To live is so startling, it leaves little time for anything else. - Emily Dickinson
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 142, Part I, 23 July 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 142, Part I, 23 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

* PRIME MINISTER CRITICIZES MOSCOW MAYOR

* ZYUGANOV CONTINUES TO ASSERT LEFTIST FORCES WILL UNITE

* AZERBAIJAN'S ALIEV PURSUES TWO-TRACK PEACE PROCESS
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RUSSIA

PRIME MINISTER CRITICIZES MOSCOW MAYOR... Sergei Stepashin
has rebuked Yurii Luzhkov for his recent statements alleging
that the Kremlin is conspiring against the Moscow mayor and
has orchestrated a Federal Security Service (FSB) probe into
his wife's firm, Inteka (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 July
1999). Stepashin said on 22 July that "I understand Yurii
Mikhailovich [Luzhkov] to be a man who is defending his wife,
but the way he has chosen to defend her is incorrect. If
there are claims against security organs, then he should go
to court, to lawyers, and finally to the prosecutor-general."
In an interview in the July issue of "Sobesednik," Gleb
Pavlovskii, the political consultant, who according to that
publication was reportedly the "major initiator of the anti-
Luzhkov campaign," said Luzhkov would make a "weak and cruel"
president. Luzhkov, according to Pavlovskii, is "the
candidate of the strong and wealthy" and the only opposition
that will be allowed "will be that built into the system's
design." JAC

...AS CAPITAL'S FIRST LADY HINTS AT RUN FOR STATE DUMA.
Luzhkov's wife, Elena Baturina, told "Izvestiya" on 22 July
that she has received proposals to run for the State Duma in
two constituencies, the Ust-Ordinskii Buryat Autonomous Okrug
and the Republic of Kalmykia, where her brother is prime
minister. Baturina, who would be eligible for immunity from
criminal prosecution as a deputy, hinted that she is
seriously considering a run. "The anarchy in which I have
found myself makes me hesitate to say that there is no sense
in running for the Duma and fighting at least somehow," she
said. However, in an interview with NTV on 17 July, Baturina
said "I have already chosen my vocation. It's business.... As
it is, I have too much on my plate to think about going in
for other activities either in Russia or abroad." JAC

ZYUGANOV CONTINUES TO ASSERT LEFTIST FORCES WILL UNITE.
Communist Party (KPRF) leader Gennadii Zyuganov told
reporters on 22 July that the Communist Party, People's
Power, the Agrarians, and the People's Patriotic Union win
run for the parliament in "one powerful column." Zyuganov's
comments follow statements by leaders of the Agrarian Party
and the Movement to Support the Army that they will
participate in Duma elections independently (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 9 and 22 July 1999). When asked how he will unite
forces that are now determined to run separately, he said
"you will see in the near future," according to ITAR-TASS.
JAC

NEW MEDIA LEGISLATION TO OFFER STATE 'PROTECTION' FROM PRESS?
In an interview with "Kommersant-Daily" on 22 July, Minister
for Press, Broadcasting, and Mass Communications Mikhail
Lesin revealed that his ministry has drafted amendments to
the law on media and on political advertisements. When asked
to describe the amendments, Lesin said only that they
"concern the rights of the media and the rights of control
over them." He added that "the media currently have more
powers and opportunities than the state." Lesin denied plans
are afoot to "nationalize NTV," and he stressed that ORT and
NTV "still exist," even though they "discredit the media"
with their latest analytical programs. He concluded that "the
media currently have more opportunities to influence the
state than vice versa. Therefore, protection of the state
from the 'free media' is a more vital problem today," perhaps
because "the state does not have its own newsmakers." JAC

