If there is technological advance without social advance, there is, almost automatically, an increase in human misery. - Michael Harrington
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 18, Part I, 27 January 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 18, Part I, 27 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

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Headlines, Part I

* PRIMAKOV PROPOSES PEACE TREATY WITH DUMA

* TEACHERS BEGIN NATIONWIDE STRIKE

* FORMER ARMENIAN PRESIDENT CONDEMNS INDICTMENT ATTEMPT

End Note: IS RUSSIA ANOTHER SOMALIA?
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RUSSIA

PRIMAKOV PROPOSES PEACE TREATY WITH DUMA... In a letter
and package of documents sent to the State Duma, Prime
Minister Yevgenii Primakov outlined a proposal for a
political pact between Russia's executive and
legislative branch strangely similar to some early
versions of the political accord discussed by the two
groups last fall. Under the proposal, President Boris
Yeltsin would refrain from dissolving the Duma, which,
in turn, would drop impeachment hearings and agree not
to hold a no-confidence vote in the government. The
presidential press service responded initially on 26
January that any truce could not limit the president's
constitutional rights. Later, deputy head of the
presidential administration Oleg Sysuev told NTV that
the proposal was implemented in line with the
president's orders. "Segodnya" argued that Primakov's
action indicates he "has taken over the helm of state
power" and "is acting independently of the will of Boris
Yeltsin." JAC

...AS DEPUTIES, GOVERNORS REGISTER MIXED REACTION.
According to NTV, Kursk Oblast Governor Aleksandr
Rutskoi, North Ossetian President Aleksandr Dzasokhov,
Russian Regions faction head and Duma deputy Oleg
Morozov all hailed the proposal, while President of
Ingushetia Ruslan Aushev called the concept good "but a
little late" and asked whether it contradicts the
constitution. Deputy Aleksandr Shokhin raised a similar
objection, saying that the proposal is legal nonsense
since it would in effect suspend the constitution. Duma
deputy (Communist Party) Viktor Ilyukhin said he will
never agree to dropping impeachment proceedings.
According to ITAR-TASS, Prime Minister Primakov and Duma
leaders may discuss a draft statement on political
stability next week. Moscow Mayor and possible
presidential contender Yurii Luzhkov said that the
accord "plays down the significance" of the office of
the president and strips the head of state of some of
his powers. JAC

TEACHERS BEGIN NATIONWIDE STRIKE. Teachers from various
Russian regions, including Ulyanovsk and Chita Oblasts
and the Republic of Buryatia, took part in a nationwide
strike, RFE/RL reported on 27 January. On the streets of
Sakhalin Oblast, almost 5,000 teachers protested unpaid
wages, according to an RFE/RL correspondent in Yuzhno
Sakhalinsk. In Irkutsk, 2,200 workers from 77
educational establishments went on strike, ITAR-TASS
reported. Vladimir Yakovlev, head of the education
workers union, told RFE/RL's Moscow bureau the previous
day that 380,000 workers in the education sector would
likely stay away from work. According to Yakovlev, some
120,000 teachers have protested since the beginning of
this month. Among the regions that have seen the most
teachers' protests are Kamchatka and Murmansk Oblasts,
Altai Krai, and Republic of Karelia, while in three
raions in Ryazan Oblast teachers did not receive even 1
ruble last year. JAC

PRIMAKOV CALLS FOR REORGANIZING FEDERATION. Talk of
reducing the number of regions in Russia was revived on
26 January, when Prime Minister Primakov suggested the
possibility of merging Russia's constituent territories
and establishing a "house of nationalities" in the
Russian parliament might be considered in 2000. Speaking
at an all-Russia conference on federal relations,
Primakov said he supported an initiative of Tomsk
Governor Viktor Kress to reorganize Russia's
administrative-territorial system and that "about 30
regions have territorial claims on one another now,
which is a bad sign." He added that he shares the
position of those who believe that governors and
regional administration heads should not be elected,
Interfax reported. Speaking at the same conference,
Prosecutor-General Yurii Skuratov said that 70 percent
of regional legislation does not correspond to federal
law, according to ITAR-TASS. JAC

SOME REGIONS STILL UNHAPPY ABOUT BUDGET TRANSFERS...
Despite the fact that Moscow has increased their share
of federal tax revenues in the 1999 budget, regional
governors continue to express dissatisfaction with the
budget. Federation Council Chairman Yegor Stroev said on
27 January that the upper house may veto the budget if
the conciliation commission does not resolve all
disagreements over the distribution of federal resources
and adjust the system of tax collection in constituent
territories. Members of the Urals Economic Association
agreed that the document "completely ignores the
interests of Russia's regions and the composition of
their respective budgets," according to "EWI Russian
Regional Report" on 21 January. Irkutsk Oblast Governor
Boris Govorin also denounced the budget, warning that
Moscow expects revenues far greater than the oblast's
capacity to deliver, according to the report. JAC

...AS FINANCE MINISTRY SUGGESTS COLD TURKEY. At least
some Finance Ministry officials are promising to adopt a
tougher line on regional transfers than did their
predecessors. Deputy Finance Minister Viktor Khristenko
told "Vremya MN" on 15 January that "money is a drug and
once you have wheedled some financial aid you get
inspired to ask for more and more." According to the
daily, "financial aid without fixed purposes, which
governors of various regions currently enjoy, has become
a pernicious practice." However, it added, "Moscow
cannot ignore legislative restrictions on intervention
in governors' financial affairs." According to
Khristenko, regions that pay state workers and transfer
tax revenue in a timely fashion will receive financial
support, while those with a sizable backlog of unpaid
salaries to state organizations will come under the
Treasury's scrutiny. JAC

SEVERODVINSK WANTS TO BE CLOSED AGAIN. Arkhangelsk
Oblast Governor Anatolii Efremov is proposing to the
federal government that the city of Severodvinsk be
granted the status of closed territorial formation,
ITAR-TASS reported on 26 January. If given such a
status, the city would be directly subordinated to and
receive funding from the federal government. Experts
estimate that the city's budget would double, from 300
million rubles (some $12 million) to 600 million rubles.
Severodvinsk, where the country's largest nuclear
submarines are built, has experienced severe financial
difficulties owing to cuts in funding for defense
contracts and the lack of money for conversion programs.
JC

COMMUNISTS LABEL U.S. MEDIA ASSISTANCE 'INTERFERENCE.'
The Communist Party's Duma faction has requested more
information about U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright's offer of $10 million to assist the
development of independent media in Russia (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 26 January 1999). According to Interfax, Duma
deputy and Communist Party member Rinat Gabidullin said
that the U.S.'s intention to support the Russian press
prior to elections is "crude interference in the
country's internal affairs." JAC

MASLYUKOV HEADED FOR UNEMPLOYMENT? Citing "reliable
sources," "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 26 January
that a presidential edict dismissing First Deputy Prime
Minister Yurii Maslyukov "has already been prepared."
Maslyukov's dismissal, according to the newspaper, would
enable President Yeltsin to send a "clear signal" to the
prime minister as to the direction in which economic
reforms must be implemented. In addition, Maslyukov's
departure would help smooth over tense relations with
Western creditors. The same day, presidential spokesman
Dmitrii Yakushkin called reports that Maslyukov would be
dismissed "nonsense." JAC

NEW FUEL ADDED TO SPECULATION ABOUT MIKHALKOV CANDIDACY.
In a new interview published on 27 January in
"Rossiiskie vesti," renowned film actor/director Nikita
Mikhalkov made a statement about his presidential
ambitions similar to that which appeared in the "Sunday
Times" and that he later denied (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
26 January). He told the Russian newspaper that he is
ready "to support within constitutional terms anyone in
whom he sees the strength and desire to help the
country" but that if there is no such person, he "will
have to weigh his own strength." "Noviye izvestiya"
reported on 26 January that not only financial magnate
Boris Berezovskii is ready to support Mikhalkov but also
Media Most Group Chairman Vladimir Gusinskii. "Noviye
izvestiya" receives financial support from Berezovskii's
LogoVAZ group. JAC

ZHIRINOVSKII TO SEEK SVERDLOVSK POST. Liberal Democratic
Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovskii has confirmed his
plans to run for governor of Sverdlovsk Oblast. He told
the "Berliner Zeitung" on 25 January that one prong of
his election strategy will be to open talks with the
local mafia. He added that Krasnoyarsk Krai Governor
Aleksandr Lebed was having problems in his region
because "he turned his back on the local mafia and
businessmen." Earlier, he told a local television
station in Yekaterinburg that he will take part in
gubernatorial elections this summer and then run for the
presidency in 2000 as Russia's most effective governor.
Other candidates for the governor's seat are
Yekaterinburg Mayor Arkadii Chernetskii, incumbent
Eduard Rossel, and State Duma deputy Valerii Yazev, a
member of the Our Home Is Russia faction. According to
"EWI's Russian Regional Report," Yazev claims that
Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov has promised him his support.
JAC

CHECHEN FIELD COMMANDERS DRAFT "STABILIZATION"
PROPOSALS. Meeting in Novie Atagi, south of Grozny, on
26 January, former acting President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev
and prominent field commanders, including Shamil Basaev,
Ruslan Gelaev, Khunkar-pasha Israpilov, and Akhmed
Zakaev, reached agreement on a program of measures to
reorganize the present system of authority in Chechnya,
Russian agencies reported. They described the present
situation in Chechnya as a political and state crisis
but denied any intention of ousting President Aslan
Maskhadov. Former Foreign Minister Movladi Udugov blamed
Russia for instigating the skirmishes on 21 January in
the opposition stronghold of Urus Martan, which Deputy
Prime Minister Turpal Atgeriev claimed presaged an
attempted coup. Udugov said there are no forces in
Chechnya capable of unleashing a civil war (see also
"RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 2, No. 4, 26 January
1999). LF

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

FORMER ARMENIAN PRESIDENT CONDEMNS INDICTMENT ATTEMPT.
Levon Ter-Petrossian issued a statement on 26 January
condemning the failed bid by Prosecutor-General Aghvan
Hovsepian to persuade parliamentary deputies to lift the
immunity of former Interior Minister Vano Siradeghian,
RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
26 January 1999). Ter-Petrossian rejected Hovsepian's
claim to have evidence that Siradeghian ordered the
murder of two police officers in January 1994, saying
the "evidence" was the testimony of only one individual.
He said Hovsepian is either incompetent or simply bowing
to orders from his superiors. Siradeghian, who is
chairman of the board of the former ruling Armenian Pan-
National Movement, was one of Ter-Petrossian's closest
associates. LF

DEBATE OVER NATO PRESENCE IN AZERBAIJAN CONTINUES.
Azerbaijani presidential foreign policy adviser Vafa
Guluzade told Interfax on 26 January that he believes
agreement should be reached during President Heidar
Aliev's current visit to Turkey on the transfer of a
NATO airbase from Turkey to Azerbaijan's Apsheron
peninsula. Guluzade said the decision on relocating the
base should be taken immediately as the transportation
of Caspian energy resources via Azerbaijan is "in
danger" and "tomorrow may be too late." But an unnamed
source within the Azerbaijani presidential apparatus
told Interfax the same day that Guluzade was expressing
his personal opinion, not Azerbaijan's official policy.
Also on 26 January, Russian State Duma Defense Committee
chairman Roman Popkovich argued that there is no need
for NATO or U.S. bases in Azerbaijan, ITAR-TASS
reported. Popkovich termed Guluzade's statements "an
attempt to influence decision-making in Russia" and
warned that Russia has "even more" strategic interests
in the Transcaucasus than does the U.S. LF

GEORGIA'S MOST WANTED MAN TO RUN FOR PARLIAMENT,
PRESIDENT? Countless posters depicting Igor Giorgadze,
the former Georgian intelligence chief accused of
masterminding the August 1995 attempt to assassinate
head of state Eduard Shevardnadze, decorated the streets
of the west Georgian town of Zugdidi on 25 January,
Shevardnadze's 71st birthday, Caucasus Press reported.
Identical posters, bearing the slogan "The future Is
Ours," have been sighted recently in other regions of
Georgia. Giorgadze's father, Panteleimon, who heads the
United Communist Party of Georgia, told Caucasus Press
that Igor Giorgadze may be included in that party's list
of candidates for this fall's parliamentary elections.
Giorgadze fled Georgia in 1995 and is currently believed
to be in hiding in Syria. Some Georgian observers have
named him as a possible candidate in next year's
presidential elections. LF

IMF, EU TO GRANT FURTHER AID TO KYRGYZSTAN. Presidential
press secretary Kanybek Imanaliyev said on 25 January
that a visiting IMF delegation has agreed at talks with
President Askar Akayev to increase from $15 million to
$28 million its aid to Bishkek to cushion the impact of
the Russian financial crisis, Interfax reported. The IMF
delegation assured Prime Minister Jumabek Ibraimov the
following day that the fund will disburse all previously
planned loans to Kyrgyzstan for this year, RFE/RL's
Bishkek bureau reported. Ibraimov also met on 26 January
with a European Commission representative who confirmed
that the EU will grant Kyrgyzstan 1 million euros
($1.156 million) in 1999 to reform the country's health
service. LF

CAPTURED TAJIK WARLORD CONFESSES TO LATIFI MURDER.
Ravshan Gafurov, who was arrested on the outskirts of
Dushanbe earlier this week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25
January 1999), has confessed to the 22 September
shooting of leading Tajik opposition figure Otakhon
Latifi, Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported on 26 January,
quoting an Interior Ministry spokesman. Gafurov has also
confessed to 25 other murders. Tajik police announced
last month that they had arrested a group of people
suspected of killing Latifi. President Imomali Rakhmonov
said that at the time, he was "99 percent certain" that
those arrested committed the killing (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 4 December 1998). LF

