There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in. - Graham Greene
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 176 Part I, 11 September 1998


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 176 Part I, 11 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

* PRIMAKOV NOMINATION SET TO SAIL THROUGH DUMA

* CENTRAL BANK RETURNS TO PAST

* SUSPECTS FORMALLY CHARGED IN UN MURDERS IN TAJIKISTAN

End Note: THE PROMOTION OF PRIMAKOV
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RUSSIA

PRIMAKOV NOMINATION SET TO SAIL THROUGH DUMA. At 5:00
p.m. local time on 11 September, the State Duma is
scheduled to consider the candidacy of Yevgenii Primakov
as prime minister. Primakov needs a simple majority of
226 votes. Since all factions, with the exception of
Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party of
Russia, which has only 50 votes, have expressed support
for Primakov, he is expected to be confirmed.
Zhirinovsky criticized Yeltsin's choice of Primakov,
saying that the decision proves Yeltsin's weakness and
is the "final degradation of the political regime." He
called Primakov "a pro-American candidate" appointed by
U.S. President Bill Clinton. JAC

CENTRAL BANK RETURNS TO PAST. President Boris Yeltsin on
11 September finally accepted the resignation of Sergei
Dubinin as head of the Central Bank and named Viktor
Gerashchenko as the new chairman. Dubinin offered his
resignation on 7 September. Gerashchenko, 60, headed the
Central Bank both before and after the Soviet Union fell
apart. He was sacked soon after 11 October 1994, Black
Tuesday, when the ruble lost 25 percent of its value.
Dubinin was minister of finance at the time. Since 1996,
Gerashchenko has been chairman of the Board of the
Moscow International Bank. JAC

MASLYUKOV TO MAKE ECONOMIC POLICY? Communist leader
Gennadii Zyuganov said Yurii Maslyukov, former minister
of trade and head of Gosplan, will be offered the
position of deputy prime minister in charge of the
economy. Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii, who first
suggested Primakov for the job of prime minister, has
also been tipped as a potential appointee for economic
policy. However, he told Russian Public Television that
Yabloko did not "need to be paid" for its support with
the appointment of himself or fellow Yabloko member
Vladimir Lukin, Russia's former ambassador to the U.S.,
to a cabinet position. He said, "Our reward will be to
see increased stability in the country." ITAR-TASS
reported on 11 September that Robert Markaryan, current
director of the Foreign Ministry's Secretariat, would
likely be appointed head of the government
administration. JAC

STOCKS FALL, RUBLE CLIMBS. On 11 September, the Russian
benchmark stock index hit a record low, falling 5.4
percent from the day before. Traders cited concerns that
Communist Party member Yurii Maslyukov will be appointed
to a top economic policy-making post and the anticipated
return of Viktor Gerashchenko to head the Central Bank.
Meanwhile, the ruble strengthened against the dollar for
the third consecutive day. According to Bloomberg, the
ruble rose as high as 11.15 rubles to $1, compared with
the previous day's high of 13.5 rubles to $1. The
official ruble rate was 12.87 rubles to $1. Some traders
expect the ruble to start losing value again because of
the likely delay in the next IMF tranche and continued
problems in the banking system. Acting Finance Minister
Mikhail Zadornov told Interfax on 10 September that the
ruble's future exchange rate will largely depend on the
composition of the new cabinet. JAC

NEW CANDIDATES FOR FOREIGN MINISTER. Speculation about
the composition of Primakov's cabinet continues. In
addition to current Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov,
Chair of the State Duma's Committee on International
Affairs Vladimir Lukin, Deputy Foreign, Ambassador to
the UN Sergei Lavrov,  First Deputy Foreign Minister
Boris Pastukhov, and Deputy Foreign Minister Georgii
Mamedov have all been dubbed potential candidates to
replace Primakov at the helm of the Foreign Ministry.
JAC

WORLD LEADERS HAIL PRIMAKOV. World leaders heaped praise
on Yeltsin's nomination of Primakov, suggesting that the
diplomat-turned-prime minister will be able to restore
some stability to Russia. German Foreign Minister Klaus
Kinkel said that Primakov enjoys the trust of Western
countries, while French Premier Hubert Vedrine said
Primakov has the very qualities needed to restore the
public's confidence in authority. U.S. Deputy Secretary
of State Strobe Talbott called Primakov an "extremely
able, skillful advocate of what he sees as Russia's
national interest" and said that he "clearly recognizes
the extraordinary importance of U.S.-Russian relations."
Closer to Russia, Georgian President Eduard
Shevardnadze, who has locked horns with Primakov in the
past, said that "Yevgenii Primakov is a nominee
acceptable for the majority of Russia's political
forces." He continued that "being an experienced and
well-educated politician, [Primakov] will be able to do
much to achieve stability in Russia, in which Georgia is
largely interested." JAC

PRIMAKOV EARNS PRAISE FROM REGIONS... Russia's regional
leaders appeared to have  a uniformly positive reaction
to Yeltsin's nomination of Primakov. Krasnoyarsk
Governor Aleksandr Lebed, who himself was considered a
potential candidate, told reporters 10 September, "It's
a victory and the result of a compromise between
differently biased political forces." Tatarstan
President Mintimer Shaimiev also praised Yeltsin's
choice, calling Primakov "an authoritative politician."
Aman Tuleev, governor of Kemerovo, noted Primakov's
"wisdom and considerable professional experience." And
the governors of Perm and Primorskii Krai also added
their voices to the chorus of commendations. JAC

...AND OLIGARCHS, GORBACHEV. Financial magnate Boris
Berezovskii called Primakov's nomination "a decision
with a plus sign in today's extremely complex
situation." Most Bank head Vladimir Gusinskii described
Primakov's nomination as "the best choice Russia can
make today." Former President of the Soviet Union
Mikhail Gorbachev said Primakov will "shape a government
that will express national interests, not those of 10
percent or 20 percent of the population." JAC

KOKOSHIN SACKED, SYSUYEV TO QUIT. Secretary of Russia's
National Security Council Andrei Kokoshin was abruptly
dismissed on 10 September. No reason was given other
than that he has another job, the nature of which has
not yet been made public. Earlier, Kokoshin was credited
with forging a coalition in the cabinet willing to push
through military reform (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 August
1998). According to ITAR-TASS on 11 September, former
Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Anatolii
Kulikov will replace Kokoshin as head of the Security
Council. ITAR-TASS also reported the same day that
acting Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Sysuyev will quit the
cabinet to take a "high-level" diplomatic job. JAC

YELTSIN RELEGATED TO BACK SEAT? "Izvestiya" on 11
September predicted that Yeltsin, "having made one
concession to his opponents, will inevitably be forced
to make others and in this way will gradually withdraw
from power." The newspaper added, "It is quite likely
that before the year 2000, Yevgenii Primakov will have
to carry out the duties of head of state as well as
premier." In an interview with Russian Public
Television, Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii made
similar comments. He said, "The first political figure
in the country is the president, but now we have a
'political' prime minister, who in every situation will
be able to discuss a whole range of political issues. He
cannot take decisions on all of them, but he is a
responsible figure for discussing and preparing the most
important decisions." JAC

KALMYKIA "REDIRECTS" ITS FEDERAL TAXES. "Vremya MN" on
11 September reported that the Russian Central Bank shut
down its branch in Kalmykia Republic after it used 236
million rubles ($15 million) collected in taxes for the
regional budget. Such rebellious actions may draw a
harsh reaction under the new government. In brief
remarks made to reporters on 11 September, Primakov said
he is in favor of "preserving Russia as a single, strong
state." JAC

BUSINESSES CHARGED WITH PROFITEERING. ITAR-TASS reported
on 10 September that inspectors in St. Petersburg fined
more than 1200 trading companies for "unjustified price
mark-ups" of more than 50 percent during the past three
weeks. St. Petersburg Mayor Vladimir Yakovlev decreed
that the price increases on staple foods, such as bread,
baby food, milk, dairy products, flour, sugar, and soap
should not exceed 15 percent. JAC

AIRLINES TRIM COSTS. Valerii Okulov, director-general of
Aeroflot, told reporters on 10 September that some
aviation workers will have to be laid off and certain
benefits eliminated. To save on hard currency, imported
foods will be replaced by domestic ones for in-flight
meals.  According to ITAR-TASS, Okulov also admitted
that the threat of a strike by both air traffic
controllers and pilots exists because "pro-Communist
parties are actively encouraging union leaders to join
mass protest actions." According to AP, Alaska Airlines
will drop its weekly flights to Russia's Far East
because they are not profitable. JAC

TATARSTAN INTRODUCES ANTI-CRISIS PROGRAM. Tatarstan
Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov on 10 September
announced  that Kazan has introduced a series of short-
term measures to overcome the economic crisis, RFE/RL's
Tatar-Bashkir Service reported.  The program includes
the stabilization of prices for basic consumer goods
through the end of September.  Tatarstan National Bank
Chairman Yevgenii Bogachev, meanwhile, said that the
republic's banking system is in relatively better shape
than the Russian Federation's.  PG

