Miracles are natural. When they do not occur, something has gone wrong. - A Course in Miracles
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 217, Part I, 10 November 1998


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 217, Part I, 10 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

* INFLATION DOWN IN OCTOBER BUT READY TO SOAR?

* EU TO SEND OWN FOOD SHIPMENT

* MINSK GROUP CO-CHAIRMEN IN BAKU
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RUSSIA

INFLATION DOWN IN OCTOBER BUT READY TO SOAR? Yevgenii
Primakov's government has achieved some measurable
success in economic policy-making, "Rossiiskaya gazeta"
claimed on 10 November. According to the newspaper,
inflation in October fell to 3 percent from 36-38
percent the previous month. "Kommersant-Daily" reported
the same day that the fourth quarter budget deficit in
the revised budget will total 103 billion rubles ($6.9
billion), assuming that no credit from the IMF is
forthcoming. The newspaper reported that the government
decided to discuss the budget at a closed session of the
State Duma because this version differs from the one
that Finance Minister Mikhail Zadornov showed the fund.
Earlier, First Deputy Prime Minister Yurii Maslyukov
told reporters that the amount of money to be printed
will not exceed 15 billion rubles in 1998 (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 5 November 1998). JAC

EU TO SEND OWN FOOD SHIPMENT. The EU and Russia have
reached a preliminary agreement on a food assistance
package for Russia worth 400 million ECU ($470 million),
Deputy Prime Minister Gennadii Kulik told reporters on
10 November. According to Kulik, Russia will purchase
the food and receive humanitarian aid worth 10-2 million
ECU. EU Commissioner Hans van den Broek told reporters
the previous day that the package will include wheat,
rye, pork, beef, skimmed milk, and rice. JAC

JAPAN MAKES LOAN CONDITIONAL ON IMF COMPLIANCE. Japanese
Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura said on 10 November
that a $800 million loan tranche to Russia will not be
granted until Moscow has meet demands by the IMF, ITAR-
TASS reported. Japanese Prime Minister Keidzo Obuchi had
promised that the tranche would be released before the
end of this year (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 November
1998). But Komura said that unless IMF conditions are
met and delays on loans from that organization lifted,
"Japan will not grant credit alone." BP

NEW COMMAND PROPOSED FOR NUCLEAR FORCES. Defense
Minister Igor Sergeev, who was once the commander of the
Strategic Rocket Forces, has proposed forming a new
"joint main command for strategic nuclear deterrent
forces," "Moskovskii komsomolets" reported on 10
November. The new command would include strategic
missile forces and the ministry's 12th Main Directorate,
which has operational control over maritime and aviation
nuclear forces. According to the newspaper, generals in
the navy and air force are "irked" by the notion of
forming a new body at a time when their services are
having to slim down. They also dislike the fact that the
proposal seems to upset the established order, according
to which the General Staff commands and controls the
country's nuclear forces. The daily also reported that
Sergeev recommended the current head of the Strategic
Rocket Forces Lieutenant-General Vladimir Yakovlev for
the post of strategic forces commander-in-chief. JAC

COMMUNISTS GET MORE VERBAL HEAT OVER MAKASHOV. Former
Deputy Prime Minister and head of the Unified Energy
Systems Anatolii Chubais has joined other members of the
Moscow political elite calling for the Communist Party
to be banned for its support of State Duma Deputy Albert
Makashov and his anti-Semitic remarks (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 9 November 1998). "Nezavisimaya gazeta"
concluded on 10 November that Communist Party leader
Gennadii Zyuganov wiped out a "splendid collection of
personal tactical and strategic victories" through the
Communist Party's demonstration of support for Makashov.
Meanwhile, "Komsomolskaya pravda" speculated that
President Boris Yeltsin's sudden return to Moscow was
motivated by the president's desire to "strike back" at
the Communist Party. The newspaper reported that
according to a presidential staff source, the Kremlin
considers a ban on the party "unproductive" but the
possibility of the White House's initiating legal
proceedings against the party has not been ruled out.
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" receives financial support from
Boris Berezovskii's LogoVAZ group, while Oneksimbank is
a major shareholder in "Komsomolskaya pravda." JAC

RUSSIAN ELITE OFFERS SUGGESTIONS ON CONSTITUTION. The
working group of the Council on Foreign and Defense
Policy has issued its recommendations on how to amend
the constitution while preserving stability. The group,
which consists of a number of leading politicians,
academics, and journalists, published a statement in
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 6 November. That statement was
also signed by dozens of their peers from other
professions. According to the group, the "demand for
amendments to the constitution is essentially political
rather than juridical" and "calls to change the balance
of powers in the constitution in favor of a
parliamentary republic are exceptionally dangerous." The
authors condemn efforts to amend the constitution before
presidential elections or after such a ballot without
the participation of the federal government. They
suggest that amendments be introduced over a short
period before the end of this year. The amendments would
include increasing the Duma's role in the formation of
the cabinet. JAC

RUSSIA, BELARUS COOPERATE ON CRIME-FIGHTING. After
meeting with his Belarusian counterpart, Valyantsin
Ahalets, Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin told
reporters on 9 November that they had discussed among
other things, the unification of Russian and Belarusian
legislation, in particular the criminal and criminal-
procedure codes. According to Stepashin, the two
countries are already cooperating on fighting crime and
are creating a joint criminal database. Russian
Television reported that the two Interior Ministries
have conducted joint operations against criminal gangs
in border districts in Smolensk and Lipetsk Oblasts. JAC

ROSSEL BUYS GOOD PRESS COVERAGE? The head of the
information department of a new television station in
Yekaterinburg told local legislators that Sverdlovsk
Oblast Governor Eduard Rossel founded the station in
order "to assure appropriate coverage during the
upcoming 1999 gubernatorial race," "EWI Russian Regional
Report" reported on 5 November. The station receives 2.5
million rubles ($167,000) a year from the local budget
and was designated a public broadcaster. The station is
a "de facto commercial" channel, and station management
refused to give local legislators air time, saying their
company is a commercial enterprise. The report added
that funding for public media rose more than 500 percent
in last year's oblast budget, while public health and
education programs have been chronically underfunded. In
his speech on 6 November, Deputy Secretary of State
Strobe Talbott called Sverdlovsk Oblast one of Russia's
"oases of liberalalization" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9
November 1998). JAC

FAR EAST LEADERS WANT TO SET UP OWN BANKS. The trend
towards regions "nationalizing" banks on their territory
is continuing. "Izvestiya" on 6 November suggested that
in the Far East, the real aim of the proposed effort may
be to provide financing for local campaigns (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 3 November 1998). Primorskii Krai Governor
Yevgenii Nazdratenko and Vladivostok Mayor Viktor
Cherepkov have both declared their support for merging
large local banks in their region into one controlled by
the local authorities, the daily reported. Nazdratenko
said that his plan was personally approved by Central
Bank Chairman Viktor Gerashchenko when he recently
visited Moscow. Cherepkov said he wants to establish a
municipal bank for servicing the accounts of the city
budget. The daily quoted "local experts" saying that
soon new banks will emerge that are "patronized by the
krai's political elite." JAC

TEACHERS STRIKE IN ST. PETERSBURG. Teachers at 25
schools in Leningrad Oblast did not return to work after
the close of the fall vacations to protest a backlog of
unpaid wages over the past three to four months, ITAR-
TASS reported on 10 November. According to Vladimir
Podolyan, chairman of the local union of education
workers, unpaid wages total about 60 million rubles ($4
million). JAC

COURT FAVORS BREAKUP OF COMMUNAL APARTMENTS. The
Constitutional Court lifted a ban on the privatization
of rooms in communal apartments last week. "Kommersant-
Daily" noted on 4 November that the ruling does not mean
that all residents of communal apartment will
immediately become owners of their own rooms. The court
did not rule out the possibility that the right to
privatize individual rooms will face more legal
challenges. An uncompromising neighbor could hold up a
planned privatization by lodging a legal complaint that
his rights have been violated, since under the
constitution, the fulfillment of one citizen's rights
cannot come at the expense of another's. JAC

SUPPORTERS, OPPONENTS OF CHECHEN PRESIDENT CONVENE ...
Former Chechen acting Premier Shamil Basaev convened a
meeting on 9 November of the Pan-National Congress of
the Chechen People, which was officially dissolved by
deceased President Djokhar Dudaev. The session, held in
violation of an agreement reached between Basaev and
current President Aslan Maskhadov at a meeting of field
commanders the previous day, was attended by some 1,000
Maskhadov opponents, AP reported. Also on 9 November,
Maskhadov convened a rally of his supporters in the
village of Gekhi-chu, where Dudaev was killed in April
1996, to mark the seventh anniversary of the latter's
inauguration as Chechnya's first president. Former
acting President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev has appealed to
both Maskhadov and Basaev to refrain from actions that
could exacerbate the continuing tension in the republic.
LF

...AS MOSCOW EXPRESSES SUPPORT FOR MASKHADOV. Meanwhile
in Moscow, Russian Interior Minister Stepashin said on 9
November that "Maskhadov is supported by Russia and
other countries" and is able "to consolidate his
authority," Interfax reported. Stepashin told
journalists that at a meeting earlier that day with
Prime Minister Primakov, the latter had assured him that
funds had been allocated from the federal budget for the
social sphere in Chechnya. Stepashin said that receipt
of those funds, which Moscow has repeatedly promised
over the past year, would enhance Maskhadov's prestige.
LF

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

MINSK GROUP CO-CHAIRMEN IN BAKU. The Russian, French,
and U.S. co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group met with
Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev in Baku on 9 November
and presented new proposals for resolving the Karabakh
conflict. Those proposals are based on the concept of a
"union-state" comprising Azerbaijan and the unrecognized
Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, according to Reuters. They
also focus on the problem of displaced persons. ITAR-
TASS quoted Aliev as saying that "the principle of a
single state deserves attention" but that the new
initiatives need to be thoroughly studied before the
Azerbaijani side can express a formal opinion. Aliev's
foreign policy adviser Vafa Gulu-zade told journalists
that Baku regards the new proposals "very negatively" as
the term "union-state" is ambiguous. Gulu-zade said
Azerbaijan will not retreat from the so-called Lisbon
principles, which provide for Azerbaijan's territorial
integrity and autonomy for Nagorno-Karabakh within
Azerbaijan. LF

NEW AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION MOVEMENT FORMED. Twenty-three
Azerbaijani opposition parties have announced their
alignment in a new Movement for Democracy, ITAR-TASS
reported on 9 November. The primary objective of the
movement is to campaign for new presidential elections.
The movement does not recognize the outcome of the 11
October presidential poll, in which Aliev was reelected
with 76 percent of the vote, according to official
returns. The Azerbaijan National Independence Party,
headed by Etibar Mamedov, one of the defeated
presidential candidates, has not joined the new
movement. But Mamedov and representatives of 27 other
parties signed a declaration on 9 November condemning
the elections as falsified and affirming that "Heidar
Aliev and his entourage have usurped power." LF

AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION ACCUSES LEADERSHIP OVER VIOLENCE.
The leadership of the opposition Democratic Party and of
the Movement for Electoral Reform and Democratic
Elections have released official statements claiming
that a group of young men in civilian clothes who
attacked and beat up opposition leaders at the 8
November Baku rally are employees of a company owned by
the brother of President Aliev, Turan reported on 9
November. Azerbaijani Prosecutor-General Eldar Hasanov
condemned the attack at a 9 November meeting with
Azerbaijan Popular Front Party board member Alimamed
Nuriev, assuring him that criminal proceedings will be
brought against the attackers. LF

ARMENIA, RUSSIA TO RESUME DIAMOND COOPERATION. Russian
officials, including the president of Almazy-Sakha-
Rossii, met on 9 November in Yerevan with President
Robert Kocharian to discuss the prospects for renewing
cooperation in diamond-cutting, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau
reported. Armenia was one of the leading centers of the
Soviet diamond-processing industry before the collapse
of the USSR, and diamonds remain one of its main export
items. But since the early 1990s, South Africa's De
Beers corporation has replaced Russia as Armenia's main
supplier. A formal agreement whereby Russia will provide
Armenia with uncut diamonds for processing is to be
signed by the end of this year, according to Noyan
Tapan. LF

TAJIK PRESIDENT DECLARES DAY OF MOURNING... Imomali
Rakhmonov declared 10 November a day of mourning for
victims of an attempted rebellion in the northern part
of Tajikistan, ITAR-TASS reported. Red Cross workers
visited some of the scenes of the fighting the previous
day. They report that more than 500 victims of the
fighting are in Khujand hospitals, some 40 families are
without shelter, and more than 2,000 houses are damaged.
The Tajik government issued a statement the same day
requesting that other CIS countries help apprehend the
leaders of the rebellion, who are believed to have fled
the country. Tajik presidential spokesman Zafar Saidov
has said there are unconfirmed reports that some of the
rebel leaders have escaped to Uzbekistan. The Uzbek
Foreign Ministry released a statement calling such
statements "slanderous." The UN mission to Tajikistan
also criticized reports on Tajik Television claiming the
UN knew about the rebellion in advance. BP

...WHILE INVESTIGATORS SEEK TO PIECE TOGETHER FACTS.
Tajik investigators examining the attempted rebellion in
Leninabad Region say they have documents that support
Rakhmonov's assertion that the rebels planned a coup,
ITAR-TASS reported on 9 November. Investigators found
rebel maps indicating strategic targets not only in
Leninabad Region but also in Dushanbe, the southern city
of Kurgan-Tyube, and the Karategin Valley, east of
Dushanbe. The attacks were planned "outside the country"
and some of the rebels trained in Afghanistan, the
investigators say. Some media reports during the
rebellion claimed that among the rebels were soldiers of
Afghan General Abdul Rashid Dostum. The Tajik government
has released a list of those suspected of planning the
attack. They include former Prime Minister Abdumalik
Abdullojonov, former army Colonel Mahmud Khudaberdiyev,
and former Customs Committee Chairman Yakub Salimov. BP

RUSSIAN RUBLE DOING WELL IN KAZAKHSTAN. ITAR-TASS on 9
November reported that there is a growing demand for
Russian rubles in Kazakhstan. The ruble's value on the
Almaty stock exchange climbed 15 percent in the last
week and is currently exchanged for 5.1-5.3 Kazakh tenge
($1=81 tenge). At currency exchange offices, the ruble
can be bought at 4.5 tenge; it can then be sold at
rates18-20 percent higher. Over the past week, the total
volume of ruble transactions at the Almaty stock
exchange amounted to 1.65 million rubles, the largest
amount since before the Russian economic crisis began.
BP

TURKMEN PRESIDENT IN GOOD HEALTH. The German
cardiologist who performed cardiac surgery on Saparmurat
Niyazov in September 1997, has re-examined the Turkmen
president and said his health has significantly
improved, ITAR-TASS reported. Dr. Hans Meisner said it
helps that Niyazov has quit smoking but warned that the
president often disregards doctors' advice not to
overburden himself. BP

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