|The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them; that's the essence of inhumanity. - George Bernard Shaw|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 84, Part I, 30 April 1999
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 84, Part I, 30 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 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part I * GOVERNMENT FACING TOUGH BATTLE TO PUSH 'IMF BILLS' THROUGH DUMA * FEARS RAISED FOR NEXT CROP * AZERBAIJAN'S ALIEV UNDERGOES BYPASS SURGERY End Note: NEW POLITICAL BLOC FINDS APPROVAL IN KAZAN xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx RUSSIA GOVERNMENT FACING TOUGH BATTLE TO PUSH 'IMF BILLS' THROUGH DUMA. The Russian government will soon introduce one-third of a package of laws required by the IMF to disburse new money to Russia, First Deputy Prime Minister Yurii Maslyukov said on 30 April. The previous day, State Duma Budget Committee Chairman Aleksandr Zhukov predicted that "the government will have to make a colossal effort to persuade deputies to increase excise duties and to give up the reduction of value- added tax" particularly during an election year. Federation Council Chairman Yegor Stroev was more optimistic, saying that the upper legislative body is likely to approve the measures unless senators feel that the IMF is trying to pressure them politically. Duma Deputy Aleksandr Shokhin suggested to Interfax that Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov might successfully blackmail the Duma into passing the entire package of 59 bills by threatening to resign. JAC FEARS RAISED FOR NEXT CROP. Specialists at the Ministry of Agriculture said on 29 April that this summer Russia may experience a drought similar to the one that ruined crops in 40 regions last year, ITAR-TASS reported. Unusually warm weather in the spring caused snow to melt too quickly for the soil to absorb the water. The ministry expressed particular concern about the low levels of moisture of soil in Stavropol and Krasnodar Krais and several regions in the Volga area and central Russia. Farmers can try to lock moisture in by using tractors, but fuel shortages have limited the use of that technique. Last year's grain harvest was the worst in 40 years. JAC DUMA DEPUTY SUGGESTS REVISING NO FIRST USE DOCTRINE... In an interview with "Ekho Moskvy" on 29 April, Defense Committee Chairman Roman Popkovich (Our Home Is Russia) repeated an earlier suggestion that Russia amend its military doctrine to allow the option of a first nuclear strike--"but not necessarily with strategic missiles." Popkovich added that the change is needed because NATO's new strategy allows it the option to launch a first nuclear strike. The next day, "Izvestiya" reported that although Russian officials claimed that the Security Council's discussion the previous day of Russia's nuclear weapons strategy was unrelated to the Balkans crisis, an anonymous source at the council said "the recent conceptual alterations in NATO's tactics and strategy...did not go unnoticed during the adoption of the final version of the [council's] documents." JAC ...AS RUSSIA PREPARES FOR EVENTUALITY OF LAND WAR? Noting that the content of the documents has not been made public, the newspaper speculated that Russia's Strategic Rocket Forces would return to "the old encounter attack form of combat actions," abandoning its current orientation toward retaliatory attacks. The new emphasis on tactical nuclear weapons suggests that the armed forces are preparing for the eventuality of a land war, according to the daily. Reuters quoted an anonymous Russian defense analyst as saying that the development of tactical nuclear weapons "will take 15 years at a minimum and huge amount of resources." "It's a game so that the West will get upset," he concluded. JAC CHERNOMYRDIN REPORTS PROGRESS. After meeting with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in Bonn on 29 April, Russia's envoy for Yugoslavia Viktor Chernomyrdin said that "there is progress but no breakthrough." He stressed that "our major task is to stop the bombings in Yugoslavia and establish peace there," AP reported. Schroeder told Reuters that there was movement "only on the diplomatic front." Following subsequent talks with Italian Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema in Rome, Chernomyrdin commented that "our positions have moved closer on the ways and the directions in which we can pursue" a political solution to the Kosova conflict. Chernomyrdin did not elaborate on the "concrete proposals" he pledged to put forward in Belgrade at a scheduled meeting with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic on 30 April. FS TALBOTT SAYS 'HARD WORK' NEEDED TO REACH COMMON POSITION. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott told the NATO Council in Brussels on 29 April that there is still a lot of "very hard work" to do before the West and Russia find a common position. Chernomyrdin also discussed by telephone with U.S. Vice President Al Gore the possible composition of a peace-keeping force. A U.S. spokesman told AP that Gore "reiterated NATO's conditions for ending the air strikes." FS YELTSIN SEES 'HIGH STAKES' FOR ENTIRE WORLD. Russian President Boris Yeltsin told UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in Moscow on 29 April that "the stakes are very high now not only for the Balkans and Europe, but for the entire world," AP reported. He added that "either law and order will be restored or lawlessness and the unlimited force of one country will rule the world"" (an apparent reference to the U.S.). Meanwhile, Yugoslav Ambassador to Moscow, Milosevic's brother Borislav, stressed that Belgrade is willing to accept only a "civilian mission under the UN flag" with a large Russian component, but no NATO participation, ITAR-TASS reported. And on 30 April, an Il-76 transport plane carrying humanitarian aid bound for Yugoslavia left Nizhnii Novgorod. The plane did not receive an air corridor to Belgrade and was redirected to Skopje. FS YELTSIN ORDERS TIGHTER CONTROL IN KRASNOYARSK. President Yeltsin has issued an unexpected order to Prime Minister Primakov and heads of various power ministries to intensify control over the office of the Prosecutor-General, the Interior Ministry, and other law enforcement agencies in Krasnoyarsk Krai, "Trud" reported on 30 April. According to the daily, Krasnoyarsk Governor Aleksandr Lebed neither asked nor knew anything about the "assistance" President Yeltsin is offering. Earlier, Lebed enlisted Primakov in his fight against local business baron Anatolii Bykov, who is now facing criminal charges for money laundering (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 14 April 1999). The newspaper speculates that Yeltsin's order was prompted by information from Deputy Interior Minister Vladimir Kolesnikov, who heads a commission investigating economic crimes in the region. Kolesnikov has reportedly had to enlist many new personnel as the number of criminal cases needing attention has far outstripped expectations. JAC COMMUNISTS TO DIVIDE AND CONQUER? The Central Committee of the Communist Party (KPRF) is likely to announce on 22 May its strategy for upcoming Duma elections, unidentified Duma deputies from the Communist faction told Interfax on 29 April. According to these sources, the party intends to run Communists in "three columns," with KPRF leader Gennadii Zyuganov heading the biggest column, Duma Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin and deputy Albert Makashov the radical column, and Duma Chairman Gennadii Seleznev and Aleksei Podberyozkin, head of Spiritual Heritage, the third column. Earlier, Ilyukhin said that he would run in the elections in his own bloc, the Movement for Support of the Army, "Moskovskii komsomolets" reported on 21 April. According to the daily, Ilyukhin's movement is composed of the Russian Party, the Union Movement, and the Moslem Committee. On 19 April, Viktor Anpilov, head of Labor Russia, said his movement is also willing to join. JAC PASKO ACCUSES FSB OF COVERING UP EMBEZZLEMENT. Military journalist Grigorii Pasko testified in court on 29 April that the main reason for the case against him was that he came too close to exposing the embezzlement of a $100 million grant from the Japanese government intended for the construction of a plant for the treatment of liquid radioactive waste, "Izvestiya" reported on 30 April. Pasko has been charged with espionage and treason for disclosing to Japanese media classified materials about the Pacific Fleet's environmentally hazardous practices. He had kept all the evidence at his home; however it all disappeared after Federal Security Service officers searched his home before the trial. According to Pasko, the treatment facility was never built, AP reported. JAC YELTSIN NAMES NEW ENVOYS TO REGIONS. President Yeltsin signed decrees on 28 April appointing Gennadii Mushkin his envoy to the Republic of Kalmykia and Aleksandr Korobeinikov his representative in Stavropol Krai, ITAR-TASS reported. JAC RUSSIAN PIPELINE THROUGH CHECHNYA REOPENS. Azerbaijani officials told Reuters on 29 April that oil is again flowing from Baku through Chechnya to Novorossiisk. The pipeline, which carries 115,000 barrels a day, was shut down for three days because of "technical problems on the Chechen part" of the route. PG TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA AZERBAIJAN'S ALIEV UNDERGOES BYPASS SURGERY. President Heidar Aliev, 75, underwent a heart bypass operation in Cleveland, Ohio, on 29 April and is now resting comfortably, his office told Reuters on 30 April. Aliev reportedly suffered a heart attack in 1987. Earlier this year, he was hospitalized in Turkey for what was officially described as acute bronchitis but was thought by some observers to be more serious. PG SHEVARDNADZE SAYS GEORGIA SEEKS MEMBERSHIP IN NATO... On his return from the U.S., Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze told a press conference on 29 April that his country is now actively seeking membership in NATO and that he has asked the alliance's secretary-general, Javier Solana, to accelerate the process, Western agencies reported. The Georgian leader said that "time is needed" for this to happen, but he expressed the hope that "possibly this will happen sooner than we assume." PG ...CALLS FOR UN REFORM... The Georgian president said the UN must be "significantly reformed" or it will "lose its purpose," Interfax reported on 29 April. He called for the creation of a UN peacekeeping force, limitations on the right of permanent members of the Security Council to cast vetoes, and an increase in the number of members in that body. PG ...SAYS CLINTON SEES KOSOVO-ABKHAZ ANALOGY. Shevardnadze also said that U.S. President Bill Clinton "believes that the same crime happened in Abkhazia as in Kosova," ITAR-TASS reported on 29 April. The Georgian president added that he and Clinton agreed that "ethnic cleansing and genocide should not remain unpunished regardless of where they take place." His comments came as the Abkhaz and Georgian sides agreed to set up a joint commission to monitor violations of the May 1994 cease- fire agreement, Interfax reported. PG TURKISH NAVAL SQUADRON VISITS GEORGIAN PORTS. Four ships of the Turkish Navy began three-day visits to the Georgian ports of Poti and Batumi on 29 April, ITAR-TASS reported. PG FORMER KAZAKH POLICE OFFICIAL FOUND GUILTY OF SPYING. Major- General Rais Khadeyev, a former deputy head of Kazakhstan's security service, was found guilty of spying for a foreign power and sentenced to 10 years in prison, the confiscation of property, and the loss of his rank, Interfax reported on 29 April. PG UZBEKISTAN PRESIDENT TO FOCUS ON SECURITY. On his return from Washington, Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov said that he will devote more attention to both external and internal security, Interfax reported on 29 April. Karimov said that many threats originated with the "outside sponsors" of various factions in the Afghan civil war. PG UZBEK, UKRAINIAN NATIONAL AIRLINES FORM ALLIANCE. In order to improve cooperation in the airline industry, the national carriers of Uzbekistan and Ukraine on 29 April signed an agreement in Tashkent on forming a new "CIS-Alliance" air system, Interfax reported. PG RAKHMONOV RULES OUT ISLAMIC STATE FOR TAJIKISTAN. Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov said in St. Petersburg on 27 April that "only a secular government can guarantee peace" in his country, Interfax reported on 29 April. Meanwhile, Tajik Islamic opposition members have demanded that the authorities release prisoners in exchange for the return of six policemen taken hostage on 28 April, Reuters reported. PG RUSSIAN GUARDS KILL DRUG SMUGGLER ON AFGHAN-TAJIK BORDER. Russian border troops killed a drug smuggler and wounded another on the Afghan-Tajik border on 29 April, AP reported. The two suspects were carrying 13 kilograms of heroin and 7 kilograms of marijuana. PG TURKMENISTAN PUSHES FOR GAS PIPELINE. At talks in Ashgabat on 27 April, Turkmenistan President Saparmurad Niyazov and PSG, the U.S. company that plans to build a gas pipeline across the Caspian, agreed to speed up work on the project, Interfax reported on 29 April. They discussed the preliminary financial plan and the organization of the multicompany consortium that PSG will head. PG END NOTE NEW POLITICAL BLOC FINDS APPROVAL IN KAZAN By Floriana Fossato When a number of influential Russian regional leaders announced the creation last week of the new political bloc Vsya Rossiya (All Russia), surprise was expressed not only in Moscow but elsewhere. One of the most prominent leaders of the bloc is Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev. Speaking to RFE/RL earlier this week on condition of anonymity, Tatarstan government officials expressed surprise over the creation of the new bloc and over the 22 April announcement of an alliance with Otechestvo (Fatherland), the movement led by powerful Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov. One official in the government of Tatarstan said that "nobody" in the republic "was aware of the initiative before it was announced. Another added that the announcement "was a complete surprise." At the same time, the officials who spoke with RFE/RL praised the initiative as a way to promote regional interests ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for December. Shaimiev is considered the informal leader of Vsya Rossiya. Other leading participants are Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov; the president of Ingushetia, Ruslan Aushev; the presidents of the Republics of Adygeya and Chuvashya; and a number of influential governors. According to Saint Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev, the bloc will not have a formal leader and will not put forward a candidate for next year's presidential elections. As for the alliance with Luzhkov, one of the strongest presidential hopefuls, Kazan officials say it could be seen as regional leaders' response to a statement by Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov earlier this year. Primakov had proposed that a vertical power structure should be re- established in Russia. He talked about the possibility of appointing, rather then electing, regional leaders and called for imposing more discipline on governors. One Tatar official told our correspondent that "Primakov's proposal did not raise any enthusiasm in Kazan. On the contrary, people started asking themselves questions about Primakov's political intentions and orientations." According to political analysts, other regional leaders probably reacted similarly, fearing the return of Soviet-like structures of power. Samara Governor Konstantin Titov is head of the electoral movement Golos Rossii (Voice of Russia), which has announced its intention to join forces with Vsya Rossii. He said on 21 April that Moscow should grant more power to the regions. According to Titov, excessive centralization of power in the federal government is one of the main causes of Russia's current crisis. One day earlier, Russian President Boris Yeltsin--whose relations with Primakov are reportedly rapidly worsening--met with the governors of several Russian regions and offered them more autonomy in exchange for their support. And this week, the deputy head of the presidential administration, Oleg Sysuev, said the merger of Vsya Rossii and Otechestvo would be a "step in a constructive direction." Attending Otechestvo's second congress on 24 April, Luzhkov reconfirmed his willingness to form an alliance with Vsya Rossii. According to Luzhkov, the two movements both aim to elect a new State Duma that will seek to achieve "practical results." In an interview with "Kommersant-Daily" on the eve of the congress, Luzhkov addressed concerns raised by some observers about his ability to co-exist with other political leaders. Luzhkov said the alliance would not entail the absorption of one movement by another. However, Luzhkov did not say if he is willing to review previously voiced positions on what Russia's federal structure should look like. Fandas Safiullin--the leader of the "Volga Is Our Home" faction in Tatarstan's legislative assembly--told RFE/RL's Kazan Office this week that Luzhkov is in favor of liquidating the national republics, while Shaimiev is a federalist who favors retaining the republics' sovereignty. Safiullin also said that--once the two blocs have achieved their main goal of keeping Communists out of the State Duma-- they will likely go their separate ways. Other officials in Kazan were less categorical, preferring to adopt a "wait and see" attitude until after the elections. They added that Luzhkov and Shaimiev can be considered "compatible, as one cannot be considered more important than the other." Hinting that the support of regional leaders participating in Vsya Rossiya will be key for Luzhkov's Otechestvo. the officials said that after December it will become clear which of the movements will have played the main role during the parliamentary campaign. That, they concluded, will "help to prepare the ground for further talks among regional leaders and Luzhkov." The author is an RFE/RL correspondent based in Moscow. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word subscribe as the subject of the message. HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE Send an email to email@example.com with the word unsubscribe as the subject of the message. 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