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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 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part I * OPTIMISM DESPITE DELAY IN HELSINKI TALKS * DUMA WANTS TO CRACK DOWN ON CAPITAL FLIGHT * PLANNED ARMENIAN-AZERBAIJANI SUMMIT CANCELLED xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 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 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Send an email to email@example.com with the word subscribe as the subject of the message. HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word unsubscribe as the subject of the message. 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