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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 112 Part I, 12 June 1998


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 112 Part I, 12 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

* CABINET PLANS ANTI-CRISIS PROGRAM

* THREE ARRESTED FOR MURDER OF KALMYKIA JOURNALIST

* GEORGIAN-ABKHAZ TALKS ADJOURN

End Note: HOW NOT TO FIGHT AN ANCIENT EVIL
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RUSSIA

CABINET PLANS ANTI-CRISIS PROGRAM. The government on 11 June
agreed to submit an anti-crisis program to the State Duma by
the end of the month, Russian agencies reported. It also
approved increasing Russian international bond issues from
$3.5 billion to $6 billion this year in order to reduce
interest rates domestically and keep the budget deficit
within planned limits. And it approved a draft bill that
would significantly simplify taxes on small businesses by
establishing a single lump sum payment from each. Also on 11
June, the Central Bank reported that its reserves of
currency and gold increased by nearly $500 million from 29
May to 5 June. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister's Office has
denied reports that the government has decided to raise
tariffs on imports by 5 percent, but a spokesman admitted
that a plan to do so is being studied. PG

MINERS MARCH FOR PAY, YELTSIN'S OUSTER. Hundreds of miners
from Komi Republic marched through Moscow on 11 June to
demand payment of back wages and the removal of President
Boris Yeltsin from office, Reuters reported. Aleksandr
Sergeev, the head of the Independent Union of Russian
Miners, told a news conference that "we are tired of empty
promises." But he said he is against any effort by other
political groups to exploit the miners' protest, according
to Russian agencies. In a related development, the head of
the energy and construction workers union, Lev Mironov, said
that some of his members are so angry wage arrears that they
have begun to stage spontaneous work actions, including
turning off oil wells, Interfax reported. PG

YELTSIN SAYS RUSSIA "ON RIGHT COURSE." President Yeltsin on
12 June that despite financial problems, industrial strikes,
and difficulties that were not foreseen when the Russian
Congress of People's Deputies declared the Russian
Federation's sovereignty eight years ago, the country is "on
the right course," dpa reported, citing Interfax. Yeltsin
expressed confidence that "in the end all the problems will
be overcome and in the new millennium, Russia will be a
dynamically developing, strong, and prosperous country."
Yeltsin was speaking at a Kremlin reception to present
awards to cultural figures on the occasion of Russia's Day.
He also made a nationwide radio address to mark the
anniversary. Later on 12 June, some 500,000 people are to
gather on Red Square for a gala concert, ITAR-TASS reported.
PG/LF

ROSNEFT SLATED TO BE PRIVATIZED THIS YEAR. Deputy Prime
Minister Viktor Khristenko told Interfax on 11 June that
Rosneft will be privatized this year. To aid that process,
the oil company will stage exhibitions for possible foreign
buyers in the U.K. and the U.S. PG

YELTSIN ORDERS CUT IN CONSUMER GAS PRICES. President Yeltsin
has signed a decree ordering suppliers to cut prices to
wholesalers and the latter to cut prices to consumers over
the next 18 months, Interfax reported on 11 June. The decree
calls on Gazprom to draft a plan over the next month to give
discounts and allow for the restructuring of debts to that
firm. PG

IMF REPORTEDLY PRESSES RUSSIA TO ADOPT AUSTERITY MEASURES.
Western agencies and newspapers on 11 June reported that the
IMF has sent a letter to Moscow urging the Russian
government to reduce its budget deficit, pass tax reform,
dismember Gazprom, and provide more transparency in its
economic statistics. But the reports did not say whether the
fund would offer Russia assistance if it took those steps.
Nor is it clear whether Moscow would accept them or whether
the G-7 meeting in London this week would back any
additional funds in the short term. PG

DUMA WANTS CHUBAIS REMOVED AS UES HEAD. By a vote of 230 to
one, the Duma passed a non-binding resolution calling on the
government to use its status as a stockholder in the Unified
Energy Systems of Russia in order to nullify the selection
of Anatolii Chubais as UES chief executive on 4 April. The
resolution also calls for the overturning of other decisions
on the UES taken at the spring meeting of that company's
shareholders. PG

SENIOR STATISTICIANS CHARGED. Three senior officials at the
State Committee for Statistics--including former committee
head Yurii Yurkov, who was arrested earlier this week--have
been charged with embezzlement, Interfax reported on 11
June. Prosecutors said others are likely to be charged in
the future. Meanwhile, Russian Prosecutor-General Yurii
Skuratov told Russian independent television NTV that
"widespread" corruption threatens the future of the country.
And two deputy governors were arrested in Kursk, apparently
also for economic crimes, ITAR-TASS reported. PG

THREE ARRESTED FOR MURDER OF KALMYKIA JOURNALIST. Under
pressure from international media groups, Russian officials
announced on 11 June that they have arrested three suspects
in connection with the 8 June murder of Larisa Yudina, the
editor of the only opposition newspaper in Kalmykia, Russian
agencies reported.

MOSCOW HAS NO PLANS TO RECALL AMBASSADOR IN MINSK. Russian
Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin told Interfax
on 11 June that Moscow has no plans at present to recall its
ambassador in the Belarusian capital, despite the ongoing
controversy over the inviolability of diplomatic residences
there (see Part II). PG

DUMA OPPOSITION GROUP OUTLINES CONDITIONS FOR START II. The
Spiritual Inheritance Movement, a member of the opposition
Patriotic Union in the Duma, released a statement on 11 June
saying that it will vote to ratify START II if Yeltsin sends
a draft law guaranteeing stable financing for Russia's
nuclear forces over the next year, pushes for a START III
accord, and receives guarantees that the U.S. will live up
to the provisions of the 1972 anti-ballistic missile accord
that bans ABM deployment. PG

SECURITY COUNCIL CONSIDERS MILITARY CONSTRUCTION POLICY. The
Security Council on 11 June examined a draft concept paper
on military construction over the next seven years, ITAR-
TASS reported. Unlike previous discussions of the military's
future plans, this document focuses not only on the military
itself but on "other units and bodies important for
protecting the country," the agency reported. PG

MOSCOW DISCUSSES NON-PROLIFERATION, PROVIDES SUB TO INDIA.
Even as Russian Security Council secretary Andrei Kokoshin
met with Indian special envoy Brajeshi Mishru on 11 June to
discuss the recent nuclear explosions by India and Pakistan,
a Russian firm was preparing to turn over a new Kilo-class
submarine to the Indian navy on 18 June, Interfax and ITAR-
TASS reported. And also on 11 June, the Russian Defense
Ministry announced that India's first deputy defense
minister, Ajit Kumar, will visit Russia on 14-19 June. PG

FSB LISTS FOREIGN FIRMS WORKING IN NUCLEAR AREA. The Federal
Security Service on 11 June released a new list of foreign
companies believed to be working on the development of
weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems,
Interfax reported. Russian firms are prohibited from selling
sensitive technology to such firms. Among those listed is
Iran's Sanam whose personnel, the FSB said, "have tried to
obtain data on the latest Russian developments" in various
advanced technology areas. PG

NEW AIR DEFENSE SYSTEM INSTALLED IN KALININGRAD. Major
General Fedor Krisanov, the commander of the Russian Baltic
fleet's air defense, told "Russkii telegraf" that a new
mobile air defense system, the S-300PS, had been installed
in the Kaliningrad region, ITAR-TASS reported on 11 June.
The newspaper said this shows how serious Moscow is in
opposing the expansion of NATO to the east. PG

U.S. FINDS NO CFE VIOLATIONS IN NORTH CAUCASUS. A Russian
Defense Ministry spokesman told ITAR-TASS on 11 June that a
group of U.S. military inspectors has found no violations of
the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty during a visit to
the North Caucasus military district . PG

MOSCOW TO SHIP AIR DEFENSE SYSTEM TO CYPRUS ON SCHEDULE.
Despite press reports that the Russian government might
delay the delivery of the S-300PMU-1 air defense system to
Cyprus because of opposition from Turkey and others, the
head of the Russian state arms exporting company
Rosvooruzhenie, Yevgenii Ananev, told Interfax that the
shipment will be on schedule, in mid-summer. PG

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

GEORGIAN-ABKHAZ TALKS ADJOURN. Georgian Foreign Minister
Irakli Menagharishvili joined the Abkhaz and Georgian envoys
for a further round of talks in Moscow on 11 June. The talks
adjourned without reaching agreement either on mechanisms
for precluding further hostilities in Abkhazia's Gali Raion
or for the repatriation of ethnic Georgians forced to flee
during last month's fighting. They will, however, resume at
an unspecified date after the envoys have held consultations
in Tbilisi and Sukhumi. Georgian envoy Vazha Lortkipanidze
told journalists after the talks that Georgia has not
requested the withdrawal from Gali of the Russian
peacekeepers deployed there. Helicopters carrying members of
the CIS peacekeeping force were fired on while overflying
Gali on 10 June, but no passengers or crew were injured,
Interfax reported the following day. LF

ABKHAZIA ACCUSES RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY. Speaking at a
press conference organized by Interfax on 11 June, Anri
Djergenia, the Abkhaz presidential envoy to the Moscow
talks, accused the Russian Foreign Ministry of abetting
Georgia. Specifically, Djergenia claimed that it was Russia
that proposed Georgia should make the lifting of the
restrictions on the Abkhaz-Russian frontier contingent on
the successful repatriation of the fugitives. He also
claimed that printed documents prepared by the Russian
Foreign Ministry distorted the preliminary agreements he had
reached with Lortkipanidze. LF

GEORGIAN LAWMAKER DENIES FUGITIVES WILL ACCEPT ABKHAZ
CONDITIONS. Georgian deputy parliamentary speaker Vakhtang
Kolbaya on 11 June denied media reports that said Georgian
displaced persons from Gali are prepared to comply with
Abkhazia's insistence that acceptance of Abkhaz citizenship
be a precondition for repatriation (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 11
June 1998), Caucasus Press reported. Tamaz Nadareishvili,
the chairman of the so-called Abkhaz parliament in exile,
has claimed that as many as 4,000 ethnic Georgians from Gali
have already applied for Abkhaz citizenship in order to
qualify for repatriation, Interfax reported on 11 June. LF

LAGODEKHI ELECTIONS RESULTS DECLARED VOID. The Georgian
Central Electoral Commission has declared the poll in two
electoral precincts in Lagodekhi void and has scheduled new
elections for 21 June, Caucasus Press reported on 12 June.
In the 7 June by-election, Socialist Party candidate Valeri
Bakradze polled 35 percent, closely followed by ruling Union
of Citizens of Georgia candidate David Kapanadze with 32.8
percent. Spokesmen for both parties accused the other of
flagrant procedural violations. LF

KARABAKH ARMENIANS RALLY IN SUPPORT OF DEFENSE MINISTER.
Several thousand people demonstrated in Stepanakert on 11
June to demonstrate support for General Samvel Babayan,
defense minister of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh
Republic, in his bid to assume the vacant post of prime
minister, RFE/RL's Stepanakert correspondent reported. One
speaker at the demonstration proposed that Babayan combine
the posts of prime minister and defense minister, while a
second advocated pre-term presidential elections if
President Arkadii Ghukasian rejects the demonstrators'
demands. Ghukasian told RFE/RL on 12 June that the question
of whether Babayan be allowed to combine the posts of
defense minister and premier is currently being discussed.
Ghukasian said he will appoint a new prime minister in two-
three days. LF

ARMENIAN DEFENSE MINISTER WARNS AGAINST SPLIT IN KARABAKH
LEADERSHIP. Meeting in Stepanakert on 10 June with Ghukasian
and Babayan, Vazgen Sarkisian warned against discord within
the Karabakh leadership as long as the possibility of a new
war persists. Sarkisian said that all solutions to the
ongoing leadership crisis are acceptable to Yerevan. But he
also underscored that "the army is a centralized and
centripetal force" that excludes the possibility of
combining military and political functions. LF

ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS DRAFT ELECTION LAWS. Lawmakers
on 11 June rejected three draft laws providing for a system
of proportional representation system in parliamentary
elections, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The Yerkrapah--
the majority group within the parliament--continues to
insist that all but 40 seats in the next 131-member
parliament should be allocated to single-member
constituencies. Most other parties--including those aligned
with the Yerkrapah in the Justice and Unity bloc, created to
support Robert Kocharian in the March 1998 presidential
elections--advocate proportional representation. Yerkrapah
deputy Razmik Martirosian argued that no political party in
Armenia can "take full responsibility for the country." He
said the Yerkrapah is committed to drafting new electoral
legislation from scratch. Meeting with the Yerkrapah on 9
June, Kocharian argued against pre-term parliamentary
elections, except in the event of a "crisis," according to
Noyan Tapan. LF

AZERBAIJANI LEADERSHIP, OIL CONSORTIUM AT ODDS. Ilham Aliev,
president of Azerbaijan's state oil company SOCAR, has
hinted that Baku may seek international arbitration in its
dispute with an international consortium exploiting three
off-shore Caspian oil fields. Aliev charged that experts
from the Azerbaijan International Oil Consortium greatly
underestimated the extent of repairs needed to the Baku-
Supsa pipeline that was to have gone into operation this
fall. He insists that the consortium pay the additional $276
million needed to complete those repairs. The AIOC says that
SOCAR should make up the shortfall from oil sales. Aliev
also criticized AIOC for deliberately delaying a decision on
the route for the so-called Main Export Pipeline. That
decision was to have been taken this fall, but an AIOC
executive told AFP earlier this month that "we're running
late" because of AIOC's disagreements with SOCAR. LF

MORE DEATHS BLAMED ON TOXIC SPILL IN KYRGYZSTAN. Two more
deaths are being blamed on the spill of sodium cyanide into
the Barskoon River, raising the total to four, ITAR-TASS and
RFE/RL correspondents reported on 11 June. Doctors say that
the cause of death of a 72-year-old woman on 10 June was
poisoning. The other latest victim was Sherimbek Sharsheev,
who organized the Manas anniversary festivities in 1995. He
died shortly after paying a visit to Issyk-Kul to assess the
damage himself. BP

