A disagreement may be the shortest cut between two minds. - Kahlil Gibran
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 195, Part I, 6 October 1999


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 195, Part I, 6 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

* CHECHEN PRESIDENT DECLARES MARTIAL LAW

* RUSSIAN BANKING INVESTIGATION GATHERS STEAM

* BOMBING RAIDS ON TAJIKISTAN CONTINUE

End Note: OSCE SEEKS RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS, FAIR
ELECTIONS
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RUSSIA

CHECHEN PRESIDENT DECLARES MARTIAL LAW... Aslan Maskhadov
signed a decree on 5 October imposing martial law in Chechnya
as of midnight that night, Reuters reported. The decree
removes the legal obstacles to the Chechen armed forces'
participation in hostilities against federal troops.
Maskhadov had earlier resisted pressure from his rival field
commanders to impose martial law in the hope of avoiding an
all-out war (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 October 1999). On 6
October, Mikhail Mityukov, who is Russian President Boris
Yeltsin's envoy to the Constitutional Court, told ITAR-TASS
that Maskhadov's decree is illegal. Mityukov explained that
only President Yeltsin is empowered to declare martial law on
all or part of the territory of the Russian Federation. LF

...CRITICIZES BEREZOVSKII, BASAEV, KHATTAB. In an interview
with "Komsomolskaya pravda" of 5 October, Maskhadov linked
the new campaign against Chechnya with the political
situation in Russia. He accused business magnate Boris
Berezovskii of expending "a lot of energy and money" in
inciting the war. Maskhadov also denied approving the August
incursion into neighboring Daghestan by field commanders
Shamil Basaev and Khattab. LF

PUTIN BRIEFS LEADING POLITICIANS ON CHECHEN TACTICS. At a 5
October meeting in Moscow with his predecessors Sergei
Stepashin, Yevgenii Primakov, Sergei Kirienko, and Viktor
Chernomyrdin and with the leaders of most State Duma
factions, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said that
federal forces now control one-third of Chechnya's territory,
ITAR-TASS reported. But Putin added that the process of
creating a security zone and destroying "terrorists and their
bases" is "far from finished." He said that once that process
is complete, Chechnya's status will be determined by means of
negotiations, but he declined to specify with whom those
talks will be conducted. He added that a government
commission will be created to address the social problems of
the Chechen population and that "wages and pensions will be
paid" in the zone controlled by Moscow. LF

NO ROLE IN CHECHNYA FOR LEBED? Reporting on Putin's meeting,
ITAR-TASS quoted him as saying that the discussion was
"confidential." But an unnamed participant told Interfax that
Communist Party chairman Gennadii Zyuganov and Yabloko
faction leader Grigorii Yavlinskii both steadfastly opposed
Putin's suggestion that Krasnoyarsk Krai Governor Aleksandr
Lebed be named Russian envoy to Chechnya with the powers of a
deputy premier. In an interview with "Le Figaro" on 29
September, Lebed, who along with then Chechen chief of staff
Aslan Maskhadov signed the 1996 agreements ending the Chechen
war, had predicted that the Russian leadership would again
call on his services to resolve the present Chechen crisis.
Whether he could do so is, however, doubtful: "Der Spiegel"
in its 27 September issue quoted Maskhadov as saying that he
no longer trusts Lebed. LF

IVANOV RULES OUT INTERNATIONAL PEACEKEEPING FORCE FOR
CHECHNYA. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said on 5
October that Moscow does not need the help of any
international troops or observers to resolve its "problems"
in Chechnya, Reuters reported. He dismissed Chechen President
Maskhadov's call for such a force as "a propaganda stunt,"
according to Interfax, adding that if Chechen leaders want a
political solution to the crisis, then they should "disarm
gangs" and extradite those responsible for terrorist attacks
in Moscow and other Russian cities. Also on 5 October,
Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin told
journalists in Moscow that while "a dialogue with bandits is
impossible," Russia "is not giving up on contacts with
moderate groups in Chechnya, [with] legitimate
representatives of the people of that member of the Russian
Federation," according to Interfax. LF

MOSCOW CRITICIZED FOR TREATMENT OF FUGITIVES FROM CHECHNYA.
As of 5 October, the number of fugitives from Chechnya had
reached 118,000, of whom more than 110,000 are currently in
neighboring Ingushetia, Reuters reported. Ingushetia's
President Ruslan Aushev told Interfax on 5 October that only
8,000 of them are housed in tent camps. UN Secretary-General
Kofi Annan issued a statement on 5 October expressing concern
at the humanitarian plight of the displaced persons,
according to Reuters. Human Rights Watch also issued a
statement the same day describing the Russian authorities'
relief efforts as "inadequate" and condemning Russia's plans
to return the displaced persons to the federal-controlled
zone of Chechnya as "a blatant violation by Russia of its
international obligations to protect the displaced against
forcible return to any place where their lives or safety
would be at risk," according to the "Financial Times" on 6
October. LF

RUSSIAN BANKING INVESTIGATION GATHERS STEAM. Russian law
enforcement officials' investigation into the involvement of
Russian banks in the Bank of New York scandal is expanding to
include larger domestic banks, "Vremya MN" reported on 6
October, noting that Moscow police had raided the Sobinbank
the previous day. According to the daily, officers were
interested in any documents connected with the activities of
Flamingo Bank, an obscure bank that Russian federal
prosecutors said earlier they were investigating on suspicion
that it assisted exporters to avoid paying Russian taxes by
funneling money through foreign banks. Andrei Serebrennikov,
deputy chairman of the Sobinbank board, told "Kommersant-
Daily" the same day that his bank has no relationship with
Flamingo Bank other than through the interbank market.
According to that daily, one member of Sobinbank's board of
directors, Aleksandr Mamut, is an adviser to the head of the
presidential administration, Aleksandr Voloshin. JAC

U.S. GRAND JURY WANTS TO TALK WITH YELTSIN'S SON-IN-LAW?
"Vedomosti" reported on 4 October that a grand jury that is
to convene in New York on 14 October may summon Russian
President Boris Yeltsin's son-in-law Aleksei/Leonid Dyachenko
to ask him questions regarding his banking transactions with
the Bank of New York and the firm Belka Trading. According to
the newspaper, Yeltsin's press service continues to identify
the president's son-in-law as Aleksei, but according to its
source, which it did not identify, his passport lists his
first name as Leonid. "Segodnya" reported the next day that
federal investigators have demanded that Belka Trading and a
number of sister companies hand over all documents concerning
payments to Dyachenko. Belka Trading attorney Irwin Rochman
told "The Washington Post" on 1 October that Dyachenko
received money for operations connected with the oil trade.
"He did real work" and was "well paid" for it, he said. JAC

MOSCOW CRITICIZES U.S. ANTI-MISSILE TEST... Russian Foreign
Ministry spokesman Rakhmanin said on 5 October that the U.S.
undermined the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty by testing
a proposed missile defense system several days earlier. ITAR-
TASS quoted Rakhmanin as saying that the test poses a threat
to arms control, non-proliferation, and the system of
strategic stability and that the U.S. will have to shoulder
the responsibility for "all the negative consequences." On 2
October, U.S. forces launched an unarmed strategic missile
from the Marshall Islands, in the Pacific Ocean, to intercept
a missile fired from California. JC

...WHILE ANOTHER WARNING MADE AGAINST ABM TREATY REVISION.
Commander of the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces Colonel
General Vladimir Yakovlev told "Nezavisimaya gazeta" of 5
October that if the U.S. "writes off the ABM Treaty, then it
will be virtually to blame for wrecking the nuclear arms
limitation process." Russia and the U.S., he added, would
become "unpredictable" for each other and the Nuclear Non-
Proliferation Treaty would be jeopardized. Yakovlev added
that Russia is currently considering some 20 "countermeasures
that could be taken without a significant increase in
expenditures. In this context, he said that limitations
imposed on the Topol missile system by "understandings
related to START-1" could be "abandoned." In past statements,
Russian military officials have suggested that Topol could be
equipped with multiple warheads. JC

NEW NATIONAL SECURITY CONCEPT IN THE OFFING. The Russian
Security Council on 5 October adopted a blueprint for a new
National Security Concept that envisages an increase in
defense expenditures in the federal budget, Russian media
reported. Prime Minister Putin, who attended the council
meeting, commented that a new concept is needed because since
1997, when the current concept was adopted, major changes
have taken place in the Balkans and international terrorism
has become increasingly widespread. He added that the Chechen
administration has proven unable to fight against terrorism,
end the "constant sorties by bandit formations from its
territory," and rid the republic of international terrorists,
prompting the Russian authorities to "think about" the basic
aspects of national security, Russian Public Television
reported. JC

PUTIN ADDRESSES VISITING JAPANESE PARLIAMENTARY DELEGATION.
Meeting with a group of Japanese parliamentary deputies in
Moscow on 5 October, Prime Minister Putin hailed bilateral
relations but noted that "there are a number of problems that
require our particular attention and joint effort." Foreign
Minister Ivanov told the same delegation that Russia wants to
continue the process of building a constructive partnership
with Japan--a process that was launched by Russian President
Yeltsin and Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi last fall
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 November 1998). President Yeltsin
is reportedly expected to pay a state visit Japan before the
end of this year. JC

NEW ROUND OF DEBT TALKS BEGINS. Another round of negotiations
between Russia and London Club creditors was scheduled to
begin on 6 October, "Kommersant-Daily" reported the same day.
According to the newspaper, this round will largely involve
technical bargaining about the size of the Russian debt to be
written off in exchange for issuing Eurobonds to Club
creditors. On 4 October, Finance Minister Mikhail Kasyanov
confirmed that creditors have agreed to a debt write-off in
exchange for Eurobonds, but he said that the Russian
government is still only considering their proposals.
Vneshekonombank Chairman Andrei Kostin, who is representing
Kasyanov at the talks, said earlier that London Club
creditors hope to resolve the problem of Soviet-era debt by 2
December, when the next $600 million principal and interest
payment is due. JAC

SKURATOV'S CASE MOVES FORWARD. The Prosecutor-General's
Office on 1 October acknowledged that suspended Prosecutor-
General Yurii Skuratov is a plaintiff in a blackmail case,
"Moskovskii komsomolets" reported on 6 October. According to
the newspaper, the office continues to pursue two cases
involving Skuratov--one to prove his innocence, another his
guilt. The daily, which is close to Moscow Mayor Yurii
Luzhkov, also reported that one of the prostitutes seen on a
videotape dallying with a man that looks like Skuratov had a
police identify card. And a prostitute confessed her
activities to the police "under threats, blackmail, and
deceptions," according to the newspaper. JAC

ANOTHER LEBED FOE FACING CRIMINAL CHARGES TO RUN FOR DUMA.
Prosecutors in Krasnoyarsk Krai have charged former Governor
Valerii Zubov with abuse of office, ITAR-TASS reported on 5
October. Zubov allegedly diverted 6.8 million old rubles in
federal funds allocated to the region to a private firm. The
previous day, Zubov announced that he will seek a seat in the
State Duma as an independent candidate, according to
Interfax-Eurasia. Anatolii Bykov, head of Krasnoyarsk
Aluminum, has the number two slot on the Liberal Democratic
Party's party list for State Duma elections. He is also the
subject of a probe on money-laundering charges. "Vremya MN"
reported on 5 October that although Krasnoyarsk Krai Governor
Lebed has announced that his party, Honor and Motherland,
will not participate in the State Duma elections, candidates
"close" to the governor are running for three of the krai's
four seats in the Duma. JAC

SOME REGIONS EXPERIENCING AIDS OUTBREAKS. Aleksandr Goliusov,
the chief AIDS prevention specialist at the federal Ministry
of Health, told ITAR-TASS on 5 October that Russia currently
has 19,000 HIV-infected persons. According to Goliusov, there
have been outbreaks in a number of cities, such as Tver,
Saratov, Kaliningrad, Krasnodar, and Novorossiisk. Other
regions, such as the Jewish Autonomous Oblast, which now has
two HIV-infected patients, are witnessing their first cases,
"Novye Izvestiya" reported last month. In Buryatia, local
officials are alarmed by the outbreak in neighboring Irkutsk
and that in their republic the number of cases there has
grown from nine to 15 in the last 10 months, "Nezavisimaya
gazeta" reported on 28 September. According to the daily,
Irkutsk has 1,500 persons infected with HIV, including 24
school-age children. JAC

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS IN JEOPARDY. Armenia's Central
Electoral Commission on 5 October issued a warning that local
courts risk sabotaging 24 October local elections by
registering candidates who are not eligible to participate,
RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The commission has ruled
that a provision in the election law stating that only
candidates who have lived in a community for at least one
year may be elected to its local government bodies has
already taken effect. The author of that law argues that the
ruling takes effect only in March 2000. Under the latter
interpretation, local courts have reinstated dozens of
candidates whom local electoral commissions had refused to
register. On 4 October, members of the Yerevan Municipal
Election Commission failed to agree on how to interpret the
residency requirement and consequently failed to register any
candidates for the poll in two Yerevan districts before the
deadline for doing so expired that evening. LF

ARMENIAN PREMIER REPORTS ON NEW WORLD BANK LOAN. Vazgen
Sargsian told journalists in Yerevan on 5 October that during
his talks last week in Washington with World Bank President
James Wolfensohn, the latter pledged a further $238 million
to fund development projects in Armenia over the next three
years, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The World Bank also
agreed to disburse the third and final tranche, worth $23.5
million, of a structural adjustment credit aimed at helping
offset the country's budget deficit. Sargsian said that in
return, the Armenian government will submit to the bank a
medium-term program outlining economic policy priorities. He
added that talks with the IMF were similarly fruitful and
that the fund is likely to approve the final $28 million
tranche of a three-year loan later this week. Sargsian
confessed to being "very ashamed" by Western leaders'
perceptions of the extent of corruption in Armenia. He vowed
to crack down on it more effectively. LF

ARMENIAN OPPOSITION AGREES ON VENUE FOR DEMONSTRATION.
Following talks with the Baku city administration on 5
October, Azerbaijani opposition representatives accepted
Mayor Rafael Allakhverdiev's proposal to hold their planned 9
October demonstration at the motor sports stadium on the
northern outskirts of Baku, Turan reported. Last month, the
opposition had rejected holding a mass rally at the stadium
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 September 1999). The 9 October
demonstration is intended to protest the Azerbaijani
leadership's stated willingness to accept a compromise
solution of the Karabakh conflict. Smaller demonstrations
will be held in seven other cities. LF

AZERBAIJANI PARLIAMENTARY OPPOSITION CONDEMNS RUSSIAN BOMBING
OF CHECHNYA. The Democratic Bloc, which is composed of 20
opposition parliamentary deputies, issued a statement on 5
October condemning the "inhuman" bombing of Chechen towns and
villages and calling on the Russian leadership to put a stop
to the attacks, Turan reported. The deputies advocated talks
between the Russian and Chechen leaderships in order to
preclude further civilian casualties. They noted that the
Russian government had responded inappropriately to the
invasion of Daghestan by armed groups not subordinate to the
Chechen leadership. And they condemned "all acts of terrorism
connected with the conflict in the North Caucasus." The same
day, parliamentary deputies adopted a statement addressed to
the Russian State Duma protesting the 1 October bombing by a
Russian aircraft of Azerbaijan's Zakatala Raion and reprisals
against ethnic Azerbaijanis in Moscow, Turan reported. LF

AZERBAIJANI CABINET APPROVES 2000 BUDGET INDICATORS.
Azerbaijan's cabinet on 1 October endorsed the parameters of
next year's budget, Interfax reported three days later. The
2000 budget foresees GDP growth of 8 percent, increases in
industrial output and agricultural production of 3 percent
and 4.5 percent, respectively, a 10.5 percent increase in
investment, 3 percent annual inflation, and a budget deficit
equivalent to 2.6 percent of GDP. LF

GEORGIAN RULING PARTY UNVEILS ELECTION PROGRAM. On 4 October,
Georgian Minister of State Vazha Lortkipanidze and President
Eduard Shevardnadze outlined the main tenets of the Union of
Citizens of Georgia's program for the 31 October
parliamentary elections, Interfax and Reuters reported.
Lortkipanidze affirmed that "we have overcome crisis and
stopped collapse." In an apparent contradiction, he went on
to pledge that "we will finally get over the economic crisis,
create an effective fiscal system, increase wages to 200-230
lari ($127) and increase pensions three-fold," Reuters
reported. The current minimum pension is 10 lari. LF

CHEVRON EXPRESSES INTEREST IN INCREASING STAKE IN KAZAKH OIL
COMPANY. Kenneth Derr, outgoing chairman of the U.S. oil
company Chevron, told journalists in Astana on 5 October
after a meeting with Kazakhstan's President Nursultan
Nazarbaev that Chevron may acquire part of Kazakhstan's
equity share in the Tengizchevroil project if the Kazakh
government decides to sell part of its 25 percent stake,
Interfax reported. He added that Kazakhstan is considering
selling a 5 percent or 10 percent stake and has received
offers from several companies. "Vedomosti" had reported on 4
October that the only company that has officially expressed
an interest in acquiring a share is Russia's LUKoil, which
together with ARCO already has a 5 percent stake in
Tengizchevroil. LF

KYRGYZSTAN ANTICIPATES NEW INCURSION... Kyrgyzstan's Security
Council Secretary General Bolot Djanuzakov told journalists
in Bishkek on 5 October that "international terrorist groups"
based in Afghanistan and Pakistan are ready to enter Kyrgyz
territory in order to regain control of drug-smuggling
routes, Interfax reported. He added that Kyrgyz troops have
closed in on the base where ethnic Uzbek guerrillas are
believed to be holding hostages in the south of the country,
leaving the guerrillas no option but to retreat into
neighboring Tajikistan. LF

...EXPANDS SECURITY COUNCIL MEMBERSHIP. Also on 5 October,
the composition of the Security Council was broadened to
include the mayor of Bishkek and the heads of the country's
seven oblasts, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. The former
Batken Raion of Osh Oblast was granted oblast status the same
day and will incorporate the Lyalyak and Kadamjai Raions of
Osh Oblast. Kyrgyzstan's President Askar Akaev on 5 October
charged Djanuzakov with overseeing government actions to
strengthen the guarding of the country's borders, reforms in
the army, fighting against organized crime and international
terrorism, and monitoring the religious situation in the
country. LF

BOMBING RAIDS ON TAJIKISTAN CONTINUE. Unidentified aircraft
dropped bombs on the Djirgatal district of eastern Tajikistan
on 5 October for the fourth consecutive day, Reuters reported
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 and 5 October 1999). National
Reconciliation Commission spokesman Akhmadsho Kamilzoda told
the agency that the aircraft in question belonged to
Uzbekistan and that the death toll in those raids has risen
to five. United Tajik Opposition leader Said Abdullo Nuri
issued an official statement on 6 October condemning the
bombing and demanding that Uzbekistan stop such attacks, Asia
Plus-Blitz reported. ITAR-TASS quoted an unnamed senior Tajik
government official as saying the previous day that
Tajikistan "will respond in an appropriate way" once an
investigation into the raids is completed. LF

TAJIK PRESIDENT IN MOSCOW. Returning from the U.S., where he
addressed the UN General Assembly last week, Tajikistan's
President Imomali Rakhmonov made a stopover in Moscow for
talks on 4 October with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin
on regional security and military cooperation, Asia Plus-
Blitz reported. Rakhmonov also met with St. Petersburg
Governor Vladimir Yakovlev to discuss establishing trade,
economic, and scientific ties. LF

RUSSIA WARNS TURKMENISTAN OVER MERCENARIES. Russian Foreign
Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin told journalists in
Moscow on 5 October that Russia hopes Turkmenistan is taking
measures to prevent Afghan mercenaries transiting its
territory en route for the North Caucasus, Interfax reported.
Rakhmanin said that Moscow has received a note from the
Turkmen Foreign Ministry protesting reports in several
Russian newspapers of an alleged plan to create a "window" on
the Afghan-Turkmen border to enable Afghan mercenaries to
cross into Turkmen territory. LF

UZBEKISTAN'S PRESIDENT VISITS SOUTH KOREA. Meeting in Seoul
on 5 October, Islam Karimov and his South Korean counterpart,
Kim Dae-Jung, pledged to expand trade and economic
cooperation between their countries, AP reported. South Korea
is one of the leading foreign investors in Uzbekistan,
focusing primarily on the automobile and textile industries.
The two presidents also agreed to expand cooperation in other
fields, including culture, education, sport, and tourism. LF

END NOTE

OSCE SEEKS RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS, FAIR ELECTIONS

By Roland Eggleston

	On his tour of Central Asia, OSCE Chairman Knut
Vollebaek has urged the five countries to continue their
progress toward full democracy. He asked the governments to
free all those jailed for political offenses. And he called
on them to implement the pledges they have repeatedly made to
make elections fairer.
	Fair elections were Vollebaek's main theme in Kazakhstan
on 4 October, the last day of his tour. He expressed the
OSCE's concerns about preparations for Kazakhstan's
parliamentary elections on 10 October.
	Vollebaek spoke with reporters in the capital, Astana,
about his talks with President Nursultan Nazarbayev and other
Kazakh officials. Those talks followed a meeting with non-
governmental organizations (NGOs) active in Kazakhstan that
have been critical of the government.
	"We discussed the election, the election laws, the
amendments made, but in maybe a little bit more general terms
with the president," Vollebaek said. "But some of the
specific criticism that came up in the meeting with the NGOs
I raised with the chairwoman of the Central Election
Commission [on 3 October] when I met with her, the minister
of justice and the acting prime minister."
	Vollebaek said that during his trip, he told all five
governments that the OSCE insists on the right of every
citizen to express political opinions without fear of
repression: "No government is happy to have its actions
criticized. But unless political opponents commit a criminal
offense, they should not be penalized for their opinions."
Vollebaek said he had told government leaders that democracy
requires a multi-party system and laws that allow all parties
to freely seek election.
	Vollebaek said the OSCE is not disheartened at the slow
progress toward these goals in some Central Asian countries
and that the organization will continue its programs to
educate citizens about how democracy works.
	In Uzbekistan, Vollebaek asked President Islam Karimov
about reports of repression against Islamic activists. He
also handed over a list of about 12 people whom the OSCE
considers to have been unfairly convicted. He asked for their
cases to be reviewed and for information about four people
who disappeared in recent years.
	Vollebaek received reports of other human rights
problems, including the status of women, at a meeting in
Tashkent with members of Uzbek non-governmental
organizations. Among those present was the chairman of the
Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan, Talib Jakubov, who was
denied an exit visa to attend an OSCE conference in Vienna
this month.
	Jakubov told Vollebaek that among the political parties
now banned from participating in elections are some that
played an important part in winning democratic elections for
Uzbekistan after the breakup of the Soviet Union. He said
there was a return to the Soviet model in the 1994 election.
Vollebaek told the meeting that the OSCE mission in
Uzbekistan will continue to assist political parties whose
activities have been suspended.
	In Turkmenistan, the OSCE chairman had a long meeting
with President Saparmurad Niyazov. Niyazov told Vollebaek
there are no political prisoners in the country and no
instruments for oppressing political opponents. According to
people attending the meeting, Vollebaek told Niyazov the OSCE
has details of several cases of people imprisoned for what
appear to be political crimes.
	Vollebaek also asked for details about the death of
Khoshali Garaev, who was found dead in his cell last month.
Garaev was sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment in 1995 on
charges of conducting anti-state activity.
	For almost a year, the OSCE and Turkmenistan have been
discussing an agreement that would allow greater OSCE
activity in the country, including election monitoring. OSCE
officials said shortly before Vollebaek arrived in
Turkmenistan that they thought they have an acceptable
agreement, but the government rejected it at the last moment.
OSCE officials said Turkmenistan does not want the OSCE's
department for democratic institutions, known as ODIHR, to
initiate any projects in the country. In other Central Asian
countries, ODIHR holds seminars on the rights of the voter,
the right of all political parties to campaign, and similar
topics. OSCE officials said it is unlikely that monitors will
be sent to the parliamentary elections in Turkmenistan in
December because the elections do not meet the minimum OSCE
standards of democracy.
	Despite the differences, Niyazov told journalists
accompanying the OSCE mission that Vollebaek's visit had been
worthwhile. He said 2010 is his personal target date for
introducing what he called a new democratic society in
Turkmenistan.
	In Tajikistan, Vollebaek conferred with government and
opposition leaders about upcoming presidential and
parliamentary elections. The elections are part of the
implementation of a peace agreement that ended years of civil
war.
	Vollebaek said Tajikistan will remain stable only if the
elections are seen to be fair. He said OSCE monitors have
found many flaws in the conduct of the 26 September
referendum on constitutional changes. Opposition parties have
requested an OSCE presence at the elections. But Vollebaek
said he has not yet decided whether to send monitors because
of doubts whether the elections will be conducted in
accordance with OSCE standards.
	At a private meeting, the main opposition leader, Said
Nuri, accused the government of trying to create difficulties
for his group, the United Tajik Opposition.
	Vollebaek said his discussions convinced him that the
OSCE must pay more attention to the problems of the Central
Asian states, including their considerable economic problems,
and find ways to offer practical assistance. He added that
Central Asia will be an important issue at the OSCE summit in
Istanbul in November.

The author is a Munich-based RFE/RL correspondent.
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