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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 146, Part I, 29 July 1999


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 146, Part I, 29 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

* RUSSIA WINS NEW IMF SUPPORT

* BATTLE BETWEEN MEDIA GROUP, KREMLIN INTENSIFIES

* ARMENIAN PREMIER OUTLINES AUSTERITY MEASURES
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RUSSIA

RUSSIA WINS NEW IMF SUPPORT... As expected, the IMF's
executive board has approved a new $4.5 billion loan for
Russia. An IMF spokesperson said on 28 July that the money
will be disbursed over 17 months, with $640 million available
immediately. According to Western agencies, the new IMF funds
will be used to pay off part of the debt Russia owes the
fund, so the money will not actually leave IMF accounts.
"Izvestiya" the next day likened the Russian government's
experience winning a new IMF loan to the U.S. movie
"Groundhog Day" in which a man lives the same day over and
over again. "The IMF knows that the latest macroeconomic
program will not be implemented by Russia because of the
parliamentary and presidential elections," but "they want us
again and again to declare, at least verbally, our commitment
to the market and democracy. They are even willing to pay for
the privilege." JAC

...PAVING WAY FOR PARIS CLUB DEAL. The day after the loan was
approved, Russian Finance Minister Mikhail Kasyanov was in
France for talks with Paris Club creditors. Kasyanov told
ITAR-TASS he is confident an agreement will be reached soon--
possibly as early as 30 or 31 July. According to Reuters,
negotiations will focus on the rescheduling of about $9
billion of principal and interest due in 1999 and 2000.
Russian officials had predicted earlier that talks with
London Club creditors would not go as smoothly (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 21 July 1999). JAC

BATTLE BETWEEN MEDIA GROUP, KREMLIN INTENSIFIES. Prime
Minister Sergei Stepashin has asked Finance Minister Kasyanov
to sort out the Media-Most Group's "financial relationships."
ITAR-TASS reported on 29 July. Stepashin's instruction
follows a strings of accusations and denials by Kremlin and
government officials on the topic of Media-Most's finances. A
group of editors from a variety of media outlets owned by
Media-Most signed an open letter accusing the Kremlin of
using tax inspectors to punish them for negative coverage
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 July 1999). Meanwhile, Kremlin
officials have privately accused Media-Most of engaging in an
information war in order to "extort even more money to
resolve its own financial problems," Kommersant-Daily"
reported on 28 July. Presidential administration head
Aleksandr Voloshin publicly said the company has received
substantial financial assistance from the state, which the
company denies. "Kommersant-Daily" concluded that the "nature
of the mutual accusations leaves little hope for
reconciliation." JAC

STEPASHIN SAYS VISIT NOT ONLY HELPED IMPROVE BILATERAL
RELATIONS... Upon returning to Moscow on 28 July, Russian
Prime Minister Stepashin declared his trip to the U.S. a
success, calling the visit "a major step in improving
Russian-American relations." Stepashin told reporters that
his meeting with U.S. President Bill Clinton the same day had
touched on the subject of the provision of humanitarian aid
to Yugoslavia. According to Stepashin, Russia and the U.S.
must have a coordinated position on the issue. During his
visit, Stepashin also met with U.S. Vice President Al Gore,
World Bank President James Wolfensohn, and U.S. Jewish group
leaders. Stepashin promised the latter to intensify efforts
to combat anti-Semitism. JAC

...BUT ALSO ADVANCED RUSSIAN ECONOMIC INTERESTS. Meeting with
Gore, Stepashin raised the issue of the recent agreement on
increasing the Russian quota of U.S. commercial space
launches and Russian titanium exports to the U.S. The two
leaders also agreed to renew arms control talks (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 28 July 1999). During Stepashin's visit, top
officials from the Khrunichev space research center and U.S.-
based Lockheed-Martin signed an agreement on cooperation in
the use of booster rockets, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 July.
"Segodnya" reported the same day that a new U.S.-Russian
trade dispute may be in the offing: The Association of
American Producers of Nitrogen Fertilizers has sent a
complaint to the Commerce Department accusing Russian
fertilizer manufacturers of dumping. According to the daily,
exports of nitrogen fertilizers to the U.S. during the first
quarter of 1999 earned $7.4 million. JAC

ALL KOSOVA PEACEKEEPERS TO BE IN PLACE BY NEXT WEEK. Talking
to journalists in Moscow on 28 July, Colonel-General Georgii
Shpak said that the deployment of all 3,616 Russian
peacekeepers in Kosova will be complete by 6 August. The
following day, according to Shpak, Russian Defense Minister
Igor Sergeev will visit Bosnia-Herzegovina to hand over
medals to the 200 paratroops who marched from Bosnia to
Kosova in mid-June, becoming the first foreign forces to
enter the province (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 June 1999).
Shpak added that all those who took part in the march are now
back in Bosnia. JC

YELTSIN PARTICULARLY PARTIAL TO IVANOV? President Yeltsin has
awarded Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov the "For Service to the
Fatherland" order of the second degree. Citing unidentified
political analysts, "Segodnya" on 28 July notes that in
bestowing this award--the second highest in Russia after the
Order of St. Andrew, with only the president himself having
the first-degree Fatherland order--the Kremlin may want to
show that it has a "special affection" for the foreign
minister. The newspaper points out that the award is normally
reserved for "round" birthdays of officials who have
distinguished themselves in their posts for a significant
period. Ivanov, however, is due to turn 54 soon, has not been
foreign minister very long, and, like most career diplomats,
was not widely known before taking over that portfolio. JC

ANOTHER RESIGNATION TENDERED AT PROSECUTOR-GENERAL'S OFFICE.
The Federation Council member will consider the resignation
of acting Prosecutor-General Yurii Chaika after their summer
recess, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 July. According to the
agency, President Yeltsin has asked Chaika to transfer to the
position of first deputy secretary of the Security Council.
Current Prosecutor-General for the Caucasus Vladimir Ustinov
will take over Chaika's position. According to "Kommersant-
Daily," which first reported Ustinov's imminent transfer,
Prime Minister Stepashin got to know Ustinov in the Caucasus
and proposed his candidacy, assuring the Kremlin of Ustinov's
loyalty (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 July 1999). JAC

COUP D'ETAT FAILS IN VORONEZH. Accompanied by a group of men
wielding submachine guns, municipal deputy Vasilii Kochergin
forced his way into the Voronezh Mayor's Office on 28 July in
a bid to seize power in the oblast capital, ITAR-TASS and
"Izvestiya" reported. According to the daily, the armed men
were OMON officers. The incident ended without violence later
the same day, and Mayor Aleksandr Tsapin broke off a tour of
the raions to return to the capital. Earlier this year,
Kochergin had been proclaimed mayor by his mostly Communist
supporters in the city council but was "deposed" one day
later pending a ruling by the federal Supreme Court (see
"RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 28 April 1999).
"Izvestiya" reported that Tsapin had recently won over two
Kochergin supporters, giving him and his supporters a quorum
in the council with which to enact legislation. JC

'MIR' COSMONAUTS TAKE LAST SPACE WALK. Two Russian cosmonauts
aboard the space station "Mir" completed a space walk on 28
July, successfully installing a new aerial antenna, Interfax
reported. Five days earlier, the cosmonauts tried
unsuccessfully for six hours to install the antenna. Deputy
flight director Viktor Blagov told the agency that the walk
was likely to be the last one for "Mir" cosmonauts, since the
station will remain unmanned after the cosmonauts leave late
next month. Unless funds are found to keep the space station
going, "Mir" will be lowered into the earth's atmosphere over
the Pacific Ocean next February or March. Yurii Koptev,
director-general of the Russian Space Agency said earlier in
the month that "it is better to bring the station down to the
bed of the Pacific Ocean with honor rather than prolong its
service life until serious troubles...mar the history of this
unique example of Russian space engineering." JAC

WHAT RHYMES WITH NATO AGGRESSION? "Krasnaya zvezda" reported
on 29 July that Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov, head of the
Defense Ministry's department for international military
cooperation, has won acceptance to the federation Writers'
Union. Ivashov, a prolific poet, told the newspaper that even
though he has an extremely busy schedule, he finds time to
write by using every spare minute on flights, "waiting at the
airport, and in cars." Ivashov also revealed that a compact
disc of songs whose lyrics he had written would be released
within days. Purchasers of the disc can hear songs with
titles such as "Officers of Russia." Ivashov was one of
Russia's most outspoken critics of NATO air strikes against
Yugoslavia, saying before the campaign began that NATO "has
no diplomatic, legal, political, or economic levers in its
arsenal, only naked military force" (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
18 February 1999). JAC

CHECHEN OPPOSITION LEADER ACCUSES RUSSIAN INTELLIGENCE OF
PLANNING ASSASSINATIONS. Former acting Chechen Premier Shamil
Basaev told journalists on 28 July that Russia's Federal
Security Service (FSB) has recruited ethnic Tatars and
Bashkirs who infiltrated Chechen opposition military units,
Interfax reported. Basaev said 38 such agents have been
intercepted, of whom 18 were present at the press conference.
Basaev said the agents planned to assassinate himself,
radical field commander Khottab, and President Aslan
Maskhadov in order to provoke a civil war in Chechnya. FSB
spokesman Aleksandr Zhdanovich denied Basaev's allegations,
which he termed a provocation intended to torpedo the planned
meeting between Maskhadov and President Yeltsin. LF

MORE DEATHS IN DAGESTAN. Three Russian soldiers were killed
by a remote-controlled bomb on 28 July. At the time of the
blast, they were headed for a training ground near their base
in the town of Buinaksk, Interfax reported. The following
day, one Chechen militant was killed and a second injured in
a pre-dawn attack on a police post on the border between
Chechnya and Dagestan. LF

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN PREMIER OUTLINES AUSTERITY MEASURES. In his first
television address since his appointment as prime minister
last month, Vazgen Sargsian on 28 July explained his proposed
measures to overcome Armenia's budget crisis, RFE/RL's
Yerevan bureau reported. Sargsian said that budget revenues
for the first half of 1999 were 33 billion drams ($61
million) less than planned, which is equal to some 10 percent
of projected government spending for 1999. Characterizing the
situation as "extremely difficult but not hopeless," Sargsian
vowed to raise some taxes, crack down on tax evasion, and
increase excise duties on cigarettes and gasoline. He said
those measures will help to bridge the budget shortfall
without seriously affecting the poor and the middle class.
During talks in Yerevan last week, IMF representatives gave
the Armenian government until late August to bridge the
budget gap, which has delayed disbursement of planned IMF and
World Bank loan tranches totaling some $55 million. LF

AZERBAIJAN, TURKEY AT ODDS OVER OIL EXPORT PIPELINE.
Azerbaijan's State Oil Company SOCAR issued an official
statement on 27 July saying that talks between Azerbaijani
and Turkish working groups have failed to reach agreement on
four draft documents that would constitute the legal basis
for the construction and use of the planned Baku-Ceyhan oil
export pipeline, "Izvestiya" reported on 29 July.
Representatives of the two countries had signed a protocol in
Istanbul in April pledging to finalize and sign the four
documents in question by the end of July. The points of
disagreement, according to "Izvestiya," are over transit
tariffs and the requirement that Turkey meet additional
construction costs if the total cost of building the pipeline
exceeds $2.4 billion. Turkey is demanding a tariff fee of $21
per metric ton of oil, while Azerbaijan and Western oil
companies engaged in the Caspian refuse to pay more than $18-
19. LF

KAZAKH OPPOSITION LEADER ACCUSED OF INSULTING PRESIDENT.
Seydakhmet Quttyqadam, who heads the Orleu (Progress) Party,
told journalists in Almaty on 28 July that he has been
formally charged with insulting President Nursultan
Nazarbaev, an RFE/RL correspondent in the former capital
reported. Quttyqadam had said at a rally in February that he
considered that Nazarbaev has failed to fulfill his
obligations as president and should resign, adding that
Kazakhstan needs a "strong leader" like Ataturk or de Gaulle.
Quttyqadam also argued on 28 July that the presidential
system should be replaced by a parliamentary one and that the
parliament should be empowered to form a government and to
appoint regional leaders, according to Interfax. He said that
the parliamentary elections scheduled for this fall, in which
he will run in a single-mandate district in Almaty, offer
"the last chance" for the development of democracy in
Kazakhstan. LF

GOVERNMENT RESHUFFLE COMPLETED IN KYRGYZSTAN. Prime Minister
Amangeldy Muraliev on 26 July presented to the cabinet three
new ministers appointed to replace those dismissed by
President Askar Akaev three days earlier, RFE/RL's Bishkek
bureau reported. Former State Property Fund director Sultan
Mederov replaces Marat Sultanov as finance minister and is
himself replaced by former Customs Director Tashkul
Kereksizov. Jalalabad University rector Tursunbek Bekbolotov
takes over from Sovetbek Toktomyshev as minister of
education, science, and culture, and Imankadyr Rysaliev, a
former presidential administration department head, succeeds
Mira Jangachareva as minister of labor and social issues.
Jangaracheva was named deputy governor of Chu Oblast on 26
July. LF

OPPOSITION IN KYRGYZSTAN PLANS JOINT COUNCIL. Meeting in
Bishkek on 28 July, representatives of five opposition
parties (Free Kyrgyzstan, the Communist Party, the People's
Party, the republican Party and "My Country") announced they
will form a joint political council on which each party will
have one representative, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported.
They also expressed their objection to President Akaev's
proposal to amend the election law passed by the parliament
in April in order to reduce from 12 months to six the period
for which a political party must be officially registered
prior to parliamentary elections (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3
May and 22 June 1999). Akaev's proposed amendment is
presumably intended to facilitate the participation in the
February 2000 parliamentary elections of the Adilet Party,
created as a support base for the president. The Jalalabad
regional branch of Adilet held its founding conference on 24
July and elected as its head Kubanychbek Djumaliev, the
governor of Jalalabad Oblast and a former premier. LF

MORE ANTHRAX CASES REPORTED IN SOUTHERN KYRGYZSTAN.
Kyrgyzstan's First Deputy Minister of Public Health Viktor
Glinenko told Interfax on 28 July that six more cases of
anthrax been reported in Osh Oblast over the past nine days,
Interfax reported. The victims had eaten infected beef. A
total of 957 people have been placed under medical
observation. Meanwhile, 10 people have been hospitalized with
anthrax in the Bazar-Korgin district of Jalalabad Oblast,
which borders on Osh, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. LF

DEMILITARIZATION, REFERENDUM PREPARATIONS ON TRACK IN
TAJIKISTAN. United Tajik Opposition leader Said Abdullo Nuri
told journalists in Dushanbe on 28 July that the opposition
will meet the 31 July deadline for disarming its forces,
Reuters reported. That deadline is stipulated in the protocol
that he and President Imomali Rakhmonov signed on 17 June. Of
a total of some 6,000 opposition fighters who have been
screened by the Central Attestation Committee, 4,500 have
opted for service in either the army or the police.
Meanwhile, preparations are continuing for the 26 September
referendum on constitutional amendments that will remove the
present ban on political parties with a religious
orientation, AP-Blitz reported on 27 July. Acting UN Special
Representative Joges Saksena told journalists in Dushanbe on
27 July he hopes the constitutional amendments will be
approved, paving the way for a special parliamentary session
that will schedule new parliamentary elections for January.
The opposition has retracted its demand that those elections
be held before the 6 November presidential poll. LF

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