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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 100, Part I, 24 May 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 100, Part I, 24 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

* NEW CABINET STARTS TO TAKE SHAPE

* CHERNOMYRDIN SUSPENDS KOSOVA PEACE TALKS

* GEORGIAN SECURITY OFFICIALS FORESTALL ATTACK ON PRESIDENT
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RUSSIA

NEW CABINET STARTS TO TAKE SHAPE. As predicted, Russian
President Boris Yeltsin signed decrees on 21 May reappointing
Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, Justice Minister Pavel
Krasheninnikov, Defense Minister Igor Sergeev, and
Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20
May 1999). In an interview with NTV on 23 May, Prime Minister
Sergei Stepashin revealed that Finance Minister Mikhail
Zadornov and Deputy Prime Minister Valentina Matvienko would
also retain their positions, and he confirmed that First
Deputy Prime Minister Yurii Maslyukov and Deputy Prime
Minister Gennadii Kulik are definitely leaving the cabinet.
Two days earlier, Stepashin had offered Kulik's post to
Belgorod Governor Yevgenii Savchenko, who turned down the
offer, citing the complex situation in his region, Interfax
reported. "Segodnya" reported on 22 May that acting Tax
Minister Georgii Boos will lose his post, despite having
elicited the strong support of Stepashin and Unified Energy
Systems head Anatolii Chubais. According to the daily,
Aleksandr Pochinok, a former State Tax Service head, will
likely assume the position. JAC

NEW INTERIOR MINISTER NAMED... Also on 21 May, President
Yeltsin named Vladimir Rushailo interior minister. Before
that appointment, Rushailo was a deputy interior minister.
"Kommersant-Daily" reported on 22 May that business magnate
Boris Berezovskii and Federation Council Chairman Yegor
Stroev actively supported Rushailo's candidacy. However,
Interfax, citing "well-informed Moscow sources," reported the
previous day that rumors about Rushailo's close links with
Berezovskii are "very far from the truth." Rushailo, a long-
serving police officer, headed the Interior Ministry's unit
battling organized crime and oversaw the investigation into
some of the country's most important cases, such as the
kidnapping of top officials in Chechnya and the murder of
State Duma deputy Galina Starovoitova, Reuters reported. JAC

...AS NEW FIRST DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER ASKED TO EXPLAIN PAST
DEALINGS. Nikolai Aksenenko continues to be the subject of
controversy. Duma deputies are demanding that Aksenenko
respond personally to allegations of corruption in his former
capacity as head of the Railways Ministry at a plenary
meeting on 4 June, "The Moscow Times" reported on 22 May.
According to the newspaper, relatives of ministry officials--
including Aksenenko--reportedly hold key posts in companies
that have or had dealings with the ministry. In addition,
accusations of siphoning off money intended for ministry
coffers are being levied against Transrail, a Swiss-based
company set up by the ministry to act as liaison between the
ministry and its foreign clients. JAC

CHERNOMYRDIN SUSPENDS KOSOVA PEACE TALKS. Russia's special
envoy to Yugoslavia Viktor Chernomyrdin called off talks with
Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou and UN special envoy
Carl Bildt on 22 May, citing time constraints, the
"Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported. Both Papandreou
and Bildt had arrived the previous day in Moscow and met
later with Foreign Minister Ivanov and U.S. Deputy Secretary
of State Strobe Talbott. They did not disclose details of
those meetings, but Bildt told AP that the Kosova conflict
marks "a major failure of the international community."
Ivanov told CNN that NATO increased the intensity of its
bombing campaign on 20 May, when Chernomyrdin was visiting
Belgrade. The foreign minister suggested that NATO is "trying
to undermine the negotiations." The previous day, Ivanov told
AP that the key remaining differences between Russia and NATO
are over the composition of a peace-keeping force and NATO's
insistence on the complete withdrawal of Serbian troops from
Kosova. FS

RUSSIA BLASTS NATO'S SAFETY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR HUMANITARIAN
MISSIONS. The Russian Foreign Ministry on 22 May issued a
statement charging NATO officials with "cynicism" for asking
the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to notify the
alliance in advance about the movements of humanitarian
convoys within Yugoslavia. The statement said that NATO is
trying to "avoid responsibility for its increasingly frequent
mistakes in delivering air strikes," AP reported. The
statement called for an end to the air campaign. The previous
day, the Russian Foreign Ministry had issued a statement
saying that NATO planes have frequently dropped unused bombs
in the Adriatic before returning to their bases, thereby
posing a threat to navigation and fishing there, ITAR-TASS
reported. FS

YELTSIN ORDERS ARMY TO REVIEW INTELLIGENCE GATHERING.
President Yeltsin ordered leading military officials from the
Strategic Rocket Forces to draw up a report on how NATO has
used satellites to collect military intelligence in
Yugoslavia, AP reported. The forces' deputy head, Valerii
Grin, said on 22 May that Yeltsin also asked the army to
consider improving Russia's space-based intelligence-
gathering abilities. Earlier, Yeltsin ordered the Defense
Ministry to review Russia's entire military doctrine (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 17 May 1999). Meanwhile, a State Duma
commission issued a memorandum on 21 May saying that
"Russia's policy in the Balkans should be reviewed [and
should involve] broader and more active economic, political,
military, and propaganda measures" as part of a "long-term
strategy." It did not elaborate on what measures should be
taken. FS

REAL WAGES SHRINKING. Real disposable income in Russia sank
27.3 percent and real per capita wages fell 39.01 percent in
the first four months of 1999, compared with the same period
last year, according to the State Statistics Committee,
Interfax reported on 21 May. On a month-to-month basis,
however, real incomes are slowly edging up, gaining 5.2
percent in April over March and 4.7 percent in March compared
with February (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 May 1999).
Meanwhile, agricultural output slid 4.7 percent in January-
April 1999, compared with the same period the previous year,
while retail trade dipped 15.01 percent. JAC

NEW ELECTION LAW MOVES FORWARD. The Duma on 21 May approved
in the second reading a new election law that would give
those who run for the parliament in December 1999 the right
to run simultaneously on the list of the election bloc with
which they are affiliated and in single-mandate districts,
Interfax reported. The vote was 354 in favor, four against,
and one abstention. Under the current election law,
candidates who occupy the top three places of the party's
federal list cannot run in single-mandate districts,
according to the agency. JAC

LARGE NUMBERS OF PUBLIC ORGANIZATIONS FACING EXTINCTION? In
an interview with "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 21 May, Justice
Minister Krasheninnikov warned that up to 75,000 public
organizations will be dissolved on 1 July if they have not
re-registered with the Justice Ministry. According to
Krasheninnikov, only 25 percent of Russia's more than 100,000
organizations have so far bothered to re-register. After 1
July, those organizations without valid registration will no
longer be able to participate in elections or own property or
bank accounts. On 20 May, "The Moscow Times" reported that
the city of Moscow's justice department turned down re-
registration requests by the Glasnost Foundation, Moscow's
Research Center for Human Rights, and the Ecology and Human
Rights group. Moscow justice department officials say that
Glasnost Foundation made mistakes in preparing its
registration documents and needs to only resubmit them.
Foundation officials, however, accused the Justice Ministry
of wanting to get rid of human rights organizations. JAC

NEW INFORMATION OFFICER NAMED. Prime Minister Stepashin on 24
May named Aleksandr Mikhailov chief of the government
information department, ITAR-TASS reported. Mikhailov was
formerly chief of the Interior Ministry's public relations
center. JAC

ATTITUDE OF GOVERNORS' PARTIES TOWARD ONE ANOTHER STILL
UNCLEAR. Members of Vsya Rossiya held their first constituent
congress in St. Petersburg on 22 May. According to ITAR-TASS,
more than 500 delegates from 82 regions and some 500 guests,
including Otechestvo leader Yurii Luzhkov and Golos Rossii
chairman Konstantin Titov, attended. Vsya Rossiya leader
Mintimer Shaimiev confirmed earlier announcements that his
movement will form an alliance with Otechestvo and that the
movement's key goal will be to secure at least 15 percent of
votes in parliamentary elections. "Izvestiya" reported on 22
May that the leaders of Vsya Rossiya have not yet decided
whether they want to ally themselves with Golos Rossii, whose
leadership earlier declared interest in such a partnership.
According to the newspaper, relations between Golos Rossii
and Otechestvo are frosty, and at that movement's constituent
congress, some Golos Rossii members declared their opposition
to Luzhkov. JAC

KIRIENKO TO RUN FOR MAYOR OF MOSCOW? "Nezavisimaya gazeta"
reported on 21 May that members of the Golos Rossii movement
are considering backing the candidacy of former Prime
Minister Sergei Kirienko in mayoral elections in Moscow.
According to the daily, Kirienko's campaign might be
bankrolled by members of Moscow's business elite who no
longer support Moscow Mayor Luzhkov because "they never
received their promised niche in politics." On 24 May,
Kirienko told Russian Television that if Moscow mayoral
elections were held in December 1999 rather than spring 2000,
he would consider running for the post. Kirienko also
emphasized that his candidacy will be put forward by his
party, Novaya Sila (New Force). He added that Novaya Sila
should form a coalition with Pravoe Delo (Right Cause) in
order to surpass the 5 percent barrier for parliamentary
representation. JAC

RUSSIA PROPOSES CLOSER MILITARY COOPERATION WITHIN CIS. At
the 20 May CIS defense ministers' meeting in Yerevan, Moscow
proposed that the six CIS countries that intend to continue
their participation in the CIS Collective Security Treaty
should adopt a coalition military strategy, "Nezavisimaya
gazeta" reported the next day, without naming its source. The
adoption of "Fundamental Tenets of Coalition Strategy of
States Participating in the 1992 Collective Security Treaty,"
which summit participants reportedly support, would entail a
closer degree of defense cooperation than has been the case
until now. Such cooperation would be comparable to that
provided for by the Russia-Belarus Union, the newspaper
commented. Also discussed at the meeting was the possibility
of creating "coalition groups of forces...to resolve the task
of joint (collective) defense." LF

CHECHEN PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER INJURED IN ASSASSINATION BID.
Danilbek Tamkaev received multiple gunshot wounds and his
brother Adam was killed when gunmen opened fire on their car
on the outskirts of Grozny on 23 May, Interfax reported. No
group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack. LF

DISAGREEMENT OVER KARACHAEVO-CHERKESS ELECTION RESULTS
CONTINUES. The 14 members of the election commission of the
Republic of Karachaevo-Cherkessia failed at a 21 May meeting
to arrive at a unanimous decision on the validity of the
results of the second round of voting on 16 May in the
presidential election, ITAR-TASS reported. Russian
presidential representative in the republic Ivan Golubev
therefore decided to send all the relevant documentation to
the Central Electoral Commission in Moscow. The chairman of
the local electoral commission, Musa Psikhomakhov, said on 22
May that 1,527 complaints of voting irregularities were
received. Meanwhile, Vladimir Semenov, who according to the
official results polled more than 75 percent of the vote,
accused his rival, Stanislav Derev, of failing to abide by an
agreement that the two men had reached in Moscow on 18 May
with then acting Premier Stepashin. According to that accord,
both were to refrain from actions that would exacerbate
tensions, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 22 May. LF

MORE ADYGEIS FROM KOSOVA ARRIVE IN NORTH CAUCASUS. A group of
53 ethnic Adygeis, whose ancestors were forcibly resettled
first to Ottoman Turkey and then to Kosova in the late 19th
century, arrived in Maikop on 23 May, Russian agencies
reported. A contingent of Adygeis evacuated earlier told "Die
Presse" on 17 May that they are being subjected to
discrimination in their ancestral homeland, that housing
built especially for them has been occupied by others, and
that they are unable to find work. They also expressed alarm
at being unable to make telephone contact with other Adygeis
who had remained in Kosova in the village of Donji Stanovci.
LF

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

U.S. ENVOY VISITS ARMENIA... Stephen Sestanovich, who is
special adviser on the Newly Independent States to the U.S.
Secretary of State, met with leading Armenian officials in
Yerevan on 21 May to discuss the U.S.'s mediation role in the
Karabakh conflict, the prospects for Armenia's increased
participation in NATO's Partnership for Peace program,
greater military cooperation with the U.S., and the upcoming
parliamentary elections, Caucasus Press and RFE/RL's Yerevan
bureau reported. Sestanovich also met with Defense Ministry
officials to discuss U.S. proposals for control over the
transportation of raw materials that could be used for the
manufacture of nuclear weapons. LF

...AND AZERBAIJAN. The following day, Sestanovich held talks
in Baku with Prime Minister Artur Rasizade, Foreign Minister
Tofik Zulfugarov, and Defense Minister Safar Abiev, Russian
and Azerbaijani agencies reported. State Foreign Policy
Adviser Vafa Guluzade told Interfax that the issues discussed
included the Balkan crisis, the Karabakh conflict, bilateral
relations, and the ongoing dispute between Azerbaijan and
Turkmenistan over ownership of several offshore Caspian
oilfields. Sestanovich told journalists that the U.S.
supports both the mediation efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group
and further personal contacts between Armenian and
Azerbaijani leaders in order to resolve the Karabakh
conflict. LF

AZERBAIJAN HOSTS ECO FOREIGN MINISTERS. Meeting in Baku on
20-21 May, foreign ministers or their deputies from the nine
member states of the Economic Cooperation Organization
(Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,
Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan)
discussed expanding regional cooperation, in particular the
development of a network of export pipelines for oil and gas
and the implementation of the 1998 agreement on transit
cooperation, ITAR-TASS and AP-Blitz reported. Azerbaijani
Foreign Minister Zulfugarov, who was elected rotating
chairman of the ECO foreign ministers' council, noted that
such cooperation would serve to promote political stability.
LF

GEORGIAN SECURITY OFFICIALS FORESTALL ATTACK ON PRESIDENT.
Georgian Interior and Security Ministry officials arrested
eight people in Tbilisi during the night of 22 May on
suspicion of preparing a series of terrorist acts, including
an assassination attempt against President Eduard
Shevardnadze. Weapons, including machine guns and grenade
launchers, were seized. Georgian officials have so far
declined to comment on unconfirmed reports that the arrested
men were in possession posters of former Security Minister
Igor Giorgadze, who is wanted in connection with the 1995
attempt to assassinate Shevardnadze. Georgian Defense
Minister Davit Tevzadze confirmed on 24 May that senior
Defense Ministry official General Gudjar Kurashvili was among
those arrested. In his weekly radio broadcast, Shevardnadze
said on 24 May that the organizers of the thwarted
assassination attempt are abroad, in the first instance in
Moscow, according to Caucasus Press. LF

GEORGIA WANTS TWO RUSSIAN BASES CLOSED. Georgian Foreign
Minister Irakli Menagharishvili said in Tbilisi on 23 May
that it is unlikely that the treaty allowing Russia to
maintain military bases in Georgia will ever be ratified in
its present form, ITAR-TASS reported. He noted that the
treaty allows Russia to maintain in Georgia a larger number
of troops than is permitted under the 1990 Treaty on
Conventional Forces in Europe, adding that Tbilisi insists
that all signatory states comply with that treaty.
Menagharishvili said that it has not yet been decided which
Russian bases in Georgia should be closed. But Rezo Adamia,
chairman of the parliamentary Defense and Security Committee,
told journalists in Tbilisi on 21 May that Georgia will
demand the closure of the Gudauta and Vaziani bases. He noted
that the Russian base in the predominantly Armenian-populated
district of Akhaltsikhe provides employment for much of the
local population, according to Caucasus Press. LF

GEORGIAN WARLORD AMNESTIED. Former Defense Minister Tengiz
Kitovani was released from prison on 22 May under an amnesty
for 99 prisoners signed by President Shevardnadze the
previous day, Reuters and Caucasus Press reported. Kitovani
was sentenced to an eight-year prison sentence in 1996 for
allegedly attempting to launch an insurrection. He went on
hunger strike in February to demand a review of his case (see
"RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 2, No. 6, 10 February 1999).
Kitovani told journalists after his release that he intends
to return to active politics and run in this fall's
parliamentary elections. According to Interfax, Kitovani also
called for the release of fellow warlord Djaba Ioseliani, who
is suffering from bone tuberculosis. Ioseliani is serving an
11-year sentence for terrorism and attempting to assassinate
Shevardnadze in 1995. The Georgian Supreme Court recently
rejected Ioseliani's appeal for clemency (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 3 May 1999). LF

ABKHAZ PARLIAMENT WANTS OBSERVER STATUS IN RUSSIA-BELARUS
UNION. Parliamentary deputies of the unrecognized Republic of
Abkhazia voted on 21 May to request observer status for
Abkhazia within the Russia-Belarus Union, Caucasus Press
reported, citing Abkhaz television. They also addressed an
appeal to the Russian government to declare invalid the
results of the 16 May presidential runoff in the Republic of
Karachaevo-Cherkessia. The Abkhaz are ethnically close to the
Cherkess and Abazins, who constitute approximately 10 percent
of that republic's total population. Abkhaz President
Vladislav Ardzinba has called on the Karachaevo-Cherkessia
authorities to take measures to preserve stability, while
Ingush President Ruslan Aushev has called for legal action
against anyone who advocates a violent solution to the
standoff. LF

KAZAKHSTAN PLANS TO EXPORT MORE OIL VIA AZERBAIJAN. Attending
the ECO foreign ministers' meeting in Baku, Kazakhstan's
Foreign Minister Kazymzhomart Toqaev said his country hopes
to increase the amount of crude exported via Azerbaijan and
Georgia from 1 million tons to 5 million tons in 1999, and
possibly to 10 million tons annually, ITAR-TASS reported.
Toqaev said Kazakhstan may acquire its own oil tankers to
transport the oil across the Caspian, as the desired
construction of an underwater oil pipeline from Aktau to Baku
is problematic in the absence of a final agreement among
Caspian littoral states on the legal status of the sea. LF

KYRGYZ PARLIAMENTARY DEPUTY WANTS NEW COMPENSATION AGREEMENT.
Speaking at a news conference in Bishkek on 21 May, Jypar
Jaksheev argued that the January 1999 agreement concluded by
the Kyrgyz government and the Kumtor Operating Company on
compensation for victims of the May 1998 ecological disaster
in Kyrgyzstan's Issyk-Kul region should be revoked, RFE/RL's
Bishkek bureau reported. Four people died and thousands
suffered from poisoning after a Kumtor-owned lorry spilled
toxic chemicals into a local river. Jeksheev accused the
Kyrgyz government and the Canadian company Cameco, which owns
Kumtor, of failing to pay the promised compensation. And he
hinted that he will take the case to international courts.
Under the January 1999 agreement, Cameco was to pay the
Kyrgyz government $4.6 million, of which $3 million was
earmarked as compensation for the victims of the spill. LF

KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT COMMITTEE DISCUSSES CURRENCY CRISIS. First
Deputy Prime Minister Boris Silaev, Finance Minister Marat
Sultanov, and acting Chairman of the National Bank Ulan
Sarbanov took part in a session of the parliamentary
committee on economic and budgetary issues on 21 May,
RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. The participants expressed
concern that the som has lost 40 percent of its value over
the past two months, and they blamed the depreciation on
currency speculation by commercial banks. The current
exchange rate is 42 soms to the $1, compared with 17 soms in
July 1998 and 30 soms in early March 1999. LF

KAZAKHSTAN RESUMES GAS SUPPLIES TO KYRGYZSTAN. Northern
regions of Kyrgyzstan began receiving gas from Kazakhstan on
22 May after the Kyrgyz government paid the first
installment, worth $25,000, of its $2.2 million back debt to
Kazakhstan's Intergaz company, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau
reported. Intergaz cut off supplies to those regions last
week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 May 1999). LF

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