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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 204, Part I, 19 October 1999


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 204, Part I, 19 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

* PUTIN PLEDGES TO SEAL BORDERS AGAINST 'DIRTY MONEY'

* RUSSIAN TROOPS SAID TO CONTROL APPROACHES TO GROZNY

* SPOKESMAN DENIES KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT HAS SWISS BANK
ACCOUNT
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RUSSIA

PUTIN PLEDGES TO SEAL BORDERS AGAINST 'DIRTY MONEY'... Prime
Minister Vladimir Putin told justice and interior ministers
from the G-7 countries in Moscow on 19 October that Russia is
"interested in preventing 'dirty money' from Russia being
laundered in foreign banks," ITAR-TASS reported. Putin added
that corruption can be eradicated only "by methods of
transparency and openness of economic ties." Meanwhile,
Anatolii Kulikov of the Communist Party, who is chairman of
the State Duma's Anti-Corruption Commission, who recently
returned from a fact-finding trip to the U.S., told the most
recent issue of "Rossiiskii izbiratel" that accounts in Swiss
banks are "just the tip of the iceberg" and that his
commission is investigating matters related to the Swiss
construction firm Mabetex, the Bank of New York, and 16
regions of Russia including the Komi Republic as well as Tver
and Kemerovo Oblasts. JAC

...AS PRIMAKOV CALLS FOR TIGHTER CAPITAL RESTRICTIONS? Former
Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov, who is the head of the
Fatherland-All Russia (OVR) alliance, called on 18 October
for the state to intervene in the country's economic
processes and forge a path between dictatorship and chaos,
according to Interfax. Primakov said that "it's not right
when $20 billion is leaving the country in roundabout ways
and we are begging for $4 billion." According to Primakov,
the OVR has prepared 100 draft laws that it will submit to
the State Duma should it win elections to the lower house.
The main idea of the laws, according to Primakov, is to
"reform the reforms themselves"--that is, to correct, rather
than annul, the results of privatization, ITAR-TASS reported.
JAC

RUSSIAN TROOPS SAID TO CONTROL APPROACHES TO GROZNY. Federal
forces have taken up position some 18-20 kilometers from
Grozny and control all heights overlooking the capital as
well as the roads leading to it, ITAR-TASS reported on 18
October. Reconnaissance forces have advanced to within 5-6
kilometers of Grozny at unspecified locations. Meanwhile,
Russian bombing of suspected guerrilla bases east and west of
Grozny continued on 18 and 19 October, and Russian and
Chechen forces clashed near the village of Shchedrinsk and
the rail junction of Chervlennaya-Uzlovaya on the Terek River
north of Grozny early on 18 October. In Moscow, a spokesman
for the Russian human rights group Memorial warned that
indiscriminate Russian bombing of Chechen villages is
engendering "a real hatred" of Russians that could fuel a
violent backlash, AP reported. LF

MOSCOW CONTINUES TO CONDEMN CHECHEN 'TERRORISM.' The State
Duma on 18 October rejected an appeal by Chechen
parliamentary chairman Ruslan Alikhadjiev for talks on the
situation in Chechnya on the grounds that the Chechen
parliament has not yet unambiguously condemned terrorism,
ITAR-TASS reported. Speaking at a press conference at
Interfax's main office the same day, Russian Nationalities
Minister Vyacheslav Mikhailov again called on Chechen
President Aslan Maskhadov to join with Russia in combating
terrorism. Mikhailov said any talks with Maskhadov would be
pointless unless he agrees to do so. In a telephone
conversation with his French counterpart, Jacques Chirac, on
17 October, Russian President Boris Yeltsin said that
Russia's military operations in Chechnya are aimed at
"eliminating international terrorism," according to Interfax.
The following day, Yeltsin and Prime Minister Putin discussed
aid for displaced persons who fled Chechnya and Russian media
coverage of how Russia "combats terrorism in the North
Caucasus." LF

PRIMAKOV AGAIN SAYS TALKS INEVITABLE. Speaking on 18 October
in Kazan, where he is attending a congress of orientalists,
former Prime Minister  Primakov said that "talks with
Chechnya will have to be held sooner or later," adding that
it is desirable that Russia conduct such talks "from a
position of strength," Interfax reported.  Primakov repeated
that he opposes both a large-scale war and large-scale
military operations in the mountainous south of Chechnya. LF

CHECHENS CLAIM TO HAVE STINGERS. The Chechen forces have at
their disposal over 50 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and 40
Russian Strela weapons, ITAR-TASS reported on 19 October,
citing the Chechen Caucasus Information website. Three weeks
ago, former Chechen Vice President Vakha Arsanov had denied
that Grozny had any Stingers, while last week Chechen armed
forces commander Mumadi Saidaev said they have four (see
"RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 2,  No. 41, 14 October 1999).
LF

DUMA BUDGET VOTE LIKELY TO BE CLOSE. Interfax reported on 18
October, citing a "well-informed source," that the Communist
Party's Central Committee will recommend that its Duma
faction vote against the budget in its first reading on 20
October. According to "Vremya MN" on 19 October, First Deputy
Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko believes there is reason to
hope that the budget will be accepted. Khristenko added that
many of the changes that the Communists want are more
appropriate for the budget's second and third readings,
according to ITAR-TASS. The Our Home Is Russia and the
Liberal Democratic Party factions have said they will support
the document, while People's Power and Russian Regions
faction leaders said their members can vote as they wish.
Agrarian faction leader Nikolai Kharitonov said his group
will not support the budget unless it is amended, while
Yabloko is unlikely to abandon its tradition of not
supporting any of the government's budgets. JAC

OVR ALLIANCE WARNS ABOUT RAMIFICATIONS OF TEST BAN TREATY
VOTE IN U.S.... Joining the chorus of concern over the U.S.
Senate's refusal to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban
Treaty (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 and 18 October 1999), the
Fatherland-All Russia (OVR) alliance commented on 18 October
that both the U.S. Senate vote and the possibility of a "U.S.
unilateral withdrawal" from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile
Treaty are raising questions about many agreements on
restricting nuclear weapons, Russian news agencies reported.
"If this trend continues," OVR election headquarters head
Sergei Yastrzhembskii said, "the OVR cannot guarantee that
once it wins the upcoming parliamentary elections its
deputies will back ratification of the START-2 treaty."
According to a survey conducted by the Public Opinion Fund,
the OVR alliance is currently leading the field with 21
percent support, followed by the Communists (18 percent),
Russian Public Television reported on 16 October. JC

...WHILE YELTSIN, CHIRAC EXPRESS CONCERN TOO. In their
telephone conversation on 17 October, President Yeltsin and
his French counterpart, Chirac, noted their "joint concern
over the refusal of the U.S. Senate to ratify the
Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and the intention of
Washington to revise the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty," AP
reported the next day, citing the Russian presidential press
service. Meanwhile, a source in the same press service told
Interfax on 18 October that Yeltsin has appointed Grigorii
Berdennikov deputy foreign minister in charge of CIS affairs.
Berdennikov was a deputy foreign minister in the early 1990s.
JC

NEW ZHIRINOVSKII BLOC CLEARS ELECTION HURDLE... The Central
Election Commission on 18 October registered the party list
of the newly formed Zhirinovskii's Bloc for the upcoming
State Duma elections. The bloc includes the Liberal
Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), the Spiritual Revival
party, and the Russian Union of Free Youth. However, the list
contains only 84 names. According to ITAR-TASS, more than 150
names from the  LDPR's original list have not been included
on the new bloc's list because of the commission's
objections. "Izvestiya" reported on 19 October that among the
candidates omitted were some of LDPR leader Vladimir
Zhirinovskii's close relatives, Lyubov and Aleksandr
Zhirinovskii. The top three names on the list are Vladimir
Zhirinovskii and State Duma deputies Oleg Finko and Yegor
Solomatin. Duma deputy Mikhail Musatov, who had been number
three on the LDPR's list, is now number 4. JAC

...AS EXTREME NATIONALIST AND ALLEGED GANGSTER ALSO
REGISTERED. Sergei Mikhailov, who is allegedly known as
"Mikhas" in criminal circles, is now running as a candidate
in a single-mandate district on the list of the Conservative
Movement of Russia, whose list was also registered on 18
October. Mikhailov had been on the LDPR's list. The
commission also confirmed the party list of the Savior (Spas)
election bloc, which is headed by Aleksandr Barkashov, leader
of the nationalist group Russian National Unity. The list,
which contains 98 names, is topped by Barkashov, Duma deputy
Vladimir Davydenko, and Dmitrii Belikov, director-general of
the Siberian Research and Training Center for Medical
Equipment, according to Interfax. Also registered was the
Peace, Labor, and May movement (Mir, Trud, Mai), headed by
Aleksandr Burkov, who recently reached the second round of
gubernatorial elections in Sverdlovsk, "Kommersant-Daily"
reported on 19 October. The party lists of 32 election blocs
or alliances have been registered, and the commission has
received no more applications, according to ITAR-TASS. JAC

GOVERNMENT PREPARING ITS RESPONSE TO IMF'S EXTRA
CONDITIONS... First Deputy Prime Minister Khristenko told
reporters on 18 October that the Russian government will
complete its reply to the IMF this week on additional
requirements for the next loan installment, Interfax
reported. The fund has requested quarterly audits of the
Central Bank's (TsB) gold and foreign currency reserves, a
schedule for the TsB and Russian commercial banks to adopt
international accounting standards, and a timetable for the
sale of the TsB's stakes in three foreign subsidiaries as
well as a removal of part of the TsB's reserves from those
banks. "Izvestiya" reported on 19 October that the TsB would
like to transfer its reserves to Vneshtorgbank, a move  that
the fund opposes. With regard to the sale of the TsB's
stakes, the newspaper argues that TsB Chairman Viktor
Gerashchenko's resistance is partly psychological since he
has worked with these banks for years and their existence
gives the TsB "extra flexibility."  JAC

...AS KASYANOV DENIES CHECHNYA WILL BUST THE BUDGET. Finance
Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said on 15 October that increased
military expenditures in Chechnya "don't provide grounds to
change the financial policy of the government" and that
Chechnya conflict has "no connection whatsoever" with release
of the tranche, Reuters reported. "Kommersant-Vlast" argued
in a recent issue (no. 40) that war may be cheaper than peace
in Chechnya, since according to some estimates up to $10
million has been spent on ransoms annually in addition to the
15 billion undenominated rubles expended on post-war
reconstruction in 1996. Mikhail Zadornov, former presidential
envoy to international financial instititutions, told
"Moskovskie novosti" on 19 October that the military
operation in Chechnya should cost no more than 10 billion
rubles ($388 million) this year and that from 1995-1996,
Russia spent more than $1 billion on reconstructing Chechnya.
JAC

PROTESTORS SUCCEED IN SUSPENDING MOSQUE CONSTRUCTION IN
VOLGOGRAD. A ceremony for laying the foundation stone of a
new mosque in Volgograd was postponed on 17 October after a
group of locals staged a protest against the mosque's
construction, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the next day.
The ceremony had been organized by representatives of the
World Congress of Tatars (WCT). Head of Russia's Council of
Muftis Ravil Gainutdin and representatives of the WCT said
the construction of the mosque will be suspended until
agreement can be reached with the local population.
Volgograd, which is home to some 30,000 Tatars, currently has
no mosque in which its Muslim population can worship.
According to RFE/RL's Kazan bureau, the city's old mosque
houses the local military commissioner's office. In other
regions throughout the federation, there have also been
protests against the construction of places of worship for
congregations other than that of the Russian Orthodox Church
(see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 9 June 1999). JC

KARACHAEVO-CHERKESS PRESIDENT BANS MASS MEETINGS. Vladimir
Semenov issued a decree on 18 October banning all mass
meetings, demonstrations, and pickets the North Caucasus
republic in order to preserve the territorial integrity of
the republic and avoid ethnic discord. The decree was
directed primarily against supporters of Semenov's defeated
rival in the May presidential poll, Stanislav Derev. Derev's
supporters have been picketing the government building in
Cherkessk for several weeks. An Interior Ministry spokeswoman
said that police would not resort to violence to disperse the
picketers,  while a leading Derev supporter said they refuse
to disperse voluntarily, according to "The Moscow Times" on
19 October. "Kommersant-Daily" reported the same day that
Semenov has begun talks with Derev on  halting the protest
action. LF

RUSSIAN DIPLOMAT SAYS NO EVIDENCE TURKEY ABETTING CHECHENS.
Aleksandr Lebedev, who is Russia's ambassador in Ankara, told
Interfax on 18 October that there is no evidence to
substantiate allegations by Russian Deputy Interior Minister
Igor Zubov that units of mercenaries are being formed in
Turkey and sent to Chechnya. Lebedev said there is likewise
no proof that the Chechen diaspora in Turkey is providing
financial support for Chechen militants. Visiting Baku on 18
October, Turkish President Suleyman Demirel declared that
peace and stability in the Caucasus are "of vital interest"
to Turkey, the "Turkish Daily News" reported on 19 October
(see below). LF

TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN PRESIDENT CONFIDENT KARABAKH SETTLEMENT IS CLOSE.
Interviewed by major Armenian television channels on 16
October, Robert Kocharian expressed confidence that he and
his Azerbaijani counterpart, Heidar Aliev,  will succeed in
concluding an agreement resolving the Karabakh conflict,
RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported two days later. Kocharian
said he believes it would be more difficult to reach such a
settlement when he and Aliev are no longer in office. He
added that as a result of four rounds of direct talks over
the past three months, the cease-fire in the conflict zone
has been  consolidated. But Kocharian appeared resistant to
international pressure to conclude a formal peace agreement
with Aliev during the November OSCE summit in Istanbul,
noting that Armenia considers the venue "not quite suitable."
LF

KARABAKH PRESIDENT URGES LEGAL REFORM. Arkadii Ghukasian,
president of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic,  has
instructed senior legal officials to draft within two weeks
proposals on how to bring the republic's judicial system
closer into line with that of Armenia, RFE/RL's Stepanakert
correspondent reported on 18 October. In a first step toward
legal reform, the enclave has disbanded the military tribunal
and military prosecutor's office, although martial law, which
was imposed in 1992, remains in force. In other news, the
republic's Defense Ministry announced on 18 October that it
will conduct scheduled maneuvers from 22-29 October, Noyan
Tapan reported. LF

ARMENIA, GREECE SIGN DEFENSE AGREEMENT. Armenian Defense
Minister Vagharshak Harutiunian and his Greek counterpart,
Akis Tsohatzopoulos, signed a military cooperation agreement
in Athens on 18 October, AFP reported. The agreement covers
research, training, joint exercises, and the exchange of
information. LF

TURKISH PRESIDENT VISITS AZERBAIJAN. On a one-day visit to
Baku on 18 October, Suleyman Demirel discussed with
Azerbaijani President Aliev the obstacles both to a Karabakh
peace settlement and to construction of the planned Baku-
Ceyhan oil export pipeline and  Trans-Caspian gas pipeline,
Turan reported. Both presidents said after their talks that a
final agreement on Baku-Ceyhan will be signed "in the nearest
future." That agreement has been repeatedly delayed because
of the reluctance of Western oil companies operating in
Azerbaijan to finance the project. Aliev subsequently
presented Demirel with the Istiglal (Independence) medal in
acknowledgement of his contribution to the "strategic
partnership" between the two countries and to resolving the
Karabakh conflict. Turkish Armed Forces Chief of Staff
General Huseyn Kivrikoglu, said to be "a good friend" of
Aliev, accompanied Demirel to Baku. LF

GEORGIA LOBBIES FOR NEW UN ABKHAZ ENVOY. Georgian President
Eduard Shevardnadze told journalists in Tbilisi on 18 October
that Georgia supports the candidacy of German diplomat Dieter
Boden as UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special
representative in Abkhazia to succeed Liviu Bota.
Shevardnadze noted, however, that Russia opposes Boden's
candidacy, Caucasus Press reported. The Georgian president
said that Boden gained "an excellent reputation" when he
served in Georgia in 1995-1996 as head of the OSCE mission
there, according to Interfax. That mission was primarily
engaged in mediating a settlement of the conflict in South
Ossetia. LF

