No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear. - Edmund Burke
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 89, Part I, 7 May 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 89, Part I, 7 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

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Headlines, Part I

* G-8 AGREE ON KOSOVA DOCUMENT

* NUKES NO LONGER JUST FOR MASS DESTRUCTION?

* HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION IN KAZAKHSTAN EVOKES U.S. CONCERN

End Note
KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT OUTLINES POLICY PRIORITIES
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RUSSIA

G-8 AGREE ON KOSOVA DOCUMENT... The foreign ministers of the
world's seven leading industrial countries and Russia
approved a document on Kosova at their meeting in Bonn on 6
May, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the German city.
They demanded an immediate and verifiable end to violence in
Kosova, the withdrawal of Serbian police, military, and
paramilitary troops, the deployment of "effective
international civilian and security presences" mandated by
the UN, the appointment of a provisional administration by
the UN Security Council, the unhindered return of all
refugees, and full access to Kosova for humanitarian relief
organizations. They also want to see the beginning of a
political process that will lead to autonomy for Kosova under
the principles of the Rambouillet agreement, with respect for
the sovereignty and integrity of Yugoslavia, including the
disarmament of the UCK and a joint assistance program for the
economic development of the Balkans. FS

...WANT SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION. The foreign ministers
authorized Germany's Joschka Fischer to draft a UN resolution
on the basis of the G-8 document and Chapter 7 of the UN
Charter, which provides for the use of force to uphold
international peace and security. British Foreign Secretary
Robin Cook told the BBC that he understands that an
"efficient security presence" means well-armed NATO forces
that can secure a withdrawal of all Serbian forces. UN
spokesman Fred Eckhard said in New York that Secretary-
General Kofi Annan considers the adoption of these principles
an "important step." NATO spokesman Jamie Shea said in
Brussels that the document marks a significant step toward
securing "peace with justice for Kosova." He added that NATO
will not end its air strikes until it has achieved its goals.
FS

IVANOV REJECTS NATO PRESENCE WITHOUT BELGRADE'S APPROVAL.
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said that the meeting
did not produce "a breakthrough but a step in the right
direction," adding that "a breakthrough will be achieved when
the war ceases," ITAR-TASS reported. He told "Trud" of 7 May
that a peace-keeping force could not include NATO troops
without Belgrade's agreement. He accused NATO of aiming to
"establish its complete domination in the 21st century."
Referring to the NATO air strikes, he said that "if this
madness is not stopped immediately there will be the gravest
consequences for the future of the international stability
and security." FS

NUKES NO LONGER JUST FOR MASS DESTRUCTION? Writing in
"Segodnya" on 6 May, military analyst Pavel Felgengauer
suggests that the documents discussed at a 30 April Russian
Security Council meeting "aim to make a limited nuclear war
possible in theory." The announcement of the classified
program may indicate the beginning of work on a new
generation of tactical nuclear weapons "within the framework
of a program that has long been proposed by the Ministry of
Atomic Energy." The ministry's aim, according to Felgengauer,
is to change the notion of nuclear weapons as only weapons of
mass destruction. The program, which would reportedly not
require much funding, at least initially, would aim to
radically modernize Russia's entire nuclear arsenal, both
tactical and strategic, so that Russia can "carry out
precision low-yield 'nonstrategic' nuclear strikes" anywhere
in the world. Felgengauer concludes that NATO air strikes
enabled the ministry to finally win authorization to
implement its plan. JAC

GOVERNMENT SUGGESTS MORE POLITICALLY PALATABLE TAX
INCREASES... Fearing that the State Duma would automatically
reject legislation increasing taxes on gasoline, the
government is set to propose that gas stations pay a new tax
of 7,000-10,000 rubles a month, Russian Television reported
on 6 May. In addition, the government will propose a new tax
on cars whose engine-size exceed 2500 cubic centimeters. An
annual payment of 1.2-1.8 rubles per cubic centimeter will
not apply to cars produced domestically. The new tax measures
will be submitted as part of a package of legislation
required by the IMF in order to release new funds. In an
interview with "Kommersant-Daily" on 6 May, First Deputy
Prime Minister Yurii Maslyukov said that the text of a
memorandum concerning the government and Central Bank
policies will be signed soon and submitted to the IMF Board
of Directors. JAC

...AS COLLECTIONS RISE, INFLATION STEADY. Aleksandr Pochinok,
head of the government's finance department, told reporters
on 6 May that the government collected 27 million rubles
($1.12 million) in taxes and 13 million rubles in customs
duties in April. Together these sums represent a 40 percent
increase over March and the first time the government has met
its goal for revenue collection in some months. Meanwhile,
Russia's inflation rate in April was 3 percent, compared with
2.8 percent the previous month, according to the State
Committee for Statistics, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 May. JAC

ANOTHER HITCH SURFACES WITH EU FOOD AID. As the EU ponders
whether to approve a third export tender for food to be
shipped to Russia, EU and Russian officials are disagreeing
over the pricing of food aid within Russia, "The Moscow
Times" reported on 7 May. The EU wants the Russian government
to cover additional expenses, such as transporting the aid
and clearing it through customs. Under the current agreement,
the food aid is sold at market prices, with the proceeds
going to the Pension Fund. Some regions have rejected the
aid, saying it is too expensive, while others refused to
accept French grain because of its allegedly insufficient
quality. According to the daily, about 30 percent of regions
that originally signed up for assistance have now dropped out
of the program. In some cases, regional administrators did
not want to assume responsibility for ensuring that the
profits went to the Pension Fund. JAC

LUZHKOV TARGETTED IN ANTI-SEMITIC CAMPAIGN. Moscow Mayor
Yurii Luzhkov, a likely presidential contender and head of
the Otechestvo movement, is featured on an anti-Semitic
leaflet that is being distributed in Kirov Oblast.
"Izvestiya" reported on 6 May that Kirov residents found
anti-Semitic leaflets in their mailboxes claiming that
Luzhkov is a Jew and "wants to be become president!" The
leaflet shows Luzhkov and so-called oligarch Vladimir
Gusinskii, who is also president of the Russian Jewish
Congress, wearing yarmulkes at the opening of the Holocaust
memorial synagogue on Poklonnaya Gora on 2 September 1998,
"The Moscow Times" reported on 7 May. Last December,
residents in Krasnodar Krai found leaflets in their mail
boxes calling for the extermination of all Jews in the krai.
The leaflets also called for Krasnodar Governor Nikolai
Kondratenko to run for president of Russia in 2000 (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 15 December 1998). JAC

BEHIND CLOSED DOORS, SKURATOV MAKES NO NEW REVELATIONS. At a
6 May closed-door session of the Federation Council's
commission on corruption, Prosecutor-General Yurii Skuratov
more or less recapped his earlier address to the full
Federation Council, revealing no new information, "Izvestiya"
reported on 7 May, citing unidentified sources. The newspaper
reported that the commission's main work will likely be to
agree on Skuratov's successor, since "his dismissal will
happen anyway sooner or later." Among the potential
candidates, according to the daily, are Yurii Golik, an
adviser to Federation Council Chairman Yegor Stroev, and
Vladimir Platonov, deputy speaker of the Council. Also on 6
May, "Kommersant-Daily" reported that Deputy Prosecutor-
General Mikhail Katyshev has been removed from the
investigation of key cases. According to the daily, Katyshev,
who has a distinguished record of service at the prosecutor's
office over the past 30 years, issued the orders to arrest
business tycoons Boris Berezovskii and Aleksandr Smolenskii.
JAC

JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES RE-REGISTERED BY FEDERAL AUTHORITIES. The
Justice Ministry re-registered the Jehovah's Witnesses as a
religious organization on 5 May, despite a Moscow
prosecutor's effort to ban the organization from the city. A
controversial 1997 law requires that all religious
organizations in Russia be registered or face the possibility
of being banned. A Church spokesman told Reuters on 6 May
that the Justice Ministry made its decision after a six-month
examination of the group's literature and operations. The
Moscow case is currently on hold as a panel of court-
appointed experts conduct their own examination of the
Church's literature. The Church claims that more than 250,000
people in Russia attend their religious services. JAC

COAL MINERS LAUNCH NEW PROTEST ACTION. Miners at the
Berezovskii coal mine in Krasnoyarsk Krai have stopped the
shipment of fuel to the local power plant, which owes the
miner 120 million rubles ($5 million), ITAR-TASS reported on
7 May. Under a previous agreement, the power plant is
supposed to transfer to the pit 50 percent of all payments it
receives for electricity, but, according to a local trade
union official, it regularly fails to do so. JAC

SUSPECT ARRESTED IN NORTH CAUCASUS ELECTION VIOLENCE. A man
has been arrested in connection with 11 terrorist acts
committed since the beginning of the presidential election
campaign in the Republic of Karachaevo-Cherkessia, ITAR-TASS
reported on 6 May. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" the same day listed
several arson or grenade attacks against members of the
campaign staffs of the two candidates in the 16 May runoff.
The newspaper cited a spokesmen for one of those two
candidates, former Russian ground forces commander General
Vladimir Semenov, as blaming the violence on unnamed
candidates defeated in the first round of voting on 25 April.
LF

CRIMINAL GANGS CLASH IN GROZNY. At least three people were
killed and 10 wounded, including some passers-by, when
members of two criminal groups engaged in fighting in central
Grozny during the evening of 6 May, ITAR-TASS reported.
Meanwhile, the committee charged with drafting a new
constitution for the Chechen Republic Ichkeria has completed
that draft, which is currently being translated from Russian
into Chechen under the supervision of former acting President
Zelimkhan Yandarbiev, according to "Kommersant-Daily" on 6
May. LF

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIA DENIES ASPIRING TO NATO MEMBERSHIP. In an interview
published on 6 May in the Armenian- and Russian-language
government dailies, Deputy Defense Minister Vahan Shirkhanian
said that Armenia does not intend to join the alliance but
will continue to participate in the Partnership for Peace and
other programs that contribute to strengthening national
security, according to ITAR-TASS and Asbarez-on-Line. He also
denied that Armenia's participation in last month's NATO
summit in Washington could have a negative impact on Russian-
Armenian relations. LF

ARMENIAN COURT REJECTS TRADERS' APPEAL. A Yerevan district
court rejected on 6 May the suit brought by the Armenian
Traders Union against the Armenian government, RFE/RL's
Yerevan bureau reported. The traders had claimed that they
had been wrongfully fined for failing to comply with a
government ruling requiring them to input all transactions
into cash registers, beginning on 1 February (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 23 April 1999). No fines should have been imposed
prior to 1 April for failure to do so. The district court
refused to hear the traders' appeal, claiming that only the
Constitutional Court is empowered to challenge government
rulings. LF

AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION PROTESTS JOURNALIST"S ARREST IN IRAN.
Independent organizations representing Azerbaijani
journalists issued a statement on 6 May condemning the
detention three days earlier of Ganimat Zahidov, editor of
the newspaper "Ekspress," by Iranian customs officials, Turan
reported. Zahidov was returning from a trip to Iran during
which he conducted a 10-hour interview with Mahmudali
Chehragani, who is a professor at Tabriz university and a
representative of Iran's ethnic Azeri community. The Iranian
officials claim Zahidov was smuggling a pair of binoculars,
but they also confiscated his tapes of the interview with
Chehragani. LF

GEORGIAN PRESIDENT CALLS FOR CRACKDOWN ON ECONOMIC CRIME.
Addressing a government session on 6 May, Eduard Shevardnadze
said that more than 1,000 cases of corruption and economic
crime have been registered in Georgia since the beginning of
1999, Caucasus Press reported. Shevardnadze added that some
400 police, customs and tax officials have been dismissed for
various crimes. Georgian Internal Minister, Kakha Targamadze
noted that 12 people have been arrested since January for
attempting to circulate a total of more than $2 million in
counterfeit bills. LF

ARE THERE MOLES WITHIN THE GEORGIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY? "Alia"
on 6 May quoted senior Georgian Defense Ministry official
Gogi Gogashvili as saying that he believes unnamed ministry
staff slated for redundancy in personnel cuts aimed at
bringing the ministry's structure into conformity with NATO
standards have been coopted by Russian intelligence. A second
newspaper, "Rezonansi," reported the same day that unnamed
Georgian generals are seeking to engineer the sacking of West
Point-trained Defense Minister Davit Tevzadze and the
appointment of a pro-Russian replacement. LF

