The last of the human freedoms- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's way. - Victor Frankl
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 202, Part I, 15 October 1999


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 202, Part I, 15 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

* CONTROVERSY OVER KREMLIN CREDIT CARDS CONTINUES

* DEMONSTRATORS IN GROZNY CALL FOR PEACE TALKS

* ARMENIAN NATIONALIST PARTY WARNS AGAINST KARABAKH
CONCESSIONS
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RUSSIA

CONTROVERSY OVER KREMLIN CREDIT CARDS CONTINUES. A Swiss bank
official confirmed earlier press reports that his bank
provided a guarantee for three credit cards on the order of
the construction firm Mabetex for Russian President Boris
Yeltsin and his two daughters, AP reported on 14 October.
However, the official said that he does not know whether the
credit cards were ever issued. Mabetex director Bedget
Pakolli told "Moskovskii komsomolets" the previous day that
his firm is being used as a "an instrument in a political
fight." When asked why documents about the Yeltsins' credit
cards were found on his firm's premises, he said that he "has
a few theories" but does not want to accuse anyone until he
has proof. The Italian newspaper "Corriere della Sera"
reported earlier that Mabetex provided kickbacks through the
credit cards. The presidential press service released a
statement on 14 October saying that the president "has never
opened any foreign bank account" and "owns no property
abroad, nor has he ever owned any." JAC

DEMONSTRATORS IN GROZNY CALL FOR PEACE TALKS... Some 25,000
people staged a march in the Chechen capital on 14 October to
call on the leaderships of both Chechnya and Russia to begin
talks on a peaceful settlement of the conflict, Interfax and
ITAR-TASS reported. They adopted an appeal to the UN, the
OSCE, and the Council of Europe to "make every effort to
prevent the approaching catastrophe," which they said could
cost the lives of tens of thousands of people. Speaking in
Moscow on 14 October, Ingushetia's President Ruslan Aushev
similarly called for uninterrupted negotiations, pointing out
that Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov "is facing the armed
opposition single-handed." Aushev said that both he and the
Ingush people oppose the restoration of the single Chechen-
Ingush administrative territorial unit that existed before
the summer of 1992. LF

...BUT IVANOV SPELLS OUT CONDITIONS. Russian Foreign Minister
Igor Ivanov said in St. Petersburg on 15 October following
talks with his German counterpart Joschka Fischer that Moscow
is still prepared for dialogue with Maskhadov even though the
latter was not elected under Russian law. But Ivanov stressed
that the Chechen leadership must first demonstrate its good
will by halting combat operations and extraditing terrorists,
ITAR-TASS reported (see also "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol.
2, No. 41, 14 October 1999). LF

MOSCOW NAMES VICEROY IN CHECHEN LIBERATED ZONE. Russian
Deputy Railways Minister Nikolai Koshman, who headed the pro-
Moscow Chechen puppet government in 1995-1996, told ITAR-TASS
on 15 October that he has accepted the post of Moscow's
representative in the "liberated" areas of Chechnya, ITAR-
TASS reported. Koshman said his priority is "to inspire faith
in people that Russia remembers them [and] to put things in
order." He said he will extend assistance to the pro-Moscow
Chechen State Council headed by Malik Saidullaev. Saidullaev,
for his part, told ITAR-TASS on 14 October he and other
council members will leave for Chechnya "soon," once they
have received from the Russian government documents
confirming the powers of the 1996 parliament. That body's
mandate expired in the summer of 1998. LF

RUSSIAN OFFICIALS BLAME CHECHEN MILITANTS FOR EXODUS.
Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Valentina Matvienko on 14
October accused the Chechen forces of coercing the civilian
population to leave Chechnya in order to create a
humanitarian catastrophe, ITAR-TASS reported. Federal
Security Service spokesman Aleksandr Zdanovich on 14 October
similarly said that the Chechens are forcing civilians to
leave the republic in order to depict federal actions as
"barbarous," according to Interfax . LF

RUSSIAN TROOPS CONSOLIDATE CONTROL OF GORAGORSKY. Russian
military spokesmen said on 15 October that federal forces
have consolidated their hold on the strategic village of
Goragorsky, west of Grozny, which Chechen forces abandoned
two days earlier. The village commands the main highway from
Grozny to Ingushetia. Russian artillery continued its
bombardment of Urus Martan, Achkhoi Martan, Assinovskaya, and
Bamut on 14 October but did not target the capital. AFP on 14
October quoted Chechen officials as saying that more than
2,000 civilians have been killed since the Russian bombing
raids began six weeks ago. LF

