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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 197, Part I, 12 October 1998
________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 197, Part I, 12 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 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part I * NEW SPECULATION ABOUT YELTSIN'S HEALTH * RUSSIA ASKS EU FOR HUMANITARIAN AID * ALIEV BACKERS CLAIM VICTORY IN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS End Note: THE CONSEQUENCES OF DEPOLITICIZATION xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx RUSSIA NEW SPECULATION ABOUT YELTSIN'S HEALTH... Yeltsin appeared fatigued upon his arrival in Tashkent on 11 October (see below). He was described as "pale and unsteady" by Russian media, and Uzbek President Islam Karimov reportedly helped support Yeltsin as the two were reviewing the Uzbek presidential guard. Russian presidential spokesman Dmitrii Yakushkin said Yeltsin was suffering from a cold and was coughing after "a rough [three-and-a-half-hour] flight" from Moscow. Shortly after Yeltsin's arrival in Kazakhstan on 12 October, it was announced the president is cutting short his visit to that country by one day. BP ...AS CALLS FOR RESIGNATION MULTIPLY. According to Ekho Moskvy, Russian television stations did not show Karimov assisting Yeltsin as they walked. However, NTV carried coverage of Yeltsin's health, commenting on the dramatic narrowing of his base of support and questioning whether he will be "allowed" to remain in office another two years. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" declared that the issue of Yeltsin's resignation has become a key question of Russian political life. While earlier that subject was discussed only by the opposition, "the taboo has finally been lifted." The newspaper concluded that the opposition, "having gained support from the street and from regional elections," needs only "to come to an understanding with the remnants of the oligarchs." Together, they may arrange for some special agreement to be signed between the executive and legislative that would severely limit Yeltsin's powers for the duration of his term. NTV is owned by Vladimir Guzinskii's Media- Most holding company, and "Nezavisimaya gazeta" receives financial support from Boris Berezovskii's LogoVAZ group. JAC RUSSIA ASKS EU FOR HUMANITARIAN AID. As the Russian delegation to the IMF/World Bank talks returned to Moscow having received only a promise to conduct more negotiations, Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov concluded talks on 9 October with European Commission Chairman Jacques Santer without any pledge of new loans. Santer told journalists that new loans were not discussed because Russia needs to draft its economic plan without "any outside interference." Reuters reported that Primakov asked Santer for food aid to be provided on a humanitarian basis and that Santer is examining the proposal. According to Interfax on 10 October, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman said that the U.S. will resume exports of grain and meat to Russia, despite an unpaid debt of $50 million, and begin extending humanitarian assistance. JAC RUSSIA CONTINUES TO WARN NATO. Russian policymakers continue to voice fears about a second Cold War in connection with possible NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 October 1998). Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov told Russian Public Television on 11 October that "by taking one reckless step" in Kosova, "we may destroy irrevocably everything we have been building with great effort for the last few decades." However, Ivanov ruled out the possibility of a "forcible reply" from Russia. The previous day, NTV reported that Defense Ministry representatives announced they will resume weapons sales to Yugoslavia in the event of a NATO attack. The newscast concluded that "we should not discount the possibility that as soon as a bomb falls on Yugoslavia, the Serbs will receive anti- aircraft missiles from Russia on credit. These will most likely be modern S-300 [air defense] missiles." JAC ECONOMIC PLAN TO EVOLVE PIECEMEAL? State Duma Budget Committee head Aleksandr Zhukov told Ekho Moskvy on 9 October that the emergency budget for the fourth quarter does not need to be approved by the Duma. The previous day, Vadim Gustov, first deputy prime minister, told reporters that the government will submit its draft budget by the 14 or 15 October. "Kommersant-Daily" published one draft version, which envisioned a budget deficit of 103.3 billion rubles ($6.5 billion) in the worst case and 34.4 billion rubles in the best. Finance Minister Mikhail Zadornov