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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 180, Part I, 15 September 1999
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 180, Part I, 15 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 * PUTIN OUTLINES PLAN TO ISOLATE CHECHNYA * KREMLIN, GOVERNMENT REJECT DECLARING STATE OF EMERGENCY * AZERBAIJAN CONDEMNS ALLEGED ARMENIAN CLAIM ON NAKHICHEVAN xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx RUSSIA PUTIN OUTLINES PLAN TO ISOLATE CHECHNYA. Addressing the Russian State Duma on 14 September, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said he is absolutely convinced of a Chechen connection in the Moscow bombings. He cast doubt on the sincerity of Chechen leaders' denials of any involvement in those blasts, arguing that their failure to take measures to prevent such attacks is tantamount to approval of them. But, Putin continued, Chechen complicity does not justify calls for "annihilating the Chechen people." Putin proposed the following measures to exert pressure on Chechnya: an "objective" reassessment of the 1996 Khasavyurt agreement; the imposition of a strict cordon sanitaire along Chechnya's borders (he did not specify whether this would extend to Chechnya's border with Georgia) and the "destruction" of all Chechen guerrilla bands; and the creation of a Chechen government in exile. The 1994 war in Chechnya began after such a government, which was backed by Russia and was in opposition to then President Dzhokhar Dudaev, launched an abortive attack on Grozny with covert Russian military support (see "RFE/RL Daily Report," 28 November 1994). LF CHECHEN PRESIDENT ADVOCATES JOINT ACTION WITH RUSSIA AGAINST TERRORISM. Aslan Maskhadov has written to President Boris Yeltsin proposing joint action against terrorism in Russia and the North Caucasus, Chechnya's permanent representative in Moscow, Mairbek Vachagaev, told journalists on 14 September. Vachagaev added that Maskhadov has authorized him to state officially that "ethnic Chechens and citizens of the Chechen Republic Ichkeria" had no connection with the two recent apartment building bombings in Moscow. Vachagaev cast doubt on the veracity of Russian media reports that Jordanian-born Chechen field commander Khattab was responsible for the blasts. But he added that if those reports prove true, Khattab will be expelled from Chechnya. Interfax on 14 September quoted Khattab as denying responsibility for the blast. Khattab added that he is fighting the Russian army, not women and children. LF CHECHEN FOREIGN MINISTRY CONDEMNS BOMBINGS. The Chechen Foreign Ministry issued an official statement on 14 September condemning the Moscow blasts and affirming that "Ichkeria stands firmly against terrorism in any manifestation," according to Interfax. The statement also described as "terrorist" the ongoing Russian air raids against villages in southern Chechnya, which Russian Defense Ministry officials say are directed against guerrilla bases. In an interview with "Moskovskie novosti," President Maskhadov termed the air raids "real aggression" and warned that if Russia again invades Chechnya, more Chechens will take up arms in self- defense than did so in 1994. Maskhadov again affirmed that neither the Chechen leadership nor the Chechen people initiated last month's incursion into Daghestan. LF KREMLIN, GOVERNMENT REJECT DECLARING STATE OF EMERGENCY... Prime Minister Putin advised members of the State Duma on 14 September not to rush consideration of a bill on declaring a state of emergency in Russia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 August 1999). He said he is "convinced that an effective application of current laws will remove from the agenda discussion of the application of the outdated 1991 law on the state of emergency." The same day, presidential chief of staff Aleksandr Voloshin and his deputy, Igor Shabdurasulov, dismissed Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov's claims that plans are under way to declare a state of emergency following the recent explosions in the country's capital. Zyuganov told reporters earlier that he has seen two pages of proposals from the presidential administration on introducing a state of emergency and that the plans are aimed at allowing the president to cancel elections. JAC ...AS DO BULK OF POLITICAL ELITE. Zyuganov's remarks accompanied public comments from a wide variety of policymakers, including State Duma Chairman Gennadii Seleznev and former Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin, who are against declaring a state of emergency. In an interview with "Trud" on 15 September, the leader of the Fatherland-All Russia bloc, Yevgenii Primakov, repeated his opposition to such a move, noting that it "may be used by certain political forces to further their own political interests." St. Petersburg Governor Aleksandr Yakovlev said on 15 September that most of his colleagues in the Federation Council do not think "a state of emergency should be imposed." The upper chamber will hold an extraordinary session on 17 September to discuss recent developments in Daghestan and the explosions in Moscow. JAC MOSCOW CITIZENRY ORGANIZING MILITIAS... In addition to an enhanced police presence, some Moscow residents have organized themselves into self-defense groups to patrol their neighborhoods in the hope of preventing another apartment blast, AFP reported on 14 September. According to the agency, in some districts kiosk vendors are being paid by residents to watch comings and goings from their buildings. The government newspaper "Rossiiskaya gazeta" reported the next day that 14,500 agents of the Main Moscow Department of the Interior Ministry and 9,500 Interior Ministry troops have been deployed in Moscow. JAC ...AS REGIONAL LAW ENFORCEMENT EFFORTS INTENSIFIED. Outside Moscow, law enforcement officials are increasing their inspections of trains and trucks that enter their regions. In St. Petersburg, trade has been prohibited outside the city's metro stations, "Izvestiya" reported on 15 September. In Vologda, local policemen are working 12-hour shifts in order to apprehend the suspected "terrorist" responsible for an explosion at a local hotel on 14 September, according to the daily. In Stavropol, local police have been instructed to register all intercity transport. Meanwhile, local political leaders have expressed various views on the crisis and its causes. Novgorod Governor Mikhail Prusak recommended that Chechnya be granted political independence from Russia and that the border between Dagestan and Chechnya be made a state border. Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov recommended stopping all Russian military actions in the Caucasus and trying to settle the conflict by political means, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 14 September. JAC COHEN PINS HOPES ON NEXT DUMA FOR START-2 RATIFICATION. Visiting Severodvinsk, Arkhangelsk Oblast, on 14 September, U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen said Russian senior defense officials have told him that the current State Duma is unlikely to ratify START-2. ITAR-TASS quoted the U.S. secretary as saying he is "sure" that the treaty will be ratified by the next lower house. The following day, Duma Chairman Seleznev told reporters that the Duma is not planning to debate START-2 ratification in the near future, according to the Russian news agency. Cohen was in Severodvinsk to witness the destruction of Russian nuclear submarines under the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program with the U.S. JC IVASHOV THREATENS TO WITHDRAW RUSSIAN TROOPS FROM KFOR... Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov, the chief of the Russian Defense Ministry's department for international military cooperation, said in Moscow on 14 September that KFOR has failed to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1244, Interfax reported. Ivashov warned that Russia will consider withdrawing its forces from Kosova, arguing that "80 percent of Serbs living [in Kosova] have become refugees." He also complained that KFOR has not allowed Yugoslav security forces back into Kosova "As a result, the borders [of Kosova] remain open.... Weapons and drugs keep arriving," he said. "If the tendency for [Kosova's] secession from Yugoslavia becomes irreversible..., the Federation Council may raise the question of whether our contingent's further stay in the region is expedient," Ivashov concluded. FS ...QUESTIONS UCK DISARMAMENT. Ivashov also said in Moscow on 14 September that he is "absolutely sure" that the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) will not be disarmed by the demilitarization deadline of 19 September. He claimed that the UCK has so far surrendered only some 4,000 weapons, most of which are outdated. He also said that "the UCK is evolving into a political force and is replacing the local government." UN Special Representative Bernard Kouchner is scheduled to visit Moscow on 15 September to explain to Russian officials the plan for the creation of a Kosova Corps, ITAR-TASS reported. Russia earlier rejected the creation of the corps (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 September 1999). FS MORE NAMES ADDED TO MORE PARTY LISTS... Delegates to the congress of the Movement to Support the Army on 11 September approved its party list for the upcoming State Duma elections, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 14 September. The movement's list will be headed by State Duma Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin, Duma deputy Albert Makashov, and Yurii Savaliev, rector of the St. Petersburg University of Military Mechanics. Meanwhile, Sakhalin Governor Igor Farkhutdinov will head the regional list of Our Home Is Russia movement, followed by Ilya Rosenbaum, general director of the Geometall-Plus in Magadan, and Vladimir Kolesnichenko, vice president of the Dalnii Vostok financial- industrial group, Interfax-Eurasia reported the same day. JAC ...AS LEBED SAYS HIS PARTIES WON'T RUN. On 15 September, Krasnoyarsk Governor Aleksandr Lebed told reporters that the People's Republican Party of Russia and the Honor and Motherland movement, both of which he heads, will not participate in State Duma elections, Interfax reported. Lebed said that it would be a "shame" to participate in such a ballot. "One and the same people, who everyone is sick and tired of and who for 10 years have known what should be done but don't say it, are running," he added. JAC KHAKAMADA TO RUN FROM ST. PETE IN DUMA ELECTIONS. Irina Khakamada, a leader of the Union of Rightist Forces (SPS), told Interfax-Northwest on 14 September that she will run from an electoral district in St. Petersburg in the upcoming State Duma elections. She noted that the SPS has decided to rise to the challenge of notorious television journalist and nationalist Duma deputy Aleksandr Nevzorov, who was behind a recent report shown first by Russian Public Television (ORT) and then by Petersburg Television that mocked several liberal politicians, including Khakamada. As a result of its decision to re-broadcast that program, for which ORT had already received a warning, Petersburg Television was taken off the air by the Mass Media Ministry for some 42 hours (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 8 September 1999). Khakamada occupies third place on SPS's election list, after former Premier Sergei Kirienko and former First Deputy Premier Boris Nemtsov. JC SOME SCHOOLS REMAIN CLOSED IN ALMOST A DOZEN REGIONS. According to the union of education and science workers, more than 10,000 education workers at 400 schools in 11 regions are continuing their strike to demand payment of back wages, Interfax reported on 14 September. The eleven regions are the Republics of Khakassia and Altai as well as Chita, Smolensk, Kursk, Kurgan, Tver, Kostroma, Volgograd, Irkutsk, and Sakhalin Oblasts. Teachers and other education workers are owed a total of 11.4 billion rubles ($446 million), according to the union. That figure is down 14 percent, compared with the beginning of the school year in 1998. ITAR-TASS reported that the situation last year was considerably more tense with some 2,500 schools remaining closed after 1 September (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 8 September 1999). JAC PRESIDENT INAUGURATED IN KARACHAEVO-CHERKESSIA. Vladimir Semenov was formally sworn in as president of the Republic of Karachaev-Cherkessia on 14 September in Ust-Djeguti, the republic's second-largest town, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported. The ceremony took place against the wishes of the Russian leadership and neither Semenov's defeated rival candidate, Stanislav Derev, nor Moscow's appointee as temporary head of the republic, Valentin Vlasov, attended. Semenov appealed for harmony and tolerance between the republic's ethnic groups. International Cherkess Association leader Boris Akbashev, one of Derev's most prominent supporters, told "Nezavisimaya gazeta" that if Semenov is inaugurated as president, the republic's minority Cherkess community will establish a temporary parallel administration representing the Cherkess autonomous territorial formation that they are demanding. Semenov has said that the issue of splitting the Karachaevo-Cherkess Republic should be put to a referendum. LF NEW TRANSNEFT HEAD IN THE PIPELINE? Fuel and Energy Minister Viktor Kalyuzhnii on 14 September dismissed Dmitrii Savelev, the head of the giant pipeline company, Transneft, and named Semen Vainshtok, a former vice president of LUKoil, to replace him. Deputy Fuel and Energy Minister Vladimir Stanev told reporters that the ministry is dissatisfied with the company's management and financial performance. He added that dividends on the company's shares have been paid only once in the last six years. Last year, the company's financial losses totaled 495 million rubles ($19.4 million), according to "Vremya MN" on 15 September. In the meantime, Transneft has sent a letter to Prime Minister Putin complaining that Savelev's dismissal breaches the law on joint-stock companies, "The Moscow Times" reported. Savelev said since the decision was illegal, he is refusing to step down and will not let Vainshtok on company premises, according to ITAR-TASS. JAC TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA ARMENIAN, AZERBAIJANI DEFENSE MINISTERS MEET. Vagharshak Harutiunian and Safar Abiev met on the northern frontier between Armenia and Azerbaijan on 14 September to discuss strengthening border security and preventing violations of the cease-fire that took effect in 1994, Reuters and RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The two countries' presidents agreed to the meeting last month during talks in Geneva (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 August 1999). Speaking at a press briefing in Yerevan on 14 September, presidential press spokesman Vahe Gabrielian said that at their most recent meeting in Yalta on 10 September, Robert Kocharian and Heidar Aliev agreed that peace talks under the aegis of the OSCE Minsk Group should be resumed, according to Noyan Tapan. They also agreed on unspecified confidence-building measures in the border zone and in the vicinity of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. LF AZERBAIJAN CONDEMNS ALLEGED ARMENIAN CLAIM ON NAKHICHEVAN. Azerbaijan's State Foreign Policy Adviser Vafa Guluzade has said that a recent statement by Armenians from the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhichevan constitutes an Armenian government claim on Azerbaijani territory, Noyan Tapan reported on 15 September. Guluzade hinted that Baku might respond to that claim by demanding the return to Armenia of some 200,000 ethnic Azerbaijanis who fled in 1988. Meeting in Yerevan on 11 September, representatives of an estimated 400,000 Armenians who originated from Nakhichevan formed a National Council of Nakhichevan Armenians. That council adopted an appeal to the Armenian parliament to declare invalid the provision of the 1921 treaty whereby Nakhichevan was designated part of the Azerbaijan SSR. The region had formerly been part of the Yerevan province of the Tsarist Empire and of the independent Armenian Republic in 1918-1920. Presidential spokesman Gabrielian pointed out that the National Council of Nakhichevan Armenians is a public organization, not an official government body. LF UN MEDIATOR TRIES TO KICKSTART ABKHAZ TALKS... UN special representative in Georgia Liviu Bota held talks with Georgian Minister of State Vazha Lortkipanidze in Tbilisi on 13 September but reportedly failed to set a date for further talks between Tbilisi and Sukhumi on resolving the Abkhaz conflict, Caucasus Press reported. The following day in Sukhumi, Bota met with Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba, who backed Bota's proposal to convene a session of the Georgian-Abkhaz Coordinating Council before the end of this month to discuss security issues, according to Interfax. Arzdinba told Bota he had written to Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze expressing concern at reports that Georgian guerrillas plan subversive activities in Abkhazia's southernmost Gali Raion in the runup to the Abkhaz presidential elections on 3 October. Tbilisi does not recognize the validity of that poll, in which Arzdzinba is the sole candidate. Bota, who has been appointed Romania's representative to the OSCE, extended his term in Georgia after Russia vetoed all other candidates proposed to succeed him as the UN Secretary-General's special representative there. LF ...AS NATO RULES OUT KOSOVA-STYLE INTERVENTION. Chris Donnelly, who is an adviser to NATO Secretary-General George Robertson, told the Georgian parliament's Defense and Security Committee on 13 September that NATO will not intervene in Abkhazia, Interfax reported. Donnelly explained that NATO's intervention in Kosova was launched only after it became clear that all other peace efforts had failed and that the situation in the former Yugoslavia threatened European security. By contrast, Interfax quoted Donnelly as saying, NATO does not consider Abkhazia such a danger. He added that it is time to work out a model for resolving conflicts in the South Caucasus. Leading Georgian politicians have for months been campaigning for NATO military intervention in Abkhazia. LF KAZAKHSTAN RETRACTS ORDER FOR FORMER PREMIER'S ARREST. Kazakhstan's Prosecutor-General Yurii Khitrin on 14 September retracted the order for the arrest of Akezhan Kazhegeldin, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. The Russian authorities had rejected that request, saying the charges brought against Kazhegeldin are not adequately documented. The former premier is accused of tax evasion and illegal possession of property abroad. The Russian OMON guards outside Kazhegeldin's room at the Barvikha sanatorium, where he is under observation after suffering a suspected heart attack, were removed late on 14 September. In Almaty, members of Kazhegeldin's People's Republican Party of Kazakhstan who tried to stage a protest demonstration outside the Russian Embassy on 14 September to demand his release were immediately dispersed by police. Six of them were arrested, fined, and warned that they would receive labor camp sentences if they participated in further such unsanctioned demonstrations. LF KAZAKHSTAN HOSTS REGIONAL SECURITY CONFERENCE. Foreign ministers from 16 countries (Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Palestine, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Uzbekistan) signed a declaration on the principles of mutual relations at a conference in Almaty on 14 September. Observers from 10 other countries also attended. Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev told participants that the problem of ensuring regional security is of special significance for Asian states, since the region accounts for two-thirds of the world's population and 55 percent of global GDP. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov stressed that security in Asia is a key priority of Russia's foreign policy. The conference is intended to function as an Asian security body modeled on the OSCE (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 June 1999). LF KAZAKH AUTHORITIES ARREST MIG SALE SUSPECT. Kazakhstan's National Security Committee has arrested a man suspected of acting as intermediary in the sale of some 30-40 MiG-21 fighter aircraft to North Korea, AP and Interfax reported on 14 September. AP quoted National Security Committee press spokesman Kenzhebulat Beknazarov as saying that the man was paid $1.8 million for his services. Kazakhstan's Foreign Minister Kasymzhomart Toqaev on 12 September denied that the Kazakh government had any knowledge of the sale (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 September 1999). LF UZBEK GUERRILLAS AGREE TO TALKS WITH KYRGYZ MILITARY. Kyrgyz human rights activist Tursunbek Akunov told an RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service correspondent in Batken on 14 September that Yunus Abdurakmanov, the leader of the Uzbek guerrillas holding a group of hostages in southern Kyrgyzstan, has agreed to talks with Kyrgyz officials and will not demand a ransom for the hostages. Interfax quoted Akunov as saying that the guerrillas are prepared to negotiate with the commanders of Kyrgyz troops deployed in the region but that those troops cannot agree to such talks until they receive permission to do so from the government in Bishkek. LF KYRGYZ PRESIDENT ENDS VISIT TO GERMANY. On a three-day official visit to Germany, Askar Akaev met in Berlin on 13 September with Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to discuss bilateral economic cooperation, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. President Akaev thanked Germany for its support during the first stage of economic reform in Kyrgyzstan and requested German financial support for construction of a new hydro-power station and in exporting electricity to neighboring China. Akaev also requested a DM 75 million ($40 million) loan to support small business in Kyrgyzstan and an additional DM 20 million in technical help. In addition, Akaev held talks with President Johannes Rau. In Bonn on 14 September, two cooperation agreements were signed between the German and Kyrgyz governments. Under one of those accords, Germany will grant Kyrgyzstan a DM 60 million low-interest loan for improving the health care service and reconstruction of the energy system. LF INTERNATIONAL WATCHDOG CALLS FOR INVESTIGATING TURKMEN DISSIDENT'S JAIL DEATH. Human Rights Watch on 14 September called on the government of Turkmenistan to launch an investigation into the circumstances of the death of Khoshali Garaev, who was found dead in his prison cell last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 September 1999). The Turkmen authorities claim he committed suicide. Garaev, who was 37, had recently written to relatives saying he was in good health and hoped to be amnestied by the end of the year. Also on 14 September, Amnesty International issued an appeal on behalf of Mukhametli Aymuradov, who was sentenced in 1995 with Garaev on charges of "anti-state crimes." Aymuradov is 53 and in poor health. LF FIVE PARTIES TO CONTEST UZBEK PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS. A spokesman for Uzbekistan's Central Electoral Commission told journalists in Tashkent on 14 September that five political parties have received permission to contend the 5 December parliamentary elections, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 August 1999). They are the People's Democratic Party (the former Communist Party of Uzbekistan), the Adolat (Justice) party, the National Revival Party, the For the Progress of the Motherland Party, and the Fidorkorlar (Selfless Ones). LF xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Send an email to email@example.com with the word subscribe as the subject of the message. HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word unsubscribe as the subject of the message. 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