YELTSIN DISCUSSES NORTH CAUCASUS WITH MAGOMEDOV, SERGEEV.
President Yeltsin on 14 October telephoned Daghestan's State
Council Chairman Magomedali Magomedov to discuss the
situation in that republic and in the North Caucasus in
general, ITAR-TASS reported. The previous day, Yeltsin had
discussed the situation in the North Caucasus with Defense
Minister Igor Sergeev. LF

WORLD BANK CHIMES IN ON DEFENSE SPENDING... The World Bank's
Country Director for Russia Michael Carter told Ekho Moskvy
on 14 October that a very sharp increase in military
expenditure would destabilize the budget and prompt the bank
to discontinue disbursements of adjustment loans. Carter
added that the bank has found no violations in the use of
bridge loans that it has granted Russia. Meanwhile,
"Vedomosti" reported the same day that IMF officials are
unlikely to be pleased that the government is resorting to
mutual offsets in order to clear debts owed to the government
by state-controlled enterprises. The IMF demanded earlier
that the government resist writing off enterprises' tax
debts. The daily noted that "the treasury owes money to
enterprises, which, in turn, owe money to the budget--so why
not come to terms?" The daily added that because military
expenditures are increasing, it is becoming harder "to
'earmark' real money for other affairs." JAC

...AS REPORTS FILTER IN ABOUT SOLDIERS' PAY. Some analysts
believe that the costs of the Chechen conflict will not be
excessively high. Mikhail Delyagin of Moscow's Institute for
Globalization Problems told RFE/RL that "the Russian armed
forces will just do what they know how to do--scrimp and save
on the backs of Russian soldiers." Delyagin wrote earlier
that soldiers in Chechnya have not been paid for a month.
Colonel General Georgii Oleinik told "Krasnaya zvezda" on 14
October that pilots who have been flying bombing missions
over Chechnya have received their pay neither regularly nor
on time. However, Oleinik, who is head of the Defense
Ministry's military budget and finance department, pledged
that "from this month pilots will receive everything they
should get on time." JAC

GOVERNMENT LOOKING TO OIL SECTOR TO HELP WITH CHECHNYA? Prime
Minister Vladimir Putin has called on the government to
increase its oversight of the country's oil and gas sector.
Addressing the cabinet on 14 October, he said that "it is
impossible to explain to any reasonable person why Russia, an
oil-producing country, is witnessing a 50 percent growth in
petrol prices this year," according to ITAR-TASS. Putin also
noted that fuel deliveries to security agencies have been
reduced five-fold, according to Russian Public Television.
"Under the current circumstances, our military group in the
North Caucasus has to suffer, while it is honorably
fulfilling its duty before the country," he said. "Vremya MN"
noted earlier that the government may try to raise revenues
for military spending by increasing taxes on oil exports (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 12 October 1999). JAC

VASILIEV RESIGNS FOR GOOD. Dmitrii Vasiliev, head of the
Federal Securities Agency, told reporters on 15 October that
he has tendered his resignation to the president and Yeltsin
has accepted it. Vasiliev resigned earlier this year to
protest what he saw as errors in the way the government of
former Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov government was
handling the country's economic crisis, but his resignation
was not accepted (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 October 1998).
Vasiliev said he plans to set up a non-governmental system
for protecting investors on Russia's stock exchange. He added
that the system would include legal representation and
organizational support, according to Interfax. JAC

COMMUNISTS SAIL THROUGH REGISTRATION... The Central Election
Commission on 14 October registered the party list of the
Communist Party (KPRF) for the upcoming elections to the
State Duma. According to "Parlamentskaya gazeta" on 15
October, the list contains 255 names; the commission crossed
nine names off the list for providing false information about
their property, including that of actress Elena Dropenko.
"Kommersant-Daily" noted that some of the candidates of the
"party of the people" seemed to have cars of people with
means. For example, Nikolai Laikhes, a candidate on the
Volga-Caspian list, owns two Zhigulis, one Volga, and one
Jeep Grand Cherokee, while Yevgenii Marchenko, a candidate
from the Kuban-Don group, falsified sale documents for his
Mercedes-500. JAC

...AS YABLOKO PREDICTED TO HAVE PROBLEMS. Central Election
Commission Chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov said on 14 October
that questions have been raised about the information
provided on vehicle declaration forms by candidates on
Yabloko's list--even among the top three candidates,
according to ITAR-TASS. Our Home Is Russia leader Viktor
Chernomyrdin predicted the same day that the commission will
not delete one name from his party's list since that list had
been prepared with great care. JAC

NIZHNII NOVGOROD FAILS TO MAKE EUROBOND PAYMENT. The city of
Nizhnii Novgorod has technically defaulted on an interest
payment on its Eurobond, after failing to persuade
bondholders to approve a debt restructuring plan, Russian
media reported on 14 October. This is the first case of a
Russian municipal government's default, technical or
otherwise, on a Eurobond payment. The interest payment on
Nizhnii Novgorod's five-year, $100 million bond had been due
on 3 October, after which the city had a 10-day grace period
to make the payment (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report,"
6 October 1999). However, at a meeting in London on 13
October, support for the Nizhnii restructuring plan among
creditors fell just short of the required 75 percent,
according to Interfax on 14 October and "The Moscow Times"
the next day. Talks between the region's representatives and
bondholders are to continue on 21 and 22 October. JC

NEW CANDIDATES TO VIE FOR POSTS IN MOSCOW. State Duma
Chairman Gennadii Seleznev told reporters on 14 October that
he will run for the post of governor of the Moscow region
instead of seeking a seat in the Duma from a single-mandate
district in St. Petersburg. Seleznev, who is number two on
the KPRF's party list, would have had to compete in St.
Petersburg against former Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin,
who is number two on Yabloko's party list. Duma Deputy and
former head of the Our Home Is Russia faction Aleksandr
Shokhin told "Kommersant-Daily" on 15 October that Seleznev
had analyzed his falling ratings and realized that he could
lose against Stepashin. The same day, former Prime Minister
Sergei Kirienko submitted the necessary documents to run for
mayor of Moscow. According to "Nezavisimaya gazeta," former
St. Petersburg Mayor Anatolii Sobchak has decided to run
again for his old post and not for a seat in the Duma. JAC

STAND-OFF ENDS AT VYBORGSKII PAPER MILL. Justice Ministry
troops left the premises of the Vyborgskii paper mill in the
late afternoon of 14 October, some 15 hours after they had
stormed the administration building and held eight members of
the factory's strike committee (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14
October). Before their release, the eight were charged with
resisting the authorities, "The St. Petersburg Times"
reported the next day. According to the newspaper, Aleksandr
Sabadash, who was appointed by the mill's British owners as
director of the factory, was beaten up by workers who had
rushed to the scene when the Justice Ministry troops entered
the mill. ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported on 14 October that
the Leningrad Oblast Prosecutor's Office has launched
criminal proceedings over the strike committee's failure to
comply with a May 1998 ruling that the mill's British owners
be allowed to assume control of their property. JC

MOSCOW, TRIPOLI SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENT. Citing Libyan
state television, AFP reported that Libyan Energy Minister
Abdullah al-Badri and visiting Russian Deputy Minister Ilya
Klebanov signed an economic and trade cooperation agreement
in Tripoli on 14 October. The news agency gave no further
details of that accord. The previous day, Klebanov handed
over to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi a message from
President Yeltsin stressing Russia's desire to resume
relations with Libya and create new opportunities for
cooperation. Klebanov is in Libya until 16 October on a visit
that ITAR-TASS, citing Russian Defense Ministry sources,
reported is aimed at boosting military-industrial relations
between the two countries, particularly in aviation. JC

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN NATIONALIST PARTY WARNS AGAINST KARABAKH
CONCESSIONS. Hrant Khachatrian, one of the leaders of the
hard-line Right and Accord parliamentary bloc, warned
Armenian President Robert Kocharian on 14 October not to
agree to any peace deal that does not provide for the
unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic to become fully
independent or be unified with Armenia, RFE/RL's Yerevan
bureau reported. Khachatrian warned that if Kocharian does
agree to major concessions he may share the fate of his
predecessor, Levon Ter-Petrossian, who was forced to resign
in February 1998 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 February 1998).
Right and Accord, which has eight seats in the parliament, is
backed by former Karabakh Defense Minister Samvel Babayan. LF

MOVEMENT IN SUPPORT OF FORMER AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT GAINS
MOMENTUM. The committee to protect the rights of exiled
former President Ayaz Mutalibov has collected 150,000
signatures in support of its demands to allow him to return
to Azerbaijan, Turan reported on 14 October, citing the daily
"Yeddi gun" (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 2, No. 35, 2
September 1999). Committee chairman Abdul Mahmudov said that
on average its members collect an additional 10,000
signatures a day. The present Azerbaijani authorities have
accused Mutalibov of theft of arms and ammunition,
instigating and participating in mass public disturbances,
and complicity in the alleged coup attempts against President
Aliev in October 1994 and March 1995. LF

FOUR UN HOSTAGES RELEASED IN WESTERN GEORGIA. The
unidentified gunmen who seized six UN observers and their
interpreter in the Kodori gorge on 13 October upped their
ransom demand from $200,000 to $250,000 on 14 October and
threatened to shoot one of their captives. Later, however,
they unconditionally released four of the hostages. Georgian
parliamentary speaker Zurab Zhvania said on 15 October that
no ransom had been paid and that he is sure the remaining
hostages will soon be freed. He added that the gunmen are
negotiating security guarantees with the Georgian leadership,
ITAR-TASS reported. LF

