Man's yesterday may ne'er be like his morrow; Naught may endure but Mutability. - Percy Shelley
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 122, Part I, 23 June 1999


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 122, Part I, 23 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

* ANOTHER TERRORIST ACT IN CENTRAL MOSCOW

* DUMA IN FLURRY OF ACTIVITY BEFORE RECESS

* NEW AZERBAIJANI-ARMENIAN CLASHES REPORTED
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RUSSIA

ANOTHER TERRORIST ACT IN CENTRAL MOSCOW. Law enforcement
officials told Interfax on 23 June that a bomb that exploded
near the Interior Ministry the previous day was a terrorist
device. The bomb, made with an estimated 150-200 grams of
TNT, was discovered in a package in the ministry's lobby by a
police officer. The explosion was the latest in a series of
bombings in the Russian capital. In April, one bomb exploded
outside of the Federal Security Service's headquarters and
another one in the elevator shaft of the Intourist hotel near
the offices of a firm headed by State Duma deputy and popular
singer Iosif Kobzon (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 and 27 April
1999). At the time, Kobzon called the act "just an ordinary
terrorist act, a terrorist act in the center of Moscow." JAC

DOES KFOR PARTICIPATION UNDERMINE RUSSIA'S SECURITY IN
CHECHNYA? Russian defense analyst Pavel Felgenhauer argues in
"Segodnya" on 22 June that the 3,600-strong Russian
contingent in the Kosova peacekeeping force (KFOR) will cost
up to $500 million, rather than the $150 million previously
estimated by Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin. Felgenhauer
says that his figure equals estimates by Western countries
for similar forces. He warned that the Kosova mission is not
covered by the Defense Ministry budget and that Russia needs
to keep its forces ready for a possible outbreak of war in
Chechnya, rather than the Balkans. "Komsomolskaya Pravda" on
23 June quoted unnamed Defense Ministry officials as saying
that the KFOR participation will cost up to $250 million.
President Yeltsin formally asked the Federation Council on 22
June to approve the KFOR mission, ITAR-TASS reported. The
legislature is scheduled to vote on the issue on 25 June. FS

RUSSIAN KFOR CONTINGENT READY TO MOVE IN ON 28 JUNE. Russian
Defense Minister Igor Sergeev told Interfax on 23 June that
the Russian KFOR troops can leave for Kosova on 28 June if
the Federation Council approves the deployment. The new
soldiers will bolster the 200 Russian soldiers currently at
the Prishtina airport. FS

MOSCOW MAYOR OFFERS TO REPAIR NOVI SAD BRIDGE. A delegation
of Moscow architects visiting Novi Sad on 23 June estimated
the costs for the reconstruction of the Danube bridge at $50
million. Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov earlier offered to support
the reconstruction, ITAR-TASS reported. Luzhkov said he
intends to find sponsors for the project among large Russian
metallurgical and construction firms. Meanwhile, Aeroflot has
postponed the resumption of direct flights to Belgrade until
late June. The airline planned to resume flights this week,
but European aviation authorities have not yet reopened an
air-corridor to Belgrade. FS

GOVERNMENT TO TEMPT INVESTORS WITH NEW RUBLE BONDS IN JULY.
Finance Minister Mikhail Kasyanov announced on 22 June that
Russia would write off $1.5 billion worth of debts of
developing nations mostly in Africa as part of an agreement
reached with G-7 members over the weekend (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 21 June 1999). Most of the loans were extended by
the Soviet Union; Russia, in turn, has been seeking at least
partial forgiveness of debts it inherited from the Soviet
Union. Kasyanov also reported that Russia was likely to issue
new ruble-denominated government securities in July, but it
does not expect to participate in world capital markets again
before 2001, ITAR-TASS reported. After months of haggling,
foreign investors agreed in April to the government scheme
for swapping the defaulted short-term bonds they held, which
included an offer of only 10 percent of their value in cash
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May 1999). JAC

DUMA IN FLURRY OF ACTIVITY BEFORE RECESS. The State Duma
passed on 22 June on its third reading a law on export
control, ITAR-TASS reported. The bill elaborates state policy
on export control and the rights and duties of participants
in foreign trade. On the same day, Duma deputies overrode a
presidential veto on the law on banks and banking operations.
Russian President Boris Yeltsin had rejected the bill earlier
because he believed that it did not clearly define offshore
zones or specify an organ that would provide a legal
definition of such zones, according to ITAR-TASS. The Duma
also passed a bill amending the labor code, which requires
that wages to state workers be paid once every half month and
vacation wages be paid no later than the day before the
vacation starts, according to Russian Television. Deputies
will be on a 48-day paid vacation from 26 June to 31 August.
JAC

