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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 160, Part I, 18 August 1999
________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 160, Part I, 18 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 * PRIMAKOV AGREES TO HEAD CENTER-LEFT ALLIANCE * ISLAMISTS ANNOUNCE FORMATION OF GOVERNMENT IN DAGHESTAN * KYRGYZ OFFICIAL ACCUSES BATKEN GUERILLAS OF PLANNING 'ISLAMIC STATE' xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx RUSSIA PRIMAKOV AGREES TO HEAD CENTER-LEFT ALLIANCE... Former Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov ended his long silence about his career plans by declaring on 17 August his intention to lead the party list for the Fatherland-All Russia (OVR) alliance in the upcoming State Duma elections. Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, who heads Fatherland, will occupy the number two position, and St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev, one of the founding leaders of All Russia, will be number three. Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev said he is not among the top three slots on the party list because the constitution of his republic prohibits the president from joining any political organization, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. Asked whether he will seek the presidency in 2000, Primakov, 69, replied that he has not yet decided. Political analysts have predicted that a Primakov-Luzhkov tandem would be almost unbeatable in the elections. JAC ...OUTLINES BLOC'S GOALS... However, "Segodnya" noted the next day that "judging by Primakov's policy statement, which resembled a presidential state-of-the-nation address, the former prime minister is not inclined to underestimate either the allure of his personality or the degree of his influence on the outcome of parliamentary and presidential elections." In a written statement, Primakov noted that his agreement to take the bloc's top spot "does not mean that I have joined one of the parties or movements." Primakov went on to describe the OVR alliance as a "union of healthy centrist forces" that will promote "synergy between the Duma and the government," "amend the constitution to strengthen Russian statehood," and "preserve the country's integrity in combination with federalism," Interfax reported. JAC ...AND JOINS CALLS FOR AMENDING CONSTITUTION. In remarks to journalists, Primakov said the constitution should be amended so that some of the president's powers are transferred to the government and the parliament. In particular, he noted that future governments should be formed by a parliamentary majority. Primakov called for reinstating the post of vice president and for granting the Security Council constitutional status, according to ITAR-TASS. And he also urged the passage of legislation that would "guarantee former Russian presidents complete safety and a dignified life." "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 17 August that the Communist Party will initiate a discussion at the Duma about introducing amendments on limiting presidential power. The newspaper concluded that there is not enough time for the amendments to pass before the elections, but considering the "wave of anti-presidential sentiment caused by the dismissal of [former Prime Minister Sergei] Stepashin, amending the constitution does not seem as impossible as it used to." JAC ARE MORE PARTIES SPLITTING? The head of the Agrarian Party's Duma faction, Nikolai Kharitonov, told reporters on 17 August that his party is about to split because the party's leadership has decided to join the OVR bloc. Meanwhile, the names of Agrarian Party leader Mikhail Lapshin and former Deputy Prime Minister Gennadii Kulik have been proposed for the OVR's party list, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 August. A final decision about their candidacies and whether the party will join the OVR will be made at the Agrarian Party's congress on 26-27 August. The issue of joining OVR appears to have caused dissension in another movement. ITAR-TASS reported on 17 August that the OVR voted to accept a representative of Voice of Russia on its Coordination Council but that Moscow Mayor Luzhkov insisted that the representative not be the group's informal leader, Samara Governor Konstantin Titov. Titov had proposed that the group join a bloc of right-centrist forces. JAC OUSTED JUSTICE MINISTER CLAIMS HE WAS PRESSURED BY KREMLIN. Former Justice Minister Pavel Krasheninnikov told Ekho Moskvy on 17 August that chief reason why he was dismissed that day was because of his ministry's failure to find legal grounds for banning the Communist Party and to prevent Moscow Mayor Luzhkov's Fatherland movement from registering for the State Duma elections. Krasheninnikov said he "was pressed a little" by the Kremlin to make such decisions and was told simply "to always cite the law." President Boris Yeltsin replaced Krasheninnikov with former acting Prosecutor General Yurii Chaika, who, though not considered a Kremlin ally, might be flexible enough to be a compromise candidate, Moscow Carnegie Center analyst Andrei Raykov told "The Moscow Times." According to the daily, analysts believe that while Chaika continued investigations into corruption allegations of Kremlin officials started by his embattled predecessor, Yurii Skuratov, these inquiries "lost their momentum" under Chaika's leadership. JAC ISLAMISTS ANNOUNCE FORMATION OF GOVERNMENT IN DAGHESTAN. Self-styled Prime Minister of Islamic Daghestan Siradjin Ramazanov told Turan on 17 August that he has started consultations on forming a government and has already appointed Magomed Tagaev as minister of information. Tagaev is the author of several books calling for a Holy War in the North Caucasus. Also on 17 August, the United Headquarters of Daghestan Mojahedin, which represents the command structure of the Islamic militants, announced the creation of Shariat guards, who will maintain public order in the villages occupied by the militants. The indigenous inhabitants of those villages continue to flee to Makhachkala, where some 10,000 of them are now living in tent cities or pioneer camps. The government of Daghestan, demonstrating little confidence in Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's repeated claim that the situation in Daghestan will be normalized within a week, are making preparations for enrolling the children of the displaced persons in schools before the school year begins on 1 September. LF RUSSIAN FORCES REGROUP. Meanwhile, the situation on the ground remains unclear. Caucasus Press reported a lull in hostilities on 17 August as federal forces regrouped. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" noted the next day that the commander of the North Caucasus Military District, Colonel-General Viktor Kazantsev, has been named head of the operation against the militants in Daghestan, replacing Interior Ministry troops commander Colonel-General Vyacheslav Ovchinnikov. Contrary to Putin's repeated claim, Chief of General Staff General Anatolii Kvashnin said in Moscow on 17 August that the "normalization" of the situation in Daghestan will take "several months," according to Interfax. Also in Moscow, Russian President Yeltsin affirmed his readiness to meet with Magomedali Magomedov, chairman of Daghestan's State Council, while acting Finance Minister Mikhail Kasyanov told journalists that Russian soldiers serving in Daghestan will be paid as much as their colleagues serving with KFOR in Kosova. Those servicemen receive $1,000 a month. LF TATAR OPPOSITION GROUP PROTESTS RUSSIAN MILITARY ACTION IN DAGHESTAN... The Tatar Public Center has issued a statement condemning the "escalation of hostilities" in Daghestan, in particular the bombing of villages, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 18 August. The statement compared the Russian military's response in Daghestan to its response in Chechnya. And it condemned the formation by the Daghestani authorities of volunteer self-defense brigades, which it predicts will exacerbate tensions between Daghestan's numerous ethnic groups. LF ...AS DAGHESTAN'S LEADER TAKES ISSUE WITH TATARSTAN'S PRESIDENT. Meanwhile in Makhachkala, State Council chairman Magomedov rejected Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev's statement that domestic factors are behind the crisis in Daghestan. Magomedov accused Shaimiev of pursuing "separatist" policies and of being totally ignorant of the situation in the North Caucasus, according to "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 18 August. LF REPORTS OF RUSSIAN INVASION OF CHECHNYA PROVE FALSE. A congress of veterans of the 1994-1996 war in Chechnya ended abruptly on 17 August, after President Aslan Maskhadov told the meeting that a Russian armored unit had crossed the Chechen border from Stavropol Krai and occupied the village of Bratskoye in Nadterechnyi Raion, Interfax reported. Presidential chief of staff Apti Batalov initially confirmed that report, but the head of Chechnya's border department, Umid Dalaev, said later that it was untrue. He added that the alarm stemmed from an intercepted radio message broadcast by unknown persons on a frequency used by the Chechen secret service. Maskhadov had earlier told participants at the Grozny congress that Chechnya plays no role in the fighting in Daghestan. But former acting President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev expressed support and sympathy for the Islamists, arguing that it is the duty of every Muslim to help Daghestan in its fight for independence, ITAR-TASS reported. LF U.S.-RUSSIA TALKS ON START-3 KICK OFF. Three days of talks began in Moscow on 17 August on the START-3 treaty and possible modifications to the 1972 ABM treaty in view of Washington's plans to implement a national ABM system. Under Secretary of State John Holum is head of the U.S. delegation, while Grigorii Berdennikov, director of the Foreign Ministry's Department for Security Disarmament, is leading the Russian delegation. The talks are taking place behind closed doors and are scheduled to continue in Washington in September. JC YAKOVLEV STRESSES IMPORTANCE OF STRATEGIC NUCLEAR FORCES. In an interview with "Krasnaya zvezda" published on 17 August, Colonel-General Vladimir Yakovlev, commander of the Strategic Rocket Forces, stressed that Russia's economic situation is "not favorable" for the development of general-purpose forces, which he described as "extremely necessary" following the expansion of NATO and in view of the "absence on the CIS border of a firm system of collective security." "Our hopes remain [pinned] on nuclear deterrence forces and their main component--the strategic rocket forces," he said. Yakovlev also named the two main priorities with regard to the development and maintenance of the strategic rocket forces: completing the introduction of mobile and fixed-site Topol-M complexes and prolonging for as long as possible the service life of existing missile complexes. JC U.S. HELPS MURMANSK DESTROY NUCLEAR SUBMARINES. The U.S. is to grant $15 million for the destruction of nuclear submarines at the Nerpa shipyard at Snezhnogorsk, "Segodnya" reported on 17 August. That project is being carried out within the framework of the program "On the Reduction of Mutual Threats," to which Russia and the U.S. agreed in 1992. Under the program, the shipyard has already destroyed three decommissioned submarines belonging to the Northern Fleet. JC RUSSIA, CHINA CONTINUE TO COOPERATE ON NUCLEAR ENERGY. The president of Russia's TVEL, the scientific-industrial association of nuclear energy enterprises, and the director- general of the Chinese Nuclear Energy Industry Company have signed a contract whereby Russian experts will draft blueprints for the active zone of an experimental nuclear reactor using accelerated neutrons and also will supply enriched nuclear fuel for the reactor, "Vek" reported in its latest issue (No. 31, August 1999). According to the publication, the Russian Atomic Energy Ministry and the Chinese State Corporation for the Nuclear Industry concluded an agreement in 1995 on cooperation in developing such a reactor in China. JC RUSSIA CHARGES WEST WITH 'APPEASING SEPARATISTS' IN KOSOVA. The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on 17 August urging the international community not to "turn a blind eye to terrorism, separatism, and ethnic cleansing" in Kosova, Reuters reported. The statement argued that unspecified "Western countries" are conducting an "appeasement policy towards Albanian separatism." It added that "the situation...demands energetic and responsible actions to correct it." The statement also called for an accelerated deployment of UN police and the quick disarmament of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK). Finally, it urged the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia to investigate crimes committed against Serbs in Kosova. The ministry issued the statement one day after unidentified attackers fired mortars into a Serbian village near Gjilan, killing two teenagers and injuring five other people (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 August 1999). FS STEPASHIN TO RUN FOR DUMA FROM ST. PETE. Former Prime Minister Stepashin told Interfax on 17 August that he will run for a State Duma seat from a single-mandate district in St. Petersburg, most likely his home district of Krasnoselskii. "This is only the first step that demonstrates my intention not to return to government service," he said, noting that he is working on forming a right-of-center coalition. JC ANOTHER GOVERNOR TRIES TO BAN INTERREGIONAL GRAIN EXPORTS. Volgograd Governor Nikolai Maksyuta has said he does not agree with a recent announcement by the regional branch of the federal Anti-Monopoly Ministry that his decree prohibiting the shipment of grain outside the oblast's borders violates federal law, "Izvestiya" reported on 18 August. According to the daily, Maksyuta added that his decision will remain in force. The governors of Orenburg and Lipetsk Oblasts have passed similar decrees restricting grain shipments (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 11 August 1999), while governors in Kirov and Saratov Oblasts have ordered local bakeries to sell certain varieties of bread to local citizens below cost (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 18 August 1999). JAC TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA SOUTH CAUCASUS STATES OFFER EARTHQUAKE AID TO TURKEY. Azerbaijan's President Heidar Aliev on 17 August sent a message to Turkish President Suleyman Demirel expressing condolences over the earthquake that struck the west Anatolian city of Izmit earlier that day, Turan reported. Azerbaijan has sent 30 doctors and 30 aid workers to participate in relief work. Armenian President Robert Kocharian similarly expressed condolences in a telegram to Demirel, according to Noyan Tapan. An Armenian government source told the agency that Armenia is prepared to send rescue groups to Turkey if asked to do so. In Tbilisi, Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili expressed condolences to his Turkish counterpart, Ismail Cem, Interfax reported. A group of 10 Georgian rescue workers left for Turkey on 18 August. LF ARMENIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN KARABAKH. Vartan Oskanian met in Stepanakert on 17 August with Arkadii Ghukasian, president of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, to discuss "organizational issues" connected with a major conference to be held in Armenia next month on relations between that country and the diaspora, RFE/RL's Stepanakert correspondent reported. Oskanian later told deputies to the enclave's parliament that the conference will explore "the need to establish a pan-Armenian umbrella structure" as well as discuss the economic development of Armenia and Nagorno- Karabakh and the creation of a "single Armenia-Karabakh- diaspora information space." With regard to the ongoing search for a political solution to the Karabakh conflict, Oskanian said "the Armenian side is now in a better diplomatic position than ever before." Also on 17 August, Karabakh Foreign Minister Naira Melkumian met with Andrzej Kasprczik, who is the permanent representative of the OSCE chairman-in-office, to discuss preparations for the latter's visit to Stepanakert next month, according to Noyan Tapan. LF PROTESTS IN AZERBAIJANI EXCLAVE CONTINUE. Women in Sadarak have again picketed the local government building to protest the authorities' handling of the 12 July clash involving local residents and employees of the Sadarak customs post, Turan reported on 17 August. Local residents have staged periodic protests for the past five weeks to demand the firing of the head of the customs post, whom they blame for a clash in which one person was killed and four injured (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 July 1999). The participants in the 17 August picket also demanded a meeting with Nakhichevan parliamentary chairman Vasif Talibov to discuss their demands. LF DAGHESTAN CONFLICT WILL NOT AFFECT AZERBAIJAN OIL EXPORT. Interfax on 17 August quoted an unnamed official from Azerbaijan's state oil company SOCAR as denying that the hostilities in Daghestan constitute a serious threat to the continued export of Azerbaijani oil via the Russian Federation. But he admitted that the present system for exporting crude by rail from Makhachkala to Tikhoretsk allows Baku to export just over half the planned amount of 120,000 metric tons per month. He rejected as untrue claims by Russia's pipeline monopoly Transneft that SOCAR exported 1.5 million tons of oil via the Baku-Grozny-Novorossiisk pipeline during the first six months of this year. LF RUSSIA TO APOLOGIZE FOR BOMBING GEORGIAN VILLAGE. The Russian air force will official apologize to the Georgian leadership in the name of the Russian Defense Ministry for the 9 August incident in which two Russian aircraft bombed the village of Zemo Omalo in northeastern Georgia, Interfax and "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported. According to an unnamed Defense Ministry source, the commission created to investigate the incident concluded that the pilots dropped mines on the village by accident, their intended target being Botlikh Raion in neighboring Daghestan. In related news, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 August that Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov will visit Tbilisi on 3-4 September. LF KAZAKH EX-PREMIER'S SUPPORT BASE CRUMBLING? Six members of Akezhan Kazhegeldin's Republican People's Party of Kazakhstan addressed an open letter to Kazhegeldin on 17 August announcing that they are quitting the party, Interfax reported. The six accused the party's deputy chairman, Gaziz Aldamzharov, of being unable to overcome divisions within the party. They noted that they had warned Kazhegeldin earlier of an imminent split in the party's ranks but he had ignored such warnings. Kazhegeldin left Kazakhstan in December 1998, shortly after the party's founding congress. The six also announced their intention to create a new party in the near future that will "unite all sane opposition forces." It is unclear whether they consider it feasible to do so before the 10 October elections to the lower chamber of the parliament. LF KAZAKHSTAN EXPORT PIPELINE LIKELY TO BE SHELVED. Interfax on 17 August quoted an unnamed Kazakh gas sector official as predicting that Astana may abandon plans for an oil export pipeline to China. The official said that the Kazakh government will probably reject the feasibility study on that project, which is expected to be completed shortly (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 August 1999). The Kazakh official said that Chinese engineers who participated in the feasibility study agree that the 2,900-kilometer pipeline "is too long." In late 1997, China and Kazakhstan signed a general agreement on construction of the pipeline at an estimated cost of $2.7 billion. LF KYRGYZ OFFICIAL ACCUSES BATKEN GUERILLAS OF PLANNING 'ISLAMIC STATE.' In a telephone interview with RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau on 17 August, Kyrgyz National Security Ministry spokesman Talant Razzakov claimed that the ethnic Uzbek guerrilla band headed by Juma Namangani aims to create an Islamic state in the Fergana Valley that would include the Andijan, Fergana, and Namangan Oblasts of Uzbekistan and the Leninabad Oblast of Tajikistan. Razzakov estimated the guerrillas' total strength at more than 1,000, and claimed that some of them were trained in Afghanistan. Kyrgyz forces are continuing military action against 21 of Namangani's men who took four Kyrgyz officials hostage in southern Kyrgyzstan on 6 August. The hostages were released on 13 August. LF TURKMENISTAN POSTS SOLID INCREASE IN FOREIGN TRADE. Turkmenistan's foreign trade turnover grew by 57.2 percent to $1.22 billion during the first half of 1999, compared with the same period last year, Interfax reported on 17 August quoting the National Statistics Institute. The trade surplus as of 30 June 1999 was $112.1 million, compared with a deficit of $259.4 million the previous year. Also during the first six months of 1999, industrial output rose by 19 percent, primarily as a result of a 160 percent increase in gas production and a 60 percent increase in the output of the cotton industry. LF UZBEKISTAN CLARIFIES CIRCUMSTANCES OF BOMBING RAIDS. Uzbekistan's Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov said on 17 August that at the request of the Kyrgyz government, Uzbek combat jets dropped bombs two days earlier on the district of southern Kyrgyzstan in which ethnic Uzbek guerrillas from Tajikistan are entrenched, Interfax reported. Kamilov and Uzbek Security Council Secretary Morakbar Rakhmonkulov said those strikes were justified as the guerrillas had planned to cross into Uzbekistan and stage attacks there. Kamilov admitted that the Uzbek aircraft may have inadvertently dropped bombs on the territory of neighboring Tajikistan, noting that the guerrillas are very close to the frontier between the two countries. Tajikistan on 16 August delivered an official protest to Tashkent over the attack (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 August 1999). LF 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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