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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 174, Part I, 7 September 1999


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 174, Part I, 7 September 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

* WAR SCARE IN MOSCOW

* FEDERAL FORCES FIGHTING ON SEVERAL FRONTS IN DAGHESTAN

* UZBEK MILITANTS READY TO NEGOTIATE WITH KYRGYZ GOVERNMENT
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RUSSIA

WAR SCARE IN MOSCOW. Yevgenii Kiselev, the host of NTV's
"Itogi" talk show, extended his program by two hours on 5
September because, he said, "war has begun," Reuters reported
on 6 September. Other Russian commentators, officials, and
experts contributed to the feeling that the fighting in
Daghestan is about to expand further. For example, Emil Pain,
one of Russia's leading specialists on ethnic conflicts, told
Reuters on 6 September that "unfortunately we have to
acknowledge the possibility of the start of a war comparable
to the Chechen war in scale and possibly even worse in terms
of its consequences." He added that "you cannot halt a
movement [like the one in Daghestan] with attack aircraft.
You only make it grow." Communist Party leader Gennadii
Zyuganov told Interfax the next day that "even as the
situation in the North Caucasus is deteriorating and a major
war is escalating in Daghestan, the executive authorities are
acting as if nothing extraordinary is taking place." PG

OFFICIALS DENY STATE OF EMERGENCY BEING CONSIDERED. Russian
Justice Minister Yurii Chaika told Interfax on 6 September
that his ministry is not considering the introduction of a
state of emergency or martial law as a result of developments
in Daghestan. His comments followed remarks on 5 September by
Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev that some officials might
still be thinking about taking such a step, something he
argued would be "illegal" and "unacceptable." The
government's next major review of the situation in Daghestan
is planned to take place at a 7 September meeting of the
Russian Security Council, Interfax reported. PG

DUMA SEEKS YELTSIN REPORT ON DAGHESTAN. Roman Popkovich, the
chairman of the Duma Defense Committee, told Interfax on 6
September that his group plans to invite President Boris
Yeltsin and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to make a formal
report on the events in Daghestan. "The war now under way in
Daghestan will not end any time soon," he said. Moreover, he
continued, "as long as the problem of Chechnya is not
resolved, the Caucasus will not change for the better because
immense amounts of money have been invested in triggering the
fighting." PG

YELTSIN CONDEMNS MILITARY FOR 'SLOPPINESS' IN DAGHESTAN.
Before meeting with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on 7
September, the president condemned the Russian military for
"sloppiness" in its campaign against insurgents in Daghestan,
Russian agencies reported. "We shall discuss in detail why we
lost an entire region in Daghestan," he said. Overall command
of military operations in Daghestan has been repeatedly
transferred from the Defense Ministry to the Interior
Ministry and back to the Defense Ministry.
PG/LF

FEDERAL FORCES FIGHTING ON SEVERAL FRONTS IN DAGHESTAN.
Chechen militants extended their control over Novolaksk Raion
on 6 September, occupying two villages and the town of
Novolaksk, where a Russian Interior Ministry detachment was
surrounded for most of 5 September before reinforcements
arrived, Caucasus Press reported. The guerrillas are
reportedly advancing northward on the town of Khasavyurt,
from where a major highway leads to Makhachkala. Fierce
fighting also continued for control of mountain villages
fortified by the guerrillas in the Kadar region. And federal
forces also continued their air and artillery bombardment of
militants' positions near the villages of Chabanmakhi and
Karamakhi on 6-7 September. LF

DAGHESTANI LEADERSHIP PROTESTS INCURSION. Meanwhile,
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 7 September, without naming
its source, that the Daghestan leadership is increasingly
unhappy with the Russian military's tactics, in particular
the de facto loss of Novolaksk and Moscow's refusal to issue
weapons to several thousand Daghestani volunteers. The
leadership of Daghestan has also lodged a formal protest with
Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov in connection with the most
recent incursion by Chechen guerrillas. The Chechen fighters
in question are reportedly commanded by field commanders
Shamil Basaev and Khottab. LF

RUSSIA BOMBS CHECHNYA IN RETALIATION FOR INCURSION INTO
DAGHESTAN. Russian military aircraft launched bombs and
missiles against the town of Nozhai-Yurt and the villages of
Ishkhoi Yurt and Zamai Yurt in southeastern Chechnya on the
night of 5 September, Interfax reported ,quoting Chechen
Deputy Prime Minister Kazbek Makhashev. Makhashev said that
25 people were killed and 40 wounded. Russian Interior
Ministry spokesman Oleg Antonov told ITAR-TASS on 7 September
that Russia will continue to bomb guerrilla bases in Chechnya
even when those bases are located in populated areas.
Basaev's press center issued a statement on 6 September
vowing "impressive" retaliation for the bombing raids,
Interfax reported. LF

YELTSIN ISSUES DENIAL ON FOREIGN ACCOUNTS. Shortly after
presidential spokesman Dmitrii Yakushkin told Interfax on 6
September that Yeltsin has no plans to speak in public about
the Mabatex scandal, Yakushkin went on Russian Television to
say that the president has "ordered his press service to make
a very short but specific announcement: Neither he nor
members of his family has opened foreign bank accounts."
Yeltsin, Yakushkin added, believes that his income is
"absolutely transparent" as it is published annually. In
other comments to Interfax, Yakushkin said that all the
charges that have appeared in the media about this case are
without any foundation. He added that the media has ignored
"the fundamental principle of law" that those charged are
presumed innocent until convicted. "One need not go out into
the town square and state publicly that he is not guilty,"
Yakushkin continued, adding that "the methods of the
Inquisition should not be restored at the end of the 20th
century." PG

SKURATOV SAYS 780 OFFICIALS BEING INVESTIGATED FOR INSIDER
TRADING. The 7 September "Moscow Times" quotes suspended
Prosecutor-General Yurii Skuratov as saying that some 780
current and former government officials--including former
First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais--are currently
under investigation for using insider information while
trading on the Russian treasury bill market. The newspaper
also suggested that the scandals around Mabatex and the Bank
of New York may be linked. PG

SCANDAL INVESTIGATIONS CONTINUE. Nikolai Volkov, the chief
investigator in the Aeroflot case, is to remain in
Switzerland for "at least" another one or two days, Interfax
reported on 6 September. Meanwhile, Russian officials
announced they are sending a high-level delegation to the
U.S., to participate in the Bank of New York investigation,
Russian agencies reported. During a Moscow visit, U.S.
Congressman Tom Lantos (D-California) expressed his view that
the money-laundering case had been raised to undermine the
candidacy of Al Gore for president, Interfax said. Duma
member Aleksandr Shokhin said he favors a joint investigation
by Russian and U.S. secret services into the multiple
channels through which Russian capital has flowed abroad,
ITAR-TASS reported. And PricewaterhouseCoopers has begun a
second audit of the use of IMF loans by the Central Bank of
Russia, Interfax reported on 6 September. PG

ENERGY MONOPOLY DENIES REPORTED LINK WITH SCANDAL. A
spokesman for Unified Energy Systems rejected as totally
false a report in Britain's "The Observer" that the firm is
linked with a bank at the center of the Bank of New York
money-laundering scandal, Interfax reported on 6 September.
The spokesman said the report is "completely and totally
false." In another scandal-related matter, German officials
on 5 September said that some of the money involved in the
Bank of New York money laundering case may have passed
through German banks, dpa reported. PG

TALBOTT OPPOSES 'QUARANTINE' AGAINST RUSSIA. In an interview
with NTV's "Itogi" program, US Deputy Secretary of State
Strobe Talbott said Washington is opposed to any "quarantine"
against Russia, Interfax reported on 6 September. He said
that that word and "deterrence" are not used in any
reasonable discussion of Russian-U.S. relations. Instead,
Talbott suggested, one should talk about involvement,
cooperation, common interests, mutual respect, and an open
and honest exchange of views. The U.S. official added that
Washington has repeatedly raised with Russian officials the
question of corruption in Russia, and he noted that financial
misconduct by some Russians has become an obstacle to future
U.S. assistance. PG

FIGHT OVER OIL EXPORT DUTIES CONTINUES. First Deputy Prime
Minister Viktor Khristenko told Interfax on 6 September that
the Russian government will decide later this week whether to
levy a 7.5 euros ($7.9) or 10 euros duty per ton of oil
exported. But oil companies and others who oppose the levy
continue to lobby against it. LUKoil President Vagit
Alekperov announced that his company will reduce exports by 7
percent in the fourth quarter, compared with the same period
last year, because of such export duties. Meanwhile, Rosneft
denied reports that it is the subject of a tax audit,
Interfax reported on 6 September. PG

FIRST FATALITY FROM MANEZH ATTACK. Larisa Itani, 26, died on
5 September as a result of burns suffered during the 31
August attack on the Manezh shopping center in central
Moscow, Interfax reported on 6 September. Her husband and
another person remain in critical condition, while two other
victims are in serious condition, the news agency said.
Meanwhile, Russian police have arrested a man described only
as "a Muscovite" on suspicion of involvement in the 31 August
bombing, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 September. PG

IVANOV WELCOMES NEW ISRAEL-PLO ACCORDS. Foreign Minister Igor
Ivanov said over the weekend that Moscow welcomes the latest
round of agreements between Israel and Palestine, Interfax
reported on 6 September. PG

KUZBASS MINE DIRECTOR MURDERED. Aleksandr Khavlyuk, the
director of the Krasnyi Kuzbass coal mine, was found murdered
near his home in Kiselevsk on 5 September, ITAR-TASS reported
on 6 September. The next day, "Kommersant-Daily' reported
that he died as a result of gun wounds to the head. PG/JC

AGREEMENT SIGNED ON GERMAN FUNDING FOR AMBER ROOM
RESTORATION. Germany's Ruhrgas, the Russian Culture Ministry,
and Tsarskoe Selo Museum signed an agreement on 6 September
whereby the German company will spend $3.4 million to help
restore the Amber Room in St. Catherine's Palace near St.
Petersburg, dpa and Interfax reported. The Amber Room, which
dated back to the early 18th century and contained amber
panels, was dismantled and carried off by Nazi troops during
World War II. Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Yegorov said
the Ruhrgas offer is "a positive signal for German-Russian
relations." PG/JC

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

KARABAKH LEADERSHIP INSISTS ON PARTICIPATION IN PEACE TALKS.
Arkadii Ghukasian, the president of the unrecognized Nagorno-
Karabakh Republic, was quoted on 6 September as having told a
visiting U.S. Congressman that Armenia is not authorized to
try to resolve the Karabakh conflict single-handedly in talks
with Azerbaijan and that no peace settlement is possible
without the participation and approval of Karabakh Armenian
officials, RFE/RL's Stepanakert correspondent reported. Also
on 6 September, Karen Mirzoyan, who is Karabakh's permanent
representative in Yerevan, told RFE/RL that the most recent
peace proposal by the OSCE Minsk Group should not be
substantially amended to accommodate Azerbaijan's objections.
Meeting in Yerevan two days earlier with the U.S. ambassador
and the U.S. co-chairman of the Minsk Group, Karabakh Foreign
Minister Naira Melkumian said that while the precise term
used to define the future relations between Azerbaijan and
the enclave may be changed, those relations must be based on
the principle of equality, according to Noyan Tapan. LF

AZERBAIJAN'S PRESIDENT MAY SEEK THIRD TERM. President Heidar
Aliev, who is 76, told leading members of his Yeni Azerbaycan
party in Baku on 5 September that he feels well and may run
for a third presidential term in 2003 "if the people want"
him to do so, Turan reported. Aliev was elected president in
September 1993 and re-elected in October 1998. Turan said the
rationale for his statement is that the present constitution,
which allows one individual to serve no more than two
consecutive terms as president, was adopted only in November
1995. Aliev also praised Social Security Minister Ali Nagiev,
leader of one of two rival factions within Yeni Azerbaycan,
and defended the right of his son Ilham to a career in
politics. Some observers believe that Ilham Aliev is being
groomed for the chairmanship of Yeni Azerbaycan as a first
step toward succeeding his father as president (see "RFE/RL
Caucasus Report," Vol. 2, No. 34, 26 August 1999). LF

AZERBAIJAN'S FORMER PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER DENIES HE WAS
DETAINED IN U.S. Rasul Guliev told Turan on 6 September that
reports by the Azerbaijani Interior Ministry and Prosecutor-
General's office that U.S. immigration officials detained him
on 3 September are disinformation. Guliev resigned three
years ago as parliamentary speaker after harshly criticizing
President Aliev's policies. In January 1998, the Azerbaijani
Prosecutor's Office and National Security Ministry accused
Guliev of conspiring from exile to overthrow President Aliev
and of embezzling millions of dollars. Three months later,
the Azerbaijani parliament voted to strip him of his deputy's
immunity (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 January and 8 April
1998). LF

FORMER KAZAKH PREMIER'S PARTY SPILTS. Lira Bayseitova, one of
15 former members of the Republican People's Party of
Kazakhstan who broke with that party last month (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 18 August 1999), told journalists in Almaty on 6
September that the 15 have now registered a new political
party named Respublika-2000, RFE/RL's bureau in the former
capital reported. The new party has already succeeded in
registering branches in five of Kazakhstan's 14 oblasts but
will not be able contend the 10 October elections to the
lower house of parliament as the 31 August deadline for
applying to do so has already elapsed. The Republican
People's Party is headed by former Premier Akezhan
Kazhegeldin. Meanwhile, several would-be parliamentary
candidates in Almaty have appealed to a local court to extend
the 9 September deadline for registration, claiming that the
Central Electoral Commission "deliberately" mislaid documents
to create a pretext for failing to do so. LF

IS KAZAKHSTAN RETHINKING SALE OF OIL STAKE? Kazakhstan's
Prime Minister Nurlan Balghymbaev told journalists in Astana
on 5 September that the planned sale of part of Kazakhstan's
25 percent stake in the U.S.-Kazakh consortium Tengizchevroil
"is not an urgent need," Interfax reported. If the sale does
go ahead, it will be "transparent" and Kazakhstan will seek a
fair price, Balghymbaev added. Several prominent politicians
have expressed their opposition to the planned sale, which
Balghymbaev announced three weeks ago (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
25 August and 3 September 1999). On 6 September, Interfax
quoted former KazakhOil head Nurlan Qapparov, who was fired
for his opposition to the sell-off, as saying that neither
KazakhOil nor any other government agency participated in
talks on the sale. He said he cannot confirm that Mobil has
offered to buy all or part of Kazakhstan's stake in
Tengizchevroil at a price of $100 million for each 1 percent
share. LF

KAZAKHSTAN'S FOREIGN MINISTER DISCLAIMS KNOWLEDGE OF MIG
SALES. At a meeting in Tokyo on 6 September with his Japanese
counterpart, Masahiko Komura, Kasymzhomart Toqaev again said
that the government of Kazakhstan had no prior knowledge of
the recent delivery to North Korea of some 30 MiG-21
aircraft, ITAR-TASS reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23
August 1999). He added that Astana has asked North Korea to
return the planes. Komura and Toqaev also discussed political
and economic ties, and Japan undertook to continue to provide
financial aid to Kazakhstan. LF

UZBEK MILITANTS READY TO NEGOTIATE WITH KYRGYZ GOVERNMENT...
At talks with Human Rights Movement of Kyrgyzstan chairman
Tursunbek Akunov, the estimated 400-500 ethnic Uzbek
militants who still hold 12 hostages in southern Kyrgyzstan
expressed their willingness to take part in negotiations in
Batken with Kyrgyz government representatives, RFE/RL's
Bishkek bureau reported on 7 September, citing the
presidential press service. Akunov returned to Batken on 7
September after meeting with the guerrillas. LF

...WHICH DOWNPLAYS DANGER. The Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry issued
a statement on 6 September saying that the Kyrgyz leadership
is taking all necessary measures to neutralize the guerrillas
and secure the hostages' release, Interfax reported. It
called on the UN and OSCE to condemn "attempts by
international terrorists" to "force their ideological views
upon the people of Kyrgyzstan." Also on 6 September,
presidential administration Defense and Security Department
head General Bolot Djanuzakov told journalists that the
hostage taking does not pose any danger to foreign residents
in Kyrgyzstan. But "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 7
September that police in Bishkek are rounding up Afghans and
Pakistanis on suspicion of being connected with the
guerrillas. Meanwhile, ITAR-TASS reported that four residents
of Aravan Raion in southern Kyrgyzstan were arrested on 5
September for possession of extremist Islamic literature. LF

TAJIK OPPOSITION PESSIMISTIC OVER CHANCES OF FAIR
ELECTIONS... Opposition party leaders aligned in the United
Tajik Opposition and Communist Party head Shodi Shabdolov met
in Dushanbe on 3 September to discuss the upcoming
presidential and parliamentary elections, Asia Plus-Blitz
reported on 6 September. At an earlier meeting, those
opposition leaders said they fear it may prove impossible to
create conditions for free and fair elections, in particular
to allow all political parties access to the media and
representation on election commissions, according to
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 4 September. LF

...WHILE WOULD-BE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES PRESSURED. Former
Premier Abdumalik Abdulladjonov, who polled over 30 percent
of the vote in the 1994 presidential elections, cannot return
to Tajikistan to contend the poll as he is charged with
masterminding the 1998 insurgency in Leninabad by Mahmud
Khudoiberdiev. The Tajik authorities are also pressuring a
second presidential hopeful, Congress of Peoples of
Tajikistan leader Sayfiddin Turaev. Meanwhile, the Ministry
of Justice has applied to the Supreme Court to disband the
Agrarian Party and the Adolat va Taraqqiyot Party. LF

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