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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 163, Part I, 23 August 1999
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 163, Part I, 23 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 * ALL RUSSIA ELECTS NEW LEADER * MILITANTS DENY RUSSIAN FORCES HOLD KHARAMI PASS * GUERRILLAS IN KYRGYZSTAN TAKE NEW HOSTAGES End Note: LONG SHADOW OF AN OLD AGREEMENT xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx RUSSIA ALL RUSSIA ELECTS NEW LEADER... The recently allied All Russia and Fatherland movements held separate congresses on 21 August. More than 450 delegates to the All Russia congress in Ufa elected St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev its chairman, according to "Izvestiya." Fellow movement founder, Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev, had been the movement's de facto leader. Earlier, it was announced that Yakovlev will occupy the third spot on the alliance's party list for the upcoming State Duma elections, after former Prime Minister Primakov and Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 August 1999). Ingushetia's President Ruslan Aushev, who is also a founder of All Russia, told congress attendees that the most important question for All Russia is who will represent it in the State Duma. He added that too many Muscovites are currently on the federal party list, commenting that "it's more like All Moscow than All Russia," he said, according to ITAR-TASS. JAC ...AS FATHERLAND DRAWS UP PARTY LIST... Meanwhile, more than 700 delegates gathered for Fatherland's congress in Moscow to discuss candidates on the draft party list, according to RFE/RL's Moscow bureau. Fatherland-All Russia election headquarters chief Georgii Boos told the bureau that the fourth position on the list will be offered to a "pleasant female candidate" and the fifth to Agrarian Party leader Mikhail Lapshin. He added that of the first 18 spots, two will go to the Agrarians. According to Interfax, Boos's own name is also on the list, along with Moscow Deputy Mayor Sergei Yastrzhembskii, Sistema head Vladimir Yevtushenkov, as well as Andrei Kokoshin, Andrei Isaev, Artur Chilingarov, and Aleksandr Vladislev, all of whom are also members of Fatherland's political council. Among the regional leaders represented are the president of Mordovia and the governors of Karelia, Yaroslavl, Primorskii Krai, and Nizhnii Novgorod. JAC ...AND LUZHKOV SLAMS YELTSIN. Fatherland leader and Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov used the occasion of the congress to lambaste Russian President Boris Yeltsin. He declared that "the country is being robbed in a way that is unprecedented in its cynicism and permissiveness. Russia's weak authority is the only reason behind this." He added that the Kremlin has "turned into a regime which people cannot understand and which threatens the country." He also noted that "President Boris Yeltsin's proposal to give regions as much sovereignty as they can stomach is being poorly digested." Addressing the All Russia congress, its new leader, Yakovlev, called for passing a law that would guarantee a safe and dignified life for retired Russian presidents. "We can see what is going on in the country when the president and his insiders are afraid of what would happen after they step down," he said. JAC STEPASHIN TO GO IT ALONE... Former Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin on 21 August announced that he will compete in the Duma elections as an independent because negotiations with the so-called centrist-right groups such as Right Cause, New Force, and Our Home is Russia (NDR) have failed. Right Cause is headed by Unified Energy Systems chief Anatolii Chubais and New Force by former Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko. Right Cause member and former First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov had announced earlier that "everyone, including our most ambitious politicians, agree that Sergei Stepashin should lead the right-wing bloc." However, Stepashin said there have been "too many personal ambitions" involved in the attempt to form a coalition that he would head and too much "attention to names and to a position on the [party] list." Talks between Stepashin and Yabloko also failed to result in an agreement (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 August 1999). JAC ...WHILE NDR CHOOSES INDEPENDENCE. According to RFE/RL's Moscow bureau, NDR leader Viktor Chernomyrdin had wanted Kirienko, Voice of Russia's Konstantin Titov, Forward Russia's Boris Federov and Common Cause's Irina Khakamada, and Transformation of the Fatherland's Sverdlovsk Governor Eduard Rossel to be included on the potential coalition's list. However, he had opposed giving Kirienko one of the top three spots. NDR member and Saratov Governor Dmitrii Ayatskov announced on 20 August that since negotiations with Stepashin and the other groups have failed, NDR will likely run in the Duma elections on its own. NDR faction leader Vladimir Ryzhkov told NTV the same day that while his group is "warmly disposed toward Stepashin," it is "negatively disposed toward Democratic Choice of Russia and Right Cause." JAC STALINISTS FORGE SINGLE BLOC. The leaders of four movements announced on 22 August that they have formed a new election coalition called the Stalinist Bloc. The bloc is composed of Workers' Russia, the People's Patriotic Youth Union, the Officers' Union, and the Union Movement, according to ITAR- TASS. Workers' Russia leader Viktor Anpilov said the goal of the new alliance is to restore the Soviet Union and abolish the post of presidency. The grandson of former Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, Yevgenii Djugashvili, will occupy the third spot on the coalition's party list. Officers' Union head Stanislav Terekhov will be second and Anpilov first. JAC BEREZOVSKII TO LAUNCH NEW GOVERNORS' BLOC. Media magnate Boris Berezovskii told journalists on 20 August that media reports about bank accounts in Switzerland being frozen are "absolute lies" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 August 1999). The previous day, Berezovskii met with Sverdlovsk Governor Rossel in Ekaterinburg. "Izvestiya" suggested on 21 August that Berezovskii is trying to create a new bloc of governors to be led by Krasnoyarsk Krai Governor Aleksandr Lebed. JAC MILITANTS DENY RUSSIAN FORCES HOLD KHARAMI PASS. Federal forces intensified their bombing and artillery strikes on the villages of Ansalta (reportedly held by Shamil Basaev's men) and Tando on 20 August. On the morning of 22 August, a Russian military spokesman said that federal forces had secured the strategic Kharami mountain pass, but Sirazhdin Ramazanov, self proclaimed prime minister of the Islamic Republic of Daghestan, later denied that claim. A Russian Interior Ministry spokesman said last week that federal troops had taken control of that pass (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 August 1999). Later on 22 August, Russian forces surrounding Tando prevented an attempt by some 100 Islamists to break through Russian lines and killed approximately 20 of the rebels. On 21 August, a Russian Defense Ministry spokesmen estimated that the militants' losses total to date an estimated 500-700. The previous day, Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo said that 35 Russian troops had been killed and 164 wounded to date, ITAR-TASS reported. LF IVASHOV SLAMS U.S.-RUSSIAN DISARMAMENT TALKS... General Leonid Ivashov, head of the Defense Ministry's department for international cooperation, slammed last week's U.S.-Russian talks on START-3 and the ABM treaty, saying the negotiations yielded no results, Interfax and Reuters reported on 20 August. Ivashov, who took part in the talks, said that U.S. plans to develop a national anti-missile system would violate the 1972 ABM Treaty. That document, he argued, is "the basis on which all subsequent arms control agreements have been built. To destroy this basis would be to destroy the entire process." The next round of talks is scheduled to take place in Washington next month. JC ...WHILE LUKIN SAYS ABM AMENDMENTS POSSIBLE. Meanwhile, State Duma International Affairs Committee Chairman Vladimir Lukin said that he does not rule out amendments to the ABM treaty if those changes do not alter the treaty's "backbone," Interfax reported on 20 August. "If we understand the directions in which the Americans intend to adjust the ABM Treaty, it would ease the State Duma debate of the START-2 Treaty ratification," Lukin told the news agency. He added that the main parameters of START-3 should be discussed ahead of that ratification, stressing that the number of nuclear warheads allowed under START-3 should be reduced from 2,500- 2,000 to 1,500 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 August 1999). JC RUSSIA DELIVERS MISSILE SYSTEMS TO GREECE. The first four out of 21 Russian TOR anti-aircraft missile systems for the Greek army arrived in Thessaloniki on 20 August, AP reported. The Greek Defense ministry paid 56 billion drachmas ($180.6 million) for the systems. Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said the purchase is "very important" for upgrading Greece's air defenses. AP noted that the short-range missiles are part of a major arms buildup aimed at "keeping pace with Turkey." Fifteen Russian military advisers will train Greek personnel in the use of the systems. FS MAYORSKII SAYS RUSSIA TREATS BELGRADE 'WITH FULL RESPECT.' Senior Russian diplomat Boris Mayorskii told ITAR-TASS on 20 August that "we treat the [Yugoslav] government with full respect.... And there are no reasons for contacts to be broken just because other countries see the relations with Belgrade differently." Mayorskii added that his government cannot base its policy toward Yugoslavia on the protests in Belgrade on 19 August (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 August 1999). He argued that "complicated processes are happening in Yugoslavia now and we see them as a manifestation...that a normal democratic development is going on in the country. It is up to the Yugoslav people to master its own fate." Mayorskii also said that the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) failed to meet the 19 August deadline to surrender 60 percent of its weapons. KFOR did not confirm Majorskii's claims (see Part II). FS 'ILLEGAL DRAFTEES' FILE SUIT AGAINST MILITARY COMMISSIONS. "Noviye Izvestiya" reported on 19 August that for the first time in the history of the Russian armed forces, lawsuits are being filed against military recruitment agencies for illegal conscription. Last week, the Moscow Izmailovskii Municipal Court was to have considered a lawsuit filed by 20-year-old Vladimir Sapronov against the Military Enlistment Commission of Moscow's Eastern Administrative Department. Sapronov was drafted into the army despite having received regular medical treatment over the past 13 years for a serious nervous disorder that leaves his whole body twitching. The commission nonetheless decided Sapronov was fit for military service. According to the Committee of Soldiers' Mothers, doctors and military enlistment commissions frequently act in collusion in an bid to fulfil the draft plan. Consideration of the Sapronov case has been postponed because members of the Moscow commission are currently on vacation. JC DID LUZHKOV GOVERNMENT TRY TO BLOCK RELIGIOUS GROUP GATHERING? The government of Moscow Mayor Luzhkov reportedly tried to stop the local Olimpiiskii Sports Complex from hosting the annual congress of the Jehovah's Witnesses on 20 August, "The Moscow Times" reported. The congress went ahead as scheduled, according to the daily, but not without "days of talks including foreign human rights activists." The head of the St. Petersburg Jehovah's Witnesses said that the administration of the stadium received a "serious demand" from the city government that the stadium lock out the group. The stadium's deputy director told the newspaper that he does not know precisely where the order came from. JAC ZHIRINOVSKII SAID TO HAVE HOSTED OCALAN. Kurdistan Workers' Party leader Abdullah Ocalan spent two weeks last fall at the dacha of Liberal Democratic Party of Russia chairman Vladimir Zhirinovskii, Reuters reported on 21 August, citing ORT. Ocalan reportedly spent his time playing soccer and telephoning with State Duma deputies from the dacha, located close to Moscow. Russian officials had repeatedly denied any knowledge of Ocalan's whereabouts after he left Syria in October at the request of that country's leadership (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 October 1998). Ocalan was arrested when he arrived in Rome on the night of 12-13 November aboard a Russian air lines flight from Moscow. Zhirinovskii, who earlier denied Turkish media reports that he had helped Ocalan, has not commented on the report. LF TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA ARMENIAN, AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENTS MEET IN GENEVA. Armenian President Robert Kocharian and his Azerbaijani counterpart, Heidar Aliev, met for two hours in a lakeside villa near Geneva on 22 August, a correspondent for RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported. After an interlude, the talks resumed in a relaxed atmosphere in the presence of the two countries' foreign ministers, Vartan Oskanian and Tofik Zulfugarov, as well as Armenian National Security Minister Serzh Sarkisian and Azerbaijani State Foreign Policy Advisor Vafa Guluzade. President Aliev told journalists later that he and Kocharian agree that the conflict must be resolved through a peaceful compromise. He added that the two countries' defense ministers will meet shortly to discuss measures to strengthen the cease-fire that has been in force since May 1994. Both presidents characterized the talks as productive and useful. LF ARMENIAN FORMER MINISTER REPORTEDLY BEATEN IN PRE-TRIAL DETENTION. Lawyer Karo Karapetian told journalists in Yerevan on 20 August that his client, former Education Minister Ashot Bleyan, was beaten in pretrial detention in Nubarashen jail two days earlier, Noyan Tapan reported. Bleyan, who now heads the opposition Nor Ughi party, was arrested in May and charged with embezzlement (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 March and 14 May 1999). LF DETAILS EMERGE OF AZERBAIJAN TV STATION MURDER. Turan on 20 August reported that Telman Didirov, who was murdered three days earlier on the premises of the independent DM TV station in Balakan Raion, was a technician, not a journalist, as reported earlier (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 August 1999). Didirov's brother was fired as president of the local TV company on 6 June. LF UNKNOWN FIGHTERS AGAIN VIOLATE GEORGIAN AIRSPACE. Two unidentified aircraft crossed the border from Daghestan into Georgian airspace on 19 August and circled the village of Omalo before heading toward Chechnya, Caucasus Press reported the following day. Russian aircraft mistakenly crossed from Daghestan into Georgian air space earlier this month and dropped mines in the vicinity of Omalo (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 August 1999). LF KAZAKH OFFICIALS DENY GOVERNMENT INVOLVEMENT IN MIG SALES TO NORTH KOREA. Meeting in Astana on 20 August with Kazakhstan's Prime Minister Nurlan Balghymbaev, Japanese Foreign Ministry official Keizo Takemi demanded clarification of media reports that Kazakhstan sold the six MiG fighter aircraft impounded in Baku in March to North Korea, Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 March and 13 August 1999). Balghymbaev said the Kazakh government "had nothing to do" with the sale of the MiGs. He refused to divulge details of the ongoing investigation into the scandal. U.S. experts are participating in that investigation. Also on 20 August, Kazakhstan's Foreign Minister Kasymzhomart Toqaev told ITAR- TASS that Kazakhstan did sell a consignment of some 35-40 planes, some of which ended up in North Korea. But he stressed that the transaction "went out of control of the president and the government." LF GUERRILLAS IN KYRGYZSTAN TAKE NEW HOSTAGES. Kyrgyz government troops on 23 August launched an operation against two groups of guerrillas from Tajikistan who took new hostages in two separate incidents on 22 and 23 August, RFE/RL's Bishkek correspondent reported on 23 August quoting presidential spokesman Kanybek Imanaliev. On 22 August, a band of some 20 guerrillas crossed into Kyrgyzstan from Tajikistan and took some 320 villagers hostage. The following morning, a second band seized the commander of the Kyrgyz Interior Ministry forces, General Anarbek Shamkeev, and four Japanese specialists near the Altyn-Jailoo goldmine. It is unclear whether either band is the one which took four Kyrgyz officials hostage earlier this month. Defense Minister Myrzakan Subanov said on 22 August that the operation to neutralize that group has been completed. Presidential administration security and defense department head Bolot Januzakov told Reuters on 20 August that some of those guerrillas were killed or wounded as a result of bombing and artillery raids launched by Kyrgyz forces on 19 August. LF ONE NEW POLITICAL PARTY REGISTERED IN KYRGYZSTAN... The Ar- Namys party founded in June by former Bishkek Mayor Feliks Kulov has been formally registered by Kyrgyzstan's Ministry of Justice, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported on 20 August quoting a party spokesman. Kulov resigned as mayor in April, accusing President Askar Akaev of condoning actions by his subordinates that violate democratic norms and the rule of law (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 April and 12 July 1999). LF ...AND ANOTHER FORMED. Some 125 delegates from throughout Kyrgyzstan attended the founding congress in Bishkek on 21 August of a second communist party, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. The party split from the Party of Kyrgyz Communists, headed by Absamat Masaliev, who is a former First Secretary of the Central Committee of the then Kirghiz Communist Party. LF TAJIKISTAN'S PARLIAMENT HIGHLIGHTS PRESS SHORTCOMINGS. The Tajik parliamentary committee for international affairs, international relations and culture met with editors of a dozen of the country's newspapers on 19 August to discuss the media situation, Asia Plus-Blitz reported the following day. Committee chairman Ibrohim Usmonov told the agency that newspapers are "full of information on violence, cruelty, and wars" and ignore the promotion of "high human values" and "protecting the national dignity of the Tajik people." There are currently some 30 weekly newspapers in Tajikistan, of which 10 are state-owned. However, there is no daily newspaper. LF UZBEK PARLIAMENT ENDORSES ELECTION DATES. Deputies on 20 August approved the election timetable proposed the previous day by President Islam Karimov, Russian agencies reported. Elections to a new 250-seat parliament will take place on 5 December, together with elections to city and local councils. The presidential poll will be held on 9 January. The parliament also voted to amend the existing election legislation, abolishing the 5 percent threshold for parliamentary representation. Karimov told deputies that he anticipates that "a large number of alternative candidates" will contest the parliamentary poll. All five registered political parties will be entitled to field candidates. LF SAUDI GOVERNMENT DELEGATION VISITS UZBEKISTAN. President Karimov on 20 August received a delegation headed by Saudi Minister of Trade Osama Jaafar Faquieh, Interfax reported. The Saudi delegation is attending the first session of the Uzbekistan-Saudi Arabia intergovernmental commission for economic cooperation, which opened in Tashkent on 18 August. Addressing that gathering, the Saudi minister noted an increase in trade between the two countries but added that the potential for expanding trade ties is not being fully realized. LF END NOTE LONG SHADOW OF AN OLD AGREEMENT By Paul Goble Today marks the 60th anniversary of the Molotov- Ribbentrop Pact, the deal between Hitler and Stalin that touched off World War II and that continues to cast a shadow over Eastern Europe and relations between Moscow and the West. On 23 August 1939, German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and his Soviet counterpart, Vyacheslav Molotov, signed a non-aggression pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Because this agreement eliminated the immediate threat to Germany of a two-front war, it freed Hitler to launch the attack on Poland that began World War II. And because it allowed Germany to acquire numerous militarily important supplies from the USSR, it helped to power Nazi victories in Europe in 1939 and 1940. But even more important, this agreement--and especially a secret protocol, the existence of which both Berlin and Moscow long denied--drew a new line in Eastern Europe between a German and a Russian sphere of influence, a line that allowed Stalin to put pressure on and then absorb the three Baltic countries. If much of the importance of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was made irrelevant by Hitler's decision to attack the Soviet Union in June 1941 and by the eventual defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945, the sphere of influence the pact gave to Moscow over Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania has had a much longer life. Virtually all Western governments followed the U.S. in refusing to recognize as legitimate Stalin's occupation of these three small countries. Most maintained ties with the diplomatic representatives of the pre-occupation authorities and adopted other measures to show their non-recognition of what the Soviet Union had done. And that policy, one that Baltic leaders have always said encouraged them in their struggle against the occupation, continued until August 1991 when Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania successfully achieved the restoration of their state sovereignty as full members of the international state system. But in an important sense, Moscow's sphere of influence as defined by this pact continues to play a role in the thinking of both Russian and Western leaders. Until almost the end of the Soviet period, Moscow officials denied the existence of the secret protocol to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. And when they could no longer deny that, they retreated to an insistence that the Sovietization of the Baltic States in 1940 had nothing to do with that accord. However, as Baltic, Russian, and Western historians have demonstrated, Stalin occupied Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania when he did only because of the assurances Hitler had given him that these countries lay within Moscow's sphere of influence. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the situation has changed again, but it is still the case that many in Moscow call for Western recognition that the Baltic countries lie within a Russian sphere of influence. And they advance as the basis for that claim the notion that Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were part of the Soviet Union. In the past, most Western officials were careful to speak about the existence of 12 Soviet republics and three occupied Baltic states and thus to implicitly reject Moscow's pretensions in this regard. But more recently, senior Western officials and various Western academic experts have made ever more references to the supposed existence of "15 former Soviet republics." These call into question the West's non-recognition policy. Moreover, they are taken by Moscow as an implicit recognition that the Soviet borders are still a dividing line in Europe. That pattern, in turn, has encouraged some in the Russian capital to assume that Moscow can deal with the Baltic countries in much the same way it has dealt with its other neighbors, an assumption that threatens not only the security of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania but also the stability of Europe as a whole. As a result and despite all the talk about a Europe without new lines of division and about the future inclusion of everyone in all international structures, such comments and assumptions appear to reinforce just such a line--one drawn 60 years ago by two of the most evil figures of our time. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc. 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