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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 167, Part I, 27 August 1999
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 167, Part I, 27 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 * CHARGES, DENIALS OVER FINANCIAL SCANDAL * CHECHNYA COMPLAINS TO UN OVER RUSSIAN AIRRAIDS * KYRGYZSTAN ASK RUSSIA FOR HELP TO CAPTURE HOSTAGE-TAKERS End Note: GREAT EXPECTATIONS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx RUSSIA CHARGES, DENIALS OVER FINANCIAL SCANDAL. Acting Prosecutor- General Vladimir Ustinov has announced that his office and the Federal Security Service will investigate the alleged money laundering scheme by Russian businessmen to cycle billions of dollars through the Bank of New York. "We will check all the facts," the Prosecutor-General's Office said in a statement, noting that "today newspapers will write anything." Meanwhile, President Boris Yeltsin and former First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais officially denied reports that they opened accounts in foreign banks, as "Corriera della Sera" had reported on 25 August. "Kommersant- Daily" offered Chubais an apology for misreporting on the issue. And the Russian Foreign Ministry denied any participation by its officials in the alleged money laundering operation, ITAR-TASS reported on 26 August. PG MOSCOW DENIES MISUSING IMF CREDITS. Deputy Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin told Ekho Moskvy on 26 August that Russia has never misused IMF credits, as some have charged. "This is an absolute lie," he said, "and the impression is that a campaign has been launched for the purpose of undermining relations between investors and Russia." But he acknowledged that some money has been transferred abroad, noting that the government is looking into the matter. PG YELTSIN PRAISES SOVIET NUCLEAR PIONEERS. Three days before the 50th anniversary of the explosion of the first Soviet nuclear device, President Yeltsin released a statement on 26 August praising "our scientists, engineers, workers, and military personnel" for "their selfless labors" to lay "a powerful basis for Russia's nuclear shield," ITAR-TASS reported. Meanwhile, both Semipalatinsk, where the explosion took place, and the Russian Nuclear Center in Saratov Oblast, formerly Arzamas-16, announced plans to mark the anniversary. Even as Yeltsin released his remarks, the Russian government was considering how to handle the disposal of nuclear waste and whether to allow the importation of radioactive materials, Interfax reported. And Deputy Atomic Energy Minister Lev Ryabev said that Russia is working to modernize its nuclear arsenal. PG YELTSIN PLANS EARLY SEPTEMBER VACATION. Boris Yeltsin plans to take a vacation in early September, his staff told Interfax on 26 August. Yeltsin reportedly has not decided where to go but may return to the Black Sea resort of Sochi. PG NAINA YELTSIN STANDS BY HER MAN. In comments to "Moskovskii komsomolets" on 26 August, Naina Yeltsin said that her husband knew what he was doing when he fired four prime ministers in 17 months, even though his logic was not always clear to others. "Now it may be difficult to explain but some time will pass and everyone will understand that it was correct," she said, noting that "it is just stupidity to think the president fires prime ministers because someone is influencing him." PG GOVERNMENT CONFIRMS PRESIDIUM. At its session on 26 August, the government approved the following as members of its presidium: the prime minister, his two first deputies, three deputy prime ministers, and the ministers of finance, foreign affairs, interior, defense, justice, and economics as well as the head of the government staff. PG PUTIN APPOINTS NEW DEPUTY PREMIER FOR MEDIA. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on 26 August appointed Mikhail Seslavinskii, head of the Russian Service for Television and Radio Broadcasting, as first deputy prime minister for the press, television and radio broadcasting, and communications. PG GOVERNMENT SUBMITS FIVE TAX BILLS TO DUMA. On 26 August, the Russian government submitted five tax bills to the State Duma that would abolish some taxes, transfer others to the regions, change the way in which value-added tax is calculated, and set new income tax rates ranging from 12 percent to 30 percent. PG STEPASHIN SAYS HE MAY RUN FOR PRESIDENT... Former Prime Minster Sergei Stepashin said on 26 August that he may run for president if he and his allies do well in the upcoming Duma elections. He said that he joined with Yabloko because he wants "an open struggle against the Communist Party of Russia." He added that he believes he would bring in many well-known figures to the Yabloko list, including former Justice Minister Pavel Krasheninnikov. In other comments, he suggested that the ruble will decline to 30 to the dollar by the end of 1999. PG ...BACKS PUTIN ON DAGHESTAN. Also on 26 August, former Prime Minister Stepashin told ITAR-TASS that he completely supports his successor's approach in Daghestan. He said that he regrets that preventive measures were not taken in time to prevent the invasion of Daghestani villages. And Stepashin also backed Putin's approach to economic questions. PG LUZHKOV SAYS KREMLIN FEARS HIS POLITICAL BLOC. In an interview with Moscow's Mayak Radio on 26 August, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov said that the Kremlin opposes his Fatherland movement out of "fear of a political force that might lay claims on state power, including work in the State Duma." He added that the current Russian leadership is especially worried that Fatherland may be willing to "tackle economic problems differently or work to curb corruption and crime." In other remarks, Luzhkov suggested that the Russian Constitution should be amended to end what he called the overly frequent changes of government. PG AGRARIAN PARTY RATIFIES ALLIANCE WITH FATHERLAND-ALL RUSSIA BLOC. The Central Council of the Agrarian Party voted 107 to 42 to ratify that party's alliance with the Fatherland-All Russia bloc, Interfax reported. But Nikolai Kharitonov, the Agrarian leader in the Duma, opposed the alliance and said the party should "go it alone" in the elections. PG LEBED SAYS HE WON'T JOINT ANY ELECTION BLOC. Krasnoyarsk Governor Aleksandr Lebed said that he will not join any of the election coalitions now being formed, Interfax reported. "I take no part in cockroach races," he said, noting that "you know what people think of all these coalition makers." PG 'KOMMERSANT-DAILY' SUES FIRE FIGHTERS. The publishers of "Kommersant-Daily" on 23 August filed a lawsuit in the Moscow Arbitration Court to recover losses they incurred when the State Fire-Fighting Service closed down the newspaper for supposed infractions against the fire code, ITAR-TASS reported on 26 August. PG MILITARY PROSECUTOR APPEALS RULING IN SKURATOV CASE. The Main Military Prosecutor's office has lodged a protest over the decision by a Moscow court to dismiss the extension of the investigation into the case of former Prosecutor-General Yuri Skuratov. The lower court had ruled that the Military Prosecutor's Office had violated the law by unilaterally extending the investigation. PG NO MAJOR CHANGES AT GAZPROM SESSION. Contrary to the predictions of many observers, there were no major changes in the leadership of Gazprom at a 26 August meeting of its shareholders. Viktor Chernomyrdin was re-elected as chairman, Rem Vyakhirev was re-confirmed as president, and the number of government officials on the 11-member board increased only from four to five, ITAR-TASS reported. Vyakhirev denied that he made any deal with the Kremlin to keep his job: "I am a simple worker and my conscience is clear," Interfax reported. At the session, Chernomyrdin said the new board will work to stabilize the country's gas sector, even as other officials announced that the government will sell another 3.37 percent of its shares in the gas giant. PG JAPAN TO PROVIDE LOANS FOR BLACK SEA PIPELINE? Gazprom board member Sergei Dubinin told Interfax in Moscow on 26 August that Gazprom has held talks with Japan's Ex-Im Bank on financing for the Blue Stream project to build a gas pipeline from Russian to Turkey across the Black Sea. Dubinin said the Japanese bank may provide between $300 million and $500 million toward the cost of purchasing pipes. The first gas is scheduled to be pumped through the finished pipeline in early 2001, Dubinin added. LF GASOLINE PRICES RISE AS INFLATION SLOWS. Prices for gasoline at Moscow service stations have risen between 6 and 20 percent in the last 10 days, ITAR-TASS reported on 26 August. Meanwhile, the state statistics agency announced that inflation ran at only 1.7 percent during August, well below July's 2.8 percent. PG CHECHNYA COMPLAINS TO UN OVER RUSSIAN AIRRAIDS. Chechnya's Foreign Ministry on 26 August called on the UN Security Council "to take the most resolute steps" to prevent new aggression by Russia against Chechnya, Interfax reported. The ministry said the 25 August air strikes on two districts in southern Chechnya were part of Moscow's preparation for a new war in Chechnya. Four people were injured in those attacks. The ministry invited the UN to dispatch an international commission to Chechnya to determine whether Russian claims that there are terrorist bases in Chechnya are true. Shamil Basaev, who commanded the militant force that recently withdrew from Daghestan, told Interfax on 26 August that the Russian air raids were "the beginning of a war against Muslims." "The united headquarters of the Daghestani Islamic forces have reserved the right to retaliate throughout Russia," he added. LF DUMA LEADER LINKS KYRGYZSTAN, DAGHESTAN FIGHTING. Duma deputy speaker Mikhail Gutseriev told ITAR-TASS on 26 August that the hostage takings in Kyrgyzstan and the invasion of Daghestan were "links in one chain." He added that all CIS member states "should join ranks to fight terrorism and extremism." PG LIVSHITS SEES EXPANDED RUSSIAN ROLE IN BALKANS. Speaking in Berlin on 26 August, Aleksandr Livshits, Moscow's coordinator for relations with the G-8, said that "Russia will be invited to all official international forums devoted to the Balkans and will participate in the economic restoration of this region." He concluded that "neither the Group of Eight nor the donor conference or any other forum will decide on the restoration of the Balkans without Russia." PG RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY CRITICIZES ARREST OF INDICTED WAR CRIMINAL... The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on 26 August criticizing the arrest of Bosnian Serb General Momir Talic in Vienna the previous day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 August 1999). The statement said that authorities detaining indicted war criminals "should take into account first and foremost how [that practice] will influence the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina," Reuters reported. The statement added that "Talic was taking part in a seminar...on the military aspects of implementing the [Dayton] peace agreement, at the invitation of the foreign minister of Austria. It is not difficult to see how this arrest will affect the further participation of Bosnian delegations in international forums." The statement also expressed "serious doubts" about the practice of issuing secret indictments, which it said "deprives Bosnian authorities and the accused themselves of the opportunity to demonstrate their readiness to cooperate with the tribunal." FS ...CALLS FOR SWIFT UCK DISARMAMENT. The next day, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that Albanian gunmen shot at Russian KFOR soldiers who were evacuating priests from an Orthodox monastery. The statement stressed that "this incident is yet more evidence that the process of demilitarization of the [Kosova Liberation Army], and other armed groups of [Kosovar] Albanians...is proceeding extremely slowly." The ministry urged NATO to accelerate the disarmament process. FS DID SPY PASS TOP-SECRET NATO INFORMATION TO RUSSIA? Reuters quoted "The Scotsman" as reporting on 27 August that an unidentified Western military officer attached to NATO passed top secret information about the alliance's air campaign against Yugoslavia to Russian foreign intelligence. "The Scotsman" quoted an unidentified NATO official as saying that the Russian authorities handed over that information, including flight plan details, to the Yugoslav authorities. The official claimed that this enabled Serbian forces to intercept and shoot down a U.S. stealth fighter during a raid on a defense research base in late March. "The Scotsman" said that the officer was arrested shortly after the Stealth fighter was shot down and that NATO kept his arrest secret. A Russian foreign intelligence spokesman declined to comment. FS MOSCOW NEWSPAPER URGES TIGHT LEASH FOR BALTIC COUNTRIES. "Vechernaya Moskva," a newspaper closely linked to a media group controlled by Moscow Mayor Luzhkov, said on 26 August that Moscow should exploit the large size of the ethnic Russian communities in Estonia and Latvia and its economic influence over all three countries to put pressure on them not to join the Western alliance. The newspaper added that all potential successors to Yeltsin would take this position. PG RUSSIAN MOBSTER HELD IN GREECE. Vladimir Tatarenko, known in the underworld as Tatarin, remains under arrest in Greece, ITAR-TASS reported on 26 August. He is reportedly connected with the Krasnoyarsk crime family and is wanted by the Russian authorities for 13 murders and other crimes. The Greek press noted that Tatarenko was "the think-tank" for the Krasnoyarsk crime family, having "guided and personally participated" in all its activities, particularly in the Khakass Republic. PG CHOLERA, DYSENTERY STRIKE RUSSIAN REGIONS. Four people in Vladivostok who were scavenging in a dump for food have come down with cholera, AP reported on 26 August. Meanwhile, ITAR- TASS said, more than 35 cases of dysentery have been reported in Gorno-Altaisk, the capital of the Altai Autonomous Republic. PG TV CENTER ATTACKED IN INGUSHETIA. Five armed men attacked the television center being built by Turkish construction workers in the Ingush capital of Nazran early on 27 August, ITAR-TASS and Caucasus Press reported. The attackers took a security official hostage, but Ingush police forced them to release him. One of the attackers was reportedly killed when a grenade he was holding exploded. The other four escaped by car in the direction of the border with Chechnya. LF TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA FORMER ARMENIAN PREMIER WARNS OF DEFAULT DANGER. Hrant Bagratian told RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau on 26 August that the Armenian government will be unable to make internal debt repayments on schedule if it continues to sell high-yield, short-term treasury bills. The yields stand at more than 50 percent annually, which is considered high given single digit inflation. In budget amendments submitted to parliament earlier this week, the government asked for an additional 1.65 billion drams ($3.1 million) to cope with the rising cost of borrowing. No top Armenian government official has yet mentioned the possibility of a default. T-bills have never been the principal source of covering the budget deficit. More than 90 percent of this year's deficit, projected at 56 billion drams, is due to be financed by much cheaper external loans. LF AZERBAIJAN OPPOSITION BLASTS MUNICIPAL ELECTION PREPARATIONS. At a session on 26 August, the Chairmen's Council of the opposition Movement for Electoral Reform and Democratic Elections (MERDE) announced the creation of a nine-strong team charged with collecting information on violations of the election law during the preparations for and the conduct of the 12 December municipal elections, Turan reported. MERDE also issued a statement protesting violations during the creation of so-called sortition committees charged with appointing local election commissions, which, MERDE claims, are totally controlled by local administrators and local branches of the ruling Yeni Azerbaycan Party. MERDE warned that if such infringements continue it may launch mass protests beginning in mid-September. The opposition Musavat Party issued a statement on 26 August condeming "offenses and violations" during the setting up of the sortition committees. LF GEORGIA TO BUILD NEW BLACK SEA OIL TERMINAL. Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze has approved plans by an Austrian-Georgian joint venture to build a new oil terminal in the village of Kulevi, some 15 kilometers north of Poti, Caucasus Press and Interfax reported. The terminal will have a capacity of 5-6 million tons per year and will be used primarily for the storage of crude to be transported by barge across the Caspian from Turkmenistan and then by rail across Azerbaijan and Georgia. The joint venture has reached a preliminary agreement with the EBRD on financing for the project, the cost of which is estimated at $70 million. LF GEORGIA, ESTONIA DISCUSS ECONOMIC, SECURITY COOPERATION. Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili and his visiting Estonian counterpart, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, discussed in Tbilisi on 26 August the prospects for defense and security cooperation both on a bilateral basis and within the framework of NATO's Partnership for Peace program, Caucasus Press reported. They also reviewed the prospects for cooperation between GUUAM and the Baltic States, with Ilves noting the particularly good relations between the Baltic States, Georgia, and Ukraine. The two ministers also signed a trade and economic cooperation agreement. LF KAZAKHSTAN'S UIGHUR MINORITY ADDRESS 'SHANGHAI FIVE.' The Association of Uighur Organizations of Kazakhstan issued a statement in Almaty on 25 August pegged to the "Shanghai Five" summit in Bishkek, RFE/RL's bureau in the former capital reported the following day. The statement affirms that "the struggle of Uyghurs in Eastern Turkistan (Xin Jiang province, western China) has nothing to do with Islamic fundamentalism or extremism, that struggle can be defined as [one for] national liberation." In Moscow, Interfax on 26 August quoted an unnamed senior Russian diplomat as saying that the leaders or Foreign Ministries of several countries, which he declined to identify, have requested clarification of the security agreement signed by the heads of state of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan at their 25 August summit. Some of those inquiries registered concern at the possible emergence of a new Russian-Chinese union. LF MORE DEBRIS FROM EXPLODED RUSSIAN ROCKET FOUND IN KAAKHSTAN. Kazakh officials 26 August recovered on 99 large chunks of debris from the Russian Proton rocket that exploded shortly after blastoff from the Baikonur cosmodrome in early July, Interfax reported. Those chunks included fuel tanks containing heptyl fuel, which the Kazakhstan authorities claim poses a serious environmental danger. Kazakh and Russian investigators are to determine the extent of the financial damage Kazakhstan suffered as a result of the explosion at a 31 August meeting in Moscow, according to ITAR-TASS. Kazakhstan's National Space Agency director Meirbek Moldabekov said on 26 August that the provisional estimate of $80,000 will probably be revised upward in the light of the new find. LF KYRGYZSTAN ASK RUSSIA FOR HELP TO CAPTURE HOSTAGE-TAKERS. Acting Defense Minister Nuridin Chomoev told journalists in Bishkek on 27 August that the Kyrgyz government has asked Russia for military and technical assistance to locate and disarm the groups of guerrillas holding several dozen hostages in southern Kyrgyzstan. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 27 August commented that the Kyrgyz armed forces are clearly not competent to neutralize the guerrillas without help. On 26 August, Kazakhstan offered to provide Kyrgyzstan with military equipment and personnel, according to Interfax. The same day, Kyrgyz forces launched an air strike on one of the militants' bases. Presidential administration official Bolot Dzhanuzakov said in Bishkek on 26 August that the hostage- takers, whom Chomoev identified as members of an Islamic group from Uzbekistan, have not made any demands of the Kyrgyz authorities, not have they tried to establish contact with those authorities. LF TURKMENISTAN TALKS TOUGH ON TRANS-CASPIAN PIPELINE... Turkmenistan's Oil and Gas Industry Minister Redzhepbai Arazov told Interfax in Ashgabat on 26 August that Turkmenistan is considering the possibility of allowing Azerbaijan to use the planned Trans-Caspian gas pipeline to export gas from its Caspian off-shore Shah Deniz deposit. But Arazov added that Turkmenistan will not reduce the amount of gas it has contracted to supply Turkey via that pipeline. In Baku two days earlier, Ilham Aliev, who is vice president of Azerbaijan's state oil company SOCAR, told journalists that Azerbaijan cannot sign any agreement on the Trans-Caspian pipeline before it decides how much gas it wants to export via that pipeline, according to Turan. Aliev predicted that as a gas exporter Turkmenistan will have problems competing with Azerbaijan as production costs in Azerbaijan are lower. LF ...AND GAS DEBTS. Chairing a cabinet session on 26 August, Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov noted that Georgia and Azerbaijan owe his country some $374 million and $56 million, respectively, for supplies of natural gas, Interfax reported. Niyazov expressed the hope that those two countries will not jeopardize their long-term relations with Turkmenistan by failing to pay off those debts promptly. Visiting Ashgabat last week, U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson urged Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey to sign a four- way agreement pledging their commitment to the Trans-Caspian pipeline project. Senior EBRD official Yuri Woyzechowski told journalists in Ashgabat on 25 August that his bank may help finance construction of the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline, Interfax reported. LF END NOTE GREAT EXPECTATIONS By Liz Fuller On 22 August, the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan met at a lake-side chateau near Geneva for the second time in just over five weeks. The focus of their talks was how to bridge the differences between the conflicting sides over the optimum approach to resolving the Karabakh conflict. As was the case after the 16 July talks, few details were released initially about the topics discussed. But observers said this reticence clearly stemmed from the mutual desire to preserve and build on an atmosphere of incipient trust, rather than to conceal the magnitude of the differences between the two sides. Consequently, when speaking to journalists the two presidents focused on those areas where they had reached agreement. They said the defense ministers of the two countries will meet in the near future to discuss ways to prevent further violations of the cease-fire that has been in effect since 1994. They affirmed their intention to meet again soon but did not say when. (The Baltic/Black Sea summit in Yalta on 10-11 September has been named as a possible venue.) As in July, they termed the meeting useful, constructive, and a badly needed step toward a definitive solution of the conflict. And Azerbaijan's Heidar Aliev again told journalists that both he and his Armenian counterpart, Robert Kocharian, agree that the conflict must be resolved peacefully and on the basis of mutual compromise. Given subsequent statements by the two presidents and other senior officials present at the Geneva talks, it seems that the contentious issue of Karabakh's future status vis-a- vis the central Azerbaijani government was discussed, as was the need to resume peace talks in a broader format. On his return to Yerevan on 23 August, Kocharian told journalists that he and Aliev agreed that their foreign ministers should attempt to galvanize the stalled OSCE Minsk Group peace process and that Karabakh officials should participate in those talks Kocharian refused, however, to disclose any details of the discussions on Karabakh's future status, which he said amounted to no more than an exchange of opinions. He confirmed observers' impression that the two sides are making a concerted effort to avoid offending each other, which in itself, he said, is a positive achievement. And he added that he and Aliev have come to understand each other better as a result of the two Geneva meetings. At the same time, Kocharian cautioned that the conflict resolution process is "complicated" and that "one should not expect results with lightning speed." But a protracted negotiating process conducted in secrecy is likely to increase the risk both of leaks of confidential details and of domestic dissatisfaction and protests in both countries. Some Azerbaijani observers have pointed to Aliev's use of the term "compromise" as suggesting he is prepared to retreat from his previous insistence that the future status of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic must not exceed "the broadest possible autonomy" within Azerbaijan. (Both Armenia and Karabakh favor as a basis for negotiations the formula "more than [conventional] autonomy but less than [outright] independence," which reflects the disputed enclave's present ambiguous status.) In an attempt to quash such alarmist inferences, Azerbaijan's State Foreign Policy Adviser Vafa Guluzade, who was present for part of the Aliev- Kocharian talks, told Turan on 24 August that both sides are seeking a compromise that will preserve Azerbaijan's territorial integrity. Interviewed by Turan, Azerbaijan Popular Front Party chairman and former President Abulfaz Elchibey argued that Aliev has no right to keep secret the details of his talks with Kocharian. Elchibey claimed to have details of a new draft peace agreement whereby Armenian forces would be withdrawn from seven occupied districts of Azerbaijan adjacent to Karabakh, but the strategic Lachin corridor that constitutes the sole overland link between the enclave and Armenia would not be returned to Azerbaijan's control. Elchibey predicted that the Azerbaijani people would not accept such an arrangement and that Aliev could be ousted if he agreed to it. The Democratic Congress, which unites the dozen most influential Azerbaijani opposition parties, issued a statement on 26 August rejecting outright the concept of a "common state" comprising Azerbaijan and Karabakh. That concept was outlined in the most recent draft peace plan proposed by the OSCE Minsk Group. The Azerbaijani leadership initially rejected the formula, but Aliev said after last weekend's Geneva talks that the plan as a whole remains on the table. Nor are misgivings and suspicion confined to Azerbaijan. The Armenian newspaper "Iravunk," which is published by the opposition Union for Constitutional Rights, claimed on 24 August that "Kocharian has already agreed that the territory of the [Nagorno-Karabakh Republic] should be reduced to that of the [pre-war] Autonomous Oblast and its overland link with Armenia should be minimal by including the Lachin corridor only." But even Lachin, "Iravunk" claims, would not be under full Armenian control. "There are facts indicating that at least a tentative variant of settling the [Karabakh] issue has already been found." The newspaper further argues that the Armenian president has no right to conclude "behind-the-scenes deals" without keeping the parliament informed of the details. The Union for Constitutional Rights is a member of the nationalist Right and Accord parliamentary bloc. Hard-line former Karabakh Defense Minister Samvel Babayan, who has said repeatedly over the past two years that he does not exclude the possibility a new war over Karabakh, supports that bloc. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word subscribe as the subject of the message. HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE Send an email to email@example.com with the word unsubscribe as the subject of the message. 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