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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 152, Part I, 6 August 1999
________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 152, Part I, 6 August 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 * STEPASHIN TO STEER CLEAR OF ELECTIONS, CAMPAIGNS * PURGE PREDICTED AT BEREZOVSKII'S MOST RECENT MEDIA ACQUISITION * AZERBAIJANI OFFICIAL DENIES DISAGREEMENTS WITH TURKEY OVER BAKU-CEYHAN End Note: DEMOGRAPHY AND DEVELOPMENT xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx RUSSIA STEPASHIN TO STEER CLEAR OF ELECTIONS, CAMPAIGNS. In an interview with "Izvestiya" on 6 August, Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin said he will avoid making public his political likes and dislikes because the cabinet needs to stay above the political fray in an election year. He noted that while some of his predecessors "declared their membership in certain political parties or even financial and industrial groups," Russian citizens gradually began to link the government's activities to the interests of certain behind- the-scenes groups." This, he concluded, "was extremely harmful for the development of Russian society." He added that it is too early to speak about his possible participation in presidential elections in 2000: "A statesman these days should think about how to strengthen the Russian state rather than dream about higher posts." "Kommersant- Daily" reported on 4 August that the presidential administration unsuccessfully tried to get members of the governor's bloc, All Russia, to accept Stepashin as the leader of a centrist electoral bloc. JAC PURGE PREDICTED AT BEREZOVSKII'S MOST RECENT MEDIA ACQUISITION... Leonid Miloslavskii has been appointed director-general of the Kommersant Publishing House, Interfax reported on 5 August. Miloslavskii, who is one of the co- founders of "Kommersant-Daily," reportedly sold his 15 percent stake in the company to financier Boris Berezovskii. "Moskovskii komsomolets" predicted on 6 August that mass purges at "Kommersant-Daily" should be expected soon, since "there will be few journalists who resign themselves to following Berezovskii's line." According to "Moskovskii komsomolets," Raf Shakirov, ousted editor-in-chief of "Kommersant-Daily," has already received offers to head a newspaper to be started by Right Cause, the movement led by Unified Energy Systems Chairman Anatolii Chubais. Shakirov's job is likely to be offered to Andrei Vasiliev, a former executive at Russian Public Television, which is reportedly controlled by Berezovskii, Interfax reported on 5 August. "Moskovskii komsomlets" is considered close to Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, a rival of Berezovskii. JAC ...AS PRESSURE EASING ON ANOTHER MEDIA BARON? "Kommersant- Daily" reported on 5 August, without reference to any source, that the Federal Tax Police Service has decided not to institute criminal proceedings against Media-Most head Vladimir Gusinskii for tax evasion (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 July 1999). Gusinskii reportedly paid the entire amount owed, along with fines. In addition, an unidentified person from the presidential administration allegedly called the tax service on Gusinskii's behalf. JAC IMF POSTS AUDITOR'S REPORT ON CENTRAL BANK. The IMF has posted on its website the report based on the audit of Russia's Central Bank performed by the international accounting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers. Media previously reported that the Central Bank Chairman Viktor Gerashchenko did not want the report made public, while fund officials and U.S. Congressmen did (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 July 1999). The document is accessible at http://www.imf.org/external/country/rus/fimaco/russia.pdf. Contents of the report had been leaked to "The Moscow Times," which concluded on 31 July that the report confirmed the worst allegations made by the bank's critics, since it shows that the Central Bank kept separate books to hide controversial transactions. JAC FEDERATION COUNCIL WARNS GOVERNMENT OVER BUDGET. Federation Council Chairman Yegor Stroev told reporters on 4 August that the Russian government may run into problems passing its budget for 2000 if it does not first consult with legislators in the upper chamber, according to ITAR-TASS. "Vremya MN" reported the next day that the council wants it own representatives to participate in the drafting of the budget. It noted that regional leaders do not care for the government's economic plans, particularly the joint statement by the Central Bank and government prepared for the IMF, because those plans do not sufficiently take into consideration the interests of regions and industry. Federation Council Budget Chairman Konstantin Titov, who is also the informal head of the Voice of Russia election bloc, told Ekho Moskvy on 5 August that senators not only want to participate in setting the budget's macroeconomic parameters but also want input into the system of monetary transfers to the regions. JAC GOVERNMENT TO HIT UP EES, GAZPROM FOR LARGER CONTRIBUTIONS. Tax Minister Aleksandr Pochinok is reportedly planning to review this month all tax agreements that the government has concluded with the country's largest taxpayers, such as Gazprom, Unified Energy Systems (EES), and the Roads and Transportation Ministry, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 5 August. According to the daily, these entities provide at least one quarter of all revenues to the federal budget, and the Tax Ministry wants to increase their tax payments in keeping with increasing inflation and their growing level of production. In addition, agreements on restructuring old tax debts of the coal and banking sectors will reportedly be finalized soon. JAC FINANCES GETTING TIGHTER AT FATHERLAND? "Izvestiya" reported on 6 August that former Tax Minister Georgii Boos has been selected to head the election headquarters of the new alliance between Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov's Fatherland and the governors' grouping All Russia. The daily also reported that Fatherland has been experiencing problems with financing. According to the newspaper, the majority of Fatherland's financing comes from the city- controlled holding company Sistema, headed by Vladimir Yevtushenkov, but the recent removal of one of Yevtushenkov's close associates from the position of financial director has not "induced Yevtushenkov to become more generous." The daily reported that a number of departments within Fatherland have been eliminated to tighten central control over financing, and every large expenditure must be first approved in Moscow headquarters. In an interview with "Kommersant-Daily" on 27 July, Yevtushenkov denied allegations that his company was formed using money from the Moscow city government. "Izvestiya" is controlled by Vladimir Potanin's Interros and LUKoil. JAC RUSSIA REWARDS TROOPS WHO ENTERED KOSOVA BEFORE NATO. President Boris Yeltsin on 5 August signed a decree awarding the medal "For Services to the Fatherland" to Major-General Anatolii Rybkin, who commanded a unit that entered Kosova from Bosnia on 10 June ahead of NATO troops. Less prestigious awards went to the 205 troops who took part in the mission, "Krasnaya zvezda" reported. Meanwhile, Defense Minister Igor Sergeev has canceled a visit to Bosnia that was scheduled for 7 August, Reuters reported. A government spokesman gave no reason for the cancellation. Sergeev had been expected to personally hand over the awards to the soldiers (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 July 1999). FS IVANOV, ALBRIGHT REITERATE COMMITMENT TO KOSOVA PEACE. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, in a telephone conversation on 5 August, stressed their commitment to the current peace plan for Kosova, Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin told Interfax. He added that Ivanov called for the faster disarming of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK). Albright and Ivanov also discussed possible cooperation "to give a new impetus to the Middle East settlement, taking into account the position of the present Israeli leadership." Furthermore, the two agreed that U.S. and Russian experts will meet in Moscow on 17 August to discuss the future START III arms reduction agreement along with possible modifications of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty. FS RUSSIAN OFFICIAL SETS CONDITIONS FOR RESUMING FULL CONTACTS TO NATO. Rakhmanin told Interfax on 5 August that Russia will resume full relations with NATO "under certain conditions." He added that above all the Russian government hopes that "the Yugoslav tragedy connected with [NATO's] military operation...in the Balkans will never be repeated, that new dividing lines will not be drawn in Europe as a result of the implementation of NATO enlargement plans, [and] that [NATO] will fully take into account our lawful interests and concerns and strictly follow the provisions of the Russia- NATO founding act." Russia suspended its relations with NATO in March to protest the bombing of targets in Yugoslavia. Rakhmanin added that "at the moment Russian-NATO cooperation is limited to international peacekeeping operations in [Kosova] and Bosnia, while all other spheres of cooperation remain frozen." FS FORMER FOREIGN MINISTRY OFFICIAL TO BE TRIED AS SOUTH KOREAN SPY. The Main Military Prosecutor's Office has sent the case of Valentin Moiseev, the former deputy director of the Foreign Ministry's Second Asian Department, for trial, "Vremya MN" reported on 4 August. Moiseev is accused of passing classified documents to an adviser at Moscow's South Korean Embassy, who was expelled from Russia shortly after Moiseev's arrest last summer (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 July 1998). According to an unidentified Russian counterintelligence officers, Moiseev is thought to have been recruited by the secret services of South Korea while serving in that country. He returned to Russia in 1996. JC AKSENENKO URGES MEASURES TO MAINTAIN NORTHERN SHIPPING ROUTE. Speaking at a Moscow conference on 5 August, First Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Aksenenko warned that unless the government takes "well-calculated" measures now, Russia might "lose" the Northern Shipping Route in the next five to 10 years, Interfax reported. In particular, Aksenenko pointed to the poor condition of ice-breakers and the northern ports. Only 1.48 million tons of cargo was transported along the route last year, compared with 6.58 million in 1987, according to data cited at the conference. Interfax also reported that plans to increase the number of cargo vessels are not expected to be realized because of the absence of budget funds. JC STAVROPOL SPIFFING UP LENIN MONUMENT FOR HOLIDAY. The Stavropol Krai government is reassuring local Communists that the bronze status of former Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin in Stavropol's central square will be renovated in time for the 7 November anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution, "Izvestiya" reported on 5 August. The newspaper notes that krai budget does not have enough money for the 3 million ruble ($123,000) renovation but that local power suppliers have promised to chip in the necessary cash for work to begin. However, the daily notes that like the region, they, too, are on the "edge of bankruptcy." Stavropol Krai Governor Aleksandr Chernogorov, who ordered the fix-up, recently declared his intention to the join the For Victory election bloc, recently founded by Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 4 August 1999). JAC RUSSIAN INTERIOR MINISTRY TROOPS DEPLOYED ON DAGESTAN- CHECHNYA BORDER. Responding to a request for assistance from the leadership of Dagestan, Moscow sent Interior Ministry forces to the republic's Tsumadin and Botlikh Raions on 4 August. Interfax the next day quoted unidentified "well- informed" Russian intelligence sources as claiming that Chechen field commanders and Dagestani extremists are planning to seize the capital, Makhachkala, in late August or September and overthrow the present Dagestani leadership. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" commentator Ilya Maksakov, however, argued on 6 August that the Dagestani leadership is in full control of the situation. He noted that predictions of an imminent coup underestimate popular support for State Council chairman Magomedali Magomedov and Makhachkala Mayor Said Amirov and exaggerate the strength of Nadir Khachilaev and radical Islamist Bagautdin Magomedov. The last two have been identified as responsible for the 2 August cross-border incursion from Chechnya into Tsumadin Raion. LF CHECHNYA INTENSIFIES BORDER CONTROLS WITH DAGESTAN. President Aslan Maskhadov, for his part, has ordered that border controls with Dagestan be tightened to preclude the infiltration of armed groups into Chechnya, Deputy Prime Minister Kazbek Makhashev told Interfax on 5 August. Makhashev denied that any Chechen forces were involved in the fighting in Dagestan earlier this week. He said Chechnya respects the right of the population of Dagestan to self- determination and has no intention of interfering in the republic's internal affairs. He added that events in Dagestan should not negatively impact on negotiations between Chechnya and the federal center. LF INGUSH PRESIDENT SAYS ABDUCTED RUSSIAN OFFICIAL HELD IN CHECHNYA. Ruslan Aushev said in Moscow on 5 August that Interior Ministry Major-General Gennadii Shpigun, who was abducted in Grozny in early March, is alive and being held captive in Chechnya, Interfax reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 March 1999). According to Aushev, Shpigun's captors have demanded a $7 million ransom. LF TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT NOT TO ATTEND SIGNING OF TURKMEN PIPELINE AGREEMENT. Interfax on 5 August quoted an unnamed Turkmen government source as stating that Heidar Aliev will not attend the 6 August signing in Ashgabat of an agreement between the Turkmen government and the PSG company giving the latter the rights to extract Turkmen gas and export it via the projected Trans-Caspian pipeline. According to ITAR-TASS, Niyazov and Aliev agreed during a telephone conversation on 5 August to meet in the near future to discuss both the gas pipeline project and the "equitable division" of the central sector of the Caspian. The recent announcement of huge reserves of gas in the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian has called into question the viability of the costly and technically problematic Trans-Caspian pipeline project (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 July 1999). LF AZERBAIJANI OFFICIAL DENIES DISAGREEMENTS WITH TURKEY OVER BAKU-CEYHAN. Deputy Prime Minister Abid Sharifov told journalists on 5 August that Azerbaijan and Turkey could sign within one month the four main framework agreements on construction of the Baku-Ceyhan export pipeline for Caspian oil, Turan reported. He denied persistent rumors that there are serious disagreements between Baku and Ankara over the terms of the project (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 July 1999). Also on 5 August, Interfax quoted Armenian First Deputy Energy Minister Kalust Galustian as saying that routing the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline via northern Armenia, rather than Georgia as planned, would reduce the estimated $2.4 -$3 billion cost by $500 million. LF STALIN'S GRANDSON ELECTED HEAD OF GEORGIAN LEFT-WING ALLIANCE. Yevgenii Dzhughashvili has been elected leader of the People's Patriotic Union of Georgia, Russian agencies reported on 5 August. That alignment unites a number of left- wing parties and organizations. Former Georgian parliamentary speaker Vakhtang Goguadze told Interfax that the choice of Dzhughashvili, who is 63 and a former Soviet army colonel, could serve to consolidate left-wing forces in the run-up to the 31 October parliamentary elections. But the United Communist Party of Georgia objected to the choice of Dzhughashvili over their leader, retired General Panteleimon Giorgadze. LF KAZAKH OPPOSITION BLOC THREATENS ELECTION BOYCOTT. Representatives of six opposition parties aligned in the "Respublika" bloc convened a press conference in Almaty on 5 August to demand unspecified amendments that would make the present election law more democratic, RFE/RL's bureau in the former capital reported. They said that if those change are not made, they will consider boycotting the parliamentary elections in September-October. The opposition leaders also demanded representation on the national and local electoral commissions. They said they have addressed an open letter to President Nursultan Nazarbaev requesting that the elections to the upper chamber of parliament be postponed from September to December. LF KAZAKH WOMEN END HUNGER STRIKE. Seven women members of the Zher-Ana (Motherland) Party have ended the hunger strike they began in Almaty three weeks ago to protest the planned privatization of agricultural land, RFE/RL correspondents in the former capital reported on 6 August (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 July 1999). But their leader said they will resume the protest if the parliament returns to discussing the draft bill on land ownership, which passed in the first reading last month. Discussion of that bill has been shelved indefinitely, and Prime Minister Nurlan Balghymbaev said last week that conditions are not yet ripe for the sale of agricultural land (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 July 1999). LF KYRGYZ DETAINED IN KAZAKHSTAN TO BE EXTRADITED. Kyrgyz National Security Ministry official Talant Razzakov confirmed on 5 August that 17 Kyrgyz citizens detained by Kazakh police three weeks ago in Jambyl Oblast will shortly be sent back to Kyrgyzstan, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. The Kyrgyz were among 78 Sunni Muslims, including women and children, detained for allegedly illegal religious activities at a camp near the Kazakh town of Taraz (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 and 22 July 1999). The Kyrgyz Muftiyat has written to Kazakhstan's Interior Ministry protesting the detentions, which a Kazakh prosecutor said were carried out in response to a request from Uzbekistan. The Uzbek Interior Ministry had claimed that radical Islamists suspected of involvement in the February bombings in Tashkent had gathered near Taraz. Also on 5 August, RFE/RL's Almaty bureau reported that the Uzbek embassy held a press conference on the ongoing investigation into those bombings. Embassy officials said the perpetrators wanted to kill President Islam Karimov and establish an Islamic state in Uzbekistan. LF AFGHAN FIGHTING 'NOT A THREAT' TO TAJIKISTAN. General Aleksandr Markin, who commands the Russian border guard detachment deployed on the frontier between Tajikistan and Afghanistan, told Interfax on 5 August that the resurgence of heavy fighting in Afghanistan between the Taliban and Northern Alliance forces does not threaten Tajikistan's security. Markin said his troops have adequate resources to maintain the security of the border "under any circumstances." LF TURKMENISTAN TO CREATE NATIONAL BUREAU FOR REFUGEES. Mustafa Djamil, who heads the UNHCR's regional office, said after talks in Ashgabat that Turkmenistan will set up a national bureau for refugees by the end of this year, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 5 August. Djamil's discussions in the Turkmen capital also focused on the need to expedite the return to Tajikistan of refugees who fled during the 1992- 1997 civil war. LF END NOTE DEMOGRAPHY AND DEVELOPMENT by Paul Goble The demographic crisis in the Russian Federation and several other post-Soviet states not only serves as a brake on economic development but also appears to be so deeply rooted in the social fabric of these countries that economic growth alone is unlikely to overcome it anytime soon. That pattern--one very different from countries in Western Europe--almost certainly will limit the ability of these societies to develop politically as well, thus further restricting their chance to escape from their communist pasts and to create the foundations for self-sustaining democratic development. That disturbing conclusion is suggested in a new study prepared for the U.S. Defense Department by a group of scholars that includes Murray Feshbach, Nicholas Eberstadt and Vladimir Kontorovich. Those scholars focused on the Russian Federation, but their conclusion that the demographic crisis there "is unique from other historical precedents" clearly applies to other parts of the post-Soviet region as well. Falling birth rates and rising death rates, the authors note, mean that the Russian population will almost certainly be smaller in the future than it is today. Indeed, last week, the Russian statistics agency appeared to confirm that viewpoint when it released figures showing that the population of the Russian Federation fell by 346,700 in the first five months of 1999 alone, an acceleration of a trend that began earlier this decade. Because the number of deaths in the Russian Federation exceeded the number of births there during that period by 396,000, the agency said, the decline would have been even greater had it not been for the migration of some 47,000 ethnic Russians from former Soviet republics back to the Russian heartland. Many analysts have blamed this situation on the economic difficulties that the Russian Federation and other post- Soviet states now face. But the authors of the Defense Department study suggest that the demographic problems are much deeper, appear to be getting worse, and are likely to last even after these countries begin to recover economically. Some of the problems, the authors suggest, are rooted in ecological and epidemiological situations that the authorities do not appear to have either the resources or even the will to reverse. And these health problems, reflected in both falling life expectancies and declining populations, will in turn make it difficult for the Russian Federation and other countries to bounce back economically as quickly as many seem to expect. In many respects, the authors of this study suggest, the health profile of Russia today currently resembles one of a Third World country that is doing poorly rather than the kind found in more developed states, even those that have experienced an acute economic crisis or even depression. But perhaps the most important finding of this new study, the one with the broadest application, is that economic development by itself will not provide a sure cure for the demographic difficulties found in the post-Soviet states. Instead, these problems are likely in themselves to create political challenges in each of the three very different demographic regions of the former Soviet space. In the Slavic countries, where the demographic crisis is the most severe, the aging and increasingly ill population is likely to demand expanded health care at a time when the authorities are trying to reduce government expenditures in order to allow for economic growth. Such demands could provide a base for political leaders interested in expanding the size of the state at the expense of the economy. In the Baltic countries, where the populations are among the oldest in Europe, pensioners are in many instances turning away from the parties that led the drive to the recovery of independence toward political groups promising to take care of them and their pension and health concerns in the future, a shift that may change the politics of all three Baltic States over the next decade. And in the historically Islamic countries of Central Asia, still high birth rates are not only putting more pressure on existing facilities but are creating conditions for future political instability by reducing the average age of the population to levels more common in the poorest Third World countries than in Europe. Demographic developments like these seldom attract much attention as they are taking place, but their consequences appear likely to prove far more important than many of the events that now garner headlines. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Send an email to email@example.com with the word subscribe as the subject of the message. HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word unsubscribe as the subject of the message. 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