If you are not allowed to laugh in heaven, I don't want to go there. - Martin Luther
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 121, Part I, 22 June 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 121, Part I, 22 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

* RUSSIAN STOCK MARKET SOARS

* LUZHKOV ACCUSES OLIGARCHS OF CARVING UP THE MEDIA

* KAZAKH GOVERNMENT, PARLIAMENT ON COLLISION COURSE

END NOTE: HAVEL--THE PEOPLES OF THE BALKANS MUST DECIDE THEIR
OWN FATE
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RUSSIA

RUSSIAN STOCK MARKET SOARS... The Russian stock market
continued its several-day climb on 21 June as the benchmark
RTS index closed at 129.28, a rise of 6.7 percent over the
previous day. Stocks in Mosenergo, Unified Energy Systems,
and Rostelekom lead the way, gaining 14.8 percent, 8.6
percent and 7.4 percent respectively, according to AFP.
Russia is now the best-performing market in the world, Loren
Bough, head of Brunswick Warburg Brokerage, told the agency.
Bough attributed the market's rise to the departure of Prime
Minister Yevgenii Primakov's leftist cabinet. Traders also
responded warmly to news from the weekend's G-8 meeting,
including that group's call for a debt restructuring deal for
Russia. JAC

...AS UNEMPLOYMENT RISES. Unemployment rose to 10.44 million
as of early June--a 26 percent hike over the same period last
year and a 7 percent increase since January, according to the
State Statistics Committee. The number of unemployed persons
in Russia amounts to 14.2 percent of the country's
economically active population, Interfax reported. In the
meantime, the number of people officially registered as
unemployed with the State Employment Service fell by more
than 7 percent in June from the same period last year,
according to the agency. JAC

GOVERNMENT FINALLY POISED TO TAKE MORE DECISIVE ACTIONS IN
BANKING SECTOR? The Russian government is showing signs of
being ready to confront the problem of restructuring Russia's
largest commercial banks, "Izvestiya" concluded on 22 June.
As evidence, the newspaper cites Central Bank chairman Viktor
Gerashchenko's recent warning that Oneksimbank is in danger
of losing its license. More recently, the Agency for
Restructuring Credit Organizations (ARKO) announced on 18
June that it is prepared to rescue Rossiiskii Kredit and
Promstroibank. According to the daily, ARKO officials
recently admitted that the agency could stretch its meager
resources to restructure one or perhaps two large banks. Both
Rossiiskii Kredit and Promstroibank have massive debts,
including more than 3 billion rubles ($124 million) owed to
the federal budget, according to "Kommersant-Daily" on 19
June. "Vremya MN" reported earlier that despite systemic
problems, the number of banks in Russia declined by only 5
percent during the first five months of the year (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 17 June 1999). JAC

NATO COUNCIL APPROVES COHEN-SERGEEV AGREEMENT. The NATO
Council in Brussels approved on 21 June the Helsinki
agreement between Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeev and
his U.S. counterpart William Cohen on Russia's role within
the Kosova peacekeeping force (KFOR) (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
21 June 1999), ITAR-TASS reported. In Moscow, Russian Prime
Minister Sergei Stepashin told AP that his cabinet sent the
agreement to the Federation Council, which must approve the
peacekeepers' deployment. He added that the government will
send Russian peacekeepers to Kosova as soon as the council
approves the deployment. FS

UNCERTAINTY REMAINS OVER RUSSIAN KFOR FUNDING. State Duma
speaker Gennadii Seleznev told ITAR-TASS in Troitsk on 21
June that the deployment of the 3,600 Russian peacekeepers
"is not a cheap action and the [Defense Ministry's] budget
does not provide a kopek for this." Seleznev stressed,
however, that there can be "no doubt" that the Finance
Ministry will find ways to fund the mission. Seleznev said
that the Duma will discuss the Helsinki agreement in the
presence of Sergeev and Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov on 23
June. In Moscow on 22 June, Lieutenant-General Nikolai
Staskov, who is the head of Russia's airborne forces, said
that these forces will be increased by 5,600 to a total of
37,600, reflecting needs caused by the deployment of Russian
peacekeepers in Kosova, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Abkhazia, and
South Ossetia. The government reduced the airborne forces
from 46,000 to 32,000 in 1998 to reduce costs. FS

