Upon the education of the people of this country the fate of this country depends. - Benjamin Disraeli 1804-1881
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 168, Part I, 30 August 1999


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 168, Part I, 30 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

* MORE SCANDAL CHARGES, DENIALS

* COURT RULING TRIGGERS NEW PROTESTS IN KARACHAEVO-CHERKESSIA

* UZBEK PLANES KILL KYRGYZ VILLAGERS IN BOMBING RAID
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RUSSIA

MORE SCANDAL CHARGES, DENIALS... Charges and denials about
various Russian scandals continue. On 27 August, business
magnate Boris Berezovskii said that accusations in the
Western press that President Boris Yeltsin had bank accounts
in the West are an "absolute provocation" organized by Moscow
Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, Interfax reported. Luzhkov responded
that he is pleased to learn that he has power even over the
Western press. On 29 August, Democratic Choice of Russia
leader Yegor Gaidar denied that former First Deputy Primer
Minister Anatolii Chubais has had foreign bank accounts.
Earlier, First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko said
Moscow has no "confirming information" that there has been
any official involvement in the Bank of New York money-
laundering affair, Russian agencies reported. Former Central
Bank of Russia Chairman Sergei Dubinin denied that IMF money
was channeled through that bank. PG

...WHILE KARAGANOV SEES WESTERN PLOT BEHIND BANK SCANDAL.
Many Russians have suggested that the charges about money
laundering at the Bank of New York are politically motivated.
Such people include Konstantin and Natasha Kagalovskii, who
are implicated in the affair. But Sergei Karaganov, a leading
Russian political analyst and head of Russia's Foreign and
Defense Policy Council, has gone further. In an interview
with Interfax on 27 August, Karaganov said the scandal is
"quite probably" part of "Western leading circles' desire to
divorce [from] the current Kremlin leadership." He based that
conclusion on the fact that the current scandal charges
target people around Yeltsin rather than more junior figures.
PG

MORE CASES MAY BE LAUNCHED. On 27 August, acting Prosecutor-
General Vladimir Ustinov said he does not rule out criminal
indictments in the Bank of New York money-laundering case,
Interfax reported. But he said that "first everything has to
be carefully examined, primarily by all special services,
Russian and foreign." The U.S. authorities have offered to
conduct a joint investigation, the Russian federal tax police
said the same day. Meanwhile, the tax police have opened a
criminal investigation into a number of former Rosneft oil
company executives for tax evasion. PG

INVESTIGATORS OF HIGH PROFILE CASES REPLACED. Vladimir
Minaev, chief of the main investigative department of the
Prosecutor-General's Office, told Interfax on 27 August that
several of the investigators looking into major cases have
been replaced by "more experienced" officers. Among those
replaced are investigators looking into the Mabatex case and
the case of former St. Petersburg Mayor Anatolii Sobchak. The
officials looking into the murder of journalist Dmitrii
Kholodov, however, have been kept on the job. Minaev stressed
that these shifts do not reduce the personal responsibility
of those who launched the investigations. PG

RUSSIAN FOREIGN DEBT TO RISE. Russia's foreign debt will be
$166.2 billion on 1 January 2000, up from $156.6 billion a
year earlier, Interfax reported. But its foreign borrowing is
scheduled to increase to $177.6 billion by 1 January 2001,
Interfax reported on 27 August. Meanwhile, the government
said that it will meet all its obligations on Treasury bills
during 2000. Meanwhile, the Central Bank of Russia announced
on 27 August that it is considering increasing its discount
on gold purchases from 2 percent to 5-6 percent of the London
quote, the Russian news agency reported. PG

AKSENENKO COMPLAINS GAS EXPORTS TOO CHEAP. First Deputy Prime
Minister Nikolai Aksenenko told ITAR-TASS on 27 August that
Gazprom is exporting its gas too cheaply and thus inflicting
"big losses on the country." He said that middlemen are
making enormous profits as a result. Meanwhile, the
government commission on trade protection on 27 August
recommended doubling the export duty on crude oil to 10 euros
($10.45) per ton beginning 1 October 1999. PG

YELTSIN BACKS HIGHER SOCIAL SPENDING TO CALM ELECTORATE.
First Deputy Prime Minister Valentina Matvienko told ITAR-
TASS on 27 August that the Russian president backs higher
social spending and tough action against wage arrears. She
said the authorities seek to stabilize the social situation
lest Russia see "protest-type voting" that could harm the
country. But Yeltsin's and the government's budgetary
proposals may face tough opposition in the parliament,
Konstantin Titov, the chairman of the Federation Council
Budget Committee, told ITAR-TASS on 28 August. PG

AGRARIANS LINK UP WITH OVR BLOC. Some 275 of 390 delegates at
a congress of the Agrarian Party on 27 August decided to end
their alliance with the Communists and link up with
Fatherland-All Russia (OVR) alliance, RIA reported. The
remaining delegates left the session and said they will
continue to work with the Communists. On 29 August, the
Communist Party Central Committee agreed to form an election
alliance with the 16 regional organizations of the Agrarian
Party whose representatives bolted from that group when it
tied itself to the OVR bloc, Interfax reported. PG

UNION OF RIGHTIST FORCES FORMED. The parties of former Prime
Minister Sergei Kirienko (New Force), former Deputy Prime
Minister Boris Nemtsov (Young Russia), former Prime Minister
Yegor Gaidar (Democratic Choice of Russia), and Saratov
Governor Konstantin Titov (Voice of Russia) officially formed
the Union of Rightist Forces on 29 August, Russian agencies
reported. In a related move, Nemtsov has asked that Kirienko
not run for Moscow mayor lest he dissipate the energies of
the group. PG

YABLOKO LIST ANNOUNCED. Grigorii Yavlinskii will top the
State Duma election list of the Yabloko party, Interfax
reported on 27 August. He will be followed by former Prime
Minister Sergei Stepashin and Duma Foreign Affairs Committee
Chairman Vladimir Lukin. Stepashin said he and the Yabloko
party are ready to "assume responsibility for the country."
He denounced all threats to the personal security of
President Yeltsin, and he said that he is ready to run for
president in 2000. PG

PRIMAKOV OUTLINES PLANS. Former Prime Minister and now leader
of the OVR bloc Yevgenii Primakov said on 28 August that he
will work in the Duma if he is elected but will "never"
become speaker of that body, Interfax reported. He rejected
charges that his bloc colleague, Georgii Boos, said that a
"Romanian variant" awaits Yeltsin. Such claims are a complete
misreading of Boos's statement published in "Nezavisimaya
gazeta," Primakov said. In other comments, Primakov said his
bloc is prepared to unite all "centrist, patriotic, and
democratic forces" and will not seek any redivision of
property, even as it works to strengthen the state. Another
of Primakov's bloc colleagues, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov,
however, attacked the IMF, saying that "the country needs to
correct its course. We cannot solve its problems only
according to the prescriptions of the IMF, which regards
Russia as a field for its experiments." PG

OUR HOME IS RUSSIA SEEKS INSTITUTIONALIZED GOVERNMENT. NDR
Duma faction leader Vladimir Ryzhkov said on 28 August that
"it is impossible to run the country via a politically
helpless government, a politically irresponsible parliament,
and a politically prevailing president" on whom the entire
state must function, Interfax reported. At the same session,
ITAR-TASS reported, NDR leader Viktor Chernomyrdin said the
NDR is "shedding a shabby skin of the party of power" and
that its future as a presidential party depends on the
outcome of the parliamentary vote. Meanwhile, the NDR and
Boris Fedorov's Forward Russia! movement agreed to cooperate
in the upcoming elections, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 August.
PG

PUTIN WELCOMES BLOCS, HAS LITTLE SUPPORT. Speaking in
Makhachkala during a one-day visit to Daghestan on 27 August,
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said that he welcomes the
formation of new electoral blocs because they represent the
"development of civil society in Russia," ITAR-TASS reported.
Meanwhile, a poll released by the Public Opinion foundation
the same day showed that Putin himself has little support:
Only 1 percent would vote for him if the presidential
elections were held now, and only 10 percent think he has any
real chance of becoming president. PG

ZHIRINOVSKII DENOUNCES ALL BLOCS AS 'PERVERSE.' Speaking on
27 August, Liberal Democratic Party of Russia leader Vladimir
Zhirinovskii said that "all the coalitions are perverse,"
especially those involving Yabloko. "They found pensioner
Stepashin, who was kicked out of the Kremlin," he commented.
He denounced Moscow Mayor Luzhkov's Fatherland as "a crazy
house" in which "all the world's gangsters, drug addicts,
prostitutes, and thieves" have been gathered. And he
denounced Primakov as "a sick man who should not be assuming
such a heavy burden as competing in parliamentary elections."
PG

COURT RULING TRIGGERS NEW PROTESTS IN KARACHAEVO-CHERKESSIA.
Thousands of supporters of Cherkessk Mayor Stanislav Derev
congregated on the town's central square on 27 August after
the republic's Supreme Court ruled that the results of the 16
May presidential runoff are valid, Interfax and ITAR-TASS
reported. Derev had appealed the official election results,
according to which he received only 20 percent of the vote
and his rival, former Russian Army ground troops commander
Vladimir Semenov, more than 70 percent (see "RFE/RL Caucasus
Report," Vol.2, No. 30, 30 July 1999). Derev's supporters
attacked Semenov's jeep on 27 August as he was driving to a
meeting with the republic's acting president, Valentin
Vlasov. They continued their protest demonstration on 28 and
29 August in spite of a ban on such meetings issued by Vlasov
on 27 August. Supporters of Derev, who is currently in
Israel, met with Vlasov on 29 August in an attempt to defuse
the situation. The next day, Caucasus Press reported that
Derev's supporters will launch a campaign to split the
republic into Karachai and Cherkess territories unless
Vlasov's mandate is extended for four years. LF

PUTIN VISITS DAGHESTAN. During his one-day visit to Daghestan
on 27 August, Prime Minister Putin traveled with State
Council Chairman Magomedali Magomedov to Botlikh Raion to
meet with Russian troops who participated in the military
operation against Islamic militants and to see first-hand the
extent of the damage to local villages. Putin presented
medals to an unknown number of Russian servicemen and
Daghestani volunteers, expressing gratitude on behalf of the
Russian people. But he also warned of the possibility of
further attacks by the militants, underscoring that Moscow
will continue trying to negotiate peacefully with the Chechen
leadership. On 27 August, the Russian government approved 100
million rubles ($4.1 million) in emergency reconstruction aid
for Daghestan and 12 million rubles to assist displaced
persons, ITAR-TASS reported. LF

RUSSIAN FORCES TARGET RENEGADE VILLAGES. Russian Interior
Ministry troops in Daghestan engaged in what are
euphemistically known as "mopping up" operations. They began
confiscating weapons on the morning of 29 August from the
inhabitants of the villages of Kara-makhi and Chaban-makhi in
Daghestan's Buinaksk Raion. They then launched artillery and
air strikes against the villages later the same day,
apparently on the assumption that some of the Islamist
guerrillas had taken refuge there. The inhabitants of the two
villages are devout Muslims who proclaimed an independent
Islamic territory in August 1998 but retracted that
declaration after receiving assurances from the Daghestan
leadership that they would not be punished for their
proclamation (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 September 1998). They
told journalists from "Nezavisimaya gazeta" at that time that
they needed weapons to protect themselves against reprisals
by Daghestani officials. LF

INCUMBENT AHEAD IN SVERDLOVSK BALLOT. According to
preliminary results, incumbent Governor Eduard Rossel won 39
percent of the vote in the 29 August gubernatorial ballot in
Sverdlovsk, ITAR-TASS reported the next day. Aleksandr
Burkov, an oblast legislative assembly deputy and leader of
the leftist regional movement May, came second with 18
percent, beating out Rossel's expected challenger in the run-
off elections, Yekaterinburg Mayor Arkadii Chernetskii, who
polled only 15.4 percent. Turnout was estimated at 41
percent. The oblast Election Commission chairman told
reporters that the run-off is likely to take place on 12
September. JC

MOSCOW REMAINS CONCERNED ABOUT KOSOVA STANDOFF. Russian
Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov told U.S. Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright by telephone on 29 August that Moscow
remains concerned about what he called "provocations against
the Russian contingent of peacekeepers," Reuters reported.
His comments follow a Russian Foreign Ministry statement on
27 August that Moscow will respond "properly" to armed
provocations "regardless of who stages them," Interfax
reported. Meanwhile, Russian, Dutch, and German officers
failed to end the standoff between Albanian and Russian
forces in the city of Orahovac, ITAR-TASS reported. PG

YELTSIN TO VISIT BEIJING IN FALL. The official Xinhua news
agency said on 28 August that Russian President Boris Yeltsin
will visit Beijing sometime this fall for meetings with
Chinese leader Jiang Zemin. Meanwhile, "Kommersant-Daily"
reported on 27 August that the Rosvooruzhenie arms exporting
firm has reached agreement to sell 60 Su-30 fighters to the
Chinese government. China bought 22 Su-27 planes in 1996. PG

RUSSIA PREPARED TO LEASE AIR DEFENSE SYSTEMS TO CIS
COUNTRIES. General Anatolii Kornukov, Russia's air force
commander in chief, told ITAR-TASS on 27 August that Moscow
is now prepared to provide anti-aircraft systems and fighters
to CIS countries on a "long-term lease" basis. He said that
talks are already under way with Tajikistan, Turkmenistan,
Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, and others. PG

