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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 114, Part I, 11 June 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 114, Part I, 11 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

* TALKS ON KOSOVA PEACEKEEPING TROOPS ISSUE BREAK OFF

* FIRST RUSSIAN SOLDIERS ALREADY DEPARTED?

* ARMENIAN DEFENSE CHIEF NAMED PRIME MINISTER

End Note: THE APPROACHING END OF THE 'PARTY OF POWER'
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RUSSIA

TALKS ON KOSOVA PEACEKEEPING TROOPS ISSUE BREAK OFF. U.S.
Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott left Moscow on 11
June without securing an agreement to a unified NATO command
for the Kosova peace-keeping force. Talbott arrived in Moscow
the previous day to discuss Russia's role in such a force
with presidential envoy to Yugoslavia Viktor Chernomyrdin,
Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin, and various Defense Ministry
officials. Russian officials have repeatedly insisted that
the force should be put under the UN's command, rather than
NATO's. Head of the department for international military
cooperation at the Russian Defense Ministry General Leonid
Ivashov, who was conducting talks with Assistant Defense
Secretary Ted Warner and others, told reporters on 11 June
that "our positions on the role of the Russian military
contingent in Kosovo differ. The Americans have taken a
timeout," according to ITAR-TASS. Ivashov added that "if we
do not reach an agreement, we will work out with Yugoslavia
the sector we will control," according to AFP. JAC

FIRST RUSSIAN SOLDIERS ALREADY DEPARTED? Interfax reported
the same day that 300 paratroopers of the first 1,000 Russian
troops could head for Yugoslavia as early as 11 June. In
addition, 500 Russian peacekeepers currently in Bosnia-
Herzegovina could relocate to Kosova in the near future.
"Rossiiskaya gazeta" reported the same day that by 15 August
2,200 Russian airborne troops will be ready to move into
Kosova from airborne troop units stationed in Tula, Ivanovo,
and Pskov. Citing Beta news agency, AP reported on 11 June
that a convoy of Russian troops numbering up to 1,000 crossed
over from Bosnia into Serbia at midmorning and were expected
in Kosovo by the afternoon. Beta said that the Russian
vehicles bore the insignia of the Kosova peacekeeping force.
JAC

RUSSIA-NATO RELATIONS STILL IN DEEP FREEZE. Russian President
Boris Yeltsin said on 11 June that Russia's relationship with
NATO "remains frozen; we will see later what happens." The
same day, an unidentified Russian Foreign Ministry official
told Interfax that the announced pause in NATO air strikes
against Yugoslavia is not a justification for a renewal of
relations with NATO. He added that "first the operation must
stop completely" and following that, "the Russian-NATO
Founding Act will need rethinking." Anonymous Defense
Ministry officials added that renewing relations with NATO
"is not on our list of priorities now." "Rossiiskaya gazeta"
reported that one Defense Ministry official reported that the
ministry will no longer hold consultations and talks with
representatives of the NATO command on the Kosova issue,
explaining that "we will resolve all issues directly with the
Americans." JAC

NEW BUDGET ALLOCATES LESS TO MILITARY... Russia will devote
110.88 billion rubles ($4.56 billion) or 2.17 percent of GDP
to military spending next year, according to the current
draft of the 2000 budget, Prime-Tass reported on 10 June.
Defense spending is the second-largest expenditure item in
the budget, followed by spending on law enforcement
activities and state security, which totals 1.35 percent of
GDP or 68.74 billion rubles. First Deputy Prime Minister
Viktor Khristenko told reporters on 10 June that the draft
budget plans $10 billion for foreign debt payments, compared
with the $15.6 billion owed. The remainder will have to be
rescheduled, according to Khristenko. In addition,
international financial institutions will have to provide new
financing worth $3-3.85 billion to cover next year's deficit.
JAC

...THAN TO CREDITORS. The 1999 budget sets aside $9.5 billion
for expected payments totaling 17.5 billion. Khristenko had
predicted that foreign creditors are likely to decide on
Russia's debt-restructuring plan by 15 June. Aleksandr
Livshits, former finance minister, suggested that a decision
on restructuring Soviet-era debt is likely to take a year. In
addition, some analysts have suggested that rumors being
circulated about the London Club plans to declare Russia in
default are part of a broader strategy to gain more
concessions during debt-restructuring negotiations. According
to Interfax, Russia failed to make payments worth $1.218
billion to the London Club in June. JAC

RUSSIA TO IMPOSE NEW CURBS ON TOBACCO. State Duma deputies on
10 June approved a bill in the first reading that would
impose stricter control over tobacco sales and advertising.
The legislation bans the sale of tobacco products to people
under the age of 18, smoking in certain public places, and
limits cigarette advertising, according to ITAR-TASS. Health
Committee chairman Nikolai Gerasimenko told deputies before
the vote that 70 percent of Russian men smoke, 27 percent of
women, and "42 percent of children and teenagers," according
to "The Moscow Times" on 11 June. Under the law, employers
can impose an 860 rubles ($35) fine on workers who smoke
outside specially designated areas. JAC

LUZHKOV CLAIMS KREMLIN'S OUT TO GET HIM. Moscow Mayor Yurii
Luzhkov told reporters on 10 June that the presidential
administration has given orders to find compromising
materials about him and the work of the Moscow city
government. He said that the administration, despite its
public professions of impartiality toward him, has in fact
declared him "Enemy No. 1." The same day, head of the
presidential administration Aleksandr Voloshin told Interfax
that he knows nothing about such orders and that the
administration has enough real work to do on the threshold of
parliamentary elections, such as preventing attempts to
tinker with the ballot. At a meeting with the heads of
regional election commissions, Voloshin said that while the
administration dislikes the idea of moving up Moscow mayoral
elections, it will not oppose such a move as long as
"everything is done lawfully," according to ITAR-TASS (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 10 May 1999). JAC

LEBED'S POPULARITY AS NATIONAL FIGURE SLIPS. A poll of 1,500
respondents in urban and rural areas conducted by the Public
Opinion Fund showed that 6 percent would have voted for
Krasnoyarsk Krai Governor Aleksandr Lebed if presidential
elections had been held in May 1999, Interfax reported on 10
June. Last year, 12 percent of respondents in a similar poll
conducted by the same organization said they would vote for
Lebed. Within a period of 12 months, Lebed dropped from
second or third place in the popularity ratings to sixth. In
a new book on Lebed, Nikolai Petrov of the Carnegie Moscow
Center concludes that the first several months of Lebed's
tenure as governor were not overly successful and that he may
be impeached as early as May or June of this year. He also
notes that national voters may not hold Lebed's performance
as governor against him partly because they do not completely
trust mass media accounts of his performance. JAC

ANOTHER GOVERNOR SEEKING TO BENEFIT FROM EARLY ELECTIONS?
Following the Novgorod Oblast Duma vote last month to move up
gubernatorial elections from December to September (see
"RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 9 June 1999), the
opposition has accused incumbent Governor Mikhail Prusak, who
has broad support in the local legislature, of seeking to
serve his own political interests, an "EWI Russian Regional
Report" correspondent reported on 10 June. The opposition
argues that Prusak is afraid to hold the gubernatorial vote
at the same time as the State Duma elections because turnout
could be high enough to oust him from office. They also point
to the high cost of staging two separate election campaigns.
Similar arguments were raised in Belgorod Oblast when the
local legislature, loyal to incumbent Governor Yevgenii
Savchenko, voted to hold an early ballot. Savchenko easily
won re-election last month, beating out another leftist
candidate and Liberal Democratic Party of Russia leader
Vladimir Zhirinovskii. JC

MINISTER URGES RENEWED COOPERATION WITH LIBYA. At a 10 June
cabinet session, Russian Emergency Situations Minister Sergei
Shoigu urged that military and technical cooperation with
Libya be renewed, Interfax reported. Pointing out that Libya
had earlier bought Russian-made weaponry worth $18 billion,
Shoigu noted that those weapons now require servicing and
maintenance. He also commented that possible payments by
debtor countries such as Libya should be taken into account
in drawing up Russia's 2000 budget. Earlier this year, the UN
Security Council lifted sanctions against Tripoli. Also on 10
June, the Russian national airline resumed passenger flights
to Libya, ITAR-TASS and AP reported. Aeroflot is offering a
weekly service between the two capitals. JC

SEVEN DIE IN ST. PETERSBURG SUBWAY ACCIDENT. Seven people
were killed and more than a dozen injured when a concrete
roof collapsed in the entrance to the Sennaya Square subway
station in downtown St. Petersburg on 10 June. Governor
Aleksandr Yakovlev told ITAR-TASS the next day that so far
police do not believe a terrorist act caused the accident.
The subway station was built in the mid-1960s. JC

KARACHAEVO-CHERKESSIA COURT SAYS ELECTION VALID. The Supreme
Court of Karachaevo-Cherkessia on 10 June declared the recent
presidential elections valid and said that Vladimir Semenov,
who won a majority in the second round, has been elected
president, Caucasus Press reported. The court had
investigated the poll for two weeks following a complaint
against the republic's Central Electoral Committee. PG

STEPASHIN SAYS RUSSIAN, CHECHEN PRESIDENTS TO MEET. Russian
Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin said in Vladikavkaz on 11
June that a meeting between Russian President Yeltsin and
Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov will take place by all
means," ITAR-TASS reported. Stepashin added that the
presidential session will be arranged on the basis of his
conversations with Maskhadov. PG

RED CROSS APPEALS FOR RELEASE OF HOSTAGES IN NORTH CAUCASUS.
The International Committee of the Red Cross issued another
appeal on 10 June for the release of a New Zealander and his
Russian associate who were taken hostage last month near
Chechnya, AP reported. The ICRC said that Chechen officials
claim that they have taken "appropriate measures" to secure
the release of these hostages. Meanwhile, ITAR-TASS reported
the same day that a correspondent from the Russian
Federation's Volga Military District was released by his
kidnappers at the Chechen border. PG

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN DEFENSE CHIEF NAMED PRIME MINISTER. Government
sources in Yerevan told RFE/RL that Defense Minister Vazgen
Sarkisian, whose Miasnutyun alliance won the 30 May
parliamentary elections, has been appointed prime minister by
President Robert Kocharian. The appointment is to be
announced later on 11 June. The names of other members of the
new cabinet have not yet been announced. PG

GEORGIA, ARMENIA, IRAN TO COOPERATE IN FIGHTING CRIME. The
foreign ministers of Georgia, Armenia, and Iran signed a
memorandum in Tbilisi on 10 June committing their countries
to work together to control illegal drugs and money
laundering, the Georgian news agency Iprinda reported. Under
the terms of the agreement, the three will hold annual
meetings, exchange information, and train one another's
specialists in these areas. PG

YEREVAN SAYS ITS WEAPONS DON'T THREATEN OTHERS. Armenian
Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian said in Tbilisi on 10 June
that his country has every right to purchase weapons for its
national security, Prime-News reported. But he insisted that
the weapons it possesses do not pose a threat to Georgia. PG

RICH-POOR GAP INCREASES IN ARMENIA. The UN Development
Program announced on 10 June that living standards for most
Armenians have deteriorated over the last several years and
that the gap between the wealthy and the poor has increased,
Armenpress reported. The average monthly salary in Armenia is
now $27. PG

DEBAKEY SAYS ALIEV IN GOOD HEALTH. U.S. heart surgeon Michael
DeBakey told ITAR-TASS on 11 June that Azerbaijani President
Haidar Aliev has made excellent progress in recovering from
his 29 April surgery and is now in good health. DeBakey, who
acknowledged that he has not seen Aliev since the surgery,
said he based his assessment on conversations with Aliev's
doctors. PG

BAKU SEES NO CHANGE IN ARMENIA'S POSITION. Vafa Guluzade,
Azerbaijani President Aliev's chief foreign policy adviser,
told the Turan news agency on 10 June that he does not
believe that the election of former communist leader Karen
Demirchian as speaker of the Armenian parliament will produce
significant changes in Yerevan's approach to foreign policy.
He added that "one can expect changes in Yerevan's attitude
to the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict only when Russia's
influence on Armenia declines." PG

BAKU SAYS IRAN HAS INCREASED ESPIONAGE ACTIVITIES.
Azerbaijan's Security Ministry told Reuters on 10 June that
Tehran has increased its espionage effort against Baku and
that Iranian agents are seeking to weaken the Azerbaijani
republic. The Iranian Embassy denied the charges. PG

NEW AZERBAIJANI GAS FIELD LARGER THAN EXPECTED. President
Aliev said on 10 June that test wells at the Shakh Deniz oil
field suggest that this field contains almost twice as much
gas as predicted, Reuters reported. The Azerbaijani leader
said that there may be 700 billion cubic meters of gas in the
field, instead of the 400 billion cubic meters estimated. PG

TBILISI SEES SUPPORT FOR 'INTERNATIONALIZING' ABKHAZ PEACE
PROCESS. Georgian State Minister Vazha Lordkipanidze on 10
June said that Tbilisi's ambassador in Brussels has found
support for adopting the "Kosovo pattern" for a resolution of
the Abkhaz dispute, Prime-News reported. According to the
Caucasus Press news agency, among those supporting this view
are the U.S. and German ambassadors. PG

GREECE TO PRESENT WARSHIP TO GEORGIA. The Greek Defense
Ministry will present a warship and other military equipment
to Georgia in two weeks or so, Caucasus Press reported on 10
June. The same day, Tbilisi officials noted that Russia has
slowed or even stopped its promised withdrawal of frontier
troops from Georgia. PG

NAZARBAEV MARKS FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF NEW CAPITAL. Kazakhstan
President Nursultan Nazarbayev on 10 June participated in
celebrations marking the first anniversary of the shift of
his country's capital from Almaty to Astana, Interfax-Central
Asia reported. He said that "much has changed" in the new
capital over the last year and that it "will become the
administrative center of the country and the cultural and
scientific center of our state." PG

KAZAKHSTAN DENIES VIOLATING ANTI-DUMPING ACCORD. Viktor
Yazikov, an official of Kazakhatomprom, told Interfax-
Kazakhstan on 10 June that his country has not violated an
agreement on ending an anti-dumping investigation concerning
uranium exports to the West. Yazikov said that charges to
this effect reflect an effort by Washington to promote the
interests of the U.S. Enrichment Corporation. PG

KAZAKHSTAN FAILS TO HELP REPATRIATES. According to
prosecutors in Kazakhstan, the government has failed to
provide sufficient funds to help those who have returned to
the country from other republics but who do not have the
status of refugees, Asia-Plus reported. More than 175,000
such people came to Kazakhstan between 1991 and the end of
1998. As a result, the authorities have set a quota of only
500 families for all of 1999. PG

BOMB DAMAGES TAJIK TOWN. An explosion in Tursunzade on 10
June caused extensive property damage but claimed no
casualties, Reuters reported on 11 June. Local officials said
there is no indication that the latest bombing is linked to
the country's long-running civil war. PG

TURKMENISTAN VISA LAW BLOCKS DEPARTURE OF 51. According to
Interfax on 10 June, the new mandatory visa regime set up by
Ashgabat on 8 June has already prevented 51 people from
flying out of the Turkmen capital to Moscow. Acquiring the
necessary documentation will take "at least a month," the
news agency said. PG

END NOTE

THE APPROACHING END OF THE 'PARTY OF POWER'

By Paul Goble

Economic failures, geopolitical isolation, and electoral
experience are combining to bring an end to the rule of the
"party of power," one of the most characteristic features of
the post-communist transition in the former Soviet republics.
	An amorphous and non-ideological group consisting of a
non-party president, a politicized bureaucracy, and a
depoliticized government closely linked to non-official
groups, the party of power serves as a buffer between
Communists on the left and nationalists on the right in the
Russian Federation, Ukraine, Moldova, and other post-Soviet
states.
	At the present time, the party of power, both as a
concept and a reality, still dominates the political
landscape. But as Vladimir Bruger writes in the 26 May issue
of the Moscow newspaper "Nezavisimaya gazeta-Sodruzhestvo,"
its days may be numbered because of forces beyond its
control. He suggests that it is likely to be replaced by a
politicized politics and a more pragmatic political style.
	The first such force working against the continued
dominance of the "party of power" in these countries is the
continuing if not accelerating collapse of their economies.
Because the parties of power have justified their remaining
in office by pointing to the evils that either the
nationalists or Communists may bring, they have often escaped
public attack even if they have not received much public
support.
	But as the economic situation in these countries has
deteriorated, the parties of power no longer can make that
argument work to their advantage. "In contrast to ideology or
PR," Bruger writes, "economics demands an accounting for
everything that is done and not done." And ever more people
and politicians are deciding that the alternatives denounced
by the party of power may in fact not be worse than the
incumbents.
	The second force undermining the continuation of this
form of governance is the changing geopolitical position of
these countries. Immediately after the collapse of communism,
the first post-Soviet governments--which included second-
level party nomenklatura officials as well as a thin stratum
of reformers--expected that the West would not only provide
substantial aid but would work to integrate these countries
into Western organizations.
	Neither has happened, at least as far as the population
can see, Bruger notes. As a result, ever more people in these
countries are prepared to consider supporting parties of the
left or the right advocating policies that can be variously
described as committed to self-reliance or going it alone.
	And the third force is the growing electoral experience
of both politicians and the population in these states. The
parties of power were able to coopt many politicians, and
these ideologically based leaders were all too willing to be
coopted--because the party of power had all the power--and
all too willing not to challenge the bases of the party of
power because they hoped eventually to use its levers
themselves.
	One distinguishing characteristic of this tendency,
Bruger notes, is that in both Russia and Ukraine, the
political parties that form the parliamentary majorities in
parliament have accepted the designation of opposition and
have behaved as such.
	But that pattern is beginning to change as a result of
the pressures of electoral politics. Some of those now
aspiring to office were earlier cast out of the party of
power and have since changed their views. After being fired
as Russian premier, Viktor Chernomyrdin's political party
adopted a very different stand on the constitutional
arrangements that have allowed the Russian party of power to
control all decision-making.
	Even more important, as the populations of these
countries gain experience with elections, those politicians
who hope to win support are now being forced to distance
themselves from the failings of those currently in power.
Thus, as Bruger points out, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov
immediately declared that his new party "cannot be held
responsible for everything that was done before us."
None of this necessarily sounds an immediate death knell for
the parties of power. The authoritarian traditions of these
countries mean that many leaders, even those who head more
ideologically based parties, prefer the informal and backroom
dealings that the parties of power have practiced over the
last few years. And in the past, the parties of power have
shown their ability to manipulate the media and the political
system during elections and successfully maintain their
positions of power by portraying their opponents as more
dangerous than themselves.
	But economic collapse, international isolation, and
experience with elections have fragmented the parties of
power in all these countries, Bruger notes, thus reducing
their ability to respond to challenges. That makes it ever
more likely that over the next decade, the current "party of
power" system will give way to a more ideologically and
interest-based politics.
	That may produce bad things as well as good, Bruger
concludes. But he adds that it will at least mean that the
post-communist transition will enter a new phase, one that
will put still more distance between where these countries
will be and where they were in the communist past.

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