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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 119, Part I, 18 June 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 119, Part I, 18 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

* OPTIMISM DESPITE DELAY IN HELSINKI TALKS

* DUMA WANTS TO CRACK DOWN ON CAPITAL FLIGHT

* PLANNED ARMENIAN-AZERBAIJANI SUMMIT CANCELLED
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RUSSIA

OPTIMISM DESPITE DELAY IN HELSINKI TALKS... U.S. Secretary of
Defense William Cohen, his Russian counterpart Igor Sergeev,
U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and Russian
Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov continued negotiations over
Russia's role in the Kosova peacekeeping force (KFOR) on 18
June. The four failed to finalize an agreement the previous
day, AFP reported. U.S. President Bill Clinton told Reuters
on 18 June that "they've got almost all the issues
resolved.... When I was briefed this morning, it didn't seem
to me that it would take too much longer." Senior Russian
diplomat Boris Mayorskii also predicted that "everything will
be fine. We will find an agreement." The foreign and defense
ministers of NATO are scheduled to meet in Brussels on 18
June to approve the document if it is finalized. Clinton and
his Russian counterpart, Boris Yeltsin, want to sign the
agreement at a G-8 meeting in Cologne on 20 June. FS

...SERGEEV REPORTS AGREEMENT ON COMMAND STRUCTURE,
PRISHTINA AIRPORT. Sergeev told Interfax on 17 June that
he and Cohen "agreed on a command structure for the
peacekeeping operation in [Kosova] with the
participation of a Russian military contingent." He
added that both sides also agreed on the status of the
Prishtina airport, but did not elaborate. Russia is
blocking NATO forces' access to the airport, while
several member states of NATO's Partnership for Peace
program have denied Russian planes an air corridor to
bring reinforcements into Kosova until NATO and Russia
finalize the settlement. Sergeev added that the main
stumbling block in the talks remains Russia's insistence
on controlling its own sector in Kosova and the U.S.
rejection of this on the ground that it could lead to a
partition of Kosova. FS

WILL GERMANY SHARE ITS KOSOVA SECTOR WITH RUSSIA? An
unnamed German general on 17 June met with Russian
military officials in Moscow to discuss the possibility
of sharing the command over the southern sector of
Kosova, the "Berliner Zeitung" reported. Defense
Minister Rudolf Scharping reportedly proposed that
German and Russian troops jointly control that sector,
while the command would alternate between the two
countries every six months. An unnamed senior U.S.
official told AFP in Helsinki on 18 June that U.S.
diplomats contacted the governments of Britain, France,
Germany, and Italy during the negotiations. He added
that "what is being discussed affects [the assigned
sectors] of the other countries." Observers noted that
it would not be possible for Russia to partition the
German sector from the rest of Kosova, because it has no
border with Serbia. FS

HOW MUCH WILL RUSSIA'S KFOR TROOPS COST? Federal Security
Service chief Vladimir Putin, who is also Russia's Security
Council secretary, estimated on 16 June that a Russian KFOR
contingent will cost at least $50 million per year, Interfax
reported. "Kommersant-Daily" on 18 June, however, quoted
Yevgenii Savilov, who is commander of the 106th Guards
Airborne Division, as saying that the soldiers would earn
between $800 and $1,500 per month. Observers noted that this
would bring the annual personnel costs of a 7,000-strong
contingent to more than $100 million ó not including any
other expenses. FS

US, RUSSIA TO CONTINUE ARMS CONTROL COOPERATION.
Despite a continuing series of disagreements over policy in
the Balkans, U.S. and Russian officials signed on 17 June an
agreement extending the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat
Reduction Program for another seven years, RFE/RL's
Washington bureau reported. Under the program, the U.S. has
provided about $400 million annually to dismantle nuclear
weapons in the former Soviet Union. The same day, U.S. and
Russian officials signed an agreement on the provision of
U.S. legal assistance in the areas of criminal, civic and
family legislation, ITAR-TASS reported. Justice Minister
Pavel Krasheninnikov described the agreement as a foundation
for cooperation between U.S. and Russian law enforcement
agencies. JAC

