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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 179, Part I, 14 September 1999
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 179, Part I, 14 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 * FEDERAL, CITY OFFICIALS BLAME ISLAMIC INSURGENTS FOR MOSCOW BLASTS * CHECHNYA DIGS IN AHEAD OF ANTICIPATED RUSSIAN ATTACK * TAJIK OPPOSITION LEADER PROTESTS RESTRICTIONS ON OPPOSITION PARTIES xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx RUSSIA FEDERAL, CITY OFFICIALS BLAME ISLAMIC INSURGENTS FOR MOSCOW BLASTS... Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov told reporters on 13 September that two people suspected of involvement in the explosion on Kashirskoe Road have been detained, while First Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Aksenenko announced that "a ring of suspects" are in custody. Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo noted the same day that a man is being sought who rented premises in both buildings using the documents of a man who died in January. He added that his ministry is "all but certain that one and the same team of terrorists" is behind the explosions on Kashirskoe and Guryanov streets. "We have no doubt that events in Dagestan and the explosions in Buinaksk and Moscow are links in the same chain," he added. Mayor Luzhkov told reporters that "we are naming the source of this terrorism Chechen bandits." JAC ...AS OTHERS POINT FINGERS IN DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS. The Russian government newspaper "Rossiiskaya gazeta" argued on 14 September that among those groups who stand to gain from the "ostentatious explosions" are Chechen extremists who "want to create a great state in the Caucasus," international terrorists who see the Caucasus "as a bridgehead for large- scale actions," world oil barons "who want to redraw the map of a rich region in their favor," and "those people who want Russia to be immersed in local conflicts and retire from the world stage." The same day, "Moskovskii komsomolets," a newspaper close to Luzhkov, accused the mayor's arch foe, media magnate Boris Berezovskii, of arranging the invasion of Dagestan. The previous day, the newspaper accused Russia's secret services of arranging the recent explosions. Meanwhile, State Duma deputy and Communist faction member Viktor Ilyukhin accused the Kremlin of plotting the bombings to discredit Moscow Mayor Luzhkov. JAC DEATH TOLL CONTINUES TO SOAR IN LATEST MOSCOW BOMBING... The tally of those who died in the explosion on 13 September on Moscow's Kashirskoe Road had climbed to 116 as of the late morning (local time) the next day, according to the federal Emergencies Ministry. Eleven of the dead were children, while nine people have been hospitalized. The blast on Guryanov street on 9 September killed more than 90 people. The Kashirskoe blast was caused by a bomb equal to 440 pounds of TNT planted in a storage area of the apartment building, according to Interfax. JAC ...AS ANOTHER EXPLOSION THWARTED. The next day, Interior Minister Rushailo said that another blast was prevented when police officials cleared explosives from a building on Borisovskie Prudi street in the southern part of the city, Interfax reported. In addition, Rushailo claimed that reports from a number of people led to the discovery of several caches of ammunition, from one of which 3,800 kilograms of explosives were seized. JAC SECURITY TIGHTENED IN MOSCOW... The head of Moscow's police department, Nikolai Kulikov, told Russian Public Television on 13 September that additional Interior Ministry troops are being assigned to the capital and that the city's police will guard practically every Moscow residence and thoroughly inspect all ground floors and cellars. According to "Segodnya" the next day, all Moscow policemen have been assigned 12-hour shifts without the possibility of days off. Moscow Mayor Luzhkov the same day announced that all temporary residents of the city will have to re-register within three days. JAC ...AND IN REGIONS. Local police in Rostov-na-Donu have undertaken measures to improve security in the city, such as searching empty houses and apartments and organizing tenants and public associations to patrol territories adjacent to apartment blocks, ITAR-TASS reported on 13 September. Meanwhile, administration officials in Nizhnii Novgorod met with local law enforcement officials and owners of large residential properties to discuss ways to prevent terrorist acts. Interior Ministry and Federal Security Service officials have already started checks of offices, attics, and