Standing, as I do, in the view of God and eternity, I realize that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness toward anyone. - Edith Cavell 1865-1915 (Spoken to the chaplain who attended her before her execution by firing squad, 12 Oct. 1915.)
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 236, Part I, 9 December 1998


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 236, Part I, 9 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
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Headlines, Part I

* FOUR FOREIGN HOSTAGES SLAIN IN CHECHNYA

* BUDGET HEADED FOR REJECTION

* UTO CANDIDATE FOR DEFENSE MINISTRY AGAIN REJECTED
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RUSSIA

FOUR FOREIGN HOSTAGES SLAIN IN CHECHNYA. The severed
heads of three Britons and a New Zealander who had been
abducted in Grozny on 3 October were found on 8 December
in a Chechen village close to the border with
Ingushetia. Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov expressed
his indignation and regret at the killings, which he
attributed to a struggle between the "great powers" for
influence in the Caucasus. Chechen Prosecutor-General
Mansur Tagirov told ITAR-TASS on 9 December that the
kidnappers may have killed their hostages in panic
following the 5 December arrest of one of their
associates, whom they feared might betray them to the
Chechen authorities. But a spokesman for the British
firm that employed the dead men said he believes they
were killed during a botched attempt by Chechen security
forces to release them. President Boris Yeltsin, UN
Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and British Foreign
Secretary Robin Cook have all condemned the killings. LF

BUDGET HEADED FOR REJECTION... State Duma Chairman
Gennadii Seleznev told reporters on 8 December that the
Duma is likely to reject the 1999 budget in its first
reading, which is currently scheduled for 11 December.
He added that a tripartite commission would likely be
formed to consider the draft and submit it to the
legislature later. First Deputy Prime Minister Yurii
Maslyukov told reporters the same day that the draft
budget might not be approved by the Cabinet until 11
December and would be submitted to the Duma on either 12
or 13 December. "Vremya MN" on 7 December described the
version of the budget it reviewed as extremely difficult
to implement. It noted that budget revenues are set at
12 percent of GDP, which no government has recently been
able to collect. On 9 December, Interfax reported that
the government has raised its estimate of GDP from 3.8
trillion ruble ($187 billion) to 4 trillion rubles. JAC

...AS MILITARY RECEIVES MORE CASH. The government of
Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov also agreed to increase
the amount of money allotted to the military by raising
defense expenditures from 2.5 percent of GDP to 3.1
percent. Part of the new spending will be covered by
reducing the planned cut in value-added tax from the
current 20 percent to 15 percent instead of 14 percent.
"Kommersant-Daily" suggested on 9 December that the
government is in fact going to pursue its economic
policy in two stages: emissions, followed by a period of
"superausterity." The newspaper based its conclusion on
the Central Bank's monetary and credit policy that was
released the previous day. JAC

TAX BILLS READIED FOR DUMA SCRUTINY. The government has
prepared 19 tax bills for submission to the Duma,
Russian agencies reported on 8 December. Among these is
a draft law establishing a tax of 12 percent for incomes
between 60,000-120,000 rubles ($2,900-$5,900), 17
percent for 120,000-180,000 rubles, 22 percent for
180,000-240,000 rubles, and 32 percent tax for those
above 240,000 rubles. Income from second jobs would be
taxed at a higher rate. Federal Tax Service head Georgii
Boos told reporters on 9 December that the nation's new
tax system will be in place by 1 March. JAC

YELTSIN LEAVES HOSPITAL FOR HOME. Russian President
Boris Yeltsin again checked out of the hospital on 9
December and headed this time to his country residence
to recuperate. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" speculated on 8
December that Prime Minister Primakov was behind the
recent firing of top Kremlin officials. The daily noted
that "Primakov was the last one to see Yeltsin" at the
hospital before the dismissals began. It concluded that
Yeltsin trusts Primakov completely and therefore
undermined those entities that were able to operate
independently of him, such as the presidential staff and
the Security Council. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" receives
funding from Boris Berezovskii's LogoVAZ group. The same
day, Berezovskii himself told Reuters that the
government reshuffle should have extended to the entire
government lineup, with the exception of Primakov. JAC

