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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 192, Part I, 1 October 1999
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 192, Part I, 1 October 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 * MOSCOW LAUNCHES GROUND CAMPAIGN AGAINST CHECHNYA * LEADING FIGURE AMONG RUSSIAN INTELLIGENTSIA DIES * KAZAKHSTAN PREMIER RESIGNS TO HEAD NATIONAL OIL COMPANY End Note: KARL HEINRICH MENGES (1908-1999) xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx RUSSIA MOSCOW LAUNCHES GROUND CAMPAIGN AGAINST CHECHNYA. Spearheaded by tanks, Russian ground forces moved as much as 10 kilometers into Chechnya on 30 September, Russian and Western agencies reported. The campaign is intended to seize "commanding heights" in the republic, rather than occupy its entire territory, Russian commanders said. Meanwhile, the Russian air campaign continued with attacks on dams, oil wells, bridges, and other infrastructure. Chechen officials said that several people have been killed in the attacks. PG CHECHENS PLEDGE TO RESIST... Magomed Khambiyev, Chechnya's defense minister, said on Grozny television 30 September that if Russia invades Chechnya, "highly professional special units" will take actions in the rear of the Russian army, Interfax reported. But other Chechen officials stressed that Grozny was opposed to anything connected to terrorism. The deputy speaker of the Chechen parliament, Selim Beshaev, said in Baku the same day that "the Chechen people and the leadership of the Chechen government" oppose terrorism, Reuters reported. And Chechen presidential spokesman Selim Abdulmuslimov told ITAR-TASS that Grozny has invited leaders of all North Caucasian republics to take part in a national congress of the Chechen people on 2 October. PG ...WANT SHEVARDNADZE TO MEDIATE. Chechen representatives in Tbilisi on 30 September said that Grozny would like Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze to serve as a mediator between Russia and Chechnya, ITAR-TASS reported. The Georgian side has not yet responded to that proposal. Meanwhile, Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov said he believes that Russian authorities foiled his plans for talks with Daghestani leader Magomedali Magomedov, Chechen State Secretary Khisein Akhmadov told Interfax on 30 September. PG MOUNTING REFUGEE CRISIS FORCES MOSCOW TO ASK FOR AID. As the Russian attacks continue, Chechens are fleeing their homeland at a rate of 6,000-7,000 a day, Ingush officials told ITAR- TASS on 30 September. Almost 80,000 Chechens are reported to be in that republic alone. Various Russian regions, including Moscow, have dispatched food and medicine to help out, but the number of refugees is now so large that Moscow has been forced to ask the UN for assistance, Reuters reported. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees will dispatch some $500,000 in assistance immediately as well as a team of experts to help local officials cope. PG YELTSIN PLEASED WITH PUTIN'S TOUGH LINE. Boris Yeltsin's press spokesman Dmitrii Yakushkin told Interfax on 30 September that the Russian president is pleased with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's "decisiveness" on Chechnya. Yakushkin said the president believes that Moscow failed to punish the Chechens for far too long and that Putin is now taking care of that. At the same time, Yakushkin said, Yeltsin has not ruled out talks with Chechen leaders. He added that, "Today Russia holds a very decisive stance and there is a certain support for the line pursued by the Russian leadership." PG PUTIN DOESN'T RULE OUT TALKS WITH CHECHEN LEADERS... Arguing that the Russian military has the right to go anywhere in Chechnya because it is part of Russia, Putin said that the Russian army will choose where to base itself in terms of military advantage, Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported on 30 September. At the same time, Putin, too, did not rule out the possibility of talks with Chechen leaders. Putin's strategy was praised by State Duma Defense Committee Chairman Roman Popkovich, who said Moscow had to act in Chechnya because "we faced there a real regular well-trained and strong army armed with state-of-the-art NATO weapons." But former Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin warned against any full-scale invasion of Chechnya lest it interfere with Russian elections and economic reform, Interfax reported. PG ...WELCOMES FOREIGN SUPPORT, DISMISSES CRITICISM. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said in St. Petersburg on 30 September that Western leaders support Russia's anti- terrorist measures, ITAR-TASS reported. Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry "accepted with satisfaction" a statement by Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev supporting harsh action against terrorism. But Putin said that Chechnya is a purely domestic Russian affair and that no other country should interfere. Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov underscored that position, welcoming European and EU support for Russia's territorial integrity, while ignoring their calls for negotiations and caution, Reuters reported. PG RUSSIANS WANT CHECHEN BORDER CLOSED, WHILE MUSCOVITES OPPOSE BOMBING. A poll reported by Interfax on 30 September showed that 82 percent of all Russians favor closing the border with Chechnya, while only 7 percent opposed such a move. A poll of Muscovites, meanwhile, found that only 34 percent of the residents of the capital support Russia's air campaign against Chechnya. That sampling found that 73 percent believe that "too many Chechens" live in Moscow. Only 15 percent disagreed with that viewpoint. PG LEADING FIGURE AMONG RUSSIAN INTELLIGENTSIA DIES. Dmitrii Likhachev, literary historian and prominent cultural figure in Russia, died on 30 September at the age of 92. A specialist in Russian medieval literature, Likhachev authored more than 1,000 works, according to Reuters. He spent 1928- 1932 in prison camps, and from 1986-1991 he was a member of the USSR's Congress of Peoples' Deputies. Russian President Yeltsin said that Likhachev represented "the best traits of the Russian intelligentia," adding that his death is "an irrevocable loss for science, Russian culture, and all of Russia," according to ITAR-TASS. Last year, Yeltsin awarded Likhachev one of Russia's highest honors, the order of St. Andrei. JAC BUDGET FIGHT BEGINS IN EARNEST. State Duma Deputy Chairman Boris Kuznetsov told Interfax on 1 October that the first reading of the new version of the 2000 budget will take place on 20 October and the second reading will likely occur on 29 October. Finance Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said on 30 September that basic budget parameters, such as revenues, will be revised upward but the level of the deficit must remain the same, according to ITAR-TASS. Agrarian Party faction leader Nikolai Kharitonov announced earlier that his party will insist that appropriations to agriculture be raised from 7.2 billion rubles ($285 million) in the current draft to at least 12.5 billion rubles. Otherwise, he said, the Agrarians will not vote for the budget "under any circumstances." JAC COURTSHIP BETWEEN UNITY, NDR FAILS. The newly formed regional bloc Unity (Edinstvo) has issued a statement that it will not form an alliance with Our Home Is Russia (NDR) because the latter is imposing unacceptable conditions, Interfax reported on 1 October. According to the statement, Unity has two principles that it cannot relinquish: it must fight for the maximum number of regional representatives in the State Duma and it cannot follow any ideology. The previous day, NDR Duma faction leader Vladimir Ryzhkov told reporters that the main requirement for the alliance "is to preserve the NDR as an independent political organization." He added that the party must retain its name and symbols and be first in the name of the alliance. According to "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 30 September, Ryzhkov continued to oppose the merger of the two parties, despite the likelihood that his name would have been among the top three on the party list. JAC LEBED SUGGESTS HE WAS MISQUOTED. Following the Kremlin's harsh denunciation of his remarks in French newspaper, "Le Figaro" on 29 September, Krasnoyarsk Krai Governor Aleksandr Lebed's press service said the following day that Lebed is "unhappy over the translation of his words into French" and that "the correspondent omitted part of the interview thus twisting ideas and shifting emphases" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 September 1999). Presidential spokesman Dmitrii Yakushin said that Lebed's allegation that the Kremlin might have been involved in the bombing of apartment houses in Moscow went "beyond all bounds of acceptable behavior for an official of his standing." He added that Lebed's accusations "are blatant abetting of terrorists." "Izvestiya," which is owned by Vladimir Potanin's Inteross financial group and LUKoil, suggested on 1 October that in order to have made such remarks, Lebed must have fallen out completely with his financial backer, Boris Berezovskii, or Berzovskii must have broken with the Kremlin. JAC RUSSIA, CHINA TO HOLD NAVAL EXERCISES. Russia and China are to stage joint naval exercises from 2 to 6 October as part of celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. Reuters on 30 September quoted the "Beijing Youth Daily" as saying that a destroyer and a missile-armed escort ship from Russia's Pacific Fleet will take part in maneuvers with Chinese vessels off Shanghai. Also on 30 September, President Yeltsin telephoned with Chinese leader Jiang Zemin to congratulate him on the occasion of China's half-century celebration. Interfax qouted both leaders as expressing satisfaction with the "significant progress" made toward consolidating bilateral relations. JC RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY WARNS AGAINST NATO BASES IN BULGARIA. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin said on 30 September that Bulgarian leaders' statements suggesting that U.S. and NATO bases might be set up in their country (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 and 27 September 1999) do not "promote security and stability in Europe, particularly in its southeastern part, Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported. Such bases, he asserted, would harm relations between countries. The same day at a press conference in Brussels, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov stressed Moscow's position that it will resume cooperating with NATO once the alliance creates the necessary conditions for such cooperation. Ivanov was in the Belgian capital to unveil a statute of Aleksandr Pushkin. JC SEMENOV TAKES OFFICE IN KARACHAEVO-CHERKESSIA. After weeks of uncertainty and conflict, Vladimir Semenov, who won the 16 May elections by a landslide, assumed the presidency of Karachayevo-Cherkessia on 30 September, ITAR-TASS reported. He moved into the offices that had been occupied by acting Governor Valentin Vlasov. PG MORE JOURNALISTS ATTACKED IN SVERDLOVSK... Journalists in Sverdlovsk Oblast decided to protest on 1 October recent attacks on a fellow journalists, "Izvestiya" reported that day. All newspapers were to run a blank front page, while radios intended begin their broadcasts with a minute of silence and television programs with a blank screen. According to "Nezavisimaya gazeta" the previous day, Dmitrii Bondarev, director-general of the Channel 10 television station, was beaten by a group of assailants not far from his home on 28 September. The attack follows an assault last week on Kirill Derbenev, a correspondent for the local ATN television station. Both journalists received anonymous threats following reports on the narcotics business in the oblast. JAC ...AS GOVERNOR WANTS TO CRACK DOWN ON DRUG TRADE. Sverdlovsk Governor Eduard Rossel on 29 September proposed holding a regional referendum on introducing the death penalty for drug trafficking, Interfax reported. According to the governor, the referendum might be held at the same time as the upcoming State Duma elections. Sverdlovsk Deputy Governor Semen Spektr reported that drug abuse has spiralled among the local population, particularly among teenagers, while local doctors believe that more than 10,000 drug addicts will probably be registered in the region at the beginning of the year. Along with rising drug use, Sverdlovsk has experienced an increase in the cases of AIDS. Other Siberian regions, such as Irkutsk, have also seen a sharp increase in AIDS cases linked with rising rates of drug abuse. JAC STALIN'S SON REHABILITATED. The Russian Supreme Court's Military Collegium acquitted Vasilii Stalin, the late son of former Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, on 30 September on charges of anti-Soviet propaganda and agitation, ITAR-TASS reported. The court also reduced charges of embezzlement and abuse of power. The court's decision was in response to an appeal filed last year by Vasilii Stalin's friends in the army and his relatives, "The Moscow Times" reported on 1 October. The case against Vasilii Stalin was launched just a month after his father's death. According to the prosecutor in the recent case, Stalin's son spent a considerable amount of state money creating hunting resorts, modernizing his state-owned dacha, and hosting extensive private parties. Stalin, who became a general at the age of 26, spent eight years in prison after his conviction. In 1962, he died at the age of 41 from alcoholism. JAC BUT WILL THEY DELIVER? Russian Space Agency press secretary Sergei Gorbunov told Interfax on 30 September that Russia may sell its slots on future crews on the International Space Station. According to the agency, Russia is alloted three of the seven spots on the station's permanent crews and is currently holding talks with the Japanese National Space Agency and the European Space Agency. Meanwhile, Pizza Hut announced that it will have its logo placed prominently on the Proton rocket that will launch the station in November, according to AFP. The Pizza Hut logo will measure some 30 feet on the fuselage of the 200-foot rocket. Mike Rawlings, Pizza Hut president and chief concepts officer, said "Pizza is the most popular food on earth--now Pizza Hut pizza will become the most popular food in space." U.S. astronaut Rick Hieb called the Pizza Hut initiative "a major step toward commercializing space." JAC TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA ARMENIA, GEORGIAN PRESIDENTS SEEK CLOSER TIES. During a two- day visit to Yerevan, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze told his Armenian counterpart, Robert Kocharian, that he wants priority to be given to the development of closer ties among the three southern Caucasus countries, ITAR-TASS reported on 30 September. Kocharian, for his part, welcomed Shevardnadze's support for signing more agreements between their two countries. PG TBILISI FEARS MOSCOW WANTS TO INVOLVE GEORGIA IN CHECHEN CONFLICT. Levan Aleksidze, a foreign policy adviser to Georgian President Shevardnadze, said that he fears Moscow may want to push Chechens into fleeing to Georgia and then use that as an excuse to attack his country, Interfax reported on 30 September. "If the Georgian side lets the Chechens in," he said, "Russia will start destroying them in Georgia." Meanwhile, Georgian Interior Minister Kakha Targamadze denied in Kyiv that Georgia has anything to do with the supply of arms to the Chechens, ITAR-TASS said. PG TBILISI SAYS GIORGADZE NOW IN SYRIA. Igor Giorgadze, the former Georgian security chief who is wanted on suspicion of involvement in terrorist attacks on President Shevardnadze, is now in Syria, Georgian Interior Minister Kakha Targamadze told Prime News on 30 September. Targarmadze indicated that Georgia has been unsuccessful in seeking his extradition, largely because of the work of "Russia's special services." PG KAZAKHSTAN PREMIER RESIGNS TO HEAD NATIONAL OIL COMPANY. Nurland Balgimbayev resigned as prime minister on 1 October to become head of KazakhOil, the company he had worked for before becoming premier two years ago, Interfax reported. President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who had been critical of Balgimbayev's leadership, immediately appointed Kasymzhamart Tokayev as acting prime minister. Until now, Tokayev was deputy prime minister and foreign minister. PG ASTANA THREATENS TO FORCE KAZHEGELDIN'S RETURN. Kazakhstan's Prosecutor-General Yuri Khitrin told ITAR-TASS on 30 September that if former Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin does not return home after receiving medical treatment, the Kazakh authorities will try to compel him to return, using what Khitrin said would be "unpopular but forced measures." Khitrin said he has sufficient evidence to convict Kazhegeldin of money laundering, abuse of office, and tax evasion. In other comments, Khitrin said he is supervising the investigation of an illegal sale of MIG-21 fighters to North Korea and that he knows of no evidence to support claims that there are foreign militants operating in Almaty. PG KYRGYZSTAN TIGHTS SECURITY ACROSS COUNTRY. Facing a continuing challenge from rebels in the southern region of the country, Bishkek has increased security throughout the country, increasing its monitoring of mosques and checking the passports of those suspected of not having legal residence permits, Kabar reported on 30 September. Meanwhile, rebels in the south continued to hold 13 hostages, Interfax reported. The news agency quoted Kyrgyzstan Interior Minister Omurbek Kutuyev as saying that the current situation in his country "is similar to events in Daghestan." PG TAJIKISTAN REGISTERS CANDIDATES, PARTY. Tajikistan's Central Electoral Commission registered incumbent President Imomali Rakhmonov, leader of the Congress of People's Unity Party Sayfiddin Turayev, and former tax official Sulton Quvvatov as presidential candidates, Iranian radio reported on 29 September. The same source added that the commission has also registered the Islamic Rebirth Party. PG KARIMOV CHALLENGES 'FORCES WITH EVIL INTENTIONS' IN UZBEKISTAN. Speaking on 30 September near the Uzbek-Kyrgyz border, Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov said he is prepared to defend his country against all those "with evil and bad intentions" who might seek to "stir up trouble" in his country. PG UZBEKISTAN AGREES TO RESUME GAS SHIPMENTS TO KAZAKHSTAN. Uzbektransgaz will resume shipments of gas to southern Kazakhstan under the terms of an agreement reached between Astana and Tashkent, Kazakhstan's Khabar TV reported on 30 September. The two countries will settle their accounts by writing off Kazakhstan's debts for gas against Uzbekistan's debts for rail service. PG END NOTE KARL HEINRICH MENGES (1908-1999) By David Nissman Last week, Karl Heinrich Menges, one of the world's greatest Altaists and Turkologists, died in Vienna at the age of 91. His knowledge is not adequately represented by his published books, book reviews, and articles because he saw the Altaic languages as a linguistic spectrum: each of his writings expressed only a small part of that spectrum, and to understand his thoughts it was necessary to have known him personally. I was a student of his from the late 1950s until the late 1960s, and a friend and colleague later. He imparted to me and his few other students his knowledge not only of the classics of Central Asian literature but also the cultures, folklore, and language of the Turkic and Tungusic peoples of Siberia and the Russian East. Menges was a survivor. His sense of humor and ability to imitate accents and mannerisms did not always stand him in good stead. When he was a professor at Berlin, his occasional parodies of Adolph Hitler drew unwelcome attention from the Gestapo. That, together with his work in the anti-Nazi resistance, resulted in his interrogation and arrest. He was released shortly thereafter, and one of his students in the Japanese diplomatic corps advised him that he had heard he was to be arrested shortly. He went home, packed a few things, and left for Turkey. In Turkey, he settled in at the University of Ankara. Conditions in Turkey at that time were not good for emigre German scholars, so he left for Russia in 1940. When he arrived in Moscow, he was contacted by the U.S. Embassy and offered a job at the University of California. He left immediately, taking the Trans-Siberian Railroad to Vladivostok. He was able to take a Japanese freighter to San Francisco, arriving there in December 1941, just before the outbreak of war between Japan and the United States. As noted above, he was a survivor and occasionally lucky. Of his published works, his study of the Altaic words embedded in the Old Slavic epic poem, "The Lay of the Host of Igor," is perhaps his most original. He was able to demonstrate the openness of the steppe and the way different languages and cultures intermingled under the conditions of the freedoms available in a region without boundaries. His study, "The Turkic Languages and Peoples: An Introduction to Turkic Studies," was published in Wiesbaden in 1968. It was one of the essential works for newer generations of Central Asian and Turkic scholars. Karl Heinrich Menges could have published more, but in a way he knew too much and had too little time. But remarkable people like Menges always have too little time. His death is not only a loss to scholarship but also a personal loss to all who knew him. The author is the editor of the "RFE/RL Iraq Report." xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word subscribe as the subject of the message. HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE Send an email to email@example.com with the word unsubscribe as the subject of the message. 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