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. 213, Part I, 4 November 1998


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 213, Part I, 4 November 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

* ENERGY CRISIS CRIPPLING FAR EAST

* IMF, EBRD PAN BANK BAIL-OUT PLAN

* GOVERNMENT TROOPS, REBELS CLASH IN TAJIKISTAN
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RUSSIA

ENERGY CRISIS CRIPPLING FAR EAST. Minister for
Emergencies Sergei Shoigu arrived in Kamchatka on 4
November to seek a solution to the region's energy
problem. Deputies of the local legislature have already
appealed to the UN for 120,000 tons of fuel oil and
30,000 tons of diesel fuel. Temperatures have sunk to
-15 to -18 degrees Celsius. Empty pipes are starting to
burst and residents are living in dark homes with only
gas hot plates to cook on, "Vremya MN" reported on 3
November. Nearby Magadan Oblast is also in the grip of a
similar crisis, "Izvestiya" reported. Magadan Governor
Valentin Tsvetkov has sent an appeal to Prime Minister
Yevgenii Primakov, warning that a "social explosion" is
imminent. The governor wants funds to purchase emergency
supplies of fuel and food. JAC

ZYUGANOV REASSURED, IMF ALARMED... Amid growing
criticism of its economic program, Primakov's government
managed to attract at least one supporter: Communist
Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov, who on 3 November called
the plan "reassuring" because it supports domestic
producers and requires the timely payment of wages.
Zyuganov also noted that the program has not yet been
fully elaborated and that "practical programs need to be
drafted for each of the anti-crisis measures."
Meanwhile, Russian newspapers carried a confidential
memorandum from the IMF critiquing the authors of the
program for failing to reduce government expenditures
and for suggesting a reduction in taxes at the same
time. The program does not suggest any cuts in the
number of people employed by the state or the
elimination of non-priority programs, while it
"presupposes an increase in state spending for industry,
public works programs, and social benefits." JAC

...AS GOVERNMENT STANDS BY ITS PLAN... Deputy Prime
Minister Gennadii Kulik brushed aside the fund's
criticisms, saying that "whatever measures encourage the
country's economic growth are not to the IMF's liking."
He said that the government will stand by every
commitment made and was prepared for the worst-case
scenario, if the $4.9 billion IMF tranche that had been
scheduled to be disbursed in September is not
forthcoming. He noted that with the expiration of the
government's 90-day moratorium on debt payments in mid-
November, Russia will have to pay $2.1 billion of its
national debt and debt owed by its commercial banks. If
no credits are forthcoming, he warned, "Russian
exporters may be ruined and assets abroad could be
seized." JAC

...AND RESUMES TALKS WITH CREDITORS. In anticipation of
the mid-November deadline, a delegation from the Finance
Ministry and 17 international banks met in London on 4
November for a new round of talks on restructuring
Russian debt. Talks are likely to be heated in part
because a Central Bank official told "Kommersant-Daily"
that the government is still refusing to consider one of
the creditors' main demands, namely that part of their
debts be paid in cash. On 2 November, Central Bank
Chairman Viktor Gerashchenko pledged that the 90-day
moratorium on debt repayment will not be extended. JAC

IMF, EBRD PAN BANK BAIL-OUT PLAN. The EBRD will not
provide loans for restructuring the Russian commercial
banking system, Interfax reported on 4 November, quoting
a Moscow-based EBRD official. The Central Bank had been
negotiating with the EBRD to redirect money from old
EBRD loans to the banking sector. Meanwhile, IMF
criticized the government's banking plan in a
confidential memo (see above), suggesting that the
Central Bank's plan to recapitalize commercial banks
threatens its own solvency. The fund also said that the
number of banking institutions the Central Bank hopes to
save is unrealistically high. The "Moscow Times"
reported that the Central Bank issued 55 billion rubles
($3.5 billion) in loans to a small group of banks,
including Most Bank and SBS-Agro, on 31 October. The
loans allowed some individual depositors to withdraw
small amounts of money from their accounts. JAC

DIAMONDS AREN'T A GOVERNMENT'S BEST FRIEND? South
African company De Beers and Russia's ALROSA signed a
new three-year trade agreement on 3 November. According
to Interfax, the current agreement differs little from
its predecessor, which required ALROSA to sell De Beers
annually diamonds worth at least $550 million. Citing an
anonymous source at Gokhran, Interfax reported that De
Beers Chairman Nicholas Oppenheimer would discuss with
Prime Minister Primakov a loan to the Russian government
using diamonds as collateral. Eight years ago, De Beers
granted the Soviet government $1 billion in exchange for
the right to develop Russian diamond resources. However,
on 3 November, Oppenheimer told reporters that no
discussion of such a loan had taken place. "Kommersant-
Daily" reported the next day that while the government
wanted such a credit, De Beers was uninterested, because
unlike eight years ago, the world price for diamonds is
falling rather than rising. JAC

