I wanted to change the world. But I have found that the only thing one can be sure of changing is oneself. - Aldous Huxley
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 188, Part I, 29 September 1998


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 188, Part I, 29 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

* CABINET FORMATION INCHES FORWARD

* KOHL'S DEFEAT TO MEAN FEWER D-MARKS FOR RUSSIA

* TAJIK OPPOSITION TO RESUME COOPERATION WITH GOVERNMENT
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RUSSIA

CABINET FORMATION INCHES FORWARD... Russian President Boris
Yeltsin both emptied and filled a few more cabinet spots on
28 September, reappointing  acting Minster for State Property
Farit Gazizullin while firing acting head of the Federal Tax
Service Boris Fedorov and acting Deputy Prime Minister Viktor
Khristenko. Reuters reported on 29 September Deputy Prime
Minister Yurii Maslyukov has already introduced State Duma
deputy Georgii Boos to tax service workers as their new boss,
despite the fact that the White House has made no official
announcement. ITAR-TASS reported on 28 September that Deputy
Prime Minister Vadim Gustov told reporters that Deputy
Governor of Leningrad Oblast Valerii Kirpichnikov will be
appointed minister for regional policy. JAC

...AS MINISTERS LOBBY FOR THEIR PALS. "Tribuna" on 29
September characterized the Primakov cabinet as "chaotic" and
the formation of an emergency economic program as dangerously
delayed. The newspaper concluded that part of the reason why
the administration is dysfunctional is because certain
cabinet officials, such as Deputy Prime Minister Maslyukov
and former Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Shokhin, who
resigned last week, have been spending most of their time
lobbying for jobs for their friends and "torpedoing"
positions for their enemies. Maslyukov reportedly tried to
get former Deputy Finance Minister Andrei Vavilov appointed
as the new finance minister. Then he tried to arrange that
his favored candidates be appointed to the posts of
Rosvooruzheniye head and deputy minister of trade. Shokhin,
meanwhile, had Georgii Gabuniya appointed minister of trade
and Andrei Shapovalyants minister of economy. "Tribuna"  is
financed by Gazprom. JAC

VASILIEV EXPLAINS RESIGNATION. Former head of the Federal
Securities Commission Dmitrii Vasiliev has explained his
reasons for offering his resignation (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
28 September 1998). He told reporters on 28 September that he
wanted to draw public attention to errors in the way the
Primakov government is handling the country's economic crisis
and "making financial and political catastrophe inevitable."
According to Vasiliev, the government's biggest mistake is
not reversing its decision of 17 August to default on short-
term treasury bonds. He also criticized Central Bank policy,
saying that the bank has made no effort to distinguish
between viable and problem banks. He added that multiple
exchange rates will scare away both foreign and domestic
investors. "Moscow Times" reported on 29 September that
Western traders reacted to news of Vasiliev's departure with
sadness and credited him with maintaining a strong defense of
shareholders' rights. "Moscow Times" is owned by Independent
Media, which is owned by Menatep. JAC

NDR TO MOVE INTO OPPOSITION? "Izvestiya" on 29 September
predicted that the return of Aleksandr Shokhin to the
leadership of Duma faction of Our Home is Russia (NDR) will
trigger the party's move into firm opposition to the Primakov
government. The newspaper also speculated that former Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's plan to run for president in
2000 will "oblige him to drift toward radical criticism of
Primakov's cabinet." Otherwise, the newspaper concluded, "the
movement will not survive the 1999 parliamentary election and
overcome the 5 percent threshold." LUKoil and Oneksimbank are
major investors in "Izvestiya." JAC

SOLDIERS ALLOTTED BACK PAY.  Prime Minister Primakov told
President Yeltsin on 28 September that two months' back wages
have been paid to servicemen, according to presidential
spokesman Dmitrii Yakushin. The money may have come just in
the nick of time. Citing Federal Security Service sources,
"Segodnya" reported on 26 September that officers in the
130th Far Eastern Division were prepared to block the
TranSiberian railroad with their tanks if their back wages
were not paid. "Segodnya" also said that certain troops, such
as the OMON, the Special Rapid-Reaction Detachment, and
border guards, have already been paid, creating resentment
among other servicemen. ."Segodnya" is owned by Vladimir
Gusinskii's Media-Most Group. JAC

KOHL'S DEFEAT TO MEAN FEWER D-MARKS FOR RUSSIA... Russian
analysts told Interfax on 28 September that the  victory of
the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the German election will
likely mean less financial support for Russia. Igor Bunin,
head of Russia's Political Technology Center explained that
the SDP rose to power "without making any commitments to
Russia, which will allow it to be more demanding as far as
Russia's debt to Germany is concerned." Vyacheslav Nikonov,
head of the Politics Foundation, said that "Russian should
not count on getting loans over the phone, as it did during
the period of friendship between Yeltsin and [German
Chancellor Helmut] Kohl." Communist Party Leader Gennadii
Zyuganov hailed the SDP victory but added that the only loans
that new German leadership will extend to Russia will be ones
tied to specific programs and industries.  JAC

...AND LESS WARMTH BETWEEN LEADERS. Both Bunin and
"Izvestiya" predicted that a subtle cooling in relations
between the two countries will occur. According to
"Izvestiya" on 29 September, President Yeltsin made no secret
of his support for Kohl during a trip to Bonn in June 1998
and did not adopt a balanced enough approach to the SDP and
Chancellor-elect Gerhard Schroeder before the elections,
which, according to the newspaper, Schroeder has not
forgotten. However, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said that
contacts with the SDP were "not interrupted even at a time
when German Social Democrats were in the opposition." He
added that Yeltsin and Schroeder met on several occasions,
including in Bonn during June. JAC

LUZHKOV WOULD GAIN FROM CONSOLIDATION. "Kommersant-Daily"
reported on 26 September that Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov
would gain the most from the current plan under discussion to
reduce the number of Russia's regions through consolidation.
According to the daily, Russia's 89 regions would be
consolidated into 23 provinces, and the mayor of Moscow would
head a grouping of the nation's most important economic
centers, including the Moscow, Tver, Yaroslavl, Kostroma,
Ivanovo, Vladimir, Ryazan, Tula, Kaluga, Bryansk and Smolensk
Oblasts. Primorskii Krai Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko would
also benefit, gaining control over  Amur, Sakhalin, and Chita
Oblasts, Khabarovsk Krai, as well as the Jewish and Aga
Buryat Autonomous Oblasts. The sources of financing for
"Kommersant-Daily" are not known. JAC

MORE EXPLOSIVE REVELATIONS IN MAYORAL RACE. More campaign
"irregularities" have been reported in Vladivostok. ITAR-TASS
on 29 September disclosed that the car belonging to campaign
manager for one of the mayoral candidates, Vladimir Maksunov,
was exploded by a hand-made bomb. Maksunov was not a front-
runner, but, according to one of his staffers, other
candidates considered him a nuisance for diverting votes that
they needed. JAC

COMMUNISTS DEMAND MEDIA SHAKE-UP... Communist Party leader
Zyuganov on 28 September told reporters that while the
Communist Party does not require that state television be
"nationalized," it must improve its compliance with the
nation's media law. Zyuganov added that his party will
continue to push for the establishment of supervisory boards
in the mass media. On 26 September, Zyuganov told a press
conference that his party will demand that the leadership of
All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company be
replaced. However, Mikhail Seslavinskii, chairman of the
Federal Television and Radio Broadcasting Service, said that
he will not allow dismissals for political reasons. JAC

...WHILE FORMER TV HEAD PREDICTS STRUGGLE. In an interview
with "Novaya gazeta" on 28 September, Igor Malashenko, the
former head of NTV, said that in the last few years, Russian
government officials seemed to recognize the media's right to
an unprecedented degree of autonomy. But he added that now
"we have to start all over again" because people have come
into power who continue to observe "habits of the old
system." During Prime Minister Primakov's first days in
office, reporters complained that their access to
administration officials was being severely curtailed (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 21 September 1998). Vladimir Gusinskii's
Media-Most Group is said to be a financial backer of "Novaya
gazeta." JAC

RUSSIAN ECONOMY SLIPS TO BOTTOM OF CIS RANKINGS. The CIS
Interstate Statistical Committee reported that during the
first eight months of the year, the Russian economy performed
worse than that of any other CIS nations, according to
Interfax on 28 September. From January to August, according
to the Committee, Russian GDP fell by 2.1 percent and
industrial output slipped 2.6 percent compared with gains in
GDP of 0.2 percent in Ukraine and 9.2 percent in Azerbaijan.
The committee seems to be relying on the CIS nations' own
economic reporting, since GDP in Belarus is recorded as
having risen an unbelievable 11 percent, while "economic
tiger" Tajikistan registered a 6.5 percent growth in GDP. JAC

CHECHEN PRESIDENT DENOUNCES PREDECESSOR. Addressing local
administrators, religious leaders, and field commanders in
Grozny on 28 September, Aslan Maskhadov accused former acting
President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev of promoting Wahhabism in
Chechnya, cooperating with the intelligence services of
unnamed Middle Eastern countries, and inciting the population
of Chechnya to acts of disobedience, ITAR-TASS reported. In
July, Yandarbiev had appeared before the Chechen
Constitutional Court to offer to swear on the Koran that he
played no role in the 23 July assassination attempt against
Maskhadov (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 July 1998). Maskhadov
also pledged to intensify the struggle against crime and in
particular abductions, for which he advocated the death
penalty. LF

MOSCOW EXPRESSES SUPPORT FOR MASKHADOV. Former Russian
Security Council secretary Ivan Rybkin, who co-chairs the
Russian-Chechen negotiating commission, similarly told ITAR-
TASS on 28 September that Yandarbiev, together with
"extremist Islamic circles" in the Middle East, is backing
the three Chechen field commanders who on 23 September
demanded that the Chechen parliament launch impeachment
proceedings against Maskhadov (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24
September 1998). Rybkin described Maskhadov as "the
legitimately elected president of Chechnya and the guarantor
of stability in the region." He also  proposed a meeting
between Maskhadov and Russian Prime Minister Primakov.
Vladimir Zorin, who chairs the Duma's Committee on
Nationality Affairs, told Interfax on 28 September that the
stalemate in talks between Moscow and Grozny risks
strengthening hardliners in Grozny and further weakening
Maskhadov's position. Oleg Sysuev, deputy head of the
presidential staff, said that Russia should act more
energetically to resolve social problems in Chechnya in order
to bolster Maskhadov's position. LF

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

TAJIK OPPOSITION TO RESUME COOPERATION WITH GOVERNMENT.
Agreement was reached on 28 September at a nine-hour meeting
between President Imomali Rakhmonov, United Tajik Opposition
leader Said Abdullo Nuri, and all members of the National
Reconciliation Commission representing both camps that the
opposition will resume its work in the government and the
commission, Russian agencies reported. The opposition had
suspended their participation on 26 September pending the
arrest of the killers of prominent opposition figure Otakhon
Latifi. Rakhmonov and Nuri signed a 10-point program of
measures intended to stabilize the situation in the country.
Those measures include creating a government-opposition
commission to investigate Latifi's murder and expediting the
reform of the cabinet that will provide opposition
representatives with 30 percent of government posts. LF

INDEPENDENT KAZAKH NEWSPAPER PREMISES BOMBED. The offices in
Almaty of the independent Russian-language newspaper "21-iy
vek" were destroyed  on 26 September by two bombs, RFE/RL 's
Almaty bureau reported. The newspaper has regularly printed
materials criticizing the Kazakh leadership. Recently,
publishing houses have refused to print it. Editor Bigeldy
Gabdullin told RFE/RL on 29 September that police have sealed
off the burned-out premises and refused him and his staff
entry. LF

KYRGYZ OPPOSITION CALLS FOR CANCELLATION OF PLANNED
REFERENDUM. Meeting in Bishkek on 28 September, the leaders
of the Communist, Socialist, Agrarian, and Democratic Parties
called on President Askar Akaev to cancel next month's
planned referendum on proposed constitutional amendments and
private land ownership, Interfax reported. They reasoned that
given the acute economic situation, Akaev should instead
concentrate on social and economic issues. The opposition
leaders also appealed to Akaev to dismiss the present
government and to halt what they termed the cabinet's
persecution and discrediting of parliament deputies. During a
roundtable discussion broadcast by an independent Bishkek
television station on 26 September, Central Electoral
Commission chairman Sultan Imanbaev said that Akaev decided
to put the planned changes to a referendum because the
parliament would have rejected those amendments curtailing
its own powers, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. LF

AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION CONVENES MARCH IN BAKU.  Azerbaijani
opposition supporters marched in Baku on 27 September to
demand the postponement of the 11 October presidential poll,
Russian agencies reported. Earlier, they had reached a
compromise agreement with Baku Mayor Rafael Allakhverdiev
over the route of the march. The participants also demanded a
meeting with incumbent President Heidar Aliev, parliamentary
chairman Murtuz Alesqerov, and Constitutional Court chairman
Khanlar Gadjiev to discuss their election-related demands.
The organizers estimated the number of marchers at 100,000,
while the Azerbaijani Interior Ministry said they numbered
only 4,000. Police escorted the marchers but took no action
against them. Meeting with voters in Sumgait on 26 September,
Aliev accused the opposition of attempting to destabilize the
country. He affirmed his readiness to meet with
representatives of any political parties, but only if they
impose no preconditions for such a meeting, according to
Turan. LF

AZERBAIJAN DENIES CFE VIOLATIONS. Azerbaijani presidential
adviser Vafa Gulu-zade has rejected a  statement by Armenian
President Robert Kocharian in his 25 September address to the
UN General Assembly as "invention," Turan reported on 26
September. Kocharian said that Azerbaijan has exceeded the
maximum limit set by the 1990 Treaty on Conventional Forces
in Europe in three categories of armaments for land forces.
Gulu-zade accused Armenia of violating the treaty and of
having acquired from Russia both S-300 and Scud missiles.
Gulu-zade also denied that Azerbaijan is setting
preconditions for resuming talks on resolving the Karabakh
conflict. And he  accused Armenia of obstructing such talks
by rejecting the principles endorsed at the 1996 OSCE summit
in Lisbon. LF

KARABAKH HOLDS LOCAL ELECTIONS. No major incidents or
violations were reported during the local elections held in
the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic of 27 September,
RFE/RL's Stepanakert correspondent reported. Voter
participation exceeded 80 percent in rural areas but was only
51 percent in the capital, where the unrecognized republic's
former interior minister, Karen Babayan,  polled 87 percent
of the vote to defeat his sole rival, Georgi Petrosian of the
Dashnak party's (HHD) Karabakh organization. Petrosian's
campaign manager had issued a statement on the eve of the
poll claiming that Nagorno-Karabakh state television could
not be impartial in its coverage of the vote as its chief
director is one of Babayan's proxies. The international
community has not commented on the outcome of the elections,
which Azerbaijan has termed illegal (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
18 September 1998). LF

BOMB EXPLODES IN TBILISI ON EVE OF SOLANA VISIT. A bomb that
exploded 100 meters from the Georgian parliament building in
Tbilisi during the night of 28-29 September shattered windows
in neighboring buildings but injured no one, Caucasus Press
reported. It is unclear whether there is any connection
between the explosion and the fifth anniversary on 28
September of the fall of the Abkhaz capital, Sukhumi, or the
two-day visit to Tbilisi by NATO Secretary-General Javier
Solana, which begins on 29 September. On 28 September, four
more members of the Russian peacekeeping force in Abkhazia
were injured when their armored vehicle hit an anti-tank mine
in Abkhazia's Gali Raion, Interfax reported. LF

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