told Russian Television on 11 October that the nation's economic problems are so complex that the government is having difficulties drawing up a comprehensive program to tackle them. He admitted that a long-term program may require three months to complete. JAC COAL STRIKE ENDS. Coal miners in the city of Vorkuta ended a three-month long strike on 11 October, according to Interfax. Miners at the Vorgashorskaya mine resumed shipping coal to their customers, after 44 million rubles ($2.8 billion) in back wages were transferred and ownership of the mine changed hands. The Primakov government has made the payment of back wages a centerpiece of its economic policies. A spokesman for the Communist Party's Moscow City Committee told Interfax that miners who had been picketing a government building in Moscow had left the city because the police had forcibly removed them and dropped them off at a railway station. JAC US-RUSSIA STEEL BATTLE BREWING. U.S. steel companies petitioned the U.S. Commerce Department and U.S. International Trade Commission to impose duties on steel from Russia, Russian Television reported on 10 October. According to the television station, the nation's metal exports are its "last hope" because of the decline of world oil and gas prices. ITAR-TASS reported that Russian steel exporters could face an increase in tariffs of up to 200 percent. Mikhail Tarasenko, head of the Russian Metallurgical Union told reporters on 9 October that the U.S. does not have grounds to impose anti-dumping tariffs on the import of Russian metals since the prices on exported metals are higher than on the Russian domestic market. The "Moscow Times" reported on 7 October that Russian steel sells for about $263 per ton, compared with the U.S. price, which dropped from $480 per ton last year to $320 in July. JAC CHUBAIS TO RETURN? A last-minute meeting between Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov and Anatolii Chubais, former presidential envoy to international financial institutions, unleashed speculation in the Russian press on 8 October that Chubais will be invited to return to the government. The press went on to comment that the Russian government delegation that conducted talks with the IMF and World Bank must have failed miserably (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 and 9 October 1998). "Kommersant- Daily" proposed on 10 October that Primakov will wait to invite Chubais until a default on the foreign debt appears inevitable, thus eroding likely Duma opposition. After his meeting with Primakov, Chubais denied that he has been offered a political post. JAC VOTERS SELECT MAYORS. Yurii Lebedev, former presidential representative to Nizhnii Novgorod, and Alexander Korobeinikov, incumbent chairman of the Lipetsk City Council, have been declared winners of mayoral elections in their respective cities, according to preliminary results of mayoral elections held on 11 October throughout Russia. ITAR-TASS reported the next day that elections in Kaliningrad and Sovetsk attracted the requisite minimum number of voters and were declared valid. Yurii Savenko, acting city administration head and Anatolii Khlopetskii, director-general of the Transrailwest Company, will compete in run-off election in Kaliningrad, while Vyacheslav Svetlov, deputy chairman of the city council, and Nikolai Nikolaev, director of the Sandorgaz Company, will compete in Sovetsk. A second round will be held in those cities on 25 October. JAC CHURCH ELICITS POLITICIANS' PROMISE. Patriarch Aleksii II of Moscow and All Russia hosted a forum for top Russian politicians on 9 October at which they pledged to start working together to ease the nation's economic crisis. According to Interfax, forum participants included State Duma chairman Gennadii Seleznev, Federation Council chairman Yegor Stroev, First Deputy Prime Minister Vadim Gustov, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, armed forces chief of staff Colonel-General Anatolii Kvashnin, a number of regional governors including Kemerovo head Aman Tuleev, and Duma faction leaders such as Communist Party head Gennadii Zyuganov. JAC TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA ALIEV BACKERS CLAIM VICTORY IN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS.... Campaign workers for incumbent Heidar Aliev on 12 October claimed the-75-year-old candidate has won presidential elections the previous day, beating five other candidates. However, the Central Elections Commission said it will not announce results until 15 October owing to delays in relaying results from outlying regions. Interfax and ITAR-TASS quoted sources in the commission as saying Aliev won about three- quarters of the vote. Turnout was put at 74 percent. ...AS OPPOSITION RAISES CHARGES OF FRAUD. The main opposition candidate, Etibar Mamedov, has refused to concede defeat, while his spokesman alleged Aliev has not won a majority and that run-off elections will be inevitable. Baku's ANS TV reported voter fraud, including ballot box stuffing and attempts to disenfranchise refugee voters. The co-chairmen of the Movement for Democratic Elections and Electoral Reform issued an appeal to voters on 9 October not to take part in the presidential elections, Turan reported. The same day, several thousand demonstrators attended a protest rally in Baku. Dozens of people were beaten and detained by security forces attempting to disperse the demonstration. JN ALIEV PROMISES TO KEEP HIS TEAM, BACKS TURKEY IN DISPUTE WITH SYRIA... When casting his vote, Aliev told Turan he does not intend to change his "team" if elected, adding "Who else has a team like I do?" Aliev then told Turkey's state-financed TRT TV that his country will always be on Turkey's side in the crisis with Syria. He added, "Turkey is our friend and our brother. Its policy on Syria is right and justified." JN ...WHILE TURKEY ALLEGES PKK LEADER HAS LEFT SYRIA FOR ARMENIA. Turkish State Minister Metin Gurdere said on 11 October he has received reports that Syria sent Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the Kurdish separatist PKK, to Armenia, Turkey's semi-official Anadolu news agency reported. "We will find him wherever he is hiding.... Let Armenia take heed. Whatever befell Syria might befall Armenia as well. If Armenia supports separatists, then we have made our decision, the button has been pressed. A war might break out any moment." Gurdere called on Armenia and Syria not to interfere in Turkey's domestic affairs. JN BAKU RELEASES 11 OPPOSITION ACTIVISTS. Azeri authorities on 10 October released 11 opposition activists, including the deputy chairman of the People's Front of Azerbaijan, Fazil Mustafayev, who were arrested during and after a demonstration on 12 September, Turan reported. The released detainees told journalist that they were tortured by police and were kept in solitary confinement cells. The chairman of the front's Fizuli branch, Vagif Guliev, said he was beaten during the 12 September protest by 10 police officers. He added that those officers suggested he become a member of Aliev's New Azerbaijan Party. Guliev said he was later beaten in custody for four hours and received electric shocks. JN RUSSIA SENDS PROPOSALS FOR BUILDING PIPELINE TO AZERBAIJAN. A feasibility study for transporting Azerbaijani oil via Russia has been sent to Azerbaijan, vice president of Transneft company Sergei Ter- Sarkisiants told the Interfax Petroleum Information Agency. The Russian government was briefed on the proposals, Ter-Sarkisiants said. He rejected as "groundless" Azerbaijani allegations that Russia has failed to submit a feasibility study. JN KOCHARIAN RULES OUT CHANGE IN PRIVATIZATION POLICY. Armenian President Robert Kocharian said on 9 October that his government's policy on privatization will undergo no changes, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported. He pointed to the continuing dispute with the opposition, which nearly revoked a number of deals with foreign investors last week. Kocharian said the existing privatization law, which gives preference to so-called money auctions in the sell-off of remaining state assets, is "quite good" and meets "all international standards." He told reporters while visiting a Yerevan enterprise slated for privatization that unlike voucher privatization, whereby vouchers were distributed free of charge to every citizen, the new strategy has ensured substantial revenues to the state budget. JN GEORGIA HAS 600 MILLION TONS OF OIL. Georgia's deposits of crude oil are estimated at 600 million tons by foreign experts, President Eduard Shevardnadze told staffers of foreign companies prospecting and developing oil fields in Kakheti, eastern Georgia, on 11 October, ITAR-TASS reported. Most of the stock is located in eastern Georgia, while the country's off-shore oil deposit are estimated at some 200 million tons, Shevardnadze said. JN YELTSIN WRAPS UP VISIT TO UZBEKISTAN... Russian President Yeltsin concluded his two-day visit to Uzbekistan on 12 October, his first official visit to that country as president, Russian media reported. Before leaving for Tashkent, Yeltsin told reporters in Moscow, that continued efforts by Afghanistan's Taliban movement to gain complete control over that country by force are a "threat to security and stability in the region." Yeltsin and Uzbek President Islam Karimov discussed the situation in Afghanistan and signed a document promising aid in the event one of their countries is attacked. Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov had already signed that document, which also includes reference to cooperating with the UN, the OSCE, and CIS countries to bring about "full political stabilization in Tajikistan." BP ...AFTER SIGNING ECONOMIC COOPERATION ACCORDS. Yeltsin and Karimov also discussed improving economic ties between their countries. Karimov said he favors developing such ties at the regional level (among Yeltsin's delegation were Sverdlovsk Oblast Governor Eduard Rossel and the president of Tatarstan, Mintimer Shaimiev). The two sides signed an agreement on expanding economic cooperation over the next 10 years. According to ITAR-TASS, the accord aims at creating "favorable conditions" for organizing "tariff and non- tariff regulation of foreign economic activity, indirect taxation, customs services, and coordination of measures to protect national manufacturers." BP TAJIK HOSTAGE-TAKERS RECEIVE DEATH PENALTY. Tajikistan's Supreme Court on 9 October sentenced two men to death for their part in several kidnappings in Tajikistan from December 1996 to November 1997, Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported. Bahrom Sadirov and Kiroatsho Nosyrov are to be executed by firing squad. Sadirov was the leader of a group involved in kidnapping members of the UN mission to Tajikistan in December 1996 and again in February 1997. In both cases, he was seeking to force the authorities to have his brother, Rezvon Sadirov, brought from Afghanistan to Tajikistan. Bahrom Sadirov eventually succeeded in that goal but soon after was wounded in a shootout with government forces and handed over to Tajik authorities. Rezvon continued taking hostages to gain Bahrom Sadirov's release. In November 1997, one hostage, French national Karen Maine, was killed during a rescue attempt. Rezvon Sadirov was killed several days later by government forces. BP TAJIK AUTHORITIES BEGIN OPERATIONS AGAINST OUTLAWS. Tajik government forces began operations against outlaw groups on 11 October, ITAR-TASS reported. At the beginning of this month, the government had issued an ultimatum calling on all armed groups to surrender their weapons by 8 October or face the consequences. The 11 October operation on the eastern outskirts of Dushanbe left several armed militants dead, while four were taken prisoner. There are no reports of casualties among government forces. BP CIS PEACEKEEPERS MARK ANNIVERSARY IN TAJIKISTAN. Speaking on the fifth anniversary of the stationing of the CIS peacekeeping force in Tajikistan, Lieutenant- General Nikolai Pugachev, commander of the force, said the people and government of Tajikistan support the force's continued presence as a guarantor of stability, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported on 10 October. Pugachev also noted that the force has helped in returning some 10,000 refugees to Tajikistan and delivered more than 5,000 tons of humanitarian aid to remote villages in the mountains. The negative balance is that 202 force members have been killed over the past five years. BP FIRST CANDIDATE ANNOUNCES CAMPAIGN FOR KAZAKH PRESIDENCY. The Kazakh Communist Party has named its first secretary, Serikbolsyn Abdildin, as its candidate for the January 1999 presidential elections, Interfax reported on 11 October. A statement released after the party congress that day called on current President Nursultan Nazarbayev not to run for the presidency, reminding him he has already been elected twice as head of state (which Nazarbayev supporters contend). Former Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin resigned his position as presidential adviser on 9 October, criticizing the Kazakh parliament's decision to move elections up by almost two years as leaving "a very short time to prepare for presidential elections." He stopped short, however, of announcing his own candidacy. Nazarbayev has not announced whether he will run again, but he told journalists on 9 October he was opposed to holding early elections. BP TWO OIL TRANSPORTATION DEALS SIGNED IN TURKMENISTAN. A spokesman for the Turkmen president's directorate in charge of hydrocarbon resources announced on 10 October that two deals on exporting Turkmen oil to Iran have been signed, ITAR-TASS reported. French company Total will conduct a feasibility study for a Kazakh-Turkmen- Iran pipeline that would bring oil from Kazakhstan's Tengiz and Novy Uzen fields through western Turkmen oil fields to Tehran and the Harg oil terminal. The other deal, which provides for delivering Turkmen oil to Iran via the Caspian Sea, was signed by Malaysia's Petronas