SPOKESMAN DENIES KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT HAS SWISS BANK
ACCOUNT. Presidential press spokesman Lev Tarakov denied on
18 October that President Nursultan Nazarbaev has any Swiss
bank accounts, AP and Interfax reported. "The New York Times"
had reported on 16 October that Swiss investigators had
discovered at a Swiss branch of the French Credit Agricole
Indosuez an account that was believed to be used by
Nazarbaev, though not in his name. Tarakov described the
article as consisting of "unchecked facts, rumors and
suspicions," according to Interfax.  On 17 October, Kazakh
commercial  television companies were ordered to halt
transmission of Russia's NTV, which had aired a summary of
the U.S. press article. LF

KAZAKH OPPOSITION ASKS OSCE TO MONITOR SECOND ROUND OF
PARLIAMENTARY POLL. Communist Party of Kazakhstan leader
Serikbolsyn Abdildin told journalists in Almaty on 18 October
that opposition parties have asked the OSCE to monitor
closely the vote count in the 24 October second round of
elections to the lower chamber of the parliament, Reuters
reported.  He commented that in the presence of outside
observers, local administrators would be less likely to
falsify the outcome of that vote. And he added that the
results should be made public the same day. Abdildin and
other opposition leaders  have charged that the outcome of
the party-list voting in the 10 October first round was
falsified to increase the share of the pro-presidential Otan
party. LF

JAPAN DENIES IT WILL PAY RANSOM FOR HOSTAGES IN KYRGYZSTAN.
Government spokesman Mikio Aoki said in Tokyo on 18 October
that Japan will not pay a ransom to secure the release of
four Japanese geologists seized by guerrillas in southern
Kyrgyzstan two months ago, Reuters reported. The guerrillas
are reportedly demanding $2 million for the geologists'
release. Aoki added that Tokyo is working "closely" with the
Kyrgyz authorities on the issue. Kyrgyz parliamentary deputy
Tursunbai Bakir Uulu, who has mediated the release of seven
Kyrgyz also taken captive by the guerrillas, said Kyrgyzstan
will "not pay a single kopeck" for the release of the four
Japanese, adding that he is confident they will be freed
"soon,"  Interfax reported. LF

KYRGYZSTAN HOLDS LOCAL ELECTIONS. Elections to town and
village councils throughout Kyrgyzstan took place on 17
October, Russian agencies reported. Overall voter
participation was 66.4 percent, according to Central
Electoral Commission Chairman Sulaiman Imanbaev. The highest
turnout (78.6 percent) was in Osh Oblast, in the south of the
country, where the recent hostage-taking occurred. The lowest
participation (38.3 percent) was registered in Bishkek,
RFE/RL's bureau in the capital reported on 18 October. LF

TAJIK OPPOSITION ORGANIZATION EXPELS DEPUTY PREMIER. The
United Tajik Opposition on 18 October expelled from its ranks
First Deputy Prime Minister Khodja Akbar Turadjonzoda,
accusing him of "improper behavior and actions that
contradict...the policy of the party," ITAR-TASS reported.
The UTO Presidium also recommended that Turadjonzoda be
removed from the post of first deputy opposition leader and
from his government post. Turdjonzoda had criticized  three
would-be opposition presidential candidates' demand that the
6 November poll be postponed (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 and
18 October 1999). Also on 18 October, the Supreme Court began
hearing testimony from the three would-be opposition
candidates, all of whom were denied registration, Asia Pluz-
Blitz reported the next day. A representative of the Central
Electoral Commission  rejected their claim that the
commission failed to act on their earlier complaints that
local officials were actively preventing them from collecting
the necessary signatures to register as presidential
candidates. LF

EXPLOSION IN TAJIK CAPITAL. At least two people were injured
on 18 October in an explosion that seriously damaged a
department store in central Dushanbe, close to the
presidential palace, Reuters and Interfax reported. Police
say the blast was caused by 300 grams of TNT. LF

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