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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 118, Part I, 17 June 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 118, Part I, 17 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

* DUMA CALLS STEPASHIN'S BLUFF

* COHEN REPORTS 'GOOD PROGRESS' IN TALKS WITH SERGEEV

* KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT WITHDRAWS REQUEST FOR ADDITIONAL
POWERS

END NOTE: OBSTACLES TO PARTY LOYALTY IN THE EAST
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RUSSIA

DUMA CALLS STEPASHIN'S BLUFF... Resisting verbal pressure
from Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin and others, State Duma
members issued their first rejection on 17 June of a bill
from the package of measures drafted in accordance with the
government's agreement with the IMF. The vote was 101 in
favor with 219 against and 6 abstentions, according to ITAR-
TASS. The Communist, People's Power, Agrarian, and Yabloko
factions opposed the bill, while Our Home is Russia and
Russian Regions supported it. Earlier, Stepashin threatened
to call a vote of confidence in the government if the IMF
legislation were rejected. Prior to the vote the government
withdrew its version of the bill imposing a tax on gasoline
stations in favor of one worked out by a trilateral
commission composed of representatives of the Duma, the
Federation Council, and the government. JAC

...APPARENTLY UNCONVINCED BY PRICE PLEDGE. One author of the
compromise bill, Duma deputy and Yabloko member Sergei Don
told "The Moscow Times" the same day that the trilateral
commission's product had been distorted by government
amendments introducing effective gas price controls, and that
it would "bring about a rise in corruption and a huge rise in
prices. At worst it would lead to deficits and lines for
gas." "Rossiiskaya Gazeta" reported on 17 June that the pact
signed by more than 50 Russian energy and rail companies
promising to freeze prices until the end of the year contains
no clause about penalties for violations of its provisions.
JAC

IMF CASH MAY NOT COME TILL THE FALL. IMF Managing Director
Michel Camdessus said on 16 June that he does not consider
the passage of specific tax bills by the Duma a strict
requirement for Russia to get new loans, Interfax reported.
He reportedly said that the fund's only requirement for
Russia is that it have a transparent budget and that the
government tell the people the truth. "Segodnya" predicted
that the law taxing gasoline stations notwithstanding, the
government needs to get 30 bills through the lower chamber
and approval on a first reading alone "cannot satisfy the
IMF." Therefore, the question of resuming cooperation with
the IMF is postponed till the fall, according to the daily.
The same day, Peter Westin of the Russian-European Center for
Economic Policy in Moscow also concluded that "it looks
likely that the IMF money will not arrive until September-
October now," AFP reported. JAC

NO NEWS ABOUT DEFAULT MAY BE GOOD NEWS. The 16 June deadline
for Russia's London Club creditors to declare Russia in
default for missing a payment on Soviet-era debt passed with
no word from the creditors, "The Moscow Times" reported the
next day. Moscow missed a $850 million payment on 2 June.
Before the deadline passed, some analysts said that rumors
about the possibility of a default being declared by the club
were designed to pressure Russia during negotiations over
restructuring the debt (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June 1999).
Meanwhile, the Russian press has been carrying reports that
the London Club has agreed to delay some of Russia's
payments. ITAR-TASS reported on 15 June, citing an anonymous
official at the Fitch ICBA credit agency, that the London
Club had granted a grace period until 2 December. The same
day "Segodnya" reported that club members had postponed
payments worth $578 million due in 1999 until after 2000. JAC

COHEN REPORTS 'GOOD PROGRESS' IN TALKS WITH SERGEEV. U.S.
Secretary of Defense William Cohen told AP that "good
progress has been made" in Kosova negotiations with his
Russian counterpart Igor Sergeev in Helsinki on 16 June.
Cohen and Sergeev did not finalize an agreement, however, on
the role of Russia within KFOR. Sergeev told ITAR-TASS after
the meeting: "We have reached an agreement on the structure
of command of the peacekeeping operation with the
participation of the Russian military contingent." Cohen,
however, told AP: "We've had some agreements in some areas,
but until the entire package as such is resolved there can be
no agreement." He added that one possibility is to give the
Russians a "zone of responsibility" within a section of
Kosova commanded by NATO forces. Sergeev and Cohen resumed
the talks on 17 June. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright and Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov are
scheduled to join the negotiations later in the day. FS

CONFUSION REMAINS OVER COMMAND STRUCTURE. Russian President
Boris Yeltsin told ITAR-TASS in Moscow on 16 June that Russia
insists on having an unspecified "area of responsibility" in
Kosova. Yeltsin, after talking to Sergeev by telephone, said
that "discussion [in Helsinki] of most of the questions went
peacefully," but stressed that he "categorically disagrees"
with NATO, which rejects the creation of a Russian sector
under separate Russian command. Russian special envoy Viktor
Chernomyrdin stressed that "at all stages of
the...negotiations...we left no doubt that the Russian
contingent will never be subordinated to NATO commanders."
The chief of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and chairman
of the Russian Security Council, Vladimir Putin, said after
meeting with Yeltsin on 17 June that the model established in
Bosnia--where Russian troops work in tandem with the NATO-led
peacekeeping force--might serve well in Kosova. FS

ANOTHER BANK POISED TO LOSE ITS LICENSE... Central Bank
Chairman Viktor Gerashchenko told reporters on 16 June that
Oneksimbank's license may be revoked at any moment. According
to Gerashchenko, the bank's management is aware of its
precarious state and is currently negotiating with the
Central Bank and a variety of creditors--most of them
foreign--about settling its debts, which were earlier
estimated at $2 billion. Gerashchenko added that the fate of
two more major banks is now being decided but he declined to
identify them. Oneksimbank was one of Russia's top ten
largest banks and its chairman Vladimir Potanin was
considered one of Russia's so-called oligarchs. JAC

...AS OVERALL NUMBERS OF BANKS THIN ONLY SLIGHTLY. The same
day, "Vremya MN" reported that the number of credit
organizations operating in the Russian market slipped by 1
percent during the month of May, from 1,422 to 1,407 as of 1
June. From January to May, the number of credit organization
declined only 5 percent. In February, Gerashchenko predicted
that Russia would have only 200-300 commercial banks by the
end of 1999 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 February 1999). He
later revised this estimate upwards. JAC

JUSTICE MINISTRY FAVORS EXTENDING DEADLINE FOR RELIGIOUS
GROUPS. Justice Minister Pavel Krasheninnikov believes that
only 35 percent of Russia's religious organizations have been
registered as required by a controversial 1997 law on
religion, "Segodnya" reported on 16 June. As a result,
Krasheninnikov supports extending the current deadline of 31
December 1999 by an additional two years. Under the law,
groups that are unregistered can be banned. JAC

DUMA PASSES LAW TO SUPPORT SPACE INDUSTRY. The State Duma
passed on 16 June on the third reading a law on state support
for the space industry. Under the law, space sector
enterprises and organizations will be temporarily exempt from
federal taxes and soft loans will be extended to the sector,
Interfax reported. The law also calls for state support for
regions whose land is littered with debris from rocket
launches. Ecologists in one affected area, the Republic of
Khakassia, estimated that 30 tons of waste has fallen on the
region from rockets and satellites launched at Baikonur space
complex in neighboring Kazakhstan (see "RFE/RL Russian
Federation Report," 19 May 1999). Other regions littered by
space waste are Altai Krai, Astrakhan Oblast and the Republic
of Bashkortostan. JAC

FIRES CONTINUE TO SWEEP RUSSIAN FORESTS. As of 16 June, 132
forest fires were blazing in Russia, 79 of which started in
the previous 24 hours, a federal forestry service official
told ITAR-TASS. According to the official, more than a
thousand acres of forests were destroyed in the past day.
Forest service officials have expressed concern that their
agency's chronic lack of fuel and equipment will lead to the
destruction of more of the region's taiga as the fire season
sets in (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 26 May
1999). Last year, more than 400,000 acres of forest were
destroyed by fire, according to ITAR-TASS. JAC

