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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 81, Part I, 27 April 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 81, Part I, 27 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

* NEWSPAPER SAYS INCREASED G-7 SUPPORT LINKED TO ANTI-WEST
POLICY

* RUSSIA TO INCREASE COMBAT-READINESS OF NUCLEAR FORCES

* TAJIK OPPOSITION SLAMS PRESIDENT'S REJECTION OF
CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS

End Note: AFTER THE BOMBING STOPS
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RUSSIA

NEWSPAPER SAYS INCREASED G-7 SUPPORT LINKED TO ANTI-WEST
POLICY... Finance ministers from the G-7 member countries
have again urged the Russian government to reach an
agreement with the IMF, RFE/RL's Washington bureau reported
on 26 April. In a communique issued after the ministers'
meeting with Russian Finance Minister Mikhail Zadornov and
Central Bank Chairman Viktor Gerashchenko, the G-7
expressed concern about continued instability in Russia. On
24 April, "Izvestiya" argued that Russia's "inflexible
stand on Kosova," along with "the rapid growth of anti-
Western attitudes among both the Russian masses and elite,
appear to have really scared the world's leading economic
powers." The daily cited a recent speech by British Prime
Minister Tony Blair saying that the West cannot watch
Russia teeter on the edge of an economic abyss. It also
pointed to a statement by U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert
Rubin that the "U.S. should do everything possible to help
Russia stabilize its economy." JAC

...AS RUSSIA BRINGS IMF RADICAL NEW PROPOSALS? While Prime
Minister Yevgenii Primakov and IMF Managing Director Michel
Camdessus agreed in principle on a agreement on 29 March,
lower level officials have so far been unable to iron out
the remaining details. On 26 April, First Deputy Prime
Minister Yurii Maslyukov flew to Washington to lead one of
the largest delegations to the annual spring meetings of
the IMF/World Bank, Russian Television reported. Aleksandr
Pochinok, head of the government's finance department, told
ITAR-TASS on 26 April that Maslyukov was taking with him
some "tough and serious documents." The next day,
"Izvestiya" reported that the Russian delegation will
submit a number of "radical new measures for privatization
(of the electric energy industry in particular),
agricultural reform, a balanced budget, and tax policy."
JAC

RUSSIA TO INCREASE COMBAT-READINESS OF NUCLEAR FORCES.
"Izvestiya" reported on 27 April that commanders from
Russia's strategic nuclear forces are preparing proposals
for a "drastic" overhaul of their forces to increase
Russia's combat-ready nuclear strength. The proposals will
be presented at a Security Council session later this week,
according to the daily. The decision will be implemented by
"upgrading and extending the life-spans of strategic weapon
systems of the last Soviet series." In addition, the navy's
commander-in-chief, Admiral Vladimir Kuroedov, ordered that
all nuclear submarines remain on combat duty and any
accident involving them be considered a crime. In an
interview with "Krasnaya Zvezda" on 27 April, Defense
Minister Igor Sergeev said that Russia and Belarus will be
forming a joint regional grouping of conventional armed
forces. According to Sergeev, Russia is already providing
Belarusian troops with weapons. JAC

IVANOV-TALBOTT TALKS 'CONSTRUCTIVE'... U.S. Deputy Secretary
of State Strobe Talbott told Reuters in Moscow on 27 April
that he had "extremely intense [and] constructive
discussions" with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov the
same day about the Kosova crisis. Talbott declined to say
whether Ivanov gave him details about the latest peace plan
of President Boris Yeltsin's Yugoslav envoy, Viktor
Chernomyrdin. He said, however, that "I learned even more
about Russian perceptions of the situation and I'm convinced
that the U.S. and Russia are continuing to work together
along with many other countries to try to bring peace to the
region," Reuters reported. Talbott began talks with
Chernomyrdin after meeting with Ivanov. This is the first of
several meetings Chernomyrdin plans to have with high-ranking
Western leaders this week. FS

...WHILE CHERNOMYRDIN SAYS TALKS 'IMPOSSIBLE' DURING NATO
STRIKES. Chernomyrdin told ITAR-TASS before meeting with
Talbott that "it is necessary to stop the missile and bomb
strikes, at least for a certain time, so that there is a
chance for talks. Negotiations are impossible without that."
He added that the oil embargo planned by NATO and EU
countries "does not suit us" and that he will discuss the
issue with Talbott. The previous day, Chernomyrdin conducted
telephone conversations with Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister
Vuk Draskovic and U.S. Vice President Al Gore. Chernomyrdin's
adviser, Valentin Sergeev, said the two sides "thoroughly
discussed" possible ways of settling the Yugoslav crisis and
agreed to maintain permanent contacts to "promote the search
for mutually acceptable" settlements of the conflict. The
same day, Yeltsin talked by telephone to French President
Jacques Chirac, who urged Russia to keep up its mediation
efforts. FS

RUSSIAN DIPLOMATS WARN OF YUGOSLAV ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER.
Russian UN Ambassador Sergei Lavrov on 27 April sent a report
to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan detailing the "possible
ecological consequences of the NATO aggression against
Yugoslavia," ITAR-TASS reported. According to that report,
NATO's intensive bombing of military and industrial targets
has caused "extensive pollution of the natural environment
with highly toxic agents, oil, and oil products." The report
added that "the dispersal of toxins" could reach as far as
the Middle East and North Africa. It concluded that "there is
a transition from localized military action to large-scale
environmental warfare," AP reported. FS

LUKIN CHARGES NATO WITH 'PHILOSOPHY OF CANNIBALISM.'
Vladimir Lukin (Yabloko), head of the State Duma's
international affairs committee, told ITAR-TASS on 27 April
that NATO, led by the U.S., will "decide which zone of
their interests to choose, and they will do there what they
want." He added that "at last, it has become clear to all
in the world: bearers of the last-instance truth are [the]
19 [NATO] states." He added that "this is nothing but a
return to medievalism: the strongest side is always right."
Lukin also charged NATO with following a "philosophy of
cannibalism." FS

CRIMINAL CHARGES FILED AGAINST BEREZOVSKII. The Office of
the Prosecutor-General has filed criminal charges against
business tycoon Boris Berezovskii for money-laundering,
illegal entrepreneurship, and lobbying business interests
while in government service, Interfax reported on 26 April.
Berezovskii's lawyer, Genrii Reznik, told reporters that
Berezovskii is restricted from travelling outside Moscow.
After a four-hour meeting with Prosecutor Nikolai Volkov,
Berezovskii himself repeated accusations against Yevgenii
Primakov, suggesting that the prime minister's "spirit, the
spirit of arresting everyone," is behind the charges
against him. "Primakov gave a signal when he said in Davos
[Switzerland] that the 94,000 jail cells about to be
vacated will be filled," he said. On 27 April, Berezovskii
told ITAR-TASS that he had met with Primakov for more than
two hours the previous evening, but he declined to comment
on the discussion. JAC

STEPASHIN DECLARES BORDER WITH CHECHNYA CLOSED. Interior
Minister Sergei Stepashin pledged on 26 April that the
border between Chechnya and Stavropol Oblast "will be
closed for gangsters, not for civilians. This will
effectively be a war zone," Interfax reported. Stepashin
added that four combat helicopters will patrol the border
constantly with orders to eliminate gangsters who are
uncovered. Stepashin is visiting Kursk Raion in Stavropol,
which has recently experienced a rash of kidnappings and
killings, including the slaying of four policemen on 6
April (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 April 1999). Following
those killings, Stavropol Governor Aleksandr Chernogorov
announced that the border would be closed, a move that some
analysts interpreted as infringing on the jurisdiction of
federal authorities. JAC

FSB SUSPECTS TERRORISM MOTIVE BEHIND CONSULATE BLAST...
Sverdlovsk Governor Eduard Rossel said on 27 April that he
believes the explosion outside the U.S. and U.K. consulates
three days earlier was not linked to developments in
Yugoslavia, RIA Novosti reported. Security officers from
the U.S. embassy in Moscow arrived in Ekaterinburg on 26
April to investigate the incident, Interfax-Eurasia
reported. According to the agency, Russia's Federal
Security Service (FSB) believes that terrorism was the most
likely motive behind the bombing, but investigators are not
ruling out the possibility of a malicious attempt to
destroy private property. JAC

...AS ANOTHER BOMB EXPLODES IN CENTRAL MOSCOW. A bomb left
a large hole in the Intourist Hotel, located close to the
Kremlin, on 26 April. An explosive device was left in an
elevator on the 20th floor of the hotel, near the offices
of a firm headed by State Duma deputy and popular singer
Iosif Kobzon, "The Moscow Times" reported. Kobzon said that
he had an appointment at the hotel around the time the
explosion occurred but had been delayed, according to AFP.
Kobzon called the act "just an ordinary terrorist act, a
terrorist act in the center of Moscow." JAC

NDR REARRANGES CADRE. Chernomyrdin, presidential envoy to
Yugoslavia, was reelected leader of Our Home is Russia
(NDR) on 24 April. Saratov Oblast Governor Dmitrii Ayatskov
and NDR Duma faction leader Vladimir Ryzhkov were elected
first deputy chairmen of the movement's 170-member
political council, ITAR-TASS reported. Samara Oblast
Governor Konstantin Titov, informal leader of Golos Rossii,
decided not to join the political council, according to the
agency. But "Izvestiya" reported on 27 April that Titov was
"ousted," as were all "gas specialists" and "Northerners"
who had belonged to the movement's political council. In
addition, Vladimir Babichev, chairman of the executive
committee of the political council, was replaced by
Yevgenii Trofimov. According to the newspaper, major
changes are unlikely to follow since Trofimov is "known as
Babichev's creature." JAC

'MIR' TURNS TO COMMERCIAL TRAVEL. British businessman Peter
Llewellyn has offered to infuse the struggling Russian space
station "Mir" with $100 million in exchange for a place on
the rocket flying to the station this August, Interfax
reported on 26 April. Llewellyn will begin training next
month at a facility near Moscow, Russian Space Agency
Director Yurii Koptev told reporters on 27 April. Llewellyn's
contribution may cover all the station's annual maintenance
costs: Koptev said that expenses for the station had dropped
to less than $100 million from $200-$250 million before the
devaluation of the ruble in August 1998, Reuters reported.
Meanwhile, the space agency celebrated the completion of the
living module for the International Space Station, whose
construction was running some 18 months behind schedule. It
is now likely to go up in November. JAC

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION CAMPAIGN BEGINS. Campaigning
for the 30 May parliamentary elections began on 26 April, one
day after the Central Electoral Commission formally
registered 21 parties and blocs that will participate in the
poll, Noyan Tapan reported. Of the 131 seats in the new
parliament, 56 will be allocated under the proportional
system and the remaining 75 in single candidate
constituencies. More than 800 candidates are contesting those
seats. Also on 26 April, the 21 members of the Central
Electoral Commission resigned in accordance with the
electoral law. A new commission, three of whose members are
appointed by the government and the remainder by the five
parties or blocs that collected the largest number of
signatures in their support, will be named on 27 April.
Outgoing commission chairman Khachatur Bezirjian told
RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau that his successor will be subjected
to public criticism if even a single irregularity in the
voting procedure is reported. LF

AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT WANTS GREATER U.S. SUPPORT,
INVESTMENT... Speaking in Washington on 26 April, Heidar
Aliev called for greater U.S. engagement and investment in
the Caspian, a correspondent for RFE/RL reported. In a clear
reference to Russia, Aliev criticized attempts to undermine
political stability in Azerbaijan and to call into question
the size of its untapped oil reserves. He also again
expressed his displeasure at Russia's deployment of S-300
missiles and MiG-29 fighter aircraft at its military base in
Armenia. He argued that Russia's policy of military
cooperation with Armenia undermines Moscow's efforts, in its
capacity as one of the three co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk
Group, to mediate a solution to the Karabakh conflict. LF

...APOLOGIZES TO KAZAKHSTAN FOR IMPOUNDING MIGS. Aliev has
telephoned his Kazakh counterpart, Nursultan Nazarbaev. to
apologize for the impounding at Baku's Bina airport last
month of six obsolete MiG fighter aircraft being transported
from Kazakhstan to a firm in the Czech Republic that had
purchased them for training purposes, Interfax reported on 26
April, citing the Kazakh weekly "Panorama" (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 24 March and 21 April1999). That publication
quoted a senior Kazakh transport official as blaming the
incident on the over-reaction of Azerbaijani intelligence. LF

AZERBAIJANI JOURNALISTS ARRESTED, BEATEN. Rovshan Ismaylov, a
correspondent for the journal "Ganun," was detained by police
on 13 April, beaten, and held in custody for two days before
being charged with resisting arrest, Turan reported on 26
April. According to the annual report of the Paris-based
organization Reporters Sans Frontieres, at least 24
journalists were arrested in Azerbaijan in 1998 and 40 beaten
by police. Ten newspapers were subjected to total or partial
censorship in 60 separate incidents. LF

GEORGIAN-ABKHAZ CONSULTATIONS 'NOT A SUCCESS.' Abkhaz
Prosecutor-General Anri Djergenia met with Georgian Minister
of State Vazha Lortkipanidze outside Tbilisi on 26 April to
discuss the "Decision on Further Measures Toward a Settlement
of the Conflict in Abkhazia, Georgia," adopted by the CIS
heads of state at their 2 April summit, Caucasus Press
reported. That document advocates the withdrawal from
Abkhazia of the CIS peacekeeping force currently deployed
there if Tbilisi and Sukhumi fail to agree by 2 May on the
texts of two agreements, one of which is on preventing a
resumption of hostilities and the other on the repatriation
to Abkhazia of Georgian displaced persons and measures to
restore the region's economy. Lortkipanizde said the meeting
"was not a success." He said he and Djergenia had focused
primarily on the fate of the Georgian fishing crew detained
in Abkhaz territorial waters on 3 April, but they had failed
to agree on the conditions for the crew's release. LF

KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT PASSES NEW ELECTION LAW IN FIRST READING.
Central Electoral Commission chairman Sulaiman Imanbaev said
in Bishkek on 26 April that the Legislative Assembly--the
lower chamber of parliament--has passed in the first reading
a new election code drafted by the government, RFE/RL's
Bishkek bureau reported. A special Conciliatory Commission,
formed by the parliament and government, will consider the
bill next month. The draft provides for 15 out of a total of
60 members of the new Legislative Assembly to be elected on
party lists. Interfax on 23 April quoted Communist Party
chairman Absamat Masaliev as saying he backs that provision,
which he said will ensure a democratic approach in adopting
crucial legislation. Imanbaev also announced that local
elections will be held in Kyrgyzstan in October,1999. The
parliamentary elections are scheduled for 23 March 2000, and
the next presidential poll will take place in the fall of
that year. LF

TAJIK OPPOSITION SLAMS PRESIDENT'S REJECTION OF
CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS. In a statement released on 23
April, the United Tajik Opposition criticized President
Imomali Rakhmonov's refusal to endorse constitutional
amendments agreed on by the Committee for National
Reconciliation, which is composed of both government and
opposition representatives, AP-Blitz reported on 27 April.
The UTO said Rakhmonov's intransigence is paralyzing the work
of the committee, and it called on the president to adopt the
proposals in order to ensure its continued functioning. It
also urged international organizations and the Contact Group
for Tajikistan to exert pressure on Rakhmonov, according to
Interfax. On 25 April, two Tajik border guard officers were
shot dead by unknown assailants in a suburb of Dushanbe. LF

UZBEKISTAN'S ECONOMY SLOWING DOWN. The head of the Asian
Development Bank's Tashkent office, Nagaradja Gnanathurai,
predicted on 26 April that Uzbekistan's industrial output
will decline in 1999, Interfax reported. Gnanathurai noted
that while the impact on Uzbekistan of the Russian economic
crisis was less severe than on other countries in the region,
GDP grew by only 2.8 percent in 1998, compared with 5.7
percent the previous year. In addition, the Uzbek som lost in
value, while the country's foreign debt rose to $2.8 billion.
The ADB approved loans to Uzbekistan last year totaling $110
million. Uzbekistan's GDP increased by 2.9 percent during the
first quarter of 1999, while the budget deficit was on target
at 1.1 percent, Interfax reported on 19 April, quoting Deputy
Prime Minister Bakhtiar Khamidov. LF

END NOTE

AFTER THE BOMBING STOPS

By Paul Goble

	Even as NATO continues its air strikes against
Yugoslavia, ever more Western leaders are beginning to focus
on what the Western alliance should do in the Balkans after
the bombing has stopped.
	Such discussions are likely to intensify now that the
alliance has issued a communique that suggests its member
states are at least as interested in a diplomatic resolution
of the conflict as in continuing to use military power to
achieve their original aims.
	So far, most of the discussions have centered on some
kind of Marshall Plan for the Balkans. Such a program, named
for and modeled on U.S. assistance to Western Europe after
World War II, would apparently involve massive, multilateral
aid from NATO countries to the war-ravaged states of the
former Yugoslavia.
	By invoking the name of the largest and most successful
foreign assistance program in history, officials in NATO
countries clearly hope not only to put additional pressure on
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to reach a settlement
but also to redirect the efforts of the Western alliance in a
non-military direction.
	But there are at least three reasons why a new "Marshal
Plan for the Balkans" will have to be very different from its
model if it is to help bring peace and stability to that
turbulent region.
	First, the original Marshal Plan was funded and directed
by one country, the U.S. A new such plan for the Balkans
would be funded and directed by a group of states and thus
subject to the kinds of decision by committee that appear to
govern much of NATO's activities. That would almost certainly
guarantee that any program announced would suffer from
inevitable differences of opinion within the alliance and
might even make it impossible for any program announced ever
to be realized.
	Second, the original Marshall Plan took shape to counter
a single, overriding threat to Western Europe. While the U.S.
had hoped to extend assistance to all Europe, Soviet leader
Joseph Stalin's veto dashing that hope probably had the
unintended consequence of making the Marshall Plan more
successful than it would otherwise have been.
	On the one hand, it meant that U.S. assistance was
focused on a smaller number of countries and thus had a
bigger impact than would have been the case if it had been
spread more widely. On the other, Soviet opposition had the
effect of generating more domestic U.S. support for it
because Washington was able to point to the way in which the
Marshall Plan was contributing to U.S. security interests in
Europe.
	Any aid package to the Balkans will not have that
external disciplining factor. Not only will that mean that
the domestic constituencies in many countries will be
reluctant to fund a new plan at the levels that would be
needed; it will also mean that the lack of an external threat
will almost certainly guarantee that the members of the
alliance will stay less united on this issue, just as they
are on so many others.
	Third, the original Marshall Plan was intended to
restore the economies of the countries of Western Europe, not
to create something fundamentally new. Any aid package to the
Balkans would have to address the far larger and more
complicated issues of nation- and economy-building, issues
that few foreign aid programs have been successful at
resolving.
	In many ways, the discussions about a new Marshall Plan
for the Balkans reflect the difficulties of finding a
solution to the conflicts in that region. Obviously, the
people there will need massive amounts of aid to overcome the
tragedies visited upon them by Milosevic and his supporters.
	But before the West can design an aid package that will
help them, these conflicts will have to be addressed and some
resolution found. Once that occurs, a genuine assistance
program can be developed to meet the specific needs of the
people and political structures that will then be in place.
	In thinking about the future, those proposing a new
Marshall Plan for that region should remember that the
original Marshall Plan was not proposed until more than two
years after the bombs had stopped falling.

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