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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 184, Part I, 23 September 1998


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 184, Part I, 23 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 REARRANGES GOVERNMENT

* INDUSTRIAL LOBBY GAINS STRENGTH

* UN PERSONNEL ATTACKED, INJURED IN ABKHAZIA
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RUSSIA

YELTSIN REARRANGES GOVERNMENT. In his 22 September decree,
President Boris Yeltsin abolished three ministries, three
state committees, and two federal services and created five
new ministries, five new state committees, and two federal
services. That results in a net gain of two new ministries
and two new state committees. The new ministry for Anti-Trust
Policies and Support of Entrepreneurship will handle the work
of several old committees and federal services, including the
now defunct State Anti-Monopoly Committee. Yeltsin divided
the old Ministry for Regional and Ethnic Policy into two
separate ministries: the Ministry for Regional Affairs and
Ministry for Ethnic Policy. He also restored the Ministry for
CIS Affairs (abolished at the last CIS summit, in April) and
created a Ministry of Trade, eliminating the old Ministry of
Industry and Trade. The new state committees will deal with
land, youth affairs, fishing, construction, and
standardization and metrology. And in a move likely to
undermine the independence of the Central Bank and Academy of
Sciences, Yeltsin made their chairmen cabinet-level
officials. JAC

INDUSTRIAL, AGRICULTURAL LOBBY GAINS STRENGTH. "Kommersant-
Daily" on 22 September reported that representatives of
Russia's military-industrial complex have gained influence in
the Kremlin at the expense of the "oil and gas lobby" and the
"oligarchs." The newspaper cited Primakov's recent appearance
at a meeting of the Russian Union of Industrialists and
Entrepreneurs, where Primakov was presented with a proposal
for the government to provide "targeted loans for high-tech
exports." It  concluded that the interests of the agriculture
sector will also be well represented by Deputy Prime Minister
Gennadii Kulik. A member of the Agrarian faction, Kulik
"intends to lobby for maintaining agricultural output prices
at the same level as manufacturing." JAC

ZYUGANOV-LUZHKOV ALLIANCE EMERGING?  "Kommersant-Daily" on 22
September pointed out the sudden show of public warmth
between Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov and Moscow
Mayor Yurii Luzhkov and concluded that the pair have formed
an alliance of convenience to promote their mutual interests
in the State Duma. However, the partnership may last only
until presidential elections in 2000, when both men are
likely to run for president. Zyuganov told reporters on 19
September that Luzhkov had "adopted a stance in favor of
strengthening order in the country" during the crisis.
According to the newspaper,  Luzhkov on 21 September "stated
unambiguously that he really is headed in the same direction
as the Communists: 'It is not a question of a chance
situation occurring but of a consolidation for the sake of
implementing the important principles that we serve.'" JAC

FIGHTER PLANES TURNED INTO PLOWSHARES? Despite one of the
worst harvests in the last three decades, acting Minister of
Food and Agriculture Viktor Semenov told Interfax on 22
September that Russia will not import large quantities of
grain. He said grain imports will not exceed 3 million tons.
Semenov, however, does not rule out barter. The same day,
Interfax reported that Russia has offered Hungary between
five and eight MiG-29s in exchange for wheat. JAC

RUSSIAN AUDITOR MISQUOTED... Audit Chamber Deputy Chairman
Yurii Boldyrev told Ekho Moskvy on 22 September that his
agency has discovered that the Central Bank violated
regulations governing the financial institution, such as not
financing its expenses out of its profits. In addition,
Boldyrev claims that the bank spent large sums of money
intended for public purposes on "various centers and funds,"
which, in turn, paid their employees wages of $3000 to
$15,000 a month and negotiated "preposterous contracts" for
consulting services. Meanwhile, according to "Trud," Veniamin
Sokolov, chief auditor of the Audit Chamber, said his recent
interview with BBC was mistranslated and that he did not in
fact claim that the Central Bank had made inappropriate use
of the IMF credit (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 September 1998).
JAC

...AND WORLD BANK MISUNDERSTOOD? The Audit Chamber released
its report on the Russian government's use of World Bank
loans on 22 September. The chamber claimed, according to
Interfax, that the Russian government used $1.4 billion
extended to the government by the World Bank for economic
restructuring projects to finance federal spending and
servicing the foreign debt. The report concluded that "as a
result, the target economic indices were not reached--the
budget deficit has not decreased and GDP has not increased--
which were the main goals of the loans." However, the "Moscow
Times" of 23 September cited an economist familiar with the
bank's work as saying that the Audit Chamber misunderstood
the conditions of the bank's structural loans. The Finance
Ministry had discretion to use the Bank monies as it wished
and the so-called "target economic indices" are conditions of
IMF credits not World Bank loans, according to the economist.
JAC

GERASHCHENKO INSTALLS ANOTHER ALLY AT BANK. On 23 September,
"Kommersant-Daily" reported that Central Bank chairman Viktor
Gerashchenko has appointed Oleg Mozhaiskov, an associate from
his first tenure at the Central Bank during the Soviet era,
as deputy chairman. Mozhaiskov was deputy board chairman of
the International Moscow Bank, which Gerashchenko previously
headed. JAC

PURER VODKA MAY MEAN STRONGER GOVERNMENT. Contradicting an
earlier statement by his spokesman, First Deputy Prime
Minister Yurii Maslyukov said that a state monopoly on
tobacco and alcohol will be introduced and the money used for
pensioners and low-income families, ITAR-TASS reported on 22
September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 September 1998). Tax
inspectors in St. Petersburg told ITAR-TASS that tougher
control over alcohol production and trade added 82 million
rubles ($5 million) to excise duties in the first half of
1998. Russian Television reported that Prime Minister
Primakov signed a resolution for the formation of a working
commission for the implementation of a state monopoly on
alcohol as well as tobacco. In his book "A History of Vodka"
(London: Verso, 1992), Russian historian William Pokhlebkin
argued that over centuries, a direct correlation existed
between tight state control over vodka production and a
strong central authority in Moscow. JAC

NEMTSOV LANDS NEW JOB. On 22 September, President Yeltsin
appointed former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov to the
post of deputy chairman of the Local Self-Government Council,
which works with mayors of cities and towns. Nemtsov
explained he will work without pay because he wants to say
and do what he "deems necessary, regardless of bureaucratic
interests," according to ITAR-TASS. The next day,
"Komsomolskaya pravda" speculated that former Prime Minister
Sergei Kirienko has his eye on the post of president of
Transneft, which is currently occupied by Kirienko's old
colleague from Nizhnii Novgorod, Dmitrii Savelev. JAC

RUSSIAN UNEMPLOYMENT INCREASING. Russia's financial crisis is
already impacting on the labor market, according to
"Kommersant-Daily" on 22 September. The newspaper predicts
that between 500,000 and 1 million people across the country
will lose their jobs. The number of people applying to Moscow
employment services has grown by 30 percent, compared with
September 1997. The demand for specialists in Moscow has
fallen by 30-40 percent, and some 30,000 vacancies have been
cut. Most job openings in Moscow are for manual labor or
junior medical personnel, and 40 percent of those jobs pay no
more than 900 rubles. The newspaper predicts that over the
next few months, the number of registered unemployed in
Moscow may rise to 55,000, while the total number of
unemployed could be two or three times higher. LF

COMMUNISTS OUT OF TOUCH WITH WORKERS. According to a
resolution passed by the Communist Party's recent Central
Committee Plenum and published in "Sovetskaya Rossiya" on 22
September, labor protests are growing but the Communist Party
does not have firm control over the movement. The resolution
cites a '"fivefold increase" in the number of striking
enterprises since the beginning of 1998 but notes that many
Communist Party raion and city organizations have "little
influence" on local labor collectives. Also included in the
resolution is the Central Committee decree that the council
of the Communist Party's Duma faction should set up public
tribunals throughout the Russian Federation "to bring charges
against Boris Yeltsin for the acts he has committed against
the people." JAC

GUMILEV PUBLISHED IN FULL. "Noviye izvestiya" reported on 22
September that the complete works of Russian poet Nikolai
Gumilev will be published in Russia for the first time.
Accused of participating in an anti-Soviet conspiracy,
Gumilev was killed by a firing squad in 1921. JAC

PROTEST MARCH UNDER WAY IN DAGESTAN. Some 500 supporters of
Magomed Khachilaev, the head of the Kazi Kumukh organization
representing Dagestan's ethnic Lak minority,  have begun a
march on the capital, Makhachkala, to demand his release, AP
reported on 22 September. Magomed Khachilaev was arrested on
9 September in connection with his participation in the 21
May storming of the Dagestan government building. The Russian
Prosecutor-General's Office has issued an arrest warrant for
Khachilaev's younger brother, Nadirshakh, in connection with
that incident. In an interview published in "Kommersant-
Daily" on 22 September, Nadirshakh Khachilaev claimed that
the 18 September vote by the Russian State Duma to strip him
of his deputy's immunity was falsified.  Duma deputy speaker
Mikhail Gutseriev told "Moskovskie novosti" that he believes
the charges against the Khachilaev brothers are politically
motivated rather than part of a crackdown on crime, as the
Dagestani leadership has claimed. LF

KARACHAEVO-CHERKESS PARLIAMENT PASSES ELECTION LAW. The
parliament of the Republic of Karachaevo-Cherkessia enacted
legislation on 22 September providing for the direct election
of the head of that republic, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported.
A new session of the People's Assembly will be convened to
set the date for the poll. The current republican head,
Vladimir Khubiev, was appointed by Russian President Yeltsin
in 1995. Thousands of demonstrators had gathered in the
republican capital, Cherkessk, last week to demand the
passage of the election law (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18
September 1998).  The chairman of the Inter-National Council
of the Peoples of Karachaevo-Cherkessia, Boris Batchaev, told
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" that his organization will appeal to
President Yeltsin to impose presidential rule in the republic
during the runup to the elections. LF

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

UN PERSONNEL ATTACKED, INJURED IN ABKHAZIA. Gunmen opened
fire on a minibus carrying members of the UN observer force
in the Abkhaz capital, Sukhumi,  late on 21 September. Four
UN servicemen were injured, three of whom were evacuated to
Turkey for hospital treatment. Abkhaz President Vladislav
Ardzinba condemned the shooting, which he blamed on Georgia,
as intended to destabilize the region. He also imposed a
night-time curfew throughout Abkhazia, according to ITAR-
TASS. The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement
condemning the attack, which it said "once again proves the
need for resolute action on the part of the Georgian and
Abkhaz authorities to normalize the situation." While both UN
personnel and Russian peacekeepers have been attacked in the
vicinity of the border between Abkhazia and the rest of
Georgia, this is the first attack on UN personnel in Sukhumi,
which, located some 50 km from the border, is outside the
normal sphere of operation of Georgian guerrilla
organizations. LF

ABKHAZ PREMIER IN TBILISI. Sergei Bagapsh was in Tbilisi on
22 September to attend a session of the Coordinating
Commission created last November under UN auspices to deal
with Abkhaz economic issues, Caucasus Press reported. Bagapsh
told journalists before leaving Sukhumi that the talks will
focus on resuming rail transport between Georgia and
Abkhazia, natural gas supplies, and repairs to the Inguri
hydroelectric power station, according to ITAR-TASS. Bagapsh
also held separate talks with Minister of State Vazha
Lortkipanidze and with Georgian President Eduard
Shevardnadze, who expressed his willingness to travel to
Sukhumi for direct talks with Ardzinba. Ardzinba had proposed
such a meeting in a letter to Shevardnadze. In the same
letter, he also expressed concern about reports that Tbilisi
is preparing new terrorist acts in Abkhazia's Gali Raion on
30 September. LF

ADJAR LEADER ON DJAVAKHK. Speaking on Adjar Television,
Supreme Council chairman Aslan Abashidze said he has held
talks with representatives of Djavakhk, the organization that
is lobbying for autonomy for several predominantly Armenian-
populated districts in southwestern Georgia,  "Nezavisimaya
gazeta" reported on 23 September. Abashidze said the
Armenians have proposed that the districts be subsumed into
neighboring Adjaria, which has autonomous status within
Georgia. Abashidze said that he does not consider that
proposal "separatist." Caucasus Press on 7 September had
quoted Abashidze as denying having invited Djavakhk's leaders
to Adjaria or being aligned with them. LF

DETAINED AZERBAIJANI DEMONSTRATORS RELEASED. Following a
meeting on 22 September between Azerbaijani Prosecutor-
General Eldar Huseinov and members of the opposition Movement
for Democratic Elections and Electoral Reform, the
Azerbaijani authorities released 28 of the 63 people detained
during the 12 September clashes between police and
demonstrators in Baku. The criminal charges against those
released remain in place, however. Former Premier Panah
Huseinov, one of those released, confirmed opposition claims
that some of the detainees had been tortured, but he denied
that he personally had been beaten, according to Turan. LF

FORMER KAZAKH PREMIER'S AIDE RELEASED. Akezhan Kazhegeldin's
aide,  Mikhail Vasilienko, who was detained in Astana by
Kazakh security officials on 18 September, has been released
after being tried and sentenced on charges of hooliganism
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 September 1998), RFE/RL's Almaty
bureau reported on 23 September. Vasilienko had planned to
submit to the Kazakh leadership four volumes of proposals
drafted by the Businessmen's Association on amending the
country's electoral legislation and constitution. LF

KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT TO DISCUSS REFERENDUM. Parliamentary
speaker  Abdygany Erkebayev told journalists in Bishkek on 22
September that lawmakers plan to debate the proposed
referendum on changes in the parliament's structure and
powers at the fall session, which begins on 29 September,
RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Erkebayev said he learned
of the planned referendum from the media and that neither
President Askar Akayev, who announced the referendum on 1
September, nor any member of the presidential staff has
discussed with him the implications of the proposed changes.
Those changes would increase the number of deputies in the
Legislative Assembly from 35 to 67,  of whom 15 are to be
elected on party lists. The number of seats in the People's
Assembly would be cut from 70 to 38. In addition, the
conditions under which deputies can be granted immunity from
prosecution will be limited. LF

UN CONDEMNS TAJIK MURDER. The UN mission in Tajikistan on 22
September issued a statement deploring the murder earlier
that day of prominent oppositionist Otakhon Latifi and
calling upon both the Tajik government and the opposition to
abide by their commitment to the peace process, Interfax
reported. Both the government and opposition have condemned
the killing as "a stab in the back" to the peace process and
as intended to create the impression of instability in the
country. The Aga Khan, who is currently visiting Dushanbe,
expressed his condolences to United Tajik Opposition leader
Said Abdullo Nuri. The two men discussed programs aimed at
improving the economic situation in the country and the
ongoing repatriation of Tajik refugees from Afghanistan,
according to ITAR-TASS.  LF

RETURN OF TAJIK OPPOSITION FIGHTERS HALTED.  The repatriation
from Afghanistan to Tajikistan of the last contingent of
Tajik opposition fighters, which began on 21 September,  was
suspended almost immediately, Russian agencies reported. Some
150-200 men, together with 50 or so refugees, are believed to
comprise that contingent. Interfax reported that a 20 kg bomb
was found on the barge that was to transport the returnees
across the Pyandj River, which marks the border between the
two countries. LF

UZBEK DEFENSE MINISTER WARNS OF AFGHAN THREAT. Echoing
alarmist statements by President Islam Karimov,  Khikmatulla
Tursunov on 22 September characterized Afghanistan as a
center of international terrorism, religious extremism, and
worldwide drug-trafficking. Developments in that country, he
said, threaten "to spiral out of control" and threaten
neighboring states. Therefore, Tursunov continued, Uzbekistan
must take effective measures to increase its defense capacity
and safeguard its national security. Tursunov was speaking at
the opening of the Centrazbat-98 international military
maneuvers at a military base near Tashkent. A total of 1,443
military personnel from the U.S., Russia, Turkey, Georgia,
Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan will take
part in those maneuvers within the framework of the NATO
Partnership for Peace program. LF

WORLD BANK TO CONTRIBUTE TO UZBEK HEALTH, ENVIRONMENT
PROJECTS. The World Bank has approved a $30 million loan to
Uzbekistan to fund improvements in the country's health
service, dpa reported on 22 September. The Uzbek government
will provide the remaining funding for the project, which
focuses on Fergana, Navoi, and Syr-Darya Oblasts. Meeting in
Tashkent on 21 September with President Karimov, World Bank
Vice President Johannes Linn discussed the bank's
contribution to programs to reverse the shrinking of the Aral
Sea. The World Bank provided $11 million toward that program
earlier this year. LF

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