Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid. - Dostoevsky
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 128 Part I, 7 July 1998


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 128 Part I, 7 July 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

* RELATIVES SAY ROKHLIN'S WIFE PRESSURED TO CONFESS TO
MURDER

* SEIZURE OF GAZPROM ASSETS POSTPONED UNTIL AUGUST

* RUSSIA, KAZAKHSTAN SIGN KEY ACCORDS

End Note: WHEN COMMERCE AND CULTURE CONFLICT
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RUSSIA

RELATIVES SAY ROKHLIN'S WIFE PRESSURED TO CONFESS TO
MURDER... Relatives of former State Duma Defense Committee
Chairman Lev Rokhlin say Rokhlin's wife, Tamara, was
pressured to confess to murdering her husband (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 3 July 1998). Rokhlin's daughter, Yelena, and her
husband, Sergei Abakumov, told NTV on 5 July that when
Tamara Rokhlina informed them about the murder, she said
that other people killed her husband but that she would
confess in order to save the lives of other family members.
In an interview published in "Moskovskii komsomolets" on 7
July, Yelena Rokhlina and Abakumov repeated those charges.
They have not named those who allegedly threatened Tamara
Rokhlina. "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 7 July that
investigators first questioned Tamara Rokhlina when she was
in a state of shock and was not accompanied by a lawyer. LB

...POINT TO CRACKS IN CASE AGAINST HER. Yelena Rokhlina and
Sergei Abakumov told "Moskovskii komsomolets" on 7 July that
in addition to the bullet that killed Rokhlin, another
bullet was found embedded in a wall of another room at
Rokhlin's dacha. The bodyguard who was at the dacha that
night did not hear any shots fired, but no silencer was
found at the dacha. Abakumov speculated that professionals
killed Rokhlin and then forced his wife to fire a shot into
a wall with his own pistol (Tamara Rokhlina's fingerprints
were found on that gun). Yelena Rokhlina also denied reports
suggesting that her father was drunk on the night of 2-3
July and had argued with his wife hours before the shooting.
Aleksandr Morozov, deputy head of Rokhlin's Movement to
Support the Army, on 6 July vowed to sue those who have
publicly accused Tamara Rokhlina of the murder, ITAR-TASS
reported. LB

SEIZURE OF GAZPROM ASSETS POSTPONED UNTIL AUGUST. State Tax
Service head Boris Fedorov announced on 3 July that the tax
authorities will put off steps to seize assets of the gas
monopoly Gazprom until 1 August, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau
reported. However, he warned that the assets seizure and
other punitive measures may be taken against the company if
it does not pay its full taxes for June and July. He noted
that Gazprom paid just 824 million rubles ($133 million) in
June, even though the company owed 4.2 billion rubles for
the month. Fedorov's predecessor, Aleksandr Pochinok,
reached an agreement with Gazprom earlier this year to allow
the company to pay just 2.45 billion rubles in cash for its
tax bill each month. However, Fedorov refused to recognize
that agreement after he was appointed in late May. LB

KIRIENKO BLAMES GAZPROM FOR CONFLICT. In a 5 July interview
with NTV, Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko accused Gazprom of
issuing a "challenge" to the government. He charged that
Gazprom was unhappy with Fedorov's decision to cancel the
agreement on the company's tax payments and decided to
"teach the government a lesson" by paying just 800 million
rubles ($129 million) in June. Kirienko said Russian
legislation does not allow special tax deals with individual
companies. He also disputed claims by Gazprom officials that
budget-funded organizations owe the gas monopoly some 1
billion rubles more than Gazprom owes in back taxes (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 3 July 1998). He pointed out that Gazprom
does not pay taxes on gas deliveries for which it has not
been paid. If budget-funded organizations immediately
cleared their debts to Gazprom, he added, the gas monopoly
would immediately owe several billion rubles more in taxes.
LB

DUMA SEEKS TO DEFEND GAZPROM. The Duma on 3 July passed by
307 to zero a non-binding resolution "on measures to
stabilize the situation at Gazprom and other natural
monopolies," ITAR-TASS reported. The resolution asked the
government to instruct the tax authorities not to seize
Gazprom assets or freeze the company's bank accounts pending
an agreement on settling the debts of budget-funded
organizations to Gazprom as well as the company's tax
arrears. It also asked the government not to restructure
natural monopolies or sell its shares in them. The Duma also
approved a separate statement denouncing the government's
actions vis-a-vis Gazprom on 2 July. Speaking to NTV on 5
July, Kirienko criticized unidentified politicians who have
repeatedly called for the state to play a greater role in
the economy but who criticized the government's attempts to
play a stronger management role in 40 percent state-owned
Gazprom. LB

ROSNEFT SALE TO FAIL AGAIN? The multinational oil company
Royal Dutch Shell on 3 July announced that it will not bid
for a 75 percent stake in the Rosneft oil company later this
month. Royal Dutch Shell, Gazprom, and the Russian oil
company LUKoil agreed last year to submit a joint bid for
Rosneft. Gazprom Vice President Sergei Zverev said the gas
monopoly will be unable to purchase Rosneft without Shell's
participation, ITAR-TASS reported on 3 July. Meanwhile,
Oneksimbank announced on 6 July that it, too, has decided
not to take part in the Rosneft auction, Interfax reported.
The bank, which owns a controlling stake in the Sidanko oil
company, announced plans last year to bid for Rosneft in
conjunction with British Petroleum. That company on 7 July
confirmed that it will not bid for Rosneft. The government's
first attempt to sell a controlling stake in Rosneft failed
when no investors submitted bids for the auction (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 27 May 1998). LB

KIRIENKO SAYS OTHER COMPANIES MAY BE SOLD. Prime Minister
Kirienko told NTV on 5 July that the government may
privatize other companies if no investors bid for Rosneft
later this month. The state is asking at least $1.6 billion
for the controlling stake in Rosneft. Kirienko did not name
any specific additional sales that could help the state meet
its revenue targets. NTV correspondents, along with other
media owned by Vladimir Gusinskii's Media-Most holding, have
charged that the government's measures against Gazprom have
undermined the prospects for the Rosneft sale and sapped
investors' confidence in Russia generally. Speaking to NTV,
Kirienko argued that Shell's decision to sit out the Rosneft
auction could have been influenced by the conflict between
the government and Gazprom only if Shell initially expected
the gas monopoly to have a "special relationship" with the
government. Gazprom owns a 30 percent stake in NTV. LB

DUMA PASSES PART OF TAX CODE IN SECOND READING... The Duma
on 3 July passed by 315 to 16 the "general section" of a new
tax code in the second reading. Finance Minister Mikhail
Zadornov described the document as a "tax constitution,"
ITAR-TASS reported. The general part of the code outlines
the rights and obligations of taxpayers and the tax
authorities. It also determines the procedure for imposing
new taxes and amending or rescinding existing taxes. It does
not include specific tax laws. Also on 3 July, the Duma
approved in the third reading two more parts of the
government's anti-crisis program: a law on taxation of
gambling businesses and a new budget code. That code
outlines the procedures for adopting the budget and
regulating budget relations between federal and regional
governments. It also specifies the powers of various
government agencies in the budget process. LB

...BUT VOTES DOWN SALES TAX. The Duma on 3 July rejected a
draft law that would allow regional authorities to introduce
a sales tax of up to 5 percent on most purchases, excluding
bread, milk, children's products, and payments for municipal
services and public transportation, Russian news agencies
reported. Finance Minister Zadornov had estimated the law
would yield additional revenues of 40 billion rubles ($6.4
billion). It would have allocated 80 percent of those
revenues to local authorities and the rest to regional
authorities. The government envisioned the sales tax as
compensation for the plan to allocate 40 percent of income
tax revenues to the federal budget. The Duma has postponed
consideration of the law calling for such a redistribution
of income tax revenues until mid-July, when the lower house
will consider several other key government proposals,
including a plan to charge a single rate of value-added tax
on nearly all goods. LB

RAIL BLOCKADE CONTINUES. Miners in five cities of Kemerovo
Oblast are blocking the Trans-Siberian Railroad for the
fifth consecutive day, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 July. Deputy
Railroad Minister Oleg Moshenko told ITAR-TASS that the
ministry will file suit for losses sustained during the
blockade, which he put at 7 million rubles ($1.1 million).
On 4 July, Fuel and Energy Minister Sergei Generalov told
Kemerovo Governor Aman Tuleev that the government has
fulfilled all its obligations to the miners, having
allocated 196.7 million rubles, transferred 221 million
rubles, and extended a 39 million ruble loan to Kemerovo
Oblast since the 10-day blockade of the Trans-Siberian in
May, ITAR-TASS reported. Representatives from the coal
industry, however, claim that a separate protocol signed by
Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Sysuev provides for 1.6 billion
rubles of state aid, which has been only 13 percent
fulfilled. BT

GOVERNMENT REFUSES TO NEGOTIATE WITH PROTESTERS. In response
to the protesters' demand that Sysuev come to Kemerovo to
review the implementation of protocols signed on 24 May,
Sysuev sent a letter to Tuleev refusing to meet with the
miners until the blockade is lifted and demands for the
resignation of Boris Yeltsin dropped, Interfax reported on 6
July. A government delegation including Deputy Fuel and
Energy Minister Igor Kozhukovskii has been sent to Kemerovo
to meet with regional authorities. Anatolii Chekis, a trade
union leader in Kemerovo, warned that Sysuev is "making a
mistake" by refusing to meet with the miners. He also
claimed that the government commission in Kemerovo is unable
to dampen the protest in the area, ITAR-TASS reported on 7
July. Meanwhile, the Kemerovo Oblast Prosecutor's Office
told Interfax on 6 July that it is preparing three criminal
cases against the instigators of the blockade. BT

CONFUSION OVER S-300s DELIVERY TO CYPRUS. Unidentified Greek
Cypriot government sources told Interfax on 3 July that
delivery of the Russian S-300 anti-missile systems to Cyprus
will "almost certainly" be postponed from August 1998 until
November. Those sources, however, declined to give a reason
for the postponement. Outgoing Russian Ambassador to Ankara
Vadim Kuznetsov recently said that delivery of the missiles
will be delayed at the request of the Nicosia government,
but Interfax on 4 July quoted Russian Foreign Ministry
spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin as saying that Kuznetsov's
prediction is "his own personal subjective opinion."
Interfax quoted unidentified sources in Moscow as suggesting
that the Cypriot government fears that if the missiles are
deployed during the summer, Turkey may register its
displeasure by staging military flights over the island,
which, they added, might adversely affect the tourist
industry. LF

CHECHEN PREMIER SUBMITS RESIGNATION. Shamil Basaev on 3 July
announced that he has tendered his resignation to President
Aslan Maskhadov as the six-month term for which he accepted
the post has expired, Russian agencies reported. Basaev
argued that his cabinet succeeded in reducing government
staff and creating thousands of new jobs, despite falling
oil prices and increased oil thefts. He ruled out any
reversal of his decision to step down, saying he plans to
focus on the work of the Congress of Peoples of Chechnya and
Dagestan, according to RFE/RL's North Caucasus
correspondent. The aim of that body is to merge the two
republics. Maskhadov has not yet accepted Basaev's
resignation, but "Kommersant-daily" predicted on 4 July that
the Chechen parliament will insist not only that the
president does so but that Basaev's entire cabinet step
down. LF

STEPASHIN PREDICTS VLASOV'S IMMINENT RELEASE. Russian
Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin told journalists in
Stavropol on 4 July that he has "complete confidence" that
Russian Presidential Envoy to Chechnya Valentin Vlasov will
soon be released, Russian agencies reported. Vlasov was
abducted on 1 May near the Chechen-Ingush border. According
to Stepashin, he is being held by "Chechen extremists."
Stepashin said that he has reached agreement with the
Chechen authorities on coordinating activities to secure
Vlasov's release, which Chechen Deputy Prime Minister Kazbek
Makhashev also considers could be imminent. LF

BURYATIAN REFERENDUM ON LAND REFORM INVALID. A 5 July
referendum on land reform in the Republic of Buryatia has
been deemed invalid because of low turnout, ITAR-TASS
reported on 6 July. Some 83 percent of those who voted
supported the proposal to impose a 10-year moratorium on
unrestricted buying and selling of farmland in the republic.
However, according to the Buryatian electoral commission,
just 38.65 percent of eligible voters took part, well below
the 50 percent required for a valid referendum. Some federal
officials had in any case cast doubt on the legality of the
Buryatian referendum. LB

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

RUSSIA, KAZAKHSTAN SIGN KEY ACCORDS. Meeting in Moscow on 6
July, Russian President Yeltsin and his Kazakh counterpart,
Nursultan Nazarbayev, signed a declaration of eternal
friendship and alliance, Russian media reported. That
accord, similar to the Russian-Armenian treaty of August
1997, provides for mutual military assistance in the event
of aggression by a third party. The two presidents also
finally signed an agreement concluded in April on the
division of the northern sector of the Caspian Sea bed, but
not of its waters. Nazarbayev told journalists later that
the agreement will benefit future generations and exclude
"the Balkanization of the North Caspian," arguing that
political stability in the region is a precondition for the
exploitation of Caspian hydrocarbon reserves. Azerbaijani
Deputy Foreign Minister Khalaf Khalafov told Interfax that
the Russian-Kazakh agreement on the Caspian is "a
significant step" toward the division of the entire sea into
national sectors, as advocated by the U.S. LF

