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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 72, Part I, 14 April 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 72, Part I, 14 April 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

* VOTE TO DELAY IMPEACHMENT FALLS SHORT

* CHERNOMYRDIN TAPPED FOR PEACEMAKER ROLE IN BALKANS

* TAJIK GOVERNMENT DELEGATION VISITS TASHKENT

END NOTE: Basic Agreement Reached On New European Arms Accord
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RUSSIA

VOTE TO DELAY IMPEACHMENT FALLS SHORT. A vote to delay a
debate on the impeachment of Russian President Boris Yeltsin
failed to pass the State Duma on 14 April, just 20 votes
short of the 226 needed. The previous day, Duma faction
leaders agreed to delay the debate to mid-May, but some
members of the Communist Party opposed such a long delay. A
compromise decision is expected to emerge after a new meeting
of faction leaders with Duma Chairman Gennadii Seleznev on 14
April, Interfax reported. The debate was originally scheduled
for 15 April. JAC

U.S., RUSSIA HOLD TALKS ON KOSOVA... After an almost four-
hour meeting in Oslo with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright on 13 April, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov
told reporters that Russia and the U.S. agreed that future
work is necessary to devise "an acceptable form of
international presence in [Kosova] to ensure conditions for a
political settlement." The two did agree on some basic
principles for a peaceful resolution to the crisis, such as
the end of violence in Kosova, the army's withdrawal from the
area, and the return of refugees, ITAR-TASS reported. Ivanov
called the discussion "very useful" but "difficult." Ivanov
added that a meeting of G-8 foreign ministers will take place
in "a matter of days." JAC

...AS RUSSIA REPEATS OLD THREATS, ACCUSATIONS RE NATO. The
same day, the Russian Foreign Ministry repeated accusations
that the U.S. is supplying military aid to the Kosova
Liberation Army (UCK), citing reports in British newspapers
about alleged U.S. secret talks with the UCK. In addition,
Defense Minister Igor Sergeev repeated an earlier threat that
Russia may withdraw its peacekeepers from Bosnia-Herzegovina
and send more warships to the Mediterranean in response to
continuing NATO air strikes. "Segodnya" reported on 10 April
that Sergeev has maintained a less bellicose public posture
on the Kosova issue than some of his fellow officials at the
Defense Ministry, such as the director of the department for
international military cooperation, Colonel General Leonid
Ivashov, and the commander of the Far East Military District,
Colonel General Viktor Chechevatov. According to the
newspaper, the Kremlin is displeased that these officers have
publicly expressed positions at odds with President
Yeltsin's. JAC

CHERNOMYRDIN TAPPED FOR PEACEMAKER ROLE IN BALKANS. President
Yeltsin signed a decree on 14 April appointing former Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin as presidential envoy to
Yugoslavia, presidential spokesman Dmitrii Yakushkin told
reporters. Yeltsin apparently decided not to avail himself of
the services of former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who
offered himself for the role during a television interview
the previous day, Interfax reported. In other personnel news,
first deputy head of the presidential administration Oleg
Sysuev told ITAR-TASS that Nikolai Bordyuzha, former head of
the presidential administration and secretary of the Security
Council, will be appointed to head the State Customs
Committee. JAC

U.S. SUPPORTING ISRAEL'S CLOSER RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA? In its
coverage of the visit of Israeli Defense Minister Ariel
Sharon to Moscow, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 13 April
that according to its sources in the Israeli government,
Israel's recent policy of wooing Russia "has been approved by
Washington" because the U.S. "fears that its tense relations
with Russia could push it into the embrace of such odious
regimes as Iran, Iraq, and Syria." According to the daily, in
his discussion with Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov on 12
April, Sharon made it clear that "the friendship is possible
only after Russia discontinues the leakage of technologies to
Iran and missile deliveries to Syria." Syrian President Hafez
Assad recently postponed a visit scheduled for 12-13 April
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 April 1999). On 13 April, Sharon
told Interfax that about 2 million people in the former
Soviet Union can claim Israeli citizenship under its
repatriation law. JAC

GOVERNORS DIVIDED ON ISSUE OF LARGER SLAVIC UNION...
Federation Council members expressed mixed reactions to the
idea of expanding the Union of Belarus and Russia to include
Yugoslavia. Both Lipetsk Oblast Governor Oleg Korolev and
Ryazan Oblast Governor Vyacheslav Lyubimov spoke in favor of
the larger confederation. Lyubimov told ITAR-TASS on 13 April
that Yugoslavia's admission might persuade the world
community that Russia "has something up its sleeve" and halt
combat operations in the Balkans. However, Chukotka
Autonomous Okrug Governor Aleksandr Nazarov said such a union
would be disadvantageous to Russia in every respect, while
Karelia Republic legislative assembly speaker Valentina
Pivenko called the proposal "dangerous" because it would draw
Russia into the conflict. In his recent address to leaders of
Russia's republics, President Yeltsin pledged to consult with
them on foreign policy issues, particularly on the union of
Russia and Belarus (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report,"
14 April 1999). The head of 17 of Russia's 21 republics
issued a statement on 13 April calling on the State Duma to
stop impeachment proceedings. JAC

...AS DUMA MOVES FORWARD? The Duma authorized its Committee
on Legislation, Judicial and Legal Reform and its Committee
on International Affairs to draw up a draft decision calling
on President Yeltsin to sign a treaty establishing the
Russia-Belarus-Yugoslavia union, Duma Chairman Gennadii
Seleznev told reporters on 13 April. The same day, the
presidential envoy to the Duma, Aleksandr Kotenkov, told
ITAR-TASS that although the president supports the idea of
including Yugoslavia, the issue is an extremely difficult one
requiring more than "just two or three weeks" of serious
calculation. He added that "unification will cause us a
serious economic headache and we should calculate what
advantages, apart from geostrategic, such a union will give
us." The next day only 84 Duma members voted in favor of a
motion to put the issue of the expanded union on the
legislature's agenda, Russian Television reported. That was
well short of the 226 votes needed. JAC

ANGRY TEACHERS SEIZE ADMINISTRATOR'S OFFICE. Teachers in ten
cities and villages in the Sverdlovsk Oblast stayed away from
classes on 13 April to protest unpaid wages, ITAR-TASS
reported. In Kushva, angry teachers seized the office of the
head of the local administration and have so far resisted
attempts by administration and police officials to leave.
Last week, the information department of the oblast
government reported that the oblast's government had managed
to reduce the amount of wages still owed to state workers for
1998 by 19 million rubles ($760,000), Interfax-Eurasia
reported on 7 April. Currently, the debt stands at 163.78
million rubles. Meanwhile, in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskii in
the Kamchatka Oblast, teachers are continuing the second week
of their strike called to demand the payment of six months of
back wages. JAC

INDIAN DEFENSE OFFICIAL'S VISIT POSTPONED. A visit by Indian
Defense Minister George Fernandes scheduled for 12 April was
postponed at India's request, Interfax reported on 13 April.
According to the agency, the visit had to be rescheduled for
"internal political reasons." The same day, Russia expressed
concern over India's test of a medium-range ballistic missile
on 11 April, saying that it could undermine stability in the
region. On 14 April a "high-ranking military diplomatic
source" told ITAR-TASS that Pakistan's ballistic missile test
undertaken in response to India's "could lead to a further
build-up in the nuclear arms race in Asia." Pakistani Prime
Minister Nawaz Sharif will visit Moscow from 19-22 April. JAC

CHECHEN PRESIDENT AVOIDS PRIMAKOV MEETING. Presidential
spokesman Mairbek Vachagaev told Interfax on 13 April that
because of other engagements Aslan Maskhadov will not travel
to the North Ossetian capital, Vladikavkaz, on 17 April to
meet with Russian Premier Primakov, who is to attend a
meeting of leaders of north Caucasus republics. Following the
5 March abduction in Grozny of Russian Interior Ministry
General Gennadii Shpigun, Maskhadov called for an urgent
meeting between himself and President Yeltsin to "defuse
tensions," but Russian officials suggested that a meeting
between Maskhadov and Primakov would be more appropriate. LF

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT FAILS IN BID TO LOWER ENERGY TARIFS.
Opposition deputies failed on 13 April to pass in the second
and final reading a bill that would have reduced energy
tariffs by 25 percent to their 1998 level, RFE/RL's Yerevan
bureau reported. Only 89 of the parliament's 190 deputies
voted in favor of the bill, while the Armenian Constitution
requires that an absolute majority must vote in favor to pass
legislation amending government expenditures or revenues.
Eduard Yegorian of the Hayrenik faction, who drafted the
bill, insisted that the bill's passage was legal, and said he
will appeal to the Constitutional Court if President Robert
Kocharian fails to sign it into law. Many of the pro-
government Yerkrapah deputies boycotted the session rather
than risk jeopardizing voter support in the 30 May
parliamentary poll. LF

AZERBAIJAN'S EX-PRESIDENT COMMENTS ON FOREIGN POLICY. In a
telephone interview with Turan on 13 April, Ayaz Mutalibov
expressed approval of the Azerbaijani leadership's decision
not to renew the country's membership in the CIS Collective
Security Treaty. But Mutalibov attributed to "despair" recent
proposals by Azerbaijani officials that the country should
host either a NATO or U.S. military base, warning that the
West is unlikely to agree to such a move and that it would
inevitably exacerbate Azerbaijan's already strained relations
with Russia. He said he thinks it unlikely that any state,
even Turkey, would risk a war with Russia over Azerbaijan.
Mutalibov said he considers the proposal that Azerbaijan
should form a confederation with Turkey "inexpedient" as it
would entail the loss of Azerbaijan's independence. LF

EXPORT OF AZERBAIJANI OIL VIA RUSSIA RESUMES. Chechnya
recommenced the pumping of Azerbaijan's Caspian oil through
its sector of the Baku-Novorossiisk pipeline on 12 April, two
weeks after halting it because of Russia's failure to pay
back debts for security of that pipeline, Interfax and Turan
reported on 13 April. The Azerbaijan International Operating
Company, the sole western consortium currently exporting oil
from Azerbaijan, has again upped production from the Chirag
field which was cut by half as a result of the closure of the
northern pipeline (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 April 1999). LF

AZERBAIJANI INTERIOR MINISTRY ISSUES BAN ON BODYGUARDS.
Interior Minister Ramil Usubov has issued a ruling that
leaders of Azerbaijani political parties may no longer be
accompanied by bodyguards, Turan reported on 12 April. The
ruling follows an incident on 9 April in which a police
official is reported to have rammed the car of National
Independence Party of Azerbaijan chairman Etibar Mamedov (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 12 April 1999). It is not clear what
measures the ministry plans to take to enforce the ruling. LF

ABKHAZ READY TO RELEASE MEMBER OF DETAINED FISHING CREW?
Georgian Intelligence Service chief Avtandil Ioseliani and
his Abkhaz counterpart, Astamur Tarba, have reached agreement
on the release of a woman crew member of the Georgian fishing
vessel intercepted in Abkhaz territorial waters on 3 April,
Caucasus Press reported on 14 April (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8
April 1999). Negotiations are continuing on exchanging her
nine fellow crew members for four Abkhaz believed to be held
by Georgian guerrillas. LF

GEORGIAN EX-PRESIDENT'S SON WANTED IN SHOOTING INCIDENT.
Georgian police want to question Tsotne Gamsakhurdia, the
elder of the late president's two sons, in connection with an
incident in Tbilisi on 12 April in which he shot and wounded
a member of the Georgian water polo team, ITAR-TASS and
Caucasus Press reported. Gamsakhurdia is believed to be in
Batumi where he is employed as an assistant to the city
mayor. LF

TRANSCAUCASUS DEFENSE MINISTERS MEET. The defense ministers
of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Vazgen Sargsian and Safar Abiev,
accepted an invitation from their Georgian counterpart, David
Tevzadze, to a meeting in the Georgian government residence
at Tsinandali on 12 April, Caucasus Press reported two days
later quoting Georgian Deputy Defense Minister Giorgi
Katamadze. Katamadze did not divulge details of the talks
other than to say that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was not
discussed. He added that the three defense ministers plan to
meet again in Georgia in early May. LF

KAZAKHSTAN'S NATIONAL BANK CHAIRMAN BRIEFS PRESIDENT.
Kadyrzhan Damitov told President Nursultan Nazarbaev in
Almaty on 13 April that the tenge is stabilizing after
dropping sharply in value last week, RFE/RL's Almaty bureau
reported. The exchange rate of the tenge to the U.S. dollar
was fixed at 113.45 on 13 April, up from 117.5 on 9 April.
But in eastern Kazakhstan, traders were demanding 138 tenge
to the dollar, and some exchange offices in Astana remain
closed because of a shortage of hard currency, according to
RFE/RL correspondents. LF

HUNGER STRIKES IN KAZAKHSTAN. Hundreds of employees of an oil
and gas research facility in Mangyastau, western Kazakhstan,
are in the fifteenth day of a hunger strike to demand that
the government and the state oil company KAZAKOIL pay their
wage arrears for the past two years, RFE/RL correspondents in
the region reported on 14 April. And in the oblast center of
Qyzyl-Orda, seven local women have embarked on a hunger
strike to demand their salaries for the last 18 months. The
leader of that initiative told RFE/RL's Almaty bureau that
several families in the oblast have recently died of hunger.
LF

KYRGYZSTAN'S PRESIDENT BEGINS STATE VISIT TO INDIA. Askar
Akaev met in New Delhi on 13 April with leading Indian
officials, including President K.R. Narayanan and Prime
Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau
reported. Topics discussed included bilateral relations and
cooperation in agriculture, electronics, civil aviation, and
tourism. LF

KYRGYZ OPPOSITION, MEDIA CRITICIZE NEW PERSONNEL
APPOINTMENTS. In an editorial on 14 April, the independent
Kyrgyz weekly "Aalam" said that the appointment of Amangeldi
Muraliev as prime minister will only strengthen the tensions
between the southern and northern regions of the country,
RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported on 13 April. The paper
characterized Muraliev as "too gentle" to conduct a ruthless
crackdown on corruption, while the opposition "Res Publica"
weekly on 13 April described him as "indecisive" and not
capable of standing up to the president. Meanwhile,
parliament deputies Dosbol Nur Uulu and Abasamat Masaliev
criticized President Akaev's appointment of 31-year-old
Temirbek Akmataliev to succeed Muraliev as governor of Osh
oblast, the country's largest. An agronomist by training,
Akmataliev had previously served in the presidential
administration and, since early 1998, as governor of the
small Talas oblast. The deputies argued that Akmataliev is
too inexperienced to discharge his new duties competently.
They accused Akaev of entrusting senior posts only to
politicians who, like himself, come from the Kemin district
of Chu oblast. LF

TAJIK GOVERNMENT DELEGATION VISITS TASHKENT. Tajik Prime
Minister Yakhye Azimov flew to Tashkent on 13 April to
discuss the implementation of agreements reached by
Presidents Islam Karimov and Imomali Rakhmonov during their
90-minute talk on the sidelines of the 8-9 April Central
Asian summit in Ashgabat, AP-Blitz reported on 14 April.
Azimov and his Uzbek counterpart, Utkur Sultanov, discussed
cooperation in the spheres of customs, border and land,
passenger and cargo transit, and the supply and transit of
natural gas to Tajikistan. "Vremya MN" on 13 April quoted
Karimov as characterizing his talks with Rakhmonov as "an
honest and frank exchange of opinions," in which Rakhmonov
said "mutual understanding" was reached and "all problems
were resolved." Karimov underscored that economic ties
between the two countries did not suffer from the cooling in
relations that followed Rakhmonov's charges that Uzbekistan
had abetted the insurgency launched in November 1998 by rebel
colonel Mahmud Khudoiberdiev (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13
November 1998). LF

END NOTE

Basic Agreement Reached On New European Arms Accord

By Roland Eggleston

	German officials and officials with the Organization for
Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) say that after
years of negotiations, agreement has been reached on the
basic elements of a new treaty restricting conventional
weaponry in Europe.
	German diplomats and OSCE officials, speaking on
condition of anonymity, told RFE/RL that the basic agreement
was reached last week in Vienna, where the negotiations have
been based.
	The treaty would place limits on the number of
artillery, tanks, armored troop carriers, war planes, and
attack helicopters which can be held by any individual
nation. Another part restricts the number of reinforcements
which can be brought in from other countries.
	NATO had earlier said the agreement would be "the
cornerstone" of a new security regime in Europe. The aim is
to ensure that in the future, no single country will be able
to maintain military forces at levels which would allow it to
hold a dominating position on the European continent.
	German and OSCE officials say that the basic agreement
concluded in Vienna last week has been accepted by 30 states,
including Russia, Ukraine, the United States, and all other
members of NATO and the former Warsaw Pact. Confirmation from
other capitals was not immediately available.
	The officials said the agreed treaty will be presented
at this month's NATO Summit meeting in Washington and the
final text is expected to be signed at a summit meeting of
the OSCE in Istanbul in November.
	The new treaty will replace the 1990 Conventional Forces
in Europe (CFE) treaty limiting conventional forces on the
continent, and several amendments since then.
	The German and OSCE officials said it was achieved only
after difficult negotiations in which all parties had to give
way on some cherished positions.
	They said that as an example, both Russia and NATO had
to give way on some measures involving the new members of
NATO--Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic. They said
Russia also gave way on some of its positions about its
forces in the Caucasus.
	The original 1990 CFE treaty was based on the total
holdings of two blocs of military power--NATO and the Warsaw
Pact. The new treaty would treat every country individually.
Each would be allowed a maximum number of conventional forces
of its own and each is allowed to deploy only a certain
number of foreign forces on its territory to make an overall
limit.
	German officials said, for example, that Germany will be
allowed a maximum of 3,444 main battle tanks of its own.
Other countries may station tanks in Germany, but the overall
total of both German and foreign tanks cannot exceed 4,704.
It is the same with artillery systems. Germany is to be
allowed 2,255 of its own but foreign countries can only
deploy about half that number on German soil.
	German diplomats told RFE/RL that the expansion of NATO
with the inclusion of the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary
created problems which were solved only after months of
argument. Russia argued that the admission of these states
brought NATO's frontline closer to its borders and it was
entitled to special privileges to protect itself.
	One argument focused on the maximum limits allowed each
country. The officials said it was defused only through a
concession by the new member states of NATO. They agreed that
they would cut their forces to below the levels originally
proposed. The deadline for making these cuts is 2003. As an
example, Poland will reduce the number of its main battle
tanks from 1,730 to 1,577 by then.
	The officials say that in another move to ease Moscow's
concerns, several states close to Russia's borders have
agreed to limit the number of foreign forces deployed on
their territory. In return, Russia agreed to concessions
regarding the deployment of forces in Kaliningrad and Pskov.
	German diplomats said the purpose of these and other
agreements was to decrease tensions in the sensitive border
areas between Russia and NATO.
	Another problem which was resolved only after long
negotiations was the rapid deployment of forces in a crisis
situation. Strict adherence to the limits would have meant
that only a certain number of foreign forces could be sent to
another country involved in a crisis. The United States, in
particular, insisted on more flexibility. Finally, Russia
agreed with NATO that in these exceptional circumstances two
divisions of battle tanks, armored troop carriers, and
artillery systems could be temporarily based in the affected
country.
	The officials said that the so-called 'Flank Areas'
covering Russia's St. Petersburg military district and the
Caucasus created other problems. Originally, Russia wanted to
lift all restrictions on its deployment of troops in these
regions. There were objections from Turkey, Georgia, Norway,
and some other countries. They argued that, in theory, this
could allow Moscow to station its entire armed forces on the
borders in the south or the north. Finally, Russia agreed to
a system limiting the number of forces it can move in and out
of these regions according to the situation.
	The document now agreed upon in Vienna is more than 100
pages long.
	Diplomats describe it as a "basic structure." More
months of negotiation will be needed to refine the rough text
and re-examine some of the details, which could lead to new
arguments. But the experts are confident it will be ready for
signing by the heads of state and government at the OSCE
Summit meeting in Istanbul in November.

Roland Eggleston is a senior RFE/RL correspondent based in
Munich.
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                     All rights reserved.
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