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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 134 Part I, 15 July 1998


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RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 134  Part I, 15 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

* FINANCE MINISTER DEFENDS NEW FOREIGN LOANS IN DUMA

* DUMA CONSIDERS ANTI-CRISIS PLAN

* UN REPRESENTATIVE SHOT DEAD IN GEORGIA

End Note: THE TSARIST PAST RUSSIA WANTS TO FORGET
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RUSSIA

FINANCE MINISTER DEFENDS NEW FOREIGN LOANS IN DUMA. Mikhail
Zadornov addressed the State Duma on 15 July to discuss new
loans from international financial organizations, RFE/RL's
Moscow bureau reported. The IMF, World Bank, and Japan are
to lend Russia a total of $14.8 billion this year, most of
it in new credits (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 July 1998).
Zadornov claimed that the Central Bank may not need to draw
on funds added to its hard-currency reserves. He also argued
that credits from international financial organizations are
issued on more favorable terms than any other loans.
Addressing concerns about alleged plans to split up natural
monopolies in the energy sector, Zadornov said Gazprom and
Unified Energy Systems will not be dismembered and that no
such plans were discussed during the negotiations over the
bailout package. LB

MIXED REACTION TO BAILOUT AGREEMENT. Duma Speaker Gennadii
Seleznev on 14 July expressed concern about the new loans
Russia is to receive from international financial
institutions, ITAR-TASS reported. Seleznev warned against
following the example of Bulgaria, which, he charged, has
been unable to pay back its foreign debt and has therefore
"lost its sovereignty" because foreigners determine the
country's economic and budget policies. Also on 14 July,
Vladimir Nikitin of the Popular Power faction drafted a Duma
statement noting that "all agreements on foreign loans come
into effect only after their ratification, if their
implementation demands changes in the current legislation or
the adoption of new laws," Interfax reported. Speaking to
Interfax, Aleksandr Livshits, deputy head of the
presidential administration, hailed the new loans but
cautioned that "one should understand that this is the last
time" international financial institutions will trust Russia
as long as there are "no positive changes" in the economy.
LB

DUMA CONSIDERS ANTI-CRISIS PLAN. The Duma convened an
extraordinary session on 15 July to consider a package of
government-backed laws on tax and social policy, RFE/RL's
Moscow bureau reported. Government officials have warned
that the executive branch will implement tougher measures
unilaterally if the parliament does not approve the anti-
crisis program. Speaking to journalists in Tokyo on 14 July,
Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko said that measures not backed
by the Duma will be introduced by presidential decree,
Interfax reported. Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko
announced on 10 July that the government has "levers" to
implement austerity measures without parliamentary approval,
but he declined to elaborate, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau
reported. LB

NEMTSOV URGES APPROVAL OF TAX LAWS. Deputy Prime Minister
Boris Nemtsov warned during a 14 July session of a
government commission that "it will be very, very difficult
to improve the [economic] situation" without parliamentary
approval of four key tax laws, Russian news agencies
reported. The Duma has rejected initial versions of those
laws, which would change the income tax scale, establish a
single rate of value-added tax, introduce a sales tax, and
raise the land tax. Nemtsov estimated that those four laws
would bring in an additional 100 billion rubles ($16
billion) in budget revenues--as much as the new planned
loans to Russia from the IMF and World Bank, he noted. Duma
deputy Valentin Kuptsov, a high-ranking Communist Party
official, told Interfax on 14 July that the Communist
faction (the largest in the Duma) opposes plans to introduce
a sales tax and revise the income tax scale. LB

INFLUENTIAL GOVERNOR WANTS REVISIONS TO TAX PROPOSALS...
Samara Oblast Governor Konstantin Titov, who also chairs the
Federation Council's Budget Committee, has called for
revisions to some of the government's tax proposals,
including the new tax code, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported
on 14 July. Titov told journalists that on the whole he
supports the government's anti-crisis program, but he called
for amending some proposals to take the interests of
regional governments into account. Among other things, the
Federation Council wants regions to receive a greater share
of tax revenues. It also proposes income tax exemptions for
wages below the subsistence level and earnings spent on
construction. With respect to the stabilization loan the IMF
is to extend to Russia this year, Titov argued that
following all the IMF's demands would provoke a political
crisis in Russia. LB

