The trouble with being punctual is that nobody's there to appreciate it. - Franklin P. Jones
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 208, Part I, 27 October 1998


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 208, Part I, 27 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

* YELTSIN'S HEALTH SPOTLIGHTED AGAIN

* DEMONSTRATORS RALLY AGAINST CHECHEN PRESIDENT

* UNITED TAJIK OPPOSITION STILL TROUBLED BY 'SECULAR'
STATE
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RUSSIA

YELTSIN'S HEALTH SPOTLIGHTED AGAIN... The abrupt
cancellation of Russian President Boris Yeltsin's trip
to Austria for a meeting with the EU has renewed
speculation about his health (see "RFE/RL Newsline, " 22
October 1998). Yeltsin's doctors found that the
president's bronchitis combined with overworking had
resulted in "asthenia" or fatigue, presidential
spokesman Dmitrii Yakushin told Interfax on 26 October.
The doctors advised him to take a two-week vacation, his
third official vacation this year. Oleg Sysuev, deputy
head of the presidential administration, told NTV that
Yeltsin did not want to risk another "display of
weakness" such as occurred during his trip to
Uzbekistan, when he stumbled during an official
ceremony. In response to a question about requiring a
medical examination of the president, Sysuev said "all
these actions must take place within the framework of a
law and the constitution. As far as I know, there is
currently no such law." JAC

...AS PRIMAKOV PRESENTS ECONOMIC PLAN IN VIENNA. Prime
Minister Yevgenii Primakov, filling in for the fatigued
president in Vienna on 27 October, met with Austrian
President Tomas Klestil. Primakov called for promoting
Austrian-Russian relations and lauded Austria for the
important role it plays in European affairs. Primakov
was also scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Viktor
Klima, EU President Jacques Santer, and EU Commissioner
Hans van den Broek. The previous day, First Deputy Prime
Minister Yurii Maslyukov met with ambassadors from EU
members states in Moscow to discuss Russia's economic
problems. NTV suggested that Primakov and his ministers
are "quite likely to present his government's anti-
crisis program [to the EU meeting], because continued
[EU] support for our country will depend on its
content." A spokesman for Maslyukov told reporters that
a version of the program published by "Kommersant-Daily"
on 27 October is only a preliminary version. JAC

DEMONSTRATORS RALLY AGAINST CHECHEN PRESIDENT. Despite
government calls for people to stay home, more than
2,000 people demonstrated in Grozny on 27 October to
mark the seventh anniversary of the election of Dzhokar
Dudaev as president of the republic and to demand that
President Aslan Maskhadov be
driven from office, ITAR-TASS reported. The Russian news
agency also reported on 27 October that two militiamen
were wounded on the Chechen-Dagestani border. PG

CHECHENS PLEDGE CRACKDOWN AGAINST KIDNAPPERS. Following
the murder of Chechnya's anti-kidnapping chief and an
attempt on the life of the republic's chief mufti,
Deputy Prime Minister Premier Kazbek Makhashev said on
26 October that Grozny will soon begin large-scale
operations against all criminal groups that take
hostages, ITAR-TASS reported. Meanwhile, Dagestan's
Interior Ministry offered to help find the kidnappers,
and Russian Duma Deputy Speaker Mikhail Gutseriyev
called for taking "the toughest coercive measures." The
same day, Sheikh Ravil Gainutdin, co-chairman of the
Russian Federation Council of Mufties, expressed his
indignation at the attack on Chechen Mufti Ahmed Khadzhi
Kadyrov. PG

OUTSIDERS BLAMED FOR CHECHEN VIOLENCE. Chechen Foreign
Minister Movladi Udugov told ITAR-TASS on 26 October
that the recent violence in his republic was unleashed
by unnamed "foreign secret services" that he said are
"seeking to destabilize the situation and unleash a
civil war in Chechnya." Others were more explicit:
Ziyaudi Beloyev, who resigned as television chief in
Grozny following threats to his station, said that he
has turned over what he called a Russian-prepared plan
to kill President Aslan Maskhadov and set fire to the
republic's parliament, ITAR-TASS reported. In contrast,
Ivan Rybkin, who earlier served as Moscow's chief
negotiator with Chechnya, blamed "outsiders from Jordan
and Saudi Arabia" for the violence, AP reported. PG

MISSILE STILL READY FOR DUTY. Strategic Rocket Forces
Commander General Vladimir Yakovlev told Interfax on 26
October that his forces will still receive single-
warhead Topol-M missiles, despite an "incident" during
the missile's fifth test launch in which its self-
destruct system was activated. Yakovlev said that non-
test combat missiles are not equipped with a self-
destruct system. "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 24
October that according to its sources, "the self-
destruct system should operate either when the missile
deviates from its course or when the engine of one of
three stages fails." The missile reportedly exploded
after its first launch stage, but "whether this happened
because of the failure of the second-stage engine" or
because of a defect in the self-destruct system "is not
yet known." A sixth test of the Topol-M will be carried
out soon, Yakovlev reported. "Nezavisimaya gazeta"
disclosed that after this test the missile will be place
"on combat alert duty." JAC

NEW PARTY, COALITION FORMING. State Duma Deputy Vladimir
Semago launched a new political party called the "New
Leftists" at a conference in Nizhnii Novgorod on 24
October. Semago had until recently been a member of the
Communist Party, which he quit with much fanfare after
declaring his candidacy for mayoral elections in that
city (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 September 1998). The
conference was attended by 700 delegates, including
Andrei Klimentev, who was elected to the mayor's office
but then had to step down when he was sentenced to
prison for embezzlement and forgery. The party advocates
the return of "morality" to Russian political life.
Meanwhile, right-wing democratic parties and movements
are forming a coalition in preparation for 1999 Duma
elections, Duma Deputy and member of the Democratic
Choice Party Sergei Yushenkov told Interfax on 26
October. Yushenkov said that leaders of various parties
are working on a common platform, while more than 10
regions, including Kaliningrad, Perm, Ryazan,
Arkhangelsk and Komi, have formed various unions of
"democratic forces." JAC

NATO BACKED INTO CORNER, RUSSIA SAYS. A Russian foreign
policymaker said the continued possibility of NATO
airstrikes against Yugoslavia if Belgrade does not
withdraw its troops from Kosova is "odious." Deputy
Foreign Minister Aleksandr Avdeev also told Interfax on
26 October that with the deadline expiring for a
Yugoslavia troop withdrawal, NATO has backed itself into
a corner with no way out. Avdeev added that NATO will be
"unable to carry out its threat" because "thanks to the
efforts of Russian diplomacy, the developments in and
around [Kosova] started moving toward a settlement.
Avdeev told ITAR-TASS that Russia "does not rule out
that the OSCE, as a regional organization, may turn to
NATO for assistance in providing security" for the
fulfillment of agreements reached with Yugoslavia. JAC

TURKEY REQUESTS KURDISH LEADER'S RETURN. Turkey on 27
October officially requested that Russia extradite
Abdullah Ocalan, head of the Kurdish Workers Party.
However, Russia's Federal Security Service said that it
has no information on Ocalan's whereabouts, ITAR-TASS
reported the same day. On 20 October, Russian Foreign
Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin said that he could
not confirm that Ocalan was in Moscow (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 21 October 1998). On 29 October, Foreign
Minister Igor Ivanov will travel to Ankara for
ceremonies celebrating the anniversary of the founding
of the Republic of Turkey. JAC

MISSIONARIES LABELED SPIES. "Segodnya" on 22 October
suggested that the two Mormon missionaries arrested in
Krasnoyarsk for illegally entering the premises of a
military unit may "work for [a foreign] intelligence
service" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 October 1998). The
newspaper cited a source in the Federal Security Service
who said that "foreigners are frequently found in
Russian military units" and "more often than not pose as
missionaries." NTV showed film footage of the men
climbing over a wall of the base the previous day. A
spokeswoman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day
Saints said the missionaries were not sneaking into the
base but had been invited by someone interested in their
faith, the "Moscow Times" reported. In February, two
Mormons were detained after entering a military base in
Saratov but were later released. JAC

VETERAN SPEECHWRITERS DEPART. Three of President
Yeltsin's speechwriters, Aleksandr Ilin, Konstantin
Nikiforov, and Vladimir Kadatskii, were dismissed from
the Kremlin staff "at their own request" on 23 October.
All three had worked for the president for several
years. According to "Kommersant-Daily" the next day, the
president no longer used their services. In other
personnel changes, Prime Minister Primakov appointed
Tatyana Aristarkhova, former head of the press service
of the Ministry for Foreign Economic Relations, as his
press secretary. According to "Kommersant-Daily" on 24
October, Aristarkhova is "famous among journalists for
not letting anyone close to her boss." JAC

YELTSIN RECOVERING FROM SHORT DEATH? The Duma has
instructed its Security Committee to investigate the
claim by parliamentary deputy and Communist Party member
Igor Bratishchev that President Yeltsin had been
clinically dead for 17 minutes on 15 October, Ekho
Moskvy reported on 23 October. Bratishchev cited a
report in the "Novii Petersburg" newspaper. On 14
October, Yeltsin reported for work at the Kremlin
unexpectedly and chided "people who won't even let [him]
sneeze" without questioning his health. JAC

MOSCOW ART THEATER TURNS 100. The Moscow Art Theater
celebrated its 100th anniversary on 26 October with a
special performance attended by Prime Minister Primakov.
The theater is perhaps best known for launching the
careers of writer Anton Chekhov and actor-director
Konstantin Stanislavsky. Novelist-playwright Mikhail
Bulgakov wrote about the theater, poking fun at
Stanislavsky, in his novel, "Black Snow". Bulgakov was
given a job at the theater after writing a letter to
former Soviet leader Josef Stalin saying he wanted to
emigrate because he could not get his plays produced in
Russia. JAC

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

FORMER COMMUNIST CHIEF SAYS ARMENIA IN 'DEEP CRISIS.'
Speaking to the first major gathering of his new
political party on 25 October, the People's Party of
Armenia (HZhK), Karen Demirchian said the group must
work to help the country overcome what he called "a deep
political and economic crisis," RFE/RL's Armenian
Service reported. Failure to do that would have
"catastrophic consequences for the people," added
Demirchian, who served as first secretary of the
Armenian SSR Communist Party from 1974 to 1988. The
party's first task, he continued, is to ensure that the
parliamentary elections in 1999 will be genuinely free
and fair. "This time there will be no pardon" for those
who violate election laws, Demirchian said. PG

KARABAKH CONDEMNS COUNCIL OF EUROPE'S 'RETREAT.' The
government of the self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-
Karabakh released a statement on 26 October deploring
the Council of Europe's decision to delay a hearing on
the Karabakh dispute, RFE/RL's Armenian Service
reported. Arguing that Azerbaijan's position was
weakened by "the recent presidential elections," the
Karabakh authorities deplored what they called the
Council of Europe's "retreat" as a result of
"Azerbaijani pressure." PG

PIPELINE ACROSS GEORGIA TO BEGIN OPERATIONS IN APRIL
1999. Natik Aliev, the head of Azerbaijan's state oil
company, said in Tbilisi on 26 October that the Baku-
Supsa pipeline intended to carry oil from the Caspian
basin to the West will begin operations in April 1999,
ITAR-TASS reported. He said that the Azerbaijani portion
is now ready to carry oil. Speaking on national radio
the same day, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze
said he has received a draft treaty on oil transit from
Azerbaijan. Thanking the U.S., Turkey, and world oil
companies, Shevardnadze said the accord will be signed
"within days." PG

SHEVARDNADZE SAYS MUTINEERS TRIED TO DESTROY DEMOCRACY.
Also during his 26 October radio address, President
Shevardnadze said that the military mutiny on 19 October
was yet another effort by those seeking to undermine the
country's independence and democracy. "Such attempts,"
the Georgian leader said, "are predictable at the
transitional stage of development" and will likely take
place in the future as well. But he expressed confidence
that Georgians will rebuff all such attempts, citing a
recent poll that showed 90 percent of Tbilisi residents
condemned the mutiny. Meanwhile, Shevardnadze has
accepted the resignation of the country's security
minister, Dzhemal Gakhokidze. And Georgian officials
continued on 26 October to look for coup leader Akaky
Eliava, who is believed to be hiding out in the
Chkhorotskusk district in western Georgia, ITAR-TASS
reported. PG

UNITED TAJIK OPPOSITION STILL TROUBLED BY 'SECULAR'
STATE. The leadership of the United Tajik Opposition
(UTO) wants the issue of changing the constitutional
article that refers to a "secular state" resolved by the
time the parliament meets on 12 November, Reuters
reported on 26 October. Since the return of UTO deputy
leader Hoja Akbar Turajonzoda in February, the topic has
been a sticking point between the government and the
UTO. The UTO argues Tajikistan is a majority Muslim
state, while the government maintains the issue is not
open for discussion. Also on 26 October, a meeting of
the National Reconciliation Commission resulted in a
promise from the government to give another 19 UTO
members government posts, which would complete the
second phase of the Tajik peace process. BP

CANDIDATES FOR KAZAKH PRESIDENCY REGISTER. Communist
Party leader Serikbolsyn Abdildin and independent
candidate Engels Gabbasov have both applied to register
for the January presidential elections, Interfax
reported on 26 October. Abdildin was the first candidate
to announce his intention to run following the Kazakh
parliament's 8 October decision to hold early elections.
The two passed the Kazakh language test, a prerequisite
for running. Incumbent President Nursultan Nazarbayev
and former Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin have
already passed that test. On 23 October, Baltash
Tursunbayev, the Kazakh ambassador to Turkey, who also
announced his intention to run earlier in October, was
named deputy premier. This means he will not run in the
elections. Interfax reports that the Kazakh presidential
press service "did not say exactly what Tursunbayev will
be in charge of." BP

CUSTOMS UNION PARTNERS WORRY ABOUT KYRGYZSTAN, WTO. The
deputy chairman of the Russian State Customs Committee,
Vladimir Meshcheryakov, has said that Kyrgyzstan's
recent admission to the WTO has raised "serious concern"
within the integration committee of the four customs
union countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus and
Russia), Interfax reported on 26 October. Meshcheryakov
said that when Kyrgyzstan applied for WTO, membership,
it did not specify preferential treatment in trade with
the other customs union countries. He added that it is
now too late to make changes because the WTO has
approved Kyrgyzstan's membership documents.
Meshcheryakov said he did not think there will be any
problems in trade with Russia but added that there will
be "lots of problems and questions within the framework
of the customs union." BP

TURKMEN PRESIDENT RECEIVES NATIONAL AWARD FOR THIRD
TIME. Saparmurat Niyazov received the Golden Moon award
on 26 October, on the eve of Turkmen Independence Day,
ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported . The decision to award
the medal to Niyazov was made by the cabinet and
parliament in July following reports that country had
fulfilled its target figure for the grain harvest for
the first time since 1991. It is the third time that
Niyazov has received the medal. He was first awarded it
in 1992, on the occasion of the first anniversary of
independence, and then in 1995 when Turkmenistan was
recognized by the UN as a neutral country. BP

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