To appreciate nonsense requires a serious interest in life. - Gelett Burgess
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 88, Part I, 6 May 1999


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 88, Part I, 6 May 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

* RUSSIAN STOCK MARKET ROARS BACK TO LIFE

* YELTSIN SAYS RUSSIA, U.S., NATO POSITIONS MOVE 'CLOSER'

* KAZAKH JOURNALIST RELEASED FROM PSYCHIATRIC CLINIC
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

RUSSIA

RUSSIAN STOCK MARKET ROARS BACK TO LIFE... The Russian stock
market hit a new peak for 1999 on 5 May, reaching 102.69 on
the RTS benchmark stock index, a 12 percent rise from the
previous day. This marked the first time that the index has
risen above 100 since the devaluation of the ruble last
August. Leading the pack of rising stocks were Rostelekom and
Tatneft, whose shares rose 33 percent and 30 percent,
respectively, Interfax reported. Traders attributed the
market's pickup to the recent rise in oil prices and the
announcement of a deal with the IMF. They predicted that the
rally could turn out to be short-lived if either of these
developments are reversed, "The Moscow Times" reported on 6
May. However, Dmitrii Yudin, emerging markets analyst for
Merrill Lynch, noted that the market cannot crash from its
current level. "Shares are extremely cheap," he said. On 6
May the index closed barely changed from the previous day at
102.67, or 0.02 percent lower. JAC

...AS RUBLE FIRMS AGAINST DOLLAR. The ruble continued its
rise on 6 May, inching up to 24.07 rubles to $1 or 0.08
percent higher than the previous day, AFP reported. Moreover,
bankers are confident that the ruble's exchange rate will
remain between 24.5 and 25.5 rubles to $1, barring any sudden
political developments, "Rossiiskaya Gazeta" reported on 6
May. According to the newspaper, Russian exporters, flush
with cash since the rise in oil prices, are pushing the
ruble's value up vis-a-vis the dollar. Another factor
influencing the exchange rate, the daily claims, is the
Central Bank's success in its "struggle against profiteers"
and its effort to reduce demand for dollars by 10-15 percent.
The IMF has objected to the Central Bank's new rules
restricting access to the foreign exchange market, saying
that they reduce the ruble's convertibility. JAC

LENINGRAD DEFAULTS. Leningrad Oblast missed a 5 May deadline
to pay off a $50 million loan to an international bank
syndicate, AP reported. Regional officials had been trying to
get creditors to agree to restructuring the loan, but they
apparently failed to do so before time ran out (see "RFE/RL
Russian Federation Report," 5 May 1999). On 4 May, two of the
oblast deputy governors, Sergei Susekov and Valerii
Goloshapov, resigned. The next Russian entity expected to
default, according to "The Moscow Times" on 6 May, is
Tatneft, whose grace period to pay a $13.5 million coupon,
which already matured on its $300 million Eurobond, ends 25
May. According to Standard & Poor's, the company's fortunes
have been boosted by the rise in oil prices, but its close
ties to the cash-strapped government of Tatarstan could
interfere with its making good on its debts. Despite the
company's troubles with its creditors, its shares have been
popular lately with traders, who consider them undervalued.
JAC

YELTSIN SAYS RUSSIA, U.S., NATO POSITIONS MOVE 'CLOSER.'
Russia's special envoy for Yugoslavia Viktor Chernomyrdin
briefed President Boris Yeltsin in Moscow on 6 May, AP
reported. Yeltsin said later that "of course, he didn't
manage to solve everything --stopping the bombing and so
forth, but we did not count on that. We counted on him
bringing the positions of the Americans, NATO and [Yugoslav
President Slobodan] Milosevic closer together." Chernomyrdin
also met with Spanish Foreign Minister Abel Matutes, who
stressed the importance of Russia's role in resolving the
Kosova conflict. Chernomyrdin told journalists after the
meeting that "the war should be stopped at the negotiating
table and under the UN's aegis," ITAR-TASS reported. FS

DRAFT PEACE PLAN READY AT G-8 MEETING? "The New York Times"
quoted unnamed U.S. officials as saying on 5 May in
Washington that NATO and Russia have narrowed their
differences over the composition of a peacekeeping force.
They will be able to issue a joint statement at the G-8
meeting in Bonn on 6 May, the officials added. A senior
German official said both sides agreed to a draft accord
providing for "an international civilian and security
presence" that will enter Kosova under a UN mandate after the
withdrawal of Serbian forces from Kosova, Reuters reported.
But so far Yugoslav President Milosevic has rejected any such
settlement. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, before
leaving for Bonn on 6 May, said that "one should look at
things realistically. I am not optimistic about a
breakthrough. But if there is the slightest progress, this
will be important," ITAR-TASS reported. FS

ZYUGANOV CALLS CHERNOMYRDIN 'SPECIAL DEMOLISHER.' Russian
Communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov has accused the Russian
government of secretly approving and justifying NATO air
strikes. He told Interfax on 5 May that "Chernomyrdin should
be seen not as a special envoy but as a special demolisher, a
special agent, a kind of political screen to conceal the fact
that the positions of Moscow and Washington on the Balkans
are coming closer together." He accused Chernomyrdin of
"traveling around the world to justify the international
crimes against" Yugoslavia. Chernomyrdin rejected Zyuganov's
accusations. FS

YELTSIN TO DO MORE CHAIR REARRANGING? Interrupting his
address at a meeting to organize celebrations for the 2000th
anniversary of Christianity and the new millennium, President
Yeltsin asked that newly promoted First Deputy Prime Minister
Sergei Stepashin be reseated to sit closer to the
presidential chair, NTV reported on 5 May. Later, Yeltsin
interrupted Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov's remarks saying
that Primakov's plans had not been coordinated with the
Patriarchate of the Orthodox Church. Although seemingly
insignificant, these actions are being added by Kremlin
watchers to an increasingly growing list of "signs" that
Yeltsin is about to dismiss Primakov, such as the recent
remark of Oleg Sysuev, deputy head of the presidential
administration, in an interview with "Vlast" that "there are
no irreplaceable prime ministers." In its May issue,
"Argumenty i Fakty" reported that Sergei Zverev, former
Gazprom and MOST executive, is to be appointed deputy
director of the presidential administration in charge of
political strategy. As one of the country's top lobbyists, he
would reportedly be able to repair any damage that might
occur with relations between the Kremlin, cabinet, and State
Duma. JAC

SUPREME COURT CHAIRMAN AGREES TO STAY ON. After meeting with
President Yeltsin on 6 May, Supreme Court Chairman Vyacheslav
Lebedev told reporters that he has accepted the president's
offer to be reappointed to the court. Lebedev's 10-year term
expires in July. The Federation Council must approve
Lebedev's candidacy. JAC

FEDERAL AUTHORITIES TO INTERVENE IN VLADIVOSTOK? Central
Election Commission Chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov has
appealed to the head of the presidential administration,
Aleksandr Voloshin, to ensure that elections to Vladivostok's
legislative assembly scheduled for 16 May actually take
place, Interfax reported on 5 May. In a letter to Voloshin,
Veshnyakov expressed his concern about that city
administration's refusal to provide financing for the
elections (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 5 May
1999). "Vremya MN" reported on 27 April that acting Mayor
Yurii Kopylov is refusing to transfer 2.5 million rubles
($104,000) needed to hold the elections because, according to
him, the chairman of the election commission "cannot be
trusted with the people's money." However, many city
residents believe that Kopylov's stance might be connected
with the fact that he will likely be removed from office in
such elections, according to the daily. JAC

NEW MINERS STRIKE LAUNCHED. About 1,000 coal miners on
Sakhalin Island declared a strike on 6 May to protest a 10-
month backlog of unpaid wages, ITAR-TASS reported. The mine
supplies coal to one of the oblast's chief power stations
that has already been experiencing a coal shortage.
Meanwhile, in Chita Oblast, teachers in 36 schools are
continuing a strike that has already lasted one month,
Interfax-Eurasia reported on 5 May. The teachers are also
demanding unpaid wages. Local school authorities fear that
the strike may interfere with final exams. JAC

LIFESTYLES OF THE YOUNGISH AND POWERFUL. In its April
edition, "Argumenty i Fakty" asked members of President
Yeltsin's administration to disclose their income and
property. Presidential spokesman Dmitrii Yakushkin earned
87,043 rubles ($3600) in 1998, owns one apartment measuring
107.5 square meters and two cars, including a Mitsubishi
Charisma. Sysuev, deputy director of the presidential
administration, earned 101,864 rubles last year, owns a 152
square meter apartment but no securities or cars.
Presidential adviser and daughter Tatyana Dyachenko owns a
Mitsubishi Pajero jeep and a BAZ 8142 trailer. Last year, she
earned 1,508,477 rubles which included money earned from the
sale of a house and land. The recently appointed chief of the
presidential administration, Voloshin, has--or had--perhaps
the most modest lifestyle, earning 75,669 rubles in 1998 and
sharing a 56.4 square meter apartment with his mother. JAC

YELTSIN MEETS WITH NORTH OSSETIAN PRESIDENT. Aleksandr
Dzasokhov met with Yeltsin in the Kremlin on 5 May to brief
him on the April session of the North Caucasus Association
Council and to discuss the general situation in the North
Caucasus, according to Radio Rossii on 5 May and
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 6 May (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26
April 1999). Yeltsin endorsed Dzasokhov's proposal to convene
a further meeting of the Russian and Transcaucasus
presidents. The first such summit was held three years ago on
the initiative of Dzasokhov's predecessor, Akhsarbek Galazov
(see "OMRI Daily Digest," 4 June 1996). Meanwhile, Ingush
displaced persons have staged a mass demonstration on the
border between Ingushetia and North Ossetia to protest the
alleged refusal by the North Ossetian authorities to allow 30
Ingush families to return to their homes in North Ossetia,
which they fled during the fighting of November 1992,
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 6 May. LF

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN PRESIDENT DISCUSSES ELECTION CAMPAIGN... Speaking at
a press conference in Yerevan on 5 May to mark his first year
in office, Robert Kocharian expressed his "sympathy" for the
Armenian Revolutionary Federation - Dashnaktsutiun (HHD) and
for the Miasnutiun (Unity) Bloc that comprises the People's
Party of Armenia (HZhK), headed by former Armenian Communist
Party first secretary Karen Demirchian and Defense Minister
Vazgen Sargsian's Republican Party, RFE/RL's bureau in the
Armenian capital reported. Observers believe the latter
grouping will win the largest number of seats in the 30 May
parliamentary elections and that Miasnutiun and the HHD will
be represented in a reshuffled cabinet. But Kocharian hinted
that other "sound political forces," which he did not name,
may also join the government. He expressed satisfaction at
the course to date of the election campaign, stressing the
importance of ensuring the poll conforms to international
standards, Interfax reported. LF

...AND KARABAKH PEACE PROCESS. Kocharian further predicted
that once the Kosova crisis is resolved, the international
community will adopt a more serious approach to the Karabakh
conflict, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Kocharian
predicted that the Balkan crisis will have a positive impact
on the prospects for a solution to that conflict, arguing
that developments in Kosova show that "the principle of self-
determination cannot be realized in countries that have a
very basic understanding of democracy. The forcible
suppression of a people's right to self-determination leads
only to war," he concluded. LF

AZERBAIJAN REJECTS IRANIAN CRITICISM OF NEW OIL CONTRACTS.
Ali Hasanov, who heads the social-political department of the
presidential administration, said on 5 May that Iranian
objections to the three oil contracts Azerbaijan signed with
U.S. oil companies last month are "groundless," according to
Interfax on 5 May and "Izvestiya" on 6 May (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 28 April 1999). Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman
Hamidrza Asafi had said that Iran does not recognize the
contracts as legal, since some of the oil deposits in
question lie in Iran's sector of the Caspian, according to
Turan on 1 May. He added that until a new agreement defining
the national sectors of the five Caspian littoral states is
reached, Tehran will view any development of those deposits
as violating its national rights. LF

KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT REPRIMANDS SENIOR GOVERNMENT
OFFICIALS. Nursultan Nazarbaev has criticized Deputy Prime
Minister and Finance Minister Uraz Zhandosov and Energy,
Trade, and Industry Minister Mukhtar Abliazov for inadequate
control over their ministries and for failure to implement
unspecified presidential decrees, Interfax and RFE/RL's
Astana bureau reported on 5 May. Nazarbaev instructed Prime
Minister Nurlan Balghymbaev to review the cases in question
and to take whatever action proves necessary, including
firing those responsible. LF

KAZAKH JOURNALIST RELEASED FROM PSYCHIATRIC CLINIC. Armial
Tasymbekov, who was forcibly taken to a psychiatric hospital
in Astana last week, was released on 5 May, RFE/RL's Astana
bureau reported the following day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3
May 1999). A doctor at the clinic told RFE/RL that Tasymbekov
had been treated for "a temporary mental disorder" and is now
"absolutely sober and healthy." The doctor added that he is
"forbidden by law" to reveal the nature of that disorder.
Tasymbekov told an RFE/RL correspondent who managed to gain
access to the clinic on 3 May that he was interrogated by a
colonel of the National Security Committee about the
appearance in Astana earlier this year of slogans denigrating
President Nazarbaev and extolling former Prime Minister
Akezhan Kazhegeldin. LF

