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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 80, Part I, 26 April 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 80, Part I, 26 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

* BLAST ROCKS U.S., BRITISH CONSULATES IN SVERDLOVSK OBLAST

* GOVERNMENT MISSED REVENUE COLLECTION GOAL

* UZBEKISTAN JOINS GUAM

End Note: LUZHKOV AIMS TO JOIN REGIONAL LEADERS
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RUSSIA

BLAST ROCKS U.S., BRITISH CONSULATES IN SVERDLOVSK OBLAST. A
bomb exploded outside the building housing both the U.S. and
British consulates in Ekaterinburg on 24 April. According to
NTV, the building was severely damaged but no one was
injured. ITAR-TASS reported that the bomb appeared to be a
home-made device. A Federal Security Service spokesman said
the consulates may not have been the intended target of the
blast since several commercial enterprises are housed in the
same building and their windows were closer to where the bomb
was planted. Nonetheless, Ekaterinburg Mayor Arkadii
Chernetskii called the bombing a "senseless and cruel
provocation" and said "if anyone thinks that they are thereby
fighting NATO, they are mistaken; they are fighting those
residents living in neighboring [apartment] buildings." Soon
after NATO began air strikes on Yugoslavia, a demonstration
protesting the action was held outside the consulates (see
"RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 31 March 1999). JAC

FOREIGN MINISTER REJECTS NATO OIL EMBARGO. Igor Ivanov said
in Cairo on 24 April that Russia will not participate in a
possible oil embargo against Yugoslavia, which NATO leaders
agreed to during the alliance summit in Washington from 23-25
April. French President Jacques Chirac has expressed fear of
a possible confrontation between Russian vessels bringing
fuel to Yugoslavia and NATO warships. Energy products make up
about 80 percent of Russian exports to Yugoslavia. The
following day, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
told the BBC in Washington that NATO commanders are "looking
at options" to avoid such a confrontation. She added that
"the Russians have made it clear that they are not going to
get involved militarily." British Foreign Secretary Robin
Cook said in the U.S. capital that "we are really trying hard
to make sure all the doors are open to Russia to reopen
dialogue with us." He added that "we want Russia to be part
of the solution, not the problem." FS

CHERNOMYRDIN, TALBOTT TO DISCUSS PEACE PLAN. Senior Kremlin
officials held consultations with Russia's special envoy for
Yugoslavia, Viktor Chernomyrdin, and senior Russian military
commanders on 26 April, AP reported. The meeting took place
just hours ahead of scheduled talks in Moscow between
Chernomyrdin and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe
Talbott. The decision to dispatch Talbott to Moscow came
after Russian President Boris Yeltsin and U.S. President Bill
Clinton's 25 April telephone conversation in which they
discussed Russia's mediation efforts. Chernomyrdin is
expected to submit to Talbott the Russian peace plan for
Kosova. "Kommersant-Daily" on 24 April said that Chernomyrdin
favors a peace-keeping force composed of Uzbek, Georgian,
Azerbaijani, Ukrainian, Czech, and Polish forces. The daily
added that Chernomyrdin also wants Serbian forces and police
to withdraw to the levels agreed on by Milosevic and U.S.
envoy Richard Holbrooke last October. FS

GOVERNMENT MISSED REVENUE COLLECTION GOAL... Budget revenues
in the first quarter of 1999 fell 2.1 percent shy of the
targeted 89.2 billion rubles ($3.6 billion), according to the
Finance Ministry, Interfax reported on 23 April. The Tax
Ministry provided 54.4 billion rubles, which was 7.8 percent
less than expected, while the State Property Committee
fetched 681.6 million rubles, 56.1 percent less than
estimated. Reuters reported that Deputy Tax Minister Sergei
Shulgin claimed on 21 April that his ministry collected 25.5
billion rubles in March. This would mean the ministry had
performed significantly better than the target of 18.1
billion rubles, according to Tax Minister Georgii Boos,
Interfax reported. Shulgin added that the Tax Ministry also
plans to meet the Finance Ministry target of 24.5 billion
rubles for April. Finance Minister Mikhail Zadornov told
reporters on 23 April that the duty on oil exports is to
double on 20 May, Interfax reported. JAC

...AS WORLD BANK PREDICTS SOCIAL CRISIS STILL HASN'T PEAKED.
Johannes Linn, the World Bank vice president for Europe and
Central Asia, said on 25 April that Russia's social crisis is
likely to peak next year because of the continuing decline in
the Russian economy, RFE/RL's Washington bureau reported. He
added that next winter will likely be the most difficult time
for Russia and its neighbors. First Deputy Economics Minister
Ivan Materov said on 23 April that Russian GDP in 1999 is
unlikely to meet last year's level but that in 2000 the
economy will grow 3 percent. JAC

BEREZOVSKII REPORTS FOR QUESTIONING. Business tycoon and
former CIS Executive Secretary Boris Berezovskii appeared at
the Office of the Prosecutor-General on 26 April for
questioning. According to Interfax, Berezovskii left his
hospital bed against doctors' orders. Berezovskii repeated
his claims of innocence, saying that he is going to the
prosecutor's office "as a law-abiding citizen." Earlier, it
was reported that Berezovskii is suspected of money-
laundering and "illegal entrepreneurship." JAC

PRIME MINISTER SAYS HE REGRETS TAKING THE JOB... In an
interview with Moscow's TV-6 on 25 April, Prime Minister
Yevgenii Primakov repeated that he would not participate in
upcoming presidential elections. "I am sick and tired of
repeating that I don't want to participate in elections now.
I don't have any ambitions or desire to participate in the
active political struggle for power," he said. He also
admitted that he has "regretted many times" his decision to
accept the post of prime minister. Primakov contested the
view that his government is anti-business and anti-economic
reform. "I know very well from history, from U.S. and German
history, that without state regulation it is impossible to
build a normal market economy. It is moreover impossible to
get out of a crisis," he explained. JAC

...AS NEW PRESS ADVISER NAMED. "Vremya MN" reported on 23
April that Thomas Kolesnichenko, a prominent journalist
specializing in foreign policy, has been appointed Primakov's
adviser on public relations. According to the daily,
Kolesnichenko will help Primakov "develop a taste for talking
with journalists" and prevent him from quarreling with them,
as he has done in the past. JAC

NEW ELECTORAL BLOC WILL NOT NOMINATE ITS OWN CANDIDATE FOR
PRESIDENT... At Otechestvo's second congress in Yaroslavl on
24 April, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov confirmed that his
movement and Vsya Rossiya will act as a single bloc in Duma
elections. He suggested that an alliance with Yabloko is also
possible and that he will hold consultations with Golos
Rossii "if this movement becomes viable." Meanwhile, St.
Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev, a member of Vsya
Rossiya, announced on 23 April that his bloc will not
nominate a candidate for presidential elections, nor will it
have an official leader (see also "End Note"). JAC

...AS COMMUNISTS AIM TO DISQUALIFY OTECHESTVO. Duma Speaker
Gennadii Seleznev told reporters that some deputies from the
Communist faction are preparing an inquiry to send to
Russia's Supreme Court over the "illegality of the
registration of Otechestvo," "Kommersant-Daily" reported on
23 April. According to Seleznev, the movement was registered
"behind the scenes on a Saturday night" and the Justice
Ministry did not have enough time to verify all its
documentation. According to the daily, the battle will be
difficult to win in court since the relevant laws do not
stipulate how much time the "verifying body needs to check
documentation." JAC

ZYUGANOV UNPOPULAR WITH RUSSIAN YOUTH? Igor Malyarov, first
secretary of the Russian Communist Youth Union, told "Novye
Izvestiya" on 23 April that the leadership of his
organization as well as that of the National Patriotic
Union's Youth Movement would rather see Seleznev or Duma
Defense Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin as candidates for
president of Russia than the current leader of the Communist
Party Gennadii Zyuganov. JAC

TOP DUMA STAFFER ARRESTED FOR BRIBERY. Vladimir Trofimov,
chief of staff for the Duma's Foreign Relations Committee,
has been arrested by Federal Security Service officials on
suspicion of taking a $5,000 bribe, "Segodnya" reported on 24
April. According to the daily, Trofimov received the money in
exchange for lobbying for an international agreement that
would benefit several Russian scientific institutes. Andrei
Kozyrev, the committee's deputy chairman and a former foreign
minister, told the newspaper that the arrest was a blow to
the whole committee but particularly to its chairman Vladimir
Lukin. The newspaper reported that Trofimov enjoyed Lukin's
confidence and frequently acted on his behalf. JAC

ANOTHER KREMLIN OFFICIAL DEPARTS. President Yeltsin issued a
decree 20 April dismissing Ruslan Orekhov from the office of
deputy director of the presidential administration and
director of the state legal department of the administration,
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 23 April. According to the
daily, Orekhov had submitted a request to resign some two
months earlier. JAC

PAKISTAN GOVERNMENT DELEGATION VISITS TATARSTAN. Pakistani
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif arrived in Kazan on 22 April at
the head of a 60- person delegation, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau
reported. The following day, Sharif met with Tatarstan's
Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov to discuss the prospects
for trade and economic cooperation, in particular the
purchase by Pakistan of KamAZ trucks or their assembly in
Pakistan. The two sides agreed on the creation of a bilateral
working commission. The Pakistani delegation also visited the
Kazan helicopter plant and optical works. LF

RADICAL TATAR PARTY CAMPAIGNS TO ABOLISH PRESIDENCY. The
national independence party Ittifak has begun collecting
signatures in support of the abolition of the post of
president of the Tatarstan Republic, "Nezavisimaya gazeta"
reported on 24 April. The party's chairwoman, Faustiya
Bayramova, told the newspaper that "the institution of the
presidency has not justified the hopes of the people. It has
deteriorated into an authoritarian regime." She characterized
incumbent President Mintimer Shaimiev as "the shame of the
nation," accusing him of silencing the opposition and
amending the republic's constitution to strengthen his own
position. LF

PRIMAKOV CHAIRS MEETING OF NORTH CAUCASUS LEADERS... A
session of the North Caucasus Association Council was held in
Vladikavkaz on 24 April, one week later than originally
planned, ITAR-TASS reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 April
1999). Addressing the session, which discussed the
development of trade and economic cooperation between the
republics and regions of the North Caucasus and the states of
the South Caucasus, Prime Minister Primakov described the
North Caucasus as "the bulwark of Russian statehood," noting
its "great political and economic significance for the whole
country," ITAR-TASS reported. North Ossetian President
Aleksandr Dzasokhov expressed concern that Moscow has not yet
drafted a badly needed program of measures for the social and
economic development of the North Caucasus for the period
2000-2005. LF

...MEETS WITH CHECHEN REPRESENTATIVE. Primakov also met with
Lom-Ali Alsultanov, personal representative of Chechen
President Aslan Maskhadov, in Vladikavkaz on 24 April,
Interfax reported. Maskhadov had declined to attend the
Vladikavkaz meeting, saying the issues to be discussed there
do not concern Chechnya as an independent state. Alsultanov
handed Primakov a personal message from Maskhadov. He later
told Interfax that no date has yet been set for the planned
meeting between Maskhadov and President Yeltsin. On 25 April,
Maskhadov issued a decree creating a state commission on
relations with Russia, one of whose tasks is to prepare for
the meeting with Yeltsin, according to Interfax. LF

TWO NORTH CAUCASUS REPUBLICS HOLD ELECTIONS. The incumbent
president of the Republic of Karachaevo-Cherkessia, Vladimir
Khubiev, has failed in his bid to be re-elected, dpa reported
on 25 April. As none of his 12 rival candidates polled the
requisite 50 percent of the vote, a runoff will be held in
three weeks between Cherkessk city mayor Stanislav Derev and
former commander of the Russian army ground forces General
Vladimir Semenov (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 2, No.
1, 5 January 1999).
Derev and Semenov polled 40.1 and 17.9 percent, respectively.
Turnout was 77 percent. In North Ossetia, 46.7 percent of the
electorate cast their vote for a new 75-strong parliament,
ITAR-TASS reported. Russian Central Electoral Commission
chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov, who traveled to North Ossetia
for the poll, said voting proceeded quietly and without
violations. LF

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIA MARKS GENOCIDE ANNIVERSARY. Hundreds of thousands of
Armenians, together with foreign diplomats and leading
members of the Armenian Apostolic Church, walked to the 1915
genocide memorial in Yerevan on 24 April to commemorate the
killings under the Ottoman Empire of more than 1 million
Armenians, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. In a separate
ceremony the previous day, a handful of soil from the grave
of Henry Morgenthau, who was U.S. ambassador in Istanbul
during the tragic events, was laid in the Tsitsernakaberd
memorial. Morgenthau was among first Western officials to
condemn the tragedy as the deliberate "extermination" of the
Ottoman Empire's ethnic Armenian subjects. At a news
conference in Yerevan on 24 April, a group of Turks from
Germany urged the Turkish government to acknowledge the 1915
killings and deportations as genocide. The leader of the
group, Ali Ertem, said more than 10,000 Turks have signed a
petition, addressed to the Turkish parliament, in support of
that demand. LF

OPPOSITION FACTION TO BOYCOTT AZERBAIJANI PARLIAMENT
SESSIONS. The Democratic Bloc, which is composed of 17
opposition deputies, has declared its intention to boycott
parliamentary sessions until its request is met for a debate
on the work of the legislature and its speaker Murtuz
Alesqerov, Turan reported on 22 April, citing "Yeni Musavat."
The following day, the newspaper quoted Ali Kerimov, who is
first deputy chairman of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party
(AzPFP), as saying he is conducting negotiations with an
undisclosed number of independent deputies and deputies from
the ruling Yeni Azerbaycan party who wish to join the AzPFP.
LF

TRANSCAUCASUS PRESIDENTS MEET WITH NATO FOREIGN MINISTERS.
Robert Kocharian, Heidar Aliev, and Eduard Shevardnadze met
in Washington on 25 April with the foreign ministers of the
U.S., France, Germany, Great Britain, Norway, and Turkey to
discuss ways to resolve deadlocked conflicts in the region
without bloodshed, Reuters reported. U.S Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright stressed that such solutions must be based
on respect for the territorial integrity of all three
countries, willingness to grant the maximum autonomy to
ethnic minorities, international security guarantees, and the
right of refugees and displaced persons to return to their
homes. She reaffirmed the desire of the international
community to help the conflict parties to reach such
solutions but warned that "there are limits to what we can
do" without a firm commitment from the countries involved. LF

UZBEKISTAN JOINS GUAM. At a ceremony in Uzbekistan's
Washington embassy on the sidelines of the NATO summit,
Uzbekistan formally became the fifth member of the Georgia-
Ukraine-Azerbaijan-Moldova alignment, ITAR-TASS and Interfax
reported on 24 April. The grouping will now be known as
GUUAM. The presidents of the five countries issued a joint
statement affirming their support for one another's
territorial integrity. They also backed both regional
cooperation, including the creation of regional transport
corridors, and cooperation within the framework of
international organizations such as the Euro-Atlantic
Partnership Council. The statement stressed that their
cooperation is not aimed against third countries or groups of
countries. ITAR-TASS quoted an unidentified diplomat from one
of the five member states as saying that GUUAM does not
intend to supplant the CIS, nor do any of its five members
intend to leave the commonwealth. LF

ORGANIZERS OF UZBEK BOMBINGS APPREHENDED? Not only the
perpetrators but all the organizers of the 16 February bomb
attacks in Tashkent have been arrested, "Nezavisimaya gazeta"
reported on 23 April, quoting Uzbek First Deputy Prosecutor-
General Azimzhon Ergashev. Speaking at a news conference in
Tashkent four days earlier, President Islam Karimov had said
that while the perpetrators of the attacks have been
apprehended, the organizers remain on the run outside
Uzbekistan, according to Interfax. LF

END NOTE

LUZHKOV AIMS TO JOIN REGIONAL LEADERS

By Floriana Fossato

	Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov seems to have strengthened
his political position in Russia as a result of two
significant developments last week.
	On 21 April, the Federation Council rebuffed for the
second time the Kremlin's request to replace Prosecutor-
General Yurii Skuratov. Luzhkov, a presidential hopeful whose
intervention reportedly influenced the house's decision,
thereby dealt a new blow to President Boris Yeltsin.
	Shortly after, Luzhkov announced that the leadership of
the party he founded last year, Otechestvo (Fatherland), had
approved his proposal to join a new political bloc called
Vsya Rossiya (All Russia), which includes16 influential
regional leaders, such as Presidents Mintimer Shaimiev of
Tatarstan, Murtaza Rakhimov of Bashkortostan and Ruslan
Aushev of Ingushetia as well as the governors of Khabarovsk,
Astrakhan, Perm, and Khanty-Mansiisk. Another politician
aiming at playing a key role in the bloc is Oleg Morozov, the
leader of the Russian Regions faction in the State Duma.
	Luzhkov, who unexpectedly showed up at the first meeting
of the Vsya Rossiya organizing committee on 22 April, added
that the political council of his party had taken the
decision to join the new bloc the previous evening. Officials
close to Luzhkov told Russian media that the fact that the
decision came on the heels of the vote in the Federation
Council was a "pure coincidence," but few believed that
assertion. NTV commercial television, for its part, commented
that "the outcome of the vote on the prosecutor-general has
clearly changed Luzhkov's tactics."
	Samara Governor Konstantin Titov, the leader of another
regional bloc, Golos Rossii (Voice of Russia), has said he
may also join Vsya Rossiya.
	Sergei Markov, director of the Moscow Institute of
Political Studies, says regional leaders of centrist
political orientation aim at funding broad coalitions that
would allow them to increase their influence in State Duma,
so far dominated by the Communists and their allies. "They
would like to create a 'party of power' from below, based on
parties of power concretely existing, that they have already
built up in their regions," he argues. In this way they would
consolidate what they already have and get more."
	For the regional leaders, an alliance with Luzhkov's
Otechestvo, which has said it wants to become Russia's future
'party of power,' could help them build a strong faction in
the next Duma. For Luzhkov, the possible benefits of such an
alliance are even more evident. Luzhkov enjoys broad
popularity in Moscow. However, his ability to attract votes
in the regions, where many people resent Moscow's higher
standard of living, has remained untested.
	Many observers have warned that resentment toward Moscow
could hamper Luzhkov's effort to obtain enough support either
for Otechestvo in the parliamentary elections or for himself
in the presidential ballot. Pooling efforts with powerful
regional leaders would clearly help Luzhkov expand his appeal
in the provinces.
Luzhkov and Shaimiev, who is seen as Vsya Rossiya's most
influential leader, so far have pledged to coordinate efforts
ahead of parliamentary election scheduled for December.
	But some political analysts are raising doubts about
whether the alliance can achieve more. Markov argues that if
the different blocs "manage to join forces all together, this
will be the political force that could win both parliamentary
and presidential elections. But for them to get together will
be difficult, because there are serious obstacles. One is the
problem of leadership. It is not that they will fight for
leadership. The leader can clearly be only one: Yurii
Luzhkov."
	Markov adds that another problem is that Luzhkov's style
is such that he does not tolerate partners, but only
subordinates. And it is not a given that other governors will
want to join forces with him on such a basis. And he also
points out that the presidents of national republics have
very different ideas as to what Russia's federal structure
should be.

The author is an RFE/RL correspondent based in Moscow.
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               Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc.
                     All rights reserved.
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