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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 119 Part I, 23 June 1998


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 119 Part I, 23 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

* YELTSIN CALLS FOR 'RADICAL MEASURES' ON ECONOMY

* KIRIENKO SAYS IMF AID WOULD NOT BE 'FOR CONSUMPTION'

* GEORGIAN, ABKHAZ PRESIDENTS TO MEET IN TSKHINVALI?

End Note: THE AUTUMN OF THE PATRIARCH
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RUSSIA

YELTSIN CALLS FOR 'RADICAL MEASURES' ON ECONOMY. President
Boris Yeltsin told an expanded cabinet session on 23 June
that "radical measures are required to bring order to the
economy," NTV and Reuters reported. He argued that "the
economic crisis has become so acute that there are social
and political dangers," and he called on the parliament to
approve the government's "anti-crisis program," which seeks
to plug holes in the 1998 budget and restore calm to Russian
financial markets. If the plan is not approved before the
parliament's summer recess begins in mid-July, Yeltsin vowed
to take "other measures" but did not elaborate. Only parts
of the anti-crisis plan could be imposed by presidential
decree, and it would be difficult for Yeltsin and the
government to force the parliament to adopt the rest of the
plan. The constitution does not cite the refusal to pass
legislation as grounds for dissolving the State Duma. LB

GOVERNMENT REVEALS DETAILS OF 'ANTI-CRISIS PROGRAM.' The
government on 23 June submitted its "anti-crisis program"
for discussion at a cabinet session also attended by
numerous parliamentary deputies and some business leaders.
The program includes measures announced in recent weeks to
cut 1998 federal spending by 42 billion rubles ($6.8
billion), ITAR-TASS reported. The government plans, among
other things, to downsize the number of state employees and
transfer to regional authorities responsibility for running
hundreds of health, education, sports, and cultural
facilities. The government also seeks to reduce subsidies
for industry, agriculture, and transportation and to include
non-budgetary funds such as the Pension Fund in the federal
budget. The plan calls for raising revenues by some $20
billion a year, in part by increasing the tax authorities'
powers, raising the land tax, and--a familiar government
objective--increasing penalties for the illegal production
and sale of alcohol. LB

KIRIENKO SAYS IMF AID WOULD NOT BE 'FOR CONSUMPTION.' Prime
Minister Sergei Kirienko on 22 June announced that the
Supplemental Reserve Facility Russia is seeking from the IMF
is "not intended for consumption," but only to protect the
ruble and boost investor confidence, Russian news agencies
reported. Kirienko told journalists that "we are only
talking about stabilization resources for the Central Bank.
This will boost the reliability of the ruble and allow for
tougher defense against any speculative attacks." Unified
Energy System chief executive Anatolii Chubais, who is
Russia's chief liaison to international financial
organizations, has also suggested that Russia may not spend
additional aid it receives from the IMF (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 22 June 1998). Meanwhile, Economics Minister
Yakov Urinson on 22 June assured those attending the third
Central and East European economic forum in Salzburg that
the government will not permit a significant devaluation of
the ruble, ITAR-TASS reported. LB

SPOKESMAN HAILS PLAN TO CREATE BUSINESS ADVISORY COUNCIL.
Presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii on 22 June said
media reports on the proposed creation of a council of
business leaders to advise the government were
"exaggerated," Russian news agencies reported. He hailed the
"interest in cooperation and readiness to act together to
counter the crisis displayed by both the government and the
business community." Yastrzhembskii noted that he sees
"nothing extraordinary" in the idea of having business
elites advise the government on economic policy, adding that
"it is a pity that such a council was not set up before"
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 and 22 June 1998). LB

ZYUGANOV SEEKS TO REMOVE YELTSIN ONLY BY LEGAL MEANS.
Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov has issued a
statement denying reports that his party aims to use illegal
means to remove the current regime, Interfax reported on 22
June. Zyuganov said the party leadership believes that
"Communists and all patriotic forces" in Russia can overcome
the crisis by working within "constitutional and legal
norms." Interfax on 20 June quoted Duma Security Committee
Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin as saying that the Communist Party
may use any means, "including illegal ones," to remove the
Yeltsin regime, since criminals "must be fought with
whatever means at one's disposal, not those the regime
itself has imposed." A Justice Ministry statement called on
the Communist Party leadership to disavow Ilyukhin's
comments. LB