RUSSIA PLEDGES TO REPAIR BUILDINGS IN BELGRADE AND NOVI SAD.
"Moskovskii Komsomolets" reported on 21 June that a group of
Russian construction and design specialists left Moscow for
Belgrade on 21 June to assess the damage caused by NATO's air
campaign to several buildings and bridges in Belgrade and
Novi Sad. The daily suggested that "the specialists will
restore several historical buildings...[including] the Opera
House, the buildings of the Foreign Ministry and the
government of Yugoslavia, and the television centers and
railway bridge." It also said that "Moscow has promised to
restore the bridge across the Danube near Novi Sad" but did
not elaborate. The Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying
that "the damage to [Yugoslavia's] national economy and
infrastructure exceed all the destruction seen during World
War II," ITAR-TASS reported. The statement added that "Russia
will actively cooperate" in the reconstruction. FS

LUZHKOV ACCUSES OLIGARCHS OF CARVING UP THE MEDIA. In a
speech to the first World Congress of the Russian Press on 21
June, Moscow Mayor and likely presidential contender Yurii
Luzhkov accused the country's so-called oligarchs of carving
up media outlets into spheres of influence. He said that
oligarchic capital "wants to have its own press and influence
it through financial methods," Interfax reported. Luzhkov
also called the pressure of state authorities and large
financial groups on mass media unacceptable and expressed
concern about the decreasing number of Russian-language
publications in the CIS, particularly Ukraine. "They have a
right to get information in their own language," he said. On
the same day, Unified Energy Systems chairman Anatolii
Chubais denied reports that his company had provided $12.5
million to the publishers of "Kommersant-Daily" to reduce the
company's debts, ITAR-TASS reported. JAC

KREMLIN SEEKS TO CREATE COUNTERBALANCE TO LUZHKOV. Meanwhile,
"Versiya" reported in its 15-21 June issue that the
presidential administration is trying to organize a "future
presidential party" composed of All Russia (Vsya Rossiya),
Voice of Russia (Golos Rossii), and other parties that are
capable of becoming a major rival of Luzhkov's Otechestvo
(Fatherland) party in upcoming presidential elections.
According to the publication, "total information support"
will be provided by nationwide TV channels such as Russian
Public Television, Russian Television, and TV-6. In the
meantime, the Kremlin is reportedly considering canceling the
licenses of pro-Luzhkov outlets such as NTV and Moscow's TV-
Center networks. JAC

UNGUARDED WEAPONS CACHES LEADING TO SCOURGE OF ILLEGAL GUNS.
The spread of unlicensed firearms is a growing problem,
"Trud" reported on 19 June. According to the daily, weapons
are being stolen in large quantities from military or police
storage facilities. In fact, every third illegally owned
firearm was stolen from Defense Ministry stocks. In addition,
one out of every nine Russian men owns a weapon, and the
number of crimes in which firearms were used in 1998 was
double that recorded in 1996. The newspaper calls on the
Defense and Interior Ministries and local police stations to
upgrade security at facilities where weapons are stored and
it appeals to State Duma deputies to enact tougher gun-
control legislation. JAC

STEPASHIN CALLS FOR WTO MEMBERSHIP BY YEAR END. Speaking at
the G-8 summit in Cologne over the weekend, Prime Minister
Stepashin announced that Russia could join the World Trade
Organization before the end of the year, Interfax reported on
21 June. However, "Vremya MN" on the same day suggested that
Stepashin's "optimism" was difficult to explain. According to
the daily, Russia began the process of trying to join the
organization in 1994 and only in the first quarter of this
year completed the first "informational" stage of
negotiations. A minimum of two stages remain--including
bilateral consultations with 30 member-countries with whom
"Russia does not agree on many points." In addition, Russian
legislation would require eight new laws and amendments to 36
existing laws in order to bring its trading systems in line
with WTO norms, according to the newspaper. JAC

FEDERAL, LOCAL OFFICIALS PLAY BLAME GAME OVER KAMCHATKA.
Prime Minister Stepashin criticized the Fuel and Energy
Ministry on 21 June for failing to take prompt steps to
ensure continuous energy supplies to Kamchatka Oblast, where
residents have been restricted to three hours of electricity
every other day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 and 17 June 1999).
Stepashin added that "I do not understand the position of the
[oblast] administration, which shifts local problems to the
federal level," noting that "the mechanism for federal
intervention into regional governance should be revised,"
Interfax reported. Meanwhile, oblast administration head
Andrei Chernenko said he will find out who is responsible for
unnecessary red tape and take the appropriate steps,
including dismissals if necessary. On 22 June, a tanker
filled with 5,000 tons of diesel fuel left Nakhodka for
Kamchatka, ITAR-TASS reported. JAC