REVENUE FROM FOOD AID NOT REACHING PENSION FUND... The
Pension Fund has so far received less than 1 percent of what
it expected from the sale of humanitarian food assistance
from the U.S. and EU, "Izvestiya" reported on 23 June.
According to the daily, 42.5 million rubles ($1.75 million)
were transferred to the fund in May and 83.3 million rubles
during the first two weeks of June. Although originally all
of the revenues from the sale of aid were supposed to be
transferred to the fund, now approximately 20 percent will be
spent on "other social needs," such as money for the poorer
strata of society and on financing health centers, the
newspaper reported. However, total revenue will be higher
than forecast because the prices for a number of goods will
be reviewed. Sales of food aid will not be completed until
August and monies will not be completely transferred to the
Pension Fund until the beginning of October, according to the
daily. JAC

...AS SOME TEACHERS NOT RECEIVING THEIR WAGES. President
Yeltsin told First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko on
22 June to concentrate his efforts on paying off overdue
wages and pensions. According to the government, delays in
paying current wages and pensions are minimal, but a backlog
of unpaid wages of about 16.5 billion rubles ($681 million)
still exists. On 17 June, the government ordered the transfer
of 1.96 billion rubles to the regions to pay teachers' summer
vacation wages. However, according to Prime Minister Sergei
Stepashin, a number of regions--including Vologda and
Kemerovo Oblasts--had not submitted the proper documents and
would therefore not receive money for teachers' wages,
Interfax-Eurasia reported. "People should know the reason why
teachers will not receive their holiday wages," he said. The
next day, the agency reported that teachers in Altai Krai
received only 35-40 percent of their wages for the summer
months. JAC

INTERNET USAGE INCREASING DESPITE DECLINING PC SALES. The
number of users of the Internet in Russia more than
quadrupled over the past three years, ITAR-TASS reported on
22 June. An estimated 1.9 million of Russia's 147 million
people are Internet users, according to the agency. Revenue
earned from the Internet through telephone calls,
advertising, and marketing in 1998 was $160 million--triple
the figure for the previous year, "Vremya MN" reported in
April. The newspaper cited a Svyazinvest official who
reported that some 1.5 million customers had regular access
to the Internet. At the same time, the number of personal
computers sold in Russia in 1998--950,000--declined 32
percent compared with the previous year, according to
Interfax-Vremya in March. The mid-August 1998 devaluation of
the ruble was largely responsible for that slump. JAC

GAZPROM HEAD SAYS COMPANY APOLITICAL. Gazprom head Rem
Vyakhirev said on 22 June that his company would stop
concluding long-term contracts for delivery of natural gas to
Europe because of the significant price drop in fuel over the
past year, ITAR-TASS reported. Vyakhirev added that in the
future gas prices will not be linked with oil, as is the
current practice. Commenting on rumors that he might be
replaced by presidential envoy to Yugoslavia Viktor
Chernomyrdin, Vyakhirev said that he was elected for a period
ending in 2001. After that, Gazprom First Deputy Chairman
Vyacheslav Sheremet is a "probable candidate" to replace him.
In an interview with "Kommersant-Daily" the same day,
Vyakhirev said that Chernomyrdin's joining the board of
directors of the company was problematic since "he has chosen
a political career and Gazprom and politics are very far from
compatible." JAC

DUMA SPEAKER TO STAY IN DUMA? Duma Chairman Gennadii Seleznev
does not intend to run for governor of the Moscow or
Leningrad Oblasts, "Segodnya" reported on 22 June. Seleznev
had been widely expected to run for the Leningrad seat, but
had recently been making coy statements to the press about
not having yet decided (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation
Report," 23 June 1999). According to the daily, Seleznev
intends to participate in Duma elections and will run both on
the party list and in a single-mandate district in St.
Petersburg. He also reportedly thinks that the Communist
Party will not run in elections independently, as had been
previously announced, but will form a coalition. JAC

SYSUEV FINALLY GETS HIS WALKING PAPERS. Russian President
Boris Yeltsin has finally accepted the resignation of Oleg
Sysuev, who tried to resign as deputy head of the
presidential administration back in May, Interfax reported on
22 June citing government sources (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12
May 1999). Various media suggested at that time that Sysuev
had resigned to protest Yeltsin's dismissal of Prime Minister
Yevgenii Primakov. JAC

STEPASHIN EXAMINES DETERIORATING SITUATION IN NORTH CAUCASUS.
Russian Prime Minister Stepashin has met with senior defense
advisors to consider what to do in response to the
deteriorating situation in the North Caucasus, ITAR-TASS
reported on 22 June. The situation has already led to the
sacking of Major General Mikhail Shepilov as head of the
Stavropol Interior Department, the news agency reported, with
a Moscow Interior Ministry official, Major General Nikolai
Mamontov, taking his place. Moreover, an Interior Ministry
commission has begun meeting this week to consider how to
strengthen the guarding of the Chechen administrative border.
PG