...AND FORGIVENESS OF FINES FOR BACK TAXES. During his 14
July press conference, Samara Governor Titov also called on
the government to write off fines and penalties levied
against enterprises with tax debts, "Nezavisimaya gazeta"
reported. Titov argued that when those fines were piling up,
the government was carrying out a bad industrial policy. He
added that forgiving the fines would make Russian
enterprises more attractive to potential investors. He did
not name any enterprises that he believes would benefit from
such a measure. However, the AvtoVAZ automobile
manufacturer, one of the largest employers in Samara Oblast,
owes the federal government 12 billion rubles ($1.9
billion), "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 15 July. Back
taxes account for only 3 billion rubles of that sum. Fines
and penalties make up the rest of the AvtoVAZ debt. LB

YELTSIN, DUMA DEPUTIES FIND COMMON GROUND. President Boris
Yeltsin and the Duma deputies with whom he met on 14 July
unanimously criticized media speculation about creating "a
certain State Council," presidential spokesman Sergei
Yastrzhembskii announced after the meeting. Duma Speaker
Seleznev confirmed that during the Kremlin meeting, the Duma
deputies spoke out against forming "any unconstitutional
bodies like a State Council" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 July
1998). At the same time, Yeltsin and the deputies discussed
resuming meetings of other extra-constitutional bodies, such
as roundtable talks involving executive and legislative
officials and the "council of four" (president, prime
minister, and speakers of both houses of the parliament).
Several of those present later described the talks as
cordial. Agrarian faction leader Nikolai Kharitonov
commented that he has attended many meetings with Yeltsin,
but "today was the first time that tea was served," Russian
news agencies reported. LB

YELTSIN AGAIN DENIES THIRD TERM AMBITIONS. During his
meeting with the Duma deputies, Yeltsin announced that "I
want Russia to start working calmly with a new president in
the year 2000," Interfax reported, citing the presidential
press service. The Constitutional Court is expected to
consider in October whether Yeltsin has the right to run for
president again when his current term expires in 2000.
Although the president has said on many occasions that he
does not plan to seek re-election, many Russian commentators
have speculated that Yeltsin plans to run again. Yeltsin
recently fired a longtime adviser, Sergei Shakhrai, shortly
after Shakhrai publicly endorsed Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov
for the presidency. LB

KIRIENKO MAKES STOPOVER IN CHINA. Russian Prime Minister
Sergei Kirienko made a five-hour stopover in Beijing on the
way back to Russia from Japan, Russian sources and China's
Xinhua news agency reported. Kirienko met with his Chinese
counterpart, Zhu Rongji, to discuss how to improve trade
relations. Both agreed that though bilateral trade is weak
(about $6 billion annually), there are possibilities for
increasing the total volume. They called for implementation
of agreements to boost cooperation in nuclear energy, modern
technologies, civil aviation, and communications. Kirienko
invited Zhu to visit Moscow in 1999 and also met with
Chinese President Jiang Zemin to discuss the Chinese
leader's "informal" visit to Moscow in September. Russian
Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov is due to visit China at
the end of July. BP

KIRIENKO APPOINTS ACTING HEAD OF STATISTICS COMMITTEE. Prime
Minister Kirienko has appointed former Deputy Chairman of
the State Statistics Committee Vladimir Sokolin as acting
head of that committee, Interfax reported on 13 July. His
predecessor Yurii Yurkov, who was arrested on 8 July for
embezzlement, lost an appeal in a Moscow municipal court to
be released from pre-trial detention, "Kommersant-Daily"
reported on 11 July. Defense lawyer Vitalii Khavkin said in
an interview with "Vremya MN" published on 7 July that
Yurkov's detainment was illegal insofar as prosecutors took
advantage of Yurkov's "state of shock" to elicit a written
confession. Meanwhile, two more people have been charged in
association with the statistics scandal: Mikhail Malyshev,
the leader of the Labor Ministry's Scientific Research
Office, and Boris Saakyan, the director of the Statistics
Committee's computer center, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on
7 and 9 July. BT

MAYOR OF CITY AT CENTER OF COAL PROTESTS RESIGNS. Viktor
Makarkin, the mayor of Anzhero-Sudzhensk (Kemerovo Oblast),
announced his resignation on 14 July, Interfax reported. The
coal miners blockading the Trans-Siberian Railroad since 3
July have long demanded his resignation. On 15 July, Tomsk
Oblast Governor Viktor Kress appealed to President Yeltsin
and Prime Minister Kirienko to send a working group to
Kemerovo Oblast to negotiate an end to the blockade, ITAR-
TASS reported. The protest is threatening the oblast's food
supplies and a number of industrial enterprises, which have
been left without raw materials, Kress claimed. A government
group headed by Deputy Fuel Minister Igor Kozhukhovskii
again failed to reach agreement with the protesters,
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 15 July. BT

CONSTRUCTION OF NUCLEAR PLANT STOPPED IN ROSTOV. Yurii
Vishnevskii, the head of the Russian Atomic Energy
Inspectorate, announced on 13 July that the Volga regional
department of that inspectorate has given permission to end
construction of a nuclear power station in Rostov Oblast,
Interfax reported. Some $1.5 billion has already been spent
on building the unfinished plant, he said. The decision is a
major victory for environmental activists, who have fought
for years against building the plant. The Rostov Oblast
Soviet voted to end construction in August 1992, according
to the 9 April issue of the "IEWS Russian Regional Report."
But in 1996 federal authorities ordered that construction be
resumed. Environmentalists say the nuclear plant would
threaten a major water reservoir and could be vulnerable to
earthquakes. They organized a blockade of the road leading
to the construction site last year (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
12 August 1997). LB

FOUR ARRESTED ON SUSPICION OF HIGH-PROFILE MURDER IN ST.
PETERSBURG. Four men accused of involvement in the August
1997 killing of St. Petersburg Deputy Governor Mikhail
Manevich have been arrested in the Osh region of Kyrgyzstan,
RFE/RL correspondents in Bishkek reported on 15 July.
Manevich, the top privatization official in St. Petersburg,
was shot dead by a sniper on his way to work. According to
an Osh administration official, the suspects are two Russian
citizens and two citizens of Uzbekistan (ethnic Russians who
are brothers). The official said the four were arrested in a
joint operation by the Russian Federal Security Service
(FSB) and the Osh branch of the Kyrgyz security forces.
Interfax reported that three men were detained on 14 July
and the fourth was arrested several days earlier. The FSB
suspects the men of committing various contract killings in
Russia between 1993 and 1997. LB

BASAEV ASSESSES ACHIEVEMENTS AS PREMIER. In an interview
with Chechen Television, Shamil Basaev said the primary
achievement of his six months' tenure as acting prime
minister was the shift of the Chechen economy from Russian
and toward local markets, ITAR-TASS reported on 14 July.
Basaev added that both he and his cabinet ministers will
report on their work to President Aslan Maskhadov after the
state of emergency imposed by the latter three weeks ago
expires on 15 July. In an interview with Interfax on 14
July, Basaev called for the severing of all ties between
Chechnya and Russia, saying that "Russia cannot be trusted
as it never deemed it necessary to fulfill its commitments."
He said that unspecified foreign countries are prepared to
help Chechnya if it breaks with Russia. LF

BASAEV'S ALLY RELEASED IN DAGESTAN. Also on 14 July, the
Dagestani authorities released Adallo Aliev, the deputy
chairman of the Congress of Peoples of Chechnya and
Dagestan, which Basaev chairs, ITAR-TASS reported. Aliev was
apprehended on the border between Chechnya and Dagestan late
last week for illegally carrying a pistol (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 13 July 1998). It is unclear whether his release
is the result of a clandestine meeting that took place on 13
July between Maskhadov and Dagestani State Council Chairman
Magomedali Magomadov at the former's request. LF

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

UN REPRESENTATIVE SHOT DEAD IN GEORGIA. Maria Magdalene
Kawioska, a secretary of the UN mission in Georgia, was shot
dead late on 14 July at the door of her Tbilisi apartment,
Caucasus Press reported. The Georgian prosecutor-general has
launched an investigation. LF

MOSCOW ACCUSES GEORGIA OF SUPPORTING GUERRILLAS. The Russian
Foreign Ministry issued a statement on 14 July condemning
the Georgian Interior and Security Ministries' reaction to
the deaths of five Russian peacekeepers in Abkhazia's Gali
Raion two days earlier, Interfax reported. The Russian
statement condemned the killings as an act of terrorism by
Georgian guerrillas and affirmed that "any attempts to
present the White Legion or the Forest Brothers as
organizations that have nothing to do with the Georgian
special services are an attempt to ignore reality." The
Georgian leadership has repeatedly denied any connection
with either of those guerrilla organizations. The Russian
statement also criticized the Georgian leadership for
failing to comply with written commitments to crack down on
groups engaged in terrorism and sabotage. And it slammed the
Abkhaz leadership for failing to create conditions for the
return to Gali Raion of ethnic Georgians forced to flee
during the fighting in May. LF

