The salvation of mankind lies only in making everything the concern of all. - Alexander Solzhenitsyn
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 203, Part I, 18 October 1999


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 203, Part I, 18 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 TROOPS HALT ADVANCE ON GROZNY

* PRIMAKOV'S POPULARITY REPORTEDLY FALLING, TO PUTIN'S
ADVANTAGE

* OSCE DEPLORES ELECTION VIOLENCE IN GEORGIA
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RUSSIA

RUSSIAN TROOPS HALT ADVANCE ON GROZNY... Russian forces on
15-16 October reinforced their positions along a ridge of
high ground south of the Terek River that overlooks Grozny.
That move came in preparation for the next phase of
operations, in which Interior Ministry forces are to play a
major role, Interfax reported on 17 October, quoting Colonel-
General Viktor Kazantsev, who commands the Russian forces in
the North Caucasus. Kazantsev declined to confirm that the
second phase will constitute a full-fledged assault on
Grozny. He also said in Vladikavkaz on 16 October that the
Russian troops are not targeting Chechen villages but are
simply aiming to "destroy bandits." He added that "we do not
reject...talks with Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov, whom
we have always respected, and we shall prepare for such talks
in the near future," Reuters reported. Meanwhile Russian air
and artillery attacks on targets around Grozny continued on
15-17 October. LF

...AS PUTIN AGAIN DEFINES AIMS OF WAR. Speaking on Russian
Television on 17 October, Russian Premier Vladimir Putin,
too, denied that Moscow is preparing "a large-scale military
action with tank attacks and the storming of towns," Reuters
reported. He said Russia's tactics are aimed at keeping both
Russian military and Chechen civilian casualties to a
minimum. Putin expressed confidence that Nikolai Koshman,
whom President Yeltsin personally selected as his
plenipotentiary in Chechnya, will succeed in coordinating
efforts to revive the economy of the three Russian-controlled
districts of northern Chechnya and create acceptable social
conditions for the population there, including paying wages
and pensions. Putin had introduced Koshman, who has the rank
of a deputy prime minister, to cabinet members the previous
day, according to Interfax. LF

CHECHEN PRESIDENT UNDER PRESSURE. Maskhadov told a press
conference in Grozny on 17 October that as president he
favors peace talks with Russian leaders in order to prevent
people being killed, AP reported. But Maskhadov added that
Russian politicians, whom he did not name, and some Chechen
generals interpret his offers of peace talks as a sign of
weakness. Maskhadov said that the Russian Defense Ministry is
concealing the extent of Russian military losses in Chechnya,
which he estimated at 1,500 soldiers and officers. He added
that the Chechens have lost 32 fighters. Moscow claims that
2,500 Chechen militants have been killed. The Russian Defense
Ministry also claimed on 16 October that field commander
Shamil Basaev, former Chechen Foreign Minister Movladi
Udugov, and former acting President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev have
demanded that Maskhadov reintroduce the post of vice
president and name former incumbent Vakha Arsanov to fill it,
ITAR-TASS reported. LF

FUGITIVES CONTINUE TO LEAVE CHECHNYA. Another 5,000 people
left Chechnya for Ingushetia on 15 October, raising the total
number of displaced persons in that republic to 148,000,
Interfax reported. The total number of fugitives from
Chechnya in the Russian Federation is 166,000. In Tbilisi, a
spokesman for the State Border Department said that 1,600
Chechen refugees had arrived in Georgia over the previous
month. On 15 October, the Russian Defense Ministry estimated
that Chechnya's population has sunk to 160,000 from 1.2
million in 1993. "Le Monde" on 18 October quoted a Moscow-
based UNHCR official as saying that her office has received
$500,000, which is enough to feed 30,000 people for one
month, and that the small tents that the organization has
supplied cannot be heated in winter. LF

PRIMAKOV'S POPULARITY REPORTEDLY FALLING, TO PUTIN'S
ADVANTAGE. The popularity rating of former Prime Minister
Yevgenii Primakov has fallen, according to the government's
Federal Agency for Government Communications and Information
on 15 October, Interfax reported. According to a poll of
6,000 people two days earlier, Primakov's rating fell from 21
percent to 16.6 percent over the last month, while Prime
Minister Putin's rose from 1.7 percent to 13.7 percent.
Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov's rating has also fallen, from 7.2
percent to 4.6 percent. Russian Public Television reported on
16 October that the political council of the Union of Right
Forces (CPC) is considering either former Prime Minister
Sergei Kirienko, Samara Governor Konstantin Titov, or Putin
as its presidential candidate. CPC is composed of New Force,
Common Cause, Voice of Russia, and Young Russia. JAC

BUDGET TO BE RECONSIDERED THIS WEEK. The State Duma Budget
Committee will recommend that the lower house pass the
revised 2000 budget in its first reading, committee chairman
Aleksandr Zhukov told reporters on 18 October, according to
ITAR-TASS. The Duma will consider the budget again on 20
October, according to Zhukov. Duma chairman Gennadii Seleznev
warned earlier that if the Duma fails to pass the budget by 3
December, it will be unable to take it up again before next
March. JAC

WASHINGTON OFFERING MOSCOW 'COOPERATIVE ACTION' OVER ABM...
Speaking on CNN television on 17 October, U.S. Secretary of
State Madeleine Albright said that Washington is holding
"preliminary talks" with Moscow about "some cooperative
action" over the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, AFP
reported. The U.S. wants to amend that treaty in order to
implement a limited national defense system--a move that
Russia has opposed. Albright stressed that Washington is
making very clear to the Russians that "any national missile
defense system that we would have would not be against them
but against those rogue states around North Korea that are
our concern." Earlier that day, "The New York Times" and "The
Washington Post," citing unnamed U.S. and Russian officials,
had reported that in exchange for Moscow's consent to amend
the ABM treaty, Washington is offering financial aid to
complete a missile radar system at Mishelevka, some 100
kilometers northwest of Irkutsk. "The Washington Post" also
reported that the U.S. may share data from its early warning
system. JC

...WHILE MOSCOW HOPING FOR BROAD SUPPORT IN UN. Interfax on
15 October cited a Russian Foreign Ministry statement as
saying that Moscow is counting on broad support in the UN to
reject U.S. calls for amending the ABM treaty. Three days
earlier, according to ITAR-TASS, Russia, China, and Belarus
had submitted a draft resolution to the UN General Assembly
urging that the 1972 treaty continue to be observed. The
Russian Foreign Ministry statement stressed that "if the ABM
treaty is violated, all strategic arms limitation talks will
make no sense." JC

RUSSIAN OFFICIALS LAMENT U.S. SENATE'S REJECTION OF TEST BAN
TREATY... Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov told U.S.
Secretary of State Albright in a 16 October telephone
conversation that the U.S. Senate's refusal last week to
ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty will create
"serious problems" for the progress of the disarmament
process as a whole, Russian media reported. Russia has not
yet ratified the test ban treaty. The previous day, Communist
Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov, describing the U.S. Senate's
move as "very bad," commented that the Americans have gone on
a "militarist spree": "They bomb [Iraq], then they raze
Yugoslavia through air strikes, now they are trying to resume
nuclear tests and are ready to violate the ABM Treaty." And
State Duma speaker Seleznev remarked that the U.S. Senate's
move will "negatively affect" the issue of START-2
ratification. JC

...AS POSPELOV SUGGESTS DUMA UNLIKELY TO DEBATE TREATY SOON.
Acting head of the State Duma Defense Committee staff Vasilii
Pospelov is quoted by the 16 October "Moscow Times" as saying
the lower house of the Russian parliament is unlikely to
agree to discuss the test ban treaty "any time soon." He said
that he believes the Duma will not begin debating that
document until after it deals with START-2. Also on 16
October, Sergei Markov, director of the Moscow-based
Political Studies Institute, told Interfax that the U.S.
Senate's rejection of the test ban treaty may encourage
Russian sales of nuclear technologies, such as reactors. He
added, however, that it would be mistaken to believe that
Russia now has the "moral right to continue improving its
nuclear armaments." "Russia," he noted, will "hardly [be able
to] raise enough funds for such projects" and therefore U.S.
ratification would have been "in [Moscow's] interests." JC

YABLOKO REGISTERED FOR ELECTION DESPITE YAVLINSKII
OVERSIGHT... The Central Election Commission on 15 October
registered the Yabloko party's federal list for the upcoming
State Duma elections. Some nine candidates, including
Minister for Nationalities and Federation Affairs Vyacheslav
Mikhailov, were removed from the list for supplying incorrect
information about their income and property, leaving a total
of 165 names, according to Interfax. One member of the
election commission voted to exclude Yabloko leader Grigorii
Yavlinskii because he failed to declare 81,000 rubles ($3,100
at today's exchange rate) of income that he earned last year.
Yabloko's press service told "The Moscow Times" that the
discrepancy occurred because Yavlinskii did not know that he
had been paid for a speech that he failed to deliver because
of his heart attack last year. According to the daily,
commission chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov said that the
commission decided "to recognize that the inaccuracy of the
information provided by Grigorii Yavlinskii is not of a
significant nature." JAC

...AS UNITY ROSTER ALSO GETS GO AHEAD. The commission also
registered the electoral bloc Unity (Edinstvo) and confirmed
its federal list of 181 candidates, "Nezavisimaya gazeta"
reported on 16 October. According to the daily, the list does
not include the name of Sibneft head Roman Abramovich, as had
been rumored earlier. Seven movements and parties joined
Unity. These include the People's Patriotic Party, the
Russian Christian Democratic Party, the My Family and
Generation of Freedom movements, the All Russia Union for
Support of Small and Medium Businesses, the Association of
Russian Voters, and Prosperity (Blagodenstvie), according to
ITAR-TASS. JAC

DUMA TO FIGHT PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION BILL. Andrei Loginov,
chief of the presidential administration's domestic policy
department, told reporters on 15 October that under the
presidential election bill recently submitted to the Duma
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 October 1999), the next president
of Russia will take office on 9 August 2000. Presidential
elections will be held on 4 June and a second round, if
necessary, on 25 June. Loginov also predicted that at least
two groups will oppose the bill in the Duma, according to
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 16 October. One group, led by Deputy
Viktor Sheinis of Yabloko, "regards the existing law as a
precious vessel that cannot be shaken and can only be
improved delicately," according to Loginov. The other group
consists primarily of Communists who oppose any measures
proposed by the president. Sheinis was one of the authors of
the electoral law adopted in 1995. Duma chairman Seleznev
said on 18 October that the lower house will consider the
bill in its first reading some time in late October,
according to ITAR-TASS. JAC

SKURATOV SCORES ANOTHER VICTORY. A Moscow court on 15 October
upheld a lower court's verdict that the investigation of
suspended Prosecutor-General Yurii Skuratov is illegal.
However, a representative of the Prosecutor-General's Office
said that the case will remain open unless closed by the
acting prosecutor-general, according to Interfax. The
Prosecutor-General's Office announced later that it will
appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, ITAR-TASS reported.
JAC

RUSSIAN-GERMAN SUMMIT SCHEDULED FOR EARLY NEXT YEAR. Russia
and Germany will hold a summit in Berlin in March 2000,
Russian Foreign Minister Ivanov and his German counterpart,
Joschka Fischer, announced at a press conference in St.
Petersburg on 15 October, at the end of the latter's two-day
visit to the northern city. During their talks, the two
ministers discussed, among other things, European security
and the next month's OSCE meeting in Istanbul, at which a new
European security charter is expected to be adopted. Fischer
is reported to have expressed concern about the Russian
military offensive in Chechnya and, criticizing the U.S.
Senate's rejection of the test ban treaty, urged the State
Duma to ratify START-2. JC

LUZHKOV TURNS TO LITIGATION. Moscow Mayor Luzhkov has filed
suit against Russian Public Television, the host of one of
its "analytical programs," Sergei Dorenko, and the magazine
"Kult Lichnosti," Interfax reported. Dorenko had reported,
citing "Kult Lichnosti," that Luzhkov owns real estate in
Spain and had a monument shipped there using Moscow city
funds. He also reported that the mayor's personal wealth is
estimated at $300-$400 million. Luzhkov announced on 10
October that he urged the Moscow city prosecutor to drop
criminal proceedings against Dorenko because he views freedom
of speech as "a particularly valuable democratic gain." He
added that "I am convinced that in this case the truth must
be established in some way other than through criminal
prosecution of a journalist." JAC

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN PRESIDENT CHARGES POWER AGENCIES WITH PREVENTING
ELECTION FRAUD. Meeting on 16 October with senior
representatives of the Defense, Interior, and National
Security Ministries, Robert Kocharian issued instructions to
ensure that the 24 October local elections will be completely
free and fair, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Kocharian
termed the poll Armenia's final test on the road to becoming
a full member of the Council of Europe, saying that the
preconditions exist for ensuring that the conduct of the poll
is exemplary. Some 200,000 ethnic Armenian refugees from
Azerbaijan who are not Armenian citizens will not be allowed
to participate in the vote, despite a 16 October ruling by
the Armenian Constitutional Court that a provision in the
election law barring them from doing so is unconstitutional.
That legislation will be amended to bring it into line with
the Armenian Constitution. LF

DIRECTOR OF MAJOR ARMENIAN PLANT CHARGED WITH MISMANAGEMENT.
Gagik Nersisian, director of Armenia's giant Nairit chemical
plant, was charged with mismanagement of public funds on 16
October, four days after his detention, RFE/RL's Yerevan
bureau reported. Press reports quote law enforcement
officials as saying the charges stem from barter agreements
the plant concluded in an attempt to continue operating. Once
the foremost producer of synthetic rubber in the USSR, Nairit
now owes the state more than $30 million in unpaid taxes and
electricity bills. One of the leaders of the small opposition
Democratic Fatherland Party, of which Nersisian is a member,
told RFE/RL on 14 October that he considers the charges
against Nersisian groundless but not politically motivated.
LF

AZERBAIJAN DENIES HOSTING CHECHEN INFORMATION CENTER. Russian
media allegations that Chechen militants have established an
information center in Baku are unfounded and intended to
undermine Russian-Azerbaijani relations, a spokesman for
Azerbaijan's Security Minister Araz Kurbanov told ITAR-TASS
on 15 October. The news agency added that an unofficial
Chechen mission in Baku that engages primarily in
humanitarian affairs also releases information about events
in Chechnya. LF

REMAINING U.S. HOSTAGES RELEASED IN GEORGIA... Having
released four of their hostages (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 15
October 1999), the unidentified abductors who seized six UN
officials and their interpreter in western Georgia set free
the remaining three UN officials on 15 October after
receiving assurances from senior Georgian officials that
special forces will not launch an operation to free the
captives. Georgian Interior Minister Kakha Targamadze said
the next day that no ransom was paid for the hostages'
release. National Security Minister Vakhtang Kutateladze told
the independent Rustavi-2 TV station on 15 October that the
hostage-takers belong to a criminal gang and suggested that
they were also responsible for a similar abduction last July
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 July 1999). He also expressed his
view that the hostage-taking was timed to affect the 31
October elections. LF

...AS GEORGIAN MILITARY ACCUSE THEM OF UNSANCTIONED
ACTIVITIES. Two senior Georgian Defense Ministry officials
said on 16 October that the helicopter that flew the UN
observers to the Kodori gorge where they were kidnapped had
engaged in filming unnamed "strategic facilities" in the
gorge without the permission of the Georgian authorities,
ITAR-TASS reported. Georgian Army Chief of Staff General
Djoni Pirtskhalaishvili said the observers were repeatedly
told they must inform Tbilisi in advance of any planned
flights in the area. On 14 October, a UN political adviser
with the observer mission had told ITAR-TASS that Georgia
should have taken measures to ensure the observers' safety.
LF

OSCE DEPLORES ELECTION VIOLENCE IN GEORGIA... The OSCE/ODIHR
Election Observation Mission in Tbilisi issued a statement on
14 October condemning violence during the runup to the 31
October parliamentary elections as "totally unacceptable" and
"contrary to both the letter and the spirit of OSCE
commitments on free elections," Caucasus Press reported. The
statement was pegged to a 10 October firebomb attack on the
home of a candidate in Aspindza Raion. The OSCE mission has
launched an investigation into that attack. LF

...AS OPPOSITION PROTESTS HARASSMENT. Representatives of the
Union of Revival election bloc staged a half-hour silent
protest on Tbilisi's main boulevard on 15 October against
harassment of its candidates by the Georgian authorities,
Caucasus Press reported. Vakhtang Rcheulishvili, head of the
Socialist Party, which is one of the Union's five member
parties, told journalists that the bloc will not allow the
outcome of the poll to be falsified. The Union of Revival is
the main challenger to the ruling Union of Citizens of
Georgia. LF

GEORGIA NOT TO QUIT CIS INTER-PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY. Georgia
will remain a member of the CIS Inter-Parliamentary Assembly,
parliamentary deputy Eldar Shengelaya said at a St.
Petersburg meeting of the assembly's governing body on 16
October, Interfax reported. President Shevardnadze had said
on 11 October that Georgia might withdraw from the assembly
after the Russian State Duma sent observers to monitor the 3
October presidential elections and referendum in Abkhazia,
which Georgia had termed illegal. The St. Petersburg session
adopted a resolution condemning the Abkhaz poll and
referendum and calling for the renewal of talks between the
Georgian and Abkhaz leaderships. LF

LAST GEORGIAN BORDER GUARDS PULL OUT OF GEORGIA. The final
contingent of Russian border guards previously deployed along
Georgia's borders with Russian and Turkey left Georgia on 15
October, ITAR-TASS reported. The withdrawal had been
implemented in stages under the terms of an agreement signed
last year. LF

PRELIMINARY KAZAKH ELECTION RESULTS ANNOUNCED. Speaking at a
press conference in Astana on 17 October, Kazakhstan's
Central Electoral Commission Chairwoman Zaghipa Balieva
confirmed that in the party-list voting in the 10 October
elections to the lower chamber of the Kazakh parliament, the
pro-presidential Otan party polled 30.89 percent, the
Communist Party 17.75 percent, the Agrarian Party 12.63
percent, and the Civic Party 11.23 percent, Reuters and ITAR-
TASS reported. Otan thus acquired four of the 10 seats in the
lower house allocated under the party-list system, while the
remaining three parties got two seats each. Balieva also
confirmed that a second round of voting will be held on 24
October in 47 constituencies in which no candidate garnered
50 percent of the vote in the first round. LF

FOUR KYRGYZ HOSTAGES RELEASED. The guerrillas who seized 13
hostages in southern Kyrgyzstan in late August released two
of those captives, a Kyrgyz Interior Ministry general and
lieutenant-colonel, on 18 October, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau
reported. Parliamentary deputy Tursunbai Bakir Uulu, who
secured their release in talks with the hostage takers, is
continuing talks aimed at negotiating the release of the
remaining five hostages: four Japanese geologists and their
Kyrgyz interpreter. Reuters on 16 October quoted unnamed
Kyrgyz government sources as saying that the gunmen are
demanding a $2 million ransom for the four Japanese. But
Security Council Secretary-General Bolot Djanuzakov said that
no ransom will be paid. Bakir Uulu succeeded in freeing five
hostages last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 and 15 October
1999). LF

TAJIK OPPOSITION BODY SUSPENDS PARTICIPATION IN PEACE
PROCESS. The United Tajik Opposition (UTO) on 18 October
announced that it is suspending its representatives'
participation in the Commission for National Reconciliation
to protest the authorities' failure to meet its demands,
ITAR-TASS reported. In a 15 October statement, the UTO had
demanded that an emergency session of the parliament be
convened to debate postponing the presidential election
scheduled for 6 November, Asia Plus-Blitz reported. Three
opposition parties had called for a boycott of that poll on
the grounds that they were prevented from collecting the
required signatures to register as candidates (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 12 and 13 October 1999). The UTO also called for
the election of a new Central Electoral Commission that would
include representatives of those parties that had proposed
presidential candidates, for equal access to state media to
be granted all presidential candidates, and for the UN, OSCE,
and other international organizations to supervise the
elections. LF

...WHILE DISSENTER RULES OUT ELECTION DELAY. UTO First Deputy
chairman Akbar Turadjonzoda, who is also Tajikistan's first
deputy premier, told journalists on 16 October that the
legitimacy of next Tajik president will be open to question
if the presidential poll is delayed, ITAR-TASS reported. He
added that "most" members of the UTO Presidium do not support
the demand for a postponement of the election. Turadjonzoda
also argued that the UTO should have made public its
objections to the election law last year rather than wait
until one month before the poll. Tajikistan's Constitutional
Court Chairman Ubaidullo Davlatov issued a statement on 15
October saying that "nobody, neither the president nor the
parliament of the republic, has the right to alter the date
determined by the Constitutional law on elections and the
constitution of the country," Asia Plus-Blitz reported. LF

TWO SENIOR MILITARY OFFICIALS SHOT DEAD IN TAJIK CAPITAL. A
colonel with the Tajik Defense Ministry was shot in the head
near his home on the morning of 16 October, Rusian agencies
reported. Later that day, a lieutenant-colonel with the
Russian Border Guard forces was shot dead in Dushanbe in what
Tajik officials said may have been a contract killing. LF

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