A disagreement may be the shortest cut between two minds. - Kahlil Gibran
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 167 Part I, 31 August 1998


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 167 Part I, 31 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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RUSSIA IN CRISIS
Continuing coverage in English and Russian of Russia's
economic and political crisis.
http://www.rferl.org/nca/special/ruchaos98/index.html

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Headlines, Part I

* DUMA FACTIONS THREATEN TO REJECT CHERNOMYRDIN

* DEFENSE MINISTRY PREPARED FOR TROUBLE

* KARIMOV WARNS DEPUTIES OF TALIBAN THREAT

End Note: Russia -- A State Nation Among Nation States
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RUSSIA

DUMA FACTIONS THREATEN TO REJECT CHERNOMYRDIN... Leftist
opposition groups have vowed to reject acting Prime Minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin's bid to head the government.
"Chernomyrdin has neither a program nor a real opportunity
to shape a cabinet, because 90% of Russian citizens do not
trust him," Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov told
reporters on 31 August. Yabloko officials, meanwhile,
reiterated their previously-stated intention to reject
Chernomyrdin. Viktor Ilyukhin, Duma Security Council
Committee chairman and Communist Party member, told Interfax
on 31 August that Duma factions would approve Chernomyrdin's
candidacy for prime minister but only if President Boris
Yeltsin resigns. The State Duma Council ordered Deputy
Speaker Sergei Baburin to draft guidelines for an
alternative list of candidates for premier; however, CIS
Executive Secretary and financial magnate Boris Berezovskii
predicted that Yeltsin would dismiss the Duma before he
agreed to an alternate candidate. He told Interfax on 31
August that "President Boris Yeltsin wants Viktor
Chernomyrdin to become the prime minister, and I do not
recall a case like this where he changed his mind." JAC

...SCUTTLE POLITICAL AGREEMENT. Despite announcements on 30
August that representatives of the Duma, Federal Assembly
and presidential administration had reached an arrangement
for an 18-month-long political ceasefire, Zyuganov declared
that his party opposes the truce because it lacks sufficient
enforcement guarantees. On 30 August, Zyuganov told the
television program "Itogi" that Yeltsin's family should
"convince him to resign and not to drag the entire country
into the grave with his bony hand." The People's Power and
Agrarian factions also declared their opposition to the
agreement. JAC

STOCKS TUMBLE AS AGREEMENT CRUMBLES. Stocks fell 5-15
percent during the first 45 minutes after the Russian stock
exchange opened on 31 August, Interfax reported. Bloomberg
cited traders who predicted that the Duma's rejection of
Chernomyrdin would be bad for the market. JAC

DEFENSE MINISTRY PREPARED FOR TROUBLE. "Komsomolskaya
pravda" reported on 29 August that the Defense Ministry has
been sending out "secret instructions" to the commanding
officers of units based in Moscow, Tula, Ryazan, and Tver to
be ready for an emergency situation. The leadership of the
armed forces is also preparing operational documents for
coordinating the actions of army units and MVD troops in the
"event of mass disturbances." The paper also reports that
Defense Minister Igor Sergeev assured President Yeltsin in a
recent private meeting of his "complete loyalty" and pledged
the army's support during "this difficult period for
Russia." On 29 August, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported that
State Duma Security Committee chairman Ilyukhin, said that
he received information from various military units about a
"suspicious intensification of their activities." Tank units
have been supplied with fuel. JAC

YELTSIN HAD AGREED TO POWER SHIFT. According to the version
of the proposed political agreement initialed by
Chernomyrdin and Duma leaders on 30 August, the Duma agreed
not to initiate either a no-confidence vote or an
impeachment proceeding for a period of 18 months. At the
same time, Yeltsin would agree not to disband the parliament
during the same time period. In addition, the prime minister
would appoint cabinet ministers together with the
parliament, while the president would retain the right to
appoint ministers of defense, security, and foreign affairs.
At the Communist Party's urging, the document also contained
a proposal for a new media law that would allow for
increased public control over TV and radio outlets. JAC

CONSTITUTION SLATED FOR ALTERATION? The political agreement
so dramatically shifted current political arrangements that
it would have required constitutional amendments. Aleksandr
Kotenkov, presidential liaison to the Duma, said on 29
August that Yeltsin agrees that draft amendments should be
prepared that outline the process for selecting cabinet
ministers and the participation of the Duma in that process.
He also told reporters on 30 August that draft laws to lift
the immunity of Duma deputies and revise the election
procedures for the Duma would be prepared within a month.
According to ITAR-TASS, the government wants to create a
rotational system so that one quarter of the Duma deputies
are elected every year. JAC

YELTSIN VOWS TO STAY ON THE JOB UNTIL 2000. In a television
interview with RTR on 28 August, President Yeltsin pledged
to remain in office until his term expires in 2000, putting
an end to rumors that he was poised to resign. He also
clearly stated that he would not run in 2000. "It is
impossible to remove me, especially considering my
character," he said. "I will not go anywhere. I will not
resign, I will work as long as the constitution allows."
Yeltsin also promised to make every effort to preserve
Russian citizens' savings and keep inflation to a minimum.
Yeltsin rejected the notion that he had increased the powers
of the office of the prime minister, saying such powers had
already been quite "extensive." Despite the president's
assurances, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 29 August continued to
assert that Yeltsin will resign, based on the Kremlin's
active pursuit of legal and material guarantees for Yeltsin
once he retires (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 August 1998).
Duma deputy speaker Baburin predicts that the announcement
of Yeltsin's resignation will occur on 3 September. JAC

GOVERNMENT POISED TO NATIONALIZE SBS-AGRO BANK. On 28
August, the Central Bank put the nation's eighth largest
bank in terms of capital and primary creditor for the
agricultural sector, SBS-Agro Bank, under its provisional
administration, suspending its operation with individual and
commercial depositors. The Central Bank will conduct an
inventory of SBS-Agro's assets. The Central Bank asked the
Duma to accelerate passage of a law on the state regulation
of SBS-Agro Bank. According to Interfax, the SBS-Agro Bank
accumulated debts of more than 680 million rubles ($87
million) to its clients, despite more than 1 billion rubles
worth of loans from the Central Bank. On 28 August, former
Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov told RFE/RL's Moscow
bureau that although the government must prevent the
collapse of the banking system, "nationalization of banks is
a stupid idea." JAC

FEDOROV STAYS, CHUBAIS GOES. Yeltsin issued a decree on 28
August dismissing long-time ally Anatoly Chubais from his
post as presidential envoy to international financial
institutions as well as eliminating the position itself.
Earlier, members of the Communist Party as well as Our Home
is Russia had demanded that Chubais be absent from the next
government (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 August 1998).
Meanwhile, Boris Fedorov, acting deputy prime minister, was
chosen to head a team of economic reformers, including
Central Bank chairman Sergei Dubinin, acting Finance
Minister Mikhail Zadornov, Vnesheconombank chairman Vladimir
Kostin, and State Property Fund head Igor Shuvalov, that is
charged with alleviating the financial crisis, according to
the "Financial Times" on 31 August. The paper quoted Sergei
Markov, professor of politics at Moscow State University,
who said that Fedorov's appointment suggests that the
government will be more oriented towards reform than
previous Chernomyrdin administrations but less radical than
that of sacked Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko. JAC

BULGARIA, RUSSIA CONCLUDE AGREEMENTS. Bulgarian President
Petar Stoyanov met with Yeltsin, Federation Council speaker
Yegor Stroev, State Duma chairman Gennadii Seleznev and
acting Prime Minister Chernomyrdin on 28 August. Russian and
Bulgarian officials signed a variety of cooperation
agreements, covering cultural and scientific activities,
environmental protection and border issues. The two
presidents also agreed to form a joint working group that
would advance relations by drafting an action program for
the next two years. Yeltsin admitted that Russian-Bulgarian
relations had once been "extremely rich" but had weakened in
recent years. Upon his return, Stoyanov said he was pleased
with the results of the visit, and particularly with the
fact that he received guarantees from "the highest echelons"
that Russian commitments to settle the problem of custom
duties on Bulgarian imports and a $48 million debt owed to
Bulgaria will be settled by the delivery of spare parts to
Bulgaria's Air Force. JAC/MS

VIETNAMESE PRESIDENT ENDS VISIT TO RUSSIA. Vietnamese
President Tran Duc Luong finished his five-day visit to
Russia on 29 August, Russian media reported. Luong met with
President Yeltsin on 25 August and in a joint statement
afterward outlined cooperation between the two countries in
the spheres of oil and gas production and military
technology. Russia will help Vietnam construct a chain of
power generating facilities, build an oil refinery, and help
increase oil output in Vietnam to 15-16 million tons
annually. Yeltsin said he will send Defense Minister Sergeev
to Vietnam "in the next few months" to discuss further sales
of Russian military hardware to Hanoi. Luong also visited
St. Petersburg, the sister city of Ho Chi Minh City, on 27-
29 August before leaving for Minsk (see story in Part II).
BP

LEBED WARNS CHECHENS AGAINST SECESSION. Speaking in Grozny
on the second anniversary of the Khasavyurt accords that he
helped craft and that ended the fighting between Moscow and
Chechnya, Krasnoyarsk Krai Governor Aleksandr Lebed said
that "the Chechen people will not attain well-being by
seceding from Russia," ITAR-TASS reported on 30 August. At
the same time, the retired general said he would support the
creation of "a special body" to handle relations between
Moscow and Grozny and to ensure both that the Russian
government would live up to its promises and that the
international community would be able to send aid as well.
On 29 August, Chechen Foreign Minister Movladi Udugov had
claimed that no progress had been made on defining Russian-
Chechen relations since the signing of the Khasavyurt
agreement, according to Interfax. Udugov said that Chechnya
still considers itself an independent state despite Moscow's
refusal to recognize it as such. PG/LF

KHAKASIYA DECLARES ECONOMIC INDEPENDENCE. Aleksei Lebed,
governor of the Republic of Khakasiya, announced on 26
August that the republic will no longer make any
contributions to the federal budget, "Vremya MN" reported
the following day. Lebed said that the region is perfectly
capable of surviving without subsidies from Moscow, having
paid 641 million rubles more in taxes over the past seven
years than it has received in subsidies. Aleksei Lebed and
his brother, Aleksandr, governor of neighboring Krasnoyarsk
krai, were reported to be consulting earlier this month on a
series of economic agreements intended to improve economic
conditions in Khakasiya (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 August
1998). LF

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

GEORGIAN PRESIDENT CRITICIZES UN ROLE. Following a meeting
with U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Nancy
Soderberg on 28 August, Eduard Shevardnadze said through his
press service that UN Security Council resolutions on
Abkhazia had been "less effective" in dealing with Abkhazia
than had "European structures," ITAR-TASS reported. (On 3
August, Shevardnadze had characterized the most recent UN
resolution as a breakthrough for Georgian diplomacy, given
that its tone was "firmer and more categorical" in its
condemnation of Abkhazia than earlier resolutions.) The
press statement also indicated that "certain forces would
not like the peace process" in Abkhazia to go forward.
Soderberg, for her part, said that it was "imperative" for
UN resolutions to be implemented, including the dispatch of
"a certain UN contingent to the conflict zone." PG/LF

SHEVARDNADZE SOFTENS CRITICISM OF SECURITY FORCES. In his
regular weekly radio broadcast on 31 August, Shevardnadze
warned against "seeking scapegoats" and "blaming the power
ministries for all misfortunes," Caucasus Press reported.
That statement represents a retreat from his recent
categorical criticism of the work of the security ministry
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 August 1998). Shevardnadze stated
that he will not dismiss National Security Minister Djemal
Gakhokidze, reasoning that "the change of one minister for
another one may be justified, if the new candidate is better
than the previous minister, and we do not have such
candidates today." Gakhokidze was appointed in July 1997
following the resignation of Shota Kviraya, who had been
accused of blackmarketeering, telephone tapping, and the
shooting of six men suspected of looting (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 7 July 1997). LF

RUSSIAN-GEORGIAN BASES DECISION POSTPONED. Meeting in Moscow
on 27 August, Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeev and his
Georgian counterpart Davit Tevzadze agreed to postpone any
further discussion of the future of the Russian military
bases in Georgia pending the drafting of a concept of
bilateral military cooperation, ITAR-TASS reported. The two
ministers also agreed that Sergeev's planned visit to
Georgia, originally scheduled for February but postponed
three times, will take place only after a new Russian
government is named. Moscow has consistently rejected
Georgian claims for financial compensation for military
equipment allegedly removed from Georgia following the
demise of the USSR. LF

ARMENIAN PREMIER ASSESSES ECONOMIC IMPACT OF KARABAKH
CONFLICT. Meeting on 28 August with a group of visiting
Finnish parliamentarians, Armen Darpinian said it is wrong
to proceed on the assumption that Armenia is incapable of
developing economically until a final settlement of the
Karabakh conflict is reached, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau
reported. He said that overcoming that "illusion" would
contribute to reaching a settlement of the conflict.
Darpinian argued that both Georgia and Azerbaijan would
benefit if the blockade of Armenia by Azerbaijan and Turkey
were lifted, adding that Armenia and Azerbaijan could become
"natural economic partners," according to Interfax. LF

ARMENIAN PRESIDENTIAL POLITICAL COUNCIL CONVENES. Armenian
President Robert Kocharian chaired on 28 August the first
session of the political council he created to provide a
forum in which those political parties not represented or
underrepresented in the National Assembly can exchange
views, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Kocharian
characterized the creation of the council as "the first
attempt to consolidate political forces" and called upon the
eleven parties represented on the council to demonstrate
tolerance towards each other in the runup to next year's
parliamentary elections. Union of Constitutional Rights
chairman Hrant Khachatrian, who was elected the council's
first chairman, told RFE/RL on 29 August that he will
endeavor to persuade the Communist Party and Vazgen
Manukian's National Democratic Union to name representatives
to the council. They have thus far declined to do so. LF

AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION PROPOSES CONVENING PEOPLE'S CONGRESS.
On 26 August the Democratic Congress, which comprises a
dozen influential opposition parties, set up a working group
to prepare for a people's congress to debate the problems
Azerbaijan currently faces and possible solutions to the
present political crisis, according to Turan on 27 August
and "Russkii telegraf" of 29 August. The Azerbaijani
authorities have rejected the opposition's application to
hold a mass demonstration on 5 September on Baku's Freedom
Square, RFE/RL's Baku bureau reported. Musavat Party
chairman Isa Gambar told Turan that the opposition will
demand legal proceedings against the city's mayor for
"illegally" violating citizens' constitutional right to hold
such demonstrations. On 26 August, the Ministry of Justice
refused for the second time to register the Movement for
Democratic Elections and Democratic Reforms as a public
organization, Turan reported. LF

KARIMOV WARNS DEPUTIES OF TALIBAN THREAT. Uzbekistan's
parliament opened its 12th session on 28 August, ITAR-TASS
and Interfax reported. President Islam Karimov began the
session by warning about the possible consequences of the
Taliban movement's successes in neighboring Afghanistan.
Karimov said the conquest of Afghanistan may not satisfy the
Taliban and "we have to take this into account." Karimov
dismissed claims that the Taliban seek to spread their rule
to Uzbekistan's ancient city of Samarkand, saying "someone
wants to create a conflict." Karimov also spoke about
Tajikistan, voicing his support for "the government led by
Imomali Rakhmonov" and adding that "these (Uzbek-Tajik)
relations should remain stable and solid." The parliament
approved Ghofur Barnoyev as head of the Central Electoral
Commission. BP

KARIMOV'S HOPES ON RUSSIA. On Russia, Karimov said the
economic crisis there would affect Uzbekistan and hoped
"Russia will ensure currency and financial stability as soon
as possible." Karimov noted, however, that Russian banks are
not very active in Uzbekistan and that Russia accounts for
only 15-20 percent of Uzbekistan's turnover of goods.
Karimov said he supports Viktor Chernomyrdin in the post of
prime minister, adding "we regard him as the organizer ...
of our republic's gas complex." BP

KAZAKHSTAN TO SHUT DOWN AGED NUCLEAR REACTOR. Kazakhstan
will decommission a 25-year old nuclear reactor in
Mangyshlak with U.S. assistance, Interfax reported. The
reactor was built to last 20 years but following the
collapse of the USSR in 1991 the Kazakh government did not
have the funds to shut the reactor down. Spent nuclear rods
were stored in a special pool but such facilities provide
for a storage time of three years and the rods have been
there for ten years. The U.S. will provide special
containers and railway cars to ship the rods to a burial
site in Kazakhstan's Semipalatinsk region, the former site
of Soviet nuclear tests. BP

END NOTE

Russia: A State Nation Among Nation States

by Paul Goble

	Underlying all of Russia's current problems -- the
collapse of its currency, stock markets, and public
confidence in its government -- is the fact that the Russian
Federation is a country different from most others around the
world.
	Russia is a state nation rather than a nation state.
That is, the Russian people define themselves in terms of the
state rather than the state being defined by the people, a
pattern that undermines the state's ability to maintain
authority when its power is weak.
	In contrast to most of its neighbors, the Russian state
thus lacks the authenticity that states rooted in a nation
generally have. Consequently, it cannot count on either the
authority that such rooting often gives or on popular
willingness to go along with the state when it is unable to
deliver but has to make tough choices.
	And that, in turn, predisposes the Russian state
whenever it finds itself weakened to try to demonstrate its
effectiveness either by relying, as now, on outside support
or by using coercive measures to compel its population to go
along.
	Neither of these means represents a full solution to its
political dilemmas, but the absence of the kind of natural
deference to the political authorities that a nation state
provides gives the Russian state few alternatives and helps
to explain why historically it has been so difficult for
Russia to escape from one of its periodic times of troubles.
	This very contemporary Russian problem has its origin in
a special feature of Russian history. Namely, the Russian
state became an empire long before the Russian people became
a nation.
	Beginning half a millennium ago, the Russian state began
a rapid expansion across an enormous territory coming to
embrace dozens of different peoples and cultures. But because
the central authorities, first tsarist and then Soviet,
defined the population as Russia's, the ethnographic group
known as the Russians was left in an extremely difficult
position.
	On the one hand, their identities were defined by the
state, leaving them at the mercy of its strength and also
with no clear definition of who they were and equally
important who they were not. And that, in turn, meant that
they seldom were clear about the borders around themselves
and their people.
	On the other hand, the state could claim the allegiance
of these people not as its representative because of who they
were but only in terms of its ability to demonstrate power
and deliver the goods.
	Whenever the Russian state has been strong, the loyalty
of the Russian people to it has been impressive, even
remarkable. But whenever the Russian state has been weak,
that loyalty has tended to snap, further reducing the ability
of the state to gain the kind of support it needs to regain
its strength without taking measures that will repel others.
	Just how serious this problem is for Russia becomes
clear in any comparison with the nation states that surround
it. Sometimes the relative success of the non-Russian
countries which gained or regained their independence in 1991
is explained by their small size.
	Sometimes it is explained by the fact that these
countries generally view the collapse of the Soviet empire as
a gain rather than -- like most Russians -- as a loss.
	But underlying both of these is the presence in many of
these countries of a bond of loyalty between the state and
the nation, a bond that is inevitably complicated and
imperfect but one that allows the state to count on at least
some support even when it is relatively weak and when it
cannot deliver everything it promises.
	To take the most dramatic example, the Estonian state
immediately after the recovery of independence was able to
ask its nation to make some extraordinary sacrifices in order
to allow the country to escape the consequences of Soviet
domination.
	Despite economic measures that hurt many people in that
country, Estonians generally supported the state precisely
because they saw an identity between its interests and their
own.
	Since 1991, the Russian state has not been able to draw
on such a reserve of support. And while that does not explain
all of Russia's current difficulties, it does help to explain
why they are as large as they are and why both the Russian
state and the Russian people are having a far more difficult
time than other states and nations in the region.

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