GEORGIAN EX-DEFENSE MINISTER ON HUNGER STRIKE. Tengiz
Kitovani has launched a hunger strike to demand a revision
of his prison sentence and his immediate release from
prison, an RFE/RL correspondent in Tbilisi reported on 14
July. Kitovani, who together with fellow warlord Djaba
Ioseliani ousted President Zviad Gamsakhurdia in early 1992,
was sentenced in October 1996 to eight years' imprisonment
for setting up an illegal armed formation. In a written
statement, Kitovani has demanded that he be recognized as a
political prisoner. He also characterized Georgian President
Eduard Shevardnadze as a dictator and called for his
resignation. LF

RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER IN YEREVAN. Igor Sergeev arrived in
Yerevan on 14 July and held talks with President Robert
Kocharian and Prime Minister Armen Darpinian on the
situation in the Transcaucasus and the implementation of
bilateral agreements on military cooperation, Armenian and
Russian agencies reported. Sergeev also met with his
Armenian counterpart, Vazgen Sargsian. Speaking to
journalists, Sergeev denied reports that Moscow plans either
to reduce its troop presence in the Transcaucasus or to
redeploy to Armenia some forces currently stationed in
Georgia. Sergeev declined to comment on Russian media
reports that Moscow intends to station S-300 air defense
missiles in Armenia, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. LF

ARMENIAN OPPOSITION PARTY MAY MODERATE STANCE. Senior
members of the National Democratic Union (AZhM) told
RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau on 14 July that the party does not
exclude participating in the Coordinating Council recently
established by President Robert Kocharian. But they
expressed doubts that their participation would have any
impact given that the council is dominated by parties from
the Justice and Unity bloc, created in March to support
Kocharian's presidential bid. Kocharian established the
council last month in order to ensure that small parties
that are either underrepresented or not represented at all
in the parliament participate in politics. The AZhM, whose
chairman Vazgen Manukian came third in the presidential
elections with 12.24 percent of the vote, had earlier laid
down conditions for supporting Kocharian. LF

AZERBAIJANI PROSECUTOR-GENERAL DETAILS CHARGES AGAINST
GULIEV. The Azerbaijani prosecutor-general and Interior
Ministry issued a statement on 14 July accusing former
parliamentary speaker Rasul Guliev of embezzling $73 million
from the state budget in 1992-1993, Turan reported. At that
time Guliev was director of one of Azerbaijan's largest oil
refineries and a vice president of the state oil company
SOCAR. The statement claims that he illegally exported more
than 150,000 tons of diesel fuel and 32,000 tons of aviation
fuel. Guliev has lived in the U.S. since leaving Azerbaijan
in September 1996. He told journalists in Istanbul on 13
July that he plans to return to Azerbaijan in the near
future to contest the 11 October presidential elections even
though a warrant has been issued for his arrest, the
"Turkish Daily News" reported on 14 July. LF

FORMER AZERBAIJANI PREMIER GOES ON TRIAL. Court proceedings
against Suret Huseinov opened in Baku on 14 July. Huseinov
is charged under 30 articles of the Azerbaijani Criminal
Code. Those charges include treason, attempting to launch a
coup, maintaining illegal armed formations, embezzlement,
and drug-dealing. He has pleaded guilty only to charges of
illegal possession of weapons and living in the Russian
Federation under an assumed identity, according to an RFE/RL
correspondent in the Azerbaijani capital. Huseinov claims he
has been subjected to physical and psychological pressure
during the investigation into his case. In June 1993,
Huseinov launched the insurrection that culminated in the
flight from Baku of then President Abulfaz Elchibey and the
return to power of the present incumbent, Heidar Aliev.
Huseinov fled to Russia in October 1994 after what Aliev
described as a failed coup attempt. He was extradited to
Azerbaijan in March 1997. LF

TURKMENISTAN FULFILLS GRAIN QUOTA. Turkmenistan has met its
grain target figure of 1.2 million tons, according to
Turkmen media and Interfax. Since independence, the country
had failed to meet its target figure for grain; and in 1996
and 1997, the harvest was half of projected levels.
President Saparmurat Niyazov recently criticized the poor
condition of fields, and Turkmen media reports claim that
the Mary Region fulfilled only 80 percent of its quota.
Niyazov said during the sowing season earlier this year that
those who fail to meet their grain quotas may face criminal
charges. BP

END NOTE

THE TSARIST PAST RUSSIA WANTS TO FORGET

by John Varoli

	On 17 July, Russia will write the last page in the
final chapter of its tsarist era by burying the remains of
Tsar Nicholas II. But as in life, so in death Nicholas II
has served only to divide Russia.
	While the tsarist family's burial has been billed by
the government as an act of reconciliation and repentance,
it has proved a source of division. Most of Russia's
political establishment will skip the burial. Moreover, less
than half of Russia's population (47 percent) believes the
remains are authentic, according to a survey carried out by
the Russian public opinion research center VTsIOM.
	The root of this uncertainty is the Russian Orthodox
Church's decision not to recognize the remains as authentic
and not to send ranking officials to the burial. "The burial
has become a serious political problem," Yevgenii Volk, an
analyst at the Moscow office of the Hermitage Foundation,
told RFE/RL. "No one wants to quarrel with the Church."
	Church leaders say they fear a division within both
the Church and society if they recognize the remains. They
claim that many would defect to the dissident Orthodox
Church Abroad, which holds that the Bolsheviks destroyed all
the Romanov remains with acid shortly after the murder in
1918. And they also argue that the issue of sainthood for
the Romanovs demands an even more thorough scientific
investigation to establish the remains' authenticity than
the one conducted by the government over the past seven
years.
	But some analysts believe that those arguments are
just excuses for other, more sinister problems. "The problem
about sainthood and the threat of a defection to the Church
Abroad are not serious arguments," said Volk. "The Church
Abroad is not that strong in Russia, and few Russians hold
Nicholas in great esteem. The Orthodox Church's main
consideration is not to open old wounds about its Soviet-era
collaboration."
	The Orthodox Church has never publicly repented of its
close collaboration with the Soviet government and has
consistently prevented any discussion of the topic. "The
Church is one of the few remnants of the Soviet past, and
one of society's most conservative institutions," adds Volk.
"Recognizing the remains would raise many questions about
the Church's past relationship with the government that
executed Nicholas."
	Father Gleb Yakunin, a defrocked Russian Orthodox
priest who often speaks out about the Church's past
collaboration, has another view. At a press conference in
Moscow on 13 July, he said that the Church "is deliberately
casting doubt on the remains' authenticity and has chosen
not to attend so as not to incur the wrath of the
Communists." He added that the Church has postponed
discussion on canonization of the Romanovs until 2000 in
order to see if communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov wins the
presidential election. If he wins, the Romanovs will not be
canonized, Yakunin argued.
	Regardless of whether this is the case, Nicholas II is
certainly a controversial figure, and the government's
attempt to make him into a Bolshevik martyr has failed.
History is not uniting Russia but splitting it, says Volk.
People are still influenced by the communist propaganda that
the tsar was "Bloody Nicholas."
	"It all boils down to the unwillingness of Russian
society honestly to examine its past and repent of past
sins," said Volk. "It is easier to proclaim democracy than
actually overcome the totalitarian mentality."
	Many Russians have negative attitudes toward tsarism.
After all, Nicholas II's incompetent leadership did lead the
country to two disastrous wars and two bloody revolutions.
	According to VTsIOM, a majority (56 percent) of
respondents have a negative opinion of Nicholas II. Only 25
percent of the 1,600 polled think that Nicholas II was "an
innocent victim of the Bolshevik regime."
	This strong resentment is evidenced by incidents of
vandalism, targeting places specific to Nicholas II. Last
year, the first monument to Nicholas II, located just beyond
the Moscow city limits, was dynamited only months after
having been erected.
	In February, on Armed Forces Day, two bombs exploded
at the site where the Romanovs were executed, damaging a
newly built wooden chapel and memorial cross. The original
chapel was burned down in 1996 on the anniversary of the
Romanovs' execution.
	The St. Petersburg city government promises, however,
that security will be tight for both the funeral procession
and the burial later this week.
	Vice Governor Vladimir P. Yakovlev, the top city
official in charge of overseeing the burial arrangements,
told RFE/RL that "we will take all necessary precautions."
When pressed on what that entails, he stopped short of
providing details.
	If there really is a significance to the tsarist
burial, it is simply that the monarchist idea is dead in
Russia. Few Russians have sympathy for it. In Russia's quest
for a national idea, the country's leaders will have to look
elsewhere.

The author is an RFE/RL correspondent based in St.
Petersburg.

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