I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed. - Booker T. Washington
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 228, Part I, 25 November 1998


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 228, Part I, 25 November 1998

***
Note to Readers: Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, RFE/RL
Newsline will not appear on 26 or 27 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

* BUDGET DEADLINE SLIPS

* LUKOIL, GAZPROM FORGE STRATEGIC ALLIANCE

* 'BLACK DAY' FOR KAZAKH DEMOCRACY
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RUSSIA

BUDGET DEADLINE SLIPS... First Deputy Prime Minister Yurii
Maslyukov told reporters on 24 November that the 1999 budget
will not be submitted to the State Duma by 1 December and  is
more likely to be submitted on 7 December. On 16 November,
Duma Budget Committee Chairman Aleksandr Zhukov said  his
committee must have the 1999 budget by 1 December, ITAR-TASS
reported. Until recently, the government had  appeared
willing to meet that deadline. The Duma will not debate the
budget before 20 December, Duma Deputy Aleksandr Shokhin told
Interfax. Meanwhile, Finance Minister Zadornov told
journalists that the government is still leaning toward a
budget based on the Ministry of Economy's optimistic scenario
of a 2 percent decline in GDP and a 2 percent surplus of the
primary budget (which does not include debt payments). He
also noted that a Central Bank credit will be necessary to
finance the expected budget deficit of 2.2 percent of GDP.
JAC

...AS IMF WRAPS UP WORK WITHOUT PARTING GIFT. The IMF mission
completed its most recent work in Moscow on 24 November  by
sending Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov a memorandum on the
government's draft budget for 1999 and tax collection
proposals, Interfax reported.  Maslyukov told a news
conference that the IMF mission "is not happy with the way we
plan to change our tax system." He admitted that prospects
for "future talks are not very promising." Deputy Finance
Minister Oleg Vyugin revealed that the IMF is demanding a
primary budget surplus of 4 percent rather than the 2 percent
surplus planned in the version of the 1999 budget that is
considered most likely to be adopted by the cabinet (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 24 November 1998). JAC

LUKOIL, GAZPROM FORGE STRATEGIC ALLIANCE. Two of Russia's
energy giants, LUKoil and Gazprom, have signed a strategic
partnership agreement enabling each company to tap resources
in the other's area of specialization. LUKoil has gas
production for which it needs access to a pipeline, while
Gazprom has significant oil reserves. The agreement calls for
integrating the two companies' activities in oil and gas
exploration, production, and refining as well as in the
marketing of oil, gas, and petrochemical products. JAC

RUSSIA'S NEIGHBORS MOURN STAROVOITOVA... In Belarus,
opposition politicians, such as Lyavon Barshchevski, deputy
chairman of the Belarusian Popular Front, said  the murder of
State Duma deputy Galina Starovoitova marked the end of a
romantic period of hopes for Russian democracy. Anatol
Lyabedzka, a member of Belarus's 13th Supreme Soviet,
suggested that "Russia is seriously ill, "much more seriously
than we have been thinking," adding that Belarus should keep
away from "the sick." Ukrainian Foreign Minister Borys
Tarasyuk expressed shock "at the irreparable loss," while
Lithuania's parliament adopted a statement characterizing the
death as a "blow to Russia's democracy and a sign showing
that violent and terrorist forces are becoming active" in
Russia. Estonian Parliament member Igor Grazin said the
bullet aimed at Starovoitova also hit Estonia, since she was
a friend of all small nations. And the Armenian parliament
observed a one-minute silence on 23 November in memory of
Starovoitova, who had supported the 1988 movement for
Karabakh's unification with Armenia. JAC

...AS WEST EXPRESSES OUTRAGE... The U.S., Germany, and former
British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher all expressed their
outrage at Starovoitova's killing. Amnesty International said
that it believed her killing was "politically motivated,"
while UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson described
the killing as an act of "despicable cowardice." On 24
November, residents in 1.8 million apartments in the European
part of Russia turned off their electricity for two minutes
to honor the slain deputy, according to United Energy Systems
of Russia, Interfax reported.  JAC

...AND ST. PETERSBURG POLITICAL MACHINE IS SCRUTINIZED. The
slaying of Starovoitova has increased scrutiny of St.
Petersburg and its political process. Starovoitova's
assassination is "first of all a St. Petersburg murder,
connected with events in the city, which has become a testing
ground for criminal groupings and a center for corruption,"
Duma deputy and Yabloko party member Yurii Shchekochikin told
"Segodnya on 24 November. The newspaper claimed that the 6
December election to the local legislative assembly is
"perhaps the first one in the city in which the criminal
world has at least one representative in each constituency."
According to the newspaper, the acting deputy speaker of the
city's legislative assembly, Viktor Novoselov, is a close
friend of "Kostya the Grave," who "controls" practically all
trade in the Moscow district of St. Petersburg. "Kommersant-
Daily" the same day referred to the "not too ethical and even
manifestly criminal methods being used in the pre-election
campaign," noting that Starovoitova herself predicted that
someone would be shot during the elections. JAC

RIGHTIST COALITION FORMING? One legacy of Starovoitova's
death may be the creation of a coalition of "democratic"
forces. On 24 November, former First Deputy Prime Minister
Anatolii Chubais told an audience in St. Petersburg that the
"creation of a powerful rightist center has been stepped up
and intensive consultations are now under way," Interfax and
Ekho Moskvy reported. According to Chubais, an announcement
about the new alliance will be made next week. Democratic
groups in St. Petersburg have agreed to refrain from verbal
attacks against one other before the 6 December local
elections, he said, adding that Yabloko, Democratic Russia,
and the Accord bloc have agreed to field joint candidates.
JAC

MAYORS BECOMING THIRD FORCE IN POLITICS. Politicians from
various parties have begun fighting for the favors of the
members of the new Congress of Municipal Formations,
"Izvestiya" reported on 25 November. The congress held its
first meeting 19 November and was registered by the Ministry
of Justice on 30 October. The daily noted that Moscow Mayor
Yurii Luzhkov has already invited a delegation from the
Congress of Municipal Formations to attend a meeting of his
new movement, Otechestvo [Fatherland]. Former First Deputy
Prime Minister and Mayor of Nizhnii Novgorod Boris Nemtsov
attended the congress's first meeting, where he said the
organization's first task must be the promotion of its
deputies to legislative assemblies at all levels. JAC

BEREZOVSKII, SELEZNEV TRADE SWIPES OVER CIS REFORM. Speaking
in Ashgabat on 24 November, Russian State Duma speaker
Gennadii Seleznev categorically rejected CIS Executive
Secretary Boris Berezovskii's proposal for streamlining the
CIS's executive structure, Interfax reported. Berezovskii
advocates reversing the 1994 decision to split the CIS's
Coordinating-Consultative Committee into the Executive
Secretariat and the Inter-State Economic Commission rather
than creating yet another body, the Committee of Permanent
Representatives. The resurrected committee would be a supra-
national coordinating body. Seleznev termed Berezovskii's
proposal an attempt to transform his staff into a Soviet
Union cabinet and claimed that Turkmen President Saparmurat
Niyazov also rejects it. Berezovskii retaliated by accusing
Seleznev of advocating the destruction of the CIS, according
to Interfax. He said the proposed reform of CIS governing
bodies provides for abolishing inefficient structures and
consolidating control of economic and political issues within
a single body. LF

RUSSIA BECOMING LESS FREE FOR NON-ORTHODOX RELIGIONS. The
Moscow Helsinki Group, together with two other human rights
groups, released a report on 19 November asserting that
numerous violations of freedom of conscience have occurred
since the enactment of the controversial 1997 law regulating
religious organizations, the "Moscow Times" reported on 25
November. According to the report, religious groups
experience the most interference at the local level, "where
legislatures have adopted restrictive measures that go even
further than the federal law," the newspaper reported. For
example, in the town of Volgodonsk in  Rostov Oblast, no non-
Orthodox churches can be built, while in the Republic of
Khakassia, a Lutheran mission has been banned. The report
concluded that the "legislative and administrative
conditions" for "large-scale persecution of religious
dissidents or of forced conversion of the population into
Orthodoxy" have been created. JAC

TEACHERS STRIKES CONTINUE. Some 52,000 teachers in 32 regions
in Russia are continuing to strike, according to Galina
Merkulova, deputy chair of an education and science trade
union, "Izvestiya" reported on 25 September. In Archangelsk
Oblast, 767 schools and other educational establishments have
shut their doors since 23 November, when teachers went on
strike to demand payment of back wages. Other regions
affected by the protest action, according to the daily, are
Primorskii Krai and  Ulyanovsk and Chita Oblasts. JAC

U.S. CONSULATE DENIES NEWS REPORTS ABOUT DIPLOMAT. The U.S.
consulate in Vladivostok denied earlier press reports that
U.S. Consul General Douglas Kent has been charged in a
traffic case, AP reported on 24 November. Consulate
spokeswoman Susan Krause said no pedestrians were involved
and the traffic police are still investigating the incident.
The consulate told the "Moscow Times" on 25 November that
Kent was sober at the time of the crash and that the accident
occurred when Kent's sports utility vehicle hit a speeding
Toyota Camry, in which Aleksandr Kashin was riding. Kashin,
23, is now paralyzed from the armpits down, the "Moscow
Times" reported. JAC

RUSSIA PLEDGES TO CONTINUE NUCLEAR COOPERATION WITH IRAN.  At
the close of his visit to Iran, Russian Atomic Energy
Minister Yevgenii Adamov said  on 23 November that he has
reached agreement with Iranian officials on speeding up
construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, which he
inspected. He added that Russian may cooperate with Iran in
building more such plants, Interfax reported. On 24 November,
Sverdlovsk Governor Eduard Rossel arrived in Tehran to
discuss trade and economic contacts, including supplies of
machinery and fuel for nuclear power plants, according to
ITAR-TASS. LF

CHINESE PRESIDENT LEAVES RUSSIA. Jiang Zemin on 25 November
departed left Novosibirsk for Japan, Russian news agencies
and Xinhua reported. Jiang spoke to the "scientific and
technological community" in the Far Eastern city, lauding the
achievements of a "city of 1.7 million people [that] boasts
as many as 100 research institutes." In a joint communiqué
released on 24 November, Russian President Boris Yeltsin and
Jiang said Russian-Chinese relations are "enjoying a stable
development along the track of equality." They agreed it is
necessary to coordinate efforts and improve "monetary and
legal conditions" to strengthen bilateral trade.  Russia
supported China's position on Taiwan, promising no Russian
weapons will be sold to the island and no political
recognition given to it. China, for its part, said it would
not object to Russia  establishing commercial and cultural
ties with Taiwan. BP

OCALAN CLAIMS TURKEY IS TRYING TO SABOTAGE RUSSIA, CIS. In a
an article published in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 25 November,
Kurdistan Workers' Party leader Abdullah Ocalan accused
Turkey of trying to dismember the CIS by infiltrating
Azerbaijan, Georgia, and the Central Asian states. He also
claimed Turkey supported the group of Russian politicians who
instigated the 1994 invasion of Chechnya, with the aim of
undermining the Russian Federation. In an interview published
in "Kommersant-Daily" on 24 November, Ocalan confirmed that
after leaving Syria on 9 October he flew to Moscow, after
which he moved to different locations within Russia and
unspecified other CIS states. But he denied Turkish media
allegations that he traveled to Armenia. Ocalan told the
newspaper that the decision to reject his request for
political asylum in Russia was taken "at the very highest
level, probably by Prime Minister Primakov, given President
Yeltsin's illness." LF

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

'BLACK DAY' FOR KAZAKH DEMOCRACY. The press service of former
Kazakh Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin issued a statement
on 25 November commenting on the Supreme Court decision the
previous day that bars Kazhegeldin from running in the 10
January presidential elections (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24
November) , RFE/RL correspondents in Almaty reported. The
statement said the Supreme Court's decision proves there is
no political mechanism that might influence the current
government and its "pocket parliament." Kazhegeldin's press
secretary, Amirzhan Kosanov, said the decision represents a
"black day for Kazakh democracy."  He added that that
Kazhegeldin will hold the first session of his newly created
political movement  next week.  Earlier this month,
Kazhegeldin had twice announced  that he would convene the
founding congress of that movement within the next few days
but failed to do so on both occasions. LF/BP

KAZAKH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE COMPLAINS ABOUT MEDIA ACCESS.
Karishal Assanov, who has  registered to run in the January
presidential elections as an independent, said incumbent
President Nursultan Nazarbayev has greater access to the
media than his opponents, RFE/RL correspondents reported.
Assanov made the comments at a press conference in Almaty on
24 November, adding that some candidates have been deprived
of any access to the country's media. BP

FOUR CANDIDATES TO CONTEST KAZAKH ELECTIONS? President
Nazarbayev's campaign manager, former Prime Minister Sergei
Tereshchenko, told journalists he expects there will be three
candidates running against Nazarbayev in the January
presidential elections, RFE/RL correspondents in Astana
reported on 24 November. Tereshchenko listed parliamentary
deputy Engels Gabbasov, Customs Committee chief Gani Kasymov,
and Communist Party leader Serikbolsyn Abdildin as the likely
rivals. Tereshchenko noted, however, that with less than one
week before the deadline to register expires, only Nazarbayev
has collected the required 170,000 signatures and paid the
necessary fee to the Central Election Commission. Meanwhile,
Nazarbayev visited the northern city of Pavlodar on 24
November, where he told  journalists that his country will be
a major oil and gas exporter in the next century, Interfax
reported. BP

KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT INCREASES EXCISE TAXES. Lawmakers on 24
November voted to double excise tax on alcohol and oil
products, RFE/RL correspondents in Bishkek reported. Finance
Minister Taalaibek Koichumanov told the parliament that the
state budget is likely to be short by 100 million som ($3.4
million) at the end of this year. Meanwhile, there was better
news at exchange offices in the Kyrgyz capital, where the som
was trading at 29 to $1. Deputy Prime Minister Boris Silayev
blamed the fall of the som, which last week plummeted to 35
to $1, on exchange offices. He added that  he favors closing
all such offices and transferring their tasks to commercial
banks. BP

AZERBAIJANI PARLIAMENT ENACTS PENALTIES FOR UNSANCTIONED
DEMONSTRATIONS. In another move aimed at further restricting
the activities of opposition parties, the Azerbaijani
parliament on 24 November voted by 80 to seven to impose
prison sentences of up to three years for organizing or
participating in an unsanctioned demonstration, Reuters
reported. On 13 November, lawmakers had passed legislation
limiting the right to hold public demonstrations. Last week,
the opposition Movement for Electoral Reform and Democratic
Elections postponed for one week a rally planned for 22
November after the Baku authorities refused permission for
such a meeting. LF

AZERBAIJAN TO SELL STAKE IN INTERNATIONAL BANK. President
Heidar Aliev has authorized the sale of all but 5 percent of
the state's 51 percent stake in the International Bank of
Azerbaijan, AFP and Interfax reported on 24 November. The
bank is the country's largest and is involved in more than 90
percent of the country's import-export deals. It is
anticipated that either the European Bank for Reconstruction
and Development or a similar international financial
institution will acquire 20 percent of the shares. LF

ARMENIAN LEADERS, OSCE CHAIRMAN DISCUSS KARABAKH. Polish
Foreign Minister and OSCE Chairman-in-Office Bronislaw
Geremek met in Yerevan on 24 November with Armenian President
Robert Kocharian and Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian and
also held separate talks with the president of the
unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, Arkadii Ghukasian,
RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Geremek told reporters
later that he is "very happy" that the Karabakh authorities
are displaying "goodwill" over the most recent OSCE draft
Karabakh peace plan. He said he hopes to get a "good answer"
in Baku, where he will discuss Azerbaijan's reported
objections to that plan on 25 November. Both Kocharian and
Ghukasian have undertaken to give an official response to the
new peace proposals within the next few days. LF

ARMENIAN OPPOSITION PARTIES ASSESS NEW ELECTION LAW. In a
statement to the parliament on 24 November, the center-right
National Democratic Union (AZhM) said it may boycott next
year's parliamentary elections unless the election law passed
last week is amended to preclude falsification of the vote,
RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The previous day, former
Armenian Communist Party First Secretary Karen Demirchian
called for the new law's architect, the majority Yerkrapah
parliamentary group, and eleven  opposition parties,
including the AZhM and Demirchian's  recently founded center-
left People's Party of Armenia, to reach a "consensus" to
ensure that the parliamentary elections are free and fair.
Demirchian urged Yerkrapah to agree to unspecified
concessions in order to avoid precipitating "splits in
society." LF

GEORGIAN REJECTS ABKHAZ LEADER'S CHARGES. Georgian
presidential adviser for international affairs Levan
Aleksidze has denied that Georgia is to blame for obstacles
to the planned signing of two land-mark agreements by
President Eduard Shevardnadze and Abkhaz leader Vladislav
Ardzinba, Interfax reported on 24 November. Ardzinba had said
on 23 November that Georgia is insisting on revising the
previously agreed text of a protocol on the repatriation of
ethnic Georgian displaced persons to Abkhazia's Gali Raion.
Aleksidze denied this but in turn accused Abkhazia of trying
to insert into the agreements a clause whereby Georgia would
recognize Abkhazia's independence.  LF

GEORGIA-CZECH MILITARY COOPERATION AGREEMENT SIGNED.  Czech
Deputy Defense Minister Jaromir Novotny has completed a
three-day visit to Georgia during which he discussed the
possible repair and purchase of spare parts for SU-25 fighter
aircraft, Caucasus Press reported. The deal would be worth
some $10 million. Novotny also told journalists in Tbilisi on
24 November that a bilateral cooperation agreement whereby
the Czech Republic will train Georgian army officers will be
signed next year. LF

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