SKURATOV GETS MORE BAD NEWS. The Supreme Court ruled on 22
June that a criminal case against Prosecutor-General Yurii
Skuratov has legal grounds and may continue, ITAR-TASS
reported. A lower court in Moscow had ruled earlier that the
investigation was illegal and had to be stopped. However, the
Supreme Court upheld the appeal of the Military Prosecutor's
Office and overruled that decision. On 9 June, Federation
Council members--who had earlier rejected two efforts by
President Yeltsin to dismiss Skuratov--voted to ask the
Constitutional Court to decide whether President Yeltsin has
the constitutional right to suspend Skuratov from office
pending the outcome of a criminal investigation without the
approval of the upper legislative chamber. Last month, the
embattled prosecutor-general reported that he had been turned
away at the airport because his passport had been annulled;
the Foreign Ministry claimed the passport was invalid because
of a "technical mistake" and would be reissued. JAC

CHECHEN SECURITY OFFICIAL ESCAPES ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT.
National Security Committee head Ibragim Khultygov escaped
injury when gunmen opened fire on his home in Grozny on the
night of 20-21 June, Russian agencies reported. Khultygov's
brother, Lecha, who had also served as Security Committee
chairman, was shot dead in Grozny during a standoff with
supporters of maverick field commander Salman Raduev exactly
one year ago (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 June 1998). Ibragim
Khultygov suggested the attempt to kill him was in response
to a recent crackdown on criminal gangs. On 21 June,
President Aslan Maskhadov placed all top defense and security
personnel on 24-hour alert. Speaking in Moscow on 21 June,
Mayor Luzhkov argued that Chechnya should be given
independence from the Russian Federation if the majority of
the population demand it, Interfax reported. LF

DEFEATED KARACHAEVO-CHERKESS PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE SEEKS
COMPROMISE SOLUTION. Cherkessk Mayor Stanislav Derev has
appealed to the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation
against the ruling by the Supreme Court of the Republic of
Karachaevo-Cherkessia confirming as legal and valid the
outcome of the 16 May presidential runoff, "Nezavisimaya
gazeta" reported on 19 June. According to official data,
Vladimir Semenov, a Karachai, was elected president of the
republic with some 75 percent of the vote. Addressing a
"mini-congress" of his supporters in Cherkessk on 19 June,
Derev, who is a Cherkess, advocated requesting Moscow to name
as interim president for four years an ethnic Russian with
knowledge of Karachaevo-Cherkessia. Derev said that during
that time the Cherkess, who account for only some 10 percent
of the population, would consider whether to proceed with
their demand that the republic be split and the Cherkess-
populated territory be given the status of an autonomous
republic within neighboring Stavropol krai, "Nezavisimaya
gazeta" reported on 22 June. LF

STEPASHIN UPBEAT ON CIS'S PROSPECTS. Speaking in Moscow on 21
June at the first World Congress of the Russian Press, Prime
Minister Stepashin said that the CIS "is by no means
moribund" and has a good future ahead of it, Interfax
reported. But Stepashin added that it is time to abandon "the
theory of older and younger brothers." LF

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN PRESIDENT GIVES INTERVIEW TO TURKISH NEWSPAPER. In
an interview published by "Milliyet" on 16 June and
circulated by Noyan Tapan on 21 June, Robert Kocharian
downplayed the importance of Armenia's ongoing military
cooperation with Russia, noting that in the economic sphere
Armenia gives priority to cooperation with Europe. He
expressed concern that the establishment of a Turkish
military presence in Azerbaijan would provoke a reaction from
Russia and Iran and thus lead to "additional tensions" in the
region. Kocharian said there has been a minimal easing in
relations with Turkey since his election as president in
March 1998, but expressed regret at Ankara's insistence on
setting conditions for establishing diplomatic relations
between the two countries. He said the absence of such
relations was the reason why he had not accepted an
invitation to the 1998 celebrations of the 75th anniversary
of the founding of the Turkish Republic, adding that he will
definitely attend the OSCE summit in Istanbul this fall. LF