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

SOUTHERN CAUCASUS COUNTRIES, EU ISSUE DECLARATION. Armenia,
Azerbaijan, and Georgia issued a joint statement with the
European Union in Luxembourg on 22 June, the Turan news
agency reported. The declaration noted that the EU is
concerned about developments in the Caucasus and wants to
expand cooperation with all three countries. It also called
for the construction of multiple pipelines to carry the
region's oil and gas to the west. PG

ARMENIAN CHURCH LEADER IN CRITICAL CONDITION. Garegin I, the
catholicos of all Armenians, remains alive but in critical
condition, the Snark news agency reported on 22 June.
Armenian President Robert Kocharian visited the hospitalized
churchman on 21 June, and Archbishop Mesrop Mutafian, the
Armenian Patriarch of Turkey, is flying to Yerevan to visit
Garegin in the hospital, ITAR-TASS reported. PG

BAKU OUTRAGED BY MOSCOW ARRESTS OF AZERBAIJANIS. Fourteen
Azerbaijani citizens were "brutally beaten and arrested by
Russian militiamen in Moscow," Caucasus Press reported on 22
June. Azerbaijan's ambassador to the Russian Federation,
Ramiz Rzayev, said that the Russian and Azerbaijani Interior
Ministries were investigating the incident. Meanwhile, the
"Express" newspaper reported on the same day that Moscow
police have arrested and beaten 34 Azerbaijanis as part of a
crackdown against organized crime. The paper said that the
reason behind what it characterized as "this barbarian
operation" is a search for six criminals who escaped from an
Irkutsk penal colony. PG

NEW AZERBAIJANI-ARMENIAN CLASHES REPORTED. The Turan news
agency on 22 June reported that Armenian troops had fired on
Azerbaijani positions in Sadarak the day before. There has
been no independent confirmation of this report, but tensions
have been rising and incidents have taken place along the
ceasefire line in recent weeks. PG

AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION ENDS BOYCOTT OF PARLIAMENT. Members of
the opposition Democratic Bloc have decided to return to work
in the Milli Mejlis, Turan reported on 22 June. The 18
opposition members of that body had been boycotting the
parliament's sessions since 17 April. They decided to return
to take part in debates over a controversial draft law on
local elections. PG

CIS TROOPS MARK FIFTH ANNIVERSARY IN ABKHAZIA. Soldiers from
countries in the CIS plan to mark their fifth anniversary as
peacekeepers in Abkhazia on 23 June, ITAR-TASS reported on 22
June. Their commander, Major General Sergei Korovko said "the
peacemakers have fulfilled their mission by providing for the
ceasefire, the pullout of heavy armaments and armed units,"
and by creating "conditions for the return of refugees."
Meanwhile, Russian forces on 22 June turned over control to
the last of seven Russian frontier posts to Abkhaz forces,
the Caucasus Press reported. PG

GEORGIAN PRESIDENT EXPRESSES CONFIDENCE IN GUUAM. Eduard
Shevardnadze told the Asaval-Dasavali newspaper on 22 June
that he had confidence in the viability of the association of
Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Moldova, ITAR-
TASS reported. The Russian news agency described GUUAM as an
"unpronounceable acronym," but the Georgian leader said that
it would survive even as he expressed doubts about the
ability of the CIS to do so. He said the latter organization
could flourish only if the CIS "does not turn into an
instrument to preserve Russia's influence" in this region. PG

SHEVARDNADZE SAYS NEIGHBORS PUSHING GEORGIA TOWARD NATO. In
the same interview, President Shevardnadze said that "the
more pressure is brought to bear on Georgia, the more will be
our country's desire to join NATO." And he added that the
timing of Georgia's effort to join the Western alliance
"fully depends on some of our neighbors who are hurrying us
towards this step." PG

GEORGIAN-TURKISH MILITARY COOPERATION EXPANDS. A delegation
from the Turkish general staff arrived in Tbilisi on 22 June
for a three-day working visit, ITAR-TASS reported. In
addition, the first graduates of the Georgian-Turkish border
guards' course left their Lilo training center, the Caucasus
Press reported on the same day. PG

POLITICAL CRISIS KEEPS KAZAKHSTAN PREMIER AT HOME. In the
face of a mounting political conflict between the parliament
and the government, Kazakhstan Prime Minister Nurlan
Balgimbaev did not leave for Kyiv on 22 June as was expected,
Interfax reported. Balgimbaev had been scheduled to meet with
senior Ukrainian officials to discuss a variety of
cooperation measures. PG

50,000 DRUG ADDICTS IN KYRGYZSTAN. Bishkek officials told
RFE/RL's Kyrgyz service on 22 June that there are now some
50,000 drug addicts in that Central Asian country.
Officially, however, only 6,000 addicts are registered. PG

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