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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

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

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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'
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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

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