RUSSIAN, JAPANESE DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET. Grigorii
Karasin and Minoru Tamba attended a 22 June meeting in Tokyo
of the subcommission working on a Russian-Japanese peace
treaty to officially end World War II, ITAR-TASS reported.
According to Karasin, the meeting also focused on a "broader
treaty" on bilateral cooperation and friendship in the 21st
century. Following the meeting, Tamba said his government is
awaiting Boris Yeltsin's reply to a proposal made by Japan's
Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto at their informal summit in
Kawana, Japan, in April. That proposal deals with ownership
of the Kuril Islands. However, Russian Foreign Ministry
spokesman Valerii Nesterushkin has hinted in Moscow that a
solution to that issue is not close at hand. On 22 June, he
told a press briefing that he "would not take the liberty"
of saying the treaty will be signed when Hashimoto makes an
official visit to Russian this fall. BP

SWITZERLAND EXPELS RUSSIAN DIPLOMAT. An unnamed member of
Russia's permanent representation for international
organizations and the UN was ordered to leave Switzerland
for alleged espionage two weeks ago, dpa reported on 21
June, citing the Swiss newspaper "Sonntagszeitung." Since
1994, the diplomat had been receiving NATO and Slovak
security information, including reports related to NATO
expansion, from a Slovak UN diplomat in Geneva in exchange
for bribes and gifts, the newspaper alleged. Russian Foreign
Ministry spokesman Nesterushkin expressed "bewilderment and
regret" that the diplomat was expelled without explanation
from the Swiss government. As well, he indicated that
"initial contacts with Switzerland gave reason to believe
that this incident would not be made public," Interfax
reported on 22 June. "This will not strengthen Switzerland
as one of the major centers of world diplomacy,"
Nesterushkin told Reuters on 22 June. BT

DUMA MOVES TO INTRODUCE BORDER TAX. The State Duma on 19
June passed an amendment to the law on the state border to
introduce a border tax, Russian news agencies reported. If
the Federation Council approves the amendment and Yeltsin
signs it, individuals will be charged 80 percent of the
monthly minimum wage, which is currently 83 rubles ($13.4),
upon filling out documents when leaving Russia. The tax for
trucks and buses will be equal to the minimum wage, while
the levy on cars will be double that amount. The government
sought to impose a border tax last year, but the
Constitutional Court ruled that such a tax may be introduced
only through a federal law (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12
November 1997). The court rejected Khabarovsk Krai Governor
Viktor Ishaev's claim that the tax violates the right to
enter and leave Russia freely. LB

POTANIN MOVES PAST BEREZOVSKII ON 'FORBES' LIST. Oneksimbank
founder Vladimir Potanin, the head of the Interros holding
company, is the wealthiest Russian citizen, according to the
latest edition of the U.S. magazine "Forbes." Potanin was
ranked 186th out of the world's 200 wealthiest citizens and
was the only Russian on that list. The magazine estimated
his net worth at $1.6 billion, up from some $700 million
last year. CIS Executive Secretary Boris Berezovskii was the
highest-ranked Russian on the "Forbes" list last year, with
a net worth of $3 billion, but the magazine now says he is
worth $1.1 billion. "Forbes" named Berezovskii and three
other Russian citizens on a separate list of those who did
not make the top 200: Gazprom head Rem Vyakhirev (estimated
net worth $1.4 billion), Rosprom-Yukos head Mikhail
Khodorkovskii ($1.3 billion), and LUKoil head Vagit
Alekperov ($1.2 billion). LB

YAVLINSKII SLAMS YELTSIN ON POLICY TOWARD REGIONS. In an
open letter to Yeltsin, Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii
has blasted the president for tolerating and sometimes
openly supporting "the excesses of regional authorities in a
number of Russian Federation subjects," "Nezavisimaya
gazeta" reported on 19 June. Yavlinskii cited the "grandiose
profanation called a presidential election" in Bashkortostan
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 and 16 June 1998). He argued that
Yeltsin's "inaction serves as confirmation for numerous
governors and presidents in our country that everything is
permissible and justified." Yavlinskii warned that such an
attitude could lead to the country's "feudal disintegration"
and is already making Russia "more and more resemble a
confederation of principalities." The Yabloko leader asked
Yeltsin whether he is ready to assume responsibility for
"future political murders," since he condones "illegal
'elections' and arbitrary rule" in the regions. Yabloko is
conducting its own investigation into the recent murder of
Kalmykian journalist Larisa Yudina. LB