TERRORISM IN SOUTHERN KYRGYZSTAN? Law enforcement
authorities in the Osh region of southern Kyrgyzstan have
taken four people into custody in connection with two
explosions in the area, ITAR-TASS and RFE/RL correspondents
reported. Two people were killed while traveling on a mini-
bus on 30 May, and two others in a private home two days
later. Both those incidents were initially thought to have
been gas canister explosions caused by carelessness. On 6
June, the Security Ministry announced it was exploring the
possibility that the explosions were acts of terrorism.
According to the ITAR-TASS on 11 June, authorities say the
four men taken into custody have links to the Wahhabis. BP

END NOTE

HOW NOT TO FIGHT AN ANCIENT EVIL

by Paul Goble

	Many governments and political leaders in the post-
communist states are responding to manifestations of anti-
Semitism and ethnic extremism in ways that seem certain to
make these problems worse.
	Some mainstream leaders deny that any problem exists
or claim that it is so marginal that it need not be
addressed. Others assume that banning the symbols of such
extremist groups will be sufficient to deal with these
phenomenon. Still others appear to believe that the best way
to deal with such groups is to adopt part of the extremists'
program in order to undercut the extremists.
	The history of Western Europe suggests that none of
these strategies will work. Even more, it indicates that
democratic leaders must take an active role in fighting such
phenomena to prevent the latter from expanding and
threatening democracy itself.
	Since the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and
the former Soviet Union, governments and mainstream
political leaders across the region have routinely denounced
anti-Semitism and ultra-nationalism. Sometimes leaders make
these declarations under pressure from the West. Sometimes
they do so out of a genuine commitment. Sometimes they speak
from a recognition of just what these extremist movements
might mean to the still fragile democratic systems in their
countries.
	But a rising tide of anti-Semitic and ultra-
nationalist activities across this region shows that these
leaders have not yet found a way to implement these
commitments.
	Not surprisingly, many governments and mainstream
political leaders have dismissed incidents like the attacks
earlier this year on the Moscow and Riga synagogues as the
work of a few extremists who enjoy little support in the
broader population. That is certainly what many in these
countries and the West want to believe, but public opinion
polls in these countries show that far more people continue
to harbor anti-Semitic and extreme nationalist views.
	A recent poll in Russia, for example, found that
approximately half the population could be described as
anti-Semitic to one extent or another. If the authorities
fail to bring those responsible for anti-Semitic or extreme
nationalist actions to justice, many people are likely to
conclude that the extremists enjoy even more support than
they do. And such conclusions, in turn, will give these
groups more influence, not less.
	Faced with that challenge, other leaders are
considering taking actions that would ban the symbols of the
extremists, such as the Nazi swastika. Such steps, these
leaders believe, would be sufficient to keep the extremists
at bay.
	However, as the experience of Western Europe shows,
such bans may have an unintended effect. They may even give
extremist groups the ability to win support among people who
do not share their core views but who are angry at the
government for other reasons.
	But the most dangerous pattern in the post-communist
region now, however, is not that of denial--either by
claiming the problem does not exist or outlawing hated
symbols. Rather, it is the tendency of governments or
political leaders to succumb to the temptation to exploit
anti-Semitic or ultra nationalist rhetoric or actions to win
support for themselves.
	Many times politicians do this without any apology.
Thus, Russian communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov used openly
anti-Semitic language in his effort to win votes in the last
Russian presidential race.
	But often political leaders advance a different
argument, one suggesting that they can only isolate the
extremists and win support for themselves by adopting part
of the extremists' programs. Unfortunately, all too many
both in these countries and abroad appear willing to accept
that argument, at least implicitly, thereby failing to see
that it can open the door to even worse horrors.
	A tragic example of this is the decree issued in
October 1993 by Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov and backed by
President Boris Yeltsin calling for the expulsion from the
Russian capital of "persons of Caucasian nationality."
	Seeking to exploit the hatred many Russians feel
toward persons from the North Caucasus and Transcaucasus,
Luzhkov and his backers apparently felt that they needed to
take this step to build up their own support in the wake of
the bloody conflict between Yeltsin and the old Supreme
Soviet.
	But despite violating the Russian Constitution and
despite its ominous echo of Stalin's decrees against Jews
nearly 50 years ago, this decree is still on the books,
nearly five years after the conflict that was used to
justify it.
	And even if, as some like to suggest, Luzhkov's decree
is at present not always enforced, its continued existence
not only casts a shadow over Russian democracy but almost
inevitably encourages other forms of ethnic extremism.
	That danger -- and it exists in many places across the
region -- underscores why it is too soon to declare victory
over these ancient evils and why it is absolutely necessary
that everyone involved continue the fight.

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