'MIR' ENDS ACTIVE LIFE. On 27 August, the last regular crew
of "Mir" shut down the space station's major systems and
began their return to earth. The crew landed safely on 28
August. The victim of funding shortages, "Mir" will be
programmed to crash into the Pacific in February 2000. PG

LIVSHITS SAYS G-8 SUMMIT MAY BE HELD IN RUSSIA IN 2003.
Aleksandr Livshits, Moscow's envoy to the G-8, told NTV on 29
August that the leaders of the major industrialized countries
now support holding one of their summits in Moscow or St.
Petersburg, possibly in 2003, Interfax reported. PG

RUSSIANS REMAIN DIVIDED ON BURYING LENIN. According to a
nationwide poll conducted by the Public Opinion foundation,
47 percent of Russians oppose burying Lenin, while 33 percent
support that idea, Interfax reported. Supporters of Yabloko's
Yavlinskii are most strongly in favor of burying Lenin and
the others interred on Red Square (52 percent for, 35 percent
against), while backers of Communist Party leader Gennadii
Zyuganov are most opposed (13 percent for, 70 percent
against). PG

HARE KRISHNA TEMPLE IN MOSCOW ATTACKED. Ten to 15
unidentified youths broke into the Hare Krishna temple in the
Russian capital on 28 August and beat those who were inside
praying, Interfax-Moscow reported. The news agency said that
the police are currently looking for those responsible. PG

NIKITIN APPEALS TO EUROPEAN HUMAN RIGHTS COURT. Aleksandr
Nikitin, a retired Russian navy officer who has been indicted
for allegedly passing classified information to a Norwegian
environmental group, has now appealed to the European Human
Rights Court, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 August. In October
1995, the authorities charged Nikitin with high treason for
allegedly divulging secret information about radiation
leakages in the Russian Northern Fleet. In October 1998, a
St. Petersburg court returned the case to prosecutors for
further investigation. PG

RUSSIA MAY HAVE 2 MILLION HIV CASES BY 2002. Russian medical
experts said that the AIDS epidemic in Russia is becoming a
"national catastrophe," Interfax reported on 29 August. They
said 5,000 new cases of HIV infection were reported in the
first half of 1999, more than the total reported for 1998.
And they added that under a worse case scenario, the number
of people infected with HIV may rise to 2 million by 2002. PG

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES AUSTERITY MEASURES. Deputies
voted overwhelmingly on 28 August to endorse the measures
that Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsian proposed in late July to
bridge an anticipated 31 billion dram ($58 million) budget
shortfall, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Those measures
include higher excise duties on gasoline and cigarettes and
cuts in some infrastructure projects and non-essential
expenditures in the social and education sectors (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 29 July and 19 August 1999). In addition, the
government needs to divert more than 17 billion drams toward
paying state enterprises' debts to the energy sector. The IMF
and World Bank have said that disbursement of some $55
million in new loans is contingent on that latter step. LF

DATE SET FOR TRIAL OF ARMENIAN FORMER INTERIOR MINISTER. The
trial will begin in a Yerevan district court on 9 September
of former Yerevan Mayor and Interior Minister Vano
Siradeghian, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported on 27 August.
Siradeghian is charged with ordering several contract
killings in 1994-1996 when he was interior minister. Some 229
people will be summoned as witnesses in the trial, which the
presiding judge Samvel Torosian denies is politically
motivated. The previous Armenian parliament voted in February
to strip Siradeghian, chairman of the former ruling Armenian
Pan-National Movement, of his deputy's immunity. The previous
month, it had failed to raise the majority needed to do so
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 January and 18 February 1999). LF

ARMENIA SENDS EARTHQUAKE RELIEF TO TURKEY. The Armenian
government dispatched a plane load of emergency supplies,
including medication and mobile generating stations, to
Turkey on 27 August for victims of the 17 August earthquake,
RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The Turkish authorities
failed to respond to the Armenian government's earlier offer
to send a rescue team (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 August
1999). LF

AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION SLAMS PRESIDENT'S KARABAKH POLICY...
The Movement for Democracy, which is composed of 23
opposition parties, issued a statement on 27 August
announcing it will begin protest actions on 10 September
against what it termed President Heidar Aliev's "defeatist
policy" aimed at resolving the Karabakh conflict, Turan
reported. The previous day, the opposition Democratic
Congress had issued a statement in which it rejected as a
"violation of national interests" the proposal contained in
the most recent OSCE Minsk Group Karabakh peace plan whereby
Azerbaijan and the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic
form a "common state." The statement called for Armenia's
immediate compliance with four 1993 UN Security Council
resolutions on Karabakh demanding the withdrawal of Armenian
forces from occupied Azerbaijani territory. It also argued
that autonomy for Nagorno-Karabakh should be balanced by
autonomous status for the estimated 200,000 ethnic
Azerbaijanis who fled Armenia in 1988. LF

...AS SUPPORT GROWS FOR HUNGER STRIKE. Some 180 members of
Ashraf Mehtiev's Geyrat Party staged a one-day hunger strike
on 28 August as a gesture of solidarity with nine members of
the opposition Coordination Council on Karabakh who began
fasting on 23 August to demand Armenia's compliance with the
four UN Security Council resolutions, Turan reported. The
hunger-strikers have also condemned the 22 August meeting in
Geneva between President Aliev and his Armenian counterpart,
Robert Kocharian, and have demanded that Aliev make public
the content of those talks. Several opposition party leaders,
editors of several independent and opposition newspapers, and
the heads of two independent journalists' unions met with the
hunger-strikers on 27 August. LF

GEORGIA DECIDES TO REQUEST EXTENSION OF CIS PEACEKEEPERS'
MANDATE. Meeting behind closed doors on 29 August, Georgia's
National Security Council approved extending the mandate of
the Russian peacekeeping force deployed under a CIS mandate
along the border between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia,
Caucasus Press reported. The force's mandate expired on 31
July and must be renewed by CIS heads of state at their next
summit, scheduled for October. Revaz Adamia, chairman of the
parliamentary committee on defense and security, had argued
last week that the peacekeepers' withdrawal could precipitate
a new outbreak of fighting. According to Tamaz Nadareishvili,
chairman of the Abkhaz parliament in exile, the Security
Council decision to approve an extension of the peacekeepers'
mandate is conditional on their redeployment throughout
Abkhazia's southernmost Gali Raion and the southern part of
neighboring Ochamchire Raion. CIS heads of state had endorsed
that deployment in March 1997, but the Abkhaz authorities
opposed it (see "End Note," "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 April
1997). LF

FOUR HOSTAGES RELEASED IN KYRGYZSTAN. The Islamic militants
who seized several villages in Kyrgyzstan's Osh Oblast last
week released four of their hostages late on 28 August. The
four released hostages confirmed that the Kyrgyz Interior
Ministry general and the four Japanese geologists taken
hostage on 22-23 August are still alive. On 27 August, Kyrgyz
President Askar Akaev issued a decree on mobilizing
reservists, some 2,000 of whom were sent the following day to
fight the militants. Meeting with Kyrgyz Foreign Minister
Muratbek Imanaliev in Osh on 28 August, the defense, foreign,
and security ministers of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and
Tajikistan offered assistance, including sending troops to
neutralize the guerrillas. A Russian Defense Ministry
spokesman had told ITAR-TASS on 27 August that the CIS
Collective Security Treaty provides a legal basis for Russian
participation in such an operation, but as of 28 August
Moscow had not officially responded to Bishkek's appeal for
Russian military assistance. LF

UZBEK PLANES KILL KYRGYZ VILLAGERS IN BOMBING RAID. President
Akaev told journalists in Bishkek on 30 August that 12 Kyrgyz
villagers were killed and 40 homes damaged in a bombing raid
by Uzbek aircraft on villages in the Chong-Alai district of
Osh Oblast on 29 August, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported.
Subsequent reports give a lower death toll. Uzbek aircraft
had mistakenly bombed Kyrgyz territory two weeks earlier in a
similar attempt to destroy the guerrilla band (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 17 and 18 August 1999). Akaev sent Prime Minister
Amangeldy Muraliev and Presidential Administration Defense
and Security Department head General Bolot Djanuzakov to Osh
to assess the situation. In Tokyo, a cabinet spokesman told
journalists on 30 August that Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi has
written to the presidents of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan
requesting their assistance in locating and releasing the
four Japanese hostages, ITAR-TASS reported. LF

U.S. WATCHDOG PROTESTS HARASSMENT OF KYRGYZ NEWSPAPER OWNER.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists has
written to President Akaev to protest the harassment by the
Kyrgyz State Tax Police of Aleksandr Kim, owner and chief
editor of the independent daily "Vechernii Bishkek," RFE/RL's
Bishkek bureau reported on 28 August, citing the Kyrgyz
Committee for Human Rights. The State Tax police opened a
criminal case against Kim last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
26 August 1999). LF

THREE KILLED IN TAJIK SHOOTOUT. Three people were killed and
nine wounded on 29 August during a 10-minute gun battle in a
Dushanbe market between Tajik Interior Ministry forces and
guards to the Commission for National Reconciliation, Reuters
and Interfax reported. The reason for the clash is not known.
LF
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