Standing, as I do, in the view of God and eternity, I realize that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness toward anyone. - Edith Cavell 1865-1915 (Spoken to the chaplain who attended her before her execution by firing squad, 12 Oct. 1915.)
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 183, Part I, 22 September 1998


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 183, Part I, 22 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

* YELTSIN LAYS OUT NEW GOVERNMENT STRUCTURE

* GOVERNMENT UNVEILS NEW DEBT PLAN

* LEADING TAJIK OPPOSITION FIGURE MURDERED

End Note: "AND HOME THERE'S NO RETURNING"
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RUSSIA

YELTSIN LAYS OUT NEW GOVERNMENT STRUCTURE. ITAR-TASS on 22
September reported that Russian President Boris Yeltsin has
signed a decree laying out a new structure for the
government. Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov will have six
deputy prime ministers, including two first deputy prime
ministers. Yeltsin also called for the creation of five new
ministries, five state committees, and two federal services.
The same day, Russia's ambassador to Greece, Valentina
Matvienko, accepted the post of deputy prime minister in
charge of social issues, which Duma deputy Vladimir Ryzhkov
recently rejected. According to Interfax, Matvienko has been
with the Foreign Ministry since 1991 and is close to
Primakov. JAC

GOVERNMENT UNVEILS NEW DEBT PLAN. Acting Finance Minister
Mikhail Zadornov tried to soothe angry foreign investors on
21 September by suggesting a new scheme for restructuring
Russian debt.  Zadornov proposed redeeming short-term
Treasury bills that matured between 19 August and 16
September. Under the government's previous plan, investors
had the option of receiving only 5 percent of their holdings
in cash and the remainder in longer-term ruble and dollar
bonds. Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Shokhin said that
Zadornov's plan should not be considered "final." According
to Interfax, he told reporters that "this is a decision
involving an emission that should be made at the political
level." Redeeming the securities, according to Zadornov,
would require 10 billion to 12 billion rubles ($730 million).
Zadornov's debt plan is included in a package of Finance
Ministry proposals for the fourth quarter of 1998. Other
proposals include introducing a single income tax of 20
percent, a lower profit tax, and mandatory sales of hard
currency by exporters. JAC

BANKS' FUTURE IN LUZHKOV'S HANDS? "Kommersant-Daily" on 19
September reported that one of the Central Bank's more
powerful departments, OPERU-2, has been abolished, giving the
Moscow department of the Central Bank new authority and
expanded influence. In an interview with the daily, the
former chief of OPERU-2, Denis Kiselev, said that the Central
Bank's Moscow department will now oversee the daily
operations of banks in its region, deciding their fate and
that of their clients. He also said that the largest banks of
the country will find themselves under the influence of the
Moscow mayor's office. "Moskovskii komsomolets" reported that
despite banks' claim to lack funds to pay to their
depositors, MOST-Bank recently opened a new "expensive"
branch in Ulyanovsk. JAC

FOOD PRODUCERS BANNING EXPORTS...  "Izvestiya" on 22
September reported that many governors have banned food
deliveries outside their region's borders, triggering a
dangerous trend toward "food separatism." Among the regions
cited were Stavropol, Krasnodar, Khabarovsk, and Samara.
Earlier, "Izvestiya" reported that the Vologda administration
had issued an order forbidding the export of staple goods and
food products from the region. On 21 September, acting
Finance Minister Mikhail Zadornov told reporters that more
than 60 regions have adopted their own austerity programs. On
15 September "Kommersant vlast" concluded that regional
leaders' "separatist threats" are aimed only at "milking as
much money from the federal center as possible." The
newspaper cited the fact that Sverdlovsk governor Eduard
Rossel's calls for a sovereign Urals republic ended when "the
region was loaned several tons of precious metal." JAC

...AS GOVERNMENT TILTS TOWARD REGIONS, INDUSTRY. "Russkii
telegraf" argued in its 19 September issue that Yevgenii
Primakov's government "has shifted its political priorities
in the direction of the regions" and in particular, its
industrial elite. As evidence, the newspaper cited the
rumored inclusion of four regional heads- Tatarstan President
Mintimer Shaimiev, Saratov governor Dmitrii Ayatskov,
Sverdlovsk Governor Eduard Rossel, and St. Petersburg
Governor Vladimir Yakovlev--in the government presidium. It
also reported that the original plan of inviting 12 leaders
of interregional associations was scrapped because it was
"too reminiscent of the old Politburo." The newspaper noted
that the new government intends to focus its efforts on
Russia's "industrial elite" since "no one has suggested that
the Komi governor either submit an [economic] program of his
own or join the government." Gustov told reporters on 21
September that the presidium will include "two first deputy
prime ministers, four deputy prime ministers, and Central
Bank chairman Viktor Gerashchenko." JAC

MORE SUPPORT FOR REGIONAL MERGERS. First Deputy Prime
Minister Vadim Gustov, whose portfolio includes regional
policy, told reporters on 21 September that he supports the
idea of reducing the number of the Russian Federation's
constituent members through mergers (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
21 September 1998). As a first step, Gustov, a former
governor of Leningrad Oblast, proposed unifying the city of
St. Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast. On 19 September,
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" characterized Gustov's views on various
matters as "socialist," saying "he supports the ideology of
the Communist Party." "Izvestiya" said Gustov was supported
in gubernatorial elections by "left-wing forces" but enjoyed
"a good relationship with young reformers in the cabinet."
JAC

REGION SUFFERS NEWS SHORTAGE. According to the "IEWS Russian
Regional Report" of 17 September, Yekaterinburg, in
Sverdlovsk Oblast, has witnessed a dramatic decline in the
number of newspapers available, as publishers have chosen to
reduce their print runs rather than raise prices in response
to climbing costs. Major national newspapers, such as
"Izvestiya" and "Rossiiskaya gazeta," and local papers such
as "Oblastnaya gazeta" and "Uralskii rabochii" are impossible
to find or are being printed less frequently. Pro-communist
newspapers, such as "Iskra uralskaya" are reportedly doing
better and can be found in many locations free of charge. JAC

IMF DEBATE CONTINUES.  "Parlamentskaya gazeta" on 22
September reported that Prosecutor-General Yurii Skuratov
announced he has already unearthed some information about the
Central Bank's misuse of IMF funds. Earlier, former Central
Bank chairman Sergei Dubinin said that nothing untoward has
been done with the fund's monies. He told Ekho Moskvy that
the first $4.8 billion tranche of the IMF stabilization loan
has been used to replenish the bank's foreign exchange
reserves. "Parlamentskaya gazeta" quoted Central Bank Joint
Economic department director Nadezhda Ivanova as telling the
State Duma that $1 billion of the IMF funds were transferred
to the Finance Ministry and the remaining $3.8 billion spent
on long-term U.S. treasury bonds." JAC

MEDICINES IN SHORT SUPPLY. ITAR-TASS reported on 22 September
that cases of measles and mumps have increased in Volgograd
owing to a lack of funds to purchase vaccines. "Izvestiya"
reported on 19 September that deliveries of foreign medicines
will be suspended from 26 September because the State Customs
Committee discovered that not a single importer has a valid
foreign trade license. The newspaper quoted the director of
one of the largest drug  distributors as saying that even
medicines manufactured domestically require imported
materials. "Kommersant-Daily" reported that medicines are in
short supply in some regions because of hoarding. In Altai
Republic, local diabetic have bought up a year's worth of
insulin supplies, while pharmacies in Volgograd  have enough
to last only for eight to 20 days.  JAC

CHERNOMYRDIN TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT, NOT DEPUTY. Former Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin has decided against running for
a Duma seat in the Yamal-Nenets region, ITAR-TASS reported on
22 September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 September 1998).
Chernomyrdin declared that he is still planning to run for
president in 2000. JAC

