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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 137, Part I, 16 July 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 137, Part I, 16 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

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Headlines, Part I

* BATTLE OVER GAZPROM CONTINUES

* GRAIN STOCKS STILL DWINDLING, WHILE LIVESTOCK ENJOY WESTERN
FOOD AID

* ARMENIAN GOVERNMENT OBTAINS COURT INJUNCTION AGAINST GREEK
TELECOM
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RUSSIA

BATTLE OVER GAZPROM CONTINUES... Despite the Fuel and Energy
Ministry's insistence that Gazprom's board of directors must
be altered less than a month after it was elected, First
Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko told reporters on 15
July that the board's make-up will not be changed that
dramatically. He added that the Finance, Fuel and Energy, and
State Property Ministries will have representatives on the
board. According to Interfax, the state is currently
represented by the state property minister, a deputy finance
minister, Yamalo Nenets Autonomous Okrug governor, and Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin Chernomyrdin. JAC

...AS COMPOSITION OF BOARD OF DIRECTORS DEBATED. However,
"Kommersant-Daily" speculated the same day that dark forces
were behind the Fuel and Energy Ministry's desire to alter
the board's composition--namely, business magnate Boris
Berezovskii and Sibneft head Roman Abramovich. According to
the daily, both are increasingly seeking to gain control over
Gazprom, and recently compromising materials about the
company were televised on Russian Public Television, which
Berezovskii reportedly controls. Fuel and Energy Minister
Viktor Kalyuzhnii, whom "Kommersant-Daily" and other
newspapers have described as a Berezovskii/Abramovich
protege, announced on 16 July that he personally would like a
seat on the company's board. New candidates to the board of
directors will be discussed at a meeting on 20 July,
according to Interfax. "Vremya MN" reported on 13 July that
the Kremlin wants to reestablish the board of state
representatives at Gazprom, which was abolished after the
dismissal of Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko's cabinet. JAC

GRAIN STOCKS STILL DWINDLING, WHILE LIVESTOCK ENJOY WESTERN
FOOD AID. As of 1 July, Russian grain stocks plummeted by
76.8 percent to 3.8 million tons, compared with the same
period last year, according to the Russian Statistics Agency
on 16 July. Meanwhile, "The Moscow Times" reported on 14 July
that Russian agricultural officials throughout the region
have concluded that the hundreds of thousands of tons of
wheat that arrived as humanitarian assistance from the U.S.
and EU might better be classified as high-quality animal
fodder. According to Russian government standards, wheat must
be at least 23 percent gluten to be considered third-class
quality, while the wheat the U.S. provided is 20-22 percent
and the EU 18-19 percent. In order to make bread, high-
quality wheat must be added. However, according to Nikolai
Lugovov, the head of Nizhnii Novgorod's agriculture
department, "finding high quality wheat is a real problem
now, because no one planned for this in advance," the daily
reported. JAC

RUSSIAN INDUSTRY REBOUNDING? Industrial output increased 3.1
percent during the first six months of 1999, compared with
the same period last year, according to the Russian
Statistics Agency on 15 July. The agency also reported that
average daily inflation rose to 0.126 percent from 6-12 July
compared with 0.063 percent in June, according to ITAR-TASS.
Interfax reported that experts believe inflation in July
could reach 4.0 percent, compared with 1.9 percent in June.
First Deputy Prime Minister Khristenko was more optimistic,
predicting that inflation in July will total 2.2 percent. JAC

KREMLIN ALLEGEDLY PRESSURING MOSCOW MAYOR THROUGH CAPITAL'S
FIRST LADY. "Komsomolskaya pravda" on 16 July reported that
the Federal Security Service (FSB) in Vladimir is conducting
a criminal investigation of "commercial structures connected
with Inteko," a company owned by Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov's
wife, Yelena Baturina. According to the daily, those
commercial structures are managed by Baturina's brother,
Viktor, who is also prime minister of the Republic of
Kalmykia. FSB agents reportedly seized all documents relating
to Inteko from the Russian Land Bank in what one official
from the State Duma's Committee for Legislation on Security,
Intelligence, and Borders said was an illegal search. The
newspaper alleges that the activities of the Vladimir FSB
directorate are politically motivated and part of an overall
campaign by the Kremlin to pressure Luzhkov, a likely
presidential contender. JAC

