|Every custom was once an eccentricity; every idea was once an absurdity. - Holbrook Jackson|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 141, Part I, 22 July 1999
________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 141, Part I, 22 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 * MORE MOVEMENTS TO GO IT ALONE IN ELECTIONS * CONTROVERSIAL ELECTION LAW PASSES IN TATARSTAN LEGISLATURE * DETAILS EMERGE ON ALIEV-KOCHARIAN TALKS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx RUSSIA MORE MOVEMENTS TO GO IT ALONE IN ELECTIONS... Our Home Is Russia (NDR) faction leader Vladimir Ryzhkov told Ekho Moskvy on 22 July that the NDR will participate in parliamentary elections independently, with NDR leader Viktor Chernomyrdin heading its federal list of candidates. Other likely candidates for top spots on the list are the governors of Novgorod, Orenburg, Perm, Sakhalin, and Tyumen Oblasts. According to Ryzhkov, the NDR will continue its dialogue with leaders from Pravoe Delo (Right Cause), Novaya Sila (New Force), and Vsya Rossiya (All Russia), and if they can forge a single election platform, then it will be possible to talk about a single election bloc. However, Ryzhkov said earlier in the week that "an alliance with rightists could be damaging," according to Interfax. Meanwhile, Viktor Ilyukhin, leader of the Movement to Support the Army, repeated on 21 July that his movement will participate in elections independently and not on the Communist Party's list. JAC ...AS VSYA ROSSIYA REVIEWS ITS OPTIONS... At the founding conference of Vsya Rossiya's Moscow branch on 20 July, movement member and St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev reportedly expressed surprise at Ryzhkov's statement that the NDR will run independently, since Vsya Rossiya is still negotiating with NDR about the possibility of forming an alliance, "Novye Izvestiya" reported the next day. At the same conference, Vsya Rossiya coordinator Oleg Morozov said that talks with Otechestvo are continuing and work on a common federal party list is not yet finished. According to the daily, two top Otechestvo officials attended the conference, State Duma Deputy Artur Chilingarov and former Tax Minister Georgii Boos. Vsya Rossiya informal leader and Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev told ITAR-TASS the same day that Samara Governor Konstantin Titov, informal leader of Golos Rossii (Voice of Russia), is welcome to join Vsya Rossiya--on equal terms with the movements' other founders. JAC ...AND YABLOKO REPORTS OTECHESTVO REJECTING JOINT LIST. Deputy head of Yabloko's faction Sergei Ivanenko told reporters the same day that Otechestvo opposes Yabloko's proposal for an agreement on the joint nomination of 120 candidates in State Duma elections. Ivanenko said he met with Georgi Boos, chief of Otechestvo's campaign staff, that day and understood from Boos that Otechestvo is "not inclined to conclude such agreements." However, later the same day, Otechestvo leader Yurii Luzhkov denied that his movement has rejected Yabloko's proposal, claiming he has not yet received it. JAC CONTROVERSIAL ELECTION LAW PASSES IN TATARSTAN LEGISLATURE. The legislation on elections to Tatarstan's State Council or legislative assembly that prompted representatives of 15 of the republic's opposition movements to stage a hunger strike in protest has passed in its third and final reading on 21 July, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 21 July (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 July 1999). A law on introducing a Latin-based alphabet for the Tatar language passed in its second reading the same day. The election bill will abolish party lists and move State Council elections to December so that they occur simultaneously with State Duma elections. Yabloko member and State Duma Committee for Local Government Sergei Mitrokhin condemned the legislation as "another strike at the federal center" and called for the "the president and cabinet to take urgent steps with regard to events in Tatarstan," "Izvestiya" reported on 22 July. The daily claimed that Yabloko is the only national party to respond publicly to developments in Kazan. JAC ORTHODOX CHURCH SACKS BISHOP. The Russian Orthodox Church has asked Bishop of Yekaterinburg Nikon to retire for "mistakes" that "divided the clergy and laymen," "The New York Times" reported on 22 July. According to the newspaper, more than 50 priests accused Nikon of drunkenness, open homosexuality, and demanding huge fees to resolve administrative disputes. Nikon will be stripped of his Church rank but will not be defrocked. "Nezavisimaya gazeta--Religii" reported on 14 July that the raion level department of internal affairs has launched a criminal investigation into Nikon on suspicion of sodomy. "Versiya" reported in its 20-26 July issue that priests under Nikon's authority have written an open letter to Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Aleksii II demanding that the Holy Synod review Nikon's activities. JAC TOP LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS RESHUFFLED. Russian President Boris Yeltsin reportedly plans to offer the post of acting prosecutor-general to Deputy General Prosecutor for the North Caucasus Vladimir Ustinov, "Kommersant-Daily" claimed on 21 July, without reference to any source. According to the daily, Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin got to know Ustinov in the Caucasus and proposed his candidacy, assuring the Kremlin of Ustinov's loyalty. Current acting Prosecutor-General Yurii Chaika announced the same day that contrary to rumors, he is going to remain in his post for the near future, according to Interfax reported. "Kommersant-Daily" reported that Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo has removed Savelii Tesis, chief of the Main Administration for Combating Economic Crime and Vladimir Ovchinskii, head of Interpol's National Central Bureau, from their posts. According to the daily, the dismissals are part of Rushailo's effort to purge the ministry of Stepashin's loyalists and replace them with his own "hawks." JAC RUSSIA-NATO RELATIONS ON BACKBURNER UNTIL YEAR'S END? Russian Defense Ministry officials told Interfax on 21 July that they doubt Russia's military relations with NATO will be fully restored before the end of 1999. Those relations, they said, will remain "frozen" not only with the alliance itself but also with member states that directly participated in the bombing campaign against Yugoslavia. Cooperation will be maintained, however, over the peacekeeping operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina and in Kosova, they stressed. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov is currently undertaking a visit to London that he said is aimed at "overcoming the temporary difficulties" between Russia and Britain in the wake of the NATO bombing campaign. Also on 21 July, Reuters quoted Sergei Stepashin's press service as saying that the Russian premier plans to attend the 30 July Sarajevo summit on Balkan reconstruction. JC GOVERNMENT ALLOCATES $150 MILLION TOWARD REBUILDING YUGOSLAVIA. Economics Minister Andrei Shapovalyants told journalists on 21 July that the government has signed a resolution allocating $150 million from this year's budget to rebuilding Yugoslavia. Those funds will be used to finance the delivery of Russian equipment, goods, and services to the war-devastated country. Shapovalyants said that priority will be given to diesel fuel and gasoline shipments to ensure this year's harvest takes place. The same day, Nikolai Staskov, head of Russia's Airborne Forces Staff, was quoted by ITAR- TASS as saying that "despite the financial strain," Moscow will maintain a peacekeeping presence in Kosova for as long as necessary. JC RUSSIAN ARMS EXPORTS TO TOTAL $3.2 BILLION THIS YEAR? Deputy Director of the independent Center for Strategic and Technological Analysis Konstantin Makienko told Interfax on 21 July that Russian arms exports are likely to total $3.2 billion this year. He noted that the main arms exporter Rosvooruzhenie registered "record" sales of armaments and military hardware in the first half of this year. He also predicted that Russia may soon start selling to Syria and Libya, which could bring in additional revenues of up to $400 million a year. Also on 21 July, Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov called for tighter state control over weapons exports, saying it is "unacceptable" that the prices of those exports are being brought down as Russian arms exporters vie with one another for customers, Interfax reported. JC MYSTERY ILLNESS SPREADING? Two teenagers have been hospitalized in the city of Ryazan with symptoms of the disease plaguing a small town in Rostov Oblast, Russian Television reported on 21 July (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 July 1999). Similar cases have been reported in Stavropol and Volgograd Oblasts over the past two days, according to AFP. All victims of the disease in Stavropol and Ryazan came from Rostov Oblast, according to the agency and television station. Meanwhile, hospitals in Rostov have received no new patients with the disease initially identified by Deputy Health Minister Gennadii Onishchenko as Congo-Crimean hemmorhagic fever, according to RTR on 21 July. The previous day, Onishchenko appeared to back away from his diagnosis, telling reporters that it might change after Russian laboratories submit the results of their analyses in two weeks, ITAR-TASS reported. JAC MAYORS ATTACKED. Mayor of Kyzyl (Republic of Tuva) Genrikh Ebb was assassinated on 21 July. Ebb was ambushed while on his way to hand over to an "Izvestiya" journalist documents proving corruption, "Komsomolskaya pravda" reported on 22 July. Ebb was the regional leader of Pravoe Delo (Right Cause), and the movement's officials believe Ebb was killed for his efforts to combat organized crime, Russian Radio reported. The next day, Amursk Mayor (Khabarovsk Krai) Viktor Kaglenko was stabbed several times in the chest by a man reported to be mentally ill, ITAR-TASS reported. Kaglenko's condition is listed as grave. JAC PASKO TO APPEAL TO EUROPEAN COURT. Military journalist Grigorii Pasko announced on 22 July that he will appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg for a full acquittal of the charges against him. Pasko was convicted of abuse of office for providing classified materials about the Pacific Fleet and its handling of nuclear waste to Japanese media. Pasko told RFE/RL's Russian Service that "there is no evidence for the charge of Article 275 of the Russian Criminal Code (on abuse of power), but not even under Article 285 (on misuse of office), for one very simple reason: I am not a public servant." On 21 July, "Segodnya" published an article on decommissioning nuclear submarines that Pasko prepared several months before his arrest. According to Pasko, nuclear safety requirements were being routinely ignored, particularly with regard to the disposal of waste nuclear fuel, because a lack of funds. Pasko said that the situation he described is the same today. JAC NORWEGIAN ECOLOGISTS SAYS NO CHEMICAL WEAPONS ON KOLA PENINSULA. A spokesman for Norway's Bellona environmental group told Interfax-Northwest on 20 July that the group has no information to suggest that chemical weapons are being stored near Murmansk. He added that the recent article in the Norwegian newspaper "Verdens Gang" claiming such weapons are being kept there is "untrue" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 July 1999), and he stressed this is the "official viewpoint" of his group. The statement comes amid a slew of statements by Russian officials denying the presence of chemical weapons on the peninsula. JC CHECHNYA CLOSES MOSCOW MISSION. The Chechen representational office in Moscow will be closed for an indefinite period beginning 22 July, Mairbek Vachagayev, Chechnya's official representative there, told ITAR-TASS. He said that Grozny took that step to protest Moscow's failure to explain the recent detention of Chechen Minister Turpal Atgeriyev. He indicated that he will return to the Chechen capital later this week to meet with President Aslan Maskhadov. And he said that the closure of the mission could "become the first step on the way toward the official freezing of all agreements reached during the past few years on the governmental and other levels." PG TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA ARMENIAN PREMIER MEETS RUSSIAN GENERAL 'BEHIND CLOSED DOORS.' Vazgen Sarkisian met with the chief of the Russian General Staff, Anatolii Kvashnin, "behind closed doors" on 21 July to discuss military cooperation between Moscow and Yerevan, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. Neither side provided additional details about the meeting, except to say they were of a "businesslike character." PG DETAILS EMERGE ON ALIEV-KOCHARIAN TALKS. Vafa Guluzade, President Heidar Aliev's chief foreign policy adviser, told the Turan news agency on 21 July that Aliev met with Armenian President Robert Kocharian on 16 July "without the participation of a third person." Guluzade suggested that such a "face-to-face" meeting was essential for beginning to resolve the Karabakh dispute. Moreover, he said, such direct contacts allowed the two leaders to explore a variety of issues in a more open way. But the paucity of information about the talks has led to criticism in the Azerbaijani press, with "Azadlyg" suggesting on 20 July that Aliev is pursuing a policy that will lead to the loss of Karabakh and with "Yewni Musavat" saying on 21 July that Aliev's failure to provide details suggests Baku rather than Yerevan suffered a defeat in the talks. However, international praise for the meeting continued to come in, with the EU adding its approval on 21 July, ITAR-TASS reported. PG RUSSIA STILL PREPARED TO TRANSPORT AZERBAIJANI OIL. The Russian Fuel and Energy Ministry told Interfax on 21 July that Moscow is still prepared to transport oil from Azerbaijan to the West, despite tensions between the two countries. But the Russian ministry underscored that it will keep its part of the bargain only if Azerbaijan does the same and ships 180,000 tons of oil each month. PG SHEVARDNADZE URGES UN SECURITY COUNCIL TO FOCUS ON ABKHAZIA. President Eduard Shevardnadze has sent a letter to the chiefs of states who are members of the UN Security Council urging them to step up their efforts to resolve the Abkhaz dispute, Caucasus Press reported on 21 July. Vazha Lortkipanidze, the Georgian state minister who also signed the appeal, said Tbilisi hopes that the international community will eventually recognize that the Abkhaz have been guilty of ethnic cleansing and genocide against the Georgian people. Meanwhile, refugees from Abkhazia on 21 July attempted to storm the Arts Academy building in Tbilisi both to find shelter and to protest the way in which they have been treated. And the Abkhaz parliament extended the state of emergency for another three months, Prime News reported on 21 July. PG UZBEKS, KYRGYZ, TURKS AMONG MUSLIMS ARRESTED IN KAZAKHSTAN. Kazakhstan's Internal Affairs Minister Kairbek Suleymenov told Khabar TV on 21 July that there were citizens of Turkey, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan among those arrested in the Zhabul region last weekend for supposedly illegal religious activities (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 July 1999). He said that most of them were not carrying documents at the time, that 54 remain in detention, but that all the children have been released. PG NAZARBAEV STEPS UP ANTI-CORRUPTION DRIVE. In order to increase the fight against corruption, Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbaev said on 21 July that all anti-corruption agencies will now report directly to him, Interfax-Kazakhstan reported. PG HUNGER STRIKE CONTINUES AT EKIBASTUZ POWER STATION. Some 75 people are continuing their three-week hunger strike at the Ekibastuz Power Station to demand the payment of back wages, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported on 21 July. Some of the strikers have already been hospitalized. Local officials and the central government have promised to pay them as soon as possible, but the strikers say they do not trust such promises. PG ANTHRAX OUTBREAK IN KYRGYZSTAN. Three people have contracted anthrax in Kyrgyzstan, Interfax reported on 21 July. And another four are showing symptoms. All were among 700 workers who butchered cattle infected with the disease. PG TAJIKS BACK RAKHMONOV FOR RE-ELECTION AS PRESIDENT. More than 70 percent of the Tajik population currently backs the re- election of President Imomali Rakhmonov at a November 1999 poll, according to data reported by Interfax on 21 July. PG TAJIKISTAN COMPLETES REGISTRATION OF REBELS FOR ARMY SERVICE. Tajik officials told Interfax on 21 July that Dushanbe has completed the registration of 5,377 rebel fighters who are to be integrated into the national army. Many of these were in Afghanistan or in hiding and will now be included within the standing military of that country. PG TAJIK, UZBEK PRESIDENTS DISCUSS AFGHANISTAN. Tajik President Rakhmonov and his Uzbek counterpart, Islam Karimov, discussed by telephone the results of this week's "Six Plus Two" Meetings on Afghanistan and repeated their common view that "there is no military solution to the Afghan crisis," ITAR- TASS reported. Rakhmonov thanked Karimov for his efforts in holding the talks. Earlier that day in Tashkent, Karimov received Afghan opposition leader Ahmad Shah Masood, who was invited to the earlier talks but did not show up until after they were over. PG TURKEY STRESSES SUPPORT FOR TRANSCASPIAN PIPELINE. In a message to Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov, Turkish President Suleyman Demirel urged that the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline be completed earlier than scheduled and said Turkey "will offer Turkmenistan all possible assistance to make that a reality." PG xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word subscribe as the subject of the message. HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE Send an email to email@example.com with the word unsubscribe as the subject of the message. 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