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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 186, Part I, 23 September 1999


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 186, Part I, 23 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

* RUSSIA BOMBS AIRPORT IN GROZNY

* 'OPERATION FOREIGNER' CLEANSING MOSCOW OF CAUCASIANS

* NORTH KOREA DENIES ACQUIRING MIGS FROM KAZAKHSTAN
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RUSSIA

RUSSIA BOMBS AIRPORT IN GROZNY. Russia launched air and
artillery attacks on Chechen targets on 23 September, killing
an ethnic Armenian technician in a raid on Grozny's Sheikh
Mansur airport. LF

RUSSIAN FORCES 'READY TO INVADE' CHECHNYA. Deputy Interior
Minister Lieutenant-General Igor Zubov told journalists in
Moscow on 22 September that Russian troops are fully prepared
for an invasion of Chechnya, Interfax reported. But he added
that it is for Russia's leadership to decide whether to
launch such an attack, which he termed "inexpedient" as it
would entail heavy losses. Zubov denied that Moscow is
planning to try to replace the present Chechen leadership. He
estimated the number of Chechen and other fighters who
participated in the recent attacks on Daghestan at 5,000-
7,000, adding that he believes that figure could rise to
30,000. Zubov said Chechen militants might target Ingushetia
next or try to destabilize North Ossetia's disputed
Prigorodnyi Raion, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 23
September. LF

DAGHESTAN STATE COUNCIL CHAIRMAN SETS TERMS FOR MEETING WITH
MASKHADOV. Magomedali Magomedov told journalists in
Makhachkala on 22 September that he will not attend a meeting
between Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov and the leaders of
other North Caucasus republics on 27 September unless
Maskhadov identifies and distances himself from those
Chechens responsible for the recent attacks on Daghestan,
Interfax reported. LF

RUSSIA ASKS INTERPOL TO APPREHEND LEADERS OF DAGHESTAN
ATTACK... Moscow has sent Interpol a list of some 20 people
suspected of masterminding the August attack on Daghestan
from Chechen territory, Interfax and Caucasus Press reported
on 22 September. Those suspects include Daghestani citizens
Magomed Tagaev and Adallo Aliev, the Saudi-born field
commander Khattab, the brothers Shamil and Shirvani Basaev,
and former acting Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev. LF

...GREETS SAUDI DENIAL. The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a
statement on 22 September welcoming assurances by Saudi
Arabia's official press agency that Riyadh is not providing
financial assistance to the armed Chechen militants fighting
in Daghestan, Interfax reported. The statement reaffirmed
Moscow's willingness to cooperate with Saudi Arabia in
combating terrorism and extremism. LF

TATAR OFFICIALS DENY RELIGIOUS INSTITUTE IMPLICATED IN
TERRORISM. Tatarstan's State Security Committee issued a
statement on 21 September rejecting Russia media allegations
of Tatar involvement in the wave of terrorist bombings in
Moscow and other Russian cities, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau
reported. Those reports were based on the detention of Denis
Saytakov in connection with the Moscow apartment bombing.
Saytakov studied for one year at the Yoldiz religious
institute in the Tatar town of Chally and was expelled from
the institute for non-attendance at classes. Russian media
have claimed that other students from the institute left to
join militant groups in Chechnya. Tatarstan's President
Mintimer Shaimiev and the republic's Muslim Spiritual Board
have also denied any link between the Chally religious
institute and recent terrorist acts in Russia. LF

'OPERATION FOREIGNER' CLEANSING MOSCOW OF CAUCASIANS?
Aleksandr Beldaev, the deputy head of Moscow's police,
reported that from 14-20 September, 69,200 people were re-
registered, while some 15,000 people were denied re-
registration, Interfax reported on 21 September. According to
Beldaev, those who have been refused registration will be
forced to leave the city by train or by car and will be
accompanied by police officials. Meanwhile, "Kommersant-
Daily" reported the same day that some 20,000 Chechens have
already left Moscow--mainly young people who failed to
register and receive work permits. A Chechen diaspora group
in Moscow has appealed to Muscovites and mass media not "to
put an equals sign between banditry and the Chechen people,"
Interfax reported on 22 September. Human rights groups in
Russia report that while the city's "Operation Foreigner" in
theory applies to anyone, in practice it has been aimed at
Caucasians, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. JAC

SIBERIA ALSO SCRUTINIZING FOREIGNERS. "Novye izvestiya"
reported on 22 September. the administration of Altai Krai is
considering introducing certain temporary regulations
restricting the freedom of movement of people who are guests
in the region as well as additional restrictions for people
from the Caucasus. In Sverdlovsk Oblast, local police have
conducted their own "Operation Foreigner," rounding up some
300 people who lacked proper registration, Interfax-Eurasia
reported on 21 September (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation
Report," 22 September 1999). Meanwhile, an Interior Ministry
official has declared that the current procedure for re-
registering non-residents in Moscow does not correspond with
federal law and that people who are not re-registered and are
deported from Moscow have the right to take their case to
court, according to the 22 September "Novye izvestiya." JAC

COMMUNISTS FAIL AGAIN TO LIMIT PRESIDENTIAL POWERS.
Amendments to the Russian Constitution that would have
limited the president's powers failed to gather the necessary
two-thirds majority, or 300 votes, in the State Duma on 22
September. The first vote was 221 in favor, while a second
vote was 240. The Communist faction proposed the bill, which
would have required the president to seek the Duma's consent
for, among other things, the dismissal of the prime minister,
his deputies, and seven key cabinet ministers, according to
Interfax. The Duma did approve on its first reading an
amendment to the constitution giving parliamentary
investigations a legal constitutional status and enabling the
lower chamber to set up commissions to deal with matters of
public interest and compel witnesses to attend hearings.
According to Reuters, the Duma now has a month to collect
from the 89 regions proposals on the amendment. JAC

COURT OKAYS LUZHKOV-PRIMAKOV BLOC'S PARTICIPATION IN
ELECTIONS... The Supreme Court on 22 September upheld the
right of the Fatherland-All Russia (OVR) bloc to run in
upcoming State Duma elections. A private citizen had objected
to the group's last-minute registration by the Justice
Ministry. Leonid Kheifets, an OVR official, told Interfax on
22 September that another legal challenge is likely. JAC

...WHILE LDPR PARTY LIST READS LIKE POLICE BLOTTER. Central
Election Commission Chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov said on 21
September that while many voters have questions about the
criminal leanings of many persons on the Liberal Democratic
Party of Russia's (LDPR) list, the "commission does not have
legal grounds to refuse certifying the list," according to
ITAR-TASS (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 September 1999).
"Kommersant-Daily" on 22 September noted that no fewer than
five candidates on the list have been the subject of a
criminal investigation. Viktor Averin, candidate number 17,
was arrested in 1989 on suspicion of extortion, as was
candidate number 16, Sergei Mikhailov, allegedly known in the
criminal underworld as "Mikhas". Meanwhile, LDPR leader
Vladimir Zhirinovskii announced that his party will nominate
Duma Geopolitics Committee Chairman Aleksei Mitrofanov for
the post of Moscow mayor, "Segodnya" reported on 21
September. JAC

NEW YORK BANK HEAD CONFIRMS EXISTENCE OF DYACHENKO
ACCOUNTS... Addressing U.S. Congress hearings on the Bank of
New York scandal on 22 September, Bank Chairman Thomas Renyi
confirmed that Aleksei Dyachenko, the son-in-law of Russian
President Boris Yeltsin, has two accounts with his bank at
its Cayman Islands branch, RFE/RL's Washington bureau
reported. Renyi did not comment on reports that links have
been found between these accounts and transactions that
prompted the large-scale investigation of money transfers at
the bank, according to AFP. Renyi added that the bank has
insufficient internal oversight mechanisms and questions
regarding large flows of money through various accounts "were
not pursued with sufficient vigor or follow-through." Renyi
also noted that the bank is reviewing whether to continue its
business with Russian banks. JAC

...AS RUSSIAN SOURCES QUESTION MOTIVATION FOR INQUIRY. Also
addressing the hearing that day was investigative journalist
and State Duma deputy Yurii Shchekochikhin, who expressed
skepticism about the U.S.'s sudden interest in corruption in
Russia's financial sector, which, he noted, has long existed,
RFE/RL's Washington bureau reported. Noting that the new
chief of the World Trade Organization, Mike Moore, told the
Congress that Russia is not yet ready to join the World Trade
Organization, "Izvestiya" concluded on 23 September that the
U.S. "wants to use the 'Russia scandal' for certain economic
ends." According to the daily, which is owned by Interros
financial group and LUKoil, the U.S. is seeking to make the
"scandal over the Russian mafia" into a pretext for
"postponing the lifting of trade restrictions against Russia
which have been operating since the Cold War era." JAC

IVANOV MEETS CLINTON, ANNAN. At a short meeting in Washington
on 22 September, U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian
Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov focused on the issue of
"strategic stability," in particular the 1972 ABM treaty,
ITAR-TASS reported. According to AP, the two men also
discussed allegations of Russian money laundering, and Ivanov
pledged that investigations into those allegations will be
"complete and comprehensive." The previous day in New York,
Ivanov met with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to discuss
issues ranging from fighting terrorism to the situation in
Kosova. The foreign minister stressed Moscow's stand that
Resolution 1244 must be fulfilled, not least the provision on
guaranteeing Yugoslavia's sovereignty and territorial
integrity. JC

LUKIN SAYS RUSSIA WON'T BE WEAKENED IF U.S. WITHDRAWS FROM
ABM. Chairman of the State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee
Vladimir Lukin told "Moskovskii komsomolets" on 22 September
that Russia's position would be not be weakened if the U.S.
withdrew from the ABM treaty. "Russia will be able to compete
with U.S. space defense systems or will begin installing
multiple warheads on the Topol [intercontinental ballistic
missile systems] or will even simply churn out more
missiles," the newspaper quoted him as saying. Such
undertakings will be "expensive but not that expensive," he
commented, adding that "the threat of a preventive strike
would nevertheless remain." JC

TRADE SURPLUS SOARS. Russia amassed a trade surplus of $23.2
billion during the first eight months of the year, according
to Economics Ministry estimates, Interfax reported. This
figure does not include unofficial and shuttle trade totaling
$18.5 billion. The official trade surplus in August was $3.1
billion, up 94 percent from the same month last year. Exports
in August rose 5.5 percent from the same month last year. JAC

EUROPEAN TEAM TO INSPECT LOCAL DEMOCRACY IN VLADIVOSTOK. A
delegation from the Council of Europe arrived in Vladivostok
on 22 September to investigate the lack of a locally elected
government there, "The Moscow Times" reported the next day.
The Russian Congress of Municipalities invited the council
officials to travel to the region to determine whether
President Yeltsin's dismissal of elected Mayor Viktor
Cherepkov violates council rules (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15
December 1998). Russia pledged to uphold those rules when it
joined the organization in 1996. The delegation was scheduled
to meet with Aleksandr Voloshin, chief of the presidential
staff, in Moscow earlier this week, according to the
"Vladivostok News" of 17 September. JAC

...AS LOCAL BUSINESSWOMAN KILLED UNDER SUSPICIOUS
CIRCUMSTANCES. "Vladivostok News" also reported that on 12
September assassins killed Taisia Ponomareva, a member of the
ousted management team of the Vladivostok shipping company
Vostoktransflot, just hours before she was due to fly to
Moscow and meet with lawyers from the Prosecutor-General's
Office. "The Moscow Times" on 23 September reported on the
disappearance of documents that Ponomareva had collected
allegedly proving that the takeover of Vostoktransflot by its
former head Viktor Ostapenko was illegal. Those documents
also allegedly contained information on the roles regional
officials played in the change of leadership in
Vostoktransflot, according to the Vladivostok publication.
Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko backed Ostapenko's takeover,
saying the company was headed by foreigners who were
mismanaging the fleet and improperly selling off ships (see
"RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 4 August 1999). JAC