NEW MINISTER REPORTS FOR DUTY. First Deputy Prime
Minister Yurii Maslyukov introduced Gennadii Khodyrev to
the staff of the Ministry for Anti-trust Policies and
Support for Entrepreneurship as their new minister on 4
November. Khodyrev is a former Duma deputy and a member
of the Communist Party faction. JAC

RUSSIA, BELARUS, ET AL TO FORM EU OF THE EAST? Delegates
to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union of Belarus
and Russia have approved a draft document outlining the
organization's border policy, which envisions a visa
valid for the entire territory of the union. According
to ITAR-TASS on 3 November, Russia will provide more
than 20 million rubles ($1.3 million) and Belarus 9
million rubles to the Union's 1999 budget. Russian State
Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev, who is attending the
assembly in Yaroslavl, told reporters that he favors a
national referendum in Russia on the question of a union
of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. Seleznev said he does
not rule out the idea of Yugoslavia joining the union at
some point in the future and added that he thinks
Bulgaria will also likely want to join. Europe long ago
started to integrate, he said, and "we should also think
about integration." JAC

RUSSIA WANTS LOCKERBIE LEGAL PROCESS SPEEDED UP. Russia
is seeking a speedier implementation of UN Security
Council resolution 1192 and an eventual lifting of
sanctions against Libya. The resolution called for
Libyan suspects in the bombing of a Pan Am plane near
Lockerbie, Scotland, to be tried in the "neutral"
country of The Netherlands. Russian Foreign Ministry
spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin told reporters on 3
November that a majority of members of the Security
Council want the "Libyan problem" solved quickly and
that all countries concerned should work to ensure a
start date for the trial. JAC

LEBED TO KEEP CAMPAIGN PROMISE? The legislature of
Krasnoyarsk Krai has passed the first law in Russia
enabling local citizens to recall their elected
governor, "Vremya MN" reported on 3 November.
Krasnoyarsk Governor Aleksandr Lebed had promised that
he would create a mechanism for citizens to get rid of
their governor should he or she not perform adequately.
Lebed has not yet signed the bill, but presidential
representative to Krasnoyarsk Valerii Kazakov said that
Lebed plans to appeal the law because it gives the local
legislature an unfair advantage over the office of
governor. JAC

BEREZOVSKII DENIES PAYING RANSOM TO FREE HOSTAGES IN
CHECHNYA. In an interview with Ekho Moskvy on 3
November, CIS Executive Secretary Boris Berezovskii
denied charges made by the presidents of Chechnya and
Ingushetia in an interview with "Komsomolskaya pravda."
According to those charges, Berezovskii had "driven up"
the ransom currently being demanded for hostages
abducted in Chechnya by offering material incentives to
secure their release. Berezovskii stressed he had
secured the release of 55 Russian hostages without
having paid a single kopeck. Also on 3 November, Russian
Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin told journalists that
his ministry recently had an opportunity to secure the
release of kidnapped presidential envoy Valentin Vlasov
but that unnamed forces paid a large sum of money to
thwart that operation. Vlasov's abductors are demanding
$7 million for his release. LF

RADUEV DENOUNCES COLLABORATORS. Maverick field commander
Salman Raduev told Interfax on 3 November that an
estimated 50,000 Chechens who collaborated with the
occupying Russian forces in 1994-1996 should be deprived
of their civil rights. Raduev again called for the
resignation of Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov, whom
he claimed is now supported only by those who had backed
the puppet government of Doku Zavgaev. A meeting
scheduled for 3 November between Maskhadov and the three
field commanders (Raduev, Shamil Basaev and Khunkar-
Pasha Israpilov) who for the past two months have been
lobbying for his resignation failed to take place. LF

CHECHEN PRESIDENT APPOINTS NEW ARMY CHIEF OF GENERAL
STAFF. Maskhadov has named field commander Abubakar
Montaev as head of the Chechen army, Russian agencies
reported on 3 November. Montaev, who replaces Alkhazur
Abuev, is a veteran of the 1994-1996 war. Earlier, he
had fought with Chechen volunteers in Abkhazia and
Nagorno-Karabakh. LF

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

GOVERNMENT TROOPS, REBELS CLASH IN TAJIKISTAN. Up to 10
Tajik government troops have been killed in fighting
with armed rebels loyal to Colonel Makhmud
Khudoiberdiyev in two towns in northern Tajikistan. The
rebels attacked government troops early on 4 November in
a fight for control of the airport at Chkalovsk. They
also seized key administrative buildings in Khudjand,
several kilometers away. President Imomali Rakhmonov has
convened a meeting of his Security Council to discuss
the situation, which presidential spokesman Zafar Saidov
characterized as "very serious." Khudoiberdiyev has
launched similar attacks in the past. In a telephone
interview with Reuters on 4 November, he deplored
criminality and the absence of democracy and freedom of
speech in Tajikistan. LF

KAZAKH GOVERNMENT APPROVES PIPELINE FEASIBILITY STUDY.
The president of the U.S.-Kazakh company Chevron-
Munaigas, Phil Meek, told journalists in Almaty on 3
November that the Kazakh government has endorsed the
feasibility study for the Caspian Pipeline Consortium
(CPC) project, in which Chevron has a 15 percent stake,
RFE/RL's Almaty bureau reported. The project envisages
the construction of a 1,500 km oil pipeline from eastern
Kazakhstan to the Russian Black Sea port of
Novorossiisk. On completion of the project in 2001,
initial through-put capacity will be 28 million metric
tons per year (560,000 bpd), according to Reuters. Meek
also dismissed Turkish concerns over the possible
ecological hazards inherent in increasing the amount of
crude transported by tanker through the Turkish straits,
saying that the CPC "is the most economically sound and
safe pipeline." LF

IRAN ARGUES IN FAVOR OF OIL SWAPS. Iran will hold an
international conference on security and the
transportation of Caspian oil and gas in Tehran on 7-8
November, Turan reported on 3 November. Iranian experts
argue that their country is economically the most viable
export route for Caspian oil and gas and that a total
investment of $350 million is sufficient to create the
infrastructure for the transport via Iranian territory
of all oil and gas extracted in the Caspian basin. That
infrastructure will include a new pipeline from Nika,
located on the Caspian, to Tehran. Meanwhile Iran wants
to expand the program of oil swaps whereby it takes
delivery of Caspian crude for domestic refining and
provides an equivalent volume of oil for export from the
Persian Gulf. Kazakhstan has exported a limited quantity
of crude in this way. LF

ARMENIA OFFERS TO MEDIATE BETWEEN ISRAEL, IRAN. Visiting
Israel last week, Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan
Oskanian said that Yerevan is prepared to act as
mediator between Israel and Iran, according to "Haaretz"
on 2 November, as summarized by the BBC. Oskanian said
that during his two visits to Tehran in August-
September, he received the impression that President
Mohammad Khatami is not averse to such mediation.
Oskanian met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,
Knesset speaker Dan Tikhon, and Industry and Trade
Minister Nathan Sharansky, whom he assured of Armenia's
desire to revive bilateral economic relations. On 31
October, Oskanian met with Palestinian leader Yasser
Arafat, with whom he discussed the Arab-Israeli and
Karabakh conflicts, Armenpress reported on 2 November.
LF

PKK LEADER "NOT IN ARMENIA"... Speaking at a press
conference in Yerevan on 3 November, Armenian
presidential press secretary Vahe Gabrielian denied
Turkish media reports that Kurdistan Workers' Party
(PKK) chairman Abdullah Ocalan is in Armenia, ITAR-TASS
and Noyan Tapan reported. Gabrielian said that Ocalan
had never visited Armenia and that the Armenian
leadership has no intention of inviting him to do so.
The Turkish daily "Hurriyet" claimed last week that
Ocalan was temporarily staying at the Russian military
base in Armenia. Russian Foreign Ministry officials have
denied that he is in Russia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27
and 30 October 1998). LF

...BUT DUMA WOULD WELCOME HIM IN RUSSIA. The Russian
State Duma voted unanimously on 4 November to appeal to
President Yeltsin to grant Ocalan political asylum in
Russia, Reuters reported. The Duma also released a
written statement signed by Ocalan in which the PKK
chairman formally requests asylum in Russia. LF

CLEMENCY FOR GEORGIAN MUTINY LEADER? Military Prosecutor
Badri Bitsadze told Georgian state television on 3
November that Lieutenant Akaki Eliava, who led the
insurgency at a Georgian military base last month, may
be pardoned if he voluntarily surrenders to the Georgian
authorities, AP reported. Prosecutor-General Djamlet
Babilashvili told journalists the same day that media
reports that the Georgian government has issued orders
to hunt down and kill Eliava are untrue, according to
Interfax. Also on 3 November, National Security Minister
Vakhtang Kutateladze said at a news conference that
Eliava could not have authored the ultimatum issued in
his name the previous day calling for the resignation of
President Eduard Shevardnadze "because he is not very
intelligent." The forged ultimatum, Kutateladze
reasoned, is additional proof that the Eliava mutiny was
organized by "destructive forces" both within Georgia
and abroad. LF

RUSSIAN PROTESTS ATTACK ON PEACEKEEPERS IN ABKHAZIA. The
Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on 3
November condemning the death of a member of the CIS
peacekeeping force in Abkhazia the previous day, ITAR-
TASS reported. Four other servicemen were injured when
their armored personnel carrier hit a mine in Abkhazia's
Gali Raion. Nikolai Rusak, a spokesman for the
exclusively Russian peacekeeping contingent, told
journalists in Sukhumi on 3 November that 32 terrorist
acts have been perpetrated in Abkhazia since the signing
of a cease-fire protocol on 25 May 1998. Russian
peacekeepers were the target of 17 of those attacks.
More than 60 Russian peacekeepers have been killed since
the force was first deployed along the Georgian-Abkhaz
border in summer 1994. LF

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