and Britain's Monument Oil and Gas. Both deals foresee the exchange of Turkmen crude for Iranian refined oil. BP END NOTE THE CONSEQUENCES OF DEPOLITICIZATION by Paul Goble The failure of Russian Communists last week to mobilize the large number of demonstrators party leaders had predicted and Russian officials had feared appears to reflect a fundamental shift in popular attitudes on the role of the state rather than support for or opposition to any particular program or policy. According to a recent poll by the Moscow Center for International Sociological Studies, only 12 percent of the Russians surveyed said that they count on the state to take care of them. In contrast, some 61 percent said that they now rely only on themselves. Judging from earlier polls, this represents a major shift away from the attitudes toward the state that Russians and others living under communism often displayed in the past. But while this depoliticization of the population is both a necessary precondition for and a reflection of the emergence of a civic space between state institutions and individual citizens, it also has three consequences not only for the Russian Federation but also for other post-communist countries. Those consequences may present problems for both the state and its citizens. First, as people turn away from the state as the source of support, they inevitably care less about what the state does and are less willing to take action to assert their views. That means that neither the state nor the opposition can mobilize them to take action for or against anything. As a result, the opposition cannot easily get large numbers of people to demonstrate even if the opposition is taking positions that polls suggest most people agree with. And the government cannot draw on popular support even when it may be doing things that the people have said they want. That means that the size of demonstrations for or against anything or anyone are an increasingly poor indicator of what the people want or do not want the state to do. Second, precisely because people are focusing on their private lives and taking responsibility for them, they are likely to become increasingly upset when the state attempts to intervene in their lives even for the most benign purposes, particularly if it does so in an ineffective manner. Such attitudes, widespread in many countries and important in limiting the power of state institutions, nonetheless pose a particular danger to countries making the transition from communism to democracy. While those views help promote the dismantling of the old state, they also virtually preclude the emergence of a new and efficient one. As a result, these countries are often likely to find themselves without the effective state institutions that modern societies and economies require if they are to be well regulated. And third, countries with depoliticized populations are especially at risk when they face a crisis. The governments cannot count on support because people no longer expect the governments to be able to deliver. By the same token, the opposition cannot generate support because people no longer think that the opposition can do anything either. That danger is especially strong in countries where the governments cannot draw on strong national sentiments. In the Baltic States, for example, the governments have been able to keep depoliticization in check because of the importance of national rebirth to most people living there. But in other countries--and Russia is the classical example--neither the government nor the opposition is in a position to draw on national sentiments. Not only do many Russians blame the current political system for their problems, but both they and the government are aware that an openly nationalist course would cause alarm bells to ring in many places. As a result, the depoliticization of the population in the Russian Federation is very much a double-edged sword. It has helped to open the psychological space necessary for the emergence of a vibrant civil society capable of regulating itself on many issues. But it has also hobbled the regime in a way that means the Russian government is likely to have a harder time in coping with crises and the Russian opposition is likely to have an equally difficult time in responding to whatever the Russian government does. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1998 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word subscribe as the subject of the message. HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE Send an email to email@example.com with the word unsubscribe as the subject of the message. 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