Upon the education of the people of this country the fate of this country depends. - Benjamin Disraeli 1804-1881
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 210, Part I, 30 October 1998


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 210, Part I, 30 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 MEETS PRIMAKOV, LEAVES FOR SOCHI

* PRIMAKOV CLAIMS 'BREAKTHROUGH' IN RELATIONS WITH
CHECHNYA

* FIVE PRESIDENTS SIGN 'ANKARA DECLARATION'
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RUSSIA

YELTSIN MEETS PRIMAKOV, LEAVES FOR SOCHI. Prime Minister
Yevgenii Primakov on 30 October briefed President Boris
Yeltsin on his discussions with Chechen President Aslan
Maskhadov the previous day, ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin
then departed for the southern resort city of Sochi for
recuperation at the state-owned Bocharov Ruchei guest
house. PG

PRIMAKOV CLAIMS 'BREAKTHROUGH' IN RELATIONS WITH
CHECHNYA. Primakov told journalists on 29 October that
he and Maskhadov achieved "a breakthrough" during their
talks in Vladikavkaz, but he added that progress toward
a political rapprochement between Moscow and Grozny will
depend on the implementation of previously signed
economic agreements. In a joint statement, Primakov and
Maskhadov stressed their desire for stabilization of the
entire North Caucasus and of Chechnya in particular and
agreed to cooperate on the reconstruction of several
unnamed Chechen enterprises as well as on joint
investment projects. In addition, Moscow pledged, not
for the first time, to supply funds for unpaid wages and
pensions. The declaration made no mention of the
proposal that Primakov's predecessor as premier, Sergei
Kirienko, floated at his meeting with Maskhadov in
August. According that proposal, Chechnya was to be
declared a free economic zone. LF

CHECHEN OPPOSITION STEPS UP PRESSURE ON PRESIDENT. At a
meeting in Grozny on 29 October, field commanders Shamil
Basaev, Salman Raduev and Khunkar-pasha Israpilov
criticized Maskhadov's agreement to meet with Primakov
and again called on the Shariat Supreme Court to launch
impeachment proceedings against him, Interfax reported.
Also on 29 October, a bomb was discovered and
successfully defused near the Shariat Security Ministry
building in Grozny. Deputy Minister Nasrudin Bazhiev
told Interfax that the device was similar to those used
in the recent killing of anti-abduction squad chief
Shadid Bargishev and the attack on Chechen mufti Ahmad
Haji Kadyrov. "Trud-7" on 30 October cited unnamed
experts as saying that those two attacks, as well as the
earlier killings of Russian envoy to Chechnya Oleg Lobov
and Dagestani Mufti Said Muhammad Haji Abubakarov, were
all masterminded by the notorious Jordanian field
commander Khottab. LF

THREE OUT OF FOUR RUSSIANS WANT YELTSIN IMPEACHED. A
poll of 1,500 urban and rural residents found that 75
percent would approve Yeltsin's impeachment, Interfax
reported on 29 October. Only 16 percent were against
such a step. Seventy percent said Yeltsin deserved
impeachment for his dissolution of the Supreme Soviet in
September 1993 and his actions related to the Chechen
war. Rural residents were significantly more in favor of
impeachment-- 85 percent for, 8 percent against--than
residents of Moscow, where 38 percent said they opposed
such an action. Politically, supporters of Yabloko
leader Grigorii Yavlinskii were the most supportive of
Yeltsin--only 56 percent of them were for Yeltsin's
ouster--while among backers of Communist Party leader
Gennadii Zyuganov, 91 percent backed such a step. PG

MORE BAD ECONOMIC NEWS. Foreign trade turnover in the
first nine months reportedly fell 7.3 percent, compared
with the same period in 1997, Russian agencies reported
on 29 October. Russians spent 6.5 percent of their
September incomes to buy dollars, and Russian savings
declined by 18.4 percent in August and September. It is
projected that GDP will decline 5-5.5 percent for 1998
as a whole. Industrial production was down 14.5 percent
from a year ago. Meanwhile, the Central Bank pulled the
license of Inkombank because that institution had taken
excessive risks and did not have adequate reserves.
Nonetheless, some officials tried to suggest that there
were some bright spots. Aides to Premier Primakov told
Interfax that printing 15-20 billion rubles during the
next two months would "not significantly" change the
ruble-dollar exchange rate. Other officials reported
that state revenues rose 1.75 billion rubles from August
to September. And Interfax reported that Deputy Finance
Minister Viktor Khristenko will draft the 1999 budget.
PG