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

GERMAN KARABAKH NEGOTIATOR IN YEREVAN. Ambassador Frank
Lambach, Germany's representative to the OSCE's Minsk
Group, arrived in Yerevan on 10 September, RFE/RL's
Armenian Service reported.  Following meetings with
senior Armenian officials, Lambach said the current
situation, "a cease-fire without negotiations," is "not
stable." And he noted that representatives of the three
Minsk Group co-chairs will arrive in the Caucasus within
the next few days to try to push the peace process
forward.  PG

ARMENIAN-GREEK-IRANIAN GROUP MEETS.  The cooperation
group of Armenia, Greece, and Iran met in Tehran on 10
September to discuss how to carry out the planned
construction of an Iranian-Armenian gas pipeline and
other measures of economic cooperation, RFE/RL's
Armenian Service reported.  The three foreign ministers
in attendance also discussed the situation in the
Balkans, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Afghanistan.  The
cooperation group, established in Athens in December
1997, will hold its third meeting in September 1999 in
Yerevan.  PG

ARMENIA TO PRESS FOR MORE INVESTMENT.  Armenian
presidential adviser Vagram Nersisiants told Interfax on
10 September that Yerevan will press for more private
foreign investment in order to increase the rate of
economic growth to 6-7 percent a year.  He said that
Yerevan has concluded that it cannot count on
government-to-government assistance over the longer
term.  PG

SHEVARDNADZE WELCOMES ASSISTANCE FROM U.S. NAVY.
Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze on 10 September
told visiting U.S. Vice Admiral Daniel Murphy that he is
grateful for American assistance in developing Georgia's
naval staff and infrastructure, AP reported.  Murphy's
flagship, the "USS LaSalle," had stopped at the Georgian
port of Poti, bringing with it medical supplies and
other forms of humanitarian assistance.  In response to
Shevardnadze's comments, Murphy said  the visit by "USS
LaSalle" to Poti, the first by a U.S. naval vessel to
that port, has established a bridge for international
cooperation.  PG

GEORGIAN OPPOSITION SEEKS SHEVARDNADZE'S IMPEACHMENT.
Georgian Socialist Party leader Vakhtang Rcheulishvili
told Interfax on 10 September that his party and its
allies will press for the impeachment of the Georgian
president based on the argument that he cannot serve
simultaneously as head of the Georgian Citizens Union
and chief of state. But Rcheulishvili acknowledged that
the parliament's majority will not go along. As a
result, Rcheulishvili said that his group will bring the
case before the Constitutional Court. The opposition
would like to force Shevardnadze to give up his Union
leadership in order to reduce that group's chances in
local elections scheduled for 15 November.  PG

SUSPECTS FORMALLY CHARGED IN UN MURDERS IN TAJIKISTAN.
The Tajik Prosecutor-General's Office has filed formal
charges against three men suspected of killing four UN
employees in central Tajikistan in late July, ITAR-TASS
reported on 11 September. According to the office's
chief investigator, Sharif Kurbanov, the three will
tried on charges of terrorism. BP

KYRGYZ OFFICIAL CLARIFIES STATEMENT. Kyrgyz Deputy
Foreign Minister Alibek Jekshenkulov said on 10
September that he has been misquoted by Russia's ITAR-
TASS news agency, both Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported.
ITAR-TASS on 9 September had quoted Jekshenkulov as
saying his country "did not exclude" recognizing the
Afghanistan's Taliban movement as the legitimate
government of that country. Jekshenkulov said that he
had commented that the "question is a complex one and
demanded consultations with our partners, Uzbekistan,
Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Russia." Jekshenkulov also
said that  Kyrgyzstan has received confirmation from
representatives of the Taliban and the coalition
opposing it that they will attend an international
conference on Afghanistan in the Kyrgyz capital. He
added that the conference will be the first in a series
of such meetings in various countries. BP

KYRGYZ PARLIAMENTARY DEPUTY DRAFTS BILL ON  REFERENDA.
Kyrgyz parliamentary member and leader of the Ata-Meken
Party Omurbek Tekebaev told RFE/RL correspondents on 10
September he has prepared a draft law on referenda.
Tekebaev said that according to the draft, a national
referendum could not be held until the parliament has
approved holding it first. He added that all details of
the referendum, such as the exact date, would have to be
announced at least one month before the vote. President
Askar Akayev on 2 September announced that a referendum
on amendments to the constitution would be held in "mid-
October." He also called for a public debate on his
proposals, but the parliament was informed neither about
the proposed amendments nor the referendum itself before
the president's announcement. To date, Akayev has not
signed a decree on holding the vote. BP

END NOTE

THE PROMOTION OF PRIMAKOV

by Paul Goble

	Boris Yeltsin's decision to nominate Foreign
Minister Yevgenii Primakov as his prime minister is
already sending shockwaves through Russia, Russia's
neighbors, and the international community.
	But while this appointment may give the crisis-
ridden Russian regime some room for maneuver, it is
unlikely in itself to resolve the underlying problems
now confronting the Russian Federation. By turning away
from the obviously unpopular and apparently
unconfirmable Viktor Chernomyrdin, Yeltsin has once
again shown that he maneuvers best precisely when he is
under the most intense political pressure.
	But if Yeltsin's decision to promote Primakov was
somewhat unexpected, it nonetheless reflects three
aspects of Yeltsin's general political style.
	First, the Russian president again has taken what
many are certain to call a dramatic step only after he
had denied that he would do it.
	Second, he has selected someone who may be able to
recoup some of Russia's lost authority and influence in
the West, a clear signal that Yeltsin still hopes to
gain more Western aid even as he advances someone
popular with many Russian nationalists at home.
	And third, Yeltsin has chosen someone with little
experience in those areas--economics and domestic
affairs--that a Russian prime minister is supposed to
direct.
	This last fact makes it likely that Primakov will
face fewer obstacles to being confirmed. After all, Duma
factions, ranging from the communists to the reformers,
are likely to believe they will be able to convince
Primakov to advance their agendas. But precisely for
that reason, Primakov's appointment may not affect the
ways in which Moscow now conducts business. To the
extent that proves the case,  Primakov's appointment
ultimately may not matter as much as some hope and
others fear.
	The most obvious consequences of Primakov's
appointment are likely to be in Moscow and the Russian
Federation. Russian politicians of various stripes are
already viewing Primakov's appointment as a victory for
them or at least as a concession by Yeltsin to the
growing power of the parliament.
	Moreover, his appointment is likely to attract new
candidates for the race to succeed Yeltsin both because
Primakov is not an obvious successor and because
parliamentary deputies and governors undoubtedly feel
themselves more important players in Russian politics
than they did only a few weeks ago.  And ordinary
Russians are certain to welcome the appointment of
Primakov, a man known for his toughness and staunch
defense of Russian national interests.
	But even if these developments give Primakov a
certain honeymoon in Moscow, they will not do anything
to address Russia's economic collapse or the growing
political disorder across the country as a whole. To
address those problems, Primakov must not only craft a
new set of policies but also reinvent the Russian
government. Doing one or the other would be difficult
for anyone. But having to do both at the same time
almost certainly means that Primakov 's approach is
likely to be an amalgam of various views, a pattern that
has gotten Russia into trouble in the past and may get
Primakov into trouble quicker than many expect.
	If the exact direction Primakov is likely to take
domestically remains unclear, his approach to Russia's
neighbors and to the West is certainly far clearer.
Although Primakov has been foreign minister at a time
when Russian power has declined in the former Soviet
republics, he has been a forceful advocate of the view
that Moscow must remain the dominant player in these
countries. To the extent that he is able, he is certain
to continue to advocate a tough approach to the
neighbors. But Russia's weakness and Moscow's need to
attract Western assistance may combine to force him to
moderate his past approach.
	Perhaps Primakov's greatest role in the future will
be one that he has already starred in: stoutly defending
Russian national interests even while befriending
Western leaders.  Over his long career in the Middle
East, as a Moscow think-tank head and as foreign
minister, Primakov has pushed for a very forward Russian
policy, one designed to take advantage of any Western
weakness.
	Not surprisingly, many of his speeches and articles
in the past have been openly anti-Western and anti-
American. But despite this trend, Primakov has been
remarkably successful in winning the friendship of
Western leaders and gaining their confidence.
	Primakov's very public ties with U.S. Secretary of
State Madeleine Albright are only the most recent
example. And such attachments have allowed Primakov to
obtain more assistance from the West than his views
would seem to justify. Both he and Yeltsin clearly hope
that Primakov will once again be able to work his magic,
especially given the recent acknowledgment by Russian
officials that they had lied about conditions there in
order to gain Western aid.
	No Western leader wants Russia to fail. And
consequently, the West is likely to respond more
positively to a charm offensive by Primakov than it
would have to any steps by a  restored but rather dour
Chernomyrdin.
	But unless Primakov can turn things around in
Russia, an apparently Herculean task, he and his patron
are likely to discover that Primakov's ability to woo
Western leaders may not matter nearly as much as either
man hopes.

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