Increase The Peace. - John Singleton
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 134, Part I, 13 July 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 134, Part I, 13 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

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Headlines, Part I

* BEREZOVSKII TO CORRECT 'BIASES' IN 'KOMMERSANT' REPORTING

* LUZHKOV WOOS PRIMAKOV

* AZERBAIJAN'S OFFSHORE GAS RESERVES EXCEED EXPECTATIONS
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

RUSSIA

BEREZOVSKII TO CORRECT 'BIASES' IN 'KOMMERSANT' REPORTING. In
an interview with "Vremya MN" on 13 July, influential
businessman Boris Berezovskii revealed that he will seek a
seat in the State Duma in an unspecified single-mandate
district. Berezovskii suggested that capitalists such as
himself know exactly what kind of laws the country needs for
its economic development. When asked whether he would be able
to work alongside Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov in
the lower chamber, Berezovskii said that he figured that "the
left should be represented Russia's parliament." On the issue
of his recent acquisition of a 15 percent stake in the
publishing house that produces "Kommersant-Daily,"
Berezovskii said he will not "tolerate the biased approaches
demonstrated" lately by the newspaper. Berezovskii added that
the purchase of the 15 percent stake will "give our group the
opportunity to be first in line to buy the remaining shares."
JAC

LUZHKOV WOOS PRIMAKOV. Moscow Mayor and possible presidential
contender Yurii Luzhkov revealed on 12 July that he met over
the weekend with former Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov.
According to Interfax, Luzhkov did not ask Primakov whether
he wants the top spot on Luzhkov's Otechestvo party list in
the upcoming parliamentary elections. However, Luzhkov told
the agency that "it would be a dream for every political
organization to have such an authoritative and influential
statesman as Primakov to join or lead it." "Komsomolskaya
pravda" reported the next day that according to anonymous
sources in Otechestvo, Luzhkov is prepared to withdraw from
the presidential race in favor of Primakov and content
himself with the chairmanship of the Federation Council. The
newspaper reported that most political analysts consider a
Primakov-Luzhkov tandem unbeatable and that Luzhkov could
easily launch himself into the presidency in 2004. JAC

WESTERN ANALYSTS OVERLOOKING RUSSIAN ECONOMIC REVIVAL? In an
interview in the July issue of "Vek," Anton Danilov-Danilyan,
director of the presidential administration's economic
directorate, said that New York Stock Exchange analysts'
prediction that Russia will exhaust its hard currency
reserves by August is off base. "Western analysts have been
frequently making such mistakes these days," he added, noting
that a lot of predictions were made that the Central Bank's
gold and hard currency reserves would fall to $8 billion by
the end of the first half of 1999, when in fact they exceeded
$12 billion. According to Danilov-Danilyan, Russia overcame
the depression caused by the mid-August 1998 economic crisis
"rather quickly" and "demand has shifted to domestic goods,
from which local manufacturers are profiting more than they
had hoped for." He also said that a revival in real incomes
began as early as February. First Deputy Prime Minister
Viktor Khristenko estimated on 10 July that industrial output
grew by 2 percent in the first half of 1999. JAC

RUSSIA TO SPEND LESS ON Y2K PREPARATION. Tackling the so-
called millennium computer bug problem will cost Russia $187
million, Finance Minister Mikhail Kasyanov announced on 12
July. That sum is only two-thirds of what the U.S. state of
Texas will spend on its own Y2K preparations, according to an
earlier Reuters report. Of the $187 million, $50 million will
be borrowed from abroad against state securities, "Segodnya"
reported on 24 June. Kasyanov added that priority funding
will be given to defense and security agencies. The Defense
Ministry will receive $13 million earmarked for resolution of
the problem and will have to find an additional $10.7 million
from its own resources. Earlier estimates of the funding
required to prepare the country's computers ranged from $1-3
billion. Also on 12 July, State Telecommunications Chairman
Aleksandr Ivanov said that modernization of those computers
vitally important for the state is only 30 percent complete.
He pledged, however, that by November, the country's
computers will be ready for the next century. JAC

GOVERNMENT SENDING MIXED MESSAGE ON ARMS EXPORT POLICY? After
pledging less than two weeks earlier that the government
plans to ease arms trade rules, Deputy Prime Minister Ilya
Klebanov told reporters on 12 July that a draft decree has
been prepared to tighten state control over such trade.
Klebanov said that the state will start monitoring the prices
of arms sold abroad and require that each state company
"prove to the state why it sells arms at such a price,"
according to ITAR-TASS. In addition, the decree stipulates
that a federal agency be established based on existing
structures to oversee the operations of Rosvooruzhenie,
Promexport, and Rossiiskie Tekhnologii. Klebanov said on 1
July that a decree is being drafted that will "simplify the
process of receiving permission to export military hardware."
JAC

FUEL MINISTER DENIES EXPANSION PLANS. Fuel and Energy
Minister Viktor Kalyuzhnii on 12 July denied that he has
plans to expand his ministry by taking over control of
Gazprom and Unified Energy Systems, as reported by some
newspapers, including "Kommersant-Daily," according to
Russian Television (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 July 1999).
Kalyuzhnii said the same day that his ministry will insist on
its own representative on the board of directors of Gazprom,
ITAR-TASS reported. According to Reuters, Kalyuzhnii had said
on 9 July that "the ministry of fuel and energy must become
the body that actually runs the fuel and energy complex,
regulating the strategically important systems of oil, gas,
coal, and electricity supply both directly and indirectly."
JAC

SOBCHAK'S BACK. Returning to St. Petersburg on 12 July, some
20 months after his departure for Paris to undergo medical
treatment, Anatolii Sobchak said he has "nothing to fear"
about corruption allegations brought against him. The former
St. Petersburg mayor confirmed his intention to take part in
the upcoming State Duma elections but, according to Interfax,
has not yet decided from which district he will run. The news
agency also quoted him as saying he has not yet thought about
participating in the St. Petersburg gubernatorial ballot
since "there is still time" for that decision. Sobchak was
reportedly taken ill during questioning as a witness in a
corruption case. Last September, the Prosecutor-General's
Office opened a criminal case against him on charges of
bribe-taking and abuse of office (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14
September 1998). Sobchak has denied the accusations, claiming
his political opponents are behind them. JC

STEPASHIN THREATENS FEDERAL TAKEOVER IN KAMCHATKA. Prime
Minister Sergei Stepashin said on 12 July that if the
governor of Kamchatka Oblast continues to prove unable to
cope with securing energy supplies, federal rule might be
introduced, Interfax reported. Stepashin added that the
Interior Ministry and leaders of law enforcement agencies
must investigate what happened with oblast resources set
aside for fuel purchases. Last June, after weeks of
electricity-rationing, Kamchatka residents held
demonstrations and signed a petition asking the UN to take
over the region (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 23
June 1999). JAC

FOREST FIRES CONTINUE TO SPREAD AS HOT DRY WEATHER CONTINUES.
More than 530,000 hectares of Russian forest have been
destroyed so far in 1999, ITAR-TASS reported on 13 July.
Authorities in Krasnoyarsk Krai declared a state of emergency
the same day because of the dramatic spread of fires in the
region. Some 640 fires have been registered on 53,800
hectares of forest area in the krai since the beginning of
the summer. That figure is 10 times higher than that recorded
last year. JAC

INTERIOR MINISTER SAYS ACTIONS AGAINST CHECHEN 'GANGSTERS'
WILL CONTINUE. Visiting Stavropol Krai on 12 July together
with Nationalities Minister Vyacheslav Mikhailov and other
senior government officials, Vladimir Rushailo warned that
his forces will continue to strike against Chechen criminal
gangs insofar as it is possible to do so without risk to the
civilian population. He said that his ministry is drafting
measures to strengthen security along the border between
Chechnya and Stavropol Krai. Rushailo stressed that "we are
not at war with Chechnya or the Chechen people." On 13 July,
Rushailo met in Vladikavkaz with North Ossetia's President
Aleksandr Dzasokhov to discuss the situation in the North
Caucasus and measures to combat crime in the region, ITAR-
TASS reported. LF

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIA, LIKE GEORGIA, ASPIRES TO EU MEMBERSHIP. Speaking in
Yerevan on 10 July at a ceremony marking the entry into force
of the Partnership and Cooperation agreement between Armenia
and the EU, Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian said
Armenia's goal is ultimately to join the EU, however unreal
that aspiration may currently appear, Noyan Tapan reported.
Oskanian's Georgian counterpart, Irakli Menagharishvili, had
said earlier this month that Georgia's desire for full
integration into European structures includes EU membership
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 July 1999). LF

AZERBAIJAN'S OFFSHORE GAS RESERVES EXCEED EXPECTATIONS... A
spokesman for BP Amoco PLC announced in Baku on 12 July that
test drilling at the Shah Deniz offshore field 60 kilometers
south of Baku suggests the field contains gas reserves of
more than 400 billion cubic meters, according to the "Wall
Street Journal" of 13 July. BP Amoco is the operator of a
consortium that was created in 1996 to exploit Shah Deniz's
oil reserves and also comprises Norway's Statoil,
Azerbaijan's SOCAR, and Russian, French, Italian, Iranian,
and Turkish companies. Azerbaijan's President Heidar Aliev
expressed delight at the size of the Shah Deniz gas reserves
and suggested that the Azerbaijani government consider
construction of an export pipeline to transport the gas via
Georgia to Turkey. Aliev said Turkish President Suleyman
Demirel has expressed Turkey's willingness to buy gas from
Shah Deniz, according to Turan. LF