KAZAKHSTAN, CHINA SIGN BORDER AGREEMENT. Nazarbayev and
visiting Chinese President Jiang Zemin signed an agreement
in Astana on 4 July. According to Nazarbayev, the accord
"finally and irrevocably" resolves the outstanding disputes
over their 1,700 km frontier, Interfax reported. The two
presidents also instructed their respective governments to
draw up an economic cooperation program for the next 15
years. That program will focus primarily on the oil and gas
sectors, telecommunications, Kazakh deliveries of
electricity to China, and Chinese investment in Kazakhstan's
new capital. China reaffirmed its commitment to the
agreement concluded last summer on constructing an oil
pipeline from Kazakhstan to China. Feasibility studies on
that project are already under way. Nazarbayev said that a
gas pipeline will be built to run parallel to the oil export
pipeline. LF

AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION REAFFIRMS ELECTION BOYCOTT. Five
leading Azerbaijani opposition politicians have repeated
their intention not to contend the 11 October presidential
elections, RFE/RL's Baku bureau reported on 4 July. The
previous day, Gerald Stoudmann, director of the OSCE Office
for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, told an RFE/RL
correspondent that he has appealed to the opposition to
abandon their proposed boycott and submit nominations to the
Central Electoral Commission in order to expedite the
process of democracy in Azerbaijan. Stoudmann expressed
satisfaction that some of his office's proposals have been
incorporated into the final version of the election law, but
he recommended that the Azerbaijani authorities adopt
additional measures to enable non-partisan domestic
observers to monitor the poll and to prevent interference in
the voting by security forces. The 1995 parliamentary
elections were marred by massive procedural violations. LF

THREE AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION ACTIVISTS SENTENCED. The
Military Collegium of the Azerbaijani Supreme Court on 2
July sentenced Party of National Independence of Azerbaijan
branch chairman Tahmasib Novruzov and Democratic Party of
Azerbaijan members Gurban Mamedov and Jamaleddin Ahmedov on
charges of falsely testifying that Security Minister Namig
Abbasov was preparing a coup against President Heidar Aliev,
Turan reported the following day. They received three, five,
and nine years in jail, respectively The Democratic Party of
Azerbaijan issued a statement on 2 July protesting the
sentences as being politically motivated rather than based
on hard evidence. It expresses concern that juridical power
in Azerbaijan is being used as an instrument of repression
against the opposition. LF

GEORGIAN RULING PARTY DOES NOT RULE OUT COALITION
GOVERNMENT. Georgian parliamentary speaker Zurab Zhvania and
Giorgi Baramidze, leader of the majority Union of Citizens
of Georgia (SMK) parliamentary group, have told journalists
that the SMK is already conducting talks with other
political parties on the possibility of forming a coalition
government, Caucasus Press reported on 4 and 7 July.
Opposition politicians, in particular Socialist Party leader
Vakhtang Rcheulishvili, have in recent months accused the
SMK of corruption and falsification of the results of a
recent by-election to ensure the victory of the SMK
candidate (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 June 1998). Baramidze
rejected the charges as fabricated and suggested that
Rcheulishvili is mentally unbalanced. LF

ABKHAZIA BEGINS COASTAL PATROLS. Abkhaz presidential press
spokesman Astamur Tania has said that Abkhazia began naval
patrols of its Black Sea coast on 1 July, Interfax reported
on 6 July. That move coincides with preparations for the
implementation of the bilateral agreement whereby Georgia
takes over from Russia responsibility for patrolling its sea
borders. Echoing a warning issued last week by Abkhaz
Defense Minister Vladimir Mikanba (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1
July 1998), Tania said that if Georgian border guards
attempt to assume control over Abkhazia's sea borders,
hostilities are inevitable. LF

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT IN YEREVAN. During his official visit to
Armenia on 3-4 July, Emil Constantinescu held talks with his
Armenian counterpart, Robert Kocharian, on strengthening
bilateral relations and on regional cooperation, Armenian
agencies reported. Constantinescu expressed support for
Armenian participation in the Silk Road transportation
project, which Kocharian argued can succeed only if it is
not directed against the interests of any state in the
region. Constantinescu also suggested that regional
organizations could contribute to mediating a solution to
the Karabakh conflict. The two presidents signed a joint
statement on partnership and cooperation. LF

