The burnt child shuns the fire until the next day. - Mark Twain
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 227, Part I, 24 November 1998


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 227, Part I, 24 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 RULES OUT STATE OF EMERGENCY

* YELTSIN'S HEALTH STABILIZES

* KAZAKH SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS VERDICT AGAINST FORMER
PREMIER

End Note: BEREZOVSKII AS MR. FIX-IT
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RUSSIA

GOVERNMENT RULES OUT STATE OF EMERGENCY... Prime
Minister Yevgenii Primakov and Federal Security Service
director Vladimir Putin both ruled out on 23 November
the imposition of a state of emergency in response to
the murder of State Duma deputy Galina Starovoitova.
Meanwhile, St. Petersburg police have detained several
suspects in the murder case. Ruslan Linkov,
Starovoitova's press secretary, who was also shot in the
attack, has regained consciousness and answered police
questions. On 24 November, mourners, including former
Prime Ministers Viktor Chernomyrdin and Sergei Kirienko
and former acting Premier Yegor Gaidar, attended a
funeral for Starovoitova, who will be interred at the
Aleksandr Nevskii Monastery. JAC

...AS SELEZNEV BLASTS PRESS. Duma chairman Gennadii
Seleznev has announced that he will sue a St. Petersburg
newspaper for accusing him of Starovoitova's death. He
also told reporters that television is presenting
Starovoitova's murder in "such a way as to promote the
election campaigns of certain candidates to the [St.
Petersburg] city assembly." Elections to that body are
scheduled for 6 December. Seleznev also suggested
setting up a national council to fight crime and
corruption. JAC

YELTSIN'S HEALTH STABILIZES. Presidential spokesman
Dmitrii Yakushkin told NTV on 23 November that President
Boris Yeltsin's health has neither worsened nor
improved. The same day, CIS Executive Secretary Boris
Berezovskii told reporters that Russia should simply
tolerate President Yeltsin's chronic illnesses since
"there is no obvious alternative." The next day
"Nezavisimaya gazeta," which receives funding from
Berezovskii's LogoVAZ group, suggested that the
succession of recent comments from Kremlin staff
demonstrates that Yeltsin's entourage is preparing the
country for the "official introduction of the post of
the president's stand-in" and that "the stand-in could
and should be Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov."
"Izvestiya," which receives funding from LUKoil and
Oneksimbank, argued that "the Kremlin has decided to
bring the unduly modest prime minister to his senses
using the constitution, which directly obliges him to
become the interim president when the president is
incapable of performing his duties." JAC

RUSSIA PETITIONS CREDITORS OF SOVIET UNION FOR DEBT
RELIEF... Russia on 20 November officially applied to
its creditors to restructure debts inherited from the
Soviet Union. Deputy Finance Minister Mikhail Kasyanov
said Russia will pay only $200 million of the $600
million debt up for repayment this year, the "Moscow
Times" reported on 21 November. Next year, the
government will owe $7.2 billion in payments on the
Soviet debt, according to Reuters. The Primakov
government also hopes to borrow new money from the IMF
in order to refinance its debts to the fund and other
international financial institutions. An IMF delegation
is scheduled to leave Moscow on 24 November and is not
expected to make any announcements of new loans before
its departure. JAC

...AS GOVERNMENT ASSUMES IMF MONEY, DEBT RELIEF
FORTHCOMING. Meanwhile, the cabinet continues debating
various versions of a draft budget. On 21 November,
Economy Minister Andrei Shapovalyants said that the
budget based on his ministry's "optimistic" forecast,
namely of a 30 percent annual inflation rate and a 3
percent decline in GDP, will most likely be approved.
The forecast also assumes that Russia will receive the
next tranche of its IMF loan and will persuade its
creditors to restructure half its foreign debts. The
government has pledged to present its budget plan to the
Duma by 1 December. JAC

