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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 33, Part I, 17 February 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 33, Part I, 17 February 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

* FEDERATION COUNCIL PASSES UKRAINIAN TREATY, ADDS CONDITION

* ZADORNOV TAKING OVER IMF PORTFOLIO?

* INVESTIGATION INTO TASHKENT BOMBING BEGINS
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RUSSIA

FEDERATION COUNCIL PASSES UKRAINIAN TREATY, ADDS CONDITION.
The Federation Council voted to ratify the Treaty for
Friendship, Cooperation, and Partnership between Russia and
Ukraine on 17 February. The vote was 106 to 25 with 17
abstentions. However, the treaty will not go into effect
until Ukraine's parliament ratifies three agreements on the
Black Sea fleet. Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov suggested
that condition to ensure the treaty's passage, according to
ITAR-TASS. So far, the three agreements have stalled in
Ukraine's Supreme Council. JAC

ZADORNOV TAKING OVER IMF PORTFOLIO? Contradicting earlier
reports that former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin is
poised to be named presidential envoy to international
financial institutions, "Izvestiya" reported on 17 February
that Finance Minister Mikhail Zadornov is Russia's new chief
negotiator for talks with the IMF and other international
organizations (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 February 1999).
Reuters reported that neither the government nor the finance
ministry will confirm the report, while Interfax said its
sources said Zadornov is likely to receive such an
appointment. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported the previous day
that Zadornov has prepared the most recent package of
documents sent to the fund because the "careless and
sometimes inappropriate words about the political motives of
the negotiations" spoken by First Deputy Prime Minister Yurii
Maslyukov and his press spokesman forced the government to
find someone else to "prepare documents for the fund." JAC

INCOME UNDERREPORTING HIDES ONE-FIFTH OF RUSSIAN ECONOMY.
About one-fifth of Russia's economy operates in the
"shadows," with businesses concealing or underreporting their
income in order to avoid taxes, according to the State
Statistic Committee's estimates, Interfax reported on 15
February. The amount of income hidden varies by season and
across sectors, with unreported agricultural income rising in
the summer and the fall. The trade sector conceals 60 percent
of its income, compared with 10-11 percent in industry. JAC

RUSSIA BECOMING A WORLD LEADER IN SPREAD OF AIDS. Russia is
experiencing one of the world's most rapid spread of AIDS,
Vadim Pokrovskii told Interfax on 16 February. The number of
registered HIV carriers tripled in 1997 and doubled in 1998
to 10,483, he said. Almost one-tenth of these are living in
Moscow, where only about 100 of Russia's AIDS patients
receive proper treatment. According to Pokrovskii, the
standard multi-drug treatment offered in the West costs from
$9,000 to $22,000 a year and is therefore out of reach of
most Russian patients. JAC

PRIMORSKII KRAI GOVERNOR ENGAGED IN CREATIVE CAMPAIGNING?
Primorskii Krai Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko has declared
that he won a $1 million cash prize from the Bahamas-based
World Aristocratic Academy for being one of the world's
outstanding leaders, the "Moscow Times" reported on 16
February. Past winners of the prize were reportedly New York
Mayor Rudolf Guiliani, actors Harrison Ford and Demi Moore,
King Juan Carlos of Spain, and the Russian pop group Na-na,
but Guiliani's office denied ever having heard of the
organization when contacted by the newspaper. Repeated
attempts to contact the group in the Bahamas failed.
Nazdratenko's political foes believe that the World
Aristocratic Academy is a fiction concocted by Nazdratenko to
boost his popularity before upcoming gubernatorial elections.
They also claim that the money, which Nazdratenko said he
would donate to needy people in the Krai, came from the
region's budget. JAC

ST. PETERSBURG DEPUTY ARRESTED ON SUSPICION OF MURDER. Yurii
Shutov, a member of the St. Petersburg city assembly, was
arrested on 16 February on suspicion of leading a gang and
plotting the deaths of three men, among them prominent local
businessman Dmitrii Filippov, who was slain in October 1998,
ITAR-TASS reported. Eleven other people were arrested and a
large cache of weapons and materials for constructing bombs
seized. Shutov had been an adviser to former St. Petersburg
Mayor Anatolii Sobchak. JAC

NEW PAUSE IN PASKO TRIAL AFTER INDICTMENT LEAKED. The
espionage trial of military journalist Grigorii Pasko has
recessed for one day at the request of defense attorneys,
ITAR-TASS reported on 17 February. The delay was necessary so
that a new lawyer could arrive from Moscow to replace a
member of Pasko's defense team who was barred from the trial.
The previous day, the agency reported that the document
indicting Pasko, which contained classified information, has
been leaked to the Glasnost Protection Fund, which is
distributing that document via e-mail. Pasko is accused of
passing classified materials about the Pacific Fleet to
Japanese television media. JAC

MURDOCH REPORTEDLY EYEING CHANNEL TV-6. Media magnate Rupert
Murdoch has expressed an interest in purchasing shares in TV-
6, "one of Russia's most politically independent central TV
channels," "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 16 February.
According to the newspaper, Murdoch is primarily interested
in TV-6, not Russian Public Television (ORT). Earlier reports
of his interest in ORT prompted one State Duma deputy to
submit draft legislation stipulating that no foreigner or
foreign entity be allowed own shares in ORT. According to the
newspaper, the channel, which is owned by Eduard Sagalaev
(37.5 percent), Boris Berezovskii (37.5 percent), LUKOIL (15
percent), and the Moscow Science and Technology Committee (10
percent), needs money urgently because of the collapse in its
advertising revenues. The newspaper predicts that Moscow
Science and Technology Committee head Vladimir Yevtushenko,
"a protege of Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov," will oppose the
sale. JAC

VORONTSOV LANDS NEW JOB IN UN. Former Russian Ambassador to
the U.S. Yulii Vorontsov has a new assignment as UN
Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special envoy for the CIS,
ITAR-TASS reported on 16 February. JAC

RUSSIA, TATARSTAN REACH COMPROMISE ON PASSPORTS. Tatarstan
State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin told journalists in
Moscow on 15 February that Tatarstan's authorities are
satisfied with the new Russian passport model suggested by
Moscow. "We are not going to issue our own identity
document," he commented. Mukhametshin added that passports
issued in the national republics will contain an extra title
page that duplicates, in the language of the republic, the
data given on the first page of the standard passport,
including the bearer's nationality. In November 1997,
Tatarstan suspended issuing the new Russian passports to
protest the fact that they were in Russian only and failed to
designate nationality and republican citizenship (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 21 October and 14 November 1997). According to
Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Vadim Gustov, passports
issued in Russian regions will differ from those issued in
national republics and will not contain the supplementary
page in the national language, "Segodnya" reported on 16
February. LF

CHECHEN PRESIDENT APPEALS ON BEHALF OF CONVICTED TERRORISTS.
Aslan Maskhadov has asked Russian President Yeltsin to allow
two Chechen women sentenced last week for a terrorist bombing
in a Caucasus town to serve their sentences in Chechnya,
Interfax reported on 16 February, quoting Russian Interior
Minister Sergei Stepashin. Field commanders opposed to
Maskhadov last week threatened reprisals against Russia for
the sentencing of the two women (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10
February 1999). The local authorities in Stavropol Krai,
where the trial took place have introduced special security
procedures, including passport checks for all persons
entering Stavropol from Chechnya. LF

CYPRIOT DEFENSE MINISTER, ROSVOORUZHENIE DISCUSS S-300S.
During talks in Moscow on 16 February, Yiannakis Chrisostomis
and leading officials from the arms export company
Rosvooruzhenie agreed that the S-300 air defense missile
systems ordered by Cyprus in 1997 for deployment on that
island will instead be deployed on Crete by mid-1999, ITAR-
TASS reported. The missiles will remain the property of
Cyprus but will be under Greek control. Chrisostomis is to
meet with his Russian counterpart, Igor Sergeev, on 17
February to finalize the agreement. Rosvooruzhenie director
Grigorii Rapota told Interfax last week that his company will
not suffer any financial losses as a result of the change of
deployment location. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 16
February, however, that the U.S., which pressured the Cypriot
leadership to abandon its original plans to deploy the
missile systems on Cyprus, is now trying to persuade Athens
to withdraw its offer to station those systems on Crete. LF

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN AUTHORITIES DENY MURDER SUSPECTS TORTURED. Interior
and National Security Minister Serzh Sarkisian on 16 February
explicitly denied allegations by a member of the Armenian
Helsinki Association that two of Deputy Interior Minister
Artsrun Markarian's bodyguards have been subjected to torture
during the investigation into Markarian's death, RFE/RL's
Yerevan bureau reported. The human rights monitor and the
mothers of the two bodyguards told journalists earlier that
day that the two men have been severely beaten. They also
said no charges have yet been brought against the two, who
were arrested on 10 February on suspicion of murdering
Markarian. Under Armenian law, a suspect may be detained for
no longer that 96 hours before being charged with a crime. LF

EXPORT OF AZERBAIJANI OIL VIA RUSSIA AGAIN HALTED. The export
of oil via the Baku-Novorossiisk pipeline was interrupted on
16 February for the third time in two weeks, Turan and Dow
Jones Newswires reported. Transneft, which operates the
Russian leg of that pipeline, attributed the disruption to
"technical problems." Chechen officials in Baku told AFP on
12 February that an earlier stoppage was the result of arson
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 February 1999). They complained
that Transneft was failing to pay the guards detailed to
protect the pipeline. LF

MISTREATMENT OF AZERBAIJANIS WIDESPREAD IN GEORGIAN ARMED
FORCES. Kamil Kireji, chairman of the Ozan society, formed in
1998 to protect the interests of Georgia's 250,000 strong
ethnic Azerbaijani minority, told journalists in Baku on 16
February that hazing and gratuitous violence against ethnic
Azeris serving in the Georgian armed forces have increased
dramatically since 1998, Turan and ANS-Press reported. As a
result, 70 Azeris serving in Tbilisi deserted from their unit
earlier this month. Kireji said that repeated protests to the
Georgian president and defense minister have failed to elicit
any response to date. LF

GEORGIAN PRESIDENT ADDRESSES PARLIAMENT... In his annual
address to the parliament on 16 February, Eduard Shevardnadze
advocated amending the Georgian Constitution to provide for
the reintroduction of the post of prime minister, which was
abolished in 1995, Reuters and Interfax reported. But he said
this change will not affect the existing principle of "strong
president--strong parliament." Shevardnadze said that his
administration's priorities are establishing "mutual respect,
good neighborly relations and cooperation with Russia." He
also called on the UN Security Council to undertake
unspecified "decisive measures envisaged by UN rules" to
resolve the conflict in Abkhazia, arguing that failure to do
so will reflect adversely not only on the UN but also on
Georgia's international prestige. LF

...LEAVING DEPUTIES UNIMPRESSED. Shevardnadze's remarks
received a hostile reception, particularly from opposition
deputies, prompting the president to comment that "I had the
feeling of attending a pre-election meeting," Caucasus Press
reported. Shevardnadze rejected accusations that he is
autocratic, adding that "if they were true, I could change
many things." Mamuka Giorgadze of the Popular faction
compared Shevardnadze's address with a Soviet-era report that
omitted any mention of the most serious problems. National-
Democratic Party chairwoman Irina Sarishvili-Chanturia
observed that the anti-corruption campaign promulgated by
Shevardnadze last year has yielded no results. And Socialist
Party leader Vakhtang Rcheulishvili said Shevardnadze "is
either misinformed or concealing the truth" when he claims it
is possible to revive dormant industrial enterprises in the
towns of Chiatura and Tkibuli. LF

GEORGIAN DISPLACED PERSONS LAUNCH PROTEST. Bearing placards
calling for Georgia to leave the CIS and urging a "Croatian
model" in resolving the Abkhaz conflict, some 500 Georgian
displaced persons blocked the bridge linking Abkhazia with
the rest of Georgia on 16 February, according to Caucasus
Press and "Rezonansi." They were protesting the proposal by
Abkhaz leader Vladislav Ardzinba to allow the return of
Georgians to Abkhazia's southernmost Gali Raion beginning 1
March. In particular, the displaced persons object to
Abkhazia's insistence on compliance with the provision of the
April 1994 agreement on repatriation that empowers Abkhazia
to screen the applications of would-be returnees in order to
exclude persons suspected of committing war crimes. LF

INVESTIGATION INTO TASHKENT BOMBING BEGINS... Following the
bombings in Tashkent on 16 February, President Islam Karimov,
the ministers of defense and the interior, as well as
officials from the border guards and security service met to
discuss the incident, Uzbek Television reported. National
Security Service chief Rustam Inoyatov said "we know who
organized these incidents" and claimed that "foreign
extremist and terrorist organizations and people who have
relations with them" were behind the bombings. While he
stopped short of naming any particular group, Interior
Minister Zohirjon Almatov said that "Uzbek citizens" were
responsible but that "their mentors are from elsewhere." He
then mentioned in this context "the trends of Wahhabism and
Hezbe Tahriri Islomiya, Islamic movements set up in
Pakistan." Interfax on 16 February quoted Inoyatov as saying
"the republic's borders have been sealed and the capital is
surrounded by law-enforcement personnel. Police are
conducting raids and searches. All investigations will be
completed soon." BP

...WHILE 15 REPORTED DEAD AS SEARCH FOR VICTIMS CONTINUES.
ITAR-TASS reported on 17 February that 15 people died in the
bombings and 150 were injured. Workers are still trying to
remove rubble in areas where the bombs were planted. Some 50
buildings were either razed or damaged by the explosions.
Schools have been closed for the remainder of the week. BP

UYGHURS DEPORTED FROM KAZAKHSTAN... Three ethnic Uyghurs are
being returned to China by the authorities in Kazakhstan.
According to a statement issued by Amnesty International on
15 February, the three fled China's western Xinjiang Province
late last year and were arrested as they crossed into
Kazakhstan's territory. All three are wanted by the Chinese
authorities for political activities. BP

...WHILE KYRGYZSTAN KEEPS ANOTHER UYGHUR IN JAIL.
Kyrgyzstan's Supreme Court on 16 February upheld a ruling by
a district court whereby Jalal Kasarji was sentenced to 14
years in prison, RFE/RL correspondents in Bishkek reported.
In December, Kasarji, an ethnic Uyghur and a citizen of
Turkey, was found guilty of illegal possession of a weapon
and resisting arrest. He and two other Uyghurs were
originally charged with possession and distribution of
Wahhabi literature, training terrorists, and inciting inter-
ethnic hatred. However, none of those charges was made
against them in court, and the other two Uyghurs were freed.
BP

TURKMEN PRESIDENT COMMENTS ON FUTURE GAS EXPORTS. At a
ceremony opening a new natural gas compression facility in
Kaakhka on 16 February, Saparmurat Niyazov said his country
will export 120 billion cubic meters of natural gas by the
year 2005, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. Niyazov said that
by then, the Trans-Caspian and Trans-Iranian pipelines are
expected to be functioning, along with the Trans-Russian one.
Niyazov said the new compression facility will ensure "stable
operation" of the gas turbine at the Bezmenin power plant,
installed by the U.S. company General Electric, and ensure
"more reliable"supplies of gas to Ashgabat. The Kaakhka
facility was built by the Ukrainian company Ukrgazstroi in
part payment of that country's debt for Turkmen gas supplies.
Niyazov noted that a deal has been struck whereby Ukraine
will receive 20 billion cubic meters of gas this year. BP

RUSSIA TO REVIEW CONDITIONS FOR TURKMEN-UKRAINE GAS DEAL. The
Russian State Duma has invited Minister for CIS Affairs Boris
Pastukhov and chairman of Gazprom Rem Vyakhirev to attend a 5
March government session, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 February.
The deputies want to find out what the conditions are for
Turkmen gas transiting Russian territory en route to Ukraine.
BP
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