BASHKIR PRESIDENT BEGINS SECOND TERM... Murtaza Rakhimov
began his second term as the president of Bashkortostan on
20 June following a lavish inauguration ceremony in Ufa,
ITAR-TASS reported. Yurii Yarov, first deputy head of the
presidential administration, attended the inauguration on
behalf of the Kremlin and Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Sysuev
on behalf of the government. Speaking during the ceremony,
Sysuev said Rakhimov represents a 21st-century leader. He
said that Bashkortostan has developed a stable political and
social environment and that the republic's leaders have
great authority, having carried out successful economic
reforms while devoting attention to social support of the
population. LB

...BUT WOULD-BE CHALLENGER STILL SEEKS TO OVERTURN ELECTION.
Duma deputy Alekansdr Arinin is appealing to the Supreme
Court to overturn the results of the Bashkir presidential
election, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported on 22 June. Arinin
has already won one court appeal against the Bashkir
Electoral Commission's refusal to register him as a
candidate. However, the commission ignored the Supreme
Court's instruction to include him on the ballot (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 15 June 1998). Arinin criticized the
federal authorities for keeping silent about the legal
violations leading up to the Bashkir election. He added that
a campaign of civil disobedience is gaining support in the
republic and is demanding a new presidential election.
Rakhimov faced no genuine challenger on the ballot, but more
than 15 percent of voters cast their ballots "against all
candidates," including more than a third of voters in the
republic's capital, Ufa. LB

NEWSPAPER SAYS FEDERAL OFFICIALS PROTECTING KALMYKIAN
PRESIDENT. "Moskovskie novosti" charged in its 14-21 June
edition that high-level federal officials have long
protected Kalmykian President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, despite
convincing evidence of widespread corruption in his
administration. The newspaper noted that shortly after the
recent murder of "Sovetskaya Kalmykia Segodnya" editor
Larisa Yudina, the Federal Security Service transferred
Vladimir Timofeev, its director in Kalmykia, to a post in
Vladimir Oblast. In an interview with Yudina, Timofeev had
spoken of alleged corruption in the republic. According to
"Moskovskie novosti," the federal government and
presidential administration have taken no action concerning
alleged embezzlement of federal funds by Kalmykian
authorities. A Kremlin official who once told "Sovetskaya
Kalmykia Segodnya" that Ilyumzhinov and his circle "live on
stolen money" is no longer sent on business trips to the
republic, and a Kalmykian prosecutor who once offered to
help Yudina was transferred to Moscow. LB

INGUSH PARLIAMENT CALLS FOR STATE OF EMERGENCY IN
PRIGORODNYI RAION. The parliament of Ingushetia has appealed
to the president, government, and Russian Security Council
to impose a state of emergency in Prigorodnyi Raion, in
neighboring North Ossetia, Caucasus Press reported on 22
June. The appeal said that only a state of emergency can
prevent further acts of terrorism and kidnapping and
facilitate the return to their homes of ethnic Ingush
families forced to flee the raion during the November 1992
fighting. Russian President Yeltsin rejected an appeal by
his Ingush counterpart, Ruslan Aushev, to impose
presidential rule on the district during a wave of violence
last summer (see "End Note," "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 August
1997). LF

BY-ELECTIONS IN NORTH OSSETIA. Elections took place in North
Ossetia on 22 June for the Duma seat vacated by Aleksandr
Dzasokhov following his election as the republic's president
in January, Russian media reported. Independent candidate
Hazbi Bogov, head of the "Ossetia" intensive economic
development scheme, polled 39 percent of the vote, defeating
13 other candidates. Bogov advocates tougher measures
against crime and increased economic cooperation between
North Ossetia and other Russian regions, according to ITAR-
TASS. LF

DAGESTAN SECURITY CHIEF TO QUIT. Magomed Tolboev on 22 June
announced he will step down as head of Dagestan's Security
Council following the election later this month of a new
State Council chairman, "Kommersant-Daily" reported. Tolboev
said he is no longer able to control the situation in
Dagestan, which he described in a 2 June interview with
"Trud" as a struggle for power between criminal clans. A
former cosmonaut, Tolboev is notorious for his ability to
negotiate the release of North Caucasus kidnapping victims.
Also on 22 June, one Russian OMON police officer was killed
and another 10 injured when the van in which they were
traveling exploded in Dagestan's Kizlyar Raion, according to
Interfax. LF

KOMMERSANT PUBLISHING HOUSE TO SELL MAJOR STAKE. Vladimir
Yakovlev, president and co-founder of the Kommersant
publishing house, says he and two business partners have
decided to sell a major stake in the publishing house, which
owns "Kommersant-Daily" and several weekly publications. In
an interview published in the daily on 23 June, Yakovlev
said they plan to protect the independence of the
publications by selling to 10-15 investors "who share our
views." He said no one person will be able to acquire a
controlling stake and promised that the buyers' names will
be made public. (The sources of the publisher's current
financing are a matter of widespread speculation among
Moscow journalists.) Yakovlev said he and his partners will
"regulate the number and composition" of shareholders but
did not explain how they could prevent one investor from
buying enough shares from the others to eventually acquire
control over Kommersant. LB

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

GEORGIAN, ABKHAZ PRESIDENTS TO MEET IN TSKHINVALI? In his
traditional weekly radio address on 22 June, Eduard
Shevardnadze said that South Ossetian President Lyudvig
Chibirov's proposal that Shevardnadze and his Abkhaz
counterpart, Vladislav Ardzinba should meet in the South
Ossetian capital for talks is "interesting." Previously,
Shevardnadze had commented that he would meet personally
with Ardzinba only if there were a chance of signing formal
agreements on the repatriation to Abkhazia of ethnic
Georgian displaced persons. Shevardnadze said that during
talks on19 June in Sukhumi with Georgian and Russian
officials and with CIS Executive Secretary Boris
Berezovskii, Ardzinba agreed that Abkhazia will ensure the
security of the returnees, according to "Nezavisimaya
gazeta" on 23 June. Shevardnadze had refused on 20 June to
sign either a draft peace agreement or an accord on
repatriation approved by Ardzinba during his talks with
Berezovskii the previous day. LF

AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT CANCELS PLANNED VISIT TO TURKEY.
Heidar Aliev canceled a private visit to Turkey to attend
the 50th anniversary celebrations of the newspaper
"Hurriyet" just hours before his scheduled departure on 22
June, ITAR-TASS reported. No explanation was given for the
cancellation. LF

NEW ARMENIAN POLITICAL PARTY UNVEILS PROGRAM. The leaders of
the Rule of Law State Party told journalists in Yerevan on
19 June that the primary goal of their party is to ensure
"the rule of law" and legal protection for citizens of
Armenia, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. One of the
party's founders, parliamentary Committee on State and Legal
Affairs chairman Albert Baghdasarian, argued that the
development of democracy in Armenia is hindered by the
existence of many laws "contradicting one another" and also
by people's widespread ignorance of their rights. He also
complained that some laws "breach human rights" but did not
elaborate. Baghdasarian said the party will strive to boost
citizens' awareness of Armenian laws and legislation. LF

RUSSIA DROPS HINT TO TAJIK PARLIAMENT. Russian Foreign
Ministry spokesman Nesterushkin told a press briefing in
Moscow on 22 June that Russia supports the compromise
solution to the ban on religion-based political parties
reached by a newly formed Tajik commission and Tajik
President Imomali Rakhmonov, ITAR-TASS reported. The
commission reviewed laws adopted by the parliament in late
May that prohibit religion-based parties from participating
in the election process. The commission and Rakhmonov agreed
on a compromise solution whereby political parties would not
be allowed to use the premises of religious organizations.
They also sent the law back to the parliament. Nesterushkin
said Russia is counting on the Tajik parliament "to accept
the decision, which answers the greater interests of the
nation and makes it possible to further progress toward
national reconciliation." BP

KYRGYZ PRESIDENT WARNS ABOUT RADIOACTIVE WASTE. The
presidential press service on 22 June issued a statement on
Askar Akayev's concerns about the storage of radioactive
waste in 45 of the country's uranium waste storage
facilities, Interfax reported. Akayev had visited several
sites the previous day. He said that owing to the poor
maintenance of these facilities, particularly in the south,
a landslide could damage carry the waste into the water
supply. Akayev singled out the Kara Balta ore dressing
plant, 45 kilometers west of Bishkek, and ordered that
repairs be carried out immediately. The plant is located
close to the Chu River, which flows into Kazakhstan. BP

KYRGYZSTAN TO HOLD REFERENDUM IN FALL. The chairman of
Kyrgyzstan's Central Electoral Commission, Sulaiman
Imambayev, announced on 22 June that a referendum on
proposed amendments to election laws is expected to be held
in either September or October of this year, RFE/RL
correspondents reported. Some proposals are still being
discussed but are likely to deal with the structure of the
bicameral parliament and minimum voter turnout. Local
elections are due to be held early next year and to the
parliament and the presidency in 2000. BP