SELEZNEV IN IRAN. At the beginning of a three-day official
visit to Tehran, State Duma speaker Gennadii Seleznev met
with Iranian parliamentary chairman Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri on
21 September, Russian agencies reported. Seleznev underscored
the importance of establishing closer bilateral ties to
create a Moscow-Tehran axis. The two men agreed that ties
between the two countries' parliaments are of paramount
importance at present, given Iran's "international
isolation," Interfax reported. The two officials also
discussed bilateral trade (which last year totaled $550
million), the possibility of Russian involvement in oil and
gas extraction in the Persian Gulf, and the situation in
Afghanistan. LF

YAVLINSKII SUFFERS HEART ATTACK. Yabloko leader Grigorii
Yavlinskii suffered a heart attack on 18 September.
Yavlinskii, who is 46, is said to be in normal condition at
the hospital in which he is staying. According to a recent
poll, Yavlinskii's approval rating increased after the recent
political crisis. It was Yavlinskii who first suggested
Primakov as a compromise candidate for the premiership. JAC

NUREYEV REHABILITATED. Six years after his death, ballet
dancer Rudolf Nureyev was rehabilitated posthumously on 21
September. ITAR-TASS reported that the  Prosecutor-General's
Office said that it has studied Nureyev's case thoroughly and
can find no evidence to support a 1962 charge of high
treason. JAC

WILL CHECHNYA JOIN OIC? Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov
told journalists in Grozny on 21 September that he was
assured by the Malaysian prime minister during his recent
visit to that country that Chechnya will be granted
membership in the Organization of the Islamic Conference,
Interfax reported. But later the same day, a spokesman for
the Russian Foreign Ministry expressed skepticism at
Maskhadov's claim. The Malaysian embassy in Moscow told the
news agency that it cannot confirm that Maskhadov had met
with the prime minister, adding that the Chechen president's
visit to Malaysia was a private one. LF

VLASOV'S RELEASE IMMINENT? Maverick Chechen field commander
Salman Raduev told journalists in Grozny on 21 September that
negotiations on the release of Russian presidential envoy
Valentin Vlasov are almost complete and that he may be
released within the next week, Russian agencies reported.
Vlasov was abducted on 1 May on the Chechen-Ingush border.
Raduev accused Russian Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin of
hindering the negotiation process. He denied that any ransom
would be paid (although Chechen Deputy Prosecutor-General
Magomed Magomadov had said in June that Vlasov's kidnappers
were demanding $2 million for his release). Raduev also
claimed to have helped mediate the release of two British
aide workers released on 20 September. At the same time, he
conceded that Russian mogul Boris Berezovskii had also played
a key role in that process.  LF

REVISED DATA ON RUSSIAN MISSING TROOPS, CIVILIANS. A Russian
presidential commission for prisoners of war has published a
list of 794 people missing in action since the Chechen war.
Of those missing, 490 are members of the armed forces, 199
members of the Interior Ministry troops, 22 members of other
security forces, and 83 civilians. The commission spokesman
said that 10 Russian servicemen captured during the 1994-1996
war are believed to be held hostage in Chechnya, together
with some 200 servicemen and civilians abducted over the past
two years. LF

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

LEADING TAJIK OPPOSITION FIGURE MURDERED. Otakhon Latifi,
head of the National Reconciliation Commission sub-committee
on legal issues, was shot dead by unidentified attackers
leaving his home in Dushanbe on the morning of 22 September.
A former "Pravda" correspondent, Latifi returned to
Tajikistan last year after five years of exile in Iran. Both
the Tajik government and the United Tajik Opposition have
condemned the killing, according to dpa. LF

KYRGYZ OFFICIAL SEEKS TO EXPLAIN CHANGES IN LAND OWNERSHIP.
Presidential administration head Omar Sultanov addressed the
nation on state television on 20 September to explain and
seek support for the proposed constitutional changes that
will legalize the private ownership of land, RFE/RL's Bishkek
bureau reported. Those changes, which also include
restrictions on the powers of the parliament and guarantees
of media freedom, are to be put to a nationwide referendum
next month. Sultanov assured his audience that the current
five-year moratorium on the sale of land will remain in
effect and that 700,000 Kyrgyz citizens who have already
received plots of land free of charge will not be required to
pay for them. In addition, the country's main natural
resources will remain state property, he said. LF

LANGUAGE ISSUE ALSO TO BE PUT TO REFERENDUM?  The Bishkek
city administration announced on 21 September that the City
Assembly has appealed to the parliament to include a question
on the status of the Russian language in next month's
nationwide referendum, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported.
According to the 1989 law on the state language and the 1993
constitution,  Kyrgyz is the sole state language in
Kyrgyzstan. Some public organizations and politicians
(including President Akayev) have suggested giving Russian
the status of either second state language or a language of
interethnic communication. The parliament, however, has
rejected those proposals. Ethnic Russians account for some 14
percent of Kyrgyzstan's population. LF

ARMENIA CELEBRATES INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM ANNIVERSARY.
Armenia on 21 September marked the anniversary of the 1991
referendum in which participants voted overwhelmingly in
favor of secession from the USSR, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau
reported. The celebrations included the official opening of a
Victory Arch at the entry of the main military cemetery,
located in a Yerevan suburb where most victims of the war in
Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenia are laid to rest. In a
departure from previous years, there was no military parade.
LF

ARMENIAN PREMIER CONCLUDES LEBANON VISIT. Armen Darpinian
returned to Yerevan on 18 September following a three-day
official visit to Beirut, Armenian agencies reported.
Darpinian held meetings with President Elias Hrawi,
parliamentary speaker Nabih Berri and his Lebanese
counterpart, Rafik Hariri, who had visited Yerevan in May.
Both sides noted that cordial bilateral relations are not
paralleled by similarly strong trade and economic ties. As a
first step toward improving those ties, the two premiers
signed an agreement on avoiding dual taxation. Darpinian also
attended the opening of a business forum attended by
entrepreneurs from both Armenia and Lebanon. Hrawi extended
an invitation to Armenian President Robert Kocharian to visit
Lebanon. LF

TENSIONS WITHIN FORMER ARMENIAN RULING PARTY. Former deputy
parliamentary speaker Karapet Rubinian called on 18 September
for the resignation of Vano Siradeghian as chairman of the
former ruling Armenian Pan-National Movement (HHSh), RFE/RL's
Yerevan bureau reported. Rubinian argued that under
Siradeghian's chairmanship, the party has committed "mistake
after mistake" in recent months. He charged that Siradeghian
is an obstacle to the HHSh's regaining its leading position
in domestic politics. The HHSh's ruling board voted on 18
September to accept Rubinian's resignation from the  party.
It also voted to expel a second former deputy parliament
speaker, Ara Sahakian, who had criticized Siradeghian in an
interview with the daily newspaper "Aravot." Another
prominent HHSh member, former parliamentary speaker Babken
Ararktsian has been refusing to attend the board's meetings,
reportedly because of differences with the party leadership.
LF

END NOTE

"AND HOME THERE'S NO RETURNING"

by Liz Fuller

	For almost 40 years, the Meskhetians (an
ethnically mixed group comprising mostly Muslim Georgians and
some Kurds and Muslim Armenians, whose common identity was
largely forged in the course of deportation) have been
lobbying for permission to return to their ancestral villages
in southwestern Georgia, from where they were deported in
1944.
	The most recent attempt to secure such permission
failed. On 17 September, Georgian special police detachments
surrounded a hostel in Tbilisi, rounded up some 40 Meskhetian
men,  loaded them on to buses, and deported them  to the
Russian Federation. The men belonged to an 83-person
delegation that had traveled to the Georgian capital the
previous day to plead with the Georgian leadership for
permission to settle permanently in Georgia. The women
members of the delegation were left behind in Tbilisi.
Georgian Interior Minister Kakha Targamadze told journalists
that he had ordered the expulsion of the Meskhetians because,
he claimed, they are aligned with opposition supporters of
deceased President Zviad Gamsakhurdia.
	The deportation recalls the mass expulsion of the
Meskhetians from Georgia in November 1944 on Stalin's orders.
The rationale for that action was the need to clear a
strategically located region on the Soviet-Turkish frontier
of elements suspected of pro-Turkish sympathies so that
Soviet military operations could be extended into
northeastern Turkey. On 15 November 1944, the entire
Meskhetian population of several districts in southwestern
Georgia, totaling between 150,000 and 200,000 people,  were
loaded into rail cars and transported to Central Asia.
Thousands died en route, and thousands more in the harsh
conditions in which they were forced to live in exile.
	Following Nikita Khrushchev's  "Secret Speech" to
the 20th CPSU congress in 1956, which disclosed some, but by
no means all the evils committed during the Stalin era, the
restrictions imposed on most of the deported ethnic groups
were lifted. But unlike the Chechens, Ingush, Balkars, and
others whose exile Khrushchev had explicitly condemned, the
Meskhetians were not permitted to return to Georgia. Their
efforts to do so were hindered by the fact that in many
cases, their nationality had been arbitrarily changed to
"Turkish" in their internal passports. Consequently, some
were offered the chance to settle in Azerbaijan and accepted
on the assumption that it would prove easier to resettle in
Georgia from that neighboring republic. That assumption
quickly proved to be false.
	By the late 1960s, the Meskhetians had split into
two factions. One faction continued to push for the right to
return to Georgia, while the other launched a campaign for
the right to emigrate to Turkey. In the mid-1970s, the first
of those two factions enlisted the help and support of the
tiny Georgian dissident movement headed by Zviad
Gamsakhurdia, who at the time was a faculty member of Tbilisi
State University. Now represented by an informal association
called "Salvation," the faction eventually registered a
modest success in the early 1980s, when small-scale
repatriation to Georgia got under way,  presumably thanks to
the efforts of then Georgian Communist Party Central
Committee First Secretary Eduard Shevardnadze. That influx
petered out, however, in the late 1980s.
	A further catastrophe hit the Meskhetians in the
summer of 1989, when approximately 100 were killed in ethnic
clashes in Uzbekistan's Fergana valley. Some 4,500
Meskhetians were swiftly evacuated from Uzbekistan to the
Russian Federation, rather than Georgia. Since the collapse
of the USSR, Meskhetians in several cities in southern
Russia, especially Krasnodar, have been subjected to
systematic harassment by the local authorities, who refuse
either to acknowledge them as Russian citizens or to grant
them residence permits.
	Following his return to Georgia from Moscow in
1992, Eduard Shevardnadze at first argued against allowing
the Meskhetians to return to Georgia on the grounds that
social and economic collapse precluded creating adequate
conditions for their repatriation. But in December 1996,
Shevardnadze signed into law a state program whereby some
5,000 Meskhetians would be gradually repatriated to Georgia
by the year 2000. Some Georgian political figures objected to
the proposed repatriation on the grounds that the Meskhetians
considered themselves Turks, and would thus constitute a
"fifth column" and potential separatist movement. The
Georgians and Armenians who for the past 50  years have
inhabited the villages from which the Meskhetians were
originally deported in 1944 threatened to take up arms to
prevent their return.
	In the event, whether for political or financial
reasons, the1996 program was not systematically implemented.
One Georgian observer suggested that Shevardnadze would have
been committing political suicide if he had made provision
for the deported Meskhetians to return to Georgia before
reaching a settlement to the Abkhaz conflict that would
create secure conditions for those ethnic Georgians who fled
Abkhazia during the 1992-1993 war to return to their homes.
	The Meskhetians therefore renewed their lobbying
campaign, seeking support from, among others, OSCE High
Commissioner on National Minorities Max van der Stoel and the
Turkish government. Ankara has apparently agreed to allow
some of those Meskhetians who wished to settle in Turkey to
do so, on condition that the Georgian government expedite the
repatriation of those who prefer to settle in Georgia.

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