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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 111 Part I, 11 June 1998


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 111 Part I, 11 June 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

* RUSSIAN STOCKS FALL FOLLOWING NEWS OF NO NEW AID

* RUSSIAN OIL, GAS WORKERS SAY PREPARED TO STRIKE

* ARMENIA DENIES INTERFERENCE IN KARABAKH DOMESTIC POLITICS

End Note: VATICAN'S "OSTPOLITIK" ARCHITECT DIES
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RUSSIA

RUSSIAN STOCKS FALL FOLLOWING NEWS OF NO NEW AID. Stocks on
the Russian Trading System fell more than 6 percent on 10
June amid concern that Western nations will not offer Russia
a comprehensive financial aid package. The lack of
confidence comes after senior officials from the G-8 ended
two-days of talks in Paris that focused on Russia's
financial situation. The officials praised Russia's
austerity measures and pledged support through international
lending institutions. But they offered neither new aid nor
new initiatives to help Russia out of its current financial
turmoil. AW

'FINANCIAL TIMES' REPORTS FURTIVE RUSSIAN BORROWING. Russia
has secretly borrowed at least $200 million from Western
commercial banks over the past week to help finance its
stabilization program, the "Financial Times" reported on 11
June, quoting unnamed Western bankers. The Russian Finance
Ministry told the London business daily that it cannot
confirm the loans, which follow a $1.25 billion eurobond
issue last week. Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Boris
Nemtsov said on 10 June that "the most severe financial
crisis" is still not over and that the government will
finish drafting an anti-crisis program in the next few days,
Interfax reported. The government is due to present that
program to the State Duma on 17 June, according to
"Nezavisimaya Gazeta" on 11 June. AW

RUSSIAN OIL, GAS WORKERS SAY PREPARED TO STRIKE. Following
an extraordinary conference, Russia's main oil and gas
workers' trade union adopted a resolution on 10 June calling
for "mass protests including a national strike" if the
government fails to meet its demands within two weeks,
Reuters reported. The demands include cutting electricity,
rail, and oil pipeline tariffs, freezing the sector's debts
to the budget, a six-month moratorium on tax payments, and a
general overhaul of the national tax system. "The market
crisis in southeast Asia and the collapse in oil prices have
weakened oil companies," union leader Lev Mironov said after
the conference. "Now even big companies are unable to pay
workers' wages on time." AW

DUMA DEBATES BILL ON PRESIDENT'S DISMISSAL. The lower house
on 10 June debated a bill that would require the head of
state to undergo a medical exam if he is unable for more
than four months to work full time or if doctors order the
president to reduce his workload, Russian press reported. In
such a case, either the Duma or the Federation Council would
be authorized to ask the Supreme Court to appoint a team of
doctors to examine the president and, based on their
findings, rule whether he could remain in office. The
Russian Constitution says a president must step down if he
suffers a "lasting inability to exercise his powers."
However, the constitution does not explain the process for
removing the president on those grounds. AW

YELTSIN FIRES STATISTICS CHIEF ARRESTED IN TAX SCANDAL.
Yeltsin on 10 June fired Yurii Yurkov, the director of the
country's statistics service, who the previous day was
charged with helping companies evade taxes, Interfax and
ITAR-TASS reported. AW

FEDERATION COUNCIL APPROVES ADOPTION BILL. The Federation
Council on 10 June ratified amendments to the adoption law
that would tighten control over foreign adoptions and
encourage more Russians to adopt children. The changes were
passed by the Duma on 5 June and must still be approved by
Yeltsin, who has not publicly stated his opinion on the
subject. The amendments were proposed by the head of the
Duma's women and family affairs committee, Alevtina Aparina
of the Communist Party, who argued the changes are needed to
better protect children's rights. The bill would allow
foreign adoption agencies to operate in Russia only after
their country signs an agreement with Russia establishing
rules of conduct. AW

HUNDREDS MOURN SLAIN JOURNALIST. Hundreds turned out for the
funeral on 10 June of Larisa Yudina, a journalist and
Yabloko member who was found murdered two days earlier in
the Republic of Kalmykia. Speaking on Russian Television the
same day, Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin described the
slaying of Yudina as "a contract murder, a political
murder," and vowed a thorough investigation of the case,
Reuters reported. ITAR-TASS quoted the presidential press
service as saying Yeltsin has ordered the security services
to investigate the case. It said Yeltsin will personally
monitor the inquiry. AW

OIL OFFICIAL KILLED IN SIBERIAN TOWN. Yurii Zinin, the head
of Sibneft Company, was shot dead on his way to work in
Leninsk-Kuznetskii, Kemerovo Oblast, on 10 June, Interfax
and ITAR-TASS reported. Zinin's company is a local branch of
the oil producer Sibneft, controlled by Boris Berezovskii.
It runs a network of gas stations in the region and also
deals in coal. Officials declined to comment on possible
motives for the murder. However police say the killer fled
the scene leaving his gun behind, a recognized sign of an
organized crime killing. AW

SERGEEV PROPOSES MOSCOW FOR SOME NATO-RUSSIAN COUNCIL
MEETINGS. Defense Minister Igor Sergeev proposed in Brussels
on 10 June that some of the sessions of the new Russian-NATO
council be held in Moscow, AFP and ITAR-TASS reported. The
joint permanent council, set up last year as part of the
Founding Act between Russia and NATO, holds consultative
sessions of its foreign and defense ministers semi-annually.
It also holds monthly meetings at NATO headquarters in
Brussels at ambassador level. Sergeev also praised the
council's work, saying Russia has succeeded in making its
voice heard by NATO members. AW

RUSSIA TO BURY TSAR'S REMAINS, DESPITE PATRIARCH'S ABSENCE.
Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov expressed regret on 10
June that Patriarch of All Russia and Moscow Aleksei II will
not attend the burial of the Nicholas II and his family in
St. Petersburg next month, Interfax reported. The Church's
Holy Synod said on 9 June that no member of the Church
hierarchy will take part in the ceremony but that local
priests will conduct a requiem over the remains, which were
unearthed in a forest in Yekaterinburg in 1991. The Church
has expressed lingering doubt over the identity of the
bones. Nemtsov said the government commission that conducted
extensive tests to identify the remains was ready to allow
anyone who wished to undertake a further examination, ITAR-
TASS reported. Meanwhile, Nemtsov aide Viktor Aksyuchits
told Reuters on 10 June that Yeltsin will "probably not"
attend the Czar's reburial. Analysts say that without the
patriarch, it would be awkward for Yeltsin to attend. AW

RUSSIA SEEKS TO SELL OFF OLD MILITARY JETS. In a bid to
boost the military's budget, the head of Russia's air force,
Anatolii Kornukov, announced on 10 June that the country is
planning to sell off some 600 old military aircraft,
Interfax reported. Kornukov said the arms export firms
Rosvooruzhenie and Promexport will organize the sales.
Military jets such as the MiG-27, MiG-23, and Su-22 could be
put on offer, as well as L-39 training jets or some of the
air force's military transport planes. Russia's S-200 and S-
125 anti-aircraft missile systems and accompanying
instruments and equipment could also go on sale, Interfax
quoted Kornukov as saying. AW

DEPLOYMENT OF S-300s TO BE DELAYED? The Greek Cypriot
National Council has decided to postpone the deployment of
Russian S-300 air defense missiles on the island until this
fall, the "Turkish Daily News" reported on 11 June, citing
Anatolia News Agency. Rosvooruzhenie has repeatedly said
that the missiles will be shipped on schedule, in August
1998. Russian and Greek Cypriot spokesmen on 9 June denied a
"Segodnya" report that the missiles have already been sent
to Cyprus. Russian air force commander General Kornukov told
journalists in Moscow the next day that Greek Cypriot
military officials will test S-300s at a base near Astrakhan
later this month, Interfax reported. LF

INGUSH PRESIDENT WARNS OF NEW VIOLENCE. Meeting with senior
Russian officials in Vladikavkaz on 10 June, Ingush
President Ruslan Aushev complained that the implementation
of measures to expedite the repatriation to North Ossetia's
Prigorodnyi Raion of some 20,000 ethnic Ingush forced to
flee the district in 1992 is being delayed, Interfax
reported. Those measures were agreed upon in Moscow last
August Aushev warned that tensions are increasing following
the abductions of five Ingush and six Ossetians in North
Ossetia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 and 10 June 1998) and that
"the situation may snowball," according to "Kommersant-
Daily" on 11 June. Aushev criticized his North Ossetian
counterpart, Aleksandr Dzasokhov, for failing to take action
to prevent hostage-takings. Dzasokhov has blamed members of
both ethnic groups for trying to sabotage the repatriation
process. LF

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIA DENIES INTERFERENCE IN KARABAKH DOMESTIC POLITICS.
Interviewed by RFE/RL on 10 June, a spokeswoman for Armenian
President Robert Kocharian said that accusations made the
previous day by a senior member of the parliament of the
undeclared Nagorno-Karabakh Republic are "nonsense." That
official had charged that Yerevan is interfering in the
enclave's political affairs in order to gain full control
over Karabakh. Similarly, Armenian presidential adviser Aram
Sarkisian told RFE/RL the same day that Petrosian's
accusations are "groundless," but he added that Armenia is
concerned about the ongoing leadership crisis in Karabakh
and cannot remain "indifferent." Armenian Defense Minister
Vazgen Sarkisian traveled to Stepanakert on 10 June for
talks aimed at overcoming differences within the enclave's
leadership, ITAR-TASS reported. LF

ARMENIA TO STORE FRENCH NUCLEAR WASTE? Union of Greens
chairman Hakob Sanasarian told a human rights seminar in
Yerevan on 9 June that radioactive waste from French nuclear
power stations will soon be transferred to Armenia and
stored in a special facility at the Medzamor nuclear
station, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Sanasarian said
the construction of a special storage facility for nuclear
waste, due to be completed this month, is part of a "secret
deal" between the French and Armenian governments, whereby
France's Framatome company participated in the reactivation
of the Medzamor facility in exchange for storing nuclear
waste there. LF

GEORGIAN, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET. Irakli
Menagharishvili met with his Russian counterpart, Yevgenii
Primakov, in Moscow on 10 June to discuss the situation in
Abkhazia. No details of the meeting were made public, but
Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze said that the
Georgian National Security Council had instructed
Menagharishvili earlier the same day to demand the immediate
implementation of articles of the 25 May protocol that deal
with the repatriation of ethnic Georgians forced to flee
Abkhazia's Gali Raion during last month's fighting, Caucasus
Press reported. Abkhazia wants repatriation pegged to the
relaxing of restrictions on its border with Russia. It also
insists that fugitives may return to Gali only if they
accept Abkhaz citizenship, which is not internationally
recognized, "Vremya MN" reported on 10 June. Georgia argues
that the border restrictions should not be lifted until all
fugitives have returned and joint local administrative
bodies have been established in Gali. LF

UN EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER ABKHAZ SITUATION. Some two weeks
after 35,000-40,000 ethnic Georgians were forced to flee
from Abkhazia, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has expressed
concern at persisting tensions in Abkhazia, Reuters reported
on 10 June. Annan called on both sides "to settle their
dispute at the negotiating table and not through armed
confrontation." Caucasus Press reported on 11 June that the
unarmed UN observer force in western Georgia has refused to
continue monitoring the situation in Gali because of
inadequate measures to ensure its members' safety. LF

CONTROVERSIAL GEORGIAN ELECTION RESULTS TO BE REVIEWED? The
Lagodekhi local election commission has applied to the
Georgian Central Electoral Commission to review the voting
results in two districts where the Socialist Party candidate
far outpolled his rival from the majority Union of Citizens
of Georgia in the 7 June by-election, Caucasus Press
reported on 10 June. Leading Georgian politicians have
charged that "every conceivable sort of violation" was
committed during the voting (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 June
1998). LF

KYRGYZ PRESIDENT SAYS NO MORE DANGER FROM TOXIC
SPILL...Askar Akayev said on 10 June there are no longer any
dangers posed by spill of sodium cyanide near Lake Issyk-
Kul, Interfax and RFE/RL correspondents reported. According
to Akayev, who was speaking in Astana, Kazakhstan, "the lake
is alive and well and is looking forward to tourists." He
added that Issyk-Kul is "absolutely not contaminated" as the
chemical "dissolves into harmless components" when mixed
with water. The same day, officials from the Kumtor gold
mining project told a news conference in Bishkek that
experts from Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs and the
World Health Organization have reached the same conclusion.
BP

...BUT LIABILITY FOR DAMAGES NOW AT ISSUE. At same the news
conference, the new president of Kumtor, Len Homeniuk, and
the head of Kyrgyzstan's state gold company, Dastan
Sarygulov, admitted that the spill of sodium cyanide was
Kumtor's fault and that the company was negligent in
informing the population of the area as to the possible
danger, RFE/RL correspondents reported. However, opinions
differ over who should pay for the cleanup and compensate
residents of the area. Kyrgyz officials, including Akayev,
say the Canadian company that is a partner in the joint
venture, CAMECO Corp., will pay all compensation. CAMECO
officials, however, say that since the company has only a
one-third share in the project, it will pay only one-third
of the costs. BP

ANNAN WANTS BAN LIFTED ON TAJIK POLITICAL PARTIES. UN
Secretary-General Annan, meeting with Tajik President
Imomali Rakhmonov in New York on 9 June, expressed the hope
that the Tajik parliament's ban on religious parties will be
lifted, ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported. Annan noted that the
ban violates the "spirit" of the peace accord, signed in
Moscow last year, which calls for all banned political
parties to be legalized following their disarmament. The UN
acting special envoy to Tajikistan, Paolo Lembo, told the
Tajik National Reconciliation Commission on 10 June that
credit worth $515 million promised by an international
donors conference in Paris last month, will be delivered
only if there is progress in the peace process. BP

KAZAKHSTAN CELEBRATES NEW CAPITAL. A large ceremony in
Astana on 10 June marked the transfer of the Kazakh capital
to that city. Attending the festivities were the heads of
state from Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkey, and
Ukraine, as well as Russian Deputy Premier and special envoy
to the CIS Ivan Rybkin, CIS Executive Secretary Boris
Berezovskii. and officials from the Economic Cooperation
Organization and the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev said the decision to
move the capital from Almaty, in southeastern Kazakhstan, to
Astana, which lies in the approximate geographical center of
the country, was "the result of a centuries-long search,
lengthy contemplation, and heated debates." BP

END NOTE

VATICAN'S "OSTPOLITIK" ARCHITECT DIES

by Jan de Weydenthal

	Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, who was widely considered
an architect of the Holy See's policy of rapprochement with
the communist East, died earlier this week in Rome. He was
83.
	In a commemorative message to the College of
Cardinals, Pope John Paul II said that Casaroli was "a
passionate builder of peaceful relations between individuals
and nations and, by employing the utmost diplomatic
sensitivity, made brave and significant steps, especially in
improving the situation of the Church in Eastern Europe."
	Cardinal Achille Silvestrini, head of the Vatican's
Congregation for Eastern Churches, said that Casaroli
"managed to extract concrete, tangible results" in bilateral
dealings with individual communist regimes.
	Casaroli came to prominence in the early 1960s, when
Pope John XXIII initiated a policy of gradually expanding
contacts with communist countries.
	In 1964, Casaroli achieved a partial accord between
the Vatican and Hungary. Seven years later, this accord
paved the way for anti-communist Cardinal Jozsef Mindszenty
to leave his "voluntary exile" in the U.S Embassy, where he
remained for 15 years following the Soviet suppression of
the 1956 popular revolt against the communist rule.
	In the late 1960s, Casaroli was appointed head of the
Council for the Public Affairs of the Church--or the
Vatican's "foreign minister." In this capacity, Casaroli
successfully negotiated in 1970 the restoration of relations
with Yugoslavia. And in 1971, he visited Moscow to conduct
religious talks with Soviet officials, becoming the first
senior Vatican official to do so.
	Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Casaroli frequently
traveled to Poland to talk with communist rulers there.
During those visits he became closely acquainted with the
future pope, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla. Following his election
as Pontiff in 1978, John Paul confirmed Casaroli as the
Vatican's chief diplomat and a year later appointed him as
secretary of state, the Church's top official after the
pope.
	In 1988 Casaroli visited Moscow again. He was
subsequently credited with successfully persuading the
Soviet officials to allow greater religious freedom for
Catholics in Lithuania, Latvia, Belarus, and Russia itself.
A year later, in December 1989, the last Soviet leader
Mikhail Gorbachev and Pope John Paul met in the Vatican.
Less than four months later the Vatican and Moscow exchanged
ambassadors.
	In December 1990 Casaroli resigned as the Vatican's
secretary of state and was replaced by his long-time
associate, Monsignor (now Cardinal) Angelo Sodano.
	Casaroli was universally acknowledged as a consummate
diplomat and skillful negotiator who was absolutely loyal to
the Church. His role was essentially that of a facilitator--
expanding the Church's work in the ideologically hostile
communist environment, while negotiating a place for the
Church under those difficult conditions.
	The election of Pope John Paul resulted in major
changes to that approach. This became particularly
noticeable during the papal visit to Poland in 1979, the
first to a communist country.
	During his visit the pope presented an uncompromising
critique of the authoritarian government, focusing his
attention on moral issues and human rights rather than
diplomatic exchanges with the leaders and appealing directly
to the public.
	The impact of the visit on Poland was dramatic,
undermining the authority of the established leadership and
encouraging popular self-organization. Just one year
earlier, the first popular social movement, Solidarity, rose
to prominence through a popular rebellion against the power
of the state. While that movement was subsequently crushed
by force, the spirit of public independence and social
autonomy from state control survived and spread to other
countries and societies.
	The activist approach to "pastoral" issues, which
originated in the Polish visit, has characterized the pope's
subsequent visits to other communist and/or authoritarian
states.
	Casaroli, once so dedicated to gradualism and caution,
adjusted to the new situation. His appointment to the
powerful position of Secretary of State confirms that. And
Pope John Paul clearly appreciated the skill and devotion of
the veteran Vatican diplomat.
	Following Casaroli's retirement, the pope was reported
to have said that it was "providential" to have worked with
him during the times of "historic" change in European and
world politics.
	Speaking in Moscow on 9 June, Anatolii Krasikov,
former head of Russian President Boris Yeltsin's press
office, said Cardinal Casaroli was a statesman of
international stature "who like few others left his own mark
on the time in which we live."

The author is an RFE/RL senior correspondent.

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