...CASTING DOUBT ON VIABILITY OF RUSSIAN, TURKMEN PIPELINE
PROJECTS. "Zerkalo" noted on 26 June that reconstruction of
the existing gas pipeline from Azerbaijan via Georgia will
cost between $100-150 million. The Shah Deniz reserves are
sufficiently large to supply Turkey with enough gas to meet
its rapidly growing energy needs, thus calling into question
the need for two planned alternative projects-- Russia's
"Blue Stream" pipeline under the Black Sea, which poses
serious technical problems, and the trans-Caspian pipeline to
transport Turkmen gas to Turkey via Azerbaijan and Georgia.
Failure to proceed with the latter project could, "Zerkalo"
suggested, further strain relations between Azerbaijan and
Turkmenistan. The two countries dispute ownership of several
offshore Caspian oil fields. LF

AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT FIRES FINANCE MINISTER... Aliev issued
a decree on 11 July dismissing 43-year-old Fikret Yusifov
from the post of finance minister, Reuters and Turan reported
the following day. Avaz Alekperov, a trained economist who
worked in the Azerbaijan SSR Council of Ministers apparatus
from 1981-1991 until his appointment as chairman of the Fund
for the Social Protection of the Population, was appointed to
succeed Yusifov. Aliev also created a special commission
charged with investigating mutual accusations by the
Ministries of Finance and Defense. The Defense Ministry has
accused the Finance Ministry of non-payment of funds to the
budget, while the latter claims the former has misused
government funds. LF

...ANNOUNCES AMNESTY. Also on 11 July, Aliev signed a decree
pardoning 91 prisoners and reducing by half the prison terms
of another 25, Turan reported. Observers have suggested the
amnesty is to mark the 30th anniversary of Aliev's election
as first secretary of the Azerbaijan Communist Party Central
Committee. Beneficiaries include journalist Fuad Gakhramanly,
who was sentenced in November 1998 to 18 months' imprisonment
for an unpublished article deemed subversive (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 30 November 1998), former Agriculture Minister
Mizammil Abdullaev, who was charged with complicity in
financing alleged coup attempts by former Premier Suret
Huseinov; Rasim Agaev, press spokesman to former President
Ayaz Mutalibov; and Balash Abbaszade, an assistant to former
parliamentary speaker Rasul Guliev. LF

RUSSIAN FRONTIER TROOPS LEAVE ABKHAZIA. The last contingent
of Russian border troops left Abkhazia on 10 July in
accordance with an agreement signed last year by Moscow and
Tbilisi, Caucasus Press reported. Over the previous month,
the Russians had handed over control of eight frontier posts
to Abkhaz frontier guards, who now control the full length of
the breakaway republic's border, according to Abkhaz Deputy
Security Minister Sergei Tsargush. It is unclear whether the
departing Russians took with them all their movable property,
as stipulated in the 1998 agreement, or ceded some equipment
to the Abkhaz. LF

RUSSIA STILL HOPING FOR KAZAKH COMPROMISE ON BAIKONOUR.
Russian and Kazakh officials failed to reach agreement during
their 12 July talks on the 14 July launch from Baikonur of a
Russian cargo rocket intended to carry supplies to the
orbiting "Mir" space station. Conditions after 26 July for
launching that rocket to dock with "Mir" are said to be
"unfavorable," and Russian Space Agency head Yurii Koptev
told journalists in Moscow on 12 July that "Mir" may go out
of control and crash to earth at some point next year unless
the new navigation system to be transported by the cargo
rocket is installed. Reuters on 13 July quoted unidentified
Russian space officials as expressing the hope that the
Kazakh authorities will permit the launch of the cargo rocket
on 18 July. Both that rocket and a Ukrainian-Russian
satellite due to have been launched from Baikonur on 12 July
will remain on the launch pad "as long as technical resources
permit," Interfax reported. LF

