The greatest happiness is to know the source of unhappiness. - Dostoevsky
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 154 Part I, 12 August 1998


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 154 Part I, 12 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

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Headlines, Part I

* RUSSIAN STOCK MARKET SINKS

* LARGE STAKE OF SVYAZINVEST UP FOR SALE

* ARMENIAN PRESIDENT NOT TO VISIT BAKU

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RUSSIA

RUSSIAN STOCK MARKET SINKS. Russia's benchmark stock index on
11 August fell to its lowest level in more than two years.
Yields on long-term government debt rose to 130-140 percent
from 90-110 percent the previous day. Shares in some
companies slipped by as much as 20-25 percent. According to
Interfax, traders feared that Russia will not be able to cope
with the rising costs on both its domestic and foreign debt
and that a devaluation of the ruble is inevitable. JAC

TEACHERS STRIKES TO ACCOMPANY START OF SCHOOL YEAR? According
to "Izvestiya" on 12 August,  unless teachers are paid  part
of the 12 billion rubles ($1.9 billion) in back wages they
are owed, strikes by teachers at the start of the school year
appear inevitable. With the exception of Moscow, St.
Petersburg, Dagestan, Samara Oblast and the Yamalo-Nenetsk
autonomous okrug, teachers across Russia have not been paid.
On 3 August, teachers at a school  in the Sverdlovsk oblast
declared a hunger strike. However, the Ministry of Education
does not believe that the public should be alarmed. It
considers the situation in Sverdlovsk to be peaceful and
notes that wages have been paid without interruption and the
region has not required any federal assistance. However,
"Izvestiya" reports that teachers there have, in fact, not
received any wages since April. JAC

GOVERNMENT DEPLOYS POLICE AGAINST MINERS. Police have
questioned Aleksandr Sergeev, head of the Independent Union
of Mineworkers, about his members' blockade of the Trans-
Siberian railroad near Chelyabinsk. ITAR-TASS reported that
more than 500 policemen stopped miners from the
Chelyabinskugol coal-mining company from trying to extend
their blockade of railroads through to the Dubrovka station,
some 30 kilometers south of Chelyabinsk. Chelyabinsk regional
prosecutor Anatolii Bragin said that force was used only
against those who tried to expand the current blockade. JAC

ACCORD REACHED WITH MINERS? Interfax had reported on 8 August
that miners in Chelyabinsk have agreed to end their strike
following  a promise of back wages worth 25 billion ($4
billion) from Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 10 August 1998). But Reuters reported that
part of the railroad in Chelyabinsk remained blocked on 11
August, and according to ITAR-TASS, an agreement with union
leaders, Chelyabinsk Governor Petr Sumin, and Chelyabinskugol
company officials, was not signed until that day. ITAR-TASS
reported on 12 August that although the rails have been
cleared, protesters at the Potanino Station continue to stand
next to the tracks, while police and OMON forces remain in
position along other parts of the line. JAC/BP

GOVERNMENT WORKERS FACE CUTS. "Trud" reported on 11 August
that more than 100,000 state employees will be dismissed by
the end of 1998. The 20 July government decree "On the
content, limited number, and wage resources of the
territorial organs of the federal bodies of the executive
branch" determines the number of employees for each ministry.
The Transport Ministry will have to lay off only 728 people
or 19 percent of its staff, while the Federal Tax Service
will have to cut its personnel by some 28,000 people (15
percent). The State Statistics Committee will lose more than
20 percent of its staff, and the Federal Security Service
will cut more than 4,000 posts. JAC

LARGE STAKE OF SVYAZINVEST UP FOR SALE. Russian President
Boris Yeltsin on 11 August signed decrees authorizing the
sale of 50 percent minus one share of the telecommunications
company Svyazinvest. Twenty-five percent plus one share will
be available at auction, while 25 percent minus two shares
will be sold via an investment tender. Foreign companies may
make bids for both packages. Last year, a 25 percent stake in
the company was sold for $1.9 billion to an international
consortium led by Oneximbank. Losing bidders charged the
auction was fixed in Oneximbank's favor (see "RFE/RL's
Newsline," 1 August 1997). JAC

