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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 2, Part I, 5 January 1999
________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 2, Part I, 5 January 1999 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 Headlines, Part I * DUMA SCHEDULED TO CONSIDER START II RATIFICATION BY MID-YEAR * STANKEVICH GIVEN POLITICAL ASYLUM IN POLAND * NAZARBAYEV SAYS HE HAS KEYS TO PROSPERITY End Note: A REVOLUTION OF FALLING EXPECTATIONS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx RUSSIA DUMA SCHEDULED TO CONSIDER START II RATIFICATION BY MID- YEAR. Vladimir Ryzhkov, the deputy speaker of the State Duma, told Interfax on 4 January that consideration of the START II treaty is now on the agenda of the Russian parliament for the first six months of 1999. But Ryzhkov added that no vote will be taken until a majority of deputies indicate that they will support ratification, which, he said, is "so far not in evidence." Signed in 1993, the treaty was ratified by the U.S. Senate in 1996. PG ZHUKOV SAYS DUMA LIKELY TO PASS 'SURVIVAL BUDGET.' Aleksandr Zhukov, the chairman of the Duma budget committee, told Ekho Moskvy on 4 January that he expects the Duma to adopt the 1999 state budget in the near future. He called it "a survival budget" because the funding requests are "at minimum levels." In other comments, Zhukov said that the ruble-dollar exchange rate will likely remain stable during the first quarter and then rise, depending on Russian government policy. And he said that he expects Russia to experience small economic growth--perhaps 2 percent--by the end of 1999. PG YELTSIN, GOVERNMENT, DUMA ALL WORKING ON 4 JANUARY. Russian government spokesmen went to great lengths on 4 January to report that President Boris Yeltsin, Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov, and other senior officials were in their offices, even though the New Year's holiday does not end until 5 January. Government spokesman Igor Shchegolev told ITAR-TASS that Primakov and four of his five deputies were at work. Yeltsin's press service announced that he signed three new laws, and Duma committees resumed debate on the draft 1999 budget. PG YELTSIN APPOINTS FSB OFFICER TO SECURITY COUNCIL STAFF... President Boris Yeltsin on 4 January appointed Oleg Chernov as deputy secretary of the Russian Security Council, ITAR-TASS reported. Until now, Chernov has worked for the Federal Security Service. PG ...NAMES THREE COSSACK-GENERALS. Also on 4 January Yeltsin issued a decree granting the rank of cossack- general--the highest rank available--to the atamans of the Don, Kuban, and Terek cossack troops, ITAR-TASS reported. PG STROEV SAYS FEDERATION COUNCIL STABILIZES RUSSIA. Federation Council speaker Yegor Stroev told "Rossiiskaya gazeta" on 5 January that the upper chamber of the parliament prevents "social explosions" during a time of change, ITAR-TASS reported. "For the first time in the history of Russia," Stroev said, "a non-political organ has emerged that both influences the policy of the state and stands close to the people, as the Federation Council is made up of people who know the real local situation like nobody else," he said. He argued that Russian legislation must conform "to the principles of federalism," otherwise, "one will not succeed in securing the unity of executive and legislative powers at all levels and consequently in retaining the unity of the country." PG REGULATIONS SET FOR CONTRACT MILITARY SERVICE. President Yeltsin on 5 January issued a decree that calls on the leaders of the armed forces to establish standard contracts for military service, ITAR-TASS reported. The contracts are to be for one, three, or five years, with a total duration of no more than 10 years. Moreover, they cannot be extended for anyone over 65. The Defense Ministry is to submit its own draft regulations for military service by 15 April. PG STANKEVICH GIVEN POLITICAL ASYLUM IN POLAND. The Polish authorities have given former Yeltsin aide and Moscow deputy mayor Sergei Stankevich political asylum, his lawyers told Western news agencies on 4 January. Stankevich had fled Russia in 1995 to escape what he maintains are politically motivated charges that he accepted bribes. In December 1995, he was stripped of his immunity as a deputy. Stankevich told ITAR-TASS on 4 January that he will eventually return to Russia to clear himself "in a fair trial as soon as this is a real possibility"--something he said could not happen until after Yeltsin leaves office. He said that his new status does not affect his citizenship and allows him to stay in Poland on a "regularized basis." He added that he is "not in conflict with the Russian state and Russian laws" but "with concrete people who use laws for their own political ends." In April 1997, Stankevich was arrested in Poland on an Interpol warrant but Warsaw refused to extradite him to Russia. PG MOSCOW HOPES FOR EXPANDED TIES WITH SOUTH KOREA. Yevgenii Afanasev told the Seoul newspaper "Korea Herald" on 4 January that he hopes 1999 will be "the year of Russo-Korean relations," ITAR-TASS reported. He said that Moscow is looking forward to a state visit by South Korean President Kim Tae Jung and expanded economic ties. And he said that Moscow expects to play a role in any rapprochement between Seoul and Pyongyang. PG CHINESE POACHERS REGULARLY VIOLATE RUSSIAN BORDERS. Eighty percent of the 282 people who violated the Russian border in the Far East in 1998 were Chinese, the Russian Federal Border Service's Pacific Regional Agency told ITAR-TASS on 4 January. The agency said that it held 357 meetings with the Chinese authorities over the past year to try to improve the situation. Meanwhile, the agency said, it allowed some 378,196 foreigners to cross Russian borders in 1998. PG ZHIRINOVSKY BACKS LIBYA ON LOCKERBIE CASE. Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky has repeated his support for Libya's Muammar Gaddafi and the latter's stand against "imperialism and Zionism" over a possible trial of those accused of masterminding the 1988 bombing of a Pan American jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, according to Libyan state radio, as monitored in Tunis by Reuters. Zhirinovsky has been in Libya since 2 January, his fifth visit there in the last year. PG VOLGOGRAD, KOMI COOPERATE TO STOP COUNTERFEITING. Security officials from Volgograd and Komi Republic have cooperated to seize more than 20,000 counterfeit U.S. dollars and arrest those responsible, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 January. The officials said that the dollars were produced on a color copier. PG STARAYA RUSSA, ESTONIAN DISTRICT COOPERATE. An accord between Novgorod's Staraya Russa district and Estonia's Valga district signed in late 1998 should expand cooperation between the two, the head of the Staraya Russia district told ITAR-TASS on 4 January. Yevgenii Ryabov said that Estonians want to visit his region to use its health resort, and Russians hope to make use of Estonian experience in timber-processing. PG TANKERS TO DELIVER FUEL TO KAMCHATKA. Two tankers belonging to the Primore shipping company are to deliver some 17,000 tons of fuel to Kamchatka on 6-7 January, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 January. Some of the fuel will be used to power the region's fishing fleet. But experts told the Russian news agency that the region, which faces a serious energy crisis, should begin to switch over to volcanic-energy sources. PG THIEVES TAKE ICONS FROM VLADIMIR CHURCH. As the Russian Orthodox Church prepares to celebrate Eastern Christmas, the Russian media on 4 January gave prominent coverage to a case in which thieves broke into the Church of the Intercession, near Vladimir, some 10 days ago. Describing the church as "one of the true holy places of Orthodoxy," an NTV television commentator said that the thieves would be unlikely to sell what they took for more than a few bottles of vodka. PG CHECHEN PRESIDENT'S SUPPORTERS WANT FORMER PREMIER BROUGHT TO TRIAL. Three senior Chechen officials, including Deputy Prime Minister Turpal Atgeriev, have asked the Supreme Shariah Court to open libel proceedings against former acting Prime Minister Shamil Basaev, Interfax reported on 4 January. The three officials said that in 1998 Basaev made numerous statements insulting President Aslan Maskhadov. (Basaev is one of three former field commanders who in October called on the Chechen Constitutional Court to impeach Maskhadov for treason.) Meanwhile, Vice President Vakha Arsanov has expressed his support for the Supreme Shariah Court's decision to abolish the Chechen parliament and transfer its powers to a state religious council. Arsanov said such a move would contribute to political stability and an economic upswing in Chechnya, according to ITAR-TASS. LF TATAR MINORITY WANTS TATAR DESIGNATED STATE LANGUAGE IN BASHKORTOSTAN. Organizations representing the Tatar minority of the Republic of Bashkortostan intend to send a written protest to Russian Premier Primakov and to the presidents of Bashkortostan and Tatarstan, Murtaza Rakhimov and Mintimer Shaimiev, expressing their concern that the draft law on the state languages of Bashkortostan fails to include Tatar, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 5 January. Russian, by contrast, is listed as a state language. The Tatar Congress has proposed conducting a referendum on which languages should be designated the state languages of Bashkortostan. The Tatar minority of Bashkortostan constitutes more than 30 percent of the republic's total population. LF TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA NAZARBAYEV SAYS HE HAS KEYS TO PROSPERITY... President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev told a 4 January meeting of his supporters in Almaty that if re-elected, he will "continue to pursue the creation of an independent, democratic, and economically developed state," Interfax and RFE/RL correspondents reported. Nazarbayev said there are several "keys" to prosperity, one of which is taking measures to avoid an economic crisis and encourage growth. He also noted that the country's gold and hard currency reserves remained stable at $2 billion at the end of 1998 and that inflation was only 2 percent last year, instead of the estimated 9-10 percent. He added that the tenge dropped only slightly against the dollar last year, from 75 to $1 in January to 84 to $1 at year's end. BP ...PROMISES TO OPEN MORE LOCKS WITH THEM. Nazarbayev went on to say that if he is re-elected, the government will spend $100 million this year to support domestic manufacturing and a campaign will be launched urging consumers to buy products made in Kazakhstan. Nazarbayev vowed tighter controls over the banking system and repeated earlier promises to promote political stability, ethnic harmony, and gradual measures toward democratization. He added that he is in favor of further measures against corruption and crime, an effective social policy, and better ties with other CIS countries. With regard to the economy, Nazarbayev said "there will be no collapse," noting that the IMF will extend $217 million and the World Bank $75 million in loans. According to president, "Nobody has been able to receive such an amount of money at a time of crisis." Kazakh writer Sherkhan Mutaza, attending the 4 January, called Nazarbayev "the Kazakh Mustafa Kemal Ataturk." BP OPPOSITION CAMPAIGNS, COMPLAINS. Also on 4 January, presidential candidate Gani Kasymov visited Almaty's Tastak market telling vendors he will liberalize import regulations for shuttle traders, RFE/RL correspondents reported. Another candidate, Serikbolsyn Abdildin of the Communist Party, appealed to Nazarbayev, speaker of the lower house of the parliament Marat Ospanov, the Central Election Commission, and the OSCE about bias in the campaign. Abdildin claimed it is unfair that popular Russian actors and musicians are appearing in advertising spots for the incumbent Nazarbayev. Abdildin also said that Nazarbayev has greater access to the media than other candidates. He called for the elections to be postponed, threatening that otherwise he will renounce his candidacy. Meanwhile, Reuters reported that in a 4 January televised address, Nazarbayev said his opponents' programs are "surprisingly similar" and that some of their policies would "lead Kazakhstan down the disastrous financial path followed by Russia." BP GALE-FORCE WINDS WREAK HAVOC IN NORTHERN TAJIKISTAN. Gale-force winds and blizzards on 31 December and 1 January caused more than $1million worth of damage in Tajikistan's northern Leninabad Region, ITAR-TASS reported. The storm left more than 1,500 people homeless, tore down power lines, and damaged road. The Tajik government expects the damage estimate to increase as relief workers reach remote areas of the region. BP GEORGIAN PRESIDENT LISTS PRIORITIES FOR 1999. In his weekly radio address on 4 January, Eduard Shevardnadze said Georgia's most important task for the coming year is to overcome the repercussions of the 1998 financial crisis, Caucasus Press reported. He warned against a continuation of the lax fiscal measures that contributed to last year's budget deficit and assured listeners that all wage and pensions arrears will be paid in full before the end of January. Georgia still has no budget for 1999: the parliament returned the draft budget to the government on 23 December for revision and postponed resuming the budget debate until February. Shevardnadze also divulged details of his income and property, describing himself as "not the poorest man in Georgia." He denied owning property either in Tbilisi or Moscow but said he has a share in his family's home in the west Georgian village where he was born. LF HOW SERIOUS IS CRIME IN ABKHAZIA? Prosecutor-General Anri Djergenia told Caucasus Press on 3 January that the crime situation in Abkhazia is gradually improving, with the exception of the southern-most Gali Raion, where he claimed Georgian law enforcement officials are obstructing a crackdown on terrorism. But Djergenia's deputy, Tariel Parulua, has admitted that up to 100 criminal cases have been brought against members of the Abkhaz police force, and Georgia's "Dilis gazeti" on 29 December quoted Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba as threatening to resign if armed robberies on public means of transportation continue. Abkhazia's economy is virtually paralyzed as a result of restrictions on exports to the Russian Federation. On 3 January, the region's parliament raised the minimum pension to 10 Russian rubles (some 50 cents), according to Caucasus Press. LF ARMENIAN PRESIDENT'S BROTHER KILLED IN AIR CRASH. Valerii Kocharian died on 4 January when his