NEMTSOV TO JOIN BEREZOVSKII AND OTHERS IN LOWER LEGISLATIVE
CHAMBER? Former Deputy Prime Minister and one of the leaders
of Pravoe Delo (Right Cause) Boris Nemtsov may run in Duma
elections in a single-mandate constituency in the
Avtozavodskii district in Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast,
"Kommersant-Daily" reported on 22 July. According to the
daily, Nemtsov will decide whether to seek the seat by the
beginning of August. Meanwhile, influential businessman Boris
Berezovskii will shortly visit Primorskii Krai, from which he
may be considering seeking a Duma seat, "Tribuna" speculated
on 23 July. On 15 July, Berezovskii told "Kommersant-Daily"
that if elected, he will suggest abolishing deputies'
immunity. Some media sources, not controlled by Berezovskii,
speculated earlier that he is himself seeking a seat to gain
immunity from criminal investigations such as the one that
recently drove him to Paris. JAC

RUSSIA, BRITAIN MENDING FENCES. Speaking at the end of his
two-day visit to London, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov
said that Russia is interested in "greater cooperation with
Britain in all spheres of mutual interest, including
defense," Russian agencies reported on 22 July. British
Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, with whom Ivanov held talks
lasting some five hours, said the visit marked a "step
change" in bilateral ties, adding that London wants a "new
and stronger relation for the new millennium," Reuters
reported. But while the ministers agreed over boosting
relations, Ivanov highlighted one remaining difference by
stressing Yugoslavia should be given reconstruction aid to
avert a "real humanitarian catastrophe ahead of the winter."
Britain and the U.S., in particular, oppose such assistance
as long as Slobodan Milosevic remains in power. Ivanov had
cancelled a planned trip to London in May to protest the
alliance's accidental bombing of the Chinese Embassy in
Belgrade. JC

U.S. TO HELP FUND NUCLEAR WASTE DISPOSAL. The U.S. Defense
Department and the Russian Atomic Energy Ministry have signed
an agreement on U.S. assistance in the disposal of spent
nuclear fuel rods from Russian submarines, ITAR-TASS reported
on 22 July. The U.S. will help pay some of the costs of
transporting the nuclear waste to an enterprise in
Chelyabinsk Oblast, where enriched uranium will be extracted
for use in nuclear power plants. Also on 22 July, the "Wall
Street Journal Europe" reported that Russia is looking to the
U.S. for help in seeking customers for its proposed nuclear-
waste storage business. Russian legislation from 1992 bans
the import of nuclear waste, but Atomic Energy Minister
Yevgenii Adamov told the newspaper that his government is
drafting amendments to that legislation. The project is due
to be discussed by the Gore-Stepashin commission next week
during the Russian prime minister's visit to the U.S. JC

NEW MEANS OF DECOMMISSIONING CHEMICAL WEAPONS DISCOVERED?
"Izvestiya" on 22 July reported that the Vyatka-Eco firm in
Kirov Oblast has discovered a means of decommissioning
chemical weapons that obviates the need to dismantle the
covering of shells, thereby making the process safer. A test
is scheduled to be carried out on a Defense Ministry testing
site in Saratov, but funds are lacking. According to the
newspaper, local experts are hoping that the U.S. will help
foot the bill to carry out the experiment. JC

POPKOVICH WARNS COLLAPSE OF ARMED FORCES MAY BE
'IRREVERSIBLE.' In an interview with "Segodnya" published on
22 July, State Duma Defense Committee Secretary Roman
Popkovich of Our Home Is Russia said that if the government
does not take effective measures, the collapse of the armed
forces will become irreversible. He slammed the Finance
Ministry for not carrying out the president's order to
allocate funds equal to 3.5 percent of GDP for national
defense. The state owes the armed forces nearly 15 billion
rubles ($619 million), he noted, and that figure may grow
owing to "unexpected expenditures" in the Balkans. Popkovich
ridiculed the recent West '99 exercises as "an advertising
stunt." In reality, he commented, combat training programs
have been drastically curtailed for lack of funds. JC

FSB SPYING ON INTERNET? Many, "if not all," Internet
providers in Moscow have voluntarily agreed to grant the FSB
access to their servers to "spy on their clients," "Segodnya"
reported on 22 July, citing only "evidence" from an
undisclosed source. Moscow-based Internet service providers
reportedly maintain almost 60 percent of the Russian
internet. According to the daily, only one provider,
Volgograd-based Baiyard-Slavia Communications, has publicly
refused to comply with a June 1998 FSB regulation requiring
providers not only to give the FSB full access to their
servers but also to provide the necessary equipment for the
FSB to monitor their systems. The remaining Internet service
providers "want to keep their licenses," the newspaper
concludes. JAC

SVERDLOVSK ASKS FOR PRIMAKOV, GETS BREZHNEV. Former Prime
Minister Yevgenii Primakov on 19 July officially declined an
invitation from Sverdlovsk Oblast to seek the governor's
office there in elections scheduled for 29 August. On 22
July, Andrei Brezhnev, the grandson of former Soviet leader
Leonid Brezhnev and head of the All- Russian Communist Socio-
Political Movement, arrived in Yekaterinburg to register as a
candidate for gubernatorial elections, Interfax-Eurasia
reported. The previous day, the oblast's election commission
sent all signatures collected in support of the candidacy of
Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovskii to a
handwriting expert for verification, because all members of
the commission expressed doubts about the signatures'
authenticity, according to the commission's chairman. So far,
officially registered candidates include incumbent Eduard
Rossel, Yekaterinburg Mayor Arkadii Chernetskii, State Duma
Deputy and member of Pravoe Delo (Right Cause) Andrei
Selvanov, and Igor Kovpak, president of a local supermarket
chain. JAC

STEPASHIN SAYS NO NEW WAR IN CHECHNYA. Prime Minister
Stepashin said in Yekaterinburg on 23 July that there will
not be another war in Chechnya, ITAR-TASS reported. "Nobody
wants to repeat the mistakes twice," he said. At the same
time, he reaffirmed that a meeting between the Chechen and
Russian presidents will take place. And he dismissed frequent
suggestions that the Chechens were a uniquely criminal group:
"Bandits have no nationality," he said, "and we must fight
against them as against bandits and not as representatives of
this or that nationality." Most of the problem in the North
Caucasus arises from "joint gangs" that include Chechens,
Armenians, and Russians operating in Stavropol Krai. PG

CHECHNYA ACCEPTS MOSCOW EXPLANATION. Chechen President Aslan
Maskhadov and the Chechen government on 22 July accepted
Moscow's explanation for the temporary detention of Chechen
security chief Turpal Atgeriyev last weekend and now consider
the matter closed, ITAR-TASS reported. As a result, Chechnya
will not close its mission in Moscow, as its chief, Mairbek
Vachagayev, had announced on 21 July. Meanwhile, Chechen
Deputy Premier Kazbek Makhashev and Russian Nationalities
Minister Vyacheslav Mikhailov met in Pyatigorsk to discuss
both current problems and a future meeting between the
Russian and Chechen presidents. PG

RUSSIAN PROSECUTORS EXAMINING INGUSH POLYGAMY DECREE. Russian
prosecutors on 22 July began to examine the legality of an
Ingush decree permitting polygamy in that region, dpa
reported. Representatives of other Muslim regions inside the
Russian Federation and the central Muslim Spiritual
Directorate issued statements that the polygamy decree is
consistent with Islam. Meanwhile, Izvestiya reported on 23
July that the Russian Constitutional Court may consider the
question as well. PG

DAGESTANIS ATTACK AZERBAIJANI POLICE. Some 200 Dagestanis
attacked Azerbaijani police who had arrested a Sadval
movement activist on Dagestani territory and were escorting
him toward the Azerbaijani border, Baku's ANS television
station reported on 22 July. The attackers were able to free
Gasym Mahmudov, the station said. PG

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

RUSSIAN JEWS CONVERTED TO ARMENIAN CHURCH TO AVOID POGROMS
BEFORE WWI, NEW BOOK SAYS. According to a new book published
this week in Yerevan, thousands of Russian Jews sought to
join the Armenian Apostolic Church before World War I in
order to escape growing Russian anti-Semitic attacks at that
time, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports. The book, by
Armenian Academician Vardges Mikaeelian, is based on archival
sources, but the author acknowledges that "it is difficult to
say how many Jews in fact adopted the Armenian Apostolic
faith." PG

