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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 196, Part I, 7 October 1999


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 196, Part I, 7 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

* RUSSIAN MILITARY ASSESSES OPERATIONS IN CHECHNYA

* RUSSIA FEARS CONSEQUENCES OF IMF LOAN DELAY

* KAZAKHSTAN'S CENTRAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION WARNS PRO-
PRESIDENTIAL PARTY
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RUSSIA

RUSSIAN MILITARY ASSESSES OPERATIONS IN CHECHNYA. Russian
forces continued their air and artillery bombardment of
northern and eastern Chechnya on 6 October, as President
Aslan Maskhadov called on Chechnya's religious leaders to
declare a holy war "to defend the country's sovereignty,"
Reuters reported. In Moscow, Defense Minister Igor Sergeev
told journalists that the first stage of the operation, in
which a security zone is to be created around Chechnya, is
not yet over. He said federal forces have advanced as far as
the Terek River "in some places" and that plans have been
approved to cross that river if and when circumstances
dictate. Chief of General Staff Anatolii Kvashnin said in
Moscow that the first phase of the Chechen operation also
includes establishing a new administration in the zone
controlled by Moscow. He cast doubt on the expediency of
trying to negotiate with the Chechen leadership in Grozny,
according to Interfax. In Mozdok, Interior Minister Vladimir
Rushailo said the federal forces are proceeding
"successfully," but he added that his ministry is also
engaged in maintaining law and order in the north of Chechnya
and screening fugitives to identify potential "terrorists."
LF

POLITICIANS ADVISE AGAINST EXTENDED GROUND OPERATION. Former
Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin told journalists on 6 October
that federal forces should not advance across the Terek, as
doing so would incur large-scale battles and heavy losses.
Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii issued a statement
expressing support for the Russian government's actions to
combat terrorism but warning that they should not evolve into
"a large-scale war against the population of the Chechen
republic." Former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin
similarly backed government policy but predicted that there
will be no storming of Grozny such as took place in 1994. LF

INGUSHETIAN PRESIDENT CALLS FOR TALKS. Speaking at a news
conference in Magas on 6 October, Ruslan Aushev called for
"intensive talks between the federal center and Chechen
leaders represented by President [Aslan] Maskhadov," ITAR-
TASS reported. "We should make the Chechen nation our ally in
the fight against terrorism," Aushev added. Yavlinskii
similarly argued that Maskhadov is incapable of coping
single-handedly with "terrorist groups" in Chechnya but that
Russia could and should help him to do so, even though
Maskhadov "cannot turn directly to Russia for help for
political reasons," Interfax reported. LF

EXODUS FROM CHECHNYA CONTINUES. As of early 6 October, the
number of displaced persons who had arrived in Ingushetia
from Chechnya had reached 124,000, while that republic had
food supplies for only 5,000, President Aushev told Interfax.
Radzhab Abdulatipov, head of Daghestan's Migration Service,
told the same news agency that there are currently 3,200
fugitives from Chechnya in Daghestan, most of them ethnic
Nogais and Kumyks. Another 1,000 fugitives are waiting at the
Chechen-Daghestan border, which Daghestan closed last week.
President Maskhadov's wife Kusami has fled to Tbilisi with
some members of her family, ITAR-TASS reported, quoting
Mamuka Areshidze, the chairman of the Georgian parliamentary
group for relations with the North Caucasus. LF

IRAN CONDEMNS VIOLENCE IN CHECHNYA. An Iranian Foreign
Ministry spokesman has described Russia's recent policy in
Daghestan and Chechnya as "inappropriate," while stressing
that Tehran respects the territorial integrity of the Russian
Federation, Reuters reported on 6 October quoting the "Iran
News." The Foreign Ministry statement affirmed Iran's
readiness to cooperate with Moscow to resolve the Chechen
crisis through peaceful means. LF

RUSSIA FEARS CONSEQUENCES OF IMF LOAN DELAY... Deputy Finance
Minister Oleg Vyugin told "Vedomosti" on 6 October that the
delay in disbursing the next tranche of an IMF loan to Russia
could fuel inflation and weaken the ruble. The same day,
Finance Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said that he is concerned
about the postponement of an IMF board meeting to discuss
releasing the $640 installment. "We are doing everything and
receiving nothing," he noted. "We cannot go on this way for
long. We will have to cut something from the budget." JAC

...AS IMF CONCERNED ABOUT COST OF CHECHEN ACTION. Meanwhile,
an IMF official in Washington told RFE/RL that the fund is
troubled by the economic cost of the Chechnya operation:
"We're concerned that it could undermine progress in
improving public finances," the official said. Last week, the
State Duma's conciliatory commission recommended a 22 percent
hike in defense spending in the 2000 draft budget (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 4 October 1999). State Duma Defense
Committee Chairman Roman Popkovich said on 7 October that
given the latest developments in Chechnya and Dagestan, "the
state defense order has been completely reviewed, and an
additional 4 billion rubles ($154 million) has been allocated
to it." He said that the money would be spent on buying new
weapons, including fire arms, armored vehicles, and personal
protection equipment for armed forces personnel. JAC

STAVROPOL TO ACCEPT NO MORE CHECHEN FUGITIVES. Stavropol Krai
will not offer shelter to any more refugees from Chechnya,
according to a joint decision of the krai authorities and
migration service, "Izvestiya" reported on 6 October. Those
who are arriving in Mineralnye Vody and in the krai's Kursk
Raion will be given the means to travel to one of 17 other
regions in the country. The rationale for the decision,
according to the daily, is that the krai already received
about 370,000 fugitives and migrants from Chechnya during the
mid-1990s. This increased the krai's population by about 25
percent and strained local infrastructure. JAC

GRAIN HARVEST FORECAST AGAIN ADJUSTED DOWNWARD... Deputy
Prime Minister Vladimir Shcherbak said on 6 October that this
year's grain harvest will be about 57 million metric tons,
some 5 percent lower than the official forecast of 60 million
metric tons, according to ITAR-TASS. Shcherbak added that
Russia will not need to import food grain and will buy about
8-10 million tons of fodder grain. According to Interfax the
same day, Russia imported $69.3 million worth of grain in
September, 1.8 percent less than in August. Imports of food
and tobacco products soared in September by 65.9 percent,
compared with the same period last year. JAC

...AS SOME REGIONS CONTINUE TO IMPOSE GRAIN EMBARGOS.
Meanwhile, Russia will negotiate a package of humanitarian
food aid from the U.S. that might include 1.5 million tons of
fodder grain, 1.5 million tons of fodder corn, 500,000 tons
of soybeans and 500,000 tons of soy meal as well as 1 million
tons of food grain for the Far East, where delivery of grain
from the European part of Russia is prohibitively expensive,
according to Interfax. Shcherbak said that 15 Russian regions
have produced enough grain to meet their own needs and share
with other parts of the country, but some regional
administrations have banned the shipping of any excess grain
outside these regions. He called such actions illegal and
said the country's prosecutors are demanding that such
decisions be rescinded (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation
Report," 6 October 1999). JAC

NEW MEDIA POLICY TAKING SHAPE. Minister for the Press,
Television, and Radio and Mass Communications Facilities
Mikhail Lesin told ITAR-TASS on 6 October that he shares the
view of some regional leaders that "there is much
aggressiveness in the mass media" and that "things happening
now are consequences of an imperfect policy vis-a-vis the
mass media." He continued that his ministry will propose a
new state policy and strategy toward the media. According to
Federation Council Chairman Yegor Stroev, the upper chamber
will consider two new bills on the mass media that will
"clearly define the limits of what is permissible,"
"Izvestiya" reported the same day that the draft of the new
national security doctrine discussed recently by the Security
Council includes the new concept of "information security,"
which could entail the introduction of centralized military
censorship as a result of the war in the North Caucasus. JAC

BELKA TRADING DENIES CONNECTION WITH BONY. Belka Trading's
Moscow office issued a statement on 6 October saying that
reports that Russian President Boris Yeltsin's son-in-law
Leonid/Aleksei Dyachenko has been subpoenaed to appear before
a New York grand jury are false (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6
October 1999), ITAR-TASS reported. The statement acknowledged
that Dyachenko works for one of Belka's companies in Russia
but said he has never headed a company identified as East
Coast Petroleum. The statement also denied any link with the
Bank of New York scandal. "The New York Times" reported from
Omsk the next day that Dyachenko has "either overseen or
played a leading role in Belka's dealings with the Omsk
refinery" and that the Omsk government and the management of
Belka and Sibneft enjoy close relations. JAC

ELECTION REGISTRATION PROCEEDING WITH A FEW HITCHES. The
Central Election Commission on 6 October delayed registering
the election list of the Fatherland-All Russia (OVR) alliance
because the State Traffic Police had queries regarding
certain candidates and their cars. According to ITAR-TASS,
traffic police said that some high-ranking OVR officials have
not given the exact details about their cars. On 4 October,
the commission deleted one name from the OVR's list of top 20
candidates; earlier, nine others had been deleted. Five names
have been dropped from the Liberal Democratic Party of
Russia's list and 10 from the Communist Party's list.
According to commission chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov, "our
review of data relating to the candidates is probably one of
the grounds for candidates to apply for dropping their names,
but there are other grounds as well such as political
differences in party ranks." JAC

COMMUNISTS WANT DUMA DEBATE ON POSSIBLE U.S. REVISION OF ABM
TREATY. The Communist Party faction in the State Duma has
said it will submit to the lower house "in the very near
future" a proposal on "revising some of the provisions of
Russia's national security doctrine" in the light of the
U.S.'s possible revision of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile
Treaty, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 October. The faction stressed
that such a revision would "not remain unanswered in Russia"
and that it would call on legislative bodies to take "urgent
measures." JC

MOSCOW WON'T GIVE UP IRAQI 'TASTY MORSEL.' Speaking to
"Vremya MN" on 6 October, Russian Fuel and Energy Minister
Viktor Kalyuzhnyi expressed the opinion that Russian oil
companies must be allowed to work in Iraq. The minister, who
was in Baghdad last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 October
1999), commented that the government cannot prevent a largely
private company such as LUKoil from operating in Iraq. "Oil
there is cheap and easy to obtain," he noted, "Why should we
give up such a tasty morsel?" Kalyuzhnyi noted that in two
months' time, the government will make clear its position on
the UN sanctions against Iraq. And he also accused the U.S.
of violating the embargo by not exercising control over
countries such as Turkey that buy oil from Iraq. Meanwhile,
the "Financial Times" of 7 October quoted a LUKoil spokesman
as saying that the company has no intention of breaking the
embargo. JC

IVANOV SUGGESTS CASTRO TILTING AT WINDMILLS? Following his
visit to Cuba last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 September
1999), Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov told
"Komsomolskaya pravda" of 6 October that it was a "mistake"
of Russian foreign policy to have underestimated relations
with Cuba, which, he stressed, is a "very active player in
the international arena." With regard to Cuba's leader, Fidel
Castro, whom Ivanov had met in Havana, the minister commented
that he is "probably one of the last Don Quixotes of the 20th
century." JC/JAC

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

AZERBAIJAN PROTESTS RUSSIAN MISSILE STRIKE. Azerbaijan's
Foreign Ministry on 6 October protested the Russian denial of
any responsibility for an explosion in the village of Gymir
in Azerbaijan's northern Zakatala Raion (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 4 October 1999), Turan and Interfax reported.
Initial reports claimed that a bomb dropped by a Russian
aircraft caused the explosion, which damaged several houses,
but a subsequent Azerbaijan Defense Ministry investigation
established that the cause was a ground-to-ground missile.
The Azerbaijani statement called on the Russian Defense
Ministry to acknowledge responsibility for the attack and
launch an investigation. LF

GEORGIA POISED TO JOIN WTO. A meeting of the World Trade
Organization General Council in Geneva on 6 October ruled
that Georgia has fulfilled all requirements for membership in
that organization, Reuters reported. The Georgian parliament
must now ratify the terms of entry agreed with the WTO,
according to AP. LF

TBILISI, BATUMI AT ODDS OVER AMNESTY. Georgia's Deputy
Prosecutor-General Anzor Baluashvili said in Tbilisi on 6
October that the Prosecutor-General's Office will open
criminal proceedings against the governors of prisons in
Batumi, the capital of the Adjar Autonomous republic, if they
fail to release 28 prisoners pardoned under Georgian
President Eduard Shevardnadze's 1 October amnesty, Caucasus
Press reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 October 1999). LF

GEORGIAN DISPLACED PERSONS QUERY ACCURACY OF ABKHAZ POLL
DATA... The Tbilisi-based Information Center of the Abkhaz
Autonomous Republic, which represents ethnic Georgians who
fled Abkhazia during the 1992-1993 war, told Caucasus Press
on 6 October that the Abkhaz authorities overstated the
number of voters eligible to participate in the 3 October
presidential elections by including in voter registers the
names of 2,500 residents of the Russian Federation. The
center also disputed official poll returns according to which
turnout in the predominantly Georgian-populated Gali Raion
was 65 percent. The White Legion Georgian guerrilla
organization claimed that no more than 13 percent of
Abkhazia's population participated in the poll. A turnout of
50 percent was required for the election to be valid.
Meanwhile the OSCE, the Council of Europe, and the
Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry have issued statements terming
the poll illegal, Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported. LF

...AS ABKHAZ OFFICIAL SAYS REPATRIATION SUCCESSFUL. Otar
Kakalia, who heads the Abkhaz presidential commission
overseeing the repatriation of ethnic Georgian displaced
persons to Gali Raion, issued a statement on 6 October
claiming that the process is now completed, ITAR-TASS
reported. Kakalia said some 65,000 ethnic Georgians have
returned to Gali in response to Abkhaz President Vladislav
Ardzinba's appeal to them to do so (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2
and 8 March 1999). He added that schools have been opened for
thousands of Georgian children and that water-supplies and
roads in the district are being repaired. LF

KAZAKHSTAN'S CENTRAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION WARNS PRO-
PRESIDENTIAL PARTY... The Central Electoral Commission warned
the Civic Party on 6 October to stop distributing free gifts
to voters in the runup to the 10 October elections to the
lower chamber of the Kazakh parliament, Interfax reported,
quoting commission deputy chairman Kuandyk Turgankulov. He
added that the Azamat (Citizen) and Communist Parties and an
OSCE mission have complained about those activities. But
Kuandykov rejected as untrue claims by the Azamat Party that
the Civic Party used foreign funds to finance its election
campaign (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 and 30 September 1999).
LF

...AS DOUBTS EXPRESSED THAT POLL WILL BE FREE AND FAIR.
Azamat party leader Petr Svojk, speaking to journalists in
Almaty on 6 October, said he expects that local
administrators will falsify the outcome of the 10 October
polls, RFE/RL's bureau in the former capital reported. Svojk
urged that domestic observers be permitted to monitor the
vote count. An RFE/RL correspondent who accompanied OCSE
Chairman-In-Office Knut Vollebaek on his recent tour of
Central Asian capitals quoted ODIHR official Hrair Balian as
expressing concern that some local Kazakh election officials
may be either ignorant of the new improved election law or
may simply choose not to observe those articles of the law
providing for monitoring of the vote count and tabulation. LF

KAZAKH FINANCE MINISTER ASSESSES ECONOMIC SITUATION. Oraz
Zhandosov told journalists in Almaty on 6 October that the
IMF believes Kazakhstan is experiencing a deep economic
crisis and will consider the possibility of further loans and
credits only after sending a team to the country later this
month, RFE/RL's bureau in the former capital reported. The
fund and the Kazakh government failed to reach agreement on a
new loan program two months ago (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11
August 1999). Zhandosov said that Kazakhstan's current
deficit is $550 million and that it is unlikely that the
country can get through the next fiscal year without new
foreign credits. Zhandosov said no final decision has yet
been taken on whether to sell part of Kazakhstan's 25 percent
equity stake in the Tengizchevroil project, but he proposed
privatizing KazTelecom and the People's Bank as soon as
possible in order to help bridge the budget deficit.
Zhandosov estimated Kazakh citizens' combined deposits in
foreign banks at $3-4 billion. LF

PRO-PRESIDENTIAL PARTY REGISTERED IN KYRGYZSTAN. The Adilet
Party, which supports President Askar Akaev, was registered
by the Minister of Justice on 22 September, five days after
holding its founding conference, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau
reported on 6 October. The party already has 33,000 members,
including oblast and city heads. The party's chairman is
former Finance Minister Marat Sultanov. LF

KYRGYZ MEDIATORS CONTINUE EFFORTS TO SECURE HOSTAGES'
RELEASE. A prominent Kyrgyz religious leader, International
Islamic Center Director Sadykzhan Kamalov, has arrived in
Dushanbe on a private visit to meet with Tajik religious
leaders in an attempt to secure the release of 13 hostages
held by ethnic Uzbek militants in southern Kyrgyzstan, ITAR-
TASS reported on 6 October. Kamalov met in Dushanbe with
Tajikistan's Minister for the Economy and Foreign Economic
Relations Davlat Usmon, who last week was nominated as
presidential candidate for the opposition Islamic Renaissance
Party. Also on 6 October, Kyrgyz Human Rights Movement
Chairman Tursunbek Akunov told RFE/RL by telephone that he
has still failed to make contact in Pakistan with
representatives of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan who had
promised to help him travel to Afghanistan to meet with the
hostage takers' leaders there. LF

TAJIKISTAN PROTESTS UZBEK BOMBING RAIDS. The Tajik Foreign
Ministry on 6 October sent an official note to its Uzbek
counterpart protesting the air raids by Uzbek aircraft on
villages in eastern Tajikistan, Reuters and ITAR-TASS
reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 and 6 October 1999). AP
quoted Tajik officials as estimating that 80 bombs were
dropped from 2-4 October. LF

TURKMENISTAN WILL EXPORT GAS VIA RUSSIA, IRAN IF TRANS-
CASPIAN PIPELINE DELAYED. Meeting in Ashgabat on 6 October
with Turkish Energy Minister Cumhur Ersumer, Turkmenistan's
President Saparmurat Niyazov said that if construction of the
Trans-Caspian pipeline to export Turkmen gas to Turkey via
Azerbaijan and Georgia is not begun within six or seven
months, then his country will begin exporting gas via Iran
and Russia, Turan reported. Niyazov held talks in Ashgabat on
4 October with representatives of the U.S. company PSG, which
will be the pipeline operator. He also met with
representatives of Royal Dutch/Shell, which is the upstream
partner in the project. Construction of the Trans-Caspian
pipeline is contingent on the signing of a political
agreement by Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey.
Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan are at odds over how much
Azerbaijani gas will be exported via that pipeline. LF

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