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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 166, Part I, 26 August 1999


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 166, Part I, 26 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

* SERGEEV DENIES BOMBING CHECHNYA

* 'KOMMERSANT-DAILY' BACK ON NEWSSTANDS

* 'SHANGHAI FIVE' SIGN SUMMIT DECLARATION
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RUSSIA

SERGEEV DENIES BOMBING CHECHNYA. Russian military aircraft
launched bombing raids late on 25 August on the villages of
Vedeno and Urus Martan, where guerrillas who withdrew from
Daghestan were concentrated, Russian agencies reported. It is
unclear whether either guerrillas or civilians were injured
in the raids, which Chechen government officials confirmed. A
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman in Makhachkala confirmed
on 26 August that Vedeno had been targeted, according to
Reuters. But Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeev told
journalists in Astrakhan, where he is attending the joint
Comradeship-in-Arms '99 exercise by Russian, Belarusian,
Armenian and Kyrgyz troops, that no Russian airstrikes took
place, ITAR-TASS reported. LF

...AS SHIRVANI BASAEV INSISTS HE IS NOT DEAD. Shirvani
Basaev, whose elder brother Shamil commanded the Chechen-led
incursion into Daghestan, told journalists in eastern
Chechnya on 25 August that the attack on the Tsumadin and
Botlikh Raions of Daghestan was "just training" and that "the
real war in Daghestan" is yet to come, Interfax reported.
Government officials in Makhachkala similarly predict that
the militants will soon launch a wave of terrorist attacks in
Daghestan, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 26 August. Asked
to comment on a report circulated by the Daghestan branch of
Russia's Federal Security Service that he had died on 16
August of injuries received in a rockslide triggered by the
defenders of the village of Gagatli on 14 August (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 16 August 1999), Basaev responded: "I am buried
once a week." LF

'KOMMERSANT-DAILY' BACK ON NEWSSTANDS. "Kommersant-Daily"
went on sale again on 25 August, two days after it was closed
down for allegedly violating fire regulations (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 24 August 1999). Also on 25 August, Prime Minister
Vladimir Putin met with a group of leading newspaper editors,
as well as Kommersant Publishing Director-General Leonid
Miloslavskii, who later told Russian Public Television that
the dispute over the closure of "Kommersant-Daily" can be
considered resolved. Putin was quoted by Interfax as saying
that "there must be no media regulation through communal
services, and there will not be any." A spokeswoman for the
daily declined to tell "The Moscow Times" how the newspaper
had managed to appear before the dispute was over, prompting
speculation that other publications had come to its
assistance. JC

PUTIN SIGNS OFF ON DRAFT BUDGET. Prime Minister Putin on 25
August approved the draft 2000 budget and sent it to the
State Duma for consideration, ITAR-TASS reported. But First
Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko said the document
sent to the lower house is not a final one and that the
government will continue to revise it. PG

FINANCE MINISTER DENIES MONEY LAUNDERING IN NEW YORK BANK.
Mikhail Kasyanov said on 25 August that the Russian
government was not involved in any way in an alleged money
laundering scheme involving the Bank of New York, Russian and
Western agencies reported. But other Russian news outlets
continued to discuss the case, with many indicating that they
believe the allegations are true. PG

IVANOV SAYS RUSSIA AGAINST ANY ABM TREATY CHANGES. Foreign
Minister Igor Ivanov told Interfax on 25 August that Moscow
continues to oppose any revision in the ABM treaty. He said
that Russia considers "the ABM treaty a foundation for
strategic stability and that any attempts to revise the
treaty jeopardize this stability." Ivanov added that
President Boris Yeltsin had discussed this matter during his
meeting with Chinese leader Jiang Zemin in Bishkek. PG

STEPASHIN CLARIFIES RELATIONSHIP WITH YABLOKO. Former Prime
Minister Sergei Stepashin told Ekho Moskvy on 25 August that
he is cooperating with the Yabloko party in the upcoming
elections but has not joined the party itself. He did not
rule out close cooperation with Yabloko after the election
but indicated that the nature of such ties still has to be
worked out. PG

SECOND COMMUNIST BLOC SUBMITS DOCUMENTS. The Communist-
Workers for the Soviet Union bloc has submitted documents to
the Central Election Commission, ITAR-TASS reported on 25
August. Viktor Tyulkin, the leader of the group, commented
that "unlike the [Communist Party of the Russian Federation]
bloc led by Gennadii Zyuganov, our bloc has been created in
order to form a working faction in the State Duma." Its main
aim, he said, "is to use parliamentary opportunities to fight
against a bourgeois regime." PG

VOICE OF RUSSIA BLOC MAY CANCEL ITS REGISTRATION. Because it
hopes to form an alliance with the Union of Rightist Forces,
the Voice of Russia bloc may revoke its registration with the
Central Election Commission, Aleksei Kara-Murza, a leader of
the bloc, told ITAR-TASS on 25 August. The reason is that
current law does not allow a registered bloc to unite with
another one. PG

SELEZNEV SEEKS MEETING WITH STEPASHIN. State Duma Chairman
Gennadii Seleznev seeks to meet with former Prime Minister
Stepashin to discuss the latter's decision to run for the
parliament from St. Petersburg, ITAR-TASS reported on 25
August. PG

REGIONAL GROUPS SUPPORT AGRARIAN PARTY'S DECISION TO JOIN
FATHERLAND-ALL-RUSSIA BLOC. Sixty-three of 79 regional
conferences have voted to back the decision of the Agrarian
Party board to join the election bloc now headed by former
Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov, Interfax reported. The
other 16 voted for joining the For Victory national-patriotic
bloc now being set up by KPRF leader Zyuganov. PG

CHERNOMYRDIN SAYS MIDDLE CLASS, REGIONS WILL BOOST HIS PARTY.
Former Prime Minister and leader of Our Home Is Russia (NDR)
Viktor Chernomyrdin told "Obshchaya gazeta" on 25 August that
his party will rely on support from the middle class and in
the regions to surpass the 5 percent hurdle in the Duma
elections. He said that an alliance between the NDR and other
rightist groups remains possible. "I have no particular
allergy to them," he commented. But he added that some of his
fellow party members rule out an alliance with Right Cause
leader Anatolii Chubais, Democratic Choice of Russia Yegor
Gaidar, or Young Russia head Boris Nemtsov. PG

LIVSHITS SAYS EBRD TO PROVIDE RUSSIA 1 BILLION EUROS
ANNUALLY. In an interview published in "Nezavisimaya gazeta"
on 25 August, Aleksandr Livshits, Moscow's coordinator for
relations with the G-8 countries, said that the European Bank
for Reconstruction and Development is prepared to increase
its annual financing to Russia to 1 billion euros ($1.04
billion). "As soon as Russian banks have been selected that
can be trusted with the money, the EBRD will launch the
program," he said. PG

MOSCOW TO REQUIRE INCOME DECLARATIONS FOR MAJOR PURCHASES.
Anna Komardina, the deputy director of the Tax Ministry's
personal income tax department, told AP on 25 August that
beginning next year, the Russian authorities will require any
Russian resident making major purchases, such as of cars and
apartments, to declare all sources of their income. PG

RUSSIAN COMPANY ACCUSES U.S. INVESTORS OF EXTORTION. Avisma
has filed suit in the U.S. Federal Court accusing its U.S.
investors of extortion, ITAR-TASS reported on 25 August. The
case, which will be heard in New Jersey, is the first of its
kind. Avisma said that U.S. investors had forced the Perm
ore-processing company to sell its output at dumping prices,
costing the firm millions of dollars in income. PG

MOSCOW PLEDGES TO HELP YUGOSLAVIA --ALONE IF NECESSARY.
Speaking in Brussels on 25 August, Aleksandr Livshits,
Moscow's coordinator for relations with G-8 countries, said
the Russian government will provide Belgrade with
humanitarian assistance even if it has to do so by itself,
ITAR-TASS reported. He said that "Russia's expulsion from the
process of decision-making has been recognized as erroneous,"
adding that "Russia will participate in all forms of
restoring the Balkans economy on equal terms." PG

RUSSIA RESOLVED TO DEPLOY PEACEKEEPERS IN RAHOVEC. Deputy
Foreign Minister Aleksander Avdeev told Interfax on 25 August
that the Russian government is resolved to deploy
peacekeepers in the Kosovar town of Rahovec. Ethnic Albanians
there have blocked the road to the city for four days (see
Part II). Avdeev made clear that the protests "will not
influence Russia's position on its peacekeepers' mandatory
presence in that district." He added that the deployment of
the Russian troops "meets the interest of Russia and of the
post-conflict settlement" in Kosova. Avdeev stressed: "We are
well aware that the Albanians' continuing
demonstrations...are not spontaneous and have their
organizers who oppose our presence.... This is one of the
problems for which we were prepared. As far as we know, the
KFOR command is working on this problem." FS

RUSSIANS DETAIN SOUTH KOREAN SHIP. Russian coast guard
vessels detained a South Korean trawler for poaching,
Interfax reported on 25 August. The action took place as
Seoul reportedly is seeking to purchase several Russian
submarines and acquire licenses to make others. PG

TOKYO DENIES WILLINGNESS TO SIGN INTERIM PACT NOW. The
Japanese embassy in Moscow told Interfax on 25 August that
Russian media reports that Japan is prepared to sign a peace
treaty with Moscow in the absence of an agreement on the
disputed Kuril Islands are inaccurate. The Japanese diplomat
said Tokyo is studying the issue and will give its answer
when Yeltsin visits Japan. PG

MOSCOW PREDICTS BUMPER CROP --BY 2002. Even as this year's
production falls below earlier projections, the Russian
Economics Ministry is predicting that Russian grain
production will increase to 77 million tons by the year 2002.
PG

TV STATION WARNED FOR INCITING RACIAL HATRED. The State Mass
Media Committee has issued an official warning to Petersburg
Television for violating the federal law on the mass media,
which prohibits the incitement of racial violence and hatred,
"The St. Petersburg Times" reported on 24 August. Last month,
human rights activists protested when the station conducted
polls asking viewers whether they would take part in ethnic
purges in the city (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report,"
11 August 1999). The audience voted by telephone 1,336 to 959
in favor of ethnic cleansing. Petersburg Television
Journalist Sergei Chernadev told the newspaper that the
station was not seeking to incite racial hatred but "show the
city intelligentsia that there is a problem." JC

RETURN OF THE KPSS. The Stavropol Justice Department has
registered the Communist Party of Soviet Stavropol, otherwise
known by the all-too-familiar abbreviation of the former
Communist Party of the Soviet Union--KPSS. The founders of
the new group believe the Communist Party of the Russian
Federation (KPRF) is not doing enough to fight for the rights
of the workers and the revival of Soviet authority. They also
see the KPRF as too "far removed" from the problems of
specific regions, "Izvestiya" reported on 25 August. JC

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

'SHANGHAI FIVE' SIGN SUMMIT DECLARATION... At their summit in
Bishkek on 25 August, the heads of state of Russia, China,
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan signed an 11-point
declaration pledging cooperation in fighting terrorism,
drugs- and arms-smuggling, illegal migration, national
separatism, and religious extremism. They also undertook to
"prevent the use of their territories for activities
detrimental to the sovereignty, security, and public order"
in any of the five countries. At the request of China and
Kazakhstan, the draft declaration was amended to state that
the signatories undertake not to intervene in the internal
affairs of other states under the pretext of protecting human
rights. That amendment is presumably intended to give China a
free hand in cracking down on its Uighur minority. The heads
of state affirmed support for efforts by regional leaders to
promote a nuclear-free zone in Central Asia. And they also
noted the "positive experience" of reaching a settlement to
the civil war in Tajikistan and expressed concern at the
current situation in Afghanistan. LF

...DISCUSS SECURITY, ECONOMIC COOPERATION. Discussions
between the five leaders focused on regional security
problems, expanding trade, and reviewing implementation of
earlier agreements signed. Noting that the summit is being
held against the backdrop of "a deteriorating international
situation," Russian President Boris Yeltsin accused unnamed
states of trying "to build a world order suiting their
inclusive interests," Interfax reported. Yeltsin stressed
Russia's "strategic interest" in security in Asia and called
for more intense discussion of regional security issues.
Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev announced that a
conference to discuss a proposed Asian security system
modeled on the OSCE will take place in Kazakhstan on 14
September. The five presidents undertook to task their
respective governments with creating joint consulting groups
to draft proposals on expanding trade and economic ties,
according to Interfax. And they agreed that their next summit
will be held in May 2000 in Dushanbe. LF

PRESIDENTS OF RUSSIA, KAZAKHSTAN RESOLVE BAIKONUR PROBLEM.
Meeting briefly in Bishkek on 25 August, Yeltsin and
Nazarbaev reached agreement on the resumption of cooperation
in the launching of Russian rockets from the Baikonur
cosmodrome, ITAR-TASS reported, quoting presidential deputy
chief of staff Sergei Prikhodko. Astana had shown reluctance
to allow a resumption of the launching of proton rockets of
the type that exploded shortly after blast-off from Baikonur
in early July (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 July and 20 August
1999). The two presidents also reviewed economic cooperation,
focusing on agriculture and the machine-building and energy
sectors. They agreed on the need to embark on Russian-Kazakh
joint ventures. (Plans for a Russian-Kazakh joint coal
company with the participation of Russia's United Energy
Systems are being sabotaged by a local Kazakh official,
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 12 August.) LF

CHINA, KAZAKHSTAN, KYRYZSTAN SIGN BORDER AGREEMENT. On the
sidelines of the Bishkek summit, Jiang Zemin, Nazarbaev, and
Askar Akaev signed what Akaev termed "a final agreement" on
delimiting the frontiers between the three countries where
they converge at the Khan-tengri peak, RFE/RL's Bishkek
bureau reported. China signed a similar agreement in May 1999
with Russia and Kazakhstan. LF

MILITANTS SEIZE 20 KYRGYZ TROOPS... The groups of armed
militants who have infiltrated southern Kyrgyzstan from
neighboring Tajikistan on 25 August took hostage 20 Kyrgyz
troops sent to locate them, ITAR-TASS reported. The militants
are also holding a Kyrgyz Interior Ministry general and four
Japanese geologists and are occupying several villages.
Kyrgyzstan's Foreign Minister Muratbek Imanaliev told
journalists in Bishkek on 26 August that Kyrgyz troops are
preparing for an operation against the militants, whose
strength he estimated at between 400 and 1,000. LF

...AS KYRGYZ, TAJIK, RUSSIAN LEADERS DISCUSSES COUNTER-
MEASURES. Kyrgyz President Akaev and his Tajik counterpart
Imomali Rakhmonov agreed on the sidelines of the Bishkek
summit on 25 August to close border crossings between their
two countries, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Kyrgyz
officials also discussed the hostage situation with Russian
Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and the head of the Russian
Border Guard Service, General Konstantin Totskii. Totskii
said that the hostage taking will not affect the withdrawal
of the final Russian border guard contingent in Kyrgyzstan.
He added that Moscow will almost certainly agree to provide
Kyrgyzstan with assistance in resolving the hostage situation
if asked to do so, according to Interfax. LF

CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS OPENED AGAINST KYRGYZ NEWSPAPER. A
spokesman for the State Tax Police said in Bishkek on 25
August that criminal proceedings have been brought against
Aleksandr Kim, chief editor and owner of "Vechernii Bishkek,"
RFE/RL's bureau in the Kyrgyz capital reported. Kim had been
summoned to the tax police the previous day but did not go
because of ill health, according to other members of the
editorial board. Kim had convened a news conference on 24
August to rebut reports by colleagues at the newspaper that
he has been arrested (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 August 1999).
Some 20 journalists on the staff of "Vechernii Bishkek"
launched a hunger strike on 24 August to protest government
harassment. LF

TAJIKISTAN SEEKS SOLUTION TO UZBEK FUGITIVE PROBLEM... United
Tajik Opposition chairman Said Abdullo Nuri told the BBC's
Persian Service that Tajikistan should undertake to guarantee
the security of fugitives from Uzbekistan who decide
voluntarily to return home, Asia Plus-Blitz reported on 24
August. Nuri was speaking after visiting the Karategin region
of Tajikistan where the majority of those estimated 1,600
Uzbeks are located. But in a clear distinction between
genuine fugitives and renegade militants, Nuri added that
"not a single armed citizen of Uzbekistan should remain in
regions controlled by the UTO." UNHCR mission head Gong Li
told journalists in Dushanbe on 24 August that his
organization has not yet decided whether the Uzbeks in
Karategin qualify for the status of refugees, Asia Plus-Blitz
reported. LF

...EXTENDS DEADLINE FOR SURRENDERING WEAPONS. Tajikistan's
Interior Minister Humdin Sharipov told journalists in
Dushanbe on 25 August, one day after expiry of the deadline
for armed groups not subordinate to the UTO to surrender
their arms, that only 150 weapons have been handed in, Asia
Plus-Blitz reported. He said the deadline for surrendering
weapons has been extended, but added that "within a few days"
his men will begin special actions to locate and confiscate
illicitly owned arms. LF

ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT RATIFIES ENERGY SECTOR LOANS. The
Armenian parliament voted on 25 August to approve two new
loans to the energy sector totaling $33 million, RFE/RL's
Yerevan bureau reported. The loans are from the World Bank
($19.5 million) and a Japanese government agency ($13.5
million) and will be used to upgrade the country's power
distribution network. First Deputy Energy Minister Karen
Galstyan told deputies that the loans will save Armenia $5
million annually in energy lost during transmission,
according to AP. LF

AZERBAIJANI JOURNALIST CAUTIONED OVER REPORTING ON KARABAKH.
Khalid Kazimli, a journalist with the newspaper "Reytinq,"
was summoned to Azerbaijan's National Security Ministry on 25
August and questioned about an article he recently wrote on
the Karabakh peace process, according to a Trade Union of
Journalists press release. Kazimli was asked who had provided
him with details of discussions within Azerbaijan's Security
Council on the possibility of ceding to Armenia part of the
territory currently occupied by (Karabakh) Armenian forces.
He refused, however, to reveal the name of that source.
Security officials warned Kazimli not to write any similar
articles in future. LF

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