Coleridge declares that a man cannot have a good conscience who refuses apple dumplings, and I confess that I am of the same opinion. - Charles Lamb
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 241, Part I, 16 December 1998


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 241, Part I, 16 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

* DIPLOMATIC RESIDENCE SPAT SPREADS TO MOSCOW

* BUDGET TIMETABLE EXTENDING TO JANUARY?

* LEGAL ACTION AGAINST AZERBAIJANI PRESS CONTINUES

End Note: LOOKING WEST FROM BEIJING
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RUSSIA

DIPLOMATIC RESIDENCE SPAT SPREADS TO MOSCOW. In the
latest of a series of articles about Russia's reaction
to the removal of a security guardpost outside the home
of the Russian ambassador in Washington, "Noviye
izvestiya" reported on 15 December that Russian
authorities have threatened to remove guards from the
U.S. embassy in Moscow and from the U.S. ambassador's
residence. According to the daily, U.S. Ambassador James
Collins paid an urgent visit to the Russian Foreign
Ministry, requesting that security measures be increased
rather than decreased. The newspaper reported that a
State Department official in Washington explained the
guards' removal there by saying "we are having financial
difficulties, and you Russians must understand this."
"Noviye izvestiya" concluded, "We do understand. But
what, then, are our state organs to do, when wages have
not been paid for months and no one is removing guards
from foreign diplomatic missions in Moscow?" JAC

IVANOV REVIEWS U.S.-RUSSIAN RELATIONS. In an published
in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 16 December, Foreign
Minister Igor Ivanov called the U.S. and Russia "natural
strategic partners" but said that Moscow will oppose
pressure to alter its relationship with Iran. "Our
cooperation with Iran will continue to be implemented in
strict compliance with our international commitments and
nonproliferation policies," he wrote. He also noted that
the strategic goals of the U.S. and Russia "mainly
coincide" but "different measures and methods to reach
[these goals] are often suggested, which sometimes
causes serious differences." JAC

TALE OF TWO MAYORS CONTINUES. Yurii Kopylov, appointed
acting mayor of Vladivostok by Primorskii Krai Governor
Yevgenii Nazdratenko, appealed on 15 December for
"assistance" to help him occupy city administration
headquarters, which are currently occupied by supporters
of former Mayor Viktor Cherepkov, ITAR-TASS reported.
However, Viktor Kondratov, presidential representative
to the krai, said that "there will be no use of force to
settle the conflict." "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 16
December that lights, telephones, and water have been
turned off at the mayor's office in order to drive out
Cherepkov's supporters. Earlier, many city residents
experienced heating outages at their homes because of a
battle between the local power supply company and the
Mayor's Office (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 December 1998).
JAC

BUDGET TIMETABLE EXTENDING TO JANUARY? Duma deputy and
deputy chairman of the Communist party faction Valentin
Kuptsov told reporters on 15 December that the Duma is
unlikely to pass the budget quickly. He said that
"neither the party nor the voters would appreciate it if
we skipped studying the government's proposals in
depth." Meanwhile, Duma Chairman Gennadii Seleznev said
that the Duma will try to complete consideration of the
budget in January if it fails to do so by the end of the
year. Duma Budget Committee Chairman (Russian Regions)
Aleksandr Zhukov said that the budget has a good chance
of passing in the first reading, while Agrarian faction
leader Nikolai Kharitonov said his group will support
the budget, despite the fact that it will not resolve
the problems experienced by farms and agrobusinesses.
JAC

SOME OF ILYUKHIN'S BEST FRIENDS ARE JEWISH? State Duma
Security Committee Chairman and member of the Communist
Party Viktor Ilyukhin said at an impeachment commission
hearing on 15 December that "large-scale genocide
[against the Russian people] would have been less
serious if the president's entourage and the government
included representatives of other ethnic groups and did
not consist exclusively of Jews, although they are a
talented group." The next day, the Duma rejected a
Yabloko faction proposal for a resolution condemning
Ilyukhin for his remarks. Only 82 deputies voted in
favor of the measure, according to Interfax. Ilyukhin,
meanwhile, has denied that his remarks were anti-
Semitic, according to ITAR-TASS. Duma deputy and fellow
Communist Party member Tatyana Astrakhankina accused
television journalists of trying to discredit Ilyukhin.
Financial magnate Boris Berezovskii, who earlier
proposed that the Communist Party be banned, suggested
that if necessary, the government should use force to
get rid of the party. JAC

GOVERNMENT CAMPAIGNING FOR START-II... Russian military
and government officials stepped up their rhetoric in
support of State Duma ratification of the START-II
treaty on 15 December. Strategic Rocket Force Commander
General Vladimir Yakovlev told reporters that under the
treaty, Russia would not have to take a single missile
off combat duty before its service life expired. He
added that "just like human life, the lifetime of any
piece of equipment is limited." The same day, First
Deputy Prime Minister Yurii Maslyukov said that START-II
is a touchstone for Russian foreign policy and delays in
its ratification are providing other countries with
justification for speeding up their own nuclear weapons
program. Maslyukov also urged that talks begin
immediately on START-III. JAC

...AS DUMA MEMBERS DEMAND QUID PRO QUO. Meanwhile, the
treaty has become a subject for "political horse
trading" in the Duma and some groups are demanding
changes in the budget in exchange for their support for
ratification, "Izvestiya" reported on 16 December.
According to the daily, Yabloko, Our Home is Russia, and
Russian Regions support ratification, while the Liberal
Democratic Party is "unambiguously opposed." Communist
Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov reportedly believes that
there is no point in examining the treaty until the
government submits a plan on how it will safeguard the
nation's security over the next 10 to 15 years. Duma
Chairman Seleznev said the Duma Council will consider
START-II ratification on 17 December. JAC

ORT BANKRUPTCY CASE CONTINUES. Five creditors who filed
suits against Russian Public Television (ORT) have
withdrawn them under government pressure, "Kommersant-
Daily" reported on 15 December. According to the
newspaper, the government now has full control over the
station, which "can be reminded of its debts and the
prospect of bankruptcy at any moment." By gaining this
leverage, the government has delivered a "crushing
defeat" to financial magnate Boris Berezovskii,
according to the newspaper. In the meantime, however, a
Moscow arbitration court decided to continue bankruptcy
proceedings against ORT, despite an appeal from the
Federal Bankruptcy Service, the "Moscow Times" reported
on 16 December. Artem Bikov, deputy head of the service,
said his agency will continue to oppose ORT's
bankruptcy. A first hearing has been scheduled for 18
February. JAC

TEACHERS, PARENTS BLOCK RAILROAD. About 100 teachers and
parents of schoolchildren from the village of Suda in
the Vologda Oblast blocked the Oktyabrskaya railroad on
15 December, Interfax reported. At the same time, more
than 12,000 teachers from 443 schools and daycare
centers also protested months of unpaid wages. A local
teachers' union official told Interfax that only
teachers working in the cities of Vologda and
Cherepovets and in one other school district in the
oblast receive their pay regularly. The next day, a
Transport Police official told Interfax that criminal
proceedings have been initiated against the striking
teachers who blocked the railroad and delayed four
trains. JAC

KIRIENKO GOES ONLINE. Former Prime Minister Sergei
Kirienko has launched his own website (www.kirienko.ru),
Interfax reported on December 15. The site contains an
application form for people wishing to join Kirienko's
new movement, called Novoye Delo [New Cause]. Kirienko's
former colleague, Boris Nemtsov, former deputy prime
minister also has his own web site (www.nemtsov.ru), at
which people can join his Young Russia movement. In an
interview with "Novoye vremya" in its December issue,
Nemtsov said that Young Russia's ranks are swelling by
"one hundred new men a day." JAC

RIGHT-WING NATIONALISTS BARRED FROM MEETING IN MOSCOW.
Moscow city authorities have announced that Russian
National Unity (RNU) will not be allowed to hold a
congress with more than 5,000 attendees at the Izmailovo
Sports Palace on 19 December. RNU leader Aleksandr
Barkashov told Interfax the same day that his
organization will appeal the ban. According to
Barkashov, the city has no legal right to prohibit the
meeting of the party, which "is registered in Moscow as
well as in 33 other Russian regions." On the agenda of
the meeting had been amendments to the group's charter
enabling it to officially register with the Justice
Ministry and participate in presidential elections in
2000, "Moskovskii komsomolets" reported. JAC

CHECHEN PARLIAMENT DECLARES STATE OF EMERGENCY. The
Chechen parliament on 15 December refused to approve the
deployment of the several thousand reservists mobilized
by President Aslan Maskhadov to crackdown on crime,
imposing instead a 30-day state of emergency, Interfax
reported. Parliamentary speaker Ruslan Alikhadjiev told
ITAR-TASS that the parliament's decision does not
constitute defiance of the president, as the state of
emergency will serve the same purpose as Maskhadov's
proposed deployment of reservists. But Deputy Prime
Minister Turpal Atgeriev condemned the parliament's
decision as "the wrong way to combat crime," according
to Interfax. As in July, when Maskhadov imposed a state
of emergency following clashes between rival military
groups, former Russian Security Council Secretary Ivan
Rybkin argued that Moscow should not condemn the Chechen
move, which is technically illegal as only the Russian
president is empowered to declare a state of emergency
on the territory of the Russian Federation, ITAR-TASS
reported. LF

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

LEGAL ACTION AGAINST AZERBAIJANI PRESS CONTINUES. A Baku
district court handed down two more fines on independent
newspapers on 15 December, Turan reported. "Azadlyg" and
"Yeni Musavat" were each fined 150 million manats
($39,000) for having insulted the honor and dignity of
President Heidar Aliev by publishing former President
Abulfaz Elchibey's allegations that Aliev played a role
in the creation of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
The Baku city court judge who on 14 December had imposed
a fine on "Azadlyg" for publishing details of alleged
purchases of foreign real estate by members of Aliev's
family, has applied to the prosecutor-general to begin
criminal proceedings for slander against the newspaper's
editor, Gunduz Tairli. LF

AZERBAIJAN WARNS OIL COMPANIES OVER COOPERATION WITH
IRAN... The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry sent letters of
protest on 15 December to Anglo-Dutch Royal/Dutch Shell
and Britain's LASMO plc, which the previous day signed
an agreement with the National Iranian Oil Company to
conduct an exploration study in what Baku says is its
national sector of the Caspian (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
14 December 1998), Reuters reported . The ministry also
wrote to the governments of the other four Caspian
littoral states--Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, and
Turkmenistan--to protest the agreement. Ilham Aliev,
vice president of the Azerbaijani state oil company
SOCAR, told journalists that by signing the agreement,
BP and Shell have jeopardized their activities in
Azerbaijan and their chances of participation in future
projects. LF

...SIGNS ANOTHER PSA. Frontera Resources Corporation and
SOCAR signed an agreement on 15 December in Baku to
develop the Kyursangi and Karabaghli onshore oil fields,
located 150 kilometers southwest of Baku, ITAR-TASS and
Turan reported. The Saudi-U.S. Delta-Gas Alliance is the
third partner in the consortium. The fields have been in
production since the 1960s and have estimated reserves
of 150 million metric tons of oil. LF

GEORGIA DENIES MILITARY BUILDUP ON ABKHAZ BORDER. A
senior Georgian Interior Ministry official told Caucasus
Press on 15 December that Russian claims that Georgia
has exceeded the maximum number of troops it may deploy
close to the border with Abkhazia "do not correspond to
reality" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 December 1998).
Galaktion Mdzinarishvili said that the officer from the
Russian peacekeeping force deployed along the border who
made that allegation may have been confused by the
weekly rotation of Georgian forces in that district.
Abkhaz Interior Minister Amazbey Kchach has sent another
60 police officers to Abkhazia's southernmost Gali Raion
in response to an increase in terrorist activity there,
Caucasus Press reported on 16 December. LF

ARMENIA'S ENTRY TO COUNCIL OF EUROPE CONDITIONAL ON FREE
ELECTIONS. Presidential adviser and Self-Determination
Union chairman Paruyr Hayrikian told journalists in
Yerevan on 15 December that Armenia's full membership in
the Council of Europe will depend on how next summer's
parliamentary elections are conducted, RFE/RL's Yerevan
bureau reported. "If our elections don't meet European
standards, we may find ourselves in a sad situation,"
Hayrikian warned. Hayrikian met in Paris last week with
Council of Europe officials. Armenia currently has
special guest status with the council. A decision on its
full membership is not expected before May 1999.
Previously, Council of Europe officials had said that
full membership for Armenia and Azerbaijan is contingent
on progress toward resolving the Karabakh conflict.
Azerbaijan has declined to send a delegation to talks
sponsored by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council
of Europe on Karabakh that begin in Paris on 16
December. LF

TAJIK DELEGATION WRAPS UP VISIT TO IRAN. A Tajik
delegation led by President Imomali Rakhmonov left
Tehran on 16 December following a three-day visit to
that city, ITAR-TASS and IRNA reported. Rakhmonov met
with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Khatami, and the
country's spiritual leader, Ayatollah Said Ali Khamenei,
the previous day. Rakhmonov thanked the Iranian leaders
for their help during and after the Tajik civil war,
saying the peace process in Tajikistan has become
"irreversible." He received promises from the Iranian
leadership of continued aid, including in the
construction of dams and power plants. Rakhmonov and
Khatami signed a declaration on strengthening "friendly
relations" and accords on cooperation in the fields of
banking, education, sport, tourism, communications, and
avoidance of double-taxation. On 14 December, Rakhmonov
met with Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani to
discuss cooperation in defense. Included in the Tajik
delegation were United Tajik Opposition leaders Said
Abdullo Nuri and Khoja Akbar Turajonzoda. BP

IMF TO RELEASE $217 MILLION LOAN TRANCHE TO KAZAKHSTAN.
The IMF has approved releasing a $217 million tranche of
a $430 million loan to Kazakhstan approved by the IMF in
1996, Reuters reported on 15 December. The IMF praised
Kazakhstan for its tough economic policies and efforts
to adjust "to difficult economic circumstances." Until
now, Kazakhstan has not requested the release of a loan
tranche, but the IMF representative in Kazakhstan, Paul
Ross, said he expects the loan to be used to prop up the
country's depleted gold and hard-currency reserves,
which have decreased by an estimated $600 million in
recent months. On 14 December, Kazakhstan approved the
1999 budget, which foresees a deficit of 3.1. percent of
GDP. BP

PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE COMPLAINS OF RESTRICTED ACCESS TO
VOTERS. Serikbolsyn Abdildin, the Communist Party's
candidate in the January presidential elections, told
journalists in Almaty on 15 December that if elected, he
will offer the premiership to Deputy Prime Minister
Baltash Tursumbayev, Interfax reported. Tursumbayev was
ambassador to Turkey until October, when, after
declaring himself a candidate in the presidential race,
he accepted the post of deputy prime minister. At the
same time, Abdildin said efforts are continuing to
hamper his campaign, and he cited restrictions on his
access to voters. RFE/RL correspondents in Almaty quoted
him as also saying that if independent organizations are
not allowed representatives on district electoral
commissions, he will renounce his candidacy. BP

NAZARBAYEV MARKS COUNTRY'S INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY.
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev said at a meeting
in Astana 15 December, one day before the seventh
anniversary of the country's independence, that he does
not expect an economic crisis to hit Kazakhstan,
Interfax reported. Nazarbayev said he does not believe
that the global financial crisis will "become a serious
ordeal for our economy," but he added that the
government has already started implementing a number of
anti-crisis measures. Looking ahead to Kazakhstan's
presidential elections next month, Nazarbayev rejected
any suggestion that the Russian economic crisis would be
repeated in his country following the 10 January vote.
"This will not happen to us," Nazarbayev promised,
adding that "if the people support me at the elections,
they will support the policy of continued privatization,
pension reform, low inflation, and increased
investments." BP

MORE HEADS ROLL IN KYRGYZ CORRUPTION PURGE. The director
and chief accountant of the Governmental Fund for
Economic Developments have been arrested on corruption
charges, RFE/RL correspondents in Bishkek reported on 15
December. Aziz Imanaliev and Janyl Abekova join five
others arrested earlier on corruption and embezzlement
charges (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 December 1998). In
related news, Prosecutor-General Asanbek Sharshenaliev
has been appointed chairman of the Supervisory Council
on Corruption, Smuggling, and Economic Crimes. The
council, which was formed by Kyrgyz President Askar
Akayev on 11 December, includes all heads of law
enforcement bodies. BP

UYGHURS' TRIAL ENDS IN KYRGYZSTAN. The trial of three
ethnic Uyghurs arrested in April on charges of
disseminating Wahhabi propaganda, terrorism, illegal
possession of weapons, forgery, and inciting inter-
ethnic and inter-religious hatred has ended, RFE/RL
correspondents in Bishkek reported on 15 December. Jalal
Mahmud Kasarly, a Turkish citizen, was found guilty of
illegal possession of weapons and armed resistance to
authorities and sentenced to 14 years' imprisonment.
Kurban Yasin, a Chinese citizen, was sentenced to eight
months in prison but was freed immediately as he has
been in detention for that period. Kular Dilaver, also a
Turkish citizen, was acquitted. BP

ANOTHER CYANIDE INCIDENT IN KYRGYZSTAN... The Kyrgyz
authorities have ended their search for a canister
containing 70 liters of cyanide, after finding the
missing container outside a hospital in the city of
Naryn, RFE/RL correspondents reported. The canister,
which belonged to a company working on the Makmal gold
mine in Naryn Oblast, was part of a shipment of 56 tons
of cyanide from China. The contents of the container had
been spilled onto the hospital courtyard. BP

...WHILE DIAGNOSIS CENTER TO OPEN AT SITE OF EARLIER
CYANIDE SPILL. The Kumtor Gold Mining Company announced
in Bishkek on 15 December that it will open a diagnosis
and monitoring center in the village of Barskoon, on the
southern shore of Issik Kul, RFE/RL correspondents in
reported. The company will pay all construction expenses
and finance the center for the first year. In May, a
Kumtor truck overturned into the Barskoon River,
spilling 1.7 tons of cyanide. That spill was linked to
the deaths of four villagers and illnesses suffered by
other local residents. BP

END NOTE

LOOKING WEST FROM BEIJING

by Paul Goble

	Having consolidated its status as a major economic
player in Asia, China is now positioning itself to play
an expanded economic and geopolitical role within and
among the post-Soviet states.
	But just as along the Pacific rim, Beijing's
growing influence in these states is also generating a
kind of backlash that the Chinese authorities have not
yet found a way to overcome. Consequently, China's
impact on developments in these countries--both
intentional and unintentional--may prove to be large but
very different from what the leaders in Beijing almost
certainly would like to see.
	That downside risk helps explain why Beijing has
moved so cautiously in the political realm up to now.
But an event last week signals that at least some in the
Chinese capital are prepared to take the greater risks
associated with a higher political profile.
	On 10 December, Beijing successfully sold more than
$500 million in bonds on the international market. This
sale has attracted international attention not only
because it was the first such offering by an Asian
country since the August collapse of the Russian ruble
but also because it was so clearly political.
	Beijing currently has more than $140 billion in
foreign currency reserves and thus has no immediate need
for the cash raised by this sale. Instead, it appears to
have made this offering in order to highlight its
stability, economic progress, and growing political
influence.
	Not surprisingly, that aspect of the sale has sent
shock waves through many Asian capitals. But those
capitals may play an equally important role in the post-
Soviet states, helping Moscow rein in its restive Far
East while giving the other countries of the region
expanded freedom of action.
	China's impact on the Russian Far East is likely to
be especially great, but it may prove the most complex.
On the one hand, increased Chinese involvement in the
economy of that hard-pressed area is likely to be
welcomed by the population, as long as it does not
entail large-scale Chinese immigration. Such economic
improvement, in turn, could push some regional leaders
to think about pursuing an even more independent course,
one that some have said might even include eventual
independence as a Pacific rim state.
	But on the other hand, Moscow will almost certainly
use any increase in Chinese participation there to
generate Russian nationalism and hence increase cohesion
of the Russian Federation. Over the past five years,
Moscow officials and especially those in the military
have sought to frighten Russians in the region by
suggesting that an overpopulated China continues to look
"greedily" at the wealthy but underpopulated Russian Far
East. And Russian generals frequently have dramatically
overstated the number of Chinese migrants there in order
to press the case for greater vigilance against what
they say is the Chinese threat.
	Such campaigns have not always worked, but they
have proved effective in countering nascent secessionist
movements in the region. They are likely to be tried
again and may be more effective if China becomes the
dominant player in the region, thus eliminating or at
least reducing the possibility that leaders of the
Russian Far East could play off China against Japan.
	China's impact on other post-Soviet states is
likely to be larger and also less contradictory. Until
recently, China has pursued a relatively low profile in
both Central Asia and further afield, including the
southern Caucasus and Ukraine. Now, it appears likely
that China will choose to increase its economic presence
and hence its political influence in these countries.
Such a development would likely have three major
consequences:
	First, it would give the economies of these
countries a boost. Second, it almost certainly would
lead other Asian countries to increase their
participation in the economies of these countries, thus
diversifying the latter's economic ties. And third, it
would give these countries expanded opportunities to
stand up to Russian pressure while participating in
economic ties with a country that in most cases would be
less likely to provoke Moscow than would greater
attachments to Western states.
	 In all these ways, China's latest sale of bonds
may have an impact on the entire post-Soviet region. In
itself, that sale is yet another indication of the way
in which these countries are now being integrated not
just into the West but into the world economy.

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