|He who knows nothing is nearer the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors. - Thomas Jefferson|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 177, Part I, 14 September 1998
__________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 177, Part I, 14 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 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part I * REFORMERS LAMENT LEFTIST VICTORY * RUSSIA PROMISES DEBT REPAYMENT IN FULL * AZERBAIJANI POLICE, DEMONSTRATORS CLASH IN BAKU End Note: THE PASSING OF A GIANT xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx RUSSIA REFORMERS LAMENT LEFTIST VICTORY... Former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, former Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar, and Yabloko member and State Duma Committee on International Affairs Chairman Vladimir Lukin have all described Primakov's ascent to the office of Prime Minister as a significant shift to the left. As expected, the Duma on 11 September confirmed Primakov by a large margin: 317 to 63 with 15 abstentions. Gaidar told Interfax that it is hard to say how long the "government of Communists" will take to "destroy elements of a free market in Russia," but "unfortunately, it is clear that it will surely do that." JAC ...APPOINTMENT OF MASLYUKOV. The 11 September appointment of former Minister of Trade and Communist Party member Yurii Maslyukov to a cabinet post in charge of economics appears to have generated the most criticism from economic reformers. While a member of Sergei Kirienko's government, Maslyukov advocated the protection of domestic industries by providing them with cheap raw materials and low energy prices. Because of the appointments of Maslyukov and Viktor Gerashchenko as Central Bank chairman, Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii has said he will not accept a position in the government. The fate of acting Deputy Prime Minister Boris Fedorov and acting Finance Minister Mikhail Zadornov--two of the few reformers remaining from Kirienko's cabinet--is not yet known, but Fedorov told Interfax that he is not going to resign. "Komsomolskaya Pravda" on 12 September reported that Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs Chairman Arkadii Volskii "would like to become minister of industry" and that his friendship with Primakov "goes back a long way." JAC GROUP OF 7 PLUS 1 DISCUSSES RUSSIA. Senior officials from the Group of Seven industrial nations are meeting in London on 14 September for an emergency session on Russia's economic crisis. Russian Ambassador to Britain Yurii Fokin told Interfax on 11 September that Russian would participate in "the G-8 meeting on a footing equal to the other nations represented" and that the originally planned G-7 meeting had become a G-8 meeting. Deputy Foreign Minister Georgii Mamedov and Deputy Finance Minister Mikhail Kasyanov will represent Russia. JAC DUMA DISMISSES CENTRAL BANK BOARD. The Duma on 11 September voted by 265 to two to dismiss the entire board of directors of the Central Bank. New Central Bank head Gerashchenko had reportedly made the dismissal of the board a condition for his return to the bank. Gerashchenko promptly restored some members, but not Central Bank First Deputy Chairman Sergei Aleksashenko. According to "Kommersant-Daily" on 12 September, Tatyana Paramonova, former acting Central Bank chief, is likely to be tapped for a seat on the board. Earlier the same day, Gerashchenko himself was confirmed by a Duma vote of 273 to 65 with two abstentions. According to Interfax, Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky suggested postponing the vote because the Federal Security Service and Interior Ministry needed to examine "compromising" materials about Gerashchenko. Before the Duma voted, Gerashchenko voiced his support for a "controlled" printing of new money. JAC RUSSIA PROMISES DEBT REPAYMENT IN FULL. Prime Minister Primakov on 12 September told Russian media that Russia will repay all its debts. He said "Russia is not a country to declare itself bankrupt and never will be." During his speech to the Duma the previous day, Primakov called for new negotiations to restructure Russia's foreign debt. The German Finance Ministry said that Russia failed to pay 750 million German marks ($446 million) in interest payments due at the end of August. According to "Russkii telegraf" on 12 September, Deputy Finance Minister Kasyanov said Russia paid only $115 million in August, but he assured Paris Club member countries that by the end of the year, the government will pay the full amount due. JAC PRIMAKOV OFFERS "NEW DEAL" FOR ECONOMY... With the appointment of Maslyukov and his speech to the Duma on 11 September, Primakov gave some indication of the general direction of his administration's economic policy. He said the "government should interfere in economic affairs and regulate them, but this is not a return to the administrative and command system." Anticipating likely criticism, he noted that "it did not occur to anybody to criticize the U.S. when President Franklin Roosevelt, for example, after the Great Depression, undertook measures toward state regulation of the economy." Previously, Maslyukov and Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov also said their economic theories draw heavily upon Roosevelt's "New Deal," according to the "Moscow Times" on 12 September. On 14 September, Maslyukov told reporters that his top priority will be paying off huge wage and pension arrears. JAC ...MORE OF THE SAME FOR FOREIGN, DEFENSE POLICY. On 11 September Prime Minister Primakov quickly announced his choices for key cabinet posts. To head the Foreign Ministry, he tapped his first deputy prime minister, Igor Ivanov. In an interview with NTV on 13 September Primakov explained that Ivanov frequently filled in for him when he was out of Moscow on business and "was permanently in touch." One of Ivanov's first tasks will likely be selling START II ratification to the Duma. Acting Defense Minister Igor Sergeev, acting Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin, and acting Minister for Emergencies Sergei Shoigu were all asked to retain their posts. JAC YASTRZHEMBSKII SACKED. President Yeltsin on 12 September dismissed his spokesman, Sergei Yastrzhembskii. Sergei Prikhodko, presidential adviser, is likely to replace Yastrzhembskii, according to Interfax. On 11 September, "Kommersant-Daily" reported that Yastrzhembskii, along with then National Security Council chief Andrei Kokoshin and deputy heads of the presidential administration Mikhail Komissar and Yevgenii Savostjanov, had formed an unofficial opposition group within the Kremlin, opposing the nomination as premier of Viktor Chernomyrdin and supporting Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov. Those promoting Chernomyrdin, according to the newspaper, were Boris Berezovskii, Presidential Chief of Staff Valentin Yumashev, and Yeltsin's daughter Tatyana Dyatchenko. Kokoshin was dismissed on 10 September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 September 1998). JAC REGIONS CONTINUE BATTLE AGAINST INFLATION. In Nizhnii Novgorod, mobile task forces composed of police, tax inspectorate and consumer rights officials are carrying out random checks to catch vendors engaged in illegal price mark- ups, according to ITAR-TASS on 12 September. In St. Petersburg, wholesale companies engaged in trading staple goods, such as bread, meat, and sugar, now have to obtain a one-year license from the city's committee on consumer protection. In Khabarovsk, prices for food have been kept comparatively cheap because vendors have been allowed to import food without paying the usual customs duties. In Kazan, the government of Tatarstan banned any exports of food and prepared barter deals, offering to exchange polyethylene, auto tires, and vodka for food. On 13 September, ITAR-TASS reported that the situation in Omsk has eased considerably since residents have stopped hoarding food and are no longer standing in long lines to buy food. JAC PRIMAKOV WARNS REGIONS TO TOE THE LINE. In his speech to the Duma on 11 September, Prime Minister Primakov cited the "danger of Russia being split up." He promised to include several regional governors in the government's Presidium, which would participate in the work of his cabinet. He also said that "there will be no indulgence toward trends aimed at disrupting the balance of power, weakening the central leadership, or ignoring the central leadership." JAC SOBCHAK SUBJECT OF CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS. The Office of the Prosecutor-General on 13 September opened a criminal case on various charges of corruption against former mayor of St. Petersburg, Anatolii Sobchak. Sobchak went to Paris last November to undergo heart surgery. He said he will not return to Russia until the prosecutor-general clears his name. JAC SHABDURASULOV SHIFTED TO ORT. The chief of the presidential information department, Igor Shabdurasulov, after only a short time in that post, will assume the position of director-general of Russian Public Television. JAC MORE KILLINGS, REPRISALS IN NORTH OSSETIA. Five Ossetian police officers were shot dead on 12 September at a police checkpoint in the village of Maiskii in North Ossetia's Prigorodnyi Raion. That territory is claimed by neighboring Ingushetia. In an act of reprisal later that day, Ossetians set fire to 58 trailer homes and nine houses belonging to ethnic Ingush in two villages in the district. The following day in the Ingush capital, Nazran, Russian Deputy Interior Minister Colonel-General Petr Latyshev met with Ingush President Ruslan Aushev and the Russian presidential representative to Ingushetia and North Ossetia, Vladimir Kalamanov, to discuss the incident. Latyshev also met with North Ossetian