|Nahodyas' na obede, pomni: ty ugoschaesh' dvuh gostej - telo i dushu. To, chto ty daesh' telu, ty vskore poteryaesh', no chto dash' dushe - ostanetsya tvoim navsegda. - Epiktet|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 208, Part I, 25 October 1999
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 208, Part I, 25 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 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part I * RUSSIAN OFFICIALS OFFER DIVERGING EXPLANATIONS FOR GROZNY BLAST * COMMUNISTS ATTEMPT BRINKSMANSHIP WITH BUDGET VOTE * JAPANESE HOSTAGES RELEASED xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx RUSSIA RUSSIAN OFFICIALS OFFER DIVERGING EXPLANATIONS FOR GROZNY BLAST. Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeev and Federal Security Service Director Nikolai Patrushev both denied on 22 October any involvement by their respective agencies in the blast at Grozny's central market the previous day. But the head of the joint press center of the federal forces in the North Caucasus, Aleksandr Vekrich, told Interfax on 23 October that a special operation was conducted to destroy the market, where he claimed arms and ammunition were traded. Vekrich denied, however, that regular army troops or artillery or aviation were involved. Speaking in Moscow on 23 October, Russian deputy chief of staff Colonel General Valerii Manilov said the explosion was the result of a Russian security force operation that had succeeded in provoking a clash between two rival groups of Chechens. LF BOMBARDMENT OF CHECHEN VILLAGES CONTINUES. Russian forces on 23-24 October continued intensive artillery bombardment of towns and villages, including Achkhoi-Martan, Bamut, Sernovodsk, Gorgagorsk, and Vedeno. Twenty-seven civilians were killed by shelling in Serzhen-Yurt alone, according to Reuters. Sixteen died in Samashki and 23 in Vedeno. Grozny was not subject to artillery attack on 24 October. Russian airforce spokesmen rejected Chechen claims to have shot down two warplanes on 23 October and to have used a Stinger missile to bring down a reconnaissance plane during the night of 23-24 October, AP reported. LF RUSSIAN TROOPS PREVENT FUGITIVES LEAVING CHECHNYA. Federal forces on 23 October blocked the main highway from Chechnya west to Ingushetia, thus cutting off the last remaining route by which displaced persons could flee Russian air and artillery strikes. A Federal Security Service spokesman explained to Interfax on 24 October that the measure was intended to prevent Chechen terrorists from infiltrating Ingushetia under the guise of fugitives. In Magas, Ingushetian President Ruslan Aushev on 24 October expressed outrage and said he will appeal to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to repeal the move. Two days earlier, Aushev had appealed to Moscow not to "politicize" the issue of displaced persons. He complained that unnamed Russian politicians have accused the presidents of North Caucasus republics to which Chechens have fled of exaggerating the number of fugitives. LF NORTH CAUCASUS LEADERS CALL FOR TALKS BETWEEN GROZNY, MOSCOW... Meeting in Essentuki on 23 October, North Caucasus leaders discussed Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov's proposals for combating banditry and terrorism and resolving conflicts in the North Caucasus, Interfax reported the following day. Ingushetian President Aushev said that they agreed that some of those proposals merit a discussion between Maskhadov and either Russian President Boris Yeltsin or Prime Minister Putin. LF ...BUT CHECHEN WARLORDS SET CONDITIONS. The Chechen Republic's State Defense Committee has forbidden the republic's leaders to engage in negotiations with any Russian representative who bears any degree of responsibility for the decision to launch the war against Chechnya, former Chechen Vice President Vakha Arsanov told Interfax on 24 October. Arsanov said that formulation excludes Prime Minister Putin, whom he termed the main initiator of hostilities in Chechnya. Arsanov added that Chechnya will agree to talks only on neutral ground and with the mediation of either the UN or any other international organization capable of ensuring that Russia complies with any agreement it signs. He said that for such a dialogue to begin, Russia must first halt military activities and withdraw its troops from Chechen territory. LF RUSSIA MAY EXCHANGE DETAINED CHECHEN FOR ABDUCTED GENERAL. Russian Interior Ministry official Vladimir Kozlov told ITAR- TASS on 23 October that if such an exchange is proposed, Moscow would be willing to release Mairbek Vachagaev, the official Chechen representative in Moscow, in exchange for the freeing of Interior Minister General Gennadii Shpigun, who was abducted from a plane at Grozny airport earlier this year (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 March 1999). Vachagaev was detained in Moscow on 21 October and has been charged with illegal possession of a firearm (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 October 1999). LF U.S. URGES RUSSIA TO SEEK DIALOGUE WITH CHECHNYA... U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott on 22 October called on Russia to urgently begin a political dialogue to end the violence in Chechnya. He noted that "the increasing loss of civilian life jeopardizes the security and stability in the region." State Duma Chairman Gennadii Seleznev responded on 23 October that the U.S. "did not sit down to a political settlement of the Yugoslav situation this spring." Duma Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Vladimir Lukin sounded a similar note, asking "Why did the Americans resort to the use of force in resolving the acute conflict in [Kosova], despite Russia's insistence on a political solution?" The Fatherland- All Russian alliance, a key bloc in the upcoming State Duma elections, issued a statement on 24 October saying that the West's insistence that the "counter-terrorist operation" stop and that political negotiations begin with a partner that does not exist" is "strange." JAC ...AS DOES EU. The conflict in Chechnya dominated a top-level meeting between EU leaders and Russian Prime Minister Putin in Helsinki on 22 October. Finnish Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen, whose country hold the rotating EU Presidency, told a news conference after the meeting that the union had called on Russia "to immediately enter negotiations to reach a political settlement of the conflict." Putin told the same news conference that Moscow will "continue to combat terrorism and bands of armed gangs," saying that "we have no other choice but to destroy their bases," according to AP. Interfax quoted Putin as also saying that "we absolutely agree with our European partners' opinion that political issues can be resolved by political means only. Chechnya's status will be determined by political means." JC RUSSIA WANTS END OF U.S., NATO 'MONOPOLY' IN EUROPE. The 22 October meeting in Helsinki had been called to discuss future relations between Russia and the EU. In response to the EU's strategy vis-a-vis Russia, endorsed in June, Russian Prime Minister Putin presented Moscow's blueprint for relations with the union over the next decade. Reuters quoted the document as proposing that the "partnership of the Russian Federation and the European Union could include organization of a pan-European security system based on European forces, without isolating the USA and NATO, but without the monopoly of these on the continent." Moscow also stressed that it wants a bigger role in European affairs and better relations with the EU but will seek neither membership nor association with the union. Finnish Premier welcomed the Russian blueprint, saying the EU considers it "a singularly important outcome in our evolving partnership with Russia." JC YELTSIN'S FOES SEIZE ON GORE'S COMMENTS. U.S. Vice President Al Gore's remark to AP on 22 October that Russian President Boris "Yeltsin's episodic approach to the presidency has not helped [Russia's] ability to get on top of all of [its] problems" was characterized by Ekho Moskvy as a "small political sensation" since "for the first time...Washington authorities critically assessed the Russian president's state of health and his ability to run the country." Ekho Moskvy is owned by the Media-Most group, whose head Vladimir Gusinskii is currently at odds with the Kremlin. Duma Foreign Affairs Committee head Vladimir Lukin of Yabloko told the radio station that if the U.S. vice president "has only now established that our president's state of health leaves something to be desired, then I do not congratulate him or the agencies reporting to him." Presidential spokesman Dmitrii Yakushkin said on 24 October that Yeltsin "feels well and most important, controls the most crucial political decisions being made today." JAC U.S. RESTRICTING VISAS FOR RUSSIAN CITIZENS. "The New York Times" reported on 24 October that the U.S. Embassy in Moscow has sharply reduced the number of visas issued to Russians, including many students and scholars wanting to travel and study in the U.S. According to the newspaper, after the 1998 economic collapse embassy officials, fearing that students from impoverished Russia would try to settle permanently in the U.S., increased scrutiny of visa applications. As a result, about 40 percent of Russian students hoping to study in the U.S. have been refused visas, which is about double the rejection rate of previous years. In the summer of 1998, 83 