The greatest happiness is to know the source of unhappiness. - Dostoevsky
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 190, Part I, 29 September 1999


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 190, Part I, 29 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

* TENS OF THOUSANDS FLEE AIR RAIDS ON CHECHNYA

* DUMA REJECTS BUDGET

* ARMENIAN CLERICS PROTEST GOVERNMENT PRESSURE OVER NEW
CATHOLICOS
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RUSSIA

TENS OF THOUSANDS FLEE AIR RAIDS ON CHECHNYA. A government
official in Ingushetia appealed on 28 September for
assistance from the UNHCR in coping with the estimated 60,000
fugitives who have fled Russian bomb attacks on Grozny and
other Chechen towns over the past week. Those air raids
continued on 28 September. An official with Russia's Federal
Migration Service cited lower figures, claiming that 25,000
Chechens have entered Ingushetia, 3,000 Stavropol Krai and
North Ossetia and 1,000 Daghestan. He said his organization
is shipping beds, blankets, and emergency food supplies to
Ingushetia. LF

RUSSIAN OFFICIALS SAY THERE'S NO CRISIS... Visiting the
former Ingushetian capital, Nazran, on 28 September, Russia's
Minister for Emergency Situations Sergei Shoigu gave orders
to set up camps for the fugitives in Ingushetia but rejected
Ingushetian President Ruslan Aushev's characterization of the
fugitive situation as "a humanitarian crisis," Interfax
reported. While owning that the situation is "serious,"
Shoigu affirmed that Moscow can cope with it. Russian Prime
Minister Vladimir Putin, whom Shoigu subsequently briefed on
the situation in Ingushetia, likewise said that he sees no
need for Russia to ask the UNHCR for help, according to ITAR-
TASS. LF

...WHILE ELECTION COMMISSION CHAIRMAN SAYS DUMA ELECTIONS IN
CHECHNYA MAY BE CANCELLED. ITAR-TASS on 28 September quoted
Central Electoral Commission Chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov as
saying that to date no preparations have been made in
Chechnya for holding elections to the Russian State Duma on
19 December. He added that the commission may rule that doing
so is impossible if the situation does not change within the
next two days. In an interview published in "Le Figaro" on 29
September, Krasnoyarsk Krai Governor Aleksandr Lebed said he
believes the bombing of Chechnya is intended to destabilize
Russia and thus create a pretext for postponing the Duma
elections. LF

YELTSIN BRIEFED ON MILITARY SITUATION IN CHECHNYA. Russian
Defense Minister Igor Sergeev met with President Boris
Yeltsin for more than an hour on 28 September to inform him
about operations in Chechnya, the situation within the armed
forces, and funding for the military, Interfax and ITAR-TASS
reported. Colonel-General Anatolii Sitnov, who heads the
armed forces armaments department, told journalists in Moscow
the same day that the army has all it needs to continue
operations in Chechnya. He explained that combat operations,
such as those in Daghestan and Chechnya, currently require
only 25 percent of the range of available armaments, adding
that Russian troops will be issued with new types of weapons
to test in battle conditions in the event of a full-fledged
invasion of Chechnya, Reuters reported. Presidential First
Deputy Chief Of Staff Igor Shabdurasulov told a press
conference at Interfax's head office on 28 September that the
military already has "the green light" to undertake whatever
actions are necessary to "suppress...gangs in the North
Caucasus." LF

RUSSIA ASKS AZERBAIJAN TO CRACK DOWN ON AID TO CHECHNYA.
Azerbaijan's Ambassador in Moscow Ramiz Rzaev was summoned to
the Foreign Ministry on 28 September where he was notified of
instances of financial and other assistance to Chechnya and
Daghestan by unnamed organizations in Azerbaijan under the
guise of humanitarian aid, Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported.
Rzaev agreed that there is a need for cooperation to prevent
the spread of terrorism in the Caucasus. LF

MOSCOW EXPRESSES APPRECIATION OF IRANIAN OFFER OF HELP.
Interfax on 28 September quoted an unnamed Russian Foreign
Ministry spokesman as expressing appreciation of Iranian
Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi's offer to assist Moscow in
resolving the crisis in Daghestan. In a message conveyed last
week at a meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Igor
Ivanov and Iranian Ambassador Mehdi Safari last week (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 27 September 1999), Kharrazi said that as
chair of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Iran
condemns terrorism and affirms its recognition of Russia's
territorial integrity. The Russian source told Interfax that
Iran could provide Russia with invaluable information on
terrorist organizations, possibly including the putative
links between Chechnya and the Taliban. LF

DAGHESTAN AUTHORITIES LAUNCH QUIET CRACKDOWN. The massive
Russian air raids on Chechnya have deflected world attention
from events in Daghestan. That republic's leaders have
apparently taken advantage of this opportunity to begin
rounding up individuals suspected of links with the Chechen
militants and, in particular, with the self-styled prime
minister of the Islamic Republic of Daghestan, Sirazhudin
Ramazanov, according to Turan of 28 September. Russian
military and Daghestani Interior Ministry officials have
arrested an unknown number of people in Daghestan's Gunib
Raion, including several of Ramazanov's relatives. Arrests
and searches are also reported in Makhachkala among circles
suspected of disloyalty to Daghestan's current leadership. LF

DUMA REJECTS BUDGET... As widely predicted, State Duma
deputies have rejected the 2000 draft federal budget in its
first reading. The 28 September vote was 356 opposed, 11 in
favor, and one abstention. The government has sent the budget
to a conciliatory commission composed of representatives of
the government, the Duma, and the Federation Council. Echoing
earlier criticism of their colleagues in the upper chamber,
some Duma deputies criticized the budget for its unequal
split of revenues between the center and regions. They were
also critical of the low spending on defense and considered
certain indicators, such as a projected annual inflation rate
of 18 percent and ruble exchange rate of 32 rubles to $1, too
optimistic. Duma Budget Committee Chairman Aleksandr Zhukov
told Ekho Moskvy that if commission members can reach
agreement on the budget's basic indicators, then the Duma may
reconsider the budget as early as 20 October. JAC

...AS END OF YEAR DEADLINE LOOMS. Duma Chairman Gennadii
Seleznev expressed confidence on 28 September that the budget
will be passed before the end of the year. Missing this
deadline would mean that "all financial flows will be
controlled by the White House, which suits Prime Minister
Putin's team," and that "it will be possible to keep regional
governors on a short leash," "Komsomolskaya pravda" reported,
citing unidentified White House sources. (The daily is
controlled by the Interros financial group and LUKoil.) Putin
told the Duma on 28 September that it is time to "centralize
federal budget allocations for the armed forces" and to
transform the military into a professional army, according to
Interfax. National security "costs a lot" and this program
should not be regarded "as cheap," he added. Under the
current draft, 119.3 billion rubles ($4.7 billion) are
devoted to national defense and 77.8 billion rubles to law
enforcement out of total spending of 803.0 billion rubles.
Revenues are set at 745.1 billion rubles. JAC

FUNDING OF ARMED FORCES REMAINS 'COMPLICATED.' According to
Colonel General Georgii Oleinik, director of the Defense
Ministry's Main Directorate for the Military Budget and
Finances, the funding of the armed forces remains
"complicated," despite some signs of improvement,
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 25 September. While 60
percent of the military's needs were met over the past three
years, that figure stands at 75 percent for this year. The
military's debt as of 1 September reached some 52 billion
rubles ($2.1 billion). Oleinik noted that wage arrears remain
widespread and that food subsidies have virtually ceased. And
he also rejected recent media reports that on the orders of
Defense Minister Sergeev, the Strategic Rocket Forces are
better financed than the other armed forces (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 24 September 1999). JC

DEFENSE OFFICIAL WARNS OF NEED TO REPLACE NUCLEAR HARDWARE.
Colonel General Sitnov, who is in charge of defense hardware
supplies to the armed forces, told reporters on 28 September
that all land and sea delivery systems of Russia's strategic
nuclear forces must be replaced by 2007, when their service
life ends, Interfax reported. Only under this condition,
Sitnov stressed, will Russia be able to "ensure continuity"
and fully abide by the planned START-3 treaty. He also noted
that Russia's strategic bombers will remain operational until
2015. A program for the period until 2005 foresees new
deliveries and the modernization of existing military
technology--undertakings that will account annually for 28
percent of the defense budget, Sitnov noted. JC

DUMA REJECTS TAX LAWS. Also on 28 September, Duma deputies
rejected a number of tax laws submitted with the 2000 draft
budget, including one that would require the substitution of
a sales tax for 20 regional taxes and another that would
raise excise duties on alcohol and cigarettes, Interfax
reported. JAC

ZADORNOV DISMISSED AS IMF MONEY DELAYED. Russian President
Yeltsin signed a decree on 29 September dismissing Mikhail
Zadornov as presidential envoy to international financial
institutions. Presidential spokesman Dmitrii Yakushkin
explained that Zadornov "was appointed to carry out a
specific amount of work, which he has successfully
completed." The previous day, Finance Minister Mikhail
Kasyanov echoed earlier statements by Russian officials that
disbursement of the next tranche of IMF money might be
delayed until late October. That same day, IMF director
Michel Camdessus pledged that the fund will not turn its back
on Russia. "Moskovskii komsomolets" reported on 29 September
that former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin is under
consideration for Zadornov's job. Zadornov told Interfax on
28 September that he will go into politics after leaving
government and will seek a seat in the State Duma with
Yabloko. JAC

TOP RUSSIAN OFFICIALS CALL SCANDAL A PLOT... Shabdurasulov,
first deputy head of the presidential administration, on 28
September dismissed allegations in "USA Today" that Russia
has withheld information from U.S. investigators on illegal
capital exports from Russia, Interfax reported. When asked
about the report, he said he has "seriously changed" his
attitude toward "several respectable and not very respectable
publications." He went on to call such coverage "direct
pressure" on Russia, concluding that "there are serious
grounds for supposing that a considerable part of all this
was inspired by the goal of discrediting Russia, humiliating
it and moving it further away from making fundamental
decisions." The same day, former Prime Minister Chernomyrdin
said that the Bank of New York scandal has the appearance of
a broader anti-Russian campaign and could harm U.S.-Russian
relations in the long run, ITAR-TASS reported. JAC

...OFFER LOWER ESTIMATES OF CAPITAL FLIGHT. Central Bank
Chairman Viktor Gerashchenko told "Argumenty i Fakty" on 28
September that the bank's specialists estimate that $1
billion of capital flees Russia each month. Zadornov, who has
since been dismissed as presidential envoy to international
financial institutions, said $700 million to $1 billion in
capital leaves Russia each month. However, director of the
Institute for International Finance Charles Dallara said last
week that institute experts believe that capital flight has
averaged $1.5-$2 billion every month since 1992, RFE/RL's
Washington bureau reported. JAC

U.S. FEARS ANOTHER RUSSIAN THREAT. U.S. Senator Richard Lugar
(Republican) warned on 28 September that Russia could
experience problems associated with the so-called millennium
computer bug, AFP reported. Lugar said "we do not know what
is going to happen to Russian computer systems when we pass
into the millennium and neither do they, but initial
estimates do not appear promising." Lugar noted that the
chances of an accidental missile launch are almost non-
existent but that computer problems would affect Moscow's
missile early warning system. U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd
(Democrat) said that six out of seven direct key national
security communication links that are used from Moscow to
Washington could experience failures. A U.S. State Department
official told AP that the government is "advising U.S.
citizens who will be in Russia over the millennial transition
to be prepared for possible disruptions, especially in key
sectors like electricity, heat and telecommunications." JAC

RUSSIA ASKS U.S. FOR MORE FOOD AID. U.S. Agriculture
Secretary Dan Glickman told reporters on 28 September that
his department has received an official request from the
Russian government for food assistance. Interfax reported the
next day that the new aid package is likely to exceed 5
million tons. The last package totaled 3.1 million tons.
According to the agency, the Russian government wants to set
up an insurance fund for foreign investments in Russian
agriculture using the proceeds from selling the food aid.
Gennadii Kulik, former deputy prime minister in charge of
agriculture, predicted on 24 September that Russia will
harvest only 52-55 million tons of grain this year, compared
with the official forecast of 60 million tons. JAC

MOSCOW'S MAN IN HAVANA. Following talks with a delegation led
by Cuban President Fidel Castro, Russian Foreign Minister
Ivanov told journalists in Havana on 28 September that Cuba's
debt to Russia, estimated at some $20 billion, has not harmed
relations between the two countries. He noted that the talks
did not cover the debt issue but were "political" ones aimed
at setting the tone for bilateral meetings at ministerial
level, AP reported. ITAR-TASS quoted Ivanov as saying that
increased cooperation with Cuba is a "strategic foreign
policy choice of the new democratic Russia." He also noted
that Moscow will help reach a "settlement" of U.S.-Cuban
relations and hopes the U.S. administration will show
"realism" over this issue. Ivanov was paying his first visit
to Cuba since becoming foreign minister. JC

IRAQI OIL POLICY TO FAVOR RUSSIA. Meeting with Russian Fuel
and Energy Minister Viktor Kalyuzhnii in Baghdad on 28
September, Iraqi Oil Minister Amer Rashid said his country
gives priority to Russia with regard to deliveries of crude
oil, AFP and ITAR-TASS reported. Rashid noted that Iraq
intends to continue to pump and export crude "according to
our capacity and independently of any other measures." He
explained the priority treatment for Russia by pointing to
the "numerous projects" the two countries had before the 1991
Gulf War and the oil and gas agreements they have concluded
since then. Kalyuzhnii arrived in Iraq earlier the same day
to co-chair, together with Rashid, a meeting of the Russian-
Iraqi economic commission. JC

TRANSCAUCASUS INTERIOR MINISTERS IN MOSCOW. Russian Interior
Minister Vladimir Rushailo held talks in Moscow on 28
September with his Armenian, Azerbaijani, and Georgian
counterparts: Suren Abrahamian, Ramil Usubov, and Kakha
Targamadze, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. Rushailo also
held separate meetings with Usubov, who complained about the
violation of the rights of Azerbaijani citizens in Russian,
and with Targamadze, with whom he discussed how to prevent
smuggling of alcohol and petroleum products. The latter again
denied that arms are being smuggled via Georgia to Chechnya
and Daghestan and condemned any manifestations of terrorism,
according to ITAR-TASS. Meeting with the four interior
ministers, Russian Premier Putin called for the creation of a
joint center to coordinate countermeasures against terrorism
throughout the CIS, Interfax reported. LF

TEACHERS STRIKES IN SIBERIA CONTINUE. The teachers strike
that began in the Altai Republic on 1 September continues,
Interfax-Eurasia reported on 28 September. Traditionally, 1
September is the start of the school year. More than 100
teachers' collectives are participating in the action to
demand payment of back wages. The agency reported on 23
September that the 29 teachers' collectives in Chita Oblast
are also continuing the strike they began on 1 September. JAC

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN CLERICS PROTEST GOVERNMENT PRESSURE OVER NEW
CATHOLICOS. Six Armenian archbishops on 28 September issued a
"pastoral appeal" expressing concern that senior members of
the government are supporting a specific candidate for the
post of Catholicos, Noyan Tapan reported. That post has been
vacant since the death of Garegin I in late June. The appeal
said such intervention calls into doubt "the moral and legal
process" of electing a new catholicos. On 25 September,
Archbishop of Artsakh Parkev Martirosian, one of the six
signatories to the appeal, told RFE/RL that government
officials told two of the other signatories who the Armenian
leadership's preferred candidate is, but he declined to
divulge that candidate's identity. AP on 28 September quoted
Martirosian as saying that Garegin Nersisian, archbishop of
the Ararat Diocese, which includes Yerevan, is the
government's favorite for the post. Presidential spokesman
Vahe Gabrielian has denied any official interference in the
election process, AP added. LF

ARMENIA, RUSSIA TO CONTINUE DEFENSE INDUSTRY COOPERATION.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on 28 September
approved a draft Russian-Armenian agreement on continuing the
present production and specialization of firms engaged in the
development, production and testing of weapons and materiel,
ITAR-TASS reported. LF

U.S. CALLS ON AZERBAIJAN TO RESUME KARABAKH TALKS... U.S.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has written to
Azerbaijan's President Heidar Aliev urging him to agree on a
declaration of principles for the resumption of talks under
the OSCE's aegis on resolving the Karabakh conflict, Reuters
and AFP reported on 28 September. Albright said she believes
it is possible to agree on a date and venue for the
resumption of those talks before the November OSCE summit.
She added that the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic
should also be represented at those talks. The talks have
been deadlocked for almost one year owing to Baku's rejection
of the most recent peace plan, proposed by the OSCE Minsk
Group. Albright has also written to Armenian President Robert
Kocharian welcoming the latter's dialogue with Aliev,
Interfax reported on 28 September, quoting presidential
spokesman Gabrielian. LF

...TO DISMAY OF OPPOSITION. Opposition party leaders told
Turan on 28 September that they consider Albright's proposals
detrimental to Azerbaijan's national interests. Azerbaijan
National Independence Party Chairman Etibar Mamedov argued
that if the Karabakh Armenians are brought into the
negotiating process, then Yerevan should withdraw. He claimed
that the Azerbaijani leadership is planning to conduct a
referendum on the Karabakh peace settlement simultaneously
with the 12 December municipal elections. He did not
elaborate. Azerbaijan Popular Front Party chairman Abulfaz
Elchibey termed Albright's proposals "unacceptable," noting
that they make no mention of four UN resolutions calling for
the withdrawal of Armenian forces from occupied Azerbaijani
territory. Musavat Party Chairman Isa Gambar argued that if
representatives of the Karabakh Armenian population are
brought into the peace talks, then representatives of the
region's expelled Azerbaijani population should also be
included. LF

GEORGIA PROTESTS DETENTION OF DEFENSE MINISTRY OFICIALS IN
ADJARIA. Speaking at a press conference in Tbilisi on 28
September, a Georgian Defense Ministry spokesman condemned
the 5 September arrest in Adjaria of two Georgian Defense
Ministry officials, Caucasus Press reported. He added that
the arrest was intended to discredit the central Georgian
authorities in the runup to the 31 October parliamentary
elections. The "Batumi alliance" of five political parties,
including the Union of Revival of Adjar Supreme Council
Chairman Aslan Abashidze, is considered the most serious
challenger to the ruling Union of Citizens of Georgia in that
poll. Lawyers for the two men said that legal procedures were
violated in the course of charging them with possession of
drugs. Adjar authorities claim the two officers infiltrated
the Adjar Republic in order to destabilize the situation
there. LF

GEORGIAN OFFICIALS DENY BASAEV PLANNING TO WINTER IN SVANETI.
Senior Georgian frontier guard and intelligence officials
told Caucasus Press on 28 September there is no truth to
Russian military intelligence reports that Chechen field
commander Shamil Basaev plans to move his headquarters to the
western Georgian mountain region of Svaneti for the winter.
Those reports claim that Basaev has already sent envoys to
the region for talks with the separatist "Free Svaneti"
organization, which has agreed to the temporary Chechen
presence. Iveri Chkheidze, governor of the Kodori valley in
Svaneti, told Caucasus Press that no such separatist
organization exists. He said the Russian reports were
intended to create a pretext to increase the Russian military
presence in Abkhazia, which borders on Svaneti. LF

GEORGIA SEEKS TO EXTRADITE SUSPECT IN PRESIDENTIAL
ASSASSINATION BID. Georgian security services are negotiating
with their counterparts in North Ossetia over the extradition
to Georgia of Nugzar Khuchua, who they believe participated
in the February 1998 unsuccessful attempt to assassinate
Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, ITAR-TASS reported.
Khuchua is also suspected on involvement in the bomb attack
on Vladikavkaz central market in March 1999 (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 27 September 1999). LF

KAZAKHSTAN'S PARLIAMENT APPROVES BUDGET IN FIRST READING... A
no confidence vote in Prime Minister Nurlan Balghymbaev's
government was averted on 28 September when Constitutional
Court Chairman Yuri Kim ruled that the 25 September decision
by both chambers of the parliament to reject the cabinet's
proposed draft budget for 2000 was invalid, ITAR-TASS
reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 September 1999). Kim
explained that the required majority vote was not achieved.
The parliament then voted on 28 September to approve the main
budget indicators for revenues and spending as well as
pegging the deficit at 3 percent of GDP. Balghymbaev told
deputies after the vote that Kazakhstan is over the worst of
its budget crisis and that there is "a good chance" that the
economic situation will improve, according to Interfax. LF

...BUT IMF REPORTEDLY SKEPTICAL. Interfax on 28 September,
however, quoted an unnamed senior Kazakh official as saying
that the IMF believes that the draft's tax revenue target is
unrealistic and should be lowered by $100 million. That
target is 23.3 percent higher than the corresponding figure
for 1999. LF

LEADING KAZAKH OPPOSITION PARTY RETHINKS ELECTION TACTICS.
Leading members of former Premier Akezhan Kazhegeldin's
Republican People's Party of Kazakhstan told journalists in
Almaty on 28 September that the party is withdrawing its list
of 10 candidates to contest the seats in the lower chamber of
the parliament to be allocated on a proportional basis,
Interfax and Reuters reported. They said the reason for the
move is that the Central Electoral Commission refused to
register Kazhegeldin, whose name topped the list, as a
candidate. Another 20 candidates from the party who plan to
run in the 10 October elections in single-mandate districts
may withdraw to protest "strong pressure" from the
authorities, they added. But Central Electoral Commission
Chairwoman Zaghipa Balieva told RFE/RL on 29 September that a
letter submitted by the party informing the commission of its
decision to withdraw its list is inadequate. She noted that a
written request by the party leadership must be submitted no
later than 10 days before the poll. LF

NEW FIGHTING IN KYRGYZSTAN. Kyrgyzstan's Security Council
Secretary-General Bolot Djanuzakov told journalists in
Bishkek on 28 September that a group of the militants who are
holding 13 hostages in southern Kyrgyzstan attacked a
government post during the night of 27-28 September but
retreated after government troops counterattacked, RFE/RL's
bureau in the capital reported. Also on 28 September, Prime
Minister Amangeldy Muraliev convened a cabinet meeting to
assess the readiness of government bodies to provide support
for a military operation against the militants, according to
ITAR-TASS. Uzbekistan's Defense Minister Khikmatulla Tursunov
told journalists in Tashkent on 28 September that Uzbekistan
has been informed of the militants' location and movements
and is ready to launch operations against the rebels at any
time, according to Interfax. Tursunbek Akunov, who has
mediated between the militants and the Kyrgyz leadership,
arrived in Pakistan on 28 September for talks with Taliban
representatives aimed at securing the hostages' release. LF

UZBEKISTAN SEEKS TO TIGHTEN SECURITY. The Uzbek government
press service reported on 28 September that the cabinet has
adopted a special resolution introducing additional security
measures both in Tashkent and the provinces, Interfax
reported. Those measures include additional passport checks
and barring access to cellars and attics. On 20 September,
the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan issued a press release
reporting the construction of a vast concentration camp for
Uzbek Muslims sentenced for their religious belief. LF

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