Every individual has a place to fill in the world, and is important, in some respect, whether he chooses to be so or not. - Nathaniel Hawthorne
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 176, Part I, 9 September 1999


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 176, Part I, 9 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

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Headlines, Part I

* EXPLOSION RIPS APART MOSCOW APARTMENT HOUSE

* FEDERAL FORCES STRENGTHEN POSITIONS IN CENTRAL DAGHESTAN

* AZERBAIJAN'S RULING PARTY EXPELS CRITIC

End Note: KULIKOV SAYS MONEY SCANDAL COULD SPUR DUMA INTO
ACTION
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RUSSIA

EXPLOSION RIPS APART MOSCOW APARTMENT HOUSE. An explosion at
an apartment house in southeastern Moscow in the early hours
of 9 September has left at least 20 people dead. Some 150
have been injured, and more than 100 may still be trapped
under the rubble. The nine-story building was destroyed, and
windows in neighboring apartment houses blown out. Prime
Minister Vladimir Putin told a cabinet meeting later on 9
September that the "main version of the explosion" is that it
was caused by a gas leak. He added, however, that other
versions are being considered. Emergencies Minister Sergei
Shogu, who had rushed to the scene during the night, was
quoted by Russian agencies after the cabinet meeting as
saying that it is unlikely that the tragedy was caused by a
gas explosion. JC

FEDERAL FORCES STRENGTHEN POSITIONS IN CENTRAL DAGHESTAN.
Federal forces dislodged Chechen fighters on 8 September from
Mount Ekitebe, which commands the main highway from Novolaksk
to Khasavyurt, Interfax reported citing a Defense Ministry
source. They also continued systematic air bombardment of
several villages in Novolaksk Raion, including Gumiyakh,
Tukhchar, and Akhar, and of border districts in Chechnya from
where large groups of Chechen militants were preparing to
cross into Daghestan's Kizlyar Raion, according to
"Nezavisimaya gazeta." Also on 8 September, Daghestan's Prime
Minister Khizri Shikhsaidov told journalists in Moscow that
"large-scale hostilities" in Daghestan should end by the end
of September, according to ITAR-TASS. Shikhsaidov accused the
Chechen leadership of "extremist aggression" against
Daghestan. LF

DUMA DEFENSE CHIEF DISMISSES TALK OF REMOVING SERGEEV...
Roman Popkovich, the chairman of the State Duma Defense
Committee and a leader of the Our Home Is Russia faction,
told Interfax on 8 September that the events in Daghestan do
not justify talk of the removal of Defense Minister Igor
Sergeev. Popkovich said that "normal work continues at the
Defense Ministry" under Sergeev and that the minister himself
is not to blame for everything that has happened in
Daghestan. PG

...WHILE AKSENENKO SAYS EVERYONE TO BLAME FOR DAGHESTAN.
Speaking in Nizhnii Novgorod on 8 September, First Deputy
Prime Minister Nikolai Aksenenko said that "it is not
worthwhile" to try to assign responsibility for what has
taken place, ITAR-TASS reported. He added that "we are all to
blame" for the failure of Moscow to solve the situation. PG

PROSECUTORS INVESTIGATE NORTH CAUCASUS ATROCITIES. The Office
of the Russian Prosecutor-General has launched an
investigation into atrocities and other crimes against
humanity in the North Caucasus, ITAR-TASS reported on 8
September. Investigative chief Vladimir Minaev said that he
has ordered the start of the probe so that a decision can be
made on opening criminal cases. PG

U.S. DENOUNCES BUINAKSK ATTACK. State Department Spokesman
James Rubin denounced the blast in Buinaksk on 4 September
that destroyed an apartment house where the families of
Russian officers lived, ITAR-TASS reported on 8 September. He
added that Washington continues to oppose the actions by
armed detachments against legal authorities and civilians in
Daghestan. PG

PUTIN DENIES RUMORS OF YELTSIN RESIGNATION. Speaking to
journalists in Minsk on 8 September, Russian Prime Minister
Putin denied media reports that President Boris Yeltsin may
step down before his term expires next summer, Interfax
reported. Asked whether the president would resign over
Daghestan, Putin said such an idea was "nonsense." He asked
reporters to imagine "what would have happened" if someone
had demanded that Stalin resign on 22 June 1941, the day Nazi
Germany attacked the Soviet Union. JC

YELTSIN, CLINTON DISCUSS CORRUPTION SCANDAL, DAGHESTAN.
During an 8 September telephone conversation with his U.S.
counterpart, Bill Clinton, Russian President Yeltsin denied
media reports of his personal involvement in corruption. U.S.
National Security Adviser Sandy Berger told journalists that
Clinton had specifically asked about those reports. Russian
law enforcement officials are due to arrive in the U.S. next
week to discuss the probe into alleged money-laundering
through the Bank of New York. Among the other topics
discussed by the two leaders were arms control and the
ongoing fighting in Daghestan. JC

KREMLIN MANAGER TO SUE ITALIAN NEWSPAPER. Pavel Borodin, the
manager of the Kremlin, told Interfax on 8 September that he
will sue the Italian newspaper "Corriere della Sera" for its
articles charging him and the Yeltsin family with corruption.
"Everything that was written in "Corriere della Sera" was
supplied from Russia. It is absolute rubbish and a political
order from certain forces." PG

FEDERATION COUNCIL WON'T PROBE MONEY-LAUNDERING SCANDAL.
Sergei Sobyanin, the chairman of the Federation Council's
Constitutional and Legal Committee, said that body will not
investigate the scandal around money-laundering at the Bank
of New York because his committee "considers only previously
launched criminal cases" in Russia itself, Interfax reported
on 8 September. To date, Sobyanin noted, there has been no
such case related to the scandal. "How can we assume control
over a case that does not exist in Russia?" he asked. "It's
another thing if a criminal case involving the Mabetex
company is opened in our country." PG

GORE SAYS U.S. STILL INTERESTED IN COOPERATION WITH RUSSIA.
In an interview published in "USA Today" on 8 September and
reported in Russia by ITAR-TASS, U.S. Vice President Al Gore
said Washington wants to cooperate with Moscow and stabilize
the situation in Russia. He said he will back more credits
for Russia, despite the recent scandal charges. PG

TALBOTT DISCUSSES ABM, START-3 TREATIES. U.S. Deputy
Secretary of State Strobe Talbott met with senior Russian
diplomats in Moscow on 8 September to discuss Washington's
interest in modifying the ABM treaty, something Russia
opposes, and in negotiating a new START-3 accord, something
Moscow's defense establishment said it supports. Russian
sources cited by Interfax described the talks as "quite
difficult." A second round of discussions is scheduled to
take place on 9 September. PG/JC

SUSPECT IN MANEZH BOMBING FLEES TO POLAND. Dmitrii Pimenov,
the head of the unregistered Union of Revolutionary Writers,
who is suspected of involvement in last week's bombing of the
Manezh shopping mall, fled with his wife to Warsaw on 8
September, Interfax reported. Pimenov said he had nothing to
do with the blast but fears persecution by the Federal
Security Service. JC

MOSCOW MAYORAL VOTE MOVED UP. The Moscow city legislature on
8 September voted to move up the elections for mayor to 19
December. As a result, that vote will coincide with the
Russian parliamentary vote and will allowing Mayor Yurii
Luzhkov to run for re-election before the presidential
elections next summer. PG

YELTSIN MULLS CANDIDATES FOR PROSECUTOR-GENERAL. Vyacheslav
Khizhnyakov, Yeltsin's representative to the Federation
Council, told ITAR-TASS on 8 September that the president is
considering a number of candidates to replace suspended
Prosecutor-General Yurii Skuratov. Meanwhile, Federation
Council Chairman Yegor Stroev said that the upper house,
which must approve any change, is willing to work with
Yeltsin on this issue. PG