KAZAKHSTAN'S FOREIGN MINISTER CRITICIZES RUSSIAN MEDIA
COVERAGE OF BORDER TALKS. In an interview with ITAR-TASS on 5
May, Kasymzhomart Toqaev complained that Russian media
allegations that Kazakhstan has ceded territory to China risk
harming not only Sino-Kazakh but also Sino-Russian relations.
After four years of negotiations, the presidents of China and
Kazakhstan signed an agreement in July 1998 formally
demarcating the frontier between the two countries (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 7 July 1998). Also on 5 May, a Kazakh
delegation began talks in Beijing on the optimum division of
waters from the Irtysh and Ili Rivers that flow from China
through Kazakhstan (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 and 20 April
1999). LF

KYRGYZSTAN MARKS ANNIVERSARY OF NEW CONSTITUTION. In a 4 May
address on national television to mark the sixth anniversary
the following day of the country's constitution, President
Askar Akaev said that one of the most crucial tasks facing
the country is the timely payment of wages, pensions and
other benefits, according to Interfax. He rejected
speculation that either the parliamentary elections scheduled
for March 2000 or the presidential election in December 2000
will be brought forward, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported.
Meanwhile, two Kyrgyz newspapers on 5 May quoted an unnamed
Interior Ministry official as saying that the 12 people
arrested the previous day, allegedly for preparing terrorist
attacks on transport facilities, had in fact been preparing
an attempt to assassinate Akaev, kidnap several other senior
officials, and stage a coup. LF

TAJIK PRESIDENT AGREES TO OPPOSITION AMNESTY PROPOSAL. In
response to a 4 May appeal by the Commission for National
Reconciliation, Imomali Rakhmonov charged senior government
officials with drafting a decree on terminating criminal
proceedings against Tajik opposition fighters and amnestying
those already sentenced for their actions during the civil
war, AP-Blitz reported on 5 May. In its appeal, the
Commission for National Reconciliation had expressed concern
about the slowdown in the peace process over the past three
months. Also on 4 May, field commander Mansur Muakalov
released the last two of six police officers abducted by his
men south of Dushanbe on 28 April, Reuters reported. LF

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
               Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc.
                     All rights reserved.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

HOW TO SUBSCRIBE
Send an email to newsline-request@list.rferl.org with
the word subscribe as the subject of the message.

HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE
Send an email to newsline-request@list.rferl.org with
the word unsubscribe as the subject of the message.

For subscription problems or inquiries, please email
listmanager@list.rferl.org
________________________________________________
CURRENT AND BACK ISSUES ON THE WEB
Back issues of RFE/RL Newsline and the OMRI Daily Digest
are online at: http://www.rferl.org/newsline/search/
_________________________________________________
LISTEN TO NEWS FOR 25 COUNTRIES
RFE/RL programs are online daily at RFE/RL's 24-Hour LIVE
Broadcast Studio. http://www.rferl.org/realaudio/index.html
_________________________________________________
REPRINT POLICY
To receive reprint permission, please contact Paul Goble via
email at GobleP@rferl.org or fax at 202-457-6992
_________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE STAFF
* Paul Goble, Publisher, GobleP@rferl.org
* Liz Fuller, Editor-in-Chief, CarlsonE@rferl.org
* Patrick Moore, Team Leader, MooreP@rferl.org
* Jan Cleave, CleaveJ@rferl.org
* Julie A. Corwin, CorwinJ@rferl.org
* Jan Maksymiuk, MaksymiukJ@rferl.org
* Fabian Schmidt, SchmidtF@rferl.org
* Michael Shafir, ShafirM@rferl.org

FREE-LANCE AND OCCASIONAL CONTRIBUTORS
* Pete Baumgartner, Dan Ionescu, Zsolt-Istvan Mato, Jolyon
Naegele, Matyas Szabo, Anthony Wesolowsky

RFE/RL Newsline Fax: (420-2) 2112-3630
_________________________________________________
RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC

[English] [Russian TRANS | KOI8 | ALT | WIN | MAC | ISO5]

F&P Home ° Comments ° Guestbook


1996 Friends and Partners
Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole
Please visit the Russian and American mirror sites of Friends and Partners.
Updated: 1998-11-

Please write to us with your comments and suggestions.

F&P Quick Search
Main Sections
Home
Bulletin Board
Chat Room
F&P Listserver

RFE/RL
1999
1998
1997
1996
1995
1994
1993
1992
1991
Search

News
News From Russia/NIS
News About Russia/NIS
Newspapers & Magazines
Global News
Weather

©1996 Friends and Partners
Please write to us with any comments, questions or suggestions -- Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole