What the sick man likes to eat is his medicine. - Russian Proverb
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 196, Part I, 9 October 1998


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 196, Part I, 9 October 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

* INTERNATIONAL LENDERS TO FINANCE BANK REFORM?

* RUSSIA FEARS NATO 'PRECEDENT'

* UTO MEMBER APPOINTED DEPUTY PREMIER
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

RUSSIA

INTERNATIONAL LENDERS TO FINANCE BANK REFORM? After
returning from talks in Washington with the IMF and
World Bank, Central Bank Chairman Viktor Gerashchenko
told Interfax on 9 October that an "agreement in
principle" has been reached with "Western banks and
lending institutions" for loans worth several hundred
million dollars to restructure the Russian banking
system. According to RFE/RL's Washington bureau, Michael
Carter, the World Bank's country director for Russia
acknowledged that the Russian delegation seemed unduly
optimistic about what Moscow can achieve in the near
future. While the World Bank would reportedly provide
technical assistance, Interfax did not reveal what--if
any--role the IMF would play. In an interview with
"Kommersant-Daily" on 8 October, Andrei Kozlov, first
deputy chairman of the Central Bank, said that the bank
was working on a program to restructure the banking
system. He also disclosed that the bank had recently
reduced the interest rates on Central Bank loans to
commercial banks participating in interbank
transactions. The "Moscow Times" quoted analysts on 9
October as saying that with this action, the bank is
essentially injecting liquidity into the banking system
"under the guise of cheap loans." JAC

IS RUSSIA READY FOR WINTER? As Russian citizens prepare
to set back their clocks one hour for the official start
of winter on 25 October, the perennial question of
whether Russia is prepared for another winter looms. In
Russia's northern regions, some inhabitants may have to
be evacuated, according to "Kommersant-Daily" on 6
October. Residents there have an insufficient supply of
foodstuffs, while only a limited number of days remain
until sea navigation becomes impossible owing to icy
conditions. As of 30 September, stocks of coal and fuel
in Sakhalin, Chukotka, Dalenergo, Khabarovsk, Magadan,
Arkhangelsk, Ivanovo, Altai, and Kamchatka were
alarmingly low, according to "Rossiiskaya gazeta." At
the beginning of September, the government had allocated
only about 70 percent of the funds required to purchase
food and fuel supplies, AP reported. Meteorologists are
predicting that the winter of 1998-1999 will be more
severe than the previous one. JAC

RUSSIA FEARS NATO 'PRECEDENT.' Russian policymakers
continue to condemn possible NATO air strikes against
Yugoslavia. Defense Minister Igor Sergeev told Russian
Television on 8 October that NATO bombing raids would
throw the world back to "the times of the Cold War,"
when "there was a balance of power between two blocs
facing each other." Also speaking on television, State
Duma Foreign Affairs Committee chairman and Yabloko
member Vladimir Lukin said a NATO strike would
constitute a "very serious blow to [Russia's] national
interests" and set a "very negative precedent." He
continued that if a regional organization such as NATO
can deliver an air strike against a country that it
believes is incorrectly tackling its ethnic problems,
then that means for Russia that "next time, such a thing
may happen when someone is not happy with how we deal
with Dagestan or Tatarstan." JAC

DUMA LEADER CALLS FOR REFERENDUM. Duma Chairman Gennadii
Seleznev called for a referendum on 8 October on whether
Russian President Yeltsin should resign. Other deputies
immediately questioned the legality of such a move. An
October 1995 law on referenda seems to forbid referenda
on the early termination or extension of the term of
either the president or a member of the legislature.
Presidential spokesman Dmitrii Yakushin told Russian
Public Television that Yeltsin had reacted calmly to
Seleznev's suggestion. Yakushin also pointed out that
the timing of request for a referendum coincided with
the announcement of Seleznev's intention to run for
president in 2000. Seleznev not only declared his
intention to run for president but also suggested that
he would make a more appropriate leader of a center-left
coalition than Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, who, Seleznev
argued, would be better suited for a right-center bloc.
Seleznev told reporters that "Yurii Mikhailovich
[Luzhkov] is as distant from the left-center as I am
from the post of the pope in Rome." JAC

LEFT LEADERSHIP UP FOR GRABS? Duma Security Committee
Chairman and member of the Communist Party Viktor
Ilyukhin told Interfax that Seleznev's remarks are
"alarming" for Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov
and suggested that Zyuganov's "authority is eroding and
his retinue is aware of his inability to win the
presidential elections." Liberal Democratic Party leader
Vladimir Zhirinovsky agreed, saying Seleznev's
declaration is evidence that "the leftist bloc is in
tatters." He added that Ilyukhin, Duma deputy Valentin
Kuptsov, and "now also Seleznev" are "openly or covertly
challenging Zyuganov's leadership." Zyuganov told
Interfax that Seleznev's declaration of his presidential
ambitions is evidence of his "high assessment of the
possibilities of the People's Patriotic Union and the
left centrist coalition." He added that "Seleznev is a
first rank leader who manages the affairs of the Duma
successfully and works well in a team." JAC

RUSSIA TO PLAY EXPANDED ROLE IN MIDDLE EAST? After
meeting with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat on 8
October, Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov said that
Russia supports Palestinian demands for a just peace
that will create an environment of peaceful coexistence
for the peoples in the region. After concluding his
meeting with Arafat, Duma speaker Gennadii Seleznev
condemned Israel for stubbornly refusing to abide by its
commitments to the Middle East peace settlement. For his
part, Arafat repeated an earlier request that Russia
take part in peace talks in the Middle East. Palestinian
and Russian officials also signed a trade agreement
which they described as more politically than
economically significant since bilateral trade is almost
non-existent. ITAR-TASS reported on 9 October that
Russian President Boris Yeltsin sent a message to Libyan
leader Muammar Gaddafi, expressing Russian concerns
about Libya's current situation and the prospects for
bilateral relations. The previous day, a Yeltsin aide
announced that Russia will appoint a new envoy to the
Middle East. JAC

PROTEST TALLIES DIFFER CONSIDERABLY. Government agencies
and trade union organizations have released widely
different estimates of crowd turn-out at the 7 October
national day of protest. According to ITAR-TASS,
Federation of Independent Trade Unions leader Mikhail
Shmakov told reporters on 8 October that some 17 million
people participated, while the Ministry of Justice
reported that the figure was 6 million, including those
who participated in events organized at work in addition
to those on the streets. An earlier figure of 615,000
people released by the Interior Ministry, according to
ITAR-TASS, did not include people who participated in
workplace protests and stoppages. Earlier, Shmakov had
predicted that 25 million people would protest on the
streets (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 October 1998). JAC

ARMED FORCES READY FOR COMBAT? Colonel-General Vladislav
Putilin, head of the operation and mobilization
department of the Armed Forces' Chief of Staff,
announced that for the first time in recent history,
Russia will need only a small percentage--7 percent--of
the young men drafted to serve, "Nezavisimaya gazeta"
reported on 7 October. Putilin commented that this
surplus will allow the armed forces to select only the
best recruits and that the new, smaller size of the army
and navy will allow it to have units that are fully
staffed and equipped for combat readiness. "Krasnaya
zvezda" reported on 6 October that the number of combat
training maneuvers and exercises for the army and navy
has been reduced more than once this year. The newspaper
also noted that some navy ships have fulfilled only 50
percent of their required quota for time at sea, while
navy aviation pilots have flown only 18 percent of their
flight-time requirements. JAC

MASKHADOV, OPPONENTS CLASH AT CHECHEN CONGRESS. Speaking
to a Congress of the Chechen Nation in Grozny on 8
October, Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov said that he
will never yield to the demands of field commander
Salman Raduev and others to resign, ITAR-TASS reported.
Such demands, Maskhadov said, are "unconstitutional" and
destabilizing. Moreover, the Chechen president said, he
will never negotiate with Raduev, whom he described as a
criminal. The opposition, led by field commanders like
Raduev and Shamil Basaev, argued at the meeting that
Maskhadov should be removed from office by the Supreme
Shariah Court for violating more than 10 items in the
Chechen Constitution. Meanwhile, the Chechen Security
Ministry told ITAR-TASS that the four employees of a
British telecommunications company who were kidnapped on
3 October are "alive and well." But the Chechen sources
provided no additional details. PG

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

UTO MEMBER APPOINTED DEPUTY PREMIER. Zokir Vazirov of
the United Tajik Opposition (UTO) has been appointed
deputy prime minister, RFE/RL correspondents reported on
8 October. The 50-year-old Vazirov was minister of
education in the 1992 coalition government. The same
day, Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov met with UTO
leader Said Abdullo Nuri. Presidential spokesman Zafar
Saidov told journalists the talks were "fruitful" in
speeding up the peace process. However, there was no
indication that a UTO member will soon be appointed as
defense minister, as provided by last year's peace
accord. Influential UTO field commander Mirzo Zizoyev,
from central Tajikistan, has been proposed by the UTO
leadership, but the government is reluctant to agree to
that proposal. BP

KAZAKH OPPOSITION MOVEMENT PROTESTS EARLY ELECTIONS. At
a 9 October news conference, leaders of Kazakhstan's
opposition movement Azamat argued that the parliament
does not have the right to countermand the results of
the 1995 referendum, which extended President Nursultan
Nazarbayev's term in office until 2000, Interfax and
RFE/RL correspondents reported. The previous day, the
parliament amended the constitution to reschedule
presidential elections to early January 1999. Galym
Abelseitov said the amendments are "an unconstitutional
deal between the president and parliament to extend
their terms in office." Petr Svoik said Azamat will
likely boycott the January election. Abelseitov added
that former Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin has
emerged as possible contender in the elections, but he
noted that Azamat "cannot trust him." BP

ALIEV PROPOSES ELIMINATING VAT ON MEDIA OUTLETS.
Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev has sent a bill to
the parliament that would lift value-added tax from the
sale and purchase of media products and the production
of printed goods, Interfax reported on 8 October. The
deputy director of the Turan news agency, Shakhin
Gadzhiyev, suggested that Aliev has timed this step to
coincide with the elections. At the same time, Gadzhiyev
acknowledged that it would significantly improve the
financial situation of the media in Azerbaijan. PG

CHALLENGER SHARPLY CRITICIZES AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT.
Speaking at a rally in Baku on 8 October, Etibar
Mamedov, the top challenger to Aliev in the presidential
elections, sharply criticized the president's policies
and stewardship in office, Reuters reported. "A thief
could run the country better than this," the former
dissident said, adding that "we must use only legal
means to remove these bloodsuckers." Mamedov said that
he will concentrate on rebuilding the country's
military, which in effect was destroyed during the
Karabakh fighting. PG

ARMENIAN PRESIDENT WELCOMES PARLIAMENT'S BACKING. Robert
Kocharian released a statement on 8 October saying he is
pleased that the parliament has repelled an opposition
effort to force a revision of the country's
privatization program, RFE/RL's Armenian Service
reported. Kocharian said he believes that in the future,
parliamentary deputies should "refrain from such
discussions after the signing of privatization deals."
PG

DEMIRCHIAN PUTS OFF FOUNDING CONGRESS OF NEW ARMENIAN
PARTY. Karen Demirchian, the Soviet-era leader of
Armenia, said on 8 October that a flood of new members
wishing to join his People's Party of Armenia has forced
him to delay its founding congress, RFE/RL's Armenian
Service reported. His aides said that they expect the
party to win a majority of seats in the next parliament.
PG

GEORGIA, AZERBAIJAN OPEN BRIDGE. The presidents of
Georgia and Azerbaijan, Eduard Shevardnadze and Aliev,
have opened a new highway bridge between the two
countries, ITAR-TASS reported. The238-meter-long bridge
over the Khrami River was built with EU financial
assistance and completed in only 14 months. Meanwhile,
Georgian and Azerbaijani officials continued discussions
on the construction of pipelines to carry Caspian oil to
the West, Interfax reported. PG

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               Copyright (c) 1998 RFE/RL, Inc.
                     All rights reserved.
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RUSSIA

INTERNATIONAL LENDERS TO FINANCE BANK REFORM? After returning from talks in
Washington with the IMF and World Bank, Central Bank Chairman Viktor
Gerashchenko told Interfax on 9 October that an "agreement in principle"
has been reached with "Western banks and lending institutions" for loans
worth several hundred million dollars to restructure the Russian banking
system. According to RFE/RL's Washington bureau, Michael Carter, the World
Bank's country director for Russia acknowledged that the Russian delegation
seemed unduly optimistic about what Moscow can achieve in the near future.
While the World Bank would reportedly provide technical assistance,
Interfax did not reveal what--if any--role the IMF would play. In an
interview with "Kommersant-Daily" on 8 October, Andrei Kozlov, first deputy
chairman of the Central Bank, said that the bank was working on a program
to restructure the banking system. He also disclosed that the bank had
recently reduced the interest rates on Central Bank loans to commercial
banks participating in interbank transactions. The "Moscow Times" quoted
analysts on 9 October as saying that with this action, the bank is
essentially injecting liquidity into the banking system "under the guise of
cheap loans." JAC

IS RUSSIA READY FOR WINTER? As Russian citizens prepare to set back their
clocks one hour for the official start of winter on 25 October, the
perennial question of whether Russia is prepared for another winter looms.
In Russia's northern regions, some inhabitants may have to be evacuated,
according to "Kommersant-Daily" on 6 October. Residents there have an
insufficient supply of foodstuffs, while only a limited number of days
remain until sea navigation becomes impossible owing to icy conditions. As
of 30 September, stocks of coal and fuel in Sakhalin, Chukotka, Dalenergo,
Khabarovsk, Magadan, Arkhangelsk, Ivanovo, Altai, and Kamchatka were
alarmingly low, according to "Rossiiskaya gazeta." At the beginning of
September, the government had allocated only about 70 percent of the funds
required to purchase food and fuel supplies, AP reported. Meteorologists
are predicting that the winter of 1998-1999 will be more severe than the
previous one. JAC

RUSSIA FEARS NATO 'PRECEDENT.' Russian policymakers continue to condemn
possible NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia. Defense Minister Igor Sergeev
told Russian Television on 8 October that NATO bombing raids would throw
the world back to "the times of the Cold War," when "there was a balance of
power between two blocs facing each other." Also speaking on television,
State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee chairman and Yabloko member Vladimir
Lukin said a NATO strike would constitute a "very serious blow to
[Russia's] national interests" and set a "very negative precedent." He
continued that if a regional organization such as NATO can deliver an air
strike against a country that it believes is incorrectly tackling its
ethnic problems, then that means for Russia that "next time, such a thing
may happen when someone is not happy with how we deal with Dagestan or
Tatarstan." JAC

DUMA LEADER CALLS FOR REFERENDUM. Duma Chairman Gennadii Seleznev called
for a referendum on 8 October on whether Russian President Yeltsin should
resign. Other deputies immediately questioned the legality of such a move.
An October 1995 law on referenda seems to forbid referenda on the early
termination or extension of the term of either the president or a member of
the legislature. Presidential spokesman Dmitrii Yakushin told Russian
Public Television that Yeltsin had reacted calmly to Seleznev's suggestion.
Yakushin also pointed out that the timing of request for a referendum
coincided with the announcement of Seleznev's intention to run for
president in 2000. Seleznev not only declared his intention to run for
president but also suggested that he would make a more appropriate leader
of a center-left coalition than Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, who, Seleznev
argued, would be better suited for a right-center bloc. Seleznev told
reporters that "Yurii Mikhailovich [Luzhkov] is as distant from the
left-center as I am from the post of the pope in Rome." JAC

LEFT LEADERSHIP UP FOR GRABS? Duma Security Committee Chairman and member
of the Communist Party Viktor Ilyukhin told Interfax that Seleznev's
remarks are "alarming" for Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov and
suggested that Zyuganov's "authority is eroding and his retinue is aware of
his inability to win the presidential elections." Liberal Democratic Party
leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky agreed, saying Seleznev's declaration is
evidence that "the leftist bloc is in tatters." He added that Ilyukhin,
Duma deputy Valentin Kuptsov, and "now also Seleznev" are "openly or
covertly challenging Zyuganov's leadership." Zyuganov told Interfax that
Seleznev's declaration of his presidential ambitions is evidence of his
"high assessment of the possibilities of the People's Patriotic Union and
the left centrist coalition." He added that "Seleznev is a first rank
leader who manages the affairs of the Duma successfully and works well in a
team." JAC

RUSSIA TO PLAY EXPANDED ROLE IN MIDDLE EAST? After meeting with Palestinian
leader Yasser Arafat on 8 October, Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov said
that Russia supports Palestinian demands for a just peace that will create
an environment of peaceful coexistence for the peoples in the region. After
concluding his meeting with Arafat, Duma speaker Gennadii Seleznev
condemned Israel for stubbornly refusing to abide by its commitments to the
Middle East peace settlement. For his part, Arafat repeated an earlier
request that Russia take part in peace talks in the Middle East.
Palestinian and Russian officials also signed a trade agreement which they
described as more politically than economically significant since bilateral
trade is almost non-existent. ITAR-TASS reported on 9 October that Russian
President Boris Yeltsin sent a message to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi,
expressing Russian concerns about Libya's current situation and the
prospects for bilateral relations. The previous day, a Yeltsin aide
announced that Russia will appoint a new envoy to the Middle East. JAC

PROTEST TALLIES DIFFER CONSIDERABLY. Government agencies and trade union
organizations have released widely different estimates of crowd turn-out at
the 7 October national day of protest. According to ITAR-TASS, Federation
of Independent Trade Unions leader Mikhail Shmakov told reporters on 8
October that some 17 million people participated, while the Ministry of
Justice reported that the figure was 6 million, including those who
participated in events organized at work in addition to those on the
streets. An earlier figure of 615,000 people released by the Interior
Ministry, according to ITAR-TASS, did not include people who participated
in workplace protests and stoppages. Earlier, Shmakov had predicted that 25
million people would protest on the streets (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7
October 1998). JAC

ARMED FORCES READY FOR COMBAT? Colonel-General Vladislav Putilin, head of
the operation and mobilization department of the Armed Forces' Chief of
Staff, announced that for the first time in recent history, Russia will
need only a small percentage--7 percent--of the young men drafted to serve,
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 7 October. Putilin commented that this
surplus will allow the armed forces to select only the best recruits and
that the new, smaller size of the army and navy will allow it to have units
that are fully staffed and equipped for combat readiness. "Krasnaya zvezda"
reported on 6 October that the number of combat training maneuvers and
exercises for the army and navy has been reduced more than once this year.
The newspaper also noted that some navy ships have fulfilled only 50
percent of their required quota for time at sea, while navy aviation pilots
have flown only 18 percent of their flight-time requirements. JAC

MASKHADOV, OPPONENTS CLASH AT CHECHEN CONGRESS. Speaking to a Congress of
the Chechen Nation in Grozny on 8 October, Chechen President Aslan
Maskhadov said that he will never yield to the demands of field commander
Salman Raduev and others to resign, ITAR-TASS reported. Such demands,
Maskhadov said, are "unconstitutional" and destabilizing. Moreover, the
Chechen president said, he will never negotiate with Raduev, whom he
described as a criminal. The opposition, led by field commanders like
Raduev and Shamil Basaev, argued at the meeting that Maskhadov should be
removed from office by the Supreme Shariah Court for violating more than 10
items in the Chechen Constitution. Meanwhile, the Chechen Security Ministry
told ITAR-TASS that the four employees of a British telecommunications
company who were kidnapped on 3 October are "alive and well." But the
Chechen sources provided no additional details. PG

