The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none. - Thomas Carlyle 1975-1881
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 155 Part I, 13 August 1998


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 155 Part I, 13 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

* BANKING CRISIS IMMINENT?

* DUMA MAY NOT MEET UNTIL SEPTEMBER

* GEORGIA SEEKS TO AVERT ANOTHER PRESIDENTIAL ASSASSINATION BID

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
RUSSIA

BANKING CRISIS IMMINENT? Deputy Central Bank Chairman Sergei
Aleksashenko on 12 August revealed that some Russian banks
are having liquidity problems and failing to repay loans to
one another on the local interbank loan market. Interfax
reported that he told Russian Public Television that the
Central Bank is monitoring "on a minute by minute basis those
banks which are seriously suspected of instability."
According to ITAR-TASS, the crisis on the local interbank
loan market occurred when foreign banks began to limit credit
to Russian banks. Some Russian banks responded by increasing
their borrowing on the local interbank market, knowing they
would be unable to repay the loans. JAC

DUMA MAY NOT MEET UNTIL SEPTEMBER. Duma Deputy Chairman
Mikhail Yurev announced on 12 August that representatives of
State Duma factions and deputies' groups, including Communist
Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov and Yabloko member Sergei
Ivanenko, will not hold an emergency session in August as was
previously announced (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 August 1998).
He added that Duma leaders may be able to arrange a special
session from 2 to 4 September but only if they receive a
request from President Boris Yeltsin himself. JAC

RUSSIAN STOCKS STABILIZE... According to Russia's benchmark
stock index on 12 August, stocks slipped only 1.56 percent
from the previous day, when the market experienced its
largest slide in two years (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 August
1998). Both Reuters and Interfax quoted pessimistic traders
as expecting further declines due to widespread fears of
either a ruble devaluation or the government's default on its
debts. Treasury bill yields rose to 130-140 percent from
yesterday's levels of 120-140 percent. According to Interfax,
shares in LUKoil and Rostelecom dropped by 2 percent from the
previous day, while Gazprom shares rose 3 percent. JAC

...WHILE RUSSIAN LEADERS BLAME EXTERNAL FACTORS. ITAR-TASS on
12 August quoted Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko as saying
that "the situation on the Russian financial markets is,
unfortunately, similar to that on all developing financial
markets. Oil prices are falling, the situation on Asia-
Pacific markets is deteriorating.... Hence the outflow of
funds." Meanwhile, Duma Chairman Gennadii Seleznev concluded
that the Russian market would be in even worse shape if it
had been more integrated with the international economy. "We
are lucky not to have all our economy participating in all of
these business transactions," he commented. He added that
Russia should enter the world stock market "very cautiously."
Deputy head of the presidential administration Aleksander
Livshits commented that "the Russian market is comparatively
young and is rather weak. The slightest infection causes a
flu or the 'Asian grippe,' as we call it." JAC

BORIS JORDAN CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC. In an interview with
"Kommersant-Daily" on 12 August, Boris Jordan, president of
the MFK-Renaissance, argued that Russia could still avoid a
full-blown economic crisis like those experienced by South
Korea and Indonesia, but he added that Prime Minister
Kirienko needs to act quickly and decisively by overhauling
the tax system and restructuring Russian industry, among
other actions. Jordan does not think a devaluation is
necessary, because it would whip up inflation and whip out
the population's savings. "Kommersant-Daily" noted that
Jordan's past predictions have tended to come true. At the
end of March, when Anatolii Chubais, presidential envoy to
the international financial institutions, said that the
Russian economy had hit its lowest level, Jordan countered
that it still had far to go. JAC

GOVERNMENT TO REIN IN UNIONS. Justice Minister Pavel
Krasheninnikov on 12 August said that the government is
planning to restrict the political activities of trade
unions. He told a news conference that the government will
"clearly outline the trade unions' sphere of influence.... If
we do not set clear limits, some political parties will try
to align themselves with trade unions in order to exert their
political influence on the workers of enterprises," ITAR-TASS
reported. The government has recently criticized trade union
actions in the Chelyabinsk area, where coal miners blockaded
the Trans-Siberian railroad (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 August
1998). JAC

ARMY FACING MORE CUTS. Defense Minister Igor Sergeev on 12
August announced that the Russian army will be reduced by
400,000 positions this year, after surviving a 200,000
reduction in 1997, ITAR-TASS reported. According to Reuters,
Sergeev also admitted that he is unlikely to be able to end
conscription by the year 2000, as President Yeltsin promised
during his election campaign. The transition to a
professional army will require at least 6 billion rubles
(some $1 billion), he reckoned. JAC

POWER MINISTRIES UNITE. "Vremya MN" on 10 August argued that
the merging of Russia's "power ministries" has already
started. The Justice Ministry and Interior Ministry are
already issuing joint orders, bearing the signatures of both
ministers. The Interior Ministry has even paid out of its own
budget for the labor-related expenses of the Justice
Ministry. The harmony between the two ministries can be
partly attributed to the cordial personal relations between
Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin and Justice Minister
Krasheninnikov. However, "Vremya MN" adds that President
Yeltsin wants to unite the power ministries because he fears
social unrest this fall stemming from the crop failure,
Russia's likely default on its debts, and plans by the trade
unions and Communists to organize a general strike. JAC

ISRAELI SPY RING DISCOVERED? The Federal Security Service on
12 August announced that it has uncovered an Israeli spy ring
operating out of the Israeli embassy in Moscow. The
emigration department of the embassy is reported to have had
a string of paid Russian informants, according to Interfax.
"Kommersant-Daily" on 12 August reported that one informant
was a 46-year-old Omsk resident Aleksandr Sakov, who heads a
technical bureau at the defense plant Transmash. Sakov
reportedly sold information about a new "secret" tank called
the Black Eagle. However, plant officials say that the
information was hardly secret since the tank was being
designed primarily for export. JAC

ROSVOORUZHENIE SIZES UP LATIN AMERICAN MARKET. The first
deputy general director of the arms export concern
Rosvooruzhenie, Yurii Khozyainov, told journalists on 11
August that over the past two years, the company has
succeeded in concluding several lucrative contracts with
Latin American countries and hopes to increase sales of high-
altitude helicopters and combat aircraft there. Sales to the
region plummeted after the USSR abandoned its favorable terms
for arms supplies in 1990. Khozyainov said that
Rosvooruzhenie is consequently considering opening an office
in Columbia in addition to the existing representation in
Peru, Brazil, and Cuba. But "Segodnya" on 12 August commented
that Khozyainov's optimistic predictions of billion dollar
contracts with Latin American countries are unrealistic,
given that their combined arms purchases in 1997 amounted to
only $1.209 billion. LF

RUSSIA'S CHIEF MUFTI CONCERNED ABOUT RISE OF WAHHABISM. In an
interview in "Izvestiya" of 13 August, the chairman of the
Council of Muftis of Russia, Ravil Gaynutdin, expressed his
concern that many Russians increasingly fail to differentiate
between mainstream Islam and Wahhabism and consequently
regard Islam and Muslims with hostility and mistrust.
Gaynutdin affirmed that "the Muslim clergy of Russia is
categorically opposed to Wahhabism," whose adherents in
Russia he estimated at 10,000. He conceded that Russia's
Muslim community is partly to blame for the spread of
Wahhabism, noting that "many of us are aware of a retreat
from the genuine Arabic roots of the teaching." LF

RUSSIAN FIRST DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER SPEAKS OUT ON
AFGHANISTAN... Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Boris
Pastukhov told journalists on 13 August that Moscow continues
to recognize the government of ousted Afghan President
Burhanuddin Rabbani and plans to reinforce the Tajik-Afghan
border, ITAR-TASS reported. Pastukhov claimed there are
reports that Taliban forces in northern Afghanistan are
conducting an "ethnic massacre," adding that the group is
"totally unpredictable." Pastukhov criticized Pakistan for
its role in the conflict and argued that the Taliban's recent
capture of most of northern Afghanistan was possible "thanks
to direct aid from Pakistan, whose military formations and
combat aviation participated in combat operations." He said
if the Taliban are not restrained, "Afghanistan may turn into
one more seat of international terrorism." BP

...AS DO OTHER RUSSIAN OFFICIALS. Defense Minister Igor
Sergeev said on 12 August that the situation in Afghanistan
is "dangerous for the CIS's southern borders," Interfax
reported. Sergeev noted that the Defense Ministry has called
for invoking articles in the CIS's Collective Security Treaty
on preventing crises and countering aggression. Duma speaker
Seleznev said he does not think that the Taliban will "poke
their nose into the CIS" but added "we are doing the right
thing by strengthening our positions on the Tajik-Afghan
border," ITAR -TASS reported. CIS Executive Secretary Boris
Berezovskii called for unity, saying "it is impossible to
ensure security in the south of the CIS without collective
actions." Vladimir Zhirinovsky of the Liberal Democratic
Party of Russia was in favor of supporting the Taliban, which
he called a "truly patriotic" movement. BP

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

GEORGIA SEEKS TO AVERT ANOTHER PRESIDENTIAL ASSASSINATION
BID. Speaking at a press conference in Tbilisi on 12 August,
Security Minister Djemal Gakhokidze confirmed media reports
that a third attempt is being planned to kill Eduard
Shevardnadze but said that Georgia's security services are
doing their best to avert it, Interfax and Caucasus Press
reported. Gakhokidze added that "serious destabilization" is
anticipated in September and October. "Kommersant-Daily" on 6
August quoted presidential press spokesman Vakhtang Abashidze
as confirming information that the head of the Georgian
parliamentary sub-committee for penal reform, Elene
Tevdoradze, had received information from a prisoner about
another possible attempt on Shevardnadze's life. Abashidze
said that attempt is being prepared outside Georgia. LF

GEORGIAN SECURITY MINISTRY REJECTS CHARGES OF TERRORISM,
DRUG-RUNNING. At the same 12 August press conference,
Gakhokidze rejected repeated claims by the Abkhaz leadership
that the Georgian security services are coordinating the
activities of the Georgian White Legion and Forest Brothers
guerrilla organizations, which are operating in Abkhazia,
Interfax reported. Gakhokidze similarly refuted claims
published on 3 August in the Georgian newspaper "Alia" that
his ministry is engaged in international drug-trafficking,
according to Caucasus Press. LF

GEORGIA WANTS NEW APPROACH TO ABKHAZ PEACE PROCESS. Georgian
Presidential Foreign Policy Adviser Archil Gegeshidze told
Interfax on 12 August that under present circumstances,
Tbilisi will not request an extension of the mandate of the
Russian peacekeeping force currently deployed under the CIS
aegis along the border between Abkhazia and the rest of
Georgian. That mandate expired on 31 July. Gegeshidze argued
that its extension would not contribute to resolving the
conflict, given that the whole approach to the peace process
needs to be "thoroughly revised." He advocated minimizing
Russia's role as a mediator and resuming direct talks between
Tbilisi and the Abkhaz leadership in Sukhumi. Also on 12
August, the Georgian special parliamentary commission on
Abkhazia issued a statement condemning repeated cross-border
raids by Abkhaz militants on villages in Georgia's Zugdidi
and Tsalendjikha Raions, Caucasus Press and ITAR-TASS
reported. LF

IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN BAKU. Kamal Kharrazi met with his
Azerbaijani counterpart, Tofik Zulfugarov, in Baku on 12
August to discuss bilateral relations, the legal status of
the Caspian Sea, and the Karabakh peace process, IRNA and
Turan reported. Both ministers expressed the hope that the
visit will mark the beginning of "a new phase" in bilateral
relations, which cooled after Azerbaijan's ambassador was
expelled from Iran (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 March 1998).
Kharrazi called for a swift agreement among all five Caspian
littoral states on the sea's legal status, adding that until
such an agreement is signed, the existing international
treaties should remain in force. Those treaties stipulate
that the sea's resources can be exploited only with the
consent of all five littoral states. The two ministers
agreed, nonetheless, that the Caspian should become a
demilitarized zone. LF

AZERBAIJANI POLICE, OPPOSITION PREPARE FOR MASS RALLIES.
Interior Minister Ramil Usubov told journalists in Baku on 12
August that his men will resolutely prevent any violations of
public order or attempt to foment unrest during the
opposition demonstrations planned for 15 August, Turan
reported. Opposition parties are planning mass rallies
nationwide to protest the authorities' failure to ensure
democratic conditions for the 11 October presidential
elections. Usubov claimed that opposition activists wearing
police uniforms intend to provoke riots during the
demonstrations in order to discredit the police. He also
claimed that protesters intend to use petrol bombs. The
opposition said on 11 August that Interior Ministry special
forces have been sent from Baku to Nakhichevan to prevent
opposition rallies there. Baku Mayor Rafael Allakhverdiev has
rejected the opposition's request to hold a rally on Freedom
Square but has given permission to use a motor sport stadium
in the suburbs. LF

TALIBAN CAPTURE TOWN NEAR UZBEK BORDER. Uzbek Deputy Foreign
Minister Ismatilla Irgashev on 12 August said that the
situation along the Uzbek-Afghan border is "quiet," ITAR-TASS
reported. Afghanistan's Taliban movement captured the city of
Hairaton, while lies on the southern bank of the River Amu-
Darya across from Uzbekistan, earlier the same day. Irgashev
said military forces in the area "continue to work according
to the usual schedule," but Kyrgyz Radio reported that
special measures have been taken for crossing the bridge that
connects the Uzbek city of Termez and Hairaton. BP

TAJIKS DENY INVOLVEMENT IN AFGHAN CONFLICT. The Tajik Foreign
Affairs Ministry issued a statement on 12 August denying
charges that Tajik military units are participating in the
fighting in Afghanistan, ITAR-TASS and Tajik Television
reported. Earlier that day, Russian Television had broadcast
reports to that effect. The broadcasts claimed Tajik units
are helping Afghan warlord General Abdul Rashid Dostum to
fight Taliban forces in northern Afghanistan. The ministry
statement said "certain information agencies...in pursuit of
sensational stories, incorrectly interpret and inaccurately
present the Afghan issue." The statement said such charges
"cause not only surprise and indignation but also lead to
regrets over the extreme non-professionalism of employees" of
Russian Television. However, the ministry statement did note
that a renegade former Tajik army colonel, Mahmud
Khudaberdiyev, may be active in northern Afghanistan.
Khudaberdiyev is wanted by Tajik authorities on criminal
charges. BP

MURDERS SOLVED IN TAJIKISTAN. Tajik Deputy Prime Minister
Abdurakhmon Azimov has told a Japanese newspaper that the
Tajik government has identified who was responsible for the
murder last month of four UN employees and plans to arrest
the perpetrators soon, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported.
Azimov told Japan's "Sankei Shimbun" that the whereabouts of
the murderers is known. He added that because it is in
territory occupied by forces of the United Tajik Opposition,
the UTO leader is making arrangements to apprehend and hand
over the criminals within one week. Meanwhile, three men
suspected of planting a bomb in the car of deputy customs
chief Ali Imomnazarov have been arrested. One of the detained
is Imomnazarov's body guard, Kurbon Davlatov, who has
confessed to planning the bombing, which killed the deputy
customs chief. Davlatov said he was paid $6,000 by
Imomnazarov's wife, who herself was killed while visiting her
husband's grave two days after he was killed. BP

UZBEK PRESIDENT ASKED TO RELEASE POLITICAL PRISONERS. The
Uzbek Human Rights Society has appealed to Islam Karimov to
free all political prisoners detained in the last eight to 10
months, Interfax reported on 12 August. The organization
called on Karimov to time their release to coincide with
seventh anniversary of independence. The statement said that
"having political prisoners in a country building a law-
abiding democratic society reduces the rating of the country
and its government." 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