If we are to live together in peace, we must first come to know each other better. - Lyndon B. Johnson
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

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
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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.
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Updated: 1998-11-

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Please write to us with any comments, questions or suggestions -- Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole