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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 174 Part I, 9 September 1998


_________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 174 Part I, 9 September 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

* YELTSIN KEEPS DUMA, NATION IN SUSPENSE

* RUBLE RALLIES SLIGHTLY, ECONOMY CONTRACTS

* TRACECA CONFERENCE PARTICIPANTS SIGN 'BAKU
DECLARATION'

End Note: CADETS REMAIN FAITHFUL TO TSARIST IDEA
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RUSSIA

YELTSIN KEEPS DUMA, NATION IN SUSPENSE. By mid-afternoon
local time, Russian President Boris Yeltsin had not
named his candidate for the post of prime minister in
the third round of voting. "Izvestiya" on 9 September
argued that Yeltsin "realizes that in the event of the
[State] Duma's dissolution, he will not have 100 percent
control of the situation." It added that he has not
immediately put forward acting Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin's name for a third time because Duma
factions continue to promise they will swiftly reject
it. "Kommersant-Daily" criticized the president harshly
for the delay: "Now Yeltsin--not the Duma--has prolonged
for at least two days a lack of power.... It is again
uncertain not only whether there will be a prime
minister in Russia for some time but also whether there
is a president." JAC

SOME PLACE BETS ON PRIMAKOV, MASLYUKOV... "Izvestiya" on
9 September said that the candidacy of Moscow Mayor
Yurii Luzhkov has been pushed too forcefully and that
Yeltsin characteristically resists pressure. "For
Yeltsin," the newspaper concluded, "Prime Minister
Luzhkov means political capitulation. Prime Minister
[Yevgenii] Primakov means an organized retreat."
Federation Council Chairman Yegor Stroev called
Yabloko's proposal of acting Foreign Minister Primakov
for prime minister "surprisingly appropriate." However,
Primakov told reporters on 8 September that he would not
agree to accept the post of prime minister if offered to
him. Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov hinted
that Yeltsin is considering former Minister of Industry
Yurii Maslyukov for prime minister. Zyuganov told
journalists that Maslyukov has been called back from
vacation for "an important meeting."JAC

...OTHERS ON LEBED. According to Interfax, Saratov
Governor Dmitrii Ayatskov told a local radio station on
9 September that Krasnoyarsk Governor General Aleksandr
Lebed would form a government in Russia this week. Lebed
arrived in Moscow the same day for talks with regional
leaders, telling Interfax that he would be ready to
assume responsibility for leading the country out of its
present crisis. On 8 September, Interfax reported that
Lebed said he regards financial magnate Boris
Berezovskii as one of his political partners. He noted
that Berezovskii has "quite concrete interests in
Russia. These are Aeroflot, LogoVAZ, and shares in ORT
[Russian Public Television], therefore he obviously
wants to preserve the state. And I am interested in
anyone, without exception, who takes the position of
preserving a single and indivisible Russia." Many Moscow
observers believe that Berezovskii orchestrated
Chernomyrdin's recent return to the Kremlin. JAC

RUBLE RALLIES SLIGHTLY, ECONOMY CONTRACTS. On 9
September, the demand for dollars weakened slightly with
the ruble rate rising to 16 to $1 on Russia's electronic
foreign exchange. Traders said Russian banks need to buy
rubles to pay debts.. The Central Bank on 9 September
set the official exchange rate at 20.83 rubles to $1, a
drop of 9.24 percent from the previous day's level of
18.9 rubles to $1. The ruble has fallen almost 70
percent against the dollar since 17 August, when the
Central Bank said it would abandon its defense of the
ruble owing to the lack of foreign exchange reserves.
Bloomberg reports that the ruble is the world's poorest
performing currency and that Russian economy could
contract by 4.5 percent this year, its worst performance
in four years. The agency quotes Western economists as
forecasting declines in GDP for the second half of 1998
that range from 4 percent to 9 percent. In August, the
monthly inflation rate climbed 15 percent, the biggest
monthly increase in more than four years. JAC

DUMA CONSIDERS YELTSIN'S 'CRIMES'... Chairman of the
Duma Security Committee, Viktor Ilyukhin, told ITAR-TASS
on 8 September that the special Duma impeachment
committee has concluded that "there are elements of a
crime" in President Yeltsin's signing of the Belavezha
agreements, which dissolved the Soviet Union in 1991. If
the Duma Council agrees with this assessment, then a
draft conclusion on the first count of impeachment could
be submitted to the Duma as early as 11 September.
However, Duma deputy and Yabloko member Yelena Mizulina
told reporters on 8 September that the president's
participation in the disintegration of the Soviet Union
was "rather a historic mistake than a criminal offense."
She thought that the Russian Supreme Court would confirm
only the second and third counts of impeachment: the
president's initiation of the conflict in Chechnya and
his forcible disbandment of the Supreme Soviet in
October 1993. JAC

...DANGLES IMPEACHMENT THREAT. Mizulina said that if
President Yeltsin nominates Chernomyrdin a third time,
then the Duma will put forward the issue of impeachment
first. That way, it can prevent an immediate dissolution
of the Duma after it rejects Chernomyrdin for a third
time. Three hundred deputies need to vote in favor of
impeachment for the accusations to be brought formally
before the Federation Council. JAC

GERASHCHENKO TO RETURN TO CENTRAL BANK? Several Russian
newspapers on 8 September reported that Moscow
International Bank head Viktor Gerashchenko has the best
chance of replacing Sergei Dubinin, who offered his
resignation as chairman of the Central Bank on 7
September. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" noted that Gerashchenko
has the support of many different members of different
political factions, while "Russkii telegraf" said that
Gerashchenko's "professionalism" is respected by both
Russian oligarchs and Western bankers. "Kommersant-
Daily" pointed out that Gerashchenko's only liability is
the perception that he "is not an entirely apolitical
figure" since his name has increasingly been linked with
that of Moscow Mayor Luzhkov. Other candidates suggested
by "Kommersant-Daily" are Aleksandr Shokhin, leader of
the Our Home is Russia faction, Dmitrii Tulin, head of
Vneshtorgbank and former Central Bank official, Sberbank
chief Andrei Kazmin, and former presidential aide
Aleksandr Livshits. JAC

CHERNOMYRDIN'S 'PLAN' COMES UNDER CRITICISM. The
economic program that acting Prime Minister Chernomyrdin
outlined during his speech to the Federation Council on
4 September has drawn some stinging criticisms.
Democratic Choice party leader Yegor Gaidar told
reporters on 8 September that Chernomyrdin's plan is
"adventurous and extremely dangerous." He said "if the
printing of money is added to the present panic, all
rubles will only go one way--demand for dollars at any
price--and we will enter into classic hyperinflation."
IMF Deputy Managing-Director Stanley Fisher told the
"Wall Street Journal" on 8 September that the latest
plan to rehabilitate the Russian economy is "very
destructive." He said Russia should increase tax
collection, not print more money. ITAR-TASS on 8
September quoted acting Deputy Prime Minister Boris
Fedorov as saying that the government's plan "does not
envisage the printing of money but aims to resume
genuine economic reform" through three steps: the
introduction of a tough monetary system, the passage of
a balanced budget, and the implementation of a radical
tax reform. JAC

STRIKE PARTICIPANTS NOT TO SEEK NEW ELECTIONS. ITAR-TASS
reported on 8 September that participants in the
national strike planned for 7 October will not demand
simultaneous elections to the presidency and State Duma.
However, President Yeltsin's resignation will remain one
of the key demands. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 8 September
suggested that the All-Russia Strike Committee, headed
by Vorkuta miner Viktor Semenov, is the logical nucleus
for Russia's next social revolution. The newspaper noted
that the committee emerged directly from the spontaneous
workers' movement, rather than from the official
establishment. And although "it is by no means certain
that current crisis in Russia will develop into some
kind of social upheaval..., a revolution is the result
of purposeful ideological and organization work by a
defined circle of people, who transform a single
explosion into a significant occurrence. It seems such
people are beginning to appear in Russia." JAC

REGIONS REMAIN RESTLESS. Kaliningrad Governor Leonid
Gorbenko has denied media reports that he declared a
regional state of emergency (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8
September 1998). He said that he spoke only of urgent
measures required for the economic and social spheres,
according to ITAR-TASS. He declared the introduction of
a state of emergency in the "political sphere" out of
the question. Meanwhile, regional "rebelliousness"
continues. Interfax on 9 September reported that
Kemerovo Governor Aman Tuleev has reduced the profit tax
for local processing enterprises by 40 percent and
lowered electricity tariffs without first consulting
Moscow authorities. Tuleev told ITAR-TASS that "the
Finance Ministry is not recognizing previous agreements,
although its minister, Mikhail Zadornov, has retained
his post." Unless federal authorities "change their
attitude toward the regions," he warned in comments to
Interfax, "the threat of a split in the federation will
become more real every day." JAC

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

TRACECA CONFERENCE PARTICIPANTS SIGN 'BAKU
DECLARATION'... Participants at the 8 September TRACECA
conference in Baku signed a multilateral framework
agreement on construction of the Europe-Caucasus-Asia
transport corridor, Turan and ITAR-TASS reported. Four
technical agreements on road and rail transport and
customs procedures were also signed. Speakers at the
conference underscored that all states that participate
in the corridor project stand to benefit, predicting
that it will facilitate economic cooperation and trade
and underpin regional stability. Ukrainian President
Leonid Kuchma noted that the project will "put an end to
the threat of the Balkanization of the Caucasus and
Central Asia." LF

...WHILE RUSSIA, TURKEY FOCUS ON LIMITATIONS. Deputy
Transport Minister Yevgenii Kazantsev, the Russian
representative at the conference, criticized the TRACECA
concept as less cost-effective than existing
communications via the Russian Federation, given that
Russian transport tariffs are considerably lower than
those envisaged within the TRACECA framework, Interfax
reported. Turkish President Suleyman Demirel ruled out
opening a frontier crossing between Turkey and Armenia,
while Foreign Minister Ismail Cem rejected Armenian
Prime Minister Armen Darpinian's proposal to route via
Armenia the planned railroad from Kars to Tbilisi and to
construct a second rail link from the Georgian Black Sea
ports of Poti and Batumi via Nakhichevan and Armenia to
Iran. Both Turkish officials said such transport links
can be considered only after Armenian forces withdraw
from occupied Azerbaijani territory and the Karabakh
conflict is resolved. LF

CHOLERA OUTBREAK IN ARMENIA. Two elderly residents of
the village of Zartonk, west of Yerevan, have died of
cholera and "several dozen" villagers have been
hospitalized with the disease, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau
reported on 8 September, quoting presidential
spokeswoman Gassia Apkarian. Apkarian said that the
outbreak has been localized and that no cases have been
reported in Yerevan. Most residents of Zartonk are
Yezidi Kurds. LF

PROGRESS, RISKS IN RESOLVING SOUTH OSSETIAN CONFLICT.
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 9 September quoted OSCE
Ambassador to Georgia Michael Libal as expressing
approval of the progress toward settling the South
Ossetian conflict. Libal singled out the role in that
process of South Ossetian President Lyudvig Chibirov but
urged the resumption of talks between the Georgian and
South Ossetian leaderships to find "new ideas" to
resolve the conflict. He also warned against delaying
such talks until the Abkhaz and Karabakh conflicts have
been resolved. Since January, 363 Ossetian refugees have
returned from North to South Ossetia under a program
funded by the UNHCR and the Norwegian Refugee Council.
But a Georgian from South Ossetia told Caucasus Press on
8 September that the repatriation process is forcing the
local Georgian population to leave and could ultimately
trigger a new conflict. LF

NETANYAHU CANCELS GEORGIAN VISIT. Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu has canceled his one-day visit to
Georgia on 9 September for health reasons, Caucasus
Press reported. Netanyahu was to have participated in
celebrations to mark the 2,600th anniversary of the
arrival in Georgia of the first Jewish settlers. LF

KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT OPPOSES PRESIDENT... The Legislative
Assembly on 8 September convened to discuss amendments
to the country's constitution proposed by President
Askar Akayev, RFE/RL correspondents reported. Only 25 of
the 35 deputies attended the session, but of those, 21
rejected Akayev's proposals. In particular, the deputies
objected to the proposal to introduce private land
ownership, saying it is still too early to adopt such a
measure. They also objected to the proposal that a new
government body, rather than the parliament, oversee
financing for the parliament. The deputies suggested
that in the October referendum on the proposed
amendments, citizens be allowed to vote on each issue
separately. The 1996 referendum on amending the
constitution required only a single "yes" or "no" vote.
BP

...OVERRIDES PRESIDENTIAL VETO. Also on 8 September, the
Legislative Assembly overruled a presidential veto of an
amendment raising the eligible age for drawing a
pension, RFE/RL correspondents reported. The amendment,
which was adopted by the parliament in June, raises the
retirement age from 55 to 58 for women and 60 to 63 for
men. Akayev signed a draft of the law but later refused
to approve the official version. Several government
officials claim there is no money in the budget to
implement the legislative change. BP

NUMBER OF UZBEK GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS TO BE CUT. Uzbek
President Islam Karimov has signed a government
resolution that will cut the number of state officials
by 25 percent, Interfax reported on 8 September. The
cuts must be made by 1 January 1999. BP

ONE TURKMEN DISSIDENT RELEASED, ONE BADLY BEATEN. Former
presidential spokesman Durdumuhammed Gurbanov, arrested
on embezzlement charges last month, has been released
from detention, RFE/RL correspondents in Ashgabat
reported on 8 September. The previous day, some 30
people demonstrated in the Turkmen capital, Ashgabat, to
demand Gurbanov's release. Amnesty International issued
a statement on 8 September expressing concern about the
arrest and noting that his detention is more likely the
result of political rather than criminal activities. In
interviews with RFE/RL earlier this year, Gurbanov
criticized the Turkmen government. Meanwhile, the head
of Turkmenistan's unregistered Democratic Development
Party, Durdymurat Khojamuhammedov, was severely beaten
in Ashgabat on 4 September. BP

END NOTE

CADETS REMAIN FAITHFUL TO TSARIST IDEA

by John Varoli

	Amid Russia's economic and political crisis, cadets
ended a 10-day convention in Moscow on 8 September that
was designed to infuse them with the ideals of the
Tsarist military.
	The convention was the first-ever gathering in
Russia of the United Russian Cadet Corps Abroad, a group
of descendants of exiled White Army officers dedicated
to preserving the military ideals of the Tsarist era.
Since 1992, the group has been playing an active role in
preparing new generations of Russian soldiers. Some 42
senior cadets, most between the ages of 60 and 75,
returned to Russia for the convention.
	The convention was the cadets' 16th major meeting
since 1931.
	"This is an extremely emotional event for us,"
Alexei Jordan, vice president of the New York chapter of
the Russian Cadet Corps Abroad, told RFE/RL. "It is the
first time that we, the sons of White officers who
fought during the Civil War and who were educated as
cadets abroad, have met in Russia."
	Jordan is also the father of the leading Russian-
U.S. banker Boris Jordan, head of MFK-Renaissance. Over
the past three years, Boris Jordan has made significant
personal contributions to the Cadet Corps in St.
Petersburg. Also, according to the MFK-Renaissance
public relations office, Jordan's bank has donated
$200,000 to various cadet activities and to renovating
the grave of the 18th-century Russian general Alexander
Suvorov.
	Russia's cadet corps dates back to the reign of
Empress Anne. In 1731, she decreed the creation of the
corps to prepare boys for study at an institution of
higher education that would eventually lead to a career
either in the military or in the state civil service.
	But when the Russian Revolution of 1917 swept away
the Tsarist order, only eight of Russia's 301 cadet
corps were able to make their way to Crimea, then a
stronghold of the anti-Bolshevik White Army, under the
command of General Pyotr Wrangel. Those boys who did not
make it were executed by the Bolsheviks. The Whites
abandoned Crimea in 1920, and the eight cadet corps
sailed with other refugees to Yugoslavia, whose king,
Alexander I, had also studied in the Russian cadets
school in St. Petersburg.
	In Yugoslavia, a new generation of cadets were
raised in the imperial spirit of, "Faith, Tsar, and
Fatherland." There, they waited to return to Russia,
hoping for the collapse of the Bolshevik regime.
	The cadets were pushed farther west by Soviet
troops entering Yugoslavia at the end of World War II.
Many were scattered as far as the U.S. and France. By
1956, the last educational institution of the Russian
cadet corps had closed its doors in Paris.
	Igor Andrushkevitch, a chief ideologue for the
Russian Cadet Corps Abroad, told RFE/RL that the so-
called Soviet morality was based on economic materialism
and this emphasis has led to moral decline in
contemporary Russia. The Russian Cadet Corps Abroad
offers to fill what its members see as a moral void with
the ethics of bygone days. "The purpose of the cadet
[corps] is to educate youths with the ideas of service
to the Motherland," Yerzhan Yusupov, a former Soviet
army captain and co-organizer of the conference, told
RFE/RL.
	"It is time to do something about the utter lack of
values in the Russian military," Vladimir Braun,
chairman of the Russian Order of St. George, told
RFE/RL. "If we do not change the current situation in
the military, then we'll have a potentially explosive
situation on our hands."
	It is unclear whether any representatives of the
active Russian military took part in the convention
either as participants or observers.

The author is an RFE/RL correspondent based in St.
Petersburg.

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