percent of all "F" type visa applications were granted, compared with an acceptance rate of 62 percent during the same period this year, the daily reported. JAC RUSSIA-U.S. DISARMAMENT TALKS STILL YIELDING NO RESULTS. Following two days of talks in Moscow between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigorii Berdennikov and U.S. Undersecretary of State for arms control and international security affairs John Holum, the Russian Foreign Ministry on 22 October issued a statement saying that if the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty is violated, all negotiations on strategic nuclear weapons will become "pointless." Any further reduction of such weapons, the statement noted, will be possible only if the ABM treaty remains intact. Interfax cited "informed Moscow sources" as saying "no headway" is being made by Russia and U.S. on the issue of the "so-called adaptation" of the ABM Treaty. At the same time, those sources confirmed that Russia does not intend to "slam the door" on the talks. AP quoted an unnamed senior U.S. official as commenting that the talks are still at an early stage and that the two sides are considering a "wide range of options." JC IVANOV COMPLAINS TO ALBRIGHT OVER 'BLOCKING' OF OIL CONTRACTS WITH IRAQ. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov has sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright arguing that it is "unacceptable" that the U.S. is blocking Russian oil contracts under the UN's Iraqi oil-for-food program, RIA- Novosti reported on 23 October. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ordzhonikidze, who handed the letter to U.S. permanent representative to the UN Richard Holbrooke, told journalists that Ivanov described the U.S. practice as clearly "selective," particularly with regard to the state company Zarubezhneft. Similar contracts concluded by other states pass the UN sanctions committee "unimpeded," the letter maintained. Zarubezhneft and other Russian companies fully comply with the Security Council norms, Ordzhonikidze said, adding that Moscow believes the U.S. is seeking to prevent Russia companies from consolidating their position on the Iraqi oil market in order to "reserve this chance" for U.S. companies in the future. JC COMMUNISTS ATTEMPT BRINKSMANSHIP WITH BUDGET VOTE... Duma deputies voted on 22 October by 239 to 21 in favor of postponing until 26 October a vote on next year's budget. The decision followed a declaration by the leadership of the Duma's largest faction, the Communists, that they would reject the draft budget unless additional funds were found for science, agriculture, and investment in industry, ITAR- TASS reported. The government has already reallocated 7.5 billion ($290 million) rubles for these areas (4 billion rubles for agriculture, 2 billion rubles for investment, and 1.5 billion rubles for science) by redistributing expenditures in the draft of the budget approved by the conciliation commission, according to First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko. JAC ...AS AGARIANS DEMAND STILL MORE FOR AGRICULTURE. Agrarian faction leader Nikolai Kharitonov said that the additional 4 million rubles allocated for agriculture was still insufficient and that the sector required a further 3 billion rubles. Duma Budget Committee Chairman Aleksandr Zhukov told NTV that if the Duma rejects the budget on 26 October then it cannot be passed any sooner than the spring of next year. Such a delay would prompt the IMF and World Bank to further delay extending funds to Russia, according to Zhukov. JAC MORE THAN 30 BLOCS HOPE TO RUN IN DUMA ELECTIONS... Central Election Commission Chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov told reporters on 24 October that 31 organizations submitted applications materials before the 6:00 p.m. deadline that day to participate in the upcoming Duma elections. The previous day, the commission registered the party list of the Union of Rightist Forces: after the names of 12 candidates were removed for filing inaccurate information about their income and property, 155 names remained. Topping the list are former Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko, former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, and State Duma deputy Irina Khakamada. Also registered the previous day was Our Home Is Russia (NDR) with 216 candidates, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 23 October. Twenty names were struck off their list. The top three candidates are former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, NDR Duma faction leader Vladimir Ryzhkov, and Saratov Governor Dmitrii Ayatskov. JAC ...AS JUSTICE MINISTRY PLEDGES EXTRA SCRUTINY FOR NATIONALIST GROUP. The Justice Ministry has launched a