° Comments ° Guestbook


1996 Friends and Partners
Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole
Please visit the Russian and American mirror sites of Friends and Partners.
Updated: 1998-11-

Please write to us with your comments and suggestions.

F&P Quick Search
Main Sections
Home
Bulletin Board
Chat Room
F&P Listserver

RFE/RL
1999
1998
1997
1996
1995
1994
1993
1992
1991
Search

News
News From Russia/NIS
News About Russia/NIS
Newspapers & Magazines
Global News
Weather

©1996 Friends and Partners
Please write to us with any comments, questions or suggestions -- Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole