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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 117, Part I, 16 June 1999
________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 117, Part I, 16 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 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part I * IS RUSSIA WILLING TO COMPROMISE ON KOSOVA? * STEPASHIN PREDICTS IMF CASH BY JULY * NEW ARMENIAN CABINET NAMED END NOTE: RUSSIA'S NEW BEZPRIZORNIKI xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx RUSSIA IS RUSSIA WILLING TO COMPROMISE ON KOSOVA? Vladimir Putin, director of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and chairman of the Russian Security Council, told Interfax in Moscow on 16 June that Russia insists on "a certain degree of independence in making decisions and conducting...peacekeeping operations" in Kosova. He added, however, that Russia is willing to cooperate with NATO through an unspecified Russian officer in the Kosova peacekeeping force (KFOR) command. Observers noted that such a solution would be similar to that used to define Russia's role in the Bosnian stabilization force. FS SERGEEV PLEDGES 'CONSTRUCTIVE' TALKS. Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeev told AFP in Helsinki on 16 June that "President [Boris] Yeltsin [asked him] to do everything, on the basis of the UN resolution, in order to resolve all litigious questions," over Russia's role in KFOR during his meeting with U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen. Sergeev added: "I think the negotiations will be constructive...The West should not worry about our paratroopers in Prishtina." Unnamed Defense Ministry officials told Reuters that Sergeev will urge NATO to give Russian planes access to Hungarian and Bulgarian air space to fly troop reinforcements to Kosova. Russia, however, continues to deny NATO troops access to Prishtina's airport (see related item in Part II). FS COHEN PROMISES TO BE 'CREATIVE.' Cohen told AP aboard a plane to Helsinki on 16 June that "we are now going to examine some of those options, try to be as creative as we can, while still adhering to the basic principle that there must be a unified command." Cohen said the previous day in Washington that any failure of the talks could have wide-ranging implications for Russia's relations with the West in the fields of arms control and Western economic aid for Russia. He stressed that "there is a lot at stake here." Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will join the talks on 17 June. Both sides hope to finalize an agreement quickly and submit it to a NATO Council meeting in Brussels on 18 June. U.S. President Bill Clinton and Yeltsin expect to sign the document at a G-8 summit in Cologne on 20 June. FS STEPASHIN PREDICTS IMF CASH BY JULY... After meeting with IMF Managing Director Michel Camdessus on 16 June, Russian Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin said that the two officials reached a "concrete agreement -- we will fulfill our obligations and the IMF will fulfill its," according to Interfax. Stepashin added that if the State Duma passes the package of bills drafted in accordance with the government's agreement with the IMF then Russia could receive a fairly big tranche in July after the fund's board meets. Camdessus also met with Federation Council Chairman Yegor Stroev. According to Stroev, the two officials discussed boosting the fund's ties with Russia's regions. Camdessus told participants at a conference in St. Petersburg that he was "optimistic" about Russia's long term prospects but that it would be difficult for Russia to sustain economic stability without a return of foreign investment capital. According to AFP, Camdessus also warned Russia not to overestimate the amount of foreign financing it could raise. JAC ...AS TOP ENERGY, RAIL COMPANIES PROMISE TO IMPOSE PRICE CEILING. Representatives from more than 50 energy and rail companies, including Unified Energy Systems, Gazprom, and a variety of major oil companies, agreed on 16 June to limit price increases through the remainder of 1999, Interfax reported. According to the agency, the agreement calls for establishing "economically justifiable" prices on energy, metals, and transportation and encourages the adoption of long term agreements between suppliers and their main customers. ITAR-TASS reported that companies agreed to raise prices at a maximum rate of 0.5 percent below the monthly rate of inflation. According to First Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Aksenenko, said the agreement "is not a government attempt to interfere in relations between producers and consumers." He added that such attempts "are not market- oriented." JAC CHERNOMYRDIN TRYING TO RETURN TO GAZPROM. Presidential envoy to Yugoslavia and former Gazprom head Viktor Chernomyrdin said on 15 June that he does not exclude the possibility of reassuming the chairmanship of Gazprom, ITAR-TASS reported. He also confirmed that he is seeking a post on the company's board of directors. The same day, when asked whether current Gazprom head Rem Vyakhirev might resign, Deputy Chairman Petr Rodionov said that there will be no surprises at the company's annual meeting scheduled for 30 June, Interfax reported. Earlier in the month new Fuel and Energy Minister Viktor Kalyuzhnii said that it would be "absolutely sensible" for the government to review the trust agreement that it has with Vyakhirev, which gives him 37.5 percent of the company's stock in trust. Vyakhirev responded by telling reporters that he would remain chairman of Gazprom. JAC CHUBAIS TO RUN FOR OFFICE IN ST. PETERSBURG? The political movement Right Cause (Pravoe Delo) will take part in gubernatorial elections in St. Petersburg, according to Right Cause member and Unified Energy Systems chief Anatolii Chubais, "Izvestiya" reported on 16 June. The newspaper speculated that Chubais's open criticism of incumbent Governor Vladimir Yakovlev indicated that Chubais himself intends to run. The previous day, "Kommersant-Daily" reported that Chubais's "compatriots believe that only Chubais himself can compete" with Yakovlev. Meanwhile, a Yabloko press spokesperson told Mayak Radio that the movement will nominate Igor Artemiev for the mayoral post in St. Petersburg. Last January, Yabloko recalled Artemiev from the post of St. Petersburg deputy governor and chairman of the city finance committee, declaring that it will now be in opposition to Yakovlev and his government (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 January 1999). JAC CONSTITUTIONAL COURT TO CONSIDER TAX LAWS. Russia's Constitutional Court on 15 June began considering an appeal by a group of Russian businessmen who are arguing that the punishment for violating tax laws imposes an excessive limitation on the freedom of enterprises and private property rights and stifles economic independence, ITAR-TASS reported. Previously, the court suspended a penalty of 32 billion old rubles imposed on a Voronezh businessman for underreporting his profits. Deputy Finance Minister Mikhail Motorin, who attended the court session, said that the businessmen's case has no merit and almost all problems raised by entrepreneurs, such as the excessive level of fines, have been addressed by the new Tax Code, the first part of which entered into force in January 1999. According to the agency, the court will make a decision no earlier than in two weeks. JAC AKSENENKO PROMISES NEW FUNDS FOR SIBERIAN RAILWAY PROJECT. At a meeting of the State Construction Commission on 15 June, First Deputy Prime Minister Aksenenko pledged the assistance of the federal government in developing the Baikal-Amur Railroad, ITAR-TASS reported. He said that the government has "special programs and funds" to first build mining and then processing plants along the railway line. The railway was built 25 years ago as a more direct route to Russia's Pacific ports than the existing Trans-Siberian Railroad and was intended to allow for the extraction of mineral and other riches from the Siberian wilderness, according to AP. More recently, the East Siberian Railroad and the governments of the Buryatia Republic and Chita Oblast have been attempting to establish a special economic zone along the line to boost the railway's flagging revenues and the economies of the regions it traverses (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 April 1999.) JAC TOP ITALIAN LEGISLATOR ARRIVES IN MOSCOW. The speaker of the Italian parliament, Luciano Violante, arrived in Moscow on 15 June for an official visit. After meeting with Violante that day, Premier Stepashin declared that "Italy is approaching the ranks of Russia's priority partners." According to ITAR- TASS, Violante and Stepashin stressed the importance of carrying out two important joint projects, the creation of YAK/AEM-130 training planes and the production of Fiat cars in Nizhnii Novgorod. The same day, Violante met with Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov and he was also scheduled to meet with Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Aleksii II and top State Duma officials. JAC FIRST COUNCIL SESSION GATHERS COUNTRY'S ECONOMIC GLITTERATI. Addressing the first session on 15 June of the Economic Council established by his government, Prime Minister Stepashin explained that the purpose of the council is to provide a forum for the constant interaction of representatives of the government, executive branch, and differing economic schools of thought, Interfax reported. "Izvestiya" reported the next day that rarely have so many of the nation's best economic minds with such varying political orientations been gathered together. Attending the meeting were former acting Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar, former economics ministers Yevgenii Yasin and Yakov Urinson, former Central Bank deputy chairman Sergei Aleksashenko, economists from the White House and the Kremlin, Soviet-era economists Nikolai Petrakov and Leonid Albalkin as well as leading businessmen such as Transaero head Aleksandr Pleshakov and LUKoil head Vagit Alekperov. JAC ANDROPOV REMEMBERED. Vladimir Putin, head of the Federal Security Service (FSB), laid flowers on the tomb of former Soviet leader Yurii Andropov to commemorate his 85th birthday on 15 June, ITAR-TASS reported. Andropov, a former head of the KGB, the predecessor organization to the FSB, served as general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union for just 15 months from November 1982 to February 1984. According to former KGB head Vladimir Kryuchkov, "Andropov's personality is the most relevant in Soviet history after Stalin's," "The Moscow Times" reported on 16 June. "He gave the impulse to the policy [of reform that former Soviet leader Mikhail] Gorbachev carried out later, but he didn't do any harm to our state," he continued. According to "Segodnya" the previous day, academic and human rights activist Andrei Sakharov once remarked that under Andropov the KGB was the only uncorrupted state structure in the USSR. JAC KEMEROVO GOVERNOR TO CONTEST TATARSTAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS? Aman Tuleev "does not exclude" the possibility of running for president in Tatarstan in next year's presidential poll, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported citing APN of 14 June. Tuleev was born in Turkmenistan. His father was Kazakh and his mother Tatar, but he speaks neither of those languages. LF DEFEATED PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE CALLS FOR DIVISION OF KARACHAEVO-CHERKESS REPUBLIC. At a protest demonstration on 15 June in Cherkessk, the capital of the Republic of Karachaevo-Cherkessia, supporters of Mayor Stanislav Derev called for the republic's division into separate Cherkess and Karachai entities, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported the following day. That demand was prompted by the Cherkess minority's rejection of the ruling handed down on 10 June by the republic's Supreme Court recognizing as legal and valid the outcome of the presidential election. In the first round of voting on 25 April, Derev (who is a Cherkess) had polled 40.1 percent and his closest rival, Vladimir Semenov (a Karachai), 17.9 percent. In the runoff three weeks later, which both candidates claim was marred by voting irregularities, Semenov garnered 75 percent of the vote (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 and 24 May 1999). LF TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA NEW ARMENIAN CABINET NAMED. President Robert Kocharian announced the lineup of the new cabinet late on 15 June, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Nine ministers from the previous cabinet retained their posts, including Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian. Former Premier Armen Darpinian was appointed economy minister, while the Interior and National Security Ministry was split into two component parts, with Serzh Sarkisian retaining responsibility only for internal affairs. Yerevan Mayor Suren Abrahamian was named national security minister. A young army general, Vagharshak Harutunian, who formerly served at the Armenian embassy in Moscow, succeeds Vazgen Sargsian as defense minister. The People's Party of Armenia, one of the two partners in the majority Miasnutyun bloc, acquired only one minor ministerial post (postal services and telecommunications). The Armenian Revolutionary Federation--Dashnaktsutiun--lost one of its two ministerial posts, retaining only the Ministry of Culture. LF ARMENIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ADVOCATES NEW FRIENDSHIP AGREEMENT WITH GEORGIA. In an interview with Armenian Television, Vartan Oskanian said that Armenia and Georgia should sign a new and "more global" agreement that would reflect the changed state of relations between the two countries, Caucasus Press reported on 15 June. Oskanian added that he hopes the new agreement will "include elements of strategic partnership." He said that the agreement could be signed during a visit to Armenia within the next few months by Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze. LF U.S. CALLS ON ARMENIA, AZERBAIJAN TO OBSERVE KARABAKH CEASE- FIRE... In a statement issued on 15 June, U.S. State Department spokesman James Rubin called on "all sides" in the Karabakh conflict to heed the appeal last month by the three co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group to observe the cease-fire agreement of May 1994, Reuters reported. Rubin also stressed the need "to negotiate urgently a