GOVERNMENT DECIDES BIGGER IS BETTER IN OIL SECTOR...
Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Bulgak told reporters on
8 December that 13 oil companies are more than the
country can afford under present conditions but to
comply with the country's anti-monopoly legislation, no
fewer than three or four should exist. A government
commission chaired by Bulgak will choose within two
weeks between three proposals for merging Russia's oil
companies. Four Russian oil companies--Rosneft,
Slavneft, Onako, and Zarubezhneft--signed a memorandum
declaring their intent to form a single company,
Interfax reported on 8 December. LUKoil president Vagit
Alekperov proposed merging his company with Slavneft and
Onako, while Yukos President Mikhail Khodorkovskii
suggested teaming his company with Rosneft and Onako.
JAC

...SUBMITS NEW PSA LEGISLATION. In the meantime, the
government submitted a new bill listing fields that
could be developed on the basis of production-sharing
agreements (PSA), Interfax reported on 8 December. State
Duma Subcomittee for Fuel Resources Chairman Valerii
Yazev told "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 1 December that
Western oil companies have alienated the Duma's left
wing with their overly aggressive lobbying for PSA
legislation. He added that a new compromise will have to
be forged between the right, the left, and the oil
companies. JAC

GOVERNMENT RELEASES LIST OF NAUGHTY REGIONS. The Finance
Ministry released a list of regions that it accuses of
misusing federal monies allocated for wages, ITAR-TASS
reported on 8 December. At the top of the list are
Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, Koryak Autonomous Okrug,
Kemerovo Oblast, Magadan Oblast, and Arkhangelsk. All
had accumulated wage arrears of more than four months.
The next day, First Deputy Finance Minister Viktor
Khristenko told Prime-TASS that the government is
proposing earmarking 33 billion rubles ($1.6 billion)
from the budget to provide financial support for the
regions. "Vremya MN" reported on 7 December that "in
exchange for their political support of the cabinet, the
governors are demanding that Primakov produce a schedule
for debt repayment and grant money on a large scale."
JAC

MISSILE PASSES SIXTH TEST. The Topol-M missile
successfully completed its sixth flight and design test,
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 9 December. According
to the newspaper, the single-warhead missile has only
failed one of six tests carried out since 20 December
1997 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 October 1998). JAC

SOCCER CHIEF HOLDS ONTO JOB. Vyacheslav Koloskov, head
of the Russian Soccer Union, managed to hold onto his
job for another five years, after a bruising struggle
against other contenders such as Nikolai Tolstykh, head
of the Russian Professional Soccer League, and President
of Kalmykia Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. Koloskov faced criticism
after Russia failed to qualify for the World Cup for the
first time in 20 years. He also faced charges of
corruption from his main rival Tolstykh. Koloskov, in
turn, accused Tolstykh of threatening his life. "Vremya
MN" argued on 9 December that Koloskov won because he
promised to give regional soccer clubs more power as
well as a share of profits. After his victory, Koloskov
announced that he is planning to work full time at the
Russian Olympic Committee, the "Moscow Times" reported.
He also said he will hire a chief operating officer to
run the union. JAC

PSYCHIATRIC DISORDERS ON THE RISE. Over the past five
years, the incidence of neurosis rose 10 percent,
depression 35 percent, alcoholism 30 percent, and drug
addiction 600 percent, according to Valerii Krasnov,
director of the Institute of Psychiatric Research,
"Kontinent" reported in its December issue. Krasnov also
claimed that every third draftee in the army has a
psychiatric disorder. JAC

BREZHNEV SCION SUGGESTS ANDROPOV MONUMENT. Andrei
Brezhnev, grandson of the former Soviet leader Leonid
Brezhnev and leader of the recently formed All Russia
Communist Socio-Political Movement, told reporters on 8
December that a monument to former KGB chief Yurii
Andropov would be more appropriate than one for
Dzerzhinskii because it "will not cause emotions to run
so high." He added that "without a monument, Lubyanka
Square lacks architectural completeness." JAC

IMMINENT SLEIGH SHORTAGE? The reindeer population in
Chukotka Autonomous Okrug faces extinction, according to
the Emergencies Ministry, Interfax reported on 8
December. A sudden thaw followed by a sharp drop in
temperature caused ice to form on the ground, making
fodder inaccessible. Some 40,000 reindeer have been
moved to southern areas where food is more available.
JAC

CORRECTION. "RFE/RL Newsline" on 8 December in correctly
identified Vladimir Ryzhkov, deputy speaker of the State
Duma, as a member of the Yabloko faction. He belongs to
the Our Home is Russia faction.

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER SIGNS COOPERATION AGREEMENTS IN
TBILISI... Meeting on 7 December, Valeriy Pustovoytenko
and Georgian Minister of State Vazha Lortkipanidze
signed a 10-year agreement on economic cooperation as
well as accords on trade, banking, culture, and
transportation, Interfax and Caucasus Press reported.
The two leaders discussed coordinating efforts to
prevent a further devaluation of their countries'
currencies. Pustovoytenko also held talks with President
Eduard Shevardnadze, parliamentary speaker Zurab
Zhvania, and Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili.
The Ukrainian leader told Menagharishvili that Ukraine
is willing to host talks between Georgian and Abkhaz
representatives on confidence-building measures in order
to expedite a settlement of the Abkhaz conflict. LF

...VISITS TO POTI, BATUMI. The next day, Pustovoytenko
inspected the oil terminal under construction at
Georgia's Black Sea port of Supsa and again affirmed
Ukraine's interest in exporting via its territory
Caspian oil shipped by tanker from Supsa to Odessa,
Interfax reported. Pustovoytenko also visited Batumi,
where he discussed the prospects for bilateral
cooperation with Adjar Supreme Council chairman Aslan
Abashidze. A rail ferry service between Batumi, Poti,
and Ilichevsk is to begin operating on 19 December after
several postponements. LF

ARMENIA HOPES AZERBAIJAN WILL RECONSIDER KARABAKH PEACE
PLAN. Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian said on
7 December that he hopes Azerbaijan will reconsider its
approach to resuming talks on a settlement of the
Karabakh conflict even though it has rejected what he
termed the "compromise variant" of a "common state"
proposed in the latest OSCE Minsk Group draft plan.
Oskanian was speaking in Brussels, where he is heading
the Armenian delegation to a regular meeting of NATO's
Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. At a press briefing
in Yerevan on 8 December, Foreign Ministry spokesman
Arsen Gasparian said, "We think the most recent proposal
by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen on resolving the
Karabakh conflict is the only version on the basis of
which progress, and later the full settlement of the
conflict, will be possible," RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau
reported. LF

AZERBAIJAN WANTS RUSSIAN ACTION OVER YEREVANGATE.
Azerbaijani Defense Minister Safar Abiev told
journalists in Baku on 8 December that Prime Minister
Artur Rasi-zade recently wrote to his Russian
counterpart Yevgenii Primakov, to protest alleged
continuing shipments of Russian arms to Armenia and to
demand that those weapons supplied in 1993-1996 be
returned, Turan reported. Rasi-zade has not yet received
a response to that demand. The trilateral Russian-
Azerbaijani-Armenian commission established last year to
investigate the charges of illicit Russian arms supplies
to Armenia has not met since April 1998. LF

UTO CANDIDATE FOR DEFENSE MINISTRY AGAIN REJECTED.
RFE/RL correspondents in Dushanbe on 7 December
confirmed that the United Tajik Opposition re-nominated
Mirzo Ziyoyev as defense minister sometime between 4 and
6 December. The government, however, once again rejected
his nomination, proposing instead that Ziyoyev receive a
lower-ranking position in the Defense Ministry. Under
the terms of the Tajik Peace Accord, signed in June
1997, the UTO are to receive 30 percent of the seats in
the government. That process is nearly completed.
Ziyoyev proved a capable military commander during the
Tajik civil war and has strong ties to UTO leadership.
BP

TAJIK PREMIER DOWNPLAYS REGIONAL TENSIONS. Using
language reminiscent of Soviet press attacks on
"bourgeois falsifiers" during the 1980s, Tajik Prime
Minister Yakhye Azimov has harshly criticized "newly-
baked politologists" who he claims seek to undermine
Tajikistan's sovereign status by overstating and fanning
inter-regional tensions. Writing in "Nezavisimaya
gazeta" on 4 December, Azimov concedes that "separatist
aspirations" and "regional self-identification" still
exist and constitute the main obstacle to the emergence
of a sense of Tajik nationhood. But he rejects charges
by unnamed international organizations that officials
from southern Tajikistan are carrying out "genocide"
against persons from other parts of the country. Azimov
also denies that only individuals who come from the
southern region of Kulyab (as does President Imomali
Rakhmonov) are appointed to leading positions, naming a
dozen senior officials, including himself, who are from
Leninabad, in the north. Mahmud Khudaberdiyev and his
putative accomplice in last month's abortive uprising,
former premier Abdumalik Abdullojonov, both come from
Leninabad. LF