ADDITIONAL IMF MONEY UNLIKELY THIS YEAR. Russian
officials involved in negotiations with the IMF this
week in Moscow told Interfax on 29 October that the
international financial body is unlikely to release the
$4.3 billion second tranche of the bailout loan before
the end of 1998. Deputy Finance Minister Oleg Vyugin
said that the recent rounds of talks have not improved
the chances that the IMF will act quickly. But a World
Bank official indicated that that body may loan Russian
another $500 million to develop its agro-industrial
sector, Interfax reported on 29 October. PG

HARVEST FAILURE FORCES MOSCOW TO TURN TO WEST.
Agriculture Minister Viktor Semenov told Interfax on 29
October that Russia has produced only 47.3 million tons
of grain this year, down from 88.5 million tons in 1997.
While he said that Russians will have enough to eat this
winter, "Komsomolskaya pravda" reported on 29 October
that the Russian government has been forced to turn to
the U.S. for emergency food aid. The newspaper said that
unofficial sources in the Russian government have asked
for emergency supplies of 2-2.5 million tons of grain
and 100,000 tons of meat. And "Izvestiya" reported that
Moscow plans to purchase up to another 10 million tons
of grain. But even as Moscow was taking these steps, the
agriculture minister warned that any humanitarian aid
must not be allowed to damage the country's domestic
food manufacturers and producers, Russian agencies said.
PG

JAPAN TO AID KURIL RESIDENTS. A Japanese delegation is
scheduled to visit the Kuril Islands during the next few
days to provide some humanitarian aid to the Russian
population there, ITAR-TASS reported. on 29 October. But
the authorities in Russia's Sakhalin region have
denounced a petition drive by the residents of one of
the Kuril Islands to lease their land to the Japanese
for 99 years (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 October 1998),
Interfax reported. One Russian official described the
campaign as "irresponsible." PG

RUSSIAN MILITARY PRODUCTION UP. Even as production in
defense ministry plants as a whole continues to decline,
the output of purely military goods in Russia has
increased by 15.4 percent between September 1997 and
September 1998, Interfax reported. The news agency also
reported that Moscow will demonstrate its new TU-22
medium-range supersonic bomber at a November airshow in
China and that the authorities fully expect that they
will be able to field new Topol-M strategic missile
system by the end of 1998. PG

KOMSOMOL QUIETLY TURNS 80. President Yeltsin released a
statement on 29 October to mark the 80th anniversary of
the Communist youth league, ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin
said that "for several generations of Russians, the
Komsomol was their youth and first test of strength."
But he added that its history is "both complex and
contradictory, being a blend of victories and
tragedies." The Moscow leader of the Komsomol told
journalists that he expects perhaps 12,000 former
Komsomol members to mark the occasion. Communist leader
Zyuganov said that he believes that "this jubilee is not
the last one in the glorious annals of the Komsomol." PG

JUDGE IN NIKITIN CASE REJECTS FSB INVESTIGATION. The
judge hearing the treason and espionage charges against
Aleksandr Nikitin for publicizing pollution by the
Soviet military returned the case for further
investigation by the prosecution on 29 October,
according to a Bellona Foundation press release. Judge
Golets indicated that the indictment against Nikitin was
too unclear and that the court could not accept any of
the conclusions drawn by the government experts.
Nikitin's lawyer said that the judge's decision
represented "a major victory for us and a total defeat"
for the Federal Security Service (FSB), even though the
charges against Nikitin remain in force subject to a new
trial. PG

STROEV SAYS SPANISH FEDERALISM A MODEL FOR RUSSIA. While
visiting Barcelona on 29 October with a delegation of
Russian regional officials, Federation Council Speaker
Yegor Stroev said that Spain's approach to regional
issues could serve as a model for the Russian
Federation, ITAR-TASS reported. Noting that Madrid has
not been afraid to give a great deal of room for its
provinces to act, Stroev praised the Spanish government
for insisting that the regional governments act in
conformity with the constitution. PG

FSB, INTERIOR MINISTRY FOIL AMMUNITION FENCING
OPERATION. A joint effort by the FSB's economic counter-
intelligence department and the Interior Ministry's
anti-mafia department has "put an end" to a criminal
gang that has been engaged in stealing ammunition and
explosives from military warehouses near Moscow and then
selling them to Moscow criminals, ITAR-TASS reported on
29 October. When they were caught, the gang had 58 TNT
cartridges, nine kilograms of plastic explosives, and
three mines, the FSB press service said. PG

FAR EAST REGION THREATENS TO TURN OFF POWER TO MILITARY.
In a letter to Prime Minister Primakov, the Kamchatka
regional authorities said they will have no choice but
to turn off electric power supplies to all users,
including military bases, one week from now, ITAR-TASS
reported on 29 October. The regional officials said that
the energy sector there is in "a disastrous condition"
and that the shut-off could exacerbate "growing social
tension." PG

MILITARY BAKERY TO FEED KALININGRAD SOLDIERS. One week
after local bakeries stopped supplying Kaliningrad
Oblast's 20,000 soldiers with bread, the army has
stepped into the breach and assembled a special field
bakery designed for war conditions to feed the men,
ITAR-TASS said on 29 October. It will go into operation
on 31 October. For the past few days, soldiers have had
to make do with dried crusts. PG

TATARSTAN EXPANDS TIES WITH QUEBEC. Tatarstan's Prime
Minister Rustam Minnikhanov on 29 October said that his
recent visit to Canada's Francophone province of Quebec
was extraordinarily successful, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir
Service reported. Minnikhanov said that Quebec and
Tatarstan will be able to increase their bilateral
trade. And he noted that during his visit, the Quebec
authorities named a mountain in the province after the
Tatarstan capital of Kazan. PG

LIFE EXPECTANCY FALLS DRAMATICALLY IN RUSSIAN NORTH.
Researchers in Komi Republic told a regional conference
on 28 October that life expectancy there has dropped by
five years over the last two or three years, ITAR-TASS
reported. This decline, even steeper than in the Russian
Federation as a whole, reflects Moscow's reduction in
the amount of assistance it provides to the region, the
scholars said. They labeled it "a national calamity" for
the Komi and a "tragedy for Russia." PG

RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN ANKARA. Igor Ivanov on 29
October conveyed to Turkish President Suleyman Demirel
congratulations from Russian President Yeltsin on the
75th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of
Turkey, Russian agencies reported. Ivanov held talks in
Ankara the same day with his Turkish counterpart, Ismail
Cem, and with Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz on
European security, the situation in the Balkans, Cyprus,
and the transportation to western markets of Caspian
hydrocarbons. Yilmaz and Cem both expressed concern at
the Russian State Duma's sympathies for the Kurdistan
Workers' Party (PKK). Speaking at a press conference in
Moscow on 29 October, the head of the Kurdistan National
Liberation Front, Makhir Valat, suggested that Russia
should extend an official invitation to PKK chairman
Abdullah Ocalan, whom Russian officials deny is
currently in Russia. Valat also denied Turkish press
reports that Ocalan has left Russia for Armenia,
according to Interfax. LF

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

FIVE PRESIDENTS SIGN 'ANKARA DECLARATION'... Meeting in
Ankara on 29 October on the sidelines of the 75th
anniversary celebrations of the founding of the Republic
of Turkey, the presidents of Turkey, Georgia,
Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan signed a
declaration affirming their support for routing the so-
called Main Export Pipeline for Caspian oil from Baku to
the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. The document
notes the possible risks entailed in transporting oil
via the Turkish straits, which is one of several
alternative export routes. It also affirms that the
Baku-Ceyhan route is commercially viable, which many
experts dispute. U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson
also signed the document, but Turkmen President
Saparmurat Niyazov did not. The U.S. is hoping that the
oil companies currently engaged in oil extraction in
Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan will opt for the Baku-Ceyhan
route for the MEP. Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan dispute
ownership of several offshore Caspian oil fields. LF

...WHILE RUSSIA EXPRESSES DISPLEASURE. In a clear
allusion to the U.S.'s aggressive lobbying for the Baku-
Ceyhan route, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a
statement on 29 October warning against the "excessive
politicizing" of the choice of route for the MEP,
Interfax reported. The ministry argued that the choice
of route should depend on "economic expediency and
diversity." It denied that Russia is seeking "a
monopoly" on the transportation of Caspian oil via its
territory, while affirming that Turkish threats to bar
an increase in tanker traffic through the Turkish
straits are a violation of international norms. At
present, the only functioning pipeline through which
Azerbaijan's Caspian oil is being exported is that from
Baku via Chechnya to the Russian Black Sea terminal at
Novorossiisk. LF

GEORGIAN EX-SECURITY MINISTER SAYS PRESIDENT STAGED
MUTINY. In an interview with "Obshchaya gazeta" on 29
October, Igor Giorgadze claimed that Georgian President
Shevardnadze staged the 19 October mutiny in western
Georgia to deflect attention from waning domestic
support for his leadership, Interfax reported. Giorgadze
added that Shevardnadze was also behind the August 1992
invasion of Abkhazia and the August 1995 car bomb
attack, in which Shevardnadze sustained minor injuries.
Giorgadze fled Georgia days after that attack, which
Shevardnadze accuses him of organizing. Affirming that
Georgia is ruled "by the Komsomol and Communist mafia,"
Giorgadze predicted that Shevardnadze will never resign
voluntarily but "will be carried out." LF

IRAN DENIES FUNDING AZERBAIJANI ELECTION BOYCOTT. The
Iranian embassy in Baku issued a statement on 29 October
denying that Iranian intelligence services had provided
$14 million to the opposition Movement for Democratic
Elections and Electoral Reform, Turan reported. Four
Azerbaijani newspapers recently published those claims,
quoting one of the leaders of the Islamic Party of
Azerbaijan (IPA) chairman Mir Mekhti Huseinov. Haji
Mekhti Shamilli, chairman of the Supreme Council of the
IPA, told Turan that the articles were malicious slander
intended to compromise his party. Many of the IPA's
leaders were arrested in 1996 and sentenced to lengthy
jail sentences on charges of espionage for Iran. The
party renewed its activities in 1997 and concluded a
cooperation agreement with the Liberal Party of
Azerbaijan, whose leader, Lala Shovket Gadjieva, was one
of those political figures who boycotted the 11 October
presidential election. LF

ARMENIA, IRAN REAFFIRM SUPPORT FOR HIGHWAY PROJECT.
Meeting in Yerevan on 28 October, Armenian Prime
Minister Armen Darpinian and Iranian Deputy Transport
Minister Massoud Khansari reaffirmed their respective
governments' support for plans to build a major new
highway linking Iran with Georgia's Black Sea ports via
Armenia, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. They also
agreed to create a joint working group to implement
construction of a transport terminal in Armenia,
according to Noyan Tapan. Meanwhile, outgoing Iranian
Ambassador Hamidreza Nikkar Esfahani met with Armenian
President Robert Kocharian, parliamentary speaker
Khosrow Harutunian and Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian,
all of whom positively assessed the state of bilateral
relations but proposed expanding both interparliamentary
ties and economic cooperation, according to Noyan Tapan.
LF

RUSSIAN PRESS QUESTIONS 'FAIRNESS' OF KAZAKH ELECTIONS.
"Kommersant-Daily" on 28 October commented that
President Nursultan Nazarbayev's election team has shown
"it is prepared to do all so that he will be the only
candidate in the elections." A Medeu court recently made
a ruling against former Prime Minister Akezhan
Kazhegeldin (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 and 29 October
1998), which may bar his participation in the elections,
and Kazhegeldin's public relations officer and press
secretary have both been beaten. Moreover, the editor's
office of the pro-Kazhegeldin newspaper "21st Century"
was firebombed. Meanwhile, "Noviye izvestiya" on 29
October also reported that the opposition figures Petr
Svoik and Dos Koshim were beaten "by members of law
enforcement agencies" when they were imprisoned (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 16 October 1998). BP

SWISS PULL OUT OF UN MISSION TO TAJIKISTAN. Switzerland
has announced it will recall its four citizens from UN
operations in Tajikistan owing to "problems that have
arisen not only with security but also with discipline,"
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 30 October. None of
the Swiss workers has been in Tajikistan since the UN
decided to withdraw most of its personnel there
following the murders of four UN employees in late July.
BP

TURKMENISTAN, TURKEY SIGN GAS DEAL. Turkmenistan and
Turkey signed an agreement on 29 October whereby
Turkmenistan will deliver 16 billion cubic meters of
natural gas to Turkey annually, ITAR-TASS reported. The
30-year agreement foresees an increase in supplies to 30
billion cubic meters a year in the near future. The gas
will be transported via a pipeline that is to be
constructed across the bed of the Caspian Sea and then
via Azerbaijan and Georgia. Shipments from Turkey to
Europe are also foreseen. BP

UZBEK PRESIDENT BANS "LAVISH CELEBRATIONS." Islam
Karimov has issued a decree banning lavish celebrations,
Interfax reported on 29 October. The decree says
"excessive pomposity" in celebrations is "at odds with
national traditions" and that "false ostentation has a
negative effect on the upbringing of our youth." The
decree comes one week after two tax officials were
sacked for the misuse of funds for festivities (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 26 October 1998). BP

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