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

UTO MEMBER APPOINTED DEPUTY PREMIER. Zokir Vazirov of the United Tajik
Opposition (UTO) has been appointed deputy prime minister, RFE/RL
correspondents reported on 8 October. The 50-year-old Vazirov was minister
of education in the 1992 coalition government. The same day, Tajik
President Imomali Rakhmonov met with UTO leader Said Abdullo Nuri.
Presidential spokesman Zafar Saidov told journalists the talks were
"fruitful" in speeding up the peace process. However, there was no
indication that a UTO member will soon be appointed as defense minister, as
provided by last year's peace accord. Influential UTO field commander Mirzo
Zizoyev, from central Tajikistan, has been proposed by the UTO leadership,
but the government is reluctant to agree to that proposal. BP

KAZAKH OPPOSITION MOVEMENT PROTESTS EARLY ELECTIONS. At a 9 October news
conference, leaders of Kazakhstan's opposition movement Azamat argued that
the parliament does not have the right to countermand the results of the
1995 referendum, which extended President Nursultan Nazarbayev's term in
office until 2000, Interfax and RFE/RL correspondents reported. The
previous day, the parliament amended the constitution to reschedule
presidential elections to early January 1999. Galym Abelseitov said the
amendments are "an unconstitutional deal between the president and
parliament to extend their terms in office." Petr Svoik said Azamat will
likely boycott the January election. Abelseitov added that former Prime
Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin has emerged as possible contender in the
elections, but he noted that Azamat "cannot trust him." BP

ALIEV PROPOSES ELIMINATING VAT ON MEDIA OUTLETS. Azerbaijani President
Heidar Aliev has sent a bill to the parliament that would lift value-added
tax from the sale and purchase of media products and the production of
printed goods, Interfax reported on 8 October. The deputy director of the
Turan news agency, Shakhin Gadzhiyev, suggested that Aliev has timed this
step to coincide with the elections. At the same time, Gadzhiyev
acknowledged that it would significantly improve the financial situation of
the media in Azerbaijan. PG

CHALLENGER SHARPLY CRITICIZES AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT. Speaking at a rally in
Baku on 8 October, Etibar Mamedov, the top challenger to Aliev in the
presidential elections, sharply criticized the president's policies and
stewardship in office, Reuters reported. "A thief could run the country
better than this," the former dissident said, adding that "we must use only
legal means to remove these bloodsuckers." Mamedov said that he will
concentrate on rebuilding the country's military, which in effect was
destroyed during the Karabakh fighting. PG

ARMENIAN PRESIDENT WELCOMES PARLIAMENT'S BACKING. Robert Kocharian released
a statement on 8 October saying he is pleased that the parliament has
repelled an opposition effort to force a revision of the country's
privatization program, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported. Kocharian said
he believes that in the future, parliamentary deputies should "refrain from
such discussions after the signing of privatization deals." PG

DEMIRCHIAN PUTS OFF FOUNDING CONGRESS OF NEW ARMENIAN PARTY. Karen
Demirchian, the Soviet-era leader of Armenia, said on 8 October that a
flood of new members wishing to join his People's Party of Armenia has
forced him to delay its founding congress, RFE/RL's Armenian Service
reported. His aides said that they expect the party to win a majority of
seats in the next parliament. PG

GEORGIA, AZERBAIJAN OPEN BRIDGE. The presidents of Georgia and Azerbaijan,
Eduard Shevardnadze and Aliev, have opened a new highway bridge between the
two countries, ITAR-TASS reported. The238-meter-long bridge over the Khrami
River was built with EU financial assistance and completed in only 14
months. Meanwhile, Georgian and Azerbaijani officials continued discussions
on the construction of pipelines to carry Caspian oil to the West, Interfax
reported. PG

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