EU CHARGES RUSSIAN FIRMS WITH DUMPING. The EU on 10 August
imposed a 32 percent anti-dumping tax on fiber boards
manufactured in Russia, according to Interfax. Eighty percent
of Russian fiber board exports go to the EU. Russian
manufacturers of seamless pipes are facing a similar anti-
dumping tax of 26.8 percent. There is a long history of
friction between Russia and the EU on trade issues. Last
year, Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov refused to meet
with the EU's top trade official, Leon Brittan, during a
visit to Moscow to protest what he called the EU's
discrimination against Russian imports. JAC

FORMER ROSVOORUZHENIE BOSS JOINS LUZHKOV'S TEAM. Moscow Mayor
Yurii Luzhkov has offered Major-General Aleksandr Kotelkin
the post of first deputy director of the Department of
Municipal Property, according to "Nezavisimaya gazeta" of 12
August. That post entails supervising the capital's defense
industry enterprises and seeking overseas markets for their
output. After being fired one year ago from his post as
director of the arms export monopoly Rosvooruzhenie, Kotelkin
worked for several months as first deputy minister of foreign
economic relations and trade. LF

RUSSIA WARNS OF TALIBAN THREAT... Russian Foreign Ministry
spokesman Valerii Nesterushkin said on 11 August that Russia
considers fighting in northern Afghanistan to constitute a
threat to CIS borders, Interfax reported. Nesterushkin said
the Taliban movement is ignoring the desire "of the Afghan
people to restore peace and maintain [territorial]
integrity." Nesterushkin described the Taliban as "a regime
based on religious fanatic ideas, extremism, and intolerance
to different opinions." He added that "peace and accord can
be established  in Afghanistan only through talks between the
confronting sides without foreign interference." Nesterushkin
said Russia maintains the right to use all measures to ensure
security along the southern CIS borders, but he repeated an
earlier offer to mediate and "participate constructively in
seeking political solutions for the conflict in Afghanistan."
BP

...AGAIN LINKS PAKISTAN TO AFGHAN EVENTS. Nesterushkin
pointed to  Pakistan as an example of a foreign country
interfering in Afghan affairs, saying "Pakistani military
experts directly help [the Taliban] in planning, conducting
operations and providing material and technical supplies,"
Interfax reported. According to Nesterushkin, "concrete
facts" such as the capture of "numerous Pakistani servicemen"
by forces opposing the Taliban are evidence of Pakistan's
role in the Afghan conflict.  He also noted that such
"massive military assistance...encourages [the Taliban's]
aggressive [striving], fueling dangerous armed conflict which
can exert a negative impact on international peace and
stability" (see also  below). BP

RUSSIAN-CHINESE RAIL LINK OPENS. The first rail traffic
passed through the Russian-Chinese border crossing of
Makhalino-Hunchun on 12 August, ITAR-TASS reported. The 22-
kilometer rail track is expected to handle 500,000 tons of
cargo annually this year and in 1999. That figure is forecast
to reach 3 million tons by 2002. The track will boost trade
between Russia's Primore Region and the northern provinces of
China. BP

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN PRESIDENT NOT TO VISIT BAKU. Robert Kocharian told
journalists on 12 August that he will not travel to
Azerbaijan next month at the invitation of his Azerbaijani
counterpart, Heidar Aliev, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported.
Kocharian said that an official delegation, most probably
headed by Prime Minister Armen Darpinian, will travel to Baku
to attend the 7-8 September conference on the TRACECA
project. Kocharian did not explain why he declined the
invitation, but he noted that security considerations had no
bearing on his decision. LF

AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT TO RUN FOR RE-ELECTION... Aliev
announced his candidacy for the 11 October presidential
elections on state television on 11 August, Russian agencies
reported.  Nine of the 10  individuals who had expressed
their intention to contend the presidency submitted the
required documentation to the Central Electoral Commission
before the 11 August deadline. The nine are Aliev, Azerbaijan
Party of National Independence chairman Etibar Mamedov,
Independent Azerbaijan Party chairman Nizami Suleymanov,
Association of Victims of Political Repression chairman
Ashraf Mehtiev,  Umid [Hope] Party chairman Abulfar Ahmedov,
Social Welfare Party chairman Hanguseyn Kazimli, Azerbaijan
Communist Party-2  chairman Firidun Hasanov, pedagogue Ilgar
Kerimov, and   Abutalib Samedov of the Alliance for
Azerbaijan. United Communist Party of Azerbaijan Secretary-
General Sayad Sayadov failed to submit the necessary
application and signatures in support of his candidacy,
according to Turan. LF

...AS HIS POWER BASE CONTINUES TO CRUMBLE.  Three of the 91
founding members of Aliev's Yeni Azerbaycan Party have
released a statement accusing the president of betraying the
group of people who engineered his return from Nakhichevan to
Baku in 1993, Turan reported. The three also announced their
intention to quit the party. A fourth founding member of the
party, Musa Heydarov, similarly wrote to Aliev on 11 August
announcing  he plans to join the opposition. Several hundred
members have left  Yeni Azerbaycan in recent months, some of
whom founded the Democratic Azerbaijan Party (see "RFE/RL
Caucasus Report," Vol. 1, No. 16, 16 June 1998).  LF

CRIMINAL CHARGES AGAINST AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION LEADER
DROPPED. The Azerbaijani Prosecutor's Office on 11 August
dropped the criminal case against Musavat Party chairman Isa
Gambar, Turan reported. Gambar was accused of using force
against the population for ordering army units to open fire
on insurgents led by Suret Huseinov in June 1993, when Gambar
held the post of parliamentary speaker. Gambar is one of
five opposition figures who made their participation in the
11 October presidential elections conditional on concessions
by the Azerbaijani authorities, including dropping criminal
charges against Gambar and one of his successors as
parliamentary speaker, Rasul Guliev. Also on 11 August, Labor
Party leader Sabutay Hadjiev was released from prison after
serving less than two years of a three-year sentence for
illegal weapons possession. The Labor Party is loyal to
former President Ayaz Mutalibov. LF

GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT MAJORITY FACTION ELECTS NEW CHAIRMAN. The
Union of Citizens of Georgia faction on 11 August elected as
its chairman 29-year-old Mikhail Saakashvili, chairman of the
parliamentary committee on state and legal affairs, Caucasus
Press reported. Saakashvili replaces Giorgi Baramidze, who
will spend a year studying at Georgetown University. LF

MORE CLASHES IN ABKHAZ-GEORGIAN BORDER ZONE... Four Abkhaz
police officers were killed and a fifth wounded when Georgian
guerrillas opened fire on their patrol car in Abkhazia's
southernmost Gali Raion during the night of 10-11 August,
Russian agencies reported. Early in the morning of 11 August,
some 10-15 unidentified men crossed the Inguri River and
shelled dwellings in two villages in Zugdidi Raion that lie
within the 12 kilometer zone controlled by the CIS
peacekeeping force, Caucasus Press reported. No injuries were
reported. The Abkhaz government in exile said the men were
Abkhaz, but an eye-witness told Caucasus Press that they
spoke Russian and Mingrelian. LF

... ELICIT CONDEMNATION OF RUSSIA, ABKHAZIA. The Abkhaz
Interior Ministry issued a statement on 11 August blaming the
Georgian government for the ongoing series of attacks on
Abkhaz police in Gali in recent weeks, Interfax reported. It
claimed that since June 1998, Georgian guerrillas have
perpetrated 11 terrorist acts in which 24  people, including
13 Abkhaz policemen and five members of the Russian
peacekeeping force, were killed. Also on 11 August, the
Russian Foreign Ministry issued a similar statement calling
on Georgia to take "effective steps to prevent the
infiltration of armed formations into Gali." It also appealed
to the Abkhaz leadership "to exercise restraint and desist
from steps that could trigger dramatic consequences." LF

OSCE DELEGATION MEETS WITH ABKHAZ PRESIDENT. On a one-day
visit to Sukhumi on 11 August, OSCE High Commissioner on
National Minorities Max van der Stoel explained to Abkhaz
President Vladislav Ardzinba that the OSCE abides by the
principle of territorial integrity of member states. At the
same time, he  noted that there are different forms of self-
determination. Van der Stoel said that he believes Georgia
and Abkhazia can arrive at a mutually acceptable solution to
the conflict  if they make the "maximum effort" to do so.
Ardzinba told the OSCE delegation that politics appear to
take precedence over international legal norms, which he said
are applied "selectively," ITAR-TASS reported. LF

TAJIKISTAN CALLS FOR CIS, UN ACTION ON AFGHANISTAN. Tajik
President Imomali Rakhmonov met with senior security
officials on 11 August to discuss the situation in
neighboring Afghanistan, ITAR-TASS  reported. They later
issued a statement calling on the CIS states to take all
necessary measures to strengthen security along the CIS
border with Afghanistan. The statement also called on warring
factions inside Afghanistan to begin negotiations and for
nations giving military support to those factions to cease
their activities. In a separate statement, Tajikistan called
on UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to take urgent steps to
end fighting in Afghanistan and to find a political solution
to the conflict. BP

RUSSIAN DIVISION TO STAY IN TAJIKISTAN. Interfax on 11 August
quoted an unnamed source in the Russian Defense Ministry as
saying the 201st Motorized Infantry stationed in Tajikistan
will remain there. The source said the division will remain
in the assigned barracks but "will be ready for combat."
Other media sources claim units of the 201st division are
being moved into support positions near Tajikistan's border
with Afghanistan. ITAR-TASS reported that armed soldiers of
Afghanistan's Taliban movement have been observed by Russian
border guards at two locations near the Tajik-Afghan border.
BP

TURKMENISTAN DENIES CONSULATE IN AFGHANISTAN ATTACKED. The
Turkmen Foreign Ministry on 11 August denied that the Turkmen
Consulate in the Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif was attacked
by Taliban forces and that personnel there were forced to
evacuate the building, Interfax reported. The denial came
after reports from Iranian Radio earlier the same day
claiming that Taliban soldiers had "broken into" the Turkmen
Consulate, examined documents, equipment, and interrogated
staff there. According to the Turkmen Foreign Ministry, the
staff at Mazar-i-Sharif continues to work normally and has
already established contact with Taliban forces in the city.
BP

TURKMEN PRESIDENT UPBEAT ABOUT ECONOMY, AGRICULTURE.
Saparmurat Niyazov, chairing an 11 August meeting of the
expanded cabinet, said the country has reached "a new
boundary" in economic reform," Interfax reported. Niyazov
noted that this year's successful grain harvest showed
"Turkmen soil is fertile." He said that fulfillment of the
grain quota means that 40 percent of the processed grain
products can be sold to low-income families at a reduced
rate, the rest at free-market prices. He also called on
regional governors to account for every kilogram of cotton
during the harvest of that crop, which is due to begin on 15
August, and to meet the target figure of 1.5 million tons.
There is "every chance of getting a bumper cotton harvest
this year," he commented. BP

UZBEKISTAN TO  INVESTIGATE BEATING OF RUSSIAN JOURNALISTS.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Valerii Nesterushkin on 11
August said Moscow has received assurances from Uzbekistan
that "competent bodies" there will investigate the 1 August
beating of Russian journalists Vitalii Ponomarev and Nikolai
Mitrokhin, ITAR-TASS reported. The journalists were attacked
by "unidentified young people" in Tashkent. They  were in
Uzbekistan to collect material on the unrest in the Fergana
Valley. That unrest, which began last December, is
attributed to an extremist religious group. Nesterushkin
acknowledged that the Russian journalists did not have
accreditation from the relevant Uzbek authorities. BP

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