Prime Minister Teimuraz Mamsurov to determine measures to stabilize the situation in Prigorodnyi Raion. LF RADUEV RESCINDS THREAT AGAINST DAGESTANI LEADERSHIP. Maverick Chechen field commander Salman Raduev on 13 September withdrew his threat of reprisals against the Dagestani leadership in the event that they failed to release arrested Lak leader Magomed Khachilaev by midnight on 13 September, Russian agencies reported. Raduev explained that he is thereby giving the Dagestani authorities the chance to free Khachilaev voluntarily. LF TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA AZERBAIJANI POLICE, DEMONSTRATORS CLASH IN BAKU. Police armed with batons used force to prevent several thousand opposition supporters from congregating on Baku's central Freedom Square on 12 September. The demonstrators were demanding the postponement of the 11 October presidential elections and equal representation for the opposition on electoral commissions. Police then attacked a group of demonstrators gathered outside the nearby headquarters of the opposition Azerbaijan Popular Front Party and tried unsuccessfully to storm the building. Ten police and between 70 and100 demonstrators were injured, some seriously. Police claim they arrested 15 people, but opposition spokesmen estimate that between 50 and 200 were detained. German Ambassador to Azerbaijan Christian Siebeck said he considers the police action unwarranted and a violation of citizens' democratic rights, according to Reuters. LF ARMENIAN, CYPRIOT FOREIGN MINISTERS SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENTS. Meeting in Yerevan on 12 September, Vartan Oskanian and his Cypriot counterpart, Ioannis Cassoulides, signed cooperation agreements on economics, air transport, agriculture, science, and culture, ITAR-TASS reported. Oskanian characterized bilateral relations as "not just friendly, [but] fraternal." Cassoulides also agreed to support a resolution condemning the genocide of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey, which Armenia will propose to the OSCE and the UN General Assembly, according to AP. Oskanian said Turkey "applies double standards" to both the Cyprus and Karabakh issues. LF ARMENIAN OPPOSITION CALLS ON GOVERNMENT TO RESIGN. In a statement adopted at its 11 September conference, the National Democratic Union (AZhM) affirmed that only the immediate resignation of the present government and pre-term parliamentary elections can reverse Armenia's "drift away from democracy," RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The statement accused the present leadership of corruption and of falsifying the results of the March 1998 presidential elections. AZhM chairman Vazgen Manukian criticized the Dashnak party, which supported Robert Kocharian's presidential candidacy, for not condemning the falsification of the vote. Also on 11 September, "Hayk," the newspaper of the former ruling Armenian Pan-National Movement, reported that Manukian has been asked to head a new government but has said he will do so only on condition that Defense Minister Vazgen Sargsian and Interior and National Security Minister Serzh Sargsian vacate their posts. LF GEORGIAN PRESIDENT ADVOCATES NEW MEASURES FOR DISPLACED PERSONS. Eduard Shevardnadze has proposed that until a political solution to the Abkhaz conflict is reached , the displaced persons who fled that conflict should receive the same rights and privileges as those to which refugees are entitled under the 1951 UN Convention, Russian and Georgian agencies reported. He stressed that the abandoned homes of displaced persons should be declared inviolable. He also advocated the systematic monitoring of the implementation of rulings by the UN High Commission for Refugees. Some 200,000 ethnic Georgians were expelled from Abkhazia during the 1992- 1993 war. Some subsequently returned to their abandoned homes but were forced to flee again in May of this year when renewed fighting destroyed their homes. LF UN MURDER SUSPECTS CONFESS. Three men detained by Tajik law enforcement authorities have confessed to killing four UN employees in late July, ITAR-TASS reported on 13 September. The men reportedly confessed after they were confronted with "irrefutable evidence." All three are members of the United Tajik Opposition, while one is said to have admitted that he received training in terrorist activities in Afghanistan in 1994. The Tajik Interior Ministry refused to comment on the motive for the murders. But a press spokesman for the ministry said that "interesting facts were brought to light" and that personal or criminal motives have been ruled out. BP RUSSIA OFFERS TO TRANSPORT TURKMEN OIL. Russian First Deputy Minister of Transportation and head of the Russian Merchant Marine Aleksandr Lugovets said his country is offering to ship Turkmen oil to the ports of Makhachkala and Tuapse, from where it would transported to Europe, Interfax reported