DUMA LEFTISTS WON'T SEEK YELTSIN'S RESIGNATION. Sergei
Reshulskii told Interfax on 8 September that the Duma's
leftist majority will not demand that Yeltsin resign when the
parliament resumes work. "It does not make sense to demand
what the parliament cannot attain, given its limited
possibilities," Reshulskii said. At the same time, he
remarked that there are reports that Yeltsin's inner circle
might pressure him to resign soon so as to block the rise of
anti-Yeltsin forces in the parliament. PG

IMF NOW SAYS RUSSIAN GDP TO FALL 2 PERCENT IN 1999. The IMF
projects a two percent drop in the Russian GDP and a 92
percent increase in inflation during 1999, Interfax reported
on 8 September, citing a Bloomberg report. Earlier, the IMF
had projected a 7 percent drop in GDP and a 101 percent rise
in inflation. PG

YELTSIN SEEKS TO BOOST FOREIGN ARMS SALES. Yeltsin on 8
September signed a decree to increase cooperation among
Russian producers for the sale of arms to and military
cooperation with foreign countries, Interfax reported. The
new 18-member commission overseeing this activity will be
chaired by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. PG

NATO TO SEND NEW REPRESENTATIVES TO MOSCOW. The German
Embassy in Moscow told ITAR-TASS on 8 September that NATO
will not send back to Moscow the two officials who left the
Russian capital when Moscow suspended cooperation at the
start of the Kosova crisis. Instead, the German diplomats
said, NATO will name two other officials to come to Moscow.
PG

RUSSIAN OFFICIAL REJECTS CREATION OF KOSOVA CORPS. An unnamed
high-ranking Russian Foreign Ministry official told ITAR-TASS
on 9 September that NATO's plan to transform the Kosova
Liberation Army (UCK) into the planned Kosova Corps is
"unacceptable" (see Part II). The official added that Russia
will demand the complete "disarmament, liquidation of
ammunition depots, and termination of the vertical hierarchy
of subordination among [UCK] militants" at an upcoming
session of the UN General Assembly. In another indication of
Russian unhappiness with NATO, the Defense Ministry official
responsible for international cooperation, Leonid Ivashov,
said in Moscow on 8 September that the Federation Council
"might reconsider" Russia's participation in KFOR given the
failure of NATO to disarm and disband the UCK, Interfax
reported. FS/PG

MOSCOW WOULD CONSIDER SENDING TROOPS TO EAST TIMOR. The
Russian Foreign Ministry told Interfax on 8 September that
Moscow is considering sending its own troops to East Timor if
the UN approves a proposed peacekeeping force there. PG

LEV RAZGON DIES. Russian memoirist and human rights activist
Lev Razgon died in Moscow of a heart attack, ITAR-TASS
reported on 8 September. He was 92. Razgon came to prominence
for his memoirs on the 17 years he spend in the Soviet GULAG
prison camp system. He later said he would "never" forgive
those who put him there. But in a recent interview, he said
that "strange as it may seem, man becomes more free in the
camps." And he said that his hopes for the future lie with
those in the first grade "and certainly their future
children." PG

'MIR' SPACE STATION BEGINS DRIFT. Russian mission control
allowed the "Mir" space station to begin to drift on 8
September, Interfax reported. Russian officials said that the
craft will crash to earth in the Pacific next April if no new
funding is found to save it. PG

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN, GREEK, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET. Meeting in
Yerevan on 8 September for the third annual session of the
trilateral economic cooperation group established in 1997,
Vartan Oskanian, George Papandreou, and Kamal Kharrazi signed
a memorandum of understanding outlining joint projects in the
energy, transport, and other sectors, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau
reported. At a subsequent press conference, all three
ministers expressed satisfaction with the present level of
trilateral cooperation, stressing that it is not directed
against any third party. Papandreou expressed Greece's
interest in participating in the planned $120 million gas
pipeline project from Iran to Armenia. He also suggested that
Iran could participate in the EU's TRACECA program for
developing a network of road and rail links across Asia to
Europe. The ministers discussed regional problems, including
the Karabakh conflict, only at bilateral talks, according to
ITAR-TASS. Armenian President Robert Kocharian met separately
with both Papandreou and Kharrazi on 7 September, Noyan Tapan
reported. LF

NAGORNO-KARABAKH PARLIAMENT THWARTS ATTEMPT TO LIFT DEPUTY'S
IMMUNITY. Deputies to the parliament of the unrecognized
Nagorno-Karabakh Republic on 8 September rejected a request
by the enclave's prosecutor-general to strip Murad Petrosian
of his deputy's immunity, RFE/RL's Stepanakert correspondent
reported. Petrosian, who formerly headed the parliament's
Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee, was charged with
having assaulted a police officer two years ago. He is a
close ally of former Karabakh Defense Minister Samvel Babayan
and, like Babayan, espouses a hard line on how to resolve the
Karabakh conflict. Prosecutor-General Mavrik Ghukasian told
RFE/RL that the parliament "had no legal grounds" to reject
his request and that he will continue to seek Petrosian's
prosecution. LF

ANOTHER AZERBAIJANI JOURNALIST SENTENCED. A Baku district
court on 9 September handed down a one-year suspended
sentence on Irada Huseynova, a journalist for "Bakinskii
bulvard," whose trial resumed on 6 September, Turan reported
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 July 1999). Huseynova was charged
with slander for an article she published in that newspaper
last November referring to Djalal Aliev, the brother of the
Azerbaijani president, as "the gas station king." Djalal
Aliev brought a civil case against Huseynova last year, after
which "Bakinskii bulvard" published an apology. LF

AZERBAIJAN'S RULING PARTY EXPELS CRITIC. Siyavush Novruzov, a
leading member of the Yeni Azerbaycan party, told Turan on 8
September that Abbas Mustafaev has been expelled from the
party for activities aimed at causing a split within its
ranks and for leveling groundless accusations against party
and national leaders. Mustafaev, who headed a Baku district
branch of Yeni Azerbaycan, last year accused Labor Minister
and Yeni Azerbaycan deputy chairman Ali Nagiev of corruption.
More recently, he claimed that Nagiev was trying to split
Yeni Azerbaycan in order to found a political party of his
own (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 2, No. 34, 26 August
1999). Novruzov added that Yeni Azerbaycan will hold a party
congress in October. That congress was originally scheduled
for early summer and then postponed until September. LF

13 BLOCS TO CONTEND GEORGIAN PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS. A total
of 13 electoral blocs and 37 political parties have applied
for registration with Georgia's Central Electoral Committee
to contest the 30 October parliamentary elections, according
to Caucasus Press. The deadline for blocs to register was 6
September; individual political parties must do so by 6
October. The electoral alliances include the Batumi-based
Union for Georgian Revival and two Communist/Stalinist blocs.
But the anticipated election alliance between the ruling
Union of Citizens of Georgia and Tamaz Nadareishvili's Party
for the Liberation of Abkhazia has not materialized (see
"RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 2, No. 33, 19 August 1999). LF

GEORGIA SEEKS TO CONTAIN ANTHRAX THREAT. Georgia has imposed
stringent controls on the transport of meat and dairy
products to Tbilisi in order to combat the spread of a major
outbreak of intestinal anthrax, Caucasus Press reported on 8
September. All cattle and sheep in eastern Georgia are to be
vaccinated against the disease. The first cases of anthrax
were reported in the village of Gachiani in Garadabani Raion,
southeast of Tbilisi, in August. At least 10 people from that
village and the nearby industrial town of Rustavi have been
hospitalized suffering from anthrax. One case has been
reported in Tbilisi. LF

KAZAKH OFFICIAL SAYS FORMER PREMIER'S LAWYER WON'T REPRESENT
HIM ANY LONGER. At a news conference in Almaty on 8 September
Central Election Commission chairwoman, Zaghipa Balieva
produced what she claimed is an official statement addressed
to the commission by Vitalii Voronov, a lawyer representing
former Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin, RFE/RL's bureau in
the former capital reported. In that statement, Voronov said
he intends to sever all connections with both Kazhegeldin and
the Republican People's Party of Kazakhstan, which
Kazhegeldin heads. He accused Kazhegeldin of caring more
about his personal ambitions than the real needs of the
country. The leadership of the Republican People's Party held
an emergency session in Almaty later on 8 September to
evaluate Balieva's claims. Khabar-TV, which is headed by
President Nursultan Nazarbaev's daughter, showed footage on 8
September in which Voronov confirmed that he had sent the
statement in question to the Central Electoral Commission. LF

