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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 200, Part I, 13 October 1999


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 200, Part I, 13 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

* IMF WARNS RUSSIA OVER DEFENSE SPENDING

* SERGEEV SAYS RUSSIAN FORCES WILL CONSOLIDATE CONTROL IN
CHECHNYA

* UN OBSERVERS TAKEN HOSTAGE IN WESTERN GEORGIA
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RUSSIA

IMF WARNS RUSSIA OVER DEFENSE SPENDING. IMF Managing Director
Michel Camdessus said on 13 October that "if I see that the
budget is over-shooting because of an uncontrolled increase
in military spending, we shall interrupt our support,"
according to AFP. With regard to other macroeconomic
conditions of the fund's support, Camdessus said that "these
conditions are being satisfied and they are doing even better
than we require." Addressing a group of leaders of regional
legislative assemblies on 12 October, Prime Minister Vladimir
Putin said that the split in revenues in the 2000 budget will
be 52 percent for the center and 48 percent for the regions,
but he added that 2 percent of the federal center's portion
will be devoted to national defense, "Vremya MN" reported.
According to the draft budget approved by the conciliatory
commission, 145.3 billion rubles ($5.6 billion) are allocated
for national defense, which is 18 percent of total projected
revenues of 791.3 billion rubles (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4
October 1999). JAC

SERGEEV SAYS RUSSIAN FORCES WILL CONSOLIDATE CONTROL IN
CHECHNYA... Speaking in Feodosiya (Ukraine) on 12 October,
Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeev claimed that the
creation of a "security zone" in Chechnya is "almost
complete." But he added that the federal forces' ultimate aim
is to "eliminate armed gangs and terrorist groups" and
consolidate their position until they control "the entire
situation" in Chechnya. It was unclear from his remarks
whether he envisaged an assault on Grozny. Sergeev confirmed
that Russian troops have surrounded field commander Shamil
Basaev in the mountain village of Goragorsky in western
Chechnya, ITAR-TASS reported. But NTV on 12 October said that
Russian military commanders in Chechnya could not confirm
that Basaev was in Goragorsky, although they admitted that
heavy fighting was under way there. Air and artillery
bombardment of Chechen targets continued on 12 October. LF

...WHILE MASKHADOV CLAIMS THEY ARE BEING PUSHED BACK. Chechen
President Aslan Maskhadov said in Grozny on 12 October that
Chechen forces have regained ground and pushed Russian forces
back several kilometers beyond the Terek River at points that
he did not name, according to Reuters. He predicted that
sooner or later Moscow will seek to negotiate and end to the
fighting. But former acting President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev
said that Chechen commanders believe that any talks with
Russian leaders before all federal forces withdraw from
Chechnya are "dangerous, criminal and treason," ITAR-TASS
reported. Also on 12 October, Maskhadov dismissed Chechen
mufti Akhmedhadji Kadirov for his condemnation of the
Chechen-led incursions into Daghestan in August, according to
ITAR-TASS. Russian military sources told Interfax that the
Chechens are regrouping and preparing for "active
hostilities" and "large-scale acts of terrorism." LF

MORE CHECHEN FIELD COMMANDERS THREATEN RETALIATION. Following
Basaev's 11 October threat to launch new terrorist attacks
against Russian citizens, Salman Raduev on 12 October said
that he, too, will target strategic Russian military
installations if the Russian air strikes on Chechnya do not
end, Interfax reported. But Raduev denied that he would ever
attack either civilian targets or nuclear facilities, saying
that the consequences of an attack on the latter cannot be
predicted. In Grozny, field commander Abu Movsaev said that
he has ordered the execution of three highly placed Russian
military-political leaders whom he said are "guilty of the
genocide of the Chechen people in 1994-1996," according to
Interfax. LF

FEDERATION COUNCIL TAKES UP SKURATOV ISSUE AGAIN. At Russian
President Boris Yeltsin's request, the upper legislative
chamber on 13 October resumed consideration of the issue of
relieving suspended Prosecutor-General Yurii Skuratov of his
duties. According to ITAR-TASS, a group of senators had sent
a letter to Yeltsin asking that the issue be reopened and
expressing the view that "a country in the grip of such a
level of corruption should not remain for much longer without
a prosecutor." Russian Television reported the previous day
that between 40 and 60 senators support Skuratov's dismissal.
Two earlier attempts by the Kremlin to remove Skuratov failed
to attract the required 90 votes (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22
April 1999). JAC

LDPR SCRAMBLES FOR ELECTION REGISTRATION. Liberal Democratic
Party of Russia (LDPR) head Vladimir Zhirinovskii told
reporters on 12 October that his party will consider forming
an election coalition with another group in order to qualify
to run in upcoming State Duma elections. On 13 October, an
LDPR spokesman said that a joint congress to form the
"Zhirinovskii Bloc" will be held later that day with the
Spiritual Revival (Dukhovnoe Vozrozhdenie) party and the
Russian Union of Free Youth (Rossiiskii soyuz svobodnoi
molodezhi). Zhirinovskii complained the previous day that
"Even people who are let out of prison for murder can run for
parliament, but a person who improperly registered a
motorcycle 20 years ago cannot." Candidate number 17 on
LDPR's current list that was arrested in 1989 on suspicion of
extortion, along with candidate number 16. JAC

NEW PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION BILL READY. A new draft law on
presidential elections has been prepared by the presidential
administration and will be submitted to the State Duma
shortly, "Komsomolskaya pravda" reported on 13 October.
According to the daily, the 340-page document gives the
government effective mechanisms to influence the presidential
election process. For example, the newspaper claims that the
provision forbidding public officeholders from using their
official positions to their advantage during a campaign may
be interpreted so that any candidate who makes "a call from a
work telephone or a speech in the State Duma" may be removed
from the race. The newspaper, which is owned by Vladimir
Potanin's Interros financial group and LUKoil, suggests that
state authorities will enforce the law at their own
discretion, deciding who has violated it and who has not. JAC

DUMA CANDIDATES REVEAL ALL? The Central Election Commission
on 12 October released information from the 1998 income and
property declarations of candidates for the State Duma
elections for the first registered bloc, Fatherland-All
Russia. According to ITAR-TASS, Fatherland leader Yurii
Luzhkov reported 707,800 rubles ($27,500 according to today's
exchange rate) in royalties, bank account interest, and
salaries as Moscow mayor and a member of the Federation
Council. St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev reported
significantly smaller earnings of only 153,630 rubles.
Sistema head Vladimir Yevtushenkov, who according to some
press accounts has been a major financial backer of
Fatherland, earned almost 12 times more than Luzhkov. Some
candidates in the regions had no income in 1998, according to
the agency. One of those candidates is Penza Otechestvo
branch head Vladimir Shcherbak (who presumably is not the
deputy prime minister of the same name). JAC

COURT RULING ON LOMONOSOV FACTORY QUERIED. The Federal
Securities Commission has called into question a court ruling
deeming the privatization of the Lomonosov Porcelain Factory
illegal (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 October 1999), Interfax
reported on 12 October. Commission head Dmitrii Vasilev sent
a letter to the State Property Ministry, which had filed suit
over the Lomonosov privatization, saying that "from our point
of view, this precedent taken by the State Property Ministry
deprives existing shareholders and investors of the
confidence that the state protects them and calls into
question their ownership rights to bonds and shares in any
Russian enterprise formed as a result of privatization."
According to AP, the U.S.-Russia Investment Fund and the KKR
investment firm, both of which have stakes in the factory,
have said they intend to appeal the ruling. JC

FOREIGN MINISTRY BEGINS START 2 RATIFICATION TALKS WITH DUMA
FACTIONS. Unidentified sources at the Foreign Ministry told
Interfax on 12 October that the ministry has begun talks with
the leaders of State Duma factions in a bid to have the START
2 treaty ratified before the December parliamentary
elections. Those sources stressed that ratification could
"seriously undermine" the U.S. position favoring a revision
of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty. "The Russian
side," they added, "has far from recognized its defeat" in
the debate with the U.S. over possible changes to that
treaty. JC

IVANOV SAYS NATO-RUSSIA RELATIONS COULD IMPROVE AFTER OSCE
SUMMIT. In an interview with "Nezavisimaya gazeta" published
on 12 October, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said that if a
new treaty restricting conventional weaponry in Europe is
adopted at next month's OSCE summit in Istanbul, "this would
create the preconditions to start gradually rebuilding
relations with NATO in those spheres in which cooperation is
in our mutual interests." Russia, he noted, does not want to
play a special role in the Balkans; rather, it wants an
active role "in conjunction with other states." With regard
to ABM, Ivanov stressed Moscow's position that unilateral
changes in the treaty would lead to a new "phase" in the arms
race and further global destabilization. And asked whether
President Yeltsin will be making planned trips abroad, Ivanov
responded that Yeltsin is "in many respects the main
stabilizing political factor in Russia" and thus realizes
"how important it is that he remain in Russia right now." JC

BRITISH DOUBLE AGENT PRAISES PRIMAKOV. George Blake, a former
British intelligence agent who worked for the KGB until 1961,
is currently in Primorskii Krai at the invitation of krai
Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko, Interfax-Eurasia reported on 6
October. Primore officials who have participated in Blake's
discussions with local Federal Security Service officers and
others told Reuters on 12 October that "they have been struck
by the number of times [Blake] has praised [former Prime
Minister Yevgenii] Primakov and his role in 'establishing
intelligence services and Russian statehood.'" The same day,
Moscow Mayor Luzhkov told reporters that Primakov may
announce early next year whether he will run for president of
Russia. JAC

WOMEN, AGED INFREQUENT VISITORS ON RUSSIA'S INFORMATION
SUPERHIGHWAY. A Russian media research center, COMCON, found
in a survey of nearly 26,000 Internet users in Russia that
only 19 percent of users are female and just 10.4 percent are
over the age of 45. The result of the survey were released
last month. Meanwhile, financier George Soros's Open Society
Institute opened its 33rd and final Internet center in Russia
on 12 October, according to AFP. ITAR-TASS reported earlier
that according to one study, Russia had 1.9 million Internet
users as of last June. JAC

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCHDOG CALLS FOR INVESTIGATION INTO DEATHS IN
CUSTODY IN ARMENIA. The Austrian-based International Helsinki
Federation for Human Rights (IHF) sent an open letter on 11
October to President Robert Kocharian asking him to
investigate the deaths in custody of two young men serving
prison terms for robbery and assault and the death of a third
man shortly after his release from interrogation, Noyan Tapan
reported. The IHF said there is evidence that all three men
either were murdered or died as a result of beatings by
police officers. LF

U.S., RUSSIA PRAISE ARMENIAN-AZERBAIJANI TALKS. U.S. Vice
President Al Gore on 12 October wrote to Armenian President
Kocharian commending the "important progress" made toward
resolving the Karabakh conflict, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau
reported. Gore expressed confidence that progress toward
resolving the conflict will open new opportunities for
Armenia's partnership and cooperation with neighboring
countries and the entire North Atlantic community, according
to Noyan Tapan. In Moscow, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman
Vladimir Rakhmanin on 12 October similarly noted that the
four meetings between two presidents have resulted in the
strengthening of the cease-fire, an exchange of prisoners,
and greater confidence between the two countries, Interfax
reported. Also on 12 October, the Armenian and Azerbaijan
foreign ministers met in Luxembourg to discuss a methodology
for ending the conflict and to try to define parameters for
resolving it, AFP reported. LF

WORLD BANK SETS CONDITIONS FOR LOAN TO AZERBAIJAN. The World
Bank's permanent representative in Baku, Tevfik Yaprak, told
Reuters on 12 October that Azerbaijan must demonstrate its
commitment to public-sector reform before the bank will
release a $200 million three-year loan intended to help
create an environment for private-sector development and
increase support for social sectors, such as pensions and
education. The bank will send a mission to Baku next month to
draft a list of measures the Azerbaijani government must
enact in order to qualify for that loan. Yaprak also noted
that Azerbaijan will begin to receive oil revenues next year.
LF

AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT ORDERS DEATH PENALTY FOR MILITARY
CRIMES RESTORED. Heidar Aliev has issued a decree on
amendments to the criminal code that allow for the imposition
of the death penalty in wartime for "particularly grave"
military crimes, according to Human Rights Committee of
Azerbaijan press release. Aliev also decreed the transfer
from the Interior Ministry to the Ministry of Justice of
investigation centers in Baku and Gjanja in which the accused
are held in solitary confinement, Turan reported. That
transfer is one of the conditions for admittance to full
membership in the Council of Europe. Azerbaijan abolished the
death penalty last year. LF

ABKHAZIA ADOPTS FORMAL STATUTE ON INDEPENDENCE. The
parliament of the unrecognized Republic of Abkhazia on 12
October adopted a statue affirming the region's status as an
independent state and calling on the UN and OSCE to recognize
it as such, ITAR-TASS reported The statute noted that in the
3 October referendum, a majority of the voters registered as
resident in Abkhazia before the 1992-1993 war had approved
the 1994 constitution defining Abkhazia as an independent
sovereign state (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 October 1999).
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov on 12 October said that
the Abkhaz declaration does not contribute to resolving the
Abkhaz conflict, ITAR-TASS reported. Abkhaz parliament in
exile chairman Tamaz Nadareishvili termed it "a political
farce," according to Caucasus Press. LF

UN OBSERVERS TAKEN HOSTAGE IN WESTERN GEORGIA. Seven members
of the UN Observer Mission in western Georgia were seized by
unidentified armed men when their helicopter landed in the
Kodori gorge early on 13 October. David Tsanava, deputy
chairman of the Abkhaz parliament in exile, told Caucasus
Press that the abductors are demanding a ransom of $200,000
for the observers. He added that the abductors are those who
were responsible for a similar incident in July in which
members of the Abkhaz government in exile, including Tsanava,
were seized when their helicopter landed in Kodori gorge but
were released several hours later (see "RFE/RL Caucasus
Report," Vol. 2, No. 28, 15 July 1999). UN policy is not to
give in to such ransom demands, but the former head of the UN
Observer Mission in Georgia paid a $7,000 ransom for a
kidnapped observer in September 1997 (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
25 September 1997). LF

GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT DEPUTY CONCERNED OVER RUSSIAN ARMS
BUILDUP. Revaz Adamia, who is chairman of the Georgian
parliament's Defense and Security Committee, told journalists
in Tbilisi on 12 October that Russia has "almost doubled" the
amount of heavy weaponry it may deploy in the North Caucasus
under the amended CFE Treaty, Interfax reported. Adamia
argued that such quantities of arms exceed what is required
"to fight several hundred terrorists." LF

PRELIMINARY KAZAKH ELECTION RETURNS ANNOUNCED. Only four of
the nine parties contending the 10 seats in the lower chamber
of the Kazakh parliament that are to be allocated under the
proportional system polled the 7 percent of the vote needed
to qualify for representation, Reuters reported on 12
October. Both Reuters and ITAR-TASS quoted unofficial results
according to which the pro-presidential Otan party polled
30.5 percent of the party-list vote, the Communist Party 17.8
percent, the Agrarian Party 12.6 percent, and the Civic Party
10.9 percent. ITAR-TASS also quoted Central Electoral
Commission secretary Yelena Kuleshova as saying that in 70
percent of all electoral districts no candidate received 50
percent of the votes cast. A runoff between the two
candidates who polled the largest number of votes will be
held in those constituencies on 24 October. LF

MORE GOVERNMENT APPOINTMENTS IN KAZAKHSTAN. After naming
Foreign Minister Qasymzhomart Toqaev prime minister on 12
October, President Nursultan Nazarbaev told the parliament
that he has appointed Deputy Premier and Finance Minister
Aleksander Pavlov as first deputy premier, North Kazakhstan
Oblast Governor Danial Akhmetov as second deputy premier, and
the chairman of the Kazakh State Agency of Strategic Planning
and Reforms, Erzhan Otembaev, deputy premier. Qaraghandy
Oblast Governor Mazhit Esenbaev was named finance minister,
and Grigorii Marchenko was appointed chairman of the National
Bank, RFE/RL's Astana correspondent reported. LF

NEW KAZAKH PREMIER OUTLINES PRIORITIES. Addressing both
houses of the Kazakh parliament on 12 October, Prime Minister
Toqaev pledged that his government will actively cooperate
with the parliament and will "work to improve the economic
situation and gradually reduce the budget deficit," Interfax
reported. He called on deputies to pass the amended 2000
budget in the second reading. Toqaev also said he believes
the government's personnel policy needs improving. He said he
opposes both the hasty introduction of private ownership of
land and the controversial plans to sell part of Kazakhstan's
stake in the Tengizchevroil joint venture. Consultations on
the latter issue must be held with Nazarbaev, he said. LF

FOUR HOSTAGES RELEASED IN KYRGYZSTAN. The Kyrgyz Defense
Ministry on 13 October confirmed that four Kyrgyz policemen
taken hostage by guerrillas in southern Kyrgyzstan in late
August have been freed, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. It
also said that government forces took control late on 12
October of the village of Kodjo-Achkan, which served as the
guerrillas' base, without encountering serious resistance.
Addressing a 12 October session of the upper house of the
parliament, which endorsed his proposal to create a seventh
oblast in Kyrgyzstan, President Askar Akaev again said that
the guerrillas' primary objective is not "to defend Islam"
but to broaden the corridor for drug-trafficking from
Afghanistan to Europe via the CIS, according to Interfax. LF

TAJIK OPPOSITION CANDIDATES CALL FOR BOYCOTT OF PRESIDENTIAL
POLL. Tajikistan's Central Electoral Commission has refused
to register Davlat Usmon, Sulton Kuvvaev, and Saifiddin
Turaev as candidates for the 6 November presidential poll on
the grounds that they failed to provide the required 145,000
signatures in their support, although the deadline for doing
so was twice extended, Interfax reported on 12 October. At a
news conference in Dushanbe the same day the three men called
on voters and the international community to boycott the poll
and not to recognize its outcome as valid. OSCE
representative Oscar Lennar told journalists in Dushanbe that
he hopes it will prove possible to extend the deadline for
gathering signatures, but parliamentary deputy chairman
Kozidavlat Koimdodov rejected that option as violating the
election law, according to an RFE/RL correspondent in the
Tajik capital. LF

UZBEK PRESIDENT CALLS OFF PLANNED VISIT TO KYRGYZSTAN. A
planned visit to Kyrgyzstan by Uzbek President Islam Karimov
has been postponed indefinitely, Interfax reported on 12
October, citing the Kyrgyz presidential administration. No
reason for the postponement was given. LF

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