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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 162, Part I, 20 August 1999


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 162, Part I, 20 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

* YELTSIN RETAINS MOST OF STEPASHIN'S CABINET

* MOSCOW PROPOSES BIGGER ARMS CUTS UNDER START-3

* UZBEKISTAN SCHEDULES PARLIAMENTARY, PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS
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RUSSIA

YELTSIN RETAINS MOST OF STEPASHIN'S CABINET... Russian
President Boris Yeltsin on 19 August reappointed Deputy Prime
Ministers Valentina Matvienko and Vladimir Shcherbak as well
as the ministers for fuel and energy, federal affairs and
nationalities, CIS, media, railways, trade, transportation,
labor, atomic energy, health, culture, sports, science, and
education. The only new faces are Minister for Natural
Resources Boris Yatskevich, Agriculture Minister Aleksei
Gordeev, and chief of government staff Dmitrii Kozak. Gordeev
was most recently former first deputy agriculture minister;
he replaces Shcherbak, who will now occupy only the post of
deputy prime minister. Yatskevich was former first deputy
natural resources minister and replaces his superior, Viktor
Orlov. Kozak was first deputy chief of the government staff,
and like Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, came to Moscow from
St. Petersburg. There, he served as deputy governor of St.
Petersburg from 1994-1998, according to ITAR-TASS. JAC

...KEEPS ECONOMIC TEAM INTACT. Analysts had expected
President Yeltsin to retain most of the country's economic
policy-making team, although the fate of First Deputy Prime
Ministers Nikolai Aksenenko and Viktor Khristenko and
presidential envoy to international financial institutions
Mikhail Zadornov had been the subject of much speculation.
But Aksenenko, Khristenko, Finance Minister Mikhail Kasyanov,
Economics Minister Andrei Shapolyants, Tax Minister Aleksandr
Pochinok, Anti-Monopoly Minister Ilya Yuzhanov, State
Property Minister Farit Gazizullin, and Aleksandr Livshits,
presidential envoy to the G7 countries with the rank of
minister, were all renamed to their positions. "Kommersant-
Daily" reported on 20 August that Zadornov has resigned, but
Interfax said that he will meet Putin on 21 August to discuss
"future work" in the same capacity. JAC.

MOSCOW PROPOSES BIGGER ARMS CUTS UNDER START-3... Unnamed
diplomatic sources told Interfax on 19 August that at the
U.S.-Russian disarmament talks that concluded in Moscow the
same day, Russia proposed slashing the number of nuclear
warheads each side would be allowed under START-3 from 2,500-
2,000 to 1,500 or fewer. Those sources suggested that the
"more radical cut [is] sufficient for the continuation of
mutual stable deterrence." "The Washington Post" on 20 August
reported that many experts believe Russia's nuclear arsenal
will decline to fewer than 1,000 warheads in the next decade
owing to a lack of funds to build new systems. In a statement
released at the end of the talks, the two sides expressed
their readiness to begin START-3 talks immediately after the
State Duma ratifies START-2. Undersecretary of State John
Holum, who headed the U.S. delegation to the talks, told
Reuters that the atmosphere during the negotiations was
"businesslike and productive." JC

...STRESSES OPPOSITION TO ABM TREATY REVISION. While the
official statement released after the talks stresses that the
U.S. and Russia affirm that the 1972 ABM treaty is the
"cornerstone of strategic stability," the head of the Russian
delegation made it clear that Moscow remains opposed to any
modifications to that treaty. Grigorii Berdennikov, director
of the Department for Security and Disarmament at the Foreign
Ministry, warned that the U.S. plans to implement a national
ABM system "might renew the arms race," according to
Interfax. He stressed that Russia sees "no reasons, practical
needs, or possibilities" for changing any key aspects of the
ABM treaty. And he added that if the U.S. were to deploy such
a system, Moscow would "be forced to raise the effectiveness
of its strategic nuclear armed forces and take several other
military and political steps to guarantee its national
security under new strategic conditions." He did not specify
what those steps might be. JC

RUSSIAN FORCES CONTINUE STRIKES IN DAGHESTAN. Russian federal
forces on 19 August continued their air and artillery
bombardment of Islamist guerrillas' position in Botlikh
Raion, Interfax reported. In Moscow, Deputy Interior Minister
Igor Zubov told journalists that Russian losses stand at 40
killed and some 160 wounded, most of those killed being
members of the Daghestan Interior Ministry troops. Eighteen
Russian servicemen were said to have died over the previous
24 hours. Echoing earlier Russian pronouncements, Zubov
denied that there is any need to impose a state of emergency
in Daghestan, adding that the federal forces have already
achieved a partial victory by splitting the guerrilla forces
into isolated groups. Also in Moscow, unnamed Russian power
ministry sources told Interfax that Moscow is prepared to
deploy its newest military hardware against the Islamists
should the latter attempt to broaden the area they currently
control. The weapons that could be used include cruise
missiles and high-yield gas bombs, those sources said. LF