DUMA WANTS TO CRACK DOWN ON CAPITAL FLIGHT.
The State Duma on 18 June approved on first reading a bill
that would impose stiff penalties on the illegal export of
capital if it were to become law, Interfax reported. The
legislation would amend the criminal code and require the
imposition of sentences of up to 10 years in prison and the
confiscation of assets, according to ITAR-TASS. During
discussion of the legislation on the Duma floor, it was
reported that at least 12,000 Moscow firms are engaged in the
illegal export of capital. However, only the heads of the
companies would be punished under the bill and only if the
capital was not returned to Russia. JAC

GOVERNMENT URGED TO START FROM SCRATCH ON TAX LAW. State Duma
Chairman Gennadii Seleznev on 18 June said that the draft law
imposing a new tax on gasoline stations, which was rejected
overwhelmingly by legislators the previous day, is "dead" and
that a completely new version of the law must be drafted. The
law was part of a package of legislation drafted by the
government in accordance with its agreement with the IMF.
"Komsomolskaya pravda" speculated the same day that since
State Duma deputies' summer vacations are imminent, the
government may be forced to adopt some of the measures in the
package by presidential decree. According to AFP, MFK
Renaissance Bank experts believe that the government may be
forced to ban gasoline price increases by presidential decree
in order to persuade Duma deputies that higher pump prices
would not be inevitable if the tax law were passed (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 17 June 1999). JAC

RUSSIAN MILITARY PLAGUED BY ABUSIVE OFFICERS? There were 818
reported cases of Russian military commanders assaulting and
battering their subordinates last year, according to data
from the office of the Central Military Prosecutor cited by
"Vremya MN" on 17 June. The number represents twice as many
cases as the previous year and one-fourth of all crimes
committed in the armed forces. According to the daily, there
were 150 cases of assault and battery in the Interior
Ministry forces, which represent one-eighth of Russia's
security forces. The newspaper also reported that four
commanders and one ensign are facing criminal proceedings in
the most recent case of officer abuse in Primorskii Krai,
where 44 soldiers went AWOL and accused their commanders of
keeping them in concentration camp-like conditions. JAC

MOSCOW RESIDENTS INVITED TO CALL IN THEIR COMPLAINTS. Moscow
mayoral candidate Sergei Kirienko, the leader of Novaya Sila
(New Force), announced on 17 June that his party had set up a
confidential telephone hotline for Moscow residents. Novaya
Sila press secretary Andrei Kulikov told Ekho Moskvy that "we
are interested more in the proposals of Muscovites than in
reports of incompetence or corruption or abuses of power by
Moscow administration officials." (Conditions for use of the
hotline are described on the movement's official web site,
www.kirienko.ru.) Nevertheless, newspapers close to Mayor
Yurii Luzhkov, such as "Moskovskii komsomolets" and
"Moskovskaya pravda," were apparently worried that the
hotline might be used for gathering compromising material
about the mayor and refused to run advertisements for the new
telephone line, "Segodnya" reported. The previous day, the
city government reached an agreement with its foreign
creditors on restructuring its payments on one of the city's
outstanding loans. JAC

GOVERNORS SEEKING CHUBAIS'S DISMISSAL? A Unified Energy
Systems (EES) spokesman on 17 June denied media reports that
EES Chairman Anatolii Chubais was about to be sacked,
Interfax reported. The same day, "Nezavisimaya gazeta"
reported that certain governors, such as Tyumen Oblast
Governor Leonid Roketskii, are demanding that Chubais be
removed so that tighter control can be re-established over
one of EES's companies, Tyumenenergo. In addition, the
governors reportedly believe that EES central staff is
secretly funneling money from the regions to the Pravoe Delo
(Right Cause) movement, of which Chubais is a member.
According to the spokesman, allegations that EES shareholders
will elect Chubais's replacement at a meeting on 25 June are
not true because the chairman is appointed by the company's
board of directors rather than by the shareholders. The
spokesman added that "one cannot imagine an experienced
political figure like Chubais using the resources of his
company in an electoral race." JAC

SELF-GOVERNMENT THREATENED AT LOCAL LEVEL. At the suggestion
of Governor Ivan Shabanov, almost half of the raions in
Voronezh Oblast have amended their charters and voters there
will no longer be able to directly elect raion heads,
according to "EWI's Russian Regional Report" on 17 June.
Instead, local legislatures will select a chief from a slate
of nominees compiled by the governor. In addition, Shabanov
recently announced that it would be better if all mayors of
cities in the oblast were elected the same way. According to
the report, the trend away from direct elections in Voronezh
is being duplicated in other regions, such as Kursk Oblast,
where Governor Aleksandr Rutskoi has proposed that each raion
hold a referendum on whether to abolish or keep local
government. JAC

FOREIGNERS IN RUSSIA TO ENCOUNTER MORE RED TAPE? The State
Duma passed on its first reading a bill that will increase
the number of documents foreigners living in Russia will need
if it becomes law. According to "Izvestiya" on 18 June,
foreigners who want to work in Russia will have to first
negotiate a contract with an employer, and then apply at a
Russian embassy or consulate for permission to enter Russia
and for a work visa. Foreigners without the proper documents
will be deported. Currently, foreigners can enter the country
and find a job regardless of what kind of visa they have,
according to the daily. The bill is aimed at reducing the
number of foreign criminal groups in the country. The Finance
Ministry estimates that deporting illegal immigrants will
cost the government between 470-570 million rubles ($19-24
million) a year. Former Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov's
government had argued that implementing the new rules would
be too expensive. JAC

STEPASHIN ASKS HOW MUCH CHECHNYA OWES RUSSIA. At a session of
the Russian government on 17 June, Prime Minister Sergei
Stepashin asked his fuel and energy minister, Viktor
Kaluzhny, ìto calculate how much money Chechnya owes to
Russia for the deliveries of gas and other energy carriers,î
ITAR-TASS reported. Stepashin said that the issue would be
raised at the forthcoming summit between Russian President
Boris Yeltsin and Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov. PG

CHECHEN PRESIDENT CALLS FOR CRACKDOWN ON CRIME. Following the
assassination of a Chechen agricultural official in Grozny on
17 June, President Aslan Maskhadov said on Chechen television
that "My patience is exhausted. I can't tolerate this any
longer. I am launching a large-scale operation to combat
criminals," according to an AP report. But in two separate
incidents on the night of 17-18 June, at least seven Russian
soldiers and Interior Ministry police were killed, Russian
agencies reported. In response to the shooting in Grozny,
Maskhadov restructured his government, appointing Ruslan
Gelayev as chief of the Sharia guard and sacking the head of
the Chechen oil company, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 June. PG

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

PLANNED ARMENIAN-AZERBAIJANI SUMMIT CANCELLED. A meeting
between Armenian President Robert Kocharian and Azerbaijani
President Heydar Aliyev scheduled for 22 June in Luxembourg
will not take place, Interfax reported on 17 June.
Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Tofiq Zulfugarov said that Prime
Minister Artur Rasizade would represent Azerbaijan because
Aliyevís doctors have told him to remain at home. PG

ARMENIAN ASSEMBLY WONíT CHALLENGE NEW GOVERNMENT.
Parliamentarians in Armenia told RFE/RLís Armenian service on
17 June that opposition groups will not seek a no confidence
vote in Prime Minister Vazgen Sarkisian and his new cabinet.
Under the Armenian Constitution, the president does not need
parliamentís backing to appoint a government, but a majority
of the National Assembly can unseat it. PG

INTERNATIONAL APPEALS FOR ARMENIAN-AZERBAIJANI CEASEFIRE. UN
Secretary General Kofi Annan, the U.S. State Department, and
the Turkish government called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to
restore the ceasefire that was violated again on 16 June,
Turan and other agencies reported. Meanwhile, groups in the
two countries staked out tougher positions. Armenians in
Karabakh on 17 June acknowledged there had been new fighting
but placed the blame on Baku, RFE/RLís Armenian Service
reported. Meanwhile, opposition parties in Azerbaijan
protested against what they said were Armenian violations of
the ceasefire, Bakuís ìAzadlygî newspaper reported. PG

AZERBAIJAN LOOKS TO NATO FOR HELP ON KARABAKH. Azerbaijani
Defense Minister Safar Abiyev on 16 June suggested that NATO
could play a positive role in helping to resolve the Karabakh
dispute, but Vafa Guluzade, President Heydar Aliyevís foreign
policy advisor, suggested on 17 June that Abiyev was ahead of
official Azerbaijani thinking, Turan reported. Guluzade,
however, said that he too thought NATO could play a role in
helping to find a solution. PG

AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION SETS CONDITIONS FOR MUNICIPAL VOTE.
Members of opposition parties will take part in the upcoming
municipal elections if their conditions are met, Mayis
Safarli, the chairman of the Yurddash Party told Turan on 17
June. He said that freedom of assembly must be guaranteed and
that both the government and the opposition must be
represented on the Central Election Committee on a
proportional basis. PG

TURKISH PRESIDENT REJECTS OCALAN CHARGES ON BAKU. President
Suleyman Demirel told Bakuís ìAzadlygî newspaper on 17 June
that he did not believe PKK leader Abdullah Ocalanís
insinuations that Azerbaijan had provided backing for the
latterís terrorist organization. ìNaturally it is a lie,î
Demirel concluded. PG

GEORGIA INCREASES COOPERATION WITH NATO. NATO has approved a
ìprogram of compatibilityî of a Georgian peacekeeping
battalion, Tbilisi officials told the Prime-News agency on 17
June. Meanwhile, the Party of National Independence-Merab
Kostava Society on the same day called for the introduction
of NATO troops into Abkhazia and the withdrawal of all
Russian forces ìwithout delay,î Caucasus Press reported. PG

CENTRAL ASIAN COUNTRIES EXPAND COOPERATION. At a meeting in
Bishkek on 17 June, the prime ministers of Kazakhstan,
Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan approved 25
investment projects with a total value of more than $50
million, Interfax reported. The four also agreed to
coordinate the operation of their power grids, but they
postponed a decision on the creation of a single economic
zone until at least the next meeting of the Central Asian
Economic Assembly, scheduled to be held in Dushanbe this
fall. PG

KAZAKHSTAN FACES SERIOUS DESERTIFICATION. Approximately 60
percent of Kazakhstanís territory is currently subject to
desertification, a spokesman for the Kazakh National
Ecological Center told Interfax-Kazakhstan on 17 June.
Meanwhile, according to the same source, Astana announced
plans to privatize some 28.1 million hectares of farmland. PG

GAS DELIVERIES RESUMED IN NORTHERN KYRGYZSTAN. Kyrgyzgas
announced on 17 June that gas was once again flowing into the
northern portion of the country, RFE/RLís Kyrgyz Service
reported. The gas, which comes from Uzbekistan but flows
across Kazakhstan, was shut off on 14 June because Bishkek
owes the Uzbek gas company some $3.2 million for transit. PG

TAJIK GOVERNMENT, OPPOSITION MEET. Tajik President Imomali
Rakhmonov and opposition leader Said Abdullov Nuri agreed on
17 June to resume talks within the framework of the National
Reconciliation Commission, Reuters reported. The talks began
on 18 June, ITAR-TASS reported. The United Tajik Opposition
had walked out of the talks in May after the government
rejected its proposals for power sharing. Meanwhile, the UN
announced on 17 June that its special representative in
Tajikistan, Jan Kubis, is resigning in order to become
secretary general of the OSCE, AP reported. PG

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