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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 187, Part I, 28 September 1998


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 187, Part I, 28 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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Note to readers: We regret that owing to staffing problems,
this issue of "RFE/RL Newsline" covers developments in the
Transcaucasus and Central Asia only until 16:00 CET on 26
September.
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Headlines, Part I

* SHOKHIN, VASILIEV RESIGN

* NEXT IMF TRANCHE FACES LONG DELAY

* POLITICAL CRISIS IN TAJIKISTAN
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RUSSIA

SHOKHIN, VASILIEV RESIGN. No sooner than some cabinet spots
were filled on 25 September than new vacancies emerged. Angry
that Finance Minister Mikhail Zadornov was reappointed,
Aleksandr Shokhin and Dmitrii Vasiliev both resigned from
their respective posts as deputy prime minister with
responsibility for finance and head of the Federal Securities
Commission. In 1994, Shokhin also resigned from government
over the appointment of another finance minister, Vladimir
Panskov, although Shokhin more recently touted Panskov as a
possible replacement for Zadornov. Shokhin told NTV that
Zadornov's appointment means that Yevgenii Primakov's
government is "prepared to inherit the decisions taken by the
previous cabinet and Central Bank," which he considered a
"political mistake." Both Prime Minister Primakov and State
Duma chairman Gennadii Seleznev condemned Shokhin's
resignation after less than 10 days in office as "capricious"
and irresponsible, given the country's acute crisis. JAC

SHOKHIN'S DEPARTURE MAY MEAN FEDOROV STAYS. "Moscow Times"
reported on 26 September that in addition to being former
first deputy minister of economics, newly appointed Minister
of the Economy Andrei Shapovalyants was a former top official
at Gosplan. He has served in the Ministry of Economy in every
government since 1991. New Minister of Science and Technology
Mikhail Kirpichnikov is a biologist by training and has also
served as an official either in one of the ministries or in
the government's apparatus since 1991. Several cabinet slots
still lack confirmed ministers, such as the Ministries for
Anti-Monopoly Policy, State Property, Health,  Agriculture,
and Labor. "Kommersant-Daily" speculated on 26 September that
Shokhin's departure from the government may boost acting head
of Federal Tax Service Boris Fedorov's chances of being
reappointed. The newspaper hinted that Fedorov's
reappointment would ensure fireworks between Fedorov and
First Deputy Prime Minster Yurii Maslyukov and Central Bank
Chairman Viktor Gerashchenko. JAC

NEXT IMF TRANCHE FACES LONG DELAY. Despite entreaties from
then deputy prime minister Shokhin to conclude an agreement,
IMF officials on 25 September offered only to return again to
continue talks on 12 October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25
September 1998).  The fund also issued a statement that "the
economic situation in Russia is critical and must be
resolutely addressed" and that the fund will consider the
timing and size of new disbursement only when a program has
been agreed upon. According to Interfax, Alexei Mozhin, IMF
executive director for Russia said that fund and Russian
officials will reach an agreement on budget and monetary
targets toward the end of October. Shokhin was more
pessimistic, telling Interfax after he resigned that it will
be very difficult for Russia to obtain its next disbursement
from the fund before the end of 1998 or maybe even during
next year. JAC

ARMY BATTLES ITSELF. In response to a recent rash of violent
incidents with Russian soldiers killing other soldiers,
"Trud" reported on 25 September that the army has drafted
resolutions requiring commanders to respect  psychologists'
recommendations regarding specific servicemen and assigning a
military psychologist to advise draft commissions.
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported that crimes in the armed
forces for the first eight months of 1998 alone are up 12
percent compared with the total number of crimes registered
for the whole of 1997. At the head of the list is the
Strategic Missile Troops followed by the Navy. As a
consequence of the deterioration of discipline among troops,
the newspaper concluded that the Russian army is "not
battleworthy, with the exception of the fully-staffed elite
units." According to "Segodnya" on 24 September, this fall's
draft will still take place but will number 30,000 less than
the previous year (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25  September
1998). JAC

VOTERS TO TRY AGAIN IN VLADIVOSTOK... ITAR-TASS reported on
28 September that although more than the required percentage
of eligible voters cast their ballots in the mayoral election
in Vladivostok, the election is likely to be declared invalid
because half of the voters voted against all candidates.
Polls suggested that about 50 percent of the electorate had
planned to vote for incumbent Mayor Viktor Cherepkov, who had
been barred from running at the last minute.  A local court
had barred him from running again because he used state money
to finance his election campaign (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25
September 1998). Reuters reported that by election day, some
polling stations had crossed Cherepkov's name from the
ballot, while others had not. A city election official said a
date for new mayoral elections will be announced shortly. JAC

...AND NIZHNII NOVGOROD. Meanwhile in Nizhnii Novgorod, ITAR-
TASS reported on 28 September that none of the 10 candidates
won more than half of the vote in mayoral elections. A second
round has been scheduled for 11 October and will include
Yurii Lebedev, former presidential representative to the
city, Dmitrii Bednyakov, former mayor of Nizhnii Novgorod,
and Vladimir Semago, Duma deputy and former member of the
Communist Party. According to preliminary data, Lebedev lead
other candidates with 33.5 percent of the vote, compared with
25 percent for Bednyakov and 22 percent for Semago. JAC

ABDULATIPOV OUTLINES PRIORITIES.  Ramazan Abdulatipov, who
was appointed minister for nationalities on 25 September,
told ITAR-TASS the same day that ethnic factors lie behind
only 10 percent of the conflicts in the North Caucasus while
the remainder result from political and economic rivalries.
He said that Russia's nationalities policy should not
juxtapose Russians and other ethnic groups but "provide
equally for all the nations of the Russian Federation."  He
advocated adopting a formal convention outlawing ethnic
discrimination. Abdulatipov told Interfax his ministry will
focus specifically on nationality issues. adding that for
that reason his jurisdiction does not extend to relations
with Chechnya. Discussing what he termed the "very difficult"
situation in his native Dagestan, he warned that "the
practice of selecting regional leaders based on their loyalty
to Moscow is wrong." LF

CADRE SHAKE-UP AT FOREIGN MINISTRY? Interfax reported on 25
September that upper-level staff of the Russian Foreign
Ministry will soon be reshuffled. Deputy Foreign Minister
Georgii Mamedov will likely be reassigned to Washington,
while Russian Ambassador to the U.S.  Yulii Vorontsov may be
replaced, according to Vladimir Lukin, head of the Duma's
Committee on Foreign Relations. Another deputy foreign
minister, Nikolai Afanasyevskii, is expected to replace
Russia's current ambassador to France, Yurii Ryzhkov. On 24
September, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov met with his fellow
foreign ministers from G-7 countries in New York and
reaffirmed that Russia will continue to pursue economic
reforms and honor its foreign debts. JAC

ZHIRINOVSKY TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT. Liberal Democratic Party
leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky reaffirmed his intention to run
for president in the 2000 elections. He said "voters will
have to choose between himself and [Moscow Mayor Yurii]
Luzhkov." He added that Krasnoyarsk Governor Aleksandr Lebed
is "a dictator" and pointed out that only 7 percent of the
population supports former Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin, while leader of the Communist Party Gennadii
Zyuganov will "not be allowed to take power." Meanwhile,
Galina Starovoitova, leader of the Democratic Russia Party,
declared her intention to run for the governor's seat of
Leningrad Oblast, according to "Kommersant Daily" on 25
September. Earlier, Zhirinovsky declared his intention to run
for that office, and Starovoitova said keeping Zhirinovsky
from gaining office has compelled her to run (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 24 September 1998). JAC

LUZHKOV, NEMTSOV CONDEMN REGIONAL SEPARATISM. Both Moscow
Mayor Yurii Luzhkov and former Deputy Prime Minister Boris
Nemtsov have voiced their concerns about the possible
disintegration of the Russian Federation and suggested
possible remedies, according to Interfax on 25 September.
Luzhkov urged federal authorities to create a unified tax
system and to subsidize selected regions so that living
standards for state workers, pensioners and the poor are the
same throughout the country. Earlier, Luzhkov had proposed
that the number of regions be reduced through consolidation
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 September 1998). Nemtsov suggested
that "a movement of locally-elected councils might reunite
the nation." He added that governors who close their borders
and refuse to remit taxes should be "brought to trial for
violating the Russian Constitution and Criminal Code." JAC

CHESS TOURNAMENT OPENS IN KALMYKIA. An international chess
tournament began on 26 September in the republic of Kalmykia.
Human rights activists had urged players to boycott the games
because of Kalymkian President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov's alleged
abuses of human rights and diversion of federal monies
earmarked for agricultural and industrial programs to fund
the chess tournament in what Ilyumzhinov promised would be
high style. "Kommersant-Daily" disclosed on 16 September that
when Ilyumzhinov had difficulty raising money to finish
preparations for the Chess Tournament, Moscow Mayor Luzhkov
sent his wife's brother, who happens to be a construction
firm executive, to finish the project. In return for the
favor, Luzhkov will reportedly receive shares in two oil
projects. JAC

NEWSPAPER WANTS YELTSIN EXAMINED. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 25
September ran an article by an "expert psychiatrist" and
chairman of the board of the political Human Rights Party
suggesting that President Boris Yeltsin may be displaying
some first signs of a particular kind of Alzheimer's disease.
The author proposed that the Constitutional Court call for a
comprehensive psychiatric examination to determine the
Yeltsin's fitness for office. He also claimed that the
president's pauses during conversations are
"psychopathological in nature" and occur because "he cannot
immediately follow a shift in conversation." "Nezavisimaya
gazeta" receives financial backing from Boris Berezovskii's
LogoVAZ group. JAC

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

POLITICAL CRISIS IN TAJIKISTAN. Meeting on 25 September,
leading representatives of the United Tajik Opposition
announced they are suspending their participation in the
government and their cooperation with the National
Reconciliation Commission pending the arrest of the killers
of prominent opposition figure Otakhon Latifi, Reuters and
ITAR-TASS reported. Latifi was shot dead leaving his home in
Dushanbe on 22 September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 September
1998). An opposition statement released on 26 September
accused unnamed members of the Tajik government of crimes
ranging from murder to drug-trafficking. Also on 26
September, President Imomali Rakhmonov met with opposition
leader Said Abdullo Nuri in a bid to prevent the peace
process from collapsing, ITAR-TASS reported. LF

KYRGYZSTAN'S ACCESSION TO WTO POSTPONED.  Kyrgyzstan's
acceptance into membership of the World Trade Organization,
which was scheduled to take place at a meeting in Geneva on
24 September, has been postponed until next month, RFE/RL's
Bishkek bureau reported citing an unnamed Ministry of Trade
official. Kyrgyzstan will still, however, be the first former
Soviet republic to join the WTO. "Vremya-MN" on 24 September
observed that in joining the WTO Kyrgyzstan is violating one
of the fundamental principles of the five-nation CIS Customs
Union, of which it is also a member. In Baku, Elcin Nadirov,
head of the Ministry of Trade secretariat, said that a
decision on Azerbaijan's entry into the WTO will be made in
late 1999, Caucasus Press reported on 26 September. LF

ARMENIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT REJECTS CHALLENGE TO PRESIDENT.
The Armenian Constitutional Court on 26 September declined to
rule that President Robert Kocharian's failure to convene an
emergency parliament session violates the constitution,
RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Parliamentary deputies had
demanded an emergency session in June to debate the sale of
the Yerevan cognac factory to France's Pernod-Ricard group
for $30 million, arguing that the price was too low. The
Armenian Constitution rules that the president must comply
with such a request, but it does not specify the time frame
within which he must do so. Seventy-one deputies had appealed
earlier this month to the Constitutional Court to censure
Kocharian (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 and 16 September 1998).
But court chairman Gagik Harutunian said on 26 September that
"the court has no authority...to resolve constitutional
disputes between various branches of government." LF

ARMENIAN PRESIDENT BLAMES AZERBAIJAN FOR PEACE TALKS
DEADLOCK. Addressing the UN General Assembly on 25 September,
Robert Kocharian blamed the deadlock in the Karabakh peace
process on Azerbaijan's refusal to engage in direct talks
with representatives of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh
Republic, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Kocharian again
called for a settlement to the conflict that would preclude
Karabakh's subordination to Baku and provide it with
international guarantees of its future status and a land
corridor linking the enclave with Armenia. Kocharian also
said that Turkey and Azerbaijan constitute a "serious
obstacle" to Armenia's integration into the world economy and
its participation in regional economic initiatives. In Baku,
Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Tofik Zulfugarov told
journalists on 25 September that Armenia is trying to prolong
the peace process indefinitely, rather than achieve a
settlement, according to Reuters. Armenian presidential
foreign policy adviser Aram Sarkisian rejected that charge,
accusing Azerbaijan of violating the confidentiality of the
peace talks. LF

AZERBAIJAN EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER ARMENIAN-RUSSIAN MANEUVERS.
Azerbaijani presidential adviser Vafa Gulu-zade said on 25
September that Russian-Armenian maneuvers that began the
previous day "cause on the whole legitimate concern" insofar
as they "enhance the military capacity of Armenia, with which
Azerbaijan is practically at war," ITAR-TASS reported. Gulu-
zade also expressed concern that Russia, which is one of the
three co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group attempting to mediate
a settlement of the Karabakh conflict, has become what he
termed "a military ally" of Armenia. But Armenian Defense
Minister Vazgen Sargsian and Lieutenant-General Vladimir
Andreev, who headed the Russian contingent participating in
the maneuvers, told Interfax on 25 September that such
apprehensions are unfounded, given that the exercises do not
have "any hidden intent."  LF

AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT REJECTS TALKS WITH OPPOSITION. Meeting
with voters in Baku on 24 September, Heidar Aliev rejected a
proposal to postpone the presidential poll scheduled for 11
October, according to RFE/RL correspondents in the
Azerbaijani capital. The proposal was signed by 10 leading
members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Elections
and Electoral Reform, including those opposition candidates
who have declared their intention to boycott the poll. LF

GEORGIAN MINISTER OF STATE VISITS YEREVAN. Vazha
Lortkipanidze and his Armenian counterpart, Armen Darpinian,
signed several economic agreements on 26 September following
two days of talks in Yerevan,  RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau
reported. Darpinian told journalists that those talks signal
the beginning of "a new phase" in bilateral relations. One of
the accords calls for the protection of property rights of
Georgian and Armenian citizens engaged in business activities
in the other country. The two premiers also reached an
agreement on dealing with mutual debts between Armenian and
Georgian enterprises. But they expressed dissatisfaction with
the current volume of bilateral trade, which totaled a mere
$16 million in the first eight months of this  year. They
also underscored the importance of joint participation in
regional initiatives such as the TRACECA transport corridor.
LF

DISPLACED PERSONS AGAIN PREVENTED FROM CONVENING CONGRESS.
The Georgian fugitives from Abkhazia who were barred by
police from holding a congress in the Philharmonic building
in Tbilisi on 23 September finally managed to convene that
meeting on other premises two days later, Caucasus Press
reported on 25 September. But the gathering was halted after
15 minutes when the electricity supply to the building
failed. Congress organizer Boris Kakubava again demanded that
the displaced persons be permitted to convene in the
Philharmonic building, pointing out that they  had paid in
advance for use of that building. LF

GEORGIAN COMMUNIST PARTY REFUSED REGISTRATION FOR LOCAL
ELECTIONS. Retired General Panteleimon Giorgadze, chairman of
the United Georgian Communist Party, told Interfax on 25
September that his party has been refused permission to
contend the 15 November local elections. He said the Central
Electoral Commission informed him that a political party that
calls for the reinstatement of the USSR does not have the
right to participate in those elections. Giorgadze said he
will appeal the commission's ruling in the Constitutional
Court. LF

EPIDEMIC IN EASTERN KAZAKHSTAN. Some 228 inhabitants of the
town of Zyriyanovsk, including 90 children, have been
hospitalized with an as yet undiagnosed intestinal infection,
RFE/RL correspondents in the region reported on 25 September.
Experts from the Kazakh State Committee on Extraordinary
Situations and State Sanitary Control Agency are
investigating the outbreak. LF

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