Coleridge declares that a man cannot have a good conscience who refuses apple dumplings, and I confess that I am of the same opinion. - Charles Lamb
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 144, Part I, 27 July 1999


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 144, Part I, 27 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

* STEPASHIN STRESSES CONTINUITY IN U.S.-RUSSIAN RELATIONS

* PRIMORYE GOVERNOR UNWELCOME GUEST IN U.S.

* GEORGIA SEEKS UN FINDING OF ETHNIC CLEANSING IN ABKHAZIA
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RUSSIA

STEPASHIN STRESSES CONTINUITY IN U.S.-RUSSIAN RELATIONS...
Sergei Stepashin arrived in Washington, D.C. on 27 July for
his first visit there as head of the Russian government.
Stepashin told reporters that among the aims of his visit are
"reviving" the Gore-Stepashin Commission and developing
personal contacts with U.S. Vice President Al Gore, ITAR-TASS
reported. At a dinner in Seattle the previous night,
Stepashin told members of the U.S.-Russia Business Council
that reports of the "criminalization" of the Russian economy
are exaggerated and that he is not dependent on magnates and
tycoons. Stepashin also downplayed friction that developed
between the U.S. and Russia over Kosova policy, noting that
"the economic ties never snapped," AP reported. Stepashin
added that his current visit "is a continuation of those head
starts [in U.S.-Russian relations] which were made in the
Chernomyrdin-Gore Commission and the agreements between
[Russian President] Boris Yeltsin and [U.S. President] Bill
Clinton." JAC

...AS NEW ROUND OF ARMS CONTROL TALKS IMMINENT. During his
meetings with U.S. government officials in Washington,
Stepashin is expected to agree on a date and time for
consultations on the ABM and Start-III treaties, diplomatic
sources told Interfax on 26 July. According to these sources,
the first round of talks may be held in August in Moscow. JAC

RUSSIA, U.S. ESTABLISH SECOND 'HOT LINE.' Meeting on the
sidelines of the Association of South East Asian Nations
(ASEAN) regional forum in Singapore on 26 July, U.S.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Russian Foreign
Minister Igor Ivanov said bilateral relations are on the mend
following NATO's air campaign against Yugoslavia. Both
stressed, however, that serious differences remain over that
campaign. With regard to the Start-II treaty, Ivanov stressed
his government will press for its passage when the State Duma
convenes after the summer recess. The two leaders signed an
agreement on establishing a "hot line" to avoid future
misunderstandings during times of crisis. This will be in
addition to the so-called secure communications link that has
connected the White House and the Kremlin since 1963.
Albright and Ivanov were meeting for the first time since the
beginning of the NATO campaign. JC

IVANOV SAYS RELATIONS WITH CHINA GROWING STRONGER. Also on 26
July, Ivanov noted in an interview published in a Beijing
newspaper and released by the Russian Foreign Ministry that
Moscow's relations with China are strengthening and will play
an increasingly important role as a stabilizing factor in
global politics, Interfax reported. With regard to the
"growing cooperation" between the two countries in the
military-technological sphere and conversion of the defense
industry, Ivanov said this development shows the level of
"trust" in the Russian-Chinese strategic partnership. He also
referred to "new alarming factors" that have emerged in the
Asian-Pacific region, in particular those related to "U.S.-
Japanese plans to set up ABM systems in Eastern Asia" and to
the "renewal" of those countries' "military union." JC

PRIMORYE GOVERNOR UNWELCOME GUEST IN U.S. The "Seattle Post-
Intelligencer" reported on 24 July that Washington state
officials privately admitted to a great deal of discomfort in
hosting Primorskii Krai Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko, who is
part of Prime Minister Stepashin's delegation to the U.S.,
because local investors have had a variety of bad experiences
in the krai. They consider Nazdratenko a "crook," "a thug"
and the "godfather of Vladivostok," among other things. Elisa
Miller, president of the Seattle-based Russian Far East
Advisory Group, called Nazdratenko's use of federal police
agencies "out of the ordinary behavior, even for Russia." The
daily reported on 26 July that Nazdratenko was purposefully
seated some distance away from Washington State Governor Gary
Locke at a dinner for Stepashin. A spokesman for Locke had
said previously "The governor is hosting the dinner with the
Prime Minister. We don't have any control over who he brings
with him." JAC

STEPASHIN MEETS WITH RUSSIAN EMIGRES. On 26 July, Stepashin
met with a group of prominent Russian emigres including
University of Maryland professor Roald Sagdaev, "Novoe
Russkoye Slovo" editor Valerii Vainberg, Russian Orthodox
Archbishop of Washington, San Francisco, and U.S. West Coast
States Vasilii Rodzyanko, and Princes Vladimir Golitsin and
Grigorii Gagarin, ITAR-TASS reported. Stepashin suggested
that the emigres "can do a lot to create a favorable climate
in the U.S." regarding Russia. According to the agency,
Stepashin expressed his verbal support for a proposal to set
up a New York-based council to supervise lobbying efforts on
behalf of Russia in the U.S., but he quipped that the Russian
government does not have the money to fund such an
organization. JAC

RUSSIAN 'AID' TO YUGOSLAVIA TO REDUCE RUSSIA'S FOREIGN DEBT
LOAD. The $150 million that the Russian government is
allocating for the rebuilding of Yugoslavia will be taken out
of Russia's debt to that country, Aleksei Ginsburg, an
adviser to the Economics Ministry, announced on 26 July,
Interfax reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 July 1999).
According to Ginsburg, the Russian government decided to
earmark $150 million of its debt to Yugoslavia as far back as
1997 for modernizing industries, reconstructing thermal power
plants, and other projects. He added that the details of that
transaction were settled only in 1999, however. JAC

KALUZHNII DENIED SEAT ON GAZPROM'S BOARD... Gazprom on 26
July released a list of 19 names of candidates for members of
the board of directors. Noticeably absent was the name of
Fuel and Energy Minister Viktor Kalyuzhnii, who had announced
10 days earlier that he would like a seat himself (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 16 July 1999). Kalyuzhnii had insisted
that new elections to the board be held less than a month
after previous elections. Board chairman Viktor Chernomyrdin
told reporters on 26 July that the federal government wants
to secure five seats on the board when new elections are held
on 26 August; currently it has four, including Chernomyrdin.
Of the 19 candidates, 10 listed were government officials
including, deputy ministers of state property, finance,
economics, and fuel and energy, as well as the deputy
chairman and chairman of the Federal Property Fund, Tax
Minister Aleksandr Pochinok, adviser to Prime Minister
Stepashin Aleksei Chizhov, former State Tax Service head
Boris Fedorov, and Chernomyrdin. JAC

...LEFT OUT OF OTHER IMPORTANT GATHERINGS? "Kommersant-Daily"
noted on 27 July that Chizhov was on the short list of
candidates for the post of fuel and energy minister, but
Sibneft head Roman Abramovich reportedly managed to get
Kalyuzhnii appointed instead. The daily, which has written
many critical articles about Kalyuzhnii, also noted that
Kalyuzhnii was not invited to a recent meeting between Prime
Minister Stepashin and the head of Russian oil companies. JAC

COURTS TO STOP ACTIVITIES OF UNREGISTERED ORGANIZATIONS.
Justice Minister Pavel Krasheninnikov told Ekho Moskvy on 23
July that the activities of more than 700 federal
organizations that did not reregister by 1 July 1999 as
required by law will be stopped by courts and that his
ministry has initiated procedures related to that process.
Krasheninnikov added that more than 140 public organizations
will not be able to nominate their own candidates to the
State Duma this year because they did not apply to re-
register their organizations by the 19 December 1998 deadline
as required by law. Krasheninnikov also said that the Justice
Ministry will tighten the procedure for verifying parties and
movements, "Segodnya" reported on 24 July. JAC

JEWISH OBLAST WANTS BEREZOVSKII AS STATE DUMA CANDIDATE. The
Organization of Entrepreneurs for Economic Development (OPER)
in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast has invited influential
businessman Boris Berezovskii to run for a seat in the State
Duma from their region, Interfax-Eurasia reported on 27 July.
OPER President Sergei Leskov said that he believes
Berezovskii would be able to attract investment to the
region. He added that the written invitation to run was sent
to Berezovskii care of Sibneft since it was impossible to
find another address for him, "even on the Internet." The
oblast is currently represented by Sergei Shtogrin, who is a
member of People's Power. JAC

RUSSIANS, CHECHENS AGAIN EXCHANGE FIRE. Russian and Chechen
units again exchanged fire along the Dagestan-Chechen border
on 25-26 July, ITAR-TASS reported. The Russian agency said
there were no casualties on the Russian side. PG

KARACHAEVO-CHERKESSIA SITUATION UNRESOLVED. Interfax
political analyst Natalia Timakov suggested on 27 July that
President Yeltsin's decision to appoint his aide Valentin
Vlasov as acting head of Karachaevo-Cherkessia postponed
rather than resolved problems there. Supporters of the two
local candidates, Stanislav Deryev and Vladimir Semyonov,
have vowed to continue to press their cases in court.
Meanwhile, Semenyov told Interfax on 26 July that "we will
not permit a Chechen scenario" in the republic, even though
many outsiders are trying to destabilize the situation and
people there are "angered" by what he called "the clumsy
actions of the federal government." PG

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN GAS CRISIS EASES. Gasoline was again available in
most retail stations in Yerevan on 26 July, RFE/RL's Armenian
Service reported, but prices were approximately 10 percent
higher than a week earlier. Meanwhile, Armenpress reported
that Armenian authorities are blaming Romania and Bulgaria
for the crisis, noting that Bulgaria is now selling gas to
Yugoslavia while Romania's major refinery is undergoing
repairs. PG

AZERBAIJAN DEFENSE MINISTRY OFFICIAL SACKED. Colonel Mehman
Salimov, the chief of the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry's
educational department, has been fired "for serious mistakes
in his work," the Turan news agency reported on 26 July. The
agency suggested that he was released because of an interview
he had given to the press supporting military critics of the
current defense minister and opposing improved relations
between Baku and NATO. PG

MUTALIBOV OPPOSES CONCERNS ON KARABAKH. Former Azerbaijani
President Ayaz Mutalibov told Turan on 26 July that he
opposes making concessions to Armenia in order to resolve the
Karabakh problem. He rejected proposals for confederation or
a "common state" combining Azerbaijan and Karabakh, which, he
suggested, "in fact would mean independence" for the disputed
region. PG

GEORGIA SEEKS UN FINDING OF ETHNIC CLEANSING IN ABKHAZIA.
President Eduard Shevardnadze on 26 July said that his
government wants the UN Security Council to issue a statement
finding that there has been ethnic cleansing in Abkhazia,
Interfax reported. But a source in the Russian Foreign
Ministry said that Moscow would oppose any such finding and
suggested that the Georgian request would likely be turned
down. "We have no arguments in favor of recognizing the fact
of ethnic cleansing against the Georgian population in
Abkhazia," the unnamed source told ITAR-TASS the same day.
Meanwhile, Georgian officials told Caucasus Press that the
failure of the UN to issue such a finding would be "a defeat
of the UN and a great disappointment for Georgia." At the UN,
Secretary-General Kofi Annan recommended that the UN mandate
in Georgia be extended. PG

GEORGIAN-ADJARIAN TENSIONS INCREASE. Georgian parliamentary
deputies have said that a statement by Adjarian leader Aslan
Abashidze that the 1921 Kars Treaty should be restored is
"treasonous," Prime News reported on 26 July. Abashidze had
earlier cited that treaty as justifying his region's right to
free trade with Turkey and even to give him the right to stop
the collection of customs duties at seaports there. PG

TBILISI TO RE-EXAMINE APRIL 1989 EVENTS. President
Shevardnadze has instructed his government to re-examine all
documents related to the actions of Soviet forces in
dispersing a peaceful demonstration in Tbilisi on 9 April
1989, Caucasus Press reported on 26 July. Shevardnadze said
he intends to publish a book on that tragic day, in which 16
people were killed and many more wounded. Meanwhile, former
Georgian Communist Party leader Jumbar Patiashvili said he
welcomes this new investigation and that if he or anyone else
is found to have violated the law, those people should be
punished. PG

SHEVARDNADZE ACCUSES FIVE PARTIES OF BUYING VOTES... The
Georgian president told a 26 July news conference that five
political parties in his country have sought to bribe voters,
Prime News reported. But the deputy chairman of the Central
Election Commission, Gia Zesashvili, appeared to limit their
legal liability by saying that vote-buying before a poll date
is set is not in fact a crime. Shevardnadze told the
journalists that he will soon fix a date for the elections.
PG

...SAYS HE MET WITH CHECHENS ON HOSTAGES. In other comments
at his 26 July press conference, Shevardnadze announced that
he has met with Chechen Vice President Vakha Arsanov, now in
Georgia for medical treatment, to discuss the release of
Georgian citizens now held captive in Chechnya and the joint
fight against kidnapping. PG

NAZARBAYEV SAYS KAZAKH MEDIA SHOULD PLAY 'POSITIVE' ROLE.
Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev told journalists in
his country on 26 July that further democratization there is
out of the question without a free media, "the basic
institution of any law-abiding state," Interfax reported. But
he suggested that journalists should give more attention to
"positive" developments" since "shortcomings are present in
any society; positive attitudes must be encouraged." PG

LOCUSTS DRIVE OUT KAZAKH AGRICULTURE MINISTER. Kazakhstan's
Minister of Agriculture Zhanibek Karibzhanov resigned on 26
July after being criticized for failing to prevent the
widespread locust infestation in that country, Reuters
reported. His resignation was immediately accepted. At
present, almost two-thirds of the area under cultivation
there is suffering from locusts, the agency noted. PG

KAZAKH WOMEN PROTEST LAND PRIVATIZATION. Seven women have
declared a hunger strike in Almaty to demand that the
country's parliament not act to privatize agricultural land,
Interfax-Kazakhstan reported on 26 July. The women, ranging
in age from 30 to 81, said that "we are not frightened by
prison and death. We are only afraid of disgrace before
future generations." PG

KYRGYZ-UZBEK GAS TALKS CONTINUE. An official from the Kyrgyz
state gas company told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service on 26 July
that Bishkek is trying to secure agreement with Tashkent on
stable deliveries of gas to Kyrgyzstan from Uzbekistan.
Kyrgyzstan owes Uzbekistan some $3.5 million, and gas
supplies have been irregular over the last year. PG

KYRGYZSTAN TO REMOVE DZERZHINSKY STATUE. The Bishkek city
administration has decided to remove the statue of Soviet
secret police founder Feliks Dzherzhinsky from the center of
the city sometime in the near future, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service
reported on 23 July. In its place, the city authorities plan
to erect a Statue of Liberty. PG

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