It is a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link in the chain of destiny can be handled at a time. - Sir Winston Churchill
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 129, Part I, 2 July 1999


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 129, Part I, 2 July 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


*****
Note to Readers: "RFE/RL Newsline" will not appear on 5 and 6
July, which are public holidays in the Czech Republic.
*****


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Headlines, Part I

* YELTSIN PLAYS DOWN WESTERN THREAT, WARNS OF REGIONAL
CONFLICTS

* CHUBAIS ANNOUNCES FORMATION OF BLOC FOR DUMA ELECTIONS

* SOUTH CAUCASUS PRESIDENTS AGREE TO NEW SUMMIT

End Note: RUSSIAN DUMA ELECTIONS: THE POLITICS
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RUSSIA

YELTSIN PLAYS DOWN WESTERN THREAT, WARNS OF REGIONAL
CONFLICTS... President Boris Yeltsin, speaking at a Defense
Ministry meeting to review the recently completed "West 99"
military exercises, said the prospect of a military campaign
by the West against Russia was "from the realm of theory," AP
reported on 2 July. Yeltsin said, however, that "the danger
of regional conflicts exists." He added that the Kosova
crisis showed how difficult international relations could be
despite the end of the Cold War. Premier Sergei Stepashin,
Defense Minister Igor Sergeev, Interior Minister Vladimir
Rushailo, and the head of the armed forces' General Staff,
Anatolii Kvashnin, were among those attending the meeting. PB

...WHILE WASHINGTON MINIMIZES RUSSIAN MANEUVERS INCIDENT.
U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen has downplayed the
significance of the recent incident during the "West 99'
maneuvers, in which four U.S. fighter jets intercepted two
Russian bombers off the coast of Iceland (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 1 July 1999). Cohen said he thinks Moscow probably
wanted to learn how quickly the U.S. could respond to such an
occurrence as well as prove that Russia is still a force to
be dealt with. He added that the incident should not be seen
as setting a dangerous trend. Cohen also announced that he
will travel to Moscow later this month, noting that "it's all
part of maintaining good stable relations with them," AP
reported on 2 July. Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Russian
air force stressed its aircraft did not violate Iceland's air
space during the training flights. He added that media
reports asserting that the Russian bombers came "within
striking distance" of the U.S. were "untruthful," according
to ITAR-TASS. JC

CHUBAIS ANNOUNCES FORMATION OF BLOC FOR DUMA ELECTIONS.
Anatolii Chubais, a leader of the Pravoe Delo (Right Cause)
movement, said on 2 July in Salzburg, Austria, while
attending the Central and East European Economic Forum that
four right-of-center parties have agreed in principle to form
one bloc to participate in parliamentary elections scheduled
for December, ITAR-TASS reported. Chubais, also the head of
Russia's Unified Energy Systems, made the announcement along
with ex-Premier Sergei Kirienko, leader of the Novaya Sila
(New Force) movement, Samara Governor Konstantin Titov, who
heads the Golos Rossii (Voice of Russia) electoral bloc; and
Vladimir Ryzhkov, leader of the Duma faction of the Our Home
Is Russia movement. Chubais said he will act as head of the
coalition's electoral headquarters. Grigorii Yavlinskii, head
of Yabloko, reportedly turned down an invitation to join the
group. PB

CHERNOMYRDIN URGES GOVERNMENT NOT TO INTERFERE IN GAZPROM.
Former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin called on the
government not to become involved in the running of the
Russian gas monopoly Gazprom, an RFE/RL correspondent
reported. Chernomyrdin, who was elected chairman of the board
of Gazprom earlier this week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 June
1999), made his comments on 2 July in Salzburg, where he is
attending the international economic forum. The Russian
government holds a minority stake of some 38 percent in the
concern. Chernomyrdin said he expects the government to sell
part of its holdings eventually. Refusing to comment on the
Russian presidential race in 2000, he added that the pre-
election campaign under way in the State Duma is interesting
and could shed some light on the short-term future of the
country. PB

U.S. INVESTMENT BANK UPBEAT ON RUSSIAN GROWTH. Goldman, Sachs
and Co. announced a forecasted growth rate of 7.8 percent in
Russia  this year, Reuters reported. That estimate is
considerably higher than official Moscow's predictions on
growth. According to figures released in May, industrial
output went up by 6.1 percent, which was the best result
since September 1995, the investment bank reported. The bank
said the development of industrial enterprises and companies
that are benefiting from the advantageous conditions
following the ruble crash in August is a major reason for the
optimistic forecast. PB

YELTSIN MEETS WITH FRENCH PREMIER. President Yeltsin held
talks with Lionel Jospin in Moscow on 2 July, ITAR-TASS
reported. Yeltsin said Russia enjoys "privileged relations"
with France. Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and Trade Minister
Mikhail Fradkov also joined in the talks, which reportedly
focused on the situation in Kosova. Jospin also met with his
Russian counterpart, Stepashin (see below), Krasnoyarsk
Governor Aleksandr Lebed and Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov
during the remainder of his two-day visit. PB

STEPASHIN STRESSES MOSCOW WILL HONOR ALL DEBT OBLIGATIONS...
Addressing the annual Central and East European Economic
Forum in Salzburg on 1 July, Prime Minister Stepashin
stressed that Russia will honor all of its obligations
regarding economic restructuring and debt repayment, as
demanded by the IMF. He added that in this way, Moscow hopes
to regain investor confidence in the country's capital
markets. "Russia should not become bankrupt or a pariah at
the beginning of the next millennium," he said. During his
two-day visit to Austria, Stepashin met with top Austrian
officials as well heads of state of several East European
countries (see below and Part II). JC

...BLAMES MILOSEVIC FOR KOSOVA EVENTS. Also on I July in
Salzburg, Stepashin said that Yugoslav President Slobodan
Milosevic "in many respects is guilty for what happened" in
Kosova. However, he called on the international community
to help people in both Kosova and Serbia proper. He said
that "the war has caused a humanitarian catastrophe, and
aid to rebuild Yugoslavia...should be unconditional." U.S.
and U.K. officials have repeatedly stressed that Serbia
must not receive international aid unless it hands over
indicted war criminals, including Milosevic, to the
International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague. In Moscow
later on 1 July, visiting French Prime Minister Jospin told
Stepashin that the Russian and NATO Kosova peacekeeping
contingents should "share the same philosophy" yet take
into account their own specific "sensitivities" and the
reactions of local people to their presence, AFP reported.
FS

DID RUSSIA'S PARATROOPERS WANT TO PARTITION KOSOVA?
"Moskovskii Komsomolets" of 2 July quotes unnamed sources
in the Russian Defense Ministry as saying that the arrival
of 200 Russian paratroopers in Prishtina on 11 June was
part of a plan by the Russian General Staff to partition
Kosova. The officials told the daily that the General Staff
planned the operation in cooperation with the Serbian
government. The paratroopers reportedly intended to
establish a bridgehead at the airport and then move an
additional 3,000 to 4,000 paratroopers in by plane. These
forces would then have occupied the northern area of Kosova
bordering Serbia proper and declared it a Russian sector.
The alleged plan failed when Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria
refused to grant Russian military planes an air-corridor.
FS

WHY DID NATO NOT MOVE IN? NATO Supreme Commander Europe
General Wesley Clark told the Senate Armed Services
Committee in Washington on 1 July that NATO had enough
advance warning to "intercept" the 200 Russian paratroopers
but that unspecified political leaders "at levels above
mine" decided against blocking the Russians, "The Boston
Globe" reported. The daily adds that after the meeting
Clark took two Senators aside and expressed his displeasure
about the decision. "Moskovskii Komsomolets" of 2 July says
that Russian generals have not yet given up the plan to set
up a Russian sector in Kosova and are trying to delay the
departure of Russian troops from Prishtina to the German,
French, and U.S. sectors in the hope of  gathering forces
at the airfield and eventually moving north. The daily
quotes Colonel-General Viktor Zavarzin, commander of the
Russian peacekeepers, as arguing that the housing
conditions in the respective sectors "do not suit" the
Russian paratroopers. FS

RUSSIA-NATO NEGOTIATIONS 'BUSINESSLIKE.' Senior Russian
Defense Ministry official Valentin Kuznetsov told ITAR-TASS
in Brussels on 1 July that the atmosphere at talks between
his delegation and officials at the NATO military
headquarters in Mons was "favorable and businesslike," (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 1 July 1999). Kuznetsov said that both
sides agreed to strictly implement the Russian-NATO agreement
on the KFOR command structure. He stressed that all KFOR
troops will try to "achieve common goals...in compliance with
the [18 June] Helsinki agreements and the UN Security Council
resolution" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 June 1999). In other
news, Russia's Ambassador to Yugoslavia Yurii Kotov told
"Kommersant-Daily" of 1 July that "the UN [arms embargo
against Yugoslavia] is still in effect, but I think a legal
framework for supplying weapons will be created soon." Kotov
added that Yugoslavia turned down a Russian offer to upgrade
its air defense before NATO's air campaign. FS

GENERALS, ADMIRALS CONVICTED OF CORRUPTION. Russian military
prosecutors said on 1 July that 17 army generals and navy
admirals were found guilty of corruption in 1998, adding that
the incidence of such crimes is rising, Interfax reported.
The numbers were released at a conference at the Main
Military Prosecutor's Office. No further details of the
crimes or the officers were given. PB

LEBEDEV APPROVED AS SUPREME COURT HEAD. In a secret vote of
132 to eight with three abstentions, the upper house of the
parliament approved reappointing Vyacheslav Lebedev as
chairman of the Supreme Court, Interfax reported on 2 July.
Lebedev was named by President Yeltsin to continue in that
post after his 10-year term expires this month (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 6 May and 1 July 1999). Speaking to journalists
after the vote, Lebedev rejected the suggestion that his
appointment by the Federation Council is related to the case
of Prosecutor-General Yurii Skuratov. The Council earlier
asked the court to decide whether President Yeltsin had the
right to suspend Skuratov from office, pending the outcome of
a criminal investigation, without the Council's approval. JC

TRIAL OF SLAIN JOURNALIST ADJOURNED. The trial of three
suspects in the murder of journalist Larisa Yudina in the
southern Republic of Kalmykia opened on 1 July and shortly
thereafter adjourned when the defense accused the prosecution
of "legal impropriety," AP reported, citing Russian
television. The defense argued that the prosecutor must be
replaced because he took part in the murder investigation,
including interrogations. The court responded by ordering a
week-long recess. An outspoken critic of Kalmykian President
Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and a member of Yabloko, Yudina was found
murdered in the regional capital, Elista, one year ago (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 9 June 1998). JC

HEALTH OFFICIAL SAYS AIDS CASES EXPLODING. Vadim Pokrovskii,
head of the Russian Research Center for the Prevention of
AIDS, said on 1 July that a lack of prevention and public
education in Russia has led to a surge in the number of
people infected with the HIV virus, Reuters reported.
Pokrovskii said there has been a 12-fold increase in the
number of HIV-infected people in the Moscow area during the
first six months of this year, compared with the same period
in 1998. He said Russia lacks money to keep the disease from
spreading, which he said most commonly passes into the
heterosexual population via drug-using prostitutes. The
Health Ministry said a total of almost 16,000 HIV-positive
cases were registered in the country as of last month. PB

NATIONALITIES MINISTER SPEAKS OUT AGAINST CAUCASUS POLICY.
Nationalities and Federal Policy Minister Vyacheslav
Mikhailov said on 2 July in Moscow that Russia's policy of
having a large military presence in the North Caucasus should
be changed because most of the region does not want
independence, AP reported. Mikhailov said "this strategically
flawed policy should be discontinued." He made his comments
at a cabinet meeting. Mikhailov continued: "The North
Caucasus is not willing to [secede] and will not do so."
Mikhailov said the government should better incorporate the
region into federal programs. At the same meeting, Prime
Minister Stepashin warned that despite a possible policy
change, Moscow would maintain its tough stance in the North
Caucasus. "Russia has the ability to instill order," he said.
"We have a constitution and anyone who breaches it will be
prosecuted." PB

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH OPPOSITION PARTY LEADER. Robert
Kocharian met with National Democratic Union chairman Vazgen
Manukian on 29 June, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported on 1
July, citing the presidential press office. The subject of
their talks is not known. Manukian, who served as prime
minister in Armenia's first postcommunist government in 1990-
1991, had queried the legitimacy of last year's presidential
poll, in which he received only 12 percent of the vote in the
first round. On 30 June, "Aravot" quoted Manukian as denying
that he has been offered or would be prepared to accept the
post of mayor of Yerevan. LF

AZERBAIJAN, UKRAINE SIGN AGREEMENTS. Ukrainian Foreign
Minister Borys Tarasyuk held talks in Baku on 30 June with
his Azerbaijani counterpart Tofik Zulfugarov,  focusing on
more intensive cooperation between NATO and the GUUAM member
states (Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and
Moldova), Ukrainian arms sales to Azerbaijan, and the
possible export of Azerbaijan's Caspian oil via Ukraine,
Turan and Interfax reported. The following day, the two
ministers signed cooperation agreements on motor
transportation, sea trade, and tourism. On 1 July, Tarasyuk
met with parliamentary speaker Murtuz Alesqerov and with
President Heidar Aliev. Describing Ukraine as one of
Azerbaijan's most important partners, Aliev expressed support
for Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma's bid for re-election
this fall. Aliev also acknowledged, but declined to divulge
the content of, a new Ukrainian proposal for resolving the
deadlocked Karabakh conflict, according to Interfax. LF


AZERBAIJANI JOURNALISTS PROTEST BEATING OF COLLEAGUE. Meeting
in Baku on 1 July, newspaper editors and news agency heads
unanimously condemned the incident on 30 June in which
"Hurriyet" journalist Kamil Tagisoy (not the newspaper's
deputy editor, as incorrectly reported by "RFE/RL Newsline"
on 1 July) was forcibly taken from his car and beaten, Turan
reported. Several political parties similarly condemned the
incident, as did the head of the public-political department
within the presidential administration, Ali Hasanov. A Baku
district court has opened a criminal case in connection with
the assault on Tagisoy. LF

SOUTH CAUCASUS PRESIDENTS AGREE TO NEW SUMMIT. Speaking at a
press conference in Tbilisi on 1 July, Georgian Foreign
Minister Irakli Menagharishvili said that Presidents
Kocharian and Aliev have expressed support for the proposal
by their Georgian counterpart, Eduard Shevardnadze, to hold a
summit before the end of this year, ITAR-TASS reported. The
date for that meeting has not yet been fixed, but
Menagharishvili said it will "probably" be held in Tbilisi.
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has
written to both Kocharian and Aliev to reaffirm the need for
further progress toward implementing the agreement reached by
the three Transcaucasus presidents during a meeting in
Washington in April on strengthening peace and economic
cooperation in the South Caucasus, Noyan Tapan and Turan
reported. Albright also stressed the need to resolve the
Karabakh conflict on the basis of proposals by the OSCE Minsk
Group, according to Noyan Tapan. LF

GEORGIA AFFIRMS DESIRE FOR EU, NATO MEMBERSHIP. At the 1 July
press conference in Tbilisi, Menagharishvili told journalists
that "Georgia's goal is to completely integrate into European
economic, political, and defense structures," ITAR-TASS
reported. He explained that this aspiration encompasses
future membership of the EU and that Georgia considers that
European security structures provide a greater guarantee for
the country's security than does the CIS Collective Security
Treaty, in which Georgia will not renew its participation.
Also on 1 July, ITAR-TASS quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Giga
Burduli as having told "Svobodnaya Gruziya" that Georgia has
requested membership in NATO. But Georgia's eligibility for
inclusion in the "second wave" of NATO expansion seems
dubious in the light of recent comments by a retired German
general and adviser to the Georgian government that both the
materiel base and the psychological atmosphere within the
Georgian army has deteriorated since 1998. LF

GEORGIA, RUSSIA DISAGREE OVER MILITARY COOPERATION. Also on I
July, Menagharishvili admitted that there were "differences
of opinion" at the Russian-Georgian talks on military
cooperation that took place in Moscow on 29-30 June,
according to ITAR-TASS. He explained that Russia wanted those
talks to focus on the quotas allocated to the two countries
under the amended CFE treaty, whereas Georgia considers any
discussion of specific figures and quotas "impossible" at the
present time and advocates drafting  completely new framework
for bilateral cooperation. It is unclear whether the issue of
closing two or more of the Russian military bases in Georgia
was discussed, as originally intended. LF

GEORGIAN OPPOSITION HUNGER-STRIKE GATHERS MOMENTUM. Inmates
of three Georgian prisons have joined the hunger-strike
declared last month by supporters of deceased former
President Zviad Gamsakhurdia, Caucasus Press reported on 1
July. Some 180 people have gathered in Gamsakhurdia's family
home in Tbilisi and are fasting to demand President
Shevardnadze's resignation and the reinstallment of
Gamsakhurdia's government. LF

KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT ASSESSES ECONOMIC PROBLEMS. Responding
to questions from a RFE/RL correspondent, on 1 July President
Nursultan Nazarbaev told journalists in Salzburg, where he is
attending the annual Central and East European Economic
Forum, that reduced spending on social issues in the 1999
budget does not affect pensioners or state-sector employees.
He also said that the campaign launched last month in Almaty
Oblast to collect gold jewelry to boost the country's
dwindling hard-currency reserves was not organized by the
Kazakh government. Nazarbaev said he believes the worst of
Kazakhstan's economic crisis is over and that the economic
situation will begin to improve before the end of 1999.
Nazarbaev also met in Salzburg with Russian Prime Minister
Stepashin to discuss economic and trade issues, ITAR-TASS
reported. LF

KYRGYZ OPPOSITION LEADER FEARS COMMUNIST BACKLASH. Bakyt
Beshimov, chairman of the People's Party of Kyrgyzstan, whose
membership he estimates at 45,000, told Interfax on 1 July
that the rapidly deteriorating social and economic situation
could facilitate the return to power of the Communist Party
in the parliamentary elections due early next year. He said
his party intends to form a "strong opposition" to the
present authorities, uniting all those forces that support
social democracy, democratic institutions, and a market
economy, in order to prevent the return to power of the
Communists, who, he said, "could lead the country into even
greater deadlock." LF

END NOTE

RUSSIAN DUMA ELECTIONS: THE POLITICS

By Floriana Fossato

	Until recently, most top Russian politicians have
focused their attention on the June 2000 presidential
elections. But with the current lack of a presidential
candidate who enjoys  President Boris Yeltsin's support, the
Russian political situation remains unpredictable. As a
result, politicians and their advisers now say that the
parliamentary elections due in five months have acquired new
importance.
	Earlier this week, Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin told
a meeting of Federal Security Service (FSB) officials that
the composition of the next parliament will greatly affect
the outcome of next year's presidential elections. Stepashin
said that "a great deal in the future...will depend on whom
we elect to the parliament."
	The establishment of new political movements that will
participate in the parliamentary elections is now almost
complete. Most of the political groups have held founding
congresses in the past few months.
	Many moderate Russian politicians repeatedly use phrases
like "consolidation of forces" and "creation of a
constructive opposition" in the new parliament when referring
to the creation of these new movements. The moderates are
seeking a more centrist-based State Duma to replace the
present lower house, dominated by communist and nationalist
groups.
	Leonid Raketskii is the governor of the oil-rich Tyumen
region and one of the most influential representatives of the
centrist movement Voice of Russia, which is led by Samara
Governor Konstantin Titov.
	In a recent interview with RFE/RL's Russian Service,
Raketskii commented that several movements look "very
similar, like sister organizations: [Moscow Mayor Yuri
Luzhkov's] Fatherland, Our Home Is Russia, Voice of Russia,
and All Russia. I think all the leaders of these
organizations should overcome their own ambitions, stop
promoting themselves, and understand clearly that we should
create a 'golden' centrist group attractive to the
electorate. [We should] not choose political leaders, but
candidates for the Duma.... Only after that should leaders be
chosen, to compete among themselves before next year's
presidential vote."
	One of the leaders of the Our Home is Russia group,
Saratov Governor Dmitrii Ayatskov, foresees the possibility
of coalition of centrist and center-right movements. Ayatskov
recently told the Interfax news agency that in his opinion.
only three or four political blocs are likely to garner the 5
percent of the vote necessary for parliamentary
representation. Luzhkov's Fatherland group is not among the
movements with which his party is consulting on the formation
of a united centrist bloc. He said that consultations with
several groups are under way but added that "it is too early
to talk about the results." One of the leaders of the center-
right Right Cause bloc, economist Yegor Gaidar, made a
similar statement last week.
	In recent days, some Russian media have been speculating
that the Kremlin is trying to create its own coalition. They
say it would be a kind of new "party of power" that would be
called Rossiya and might be led by Stepashin. According to
media reports, most moderate blocs would be invited to take
part in the new party, with the exception of Luzhkov's
Fatherland movement, which the Kremlin is said to actively
oppose.
	Last week, Yeltsin told Stepashin to "consider the place
and the role of the government in the next parliamentary
election." Stepashin answered that the government "cannot be
cut off" from preparations for the parliamentary election
campaign. On 29 June, he told FSB officials that Russia's
security forces must not allow the Duma elections to be
dominated by criminals seeking to influence Russian politics.
	The daily "Vremya MN" wrote recently that "the recipe
for success [in creating a new party] is well-known: [the
backing of regional] governors, industrial captains and
military men, some small parties and a few intellectuals,
plus a lot of money and a huge amount of [television]
broadcasting time." But, the newspaper added, Russian
politicians have a poor record of agreeing on anything. Also,
it said, Russia's bankrupt central government has little to
offer to regional bosses.
	More important, "Vremya MN" noted, in order to create a
real "party of power," something else is necessary: "an idea
that could unite all [moderate forces]." The newspaper noted
that three years ago, the unifying idea was the perceived
danger of a communist come-back. But now, it concludes, "this
will not work, and for the moment there are no other ideas"
that could unite all the possible members of a moderate
alliance.
	Some politicians say that the fragmentation of Russia's
centrist and center-right political spectrum could benefit
the Communists and their allies in the current Duma. But
others doubt that will be the case. According to Ayatskov of
Our Home is Russia, substantial differences of opinion are
already noticeable among leaders of pro-communist groups.
Together with other politicians, Ayatskov  believes that the
Communist Party "is rapidly losing its political weight,
especially after the failed impeachment attempt against
Yeltsin."

The author is an RFE/RL correspondent in Moscow. This is the
first article in a two-part series.

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