KAZAKH OPPOSITION QUERIES OFFICIAL POLL RETURNS. Opposition
candidates continue to complain to the OSCE monitoring
mission of irregularities during the 10 October election to
the lower chamber of Kazakhstan's parliament, Reuters
reported on 14 October. The agency quoted an OSCE spokesman
as saying the mission has "serious concerns" about the
validity of the results in the three districts of Almaty.
Petr Svojk, who heads Kazakhstan's opposition Azamat
(Citizen) Party, told Reuters that the preliminary results
are "a catastrophe for democracy in our country." According
to the outcome of the party list vote, Azamat failed to
overcome the 7 percent threshold to qualify for parliamentary
representation. Communist Party leader Serikbolsyn Abdildin
said the voting procedure was more democratic than during the
January presidential poll but that the voting tallies are
being revised to ensure that the leadership's "favorite"
candidates receive parliamentary mandates. LF

KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT COMPLETES CABINET RESHUFFLE. Nursultan
Nazarbaev on 14 October appointed Vladimir Shkolnik as
minister of industry, trade and energy, and Nikolai
Radostovets as minister of labor and social protection,
Interfax reported. The agriculture, justice, and interior
ministers retained their posts in the new cabinet. Nazarbaev
began a short vacation later the same day. LF

NEGOTIATOR SAYS ONE KYRGYZ HOSTAGE KILLED... Kyrgyz
parliamentary deputy Tursunbai Bakir Uulu, who recently
secured the release of five of the 13 hostages seized by
guerrillas in southern Kyrgyzstan in late August, told
journalists in Bishkek on 14 October that the guerrillas had
killed one of the Kyrgyz hostages before 4 October, RFE/RL's
Bishkek bureau reported. He did not give the name of the
hostage allegedly killed. Bakir Uulu advocated talks between
the Uzbek government and the opposition Islamic Movement of
Uzbekistan, to which the hostage-takers reportedly belong. He
also said that the Japanese government should accede to the
kidnappers' demand to send a representative to negotiate
terms for the release of the four hostage Japanese
geologists, whose lives he said are in danger. LF

...AS GUERRILLAS' LEADERS THREATEN REPRISALS. Bakir Uulu
brought a further message, dated 6 October, to the Kyrgyz
authorities from the leadership of the Islamic Movement of
Uzbekistan announcing its decision to release the hostages in
stages and to declare a unilateral cease-fire. The statement
threatened reprisals against Kyrgyz leaders who cooperate
with the "dictatorial regime" of Uzbek President Islam
Karimov. LF

DEMANDS ON KYRGYZSTAN'S BUDGET MULTIPLY. In his annual
address to the parliament on 14 October, Kyrgyzstan's
President Askar Akaev vowed that the government will pay all
wage and pension arrears before the end of 1999, RFE/RL's
bureau in the Kyrgyz capital reported. He said that the
guerrilla incursions into southern Kyrgyzstan over the past
two months and the military response to that threat have cost
a total of 200 million soms (about $5 million) and that 1.5
billion soms must be spent on national security over the next
four years. The previous day, Finance Minister Sultan Mederov
told a cabinet meeting that the draft budget for 2000 must be
amended to provide an additional 200 million soms for the
newly created Batken Oblast. He estimated wage costs for the
region's 160 administrators alone at 12 million soms. In
addition, Kyrgyzstan must repay some $80 million next year on
loans from Russia and international financial organizations.
LF

TAJIK OPPOSITION MAY SUSPEND COOPERATION WITH GOVERNMENT.
United Tajik Opposition (UTO) leader Said Abdullo Nuri told
journalists in Dushanbe on 14 October that the UTO may
suspend its participation in the work of the National
Reconciliation Commission to protest the authorities'
restrictions on opposition activities, ITAR-TASS and Asia
Plus-Blitz reported. Nuri said that at a meeting the previous
day, he had handed to President Imomali Rakhmonov
documentation proving that local administrators had violated
the election law by preventing three opposition politicians
from collecting the required number of signatures to register
their candidacy in the 6 November presidential poll (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 12 and 13 October 199). Nuri urged
Rakhmonov to ensure that the poll is democratic. Also on 14
October, a group of investigators from the Dushanbe branch of
the Tajik Interior Ministry were subjected to artillery fire
in the capital, ITAR-TASS reported. Six police officers were
wounded in the ensuing shootout. LF

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