RUSSIAN-CHINESE DECLARATION RELEASED... Following the
40-minute informal meeting between Presidents Boris
Yeltsin and Jiang Zemin near Moscow on 23 November,
their joint statement on "Russian-Chinese Relations on
the Threshold of the 21st Century" was made public,
ITAR-TASS reported the same day. The nine-point
declaration calls for a multi-polar world, as did--
albeit in less detail--the 1997 Russian-Chinese
declaration, and warns against the next century becoming
an "exclusively 'American,' 'European,' or 'Asian-
Pacific' century." The declaration also call for a
greater role for the UN in world affairs. And while
noting the "noticeable improvement in relations between
the great powers after the conclusion of the Cold War,"
it favors "fostering conditions so that large powers do
not make efforts at widening or creating new military
alliances." BP

...TAKES SOME NEW REALITIES INTO CONSIDERATION. The
declaration also addressed the world financial crisis,
noting that in the next century ,"the globalization and
regionalization of the world economy will become the
most important factor in defining [the world's]
condition." It calls for ensuring the "economic security
of sovereign states" and the "exclusion of attempts at
using currency or financial levers to impose political
or economic conditions which infringe on the legitimate
national interests of a particular country." The two
sides also called for a political solution to the
problems in Kosova, Afghanistan, and the Korean
peninsula. With regard to "the situation in South Asia,"
the declaration said there is need to stress that the
"Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and Comprehensive Test
Ban Treaty are of extreme significance." BP

KALMYKIA ACCUSED OF CREATIVE ACCOUNTING. After President
of Kalmykia Nursan Ilyumzhinov accused the federal
Finance Ministry of committing genocide against his
people by withholding funds, Finance Minister Mikhail
Zadornov has ordered the republic to return an
unauthorized government transfer of 236 million rubles
($14 million), ITAR-TASS reported (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 23 November 1998). Zadornov sent a letter to
the Duma and Primakov cabinet on 23 November, outlining
the republic's financial violations. JAC

MOSCOW CONSIDERING NEW APPROACH TO REGIONS? A 19
November statement by Oleg Sysuev, deputy chief of the
presidential administration, may herald a new approach
to regional policy, "Izvestiya" concluded two days
later. Sysuev suggested that Moscow should dispense with
its habit of concluding individual agreements with
republics and oblasts. He said that already signed
agreements must be implemented but that in the future,
"a unitary state should have a unified approach to
relations between the federal center and its subjects."
The daily cited a source within the administration as
saying Sysuev's comments represented only Sysuev's
"personal viewpoint." But the daily concluded that
Sysuev's remarks are "symptomatic of the executive
branch's search for ways to prevent the disintegration
of Russia." JAC

ARMY, NAVY BRASS RILED OVER SERGEEV PROPOSAL. More
reports about the military command's opposition to
Defense Minister Igor Sergeev's advocacy of a single
unified command for Russia's strategic nuclear forces
have leaked to the press (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10
November 1998). According to "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 21
November, First Deputy Defense Minister Nikolai
Mikhailov and the commanders in chief of the Air Force
and Navy all oppose Sergeev's proposal and may push for
Sergeev himself to be sacked. The newspaper concluded
"if they are able to convince Prime Minister Primakov of
the necessity of not rushing the creation of a joint
command for strategic forces, then it cannot be ruled
out that this decision will be followed by another
regarding the minister himself." "Izvestiya" reported
the previous day that officials at navy headquarters
"wonder what units will be governed by admirals if the
only real force of the fleet, its nuclear submarines,
are subordinated to the [unified command] of the
Strategic Nuclear Forces." JAC

MORE TESTIMONIALS IN SUPPORT OF TOPOL-M. The November
issue of "Vek" characterized the deployment of six
Topol-M missiles near Saratov as a "military-technical
and diplomatic accomplishment." According to the
journal, the armed forces have found a way to honor
international agreements, such as START-II (which bans
multiple-warhead missiles), "without putting too large a
dent in [their] defensive capability." The single-
warhead Topol-M "may be based in silos, or they may be
mobile." They also allow Russia "to save 18.5 million
rubles [$1.1 million] on every silo," resulting in a
total savings of 3.4 billion rubles. JAC

GOVERNORS TO ALIGN WITH LUZHKOV? Saratov Governor
Dmitrii Ayatskov has announced that he is setting up his
own political movement called Moe Otechestvo [My
Fatherland ], "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 21
November. Ayatskov, who has been openly critical lately
of Chernomyrdin and his leadership of the Our Home is
Russia party, said he thinks that an alliance with
Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov's Otechestvo [Fatherland]
party is possible. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 19
November that Ayatskov's new movement, which would
consist of governors whose terms are about to expire,
would get its own deputies elected to the State Duma.
JAC

KRASNODAR GRANTS COMMUNISTS MANDATE. Voters in Krasnodar
Krai have elected a pro-communist bloc to the local
assembly, filling between 38-40 of 50 seats with
Communists. Also, Communist Aleksandr Burulko, director
of a local brick factory, won a slot in the 22 November
run-off elections for the vacant seat in the State Duma,
attracting more than four times as many votes as his
competitor, Interfax reported. Krasnodar Governor
Nikolai Kondratenko has been outspoken in his defense of
Communist Party member and Duma Deputy Albert Makashov
and his anti-Semitic remarks. JAC

SOUTH AFRICA NOT TO BUY RUSSIAN TRAINING AIRCRAFT. South
African Vice President Thabo Mbeki told reporters on 23
November that his country will not purchase training
aircraft from Russia. Interfax reported that South
Africa's requirement that each country exporting weapons
invest 80 cents of every dollar into the local South
African economy presented a problem for Russia. Mbeki
also met with Russian businessmen and bankers.
Vneshekonombank Chairman Andrei Kostin told Mbeki that
his bank will open a branch office in South Africa in
1999. Russian Fuel and Energy Minister Sergei Generalov
met with his South African counterpart, Penuel Maduna,
to discuss off-shore oil and gas exploration and
construction of a gas pipeline linking South Africa and
Mozambique. South African President Nelson Mandela is
expected to visit Moscow at the end of April.JAC

CHECHEN PARLIAMENT REJECTS PROPOSED CABINET CHANGES.
Chechen parliament deputy speaker Selim Beshaev told
ITAR-TASS on 23 November that the parliament has
rejected President Aslan Maskhadov's proposals for
restructuring the Chechen government as "too
sophisticated for a small republic." The parliament
suggested creating five deputy prime minister posts in
place of the nine proposed by Maskhadov in September. On
20 November, Chechen Deputy Prime Minister Akhmed Zakaev
warned Russian and foreign journalists in Chechnya that
they risk being stripped of their accreditation if they
continue to use the toponyms "Chechnya" and "Grozny"
instead of "Ichkeria" and "Djokhar-kala," Interfax
reported. LF

CHECHENS HELPED PREVENT CHUBAIS ASSASSINATION. A
spokesman for the power monopoly United Energy Systems
has confirmed that Chechen intelligence helped thwart
the planned assassination of then First Deputy Prime
Minister Anatolii Chubais in late 1997, Interfax
reported. Senior Chechen security official Ismail
Dadalaev had told Interfax earlier the same day that
Chechnya informed the Russian Federal Security Service
of a plan by a Chechen bandit group to kill Chubais, who
at that time was spearheading efforts by the Russian
government to collect tax arrears. LF

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

KAZAKH SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS VERDICT AGAINST FORMER
PREMIER. The Kazakh Supreme Court on 24 November
completed its review of the verdict handed down in
October by the Medeu District Court, which had found
former Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin guilty of
participating in a meeting of an unsanctioned
organization, RFE/RL's Almaty bureau reported. The
Supreme Court failed to overturn that verdict, in effect
dashing Kazhegeldin's hopes of registering as a
candidate in the 10 January presidential elections.
Under Kazakh law, no one found guilty of an offense may
run as an electoral candidate. Last week, incumbent
President Nursultan Nazarbayev had requested that the
Supreme Court review the case, saying he would welcome
Kazhegeldin's participation in the poll (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 18 November 1998). LF

SAMSUNG BUYS SHARES IN KAZAKH COPPER PLANT. Samsung
Deutschland GmbH has purchased a 90 percent stake in the
East Kazakhstan Copper and Chemicals Plant, Interfax
reported on 23 November. Shares in the plant, which
produces copper and zinc concentrate, were up for sale
on the Kazakh stock exchange to the tune of 524.7
million tenge ($6.3 million). According to one official
from the Kazakh Department for State Property and
Privatization, it was the biggest single issue of shares
in the country's short history. BP