UN AGENCY DISCLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY FOR ARMENIAN VOTER LIST
ERRORS. In a statement released on 21 June, the Yerevan
office of the United Nations Development Program rejected
charges that the software it provided to the Central
Electoral Commission to computerize voter registers
contributed to widespread omissions from voter lists,
RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Tens of thousands of people
were prevented from casting their votes in the 30 May
parliamentary elections because their names had not been
included in the voter lists (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 May
1999). The UNDP said that the computerization of voter lists
was carried out under the supervision of CEC officials and
that the completed lists were endorsed by local authorities.
Also on 21 June, the Constitutional Court annulled the voting
in a constituency in the northern city of Gyumri because of
inaccuracies in the vote tally and stripped the Communist
Party deputy of his mandate. LF

RUSSIA DENIES VIOLATION OF GEORGIAN AIRSPACE. The press
service of the Russian Air Force informed ITAR-TASS on 21
June that no Russian fighter or other aircraft penetrated
Georgian air space on 18 June. The Georgian Defense Ministry
had issued a statement on 19 June saying that four Russian
fighters overflew Georgia the previous day en route from an
air base in Rostov to Armenia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 June
1999). LF

GEORGIANS INCREASINGLY INTOLERANT OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES.
Georgians of widely varying political persuasions have
advocated banning or restricting the activities of Jehovah's
Witnesses in Georgia, arguing that those activities undermine
Georgia's statehood and the position of the Georgian Orthodox
church, Caucasus Press reported. In the south Georgian
district of Akhaltsikhe, some 100 local Christians picketed
the local police headquarters last week to demand the
destruction of six tons of religious tracts and video
cassettes produced by the Jehovah's Witnesses that were
confiscated by customs officers on the Georgian-Turkish
frontier in late April (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 April
1999). LF

KAZAKH GOVERNMENT, PARLIAMENT ON COLLISION COURSE. Both
houses of Kazakhstan's parliament rejected on 21 June the
budget cuts proposed by the government following the
devaluation of the tenge in April, Interfax reported. Prime
Minister Nurlan Balghymbaev responded, as Deputy Premier and
Finance Minister Oraz Dzhandosov had warned last week that
the government would, by demanding a confidence vote in his
cabinet. Meeting with deputies from the Aul faction on 15
June, Dzhandosov had said that the amount by which the budget
must be sequestered is not negotiable, although compromise is
possible over the specific items of spending to be targeted.
Balghymbaev also denied that the budget cuts were dictated by
the IMF as a condition for assistance. Under the
constitution, if two thirds of all parliament deputies vote
no confidence in the cabinet, the president must decide
within ten days whether to dismiss the government or dissolve
parliament. LF

KAZAKH PARLIAMENT AMENDS ELECTION LAW. Kazakhstan's
parliament passed on 21 June in the first and second readings
amendments proposed by President Nursultan Nazarbaev to the
election law, Interfax reported. Those amendments abolish the
penalties hitherto incurred by involvement in unregistered
public organizations, which disqualify persons who have
incurred such reprimands from running as candidates in
elections at any level. Nazarbaev also proposed reducing by
half the registration fee for parliamentary candidates from
132,000 to 66,000 tenges ($4,100). LF

KYRGYZ PRESIDENT PROPOSES RELAXING ELECTION REQUIREMENTS.
Askar Akaev has appealed to both chambers of the Kyrgyz
parliament to consider amending Article 92 of the new
election law passed last month, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau
reported on 21 June, citing the presidential press service.
Akaev proposed reducing from 12 to six months the minimum
period prior to parliamentary elections for which a political
party must be officially registered. A presidential spokesman
said the present requirement infringes on the interests of
newly-created parties by rendering impossible their
participation in the parliamentary elections due in early
2000. Former Bishkek Mayor Feliks Kulov, who on 21 June
published an appeal to citizens of Kyrgyzstan to join his new
movement Ar-Namys, had stated his intention of appealing to
the Constitutional Court to abrogate that article of the
election law as unconstitutional (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16
June 1999). LF

TAJIK COURT HANDS DOWN DEATH SENTENCES ON TWO INSURGENCY
PARTICIPANTS. Two close associates of rebel Colonel Makhmud
Khudoiberdiev were sentenced to death on 21 June on charges
of treason and attempting to seize power for the role in the
abortive uprising in Khujand in November 1998, ITAR-TASS
reported. LF

END NOTE

HAVEL--THE PEOPLES OF THE BALKANS MUST DECIDE THEIR OWN FATE

Remarks by Czech President Vaclav Havel to RFE/RL's South
Slavic Service on 21 June 1999.

