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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 84, Part I, 30 April 1999


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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

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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
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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.

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