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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 197, Part I, 8 October 1999


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 197, Part I, 8 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 APPEALS FOR NATO HELP

* TAX MINISTER SAYS ONE BANK AT CENTER OF BONY SCANDAL

* AZERBAIJANI FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER RESIGNS
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RUSSIA

CHECHEN PRESIDENT APPEALS FOR NATO HELP. Aslan Maskhadov has
sent a message to NATO Secretary-General George Robertson
asking the alliance to "assist in normalizing relations
between the Chechen Republic and Russian Federation in
accordance with international law," Reuters reported the
following day, citing RIA. ITAR-TASS on 8 October quoted an
unnamed senior NATO official as saying that the alliance has
not yet received any such appeal from Maskhadov. Meanwhile
Russian forces halted their ground advance into Chechnya on 7
October but continued their intensive air and artillery
bombardment of villages both north and south of Grozny. In an
interview in "Kommersant-Daily" of 8 October, Maskhadov
claimed that the 100 Russian troops have been either killed
or wounded to date, while Chechen losses are 20 dead and 40
wounded. LF

EU CALLS FOR DIALOGUE BETWEEN MOSCOW, GROZNY. Meeting in
Moscow on 7 October with Russian Foreign Minister Igor
Ivanov, EU Commissioner for External Affairs Chris Patten
called for the resumption of dialogue between the Russian and
Chechen leaderships but did not propose that the EU act as
mediator in such talks, the "Financial Times" reported on 8
October. Patten also expressed concern over the "humanitarian
consequences" of the fighting. Ivanov, for his part, said
that Moscow is ready for such a dialogue but that "terrorists
and bandit forces" are creating "obstacles" to it, according
to ITAR-TASS. Ivanov again said that no external mediation is
needed to resolve what he termed an internal Russian problem.
LF

RUSSIA DENIES BOMBING FUGITIVES. Prime Minister Vladimir
Putin, Defense Minister Igor Sergeev and First Deputy Chief
of Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Colonel General Valerii
Manilov denied on 7 October that Russian aircraft had bombed
a bus carrying Chechen fugitives north of Grozny on 5
October, Reuters reported. Putin said that no such attack
took place. Reuters Television had acquired film footage from
an amateur photographer in Nazran showing a burned-out bus in
which Chechen officials claim 41 Chechens died. "The New York
Times" on 8 October published an eye-witness report of the
attack by a woman who survived. Chechen officials say at
least 450 people have been killed since the Russian bombing
raids began one month ago. LF

CHECHEN PUPPET GOVERNMENT UNVEILED. The pro-Russian Chechen
parliament elected in the summer of 1996 has formed a 23-
member State Council of the Chechen Republic in Moscow, ITAR-
TASS reported on 7 October. The parliament's mandate had
expired last year. Malik Saidullaev, a 35 year-old
businessman, was elected council chairman. Commenting on
those developments, Prime Minister Putin said on 7 October
that Moscow will cooperate with "all forces in Chechnya
intent on a constructive dialogue," ITAR-TASS reported. But
he added that "I would not want to create the impression that
Moscow is staking on anyone in particular." Saidullaev told
ITAR-TASS that he considers the council's most important task
to be "purging Chechnya of all those who are a disgrace to
the nation." Chechnya's representative in Moscow, Mairbek
Vachagaev, told ITAR-TASS that no one in Chechnya will ever
support Saidullaev. LF

DAGHESTAN MAVERICK ARRESTED. Russian State Duma deputy
Nadirshakh Khachilaev, who played a leading role in the
Chechen-led invasions of Daghestan in August, was arrested at
an undisclosed location and brought to Moscow on 6 October,
Prime Minister Putin announced the following day. The Russian
Interior Ministry issued a warrant for Khachilaev's arrest
last year following his supporters' failed attempt to seize
the government building in Makhachkala (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 21 and 22 May 1998). LF

TAX MINISTER SAYS ONE BANK AT CENTER OF BONY SCANDAL... In an
interview with "The New York Times" of 8 October, Tax
Minister Aleksandr Pochinok said that "there is one main bank
that was at least the ideological center" of the transfer of
billions of dollars through the Bank of New York. The aim of
the scheme was to hide income from tax authorities. Pochinok
did not name the bank in the article but did reveal that
investigators began to focus on Sobinbank after discovering
payments made to the bank by Flamingo Bank (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 6 October 1999). In an earlier interview with
"Vedomosti," Pochinok said that his ministry's investigations
could take many months in part because of the ministry's
small staff. JAC

...AS MOST BANK RAIDED. On 5 October, tax police and customs
officials raided the offices of Vladimir Gusinskii's Most
Bank which owes customs authorities some 650 million rubles
($25.3 million, see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 September 1999). A
State Customs Committee spokesman told "The Moscow Times" on
7 October that if investigators find that Most has "parked
funds abroad instead of paying off debts, then sanctions will
be imposed against the bank." A Most Bank spokesman accused
the Kremlin of trying to pressure the Media-Most group
through the bank. JAC

SBERBANK INVESTIGATION AT CENTER OF IMF LOAN DELAY? IMF
officials are delaying the release of the next installment of
a loan to Russia because of a dispute over an investigation
into Sberbank, the "Financial Times" reported on 8 October,
quoting officials close to the investigation. According to
the daily, the investigation should have begun a year ago,
but fund and Russian officials have failed to agree on terms
of the audit. Last week, Mikhail Zadornov, former
presidential envoy to international financial institutions,
was appointed an adviser to Sberbank. On 7 October, Central
Bank Chairman Viktor Gerashchenko told NTV that the IMF's
insistence that the Central Bank sell its stakes in banks in
other countries is "far-fetched and unrealistic." He added
that the bank is ready to sell these stakes should anyone
want to buy them. JAC

NEW MILITARY DOCTRINE ALLOWS NUCLEAR WEAPONS USE IN
'CRITICAL' SITUATIONS. Interfax reported on 7 October that
the draft of Russia's new military doctrine states that
nuclear arms are an "effective factor of deterrence,
guaranteeing the military security of the Russian Federation
and its allies, supporting international stability and
peace." The draft notes that "the Russian Federation reserves
the right to use nuclear weapons in response to the use of
nuclear or other mass destruction weapons against it or its
allies and also in response to large-scale aggression
involving conventional arms in situations critical for the
national security of Russia and its allies." Among the key
security threats listed in the document is the "expansion of
military alliances to the detriment of Russian military
security." The full text of the draft is to be published soon
in "Krasnya zvezda." The 1997 security doctrine also allowed
for the first use of nuclear weapons. JC

GOVERNMENT PUSHING FOR RATIFICATION OF TEST BAN TREATY.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin announced on 7
October that the government is putting the final touches to
documents needed to submit the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
to the State Duma for ratification. Reuters quoted him as
saying that Moscow wants the treaty to take effect as soon as
possible and be backed by a "viable verification system." Of
the five major nuclear powers (the U.S., Russia, Britain,
France, and China), only Britain and France have ratified the
document. The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on ratification
early next week. JC

RUSSIA TAKES 'ANOTHER STEP' TOWARD UNION WITH BELARUS.
Russian Prime Minister Putin told reporters on 8 October that
publication of the draft treaty on the union of Russia and
Belarus is the first step toward the true unification of the
two countries, Interfax reported. Putin added that
unification is "a complicated matter" and that while the two
countries "will not be rushing into it," neither will they
remain in one place. The Russian government newspaper,
"Rossiiskaya gazeta," and "Sovetskaya Belorussiya" published
the treaties on 8 October. Belarus's permanent envoy to the
CIS, Sergei Posokhov, called the treaty a "very impressive
document" that "removes many worries of Belarusians,"
according to ITAR-TASS. However, Belarusian President
Alyaksandr Lukashenka had a different opinion, calling the
document "a laughing stock, not a treaty" (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 1 October 1999). JAC

PUTIN'S STAR IS RISING. A number of recent opinion polls in
Russia show that Prime Minister Putin's public approval
ratings are rising. Commentator Otto Latsis, writing in
"Novye izvestiya" on 7 October, reported that according to
data obtained by the Agency for Regional Political
Investigations, Putin rose from fifth place last week to
third place this week in popularity ratings, overtaking
Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii and Moscow Mayor Yurii
Luzhkov. Latsis concludes that a considerable number of
Russian citizens "have revised their attitude toward Putin"
because of "his precise and effective actions to rebuff
terrorists." "Novye izvestiya" receives funding from Boris
Berezovskii's LogoVAZ group, while Latsis is reportedly a
member of the interregional bloc Unity. Unified Energy
Systems head Anatolii Chubais said on 6 October that Putin is
a "maximally realistic" presidential candidate, who could
find himself even more popular if he "stabilizes the
situation in the North Caucasus without serious losses." JAC

ANOTHER BANK FOR THE DUSTBIN... A Moscow court on 7 October
declared Agroprombank bankrupt, "Kommersant-Daily" reported.
Agroprombank lost its operating license on 30 July, and soon
afterward its sister bank, SBS-Agro sought to have it
declared bankrupt. SBS-Agro was also one of Agroprombank's
largest creditors, according to "Vremya MN." As of 7 October,
Agroprombank owed its creditors a total some 17.7 billion
rubles ($688 million), the daily reported. In an interview
with "Argumenty i Fakty" (No. 39), Central Bank Chairman
Gerashchenko said that his bank has provided 6.5 billion
rubles to SBS-Agro since last October and that his bailout
was justified because SBS-Agro is "a large system-forming
bank with a large number of branches." JAC

...AS PUBLIC TRUST IN COMMERCIAL BANKS REMAINS LOW.
Meanwhile, "Novye izvestiya" reported on 7 October that the
number of Russian families with savings has declined from 14
percent last year to 11 percent this year, according to
polling data from the Russian Center for the Study of Public
Opinion. The data also reveal that 53 percent of respondents
believe that savings should be kept in hard currency,
compared with 48 percent last year. The number of those
keeping savings in cash declined to 16 percent from 21
percent, while only 1 percent use commercial banks, compared
with 2 percent last year. JAC

LUZHKOV'S WIFE TURNS TO LITIGATION. Yelena Baturina, the wife
of Moscow Mayor Luzhkov, filed a lawsuit against the regional
directorate of the Federal Security Service (FSB) in Vladimir
Oblast and local prosecutors there for their failure to
provide a reasonable explanation for why their agents seized
financial documents from her firm, Inteko, ITAR-TASS reported
on 7 October. Baturina's lawyer has also threatened to sue
Sergei Dorenko of Russian Public Television for his claims
that Andrei Baturin is a brother of Baturina and holds
several accounts in foreign banks, "The Moscow Times"
reported on 8 October. Both Baturin and Baturina deny that
they are even related. Earlier in the week, Yurii Luzhkov
repeated his denial that he intends to run for president in
2000. "I am not going to become president or put myself up
for this post," he told "Komsomolskaya pravda" on 4 October.
Luzhkov also repeated his accusations that the Kremlin is
conducting a propaganda war against him so that he "would not
think about the presidential election." JAC

ECONOMIC CRIME RISING IN ARMED FORCES... Military Prosecutor
Yurii Demin said on 7 October that economic crime is steadily
rising in the armed forces and other military branches of the
Russian Federation, thereby endangering national security.
Crimes uncovered by military prosecutors in the first six
months of this year cost the armed forces more than $4.7
million, he said. The number of officers found guilty of
theft and graft leaped from 1,017 from 1993-1999, compared
with 185 over an unspecified period up to 1993, Reuters
quoted him as saying. Also from 1993-1999, the number of
known cases of bribery in the army rose 82 percent. Two
months ago, Demin had announced that some 20 lawsuits against
generals and admirals are being considered by military
prosecutor's offices around the country. "Izvestiya" reported
on 8 October that the average amount embezzled by those
officers is 2.23 million rubles ($87,000). JC

...WHILE COMBAT-READINESS PUT AT LESS THAN 10 PERCENT. Ruslan
Pukhov, director of the Moscow-based Center for Strategic and
Technological Analysis, told "Vremya MN" of 7 October that of
the 1.2 million members of Russian armed forces, no more than
100,000 are combat ready. The Russian military is largely
composed of military conscripts who serve for two years.
Reuters on 7 October quoted defense experts as saying that
those conscripts spend the first year training and the last
six months preparing to leave. JC

SCIENTOLOGISTS IN MOSCOW LOSE LICENSE TO OPERATE. A Moscow
court has declared the registration of the Hubbard
Humanitarian Center in Moscow invalid, "Vremya MN" reported
on 7 October, citing Ekho Moskvy. In addition, criminal
proceedings have been instituted against the Hubbard center
and the Church of Scientology under several articles of the
criminal code. A Russian Orthodox Church spokeswoman welcomed
the ruling, telling Reuters that "our Church is strongly
critical of [the Church of Scientology]. We define them as a
totalitarian sect." Hubbard center spokesman Aleksei
Danchenkov told "The Moscow Times" on 8 October that he
believes the center's difficulties with registration and with
the tax police are linked with the Orthodox Church's struggle
"to re-establish its complete dominance." He added that the
center will appeal the court's ruling. JAC

RUSSIAN COMPANIES SIGN CONTRACTS WITH IRAQ WORTH $57 MILLION.
Russian Fuel and Energy Minister Viktor Kalyuzhnyi told
Interfax on 7 October that Russian companies have signed
contracts with Iraq on supplying equipment necessary to
increase Iraqi oil output. Those contracts, which are worth
$57 million, were signed during Kalyuzhnyi's recent trip to
Baghdad (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 October 1999). The minister
did not name the Russian companies involved or provide any
other details. The two sides also concluded a deal on the
drilling of 100 wells in the Northern Rumeila oil field.
According to a protocol signed during Kalyuzhnyi's trip,
Russia and Iraq may set up a joint drilling company. JC

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

AZERBAIJANI FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER RESIGNS. Vafa Guluzade,
who served as foreign policy adviser to successive
Azerbaijani presidents, has tendered his resignation to
Heidar Aliev for reasons "connected with his age and
deteriorating health," Turan reported on 8 October. In recent
months Guluzade has repeatedly called for a NATO, U.S. or
Turkish military presence in Azerbaijan to counter Russian-
Armenian military cooperation. LF

AZERBAIJANI POLICE, PICKETERS CLASH IN BAKU. Members of the
opposition Azerbaijan Popular Front Party and Musavat Party
were forcibly dispersed by police on 7 October when they
tried to picket the Russian Embassy, Turan reported. The
picketers were protesting the 1 October Russian missile
attack on a village in northern Azerbaijan, discrimination
against ethnic Azerbaijanis in Russia, and the Karabakh
policy of the OSCE Minsk Group, of which Russia is one of the
three co-chairs. LF

FORMER ARMENIAN PRESIDENT SEES 'NO PROGRESS' ON KARABAKH. In
a rare public appearance in Yerevan on 7 October, Levon Ter-
Petrossian told journalists he perceives no progress toward a
solution of the Karabakh conflict, despite the direct talks
over the past three months between his successor, Robert
Kocharian, and Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev, RFE/RL's
Yerevan bureau reported. Ter-Petrossian said he does not
currently follow domestic political developments in Armenia
and currently has no plans to return to politics. He said
that the present instability in the North Caucasus
constitutes a potential threat to Armenia, just as the
Chechen war of 1994-1996 did. LF

PREPARATIONS CONTINUE FOR ELECTION OF NEW ARMENIAN
CATHOLICOS. Dioceses of the Armenian Apostolic Church
worldwide have elected 451 delegates to participate in the
26-31 October National Ecclesiastical Assembly that will
elect a new Armenian Catholicos, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau
reported on 7 October. The Church's 47 bishops, all of whom
have the right to be elected catholicos, are ex officio
delegates. In an interview with Noyan Tapan on 7 October,
interim Catholicos Nerses Pozapalian confirmed that two
senior Armenian government officials, whom he declined to
identify, have informed Church officials of their preferred
candidate (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 September 1999).
Archbishop Mesrop Mustafian, who is patriarch of Istanbul,
told a U.S. radio station on 3 October that President
Kocharian and Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsian have informed
archbishops that they would like to see Garegin Nersisian,
archbishop of the Ararat Diocese (which includes Yerevan),
elected catholicos. They added, however, that the Armenian
government will not interfere in the election process. LF

GEORGIA REFUSES TO CONDONE DEPLOYMENT OF RUSSIAN BORDER
GUARDS ON CHECHEN BORDER. The commander of Georgia's Border
Guards, Lieutenant General Valerii Chkheidze, said on 7
October that Tbilisi has categorically rejected Moscow's
proposal to station Russian border guards in the Georgian
village of Shatili, close to Georgia's frontier with
Chechnya, Caucasus Press reported. Chkheidze said if it did
so, it would run the risk of Chechen attacks on Georgian
territory. He again denied that arms are being transported to
Chechnya via Georgia. Georgian Minister of State Vazha
Lortkipanidze, for his part, told Russian Television that
there is no need for additional Russian border guards on that
section of Georgia's border as there are enough Georgian
border troops deployed there. Lortkipanidze added that
Tbilisi would be grateful for Russian help in providing those
Georgian border guards with additional equipment. LF

ADJARA RELEASES PRISONERS. A senior official of the Adjar
Autonomous Republic told journalists in Tbilisi on 7 October
that the reason for the Adjar authorities' delay in releasing
28 prisoners whom Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze
amnestied on 1 October was that they have not received the
relevant documentation from Tbilisi, Caucasus Press reported.
He added that 27 prisoners have now been discharged, while no
documentation has been received on the eligibility for
amnesty of the 28th, who is serving a sentence for the
attempted assassination of Adjar Supreme Council chairman
Aslan Abashidze. The amnesty does not extend to persons
sentenced for terrorism. The Georgian Prosecutor-General's
Office had threatened legal proceedings against Adjar prison
directors if the men were not released (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 7 October 1999). The Adjar authorities have also
released two Georgian Defense Ministry officials detained
last month for possession of drugs, "Meridian" reported on 8
October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 September 1999). LF

MORE KAZAKH ELECTION HARASSMENT REPORTED. Amirzhan Qosanov,
who is deputy chairman of the Republican People's Party of
Kazakhstan, told RFE/RL correspondents in Almaty on 8 October
that tax police raided the office of the party's executive
committee chairman Ghaziz Aldamzharov on 6- 7 October without
a search warrant. As a registered candidate for the 10
October election to the lower house of parliament,
Aldamzharov technically enjoys immunity under the election
law. LF

GUERRILLAS CONTACT KYRGYZ LEADERSHIP. Senior Kyrgyz Security
Ministry official Talant Razzakov said in Bishkek on 7
October that one of the leaders of the ethnic Uzbek
guerrillas holding 13 hostages in southern Kyrgyzstan has
sent a missive to the Kyrgyz military leadership, RFE/RL's
bureau in the Kyrgyz capital reported. Razzakov did not
disclose the contents of that document but said the author is
believed to be Juma Namangani, an Uzbek citizen who is wanted
by the Uzbek authorities on suspicion of masterminding
terrorist attacks in that country in 1997. ITAR-TASS on 7
October reported that no large-scale hostilities between the
guerrillas and government troops took place over the previous
24 hours. It quoted Kyrgyz official sources as denying media
reports that the Kyrgyz troops have opened a second front
against the guerrillas near the Uzbek exclave of Sokh. LF

OPPOSITION CANDIDATES TO BOYCOTT TAJIK PRESIDENTIAL POLL.
Three opposition candidates told journalists in Dushanbe on 7
October that they will boycott the 6 November presidential
election to protest restrictions and harassment by the
government, which, they said, prevented them collecting the
required 145,000 signatures for registration, RFE/RL's Tajik
Service reported. The three candidates are Economics and
Foreign Economic Relations Minister Davlat Usmon (Islamic
Renaissance Party), Sulton Kuvvatov (Democratic Party/Tehran
Platform), and Saiffidin Turaev (Justice Party). Turaev told
RFE/RL that the three will hold talks with the Tajik
parliament and representatives of international organizations
in the hope of reaching a "political solution" that would
allow them to contest the poll. LF

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