END NOTE

THE AUTUMN OF THE PATRIARCH

by Liz Fuller

	On 9 June, the Azerbaijani parliament passed in the
third and final reading a law on the presidential elections
that Socialist Democratic Party leader Zardusht Ali-zade has
described as "tailor-made for one individual." In other
words, it is formulated in such a way as to virtually
guarantee the re-election for a second term of the
authoritarian incumbent, former KGB boss and Azerbaijan
Communist Party first secretary Heidar Aliev. That outcome
is all the more likely, given that most potential opposition
candidates have announced their intention not to contend the
poll if it takes place under legislation they consider
undemocratic. But even if Aliev's re-election appears
assured, recent political developments may herald the
gradual erosion of his power base.
	Anticipating the introduction of unequal conditions
for prospective presidential candidates, the Democratic
Party of Azerbaijan announced in March the creation of an
informal Movement for Democratic Elections (subsequently
renamed the Movement for Democratic Elections and Electoral
Reform). As many as two dozen political parties and NGOs
subsequently aligned themselves with the movement, whose
main aims were to prevent the ruling Yeni Azerbaycan Party
from monopolizing the election campaign and to ensure that
all candidates enjoyed equal rights.
	In late April, the parliament began debating two draft
laws, one on the Central Electoral Commission and the other
on the presidential elections. The opposition criticized
both those bills as undemocratic, objecting in particular to
the procedure for appointing the Central Electoral
Commission, half of whose 24 members are nominated by the
president and the remainder by the parliament. The
opposition, which has only a handful of deputies in the
parliament, will in effect be deprived of any say in the
composition of the commission.
	Opposition parties also criticized the minimum
required voter turnout of 50 percent plus one vote,
reasoning that in recent years, some 2 million people have
left Azerbaijan out of a declared population of 7.5 million
. And they condemned the provision allowing the presence at
polling stations of police and Security Ministry officials.
In mid-April, the opposition Azerbaijan Popular Front Party
had unveiled an alternative draft election law stipulating a
minimum turnout of 25-30 percent and advocating measures to
preclude violations, including transparent glass ballot
boxes. It also entitled all registered candidates to 180
minutes free air time on state television and 15 million
manats ($4,000) from the state budget to finance their
campaigns.
 	The parliament passed the law on the Central Electoral
Commission in mid-May. The law on the presidential elections
was submitted for comment both to the Council of Europe and
to the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human
Rights. Both organizations suggested amendments, which were
duly made to 32 of the law's 59 articles, but those changes
failed to satisfy the opposition. When the law was passed in
the third and final reading in June, all potential
opposition presidential candidates announced they will
boycott the poll.
	That boycott should not, however, be construed as the
opposition's acknowledgment that defeat under these
circumstances is inevitable. Rather, it testifies to the
unifying influence of the one person who, if he were able to
contend the poll, would pose a serious challenge to Aliev.
	Rasul Guliev has lived in exile in the U.S. since he
was stripped of the post of Azerbaijani parliamentary
speaker in September 1996, one month after publishing a
damning critique of Aliev's leadership in a Russian journal.
The parliament voted in December 1997 to strip him of his
deputy's mandate. Four months later, it lifted his deputy's
immunity and approved Prosecutor-General Eldar Hasanov's
proposal to open criminal proceedings against him on charges
of financial mismanagement and large-scale embezzlement
during his tenure as head of one of Azerbaijan's largest oil
refineries. Guliev, who in January 1998, announced his
intention of running for president, now risks arrest if he
returns to Azerbaijan.
	In recent months, Guliev has written to U.S. senators
and to the Council of Europe denouncing Aliev as a
totalitarian dictator. He also issued an appeal in early
June to members of the ruling Yeni Azerbaycan Party (founded
by Aliev in late 1992 as his personal power base) to quit
the party. Several hundred, mostly younger members of the
party have complied with Guliev's appeal, saying they were
motivated to do so by widespread corruption within the party
and by its betrayal of its original goal to create a
democratic and just society. Some of those defectors have
since founded the Democratic Azerbajian Party. Spokesmen for
Yeni Azerbaycan have conceded that a handful of its members
have quit, but they deny either a mass exodus or any
connection between the resignations and Guliev's appeal.
	Meanwhile, the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party
newspaper "Azadlyg" reported on 12 June that Aliev's son
Ilham, who is currently vice president of the state oil
company SOCAR, is forming his own team of progressive
economists and industrial managers. The newspaper interprets
that move as a bid to create both a personal power base and
a seemingly more democratic elite with which the opposition
might be willing to cooperate following the demise of the
elder Aliev.

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