Everyone knows it is much harder to turn word into deed than deed into word. - Maxim Gorky
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 225, Part I, 20 November 1998


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 225, Part I, 20 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

* BLANK SCREEN REPLACES NEWS ON ORT

* DEBT NEGOTIATORS ACHIEVE BREAKTHROUGH

* NEW GEORGIAN FINANCE MINISTER NAMED

End Note: SCHROEDER'S VISIT MARKS NEW ERA IN RUSSO-GERMAN
RELATIONS
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RUSSIA

BLANK SCREEN REPLACES NEWS ON ORT... Russian Public
Television's (ORT) noon news program lasted only three
minutes on 20 November because, according to the
newscaster, essential equipment belonging to the
television company has been confiscated owing to unpaid
loans, ITAR-TASS reported. However, an official from the
Moscow bailiff's office told the Russian agency that ORT
executives are "throwing mud" and that their activities
have been suspended in order "to reduce tension" and
"allow the parties to reach an agreement on debt
repayment." ORT spokesman Grigori Simanovich told
Interfax on 19 November that "an absurd situation has
emerged when government institutions sue a television
company that is more than 50 percent owned by the
government." Earlier, Simanovich suggested that the
situation was not only absurd but politically motivated
by media opponents on the political Left (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 19 November 1998). JAC

...AS KORZHAKOV IMPLICATED IN SCANDAL OVER SHARES. The
State Duma plans to investigate allegations that the
percentage of government ownership in ORT exceeds 51
percent. Duma Chairman Gennadii Seleznev said that the
lower house will conduct a two-week investigation into
claims by Duma Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin
(Communist) that 26 percent of shares in ORT were signed
over to President Boris Yeltsin in 1994 as a bribe,
Interfax reported on 20 November. Speaking on ORT's
"Vremya" program, financial magnate Boris Berezovskii
confirmed that transfer but said it took place at the
behest of Yeltsin's former bodyguard Aleksandr
Korzhakov, who is now a Duma deputy. Oleg Sysuev, deputy
chief of the presidential staff, agreed that the entire
transaction was "Korzhakov's idea" and that the
president does not know about his "vast wealth." JAC

DEBT NEGOTIATORS ACHIEVE BREAKTHROUGH. Russian
government officials and a delegation of international
banks led by Deutsche Bank issued a joint statement on
19 November saying they have reached a preliminary
agreement on restructuring the government's short-term
Treasury bill debt, Bloomberg reported. The statement
includes a pledge by Russia to provide some dollars in
cash in exchange for the debt. One more round of talks
will be needed to work out the final terms, ITAR-TASS
reported on 20 November. JAC

PRIMAKOV SLAMS REFORMERS... In his first in-depth
interview, Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov lambasted
"economic reformers" and criticized the West for
continuing to rely on them for information. He told
"Izvestiya" on 20 November, that the West, specifically
the U.S., criticized his cabinet's economic plan based
on disinformation spread by former members of more
liberal governments. He noted that "there is great
support for [those former cabinet ministers] in some
Western political circles and media," but "these are the
gentlemen who duped the West" and paid no attention to
"the social aspects of the economy." Primakov disputed
the notion that a middle class has formed in Russia:
"People waving their arms around on the stock exchange
floor are not the middle class. Without the fundamental
development of the economy, a genuine middle class--
instead of just moneychangers--cannot emerge." He
characterized the 17 August moratorium on foreign debt
payments as more of a panicked reaction than an
appropriate policy. JAC

...NIXES ANY PLANS TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT. Primakov also
suggested that the Western policy-makers are failing to
grasp Russian reality because they are "bound by
stereotypes, notably in relation to Maslyukov," who is a
"professional of the highest order." Echoing earlier
statements, he recalled that the U.S. came out the Great
Depression by increasing the role of the state and that
state regulation is needed to protect the population
against "gangsterism" and "corruption." Primakov
dismissed the idea that he will run for the Presidency,
noting that "lunacy has its limits and I reached mine by
agreeing to be prime minister." He added that "age is
not on my side." The same day, Duma Chairman Gennadii
Seleznev told ITAR-TASS that the number of the Primakov
government's enemies is growing and that the government
may be ousted. JAC

GOVERNMENT, YABLOKO BLAST BACK AT KALMYKIA... Sysuev,
deputy chief of the presidential administration,
suggested on 19 November that Kalmykia's threat to
secede was in fact "a smoke screen for recent financial
and economic dealings by the republic's leaders." He
noted that the Security Council will discuss a new bill
to address the problem of elected regional leaders who
overstep their powers. The Duma Council instructed two
of its committees to draft its own legislation on the
issue. Meanwhile, the Yabloko party urged President
Yeltsin to declare a state of emergency in the republic,
noting that the local government has violated Russian
law in a number of ways. A letter signed by Yabloko
leader Grigorii Yavlinskii alleges that an offshore zone
set up by the local government is a financial "black
hole" in which funds from Moscow disappear. JAC

...WHILE PRESS, REGIONS BLAME MOSCOW. "Nezavisimaya
gazeta" on 19 November criticized the federal government
for giving favored regional leaders money while
withholding funds from those out of favor, noting that
it is a "dangerous game" that Moscow cannot win. It
added that "the federal center is weak and the president
of Kalmykia will always be able to play at separatism,
thus strengthening his own position within the
republic." The same day Tatarstan President Mintimer
Shaimiev predicted that the Finance Ministry's
inadequate attention to the regions could trigger
unilateral cancellation of agreements on the division of
powers between the regions and the federal government.
JAC

MASLYUKOV WARNS RUSSIA WILL BECOME OIL IMPORTER.
Predicting that oil production could slump to 220
million tons by 2000, First Deputy Prime Minister
Maslyukov said Russia may halt oil exports and become an
oil importer, Interfax reported on 20 November.
Meanwhile, Occidental Petroleum became the latest
Western oil company to abandon a Russian project, ITAR-
TASS reported on 18 November. Amoco and Elf Aquitaine
earlier announced plans to exit from some projects.
Analysts suggest that Russia cannot compete with other
energy-producing countries, which offer lower production
costs, a more modern infrastructure, and investor-
friendly economic policies. JAC

RELIEF EFFORT FROZEN. Ice in the Arctic Ocean stopped a
Russian oil tanker equipped with an atomic-powered ice
breaker from continuing on its journey to Chukotka
Autonomous Okrug, ITAR-TASS reported on 19 November. The
tanker was carrying 12,000 tons of fuel, which would
have allowed 4,000 residents there to remain through the
winter, AFP reported the previous day. Meanwhile, a
relief effort in Kamchatka Oblast has gone more
smoothly. Three atomic submarines are providing the town
of Vilyuchinsk with electricity, "Torgovaya gazeta"
reported on 12 November. JAC

NUCLEAR WORKERS IN URALS STAGE ONE-DAY STRIKE. Some
3,000 workers at the closed city of Snezhinsk in
Chelyabinsk Oblast protested a three-month backlog of
unpaid wages by staging a one-day strike on 19 November,
ITAR-TASS reported. JAC

DERZHAVA ELECTS NEW LEADER. The Derzhava Social
Patriotic Movement, founded by General Aleksandr Rutskoi
in 1994, elected a new chairman on 19 November, Interfax
reported. Delegates at the movement's sixth
extraordinary congress selected Konstantin Zatulin, an
adviser to Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov and director of
the Institute for the Countries of the CIS. Zatulin told
Interfax he is a staunch Luzhkov supporter, like many of
Derzhava's members. JAC

ROSNEFT BECOMING WHOLE AGAIN? A Moscow court on 19
November ruled the Feniks company's purchase of shares
in Purneftegaz, Rosneft's main production unit, invalid.
Feniks was ordered to return its portion of shares,
which it obtained at a sale price, which many analysts
and government officials considered scandalously below
market (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 November 1998). A
legal case on the last 25 percent of shares in
Purneftegaz held outside Rosneft, which was sold under
the same terms in September, is still pending. JAC