FRANCE MAY JOIN RUSSIAN-ARMENIAN GAS JOINT VENTURE. Visiting
Yerevan with a French Senate delegation, a representative of
Gaz de France told journalists on 3 July that his company is
interested in participating in the Hayrusgazart joint
venture, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. That company,
which was established last December, is to manage Russian
gas exports to Armenia and their re-export to third
countries. LF

END NOTE

WHEN COMMERCE AND CULTURE CONFLICT

by Paul Goble

	Expanded international trade brings many benefits to
everyone involved, but its impact on national cultures is
more complicated, benefiting some and undermining others.
	Trade can benefit national cultures in three ways. It
can give a country the resources necessary to defend its own
cultural traditions. It can extend the cultural influence of
the exporting country across the world. And it can open the
culture of the importer to new possibilities.
	But trade can also threaten national cultures as well.
It can promote an international culture that may overwhelm
national ones. It can undermine efforts by national elites
to promote national loyalty. And it can exacerbate tensions
in culturally divided countries.
	Not surprisingly, those who feel their cultures
threatened often look for ways to limit the impact of
international trade on their traditions, while those who
benefit from such commerce tend to view any discussion of
culture as an unwarranted effort to limit free trade.
	This debate broke out again last week at a meeting of
19 countries in the Canadian capital of Ottawa. Cultural
officials from the Americas and Europe explored ways to
limit the cultural impact of trade on their societies. They
suggested that countries must have some ability to limit
trade in those areas, such as film and television, that
directly threaten their national cultures by holding up
powerful alternative models from abroad.
	No representative from the U.S. was initially invited
to the meeting, however. The Canadian organizers said they
did not do so because the U.S. does not have a cultural
minister. But under pressure from U.S. officials, they later
backed down and allowed the U.S. embassy to send observers.
	The real reason for the initial decision, one that not
all participants supported, appears to be long-standing
Canadian concern that U.S. culture is overwhelming its
Canadian counterpart through television broadcasts, book
publishing, and Canadian imports of many U.S. products.
	In the past, Canadians have adopted measures to
increase Canadian content in the media and thus to restrict
U.S. content. The U.S., for its part, has denounced those
measures as violating international agreements on free
trade.
	Most of the media coverage of the Ottawa meeting
implied that the dispute between Canada and the U.S. was
either unique or simply part of a more generalized concern
in many countries about the "Americanization" of their
popular cultures.. And it suggested that Canada was engaging
in a somewhat silly and inevitably hopeless defense against
the inevitable.
	But the Ottawa meeting, which is scheduled to be
followed by sessions in Mexico City and Athens, draws
attention to a much more widespread problem, one familiar to
many smaller countries living next to a larger one.
	One region where this problem threatens to break out
in an even more dramatic fashion is in the countries of the
former Soviet space, between the Russian Federation and its
much smaller neighbors. And because of three specific
features of this region, the conflict there could be even
more intense than the one highlighted at the Ottawa meeting.
	First, by virtue of its size and economic
possibilities, the Russian Federation is likely to loom even
larger in the lives of the peoples of the former Soviet
republics than does the U.S. in the lives of Canadians.
	Second, because of their past experience with Moscow's
rule and because of their desire to strengthen their own
national identities, the non-Russians are likely to be even
more sensitive to the impact of Russian culture on their own
national cultures.
	And third, because of the unique pattern of language
knowledge in the non-Russian countries, they are likely to
see the impact of trade on culture as particularly
threatening.
	Many observers describe the non-Russian countries as
bilingual, but that is simply not true, at least in the
sense that is usually meant. In most of those states, the
non-Russians speak their own language as well as Russian,
while most ethnic Russians there speak only Russian.
	As a result, expanded trade with its attendant
cultural influence may tend to solidify the cultural and
political divisions in these societies rather than help
overcome them. And that in turn is likely to have a profound
impact on the policies of the non-Russian governments.
	To the extent that they seek to restrict the cultural
impact of trade with Russia, these countries may have to
give up some economic advantages and some political support
from other large countries that are suspicious of any
cultural arguments.
	But to the extent that they do not seek to take such
measures, they may find themselves in a position like the
Canadians and others where their national cultures will be
transformed beyond recognition and beyond their control.

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