comprehensive and durable solution to the conflict based on the proposals advanced by the Minsk Group co-chairs." Turan on 11 June had quoted Azerbaijani State Foreign Policy Advisor Vafa Guluzade as stating that all points in the Minsk Group proposals that "counter in spirit" international norms should be dropped. Guluzade added that if Baku's opinion is not taken into consideration, no progress can be expected during the co- chairs' next visit to the region. No date has yet been set for that visit. LF ... AS BOTH SIDES CONTINUE TO DISCLAIM RESPONSIBILITY. In a statement issued on 15 June, the Foreign Ministry of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic blamed Azerbaijan for the fighting along the region's northeastern border the previous day, RFE/RL's Stepanakert correspondent reported. The statement said that the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army repulsed an attempt by Azerbaijani troops to bring their positions closer to the border. In Baku, the head of the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry's press service, Colonel Ramiz Melikov, told Turan that it was Armenian forces who launched the offensive. Melikov said the attack demonstrated that "Armenian military leaders still dream of capturing Ter-ter and Yevlakh," which would enable them to isolate Gyanja, the second city in Azerbaijan. He added that the Armenian losses in the fighting were higher than those sustained by Azerbaijan. LF BAKU-NOVOROSSIISK PIPELINE CLOSED INDEFINITELY. The ill- starred northern export pipeline for Azerbaijan's Caspian oil will be shut down indefinitely following the explosion that damaged the Chechen sector on 14 June, Interfax reported the following day quoting unnamed Transneft officials. Transneft had threatened to halt transportation of crude through the pipeline unless the Chechen government took effective measures to prevent thieves tapping into it and siphoning off oil (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 June 1999). LF TWO GEORGIAN POLICEMEN SHOT NEAR BORDER WITH CHECHNYA. Four people--including two Georgian police officers--were killed in a shootout on 15 June in the Pankisi gorge in eastern Georgia when five masked men flagged down a police car and opened fire on the two occupants, Caucasus Press reported. The motives for the attack are unclear. LF KAZAKH OPPOSITION PARTY PESSIMISTIC OVER ELECTION PROSPECTS... Bigeldy Gabdullin, who is editor of the newspaper "21 Vek" and vice chairman of former Premier Akezhan Kazhegeldin's People's Republican Party of Kazakhstan, told RFE/RL correspondents in Astana on 11 June that local authorities are obstructing the registration of the party's regional branches. Gabdullin said the party has succeeded in registering branches in only three of Kazakhstan's 14 oblasts. Under the new election law, only those parties that have registered branches in at least seven oblasts are eligible to contend the parliamentary elections scheduled for this fall. LF ...AS IS EX-MAYOR OF KYRGYZ CAPITAL. In an interview published in "Vechernii Bishkek" on 11 June, Feliks Kulov announced his intention of founding a new political movement named Ar-Namys (Honor), the founding conference of which will take place "soon," RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Kulov, who resigned in late April accusing President Askar Akaev of condoning undemocratic practices by his subordinates, said that he has decided to remain in politics because the Kyrgyz economy "is headed for disaster" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 April 1999). Kulov said that he will appeal to the Constitutional Court to abrogate as anti-constitutional the article of the election law that stipulates that only political parties that were officially registered no later than one year prior to the election date are eligible to contend the next parliamentary elections. That poll is scheduled for February 2000. LF MINIMAL PROGRESS TOWARDS TAJIK RAPPROCHEMENT. Talks last week between working groups representing the Tajik government and United Tajik Opposition (UTO) on the terms for a resumption of cooperation between the two sides within the Commission for National Reconciliation failed to reach a compromise solution on unspecified disputed issues, Interfax reported on 15 June citing a press release from the UN mission in Tajikistan. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 16 June quoted the head of the UTO working group, Mukhammadsharif Himmatzoda, as saying that the talks achieved no positive results. Himmatzoda added that he hopes the UN will embark on a further round of discussions with both opposition and government representatives. The two working groups were scheduled to meet on 16 June to discusss a possible meeting between UTO leader Said Abdullo Nuri and President Imomali Rakhmonov. LF END NOTE RUSSIA'S NEW BEZPRIZORNIKI By Paul Goble The social and economic disorder in the Russian Federation has pushed more than 1.5 million school-age children into the streets, a larger number of "unsupervised" youths than the Soviet state faced in the 1920s and a development which casts a shadow over that country's future. According to the journal of the Russian Ministry of Education, unemployment, alcoholism, and assorted social pathologies in the home are not only driving ever more young people into the streets where they frequently drift into crime but also having a serious impact on their physiological development. Ministry analysts suggest that the rising tide of criminal behavior by such young people reflects the collapse of Soviet-era arrangements for structuring leisure time activity and the rise of alternative and largely Western role models in the media. One of these analysts, Vladimir Andreev, bemoans the fact that Russian children today face a situation in which the old system of organized activities and camps "is basically in ruins." As a result, he says, an ever increasing number of children take their behavioral cues from media which glorify violence and get-rich-quick schemes and from youths not much older than themselves who are already pursuing what this analyst calls a false and perverted goal. In this, Andreev writes, the children have been following their parents and Russian society as a whole. In 1991, he notes, Russians "once again decided to restructure everything at one fell swoop, to start over again as we did back in 1917--this time, however, exclusively on a solid, 'democratic' foundation. The new starting point was found as well--just do everything completely opposite" to what had been done. That radical change of sign posts, Andreev suggests, has subverted the moral order without providing a new one. And that pattern has been exacerbated by the fact that "every autumn and every spring a new Moses swears that stabilization" and prosperity "are just around the corner," thus undercutting any willingness by children or their parents to defer gratification. Meanwhile, Vladimir Bazarnyi, a ministry doctor who keeps track of child health issues, suggests in the same journal that more than 90 percent of those who do remain in secondary schools now have developmental problems, with 85 our of every 100 school-age girls suffering from physical abnormalities in pelvic development. This latter figure, he suggests, is "simply horrifying" because it points to a future in which "the overwhelming majority of future mothers will not be able to give birth to healthy offspring who are normal 'in all parameters.'" And such statistics, the ministry figures imply, are even worse for those 1.5 million children who have left school early. This is not the first time Moscow has faced the problem of unsupervised youth or "bezprizorniki," as they are called in Russian. Following the Russian Civil War, Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin ordered his secret police chief Feliks Dzerzinskiy to commit half of the Cheka's employees to combatting the plague of homeless youth. And later, other Soviet leaders used the police to limit the number of such people on various occasions. The Russian Federation Ministry of Education refers to these earlier approaches, but its officials call for more money to be devoted to the health and well-being of children. At present, they note that "there is a catastrophic lack of funds everywhere" children are involved. But they complain that even now there is "more than enough money" for other things: There is "more than enough" for "the maintenance of two parallel governments," for "squadrons of flights to places like Davos and Strasbourg," for "multiple channels to transfer money abroad," and even for "the purchase of luxurious villas on the Cote d'Azur" where "obviously no kindergartens are going to be built for our little ones." "Sackfulls of brand-new banknotes," these officials continue, "are being spent to build marble and crystal bank interiors, nightclub casinos, and personal mansions and estates in the suburbs, and to pay for the foreign schooling of the offspring of the hard-currency families that especially distinguished themselves during the era of the initial accumulation of capital." Such a cry from the heart of educators is perhaps not surprising in the tough budgetary struggles in the Russian capital. But the problems they point to affect not only Russia's children but Russia's future. And analogous problems are to be found in many other post-Soviet states as well. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word subscribe as the subject of the message. HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE Send an email to email@example.com with the word unsubscribe as the subject of the message. 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