If we are to live together in peace, we must first come to know each other better. - Lyndon B. Johnson
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 148 Part I, 4 August 1998


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 148 Part I, 4 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

* DETAILS OF GAZPROM DEAL EMERGE

* YELTSIN APPROVES LEANER MILITARY

* AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT INVITES ARMENIAN COUNTERPART TO BAKU
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

RUSSIA

DETAILS OF GAZPROM DEAL EMERGE. Interfax reported on 3
August that foreign investors will be able to participate in
the government's upcoming sale of 5.87 percent of Gazprom's
shares and that the shares will be sold in a single lot.
First Deputy State Property Minister Aleksandr Braverman
told Bloomberg the same day that the full terms of the sale
will be announced soon. JAC

IS SHELL GAZPROM'S PREFERRED BUYER? "Kommersant-Daily" on 4
August reported that Gazprom chairman Rem Vyakhirev wants
the government to sell its 5 percent stake to Royal Dutch
Shell, its "strategic partner," which already owns shares in
the company. Vyakhirev wants to prevent in particular the
sale of any part of the company to Oneximbank, which already
holds a 4 percent stake and wants a seat on the board of
directors, for which it needs a larger stake. Three months
ago, Vyakhirev suggested that the government sell 3 percent
of Gazprom for $1 billion. JAC

EUROBOND SALES THIS YEAR TO BE LIMITED TO $2 BILLION. The
Finance Ministry on 3 August announced that it will sell no
more than $2 billion in Eurobonds this year. The following
day, it announced that it is canceling its regular auction
of Treasury bonds because borrowing costs are too high.
Bloomberg notes that with only $22.6 billion in loans from
the IMF and other international lenders, it remains a puzzle
how Russia will finance its budget deficit and the $24
billion in debt payments due later this year. If President
Boris Yeltsin tries to live up to his pledge to pay
soldiers' back wages, then the financing crunch will only
worsen. JAC

NEMTSOV SEEKS TO MAKE ROSNEFT MORE ATTRACTIVE... Determined
to make the state's next attempt at selling off Rosneft a
success, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov named
the Alliance Group, a management firm headed by a former
president of SIDANCO, as the company's management
consultant. He also named the Brunswick Warburg Financial
Group to be the oil company's financial consultant. Alliance
will oversee the company's current assets, ensure the
financial transparency of its cash flows, and restructure
its debts, Interfax reported on 3 August. Brunswick Warburg
will prepare the company for sale and manage the auction.
JAC

...AS DOES ROSNEFT ITSELF. In an additional measure to
heighten its attractiveness to investors, Rosneft plans to
announce its participation in an international consortium to
develop an oil field off the eastern island of Sakhalin
together with the U.S. companies Mobil and Texaco. Yelena
Telegina, deputy fuel and energy minister and chairman of
Rosneft's board of directors, told Bloomberg that Rosneft
will sign an agreement with the two companies later this
week for a 30 percent stake. JAC

RUSSIA TO BUILD NEW NUCLEAR REACTORS. Rosenergoatom director
Yevgenii Ignatenko told a press conference at Interfax head
office on 3 August that Russia will build 15 new nuclear
reactors, including two floating off Russia's Pacific coast,
by 2010, AP reported. He added that the VVER-1000 1000-
megawatt reactor, which has been granted a clean bill of
health by experts as conforming to world safety standards,
will become the mainstay of Russia's nuclear program.
Greenpeace activist Igor Forofontov criticized the proposed
expansion of nuclear power as "absurd" and "catastrophically
unprofitable" under present economic conditions. LF

YELTSIN APPROVES LEANER MILITARY. President Yeltsin on 3
August ended a four-year debate over the future of the
Russian military by signing a new military policy.
"Kommersant-Daily" on 4 August credited Defense Council
Secretary Andrei Kokoshin with having forming a coalition of
disparate government parties opposed to the bloated,
inefficient army. The military policy document, which was
drafted and debated for more than a year, streamlines the
command structure, shrinks and professionalizes the ranks of
soldiers, and calls for the development of newer, less
expensive weapons. JAC

DID KIRIENKO, MASKHADOV DISCUSS OIL TRANSIT? During their 1
August meeting in Nazran, Russian Premier Kirienko tried to
persuade Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov to give a
concrete pledge to ensure the unrestricted export via
Chechnya of Caspian oil, according to the "Turkish Daily
News" on 3 August. The daily added that Maskhadov is to
discuss the oil issue with Turkish officials during his
visit to Istanbul, which the Turkish government has insisted
is strictly private, and during his upcoming visit to the
U.S. Maskhadov has nominated Chechen First Deputy Prime
Minister Turpal Atgeriev as acting prime minister during his
absence, ITAR-TASS reported. North Ossetian President
Aleksandr Dzasokhov unintentionally corroborated the Turkish
report when he told ITAR-TASS on 3 August that "Moscow and
Grozny are determined that oil should be transported through
the Caucasus only." Dzasokhov lauded the Maskhadov-Kirienko
talks as being "of great importance" to Russia and the
entire Caucasus region. LF

AFGHAN, IRANIAN, PAKISTANI AMBASSADORS CALLED TO FOREIGN
MINISTRY. The Russian Foreign Ministry called the
ambassadors of Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan for separate
consultations on 3 August, Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported.
Ministry officials expressed Moscow's "serious concern" over
the current fighting in northern Afghanistan and over
reports that Pakistani troops are involved. The ministry
called for an immediate stop to the bloodshed. It also
condemned foreign interference in Afghanistan and urged the
resumption of dialogue between the opposing factions there.
Taliban troops appear to have captured the capital of
Jawzjan Province, Sheberghan. According to some reports, an
advance has begun on one of the last major pockets of
resistance to the Taliban, Mazar-i-Sharif. BP

RUMBLINGS OF DISCONTENT WITHIN LEBED'S RANKS. The two-day
joint conference of the National Republican Party and the
Honor and Motherland movement ended on 31 July with a
partial victory for Krasnoyarsk Governor Aleksandr Lebed,
according to "Kommersant-Daily." Lebed remains leader and
his close associate and former war pilot, Yurii Shevtsov,
was selected chairman of both groups. However, one-third of
the expected 300 delegates failed to show up, and those that
came expressed dissatisfaction with their leader and the
lack of improvement in the economic situation in
Krasnoyarsk. JAC

SAKHALIN CRISIS EASES SLIGHTLY. Although the miners' strike
in Sakhalin continues, government officials have managed to
achieve some concessions, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 August.
Miners who are blockading the main power plant on Sakhalin
have agreed to allow 25 rail cars carrying about 1,500 tons
of coal to make daily deliveries to the plant (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 31 July 1998). Local officials had warned of a
possible breakdown of the island's power grid, and they had
cautioned that it might be necessary to turn off light
signals and remote-control devices on railroads, according
to Interfax. Sakhalin's 650,000 or so residents will
continue receiving only five to six hours of electricity a
day. JAC

GRAIN HARVEST SET TO PLUMMET. Russian farmers may harvest
only 65 million tons of grain this year--a 27 percent
decrease from last year's level, Vice President of the
Russian Academy of Agricultural Sciences Anatolii Shutkov
predicted on 3 August. According to Interfax, he explained
that the continuing sharp drop in the number of livestock
will be insufficient to offset the damage caused to the crop
by drought in the Volga region, Siberia, and the Urals. Some
40.2 million hectares of land have been affected. The
Ministry of Agriculture reported that the pace of harvesting
has been slowed by a shortage of machinery and irregular
supplies of fuel and lubricants. Only 40 percent of
available combine-harvesters are functional. JAC

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT INVITES ARMENIAN COUNTERPART TO BAKU.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry announced on 3 August that
President Robert Kocharian has received an invitation from
Heidar Aliev to attend an international conference in Baku,
RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The conference, scheduled
for 7-8 September, is organized by the EU to discuss
implementation of its TRACECA program to create an east-west
road, rail, and ferry network linking Central Asia with
Europe via the Caucasus. Armenia and Azerbaijan were among
the eight states that first launched that program in 1993. A
spokeswoman for Kocharian told RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau on 4
August that "Armenia will by all means participate" in the
conference and that a decision on the level of that
participation will be made soon. Prominent Dashnak party
member Vahan Hovannisian, who is one of Kocharian's aides,
told journalists the same day that he thinks Kocharian
should treat Aliev's invitation with "caution" and send a
lower-level representative to the conference. LF

LUKIN FAVORS CLOSER BILATERAL TIES WITH AZERBAIJAN. Russian
State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Vladimir
Lukin, currently on an unofficial visit to Baku, met with
President Aliev and with Azerbaijani parliamentary speaker
Murtuz Alesqerov on 3 August, Turan and ITAR-TASS reported.
Lukin told Aliev that occasional criticism in Moscow of
Azerbaijani policy does not reflect the thinking of the
Russian leadership. He added that both the Duma and the
Russian government favor the so-called "Lisbon principles"
as a basis for resolving the Karabakh conflict. Those
principles are preserving Azerbaijan's territorial integrity
while bestowing on Karabakh "a broad measure of autonomy"
and security guarantees for its population. In this context,
Lukin advocated a "carrot-and-stick" policy that would
"stimulate Armenia to make concessions." LF

AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT REJECTS OPPOSITION'S ELECTION DEMANDS.
Representatives of Azerbaijani opposition parties and of the
Movement for Democratic Elections and Electoral reform met
for two hours on 3 August with presidential administration
head Ramiz Mehtiev to discuss the conditions for five
prominent opposition leaders to abandon their announced
boycott of the 11 October presidential elections, Turan
reported. Those conditions include the right to nominate
half the members of the Central Electoral Commission and the
"democratization of the political climate" in Azerbaijan.
Mehtiev declined to respond to those demands, but he
proposed resuming talks behind closed doors the following
day. Following that meeting, opposition leaders told
journalists that Mehtiev had informed them that President
Aliev has rejected all their demands, RFE/RL's Baku bureau
reported on 4 July. LF

AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION LEADER DENIES CONTACTS WITH ARMENIAN
DIASPORA. Exiled former parliamentary speaker Rasul Guliev,
one of the five Azerbaijani opposition leaders who intend to
boycott the presidential poll, told Turan on 3 August that
claims he held talks with U.S. Armenians, including
billionnaire Kirk Kirkorian, are false. The independent
Azerbaijani television station ANS-TV reported last week
that Guliev had discussed with Kirkorian the possible
sabotage of the presidential elections by a new Armenian
offensive against Azerbaijani forces. LF

CIS PEACEKEEPERS TO STAY IN ABKHAZIA FOR NOW... In his
Monday radio broadcast, Georgian President Eduard
Shevardnadze said on 3 August that the CIS peacekeepers
currently deployed along the border between Abkhazia and the
rest of Georgia should not be withdrawn until arrangements
have been made to replace them with an alternative force,
Russian and Georgian agencies reported. The peacekeepers'
mandate expired on 31 July. Londer Tsaava, who succeeded
Zurab Erkvania as chairman of the Abkhaz government in exile
in July, also reasoned that the withdrawal of the CIS
peacekeeping force will create "a vacuum" conducive to the
resumption of hostilities, Caucasus Press reported on 4
August. But Tsaava, like Shevardnadze, criticized the
peacekeepers for failing to protect ethnic Georgians in
Abkhazia's Gali Raion. LF

...DESPITE GEORGIAN FUGITIVES' MISGIVINGS. Some of the
Georgians constrained to flee Abkhazia during the May
fighting have formally announced their lack of confidence in
the Abkhaz leadership in exile and demanded a meeting with
Georgian government representatives, Caucasus Press reported
on 31 July. The fugitives announced that if the Russian
peacekeeping force is not withdrawn immediately they will
appeal to Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba to take
measures to protect them from Abkhaz militants. One Abkhaz
police officer was killed and two injured in Gali on 2
August when grenades were fired at their patrol car,
Interfax reported. LF

EMBATTLED GEORGIAN MINISTER REJECTS CORRUPTION CHARGES.
Communications Minister Pridon Indjia, speaking to
journalists in Tbilisi on 3 August, denied charges by the
parliamentary anti-corruption committee that he
misappropriated millions of dollars during the illegal
privatization of the country's telecommunications system,
Caucasus Press reported. He said he will take parliamentary
State and Legal Affairs Committee chairman Mikhail
Saakashvili to court for spreading false information about
him. Indjia is the only government minister who has not
complied with former Minister of State Niko Lekishvili's
call to resign. He argues that to do so would be a tacit
admission of guilt. Shevardnadze on 3 August declined to
comment on Indjia's case, saying law enforcement bodies
should "thoroughly investigate" the charges against him,
Interfax reported. LF

ABASHIDZE CLAIMS HE WAS OFFERED PREMIERSHIP. Adjar Supreme
Soviet chairman Aslan Abashidze told journalists at his
weekly press conference in Batumi on 3 August that Eduard
Shevardnadze offered him the post of minister of state,
Caucasus Press reported. The agency, however, did not
clarify whether that offer was made following the 26 July
resignation of Niko Lekishvili or when the position was
first created, in late 1995. Abashidze said he rejected the
offer as it was intended solely to weaken the position of
Adjaria vis-a-vis the central Georgian government. LF

