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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 145, Part I, 28 July 1999
________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 145, Part I, 28 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 * DUMA MAY CONSIDER START-II IN OCTOBER * U.S. TO PROVIDE ELECTION ASSISTANCE IN FORM OF FOOD? * AZERBAIJAN SETS DATE FOR MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS End Note: THE SEDAKA DOCTRINE VERSUS THE LAW OF ENTROPY xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx RUSSIA DUMA MAY CONSIDER START-II IN OCTOBER... Russian Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin and U.S. Vice President Al Gore on 27 July agreed to begin talks on the START III and ABM treaties in Moscow in August. According to "The Washington Post" the next day, Gore said that the U.S. will not conclude a START III agreement until the Russian legislature approves START II, while Stepashin said the Russian government will try to bring the treaty to the State Duma again in the fall. Duma Defense Committee Chairman Roman Popkovich (Our Home Is Russia) told Interfax on 28 July that the treaty might be ratified sometime in October or November, but "deputies will proceed to ratification only under certain conditions--the international situation should be favorable." U.S. and Russian leaders also discussed cooperation on technology for missile defense systems or on intelligence to alert each other about missile threats from third countries, according to "The Washington Post." JAC ...AS RUSSIAN INTELLIGENCE OFFICIALS SUGGEST U.S. LEADS IN SPYING OPERATIONS. During a joint news conference after their discussion, Stepashin revealed that the two leaders had discussed the issue of spying. The same day, when asked to comment on a "Washington Times" article alleging that the Clinton administration asked Russia to voluntarily reduce its number of intelligence officer operating on U.S. soil, a Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) spokeswoman said that "if the Russian intelligence presence in the U.S. is compared with the presence of U.S. intelligence [operatives] in Russia, Washington has far surpassed Moscow." Another unidentified SVR official told Interfax that the appearance of the "Washington Times" article "was timed to coincide with Stepashin's visit to the U.S." and that both sides "might discuss mutual reductions in intelligence presence, but wealthy Uncle Sam's demands to what it thinks is a poor, and for that matter, weak Russia are inadmissible." JAC U.S. TO PROVIDE ELECTION ASSISTANCE IN FORM OF FOOD? Unidentified U.S. government officials told the "Journal of Commerce" on 27 July that a new program of food aid to Russia will start before December elections to the State Duma. The officials cite poor harvest forecasts and the requests to the U.S. Embassy by some Russian officials in regions south of Moscow to consider a new grain program. The previous day, Deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister Vladimir Shcherbak said that despite a revision in official predictions for this year's grain harvest from 70 million tons to 60 million tons, the country is not planning any large-scale centralized grain imports this year. He added, however, that Russia does intend to ask the U.S. to donate 2- 3 million tons of high-protein animal feed this year to ease the consequences of the poor harvest, Interfax reported. Shcherbak also conceded that the government might purchase a small amount of grain to assist remote regions in the Far East and North. JAC NEW ROUND OF TALKS ON ELECTION ALLIANCE ENDS INCONCLUSIVELY... One of the movement of governors and republic presidents, Vsya Rossiya (All Russia), will hold its second congress on 21 August in Ufa, Bashkortostan, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 28 July. According to the bureau, Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev and Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, who heads Otechestvo (Fatherland), met on 27 July to discuss cooperation in the upcoming Duma elections. Shaimiev told Tatar Radio that discussions on an alliance between the two groups is continuing but that such a matter is not easily accomplished (see "Endnote" below). He added that he is not the only leader of Vsya Rossiya and therefore would not like to make statements on its behalf. According to "Vremya MN" on 26 July, Shaimiev and other Vsya Rossiya leaders consider former Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov the ideal leader of a Otechestvo-Vsya Rossiya tandem because this would give both parties and their leaders equal status. JAC ...AS LEFT FORCES ANNOUNCE NEW CONFIGURATION. Communist Party (KPRF) leader Gennadii Zyuganov announced plans on 27 July for a new bloc of left forces called Za Pobedu (For Victory), Russian Public Television reported. According to "Kommersant- Daily" on 28 July, Tula Governor Vasilii Starodubtsev, Krasnodar Governor Nikolai Kondratenko, and leaders of the People's Power and Agrarian factions in the State Duma, Nikolai Ryzhkov and Nikolai Kharitonov, have all signed an appeal distributed by State Duma Deputy Valentin Varennikov calling on all patriots to joint the Za Pobedu bloc. According to the newspaper, consultations that Zyuganov is conducting with the Agrarians, Spiritual Heritage, and Kemerovo Governor Aman Tuleev, the leader of Rebirth and Unity, are continuing. However, Agrarian Party leader Mikhail Lapshin told "Nezavisimaya gazeta" that day that if his party were to join the KPRF list, then it would cease to exist. Movement in Support of the Army leader Viktor Ilyukhin also confirmed that his group will remain independent of the new bloc. JAC IVANOV PROPOSES BARTER TRADE WITH ASEAN COUNTRIES. Speaking to reporters on the last day of the annual meeting of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Singapore, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov proposed that Russia and the association establish a barter trade mechanism in order to avoid mutual foreign-exchange constraints, AP reported on 28 July. By way of example, he proposed that ASEAN countries offer food supplies to Russia's Far East regions in exchange for Russian machinery and equipment. Ivanov also called for boosting cooperation in science, technology, and space exploration. "Russia possesses a number of cutting-edge technologies in the area of peaceful use of nuclear power, which could be widely applied in the ASEAN countries," the agency quoted him as saying. JC RUSSIA, IRAN CONFIRM SUPPORT FOR NUCLEAR FREE ZONE IN MID- EAST. A Russian Foreign Ministry statement released on 27 July noted that Russia and Iran have confirmed their support for the initiative to create a nuclear free zone in the Middle East, Russian agencies and Reuters reported. The statement, which was issued after a meeting in Moscow the previous day between senior officials from the Russian and Iranian Foreign Ministries, reaffirmed plans to broaden cooperation in disarmament, nonproliferation, and export control. Meanwhile, First Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Aksenenko told reporters on 28 July that Russia and Iran are negotiating a series of trade agreements worth $8 billion and that a number of bilateral scientific and trade agreements will be signed during a visit to Teheran by Foreign Minister Ivanov in the coming weeks, according to Interfax. JC/JAC IMF MONIES TO COVER LESS THAN HALF OF DEBT PAYMENTS. Finance Minister Mikhail Kasyanov told reporters on 27 July that Russia will make foreign debt payments totaling $4.15 billion before year's end, excluding any payments to members of the London or Paris Clubs of creditors. Zadornov added that a recent vote by London Club members showed that only 3 percent favor declaring Russia in default on its Soviet-era debt. If the IMF board approves new loans for Russia at its meeting on 28 July, Russia should receive $1.9 billion before the end of year, according to Mikhail Zadornov, presidential envoy to international financial institutions. In an interview with "Segodnya" on 23 July, Zadornov concluded that Russia made a "deadly mistake which cannot be corrected" when it assumed responsibility for the debts of the former Soviet Union. JAC CHECHEN PRESIDENT APPOINTS RIVAL NEW FIRST DEPUTY PREMIER. Aslan Maskhadov has named Ruslan Gelaev first deputy premier with responsibility for law enforcement structures, Interfax reported on 27 July. Gelaev, together with former acting Premier Shamil Basaev and radical field commander Khottab, heads the domestic opposition to Maskhadov. The president told cabinet members he hopes that Gelaev's appointment will lead to a drop in crime, abductions and oil thefts. Also on 27 July, Chechnya's National Guard and Presidential Guard deployed forces to protect the section of the Baku- Novorossiisk oil export pipeline between Grozny and the border between Chechnya and Dagestan. It was the first time that those agencies were charged with guarding the pipeline. New presidential spokesman Said Abulmuslimov told Interfax that Chechnya must prove it is capable of abiding by the 1997 tripartite agreement with Russia's Transneft and the Azerbaijani authorities on ensuring the export of Azerbaijan's Caspian oil via the Baku-Novorossiisk pipeline (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 July 1997). LF TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA ARMENIAN PRESIDENT ASSESSES DOMESTIC, FOREIGN POLICY. In an interview with "Moskovskie novosti" cited by Noyan Tapan on 27 July, Robert Kocharian expressed satisfaction at the domestic political stability resulting from the 31 May parliamentary elections. Kocharian stressed his respect for parliamentary speaker Karen Demirchian and noted the willingness of the Miasnutyun faction, of which Demirchian is co-leader, to cooperate with other political forces. Kocharian said he anticipates that Armenia will be admitted to full membership in the Council of Europe in late 1999 or early next year. He expressed doubt that NATO will accept Baku's invitation to establish a military base in Azerbaijan and declined to comment on the possibility of routing a Caspian oil pipeline via Armenia, stressing that the oil export should not be linked to the search for a solution to the Karabakh conflict. Kocharian also stressed Armenia's readiness to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey. LF AZERBAIJAN SETS DATE FOR MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS. President Heidar Aliev signed a decree on 27 July scheduling the country's long-overdue municipal elections for 12 December, ITAR-TASS reported. Aliev also signed into law the bill on municipal elections passed by the parliament on 2 July (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 July 1999). The local elections to between 3,500-4,000 municipal councils will be conducted under the majoritarian system. Speaking at a news conference in Baku on 25 July, parliamentary speaker Murtuz Alesqerov dismissed as "slanderous" claims made two days earlier by National Independence Party of Azerbaijan chairman Etibar Mamedov that changes recommended by the Council of Europe were made to 14 articles of the bill after it had been passed by the parliament. LF AZERBAIJANI FRONTIER RESIDENTS PROTEST POST-SHOOTING CRACKDOWN. Representatives of residents of the town of Sadarak, on the border between Azerbaijan's exclave of Nakhichevan and Turkey, told journalists on 27 July that tensions in the district remain high following the 12 July disturbances in which one person was killed and dozens injured, Turan reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 July 1999). The villagers claimed that residents are being arbitrarily detained by police for questioning, and they demanded the dismissal of the local customs official they believe is responsible for the fighting. They also demanded that Azerbaijani President Aliev take control of the investigation into the incident. The official originally appointed to conduct the investigation has been dismissed, according to Turan. LF KAZAKH LEADERS ASSESS ECONOMIC SHORTFALL... Kazakhstan's Prime Minister Nurlan Balghymbaev told a cabinet session on 27 July that in the first six months of 1999, Astana and 10 of the country's 14 oblasts registered a decline in output, compared with the same period in 1998, Interfax reported. Budget revenues amounted to 86 percent of the planned amount, and the total taxes collected are inadequate to fund all state programs. On the plus side, Finance Minister Uraz Dzhandosov told the cabinet meeting that Kazakhstan earned almost $190 million from privatization during the first half of the year. He said the government's share in another 10 major companies, mostly in the oil and mining sector, will also be sold off. Oil and production during the first six months totaled 14.2 million tons, which was 5.5 percent above the figure for 1998 but still short of the planned 14.27 million tons. LF ...SOFT-PEDAL ON PRIVATIZATION OF AGRICULTURAL LAND. Balghymbaev also told his cabinet colleagues on 27 July that the majority of the country's population is neither morally nor financially ready for the privatization of land, which he said will therefore be implemented "stage by stage," according to Interfax. He hinted that the new law on privatization of land will favor those engaged in the agricultural sector and bar the sale of land for other purposes, including "the burying of poisonous waste." LF KYRGYZSTAN UNVEILS FOOD PROGRAM. First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Silaev outlined Kyrgyzstan's national food program at an international conference in Bishkek on 27 July, Interfax reported. The program, for which the EU has provided a grant of 8.5 million euros [$8.55 million], is intended to ensure uninterrupted supplies of basic foods to all regions of the country. Silaev noted that the present problems and delays in doing so could negatively affect political stability. LF KYRGYZSTAN RISKS FORFEITING UN VOTING RIGHT. Kyrgyzstan owes the UN $1 million in membership fees and will be stripped of its voting right unless it pays at least half that sum by September, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported on 27 July. UN representative Zamira Eshmambetova told journalists in the Kyrgyz capital that the country has no funds to pay the debt. Georgia had its UN voting right restored last week after paying its annual $200,000 membership dues but still has outstanding debts to the UN totaling $7.2 million, according to Interfax on 22 July. LF TURKMEN PRESIDENT APPROVES DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM. At a cabinet session on 27 July, Saparmurat Niyazov approved Turkmenistan's development program for 2001-2010, Russian agencies reported. That program entails massive increases in the extraction of oil and natural gas, with production of the former slated to rise from 6.3 million tons to 27-30 million tons. The increase in gas production is presumably predicated on implementation of the planed Trans-Caspian gas pipeline project, for which the Georgian government expressed support on 27 July. More moderate increases are anticipated in cotton and grain production. The country's population is expected to increase from the present 5 million to 6.5 million in 2005. LF END NOTE THE SEDAKA DOCTRINE VERSUS THE LAW OF ENTROPY by Julie A. Corwin In coming weeks, the unexpected announcement on 23 July that leaders of the self-proclaimed right-center groups have formed a coalition may seem a little less surprising. After all, Anatolii Chubais, leader of Pravoe Delo (Right Cause), Sergei Kirienko, leader of Novaya Sila (New Force), and Konstantin Titov, informal leader of Golos Rossii (Voice of Russia), have agreed only to a "Declaration of a Union" and its theses. They have not yet approved something more substantial--a common party list and platform. As a result, the new and as yet unnamed coalition consists primarily of an agreement to agree sometime later. Indeed, on Russian soil, just the opposite of Neil Sedaka's song appears to be true: breaking up is NOT hard to do. If any general rule applies, it may be the law of entropy--that organized systems tend to become disorganized. As the date of the election approaches, fears of smaller groups that they may not overcome the 5 percent barrier could drive them together, but until that happens, personal ambition and conflicting philosophies appear more likely to cause fragile alliances to fall apart. In recent weeks, for example, the Democratic Party of Russia opted to leave Golos Rossii, and both the Agrarian Party and the Movement to Support the Army have declared their intention this time around to run independently of the Communist Party in upcoming State Duma elections. Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov pooh-poohed these announcements, hinting at that time that he had some mysterious plan to somehow unite all left forces. With the announcement on 27 July of the new coalition called Za Pobedu (For Victory), Zyuganov appears to be putting a new label on an old package since leaders of both the Agrarian Party and Movement to Support the Army continue to insist that they will participate in the election separately. Regardless of how these moves work out, the right- center's announcement of a new union might have a galvanizing effect on the efforts of Otechestvo and Vsya Rossiya (VR) to unite. At their next meeting, leaders of those two groups may be tempted to issue their own press release declaring a meeting of minds similar to that supposedly experienced by the right-center groups. They may also want to counter increasing skepticism in the Russian media and among political analysts about an Otechestvo-VR alliance. On 23 July, "Izvestiya" declared that the situation around the proposed coalition had become "more tense," noting that numerous negotiations between the two blocs have not yet yielded any noticeable results. The previous day, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" argued that Otechestvo "is the only realistic partner" left for VR, since the VR governors cannot find points of agreement with Golos Rossii or former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's Our Home is Russia (NDR). However, according to the daily, many governors "dislike" Luzhkov and display a certain envy of Luzhkov's successes in Moscow. Of course, "Nezavisimaya gazeta," which receives financial backing from Boris Berezovskii's LogoVAZ group, may not have the most objective view of either Luzhkov, an enemy of Berezovskii, or Luzhkov's potential allies. But even more disinterested sources, such as "EWI's Russian Regional Report," have concluded that Luzhkov's current battle with the Kremlin could put him at odds with Shaimiev, who is more supportive of President Boris Yeltsin. At the level of policy, the two so-called governors' groupings, VR and Golos Rossii, appear to have more in common with each other than with any of the other established political movements such as Otechestvo or NDR. Both groups are seeking increased power for the regions. In the most recent example of this aim, Golos Rossii leader Titov at a recent meeting in Khabarovsk suggested that an amendment to the law on presidential elections be adopted that would require the country's leader to win the popular vote in at least 45 of Russia's 89 regions in order to become president. VR members made a similar suggestion in May at their founding congress in May, proposing that all deputies from the State Duma be elected on the basis of the country's 450 electoral districts--rather than half by party lists, as under the current system. On economic policy, the view of the two groups tend to diverge, with VR favoring "state capitalism" and Golos Rossii hewing to a more liberal economic line. But the real bloc- breaker is more likely personality and/or personal ambition. Shaimiev is only VR's de facto leader; officially, the group has no head and claims that its ranks are free of members with higher political ambitions or claims to top Kremlin posts. However, Titov, like Luzhkov, is believed to be a presidential contender. Because the forces driving the politicians apart appear stronger than those driving them together, announcements of new unions are likely to be more frequent than the actual formation of genuine new parties or even electoral coalitions. But the fact that various groups are talking to one another highlights the growing power of elections in and of themselves: As every politician knows, it is usually better to be on the winning side even if one has to change his label or even his positions in order to be there. 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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