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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 8, Part I, 13 January 1999
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 8, Part I, 13 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 II * RUSSIA WARNS OF POSSIBLE DAMAGE TO U.S. RELATIONSHIP * TOP RUSSIAN GENERAL RESIGNS * DEFEATED COMMUNIST CANDIDATE TO PROTEST KAZAKH ELECTION OUTCOME xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx RUSSIA RUSSIA WARNS OF POSSIBLE DAMAGE TO U.S. RELATIONSHIP... U.S. National Security Council Chairman Samuel Berger told a conference in Washington, D.C. on 12 January that the administration will impose sanctions on a Russian university and two research institutes for assisting Iran with nuclear and missile technology. Russian Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov warned the next day that "the use of force or sanctions against our organization is counterproductive for Russian-U.S. relations," while Defense Minister Igor Sergeev maintained that the sanctioned entities could not have supplied sensitive technology to Iran since such technology was not available to them. Sergeev suggested that the U.S. decision "is a pretext for something, but exactly what is still unclear." First Deputy Minister for Atomic Energy Lev Ryabev added that the U.S. has failed to present specific proof that Russian companies are illegally cooperating with Iran and tends to make "excessively loose interpretations of agreements in the nuclear sphere." JAC ...AFTER U.S. PROMISES MORE SANCTIONS FOR IRAN DEALINGS. Under the sanctions, the Scientific Research and Design Institute of Power Technology, the Mendeleev University of Chemical Technology, and the Moscow Aviation Institute will not be allowed to export or import goods to or from the U.S. or receive U.S. government assistance. Last July, the U.S. imposed sanctions on seven Russian research and manufacturing enterprises for the same reason. In his remarks, Berger acknowledged that Russian "weapons scientists and institutions face increased financial pressure to sell their wares to whomever is in the market" but that "the most effective shield against proliferation from Russia is not U.S. penalties but a Russian export control system that is designed to work and does." JAC FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER WRAPS UP VISIT. During a visit to Moscow, Hubert Vedrine met with Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, State Duma speaker Gennadii Seleznev, and First Deputy Prime Minister Yurii Maslyukov on 12 January. After his meetings, Vedrine voiced support for Russia's opposition to U.S.-U.K. air strikes against Iraq, and Ivanov said that Russia is studying French proposals to resolve the Iraqi crisis and reorganize UNSCOM. Prime Minister Primakov asserted that Russia and France "have very close positions on international affairs" and that France has shown support for a more socially oriented approach to economic reform. Paris is "prepared to support Russia in its talks with the IMF," "Novie izvestiya" suggested on 12 January. Vedrine also discussed preparation for President Yeltsin's scheduled visit France on 28-29 January. JAC KREMLIN STAFF FACING LAY-OFFS? Staff at the Russian presidential administration will be trimmed by 20-25 percent according to a decree being prepared by Security Council Secretary Nikolai Bordyuzha, Interfax reported on 13 January. In addition, a new department responsible for regional policy and local self-government will be created, which deputy chief of the presidential administration, Oleg Sysuev, "may be chosen to head," according to the news agency. Last month, Sysuev hinted that another overhaul of administration was pending (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 December 1998). Citing its own source in the Kremlin, ITAR-TASS reported that the design of a new administration structure is almost finished, with only the question of which deputy chief will be in charge of media relations unresolved. Earlier, Prime Minister Primakov told government office personnel that their wages will not be increased until the salaries of Russia's poorest citizens are raised, Interfax reported on 31 December. JAC TOP GENERAL RESIGNS. Lieutenant-General Anatolii Sokolov and three of his deputies--Lieutenant-General Nikolai Kartashev and Major-Generals Vitalii Dubrovin and Yurii Kabakov--have tendered their resignation in a dispute over Sokolov's opposition to deployment of the Topol-M missile system, "Komsomolskaya pravda" reported on 12 January. According to the newspaper, Sokolov maintains that the single-warhead Topol-M is too easy to shoot down and that money would be better invested in the development of information and reconnaissance systems than in more nuclear missiles. Sokolov and his team were in charge of the country's missile warning systems. JAC BASHKORTOSTAN LEANING TOWARD LUZHKOV? Bashkortostan's parliament on 12 January voted unanimously in support of the candidacy of first deputy chairman of the republic's government, Rafael Baidavletov, for the premiership, ITAR- TASS reported. Former Prime Minister Rim Bakiev offered his resignation because he had reached retirement age, "Izvestiya" reported, citing official sources. But a correspondent for the newspaper maintains that the real reason is that Bakiev plans to run