MORE UTO MEMBERS CONFIRMED FOR GOVERNMENT POSTS. Tajik
President Imomali Rakhmonov signed a decree on 3 August
confirming another four members of the United Tajik
Opposition for government posts, ITAR-TASS and Reuters
reported. Shodi Kabirov is minister of agriculture,
Salamshah Muhabbatov chairman of the State Committee for Oil
and Gas, Muhammadjon Davlatov is chairman of the State
Committee for Precious Stones and Metals and Muhammadruzi
Iskandarov chairman of the State Committee for Emergency
Situations and Civil Defense. UTO member Dovudkhoja Islomov,
who was expected to receive the chairmanship of the State
Committee for Milk and Meat, failed to show up for talks
with Rakhmonov. The UTO now has 10 positions in the
government. Under the terms of the 1997 Tajik peace accord,
they are to receive 14. BP

UN ENVOY TO TAJIKISTAN GROWING IMPATIENT. UN special envoy
to Tajikistan Jan Kubis told RFE/RL's Tajik service on 3
August that he wants to know the results of the
investigation into the killing of UN personnel as soon as
possible. A special commission was formed by the Tajik
government to investigate the 20 July murders of three UN
observers and their driver-translator in central Tajikistan.
Although the commission was supposed to make available its
findings to Kubis by 1 August, the UN envoy has still
received no information. Meanwhile, all UN observers have
been recalled to Dushanbe, and Kubis said some or all may be
pulled out of the country if the murders are not solved
soon. Kubis added that the observers cannot fulfill their
mandate by staying in the capital, nor can they return to
areas throughout the country while the killers are still at
large. BP

COURT UPHOLDS DECISION AGAINST UZBEK JOURNALIST. An Uzbek
appeals court on 3 August upheld a ruling against journalist
Shodi Mardiev sentencing him to 11 years in jail, RFE/RL
correspondents reported. Mardiev was found guilty of
defamation for his satirical radio broadcast about the
Samarkand deputy prosecutor-general in June 1997. He was
arrested in November of that year and found guilty by a Syr-
Darya regional court on 11 June. The Committee to Protect
Journalists sent an appeal to Uzbek President Islam Karimov
on 16 July asking for clemency for the 62-year-old Mardiev,
who is said to be in poor health. BP

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
               Copyright (c) 1998 RFE/RL, Inc.
                     All rights reserved.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

HOW TO SUBSCRIBE
Send an email to newsline-request@list.rferl.org with the
word subscribe as the subject of the message.

HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE
Send an email to newsline-request@list.rferl.org with the
word unsubscribe as the subject of the message.

For subscription problems or inquiries, please email
listmanager@list.rferl.org
________________________________________________
CURRENT AND BACK ISSUES ON THE WEB
Back issues of RFE/RL Newsline and the OMRI Daily Digest are
online at: http://www.rferl.org/newsline/search/
_________________________________________________
LISTEN TO NEWS FOR 23 COUNTRIES
RFE/RL programs for countries in Eastern Europe, the
Caucasus, Central Asia, Russia and the South Slavic region
are online daily at RFE/RL's 24-Hour LIVE Broadcast Studio.
http://www.rferl.org/realaudio/index.html
_________________________________________________
REPRINT POLICY
To receive reprint permission, please contact
Paul Goble, Publisher
Email: GobleP@rferl.org
Phone: 202-457-6947
Fax: 202-457-6992
Postal Address:  RFE/RL,  1201 Connecticut Ave., NW
Washington, DC  20036  USA
_________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE STAFF
* Paul Goble, Publisher, GobleP@rferl.org
* Liz Fuller, Editor-in-Chief, CarlsonE@rferl.org
* Patrick Moore, Team Leader, MooreP@rferl.org
* Julie A. Corwin, CorwinJ@rferl.org
* Jan Maksymiuk, MaksymiukJ@rferl.org
* Bruce Pannier, PannierB@rferl.org
* Michael Shafir, ShafirM@rferl.org
* Jan Cleave, CleaveJ@rferl.org

Freelance And Occasional Contributors
* Fabian Schmidt
* Matyas Szabo
* Pete Baumgartner
* Jeremy Bransten
* Jolyon Naegele
* Anthony Wesolowsky
* Julia Guechakov
* Floriana Fossato

RFE/RL Newsline Fax: (420-2) 2112-3630
_________________________________________________
RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC

[English] [Russian TRANS | KOI8 | ALT | WIN | MAC | ISO5]

F&P Home ° Comments ° Guestbook


1996 Friends and Partners
Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole
Please visit the Russian and American mirror sites of Friends and Partners.
Updated: 1998-11-

Please write to us with your comments and suggestions.

F&P Quick Search
Main Sections
Home
Bulletin Board
Chat Room
F&P Listserver

RFE/RL
1999
1998
1997
1996
1995
1994
1993
1992
1991
Search

News
News From Russia/NIS
News About Russia/NIS
Newspapers & Magazines
Global News
Weather

©1996 Friends and Partners
Please write to us with any comments, questions or suggestions -- Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole