The fool wonders, the wise man asks. - Benjamin Disraeli
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 187, Part I, 24 September 1999


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 187, Part I, 24 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

* BOMBING OF GROZNY CONTINUES

* POTENTIAL NEW REGIONAL GROUPING SEEKING ALLIES

* KAZAKHSTAN'S PRO-PRESIDENTIAL PARTY AGAIN ON COLLISION
COURSE WITH GOVERNMENT

End Note: TAJIKISTAN BETWEEN ISLAM AND DEMOCRACY?
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RUSSIA

BOMBING OF GROZNY CONTINUES. Russian aircraft continue to
bomb targets in Grozny, including industrial and oil
facilities and a television tower, ITAR-TASS reported on 24
September. Both the capital and four villages in the Nozhai-
Yurt district were targeted the previous day in strikes that
inflicted "heavy casualties," Interfax reported, quoting
Chechen Deputy Chief of Staff Umar Bankurov. On 23 September,
State Duma chairman Gennadii Seleznev denied that the Chechen
capital was being bombed, explaining that the strikes
targeted only "Chechen militants and their military depots,"
according to ITAR-TASS. Meeting on 23 September in emergency
session, the Chechen parliament and government approved the
formation of a state defense committee, Interfax reported.
Presidential spokesman Said Abdumuslimov said the commander-
in-chief of the Chechen armed forces was instructed to
convene all field commanders and issue them with instructions
on how to counter a Russian invasion. LF

PUTIN RULES OUT IMMEDIATE LARGE-SCALE GROUND OPERATION.
Arriving on 23 September in Astana, where he is to meet with
Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev on 24 September,
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin ruled out a large-scale ground
invasion of Chechnya in the near future, Interfax reported.
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" the following day argued that inclement
weather conditions and the December State Duma elections will
militate against such an operation before the end of 1999.
But it argued that an invasion could be launched in the
spring in the run-up to the presidential poll. LF

OFFICERS UNHAPPY WITH RUSSIAN TACTICS. "Noviye izvestiya" on
23 September quoted an unnamed Russian officer as terming the
massive defense preparations along the border between
Chechnya and neighboring federation subjects to the north as
"sheer madness." He argued that the Russian military should
use guerrilla tactics against the Chechen militants, sending
small, highly mobile groups into Chechen territory to
liquidate field commanders Khattab and Shamil Basaev. And he
expressed incomprehension and regret that during the 1994-
1996 war, plans to kill field commanders were frequently
called off on instructions from politicians in Moscow. LF

KVASHNIN TO REPLACE SERGEEV? Amid speculation that Defense
Minister Igor Sergeev is about to be dismissed, "Segodnya" on
23 September cited unnamed government sources as tipping
Chief of General Staff Anatolii Kvashnin as his successor.
According to those sources, Kvashnin, who distinguished
himself during the previous Chechen campaign, has already won
favor with Prime Minister Putin. His reputation as a "hawk"
and eagerness to fight "is exactly what the Kremlin needs"
given the "local threat," those sources argue. Sergeev, on
the other hand, is considered "not entirely suitable" for the
current situation: as former commander of the Strategic
Rocket Forces, he is seen above all as a "global strategic"
thinker, and he is also blamed for the insufficient forces
and "technical means" with which to respond to the local,
"extremist" threat. "Segodnya" reports that an excessive
amount of the defense budget has been used for strategic
purposes--primarily "Sergeev's" Strategic Rocket Forces. JC

RYAZAN BOMB TURNS OUT TO BE FAKE. In a 12-story apartment
building in Ryazan, police on 23 September discovered and
defused what they thought was a bomb, but the device turned
out to be a dummy. In the basement of the apartment building,
police found three sugar sacks with a timer, detonators, and
traces of cyclonite, which was also used in other blasts in
Russia, according to Reuters. A police spokesman told "The
Moscow Times" on 24 September that terrorists frequently
plant a few dummies before laying real bombs. JAC

MOSCOW'S 'OPERATION FOREIGNER' DEEMED ILLEGAL... Anatolii
Kovler, who was recently appointed human rights judge at the
European Court of Human Rights, told "Vremya MN" on 23
September that the court may soon be deluged with complaints
from Russian citizens about the city of Moscow's policies
vis-a-vis non-Muscovites. He noted that "Russia's
Constitutional Court has twice passed verdicts declaring
registration requirements unconstitutional, but little has
changed." The same day, "Segodnya" reported that Moscow Mayor
Yurii Luzhkov has signed a directive requiring the
deportation of non-registered people from the capital.
According to the daily, all non-registered persons who are
detained by Moscow police will be advised to voluntarily
leave the capital within three days. If a person is detained
twice within three days, he or she will be put in a
"distribution center." That person will then be escorted back
to his/ her native city by a police official at his/her own
expense. JAC

...AS MORE LOCALITES ADOPT CAPITAL'S METHODS. Earlier this
week, Krasnoyarsk Mayor Petr Pimashov signed a decree
requiring the re-registration of all people who are living in
the city temporarily, "Vremya MN" reported on 23 September.
According to the daily, local police are conducting
inspections of retail and wholesale markets and other
locations in the city where Asians and Caucasians frequently
gather. The Krasnoyarsk city authorities told the newspaper
that the krai prosecutor-general will cancel the decree
within a few days, but the local police chief said the
measures--even if only implemented over a short period--
should be sufficient to clear the city of Caucasians. The
same day, the head of the Chechen diaspora in Volgograd told
the daily that the heads of various raions in the city have
distributed secret orders to local authorities to find new
tenants for apartments and offices now occupied by Chechens
and other persons of Caucasian origin (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
23 September 1999). JAC

POTENTIAL NEW REGIONAL GROUPING SEEKING ALLIES. Our Home Is
Russia (NDR) faction leader Vladimir Ryzhkov confirmed on 23
September that some of the 39 regional leaders who signed an
appeal to stop dirty political games in the run-up to
parliamentary elections are trying to persuade the NDR's
leadership to join an alliance that they are putting
together, Interfax reported (see "RFE/RL Federation Report,"
22 September 1999). The agency, citing unofficial and unnamed
sources, claimed that Ryzhkov and NDR head Viktor
Chernomyrdin met with Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu the
same day. It has been widely reported that Shoigu is likely
to become the leader of the new grouping, which at least one
member said would be called inter-regional movement Unity
(mezhregionalnoe dvizhenie Edinstvo). "Moskovskii
komsomolets" suggested on 23 September that this name will be
shorted to "Medved," which means bear in Russian. JAC

LIGACHEV TO SEEK DUMA SEAT FROM TOMSK... Gorbachev-era
Politburo member Yegor Ligachev intends to run in the State
Duma elections from Tomsk Oblast, Interfax-Eurasia reported
on 22 September. For many years, Ligachev was head of the
Tomsk Oblast Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet
Union. JC

...AS COMMUNISTS TO BACK AGRARIANS IN 22 DISTRICTS.
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 23 September that the
Communist Party (KPRF) will back 22 members of the Agrarian
Party in single-mandate districts during Duma elections. In
the Gorno-Altai okrug, the KPRF will nominate one of its own
local members to compete against Agrarian Party leader
Mikhail Lapshin. Lapshin earlier announced that the Agrarians
will align with Fatherland-All Russia bloc rather than with
their traditional partner, the KPRF. On 24 September, Lapshin
announced that the Agrarian Party leadership will not try to
"settle scores" with those party members who participate in
the elections with the KPRF. However, he noted that under the
Agrarian Party's charter, members who violate party
discipline may be expelled, ITAR-TASS reported. JAC

RUSSIAN ECONOMY SET TO GROW NEXT YEAR? In an interview with
"Izvestiya" on 24 September, Economics Minister Andrei
Shapovalyants predicted that real incomes will grow by 3
percent in 2000 and retail trade turnover by 5-7 percent. He
also forecast that GDP will increase by 2 percent next year.
The previous day, IMF Economic Counselor Michael Mussa had
suggested that the Russian economy will grow by 2 percent in
2000 and will finish 1999 with zero percent growth--a
significant improvement over last year's minus 4.6 percent,
RFE/RL's Washington bureau reported. Mussa cautioned that the
positive benefits of the ruble devaluation experienced by
domestic industry will not last forever and that "a
reinvigorated effort" by Russian authorities with regard to
reforms in the banking sector and other areas is needed. JAC

RELEVANT PARTIES AGREE BUDGET TO BE PASSED BEFORE NEW YEAR.
The State Duma's Budget Committee recommended on 23 September
that the lower chamber reject the draft 2000 budget in its
first reading, scheduled for 28 September. Earlier in the
week, the committee recommended rejecting a number of the tax
laws submitted with the budget (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21
September 1999). First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor
Khristenko declared that the government is willing to work
with legislators round the clock on a compromise budget so
that the draft is passed before the end of the year, ITAR-
TASS reported. Budget Committee chairman Aleksandr Zhukov
echoed Khristenko's concern, saying "to enter presidential
elections without a budget would be dangerous," "Vremya MN"
reported on 24 September. After consulting with Khristenko on
23 September, Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov said
that "although leftists do not agree with its concept,
technically the budget will be passed." JAC

TATAR RELIGIOUS INSTITUTE TEMPORARILY CLOSED. Tatarstan's
Ministry of Education on 23 September suspended the license
of the Yoldiz Islamic Institute in Chally, RFE/RL's Kazan
bureau reported the following day. A former student of that
institute, Denis Saytakov, is suspected of involvement in
last week's bombing of a Moscow apartment building (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 23 September 1999). LF

GOVERNMENT BUILDING IN KARACHAEVO-CHERKESSIA BLOCKADED.
Ethnic Cherkess and Abazin supporters of defeated
presidential candidate Stanislav Derev continue to prevent
anyone entering the government building in Cherkessk, which
is guarded by OMON troops, Caucasus Press reported on 24
September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 September 1999). Derev's
supporters are demanding that the outcome of the 16 May run-
off, in which according to official data Derev's rival
Vladimir Semenov polled more than 70 percent of the vote, be
ruled invalid. LF

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN PREMIER APPEALS TO DIASPORA FOR MORE INVESTMENT.
Addressing the Armenia-Diaspora conference in Yerevan on 23
September, Vazgen Sargsian called upon ethnic Armenians from
abroad to invest more heavily in Armenia, promising financial
and tax incentives and a crackdown on corruption, Noyan Tapan
and RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Sargsian said the
recently created Armenian Development Agency will provide
would-be investors with a wide range of services, including
legal counseling, registration of enterprises, and
information about business opportunities. The agency plans to
open offices in London, New York, Los Angeles, Moscow, and
Beirut. Conference participants adopted two statements
calling for closer ties between Armenia and the diaspora. One
expresses support for the Karabakh Armenians' drive to become
a "subject of international law," while the other reaffirms
the continued pursuit of international recognition of the
1915 genocide of more than 1 million Armenians in the Ottoman
Empire. LF

HUNGER-STRIKE FOR KARABAKH ENDED IN AZERBAIJAN. Members and
sympathizers of the Coordinating Council of Political Parties
on Karabakh have ended the hunger strike they began last
month to protest the Azerbaijani leadership's apparent
readiness for compromise in resolving the Karabakh conflict,
Turan reported on 23 September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30
August 1999). Nureddin Askerli, who is press secretary to the
Coordinating Council, told Turan the previous day that the
council will resort to more active methods of protest.
"Hurriyet" reported on 23 September that under political
pressure, a high-school director in Khirdalan Raion expelled
a 10th-grade student for having participated in the hunger
strike. LF

AZERBAIJAN'S SUPREME RELIGIOUS LEADER DENIES RELIGIOUS
FREEDOM RESTRICTED. The head of Azerbaijan's Muslim Spiritual
Board, Sheykh-ul Islam Allahshukur Pashazade, has rejected
the conclusions of a U.S. Congress report on restrictions on
religious freedom in Azerbaijan, Turan reported on 23
September. Pashazade acknowledged that the activities of
religious missionaries are limited, but he argued that those
limitations are justified because such proselytizing leads to
tensions between adherents of various religious faiths. He
added that some missionaries offer cash incentives to
prospective converts. And he acknowledged that one reason for
missionaries' success is the low level of Islamic propaganda.
LF

GEORGIAN OPPOSITION ALLIANCE NAMES PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
CANDIDATE. The so-called Batumi alliance of five opposition
parties on 23 September named Adjar Supreme Council Chairman
Aslan Abashidze as its candidate for next year's presidential
elections, Caucasus Press reported. Abashidze is considered
virtually the only Georgian politician capable of posing a
real challenge to incumbent President Eduard Shevardnadze,
who has already signaled his intention to run for a second
term. A spokesman for Abashidze quoted him as saying that his
decision was motivated by the desire "to save Georgia, which
has been ruined by the policies of the president and current
authorities," according to AP. LF

KAZAKHSTAN'S PRO-PRESIDENTIAL PARTY AGAIN ON COLLISION COURSE
WITH GOVERNMENT. Marat Ospanov, who is speaker of the lower
house and deputy chairman of the pro-presidential Otan Party,
told Interfax on 23 September that his party hopes to vote
down the government's proposed draft budget for 2000 at a 25
September joint session of the two chambers of parliament.
The draft budget envisages cuts in expenditures, including
pensions, a budget deficit of 3 percent of GDP, and GDP
growth of 1 percent. Ospanov has repeatedly criticized the
government's financial policy (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 and
25 June 1999). He is regarded as a possible successor to
Prime Minister Nurlan Balghymbaev. LF

COMISSION TO COMBAT RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM CREATED IN
KAZAKHSTAN. A spokesman for Kazakhstan's President Nursultan
Nazarbaev said on 23 September that the president has decreed
the formation of a commission to counter the threat of
religious extremism, Reuters reported. The commission will be
headed by Security Council Secretary Marat Tazhin. LF

ARMS HAUL SEIZED IN KAZAKHSTAN. Police in Almaty have
arrested a group of Chechens and confiscated from them 17 new
Kalashnikov submachine guns and Makarov pistols with
silencers as well as $2,300 in forged banknotes, ITAR-TASS
and RFE/RL's bureau in the former capital reported on 23
September. The weapons have a black market value of $30,000.
LF

INCUMBENT NOMINATED AS PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE IN
TAJIKISTAN... As earlier announced, a 23 September congress
of the People's Democratic Party of Tajikistan named
incumbent President Imomali Rakhmonov as its candidate for
the 6 November presidential poll, Reuters and ITAR-TASS
reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 September 1999). Two
rival candidates have also been registered. The Justice Party
of Tajikistan nominated Congress of People's Unity chairman
Saifiddin Turaev as its candidate at a congress on 20
September, Asia Plus-Blitz reported three days later. Former
presidential adviser for legal issues Zafar Ikramov will also
contend the poll, according to ITAR-TASS. The Union of Youth
of Tajikistan intends to select its candidate at a congress
in Dushanbe on 24 September, according to Asia Plus-Blitz. LF

...AND IN UZBEKISTAN. Meanwhile in Tashkent a congress of the
Fidorkorlar (Dedicated Ones) on 22 September nominated
incumbent President Islam Karimov as its candidate for the 9
January presidential elections, ITAR-TASS and Interfax
reported. LF

END NOTE

TAJIKISTAN BETWEEN ISLAM AND DEMOCRACY?

by Liz Fuller

	On 26 September, the citizens of Tajikistan go to the
polls to vote on proposed changes to the country's 1994
constitution. The referendum marks a milestone in the painful
and protracted search by the Russian-backed leadership and
the Islam-oriented United Tajik Opposition (UTO) to reach a
modus vivendi.
	That search began more than two years ago, following the
signing in Moscow in June 1997 of the Common Agreement on
Peace and National Accord, which ended five years of civil
war. The peace provided for the return from Iran and
Afghanistan of opposition leaders and their armed units,
whose members were to be disarmed and given a choice of
serving in the Tajik army or police force. In exchange, the
UTO was to be given 30 percent of posts in the central
government and on local councils.
	Hopes that the disarmament process and the formation of
a new coalition government would be completed in time for
elections to be held in mid-1998 proved over-optimistic,
however. The peace process and tenuous political stability
were repeatedly threatened by local insurrections, political
assassinations. and the inability of government and
opposition representatives to reach agreement on the
opposition's proposed candidates for 14 ministerial posts.
	In part, instability was the consequence of the
exclusion from the peace process of representatives of strong
regional elites. On three occasions--in August 1997, January
1998, and last November--Colonel Mahmud Khudoiberdiev, whose
base is in the largely Uzbek-populated Kyurgan-Tyube region
of southwestern Tajikistan, launched an unsuccessful
insurrection. Tajik officials publicly accused Uzbekistan of
supporting the most recent coup attempt by Khudoiberdiev, in
Leninabad, in the northwest of the country. In particular,
they claim that the Uzbek leadership offered refuge and
possibly assistance to the man identified as the "third
force" in Tajik politics, former Prime Minister Abdumalik
Abdulladjonov. Khudoiberdiev reportedly receives both his
orders and funding from Abdulladjonov,
	The assassination in September 1998 of Otakhon Latifi, a
widely respected opposition politician, similarly threatened
to derail the peace process. That murder prompted the UTO to
suspend temporarily its participation in the work of the
Commission for National Reconciliation, on which the UTO and
the Tajik government have equal representation.
	Those disruptions notwithstanding, by November 1998 the
UTO had reached agreement with the Tajik leadership on
candidates for 11 of the 14 ministerial posts the opposition
was claiming, including the first deputy premiership, which
went to UTO Deputy Chairman Hodja Akbar Turandjonzoda. But
the Tajik government's steadfast refusal to condone the
appointment of former opposition field commander Mirzo Zioev
to head the Defense Ministry prompted the opposition to
threaten to withdraw from the peace process in May. After
weeks of negotiations, and under pressure from the UN and
OSCE representatives in Dushanbe, Zioev was named minister
for emergency situations in early July, and some 90
imprisoned opposition members were released from jail. In the
following weeks, the UTO reciprocated by completing the
disarmament of its military units, a key precondition for
holding presidential and parliamentary elections.
	Those elections, however, are to be preceded by the 26
September referendum, on which the parliament decided in late
June. The electorate is to vote on a package of three
constitutional amendments: replacing the unicameral
parliament with a bicameral one, extending the president's
term in office from five to seven years, and legalizing the
participation in domestic politics of political parties of a
religious nature.
	Of the three proposed amendments, the third is clearly
the most controversial. The law on political parties, enacted
by the parliament in May 1998, bans religious parties,
including the Islamic Renaissance Party. That group forms the
backbone of the UTO.
	In August, following the disarmament of the last
opposition military units, the Tajik Supreme Court lifted the
ban it had imposed in 1993 on four opposition formations: the
Islamic Renaissance Party, the Democratic Party, and the
Rastokhez and Lali Badakhshan movements. Those parties,
however, must re-register with the Justice Ministry in order
to contest the 6 November presidential poll (assuming that
the referendum does not extend the president's term by two
years) and the January 2000 parliamentary elections. In
theory, that requirement could serve as a pretext for
preventing the Islamic Renaissance Party from nominating a
candidate to run against incumbent Imomali Rakhmonov in the
presidential poll. But the deputy leader of the ruling
People's Democratic Party, Abdulmadjid Dostiev, told Reuters
last week that "opposition participation is important because
it will prove that the elections were democratic."
	The present Tajik leadership, along with its backers in
Moscow, are presumably confident that the country's war-weary
population will opt for stability and continuity, rather than
risk precipitating a new civil war. Such stability may
prevail in the short term, provided that support for the
Islamic opposition does not become a groundswell. If that
were to happen, either Moscow or Tashkent, which regards any
overtly Islamic force with extreme suspicion, might be
tempted to intervene to thwart the avowed long-term goal of
the Islamic Renaissance Party. According to its newly elected
chairman, Said Abdullo Nuri, the party aims to come to power
by peaceful democratic means. Alternatively, tensions may
emerge between the moderate Nuri and more radical members of
the Islamic Renaissance Party over the optimum strategy for
assuming power and over the desirability of imposing an
Islamic state.

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