AZERBAIJAN TO SEND PEACEKEEPERS TO KOSOVA. NATO Secretary-
General Javier Solana has invited Baku to send 30
peacekeepers to Kosova, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Tofik
Zulfugarov told ITAR-TASS on 22 July. Turkey had participated
in consultations with NATO that led to this agreement. PG

AZERBAIJAN'S ALIEV PURSUES TWO-TRACK PEACE PROCESS. President
Heidar Aliev told visiting French Senate chairman Christian
Poncelet that Baku will seek to settle the Armenian-
Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh "both within the
framework of the OSCE Minsk Group and by direct talks between
heads of state," ITAR-TASS reported. Poncelet welcomed this
move, invited Baku to participate in Caucasus-wide talks in
Paris later this year, and called for the establishment of a
common market in the southern Caucasus. PG

NEW SLANDER TRIAL MARS AZERBAIJAN'S PRESS DAY. The trial of a
journalist accused of slandering the brother of President
Aliev opened in Baku on 22 July, thus casting a shadow over
the country's National Press Day, AP reported. Speaking on
Azerbaijani television ANS, Aliev said that the country's
mass media is strong and "operating freely." Meanwhile, the
Trend news agency reported that the country's Russian-
language press on 21 July created a new association to help
resolve problems that Russian publications face in
Azerbaijan. PG

ABKHAZ ELECTION PLANS DRAW GEORGIAN CRITICISM. The breakaway
region of Abkhazia will hold a presidential election on 3
October, Abkhazpress reported on 22 July. Georgian President
Eduard Shevardnadze denounced the move on 19 July, saying
"this is an illegal election. A region from which three-
quarters of the population has been evicted.... What kind of
legality can we speak of in these conditions?" PG

FORMER GEORGIAN SECURITY CHIEF BLAMED FOR COUP. Vakhtang
Kutateladze, Georgia's minister of state security, has
identified former Georgian security chief Igor Giorgadze as
the organizer of a recent coup plot against President
Shevardnadze, Prime News reported on 22 July. Kutateladze
said that Giorgadze wanted to subvert Georgian independence
by leading it into the Russia-Belarus union not as a single
country but rather as a set of regions. PG

KAZEHGELDIN TO RUN FOR KAZAKHSTAN PARLIAMENT. Former
Kazakhstan Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin, the leader of
the opposition Republican People's Party, will run for the
parliament, even though he and his party doubt the vote will
be democratic, Interfax-Kazakhstan reported on 22 July. But
there was one positive step with regard to that vote:
RFE/RL's Kazakh service reported on 22 July that the
Kazakhstan authorities have registered the Republican
People's Party, thereby making it fully eligible to
participate in the election. PG

RUSSIAN SMUGGLING NUCLEAR MATERIALS DETAINED AT KAZAKHSTAN
BORDER. Kazakhstan customs officials detained a Russian
officer who was attempting to take radioactive materials into
Uzbekistan, ITAR-TASS reported on 22 July. The materials,
used as a power source for nuclear reactors, came from the
Baikonur space center. PG

CLARIFICATION: "RFE/RL Newsline" reported on 22 July that
there is a hunger strike at Kazakhstan's Ekibastuz Power
Station. There are in fact two power stations there. The
strike is taking place at GRES-2, which remains state-owned,
not at GRES-1, which has been privatized.

RUSSIA TO OPEN MILITARY BASE IN TAJIKISTAN. Tajik Foreign
Minister Talbak Nazarov told Interfax on 22 July that Russia
plans to establish a military base in Tajikistan. He added
that Tajikistan "maintains balanced relations with all
countries but views Russia as a strategically important
partner." PG

RUSSIAN-KYRGYZ JOINT VENTURE STEALS MEDICAL AID. A Russian-
Kyrgyz joint venture that was to deliver humanitarian aid
totaling $1.6 million to Kyrgyzstan in fact delivered only
$47,000 worth, the Kyrgyz National Security Ministry told
Interfax on 22 July. PG

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