The greatest happiness is to know the source of unhappiness. - Dostoevsky
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 226, Part I, 23 November 1998


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 226, Part I, 23 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

* ILLNESS DELEGATES YELTSIN TO SIDELINES AGAIN

* LEADING LIBERAL DEPUTY STAROVOITOVA MURDERED

* AZERBAIJAN REJECTS OSCE KARABAKH PEACE PLAN

End Note: THE DEATH OF A DEMOCRAT
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RUSSIA

ILLNESS DELEGATES YELTSIN TO SIDELINES AGAIN... Russian
President Boris Yeltsin was hospitalized with pneumonia
and a high temperature on 23 November. Yeltsin was also
taken to the hospital for signs of pneumonia in January
1997. His wife, Naina, disclosed recently that Yeltsin
has been having trouble adjusting to Moscow's cold
weather after the milder climate of Sochi, where he
spent the first few weeks of November to recover from
fatigue. JAC

...AS YELTSIN MEETS WITH CHINESE LEADER IN HOSPITAL.
Chinese President Jiang Zemin held the informal "no-
neckties meeting" with his Russian counterpart in
Yeltsin's hospital room on 23 November, Russian media
reported. After the 40-minute meeting, Jiang told
reporters that "everything is fine." ITAR-TASS reported
that two documents were signed: a Russian-Chinese
political declaration and a statement on the final
demarcation of the western section of the Russian-
Chinese border. Yeltsin's press secretary, Dmitrii
Yakushin, told journalists that all goals of the meeting
were achieved. Jiang also met with Duma speaker Gennadii
Seleznev and is scheduled hold talks with Prime Minister
Yevgenii Primakov. He leaves for Novosibirsk on 24
November. BP

LEADING LIBERAL DEPUTY STAROVOITOVA MURDERED... Though
somewhat inured to violence, Russia's political elite
responded with shock to the murder of State Duma deputy
and co-chair of the Democratic Russia party Galina
Starovoitova, who was slain by gunmen in her St.
Petersburg apartment late on 20 November. Her press
secretary, Ruslan Linkov, was critically injured in the
attack. Starovoitova, 52, had been a democracy activist
both before and after the breakup of the Soviet Union.
She served as one of Yeltsin's advisers on nationalities
policies and more recently led efforts to censure Duma
deputy Albert Makashov for his anti-Semitic remarks.
President Yeltsin expressed "shock and profound anger"
at the killing, calling her "one of the brightest
figures in Russian politics." Historian Dmitrii Likachev
said her killing seems to signal the "outburst of a new
Red Terror" (see also "End Note" below). JAC

...AFTER RECEIVING DEATH THREATS. Linkov, a former
journalist, reportedly had compiled a report on contract
killings traceable to Duma Speaker Seleznev and
Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov, Viktor
Krivulin, head of the St. Petersburg branch of
Democratic Russia told reporters on 21 November.
Starovoitova intended to present the report at the next
Duma session, he claimed. Starovoitova had been
receiving death threats in recent months over the
reports published in "Severnaya stolitsa" about
corruption among high-placed officials in the federal
and St. Petersburg government, Duma deputy Ludmila
Narusova told Interfax on 21 November. Interior Minister
Sergei Stepashin told reporters that there is no
evidence linking Seleznev to the killing, and Federal
Security Service chief Vladimir Putin said that he has
no reason to believe the killing was a "political
assassination." In October, a close aide to Seleznev was
shot in St. Petersburg and critically injured (see
"RFE/RL Newsline, 19 October 1998). JAC

STAROVOITOVA MURDER TO GALVANIZE ANTI-CRIME MEASURES?
Duma deputy speaker and member of the Our Home is Russia
party Vladimir Ryzhkov cautioned against using the
tragedy to "press for a ban on the Communist Party or
insult one's political opponents." He told reporters
that the country should pay attention not to political
infighting between right and left but to the "growing
wave of crime that is sweeping us all." Yabloko leader
Grigorii Yavlinskii called on the country not to
tolerate violence any longer, saying "we must stop
feeling powerless before the increasingly insolent
scum." Former First Deputy Prime Ministers Anatolii
Chubais and Boris Nemtsov and former Mayor of St.
Petersburg Anatolii Sobchak all pointed to the growing
lawlessness in St. Petersburg in their comments on the
lawmaker's death. JAC

MOSCOW THREATENS PRESIDENTIAL RULE FOR KALMYKIA.
Imposing direct presidential rule in the Republic of
Kalmykia may be discussed in the near future,
presidential spokesman Dmitrii Yakushin told reporters
on 20 November. The next day, Security Council Chairman
Nikolai Bordyuzha told journalists that the council has
advised the government to resolve outstanding financial
disputes with the republic and instructed the
prosecutor-general to conclude his investigation into
the misappropriation of funds by Kalmyk officials and
the murder of journalist Larisa Yudina. Meanwhile,
Interfax reported that roughly 3,000 people rallied in
the Kalmykian capital to support President Kirsan
Ilyumzhinov, who continued to insist his remarks have
been grossly misinterpreted. He told Interfax that the
Finance Ministry is perpetrating "genocide against an
entire people" by "withholding funds for children's
vaccinations, students' stipends, and public sector
wages." JAC

NEW AGENCY CREATED TO SAVE BANKS. Prime Minister
Primakov on 20 November signed an order establishing an
agency for restructuring the banking system. The
agency's charter capital will total 10 billion rubles
($590 million). Earlier, Central Bank Chairman Viktor
Gerashchenko said 10 billion rubles would be needed to
supplement already planned sums to prop up the
commercial banking sector (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18
November 1998). ITAR-TASS reported that the new agency
will aim to restore confidence in the banks, attract new
investors, restore the banking system's normal
functioning, and increase capital to the "viable core of
the banking system." The Federal Property Fund and the
Bank of Russia will own 51 and 49 percent of the agency,
respectively. JAC

LEFTIST ALLIANCE REELECTS ZYUGANOV. The People's
Patriotic Union reelected Communist Party leader
Zyuganov chairman on 21 November at its second congress
in Moscow. Zyuganov described the key goals of the
alliance as achieving a return to centralized
government, broad constitutional reform to redistribute
the president's power among the government and
parliament, and the creation of a union of Slavic states
by Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. Interfax reported that
delegates to the congress applauded the anti-Semitic
remarks of a Vorkuta miner. JAC

MOSCOW MEDIA SEEKING INFLUENCE IN REGIONS. The Russian
State Radio-Television Company is extending its reach to
provincial broadcasters, having purchased a local
broadcasting station in Tver Oblast, one of its first
regional subsidiaries in central Russia, "EWI's Russian
Regional Report" reported on 19 November. Under the
arrangement, local viewers will receive new programs,
Tver may obtain a new channel, and the parent company
will gain new representation in the region. Moscow city
and Tver Oblast officials earlier signed a special
agreement on media cooperation under which several
television programs are to feature Moscow Mayor Yurii
Luzhkov and Tver Governor Vladimir Platov. JAC

PRIMAKOV MEETS WITH SOUTH AFRICAN VICE PRESIDENT. Thabo
Mbeki, vice president of the Republic of South Africa,
met separately with Prime Minister Primakov and Duma
Chairman Seleznev on 23 November. After his meeting,
Seleznev told reporters that Russia's relations with
South Africa are "gaining momentum" and that the Duma
will ratify a bilateral agreement on diamond mining.
Also attending Primakov's meeting with Mbeki were First
Deputy Prime Minister Yurii Maslyukov, Interior Minister
Stepashin, Fuel and Energy Minister Sergei Generalov,
and Economic Minister Andrei Shapovalyants. JAC

RUSSIA CONCERNED OVER TURKEY'S NEW STRAITS RESTRICTIONS.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin told
journalists on 20 November that Russia is concerned
about Ankara's decision unilaterally to introduce
further restrictions on the passage of shipping through
the Turkish Straits, Russian agencies reported. He said
there should have been consultations with the
signatories to the 1936 Treaty of Montreux regulating
navigation through the straits before the new
regulations were made public. Those rules cut the number
of oil tankers that may transit the straits annually
from last year's figure of 4,500. The nine signatories
to the 1936 treaty were France, Belgium, Greece,
Yugoslavia, Turkey, Japan, Britain, Australia, and the
USSR. Rakhmanin's statement suggests that Russia is
claiming the right to dispute the new restrictions in
its capacity as successor to the Soviet Union. LF

SAKHALIN, HOKKAIDO SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENT. Russia's
Sakhalin Oblast and Japan's northernmost island Hokkaido
signed a friendship and cooperation agreement on 22
November, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. Sakhalin
Region Governor Igor Farkhutdinov said the first
priority for the new partnership should be developing
geothermal energy sources around the Kuril Islands to be
used as a power source for the area. BP

U.S. DIPLOMAT CHARGED IN TRAFFIC INCIDENT. State traffic
authorities in Vladivostok have opened a criminal case
against U.S. General Consul Douglas Kent, charging him
with violating traffic safety violations and seriously
injuring a pedestrian, Interfax reported on 20 November.
In an earlier report about the incident, "Komsomolskaya
pravda" drew a parallel with an incident in Washington,
D.C., in which a Georgian diplomat killed a young woman
in a traffic accident and was later stripped of his
diplomatic immunity (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 November
1998). JAC

OREL CATHOLICS WIN BACK CHURCH, THEN LOSE IT. Orel
Oblast Governor Yegor Stroev reversed his decision to
return a church building to a revived local Catholic
parish, Keston News Service reported on 20 November.
According to the agency, Archbishop Paisii of the Moscow
Patriarchate persuaded Stroev to annul an earlier decree
restoring the building, which had been confiscated from
local Catholics during the Soviet period. Since the
decision, permission to rent a room for services on the
premises of a local factory has been refused. According
to the factory director, it would be "inexpedient" to
rent a room to Catholics. JAC

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

AZERBAIJAN REJECTS OSCE KARABAKH PEACE PLAN...
Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Tofik Zulfugarov told the
French, Russian, and U.S. ambassadors on 20 November
that his country cannot accept the concept of a "common
state" comprising the Azerbaijan Republic and the
unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic proposed in the
most recent OSCE peace plan, Azerbaijani agencies
reported. Zulfugarov said that Baku is prepared to
resume peace negotiations on the basis of the proposals
made by the OSCE Minsk Group in September 1997. Karabakh
has rejected that plan, and Armenian President Levon
Ter-Petrossian's willingness to accept it precipitated
his resignation under pressure early this year (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 4 February 1998). Russia's ambassador
in Baku, Aleksandr Blokhin, told journalists on 21
November that the latest peace plan attempted to
"balance the interests of the two warring sides" and
that Azerbaijan's rejection of it would hinder the peace
process, according to Turan. LF

...WHILE OSCE EXPRESSES 'DISAPPOINTMENT.' An OSCE
spokesman told RFE/RL on 23 November that the
organization is disappointed with Azerbaijan's rejection
of the latest peace proposal but hopes that some
elements of it can be salvaged. He added that the OSCE
also hopes that at the OSCE summit in Oslo in early
December it will be possible to announce that peace
talks will resume. Polish Foreign Minister and OSCE
chairman Bronislaw Geremek, who is currently in Tbilisi,
will meet in Baku with Azerbaijani President Heidar
Aliev on 26 November and attempt to persuade him to take
a more positive approach, the spokesman said. On 20
November, Geremek had appealed to all three conflict
parties "to demonstrate the political will to negotiate
and compromise in the interests of achieving a mutually
acceptable resolution of the conflict." A French Foreign
Ministry spokesman said on 23 November that Azerbaijan's
rejection of the plan is not unexpected. He said it is
uncertain how much more the OSCE can do to try to
resolve the conflict. LF

AZERBAIJAN SAYS BAKU-CEYHAN VIABILITY DEPENDS ON TURKEY.
Speaking at a news conference in Washington on 20
November, Azerbaijani State Oil Company Vice President
Ilham Aliev said that the anticipated cost of building
the Baku-Ceyhan export pipeline for Caspian oil could be
reduced if Turkey cuts transit fees and contributes to
the cost of the construction, an RFE/RL correspondent in
the U.S. capital reported. The Azerbaijan International
Operating Company has repeatedly postponed making a
commitment to that route, which it estimates will cost
$4 billion The Turkish government puts that figure at
$2.5 billion. Aliev said that the Azerbaijani leadership
"cannot wait forever" if the AIOC fails to make a
definite commitment to the Baku-Ceyhan route within the
next two months. Turkish energy officials told Reuters
on 20 November that Turkey will limit purchases of crude
from AIOC members British Petroleum and Amoco to protest
the consortium's delay in making a decision on the Baku-
Ceyhan route. LF

ARMENIAN DEFENSE MINISTER STRENGTHENS POWER BASE...
Vazgen Sargsian on 21 November presided over the formal
establishment of the Republican Party of Armenia (HHK),
RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. That party is the
result of a merger, announced in July, between the
Republican Party and the political wing of the Yerkrapah
union of veterans of the Karabakh war, of which Sargsian
is chairman (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 July 1998).
Addressing supporters on 21 November, Sargsian said the
HHK will serve as President Robert Kocharian's main
support base. He characterized the HHK's ideology as
"centrist" and vowed that it will reject the "wild
liberalism" espoused by Armenia's first post-communist
leadership in 1990. Of Yerkrapah's estimated 6,000
members, some 1,000 have joined the HHK; the others will
remain members of Yerkrapah, which will continue to
function as an NGO protecting the interests of war
veterans and their families. LF

...BUT DOES NOT ASPIRE TO PREMIERSHIP. On 20 November,
Albert Bazeyan, who heads the majority Yerkrapah
parliamentary group, told journalists in Yerevan that
both he and Sargsian consider the latter is "in the
right place serving as defense minister," RFE/RL's
Yerevan bureau reported. Bazeyan said there is no
guarantee that Sargsian would perform better as prime
minister. On 13 November, opposition parliamentary
deputy Ashot Bleyan had argued that Sargsian should take
over the premiership from Armen Darpinian. LF

ARMENIAN CENTRAL BANK WILL NOT PROP UP DRAM. Central
Bank chairman Tirgan Sarkisian said on 20 November that
the bank will not intervene to prevent further
fluctuations in the dollar/dram exchange rate, RFE/RL's
Yerevan bureau reported. The dram fell to 529 to $1 on
19 November, but rebounded to 523 the next day, having
traded at 510-515 last month. Analysts attribute the
fall to the repercussions of the Russian financial
crisis and expect cuts in the government's 1998 budget.
But Sarkisian blamed speculators, urging the population
not to overreact. He said that the Central Bank's chief
priority is to maintain the current single-digit level
of annual inflation, adding that financial stability is
more vital than what he described as "risky economic
growth." LF

ARMENIA, GEORGIA PLEDGE CLOSER COOPERATION. Visiting
Tbilisi on 20-21 November for the first time as Armenian
president, Robert Kocharian held talks with his Armenian
counterpart, Eduard Shevardnadze, and with Georgian
parliamentary speaker Zurab Zhvania, Caucasus Press
reported. The two presidents agreed to cooperate on
projects within the TRACECA transport network and on
integration within the CIS as well as within the
framework of NATO's Partnership for Peace program,
Interfax reported. Zhvania told journalists after the
talks that the two countries should create a common
economic space and that their parliaments could expedite
such a development by coordinating legislation on
investments. Hovhannes Aivazian, chairman of the
Djavakhk Union, which represents the interests of
southern Georgia's Armenian community, said he hopes
Kocharian's visit will promote greater regional
cooperation, including the creation of a free economic
zone on the Georgian-Armenian frontier, Caucasus Press
reported on 19 November. LF

ABKHAZ ENVOY IN TBILISI. Anri Djergenia met with
Georgian Minister of State Vazha Lortkipanidze on 22
November to discuss a draft protocol on the repatriation
to Abkhazia of ethnic Georgian displaced persons and a
draft agreement "on peace," ITAR-TASS reported. Those
documents are to be signed at the upcoming meeting
between Shevardnadze and Abkhaz leader Vladislav
Ardzinba. In his weekly radio broadcast on 23 November,
Shevardnadze said that the meeting will "most probably
not" take place this month as originally planned,
Caucasus Press reported. Zurab Samushia, commander of
the White Legion Georgian guerrilla formation operating
in Abkhazia, has threatened to prevent the Ardzinba-
Shevardnadze meeting. Samushia has demanded the release
of two ethnic Georgians abducted last week in Abkhazia's
southernmost Gali Raion and an end to the persecution of
the local Georgian population. LF

KYRGYZSTAN SEEKS TO STRENGTHEN NATIONAL CURRENCY. Kyrgyz
Prime Minister Kubanychbek Jumaliev told journalists on
20 November that his government will take a number of
measures in an attempt to stabilize the som, RFE/RL
correspondents and ITAR-TASS reported. Jumaliev said
that the 1999 budget will have to be revised and
financial controls on enterprises tightened to make sure
they all pay taxes. Jumaliev promised the state will
continue paying interest on Treasury bills and meet its
obligations on paying its foreign debt. A number of free
economic zones in Kyrgyzstan will be closed down, he
added. National bank chairman Marat Sultanov said his
bank has the means to stabilize the market, noting that
there are $175 million and 2.8 billion som ($90 million)
in the bank's reserves. He added that controls over the
country's banks need to be strengthened. RFE/RL
correspondents on 23 November reported that many vendors
at Bishkek's Dordoi Bazaar, the city's largest market,
are asking for payment in dollars. BP

UZBEK BATTALION NOT TO RETURN TO TAJIKISTAN. The Uzbek
motorized rifle battalion that was withdrawn from the
CIS peacekeeping forces serving in Tajikistan will not
return to that country for financial reasons, ITAR-TASS
reported on 20 November. The unit arrived back in
Uzbekistan on 16 November to take part in military
exercises along the Uzbek-Afghan border. Bahodyr Umarov,
the press secretary of the Uzbek Foreign Ministry, noted
that Uzbek units have served in Tajikistan for six
years. He added that the Tajik peace accord removes the
main reason for Uzbek troops to be deployed in the
neighboring country. BP

UNEMPLOYMENT GROWS IN TAJIKISTAN. According to the State
Statistics Agency, unemployment in Tajikistan grew by 18
percent in the first nine months of this year, ITAR-TASS
reported on 23 November. Some 64,800 people are
registered as unemployed, of whom some 53 percent are
women. Unemployment is also rising sharply among the
country's youth, many of whom have a higher education
but cannot find work. BP

TURKMEN PRESIDENT READY FOR 'OPEN DISCUSSION.' Turkmen
President Saparmurat Niyazov will go on national
television and radio on 20 December to answer questions
put to him by Turkmen residents, ITAR-TASS reported on
20 November. Questions should be about the development
of the country or society and must be sent to the
president's press service or the national television and
radio company before 20 December. BP

END NOTE

THE DEATH OF A DEMOCRAT

by Paul Goble

	The brutal murder of State Duma deputy Galina
Starovoitova has deprived Russia of its most consistent
defender of democracy, human rights, and interethnic
cooperation.
	But more than that, her death on 20 November in St.
Petersburg threatens the possibilities of debate in
Russia's still fragile democracy, to the same extent
that the August 1998 devaluation of the ruble undermined
the country's economy.
	And that threat explains both the vehemence of the
reaction of Russian political leaders and Starovoitova's
recent anticipation of her own fate and her
understanding of the likelihood that those who had made
the democratic revolution might soon be cast aside.
	In the decade before her death, at the age of 52,
Starovoitova went from being an ethnographer to being a
leader of the democratic movement in Moscow. In both
capacities, she was never afraid to criticize others who
called themselves democrats if they failed to defend
democratic principles.
	Earlier than almost anyone else, Starovoitova spoke
out in defense of the rights of the Karabakh Armenians,
a position that led to her 1988 election to the USSR
Supreme Soviet from Yerevan and membership in that
body's Human Rights Committee.
	And even before the Soviet Union collapsed, she
showed both her courage and commitment: In 1990, she won
a libel suit against the Communist newspaper "Pravda,"
which had accused her of urging extraconstitutional
means to change the government. But her concern for
these human rights and constitutional rules was not, as
some thought at the time, merely a reflection of her
ethnographic interests. Instead, it arose from her
deeply held belief that every individual and every group
has certain rights that must be protected.
	In 1991-1992, she combined her passion for both
ethnography and democracy by serving as President Boris
Yeltsin's senior adviser on nationality issues and as
co-president of the Democratic Russia Party. And at that
time, she also worked closely with reformers like Yegor
Gaidar, Anatolii Chubais, and Anatolii Sobchak.
	But her relations with all of these leaders, as
well as others were often stormy, precisely because of
her uncompromising commitment to principle. She was
among the most outspoken critics of Yeltsin's ill-fated
war against Chechnya. She condemned Mayor Yurii
Luzhkov's decision to expel "persons of Caucasian
nationality" from the Russian capital. And most
recently, she denounced her colleagues in the Duma and
some members of the Russian government for failing to
take a tougher line against the vicious anti-Semitic
remarks and activities of Albert Makashov and other
Russian nationalists.
	But perhaps because of her willingness to break
with allies when they backed away from their principles,
Starovoitova had greater moral than political success.
She failed in her bid to run for president in 1996,
supposedly for "technical reasons," but more probably
because Yeltsin forces did not want her to draw off any
reformist votes they felt they needed to defeat
communist challenger Gennadii Zyuganov. At the time of
her murder, Starovoitova was in St. Petersburg to take
part in the Northern Capital political movement, a group
she hoped to lead in a liberal challenge to that
region's communist governor, Vladimir Yakovlev, in
upcoming elections there.
	Reaction to Starovoitova's death was swift and
angry. Her former ally Gaidar, speaking for many who had
worked with her, said that Starovoitova had "paid with
her life" to advance the cause of democracy in Russia.
She believed that "democracy in Russia is possible,"
Gaidar added, arguing that while this belief might seem
"trivial" to some, her death shows that it "still needs
to be demonstrated."
	In a statement, Yeltsin professed himself to be
"deeply outraged" by her murder. He pledged that the
killers would be brought to justice because "the shots
that have interrupted her life have wounded every
Russian for whom democratic ideas are dear."
	The Russian president dispatched his interior
minister, Sergei Stepashin, to St. Petersburg to
investigate Starovoitova's murder. And Stepashin
indicated that her death would be investigated under the
country's terrorism statute.
	 But as so often in her short but brilliant life,
Starovoitova herself appears to have described what her
murder--the sixth of a Duma deputy since 1993--means.
	In an interview on Ekho Moskvy a few days before
her death, she gave what many are certain to see as her
last testament to the country, people, and principles
about which she cared most.
	"Any revolution inevitably devours its own
children," Starovoitova said. "We, the democrats, should
recognize that this is true even of our peaceful one.
But now we want to do what we can to save the gains of
our revolution from being erased--the freedom to vote,
the parliamentary system, freedom of expression, and
freedom of the press."
	Those who killed her would like to kill those
things as well. Those who remember her best will do what
they can, now that she is gone, to prevent such efforts
from succeeding.
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