review of the Spas (Savior) political movement to ensure that its activities correspond with its charter, ITAR-TASS reported on 22 October. Spas is headed by chief of the extreme nationalist Russian National Unity leader Aleksandr Barkashov. Spas's party list was registered on 18 October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 October 1999). JAC YELTSIN RESPONDS SHARPLY TO PRIMAKOV SNUB. Presidential spokesman Yakushkin told reporters on 22 October that President Yeltsin responded "sharply" to news that Fatherland-All Russia (OVR) alliance leader Yevgenii Primakov declined to meet with him (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 October 1999). Deputy head of the OVR headquarters Sergei Yastrzhembskii said the same day that Primakov will agree to meet with Yeltsin only if the president telephones or writes him. Heritage Foundation's Yevgenii Volk told "The Moscow Times" on 23 October that Primakov's move was partly electoral strategy and partly pay-back for humiliations that he suffered at Yeltsin's hand while prime minister. JAC RUSSIA'S SHARE IN WORLD TRADE DECLINING. During the first nine months of 1999, Russia slipped from 18th to 20th place in a ranking of world exporters and from 19th to 27th place in a ranking of importers, Valerii Orlov, head of the State Customs Committee's statistics and analysis department, told ITAR-TASS on 22 October. According to Orlov, Russia's share of world exports is 1.3 percent and its portion of imports 0.8 percent. By the end of this year, Russia's positive trade balance is expected to total $29.6 billion--almost a doubling of the 1998 level of $15.1 billion, according to the Economics Ministry's forecast, Interfax reported on 24 October. JAC PROBE LAUNCHED AGAINST FORMER WORLD BANK OFFICIAL. First Deputy Prime Minister Khristenko announced on 22 October that the Russian government will be cooperating with the World Bank in checking the accuracy of a report that appeared in "The Wall Street Journal" alleging that Leonid Grigoriev, in his former capacity as Russia's alternate executive director to the World Bank, had passed classified bank information to the Russian commercial bank, Inkombank. Grigoriev has been suspended from his current post as head of the Moscow-based Economic Analysis Bureau, which is funded by the World Bank, until the investigation has been concluded. JAC RUSSIA STANDS TO LOSE $800 MILLION FROM CIS FREE TRADE ZONE. Russian State Customs Committee First Deputy Chairman Vladimir Meshcheryakov told a conference in Moscow on 22 October that Russia will incur annual losses of $800 million if it ratifies the agreement on creating a CIS free trade zone, Interfax reported. Under a protocol to that agreement, which was initialed at the April CIS summit, signatories switch to indirect taxation of exports at the country of destination. This means Russia would lose both value-added tax and excise duties. Noyan Tapan reported on 12 October that most participants in the CIS Prime Ministers' meeting in Yalta the previous week supported the creation of a free trade zone, for which business magnate Boris Berezovskii lobbied energetically during his tenure as CIS executive secretary (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 November 1998). LF COURT POSTPONES DECISION ON EARLY ELECTIONS IN ST. PETE. Following a three-hour session on 22 October, the St. Petersburg city court announced it will continue reviewing on 2 November a suit filed by opposition local deputies, "Kommersant-Daily" reported. Those deputies are challenging the Legislative Assembly's controversial vote to bring forward gubernatorial elections to 19 December, which observers believe will benefit incumbent Governor Vladimir Yakovlev (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 October 1999). The court based its decision on the need to examine various "procedural niceties" and whether it should even deal with the assembly's "internal problems," particularly without an official representative of that body present. "Kommersant-Daily," which is controlled by business magnate Berezovskii, noted that this delay may well prove advantageous for Yakovlev: the election campaign is already under way, and if the ballot were canceled, the many politicians who have said they will run might file suit over the violation of their rights, turning the campaign into "a never-ending legal process." JC KARACHAEVO-CHERKESS PRESIDENTIAL RIVALS REACH COMPROMISE. Meeting with Russian Prime Minister Putin on 23 October, Karachaevo-Cherkessia's President Vladimir Semenov and his defeated rival, Cherkessk Mayor Stanislav Derev, agreed that a referendum will be held on 22 October 2000 to determine whether the republic's population trusts Semenov, Interfax reported. The previous day, the Russian Supreme Court endorsed a ruling by the Karachaevo-Cherkess Supreme Court upholding the validity of the 16 May runoff poll, in which Semenov defeated Derev. Semenov told a press conference on 24 October that Berezovskii, who will contend a Duma seat from Karachaevo-Cherkessia, was also present at his meeting with Putin and Derev and helped bring about the compromise agreement. In early August, both Semenov and Derev had proposed to President Yeltsin that Berezovskii be temporarily appointed presidential envoy to the republic (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 August 1999). LF TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA ARMENIAN PREMIER VOWS TO TARGET CORRUPTION. In a television address on 21 October, Vazgen Sargsian pledged to reduce the "political problem" of corruption to dimensions that no longer threaten the country's economic development, Noyan Tapan reported. He called for a crackdown on bribery, which he termed "widespread," and protectionism, which he said deters foreign investment. Sargsian also called for the maximum effort to ensure that the 24 October local elections are perceived as free and fair, adding that no matter how good government programs may be, they are doomed to failure without competent local administrators to implement them. He pledged that the 2000 draft budget, which is to be submitted to the parliament on 1 November, will be "tough" but "realistic and purposeful." LF ARMENIAN INTELLIGENTSIA WANTS ELECTION OF NEW CATHOLICOS POSTPONED. Meeting on 21 October in Yerevan, members of the Armenian intelligentsia addressed an appeal to the Supreme Ecclesiastical Council to delay the election later this week of a successor to Catholicos Karekin I, who died in July, Noyan Tapan reported. Representatives of several Armenian opposition parties had made a similar appeal last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 October 1999). Also on 21 October, Archbishop Grigoris Bournoutian announced that 35 bishops have agreed to support a specific candidate for Catholicos, but he declined to name that candidate. On 22 October, Gegham Manoukian, who is a member of the Executive Council of the opposition Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutiun, told Noyan Tapan that his party considers Aram I, catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, the best qualified candidate. Aram has denied that he is seeking the post of catholicos. LF AZERBAIJANI PRO-GOVERNMENT BLOC CALLS FOR REFERENDUM ON KARABAKH SETTLEMENT. Fatherland Party leader Fazil Agamaly told Turan on 23 October that choice of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic's political status within Azerbaijan should be reflected in Azerbaijan's Constitution and determined by a nationwide referendum. At present, the country's constitution describes Azerbaijan as a unitary state but gives the exclave of Nakhichevan the status of an autonomous republic. Foreign Minister Tofik Zulfugarov on 29 September denied any knowledge of plans to hold such a referendum at the same time as the 12 December municipal elections (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 and 30 September 1999). Agamaly also complained that the Democratic Alliance, which unites Fatherland and several other pro-government parties, has virtually no political influence on developments in Azerbaijan. LF AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENTIAL ADVISOR CONTINUES WORKING. President Heidar Aliev has not yet accepted the resignation as foreign policy adviser Vafa Guluzade, Turan reported on 22 October. Guluzade was reported to have submitted his resignation earlier this month (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 October 1999). LF GEORGIAN POLITICIANS REACT TO ASSASSINATION CLAIMS. Two senior Georgian politicians have declined to confirm the claims by former National Security Agency (NSA) Director Lieutenant-General William Odom that during his tenure as Russian prime minister, Yevgenii Primakov was aware of two attempts by Russian government agencies to assassinate Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, Interfax reported. Odom had told RFE/RL last week that the Georgian government had provided unnamed countries with that information and corroborating evidence. Union of Citizens of Georgia parliamentary faction leader Mikhail Saakashvili said the Georgian government has no evidence to support those claims. Intelligence Department chairman Avtandil Ioseliani denied that his service passed any such information to the NSA. Ioseliani added that former Georgian Intelligence chief Igor Giorgadze, whom the Georgian authorities have accused of a botched attempt to kill Shevardnadze in August 1995, is on good