RUSSIA LAUNCHES FIRST PART OF INTERNATIONAL SPACE
STATION. A Russian Proton rocket lifted off from the
Baikonur cosmodrome on 20 November to put the first part
of the international space station into orbit, ITAR-TASS
reported. Russian and U.S. officials called the launch
"flawless" and are now waiting for the 5 December
docking with the second segment of the station, which
will be carried aboard the U.S. shuttle "Endeavor."
Meanwhile, Yurii Semenov, the president of Russia's
"Energiya" corporation, which owns the space station
"Mir," said the station will remain in space until the
year 2001. Previous plans called for closing down "Mir"
in mid-1999. BP

SANTA TAKE HEED. The legislature of the Yamalo-Nenets
Autonomous Okrug has passed a law on reindeer breeding,
ITAR-TASS reported. Sergei Karyuchi, deputy chairman of
the legislature, described the law as landmark
legislation since previously "reindeers lacked
legislative protection." Some peoples in the area, such
as the northern Evenks, were traditionally reindeer
breeders but their way of life was seriously disrupted
under communism. JAC

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

NEW GEORGIAN FINANCE MINISTER NAMED. The parliament on
19 November voted by 142 to three with no abstentions to
endorse President Eduard Shevardnadze's candidate for
minister of finance, Caucasus Press and Reuters
reported. The new minister is 37-year-old David
Onoprishvili, who since 1995 has served as chairman of
the parliamentary Committee for Economic Policy and
Reforms. Outlining a program of austerity measures,
Onoprishvili told deputies he is "not very happy" about
having to take up the daunting job. He ruled out a money
emission to cover the budget shortfall, saying such a
move would lead to hyperinflation. A graduate of
Columbia University, Onoprishvili worked as a consultant
to the World Bank in 1994-1995. He replaces Mikhail
Chkuaseli, who resigned a week ago (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 16 November 1998). LF

GEORGIAN DISPLACED PERSONS PESSIMISTIC OVER ABKHAZ
TALKS. Murman Zakaria, one of the leaders of the
Coordinating Council of Political Parties of Abkhazia
and Samachablo, which represents Georgians forced to
flee their homes in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, has
expressed doubts that the upcoming meeting between
President Shevardnadze and Abkhaz leader Vladislav
Ardzinba will alleviate the plight of those displaced
persons, Caucasus Press reported on 19 November. Zakaria
said that the Abkhaz have no interest in reaching a
settlement and that Moscow is encouraging them to
prolong the negotiating process indefinitely. He
predicted that the agreement to be signed by
Shevardnadze and Ardzinba, details of which have not
been revealed, will recognize Abkhazia's independence.
Georgian and Abkhaz officials have said the agreement
will outline measures for the repatriation of Georgian
displaced persons to Abkhazia. Meanwhile, another two
Abkhaz policemen were killed on 19 November when their
car hit a land mine in Gali Raion, Caucasus Press
reported. LF

GEORGIAN KURDS ON HUNGER STRIKE... Up to 50 Georgian
Kurds have begun a hunger strike at the Kurdish cultural
center in Tbilisi, Interfax and Caucasus Press reported
on 19 November. The center's chairman, Ordukhan Kashaki,
told Caucasus Press that the strikers are protesting the
12 November arrest in Rome of Kurdistan Workers' Party
leader Abdullah Ocalan and the tendency of the
international media to characterize the entire Kurdish
nation as separatists and terrorists. LF

...AS AZERBAIJANI NATIONALISTS CALL FOR OCALAN'S
EXTRADITION TO TURKEY. The Party of Young Turkic
Nationalists requested permission on 19 November from
Baku Mayor Rafael Allakhverdiev to picket the Italian
Embassy on 24 November, Turan reported. The party
intends to protest the Italian authorities' reluctance
to extradite Ocalan to Turkey. LF

KARABAKH PRESIDENT DENIES DISAGREEMENT OVER PEACE
PROPOSAL... Addressing the government of the
unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic on 19 November,
Arkadii Ghukasian denied rumors that some members of the
enclave's leadership are unhappy with the new peace
proposals advanced by the OSCE Minsk Group earlier this
month, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Ghukasian said
the peace plan contains encouraging new provisions,
including elements of an "unconventional status" for
Karabakh. Murad Petrosian, the hard-line chairman of the
Karabakh parliamentary Defense and Security Committee,
has reportedly criticized the proposals. Petrosian has
repeatedly expressed skepticism that the OSCE is capable
of mediating a political settlement to the conflict. LF

...WHILE AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION WANTS DETAILS. The
opposition Movement for Democratic Elections and
Electoral Reform (SIDSUH) issued a statement on 19
November expressing "concern" that the Azerbaijani
authorities have not yet made public the details of the
latest OSCE peace plan, Turan reported. The statement
claims that the proposal reportedly contained in that
plan--namely, that the Azerbaijan Republic and the
Nagorno-Karabakh Republic form "a common state"--
threatens the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. To
accept such a proposal is "betrayal of the [Azerbaijani]
people and the state," the statement concludes. LF

AZERBAIJANI PAPER FINED IN SECOND LIBEL SUIT. A Baku
district court imposed a 20 million manat ($5,000) fine
on the independent newspaper "Yeni Musavat" on 19
November for having implicated a senior Azerbaijani
Interior Ministry official in the February 1997 murder
of Academician Zia Buniatov, Turan reported. Vidadi
Mahmudov, defense lawyer for "Yeni Musavat," complained
that the verdict was unfair as the newspaper had printed
a statement by the official in question denying any part
in the killing. Rauf Arifoglu, the editor of "Yeni
Musavat," embarked on a hunger strike a week ago to
protest an earlier fine for insulting a member of the
presidential apparatus. A second independent newspaper,
"Azadlyg," is facing a libel suit brought by President
Heidar Aliev's brother Djalal, whom it claimed has
bought expensive property in Britain. Arifoglu and
"Azadlyg" editor Gunduz Tairli met on 19 November with
Western diplomats in Baku who expressed their regret at
the court cases. LF

BEREZOVSKII VISITS YEREVAN, BAKU. CIS Executive
Secretary Boris Berezovskii outlined his proposals for
reforming and giving a new lease of life to the
commonwealth during talks in Yerevan on 19 November with
Armenian President Robert Kocharian, RFE/RL's Yerevan
bureau reported. Kocharian expressed his approval of
those proposals, which include acting on the 1994
proposals to create free trade zones within the CIS,
terming them "quite a workable and serious package."
Berezovskii, for his part, gave a positive assessment of
the latest OSCE peace proposals for Karabakh, saying
they are "a step forward," according to Interfax. On
arrival in Baku later the same day, Berezovskii met with
President Aliev, who made it clear that his country will
intensify its cooperation within various CIS bodies only
when measures have been implemented to enable the CIS to
function more effectively, according to Interfax. LF

TAJIK OPPOSITION PARTY DENOUNCES LEADER. The National
Unity Party sent a letter to President Imomali Rakhmonov
and the parliament on 19 November condemning the
rebellion in northern Tajikistan earlier this month and
demanding those who took part in it be severely
punished, ITAR-TASS reported. The letter also criticized
party leader Abdumalik Abdullojonov for his role in the
rebellion, saying he has not been in contact with the
party for three years and was acting on his own. It also
called on residents of northern Tajikistan to hand over
voluntarily any weapons they may have been given by
"mutineers" during the rebellion. The letter came one
day after Russia's "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported that
the Tajik Justice Ministry has asked the Supreme Court
to ban the activities of the National Unity Party. BP

NAZARBAYEV SEES 'NOTHING BUT VICTORY' IN UPCOMING
ELECTIONS. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev said he
is counting on "nothing but victory" in the January
presidential elections, Interfax reported on 19
November. Nazarbayev spoke of the success his country
has enjoyed since it became an independent state in
1991. He said that during that period, inflation has
dropped from 2,900 percent to 2.3 percent and that 75
percent of industrial companies and 90 percent of farms
have been privatized, And he added that there are 7,700
new farms and 122,000 new businesses employing some 1.2
million people. Nazarbayev promised the presidential
elections will be free and fair. BP

END NOTE

SCHROEDER'S VISIT MARKS NEW ERA IN RUSSO-GERMAN
RELATIONS

by Roland Eggleston

	This week's visit to Moscow by new German
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has made clear that any
personal friendship between the leaders of the two
nations will no longer play so large a role in German-
Russian relations.
	Officials in Bonn say the days of the so-called
"Maennerfreundschaft"--or male-bonding--between Russian
President Boris Yeltsin and former German Chancellor
Helmut Kohl are now history. One of those officials says
that "Kohl based his policy too much on the person of
Boris Yeltsin," adding that "at the time, he may have
been quite right: Yeltsin was the strong man who could,
and did, exercise control. But those days have past."
	Political commentator Lutz Steiner says "Schroeder
has made clear that the new Germany is ready to support
and help Russia through its current crisis. But it will
be done on a firm economic basis." Steiner adds that
"there will be none of the so-called 'agreements between
old friends,' under which Helmut Kohl sometimes offered
Russia thousands of millions [of marks] in credit."
	Yeltsin was quoted by most German newspapers as
having declared in Moscow that "relations between
Germany and Russia are, and will remain, what they were
in recent years." But in Bonn, officials said that
Germany's left coalition of Social Democrats and Greens
wants to fashion a new relationship independent of any
personal friendship between the national leaders.
	The officials said that Schroeder is acutely aware
that Russian politics is in a state of flux. On the one
hand, there is Yeltsin's visible frailty and the fact
that his term in office will soon expire. In the best of
circumstances, Yeltsin will remain in power only until
the year 2000. Who his successor will be remains
unclear.
	Schroeder is said also to have taken into account
that Russian parliamentary elections are scheduled for
next year. They could bring new leaders to the fore even
before the expiration of Yeltsin's term.
	Schroeder's recognition of these realities was
expressed not only in his meetings with Yeltsin and
Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov. He also expressed his
views when he met with former Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin, Krasnoyarsk Governor, likely presidential
candidate Aleksandr Lebed, as well as communist and
other political leaders. By contrast, Kohl's visits to
Moscow were usually focused only on Yeltsin and those
around him.
	One theme that pervaded all Schroeder's discussions
in Moscow was that financial assistance to Russia should
be provided internationally and not by Germany
independently. Schroeder emphasized several times that,
in his phrase, "Germany's resources are exhausted."
	Most German commentators agree. With more than 10
percent of the nation's workers unemployed and severe
problems in some areas of the economy, there is
widespread agreement that the new government is being
forced to look inward more than in the past.
	Schroeder also pointed out to his Russian
interlocutors that other Western countries are also
placing restrictions on their future financial
assistance to Russia. A Bonn official said: "Schroeder
made clear to all his discussion partners that Russia
must lay out firm foundations for economic recovery
before it can expect new help from the Western
industrial states."
	Schroeder's view, as he told Primakov, is that "the
work must be done" in Moscow. But he publicly described
the new Russian economic program as a "good beginning"
that ought to receive a friendly reception from the IMF
and World Bank. German commentators say that Schroeder
paid attention to the complaints he heard from German
businessmen at a private meeting. The businessmen
expressed frustration with Russian tax policies,
problems in implementing contracts, and other
difficulties. Schroeder told them that his government is
ready to intervene with Russian authorities in
individual cases instead of only making a blanket
approach on behalf of all German businessmen.
	Still, Schroeder was said also to have discussed
with the businessmen Lebed's suggestion that Germany
develop more business and political contacts with the
Russian regions. Schroeder has said publicly that he
will also recommend to the 17 provincial governments in
Germany that they develop contacts with Russia's
regions.
	German commentators are uncertain about what
remains of the bilateral relations forged by Kohl and
Yeltsin. One question has to do with the so-called
"European triangle," the name given to the meeting in
March between Yeltsin, Kohl, and French President
Jacques Chirac. Under the skeptical eyes of Washington
and London, the three leaders agreed to develop
triangular cooperation in a number of areas, including a
tri-national university, increased exchange of
scientists, and more joint cultural projects.
	None of these programs have been realized, and
perhaps now they never will.

The author is an RFE/RL correspondent based in Munich.

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