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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 107, Part I, 2 June 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 107, Part I, 2 June 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

* STEPASHIN COMPLETES MINISTRY APPOINTMENTS

* LONDON CLUB CONSIDERING RESCHEDULING RUSSIA'S DEBT

* THREE ARMENIAN PARTIES CALL FOR ELECTIONS TO BE ANNULLED
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RUSSIA

STEPASHIN COMPLETES MINISTRY APPOINTMENTS. Prime Minister
Sergei Stepashin has completed a series of appointments at
government ministries and agencies, ITAR-TASS reported on 1
June. Oleg Vyugin and Aleksei Kudrin have been named first
deputy finance ministers, Mikhail Ivankov first deputy
railways minister, and Georgii Gabunia first deputy trade
minister. JB

PRESS SPOTLIGHTS ABRAMOVICH... "Moskovskii komsomolets" on 2
June features a long profile of oil magnate Roman Abramovich,
a close associate of business magnate Boris Berezovskii, who
is rumored to have become a key member of President Boris
Yeltsin's entourage. The newspaper, like several other
publications, identifies the publicity-shy Abramovich as the
architect of the new cabinet and credits him with lobbying
for the appointment of Nikolai Aksenenko as first deputy
prime minister. "Moskovskii komsomolets" notes that
Abramovich's close links with the transport and oil
monopolies may enable him to shed Berezovskii's patronage and
soon make him the ultimate powerbroker in Russia. JB

...WHILE SKEPTICISM PREVAILS ON AKSENENKO. "Kommersant-
Daily," for its part, says the outlines of Aksenenko's
economic policies are already becoming clear. In its June 2
issue, the newspaper writes that Aksenenko, who was railways
minister before his appointment as first deputy premier,
appears to want to restructure the Russian economy in a
similar way to the railways so that each sector will be
controlled by one large monopoly with close links to the
government. JB

LONDON CLUB CONSIDERING RESCHEDULING RUSSIA'S DEBT. Russia on
2 June missed a $578 million payment on its commercial debt
to the London Club of creditors and has asked the
organization for a six-month extension. The London Club
brings together some 600 commercial banks and investors who
are owed more than $20 billion by Moscow from loans dating
back to the Soviet era. The club is to consider the request
by 6 June, ITAR-TASS reported. Russia's foreign debt totals
about $150 billion. JB

CHERNOMYRDIN, AHTISAARI DELAY BELGRADE VISIT. Russian special
envoy to Yugoslavia Viktor Chernomyrdin and his EU
counterpart, Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, postponed a
scheduled visit to Belgrade on 2 June after failing to agree
on a set of terms to present to Yugoslav President Slobodan
Milosevic, AP reported. The two envoys continued negotiations
that they had begun the previous day with U.S. Deputy
Secretary of State Strobe Talbott near Bonn. German
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder told ZDF television on 1 June
that differences of opinion remain among the mediators about
"who must get out [of Kosova], who must go in to protect the
refugees," and over when NATO must stop its air campaign.
Minister of State in the German Foreign Ministry Ludger
Volmer said: "If the two delay their journey, it indicates a
degree of skepticism about the Yugoslav assertion that
[Belgrade] is ready to come to an agreement," Reuters
reported. FS

RUSSIAN, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTERS DEMAND END TO NATO AIR
CAMPAIGN. Meeting in Beijing on 1 June, Igor Ivanov and his
Chinese counterpart, Tang Jiaxuan, demanded an end to NATO's
air campaign against Yugoslavia, ITAR-TASS reported. Ivanov
said that a halt to the bombing is "an indispensable
condition for achieving a political settlement." He added
that "Russia and China regard with anxiety the new trends
toward creating a world with only one center of power and
imposing the policy of dictate." He pledged to "closely
coordinate [Russian-Chinese] cooperation in order to block
the development of those dangerous trends, to promote the
consolidation of international law, and to enhance the role
played by the UN." During his three-day stay in Beijing,
Ivanov will also meet with Chinese President Jiang Zemin. FS

RUSSIA CALLS URGENT UN SECURITY COUNCIL SESSION OVER IRAQ.
Russia requested an urgent UN Security Council meeting on 1
June to demand that UNSCOM chairman Richard Butler submit a
report on what chemicals UNSCOM left behind in its Baghdad
laboratory shortly before the U.S.-British airstrikes last
December, ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported. The demand was made
at the request of Iraq, after UNSCOM recently talked to UN
officials about dismantling the laboratory. UNSCOM say it is
known that the laboratory had "miniscule samples" of nerve
gas necessary to calibrate testing equipment as well as one
liter of mustard liquid gas "stored tightly." Russian
Ambassador to the UN Sergei Lavrov, however, commented "we do
not know what '[miniscule] quantities' are, [nor] which
substances specifically" are stored there. Reuters reported
on 2 June that Butler will tell the Security Council in his
report that the laboratory needs to be dismantled, while
denying Russian allegations that inspectors left nerve gas
unprotected. JC

FEDOROV TO RUN FOR MOSCOW OBLAST GOVERNOR. Anatolii Chubais,
head of Unified Energy Systems and a leader of the Pravoe
Delo movement, said on 1 June in Yekaterinburg that former
Federal Tax Service chief Boris Fedorov will run as the
movement's candidate in the Moscow Oblast gubernatorial
elections, ITAR-TASS reported. At the same time, Chubais
noted that he himself will not run in the State Duma
elections scheduled for this fall. JC

MORE THAN 1 MILLION HOMELESS CHILDREN IN RUSSIA. Russia
marked International Children's Day on 1 June. Deputy Labor
Minister Galina Karelova says there are currently more than 1
million homeless children in Russia and more than 13 million
single-parent families, ITAR-TASS reported. JB

POLICE ON RUSSIAN-LATVIAN BORDER SEIZE ANOTHER ILLEGAL ICON
SHIPMENT. Police on the Russian-Latvian border recently
stopped a truck laden with a large quantity of undeclared
antique icons, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 June. The value of the
icons is currently being assessed by museum experts. The
latest seizure once again puts the spotlight on the problem
of icon smuggling. This was the seventh such find by customs
officers on Russia's western border since the start of 1999.
Some 800 religious works of art intended for smuggling have
been seized so far this year. JB

RUSSIA BUILDING GIANT MOAT ON CHECHEN BORDER. The Russian
military is building a 113-kilometer moat on the border with
the breakaway republic of Chechnya, "Izvestiya" reported on 2
June. The border moat, 16 km of which has already been
completed, is deeper and wider than a previous moat which was
attempted to be built two years ago. Its purpose will be to
help Interior Ministry forces in their battle against cattle
rustlers and equipment thieves who cross the border, raid
villages in Stavropol, and then slip back into Chechnya.
Russian news agencies reported on 2 June that at least one
policeman was killed and three wounded in renewed border
fighting between Russian police units and armed bands from
Chechnya. JB

CHECHEN PRESIDENT SEES 'INTERNATIONAL CONSPIRACY.' Addressing
Shariah Court officials on 1 June, Aslan Maskhadov claimed
that the international community is seeking to destabilize
Chechnya out of fear that other nations will follow the
Chechen example and establish independent Islamic states,
Interfax reported. Maskhadov said the recent failed
assassination attempts against Mufti Ahkmad-hadji Kadyrov and
presidential adviser Danilbek Tamkaev were part of that
conspiracy (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 and 26 May 1999). Two
days earlier, Maskhadov had blamed unnamed Western
intelligence services for provoking the attack on a Russian
border post on the border between Chechnya and Dagestan (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 31 May 1999). LF

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

THREE ARMENIAN PARTIES CALL FOR ELECTIONS TO BE ANNULLED.
Self-Determination Union chairman Paruyr Hayrikian said on 1
June he will appeal to the Constitutional Court to declare
the results of the 30 May parliamentary elections invalid,
RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Hayrikian and the leaders
of the Hayrenik and Intellectual Armenian parties addressed a
statement to that effect to the Central Electoral Commission,
according to Noyan Tapan. Hayrikian said that he will file a
similar appeal with the European Human Rights Court in
Strasbourg. Hayrikian said that more than 100,000 potential
voters were unable to cast their ballots because their names
had been left off voter lists. An Armenian UN official who
oversaw the computerization of the voter lists blamed local
district administrators for the omissions, according to
"Respublika Armeniya" on 1 June. LF

U.S. MONITORS CRITICIZE ARMENIAN POLL SHORTCOMINGS. In a
statement issued on 1 June, the National Democratic Institute
said the 30 May poll showed that despite unspecified
"positive developments," Armenia "failed to meet the
international standards and commitments that it has accepted
as the basis for organizing genuinely democratic elections,"
RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The statement said that the
incomplete voter lists increased the potential for illegal
voting and disenfranchised a large number of voters. The NDI
assessment was harsher than those of either the OSCE
monitoring mission or the Council of Europe (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 1 June 1999). LF

AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION, PARLIAMENT FAIL TO REACH MODUS
VIVENDI. During talks on 31 May, the 17 opposition deputies
aligned in the Democratic Bloc reached a preliminary
agreement with parliamentary leaders to stop their boycott of
parliamentary proceedings, which they began in mid-April,
Turan reported. But the following day, the Democratic Bloc
annulled the agreement. A parliamentary spokesman told Turan
that the opposition deputies have put forward new demands,
while Party of National Independence of Azerbaijan member
Nazim Imanov said the parliamentary leadership insists
details of the 31 May agreement should not be made public. LF

AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION PROTEST FORCIBLY DISPERSED. Some 50
members of the Democratic Party were beaten by police on 1
June when they tried to picket the Prosecutor-General's
Office to protest the arrest of Etibar Guliev, Turan
reported. Guliev is nephew of the party's chairman, exiled
former parliamentary speaker Rasul Guliev. LF

AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE ELECTED TO PARLIAMENT.
Social Prosperity Party chairman Khanhuseyn Kazymly, who
polled less than 1 percent in the October 1998 Azerbaijani
presidential election, was elected to the parliament in a by-
election on 30 May, Turan reported, citing "Yeni Azerbaycan"
on 1 June. A defeated rival candidate alleged that the poll
was rigged and that domestic observers were refused
permission to monitor the voting. LF

TWO MORE ABKHAZ POLICE OFFICERS SHOT. Two Abkhaz police
officers were shot dead and a third injured when their car
was ambushed on 1 June in Abkhazia's Gali Raion, Russian
agencies reported. Abkhaz Interior Minister Amazbei Kchach
told Caucasus Press that the attackers were Georgian
guerrillas who subsequently crossed back over the Inguri
River, which marks the border between Abkhazia and the rest
of Georgia. At least 20 Abkhaz police have been killed in
similar attacks over the past year. LF

ACCUSATIONS AGAINST FORMER KAZAKH PREMIER TERMED
'GROUNDLESS.' U.S. attorney Charles Butt told journalists in
Almaty on 2 June that the charges of tax evasion and
illegally acquiring property abroad brought against
Republican People's Party chairman Akezhan Kazhegeldin are
groundless, RFE/RL's Almaty bureau reported (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 29 April and 26 May 1999). Butt said that
Kazhegeldin paid all the taxes for which he was liable in
1998. Those taxes totaled some 1 million tenge ($9,200). He
also claimed that villas, which were said to be Kazhegeldin's
and photographs of which were published in the Kazakh press,
belong to the children of a prominent Kazakh metallurgy plant
director. Butt denied that his client owns any property in
Belgium. LF

KYRGYZ HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION STILL NOT RE-REGISTERED.
Kyrgyz Commitee for Human Rights chairman Ramazan Dyryldaev
told journalists in Bishkek on 1 June that the Ministry of
Justice has still not re-registered his organization,
RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. The committee's original
registration was revoked in October 1998, and its members
staged two protests in Bishkek last month to demand re-
registration. The parliamentary commission on legal issues
recommended on 27 May that the Ministry of Justice comply
with the committee's request (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 May
1999). LF

TAJIK PRESIDENT 'READY TO MEET' WITH OPPOSITION LEADERS?
Yevgenii Belov, who is Moscow's ambassador to Tajikistan,
told ITAR-TASS on 1 June that Imomali Rakhmonov informed him
at a meeting earlier that day of his readiness to meet with
opposition representatives to discuss their demands. The
United Tajik Opposition has suspended participation in two
commissions on which both it and the Tajik government are
jointly represented to protest the leadership's failure to
comply with specific conditions of the 1997 peace agreement
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 May and 1 June 1999). Also meeting
on 1 June, UN Special envoy to Tajikistan Jan Kubis and Tajik
parliamentary first deputy chairman Abdulmajid Dostiev agreed
that the government and opposition should resume direct
dialogue, AP-Blitz reported. LF

UZBEK FOREIGN MINISTER HOLDS TALKS WITH TALIBAN LEADER.
Abdulaziz Komilov travelled to Kandahar on 1 June where he
met with Taliban militia leader Mulla Mohammad Omar, dpa
reported. The Taliban leader said that his group will not
attend a planned meeting of the so-called six-plus-two (the
six countries that border on Afghanistan plus Russia and the
U.S.) under UN Security Council auspices unless the Taliban
are invited as Afghanistan's legitimate government. LF

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