RUSSIA REJECTS EARLY RESUMPTION OF FULL NATO TIES. An
unnamed senior official at the Russian Defense Ministry
told Interfax in Moscow on 15 July that Russia will
maintain its "freeze" on relations with NATO. The
official said that there will be "no exchanges, visits,
talks, or meetings between Russian and NATO
representatives...at least until the fall." The official
said that Russian participation in the Kosova
peacekeeping force (KFOR) is the exception. He added
that Colonel-General Viktor Zavarzin will visit NATO
headquarters in Brussels soon to coordinate KFOR
operations. Zavarzin was Russia's military
representative at NATO headquarters until 24 March, when
NATO began its bombing campaign of targets in
Yugoslavia. Moscow responded by suspending relations
with NATO and withdrew Zavarzin. He led the Russian
advance command into Prishtina airport on 11 June,
before the arrival of NATO troops in Kosova. FS

RUSSIAN GROUND TROOPS ARRIVE IN KOSOVA. Some 500 Russian
troops arrived from Thessaloniki at the Russian logistical
support camp in Fushe Kosova on 16 July, ITAR-TASS reported.
They brought with them 124 armored personnel carriers and
more than 100 tons of cargo. The previous day, two Russian
planes brought 100 paratroopers, an Mi-8 helicopter, a crane,
and other heavy machinery to the Prishtina airfield. These
were the 15th and 16th flights of Russian military aircraft
to Kosova. A total of 50 flights are scheduled by late
August, Interfax reported. Elsewhere, Aeroflot resumed
regular flights to Skopje on 15 July. FS

RUSSIA TO SEEK TO PREVENT PROLIFERATION OF LASER WEAPONS...
Russia will "actively contribute" to international efforts to
prevent the proliferation of laser weapons, according to a
statement released by the Russian Foreign Ministry on 15
July, Russian media reported. The statement stresses that
"unlike various Western countries," Russia is neither
developing nor producing such weapons. It also points out
that on 25 June, the Federation Council approved a bill,
passed by the State Duma, ratifying a protocol on banning or
limiting the use of laser weapons. JC

...TO 'WAIT AND SEE' ON CHINA NEUTRON BOMB ANNOUNCEMENT.
Speaking in Tashkent on 15 July, Russian Foreign Minister
Igor Ivanov said his country wants to receive all relevant
information from China about its neutron bomb capabilities
before it formulates its stance on that issue, Russian
agencies and AFP reported. Earlier the same day, China had
announced it has the technology to make neutron bombs. Ivanov
stressed that Moscow's position is to strengthen nuclear non-
proliferation and international strategic stability. JC

SECRET CHEMICAL WEAPONS PLANT IN MURMANSK? The Norwegian
daily "Verdens Gang" claimed in its 15 July issue that for
the past 15 years, Russia has had a secret chemical weapons
plant just 2 kilometers outside Murmansk, Reuters reported.
The newspaper quoted unnamed "international experts" as
saying that photographs of the site published in the daily
show "without doubt" that chemicals are being produced at the
plant. The Norwegian environmental group Bellona said it has
heard rumors of chemical weapons stores on the Kola
Peninsula, adding that the article is "logical" because the
site is close to the Northern Fleet's ammunition storage
facilities. A Norwegian Foreign Ministry official told
Reuters that the Russian authorities' position remains the
same--namely, that there is "no storage, research, or
decommissioning of chemical weapons in the Kola region." JC

PERUVIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN MOSCOW. During Fernando de
Trazegnies's 13-14 July visit to the Russian capital, a
number of bilateral documents, including a joint political
declaration, were signed, "Nezavisimaya gazeta' reported on
15 July. De Trazegnies met with his Russian counterpart,
Ivanov, and Premier Sergei Stepashin, who said later that the
two countries have a created a sound basis for "mutually
advantageous cooperation, including military-technical
cooperation," according to ITAR-TASS. AP quoted the Peruvian
minister as saying that Lima will continue buying spare parts
from Russia for its Soviet and Russian-made weapons. Last
year, trade turnover between the two countries totaled $220
million. JC

ANOTHER FAR EAST REGION HIT BY FUEL CRISIS. A severe shortage
of fuel is threatening to isolate the Southern Kuril islands
from the outside world, Interfax-Eurasia reported on 15 July.
Phone services have been cut off on the island of Shikotan,
while the rapidly dwindling fuel supply at a electricity
plant in Vladimir Zema Raion threatens phone services there.
According to the agency, the Southern Kuril administration
has appealed to those Japanese citizens wishing to visit the
island to bring canisters of diesel fuel with them. JAC

ONE ACCUSED JOURNALISTS DELIVERS LAST WORD AT HIS TRIAL...
Military journalist Grigorii Pasko said on 16 July in closing
comments at his espionage and treason trial that he was
guilty only of doing his job as a journalist. Pasko is
charged with supplying classified information to Japanese
television about the Pacific Fleet's hazardous waste-dumping
practices. Pasko added that the charges were brought against
him as revenge for disclosing the environmental damage caused
by the fleet, according to AP. Pasko's attorney told dpa that
he expects the military court to announce its verdict on 20
July. JAC

...WHILE ANOTHER FACES ADDITIONAL CRIMINAL CHARGE. Lawyers
for another military journalist, Aleksandr Nikitin, told
reporters on 15 July that the Russian Supreme Court's
decision to bring an eighth charge against their client is
purely political, according to Interfax. Like Pasko, Nikitin
is accused of treason and espionage. He allegedly disclosed
classified information about the environmentally hazardous
practice of the Northern Fleet. Nikitin said the same day
that his lawyers are finding it difficult to prepare their
case because of new secrecy restrictions. JAC

KRASNODAR OFFICIALS DECLINE TO REGISTER HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP...
"Vremya MN" reported on 15 July that officials at the Justice
Ministry's regional directorate in Krasnodar Krai have
refused to register the local Association for the Protection
of Human Rights, which has been operating in the area for the
past five years. According to the daily, the group has 89
members including lawyers who--among other things--examine
whether the region's legislation corresponds to that of
federal and international laws. The director of the Krasnodar
Justice Ministry directorate, Natalya Ivashchenko, said that
the group's "intention to participate in elections violates
existing legislation." JAC

...AS LARGE NUMBER OF ORGANIZATIONS IN MARII EL FACE
EXTINCTION. Meanwhile, in the Republic of Marii El, more than
100 public organizations face liquidation because they have
not been reregistered by the Justice Ministry, Interfax-
Eurasia reported on 15 July. By law, public organizations
were required to reregister with the Justice Ministry by 1
July or face loss of certain legal rights, such as that of
participating in elections or owning property or a bank
account (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 May 1999). JAC

PECHENEV PROPOSES MORATORIUM ON BORDER CHANGES BETWEEN
FEDERATION SUBJECTS... Russian First Deputy Nationalities
Minister Vadim Pechenev has made several proposals aimed at
defusing tensions in the North Caucasus and increasing
stability in the region. Those proposals are contained in a
confidential memorandum on the situation in North Ossetia
following the 5 March bombing in Vladikavkaz, which killed 50
people and injured more than 100. The memorandum was
addressed to then Russian Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov
and published in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 16 July. Pechenev
advocates a 25-year moratorium on any changes in existing
borders between federation subjects (not only in the North
Caucasus) in order to "calm the present generation of
extremists who are trying to extract political capital from
tragedies and historical slights." LF

...AND 'GENTLEMEN'S AGREEMENT' FOR DUMA ELECTIONS. Pechenev
also suggests that the Russian government should convene a
meeting with representatives of major political parties to
seek an agreement not to "play the nationalism card" by
stressing issues that could exacerbate interethnic tensions
during the upcoming Duma elections. The Duma, Pechenev
proposes, could even introduce a draft bill to that effect.
LF

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN GOVERNMENT OBTAINS COURT INJUNCTION AGAINST GREEK
TELECOM. The Armenian government has obtained a court order
against Greece's OTE, which owns a 90 percent in Armenia's
ArmTelecom monopoly, allowing it to seize shares worth $140
million in ArmTelecom, Noyan Tapan reported on 15 July.
Armenia brought a lawsuit against OTE in late June for non-
payment of at least $18 million in profit tax. OTE acquired
its share in ArmTelecom when the communications monopoly,
previously owned by the Armenian government and the U.S.
registered Trans World Telecom, was privatized in 1997. LF

SUSPECT IN ARMENIAN ELECTION VIOLENCE RELEASED AFTER
QUESTIONING. Ashot Aghababian, whose supporters are accused
of opening fire on supporters of a rival candidate during the
local elections in Yerevan's Ajapniak district on 11 July,
was taken into custody for questioning on 15 July but
released later the same day, Noyan Tapan reported on 16 July.
A spokesman for the Prosecutor-General's Office told the
agency that Aghababian has not been formally arrested (as
erroneously reported in "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 July 1999). LF

AZERBAIJANI OFFICIAL SHEDS LIGHT ON ALIEV-KOCHARIAN MEETING.
Presidential administration department head Novruz Mamedov
told RFE/RL's Armenian Service on 15 July that the 16 July
meeting in Geneva between the presidents of Armenia and
Azerbaijan was arranged at the urging of the U.S. Mamedov
also said that in a letter to both presidents following their
meeting in Washington in late April, U.S. Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright outlined additions to the most recent
Karabakh draft peace plan proposed by the co-chairmen of the
OSCE Minsk Group. He added that one of those additions deals
with the repatriation of refugees and displaced persons. The
two presidents had planned to met in Luxembourg last month,
but Aliev's doctors dissuaded him from making that trip (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 15 June 1999). LF

AZERBAIJAN OPPOSITION DENIES INVOLVEMENT IN CUSTOMS POST
INCIDENT. Husein Djavadov, a leading member of the
Nakhichevan branch of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party, has
rejected allegations by Azerbaijani Interior Minister Ramil
Usubov that members of his party arriving in Nakhichevan from
Ukraine instigated the violence at the Sadarak border
crossing between the Azerbaijani exclave and Turkey earlier
this month (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 July 1999). A spokesman
for residents of Sadarak similarly denied any involvement by
the Popular Front, attributing the clash to customs
officials' unfair treatment of local residents, Turan
reported on 16 July. The Azerbaijan Popular Front Party's
Nakhichevan branch and some Azerbaijani newspapers have
attributed the fighting to rivalry between mafia groups. LF

ABKHAZ PARLIAMENT-IN-EXILE CHAIRMAN DEMANDS PUNISHMENT FOR
KODORI KIDNAPPERS. Tamaz Nadareishvili, who is chairman of
the Abkhaz parliament-in-exile (composed of the ethnic
Georgian deputies to the Abkhaz parliament elected in late
1991, has cancelled international travel plans and will
remain in Tbilisi until the persons responsible for the 9
July kidnapping of the entire Abkhaz government-in-exile are
found, Caucasus Press reported on 16 July. Nadareishvili
blamed the abduction on "those who cannot reconcile
themselves to the existence of legitimate Abkhaz authorities,
especially on the eve of parliamentary elections" (see
"RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 2, No. 28, 15 July 1999). He
has founded his own political party to contest those
elections. Nadareishvili planned to visit Azerbaijan and
Ukraine to discuss the possible participation of those
countries in an international peacekeeping force for
Abkhazia. He also intended to address the UN Security Council
in New York. LF

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT VISITS KAZAKHSTAN. Petru Lucinschi arrived
in Astana on 14 July at the head of a government delegation
that also included First Deputy Prime Minister Nikolae
Andronic and Foreign Minister Nicolae Tabacaru, INFOTAG
reported. Lucinschi held talks on 15 July with Kazakhstan's
President Nursultan Nazarbaev on boosting bilateral trade and
Kazakhstan's repayment of its $5.5 million debt to Moldova.
Nazarbaev noted that some Kazakh bankers believe the
breakaway Transdniester Republic has outstanding debts to
Kazakhstan that accumulated before 1991, but his country will
not press for repayment, according to Interfax. The two
presidents expressed satisfaction at the overall level of
bilateral relations and reached agreement on setting up a
joint commission for economic cooperation. They also signed a
convention on avoiding dual taxation. LF

KAZAKHSTAN PROTESTS RUSSIAN BAN ON MEAT IMPORTS. Kazakhstan's
Veterinary Agency issued a statement on 16 July terming
Moscow's recent imposition of a ban on imports of meat from
Kazakhstan "politically motivated," RFE/RL's Kazakh Service
reported. Russia had said the ban was prompted by the
discovery of hoof-and-mouth disease among cattle in the
Qostanay Oblast of northern Kazakhstan. The Kazakh agency
claimed the ban was in retaliation for Astana's temporary ban
on the launching of Russian rockets from the Baikonur
cosmodrome. LF

RUSSIAN, UZBEK FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET. Igor Ivanov met with
his Uzbek counterpart, Abdulaziz Kamilov, in Tashkent on 15
July to discuss bilateral relations, regional problems, and
the conflicts in Tajikistan and Afghanistan, Interfax
reported. The two ministers also assessed preparations for
Russian Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin's planned visit to
Uzbekistan and for the 19-20 July meeting in Tashkent under
UN auspices of the "Six Plus Two" group of states
(Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Iran, and
Pakistan, all of which border on Afghanistan, plus Russia and
the U.S.) to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.
Representatives of both rival factions in Afghanistan have
also been invited to that meeting, but it unclear whether the
Taliban will send a representative (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2
and 4 June 1999). LF

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