GEORGIA ACCUSES ABKHAZIA OF NEW TROOP BUILDUP. A spokesman
for the Abkhaz Security Ministry in exile, which represents
the Georgian population forced to flee Abkhazia in 1992-3,
said on 6 May that the Abkhaz government deployed an
additional 86 troops, including some ethnic Armenians, in
Gali Raion on 5-6 May in order to secure the region's borders
in the event of the withdrawal of the CIS peacekeeping force,
Caucasus Press reported. LF

FORMER KAZAKH PREMIER AGAIN DENIES TAX EVASION CHARGES.
Akezhan Kazhegeldin has written an open letter to Prosecutor-
General Yurii Khitrin again saying that the accusations of
tax evasion leveled against himself and his wife are
"groundless" RFE/RL's Almaty bureau reported on 7 May. The
open letter was published in the 7 May edition of the
newspaper "XXI vek" (21st Century). Khitrin announced last
month that criminal proceedings are to be opened against
Kazhegeldin, at which time the latter denied the charges (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 21 and 29 April 1999). LF

HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION IN KAZAKHSTAN EVOKES U.S. CONCERN.
Speaking at a congressional hearing on 6 May, U.S.
congressman Christopher Smith expressed concern at
Kazakhstan's apparent retreat from democratization, noting
that the January 1999 presidential elections were "neither
free nor fair," an RFE/RL correspondent in Washington
reported. A senior State Department official added that
Kazakhstan should bring its electoral legislation into line
with international standards, schedule elections far enough
in advance to give the opposition adequate opportunity to
prepare for them, register new political parties promptly,
and include non-government representatives on central and
local electoral commissions. Kazakhstan's ambassador in
Washington, Bolat Nurgaliev, said his country takes
"seriously" its obligations to meet OSCE standards, but he
added that problems inherited from the Soviet era are an
obstacle to democratization (see also "End Note" below). LF

KAZAKH POLICE DISPERSE HUNGER STRIKERS. Seventeen employees
of the Shymkent Phosphorus Plant who began a hunger strike on
the town's central square last week to demand payment of
their salaries for the past three years were dispersed by
police on 6 May, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. The plant,
which is bankrupt and up for sale, owes its former workers
about 600 million tenges (approximately $5 million). LF

KYRGYZ CABINET DEBATES BUDGET CRISIS. Addressing a cabinet
session in Bishkek on 6 May, newly appointed Prime Minister
Amangeldi Muraliev said the country's present financial
situation is the most serious ever, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau
reported. He said the cabinet is unable to pay some 500
million soms (about $14 million) in back payments, including
wages, pensions and other allowances. Finance Minister Marat
Sultanov reported that industrial output declined in 1998 by
39.7 percent, compared with 1997. Agricultural output fell by
12 percent and construction by 48 percent. Revenues from
privatization in 1998 also fell short of the anticipated
figure. LF

IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN UZBEKISTAN. Kamal Kharrazi met
with Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov, Prime Minister
Utkir Sultanov, and Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Komilov during
a two-day working visit to Tashkent on 5-6 May, AFP and
Interfax reported. The talks focussed on economic
cooperation, the peace process in Tajikistan, and the
situation in Afghanistan, AP-Blitz reported from Dushanbe.
Karimov and Kharrazi agreed that the UN Security Council
should be asked to mediate in the Afghan conflict. LF

END NOTE

KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT OUTLINES POLICY PRIORITIES

By Liz Fuller

	In an exclusive interview with RFE/RL's Astana bureau on
4 May, President Nursultan Nazarbaev outlined his vision of
Kazakhstan's domestic political development and relations
with its two powerful neighbors, Russia and China.
	Nazarbaev said that the top priority both for himself
and for the entire Kazakh nation is the preservation of
Kazakhstan's independence. He warned that the country's
independent status could be jeopardized by internal political
dissent, in particular by attempts (he did not specify by
whom) to use the country's present economic problems to score
political points or to stir up tensions between the three
main "hordes" or clans.
	Nazarbaev conceded that the world economic crisis has
not spared Kazakhstan, but he claimed that his country has
overcome the crisis's adverse effects more easily and more
smoothly than other neighboring states. He noted that today,
all the main decisions, including state budget allocations
and new legislation, are based on the main premises of the
Kazakhstan--2030 program of long-term economic and social
development, which he unveiled in October 1997.
	Nazarbaev stressed that Kazakhstan must develop its
industrial base and encourage the growth of small and medium-
sized businesses, rather than rely exclusively on the export
of oil or other mineral resources. He also noted the
importance of ensuring the timely payment of wages, pensions
and other benefits, which he admitted currently poses
problems given the fall in world market prices for oil, gas,
and non-ferrous metals, which constitute the country's prime
exports.
	Turning to foreign policy, Nazarbaev stressed that
Kazakhstan's independent status does not mean that the
country should close its borders or retreat into
isolationism; on the contrary, he argued that it should
pursue a policy of open doors and "increase our relations
with neighboring countries in all the possible spheres." He
termed Kazakhstan's foreign policy "multivectoral" but owned
that it is dictated in the first instance by the country's
geographic location between two major powers.
	With reference to that location, he characterized
relations with both China and Russia as "very good, very
friendly," describing the two countries as "our main partners
in economic development, in market relations and political
life. We don't have any kind of demands [on them], neither
economic or political." He noted the "historic fact" of
Russian assistance in Kazakhstan's social and economic growth
during the Soviet period.
	"If Russia is able to overcome all the economic and
other hardships, if it manages to establish a real democratic
society with market economy and freedoms, for us in
Kazakhstan, this will be a real advantage," he said. "To live
with such a great neighbor in peace is very important for
us.... Our further cultural development without Russia is not
possible... In the last several hundred years, we have got
used to this nation." Without elaborating, he conceded that
Kazakhstan still has differences with Russia but stressed
that they must be resolved by exclusively peaceful means.
	Nazarbaev likewise emphasized the current, unprecedented
harmonious relations with China, as reflected by his own
"personal good relations" with Chinese leader Jiang Zemin,
with whom he signed a landmark treaty last year demarcating
the frontier between the two countries.
	Nazarbaev added that Kazakhstan also enjoys "very good"
relations with the Islamic world, with other Turkophone
countries, and with India and Pakistan. Asked about the
rationale for Foreign Minister Qasymzhomart Toqaev's recent
meeting with Taliban representatives, Nazarbaev said that it
should not be construed either as a gesture of support or as
an attempt to "exclude" Russia from the Afghan peace process.
He explained "we need peace in Afghanistan. If there is peace
in Afghanistan, we shall be able to transport our oil to
India through the shortest route."
	Nazarbaev's remarks on the domestic political landscape
were more ambivalent. He greeted the recent amendments to the
country's constitution, in particular the decision by the
Kazakh parliament that 10 seats in the next parliament be
allocated to representatives of political parties under the
proportional system, saying this move is the fulfillment of a
personal "dream." He noted that he considers it his duty as
president to foster political tolerance and the development
of democracy. But at the same time he noted that until eight
years ago, Kazakhs had always lived under a totalitarian
system, implying that democratization should not be rushed.
	"Our main goal now," he said, " is to give our people
roofs over their heads, to give them their jobs and salaries.
Those are our main three tasks with which to start
democracy." A reversion to CPSU General Secretary Mikhail
Gorbachev's policy of indiscriminate criticism of all
shortcomings could, Nazarbaev argued, culminate in the loss
of Kazakhstan's statehood.
	In this context, Nazarbaev made it clear that he
envisages very strict constraints on the activities of
political parties, which he noted have "rights but also
responsibilities and obligations." He warned that any party
that proved "unable to continue its activities," or engaged
in activities that could pose a danger to the country's
independence would be banned immediately. He also made it
clear that those constraints and obligations extend to the
media.
	Asked to comment on journalists' recent criticisms that
the country's new draft media law restricts press freedom,
Nazarbaev said journalists would not be forbidden to
criticize either the president or the government. But if they
do so, he said, they should "bear in mind the norms and
standards recognized elsewhere in the world."

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