	I believe unequivocally that human rights take
precedence over state sovereignty. Man is the creation of God
and has existed tens of thousands of years. The state is the
creation of man and is an administrative unit existing
several hundred years in the form we know today. It seems
that in the future, in the next millennium, in view of the
global nature of our civilization and other factors, the
importance of people and their rights will grow in
significance over the rights of the state.
	Many functions now carried out by the state will in the
future be handled at a lower level by various civic groups,
others will become functions of higher, super-national or
transregional units, as is now taking place within the
European Union. ...
	It's absolute nonsense to criticize bombing as one evil
trying to stop another evil, namely ethnic cleansing. Alas,
the world is such, and people are such that evil has to be
checked with fire and sword--evil must be met by force.
That's why all countries except Costa Rica have armies.
That's the way the world is. In this case, a great evil was
met with the relatively least of evils. Not one of the
critics offered a better solution, except one Czech who said:
"Let them all murder each other, and we should take no
notice."
	If a government takes over a state as in Yugoslavia, the
only way to check its evil is to destroy the structures that
support it. That means military structures, transport,
communications, and others that serve the regime. NATO
conducted thousands of raids and hit some civilian targets,
regrettably killing innocent civilians. But compared to most
previous wars, the percentage of innocent victims was
relatively small.
	It's hard for me to imagine that peace and stability can
be established while [Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic
remains in power. He was behind several Balkan wars now for
more than a decade, resulting in thousands of deaths.
	I am afraid that with him it would be very hard to build
a good peace based on justice and civic co-existence, all the
more because he stands accused by the Hague-based war crimes
tribunal. This is a court that has no political biases,
because it was created by the United Nations on the decision
of the Security Council, with the agreement of both the
Russian Federation and China.
	I think that an earlier intervention might have meant
fewer victims in this past decade and the bombing need not
have been so devastating. ...Of course that's hindsight, and
everyone is a general after a battle.
	NATO must do all it can to create confidence in the
international civil administration or protectorate that will
be established in Kosova so that people will trust the law
and order forces there sufficiently for some Serbs to return
to the region, just as some ethnic Albanians are now
returning.
	That is the great task before us. The question is what
will be done now and will happen now.
	There is an endless circle of blood and revenge that
must be broken. That is an unusually hard and difficult task.
It's hard to explain to Kosova Albanians, who were forced out
of their homes at gunpoint. I spoke to some of them in
refugee camps, and they said: "We were told you must leave in
three minutes or you will be shot and you can take only what
you can carry." They thus had to leave with no food, no
clothes, nothing. They then had to witness their homes being
looted and burned. It is hard to explain [to them] that now
that they are back, they cannot steal from abandoned Serbian
homes.
	Nevertheless, it is the duty of the international
community to try to do this and stop this endless circle of
bloodshed, revenge, and settling of accounts.
	Kosova must decide its future--by referendum or
election--not now, but after heads have cooled and can make
reasoned decisions. I think at least three years should go by
in negotiations. Then, calmly and sensibly, the decision can
be made--but it has to be by Kosovars themselves.
	I feel some responsibility for the intervention of NATO
and the international community in Yugoslavia and Kosova. The
action had only one goal, namely to create conditions for
civic co-existence and democratic development, as well as to
stop human rights violations, murders, and massacres. I feel
responsibility for the action and what it led to, regardless
of whether or not it achieved its goal. That is why I want to
visit Kosova and find out what must be done further to
achieve that aim, if it hasn't already been achieved.
	One can't create a situation through bombing and then
lose interest in the situation. On the contrary, now is the
time to get interested. The bombing was not an end in itself
but merely the means to create conditions for people to live
in dignity.
	The international community must do all within its power
to make the Balkans a region of peace and peaceful co-
existence among ethnic groups. A beginning could be the
planned conferences in the region: the first is supposed to
held in Sarajevo. I welcomed the news because I have been
saying from the beginning that one cannot decide the Balkans'
future in Alaska or Washington or Paris or Moscow. The
conferences have to be there in the Balkans. These are proud
peoples who would not easily tolerate their fate being
decided far away.

(Translated from the Czech by Sonia Winter)
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               Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc.
                     All rights reserved.
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