Be willing to have it so; acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune. - William James
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 239, Part I, 14 December 1998


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 239, Part I, 14 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

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Headlines, Part I

* YELTSIN OUSTS VLADIVOSTOK MAYOR

* GOVERNMENT SUBMITS BUDGET

* FIRST OIL PUMPED INTO BAKU-SUPSA PIPELINE
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RUSSIA

YELTSIN OUSTS VLADIVOSTOK MAYOR. Russian President Boris
Yeltsin signed a decree on 11 December, stripping
Vladivostok Mayor Viktor Cherepkov of his office.
According to the decree, Cherepkov's term had run out
months earlier, and the mayor had remained in office
illegally. Primorskii Krai Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko
was instructed to appoint an acting mayor until
elections are held at the beginning of next year.
Earlier, members of Primorskii Krai's legislature had
appealed to Yeltsin to remove Cherepkov. Cherepkov,
however, announced on 13 December that he will ignore
the decree and that he has filed a suit against Yeltsin
at the Russian Supreme Court. He also declared his
intention to run for governor of Primore in the 1999
elections. The city of Vladivostok has been hit with
chronic fuel and electricity shortages as temperatures
have dipped below freezing. JAC

U.S. CONSIDERS YELTSIN ON DUTY, GOVERNMENT ON TRACK... A
delegation of U.S. officials led by Deputy Secretary of
State Strobe Talbott and Deputy Treasury Secretary Larry
Summers concluded their visit to Moscow on 12 December.
The delegation met with Prime Minister Yevgenii
Primakov, First Deputy Prime Minister Yurii Maslyukov,
Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, and head of the
presidential administration Nikolai Bordyuzha. After the
meeting, a " high-ranking U.S. diplomat" told reporters
on 11 December that the delegation has seen evidence
that the Russian government remains committed to
economic reform and that "no crisis of confidence exists
between the U.S. and Russia." Although the delegation
did not meet with Yeltsin, the official said that "there
was quite concrete evidence that President Yeltsin was
very much on the job and remains very much the president
of his country." JAC

...AS NEW ROUND OF STEEL TALKS TO OPEN. Meanwhile, the
U.S. and Russia will send delegations to start
negotiations on steel trade in London on 14 December,
ITAR-TASS reported on 11 December. The U.S. Department
of Commerce reached a preliminary judgment that makes
Russian steel exports to the U.S. vulnerable to high
tariffs (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 November 1998). JAC

MOSCOW POWERLESS TO OVERTURN REGIONAL FOOD RESTRICTIONS?
Head of the presidential administration Bordyuzha told
Russian Television on 11 December that the decision of
the Kemerovo and Krasnoyarsk governors to restrict food
exports outside their region was "absolutely incorrect."
A government spokesman told ITAR-TASS that the
government will investigate the two decisions. However,
the "Moscow Times" the next day quoted an Agriculture
Ministry as saying that Moscow has been unable to stop
governors from imposing domestic trade barriers. He
said, "We have scolded the governors but nothing more
concrete has been done." The daily also quoted Yurii
Gnatovskii of the OGO grain-trading firm, as saying that
local governments, such as Volgograd's, order their
railroad authorities not to provide his company with
railcars for shipping their grain. Other regions,
according to Gnatovskii, "tell their traffic police to
find faults with cargo documentation." JAC

GOVERNMENT SUBMITS BUDGET. The Russian government
submitted its draft 1999 budget on 11 December, as it
had promised, Russian agencies reported. The next day,
Prime Minister Primakov told Russian Public Television
that he might be persuaded by the Duma to modify certain
features of the budget as long as they are aimed at
reducing the deficit, but he added that "strategic
concessions" are not possible. ITAR-TASS noted that in
previous years, budgets required at least two to three
months to pass the State Duma. Former Deputy Prime
Minister Anatolii Chubais told Ekho Moskvy on 12
December that the budget is "quite professional from the
standpoint of its basic parameters." JAC

DUMA PASSES ANTI-CRISIS BILL, RECOMMENDS CHUBAIS GET THE
SACK. The Duma passed a draft law "On Priority Measures
for the Budget and Tax Policy" in its second reading on
11 December. The vote was 316 to one. The law authorizes
the emission of no more than 25.2 billion rubles ($1.26
billion) in the fourth quarter of 1998 and increases
exporters' mandatory sales of hard currency from 50
percent of their proceeds to 75 percent. The legislation
is expected to win easy passage in the Federation
Council. The same day, the Duma passed a non-binding
resolution recommending that former Deputy Prime
Minister Chubais be dismissed from his position as head
of Unified Energy Systems. According to Interfax, only
the company's board of directors and board of government
representatives can make changes to UES management. JAC

YELTSIN WARNS AGAINST TINKERING WITH CONSTITUTION. In a
12 December radio address marking the fifth anniversary
of the adoption of the Russian Constitution, President
Yeltsin spoke out against altering the constitution,
which he called the "nucleus of Russia's new statehood."
He added that the constitution "has become an obstacle
for those who want to revive the arbitrary rule of the
Communist Party bureaucracy, the persecution of the
Church, and the command system for the economy." He
warned that the wholesale replacement of the
constitution would be "deadly for the country." JAC

COMMUNISTS WIN IN VOLGOGRAD POLL. The Communist Party of
the Russian Federation won 11 of the 16 vacant seats in
the Volgograd Oblast legislature on 13 December, ITAR-
TASS reported. Four local industrial leaders and a
representative of the Volgograd Russian Sobor electoral
bloc won the five remaining seats. The election took
place despite heavy snow, power outages, and a bomb
threat at one polling station. Turnout, however, was
only 34.7 percent. At the first rotational local
elections in March 1997, the Communist Party won 12
seats, making a current total of 23 mandates. LF

STAROVOITOVA KILLED BY POLITICAL EXTREMISTS? The weapon
used to kill Galina Starovoitova was rare and is used
most often in covert military operations, the "St.
Petersburg Times" reported on 11 December. Earlier,
"Kommersant-Daily" reported that law enforcement
officers believe that the gun could have come from a
clandestine arms depot operated by a former policeman in
a Moscow suburb. An anonymous letter found at the depot
after police closed it down suggested that several
members of the militant left-wing opposition, such as
Communist Party member and Duma deputy Albert Makashov,
have ties to the depot. "Moskovskii komsomolets"
reported that some law enforcement officers believe the
killing was not the work of "professionals" since they
used "sloppy firearms" and parked their getaway car far
away from the scene of the crime. JAC

SOLZHENITSYN SAYS NO THANKS. Russian writer Aleksandr
Solzhenitsyn has rejected one of Russia's highest
honors, the Order of Saint Andrei, saying he cannot
accept an award from the authority that has "brought
Russia to its present state of ruin." President Yeltsin
bestowed the award on Solzhenitsyn on the occasion of
the latter's 80th birthday (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11
December 1998). Oleg Sysuev, deputy chief of the
presidential staff, told Russian Television that
Solzhenitsyn "has an uneasy attitude toward authorities"
and "it is his right to accept it or not." JAC

NEW THEORY POSED FOR UFO INCIDENT IN ALTAI. Officials at
a scientific research institute in Altai Republic
believe that the crash of an "unidentified flying
object" in the southeastern Altai mountains in May 1997
may have resulted from the test of a new missile
propellant or of a Burya intercontinental missile
launched from the Barnaul military base, "Trud" reported
on 10 December. According to the daily, a dark cloud of
burning fuel covered 5,000 square kilometers in the
region, causing a number of deaths and illnesses. Local
authorities believe the population was exposed to
chlorine, a combat contaminant used during World War 1,
the daily reported. JAC

CHECHNYA CALLS UP RESERVISTS. President Aslan Maskhadov
ordered the mobilization of reservists on 12 December in
a new crackdown on crime following the execution of four
foreign telephone engineers several days earlier.
Several thousand volunteers came forward within 24
hours. Speaking on Chechen Television on 12 December,
Chechen Deputy Prime Minister Turpal Atgeriev accused
former field commander Arbi Baraev of having
masterminded the abduction and murder of the four
engineers. Baraev was dismissed as commander of the
Islamic special purpose regiment in mid-July after his
men were involved in fighting with rival Chechen forces
in Gudermes (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 July 1998).
Atgeriev also blamed Baraev for the 10 December
abduction of Chechen Prosecutor-General Mansur Tagiev,
who was released two days later. LF

ABDUCTED UN OFFICIAL FREED. Under the direction of
Russian Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin, Russian and
Ingushetian Interior Ministry forces secured the release
of UN High Commission for Refugees official Vincent
Cochetel in a rescue operation on the border between
Chechnya and Ingushetia early on 12 December. Three of
the kidnappers were killed during the shootout that
ensued. Cochetel, who headed the UNHCR mission in the
North Caucasus, was kidnapped in the North Ossetian
capital, Vladikavkaz, in January (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
30 January 1998). LF

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

FIRST OIL PUMPED INTO BAKU-SUPSA PIPELINE. The
Azerbaijani International Operating Company began
filling the export oil pipeline from Baku to Georgia's
Black Sea terminal of Supsa on 10 December, Caucasus
Press reported. The process of filling the 930 kilometer
pipeline will be completed by February 1999, and the
pipeline will begin operating one month later. Initial
annual throughput is estimated at 2.5 million metric
tons. Gia Chanturia, the president of the Georgian
International Operating Company, which operates the
Georgian sector of the pipeline, told journalists in
Tbilisi on 11 December that Georgia will receive some
$25-30 million annually in tariffs, ITAR-TASS reported.
LF

AZERBAIJAN PROTESTS IRANIAN OIL DEAL. The Azerbaijani
Foreign Ministry issued a statement on 10 December
condemning the proposed deal between Iran and the Royal
Dutch Shell and Lazno oil companies to conduct
geological exploration in what Baku claims is part of
its sector of the Caspian Sea, Turan and Interfax
reported. That agreement is scheduled to be signed on 14
December. The Azerbaijani statement condemned the
proposed exploration as "illegal," "unilateral," and
"inadmissible." It also rejects Iran's claim to 20
percent of the Caspian. The five Caspian littoral states
have been at loggerheads for several years over the
optimum approach to dividing the Caspian into national
sectors and the precise borders of those sectors. LF

AZERBAIJANI EX-PARLIAMENT SPEAKER FACES NEW CRIMINAL
CHARGES. The prosecutor-general has opened another
criminal case against Rasul Guliev on charges of
insulting President Heidar Aliev, Interfax reported on
13 December. Guliev, who left Azerbaijan in 1996,
accused Aliev of cutting a deal with the Armenian
leadership under which Azerbaijani forces would not
prevent Armenia occupying the Kelbadjar and Lachin
districts of Azerbaijan and the town of Shusha in
Nagorno-Karabakh (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 June 1998).
In January 1998, Guliev was accused of having engaged in
large-scale embezzlement when he headed Azerbaijan's
largest oil refinery. He was stripped of his deputy's
immunity in April. LF

RUSSIA DELIVERS NUCLEAR FUEL TO ARMENIA. Russia
delivered an urgently needed consignment of nuclear fuel
for Armenia's Medzamor power station on 11 December,
ITAR-TASS reported. The same day, Armenian and Russian
officials signed an agreement in Moscow whereby Russia
will extend a $20.24 million loan to Armenia to finance
safety measures at the plant and further shipments of
fuel. Armenian enterprises owe Medzamor some $40 million
for electricity supplies, according to "Nezavisimaya
gazeta" of 16 October. LF

MANUKIAN CRITICIZES ARMENIAN LEADERSHIP. Speaking at the
10th congress of his National Democratic Union on 11
December, former Prime Minister and twice defeated
presidential candidate Vazgen Manukian charged that the
economy of Armenia and Karabakh is mainly controlled by
clans under the leadership of President Robert
Kocharian, Defense Minister Vazgen Sargssian, Interior
and Security Minister Serzh Sargssian, and Karabakh
Defense Minister Samvel Babayan. Differences of opinion
surfaced between Manukian, who insists that political
change is possible only through democratic elections,
and parliament deputy Davit Vartanian, who refuses to
rule out "revolutionary methods," RFE/RL's Yerevan
bureau reported. In addition, Manukian rejects any
cooperation with the existing Armenian government, while
Vartanian would condone such cooperation to solve
fundamental problems such as unemployment. In July,
Vartanian accepted an offer from Kocharian to head the
presidential oversight service. LF

ARMENIANS PROTEST DESTRUCTION OF MONUMENTS IN
NAKHICHEVAN. A senior Armenian clergyman and members of
the Nakhichevan Union representing Armenians from that
Azerbaijani exclave have addressed appeals to UN
Secretary-General Kofi Annan and to UNESCO Secretary-
General Federico Mayor to intervene to prevent the
further destruction of Armenian religious and cultural
monuments in Nakhichevan, Noyan Tapan reported on 10
December. In late November, Armenian architects on the
Iranian bank of the Arax, which forms the frontier
between Iran and Nakhichevan, reported that gravestones
and stone crosses in the cemetery of Old Djuga in
Nakhichevan were being destroyed by bulldozers or
removed. In the 1920s, the population of Nakhichevan was
predominantly Armenian, but as a result of emigration
from the region, it is now 95 percent Azerbaijani. LF

OPPOSITION TO CHAIR TWO FURTHER GEORGIAN CITY COUNCILS.
Labor Party member Malkhaz Asatiani was elected chairman
of the city council of Kutaisi, Georgia's second largest
city, on 10 December, Caucasus Press reported. The same
day, a member of the People's Party was elected chairman
of the Gori City Council. A representative of the ruling
Union of Citizens of Georgia (SMK) has rejected that
outcome and absconded with the ballot papers. In his
weekly radio address, President Eduard Shevardnadze said
on 14 December that the SMK's lackluster showing in the
15 November local elections "is not a defeat" for that
party. LF

KYRGYZ OFFICIALS DETAINED DURING ANTI-CORRUPTION
INVESTIGATION. Kyrgyz Interior Minister Omurbek Kutuev
told journalists on 14 December that a number of state
officials have been detained on corruption and
embezzlement charges, RFE/RL correspondents in Bishkek
reported. Kutuev said arrests began on 12 December.
Among those arrested, he named First Deputy Finance
Minister Alymbek Biyalinov, Deputy Finance Minister
Rysbek Begmatov, Deputy Minister of Ecology Jumakadyr
Akeneev, Deputy Minister of Industry and Foreign Trade
Stamakun Asanaliev, and the head of the newly privatized
Agricultural Leasing company. He added that there are
more detainees but declined to give further details.
Also on 14 December, President Askar Akayev signed a
decree aimed at stepping up the battle against
corruption. Last week, Akayev sacked the head of his
administration (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 December
1998). BP

ABDULLOJONOV ACCUSES TAJIK GOVERNMENT OF GENOCIDE...
Former Tajik Prime Minister Abdumalik Abdullojonov, who
is wanted by Dushanbe for his role in the violence in
the northern Leninabad Oblast early last month, issued a
statement on 9 December accusing the Tajik government
"led by President Imomali Rakhmonov" of "practicing
political, regional, and ethnic genocide," ITAR-TASS
reported three days later. Abdullojonov wrote that
following the violence in the north last month,
"thousands of people were thrown in prison, tens of
thousands of homes were looted, and hundreds of the
area's residents have disappeared without a trace." He
also criticized the United Tajik Opposition for giving
"tacit agreement" to events in northern Tajikistan,
especially because "more than anyone else, they have
experienced the horrors of the infringement of rights."
BP

...AND TARGETING HIS RELATIVES. Abdullojonov also
claimed he has relatives still living in the area who
have been targeted by the Tajik authorities. He said his
mother's home in Khujand was looted and his brother, the
former mayor of Khujand, arrested. Saying he is
accustomed to attacks against himself, he questioned the
need to harass his relatives and friends still in
Tajikistan. He also said that he is ready to appear
before a "free and impartial international court" to
answer to any charges of wrong-doing. BP

KAZAKHSTAN'S POPULATION CONTINUES TO DECREASE. The
director of the Migration and Immigration Agency,
Zauytbek Turysbekov, said on 12 December that during
Kazakhstan's seven years of independence, 2.17 million
people have left Kazakhstan, ITAR-TASS reported. During
the same period, 590,000 people, of whom 170,000 are
ethnic Kazakhs, have entered the country. As of 1
January 1998, the country's population was 15.6 million.
BP

TURKMENISTAN CELEBRATES THREE YEARS OF 'NEUTRALITY.'
Turkmenistan on 12 December celebrated the third
anniversary of the UN decision to officially recognize
that country's "neutrality," ITAR-TASS and Interfax
reported. To mark the occasion, a 75-meter-high
Neutrality Arch was unveiled, atop of which is a 12-
meter, gold-plated statue of Turkmen President
Saparmurat Niyazov. The statue slowly revolves so that
it is always facing the sun. BP

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