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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 63, Part I, 31 March 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 63, Part I, 31 March 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

* MOSCOW SAYS PRIMAKOV MISSION NOT A FAILURE

* IMF SUGGESTS WAYS TO EARN ADDITIONAL BUDGET REVENUE

* ANOTHER TAJIK POLITICIAN SHOT DEAD

End Note: THE JACKALS AND THE LION

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RUSSIA

MOSCOW SAYS PRIMAKOV MISSION NOT A FAILURE. Deputy Foreign
Minister Grigorii Karasin told Interfax on 31 March that
Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov's diplomatic mission to
Belgrade and Bonn cannot be characterized as a failure. "No
efforts of statesmen aimed at ending bloodshed and returning
the situation to one based on sound logic can be called
wasted," he explained. Primakov, for his part, argued that
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic sent NATO "a positive
signal." Provided that support for Albanian separatists ends,
Milosevic, according to Primakov, is ready to create
conditions for the return of refugees, tackle all problems by
political means, and start reducing Yugoslavia's military
presence in Kosova if NATO air raids are stopped. After talks
with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Primakov told NTV
that Schroeder called on Russia to "continue playing a
positive mediation role." Primakov spent six hours with
Milosevic on 30 March discussing the Kosova situation, ITAR-
TASS reported. JAC

GROUP CLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY FOR U.S. EMBASSY SHOOTING. A
leftist organization called "Skif" (Scythian) has claimed
responsibility for the shots fired at the U.S. embassy in
Moscow on 28 March, Interfax reported on 31 March. The group
said that the attack was the start of a campaign against
Western targets to protest NATO air strikes against
Yugoslavia, AP reported. The group was formed in honor of the
late Metropolitan Ioann of St. Petersburg and Ladoga, who
according to Interfax, supported left-wing movements but not
terrorist organizations. In letters sent to Russian
newspapers, the group disclosed the serial numbers of the
grenade launchers left on the scene, but the Federal Security
Service has so far not confirmed the validity of those
missives. JAC

SELEZNEV SUGGESTS IMPEACHMENT COULD BE POSTPONED. Russian
President Boris Yeltsin's annual address to the federation on
30 March elicited mostly negative appraisals from his fellow
politicians. Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov said
that the 20-minute speech had no content and that Yeltsin "is
completely unable to respond honestly and intelligently to
real-life problems." Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov argued that
the president's address did not tackle one of the most
important issues, namely, the reasons for the mid-August
economic crisis. Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev told
"Kommersant-Daily" the next day that in his speech the
president showed his full support for Primakov's government.
Duma Chairman Gennadii Seleznev told Interfax that
impeachment proceedings scheduled for 15 April could be
postponed to a later date. Earlier, Zyuganov rejected
Primakov's request to delay the debates. However, on 31
March, deputy head of the presidential administration Oleg
Sysuev told reporters that the administration opposes
postponing the vote, saying that "such issues must be dealt
with in a clear way." JAC

IMF SUGGESTS WAYS TO EARN ADDITIONAL BUDGET REVENUE... Citing
one of the participants in negotiations with the IMF, "Vremya
MN" on 30 March reported that IMF Managing Director Michel
Camdessus brought some concrete suggestions for increasing
Russia's budget revenue. For example, he reportedly proposed
abolishing tax and customs privileges for the media,
increasing excise taxes on high octane gasoline, and
increasing the taxes collected from Gazprom by $1 billion.
Another boost for tax revenues will likely come from
President Yeltsin's expected veto of legislation that would
reduce value-added tax from 20 percent to 15 percent
beginning 1 July, which both the State Duma and the
Federation Council have passed, according to Duma Budget
Committee Chairman Aleksandr Zhukov on 29 March. Deputy Prime
Minister Gennadii Kulik said the next day that the government
is developing a plan to raise 30-32 billion rubles ($1.2-1.3
billion) in additional budget revenue. JAC

...WHILE 'VERY CONCERNED' ABOUT FIMACO. U.S. Treasury
Secretary Robert Rubin said on 30 March that the IMF is "very
concerned" about Russia's use of an offshore firm to manage
its hard-currency reserves, AFP reported. He added that the
issue was very much on the minds of IMF officials when they
structured the agreement that was reached on 29 March. Last
month, a report by the Prosecutor-General's Office detailed
the Central Bank's use of a tiny firm, FIMACO, in the Channel
Islands to handle billions of dollars of reserves (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 5 February 1999). JAC

RIGHT DEMOCRATS SEEK RELIGIOUS SOLUTION. The trio of members
of the Right Cause political movement--former Acting Prime
Minister Yegor Gaidar, former Deputy Prime Minister Boris
Nemtsov, and former State Tax Service head Boris Fedorov--met
with Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini in Rome on 31
March on the next leg of their European tour devoted to
finding a peaceful solution to the Kosova crisis, ITAR-TASS
reported. They are scheduled to meet later with the Vatican
official, Cardinal Angelo Sodano. According to the agency,
the three envoys believe that the Catholic and Russian
Orthodox Churches should unite efforts to stop the war. The
previous day, the agency reported that the three met with
Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Vuk Draskovic and Patriarch
Pavel of the Serb Orthodox Church. "Kommersant-Daily" noted
on 30 March that even "if the young reformers fail to
influence the warring parties, they will not have wasted
their time since the trip is good publicity." JAC

SAUDI FOREIGN MINISTER WRAPS UP VISIT. After meeting with
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal on 30 March,
Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin announced that the two
countries will sign an accord on measures to fight crime and
terrorism next month, Interfax reported. Stepashin warned
that "some of those terrorists in the North Caucasus who are
trying to cloak themselves with religion and Wahhabism will
have a hard time." Prince al-Faisal said that Saudi leaders
will not be meeting with Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov,
who is currently in Saudi Arabia for the hajj. He also
expressed surprise that people claiming to be supporters of
Wahhabism in the North Caucasus "have long beards," which is
more typical of followers of other religious traditions. The
same day, the Saudi foreign minister also met with Duma
Chairman Seleznev, with whom he discussed foreign-policy
issues such as Iraq and Kosova. Both men agreed that the UN
Security Council has been weakened. JAC

CUSTOMS SERVICE REPEALS BREAK FOR FOREIGNERS. The State
Customs Service announced on 30 March that goods brought in
on a temporary basis by foreign firms and organizations will
no longer be exempt from customs duties, ITAR-TASS reported.
According to the agency, foreign entities will have to pay
each month 3 percent of all custom duties for such goods;
however, goods brought into the country before 1 April 1999
will not be subject to the new measure. JAC

FEDERATION COUNCIL REJECTS KREMLIN'S CANDIDATE FOR COURT. By
a vote of 67 to 46, members of the Federation Council voted
on 31 March to reject Mikhail Mityukov's candidacy for the
Constitutional Court, ITAR-TASS reported. Mityukov, who is
the presidential representative to the Constitutional Court,
was nominated by President Yeltsin. JAC

PRIMORSKII ELECTIONS ATTRACT SUFFICIENT VOTERS... Voters in
Primorskii Krai on 28 March elected candidates for seven of
11 vacancies in the legislative assembly of Nakhodka,
"Izvestiya" reported on 30 March. In the city of Arseniev,
according to preliminary results, a sufficient number of
voters turned out to fill 10 slots in that city's legislative
body, according to the newspaper. However, mayoral elections
in that city scheduled for the same day were postponed by
court order. JAC

...BUT NOT SO IN TUVA. Elections in the Republic of Tuva for
the republic's parliament and the legislature of Kyzyl were
also held on 28 March. Results were declared invalid because
more than 50 percent of eligible voters cast their votes in
only two districts for the republic level legislature and in
only four districts for the city's legislative assembly,
ITAR-TASS reported. According to the agency, three previous
elections have also failed to yield valid results because of
lack of voter interest. JAC

CHECHNYA HALTS EXPORT OF AZERBAIJANI OIL. Chechen
Presidential Press Secretary Mairbek Vachagaev announced on
29 March that Chechnya has halted the pumping of Azerbaijani
oil through the Chechen sector of the Baku-Grozny-
Novorossiisk export pipeline because of Russia's failure to
pay for security personnel to guard the pipeline, Turan
reported the following day. Vachagaev said that Moscow owes a
total 100 million rubles ($4.13 million) for the past six
months. A spokesman for the Azerbaijani state oil company
SOCAR told Turan that the disruption of exports via the Baku-
Novorossiisk pipeline will not affect oil production, as the
alternative Baku-Supsa pipeline is now in operation. LF

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

FOUR ARMENIAN OPPOSITION POLITICIANS TO BOYCOTT PARLIAMENTARY
ELECTION. In a statement issued in Yerevan on 30 March, four
close political associates of former President Levon Ter-
Petrossian said they will not participate in the 30 May
parliamentary elections, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported.
Former Foreign Minister Alexander Arzoumanian, former
National Security Minister David Shahnazarian, former Yerevan
Mayor Vahagn Khachatrian, and former deputy parliamentary
speaker Karapet Rubinian predicted that the poll will be
falsified. "The constitutional order in the Republic of
Armenia has been destroyed. The institute of elections, as a
legal base for forming a government, is not operational," the
statement continued. The four politicians said that President
Robert Kocharian has failed in all policy areas during his
one year in power, adding that the country's economy "is
fully controlled by the power structures." LF

AZERBAIJAN CONTINUES PROBE OVER INTERCEPTED MIGS. National
Security Ministry press spokesman Araz Gurbanov on 30 March
denied Russian and Czech reports that the criminal
investigation into the 18 March detention of a Russian cargo
plane carrying six MiG-21s has been shelved, Turan reported.
Gurbanov said the plane violated Azerbaijan's air code by
transporting fighter aircraft and weaponry without a license.
And he argued that it also infringed the International
Convention on Civil Aviation by transporting 16 persons not
listed in the flight documents as either passengers or crew.
Also on 30 March, CTK quoted a spokesman for the Azerbaijani
presidential press service as saying that Azerbaijan is
continuing its investigation into the role of the Czech
company Agroplast in coordinating the transport of the MiGs
from Kazakhstan to the Czech Republic. He said Azerbaijan
will keep the MiGs until the investigation is completed. LF

AZERBAIJANI STATE ADVISER DENIES PLANS FOR PRESIDENT'S SON TO
SUCCEED HIM. State foreign policy adviser Vafa Guluzade has
dismissed as a joke claims by former parliamentary speaker
Rasul Guliev that Guluzade is implementing measures to ensure
that Ilham Aliev succeeds his father, Heidar, as president of
Azerbaijan, Turan reported on 30 March. The independent
newspaper "Azadlyg" published Guliev's allegations on 30
March, adding that recent arrests of Interior Ministry
officials were connected with the succession scheme. LF

IS CORRUPTION DETERRING FOREIGN INVESTMENT IN AZERBAIJAN? Ali
Masimov, president of the Foundation for the Development of
Democracy, has argued that corruption in Azerbaijan is so
serious that bribes paid to bureaucrats by enterprise
managers now stand at 200 percent of production costs, Turan
reported on 29 March. Consequently, the total "production
costs" are so high that domestically produced goods cannot
compete with imports on the local market. Masimov also
observed that the lack of import quotas for cheap liquor and
cigarettes have resulted in a "deep crisis" in Azerbaijan's
tobacco and viticulture industries. On 25 March, Turan had
quoted Turkish media reports of a meeting between Turkish
President Suleyman Demirel and Turkish businessmen, who said
that 110 Turkish companies pulled out of Azerbaijan last year
because of corruption among Azerbaijani officials. LF

UZBEK DEFENSE MINISTER VISITS TBILISI. Hikmatulla Tursunov
and his Georgian counterpart, Davit Tevzadze, signed a
protocol on expanding defense cooperation in Tbilisi on 30
March, the final day of Tursunov's three-day visit to
Georgia, Caucasus Press reported. On 29 March, Tursunov's
delegation had visited the Tbilisi aircraft works, which
manufactures SU-25 jets. Uzbekistan had reportedly shown an
interest in purchasing such aircraft during Georgian
President Eduard Shevardnadze's visit to Tashkent on 9-10
March. But at a press conference on 30 March,  Tursunov said
the possibility of buying SU-25s  was never discussed.
Tevzadze told journalists that he and Tursunov discussed the
possibility of Uzbek participation in the peacekeeping
battalion to be formed by the four GUAM states (Georgia,
Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova) but that a decision on
whether Uzbekistan will do so is not within their competence.
LF

KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT SAYS ANTI-CORRUPTION MEASURES
INADEQUATE. Nursultan Nazarbaev chaired a session of the
State Disciplinary Control Commission in Astana on 29 March,
RFE/RL's bureau in Kazakhstan's capital reported the
following day. Also present were Prosecutor-General Yurii
Khitrin, Interior Minister Qayirbek Suleymenov, and National
Security Committee chairman Nurtay Abyqaev. Nazarbaev
criticized the work of the commission over the past year,
noting that it targets "only small fry, not high-ranking
officials," according to Interfax. In the future, the
commission will convene monthly, and regional governors will
be required to attend. LF

ANTI-NAZARBAEV GRAFFITI  REPORTED IN TWO KAZAKH CITIES.
National Security Council chairman Abyqaev told RFE/RL
correspondents in Astana on 30 March that a special group has
been formed to investigate the appearance last week of anti-
Nazarbaev slogans on fences and buildings in Almaty and
Astana. Abyqayev said that the inscriptions were apparently
the work of mentally sick people, adding that those persons
may have been used by  "criminal or illegal groups". LF

KYRGYZ OFFICIAL ASSESSES IMPACT OF 'TRADE WAR.' Arzymat
Sulaimankulov, deputy minister of industry and foreign trade,
said  in Bishkek on 30 March that Kyrgyzstan has incurred
losses totaling some $1.5 million as a result of the customs
tariffs imposed by Kazakhstan on Kyrgyz goods one month ago,
RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Sulaimankulov predicted
that those losses may rise to more than $4 million by the end
of the year. He added that Uzbekistan has also increased
customs duties on goods from Kyrgyzstan, but he did not
provide further details. LF

ANOTHER TAJIK POLITICIAN SHOT DEAD. Tajik Socialist Party
leader Safarali Kendjaev was shot dead by unidentified gunmen
outside his home in Dushanbe on 30 March, AP-Blitz reported.
One of Kendjaev's bodyguards also died in the attack, and a
second was wounded. Kendjaev was chairman of the Tajik
parliament's legislation and human rights committee. He is
the third prominent politician to be assassinated in
Tajikistan over the past year. LF

UZBEK POLICE KILL THREE BOMBING SUSPECTS IN SHOOTOUT. Uzbek
police claimed on 30 March to have killed three people
suspected of involvement in the 16 February Tashkent bombings
that killed 13 people, according to AP on 30 March and
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" the next day. Three further suspects
killed themselves, and several police were wounded during the
shootout in an apartment building in Tashkent. LF

JAPAN TO ADVANCE NEW LOAN TO UZBEKISTAN. The Japanese
government will open a $107.6 million credit line to finance
improvements to Uzbekistan's telephone network, Interfax
reported on 30 March. An agreement to this effect was reached
during Uzbek Prime Minister Utkir Sultanov's visit to Tokyo
last week. LF


END NOTE

THE JACKALS AND THE LION

by Paul Goble

	As the Commonwealth of Independent States prepares for a
summit in Moscow on 2 April, one of Russia's leading foreign-
policy commentators is arguing that Moscow should stop trying
to integrate the former Soviet space on the basis of the CIS
and instead deal one-on-one with each of the former Soviet
republics.
	Appearing at a roundtable discussion organized by the
Russian foreign-policy journal "International Affairs,"
Sergei Karaganov suggests that the CIS today "is a rare
example of a retrograde movement in history" and that
overcoming "illusions" about it will serve Moscow's interests
as it attempts to expand its influence in the countries that
now belong to the commonwealth.
	Karaganov, who is chairman of the prestigious Russian
Council for Foreign and Defense Policy and deputy director of
the Academy of Sciences' Institute of Europe, has frequently
been a bellwether for Russian policy toward the former Soviet
republics. And as a result, his argument now is likely to
affect how Moscow approaches the upcoming CIS summit.
	According to Karaganov, the CIS "has long been moving
increasingly in the direction of its own disintegration." He
suggests it crossed that Rubicon five or six years ago, when
it failed to serve as the basis for creating an integrated
economic space on the territory of the former Soviet Union.
It has been retained, Karaganov insists, largely because
current Russian leaders bear some responsibility for the
demise of the USSR.
	Because that opportunity was missed, Karaganov
continues, the increasing differences among these countries
have now made it impossible to create such an integrated
economic space. The more than 1,000 CIS agreements that some
of the commonwealth's members have signed have had the effect
of discrediting the very idea of future cooperation.
	Karaganov goes on to argue that the non-Russian
countries made "a major strategic mistake" in not agreeing to
a tight political arrangement five years ago, one that would
have restricted Russia's freedom of action even more than
their own. Indeed, he suggests that this mistake was "a
paragon of foreign-policy idiocy."
	But in fact, several CIS leaders, particularly
Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev, did push at that
time for a more precisely defined arrangement among the
commonwealth countries, while Russian leaders routinely
refused to agree, a reflection of their recognition at the
time of what Karaganov is suggesting now.
	Karaganov also suggests that the non-Russian leaders now
recognize their "mistake" and are forming various coalitions
and alliances--such as GUAM, which unites Georgia, Ukraine,
Azerbaijan, and Moldova and may expand to include others--to
gang up on Russia as Karaganov suggests they did at the CIS
summit in Chisinau in October 1997.
	In describing these moves, Karaganov offers the
following metaphor. He suggests that the non-Russian leaders
now recognize that "only a pack of jackals can tear a lion to
pieces." He asks rhetorically what policy the lion, even if
he is "sick and wounded," should adopt. And he suggests that
"more likely than not" there is only one answer: "to crush
the jackals one by one."
	Unfortunately, as Karaganov notes, Russia lacks "the
political and economic resources" needed to do so and
therefore should remain calm, recognizing that at present
"there is no need to crush anyone."
	While some observers may see this comment as vitiating
his metaphor, many of the leaders of the CIS member states
are likely to perceive it as something else: an effort to
pressure them into following Moscow's line lest Moscow deal
with them one by one in the future, as Karaganov's wounded
"lion" might deal with individual "jackals."
	While some of these leaders may be impressed by
Karaganov's logic, others certainly will not be, thus setting
the stage for a possibly contentious CIS summit on 2 April
and an even more contentious future set of relationships
between Russia and its neighbors.

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