TURKMEN, PAKISTANI FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET. Meeting in
Islamabad on 26 January, Pakistani Foreign Minister
Sartaj Aziz and his visiting Turkmen counterpart, Boris
Shikhmuradov, discussed how to cooperate in halting the
ongoing civil strife in Afghanistan, dpa reported.
Attention focused on the possibility of convening a
meeting in Uzbekistan of the so-called "six-plus-two"
(Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, China, Uzbekistan, and
Turkmenistan plus Russia and the U.S.) to discuss the
Afghan situation. Both ministers agreed that lasting
peace and stability in Afghanistan would greatly enhance
the possibilities for bilateral economic cooperation.
Shikhmuradov also met with Taliban representatives, who
termed their talks "very positive." Agreement was
reached to hold trilateral discussions on the proposed
Turkmen gas export pipeline via Afghanistan to Pakistan,
but no date was set for those discussions. LF

END NOTE

IS RUSSIA ANOTHER SOMALIA?

by Donald N. Jensen


	"Upper Volta with missiles" is how some foreigners
described the USSR shortly before its demise, an
allusion to the great disparity between the former
Soviet Union's vast nuclear arsenal and its lagging
economy. While Russia's economic miseries have hardly
eased since then, the inability of the Russian state to
carry out its core functions--the preservation of public
order, the maintenance of a monetary system, tax
collection, and income redistribution, and the provision
of minimal social welfare--invites comparison with
developing countries such as Somalia, Haiti, and
Liberia, where the nation-state has failed. Moreover, it
is the collapse of the Russian state, not the breakup of
the federation or economic depression, that may in the
long run prove the greatest threat to Russian democratic
development and international stability.
	In a recent paper, Thomas Graham, senior associate
at the Carnegie Endowment, argues that a key trend in
Russia over the past decade has been the fragmentation,
decentralization, and erosion of political and economic
power. To some extent, this is a result of the policies
pursued by Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin as well
as of global trends. But it has also been both an effect
and a cause of the economic decline those policies
precipitated. While in Africa the collapse is primarily
the result of inter-tribal factionalism, in Russia it is
the by-product of bitter inter-elite rivalries, greed,
and administrative chaos in Moscow, all of which have
eroded the center's capacity to govern effectively. To a
large extent, however, Russia's degeneration reflects a
society atomized to the point where the concept of
national interest has been lost.
	The diffusion of power, contrary to widespread
opinion in both Russia and the West, has not created
strong regions. Rather, the striking feature of the
Russian political and economic system, Graham argues,
can be summed up as "weak Center--weak regions," that
is, there is no concentration of power anywhere in the
country capable by itself of managing the situation or
creating coalitions for that purpose. As a result,
neither the Center nor the regions fully control the
political and economic situation. Thus, Russia's failure
to police its borders, eradicate pollution, pay overdue
wages, and prudently use loans from the IMF is not
merely the result of corruption, obstructionist economic
lobbies, or the lack of political will (the latter an
explanation frequently used in the West to explain the
economic collapse last August). They are due to the
"gangrene," which is how one prominent newspaper
recently referred to the weakening state.
	There are nevertheless some things the federal
government can still do reasonably well. Its nuclear
force would deter any potential aggressor from invading,
while its ability to subsidize debtor regions is an
important lever of control. Even in these areas,
however, there are signs of disintegration. The
government is increasingly unable to bear the costs of
nuclear force modernization. The state is sometimes
unable even to meet Weber's criterion that central to
most viable nation-states is the legitimate monopoly on
the use of force. The August economic collapse,
moreover, has weakened the economies of the 13 regions
(out of 89) that are net contributors to the federal
budget.
	Collapsing states are, of course, nothing new. But
today they are no longer isolated and can threaten their
neighbors. Such states harbor international criminal
organizations, serve as highways for narcotics
trafficking, and can have a major effect on the world
financial community. In Russia's case, the weak state
may be unable to prevent the transfer abroad of nuclear
weapons technology, while the natural gas firm Gazprom
is so politically powerful that it conducts its own
foreign policy, sometimes against the wishes of the
Russian Foreign Ministry.
	For Russia the central question is where power will
finally be concentrated, both geographically and within
the state bureaucracy. It is also a crucial question as
to what consequences such concentration will have.
Russia is likely far from having answers to those
questions.
	 For the United States, the challenge is how best
to take into account the state's deterioration, while
trying to make progress on the many issues of bilateral
concern. At a minimum, Washington should take greater
account of non-governmental actors such as Gazprom and
LUKoil as well as the few regional leaders, including
Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, who have political clout.
The U.S. should also take care to create clearer and
stronger incentives for the successful implementation of
policies that it supports. In this context, the tight
controls on Washington's food aid package and the recent
ban on contacts with three scientific centers suspected
of selling missile technology to Iran may prove small
but nonetheless constructive steps.

The author is associate director of RFE/RL broadcasting.

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