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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 7, Part I, 12 January 1999
________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 7, Part I, 12 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 * RUSSIA INCREASES VERBAL PRESSURE ON UNSCOM * REGIONS TO GET MORE BUDGET CASH * CONGRATULATIONS, CRITICISM FOLLOW ELECTIONS IN KAZAKHSTAN End Note: IS THE COLD WAR REALLY OVER? xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx RUSSIA RUSSIA INCREASES VERBAL PRESSURE ON UNSCOM... The Russian Foreign Ministry on 11 January called for the UN to investigate media reports that UN weapons inspectors leaked confidential information to the U.S. government's intelligence services. Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin also repeated the Russian demand that UN weapons inspector Richard Butler resign. Foreign Intelligence Services (SVR) spokesperson Tatyana Samolis told Interfax that the SVR "warned several months ago that U.S. intelligence officers had penetrated the special commission." Meanwhile, air force commander Anatolii Kornukov repeated assertions by the Russian military that U.S. and British strikes in Iraq were less efficient than had been expected or reported. According to Kornukov, missiles hit their targets with a success rate of only 50 percent. He added that foreign interest in Russian defense systems has increased since "the S- 300 missile is no worse than the American Patriot." JAC ...PROMISES TO PROVIDE TOUGH COMPETITOR FOR THE PATRIOT MISSILE. Kornukov also revealed that "an even more sophisticated weapons system [than the S-300] might appear soon," "Moskovskii komsomolets" reported on 12 January. The newspaper reported that the S-400 complex is currently being tested. Kornukov told reporters the previous day that the air force will give priority to armaments and equipment that are multifunctional and that the "Su-271B aircraft, the plane of tomorrow" will form the core of the airforce's assault and reconnaissance equipment. JAC RUSSIA UNVEILS NEW, IMPROVED MIG. A new "super sophisticated" prototype of a MiG fighter plane was unveiled outside Moscow on 12 January, according to "Rossiiskaya gazeta." The official government newspaper hailed the plane as one of Russia's latest technical achievements since it can perform multiple missions and is "almost undetectable by radar." However, designers and manufacturers claim that unless state support is forthcoming, the aircraft will not go into full-scale production. JAC REGIONS TO GET MORE BUDGET CASH... The State Duma Council has set the legislative calendar for the 1999 budget, Budget Committee Chairman Aleksandr Zhukov (Russian Regions) told reporters on 12 January. A second reading will be held on 19 January, a third on 29 January, and a fourth and final one on 4 February. When the budget reaches the Federation Council, it will "be passed only after it has been reasonably amended," Federation Council Chairman Yegor Stroev told Interfax. According to Stroev, the council sent more than 300 budget amendments to the conciliatory commission. Agreement on the issue of distributing revenues between the regions and Moscow has already been reached, Deputy Finance Minister Viktor Khristenko told reporters. Budget revenues were originally set to be split into 50.3 percent and 49.7 percent shares, with the federal government receiving the larger amount. Under the current arrangement, Moscow will get only 49.5 percent and the regions 50.5 percent. JAC ...AS DUMA RECOMMENDS MORE DEFENSE, SOCIAL SPENDING. A Duma subcommittee has recommended that spending on defense in the 1999 budget be increased by 1.5 billion rubles ($58 million) before the budget is debated in its second reading, Interfax reported. At the same time, the chairman of the labor and social policy committee, Vladimir Lisichkin, said that social spending in the budget should be increased by 111.7 billion rubles, according to ITAR-TASS. With regard to the ruble's recent fall to levels below that envisioned by the budget, First Deputy Prime Minister Yurii Maslyukov told reporters on 12 January that the government will keep the ruble within the exchange rate set by the budget (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 January 1999). The same day, the ruble rose more than 2 percent against the dollar. It was its first increase against the U.S. dollar this month, according to AFP. JAC LEBED REMAINS UNPERSUADED ON WASTE... Minister of Atomic Energy Yevgenii Adamov has failed to persuade Krasnoyarsk Krai Governor Aleksandr Lebed to abandon his opposition to shipments of nuclear waste from Ukraine, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 11 January (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 January 1999). According to the newspaper, Adamov needed a victory in Krasnoyarsk in order to bolster his own weakening position in Moscow, where "in the opinion of many people, Adamov has not proved to be tough enough in upholding his ministry's interests." The newspaper concluded that Lebed is "trying to score badly needed political points in the 'ecological patriotism' sphere." "Nezavisimaya gazeta" receives financial backing from Boris Berezovskii's LogoVAZ group. JAC ...AS LOCAL SUPPORT CONTINUES TO RECEDE. Meanwhile, a Lebed protege did not perform well in mayoral elections in Achinsk, the "Moscow Times" reported on 12 January. Entrepeneur Nikolai Ashlapov, whom Lebed publicly backed, captured only 36 percent of the vote in the 10 January elections, compared with the 44.5 percent of the vote cast for a Communist Party candidate Mikhail Achkasov. The newspaper cited Yevgenii Volk of the Heritage Foundation as saying that Ashlapov's failure to beat Achkasov during the first round showed that Lebed's popularity among both the elite and the rank and file of Krasnoyarsk Krai has already weakened. He added, however, that the city of Achinsk is too remote and provincial to be a reliable bellwether for Lebed's chances in a presidential election. Last month, chairman of the Krasnoyarsk Aluminum factory, Anatolii Bykov, called his earlier support for Lebed a "mistake" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 December 1998). JAC TOP CENTRAL BANK OFFICIAL TO JOIN PRIVATE SECTOR. Central Bank First Deputy Chairman Andrei Kozlov announced that he will leave the bank effective 25 January in order to start his own new commercial bank, the "Moscow Times" reported on 12 January. Kozlov was one of the chief architects of the government's ill- fated treasury bill program as well as the subsequent treasury bill restructuring program. He also oversaw the transfer of savings accounts from private banks to Sberbank. That step was intended to safeguard individuals' deposits. However, the Russian Consumer Rights Advocacy Group warned on 22 December that depositors in Rossiiskii Kredit and Inkombank were unlikely ever to see their money because of pending bankruptcy proceedings. JAC SCHOOL'S STILL OUT IN IRKUTSK. More than 150 schools in Irkutsk Oblast did not resume classes after the winter holidays because teachers in three raions are on strike to protest unpaid wages totaling almost 300 million rubles ($12 million), ITAR-TASS reported on 12 January. Some 500 teachers' collectives are on strike in eight Russian regions, according to Interfax. JAC PERM WATER SUPPLY POLLUTED? ITAR-TASS reported on 12 January that the Kosva River, which flows into the Kama River, a primary source of drinking water for the city of Perm's residents, contains 40 times the normal level of the toxic chemical phenol. Later the same day, however, the agency said that its earlier report about a local plant dumping phenol into the river was incorrect. According to the agency, experts at the federal Ministry for Emergencies and the local Committee for Environmental Protection said that the one-time leaking of phenol in November 1998 into the region's water supply did not pose a serious threat to the environment. JAC BABURIN CALLS FOR NEW RUSSIAN FEDERATION. In an interview with "Delovye lyudi" in January, Duma Deputy Chairman and member of the People's Power faction Sergei Baburin voiced concern about expansionist designs on Russian territory among neighboring countries. According to Baburin, Latvia "is demanding a return of part of the Pskov region" and "Lithuania has a similar opinion on a number of regions as well." Noting that "when a state is weak, there are lots of scavengers out to get their slice," Baburin concluded that Russia "ought to resolve the border issue by way of another process of integration of former Soviet republics." He added "I don't mean that we need another Soviet Union--we need a new federative state." JAC TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA CONGRATULATIONS, CRITICISM FOLLOW ELECTIONS IN KAZAKHSTAN... Nursultan Nazarbayev received messages of congratulations from heads of states around the world on 11 January following his victory the previous day in Kazakhstan's presidential elections. Judy Thompson of the OSCE indicated that the organization retains the position it adopted before the elections. At a press conference in Almaty on 11 January, she said the OSCE considers that "the electoral process was far from the standards which [Kazakhstan] promised to follow as an OSCE member," Interfax reported. Thompson pointed out violations that the OSCE had previously noted, adding that "the mandate of the mission does not include recognition of the latest elections." Another critic of the elections, the U.S., backed the OSCE's stance. State Department spokesman James Rubin said on 11 January that "the electoral process in Kazakhstan fell far short of international standards for open, free, and fair elections." He added that the elections have "tarnished Kazakhstan's reputation" and "cast a shadow on our bilateral relations." BP ...WHILE DEFEATED CANDIDATES COMPLAIN. The Communist Party's candidate in the elections, Serikbolsyn Abdildin, said on 11 January that the election results were falsified and numerous violations of the election regulations committed, RFE/RL correspondents in Almaty reported. Another candidate, Customs Committee Chairman Gani Kasymov, said he plans to appeal the results to the country's Constitutional Court. BP KIDNAPPINGS ON TAJIK-AFGHAN BORDER. Three Tajik border guards in the Kalaikhum region, close to the Afghan border, were taken hostage on 10 January by a group of Afghans who had crossed the frontier, ITAR -TASS reported. The three men are reportedly in good condition. Their captors are demanding explosives to clear away debris from a mountain path used by Afghan villagers. The path was blocked in December when Tajik road workers used explosives to clear a road on the Tajik side of the border. BP TAJIKISTAN CHANGES CUSTOMS REGULATIONS. The Tajik government on 9 January ordered the Ministry of Economics and the Customs Committee to alter tariffs and import duties in order to facilitate the country's entry into the CIS Customs Union, ITAR-TASS reported. Tajikistan is expected to join the four-country Customs Union (whose members are Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Belarus) when the union holds its next summit. Once Tajikistan is admitted to the union, the new customs regulations will go into effect. BP TURKMEN MARK ANNIVERSARY OF RESISTANCE TO RUSSIANS... Turkmenistan on 12 January marks the 118th anniversary of the fall of the Geoktepe fortress to the Russian army, ITAR-TASS reported. That battle was the last major resistance the Turkmen mounted against Tsarist armies and, according to ITAR-TASS, "the deciding moment in the annexing of Turkmen land to Imperial Russia." BP ...WHILE KYRGYZ TO BUILD MONUMENT TO SOVIET ENEMIES. A group of people in the southern city of Osh have formed a committee and are raising funds to build a monument to "red terror victims," Interfax reported on 11 January. The monument will be dedicated to the "Basmachi," guerrillas who fought against the Red Army until the 1930s. The committee has requested a site for the monument that is located near a statue of Felix Dzerzhinskii, the founder of the Soviet secret police, the Cheka. BP KYRGYZ PRESIDENT DECREES TIGHTER CONTROLS OVER GOVERNMENT-GUARANTEED LOANS. Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev has signed a decree "on urgent measures to ensure timely return of budget loans and foreign credits received under Kyrgyz government guarantees," Interfax reported on 11 January. An aide to Akayev said the decree gives the government one month to draw up "austerity measures" that will ensure that such loans and credits are repaid on time. Enterprises in Bishkek alone owe 780 million som (about $26 million). Akayev said at a cabinet meeting on 10 January that from now on, foreign loans and investments will be extended only for the implementation of specific industrial projects. Akayev said a priority for the government in 1999 is to achieve 100 percent of budget revenues, which he said, can be achieved only by collecting taxes in full. BP REPUBLICAN PARTY AFFIRMS SUPPORT FOR ARMENIAN PRIME MINISTER. Andranik Markarian, a leading member of the Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), said on 11 January that the party will not seek to replace Armen Darpinian as premier if it wins the May 1999 parliamentary elections, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Markarian added, however, that the party might demand other cabinet changes, but he did not elaborate. His comments were in response to widespread speculation that Darpinian will be sacked whatever the outcome of the elections. The Republican Party recently merged with the Yerkrapah union of Karabakh war veterans, which is currently the majority group in the Armenian parliament. LF LEGAL EXPERT CRITICIZES NEW ARMENIAN CIVIL CODE. Interviewed on 11 January by RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau, former Supreme Court chairman Tariel Barseghian described the authors of the new civil code that went into effect on 1 January as "incompetents." Barseghian said the authors of the new code, which contains some 1,300 articles, have no knowledge of commercial law and that its introduction could have "dangerous consequences." Law professors at Yerevan State University appealed to the Armenian authorities last month to suspend the introduction of the new code, which is intended to underpin a market economy and is part of a sweeping reform of Armenia's legal system. Under that reform, the Supreme Court was replaced in 1998 by a Court of Appeals and the Soviet-era "People's Courts" by "Courts of First Instance." LF ABKHAZIA TO ALLOW GEORGIAN FUGITIVES TO RETURN... Meeting in Sukhumi on 11 January with UN special envoy to Georgia Liviu Bota, Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba said Abkhazia will permit ethnic Georgians who fled Abkhazia's southernmost Gali Raion either during the 1992-1993 war or during the renewed fighting in May 1998 to return to their homes beginning on 1 March, Russian agencies reported. Ardzinba said that Abkhazia will create a special government commission to oversee the repatriation process and to ensure adequate social and economic conditions in Gali. He asked the UN and the UN High Commission for Refugees to help with the repatriation process, promising that Abkhazia will guarantee the repatriates' "full security." Abkhazia previously pegged the beginning of repatriation to economic aid from Tbilisi. LF ...BUT TENSIONS PERSIST. Also on 11 January, the administrative head of Gali Raion, Ruslan Kishmaria, told journalists that Georgian media reports that Abkhaz and Georgian detachments have begun jointly patrolling the security zone along the border between Gali and the rest of Georgia are incorrect (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 January 1999), ITAR-TASS reported. Kishmaria also accused the Georgians of failing to comply with an agreement reached in December to withdraw its police patrols from the border village of Khurcha. LF GEORGIAN PREMIER, SOUTH OSSETIAN PRESIDENT MEET. Meeting in Tskhinvali on 9 January, Vazha Lortkipanidze and Lyudvig Chibirov discussed resuming economic cooperation between the central Georgian government and the Republic of South Ossetia, which in the early 1990s was forcibly prevented from seceding from Georgia and uniting with the Republic of North Ossetia within the Russian Federation. Further talks that included Russian, North Ossetian, and OSCE representatives focused on cooperation in various sectors and culminated in agreement on creating a working group to draft a program for economic cooperation, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 11 January. The repatriation of Georgian displaced persons to South Ossetia was apparently not discussed. Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze characterized the talks as "useful" and "businesslike," but a spokesman for the Georgian displaced persons criticized them as an unwarranted concession to the South Ossetian leadership. According to Caucasus Press, South Ossetia demanded financial compensation from Tbilisi for damage inflicted during the fighting. LF END NOTE IS THE COLD WAR REALLY OVER? by Paul Goble A leading Russian foreign policy analyst has suggested that the Cold War is not yet over, an argument that not only challenges most assumptions about that conflict but also underscores the difficulties its participants may have in cooperating in the future. Writing in the current issue (No. 5, 1998) of the Russian foreign policy journal "International Affairs," Sergei Kortunov argues that the Cold War has not been about ideology or the containment of the Soviet Union, as Western writers claim, but rather reflects the West's "total rejection" of "the legitimacy and legality of historical Russia." Kortunov, who is the vice president of the Russian Foreign Policy Association, makes a number of points in support of this position. He says that Moscow won World War II "as Great Russia not as a Red Empire." He insists that neither the Soviet Union nor Stalin had any ambitions after 1945 and that that the West rejected all Moscow's efforts to ease conflict. And he argues that the West not only continued but expanded on the Nazi approach toward Russia by promoting the idea of "mythical" states to dismember the Russian heartland. Indeed, he says, "the world anti-Russian center moved from Berlin to Washington" following the defeat of Nazi Germany. Consequently, no right-thinking Russian, Kortunov adds, can accept the idea that the West has been "right" during the Cold War because that would mean not simply "the renunciation of Communism" but the acceptance of "the fallacy of the entire Russian historical idea--of the entire Russian Orthodox idea in history." That, in turn, would mean accepting what he suggests is the Western view of Russia as an evil empire or even--and here he quotes former U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski--"a redundant country." Unfortunately, Kortunov goes on, "the most democrats" in Russia itself do not deny Moscow's "defeat" in the Cold War or conceal their "joy" over it or even their role in bringing it about. And he cites with approval the observation of one Russian analyst that "it is much more convenient for the 'democrats' to pretend that the West has never carried on an unrelenting struggle against our former motherland, Russia-USSR, and that it was only by our own efforts that we destroyed the 'evil empire.'" Kortunov argues that any fair-minded assessment will show that "strictly speaking, the Russian Federation was 'fighting' against the USSR on the side of the West" and that only after the 1991 breakup have some Russians begun to recognize that they have been helping the West to pursue an anti-Russian rather than anti-Soviet strategy. On the one hand, Kortunov's article offers nothing new. All his arguments have been made by Soviet ideologues in the past and by Russian nationalist writers in more recent times. And all his positions have been dismissed by the most serious scholars in both Russia and the West. On the other hand, Kortunov's argument is striking both substantively and politically. Substantively, his suggestion that the Cold War is not over and will continue until the West accepts Russia's legitimacy and even its moral equivalence highlights the deep suspicion many Russians now have about the West. Politically, the appearance of this article in Russia's premier foreign policy journal, one addressed not only to its own diplomats but also to the West, indicates that ever more people among the Russian political elite share Kortunov's anti-Western positions. And by providing ideological justification for those in Moscow who want to adopt a tougher line against the West, Kortunov's argument may become a self- fulfilling prophecy, exacerbating tensions between East and West to such an extent that he and others will be seen as justified in claiming that the Cold War is not yet over. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Send an email to email@example.com with the word subscribe as the subject of the message. HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word unsubscribe as the subject of the message. 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