KAMCHATKA RESIDENTS TURN FROM PETITIONS TO STREET PROTESTS.
Almost 2,000 people participated in a protest march in the
city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskii on 16 June to protest
continuing electricity outages, "Trud" reported the next day.
Earlier, Russian Television reported that residents were
collecting signatures on a petition asking that the UN
establish control over their peninsula (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 15 June 1999). On 16 June, the Japanese government
responded by announcing that it would provide three diesel-
run electric generators to three institutions for the
handicapped, mentally retarded, and orphaned children,
according to Interfax. According to a statement from the
Japanese embassy in Moscow, the humanitarian aid will arrive
at the beginning of September. After meeting with Kamchatka
Oblast Governor Vladimir Biryukov on 17 May, Prime Minister
Stepashin announced that a decision would be made that day on
whether to allocate 50 million rubles ($2.1 million) to
purchase fuel for the oblast, ITAR-TASS reported. JAC

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

PAPAL VISIT TO ARMENIA POSTPONED. The planned visit to
Armenia by Pope John Paul II on 18 June has been postponed
due to the pontiff's illness, Reuters reported on 16 June
quoting Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls. The pope had
hoped to make a brief stopover in Armenia on his return from
Poland to Rome in order to meet with the head of the Armenian
Apostolic Church, Catholicos Garegin I, who is reportedly
terminally ill with cancer. An official papal visit to
Armenia in early July to mark the 1700th anniversary of the
adoption of Christianity as the state religion was postponed
ten days ago because of the Catholicos's failing health (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 7 June 1999). LF

AZERBAIJAN, RUSSIA CONSIDER ALTERNATIVE OIL EXPORT OPTIONS.
Russian Fuel and Energy Minister Viktor Kalyuzhnii told oil
executives in Moscow on 16 June that there is no alternative
to the permanent closure of the Baku-Grozny-Novorossiisk oil
export pipeline, Interfax reported. Transneft head Dimitrii
Savelev suggested that Azerbaijani oil could be exported by
rail via Dagestan instead. But Natik Aliev, president of
Azerbaijan's state oil company SOCAR, said that he doubts
whether that solution would benefit Azerbaijan, ITAR-TASS
reported. Aliev added that Transneft has not yet informed
Azerbaijan of its decision to close the Baku-Novorossiisk
pipeline. Chechen presidential chief of staff Apti Batalov
told Interfax on 16 June that Chechnya "is taking the most
resolute measures" to prevent further thefts of oil from that
pipeline and will fulfill all its obligations in that
respect. LF

ABKHAZIA ACCUSES TBILISI OF ABETTING GEORGIAN GUERRILLAS.
Amazbei Kchach, interior minister of the unrecognized
Republic of Abkhazia, told Caucasus Press on 16 June that he
is certain that Georgian leadership is backing the White
Legion guerrilla movement, which Kchach accused of trying to
destabilize the situation in southern Abkhazia in order to
deter Georgian displaced persons from returning to their
abandoned homes there. The White Legion recently issued a
statement, which was summarized in the Georgian daily "Alia"
on 15 June, vowing to continue its struggle for the
restoration of Georgia's territorial integrity and the
repatriation of displaced persons, whose numbers it estimated
at 300,000. According to UNHCR data, the true figure is
probably closer to 200,000. Although the Georgian leadership
claims to have no control over the White Legion, in May 1998
it undertook to prevent further killings by that force in
southern Abkhazia (see "End Note," "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 May
1998). LF

KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT WITHDRAWS REQUEST FOR ADDITIONAL
POWERS. Nursultan Nazarbaev retracted on 15 June the request
he submitted to the lower chamber of parliament five days
earlier to expand his legislative powers, Interfax reported
on 16 June quoting presidential press secretary Asylbek
Bisenbaev. Nazarbaev had argued that he needed such powers in
order to clear a backlog of legislation that would help to
galvanize the country's flagging economy (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 14 June 1999). But deputies assured the president
at a 11 June meeting that they will ensure the timely
adoption of those laws despite the upcoming parliamentary
summer recess. LF

KAZAKH LOCAL COURT REJECTS EX-PREMIER'S APPEAL. A district
court in Almaty on 16 June rejected a written appeal by
former Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin's lawyer, Vitalii
Voronov, that the criminal proceedings brought against
Kazhegeldin from tax evasion are unfounded, RFE/RL's Almaty
bureau reported. Voronov informed the court that his client
paid the 5 million tenge (approximately $38,000) he owed in
taxes for 1997. But the court ruled that the charges are
valid and denied that they were politically motivated.
Voronov said that Kazhegeldin will remain abroad until his
legal status is clarified, according to Interfax. LF

KAZAKH POLICE ROUND UP ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS. Police in Almaty
have launched an operation to detain and deport illegal
immigrants, RFE/RL correspondents reported from the former
capital on 16 June. To date, 800 people have been deported,
132 of them on 15 June to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Some
Chinese immigrants have also been apprehended. An additional
1,500 people have been fined for violating Kazakhstan's
passport regulations. President Nazarbaev attended a session
of the State Security Council on 16 June that discussed the
illegal immigrant problem and the demarcation of Kazakhstan's
frontiers, RFE/RL's Astana bureau reported. LF

BEREZOVSKII ACQUIRES KAZAKH TV CHANNEL, NEWSPAPER. Russian
politician and businessman Boris Berezovskii has purchased
the Almaty TV channel KTV and the independent satirical
newspaper "Karavan," RFE/RL correspondents reported on 16
June, citing a second private Almaty TV station. LF

TURKEY EXPRESSES CONCERN AT KARABAKH CEASEFIRE VIOLATION. The
Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement on 17 June
expressing concern that the 14 June fighting between
Azerbaijani and Armenian forces could endanger regional
stability and negatively impact on efforts to achieve a
peaceful solution of the Karabakh conflict, Turan reported
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 June 1999). The statement repeated
the Azerbaijani version of events which blamed the fighting
on the Armenian side. Turan also reported that Armenian
forces opened fire on the same Azerbaijani positions near the
northeastern border of the unrecognized Republic of Nagorno-
Karabakh during the afternoon of 16 June with small arms and
grenade launchers from positions 8 kilometers away. The use
of small arms at that distance seems implausible. The
Azerbaijani troops returned fire, and both sides suffered
losses, Turan reported. LF

KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT BLAMES GOVERNMENT FOR GRAIN SHORTAGES. The
lower chamber of the Kyrgyz parliament adopted a statement on
16 June criticizing the government's policy on grain and
flour supplies, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. The
statement noted that the government had recently sent large
quantities of flour to Uzbekistan in payment of Kyrgyzstan's
outstanding gas debts and that domestic grain supplies are
currently exhausted. It proposed that the Kyrgyz government
should ask Kazakhstan to settle its $22 million debt to
Kyrgyzstan in grain. Bread and flour prices in Kyrgyzstan
have recently risen by 30-40 percent. LF

TAJIK GOVERNMENT, OPPOSITION WORKING GROUPS RESUME TALKS.
Meeting in Dushanbe on 16 June, government and opposition
working groups scheduled a meeting the following day between
President Imomali Rakhmonov and United Tajik Opposition
leader Said Abdullo Nuri, Reuters reported. The two will
address opposition demands that the Tajik authorities comply
with specific aspects of the 1997 peace agreement allocating
opposition representatives 30 percent of national and local
government posts. The opposition insists on the appointment
as defense minister of its candidate, Mirzo Ziyoev, the
release of 93 imprisoned Tajik fighters, and the holding of
parliamentary elections before the presidential poll which
Rakhmonov has pledged will take place no later than early
November--when his five-year term expires. The UTO suspended
cooperation within the Commission for National reconciliation
on 24 May to protest the Tajik authorities' failure to meet
those demands (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 May 1999). LF

TAJIK OPPOSITION PARTY OBJECTS TO RUSSIAN MILITARY PRESENCE,
REFERENDUM. The Democratic Party of Tajikistan has issued a
statement condemning the April agreement between Moscow and
Dushanbe allowing Russia to maintain a military base in
Tajikistan, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 17 June. The
statement says the Russian military presence serves to prop
up the present Tajik leadership and deters foreign
investment. The statement also appealed to the population and
political parties to lobby against the holding of a proposed
referendum on amendments to the Tajik Constitution. It argued
that the proposed amendment on the "separation of religion
from the state" could engender a new round of fighting
between government and opposition forces. LF

UZBEK TERRORISM TRIAL RESUMES. Uzbekistan's Supreme Court
resumed proceedings on 16 June after a five-day break against
22 people accused of perpetrating the bombings in Tashkent on
16 February that killed 16 people and injured almost 100
more, AP reported. They are accused of terrorism, attempting
to kill President Islam Karimov, drug trafficking, illegal
possession of weapons, and robbery. The state prosecutor
called for the death sentence on 10 of the defendants, and
for prison terms of 10-14 years for the remainder. Also on 16
June, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said it had recalled its
ambassador from Tashkent for consultations following
criticism by Uzbek officials of Ankara's delay in extraditing
to Uzbekistan two men suspected of participating in the bomb
attacks. LF

END NOTE

Obstacles To Party Loyalty In The East

By Paul Goble

	Relatively few people in post-Soviet countries have
developed much loyalty to the new political parties. This
state of affairs has raised concerns about the prospects for
representative democracy in this region--despite the slow
development in the West of party loyalty in the past and
recent declines in party loyalty there.
	Most discussions about the absence of party loyalty in
the post-Soviet countries have focused on the unwillingness
of people to commit to a particular party because of their
experiences with the single Communist Party in the past.
Those discussions have focused on the lack in these countries
of the kind of clear-cut social and economic cleavage lines
on which parties and party loyalty normally rest.
	But two recent studies of the development of political
parties in Estonia point to a third factor that in the short
run, at least, may prove to be even more important: the
absence of loyalty to any particular party by members of the
political elite and their willingness to hop from one party
to another in the elusive pursuit of votes and power.
	In his book, "Parties and Democracy in the Post-Soviet
Republics: The Case of Estonia," David Arter traces the
remarkable career path of Tiit Made, a former communist who
founded the Green Movement but refused to join any of the
Green parties. After that, Arter wrote, Made shifted to the
left-wing Democratic Labor Party, only to jump to the
rightist Entrepreneurial Party before leaving that to chair
the Center Party.
	And Made, who has jumped yet again since Arter's book
was published--the Estonian politician has now founded a new
Development Party--is not alone. As American social scientist
Rein Taagepera points out in the current issue of "Party
Politics," many other Estonian politicians have done the
same.
	He points out that in the 1995 parliamentary elections,
44 of the 101 incumbents were re-elected, but 16 of these--
more than one-third in all--had run and won under a new and
different party label. And that has led Taagepera to ask:
"How on earth could voters develop any party loyalty before
the politicians themselves do?"
	But in asking this question, Taagepera raises three
broader issues that most of those discussing this "problem"
in post-communist countries generally ignore. First,
Taagepera notes, those who bemoan the absence of party
loyalty in the post-Soviet states forget just how long it
took Western countries to develop modern political parties.
	In Scandinavia, he argues, it took "half a century to
proceed from the first proto-parties of the mid-1800s to
constellations that could be called party systems, without
utterly diluting the meaning of the term 'system.'" Estonia
and her neighbors have moved far more quickly, even if they
do not yet have the kind of parties and party loyalties
typical of western and northern Europe.
	Second, Taagepera suggests that most studies of party
development in post-Soviet countries ignore just what the
Soviet system did to atomize the population, destroying the
kind of social and economic integuments that bind people
together for collective action of the kind political parties
represent.
	He acknowledges that Estonia, like other countries
"where democracy existed before an authoritarian or
totalitarian interlude," has done better than those countries
lacking such a foundation. But he pointedly notes that "the
atomization of society and economy under Soviet rule was far
more severe than in Spain under Franco or even the communist
regimes in Central Europe."
	And third, Taagepera argues that the "central assumption
democracy without parties is unthinkable," may not be true or
at least not true in the way its supporters claim. Not only
does it ignore that party loyalty is declining rapidly in
most Western countries, but it fails to take into account the
new media environment that allow politicians to advance
themselves without the support of the party apparatus.
	Indeed, Taagepera says, "if dealignment is real in the
West (partly because TV stresses personalities and displaces
the parties from their information-providing role), then
Estonia could actually be seen as taking a shortcut into the
Western future" rather than moving off in ways that preclude
a democratic outcome.
	Almost certainly parties, party loyalty, and party
development will affect further development of the post-
communist countries. But Arter's findings and Taagepera's
arguments suggest that their role may be far more complicated
and differentiated than some both there and in the West have
assumed.
	And that in turn suggests that those monitoring the
development of democracy need to take into account a variety
of factors--including the loyalty of politicians to parties--
before decrying the absence of party loyalty by the
population at large.

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