|Every custom was once an eccentricity; every idea was once an absurdity. - Holbrook Jackson|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 147 Part I, 3 August 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 147 Part I, 3 August 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 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part I * IMF OFFICIAL WINDS UP TRIP TO MOSCOW * KIRIENKO, MASKHADOV MEET IN NAZRAN * GEORGIAN PRESIDENT ASSESSES UN ABKHAZ RESOLUTION End Note: PRIMAKOV'S 19TH CENTURY MODEL xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx RUSSIA IMF OFFICIAL WINDS UP TRIP TO MOSCOW. No sooner was the government's anti-crisis plan in effect than a top IMF official was in Moscow urging compliance before the release in September of a second tranche worth $4.3 billion. IMF Deputy Managing Director Stanley Fisher met with Russian Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko on 31 July and with Finance Minister Mikhail Zadornov and Anatolii Chubais, presidential envoy to international financial institutions, the next day. Fisher said that the Russian government has made progress toward improving its revenue collection and has tightened controls over spending, but he cautioned that "complacency must be avoided." On 31 July, Federal Tax Service director Boris Fyodorov reported that the government collected $80.6 million more in taxes in July than in the previous month, an increase of about 7 percent, according to Reuters. JAC CHUBAIS KEEPS JOB--FOR NOW. Fisher's visit had sparked rumors in the Moscow press that President Boris Yeltsin would invite Chubais back into the government. But Yeltsin concluded a meeting with Chubais on 31 July without making any such announcement (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 July 1998). Some newspapers continue to predict Chubais's return. On 1 August, "Russkii Telegraf" reported that the decree for the resignation of Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko has already been signed but that news of his departure and Chubais's return will be released at the end of Yeltsin's vacation. JAC GOVERNMENT TELLS OIL COMPANIES TO PAY UP OR SHUT IN. The selection of which Russian oil companies will have restricted access to export pipelines in August appears to depend on size of the company and its political influence rather than on its tax debt, according to the "Vremya MN" on 31 July. The daily argued that Moscow bureaucrats have chosen companies that are too small to defend themselves, such as SIDANCO and ONAKO. On 31 July, Minister of Fuel and Energy Sergei Generalov said that because of a credit from Western banks totaling $4 million, LUKOIL will be guaranteed the right to export 12 million to 15 million tons annually. He added that this agreement will later be legalized by presidential decree. JAC YELTSIN SCUTTLES FOREIGN INVESTMENT LAW... President Yeltsin has apparently decided that it is better to have no foreign investment law than to sign the poorly drafted version passed by the Duma in July, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 August. According to the presidential press service, Yeltsin rejected the law because it was in conflict not only with existing legislation but also with international agreements. Drafters of the original version of the legislation had intended the law to provide foreign investors with a "grandfather clause" that would protect them from changes in tax legislation. However, the law became so diluted after its passage through the State Duma that it was unclear whether investors would be protected even for so short a period as seven years (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 July 1998). JAC ...REJECTS TWO MORE LAWS. Yeltsin also rejected two other laws passed by the legislature last month: the law on leasing and the law on the protection of the earth's atmosphere. ITAR-TASS reported that Yeltsin determined that both laws were incompatible with existing federal legislation. JAC KIRIENKO, MASKHADOV MEET IN NAZRAN. Prime Minister Kirienko flew to Vladikavkaz on 1 August, from where he traveled with Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin and Ingush President Ruslan Aushev to Aushev's residence near Nazran for talks with Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov, RFE/RL's correspondents in Moscow and Grozny reported. At a two-hour meeting behind closed doors, Kirienko and Maskhadov discussed Moscow's failure to implement bilateral agreements, in particular the accord signed last year by Maskhadov and Kirienko's predecessor, Viktor Chernomyrdin, on Russian economic aid for Chechnya. Kirienko admitted that failure at a press conference after the meeting, stressing that "we need peace and stability in the North Caucasus..., we need to find solutions to the economic problems of the Chechen Republic Ichkeria and the neighboring regions." Maskhadov said he is confident that the meeting with Kirienko served to "break the deadlock" in Russian-Chechen relations. LF ZYUGANOV APPROVES, YANDARBIEV CONDEMNS TALKS. Russian Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov told Interfax on 1 August that he welcomes the Kirienko-Maskhadov meeting. Zyuganov, who had just returned from a two-week tour of the Russian North Caucasus, said the situation in the region "is deteriorating." He called for the adoption of a new national policy for the Caucasus. But former acting Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev said on 2 August that Kirienko insulted the Chechen people by proposing to establish a free economic zone in Chechnya comparable to that in Kaliningrad. Yandarbiev said that Russia does not have the financial means to resolve Chechnya's problems. LF MASKHADOV IN TURKEY. Maskhadov arrived in Istanbul with his family on 2 August for a four-day unofficial visit, Russian media reported. Speaking on his arrival, the Chechen president criticized unidentified Arab countries that, according to him, are seeking to "provoke confusion" in Chechnya and to "teach us Islam." Maskhadov has publicly blamed radical Islamists for the fighting in Gudermes in June between members of the National Guard and units of the Special Purpose Islamic Regiment and Shariah Security Guard. LF MAYOR, STATESMAN, PRESIDENT? Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, who is a likely presidential contender in 2000, is again trying to display his foreign-policy acumen. Last month, he sided with Belarusian President Lukashenka in the latter's controversial attempt to oust foreign diplomats from their compound (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 July 1998). At a 31 July meeting with visiting South Korean Ambassador to Russia Lee Ing Ho, Luzhkov proposed that the embassies of South Korea and North Korea be located next door to each other. According to Interfax, he explained that since Korea will be reunited sooner or later, "it will be enough to remove the fence for a single embassy to be established." JAC LUZHKOV ON CHECHNYA. Luzhkov on 1 August also weighed in on another issue of national importance, relations with Chechnya, according to Interfax. In an apparent departure from his earlier condemnation of the Chechnya peace accords, he declared that Chechnya should become independent. In fall 1996, Luzhkov had joined critics of General Aleksandr Lebed's efforts in Chechnya, saying "Russia has effectively surrendered to bandits." JAC LOCAL ELECTION CANCELED DUE TO LACK OF INTEREST? Election officials in the Republic of Tuva said on 2 August that they fear they will have to declare local elections invalid because of insufficient voter turnout, ITAR-TASS reported. Two hours after polls opened that day, only 3.35 percent of the city of Kyzyl's 52,000 eligible voters had cast their votes. On the ballot were candidates for 10 seats in the republic's parliament and 25 seats in the city's legislature. JAC DIAMONDS AREN'T FOREVER. Russia's diamond industry lost one of its top officials on 1 August, when Aleksandr Shkadov, executive director of the Kristall diamond company and president of the Russian Association of Diamond Processors, was shot and killed in an apparent contract murder. According to ITAR-TASS, his body was found outside the city of Smolensk in an area littered with bullets and cartridges. JAC TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA GEORGIAN PRESIDENT ASSESSES UN ABKHAZ RESOLUTION. In his weekly radio broadcast on 3 August, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze termed the 30 July UN Security Council resolution on Abkhazia "another success of Georgian diplomacy," Caucasus Press reported. Shevardnadze said the tone of the latest resolution is "more firm and categorical" in its condemnation of Abkhaz reprisals against the ethnic Georgian population of Abkhazia's Gali Raion. But the deputy chairman of the Abkhaz parliament in exile, Gia Gvazava, expressed disappointment that the resolution does not condemn the Abkhaz reprisals as ethnic cleansing, in accordance with Tbilisi's request. In Moscow on 31 July, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin said the resolution is a "clear message" to both Georgia and Abkhazia to abide by their commitments under the 25 May cease-fire protocol, according to Interfax. That document provides for maintaining a cease-fire and preventing terrorist activities against the Russian peacekeepers deployed in the border zone between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia. LF RADIOACTIVITY DISCOVERED AT FORMER SOVIET MILITARY BASES IN GEORGIA. Environmental Minister Nino Chkhobadze told journalists on 1 August that radioactivity has been detected near two former Soviet army bases in Khoni and Terdjola Raions, western Georgia, Caucasus Press reported. She said that cleanup operations have already been completed at the Terdjola site and are continuing in Khoni, where the radioactivity level was 230 roentgen. Several Georgian servicemen were hospitalized with radiation sickness in October 1997, after being exposed to radioactive equipment at a former training base for Soviet border guards base near Tbilisi (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 October 1997). LF ARMENIAN INTERIOR MINISTRY DENIES EX-PRESIDENT'S RESIDENCE ATTACKED. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and National Security issued a statement on 2 August denying media reports of automatic rifle fire close to the Yerevan residence of former President Levon Ter-Petrossian at 2:00 a.m. local time the previous day, ITAR-TASS reported. He described those reports as based on "unfounded rumors." The daily "Aravot" reported the shooting on 1 August, adding that police and Ter-Petrossian's bodyguards were immediately alerted but could find no trace of the attackers, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. LF U.S. REAFFIRMS SUPPORT FOR BAKU-CEYHAN PIPELINE... U.S. special envoy for Caspian affairs Richard Morningstar told journalists in Baku on 30 July that both Washington and Ankara support plans for construction of an oil export pipeline from Baku to the Turkish Mediterranean terminal at Ceyhan and for a Trans-Caspian gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan, Interfax reported. But Morningstar also conceded that pending an agreement among all five Caspian littoral states on the sea's status, Iran and Russia have a "sovereign right" to protest the planned Trans-Caspian gas pipeline. LF ...AS DOES TURKEY. Turkish Foreign Ministry official Yaman Bashkut, who accompanied Morningstar to Baku, told journalists on 31 July that "there will be no problems" in raising the estimated $3 billion needed for construction of the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline. He said that "the U.S. in the person of EximBank, the World Bank, and other financial organizations" will provide the funds, according to Turan. Bashkut rejected the argument that falling world oil prices mean that the Baku-Ceyhan route is no longer economically viable. He also warned again that Ankara will not permit the lion's share of Caspian oil to be exported by tanker via the Turkish straits. LF AZERBAIJANI LEADERSHIP, OPPOSITION SIGNAL READINESS FOR DIALOGUE. Presidential administration official Ali Hasanov has said there are no obstacles to meetings between opposition leaders and himself, presidential administration head Ramiz Mehtiev, or even President Heidar Aliev to discuss the conditions under which the opposition leaders are prepared to participate in the October presidential elections, Turan reported on 31 July. Azerbaijan Popular Front Party chairman Abulfaz Elchibey and Musavat Party leader Isa Gambar, both of whom have announced their intention to boycott the poll, similarly announced their readiness to participate in such a dialogue. The head of the pro-government Center for Democratic Elections, Motherland Party chairman Fazail Agamali, has offered to mediate that dialogue. But presidential legal adviser Shahin Aliev repeated in Washington on 31 July that the Azerbaijani leadership will not grant the opposition's demand for the right to nominate half the members of the Central Electoral Commission. LF WIDOW OF TAJIK CUSTOMS OFFICIAL KILLED IN CEMETERY. The widow of deputy customs head Ali Imomnazarov was shot and killed on 2 August, ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported. Saida Imomnazarova was killed by two masked gunmen while visiting the cemetery where her husband had been buried the previous day. Ali Imomnazarov died on 31 July from wounds he received from a bomb planted in his car. BP TREASON TRIAL OPENS IN TAJIKISTAN. The Prosecutor-General's office has completed its investigation of four men involved in mutinous activities in July and August 1997 and has charged the men with treason, attempting to overthrow the government, and other "grave" crimes against the country, ITAR-TASS reported on 31 July. Kosim Boboyev, the former governor of Khatlon Oblast, Toshtemir Odinamadov, Sherali Mirzoyev, and Sulton Kurbonov allegedly cooperated with former Popular Front field commanders led by Colonel Mahmud Khudaberdiyev in order to establish a defense council for Khatlon Oblast. That council was against allowing fighters from the United Tajik Opposition to return to the region in accordance with the June 1997 peace accord. Armed units under Khudaberdiyev subsequently advanced on Dushanbe but were defeated by forces of the presidential guard. Khudaberdiyev, who has been in hiding for nearly a year, is also wanted by the prosecutor-general. BP UZBEKISTAN CUTS OFF GAS SUPPLIES TO KYRGYZSTAN. The director-general of the Kyrgyz state gas company, Shalkhar Jaysanbayev, said on 3 August that Uzbekistan has cut off supplies of natural gas to Kyrgyzstan, ITAR-TASS reported. The reason for that move is unpaid bills totaling $2.5 million. Jaysanbayev said the Kyrgyz government has already begun talks with Uzbekistan on the resumption of supplies and has provided written guarantees for payment of those supplies. He added that in order to pay Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan will increase the price of gas for consumers during August by 25 percent. BP END NOTE PRIMAKOV'S 19TH CENTURY MODEL by Paul Goble Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov has identified his 19th century predecessor Aleksandr Gorchakov as a model for Moscow's approach following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In a speech on the 200th anniversary of Gorchakov's birth, published in the current issue of the Russian foreign-policy journal "International Affairs," Primakov notes that Gorchakov was able to rebuild Russia's power and influence after its defeat in the Crimean War. When Gorchakov assumed office after that defeat, in 1856, many people "thought that they were present at a funeral for the Russian Empire or at any rate witnessing its turning into a second-rate power," Primakov argues. Such a conclusion seemed reasonable, according to the current foreign minister. The Crimean War had demonstrated a variety of internal weaknesses in the Russian Empire. Most of the important powers were "rallied against Russia." And the North Caucasian leader Shamil was able to stage a daring raid into Russia itself. Given these obstacles, Primakov points out, many in the Russian Empire argued that it had to turn inward, "resign its great power status," and accept the leadership of others. That had been the policy of Gorchakov's predecessor, Count Nesselrode, who went so far as to propose abolishing the Foreign Ministry altogether. But Gorchakov urged "a different course of action." Primakov not only approves of that course but argues it should be a model for Russian actions in the future. According to Primakov, Gorchakov believed that "a vigorous foreign policy" was essential for creating the conditions that would allow Russia to renew itself at home and regain influence abroad. Over the next 30 years, Primakov says, Gorchakov did just that, far more successfully than many of his contemporaries assumed he could. Primakov draws five lessons from Gorchakov's approach. Those lessons, he argues, should guide Moscow's actions today. First, Primakov says, Gorchakov demonstrated that Russia, even when weakened by defeat, can pursue an active foreign policy. Indeed, Primakov insists that his predecessor showed that it has no other choice. Second, Gorchakov insisted that Russian foreign policy must not be limited to a single direction or area of concern. Instead, it must seek to be active in all areas. Third, as Primakov notes with approval, Gorchakov had no doubt that Russia at all times has "enough strength" to play a leading role in the world. Fourth, Gorchakov understood that Russia could always exploit the resentment many smaller powers inevitably feel vis-a-vis larger ones. In this way, Russia can rebuild and then expand its own influence. Fifth, Gorchakov's actions provide one negative lesson. According to Primakov, Gorchakov's maneuvering among the great powers of Europe is now "out of date." Instead, Primakov notes, Moscow must seek constructive partnerships with all countries rather than seeking some "mobile" or permanent coalition. Together, these five principles show that Gorchakov understood what Primakov argues is the fundamental basis of Russian foreign policy: "There are no constant enemies, but there are constant national interests." According to Primakov, that principle means that Russian foreign policy must adopt a balanced approach--neither advancing "excessive claims" that fail to recognize what has happened in the last decade nor setting "deliberately low standards" that ignore Moscow's continuing possibilities. And it also means, Primakov continues, that Russia will not seek improved relations with "the 'civilized West' at any cost." In his concluding remarks, Primakov focuses on one foreign-policy area where Gorchakov's approach seems not to apply but in fact does. As Primakov points out, his 19th century predecessor was "striving to consolidate the Russian Empire's territorial integrity." Now, Primakov acknowledges, the situation has changed: Both the Empire and the Soviet Union are "gone" and he argues that "the present reality is such that sovereignty of the ex-USSR republics should not be subject to any doubt." But at the same time, Primakov concludes, Moscow must do everything it can to bring "the states formed on the territory of the former Soviet Union" closer together through economic integration and "the creation of a single economic area." Many people, in both these countries and the West, are likely to see such a proposal as anything but reassuring, particularly since Primakov advances it even as he praises one of 19th-century Russia's most passionate defenders of empire. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1998 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word subscribe as the subject of the message. 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