A thing well said will be writ in all languages. - John Dryden 1631-1700
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 223, Part I, 18 November 1998


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 223, Part I, 18 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

* GOVERNMENT ACCUSES GOVERNORS OVER USE OF FEDERAL FUNDS

* CENTRAL BANK NEEDS MORE RUBLES TO PROP UP BANKS

* ARMENIAN PRESIDENT NAMES NEW CABINET APPOINTEES

End Note: AVERTING 'ONE STATE--TWO SOCIETIES' IN ESTONIA
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RUSSIA

GOVERNMENT ACCUSES GOVERNORS OVER USE OF FEDERAL FUNDS... In
an interview with "Vremya MN" on 16 November, Deputy Finance
Minister Tatyana Nesterenko charged regional governors with
failing to pass on federal monies transferred to them for
wages and then blaming the federal government for mounting
arrears. In "Literaturnaya gazeta" on 11 November,
sociologist Olga Krishtanovskaya suggested the center no
longer has a foolproof means of controlling regional elites
because if they try to punish an "impertinent governor" by
delaying federal allotments, then the governor can make
speeches blaming Moscow for poor local living conditions. On
the other hand, she noted that the federal government has
managed to keep the nation's most economically powerful
regions, such as Khanty-Mansiysk and Yamal-Nenets Autonomous
Okrugs, "politically weak" by "doing everything in its power
to promote mediocre regional politicians." She added that
regional elections are fast becoming "a formality" since more
and more governors win elections with 80-90 percent of the
vote. JAC

...WHILE KALMYKIA'S LEADER THREATENS CENTER. President of the
Republic of Kalmykia Kirsan Ilyumzhinov told Russian Public
Television (ORT) on 17 November that because of the failure
of Moscow to send money to Kalmykia, the republic's
leadership is forced to consider itself "de facto, outside of
the Russian federation." He added that "of course, we want to
remain in Russia...but we have been put in such a position
that we are ready to consider this question." He added that
Kalmykia will no longer transfer taxes to the federal budget.
The next day, Ilyumzhinov told Interfax that Russia is
showing signs of a federative crisis" that may lead to its
breakup. Russian President Boris Yeltsin instructed the
Security Council to review whether Ilyumzhinov's latest
statements are consistent with the Russian Constitution,
Interfax reported. JAC

CENTRAL BANK NEEDS MORE RUBLES TO PROP UP BANKS. Central Bank
Chairman Viktor Gerashchenko told reporters on 17 November
that the government will need an additional 10 billion rubles
($600 million) in order to assist in restructuring Russia's
commercial banking sector. He added that a ruble rate of 12
rubles to $1 would be ideal for the nation's exporters,
RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. The official rate on 17
November was 16.80 rubles per dollar. The economic plan that
the government released last weekend called for a floating
exchange rate, according to ITAR-TASS. On 17 November,
Avtobank announced that it has reached an agreement to
restructure a $47 million loan that would have come due
shortly after the 90-day moratorium on foreign debts was
imposed on 17 August. JAC

GOVERNMENT BEGINS NEW ROUND OF TALKS WITH CREDITORS. A
Finance Ministry delegation arrived in London on 17 November
to begin a new round of talks with creditors holding
defaulted short-term Treasury bonds. The government has
already reached an agreement with the domestic holders of
those bonds, "Vremya MN" reported. Meanwhile, both State Duma
Budget Committee Chairman Aleksandr Zhukov and Duma deputy
and Our Home is Russia faction leader Aleksandr Shokhin said
in separate interviews that Russia will be able to meet only
a fraction of its [longer term] foreign debt in 1999. Shokhin
told reporters that Russia needs a three- to five-year break
from its foreign debt payments. JAC

FSB CHIEF DENIES MURDER PLOT AGAINST BEREZOVSKII. Vladimir
Putin, Federal Security Service (FSB) director, tried to
squash media reports that the FSB sought to arrange the
murder of financial magnate Boris Berezovskii (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 16 November 1998). He said on 17 November that the
FSB will never promote the interests of any particular party
or group and that both left- and right-wing groups in Russia
have been unfairly accusing the service of either corruption
or interference in the nation's political affairs. ORT
carried extensive coverage of a news conference with the FSB
agents who are alleging that a plot existed. Berezovskii
reportedly exercises significant influence over ORT, although
his companies hold only 8 percent of its shares. JAC

START-II CHANCES RATED FIFTY-FIFTY. The START-II treaty has
only a fifty-fifty chance of passage in the Duma when the
vote takes place on 4 December, predicted military analyst
Pavel Felgengauer in "Segodnya" on 17 November. Felgengauer
cited Aleksei Arbatov, deputy chairman of the Duma's Defense
Committee and member of the Yabloko faction, who said that 70
percent of the Duma's deputies are against the treaty but
only 10 percent of these are "implacable foes." Arbatov said
that "if the executive 'works' thoroughly on faction
leaders," then the Communist faction may split during the
vote. He also predicted that the Liberal Democratic Party
(LDP) will vote solidly in favor if Primakov reaches an
agreement with LDP leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky. On the other
hand, Felgengauer notes that the Communists have "bad-mouthed
the treaty for so long that the patriotic electorate may not
understand a 'volte face.'" JAC

DRAFT LAW PROMOTES CIVILIAN CONTROL OF ARMY. A draft law
currently being revised by Primakov's cabinet envisions
establishing civilian control over the armed forces,
according to "Segodnya" on 16 November. The bill would
"ensure constitutional use of the armed forces, protect
servicemen's rights and interests, and provide control over
financial matters" so that the "government will have to pay
bills without delay and generals will have to account for
every ruble." The Federation Council, the Duma, and
legislative bodies of the Federation subjects would all have
civilian control commissions. So far, the law in its current
form has been opposed by Duma Defense Committee members
Sergei Yushenkov (Democratic Choice) and Albert Makashov
(Communist). The daily argued that a final draft of the law
may not make it to the Duma for approval this session because
the only member of the cabinet who strongly supports it is
Defense Minister Igor Sergeev. JAC

ROSVOORUZHENIE BOSS ON WAY OUT? First Deputy Prime Minister
Yurii Maslyukov harshly criticized the leadership of Russia's
arms export giant Rosvooruzhenie on 18 November, ITAR-TASS
reported. Maslyukov said that the company's economic
indicators for the first 10 months of 1998 are 40 percent
below those planned. He advocated sacking Rosvooruzhenie
Director-General Yevgenii Ananev and appointing "an
aggressive and business-like man" in his place. Since his
appointment in August 1997, Ananev has been repeatedly
criticized for Russia's shrinking share in world arms sales.
"Vremya MN" on 18 November identified Ananev's deputy,
Vladimir Ryabikhin, who worked under Prime Minister Primakov
when the latter headed the foreign intelligence service, as
Ananev's probable successor. LF

KURDS SET FIRE TO THEMSELVES IN MOSCOW PROTEST. Two members
of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) were hospitalized in
Moscow on 17 November after setting fire to themselves
outside the Duma building to protest Turkey's alleged policy
of genocide against its Kurdish population and to demand that
the Duma and the Russian government offer asylum to PKK
chairman Abdullah Ocalan. One of the men died of his injuries
on 18 November. Speaking at a Moscow press conference the
previous day, the head of the Kurdish National Liberation
Front in the CIS, Mahir Valat, warned that more Kurds may
attempt self-immolation to protest their lack of statehood,
according to Interfax. Valat also said that Ocalan was in
Russia without the knowledge of the Russian authorities from
9 October, when he left Syria, until 12 November, when he
departed for Italy. He was detained on arrival at Rome
airport. LF

SCHROEDER FINDS YELTSIN 'ACTIVE,' MEETS WITH RIVALS. German
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder wound up his official visit to
Moscow on 17 November after meeting with Russian President
Yeltsin. Schroeder told reporters that he found Yeltsin
"active" and "well-informed" and that Yeltsin would
participate in a G-7 meeting next June. Deputy chief of the
presidential staff Sergei Prikhodko told reporters that the
two leaders discussed bilateral trade, which has declined
this year, but not the issue of German loans. The previous
day, Schroeder met one-on-one with likely presidential race
contenders such as former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin,
Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii, Communist Party leader
Gennadii Zyuganov, and Krasnoyarsk Governor Aleksandr Lebed.
Schroeder stressed that he wants close cooperation between
Russia and Germany to continue. He noted that if Russia wants
more foreign investment, it must protect those monies. JAC

REGIONS SAY NO TO 'IMPORTED' WASTE. Krasnoyarsk Oblast
officials are refusing to store waste from Ukraine's
Zaporozhskaya nuclear power plant, ITAR-TASS reported on 17
November. Aleksandra Kulenkova, a deputy of Governor Lebed,
said that the oblast is paid only $275 per kilogram of
radioactive waste, compared with world market price of $800-
1,000, and that it receives payments irregularly. She added
that since the federal government manage the nuclear waste
shipments, the regional administration has no means to change
the situation, short of a ban. Meanwhile, in Altai Republic,
doctors have concluded that residents in areas where parts of
booster rockets from the Baikonur space complex, in
neighboring Kazakhstan, have landed are suffering ill health
effects, adding that healthy men are dying of cardiac arrest
and infants of cirrhosis, according to "Obshchaya gazeta" on
12 November. "Space waste" litters the landscape of more than
24,000 square meters, or one-quarter of the republic,
according to "Trud" on 3 November. JAC

TEACHERS STRIKE IN UDMURTIA. Teachers at dozens of secondary
schools in the Republic of Udmurtia have staged a work
stoppage to protest five months of unpaid wages,
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 17 November. Classes have
stopped at two-thirds of the schools of the capital of
Izhevsk. Teachers in Leningrad and Kemerovo Oblast have
launched similar protests (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 and 12
November 1998). JAC

CHECHEN MUFTI EXPRESSES SUPPORT FOR PRESIDENT. Ahmad-haji
Kadyrov, who narrowly escaped assassination in Grozny last
month, said on Chechen television on 17 November that it is
premature and unjustifiable to condemn President Aslan
Maskhadov's policies before the Supreme Shariah Court has
completed its investigation of the accusations against him by
three rival field commanders, ITAR-TASS reported. Kadyrov
also said that one of those field commanders, Salman Raduev,
should submit to the four-year prison sentence that the
Shariah court handed down to him on 4 November. Also on 17
November, Security Minister Aslanbek Arsaev told journalists
that Maskhadov will personally oversee yet another campaign
to neutralize criminal gangs specializing in abductions. A
headquarters for coordinating the activities of the forces
deployed in that campaign has been formed in Grozny. LF

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN PRESIDENT NAMES NEW CABINET APPOINTEES... Robert
Kocharian named four new ministers on 17 November and merged
two ministerial posts, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported.
Kocharian named Hayk Gevorgian, chief manager of a big state
enterprise and reportedly an ally of influential Defense
Minister Vazgen Sarkisian, as minister of trade and industry.
Gevorgian replaces Garnik Nanagulian, whose initial request
to step down five months ago had been refused by Kocharian,
according to "Azg" on 17 November. Deputy Economy and Finance
Minister Meruzhan Mikaelian was appointed energy minister to
replace Gagik Martirosian, who has been given the newly
established post of minister without portfolio responsible
for "industrial infrastructure." Deputy Defense Minister
Gevorg Vartanian was named minister for the environment.
Minister for Operational Issues Shahen Karamanukian was fired
and his duties merged with those of Minister for Territorial
Rule David Zadoyan. Hayk Nikoghosian was appointed minister
of health. LF

...RULES OUT SPLITTING KEY MINISTRY. Meeting last week with
journalists, Kocharian made it clear that he categorically
opposes the proposed division of the National Security and
Interior Ministry into two entities, Noyan Tapan reported on
16 November. Kocharian said that if the parliament adopts a
law on doing so, he will refuse to sign it. Last month, the
parliament's Committee on Defense and Security voted to
approve a legislative act that would restore the separate
existence of police and national security in Armenia. The
move was initiated by the opposition Hayrenik [Fatherland]
group, which believes that both the ministry and Minister
Serzh Sarkisian have acquired disproportionate powers.
Sarkisian had told journalists last month that it is normal
practice in democracies to have "police and
counterintelligence" co-existing within the same agency. "Do
they want to copy Syria or Uganda?" he asked. LF

FORMER KARABAKH PREMIER OFFERED DEFENSE POST IN YEREVAN.
Leonard Petrosian, who stepped down in May as prime minister
of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, was named
Armenian deputy defense minister on 17 November, RFE/RL's
Yerevan bureau reported. Petrosian's new duties will focus on
supplies for the armed forces. LF

GEORGIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS SHOW SUPPORT FOR RULING PARTY
ERODING. The preliminary results of Georgia's 15 November
municipal elections indicate that the Union of Citizens of
Georgia (SMK), which has a clear majority in the parliament,
failed to receive such a majority in some local councils and
will be forced to form coalitions with other parties in most
of Georgia's largest cities. The left-wing Labor Party made a
surprisingly strong showing, while the Socialists and
National-Democrats fared worse than expected. The Union for
Democratic Revival, headed by Adjar Supreme Council chairman
Aslan Abashidze, won almost all the seats in Adjaria.
Opposition party spokesmen accused the SMK of falsifying the
vote, but international observers, including some from the
Council of Europe, described the ballot as democratic.
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 18 November quoted Central Electoral
Commission chairman Djumber Lominadze as estimating voter
turnout at just above the required minimum of 33.3 percent.
LF

NAZARBAYEV WANTS KAZHEGELDIN IN JANUARY ELECTIONS... Kazakh
President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who is on a working visit in
the northwestern city of Aktyubinsk, said on 17 November he
wants former Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin to run
against him in the 10 January presidential elections, RFE/RL
correspondents in Almaty reported. According to Interfax,
Nazarbayev intends to ask the Supreme Court to overturn the
ruling of the Medeu District court, which fined Kazhegeldin
for taking part in an unsanctioned demonstration in early
October. Under that ruling, Kazhegeldin is barred from
running in the elections. However, RFE/RL correspondents
reported on 18 November that a new judge has been appointed
to the Medeu court and will hear the case again on 18-19
November. Kazakhstan's Supreme Court is prepared to consider
the case on 28-29 November if the Medeu court upholds its
original ruling. BP

AVERTING 'ONE STATE--TWO SOCIETIES' IN ESTONIA

by Jan Cleave

	On several occasions this fall, Estonian President
Lennart Meri has said he regards the passage of amendments to
the country's citizenship law as one of the legislature's
most important tasks in the coming months. He has appealed to
lawmakers to overcome the "political passions" that have
built up over the bill of amendments. And he has stressed
that the bill's passage would be advantageous for both the
domestic and the foreign policy of the country.
	Like neighboring Latvia, Estonia has a sizable ethnic
Russian and Russian-speaking community and has been under
pressure from both Moscow and the West to pass amendments
making it easier for members of that community to become
citizens. Last month, Meri's Latvian counterpart, Guntis
Ulmanis, signed into law such legislation, but only after
several well-publicized incidents that prompted Moscow to
step up the pressure, the difficult passage of the amendments
through the Latvian parliament, and their final approval in a
referendum. Estonian lawmakers, meanwhile, have not yet
completed the second reading of amendments to the Estonian
citizenship law, nor has a date been set for such a debate.
	So far, the Estonian bill has been almost one year in
the making: last December, just days after Estonia was
included among the six countries singled out for "fast-track"
EU membership talks, the government submitted the bill to the
parliament. The draft provides for stateless children under
15 who were born after 26 February 1992 (when the country's
1938 citizenship law was reinstated) to gain citizenship. The
children's parents must apply on their behalf, must be
stateless themselves, and must have lived in Estonia for at
least five years. It is estimated that some 6,000 children
would be eligible for citizenship immediately and 1,500
annually thereafter.
	As was the case in Latvia (where the final version of
the amendments makes a similar provision for stateless
children who were born after 21 August 1991, when the country
regained independence), nationalist-inclined politicians
opposed the bill on the grounds that such children would not
be required to prove proficiency in the state language. Such
legislation, they argued, would discourage non-Estonians from
learning Estonian (according to the Open Estonia Foundation,
only 16 percent of non-Estonians speak Estonian fluently,
while 37 percent are deemed to have a satisfactory command).
When the bill was opposed by a majority of deputies in June,
the parliament postponed its second reading until the fall.
	Estonian politicians who greeted last month's signing
into law of the Latvian amendments have urged that Estonia
follow suit as quickly as possible. Such a development would
be advantageous on three fronts. At home, it would help speed
up the integration of Russian-speakers (who constitute an
estimated one-third of Estonia's 1.45 million population);
the government advocated this in its national integration
policy, aimed at averting what it calls "one state--two
societies." With regard to relations with Russia, it might
help expedite the signing of the border treaty, which Moscow
has repeatedly linked to an improvement in the situation of
Estonia's ethnic Russian and Russian-speaking community. And
as far as Tallinn's bid for Western integration is concerned,
it would meet requests by the European Commission to loosen
citizenship requirements.
	It is difficult to predict whether the events that
surrounded the Latvian citizenship law amendments will have
an influence on parliamentary deputies in Tallinn when they
resume debating the Estonian bill. On the one hand, there may
be a strong desire not to further prolong the amendments'
passage and to push for their speedy signing into law. On the
other hand, among deputies opposed to the bill, there may be
a degree of complacency based on the perception that
Tallinn's relations with Moscow are not as tense as Riga's
and that Estonia has, after all, already been included among
the fast-track EU membership candidates.
	Such complacency could have serious repercussions, not
least with regard to EU integration. In a recent document,
the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly commented that
Latvia's chances of joining the EU would have been endangered
had last month's citizenship referendum failed. That vote did
not fail, however, and the European Commission is to consider
recommending that Latvia be moved up to the fast-track group
by the end of next year if Riga meets certain economic
criteria.
	In the meantime, the EU and other organizations will be
watching to see whether Estonia passes the citizenship law
amendments, thereby helping consolidate its position among
the fast-track candidates. If it does so without the kind of
adverse publicity that surrounded Latvia this summer, it will
also avoid tarnishing its image in the West and exacerbating
relations with Russia.

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