SHUMEIKO TO RUN FROM KALININGRAD. Former Federation Council
Chairman Vladimir Shumeiko has announced his intention to run
for the State Duma in a single-mandate district in
Kaliningrad Oblast, "Izvestiya" reported on 23 September.
That announcement comes some two months after Shumeiko was
thwarted in his bid to take part in elections to the
legislature of Evenk Autonomous Oblast, from where he
reportedly hoped to return to the Federation Council. An
oblast court, however, banned him from running in that
ballot, citing major campaign violations (see "IEWS Russian
Regional Report," 8 and 22 July 1999). JC

ANOTHER PROTEST IN KARACHAEVO-CHERKESSIA. Some 1,000
supporters of defeated presidential candidate Stanislav Derev
broke through OMON guards deployed around the central square
of the republic's capital, Cherkessk, on 22 September. They
demanded that newly inaugurated President Vladimir Semenov
leave his office at the central administration building and
hand over his duties to Valentin Vlasov, whom Yeltsin
appointed temporary head of the republic in July, Caucasus
Press reported. The previous evening, retired General Yurii
Antonov, who played a prominent role in Semenov's
presidential campaign, escaped injury when he was shot at in
Cherkessk, Russian Radio reported. Caucasus Press reported on
23 September that following meetings between Aleksandr
Voloshin, the head of Yeltsin's presidential administration,
and representatives of Karachaevo-Cherkessia's Russian and
Nogai communities, a special government commission has been
formed for Karachaevo-Cherkessia on which the presidential
administration, government, and State Duma are represented.
LF

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIA-DIASPORA CONFERENCE OPENS IN YEREVAN. Some 1,500
representatives of Armenian communities world-wide attended
the opening in Yerevan on 22 September of a two-day pan-
Armenian conference intended to boost ties between the
Republic of Armenia and the world diaspora community, Noyan
Tapan and RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Addressing
delegates, President Robert Kocharian said Armenians need to
set priorities in the political, economic, scientific,
cultural, and other spheres and develop programs to achieve
those aims. He said that the most important pan-national
problems facing the Armenian nation are resolving the
Karabakh conflict and expediting Armenia's economic
development. LF

ARMENIA RECEIVES NEW WORLD BANK LOAN TRANCHE. Oweiss Saadat,
who is the World Bank's representative in Yerevan, told
journalists on 22 September that the bank released the
previous day the second tranche, worth $25 million, of a $65
million credit approved in December 1998, Reuters and
RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The 21 September payment
was originally scheduled for June but was delayed until the
passage of the government's proposed austerity measures to
counter a larger-than-anticipated budget deficit. Last month,
the Armenian parliament approved those measures (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 30 August 1999). The newly released payment is
intended to support the budget and will enable the government
to pay pensions and public-sector wage arrears within two
weeks. Saadat noted that the Armenian government "had to
overcome many obstacles" to receive the new credit, adding
that the cabinet "has kept economic reform on track." LF

AZERBAIJAN OPPOSITION LOBBIES FOR RIGHT TO CONVENE
DEMONSTRATION. Police dispersed members of the opposition
Musavat Party who were picketing the office of Baku City
Mayor Rafael Allakhverdiev on 22 September to protest his
refusal to allow opposition parties to organize a
demonstration in the city on 25 September, Turan reported.
Eleven demonstrators were arrested. Musavat Party Chairman
Isa Gambar told the agency that Allakhverdiev has no right to
ban the demonstration, which is intended to protest the
Azerbaijani leadership's approach resolving the Karabakh
conflict. Also on 22 September, a spokesman for the
Democratic Party of Azerbaijan said the party has permission
to stage a rally in front of the Baku town hall on 24
September to demand that Allakhverdiev sanction the
demonstration planned for the following day. LF

FORMER PREMIER'S PARTY UNDER PRESSURE IN KAZAKHSTAN. Amirzhan
Qosanov, deputy chairman of the Republican People's Party of
Kazakhstan, which is headed by former Premier Akezhan
Kazhegeldin, told journalists in Almaty on 23 September that
the city authorities have disconnected all telephone lines to
the five-story building where the party has its offices,
RFE/RL's bureau in the former capital reported. Qosanov
claimed that move was politically motivated, but a city
official said it was due to non-payment of bills by other
organizations that rent offices in the same building. Also on
23 September, Marat Qabanbay, who is editor of the newspaper
"Sol-Dat," told RFE/RL's Kazakh Service that all copies of
the latest issue of that paper, which contained materials on
the Kazakhstan prosecutor-general's recent abortive attempt
to extradite Kazhegeldin from Moscow, were confiscated by
Kazakh customs officials earlier this week. "Sol-Dat" is
printed in the Russian Federation (Altai Krai) because
publishing houses in Kazakhstan refuse to issue it. LF

NORTH KOREA DENIES ACQUIRING MIGS FROM KAZAKHSTAN.
Kazakhstan's Foreign Minister Qasymzhomart Toqaev said in
Washington on 22 September that Astana has requested that
North Korea return 38 decommissioned MiG-21 fighters sold to
that country without the knowledge of the Kazakh government
but that North Korea denied receiving those aircraft, Reuters
reported. Also on 22 September, Interfax reported that Askar
Gabidullin, president of the Metallist company, which
organized the abortive transport of six MiGs to Bratislava,
has been dismissed. LF

OIL CONSORTIUM IN KAZAKHSTAN REJECTS POLLUTION CHARGES. The
Offshore Kazakhstan International Operating Company (OKIOC)
issued a statement on 21 September denying claims by the
Atyrau Environmental Protection Agency that mud discharged
into the Caspian Sea during drilling of the consortium's
first well contains many times the permitted levels of
certain pollutants, Interfax reported. The environmental
agency claimed that OKIOC had violated the terms of its
contract with Kazakhstan's government by ignoring
environmental norms. In May, Atyrau's regional prosecutor
opened court proceedings against a second international
consortium, Tengizchevroil, claiming that it was causing
ecological damage by extracting from test wells larger
amounts of oil than legally allowed (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
27 May 1999). LF

STALEMATE IN SOUTHERN KYRGYZSTAN CONTINUES. Kyrgyzstan
Security Council Secretary General Bolot Djanuzakov told
journalists in Bishkek on 22 September that the guerrillas
holding 13 hostages in south Kyrgyzstan's Osh Oblast
attempted again the previous night to break through to the
Uzbek exclave of Sokh, RFE/RL's bureau in the Kyrgyz capital
reported. They were prevented from doing so by Kyrgyz
government forces, one of whom was injured in the clash.
Djanuzakov added that government forces are training in
Batken Raion for an assault on the guerrillas. LF

TAJIK, RUSSIAN TROOPS HOLD JOINT MANOEUVRES. Russian and
Tajik forces on 22 September concluded two-days of joint
maneuvers with an exercise to deter an invasion by armed
gangs, ITAR-TASS reported. Tajikistan's President Imomali
Rakhmonov and Russian Ambassador Yevgenii Belov observed the
22 September exercises, which reportedly drew on Russian
forces' recent experience in Daghestan. LF

SOME SUSPECTS IN UZBEK BOMBING RELEASED. Uzbek Interior
Ministry spokesman Batyr Zieev said on 22 September that more
than 700 people detained in connection with the 16 February
bombings in Tashkent have been released in recent months,
RFE/RL's Tashkent bureau reported. He added that most of
those released were members of the Islamic political movement
Hezbi Takhrir. The deputy head of Uzbekistan's human rights
agency, Abdurashid Irisbaev, said the initial charges brought
against the suspects could not be corroborated. LF

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