on 13 September. Lugovets said 2 million tons of oil can be transported annually under existing conditions but that improvements at port facilities on the western bank of the Caspian Sea could make possible shipments of up to 12 million tons annually. Lugovets also said Turkmen interests would be taken into account when selecting trans-shipment ports. He stressed that while other projects may be attractive to Turkmenistan, "Russia today has real and inexpensive routes of oil transportation," including for Turkmen oil. BP END NOTE THE PASSING OF A GIANT by Paul Goble Estonian Ambassador Ernst Jaakson will be buried in New York today in a ceremony certain to be like the man himself: modest, dignified, and symbolic of issues larger than any individual. Following his death on 5 September, Mr. Jaakson--as he was universally known--garnered tributes from around the world focusing on his remarkable diplomatic career, which extended from 1919 until his death. That record of unbroken service--first as a translator for Estonia's ambassador in Riga, then as an Estonian consul in the U.S. before and during the Soviet occupation, and finally as Estonian ambassador to Washington and the United Nations--will never be equaled. But in many ways, Mr. Jaakson's length of service--some 79 years--is far less significant than the way in which he filled it. A man of genuine modesty, Mr. Jaakson never confused himself with the cause he represented, nor did he place his own interests above those of his country. Indeed, when he published his memoirs a few years ago, many readers were disappointed that he had included so few details about himself, focusing instead on the great events through which he lived. But as Mr. Jaakson would have told them, that was precisely the point of his life. He represented Estonia when it was a small country far away from the United States. He represented it during the long years when it was occupied by the Soviet Union and when few thought it would ever be free again. And Mr. Jaakson lived to represent it once Estonia recovered its independence in 1991. Consequently, for many in both Estonia and the West, to an important degree Mr. Jaakson was Estonia precisely because he invariably subordinated himself to its cause. A man of enormous dignity, Mr. Jaakson performed all the duties he was given with integrity, good manners, and charm. During the long years of the Soviet occupation when Baltic representatives in the West were often the object of curiosity or humorous dismissal, Mr. Jaakson commanded universal respect. And he did so not peremptorily but by his personal authority. Even those inclined to dismiss the Baltic cause often went away from meetings with him convinced that indeed Estonia and her Baltic neighbors would be free again. And when Estonia and her neighbors were working together to recover their independence, Mr. Jaakson's personal authority was such that presidents, prime ministers, and secretaries of state always listened to him. Compared with his two Baltic colleagues in Washington, Mr. Jaakson said relatively little in public or private. But when he spoke, often after all the others, his interlocutors knew that they had heard the voice of someone special. Mr. Jaakson helped guide the Estonian people and their leaders toward regaining independence, and he helped to provide them--always gently but firmly--in learning how to interact with the rest of the world once they achieved it. Finally, Mr. Jaakson was a symbol. Throughout his career and especially during the darkest days of Soviet occupation, he was called Mr. Estonia. More recently, as Estonia moved to recover its independence, many referred to him as "the conscience of Estonia," the man who kept the Estonian dream alive at a time when so many gave up. Indeed, and in recognition of this special status, he is the only Estonian official other than the pre-war presidents to have a bust in the Estonian presidential palace at Kadriorg. And most recently, he has been characterized as the "legendary" diplomat because of his unparalleled length of service. But Mr. Jaakson was more than that. He was a symbol of another age, a time when personal integrity was paramount, when self-sacrifice to a greater cause was the ideal, and when diplomats made their mark by long years of work, rather than by flashy media plays. As all those who knew him will confirm, Mr. Jaakson was a giant not only among diplomats or among Estonians. He was a giant among human beings. Those who knew him were privileged; they know how rare a man Mr. Jaakson was. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1998 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word subscribe as the subject of the message. HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE Send an email to email@example.com with the word unsubscribe as the subject of the message. 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