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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 111, Part I, 8 June 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 111, Part I, 8 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

* G-8 KOSOVA TALKS DEADLOCKED

* PREMIER FAILS TO PERSUADE DUMA LEADERS TO BACK IMF BILLS

* ARMENIAN DEFENSE MINISTER TO BE NAMED NEW PREMIER
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RUSSIA

G-8 KOSOVA TALKS DEADLOCKED... Foreign ministers of the G-8
countries, meeting in Bonn on 7 June, failed to agree on a
draft UN Security Council resolution on ending the Kosova
crisis. "Izvestiya" reported the next day that Foreign
Minister Igor Ivanov "de facto presented NATO with an
ultimatum: Until the moment that NATO ends its bombing [of
targets in Yugoslavia], Moscow will block the adoption of
the Security Council resolution." Unnamed diplomats,
however, told AP and dpa that the talks were suspended to
allow Ivanov time to consult with Moscow over sticking
points. CNN on 8 June quoted unspecified Russian media as
reporting that Ivanov tried to meet with President Boris
Yeltsin on 7 June but that Yeltsin was "indisposed." A
presidential spokesman denied the report. FS

...OVER NATO'S ROLE, CEASE-FIRE TIMING, WAR CRIMES. The
unnamed diplomats also told AP in Bonn on 7 June that
Russian and Western diplomats disagreed over whether a
peace force would be under NATO or UN command and whether
its role would be peacekeeping or peace-enforcement. Other
points of disagreement included the timing of a cease-fire
in relation to the withdrawal of Serbian forces and whether
the UN resolution must mention that Yugoslav leaders have
been charged with war crimes. FS

YELTSIN WANTS TO CONTINUE NEGOTIATIONS. Russian President
Yeltsin told his U.S. counterpart, Bill Clinton, by
telephone on 7 June that he will instruct Ivanov to work
quickly to resolve the remaining problems, National
Security Council spokesman David Leavy told AP in
Washington. State Department spokesman James Rubin said the
Western allies will not accept a peacekeeping mission under
UN control, calling that position "our red line." Meanwhile
in Bonn, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said he is
"optimistic" that the G-8 foreign ministers will agree to a
final text at their meeting on 8 June in Cologne. He
stressed that they have already agreed to 17 out of 20
points in the draft. He did not elaborate. Meanwhile,
Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, who is the EU's special
envoy to Yugoslavia, arrived in Beijing on 8 June to seek
Chinese backing for the resolution. FS

ZYUGANOV WANTS CHERNOMYRDIN SACKED. Russian Communist Party
leader Gennadii Zyuganov told Interfax on 7 June that his
party is preparing a State Duma resolution urging Yeltsin to
sack Viktor Chernomyrdin as his special envoy to Yugoslavia.
Zyuganov said that Chernomyrdin "has gone from special
representative to special destroyer," claiming that his peace
plan will lead to a "further breakup" of Yugoslavia.
Meanwhile, Chernomyrdin adviser Valentin Sergeev said in
Moscow that "any talk" about the collapse of the talks is
"unjustified and counterproductive." Meanwhile, Vladimir
Ryzhkov, the head of the Our Home Is Russia (NDR) faction,
charged NATO with acting "in a destructive way." He added
that as soon as a "political agreement is reached, the
[Western] military kill it." Yabloko member Vladimir Lukin,
who is chairman of the Duma's International Affairs
Committee, similarly charged NATO with being "actively
engaged in arm-twisting at the talks," ITAR-TASS reported. FS

PREMIER FAILS TO PERSUADE DUMA LEADERS TO BACK IMF BILLS...
After a meeting between Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin and
Duma faction leaders on 7 June, NDR faction leader Ryzhkov
told reporters that his faction will not support some of the
draft legislation submitted by the government in accordance
with its agreement with the IMF. Yabloko leader Grigorii
Yavlinskii said his faction "can support a considerable
number of the draft laws, but we will not support all draft
legislation connected with rise in gasoline and alcohol
prices and other such measures." The same day, leader of the
largest faction, Communist Party head Zyuganov, said that his
group will vote against the bulk of the economic legislation
package. Stepashin will address the Duma on 9 June, when it
is scheduled to consider a number of tax measures, including
a bill that would impose a new tax on gasoline stations (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 7 June 1999). JAC

...THREATENS TO IMPOSE CEILING ON GASOLINE PRICES. According
to Russian agencies, Stepashin told Duma leaders that a
strict moratorium on further increases in fuel prices and
railroad tariffs should be imposed by the end of the year and
that companies that raise refined product prices will have
their access to export outlets cut off. A number of regions
have reported rising gasoline prices (see "RFE/RL Russian
Federation Report,"19 May 1999). For example, in the Republic
of Bashkortostan, prices of gasoline have risen an average of
7-9 percent since 15 May, Interfax-Eurasia reported on 7
June. JAC

CABINET OFFICIALS DUTIES OUTLINED... In a series of decrees
issued on 8 June, Prime Minister Stepashin detailed the
responsibilities of top cabinet officials. First Deputy Prime
Minister Nikolai Aksenenko will oversee the so-called "real"
sector of the economy, including energy, construction, and
transportation, as well as the work of the ministries dealing
with anti-monopoly policy, transportation, fuel, and
railways. He will also fill in for Stepashin when the latter
is absent. First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko will
manage budget and tax policy and oversee the Ministries of
Finance, Economics, State Property, Tax, and Trade, ITAR-TASS
reported. Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov will direct the
work of the Ministries for Atomic Energy and Science, Deputy
Prime Minister Vladimir Shcherbak the Ministries for
Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Deputy Prime Minister
Valentina Matvienko, the Ministries for Labor, Health,
Education, and Culture. JAC

...AS MISMATCH WITH EXPERIENCE ASSERTED. Prime Minister
Stepashin also reappointed Georgii Tal chief of the Federal
Bankruptcy Service on 7 June. The next day, President Yeltsin
signed a decree creating a new Ministry for Sport and
Tourism, ITAR-TASS reported. In its analysis of the cabinet
appointments, "Komsomolskaya pravda" noted on 5 June that
there is a mismatch between appointees' experience and
expertise and their current duties. For example, First Deputy
Prime Minister Khristenko, who "is a skillful specialist in
budgetary relations with the regions," is in charge of
macroeconomics. Mikhail Zadornov, presidential envoy to
international financial institutions, is an expert in
budgetary affairs, while Finance Minister Mikhail Kasyanov,
who oversaw debt negotiations with foreign creditors, will
now tackle budgetary matters. JAC

LUZHKOV TO FACE NEW CHALLENGE ON POLITICAL FRONT... The
emergence of former Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko as a
possible candidate in the Moscow mayoral elections has added
fuel to media speculation that the Kremlin is waging a
campaign against Moscow Mayor and likely presidential
contender Yurii Luzhkov. On 7 June, Luzhkov responded to
Kirienko's critical remarks about the management of Moscow
City in an 5 June interview with "Nezavisimaya gazeta" by
threatening to sue the former premier for slander. Kirienko
said that "it is not customary to talk about how contracts
are distributed in Moscow and how effectively the Moscow
bureaucracy is working when not even the smallest problem can
be resolved without a bribe." According to "Kommersant-Vlast"
on 1 June, Kirienko "has been entrusted with the
propagandistic element" of revealing Luzhkov's failures as
mayor. JAC

...AND ECONOMIC ONE, TOO? "Kommersant-Vlast" also predicts
that those of the "mayor's enemies" with the requisite
economic leverage will re-register large taxpayers outside
Moscow and increase demands on city agencies to transfer tax
monies to the federal government in a more timely fashion. In
this way, the city of Moscow, which is facing a crush of
payments to foreign creditors, will have to declare a default
(see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 5 May 1999). JAC

VOLOSHIN CONFIRMS STEPASHIN'S PRESIDENTIAL AMBITIONS. In an
interview with "Izvestiya" on 8 June, chief of the
presidential administration Aleksandr Voloshin said that he
believes Prime Minister Stepashin is a possible successor to
President Yeltsin. "A man who becomes prime minister a year
before the elections must have presidential ambitions,"
Voloshin continued. Voloshin also denied media reports about
the alleged influence of Sibneft head Roman Abramovich on
Kremlin decisions, saying that Abramovich appears at the
Kremlin "very rarely." In an article on 4 June, "Kommersant-
Daily" alleged that President Yeltsin's plans for retirement
include heading a new federation formed on the basis of
Russia and Belarus. JAC

EES PLANNING COMPUTER SHOPPING SPREE BEFORE 2000. Russia's
electricity giant, Unified Energy Systems, revealed on 7 June
that it needs to replace 15,000-17,000 of its 50,000
computers because of anticipated problems stemming from the
so-called millennium computer bug, ITAR-TASS reported. Deputy
chairman of the company's board, Aleksandr Remezov, told
reporters that the company needs to spend $15 million on the
purchase of new computers and new software. As an additional
precaution before the new year, the company plans to conduct
training sessions at all nuclear power plants to prepare
their personnel for possible breakdowns if the Y2K problem is
not solved completely. JAC

RUSSIAN, BULGARIAN PREMIERS PRAISE BILATERAL RELATIONS.
Following their meeting in Moscow on 7 June, Stepashin and
Ivan Kostov told reporters that there are no "political
differences" between their two countries, while Stepashin
stressed the need to begin implementing "concrete economic
projects," Russian agencies reported. Bilateral annual trade
has halved during the past three years, plummeting from $2.5
billion to $1.2 billion in 1998, which Kostov, in talks with
Russian industrialists, attributed to frequent changes in
trade regulations. With regard to Kosova, Stepashin urged
Bulgaria to play a more active role in settling the conflict:
"You should put things in order in the Balkans on your own,"
he commented, adding that "this is more efficient and less
painful." Among the documents signed during Kostov's visit--
his first to Moscow since becoming premier in 1997--were an
intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in the fight
against illegal financial transactions and a memorandum on
cooperation between the two countries' Justice Ministries. JC

HE WHO GAVE IS TAKING AWAY. U.S. financier George Soros
announced on 7 June that he is planning to slash funding for
a science education program that issues grants to professors
and students at high schools and universities across Russia.
He explained that move by saying the Russian government
failed to meet its commitment to contribute to financing the
program. According to Interfax, Soros is considering a number
of new programs in Russia, which is one of the reasons why
funding will be cut. Under the new programs, major regional
Russian libraries will be automated and a 100-volume edition
of the best works of Russian literature published, according
to ITAR-TASS. In an interview with "Kommersant-Daily" on 5
June, Nikolai Karpov, a member of the Russian Academy of
Sciences, reported that Russia is losing most of its young
scientists through emigration to the U.S. and Canada. JAC

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN DEFENSE MINISTER TO BE NAMED NEW PREMIER. President
Robert Kocharian on 10 June will formally name Vazgen
Sargsian to head the new government, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau
reported on 8 June, quoting an unnamed senior government
source. Kocharian will sign the appropriate decree
immediately following the election at the opening session of
the new parliament of the parliamentary speaker. The most
likely candidate for that post is former Armenian Communist
Party First Secretary Karen Demirchian, who, together with
Sargsian, leads the Miasnutyun alliance. The alliance has a
majority in the new parliament. LF

ABKHAZ, GEORGIAN DELEGATIONS MEET IN ISTANBUL.
Representatives of the government of Georgia and that of the
country's breakaway Black Sea region of Abkhazia began
consultations in Istanbul on 7 June aimed at kickstarting the
deadlocked peace process. Since late last year, the two sides
having been trying to reach agreement on two documents, one
on the non-resumption of hostilities and the other dealing
with both the repatriation to Abkhazia of an estimated
200,000 Georgian displaced persons who fled during the 1992-
1993 war and measures to revive the region's economy.
Speaking in Tbilisi on 7 June, Georgian President Eduard
Shevardnadze said that if it proves impossible to arrive at a
peace settlement through diplomatic means, Tbilisi will
consider other, unspecified measures. Abkhaz President
Vladislav Ardzinba told the Istanbul meeting that
Shevardnadze's comparison between the Abkhaz and Kosova
conflicts is inappropriate, given that it was the Georgian
army that began the war by invading Abkhazia in 1992. LF

TURKEY GRANTS GEORGIA FUNDS FOR ARMY MODERNIZATION. Major-
General Serafetddin Elci, who is head of the Financial
Department of the Turkish armed forces General Staff, and
Georgian Deputy Defense Minister Grigol Katamadze signed an
agreement in Tbilisi on 7 June under which Ankara will grant
Georgia $1.7 million in 1999 toward modernizing its armed
forces, ITAR-TASS and Caucasus Press reported. Part of those
funds will be allocated to the Georgian Frontier Guard
Service. Last year, Turkey granted Georgia $5.5 million for
defense purposes. Turkey will also assist Georgia in
organizing multinational maneuvers in 2001 within the
framework of NATO's Partnership for Peace program. LF

PRO-PRESIDENTIAL PARTY CRITICIZES KAZAKH GOVERNMENT. Leading
members of the OTAN (Fatherland) party, including
parliamentary speaker Marat Ospanov, issued a statement on 7
June castigating the government for failing to protect
domestic industry, stem rising unemployment, and pay pensions
and social allowances on time, Reuters and Interfax reported.
The statement said that as a result of its "incompetent
actions," the present government has forfeited public
support. It called on parliamentary deputies to vote no
confidence in the present cabinet, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service
reported. Prime Minister Nurlan Balghymbaev responded by
characterizing the problems facing his government as the
legacy of the policies pursued by former Premier Sergei
Tereschenko, who now heads OTAN. LF

KAZAKHSTAN FACES BUDGET CUTS. Prime Minister Balghymbaev on 7
June presented to the lower house of parliament plans for
cutting budget spending in 1999 by more than 18 billion tenge
($151 million), ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. Revenues are
to be revised downward by 11.5 billion tenge. Balghymbaev
said that the decrease in revenues is the result of falling
exports to the country's most important trading partners,
especially Russia, and lower prices for oil and metals on
world markets. LF

ANOTHER PROTEST DEMONSTRATION IN KYRGYZSTAN... Some 50 people
picketed the regional administration building in the northern
Kyrgyz town of Talas on 7 June to protest deteriorating
living conditions and delays in paying wages and pensions,
RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. The same day, the lower
house of the parliament began considering government-proposed
amendments to the Law on Pensions and Social Guarantees,
which would double the minimum salary from 100 soms ($2.3) to
200 soms. Deputies rejected that proposal as inadequate,
noting that the minimum per capita subsistence level is 950
soms. LF

...AS BISHKEK YOUTH DEMAND OWN PARLIAMENTARY CONSTITUENCY.
Meeting on 5 June with President Askar Akaev, representatives
of young people engaged in building their own homes on the
outskirts of Bishkek suggested creating a new constituency to
enable them to vote for a parliamentary deputy to represent
their interests, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. They
complained that the district where they live is without
roads, running water, electricity, or public transport to the
city center. The district is home to some 100,000 young
people from rural areas, 80 percent of whom are unemployed.
Akaev promised that a government commission will be formed to
address the problem. In 1990, homeless residents of Bishkek
founded the first informal political organization in the then
Kirghiz SSR. LF

TAJIK OPPOSITION SEEKS TO BRIDGE RIFT WITH GOVERNMENT. The
United Tajik Opposition will create a working group headed by
National Reconciliation Commission member Muhammad Sharif
Himmatzoda to discuss conditions for renewing cooperation
with the government on implementation of the 1997 peace
agreement, Interfax and Reuters reported. UTO leader Said
Abdullo Nuri said he anticipates that the working group will
make its proposals within five or six days. The opposition
suspended its work in the National Reconciliation Commission
two weeks ago to protest the government's failure to
implement key points of the 1997 peace agreement, including
the release of 93 imprisoned opposition fighters and the
appointment of opposition nominees to 30 percent of all
national and local government posts (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
25 May 1999). LF

TAJIKISTAN, CHINA DISCUSS TRADE, BORDER DEMARCATION. Visiting
Dushanbe on 6-7 June, Chinese Deputy Premier Qian Qichen met
with Tajik First Deputy Prime Minister Khodja Akbar
Turadjonzoda and President Imomali Rakhmonov. The talks
focused on measures to expand bilateral trade and economic
relations, including Tajikistan's accession to the agreement
between China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Pakistan on the
transit of goods. They also dealt with outstanding points of
disagreement in a draft document demarcating the frontier
between the two countries. Rakhmonov and Qian discussed
regional security and the situation in Afghanistan, on which
their views proved "almost identical," according to
presidential spokesman Zafar Saidov. The two sides also
signed an intergovernmental agreement whereby China will
grant Tajikistan 10 million yuan (about $1.2 million) in
humanitarian aid. LF

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