UN ENVOY TO TAJIKISTAN ADDRESSES PRESS. UN special envoy
to Tajikistan Jan Kubis told journalists on 23 November
that he hopes the departure of the Uzbek contingent from
the CIS peacekeeping force will not have a negative
impact on the work of those units still participating.
ITAR-TASS reported on 23 November. (The units remaining
in Tajikistan are from Russia, Kazakhstan, and
Kyrgyzstan.) He added the UN is interested in "all
components" that facilitate the implementation of the
1997 peace accord. Kubis stressed that the UN mission to
Tajikistan will not resume its tasks in full until the
investigation into the July murder of four UN employees
is completed. BP

OSCE CHAIRMAN IN TBILISI. Polish Foreign Minister and
OSCE Chairman-in-Office Bronislaw Geremek met with
Georgian officials in Tbilisi on 23 November to discuss
the recent local elections and the OSCE's role in trying
to mediate a solution to the conflicts in Abkhazia and
South Ossetia, ITAR-TASS reported. Meeting with
President Eduard Shevardnadze, Geremek assessed the
democratization process in Georgia as "irreversible,"
according to Caucasus Press. Geremek said that any
settlement of the conflicts in Abkhazia and South
Ossetia must safeguard the interests of those ethnic
minorities and also preserve Georgia's territorial
integrity. He added that the OSCE is prepared to assist
in monitoring the repatriation to Abkhazia's Gali Raion
of Georgian displaced persons. Geremek and Shevardnadze
signed a memorandum of cooperation between Georgia and
the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human
Rights. LF

ABKHAZ LEADER ACCUSES GEORGIA OF SABOTAGING
REPATRIATION. In his weekly radio address on 23
November, Vladislav Ardzinba said that the Georgian
leadership is "constantly postponing" the signing of two
documents drafted by his envoy Anri Djergenia and
Georgian Minister of State Vazha Lortkipanidze and is
trying to introduce fundamental changes into those
texts, ITAR-TASS reported. One of those documents
addresses conditions for economic aid to Abkhazia and
for the return to Abkhazia's Gali Raion of Georgian
displaced persons, while the second abjures the use of
force by either side. Djergenia told journalists in
Tbilisi on 23 November that Sukhumi will allow only
those Georgians who have not lived in Abkhazia "for a
long time" to return, presumably meaning those who fled
in 1992-1993. This would exclude those who returned and
were forced to flee a second time in May 1998. Djergenia
also rejected the creation in Abkhazia of parallel
(Georgian and Abkhaz) local councils, according to
Caucasus Press. LF

AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT SAYS HE WON'T CEDE POWER.
Addressing members of the Yeni Azerbaycan party he
created six years ago as a personal power base, Heidar
Aliev warned on 21 November that the country's
authorities will suppress any move by the opposition to
undermine them and will never cede power, Turan reported
on 23 November. In an implicit contradiction, Aliev said
that he had called on opposition leaders three times to
open a dialogue with no preconditions, noting that such
a dialogue is possible only if the opposition recognizes
him as the country's legitimate president. Many
opposition leaders refuse to do so, arguing that the
results of the 11 October presidential election were
falsified. Meanwhile, some opposition politicians and
"thousands of readers" have pledged to join the hunger
strike launched two weeks ago by editors of independent
newspapers to protest libel suits brought by senior
officials. The newspapers say those suits are intended
to bankrupt them. LF

END NOTE

BEREZOVSKII AS MR. FIX-IT

by Liz Fuller

	CIS Executive Secretary Boris Berezovskii recently
unveiled his blueprint for reversing "seven years of
disintegration" and breathing new life into the moribund
Commonwealth of Independent States. The blueprint offers
a framework for mutually beneficial economic cooperation
among CIS members. Somewhat inauspiciously, perhaps, it
was published in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on Friday, 13
November.
	Over the past 10 days, Berezovskii has been touring
the CIS states in an attempt to persuade their
presidents to endorse his plan. To date, the presidents
of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia,
Armenia, and Tajikistan have expressed cautious support,
while their Azerbaijani and Turkmen counterparts have
proven more skeptical. A discussion of Berezovskii's
proposals is on the agenda for the CIS summit scheduled
for 11-12 December, Russian President Boris Yeltsin's
health permitting.
	Berezovskii was appointed executive secretary of
the CIS in April 1998, when strains within the
commonwealth had reached such magnitude that many
observers were predicting its imminent demise. Those
tensions derived partly from the CIS's failure to
preserve a single, viable economic space composed of the
former Soviet republics and partly from President
Yeltsin's warning at the March 1997 CIS summit that
Russia is prepared to resort to subversion and sabotage
to weaken the Soviet successor states and keep them
within its sphere of influence.
	In the "Nezavisimaya gazeta" article, Berezovskii
expresses concern that widespread disenchantment with
the CIS could evolve into anti-Russian sentiment within
the non-Russian successor states and give rise to
centrifugal tendencies within Russia itself. Berezovskii
emphasizes that resurrecting the USSR is impossible,
given that the union was geared toward a planned, not a
market economy. At the same time, he argues that
voluntary economic integration is in the interest of all
CIS states, since it would expedite their integration
into the global economy. But given that the primary
reason for the demise of the USSR was the failure of its
Communist Party to address the grievances of the non-
Russian republics, any attempt to rebuild the political
foundations of the CIS should be undertaken with extreme
caution so as not to impinge on the desire of newly
independent states to protect their sovereignty and
independence, Berezovskii comments.
	As the first step toward reversing centrifugal
economic trends, Berezovskii proposes creating one or
several CIS free trade zones. (Among the hundreds of CIS
agreements signed but not implemented over the past
seven years is one, signed in April 1994, on setting up
such a zone. That accord, however, fails to provide
either clear guidelines or a timetable for doing so.)
The Special CIS Inter-State Forum, created after the CIS
Chisinau summit in October 1997, also considered the
possibility of free trade zones. It used the April 1994
agreement as a springboard but failed to make
recommendations on fundamental issues, including whether
such zones should encompass only the movement of goods
or also the service sector.
	In this context, Berezovskii warns that "palliative
measures" are dangerous. A flawed blueprint for economic
integration might temporarily create the illusion that
the CIS is functioning effectively as an economic
organization, but the inevitable disillusionment when
that proved not to be the case would be so profound as
to pose a real threat to the Commonwealth's survival.
	Berezovskii distinguishes two approaches to
economic integration: the "soft" approach, as epitomized
by the European Free Trade Association (created by
countries that did not meet the criteria for entry into
the EU), and the "hard" approach, as exemplified by the
EU, in which economic integration paves the way for the
creation of supranational structures, both economic and
political. (One CIS proponent of the "hard" approach is
the Kazakh economist Nigmatzhan Isingarin, who recently
included in a list of "urgent priorities" for CIS
integration the "gradual coordination [sblizhenie] of
foreign policy positions.")
	Berezovskii considers the "soft" approach more
appropriate for the CIS and proposes a CIS free trade
zone as a first step in that direction. But he also
predicts that the "soft" approach may acquire a momentum
of its own: reversing the decline in intra-CIS trade
would serve as the incentive for a CIS Customs Union,
which, in turn, would engender moves to coordinate
monetary policy and create a single market. Thus the
"soft" approach may eventually lead to its members'
accepting the "hard" approach. In this context,
Berezovskii cites the fusion of the European Free Trade
Association into the European Community. The (possibly
fatal) difference between the EU and Berezovskii's
blueprint is, of course, that the EU was not built from
the remnants of a former empire.
	Moreover, Berezovskii's envisaged transition from a
"soft" to a "hard" approach toward economic integration
may cause an acute allergic reaction among those non-
Russians who are inclined to see ulterior neo-
imperialist motives behind any Russian advocacy of
supra-national structures, thus jeopardizing the free
trade zone from the outset. Berezovskii himself concedes
that "introducing supra-national elements into the CIS
at the present stage would not correspond to the
strategic interests of its members." But he adds that
"without a certain degree of coordination, it will be
impossible to proceed further than creating a free trade
zone."
	Berezovskii's success in selling his blueprint to
the skeptics among the CIS presidents will depend on his
ability to persuade them that the document is not
intended ultimately to undermine their sovereignty and
that the momentum can be halted before economic
integration expands into the political sphere.

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