terms with Primakov. But "Vremya-MN" quoted an unidentified Georgian security official as confirming that Georgia provided the U.S. with information incriminating Primakov. LF KAZAKHSTAN HOLDS RUNOFF ELECTIONS. A second round of voting in elections to the lower house of the parliament have taken place in 47 districts where no candidate garnered the required 50 percent of the vote during the first round two weeks ago. A total of 94 candidates contested those seats, and irregularities were reported at some polling stations, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported on 24 October. Voter turnout was estimated at 49 percent, down 10 percent on the first round. On 21 October, police broke up a rally in the town of Talghar staged by supporters of Bigeldy Gabdullin, who is "DAT" newspaper editor and a member of former Premier Akezhan Kazhegeldin's Republican People's Party of Kazakhstan. The following day, an Almaty district court rejected a suit by Orleu Party leader Seydakhmet Quttyqadam, who had demanded that the Central Electoral Commission refund his candidate's fee. Quttyqadam accused the commission of unspecified violations during the first round of voting. LF KAZAKH PREMIER ENDORSES MULTIPLE PIPELINES. Following talks in Astana on 22 October with his visiting Azerbaijani counterpart, Artur Rasizade, Qasymzhomart Toqaev told journalists that Kazakhstan supports the planned Baku-Ceyhan pipeline as one of several to export Kazakhstan's oil, Interfax reported. Rasizade said Azerbaijan does not rule out the possibility of routing oil export pipelines via Iran and Armenia if a peace treaty is signed with the latter. Rasizade added that the two countries have only unspecified "minor differences" over the status of the Caspian Sea. The previous day, Russian Fuel and Energy Minister Viktor Kalyuzhnyi expressed doubts that the financial obstacles to the Baku- Ceyhan project will ever be surmounted, according to Interfax. He added that the assembly of pipe for an alternative stretch of the existing Baku-Novorossiisk pipeline bypassing Chechnya will begin this week. LF JAPANESE HOSTAGES RELEASED. The four Japanese geologists and their interpreter who were taken hostage by Uzbek guerrillas in southern Kyrgyzstan nine weeks ago were released in Tajikistan on 24 October and are on their way to Bishkek, RFE/RL's bureau in the Kyrgyz capital reported the following day. The release followed talks between Kyrgyz and Tajik security officials and the guerrillas' leader, Djuma Namangani. Reuters quoted a Japanese official as denying that any ransom was paid to secure the hostages' release. LF OPPOSITION TAJIK PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE WANTS REGISTRATION ANNULLED. Following a 21 October ruling by Tajikistan's Supreme Court, the Central Electoral Commission has registered Economics and Foreign Trade Minister Davlat Usmon as a candidate for the 6 November presidential poll. The commission had refused to do so earlier this month on the grounds that Usmon did not submit the required minimum of 145,000 signatures in support of his candidacy. However, Usmon asked the commission on 22 October to cancel his registration, saying that it is illegal as he has submitted only 82,690 signatures in his support, Reuters reported. LF TAJIK OPPOSITION PARTY HEADED FOR SPLIT? Several regional branches of the Islamic Rebirth Party (IRP), the senior partner within the United Tajik Opposition, have called for convening an emergency party congress to discuss the UTO's 18 October statement calling for the expulsion of First Deputy Prime Minister Khodji Akbar Turadjonzoda from its ranks, Asia-Plus Blitz reported on 21 October, citing Turadjonzoda's press office. Turadjonzoda had condemned the UTO's demand for an emergency parliamentary session to debate the Central Electoral Commission's refusal to register three opposition presidential candidates (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 and 19 October 1999). He had also argued that incumbent President Imomali Rakhmonov is the most qualified presidential candidate. The regional IRP branches affirmed their support for Turadjonzoda's position. LF CORRECTION: "RFE/RL Newsline" on 22 October reported incorrectly on the transfer of Mig-29s to Armenia. The jet fighters in question, like earlier Russian transfers of such aircraft, will go to Russia's military base in that country and thus will not be under the control of the Armenian government. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Send an email to email@example.com with the word subscribe as the subject of the message. HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word unsubscribe as the subject of the message. 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