|We are all apt to believe what the world believes about us. - George Eliot|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 194, Part I, 5 October 1999
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 194, Part I, 5 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 * TWO RUSSIAN PLANES DOWNED IN CHECHNYA * SOME RUSSIAN REGIONS REJECT FUGITIVES * KYRGYZ TROOPS TAKE TWO GUERRILLA BASES xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx RUSSIA TWO RUSSIAN PLANES DOWNED IN CHECHNYA. Russia lost two unarmed reconnaissance planes that were shot down over Chechnya on 3 and 4 October, ITAR-TASS reported. The pilots of both aircraft are presumed killed. Meanwhile ITAR-TASS quoted an unnamed Russian military source as saying that Russian forces have established "full control" over Nauri and Shelkovskii Raions in northern Chechnya. But a second Russian military source claimed that groups of between five and 10 Chechen fighters are engaging the advancing Russian troops in order to allow larger groups to retreat safely. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 5 October said that, as in spring 1996, the Russian forces are negotiating agreements with local leaders in the two raions that they will not enter towns and villages provided that the inhabitants undertake not to shelter Chechen fighters. The commander of the Russian forces in Daghestan, Lieutenant General Gennadii Troshev, told journalists on 4 October that two Russian soldiers were killed and eight injured in fighting with Chechen volunteers near Dubovskaya the previous day, Interfax reported. LF RUSSIA RULES OUT MEDIATION WITH CHECHEN LEADERS. Deputy Foreign Minister Yevgenii Gusarov told Interfax on 4 October that Moscow does not need mediators in order to conduct talks with members of the Russian Federation, as Chechnya "is Russia's internal problem." Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov had asked Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze on 1 October to act as mediator in talks with Moscow. Shevardnadze had responded three days later that he was prepared to do so if Russia agreed to such mediation (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 and 4 October 1999). LF CHECHEN FIELD COMMANDERS IMPATIENT. In Grozny on 4 October, former acting Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev rejected the idea of talks with Russia, calling instead for fierce resistance against the advancing Russian forces, Interfax reported. Yandarbiev, together with unnamed field commanders, called on Maskhadov to impose martial law, which the Chechen president refused to do. Presidential Press spokesman Selim Abdumuslimov said that Maskhadov still hopes to prevent an all-out war. Chechen Defense Minister Magomed Khambiev told Interfax that no regular Chechen army troops have yet joined the Chechen field commanders and volunteer forces resisting the advancing Russian troops. LF BASAEV, KHATTAB DENY INVOLVEMENT IN TERRORISM. Field commander Shamil Basaev has told "Jane's Defence Weekly" that responsibility for the bombings of apartment buildings in Moscow and other Russian cities last month lies not with him but with Russian intelligence, Reuters reported on 4 October. The next day, Reuters quoted Saudi-born field commander Khattab as telling the London-based Arabic-language newspaper "Asharq al-Awsat" as denying receiving any financial aid from or maintaining any contacts with Saudi millionaire terrorist Osama bin Laden. Khattab, too, denied any involvement in the Russian apartment bombings. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, however, has again affirmed that "serious grounds" exist for suspecting that both Chechens were responsible for the terrorist bombings, Interfax reported on 4 October. He added that they should both be apprehended and brought to trial. LF SOME RUSSIAN REGIONS REJECT FUGITIVES. Local authorities in the village of Galyugaevskaya in Stavropol Krai, are opposing efforts of the Federal Migration Service to set up a refugee center there, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 October. According to the agency, the village is separated from Chechnya by the Terek River, which runs narrow and shallow in that area. A spokesman for Kursk Raion, in which the village is located, said that there is no room in the village for fugitives from Chechnya and that the villagers are concerned for their safety. The next day, "Izvestiya" reported that atamans in the Cossacks' Greater Don Army have adopted an appeal to the Russian president, the "chairman of the government," Rostov Oblast's government, and residents of southern Russia to strengthen controls on immigration into the Don region and to prevent interethnic conflict between the fugitives from the Caucasus and the local population. JAC RUBLE SLIPS... The ruble lost 1.6 percent in value against the dollar in morning trading on 5 October, closing at 25.9024 rubles to $1, compared with 25.487 rubles to $1 the previous day, ITAR-TASS reported. According to the agency, the ruble slipped 1.1 percent on 4 October. The Russian Statistics Agency reported the same day that inflation in September stood at 1.5 percent, compared with 1.2 percent in August, 2.8 percent in July, and 1.9 percent in June, according to Interfax (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 August 1999). JAC ...AS INFLATION TICKS UP. In an interview with "Argumenty i Fakty" (No. 39), Central Bank Chairman Viktor Gerashchenko dismissed predictions that the ruble may collapse as suddenly as it did last year. He argued that there are no reasons for the ruble to collapse, provided that the public does not go on a dollar buying spree. He said this is unlikely because Russians' purchasing capacity has declined by 30 percent. The Central Bank predicted earlier that the ruble would keep appreciating in real terms until the end of the year. Some economists believe that if the ruble does not fall below 27 rubles to $1 by December, it will have to be devalued by at least 5 rubles in mid-2000 to put it in line with the budget target of 32 rubles to $1, "The Moscow Times" reported on 25 September. JAC PRIME MINISTER PROMISES IMPROVEMENTS IN INVESTMENT CLIMATE. In his address to the Consultative Council for Foreign Investments on 4 October, Prime Minister Putin pledged that the Russian government "will respond to the worries of foreign investors," adopt resolutions "that will facilitate the implementation of tax laws already in force," and actively cooperate with the Central Bank in restructuring the banking system, according to Interfax. Putin said that the volume of accumulated foreign investments in Russia now totals $27.8 billion, including $11.7 billion worth of direct investments. The Anti-Monopoly Ministry earlier put the share of foreign direct investment in total investment much lower, reporting that it fell to 33 percent in 1998, compared with 36 percent from 1996-1997 and 70 percent from 1991-1995 (see ''RFE/RL Newsline," 28 September 1999). Putin added that drawing investments to regional economies is important, since 49.4 percent of the volume of foreign investments remain in Moscow. JAC CHERNOMYRDIN CALLS UNITY A BEREZOVSKII CREATION. After saying the previous day that negotiations with the interregional movement Unity are still continuing, Our Home Is Russia (NDR) leader Viktor Chernomyrdin slammed the movement in remarks to reporters on 4 October, noting that Unity "does not have any ideology whatsoever. [It] has only [media magnate] Boris Berezovskii." He added that the NDR cannot "accept the conditions" that Unity has offered. In an interview with "Kommersant-Daily" on 2 October, Unity head Sergei Shoigu denied that Berezovskii played a role in the movement's creation and insisted the original authors of the idea were himself, the presidents of Ingushetia, Tatarstan, and Bashkortostan, and the governor of Irkutsk. He went on to say that Samara Governor Konstantin Titov stole the idea and then "rushed off to collect signatures," later founding the Voice of Russia. Interfax reported on 4 October that Shoigu has taken vacation as Emergencies Minister in order to concentrate on the campaign for the upcoming State Duma elections. JAC ONE MORE ELECTION BLOC JOINS THE RACE... A new election alliance called the Bloc of General Andrei Nikolaev and Academician Svyatoslav Fedorov has been formed, "Rossiiskaya gazeta" reported on 5 October. The bloc, which held its constituent congress in Moscow on 2 October, is composed of seven organizations: Nikolaev's Union of People's Power and Labor, Fedorov's Party of Workers' Self-Rule, the Union of Realists, the Workers' Socialist Party, Russia's Hope, Russia's Engineering Progress, and Power (Derzhava). JAC ...AS ENVIRONMENTALISTS LINE UP PASKO, BUSINESSES. Meanwhile, the environmental movement, Kedr (Cedar), has announced that it will run independently in State Duma elections, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 5 October. Military journalist Grigorii Pasko, whose trial on charges of espionage recently concluded, will run on the party's slate. Pasko had been accused of divulging secrets about the Pacific Fleet's environmentally hazardous waste practices. Deputy Prime Minister Valentina Matvienko turned down an offer from the movement to run as their candidate for president, ITAR- TASS reported. Kedr's press spokesman denied a report in "Moskovskii komsomolets" that the party is funded by aluminum magnate Lev Chernoi, saying the party is supported by "regional businesses," "The Moscow Times" reported on 5 October. However, he said he did not know which businesses provide funding for the party. JAC COMMUNISTS LOSE GROUND IN VOLGOGRAD. Incumbent Mayor of Volgograd Yurii Chekhov, who is also head of the local branch of Fatherland (Otechestvo), has been re-elected, winning some 38 percent of the vote in the 3 October mayoral ballot, Russian media reported. Yevgenii Ishchenko, a 26-year-old State Duma deputy, garnered 29 percent support, beating into third place the Communist Party of the Russian Federation candidate, Sergei Agaptsov (20 percent). In elections to the city council, which took place the same day, the Communists saw their share of seats reduced by half, thereby losing their 17-seat majority in the 24-seat council. According to "Izvestiya," a large group of independents have won seats in the municipal legislature. JC KREMLIN SAYS DENIALS OF ANTI-CONSTITUTIONAL MANEUVERS FABRICATED. Presidential spokesman Dmitrii Yakushkin on 4 October said that an interview with Tatyana Dyachenko, President Boris Yeltsin's daughter and adviser, published by Britain's "Sunday Times" was "fictional," adding that the "statements attributed to her are invented." In the interview, which ran the previous day, Dyachenko said that "sooner or later my father will leave political life, but not in any unconstitutional way." She called speculation to the contrary "a crude hoax." On her own role in the government, she said "I know full well that the president did not appoint me because I'm so smart and talented." She added that "in some situations I can overcome some conventionalities. And there are some unpleasant things that are easier for me to tell him." Yakushkin said the purpose of the alleged interview was to stir up rumors that the Kremlin plans imposing a state of emergency and canceling the elections. JAC MOSCOW DENIES CONDUCTING NUCLEAR TESTS ON NOVAYA ZEMLYA. Responding to a 3 October "Washington Post" article, a spokesman for the Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy told ITAR-TASS the next day that Russia strictly adheres to international agreements and has not conducted nuclear weapons tests on Novaya Zemlya. The spokesman added that the article is a "political act," which he put into the context of the "complicated struggle" in the U.S. over the ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. "The Washington Post" had quoted U.S. senior officials as saying that Moscow carried out two tests last month in the Arctic but that U.S. monitoring equipment could not determine the exact nature of those tests (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 October 1999). It also reported, however, that U.S. surveillance satellites have recently observed at Novaya Zemlya the kind of activity that usually precedes and then follows a low- level nuclear test. JC BOSNIAN SERB PREMIER IN MOSCOW. Meeting with acting Bosnian Serb Premier Milorad Dodik in Moscow on 4 October, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov commented that events in Kosova have "complicated a settlement in Bosnia-Herzegovina," Interfax reported. The situation, he continued, could be improved by "appropriate" UN Security Council decisions and by "due respect" for Bosnia's territorial integrity. Dodik also met with Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov to discuss trade relations. JC TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA ARMENIA TO DONATE CONCRETE TO TURKEY. Armenia will send two trainloads of concrete to Turkey for reconstruction in the town of Izmit, devastated by an earthquake in mid-August, Interfax reported on 4 October. Immediately after that disaster, Armenia said it would to send rescue teams to Turkey if asked (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 August 1999). LF INVESTIGATION INTO DEATH OF ARMENIAN INTERIOR TROOPS COMMANDER COMPLETED. State prosecutors have completed their investigation into the death last February of Interior Troops commander Artsrun Markarian, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported on 4 October. No date has been set, however, for the trial of the three men originally charged with Markarian's murder. His two bodyguards, who were arrested and charged with the crime (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 and 15 February 1999), were released from custody in July. LF RUSSIA AGAIN ACCUSES AZERBAIJAN, GEORGIA OF ABETTING TERRORISTS. In a live interview on Russian Television on 3 October, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov argued that it is in the interests of both Georgia and Azerbaijan to cooperate with Russia to prevent Chechnya becoming a hotbed of international terrorism, Turan reported. Ivanov added that Moscow has proof that terrorist groups used Georgia and Azerbaijan for their own purposes." Ivanov said he has informed the governments of the South Caucasus Republics that Russian border services are prepared jointly to resolve the existing problems. On 4 October, Turan cited an article in "Obshchaya gazeta" quoting Federal Security Service sources as claiming that Stinger anti-air missiles were transported via Georgia to Chechnya and portable anti-air systems via Azerbaijan to that republic in late August. Chechen Vice President Vakha Arsanov told Turan on 3 October that the report is untrue. He said Chechnya needs Stingers but does not have any. LF SOME GEORGIAN CLERGY OPPOSE POPE'S PLANNED VISIT. Caucasus Press on 4 October quoted an unnamed representative of the Georgian clergy as saying that several of his colleagues disapprove of Pope John Paul II's proposed visit to Georgia next month. In particular, he said, they oppose the plans for the pontiff to conduct an open-air mass in Tbilisi. A spokesman for the Georgian Patriarchate told the disaffected clergymen that the Patriarchate has no power to change what he termed the "political decision" to invite the pope to visit Georgia. Also on 4 October, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze told a news conference in Tbilisi that preparations are under way for the pope's visit, which he termed "a historic event" for Georgia, Interfax reported. LF ABKHAZ ELECTION, REFERENDUM RESULTS ANNOUNCED. Incumbent President Vladislav Ardzinba was re-elected for a second five-year term on 3 October, garnering 99 percent of the vote, RIA Novosti reported the following day quoting the Abkhaz Central Electoral Commission. There were no other candidates in the ballot. In the referendum on constitutional amendments, which was held simultaneously, 97 percent of the 87 percent of the electorate who participated endorsed the breakaway republic's 1994 constitution. That document defines Abkhazia as an independent, democratic republic. The Georgian Foreign Ministry has lodged an official protest with the Russian State Duma, whose Council sent seven observers to monitor the poll, Caucasus Press reported. Speaking in Tbilisi on 4 October, Georgian President Shevardnadze said that the international community "was not impressed" by the Abkhaz elections. He warned that although Georgia will make every effort to resolve the Abkhaz conflict peacefully, it could still resort to military means to achieve that goal, according to Interfax. LF SALE OF KAZAKHSTAN'S STAKE IN TENGIZCHEVROIL STILL UNDECIDED. Kanat Bozumbaev, a senior official at the Ministry of Energy, Industry, and Trade, told Interfax on 4 October that the proposed sale of part of the Kazakh government's 25 percent stake in the Tengizchevroil joint venture is "a political issue" contingent on implementation of the state budget. Foreign Minister Kasymzhomart Toqaev had said in August that Astana might be forced to sell part of its share in that project, but several senior officials had argued that it would be foolish to do so (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 August and 3 September 1999). LF MORE ELECTION-RELATED VIOLENCE IN KAZAKHSTAN... The office of Daulet Qazybekov, who is a candidate in the 10 October elections to the lower chamber of Kazakhstan's parliament, was badly damaged by a Molotov cocktail on 4 October, RFE/RL's Almaty bureau reported. No one was injured. Kazakhstan's Central Electoral Commission has registered 109 cases of election-related violence since the beginning of the election campaign. LF ...AS INDEPENDENT MEDIA FACE PRESSURE. Police entered the Almaty editorial offices of the independent newspaper "21 vek" on 4 October in what they said was an investigation of the newspaper's tax record, RFE/RL's correspondent in the former capital reported. The newspaper's bank account has also been frozen. Journalists believe that the move was intended to intimidate editor-in-chief Bigeldy Gabdulklin, who is running as an independent candidate in the 10 October elections. A second journalist who is also contesting that poll, "DAT" editor Sharip Quraqpaev, told RFE/RL that he is encountering problems in getting access to the state-run media. LF KYRGYZ TROOPS TAKE TWO GUERRILLA BASES... Kyrgyz government forces on 4 October took the villages of Zardaly and Korgon, the bases of the ethnic Uzbek guerrillas who have been holding 13 hostages in southern Kyrgyzstan since late August, ITAR-TASS reported. The guerrillas retreated toward Tajik territory. Meeting in Bishkek on 4 October with UN Drug Control Program Executive Director Pino Arlacchi, Kyrgzstan's President Askar Akaev said that the guerrilla incursions into southern Kyrgyzstan are the result of closing the road from the Kyrgyz city of Osh to Khorog in neighboring Tajikistan to drug smugglers, RFE/RL's bureau in the Kyrgyz capital reported. Drug traffickers have been forced to seek alternative routes through Kyrgyz territory. Kyrgyz Security Council Deputy Secretary Askarbek Mameev similarly told Interfax on 4 October that Islamic militants operating in Osh control up to 70 percent of the drugs smuggled through Kyrgyzstan. LF ...AS TALKS ON HOSTAGES' RELEASE CONTINUE. Kyrgyz parliamentary deputy Tursunbai Bakir Uulu told RFE/RL on 4 October that he has met in Afghanistan with leaders of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan to which the hostage-takers belong. Those leaders said they are ready to release the 13 hostages held by the guerrillas on condition that Bishkek halts all military action against the guerrillas. Kyrgyz Human Rights Committee Chairman Tursunbek Akunov, who has mediated between the Kyrgyz leadership and the guerrillas, told RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau by telephone from Pakistan on 2 October that he too is trying to travel to Afghanistan to meet with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan to discuss conditions for the hostages' release. LF TALIBAN ACCUSE TAJIKISTAN OF PROVIDING ARMS TO NORTHERN ALLIANCE. The Taliban Foreign Ministry issued a statement in Kabul on 4 October warning of reprisals against neighboring Tajikistan for its alleged opening of a new route to supply arms to the Northern Alliance of Ahmed Shah Massoud, Reuters reported. The statement claimed that in return for those weapons and other logistical support, the Northern Alliance is channeling vast quantities of drugs into Tajikistan. LF UZBEKISTAN DENIES ITS PLANES BOMBED TAJIKISTAN. An Uzbek Foreign Ministry spokesman told ITAR-TASS on 4 October that the Uzbek government knows nothing about the 2 October incident in which unmarked planes dropped bombs and opened fire on villages in Tajikistan's Djirgatal and Tajikabad regions. At least three people were killed in the attack on Tajikabad; earlier reports had said no one was injured (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 October 1999). On 4 October, Kyrgyz presidential press spokesman Kanybek Imanaliev told RFE/RL that the air raids were undertaken by both Kyrgyz and Uzbek aircraft. LF xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Send an email to email@example.com with the word subscribe as the subject of the message. HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word unsubscribe as the subject of the message. 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