TURKMENISTAN PRINTS MORE MONEY, DOLLAR RATE ON BLACK
MARKET SOARS. The decision by the Turkmen government to
print more money has sent the unofficial dollar exchange
rate soaring to nearly three times the official rate,
RFE/RL correspondents in Ashgabat reported on 8
December. Central Bank chief Khudaiberdi Orazov
announced that decision on 4 December. According to
Reuters, there had been a near riot in late November at
an Ashgabat Daikhanbank exchange office following the
announcement that some banks would be nationalized. The
official exchange rate is 5,200 manats to $1, but the
unofficial rate is reportedly more than 13,000 to $1. BP

KAZAKH FOREIGN MINISTER CONTINUES U.S. VISIT.
Kasymjomart Tokayev, speaking at the Center for
Strategic and International Studies in Washington on 8
December, said that his country will hold presidential
elections, as planned, next month and that they will be
fair, RFE/RL correspondents reported. Tokayev also said
that while those elections will be democratic, it will
be "democracy suited to Kazakh culture." It is unfair to
compare democratic structures in the U.S. with those in
Kazakhstan, he argued, noting that his country welcomes
constructive criticism but asks for fairness. The
decision to move presidential elections forward by
nearly two years has drawn criticism from the U.S. and
the OSCE, as have subsequent incidents in the
registration process. BP

FURTHER REPORTS ON COMMUNIST PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE'S
COMMENTS. Serikbolsyn Abdildin, the presidential
candidate of the Kazakh Communist Party, said at an 8
December press conference that he believes he will win
the January elections, Interfax reported. Abdildin said
he expects to take 70 percent of the vote, pointing to
strong support from Kazakhstan's "impoverished masses,"
who he said make up 90 percent of the country's
population. He added that is counting on "most of the 4
million unemployed and 3 million pensioners" to vote for
him, but he noted that he believes the election will be
rigged unless members of the Communist Party are allowed
to monitor the vote. According to Reuters the same day,
Abdildin said the international community is correct in
labeling the January elections "unfair." But he said
does not believe incumbent President Nursultan
Nazarbayev will postpone the elections, despite the
OSCE's 3 December call to do so. BP

PREPARATIONS FOR ELECTION CAMPAIGN UNDER WAY... The
chair of the Central Election Commission, Zagipa
Baliyeva, said on 8 December that the January
presidential elections will be held in any weather and
regardless of the will of individual figures, Interfax
reported. Baliyeva noted that candidates have been
nominated and registered in accordance with the law and
in a way that she described as "democratic enough." She
also criticized the OSCE's call to postpone the
election, saying that the organization "cannot
recommend" that a government delay such a vote. Baliyeva
said her commission is doing everything possible to
ensure the ballot will be "open, honest, and
transparent." The state will make time available for all
four candidates on television and radio and has reserved
advertising space in newspapers. All the candidates have
received 2.44 million tenge ($30,000) which is
equivalent to the sum the candidates paid as a
registration fee. Baliyeva dismissed rumors that two of
the candidates, which she did not name, will withdraw on
the eve of the election. BP

...WHILE BOYCOTT THREATS EMERGE. More than 5,000 workers
at the Shymkent Lead and Zinc plant have sent an open
letter to the government announcing their intention to
boycott the January election if they are not paid back
wages, RFE/RL correspondents in Almaty reported on 9
December. Those workers did not receive wages from 1994-
1996, according to Interfax. Meanwhile, Interfax reports
that workers at the Severnii coal mine, recently
acquired by Russia's United Energy Systems (UES),
received 39 million rubles (some $2 million) in back
wages promised by UES chairman Anatolii Chubais during
his late November visit to northern Kazakhstan. Chubais
had promised 49 million rubles but said the remaining 10
million will arrive by 15 December. BP

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