glider crashed during what was described as a routine practice flight from an airfield near Yerevan, RFE/RL's bureau in the Armenian capital reported. Valerii Kocharian had been decorated for valor during the Karabakh war, in which he was seriously wounded. In recent years, he had engaged in business. LF END NOTE A REVOLUTION OF FALLING EXPECTATIONS By Paul Goble Buffeted by the difficulties they experienced in 1998, ever fewer people in the post-Soviet states expect their situation to be significantly better in 1999. Indeed, polls taken across the region suggest that many there would now agree with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma who said last week that there is no reason to think that 1999 will be any easier for his country than 1998 was. This shift from optimism to pessimism is now so widespread that it constitutes a veritable revolution of falling expectations, one that may have just as many serious political and economic consequences as the more familiar revolution of rising expectations has had elsewhere. Revolutions of rising expectations occur when people begin to expect more owing to improvements in their lives. And such optimistic attitudes sometimes lead them to make demands that neither the economic nor the political system is able to meet. That frequently results in a crisis that can lead either to the transformation of these systems or to the demobilization of the groups making such demands. But in either case, optimism that goes beyond the capacity of the country to cope can create instability. A revolution of falling expectations--such as the one that appears to be starting in some post-Soviet states--can be equally destabilizing but in very different and unexpected ways. Some observers have suggested that declining expectations by leaders and peoples in the post-Soviet states not only represent a new form of realism on the part of both but also give elites in these countries new opportunities to move toward democracy and the free market. Certainly, popular and political recognition of the difficulties involved in the transition from communism is a more realistic stance than the often starry-eyed optimism that characterized the immediate post-communist period and that Western governments in fact promoted. And it is obviously true that leaders have more room to maneuver when they are not under pressure from populations that expect and even demand that tomorrow be better than today. At the same time, there are three compelling reasons why such a view of what has been called "the new realism" in these countries is likely too rosy and why the revolution of falling expectations taking place there may have some potentially frightening consequences. First, populations that believe that tomorrow will not be better than today and may even be worse have few reasons to seek leadership from political or economic elites. Not only does that make it more difficult for such elites to generate the kind of authority they need to make changes for the better, but it also means that these elites may be tempted to defend their own interests by force or at the expense of those of the population as a whole. Second, when senior political leaders come to share the pessimism of the population, they are unlikely to be willing or able to take the risks necessary to help their countries escape from current difficulties. And that unwillingness is likely in many cases to reinforce the pessimism of the population and the other problems such pessimism entails. And third, when both populations and their leaders become so pessimistic, the former are likely to be ever more willing to listen to those who would blame someone for their problems, and the latter are likely to be ever more willing to participate in such scapegoating. That helps explain the rise of anti-Semitism and growing antagonism toward those viewed as outsiders -- such as the North Caucasians in Russia -- in several of these countries. It also helps explain why ever more people and governments in these states are becoming more hostile to the West. Such attitudes and the actions prompted by them will make it more difficult for these countries to move toward democracy and the free market or to integrate into the international community. But while revolutions of rising expectations do not last forever, neither do revolutions of falling expectations. Both can end either when conditions finally begin to improve or, more often, when leaders seek to spread their own optimism to the population of their countries. The role of leaders may be particularly important. To paraphrase U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt, who came to office in the depths of the Great Depression, the only thing to be pessimistic about in this region is the spread of pessimism to so many. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1998 RFE/RL, Inc. 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