the republican branch of Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov's Otechestvo [Fatherland] party. The newspaper speculated that the Ufa government's lack of openness about Bakiev's future plans suggests a serious disagreement has arisen within its ranks. It also noted that Bashkortostan President Murtaz Rakhimov is a long-time loyal member of the Our Home Is Russia party. JAC YELTSIN LAUDS NAZARBAYEV'S 'SOUND' VICTORY. Russian President Boris Yeltsin congratulated President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev by telephone on his "sound victory" in the country's recent presidential elections, Interfax reported on 12 January. Yeltsin expressed confidence that Nazarbayev will "remain Russia's sincere friend and reliable partner." Federation Council Chairman Yegor Stroev also congratulated Nazarbayev on his "sweeping victory" and expressed his own conviction that Nazarbayev will continue contributing "to the consolidation of Kazakhstan's fraternal relations with Russia," according to ITAR-TASS. JAC GREENPEACE WARNS RUSSIA BECOMING WASTE DUMP. Greenpeace representatives released a classified Swiss-German protocol that Russia has agreed to accept 2,000 tons of nuclear waste and 550 cubic meters of radioactive nuclear waste from Switzerland over 30 years, "Trud" reported on 13 January. The activists accused the Atomic Energy Ministry of trying to transform Russia into a garbage heap for nuclear waste. Atomic Energy Ministry spokesman Yurii Bespalko told AFP that the agreement is preliminary and non-binding. JAC A NEW STALIN FOR THE NEW CENTURY? Colonel Yevgenii Dzhugashvili, a grandson of former Soviet leader Josif Stalin, helped launch a new leftist electoral coalition called the Stalinist Bloc on 12 January. The bloc is composed of the Working Russia movement and Union of Officers, the "Moscow Times" reported on 13 January. A retired air force colonel who lives in Georgia, where he heads the 50,000- member Stalin Society, Dzhugashvili is the son of Yakov Dzhugashvili, Stalin's son from his first wife, Yekaterina Svanidze. Dzhugashvili said that "in contrast to the war against Nazi Germany, the enemy today is among us and hiding." He also referred to President Yeltsin and Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze as "enemies of the people" for assisting in the breakup of the Soviet Union. In November, Andrei Brezhnev, grandson of Leonid Brezhnev, announced the formation of a new leftist party. JAC COMPUTERS BREAK THE DRINKING HABIT. Researchers at the Siberian branch of the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry of the Russian Academy of Sciences have developed a method of treating alcoholism and drug addiction that uses only a computer, ITAR-TASS reported on 12 January. According to the institute's deputy director, people with slower alpha-rhythms in their brains caused by the decreased activity of their cerebral cortex are more vulnerable to substance abuse. The institute trains patients with a sensor attached to their head to increase their alpha rhythms. According to the agency, the method has been successfully tested at clinics in Novosibirsk and Kemerovo and has been approved by the Health Ministry. JAC CONFUSION OVER CHECHEN TERRORISM TRIAL. A spokesman for the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) has rejected claims by Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov that the ongoing trial in Stavropol of two Chechen women accused of terrorism is based on evidence falsified by the FSB and maverick Chechen field commander Salman Raduev, Interfax reported on 11 January. The two women are accused of planting a bomb that exploded in the railway station at the North Caucasus town of Pyatigorsk in April 1997. Two people were killed and 20 injured in the explosion (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 April 1997). Raduev told journalists in Grozny on 12 January that the bomb was planted on his orders but that the two women responsible escaped and are now in Chechnya, Interfax reported. Raduev claimed the two Chechen women on trial in Stavropol are innocent and were tortured to make them confess. LF CHECHEN PARLIAMENT APPROVES FIVE CABINET MEMBERS. Voting in a secret ballot on 12 January, the Chechen parliament approved five of 11 ministers proposed by President Maskhadov, Russian agencies reported. The five include Aslanbek Arsaev as Shariah security minister and Khozh-Akhmed Yarikhanov, former head of the Chechen oil company, as fuel and energy minister. LF INGUSH OFFICIAL KIDNAPPED IN CHECHNYA. Chechen presidential spokesman Mairbek Vachagaev told Interfax on 12 January that Chechen law enforcement officials have no information that would shed light on the abduction in Chechnya's Achkhoi- Martan district the previous day of Ingush businessman and presidential adviser Valerii Fatteev. Vachagaev termed the kidnapping a deliberate attempt to discredit the Chechen leadership and expressed his incomprehension as to why Fatteev was travelling to Chechnya without an official invitation. A former chairman of the Federation Council's Defense and Security Committee, Fatteev served from 1993-1994 as a deputy minister of economics and then as a deputy chairman of Russia's State Property Committee, according to "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 13 January. LF TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA DEFEATED COMMUNIST CANDIDATE TO PROTEST KAZAKHSTAN ELECTION OUTCOME. Serikbolsyn Abdildin told a press conference in Almaty on 12 January that the results of the 10 January presidential election were systematically falsified, Russian media reported. Abdildin said that at many precincts, officials did not even bother to count the ballot papers but simply entered on the protocols figures predetermined by the country's authorities. According to official returns, incumbent president Nursultan Nazarbayev polled some 82 percent and Abdildin 12.08 percent. But ITAR-TASS quoted Abdildin as saying that "it is difficult to give an overall figure, but our observers confirm we won no fewer votes than Nazarbayev." Abdildin said the alleged voter turnout of 86 percent is "unrealistic" and that election monitors witnessed instances of multiple voting at almost 70 percent of local electoral precincts, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 13 January. He said he will appeal to international organizations not to recognize the poll results as valid. LF JAPAN EXTENDS AID TO KYRGYZSTAN. The Japanese government has granted Kyrgyzstan some 300 million yen (approximately $2.7 million) to underpin the country's structural reforms and help overcome the repercussions of the 1998 Russian financial crisis, Russian agencies reported. The grant is the fourth that Japan has extended to Kyrgyzstan. LF TAJIK SECURITY COUNCIL ASSESSES NOVEMBER INSURRECTION. The Tajik Security and Interior Ministers and several local administrators have been reprimanded by the Security Council for their failure to prevent the uprising in Leninabad in November 1998, presidential press spokesman Zafar Saidov told ITAR-TASS on 12 January. The government has also assumed control over the Uzbek-language newspaper "Halk ovozi" in order to ensure its "appropriate coverage of questions of the state's domestic and foreign policy," according to "Nezavisimaya gazeta" of 13 January. The population of Leninabad is predominantly ethnic Uzbek. Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov has accused neighboring Uzbekistan of direct involvement in the November insurrection, which was led by Colonel Mahmud Khudoberdiev and former Premier Abdumalik Abdullodjonov. LF TAJIK OPPOSITION LEADER CRITICIZES RENEGADE FIELD COMMANDER. At a meeting of the National Reconciliation Commission on 11 January, United Tajik Opposition leader Said Abdullo Nuri condemned an incident in Sagirdasht, east of Dushanbe, on the night of 5-6 January in which opposition fighters led by field commander Rustan Zinnatov killed four civilians while attempting to steal cattle, Asia-Plus reported from Dushanbe on 13 January. Zinnatov has since been arrested. LF ARMENIA'S CENTRAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION CHAIRMAN CRITICIZES NEW ELECTION LAW. The new election law, which the parliament is expected to pass later this month, is flawed and needs serious amendments, Khachatur Bezirjian told RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau on 12 January. Bezirjian said the bill does not outline "mechanisms" for election officials to deal with what he called "technical issues" related to voting and ballot counting. He deplored the fact that provincial commissions, rather than the lower-level communal commissions, are charged with counting the so-called "coupons" attached to ballots. Those coupons are intended to expose any discrepancies between the number of people who vote and the number of ballots cast. Bezirjian argued that provincial commissions will be unable to cope with the huge number of coupons and that counting them will delay the final results. He also objected to a clause allowing political parties to change their representatives on commissions as many times as they want. LF RUSSIA DENIES DEPLOYING S-300s IN ARMENIA. Speaking at a news conference in Yerevan on 12 January, Russian ambassador to Armenia Anatolii Dryukov denied claims by senior Azerbaijani officials that Moscow has deployed S-300 air defense missiles in Armenia, RFE/RL's bureau in the Armenian capital reported. But Dryukov said that Moscow does plan to upgrade the weaponry of its forces based in Armenia, including anti- aircraft defense systems. Also on 12 January, Dryukov met with Prime Minister Armen Darpinian to discuss cooperation in science, technology, power engineering, metallurgy and the chemical industry, according to ITAR-TASS and Noyan Tapan. LF GEORGIA LUKEWARM ON ABKHAZ REPATRIATION OFFER. Georgian presidential adviser Levan Aleksidze has dismissed as "sheer populism" Abkhaz President Vladislav Arzdinba's offer to permit Georgian displaced persons to return to Abkhazia's southernmost Gali Raion beginning 1 March, Interfax reported on 12 January. Aleksidze said that the offer may have been motivated by the Abkhaz leadership's need for economic aid. Aleksidze said that the Georgian leadership insists that all ethnic Georgians who return to Gali be permitted to participate in the work of local councils and police, but he claimed that the Abkhaz will not allow them to do so. The Abkhaz have said they will allow some Georgian repatriates to work for those bodies, but the criteria for determining who is eligible are unclear. LF 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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