basements, according to the agency. Similar searches were conducted in Kemerovo Oblast, while all trains arriving from the North Caucasus are being thoroughly searched. JAC CAUCASIANS FEAR DISCRIMINATION, BACKLASH. Following Moscow Mayor Luzhkov's statements that the recent explosions were the work of Chechen gangsters taking revenge for the defeat of Islamic extremists in Dagestan and that "special attention will be paid to visitors from the [Chechen] republic and cargo arriving from there," human rights group officials in Russia expressed fear that the civil rights of persons of Caucasian origin may be violated, "The Moscow Times" reported on 14 September. In addition, according to the daily, Russian Muslim leaders say that Russia's central media and politicians are enflaming public opinion against Muslims by equating all Muslims with extremists and bandits. "Izvestiya" reported the same day, without reference to sources, that Russia's intelligence services have various measures at their disposal, such as threatened tax audits, to pressure members of the Chechen diaspora who "support the criminals" behind the explosions. JAC CHECHNYA DIGS IN AHEAD OF ANTICIPATED RUSSIAN ATTACK. Speaking on Chechen Television on 13 September, President Aslan Maskhadov again warned that there is real danger that Russia will launch another attack on Chechnya in retaliation for the Moscow apartment house bombings. Maskhadov, who on 11 September extended the state of emergency he had imposed in mid-August, called on the population to take up arms in readiness to repulse a new attack. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 14 September quoted Maskhadov as saying that more than 300 people have been killed in Russian air raids on Chechnya that began in late August and continued on 9-10 September and 13 September. Chechen officials have begun constructing a series of defensive barricades and trenches along Chechnya's border with Kursk Raion of neighboring Stavropol Krai, according to ITAR-TASS on 13 September. LF LULL IN DAGHESTAN FIGHTING? A spokesman for the self-styled Islamic Government of Daghestan confirmed on 13 September that all Chechen militants have retreated to Chechnya from Novolaksk Raion, Caucasus Press reported. According to Russian Television the same day, however, fighting is continuing for control of five villages in Novolaksk. Some reports claim that the Wahhabi residents of the villages of Chabanmakhi and Karamakhi have taken refuge in Chechnya, whereas others say they have abandoned the villages for the surrounding mountains. According to "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 14 September, the federal forces' failure to prevent the Chechen retreat has reinforced the Daghestani authorities' discontent with Moscow's handling of the situation in their republic. Also on 13 September, Daghestan's Interior Minister Adilgirey Magomedtagirov met with Chechen Deputy Interior Minister Khamzat Khatsiev at the border between Chechnya and Daghestan to discuss an exchange of bodies of Chechen militants killed in the fighting for citizens of Daghestan held hostage in Chechnya. LF COHEN SAYS AGREEMENT ON ABM POSSIBLE... Following talks with Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeev in Moscow on 13 September, U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen told Ekho Moskvy that he believes that the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty can be modified in such a way as to take into account both Russian and U.S. concerns. While Sergeev was reported to be more reticent on the prospects for amending the treaty, the Russian minister said Moscow wants to improve military relations with the U.S.--even though Russia's assessment of the NATO operation in Kosova "has not changed." The same day, the two leaders signed an agreement on stationing military officers from both countries at the Y2K Center for Strategic Stability in Colorado during the year 2000 transition (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 September 1999). JC ...VOWS TO COOPERATE IN FIGHTING TERRORISM. Condemning the 13 September explosion in Moscow's Kashirskoe Road as a "cowardly and callous act of terrorism," Cohen told his Russian counterpart that the U.S. is prepared to work with Russia to combat terrorism. He told journalists later that specific measures had not been discussed. Chairman of the State Duma Committee for Defense Roman Popkovich, meanwhile, made a specific proposal during his meeting with Cohen at the U.S. ambassador's residence in Moscow. Popkovich suggested that a joint anti-terrorist center be set up to promote the exchange of information, sharing of equipment, and "material- technical assistance" in the fight against terrorism. JC PARTY LIST DRAWN UP BY LDPR... Delegates to the Liberal Democratic Party's (LDPR) congress in Moscow on 11 September chose candidates for its federal party list. LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovskii will head the group, followed by Krasnoyarsk Aluminum Plant head Anatolii Bykov and State Duma deputy Mikhail Musatov, "The Moscow Times" reported on 14 September. Bykov, for whom a warrant has been issued on charges of money-laundering, is a foe of Krasnoyarsk Krai Governor Aleksandr Lebed (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 1 September 1999). Former head of the Moscow National Bank Ashot Yegiazaryan will hold the number 12 slot, "Segodnya" reported the previous day. Yegiazaryan's brother owned the apartment where the infamous video was filmed of former Prosecutor-General Yurii Skuratov cavorting with two female prostitutes. According to Zhirinovskii, the party's candidate for the Moscow mayoral race might be Duma Geopolitics Committee Chairman Aleksei Mitrofanov. JAC ...AND SPIRITUAL HERITAGE. The Spiritual Heritage bloc announced on 13 September the names of its three top candidates to head its party list, ITAR-TASS reported. Leading the list are Spiritual Heritage leader Aleksei Podberezkin, writer Petr Proskurin, and State Duma deputy Valerii Vorotnikov. According to Podberezkin, the bloc will finalize its list of candidates and submit it to the Central Election Board by 15 September. JAC KREMLIN OFFICIAL SENDS OFF MORE LETTERS TO THE EDITOR. The same letter as, or one strikingly similar to, that from presidential chief of staff Aleksandr Voloshin to Italian daily "Corriere della Sera" on 12 September has been sent to a number of U.S. publications warning them that the Kremlin is ready to "use the entire force of international law" to bring an end to the anti-Russian campaign of slander using "a certain invented financial scandal," ITAR-TASS reported on 14 September. According to the agency, unidentified sources at the Russian embassy in Washington, D.C. reported that the letter was sent to "The New York Times," "The Wall Street Journal," "USA Today," and "Newsweek." JAC RAISA GORBACHEV TOO WEAK FOR BONE MARROW TRANSPLANT. Vladimir Polyakov, a consultant for the Gorbachev Foundation, told Interfax on 13 September that Raisa Gorbachev is too weak for doctors to set a date for her planned bone marrow transplant. The wife of the former Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, is running a temperature and is an a weakened state following chemotherapy, Polyakov said. Raisa Gorbachev has been receiving treatment at a hospital in Muenster, Germany, since late July. JC TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA ARMENIA LIKELY TO BECOME FULL MEMBER OF COUNCIL OF EUROPE IN 2000. Lord Russell Johnston, who is president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, told journalists in Yerevan on 13 September that he will be "very surprised" if Armenia is not accepted into full membership of the council next year, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. He noted "a great change" over the past two years in implementation of legal reform and in the conduct of elections. He added that lack of progress in resolving the Karabakh conflict is unlikely to have a negative impact on Armenia's chances of acceptance, as Armenia and Azerbaijan "are not Siamese twins." The three South Caucasus states were granted special guest status in the Council of Europe in 1996. Georgia was accepted as a full member earlier this year (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 April 1999). LF ARMENIAN NEWSPAPER EDITOR APPEALS JAIL SENTENCE. Nikol Pashinian, editor of "Oragir" and its successor, "Haykakan zhamanak," has asked the Review Court to annul the one-year prison sentence for slander that a Yerevan court handed down to him two weeks earlier (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 and 2 September 1999), RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported on 13 September. Pashinian said if the Review Court fails to overturn that sentence, which he considers illegal, he will appeal to the Court of Appeals. LF AZERBAIJAN'S PRESIDENT TALKS TOUGH. Meeting with visiting U.S. State Department official William Taylor in Baku on 13 September, Heidar Aliev said he sees no point in attending the summit of presidents of South Caucasus states in Tbilisi on 10-11 October, Turan reported. Aliev argued that no cooperation is possible between Azerbaijan and Armenia until a political solution is found to what he termed the "military conflict" between the two countries. The Tbilisi summit, initiated by U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, is to focus on regional cooperation in the energy, ecology, and transportation spheres. LF GEORGIAN MINISTER OF STATE REPORTS ON BUDGET. Addressing the parliament on 10 September, Minister of State Vazha Lortkipanidze said Georgia's current budget deficit amounts to 356 million lari ($180 million), Caucasus Press reported. As a result, Lortkipanidze said, the government still owes a total of 42.8 million lari in wage and pension arrears for 1999. He noted there are problems with funding the army, police, and border guards. And he called for changes in Georgia's investment policy to attract investment in larger enterprises. LF KAZAKH OFFICIALS NOT ALLOWED ACCESS TO DETAINED EX-PREMIER. Kazakhstan's Prosecutor-General Yurii Khitrin has not been permitted to visit former Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin, who was hospitalized in Moscow after being detained by Russian police on his arrival from London on 10 September, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. But in a telephone conversation, Khitrin urged Kazhegeldin to return "voluntarily" to Kazakhstan. The Russian authorities also rejected a request by Kazakhstan's Ambassador to Russia Tair Mansurov to order Kazhegeldin's extradition to Kazakhstan so that he face charges of tax evasion and illegally possession property abroad. Those authorities said the evidence offered does not adequately substantiate those charges. In Almaty, several members of Kazhegeldin's People's Republican Party of Kazakhstan have launched a hunger strike after being arrested and fined on 11 September for staging a demonstration to protest Kazhegeldin's detention. LF EBRD CONCERNED OVER KAZAKHSTAN'S TAX POLICY. At a meeting in Almaty on 13 September with President Nursultan Nazarbaev, a senior European Bank for Reconstruction and Development official urged that Kazakhstan ensure the "transparency and objectivity" of tax collection, Interfax reported. The delegation also questioned whether investors are treated equally and expressed concern over frequent changes in legislation and tax standards. LF KYRGYZ MEDIATOR HEADS FOR MEETING WITH MILITANTS. Security Ministry senior official Talant Razzakov told RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau on 13 September that human rights activist Tursunbek Akunov traveled to Batken the previous day to meet with the leader of a band of several hundred ethnic Uzbeks who are holding hostages in southern Kyrgyzstan. Razzakov said Akunov has orders from the Kyrgyz leadership not to hand over a message from the Kyrgyz government on negotiations on the hostages' release before he has met the hostages in person. Interfax on 13 September cited an unnamed Kyrgyz army source as saying the army command headquarters in southern Kyrgyzstan fears that more guerrillas may try to cross the border from Tajikistan into Kyrgyzstan. LF TAJIK OPPOSITION LEADER PROTESTS RESTRICTIONS ON OPPOSITION PARTIES. United Tajik Opposition leader Said Abdullo Nuri has written to President Imomali Rakhmonov and to the UN and the OSCE expressing concern at what he terms the persecution of some opposition parties, Asia Plus-Blitz reported on 14 September. Nuri cites the refusal of the Supreme Court to register the National Movement of Tajikistan, the court proceedings on banning the activities of the Agrarian Party, and the invalidation of the registration of the Adolat va Tarakiyot Party. He demands that in order to facilitate the peace and democratization process in the country, equal conditions be created for all political parties to participate in the upcoming elections. LF TAJIK GOVERNMENT SEEKS TO PERSUADE REFUGEES TO RETURN. The Tajik government has issued a decree allocating financial compensation to displaced persons and hundreds of thousands of refugees who fled the country during the 1992-1997 civil war, Asia Plus-Blitz reported on 13 September. Under the decree, families whose homes were destroyed will receive credits of 300,000 Tajik rubles ($200) toward the cost of building new housing and buying household goods and cattle. There are 14,000 Tajik refugees in Kyrgyzstan alone, of whom 74 percent have applied for Kyrgyz citizenship. LF xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word subscribe as the subject of the message. HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE Send an email to email@example.com with the word unsubscribe as the subject of the message. 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