KAZHEGELDIN CASTS DOUBT ON AUTHENTICITY OF VORONOV
STATEMENT... In a statement addressed to the leadership of
the Republican People's Party of Kazakhstan on 8 September, a
copy of which was faxed to "RFE/RL Newsline," Kazhegeldin
said that the text of Voronin's alleged statement is worded
in a way that raises suspicions as to whether he is in fact
the author and whether he appended his signature to the
document voluntarily. Kazhegeldin notes that Voronov is bound
by legal contract to represent his interests and should have
informed him before breaking that contract. He further
suggested that Voronov was subjected to either psychological
or physical pressure by the Kazakh authorities. Kazhegeldin
affirms that, with or without Voronov, the Republican
People's Party will continue its struggle for "the people's
right to choose." LF

...PROTESTS REFUSAL TO REGISTER HIM AS PARLIAMENTARY
CANDIDATE. In a statement addressed to the Supreme Court of
Kazakhstan on 8 September, a copy of which was made available
to "RFE/RL Newsline," Kazhegeldin deplored the refusal of the
Central Electoral Commission to register him and two leading
members of the Workers' Party as candidates for the 10
October election to the lower house of the parliament. In all
three cases, the Central Electoral Commission based its
refusal on administrative offenses. Madel Ismailov was
sentenced to one year in prison for insulting the honor and
dignity of President Nazarbaev, while Vladimir Chernyshev was
refused registration for having laid flowers at the foot of a
monument to Lenin. Kazhegeldin appealed to the judges to
reverse their decision to enable him to register as a
parliamentary candidate before the 9 September deadline for
doing so expires. LF

KYRGYZ OFFICIALS DENY NEGOTIATING WITH GUERRILLAS.
Presidential press secretary Kanybek Imanaliev and a Security
Ministry spokesman both denied on 8 September that Kyrgyz
defense and security officials are conducting talks with the
ethnic Uzbek militants holding 13 hostages in southern
Kyrgyzstan, RFE/RL's bureau in the Kyrgyz capital reported.
But a police official in Osh Oblast told RFE/RL that eight
Kyrgyz officials, led by Colonel Talant Razzakov from the
Security Ministry, arrived in the village of Kan by
helicopter earlier on 8 September to meet with guerrilla
representatives, who failed to show up. Security Council
Secretary Bolot Djanuzakov told journalists in Bishkek on 8
September that talks are being held with the guerrillas, but
exclusively through the mediation of local officials and
NGOs. One Kyrgyz soldier was killed and two wounded on 8
September in an exchange of fire with the guerrillas, ITAR-
TASS reported. LF

KYRGYZ PRESIDENT WANTS RUSSIAN AIR POWER. Speaking live on
ORT, Askar Akaev said that Russian air support would be the
most effective weapon against the guerrillas, Interfax
reported on 8 September. Akaev said that the Kyrgyz armed
forces are strong enough to drive the militants back into
Tajikistan but have not attempted to do so in order not to
endanger the lives of the hostages. LF

KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT DEBATES HOSTAGE CRISIS. After a one-week
debate, the Kyrgyz parliament adopted a resolution on the
situation in Osh Oblast on 8 September, Interfax and RFE/RL's
Bishkek bureau reported. The contents of that resolution have
not been made public. But the parliament did vote to provide
economic aid to victims of the conflict and to amend budget
spending to provide funds for that purpose and additional
funds for the Defense Ministry. Deputies voted down a
proposal to move the capital from Bishkek to the town of Osh,
according to Interfax. LF

UZBEK PRESIDENT SAYS GUERRILLAS PART OF 'INTERNATIONAL
CONSPIRACY.' Addressing foreign diplomats on 7 September,
Islam Karimov said that the hostage-taking in southern
Kyrgyzstan was prepared long in advance and constitutes part
of a major conspiracy orchestrated by Islamic terrorists who
aim to establish an Islamic state in Central Asia, Interfax
reported. "One cannot be complacent and disregard this
threat," Karimov added. On 8 September, Uzbek Defense
Minister Khikmatulla Tursunov said that Tashkent has
tightened control of its borders and placed its armed forces
on alert in response to the hostage-taking. He described the
guerrillas as "criminals" who "do not represent any country
or political party." LF

END NOTE

KULIKOV SAYS MONEY SCANDAL COULD SPUR DUMA INTO ACTION

By Roland Eggleston

Former Russian Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov says
investigations into the reported transfer of billions of
dollars to a New York bank could spur the Russian parliament
into approving legislation on money laundering.
	Kulikov, who attended a conference in Germany last week
on international crime, said Russian law enforcement agencies
had been pushing for such legislation for six years but had
failed to persuade parliament to act.
	U.S. and Russian investigators are checking the transfer
of billions of dollars in Russian money through the Bank of
New York over the past 18 months. There are suspicions that
some of the money may be part of a money-laundering scheme to
conceal the origin of profits made in illegal operations.
	"Our opponents claim that if banks had to provide
information on their hard currency operations to the
authorities it would violate the international covenants on
human and civil rights," Kulikov told RFE/RL.
	"But we take the United States as an example," he
continued. "The U.S. is a mature democracy, but they do have
a provision in their law which allows the U.S. government to
compel banks to disclose information on some activities that
might seem illegal and on the basis of this legal provision
they can take on even such a powerful institution as the Bank
of New York."
	The U.S. began controlling money laundering in 1970 when
Congress passed a law requiring financial institutions to
file reports about any transaction exceeding $10,000 and to
keep those records on file for five years. Later laws imposed
even stricter regulations. Money laundering is now a criminal
offense and banks and financial institutions are required to
report any transaction that they consider suspicious.
	Kulikov said he believes the U.S. laws set an example
that should be followed by Russian lawmakers. He said
corruption in Russia is so pervasive that it has serious
consequences for the national economy.
	"It influences the level of foreign investment in our
economy," he said. "I know that firms and companies planning
to participate in various economic projects earmark up to 50
percent of their investment to bribe government officials.
This is a very serious problem."
	He said firm government action is needed, adding that
the fight against corruption can be effective only with the
political will of the government. "No president or government
in Russia will succeed in economic reform until it resolves
the problem of corruption," he argued.
	Kulikov said he still favors the creation of an
independent anti-corruption panel, which he first proposed in
1997 but has never been implemented, despite initial support
from President Boris Yeltsin and then Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin.
	"[The commission] would be subordinate to either the
president or the prime minister," he said. "It would be
independent of all the other law-enforcement agencies.
Otherwise it would be impossible to fight corruption within
these law-enforcement agencies--to act as police of the
police."
	Kulikov said that his proposal to President Yeltsin in
late 1997 was made after he received information about money
laundering and financial activities in foreign countries by
some Russian government officials. He said his goal was to
have this money returned to Russia and to create obstacles
for those wanting to move their money out of the country.
	According to Kulikov, President Yeltsin agreed that the
commission should be established. He said it was also
supported by Chernomyrdin and by other officials but never
implemented.
	Other Russian officials at the crime conference told
RFE/RL that the flight of capital is an important factor in
the Russian economic crisis. They estimated that since 1992
as much as $100-150 billion have been sent abroad by various
means.
	Russia has regulations against exporting capital. But
the officials said that in recent years Russians at all
levels have moved capital and assets abroad with relative
impunity. The situation is said to have worsened since the
collapse of the ruble a year ago. Some estimates suggest that
between $1-2 billion slips out of the country every month.
While much of it is considered to be flight of capital from
the Russian economy, some of it is believed to be money
laundering by criminals.

The author is an RFE/RL correspondent based in Munich,
Germany.
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