RUSSIAN MEDIA URGED NOT TO BROADCAST FOOTAGE OF ISLAMIST
MILITANTS. Russia's Press Ministry has officially warned the
heads of central television companies that they should avoid
broadcasting footage of inflammatory statements by Chechen
field commanders fighting in Daghestan. It added that such
coverage could be construed as propagandizing war and
violence, which constitutes a violation of existing
legislation on the media. Meanwhile, the kidnappers of ITAR-
TASS photographer Vladimir Yatsina, who disappeared shortly
after flying from Moscow to Nazran on 19 July, have demanded
a $2 million ransom for his release, ITAR-TASS reported on 19
August. LF

GOVERNMENT APPROVES DRAFT BUDGET... The Russian government
approved the draft 2000 budget on 19 August, Interfax
reported. The budget, which anticipates a 57.87 billion ruble
($2.4 billion) deficit, is based on the following
assumptions: 18 percent annual inflation, a 32 ruble per
dollar exchange rate, industrial output growth of 3-4
percent, and GDP growth of 1.5 percent (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 19 August 1999). Sergei Prudnik, macroeconomic
adviser to Troika Dialog, told "The Moscow Times" on 20
August that the government is trying to understate real
revenues in the 2000 budget so that it can spend additional
proceeds as it likes. This year's GDP could wind up well
above 4.5 trillion rubles instead of the forecasted 4.1
trillion rubles, he added. JAC

...AS IMF OFFICIALS ARRIVE IN CAPITAL. IMF officials landed
in Moscow on 19 August in advance of the arrival of the
formal mission early next week, Interfax reported. The
mission will discuss with the Russian government the 2000
budget, among other things. Finance Minister Kasyanov
announced on 19 August that in 2000, Russia will borrow $2.6
billion from the IMF, more than $1 billion from the World
Bank, and $500 million from the Japanese government, in
addition to tied loans worth $1.65 billion, Interfax
reported. State Duma Budget Chairman Aleksandr Zhukov's
figures were a little different. He said that the government
will borrow $5.9 billion from abroad, including $4.3 billion
from the World Bank and IMF, according to Prime-Tass.
Kasyanov noted that his foreign and domestic borrowing
figures are only provisional and will be fine-tuned after
negotiations with the IMF. JAC

IMPORTS PLUMMET DURING FIRST HALF. Foreign trade turnover
sank 25.4 percent during the first six months of the year,
compared with the same period last year, according to the
State Customs Committee and Russian Statistics Agency.
Exports to all countries slipped 12.1 percent in the first
half of 1999, while exports to other CIS members plummeted
37.8 percent. Meanwhile, imports slid 43.5 percent. The
country's resulting trade surplus was $16.7 billion, Interfax
reported. JAC

STEPASHIN, YABLOKO TO TAKE SEPARATE PATHS FOR NOW. Former
Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin failed to reach an agreement
with Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii about joining that
party's election list for the State Duma. Yavlinskii told
reporters on 19 August that Stepashin, as an officer, would
feel behooved to withdraw from an election race if ordered or
pressured to do so by President Yeltsin. Such an outcome
would be too costly for Yabloko, since the election law
requires a party to drop out of a race if one of its top
three leaders withdraws. Yavlinskii added that "if Stepashin
is successful in the State Duma elections, we will consider
possible cooperation in presidential polls." JAC

FIRST BLOC OFF THE BLOCK WANTS TO BE THE ONLY VOICE. The
Voice of Russia (GR) on 18 August became the first election
bloc to be registered for the State Duma elections, ITAR-TASS
reported the next day. The group's registration follows the
decision of six of the eight movements that had comprised the
GR to leave that bloc and join the Fatherland-All Russian
alliance under the name of Voice of Russia (see "RFE/RL
Russian Federation Report," 18 August 1999). At a press
conference on 19 August, members of the two remaining
movements within the original Voice of Russia vowed to defend
their exclusive right to use that name. Samara Governor
Konstantin Titov was the informal leader of the original GR
and was recently elected the official leader of the new,
slimmed-down bloc that has been registered by the election
commission. JAC

LEBED CALLS WORLD BANK-SPONSORED PLANS DESTABILIZING.
Addressing a meeting of 300 striking coal miners, Krasnoyarsk
Krai Governor Aleksandr Lebed said on 19 August that the
planned privatization of the local coal company, Krasugol, is
an attempt to destabilize the situation in his region,
Interfax-Eurasia reported. Thousands of miners in the krai
had stopped work the previous day to protest plans to
privatize Krasugol (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 August 1999).
Lebed continued that the company is the only energy base in
Siberia, excluding the Kuzbass, and that its sale should
therefore be prohibited. Other participants in the meeting
said that if Krasugol is turned over to private owners, there
is no guarantee that they will observe the interests of the
region, make new investment in the company, or reduce the
backlog of unpaid wages, which has reached 35 million rubles
($1.4 million). Krasugol is scheduled to be privatized under
a coal sector restructuring program financed by the World
Bank. JAC

PEOPLE'S POWER RULES OUT NATO COOPERATION. The Presidium
of Nikolai Ryzhkov's People's Power party issued a
statement on 19 August saying that Russia must not
restore relations with NATO, ITAR-TASS reported.
According to the statement, Ryzhkov, who was in
Yugoslavia last week, has collected evidence of "mass
killings of non-Albanians and their expulsion [from
Kosova] with the connivance of NATO peacekeepers and
under actual political cover by the UN" (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 12 August 1999) The statement demanded a
special UN Security Council session to discuss "the non-
fulfillment of Resolution 1244 [and] NATO aggression
against Yugoslavia." FS

RUSSIAN DEPUTY UN AMBASSADOR SAYS KFOR FAILS TO STEM
'TERROR.' Gennadii Gatilov told ITAR-TASS in New York on 19
August that KFOR is "not coping with the wave of terror that
has gripped [Kosova]." Gatilov warned that "there is a risk
that the agreement on disarmament of the Albanian
extremists...will not be fulfilled by deadline.... We call on
the international community to take energetic measures to
straighten the dangerous tendencies in the development of the
situation." Gatilov also urged a "political settlement with
full respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of
the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia." FS

KRASNOYARSK JOURNALIST VICTIM OF ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT.
Sergei Zhabinskii, a journalist in Achinsk in Krasnoyarsk
Krai, found a grenade under the bumper of his car that would
have exploded as soon as the car moved, ITAR-TASS reported.
Zhabinskii started receiving death threats following his
broadcasts on local television station that were critical of
the Achinsk Alumina Plant, according to the agency. JAC

CANDIDATES GALORE IN LENINGRAD GUBERNATORIAL BALLOT. A total
of 20 candidates will run in the 19 September gubernatorial
elections in Leningrad Oblast, ITAR-TASS reported on 19
August, the final day for registration of candidates. Thirty-
six people had originally applied to take part in the ballot,
but only 20 of them met the criteria to be accepted as
candidates. That figure, however, is twice the number of
candidates who ran in the 1996 elections, according to the
news agency. Currently ahead in the opinion polls is former
Leningrad Governor and ex-Russian First Deputy Premier Vadim
Gustov. The incumbent, Valerii Serdyukov, is also taking part
in the vote. JC

FORMER FIRST LADY MAY HAVE BONE MARROW TRANSPLANT. Raisa
Gorbachev, who is currently being treated for leukemia at a
Germany hospital, may soon undergo a bone marrow transplant.
"The Moscow Times" on 20 August cited Russian Public
Television as reporting that the sister of the patient, the
wife of former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, will be the
donor. Raisa Gorbachev is reported to be feeling "slightly
better" after the initial phase of chemotherapy but will
continue that treatment for two to three weeks, dpa quoted
her doctor as saying. Meanwhile, "Moskovskie vedomosti"
reported in its No. 32 (August) issue that her sickness may
be attributed to radiation exposure during her youth. Raisa
Gorbachev was born and spent almost 20 years in Rubtsovsk,
Altai Krai, just 100 kilometers from a site where the Soviet
Union began nuclear testing in the 1940s. Radiation levels
there were the same as those in the "alienation zone"
following the 1986 Chornobyl nuclear accident, according to
the publication. JC

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN, AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENTS TO HOLD FURTHER TALKS.
Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev will meet his Armenian
counterpart, Robert Kocharian, in Geneva on 22 August for a
second round of confidential talks aimed at trying to resolve
the Karabakh conflict, Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported on 19
August. Azerbaijani State Foreign Policy Adviser Vafa
Guluzade told RFE/RL's Armenian service on 19 August that the
meeting bodes well for peace in the disputed enclave.
Following an earlier meeting in Geneva in mid-July, President
Aliev said both sides should be prepared to compromise in
order to achieve a settlement of the conflict. LF

AZERBAIJANI JOURNALIST MURDERED. Telman Didirov, a journalist
with the independent television station DM in Balaken Raion,
was stabbed to death on the station's premises by unknown
persons on 17 August, according to a press release issued two
days later by Reporters sans Frontieres. That organization
has called on Azerbaijan's Justice Minister Sudabah Hassanova
to launch an investigation into the crime and determine
whether the murder was directly related to Didirov's
journalistic activities. LF

ABKHAZ PRESIDENT TO RUN FOR SECOND TERM. Vladislav Ardzinba
has agreed to run as a candidate in the 3 October
presidential elections, Caucasus Press reported on 20 August,
quoting Central Electoral Commission chairman Vyacheslav
Tsugba. Ardzinba's candidacy has been proposed by numerous
public organizations in the unrecognized breakaway republic.
No other challenger has yet been registered for the poll, the
legality of which is not internationally recognized. The
deadline for registration is 24 August. Candidates must have
lived in Abkhazia for five years prior to the poll. LF

A GEORGIAN POLICEMAN'S LOT IS NOT A HAPPY ONE. Police in
several districts of western Georgia continue to perform
their constabulary duties without being paid. Policemen in
Terjola and the town of Kutaisi have not received wages for
one year, while their colleagues in Sachkhere Raion have not
been paid for 42 months, according to "Rezonansi" on 19
August. LF

KAZAKHSTAN'S PRO-PRESIDENTIAL PARTY CONFIDENT OF VICTORY IN
PARLIAMENTARY POLL... Leading members of the Otan
(Fatherland) Party, which was formed shortly after the
January 1999 presidential elections to support Nursultan
Nazarbaev, told journalists in Almaty on 19 August that they
are confident Otan will win a majority in the parliamentary
elections on 17 September and 10 October, Reuters reported.
OTAN plans to field 10 candidates to contest the 10 seats
allocated under the proportional system. It will also field
55 candidates in the 67 single-mandate constituencies. Otan's
election campaign is spearheaded by parliamentary speaker
Marat Ospanov, who has consistently criticized the cabinet of
Nurlan Balghymbaev. Ospanov said on 19 August that
Balghymbaev's cabinet has "failed miserably" and "turned the
majority of the people against economic reform." He added
that Otan advocates radical changes to the government's
present economic policy. LF

...WHILE OPPOSITION PARTY THREATEN TO BOYCOTT BALLOT. Vitalii
Voronov, who heads the election campaign staff of former
Premier Akezhan Kazhegeldin's People's Republican Party of
Kazakhstan, told journalists in Almaty on 19 August that the
party will boycott the poll if Kazhegeldin is not permitted
to register as a candidate, Interfax reported. Kazhegeldin
was barred from running in the January presidential poll
because earlier he had been found guilty of an administrative
offense. Under the new election law, such offenses do not
disqualify potential candidates, but it is unclear whether
Kazhegeldin's conviction for contempt of court makes him
ineligible. Voronov said the new election law is inconsistent
with international democratic standards. Meeting with
President Nazarbaev in Astana on 18 August, U.S. Ambassador
Richard Jones expressed approval of the amendments to the
election law and said he hopes that all political parties
will be granted an equal opportunity to participate, RFE/RL's
bureau in the capital reported. LF

KAZAKH OFFICIAL CASTS DOUBT ON RESUMPTION OF BAIKONUR
LAUNCHES. Kazakhstan's Aerospace Agency Director Meirbek
Moldabekov told Interfax on 19 August that he doubts whether
Kazakhstan will lift by 31 August the current ban on launches
of Russian Proton rockets from the Baikonur cosmodrome.
Kazakhstan imposed the ban last month after a Proton rocket
exploded shortly after blast-off (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7
and 8 July 1999). On 18 August, Russian Space Agency First
Deputy Director Valerii Alaverdov predicted the imminent
lifting of the ban. But Moldabekov said that prediction
reflects only Alaverdov's "personal prognosis." Moscow made
the first $12.5 million payment last week toward its annual
$165 million lease for the Baikonur facility (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 12 August 1999). LF

KAZAKHSTAN'S FOREIGN MINISTER WRAPS UP INDIA VISIT. Visiting
New Delhi on 17-18 August, Kasymzhomart Toqaev met with
Indian Prime Minister A. B. Vajpayee and with senior
government officials to discuss expanding and economic trade
cooperation, including in the oil and gas sector, ITAR-TASS
and RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported on 19 August. The two
sides signed several agreements including one on cooperating
to fight international crime. LF

KYRGYZSTAN BOMBS GUERRILLAS' ASSUMED POSITIONS. Kyrgyz
military helicopters on 18 August bombed the region of
southern Kyrgyzstan where Uzbek guerrillas had held four
Kyrgyz officials hostage earlier this month, RFE/RL's Bishkek
bureau reported on 19 August, quoting Presidential
Administration official Bolot Dzhanuzakov. It is unclear
whether the guerrillas remain in the region or whether any of
them were injured in the bombing raids. LF

KYRGYZSTAN RE-REGISTERS HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE. Ramazan
Dyryldaev, who is chairman of the Kyrgyz Committee for Human
Rights (KCHR), told a press conference in Bishkek on 19
August that the Justice Ministry has finally re-registered
his committee, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. The
committee's registration was revoked in September 1998 after
its members had criticized the planned referendum on
amendments to the country's constitution. Dyryldaev said the
Justice Ministry also withdrew the registration certificate
issued to a body formed by members who broke away from the
KCHR and registered a rival body with the same name in April
1999. Dyryldaev and his supporters have been campaigning
since then for the re-registration of their committee (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 13 May and 2 June 1999). LF

U.S. CALLS FOR FOUR-WAY AGREEMENT ON TRANS-CASPIAN PIPELINE.
Speaking to journalists in Ashgabat on 19 August following
his talks with Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov, U.S.
Energy Secretary Bill Richardson urged Turkmenistan,
Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey to sign a legal agreement
committing their support for the planned Trans-Caspian gas
export pipeline, ITAR-TASS reported. Richardson said the
swift signing of such an agreement would expedite the
solution of financing problems. A protracted dispute between
Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan over ownership of Caspian
oilfields is perceived as an obstacle to such an agreement.
Richardson also told journalists that Niyazov had agreed that
Azerbaijan should be entitled to an unspecified amount of the
pipeline's estimated annual throughput capacity from its
recently discovered Shah Deniz reserves, according to
Interfax. Also on 19 August, the U.S. Agency for Trade and
Development gave Ashgabat a $150,000 grant toward consulting
services for drafting the legal foundations for the pipeline
project, AP reported. LF

UZBEKISTAN SCHEDULES PARLIAMENTARY, PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS.
President Islam Karimov told journalists on 19 August that a
new parliament and local councils will be elected on 5
December and presidential elections will take place on 9
January, Reuters and Interfax reported. The parliament, which
reconvened on 19 August following the summer recess, must
endorse those dates. Karimov did not confirm that he will run
for re-election. He was elected to that post in 1991, and his
mandate was prolonged in a 1995 referendum. LF

UZBEK PRESIDENT SAYS TAJIK AUTHORITIES CANNOT CONTROL
SITUATION... During a break in the 19 August parliamentary
session, President Karimov criticized the government of
neighboring Tajikistan, which, he said, is unable to control
the situation in the eastern part of the country. Noting that
states are obliged to ensure the safety of their borders,
Karimov blamed the Tajik authorities for permitting a group
of armed militants, including ethnic Uzbeks, to cross into
neighboring Kyrgyzstan, where they took four Kyrgyz officials
hostage. Also on 19 August, the Russian Foreign Ministry
expressed its regret at the 15 August bombing by Uzbek combat
aircraft of border districts in Tajikistan, describing that
action as a violation of Tajikistan's sovereignty. The
Russian statement expressed the hope that the raid will not
adversely affect relations between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
The Kyrgyz authorities had asked Uzbekistan to bomb the
region of southern Kyrgyzstan where the guerrillas were
entrenched (see above). LF

...SAYS ETHNIC UZBEKS FIGHTING IN DAGHESTAN. President
Karimov also said that his government knows that an
unspecified number of young Uzbeks are currently fighting in
Daghestan on the side of the Islamists, Interfax reported. He
said the young men concerned had been trained by Jordanian-
born field commander Khottab. LF

HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION CONDEMNS UZBEK SENTENCES. Human
Rights Watch on 19 August accused Uzbekistan of torture and
political persecution following the sentencing the previous
day of six men accused of participating in the February
bombings in Tashkent, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 19 August 1999). Five of the six were members of
the Erk Party, which was banned in 1992. All had been
repeatedly tortured during the pre-trial investigation.
According to Human Rights Watch, their only transgression was
ownership of a banned newspaper and their political
convictions. LF

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