We are all apt to believe what the world believes about us. - George Eliot
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

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

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Headlines, Part I

* TWO RUSSIAN PLANES DOWNED IN CHECHNYA

* SOME RUSSIAN REGIONS REJECT FUGITIVES

* KYRGYZ TROOPS TAKE TWO GUERRILLA BASES
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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

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