KAZAKH PREMIER ORDERS SALARIES TO BE PAID TO HUNGER-STRIKERS.
Nurlan Balghymbaev chaired a cabinet session on 12 July
devoted to the social and economic situation in the town of
Ekibastuz in northern Kazakhstan, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service
reported. Several dozen employees at the Ekibastuz power
station began a hunger-strike two weeks ago to demand payment
of back wages for the past two years, totaling 125 million
tenge (approximately $900,000). Balghymbaev ordered Energy,
Trade, and Industry Minister Mukhtar Abliyazov to pay off the
wage arrears within one week. LF

TAJIK LEADERSHIP ASSESSES AFTERMATH OF LANDSLIDES. President
Imomali Rakhmonov chaired a government session on 12 July to
evaluate the damage inflicted by last week's mudslides and
coordinate emergency aid to the population of the regions
affected, AP-Blitz reported. Also on 12 July, Rakhmonov
telephoned with his Uzbek counterpart, Islam Karimov, who
expressed his condolences and offered material aid in coping
with the aftermath of the disaster. LF

TURKMENISTAN REGISTERS ECONOMIC UPSWING. Interfax on 12 July
quoted Turkmenistan's National Institute for Statistics and
Prognosis as reporting that during the first six months of
1999 GDP increased by 15 percent, compared with 1998. Total
GDP growth for 1998 was 5 percent. Oil and gas extraction for
the first five months of 1999 rose by 10.7 percent, compared
with 1998. Meanwhile, Turkmenistan recently completed its
best-ever grain harvest of 1.5 million tons. That amount, as
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" observed on 26 June, will make
Turkmenistan self-sufficient in grain for the second
consecutive year. LF

HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST DETAINED IN UZBEKISTAN. Amnesty
International issued a press release on 12 July expressing
concern over the detention two days earlier of Ismail Adylov,
a member of the unregistered Independent Human Rights
Organization of Uzbekistan. Interior Ministry officers
subsequently searched Adylov's home in Tashkent and
confiscated documents related to his human rights activities.
The following day, police refused to inform Adylov's wife
where he is being held. Also on 12 July, Amnesty
International called on the international community to
protest the forcible deportation from the Russian Federation
to Uzbekistan of Bakhadir Ruzmetov, whom Uzbek officials
suspect of involvement in the 16 February bombings in
Tashkent. LF

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
               Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc.
                     All rights reserved.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

HOW TO SUBSCRIBE
Send an email to newsline-request@list.rferl.org with
the word subscribe as the subject of the message.

HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE
Send an email to newsline-request@list.rferl.org with
the word unsubscribe as the subject of the message.

For subscription problems or inquiries, please email
hermanoval@rferl.org
________________________________________________
CURRENT AND BACK ISSUES ON THE WEB
Back issues of RFE/RL Newsline and the OMRI Daily Digest
are online at: http://www.rferl.org/newsline/search/
_________________________________________________
LISTEN TO NEWS FOR 25 COUNTRIES
RFE/RL programs are online daily at RFE/RL's 24-Hour
LIVE Broadcast Studio.
http://www.rferl.org/realaudio/index.html
_________________________________________________
REPRINT POLICY
To receive reprint permission, please contact Paul Goble
via email at GobleP@rferl.org or fax at 1-202-457-6992
_________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE STAFF
* Paul Goble, Publisher, GobleP@rferl.org
* Liz Fuller, Editor-in-Chief, CarlsonE@rferl.org
* Patrick Moore, Team Leader, MooreP@rferl.org
* Jan Cleave, CleaveJ@rferl.org
* Julie A. Corwin, CorwinJ@rferl.org
* Jan Maksymiuk, MaksymiukJ@rferl.org
* Fabian Schmidt, SchmidtF@rferl.org
* Michael Shafir, ShafirM@rferl.org

FREE-LANCE AND OCCASIONAL CONTRIBUTORS
* Pete Baumgartner, Jeremy Branston,  Victor Gomez, Mel
Huang, Dan Ionescu, Zsolt-Istvan Mato, Jolyon Naegele, Matyas
Szabo, Anthony Wesolowsky

RFE/RL Newsline Fax: (420-2) 2112-3630
_________________________________________________
RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC

[English] [Russian TRANS | KOI8 | ALT | WIN | MAC | ISO5]

F&P Home ° Comments ° Guestbook


1996 Friends and Partners
Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole
Please visit the Russian and American mirror sites of Friends and Partners.
Updated: 1998-11-

Please write to us with your comments and suggestions.

F&P Quick Search
Main Sections
Home
Bulletin Board
Chat Room
F&P Listserver

RFE/RL
1999
1998
1997
1996
1995
1994
1993
1992
1991
Search

News
News From Russia/NIS
News About Russia/NIS
Newspapers & Magazines
Global News
Weather

©1996 Friends and Partners
Please write to us with any comments, questions or suggestions -- Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole