True heroism consists not in fighting under a flag but in not fighting at all. - Freidrich Nietzsche
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 75, Part I, 19 April 1999


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 75, Part I, 19 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

* DUMA RECOMMENDS UNION WITH YUGOSLAVIA

* BEREZOVSKII RETURNS

* AZERBAIJAN-GEORGIA OIL PIPELINE OFFICIALLY INAUGURATED
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RUSSIA

DUMA RECOMMENDS UNION WITH YUGOSLAVIA... The State Duma on 16
April voted to adopt a non-binding resolution recommending
that Yugoslavia be accepted into the Union of Belarus and
Russia. The vote was 293 deputies in favor and 54 opposed
with one abstention, according to Interfax. The resolution
calls on the president and government to immediately consider
the international, political, economic, legal and other
ramifications of such a union. The Communists, the Liberal
Democratic Party, Our Home is Russia, People's Power, Russian
Regions and the Agrarian faction supported the resolution,
while Yabloko opposed it. Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev
called the idea of a three-country union "a political
initiative of the three states to end the war." But Foreign
Minister Igor Ivanov dismissed that idea, saying that the
accession of Yugoslavia to the union "is not directly linked
to a solution to the [Kosova] problem." JAC

...AS REGIONAL LEADERS PROTEST. Before the vote was held,
Federation Council Chairman Yegor Stroev said that the idea
of the union "must be discussed in Russia's regions" and that
a referendum is the only way to decide whether Yugoslavia can
join such an alliance. Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev,
who opposes expansion of the union, told NTV on 16 April that
the vote was motivated by "passions and emotions" and
suggested that "deputies are capable of voting for much,
especially when their terms of office are about to expire."
Although he also called the decision "emotional," Moscow
Mayor Yurii Luzhkov was less critical, saying only that "it
must not involve Russia in the Balkan conflict."
Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov had said earlier
that he is "categorically against any negotiation on
unification with [Yugoslav President] Slobodan Milosevic",
who is "one of those people responsible for the situation now
unfolding in the center of Europe." JAC

CHERNOMYRDIN UNDER FIRE. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 16
April that new presidential envoy to Yugoslavia Viktor
Chernomyrdin backed Germany's plan for a settlement in Kosova
without first consulting the Foreign Ministry (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 15 April 1999). According to the newspaper, such a
"blunder" is unsurprising since Chernomyrdin has a habit that
is "very dangerous for any diplomat," that is, "agreeing with
anyone he has just met." The next day, Mayor Luzhkov warned
that the introduction of NATO ground troops into Yugoslavia
would cause "another Vietnam" and possibly a third world war.
JAC

BEREZOVSKII RETURNS. Influential businessman Boris
Berezovskii returned to Moscow from France on 18 April. Soon
after his plane touched down and he spoke with reporters, he
was whisked away to a local hospital complaining of back
pain. Berezovskii, who is facing criminal charges of money
laundering and "illegal entrepreneurship," declared "I come
to Russia free from any doubts and I am sure that I am not
guilty in the eyes of Russian law." "Kommersant-Daily"
reported on 16 April that Berezovskii needed to return to
Russia in order to rescue his failing business empire.
According to the newspaper, Berezovskii's influence on
Russian Public Television is now virtually nil and "he needs
to get his people back in the company." In addition, the
daily contends that he must personally monitor the issue of
Sibneft's American Depository Receipts so that it progresses
without any problems and "Sibneft itself does not go
bankrupt." JAC

SARATOV GOVERNOR OFFERS TO TAKE IN 100,000 REFUGEES. As an
airplane loaded with humanitarian aid from his region headed
for refugees in Macedonia on 18 April, Saratov Oblast
Governor Dmitrii Ayatskov confirmed his proposal to
"accommodate 50,000 refugees from Yugoslavia," Interfax
reported. Ayatskov acknowledged that his proposal has aroused
controversy but added that Saratov "has enough space to
accommodate these people and find jobs for them." He added
that after the break-up of the Soviet Union, the oblast took
in 250,000 refugees and forced migrants from former Soviet
republics, all of whom were given housing and jobs.
"Izvestiya" noted on 16 April that the wealthier countries in
Western Europe are prepared to take in only 100,000 refugees,
adding that Ayatskov "has not ruled out the possibility of
running for president of Russia in 2000." JAC

KULIK TO BECOME SACRIFICIAL VICTIM? Prime Minister Yevgenii
Primakov hinted in remarks at a government session on 16
April that he might be willing to part with certain members
of his cabinet. Primakov spoke about a recent government
meeting that focused on the agro-industrial complex, saying
that he ordered that he receive a list of all decisions made
at the meeting and a list of all officials responsible for
their implementation, Interfax reported. If tasks are not
carried out, then "personnel will be replaced," Primakov
said. According to "Nezavisimaya gazeta," Deputy Prime
Minister Gennadii Kulik claimed that not a single decision
has been implemented since an extended government meeting on
7 March. "Everyone sitting at the presidium table, including
me, are to blame," he commented. Also on 16 April, the chief
editor of "Nezavisimaya gazeta" commented that Primakov has
"repeatedly claimed his deputies are literally untouchable
and unremovable." JAC

DUMA CALLS FOR INVESTIGATION INTO FIMACO. The Duma on 16
April passed a resolution suggesting that the prosecutor-
general consider launching criminal proceedings against
current and former Central Bank officials for using the
Channel Islands firm FIMACO to conceal profits the bank
earned from the Treasury bill market. The bank in 1996 failed
to mention these profits in its annual report, according to
ITAR-TASS. JAC

CZECH PREMIER'S VISIT TO BE TURNING POINT IN BILATERAL
RELATIONS? Foreign Minister Ivanov said on 16 April that the
visit of Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman might mark a
turning point in relations between the two countries. He said
that the two officials discussed a number of international
issues, primarily the Balkan crisis, as well as ways to boost
economic, cultural, and other kinds of cooperation, ITAR-TASS
reported. Zeman told reporters that the problems of
outstanding Russian debt to the Czech Republic and the
transportation of Kazakh gas via Russia have been resolved.
In addition, Russia and the Czech Republic will create a
joint trade organization and an insurance fund in which
Russia will invest. JAC

METRO WORKERS RESUME HUNGER STRIKE. Workers at
Sverdlovskmetrostroi, the construction company for rapid
transit system in Yekaterinburg, have resumed a hunger strike
to protest an 11-month backlog of unpaid wages, ITAR-TASS
reported on 16 April. The workers suspended the strike
earlier on receiving half of their unpaid wages, strike
committee chairman Nikolai Maslov told the agency. Fifty-two
female workers declared an indefinite hunger strike last
month to protest unpaid wages. The women replaced 66 other
protestors who were paid their own back wages after they had
staged a nine-day hunger strike. Their good fortune caused
their still unpaid colleagues to threaten them with revenge,
according to "Kommersant Daily" on 26 March (see "RFE/RL
Russian Federation Report," 31 March 1999). JAC

DAGESTAN ACCUSES ARMENIA OF INCITING LEZGINS. Magomedali
Magomedov, chairman of Dagestan's State Council, has accused
Armenian intelligence of controlling the Lezgin separatist
movement Sadval, the radical wing of which is campaigning for
an independent state on the Lezgins' traditional homeland in
northeastern Azerbaijan and southern Dagestan, Caucasus Press
reported on 17 April, citing Azadinform. He claimed that
Sadval's military units are trained in Armenia and that the
movement plans to launch hostilities on the frontier between
Dagestan and Azerbaijan. Magomedov did not specify which
branch of Sadval he was referring to. The movement split into
a radical and a moderate wing at its congress last November
(see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," 1 December 1998). Earlier,
Azerbaijani leaders accused Armenia of abetting Sadval, but
this is believed to be the first occasion on which a
Dagestani politician has done so. LF

CHECHNYA ISSUES WARRANTS FOR FOREIGNERS' ABDUCTION. Chechen
Prosecutor-General Magomed Magomadov told Interfax on 18
April that he has issued warrants for the arrest of four
unnamed persons suspected of having abducted one New Zealand
and three British telephone engineers who were murdered in
Chechnya last fall. Magomadov said the investigation into who
committed those murders is continuing. LF

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

RUSSIAN BASE IN ARMENIA FOUND IN COMPLIANCE WITH CFE. An
international group of military inspectors from Turkey,
Belgium, and the U.K. finished inspecting the Russian
military base at Gyumri on 17 April, ITAR-TASS and Turan
reported. The group's leader, Turkish Colonel Yavuz Akgun,
told journalists that the weaponry deployed at that base does
not exceed the limits imposed by the 1990 Treaty on
Conventional Forces in Europe. LF

ARMENIAN SOLDIER SHOOTS TWO COLLEAGUES DEAD, WOUNDS SIX.
Military police on 17 April arrested a private who the
previous day had shot two colleagues as they slept and
wounded six others in the southwestern town of Vayots Dzor,
AP reported. "Oragir" on 17 April quoted military police as
saying the young man was mentally ill, RFE/RL's Yerevan
bureau reported. In a similar incident, an Armenian private
shot dead six servicemen last year (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12
February 1998). LF

AZERBAIJAN-GEORGIA OIL PIPELINE OFFICIALLY INAUGURATED... The
presidents of Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Ukraine, together with
senior U.S. government officials, attended a ceremony at the
oil terminal in Georgia's Black Sea port of Supsa on 17 April
to mark the departure of the second tanker loaded with
Azerbaijani oil exported via the Baku-Supsa pipeline.
Speaking at the ceremony, Georgian President Eduard
Shevardnadze described the commissioning of the pipeline as
"the forerunner to a new epoch" in Georgia's history. His
Ukrainian counterpart, Leonid Kuchma, expressed the hope that
some Azerbaijani oil will also be routed through the Odessa-
Brody pipeline, noting that "oil is a powerful foundation for
a nation's development. It is the backbone of national
security," according to AP. LF

...BUT U.S. STILL WANTS MAIN EXPORT PIPELINE TO CEYHAN. At a
press conference in Tbilisi on 16 April and at the Supsa
ceremony the following day, Richard Morningstar, who is
special adviser on Caspian energy issues to the U.S.
president and secretary of state, argued that there is "no
serious alternative" to routing the Main Export Pipeline for
Azerbaijan's Caspian oil from Baku to the Turkish
Mediterranean terminal at Ceyhan. He noted that working
groups from the Turkish and Azerbaijani state oil companies
signed a memorandum in Istanbul several days earlier
affirming their intent to proceed with construction of that
pipeline, which Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev said could
get under way before the end of 1999, Interfax reported.
Morningstar said the U.S. government advocates the use of
five separate pipelines for the export of Caspian oil and
gas: Baku-Supsa, Baku-Novorossiisk, Kazakhstan-Novorossiisk,
Baku-Ceyhan, and the planned Trans-Caspian gas pipeline. LF

U.S. SAYS RUSSIA, ARMENIA SHOULD NOT BE EXCLUDED. Morningstar
also stressed at his Tbilisi press conference that the U.S.
does not object to Russian involvement in the transportation
of natural gas via Georgia and Armenia, ITAR--TASS reported.
He added that in the interests of regional security Armenia
should not be excluded from regional projects, according to
Caucasus Press. Morningstar noted that the planned Trans-
Caspian gas pipeline, the route for which has not yet been
determined, could be laid via Armenia, although he added that
Armenia "is clearly not yet ready" for such a project. LF

RAIL-FERRY SERVICE OPENS BETWEEN GEORGIA, UKRAINE. The first
rail-ferry left Supsa for the Ukrainian port of Ilichevsk on
17 April. The ferry service, which will be extended to
Novorossiisk and ports in Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria, is
funded by the EU within the framework of the TRACECA project
aimed at linking the states of Central Asia with Europe via
the Transcaucasus and intended to provide landlocked
countries in the region with access to the sea. LF

GEORGIAN, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTS, MINISTERS SIGN COOPERATION
AGREEMENTS. Meeting on 16 April at the presidential residence
at Krtsanisi, Shevardnadze and Kuchma signed a 10-year
economic cooperation agreement, which Shevardnadze
subsequently told journalists raises bilateral cooperation to
"a qualitatively new level," ITAR-TASS reported. The two
presidents also discussed the Russian State Duma's 16 April
approval of Yugoslavia's application to join the Russia-
Belarus Union. Shevardnadze predicted that the decision could
negatively affect CIS member states. Also on 16 April, the
Georgian and Ukrainian ministers of defense and internal
affairs signed separate bilateral cooperation agreements,
according to ITAR-TASS and Caucasus Press. LF

NO PROGRESS IN KYRGYZ-UZBEK GAS TALKS. Toktosun Abduvaliev,
who is deputy director of the Kyrgyzgas state gas company,
told RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau on 17 April that although talks
are continuing with Uzbekistan, a swift resumption of natural
gas deliveries from that country is unlikely. Abduvaliev said
Kyrgyzstan owes Uzbekistan $4.5 million for gas deliveries
but cannot pay that debt because enterprises in Kyrgyzstan
owe Kyrgyzgas some 218 million soms (about $6.5 million).
Uzbekistan halted supplies of gas to Kyrgyzstan two weeks
ago. LF

TAJIK PRESIDENT IN MOSCOW. Meeting at the Kremlin on 16
April, Imomali Rakhmonov and Russian President Yeltsin signed
a Declaration on Allied Interaction, which is intended to
complement the May 1993 Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation,
and Mutual Assistance, Russian agencies reported. Yeltsin
said implementation of the 16 April agreement, which he
characterized as "a practical guide to action," will expedite
fulfillment of the 1997 accords ending the Tajik civil war.
Seven intergovernmental cooperation agreements were also
signed. LF

TAJIK, RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTERS SIGN BASES TREATY. Most
observers had anticipated that Yeltsin and Rakhmonov would
sign an inter-state treaty allowing Russia to establish a
formal military base in Tajikistan on the sites where its
units there are currently stationed. (Preliminary agreement
on that treaty had been reached during Russian Defense
Minister Igor Sergeev's visit to Dushanbe on earlier this
month [see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 and 8 April 1999]). But that
treaty was signed instead by Sergeev and his Tajik
counterpart Sherali Khairulloev. Interfax had predicted on 16
April, shortly before the signing ceremony, that the event
would be postponed for unspecified "purely political reasons"
to allow consultations with other CIS states to take place.
Uzbekistan had queried the rationale for creating a legal
foundation for the Russian military presence in Tajikistan.
The treaty does not envisage an increase in the number of
Russian troops currently stationed in Tajikistan. LF

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