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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 235, Part I, 8 December 1998
________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 235, Part I, 8 December 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 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx NEW EMAIL NEWSLETTERS: RFE/RL IRAN REPORT & RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT Subscribe to one or both of these biweeklies to receive a review of developments in Iran and Iraq, compiled by the staff of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. For a Web version and subscription info, go to: http://www.rferl.org/iran-report/index.html xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part I * FORMER KGB OFFICIALS RISE TO TOP OF KREMLIN * VLADIVOSTOK DECLARES STATE OF EMERGENCY * DECISION ON AZERBAIJAN OIL EXPORT PIPELINE AGAIN POSTPONED xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx RUSSIA FORMER KGB OFFICIALS RISE TO TOP OF KREMLIN... The new head of the presidential administration, Nikolai Bordyuzha, will continue as head of the Security Council as well as personally investigate Yabloko's charges of government corruption, presidential spokesman Dmitrii Yakushkin told NTV. Bordyuzha had already met with the heads of law enforcement bodies on 7 December. When Bordyuzha, 49, was tapped to head the Security Council in September, press reports characterized him as "Primakov's man" and as someone known for his loyalty and lack of political ambition (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 September 1998). Bordyuzha is also a colonel-general who started his military career in 1972, after graduating from a military academy in Perm. He has occupied several important positions in the KGB. On 7 December, President Boris Yeltsin appointed another former KGB official, Vladimir Makarov, as deputy chief of staff of the presidential administration. JAC ...WHILE YELTSIN'S MOVE EXPLAINED AS JUST CLEANING HOUSE. The presidential administration had been coordinating its work poorly, presidential spokesman Yakushkin explained as background to President Yeltsin's decision to replace Valentin Yumashev with Bordyuzha as head of the presidential administration. However, Yakushkin added, the reshuffle does not alter the president's positive appraisal of Prime Minister Primakov's performance. Meanwhile, the Russian press offered its own interpretation of the staff upheaval. A popular theory was that Yeltsin sacrificed Yumashev to make himself look more rigorous and firmly in charge. The press also speculated that Yeltsin wanted to distance himself from financial magnate Boris Berezovskii, who was close to Yumashev. "Segodnya" noted on 8 December that State Duma deputy and Our Home is Russia faction leader Aleksandr Shokhin had said Yumashev was unwise to state publicly that he would support former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin in the next presidential election. JAC DUMA, POLITICAL ELITE PRAISE KREMLIN RESHUFFLE. A wide variety of politicians applauded Yeltsin's decision to dismiss Yumashev. Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov said he thought the president made the right decision, because "the administration had been working more and more ineffectively." Duma Chairman Gennadii Seleznev and Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky both praised the staff reshuffle. Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii called the decision "one of the most important steps taken by the president to date." He said it was aimed at "intensifying the campaign against corruption in the upper echelons of power." Agrarian faction leader Nikolai Kharitonov was more skeptical, saying Yeltsin should concentrate on the problems that "make people wake up in their cold apartments in Kamchatka and Sakhalin and shudder." JAC VLADIVOSTOK DECLARES STATE OF EMERGENCY. City officials in Vladivostok have declared a state of emergency because half the buildings in the city are without heat, Interfax reported on 8 December. Lack of heat and electricity has been a chronic problem this winter as well as last, but the situation worsened on 7 December when a major storm dumped a thick layer of snow over the city. Schools and day-care centers have been closed and hospitals will soon be evacuated if conditions do not improve soon. Some residents have already lost patience. Earlier, violence broke out when hundreds of residents who were protesting the lack of heat by blocking a bridge into a local suburb attacked a television crew that was trying to drive past them, the "Moscow Times" reported on 4 December. JAC START-II DEBATE DELAYED AGAIN. The Duma has postponed discussion of the START-II treaty until 15 December, ITAR-TASS reported on 8 December. Duma Deputy Speaker and member of the Yabloko faction Vladimir Ryzhkov told reporters that the Duma is set to ratify the treaty on that date or send the draft law to President Yeltsin with an explanation of its stance. Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Vladimir Lukin (Yabloko) told reporters that the debate was delayed because no faction beside Yabloko had submitted its proposals on the bill and that leftist parties are deliberately delaying discussion. Duma Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin (Communist Party) said the treaty cannot be discussed until the government submits a budget for decommissioning part of its nuclear arsenal. Earlier, Liberal Democratic Party leader Zhirinovsky declared that he is "even more convinced [than ever] that the Duma should not ratify START-II." JAC IRAQI DEPUTY PREMIER IN MOSCOW. Tariq Aziz held talks in Moscow on 7 December with Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov and Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, both of whom commended Baghdad's decision to resume cooperation with UN weapons inspectors. Ivanov later told journalists that a review of Iraq's compliance with UN resolutions calling for the elimination of weapons of mass destruction should begin immediately in order to expedite the lifting of international sanctions. Aziz also discussed with Russian officials Moscow's participation in the UN "Oil for food" program, and assured them that Iraq will meet its outstanding financial obligations to Russia, according to "Izvestiya" on 8 December. Ivanov met in Moscow on 4 December with UNSCOM head Richard Butler. LF ARMED FORCES CHIEF VISITS U.S. Russian Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Anatolii Kvashnin began the first leg of a four-day trip to the U.S. by visiting the U.S. Naval Base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on 7 December. Two days earlier, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" called Kvashnin "the second most important man in the Russian military's hierarchy," who "enjoys the support of President Yeltsin's family." The newspaper also picked up on earlier speculation by "Moskovskii komsomolets" that Kvashnin is orchestrating a "secret campaign against [Defense Minister] Igor Sergeev" and Sergeev's plans to form a joint command for strategic nuclear forces. According to the newspaper, Kvashnin opposes the plan because it would place Russia's Strategic Rocket Forces Commander Colonel-General Vladimir Yakovlev in a prime position to succeed Sergeev as head of the Defense Ministry. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" receives financing from Boris Berezovskii's LogoVAZ group. JAC DZERZHINSKII OPPOSED, WHILE LENINS, STALINS POP UP. Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov said in Germany that he will fight efforts to resurrect a monument to Felix Dzerzhinskii, the founder of the Cheka, or secret police, ITAR-TASS reported on 8 December. Luzhkov called the monument "a symbol of a return to the past." Earlier, the Duma passed a draft resolution calling for the monument to be restored to its former home in Lubyanka Square in Moscow (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 December 1998). Three days earlier, hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the building of the former KGB to protest the plan to reinstall the monument. In other parts of the country, monuments to other Soviet leaders are being unveiled. On 5 December, a bust of Vladimir Lenin was dedicated in Murmansk Oblast, and on 21 December a bust of Josef Stalin will be installed at a school in Chelyabinsk, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 November. JAC RUSSIA EXTENDS INVESTIGATION OF BLISS. The Russian government has decided to continue its investigation of the espionage case against U.S. citizen Richard Bliss, who was charged with spying in Russia while installing a cellular telephone system in Rostov na Donu for the San Diego-based Qualcomm, AP reported on 8 December. According to a State Department spokesman, the investigation will last for another four months. Bliss has quit Qualcomm and is suing it on the grounds that it knowingly sent him to Russia with illegal equipment. JAC MOSCOW ELECTIONS ANNULLED. The Moscow Election Commission declared the 6 December election in the Lyublino district invalid because only 24.2 percent of voters participated, while the law requires 25 percent, Interfax reported. The elections were held to fill a State Duma deputy seat vacated by Boris Fedorov, former head of the Federal Tax Service. Of the 15 candidates who ran, former presidential press secretary Pavel Voshchanov, a member of Yabloko, won the most votes. The seat will now remain vacant until regular Duma elections in December 1999. JAC NEW TEACHERS' STRIKE LAUNCHED IN FAR EAST. Teachers in Nekrasovka, outside Khabarovsk, went on strike on 7 December to protest unpaid wages, ITAR-TASS reported. According to union officials, Nekrasovka area teachers are owed 8.8 million rubles ($450,000), while the total debt to teachers in Khabarovsk Krai is 160 million rubles. Also in the krai, teachers in the Verkhne- Bureinskii Raion and Sovetskaya Gavan have stopped work to protest wage arrears. JAC LARGER BURYATIA PONDERED. Ust-Orda Buryatian Autonomous Okrug is debating joining a future incarnation of the Buryatian-Mongolian Republic, which existed in 1937, "Delovoi vtornik" reported on 1 December. Duma deputy Iosif Kobzon floated the proposal in September, (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 September 1998). According to the newspaper, humanitarian and Buddhist organizations favor the idea in order to preserve the Buryatian language, but economists are less excited because the economy of the okrug is too intertwined with that of Irkutsk Oblast, to which it now belongs. JAC LET THEM EAT DOG? Russian meat production is likely to plummet 57 percent this year, compared with 1990 levels, Interfax on 6 December quoted Viktor Kabanov, a member of the Russian Academy of Agricultural Sciences, as saying. Kabanov added that "current reductions in meat production exceed the declines suffered during the two World Wars taken together." Meat consumption dropped 25 percent between 1990 and 1995, according to the Institute of Nutrition at the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, "The New York Times" reported. Meanwhile, Boris Misnik, chairman of the Duma's Committee for the North, told Reuters on 4 December that media reports about people in the northern regions being forced to eat dogs are true. He said "there are places in Yakutia where dogs would normally be running about, but you do not see them." JAC TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA DECISION ON AZERBAIJAN OIL EXPORT PIPELINE AGAIN POSTPONED... Representatives of the oil companies represented in the Azerbaijan International Operating Company engaged in exploiting three offshore Caspian oil fields have again postponed a decision on the optimum route for the Main Export Pipeline for that oil, the Dow Jones Newswire reported on 7 December. The U.S., Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan have all pledged their commitment to routing that pipeline from Baku via Georgia to the Turkish Mediterranean terminal at Ceyhan, but the AIOC is reluctant to make a firm commitment to that option, which is considerably more costly than the alternative route to Supsa, on Georgia's Black Sea coast. Interviewed by Reuters on 3 December, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Tofik Zulfugarov expressed confidence that the Baku-Ceyhan route will ultimately be selected. Zulfugarov downplayed fears that rock-bottom oil prices might render Caspian oil unviable. LF ...AS IRANIAN ALTERNATIVE LOOKS INCREASINGLY ATTRACTIVE. Speaking at a conference in London on 5 December, a senior Iranian analyst argued that routing the pipeline southward from Baku to the Persian Gulf is the most cost-effective and secure route, IRNA reported. Two days later, a representative of the French oil company Total told journalists in Baku that Total is considering forming a consortium to build an export pipeline from Baku to Iran, Reuters reported. U.S. oil companies are banned from engaging in operations in Iran, but European oil firms may do so. Moreover, some European governments have reportedly endorsed that variant. LF ARMENIA MARKS 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF SPITAK EARTHQUAKE. Armenia observed a day of mourning on 7 December to mark the 10th anniversary of the Spitak earthquake, which destroyed one-third of the country's industrial capacity and killed an estimated 25,000 people. President Robert Kocharian and senior government officials toured the region most severely affected, promising that reconstruction will be completed within three years. But regional governor Ararat Gomtsian said that the government program for reconstruction of the earthquake zone cannot be implemented within that period. He added that of the $150 million needed, only $3 million was allocated in the 1998 budget, according to "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 8 December. On 6 December, Kocharian presented awards to 40 people who played a prominent role in alleviating the consequences of the earthquake, including former Soviet Premier Nikolai Ryzhkov, who helped coordinate relief efforts. LF TWO MORE ABKHAZ POLICEMEN SHOT DEAD BY GUERRILLAS. Two Abkhaz policemen died on 7 December when unidentified assailants ambushed and opened fire on their car in Gali Raion, Caucasus Press reported. Abkhaz Security Minister Astamur Tarba laid the blame for the killings on the Georgian White Legion and Forest Brothers guerrilla formations, adding that captured Georgian paramilitaries have confessed to having undergone training at Georgian military bases. The Georgian leadership has consistently denied any connection with or control over those guerrilla formations. LF UNOCAL PULLS OUT OF TURKMEN PROJECTS. The U.S. company Unocal has announced it will cease participating in pipeline projects originating in Turkmenistan, ITAR-TASS reported on 8 December. Unocal suspended its participation in the pipeline project from Turkmenistan to Pakistan via Afghanistan in August, when fighting broke out in northern Afghanistan and the U.S. launched rocket attacks there on camps under the direction of suspected terrorist Osama Bin Laden. On 7 December, the official representative of Unocal, Barry Lain, said his company is pulling out of projects in Central Asia owing to "the lack of good possibilities for capital investment, which have been accented by the low prices for fuel." Unocal has pulled out of all projects around the Caspian Sea excluding those in Azerbaijan. The Anatolia news agency reported on 7 December that Turkish officials are not concerned about Unocal's withdrawal from the proposed Transcaspian pipeline. BP NAZARBAYEV TOURS NORTHERN KAZAKHSTAN. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev met with workers in northern city of Karaganda on 7 December, telling them he expects "total privatization" to take place next year, Interfax reported. Nazarbayev said industrial facilities and banks "must be private" but added that railways, power transmission lines, and oil and gas pipelines "must remain in the hands of the government." He noted that a bill on private land ownership will be passed in 1999 and is expected to give "impetus to the advancement of farming." With regard to the January elections, Nazarbayev said he is sure international monitors will be present during the ballot. BP KAZAKH FOREIGN MINISTER IN WASHINGTON. Kasymjomart Tokayev, visiting Washington on 7 December, differed with Nazarbayev over what will be up for sale in Kazakhstan next year, Reuters reported. At a dinner in the Kazakh Embassy, Tokayev told reporters that "if the price of oil drops, the government in Kazakhstan is going to sell its shares in various enterprises," singling out, among others, oil and gas, railroad, and telecommunications companies. He did not name any of those firms, however, nor did he say how low the price of oil would have to drop before sales began. Tokayev is visiting Washington to explain the decision to hold early presidential elections, which the U.S. government has criticized. BP COMMUNIST CANDIDATE IN KAZAKH ELECTIONS MEETS WITH PRESS. Serikbolsyn Abdildin, the Communist Party candidate for the January presidential ballot, told journalists in Almaty on 8 December that the Russian Communist Party will send observers to the election,. RFE/RL correspondents reported. Abdildin blamed incumbent President Nursultan Nazarbayev and the Kazakh government for the "terrible economic situation in the country" and accused them of involvement in corruption. Abdildin said he will not heed a call from former Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin to withdraw from the race, Interfax reported on 8 December. According to Reuters the previous day, Kazhegeldin's press office had released a statement calling on Abdildin, as the only candidate outside Nazarbayev's sphere of influence, to withdraw his candidacy so that "Nazarbayev cannot create the impression of honest elections." BP AKAYEV SPEAKS OUT ON DOMESTIC PROBLEMS. Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev said at a 7 December meeting marking the 50th anniversary of UN Declaration on Human Rights that "bureaucratic officials" sometimes do not pay attention to the constitutional rights of Kyrgyz citizens, Interfax reported. He noted that Kyrgyzstan still does not have sufficiently stable democratic institutions, legal standards are too low, and legislation is imperfect. He added that the parliament will introduce legislation on new criminal and civil procedural codes as well as on the Supreme Court and local judiciaries. And he warned that organized crime is putting additional pressure on the economy and also involves senior officials. BP UZBEK PRESIDENT RECEIVES EMIR TIMUR AWARD. Islam Karimov on 7 December was awarded the Emir Timur Order to mark his achievements in creating a sovereign state, increasing respect for Uzbekistan worldwide, strengthening civil peace and national accord, and preserving and boosting cultural values, Interfax reported. BP xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1998 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word subscribe as the subject of the message. HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE Send an email to email@example.com with the word unsubscribe as the subject of the message. 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