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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 198, Part I, 11 October 1999


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 198, Part I, 11 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

* YELTSIN LEAVES HOSPITAL AS PUTIN CHEERS

* CHECHEN PRESIDENT PROPOSES NEW PEACE PLAN

* KAZAKHSTAN HOLDS PARLIAMENTARY, LOCAL ELECTIONS
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RUSSIA

YELTSIN LEAVES HOSPITAL AS PUTIN CHEERS. President Boris
Yeltsin checked out of a Moscow hospital on 11 October, two
days after being admitted with influenza. Presidential
spokesman Dmitrii Yakushkin reported that Yeltsin's
temperature has normalized. He dismissed a report in
"Segodnya" on 9 October that Yeltsin requires an operation.
The newspaper, which is owned by the Media-Most group, a
Kremlin foe, added that Yeltsin requires painkillers every
week. Meanwhile, Russian Public Television repeatedly showed
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin cheering during Russia's soccer
match against Ukraine on 9 October in what is likely an
effort to boost Putin's already growing popularity, "The
Boston Globe" reported on 10 October. According to NTV the
same day, Russian media and public are so used to Yeltsin's
frequent illnesses that the soccer match, which resulted in a
1-1 draw, was the evening news' top story, not Yeltsin's
hospitalization. NTV is also owned by Vladimir Gusinskii's
Media-Most. JAC

CHECHEN PRESIDENT PROPOSES NEW PEACE PLAN. Aslan Maskhadov
has called for a halt to Russian air raids and the withdrawal
of federal forces from the regions they have occupied over
the past two-and-a-half weeks, in return for which he
undertook to neutralize the Chechen radicals, Reuters
reported on 10 October. But the following day, Defense
Minister Igor Sergeev and Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo
both denied any knowledge of Maskhadov's initiative. LF

PUTIN, SERGEEV VOW TO LIQUIDATE CHECHEN 'TERRORISTS'...
Interviewed on 10 October on Russian Television's "Zerkalo"
program, Prime Minister Putin again said that the federal
forces' goal in Chechnya is to "restore order" and "eliminate
all gangs on Chechen territory," Reuters and ITAR-TASS
reported. Both Putin and Defense Minister Sergeev stressed
that Russian military losses will be kept to a minimum. On 9
October, Putin had told RTR that the federal forces' top
priority is to create a security zone around Chechnya and to
expand the extent of Chechen territory currently controlled
by Russian forces. LF

...WHILE AIR RAIDS CONTINUE. Russia continued its intensive
air and artillery bombardment of selected targets in Chechnya
over the past three days. On 10 October, it attacked the
villages of Meskety, Nozhai-Yurt, Zandak, Serzhen-Yurt,
Goragorsky, Gerzel, Bamut, and Yandi, Chechen sources told
Turan. Nine people were killed in similar attacks the
previous day. Russian agencies claimed that federal forces
are still tightening their control over Shelkovskii, Nauri
and Nadterechnyi Raions, and have taken the strategic rail
junction of Chervlennaya-uzlovaya. But Turan on 11 October
reported that fighting for control of that junction has been
going on for three days and is still continuing. On 9
October, Chechen militants burned the home in Alkhan-Yurt of
newly appointed Chechen puppet government head Malik
Saidullaev and beat up several of his female relatives, ITAR-
TASS reported. LF

RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY WARNS ARAB COUNTRIES NOT TO ABET
CHECHENS. The ambassadors in Moscow of a number of
unidentified Arab countries have been summoned to the Russian
Foreign Ministry and acquainted with evidence that foreign
Islamic organizations are organizing aid to the Chechen
radicals from the territory of those states, Interfax and
ITAR-TASS reported. Citing Foreign Ministry sources, Interfax
also reported that Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov plans
to send envoys to Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait to
hand over a message explaining Russia's policy in Chechnya
and seeking support for it. Speaking in Kyiv on 9 October,
Ivanov admitted that the Russian incursion into Chechnya has
resulted in what he termed "minor civilian casualties," but
he added that Moscow is endeavoring to keep those casualties
to a minimum, according to Interfax. Ivanov also rejected an
8 October U.S. claim that Russia is violating the 1990 Treaty
on Conventional Forces in Europe by deploying in Chechnya
hundreds more pieces of military equipment than is provided
for by that accord. LF

THOUSANDS CONTINUE TO FLEE CHECHNYA. Some 5,000 Chechens fled
to Ingushetia on 10 October, raising the total number
currently in Ingushetia to 155,000, Reuters reported on 11
October. Some 9,000 people had fled Chechnya on 8 October,
according to Interfax. The pre-war population of Ingushetia
was approximately 340,000. Ingushetia's President Ruslan
Aushev told Interfax on 9 October that his republic cannot
cope with the influx. Reuters the next day quoted a border
guard on the internal border between Ingushetia and
neighboring North Ossetia as saying he has orders from
Russian chief of staff General Anatolii Kvashnin not to allow
persons to leave Ingushetia if they are registered as
residents of Grozny. LF

TAX POLICE BEING DEPLOYED TO ISOLATE CHECHNYA ECONOMICALLY.
The Moscow Department of the Federal Tax Service has started
examining the activities of some 15 Russian companies
suspected of financing and supporting Chechen insurgents,
"Segodnya" reported on 9 October. According to the daily, all
the companies are registered in Tatarstan. Unidentified
sources within the tax service told the newspaper that money
is being transferred to Chechen "guerillas along a very long
but well thought out chain," including "pocket banks" created
specifically for this purpose. According to the same sources,
tax inspectors will soon turn their attention to various
banks located in Moscow and the regions as well as certain
companies registered in the Republic of Ingushetia and
Kaliningrad Oblast. JAC

MOST OVR CANDIDATES REGISTERED FOR ELECTIONS... The Central
Election Committee registered the party list of the
Fatherland-All Russia (OVR) alliance on 9 October. According
to Interfax, 261 names remained on the list for upcoming
State Duma elections after the commission removed 10
candidates who had submitted false reports on their cars and
real estate. In addition, 27 candidates, including Russian
Regions faction leader Oleg Morozov, Sistema head Vladimir
Yevtushenkov, and Union of Russian Industrialists and
Entrepreneurs head Arkadii Volskii, will be submitted to
further scrutiny, "Vremya MN" reported on 11 October.
According to the daily, OVR is in a somewhat precarious
position, since if 25 percent of its candidates (65) are
rejected, it will be unable to participate in the elections.
A total of 21 candidates have already been removed from the
list or have withdrawn their names voluntarily. Also on 9
October, the commission gave preliminary approval to OVR's
list of candidates for single-mandate districts. JAC

...AS MOSCOW LOSES A MAYORAL CANDIDATE. The commission will
consider the party list of Vladimir Zhirinovskii's Liberal
Democratic Party at a meeting on 11 October, ITAR-TASS
reported. Convicted felon and St. Petersburg lawyer Dmitrii
Yakubskii withdrew his name from the party's list on 9
October. Two days earlier, the City of Moscow's Election
Commission refused to register LDPR member and Duma
Geopolitics Committee Chairman Aleksei Mitrofanov for mayoral
elections in the capital. Mitrofanov allegedly violated
campaign fund regulations, according to "Segodnya" on 8
October. Also eliminated from the race was Mitrofanov's
running mate, deputy-mayoral would-be Andrei Brezhnev, who is
the grandson of former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. JAC

ST. PETE GOVERNOR GETS OWN WAY OVER ELECTIONS--FOR TIME
BEING. The St. Petersburg legislature on 8 October voted to
bring forward gubernatorial elections from April 2000 to 19
December 1999, after deputies in the 50-member chamber
lowered the quorum from 34 to 26. That latter figure
corresponds roughly to the number of supporters of incumbent
Governor Vladimir Yakovlev, who is expected to benefit from
an early ballot. Opposition deputies representing Yabloko and
the Yurii Boldyrev Bloc, who walked out before the vote took
place, claim the electronic voting system was tampered with
so that votes were "cast" by opposition deputies who were not
present. The opposition has filed a complaint with the
Prosecutor-General's Office, accusing Yakovlev of attempting
to seize legislative power in the northern capital,
"Kommersant-Daily" reported on 9 October. Earlier, opposition
deputies repeatedly prevented a vote on the issue by ensuring
there was no two-thirds quorum (see "RFE/RL Russian
Federation Report," 29 September 1999). JC

SOBINBANK OFFICIAL SAYS HE'S OBJECT OF SMEAR CAMPAIGN. In an
interview with "Kommersant-Daily" on 8 October, Aleksandr
Mamut, a member of the board of directors of Sobinbank,
accused the Moscow-based media of spreading false rumors
about himself and the banks he is associated with in order to
discredit the executive branch (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6
October 1999). Mamut is an adviser to presidential chief of
staff Aleksandr Voloshin and is chairman of the board of
directors of MDM-bank, which also has been accused of
exporting capital to the Bank of New York (BONY). He said
that although MDM-bank has had a correspondent account with
the BONY for almost two years, it has never used it for any
active transactions. He also said reports that Sobinbank was
involved in dubious transactions with the BONY are "lies."
JAC

INKOMBANK DEPOSITORS SEEKING MONEY FROM BONY. Four
individuals and a Bulgarian firm that had accounts in the
insolvent Inkombank filed suit in a New York court against
the BONY on 8 October, "Vremya MN" reported. They accuse the
BONY of playing a leading role in the illegal removal of
assets from Inkombank. They are seeking $165 million in
compensation, according to the daily. Inkombank's depositors
have faced long delays in getting their money returned as
Inkombank's bankruptcy case makes its way through the Russian
legal system (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 February 1999). JAC

BEREZOVSKII'S TRAVEL PLANS THWARTED. Switzerland refused an
entry visa to media magnate Boris Berezovskii three weeks
ago, AFP reported on 9 October. According to the agency,
Swiss legal authorities are currently conducting an
investigation into what assets Berezovskii may have in their
country. On 10 October, Swiss officials told the agency that
aluminum magnate Lev Chernyi, who is reportedly close to
Berezovskii, is also being investigated. JAC

YELTSIN CONFIRMS DRIVE FOR START 2 RATIFICATION. In a letter
to Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi, President Yeltsin
confirmed that Moscow is making "considerable efforts" to
achieve the speedy ratification of START 2, Interfax reported
on 8 October, citing the presidential press service. He added
that Russia is prepared to begin negotiations on START 3 if
the 1972 ABM Treaty is complied with. And he noted that the
government has almost finished drawing up documents necessary
for the ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 October 1999). Yeltsin also praised
Russian-Japanese relations, particularly joint economic
projects. JC

RUSSIA TO EQUIP SECOND TOPOL-M UNIT. Deputy Defense Minister
Colonel General Aleksandr Kosovan told journalists on 8
October that in the second half of December, another
strategic rocket regiment will be equipped with the Topol-M
ballistic missile, Interfax reported. Like the first such
regiment, equipped in December 1998, this second unit will
have 10 Topol- M missiles. The report did not specify where
the second unit is located. JC

IVANOV DENIES MOSCOW, BEIJING SEEKING TO FORM 'POWER CENTER.'
Russian Foreign Minister Ivanov told the Chinese news agency
Xinhua on 8 October that there is no basis to speculation
that Russia and China want to create a "kind of independent
power center" that might grow into a military and political
alliance, according to Interfax. Ivanov stressed that both
Moscow and Beijing favor a "multipolar" world, and he argued
that Russian-Chinese relations have entered their "best
period." From 7-10 October, Communist Party of the Russian
Federation leader Gennadii Zyuganov was in China heading a
KPRF delegation that had been invited by the Central
Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, ITAR-TASS reported
on 8 October. JC

GORBACHEV TO MAKE ANOTHER POLITICAL COMEBACK BID? Former
Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev confirmed on 9 October
that he will participate in the formation of a united Social
Democratic party, according to Interfax. Former Moscow Mayor
and leader of the Social Democratic movement Gavriil Popov
said Gorbachev has been offered the opportunity to head a
commission to establish the new party. Gorbachev, however,
said that he is uncertain about whether he will accept that
offer since he is already committed to a number of
international projects that he cannot abandon, ITAR-TASS
reported. According to Popov, the Social Democratic movement
will participate in the upcoming State Duma elections. JAC

TATARSTAN'S PRESIDENT CONCURS WITH ACCUSATIONS AGAINST
MEDRESE. In interviews with the "Moscow Times" and
Tatarstan's radio and television, President Mintimer Shaimiev
conceded that charges that the Islamic religious school in
Chally has contributed to the propagation of radical Islamic
views are not unfounded, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 11
October. Shaimiev said that representatives of unnamed Arab
countries were deported from Tatarstan but had returned and
resumed teaching at the medrese. He said that loopholes in
Russian immigration legislation have facilitated the return
of such individuals to Tatarstan. On 6 October, the chairman
of Tatarstan's Council on Religious Affairs, Renat Nabiev,
had told Tatarstan Radio that there are no grounds to close
the medrese, and that an investigation has concluded that it
did not "train extremists." The school was closed last month
after one of its former students was implicated in the
apartment bombings in Moscow (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 and
24 September 1999). LF

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN PRESIDENT AGAIN PLEDGES NO INTERFERENCE IN ELECTION
OF CATHOLICOS. Meeting on 8 October with members of the board
of the Republican Party of Armenia, one of the partners in
the majority Miasnutyun coalition, Robert Kocharian again
ruled out any interference by the Armenian leadership in the
election later this month of a new head of the Armenian
Apostolic Church, Noyan Tapan reported. Several senior
clerics have recently claimed that the Armenian leadership
has made clear that it wants the present archbishop of the
Ararat diocese elected to that post (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
29 September and 8 October 1999). Kocharian also called for
"every effort" to be made to preclude fraud, violence, or
falsification during local elections scheduled for 24
October. Candidates from Miasnutyun heavily outnumber
opposition candidates in the elections for heads of 936 towns
and villages, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. LF

ARMENIA PROPOSES PAN-ARMENIAN TV STATION. Armenian state
television has submitted to the government plans to create a
diaspora-funded "pan-Armenian television channel," RFE/RL's
Yerevan bureau reported on 8 October. The proposal was
endorsed by all participants at the Armenia-diaspora
conference held in Yerevan last month. Armenian state
television director Tigran Naghdalian estimated the cost of
launching the channel at $7 million. He added that at present
Armenian state television can be accessed with satellite
dishes in Europe and the Middle East but that his top
priority is to extend its range to North America. LF

AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION CONVENES DEMONSTRATION. Some 5,000
people attended a 9 October rally on the outskirts of Baku to
protest the Azerbaijani leadership's Karabakh policy, ITAR-
TASS and Turan reported. Participants adopted a 16-point
resolution calling, among other things, for Armenian
compliance with UN Security Council resolutions on Karabakh;
the repatriation to Armenia of Azerbaijani refugees and the
creation of an autonomous formation for them; stripping
Russia, which is seen as pro-Armenian, of its the co-
chairmanship of the OSCE Minsk Group; and barring the
leadership of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic from
participating in the peace process. The demonstrators also
condemned the Baku police's intervention on 9 October to halt
broadcasting by the private Sara TV station, Turan reported.
On 8 October, Sara TV had broadcast an appeal by two
opposition party leaders to take part in the rally. LF

AZERBAIJANI COURT RULES NEWSPAPER SLANDERED OPPOSITION
LEADER. A Baku district court has ordered "Yeni Azerbaycan,"
the newspaper of the eponymous ruling party, to apologize to
opposition Musavat Party chairman Isa Gambar. It also order
the newspaper to publish a refutation of two articles it
printed in July and August 1999 alleging that Gambar and his
brother Rovshan have connections with the Kurdistan Workers'
Party (PKK), Turan reported on 8 October. LF

GEORGIA BEGINS REGISTERING REFUGEES FROM CHECHNYA... The
Georgian authorities will begin formally registering refugees
from Chechnya on 11 October, Caucasus Press reported. Since
26 September, an estimated 1,500 people have fled south from
Chechnya into Georgia; some 500 of those people are Georgian
citizens who had earlier sought employment in Chechnya. An
unspecified number of the refugees have traveled from Georgia
to Azerbaijan or Turkey. Also on 11 October, Georgian
President Eduard Shevardnadze said in his weekly radio
broadcast, that "there are no misunderstandings" between
Moscow and Tbilisi over Chechnya thanks to talks between
Georgian Minister of State Vazha Lortkipanidze and Russian
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Interfax on 9 October
similarly quoted Shevardnadze's adviser Levan Aleksidze as
affirming that "Georgia wants to maintain friendly relations
with Russia while refraining from a quarrel with the Chechen
people and their President Aslan Maskhadov." LF

...AS CHECHEN OFFICIAL CLAIMS GEORGIAN MILITARY SUPPLIED ARMS
TO CHECHNYA. Newly appointed Chechen State Council Chairman
Malik Saidullaev told journalists in Moscow on 8 October that
he has information that arms were airlifted from Georgia to
Chechnya by helicopters with Georgian Defense Ministry
markings, ITAR-TASS reported. But Colonel General Leonid
Ivashev, who heads the Russian Defense Ministry's Department
for International Military Cooperation, told Interfax the
same day that "one cannot speak of a mass flow of
mercenaries" from Georgia and Azerbaijan to Chechnya. Ivashev
said both those countries' leaderships appreciate the danger
posed by terrorism and extremism and are taking all possible
measures to tighten control over their borders and preclude
the transit of terrorists to Russia. LF

KAZAKHSTAN HOLDS PARLIAMENTARY, LOCAL ELECTIONS. Some 61.5
percent of Kazakhstan's 8 million voters participated in the
10 October elections to the lower chamber of the parliament
and to city and local councils, ITAR-TASS reported, quoting
an unnamed Central Electoral Commission official. A total of
65 candidates representing nine political parties contested
the 10 seats that are to be allocated under the proportional
system, while 484 candidates competed for 67 seats in single-
mandate constituencies. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 6 October
cited a recent opinion poll suggesting that the pro-
presidential OTAN party enjoys 23.6 percent support, followed
by the Civic Party (8.6 percent), the Communist Party (8.1
percent), and the Agrarians (3.4 percent). LF

KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT WRAPS UP IRAN VISIT. During his visit
to Iran from 5-7 October, Nursultan Nazarbaev held talks with
his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Hatami, on bilateral and
regional cooperation and bilateral economic ties, Interfax
reported. The two presidents expressed concern that bilateral
trade fell from $160 million in 1997 to $120 million the
following year, and they discussed increasing sales to Iran
of Kazakhstan's oil, metals, coke and grain. Kazakh officials
expressed preliminary approval of plans to expand oil
exchanges whereby Kazakhstan delivers crude to northern Iran
and takes delivery of refined oil at the Persian Gulf, but
they noted that the price Iran is demanding for transporting
that oil is "too high," according to Interfax. Plans were
also approved on the supply of electricity from Kazakhstan
via Iran to Turkey. Nazarbaev is reported to have visited the
mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini. LF

U.S. SEEKS TO WIN KAZAKH COMMITMENT TO BAKU-CEYHAN
PIPELINE... U.S. State Department special envoy for Caspian
energy issues John Wolf told journalists in Astana on 8
October that the U.S. wants Kazakhstan to play "a major role"
in the development of the planned Baku-Ceyhan export pipeline
for Caspian oil, Interfax reported. Wolf said he told
President Nazarbaev that that pipeline would enable
Kazakhstan to begin developing new oilfields and expand
production at those currently operating. But in order to
export oil via that pipeline, Kazakhstan would have to
transport crude to Baku by tanker or a Trans-Caspian oil
pipeline would have to be built in tandem with the planned
Tras-Caspian gas pipeline. LF

...WHILE ASTANA FAVORS DIVERSIFICATION. Also on 8 October,
Kazakhstan's acting Deputy Foreign Minister Medina
Djarbusynova told a meeting of Caspian oil and gas sector
executives in Astana that Kazakhstan takes a "pragmatic and
non-political approach" to the export of hydrocarbons by
multiple pipelines. Acting Energy, Industry and Trade
Minister Mukhtar Ablyazov told the same gathering that by
2010, the member state of the Economic Cooperation
Organization will become a major producer of oil. LF

KYRGYZSTAN'S PRESIDENT VISITS SOUTH... Askar Akaev traveled
on 9 October to the Batken and Leilek Raions of southern
Kyrgyzstan, the scene of hostilities over the past two months
between government troops and ethnic Uzbek guerrillas who
continue to hold 13 hostages, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau
reported. Akaev told local officials that raising the status
of those two raions and another district to that of an oblast
will strengthen security in the region. He called for the
swiftest possible expulsion of the guerrillas from Kyrgyz
territory, warning that intelligence reports indicate that up
to 5,000 guerrillas could enter Kyrgyzstan next spring,
according to Interfax. But the previous day, General Abdygul
Khotbaev, who commands the Kyrgyz troops deployed in the
south, said that he cannot begin military operations against
the guerrillas without endangering the hostages, AP and ITAR-
TASS reported. Khotbaev accused Tajikistan of failing to take
any measures to prevent gunmen and arms entering Kyrgyzstan
from Tajik territory. LF

...AS NEGOTIATIONS ON HOSTAGES' RELEASE CONTINUE. Kyrgyz
parliamentary deputy Tursunbai Bakir Uulu met with
representatives of the United Tajik Opposition in Tajikistan
on 9 October to enlist their help in securing the release of
the hostages, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. UTO leader
Said Abdullo Nuri had assured Japan's ambassador to Dushanbe
the previous day that he is willing to try to assist in
negotiating the release of the four Japanese geologists among
the 13 hostages. A second mediator, human rights activist
Tursunbek Akunov, returned to Bishkek on 9 October following
an abortive trip to Pakistan, where he failed to establish
contact with members of the exiled Islamic Movement of
Uzbekistan which masterminded the hostage-takings. LF

RUSSIAN BORDER GUARDS CONDEMN AFGHAN SHELLING OF TAJIK
TERRITORY. A spokesman for the Russian Border Guards
contingent deployed along Tajikistan's frontier with
Afghanistan expressed concern on 8 October over the recent
explosion in Tajikistan of a mine and eight tank shells fired
from Afghan territory amid the ongoing fighting between
Taliban and Northern Alliance forces, ITAR-TASS reported. Two
shells exploded on the Tajik side of the border late on 8
October. No one was injured in any of the explosions. LF

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