|If you are not allowed to laugh in heaven, I don't want to go there. - Martin Luther|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 216, Part I, 5 November 1999
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 216, Part I, 5 November 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 * COUNCIL OF EUROPE CALLS FOR CHECHEN CEASEFIRE * BUDGET SAILS THROUGH SECOND READING * KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT HOLDS OUT OLIVE BRANCH TO OPPOSITION End Note: RADIO LIBERTY'S PETER DORNAN xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx RUSSIA COUNCIL OF EUROPE CALLS FOR CHECHEN CEASEFIRE. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a resolution on 4 November calling on Moscow to cease hostilities in Chechnya and to "abstain from any human rights violations or raids on the civilian population," Reuters reported. The resolution also affirmed its support for talks between the Russian leadership and Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov, according to Interfax, which quoted Ernst Muellemann, chairman of the Assembly's committee on Chechnya, as saying that assembly members would like to travel to Chechnya to met with Maskhadov but for security reasons are unable to do so. LF MOSCOW HINTS AT READINESS FOR TALKS WITH MASKHADOV. Addressing the assembly, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Avdeev said that attempts had been made to contact Maskhadov. (Maskhadov's chief of staff Apti Batalov had told Interfax on 2 November that neither fax nor mobile telephone communications with Moscow nor the "hotline" set up in 1997 are functioning, so there is no possibility of direct contact.) Avdeev said that it would be "difficult" for Maskhadov to sever ties with field commander Shamil Basaev, whom Moscow holds responsible for terrorist attacks elsewhere in Russia, since Maskhadov is "financially dependent" on Basaev. But Avdeev added that Moscow would "of course" agree to talks with Maskhadov if he did disown Basaev. Avdeev characterized members of the Chechen parliament currently in Strasbourg as illegitimate and "Basaev's people." LF RUSSIAN COMMANDER IN CHECHNYA WARNS AGAINST CEASEFIRE. In comments published in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 4 November, Major General Vladimir Shamanov, who commands the western group of forces deployed in Chechnya, warned that many young officers and some generals will quit the army in disgust if Moscow decides to halt the campaign in Chechnya before completely neutralizing the enemy, as it did in 1996. He rejected the argument that the army "should stay out of politics" and serve simply as an instrument for achieving the civilian leadership's objectives. Stressing that "virtually all federation subjects with a couple of exceptions" support the Russian military's actions to "stamp out terrorism" in Chechnya, Shamanov said that leaving the war half-ended could precipitate a civil war in Russia that could result in the emergence of 10-15 uncontrollable nuclear states. He argued that "Russia is not simply affirming itself as a state, it is becoming stronger. We are sick of seeing Russia humiliated," he said. LF DID YELTSIN CUT SHORT VACATION TO DEAL WITH GENERALS? Citing sources close to the government, controversial journalist Aleksandr Khinstein writes in the 5 November "Moskovskii komsomolets" that President Boris Yeltsin cut short his vacation in Sochi earlier this week to avert a major scandal over the Kremlin's alleged "recommendations" that military leaders prepare for possible negotiations with Chechen President Maskhadov. Those recommendations were said to have stemmed from Kremlin officials "worried about Russia's negative image in the West." Armed Forces General Staff Chief Anatolii Kvashnin allegedly threatened to resign, along with a group of military commanders who "authored" the Chechen campaign, if the recommendations were not "disavowed." Khinstein's sources say Yeltsin confirmed the Chechen campaign will continue and denied there was any intention to suspend it. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" has suggested that Yeltsin granted the Hero of Russia award to several military leaders, including Kvashnin (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 November 1999). "Moskovskii komsomolets" is close to Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov. JC SHOIGU VISITS CHECHEN-INGUSH BORDER. Minister for Emergency Situations Sergei Shoigu and Ingushetian President Ruslan Aushev traveled on 4 November to the border between Ingushetia and Chechnya. Although procedures for admitting fleeing Chechen civilians were relaxed, allowing some 3,000 people to enter Ingushetia over the previous 24 hours, Aushev told Interfax that the situation at the border remains complicated. Shoigu told journalists in Mozdok after talks there with Russian commander Colonel-General Viktor Kazantsev that opening a second crossing point on the border would expedite transit in both directions. He said efforts will be made to relocate displaced persons from Chechnya to other parts of the North Caucasus, as Ingushetia's capacity for housing them is limited. In Moscow, UNHCR representative Christopher Carpenter said his organization will make available $3 million in humanitarian aid for the displaced persons. LF BUDGET SAILS THROUGH SECOND READING... State Duma deputies approved the draft 2000 budget in its second reading on 5 November. The vote was 284 to 10 with no abstentions, ITAR- TASS reported. The level of expenditures and revenues-- 855.1 billion rubles ($33 billion)and 797.2 billion rubles, respectively--is the same as in the version of the bill passed in its first reading (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 October 1999). The largest faction, the Communists, cleared the way for the bill's passage by announcing before the vote that its members could vote as they wish. "Kommersant-Daily" on 5 November predicted the budget's eventual passage but noted that no matter what the final numbers are, the government will have little chance of gathering sufficient revenues should the price of oil fall. JAC ...AS NEW RATES FOR INCOME TAX APPROVED. Also on 5 November, the Duma passed amendments to the Income Tax Law in their third reading. Under the new law, which will go into effect 1 January, people with annual incomes of more than 150,000 rubles ($5,700) will pay 30 percent in tax, while those earning less than 50,000 rubles will pay 12 percent. JAC RUSSIA TEST-FIRES SECOND MISSILE... Following the launch of an anti-missile rocket from the Sary-Shagan test site in Kazakhstan earlier this week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 November 1999), Russia test-fired another such tactical missile on 4 November from the Kapustin Yar test site in Astrakhan Oblast. Commander of the Strategic Rocket Forces Vladimir Yakovlev said that the launch "extends the life service" of the SS-21 missile to 22 years, Interfax reported. The SS-21 was first deployed in 1976 and an improved version was introduced 10 years later, in 1986. JC ...WHILE COHEN ACCUSES MOSCOW OF 'OVER-STATING' ITS CASE. Responding to the launch from the Sary-Shagan test site, U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen told reporters in Washington on 4 November that the Russians are "overstating their case" by test-firing an anti-ballistic missile in apparent opposition to U.S. plans to develop a limited national missile defense system, Reuters reported on 4 November. "Assuming they tested [the missile]," Cohen said, "it only confirmed that they have an ABM system and we do not. So I'm not sure of the point they are trying to make." JC ROSVOORUZHENIE TO INCREASE SHARE OF GLOBAL ARMS SALES. Aleksandr Kotelkin, a former director of Russia's arms trade giant who was named chief marketing advisor to its present head Aleksei Ogarev earlier this week, told Interfax on 4 November that the company is likely to conclude deals worth $2-2.5 billion in the next few months. He added that total arms exports for 1999 are set to reach $3-3.1 billion, of which Rosvooruzhenie's share is $2.7 billion. Kotelkin said that as a result of those deals, Russia will move up from fourth or fifth to third place among world arms exporters, after the U.S. and the U.K. Kotelkin headed Rosvooruzhenie from November 1994 until August 1997. LF BUDGET REVENUES RISE... Finance Minister Mikhail Kasyanov told reporters on 4 November that the government succeeded in bringing in additional revenues for the budget during the first nine months of the year "for the first time in recent history." According to "Rossiiskaya gazeta" the next day, the government collected 386 billion rubles in cash, which is 6.8 percent more than was projected in the budget. Budget expenditures exceeded targets by 3.5 percent because of increased spending on defense and security. JAC ...AS GDP FORECAST RAISED. Kasyanov also announced on 4 November that because of the continued rise in industrial production, GDP might even increase by 2 percent before the end of the year rather than register zero growth, as had been predicted earlier. GDP rose 1.8 percent in the third quarter, compared with the same period last year, Interfax reported. However, ING Baring's Phillip Poole cautions that more investment is needed to achieve further boosts in industrial output, but with the banking sector still recovering from last year's economic crisis, the prospects for such an expansion are dismal, "The Moscow Times" reported on 5 November. JAC PURCHASING POWER SINKS AS GOVERNMENT SLOWLY REDUCES WAGE DEBT. The population's purchasing power declined 14 percent during the first nine months of 1999, compared with the same period last year, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin informed his cabinet members on 4 November. Meanwhile, the minimum pension and wage increased 15 percent as of 1 November, "Kommersant- Daily" reported on 3 November. The backlog of unpaid wages declined by 2.7 percent from 1 September to 1 October and now totals 54.639 billion rubles ($2.1 billion), according to "Kommersant-Daily" on 28 October. JAC PENSIONERS IN SIBERIA MAY RECEIVE PART-PAYMENT IN GRAIN. It is possible that pensioners in Buryatia will receive part of their pensions in grain, the republic's Ministry for Social Welfare and Labor told Interfax-Eurasia on 4 November. So far, the republic has no more than 21 percent of the 26 million rubles ($1 million) necessary to pay pensions in November, and local officials are prepared to try to cover some of the payments due with high-quality and fodder grain. JAC CRIME RATE SOARS. The crime rate leaped 21 percent during the first nine months of 1999, compared with the same period last year, Interfax reported on 4 November, citing an Interior Ministry official. According to the agency, serious and/or violent crimes are increasing: unpremeditated murder by 5.7 percent, assault and battery by 3.2 percent, crime involving abduction by almost 21 percent, armed robbery by 14 percent, robbery by 23 percent, theft by almost 35 percent, and fraud by 14 percent. The same day, AFP reported that more than 1,000 policemen in Moscow resigned in October rather than work the extended hours required after the bombings of two apartment buildings in the capital city. Policemen were working 12-hour shifts with only one day off a week. JAC DUMA CANDIDATES VERY FAMILIAR WITH CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM. "Izvestiya" reported on 5 November that according to unidentified sources in the Interior Ministry, 18-20 percent of the candidates seeking seats in the State Duma have a "criminal past." That Sergei Mikhailov, who is allegedly known in organized crime circles as "Mikhas," will run from a single-mandate district in Rostov Oblast has been widely covered. Less well known is that the alleged head of the Uralmash crime gang, Aleksandr Khabarov, will run from Yekaterinburg, according to the daily. However, Khabarov, if he is successful in his bid, will be deprived of the company of Aleksandr Shmonov, the St. Petersburg businessman who in 1990 attempted to assassinate former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 November 1999). Shmonov has failed in his bid to register as a candidate in St. Petersburg because he did not collect the necessary number of signatures for the 19 December State Duma elections, "Vremya MN" reported on 4 November. JAC/JC YAROV DENIES CIS FREE TRADE ZONE DISADVANTAGEOUS TO RUSSIA. CIS Executive Secretary Yurii Yarov told a press conference in Moscow on 4 November that he disagrees with the State Customs Committee's prediction that Russia would likely sustain losses of up to $800 million as a result of the creation of a CIS free trade zone, Interfax reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 October 1999). Yarov explained that every Russian ministry has its own estimates of how the creation of such a zone would affect Russian interests, noting that those estimates have not yet been collated. He added that the Russian Ministry for the CIS has calculated that although tax revenues would fall by 3 percent, that loss would be more than compensated for by an overall 10 percent increase in trade turnover. LF TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA NEW ARMENIAN CATHOLICOS INAUGURATED. Archbishop Garegin Nersisian, who was elected on 27 October to head the Armenian Apostolic Church, was inaugurated as 132nd catholicos in Echmiadzin on 4 November in the presence of senior clerics and members of the Armenian leadership, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The former Archbishop of Armenia's largest diocese vowed during the ceremony to intensify cooperation between the Church and state. He also prayed that "the Lord keep the Armenian nation united and the state unshakeable," according to Noyan Tapan. LF ARMENIAN PRESIDENT PRESENTS NEW PREMIER TO CABINET. Robert Kocharian on 4 November presented newly appointed Premier Aram Sargsian to acting ministers, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Sargsian is expected to name his new cabinet next week. Kocharian told journalists that most current ministers will retain their posts. LF AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION VOWS TO REVIVE NATIONAL RESISTANCE MOVEMENT. In a joint statement issued on 3 November, the leaders of the opposition Azerbaijan Popular Front, Musavat, Azerbaijan National Independence, and Azerbaijan Democratic Parties announced the establishment of a National Resistance Movement that will oppose what they termed the "defeatist" policy of the Azerbaijani leadership in conducting negotiations on a settlement of the Karabakh conflict, Turan reported. The signatories called for immediate compliance with four 1993 UN Security Council resolutions calling for the withdrawal of Armenian forces from occupied districts of Azerbaijan. They also demanded that the Azerbaijani leadership make public details of the ongoing peace negotiations. A similar national resistance movement was created following the signing of a ceasefire agreement in 1994 (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 2, No. 42, 21 October 1999). LF AZERBAIJAN VOICES OBJECTIONS TO RUSSIAN VISA PROPOSAL... Azerbaijan's Deputy Foreign Minister Araz Azimov said in Baku on 4 November that "it is hard to see the link between the Russian military action in Chechnya and the introduction of a visa regime on the border with Azerbaijan," Reuters reported. Azimov added that "Azerbaijan has active economic, humanitarian and cultural ties with Russia, and the introduction of a visa regime would undoubtedly hurt those contacts." Presidential staff official Novruz Mamedov told ITAR-TASS he considers the imposition of a visa regime unjustified and at variance with the emphasis laid on integration between CIS member states. During a cabinet meeting earlier that day, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had called for the introduction of visas for citizens of Azerbaijan and Georgia entering the Russian Federation, and Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin said on 4 November that a note has been sent to Georgia proposing talks on the issue, according to ITAR-TASS. LF ...WHILE GEORGIA SEES ADVANTAGES. Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili said on 4 November in Strasbourg that he considers the imposition of a visa requirement for persons wishing to cross the Russian-Georgian frontier unnecessary but noted that Tbilisi is ready to discuss the issue with Moscow, Caucasus Press reported. Menagharishvili added that the requirement should apply not only to Georgia's border with Chechnya but along the entire extent of its frontier with the Russian Federation, including Abkhazia. Russian Border Guard commander Lieutenant-General Valerii Chkheidze said the requirement "will help restore order" at the Russian-Georgian border and will serve as a reminder to Russia that Georgia is an independent state. But Abkhaz Prosecutor-General Anri Djergenia said he considers the requirement "unacceptable," explaining that it will hinder the entry into Russia of Abkhaz wishing to sell agricultural produce and who depend on that trade as their sole source of income. LF GEORGIAN PRESIDENT DECLARES A NEW ANTI-CORRUPTION CRACKDOWN. Speaking at a cabinet meeting on 4 November, Eduard Shevardnadze gave the heads of government departments and regional administrations one month to draft plans for stamping out corruption and the shadow economy, ITAR-TASS and AP reported. Economics Minister Vladimir Papava estimated that the shadow economy currently accounts for 40 percent of the country's economic activity, compared with up to 80 percent in the early 1990s. Shevardnadze had earlier declared 1999 a year of active struggle against corruption. LF KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT HOLDS OUT OLIVE BRANCH TO OPPOSITION... Nursultan Nazarbaev on 4 November told state- owned Khabar TV, which is run by his daughter, that the OSCE employs "double standards" in its evaluation of the level of democracy in various countries, Interfax reported. The OSCE evaluated the conduct of the 10 and 24 October elections to the lower chamber of the parliament as falling short of OSCE commitments to free, fair, and accountable elections (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 October 199). But Nazarbaev added that he "does not want to divide society into winners and losers" after that poll. The Otan party, which unequivocally backs him, won a parliamentary majority in the elections. Nazarbaev said he is ready to cooperate with the opposition and that he would greet the return to Kazakhstan of former Premier Akezhan Kazhegeldin. Nazarbaev added that he does not think Kazhegeldin should be punished for "errors" made during the privatization process. LF ...WHILE OPPOSITIONISTS CALL FOR NEW ELECTIONS. Leaders of Kazhegeldin's Republican People's Party of Kazakhstan told journalists in Almaty on 4 November that opposition forces should unite to pressure the country's leadership into admitting that the outcome of the October parliamentary poll was falsified, RFE/RL's correspondent in the former capital reported. Ghaziz Aldamzharov, who is chairman of the party's executive committee and who failed in his election bid, argued that new parliamentary elections should be held next year and be followed by a presidential poll. LF BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT WRAPS UP VISIT TO KAZAKHSTAN. Alyaksandr Lukashenka ended a two-day official visit to Kazakhstan on 4 November, having signed with his host, President Nazarbaev, a 10-year economic cooperation agreement and a cultural agreement, Interfax reported. Lukashenka had told journalists on his arrival the previous day that a "large number" of agreements would be signed during his visit. Lukashenka reportedly expressed interest during his talks with Nazarbaev in buying crude oil and other minerals from Kazakhstan, while Nazarbaev said his country is ready to export grain to Belarus and buy tractors produced there. Nazarbaev also commented that Kazakhstan is prepared to "cooperate" with the envisaged Russia-Belarus union. On arriving, Lukashenka had expressed optimism that if that union materializes, both Kazakhstan and Ukraine will join it. He implied that such a fusion could form the nucleus of the Eurasian Union, for which Nazarbaev has been lobbying since 1994. LF KAZAKHSTAN SENDS MEDICS TO SITE OF PROTON ROCKET CRASH. A large group of medical personnel has been sent to the region of central Kazakhstan affected by the 27 October explosion of a Russian proton rocket shortly after blastoff from the Baikonur cosmodrome, RFE/RL's Almaty correspondent reported. Those medical personnel will screen all local residents before the end of November. LF KYRGYZ FOREIGN MINISTER ENDS VISIT TO IRAN. Muratbek Imanaliev returned to Bishkek on 3 November following a two- day visit to Tehran, RFE/RL's bureau in the Kyrgyz capital reported. Imanaliev met with President Mohammad Khatami, Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi and Mejlis speaker Ali Akbar Nateq- Nouri and discussed bilateral relations and Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev's upcoming visit to Iran. LF IMF DISCUSSES TERMS FOR NEW LOAN TRANCHE FOR TAJIKISTAN. IMF Second European Department Director John Odling-Smee held talks in Dushanbe on 4 November with President Imomali Rakhmonov on the possibility of further IMF support for the Tajik economy, Asia Plus- Blitz reported. Rakhmonov said such help is needed to reduce the country's budget deficit and strengthen the balance of payments. Odling-Smee said that the outcome of the upcoming elections and progress in implementing political reform will "only partially" influence the bank's decision on releasing the loan tranche, according to Interfax. Other IMF officials said the decision on doing so will be taken early next year. LF TURKMENISTAN'S CENTRAL BANK TO MAINTAIN TIGHT MONETARY POLICY. An unnamed Central Bank official told Interfax in Dushanbe on 4 November that in the coming years the bank will abide by its moderately strict monetary policy with the aim of reducing annual inflation to 6 percent by 2005 and to 4 percent by 2010 and ultimately making the country's currency fully convertible. Inflation for 1999 is estimated at 40 percent, double the figure for 1998. President Saparmurat Niyazov had harshly criticized the work of the Central Bank in September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 September 1999). LF END NOTE RADIO LIBERTY'S PETER DORNAN By Mario Corti On All Saints Day (1 November), in Springfield in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, the former head of Radio Liberty's Samizdat Unit, Peter Dornan, died of cancer at the age of 76. He was the first editor of "Materialy Samizdata," a weekly Radio Liberty publication that became the biggest collection of annotated documents on human rights violations in the Soviet Union. "Materialy Samizdata," originally created for internal use only, was soon made available to external subscribers. It became the main source of information for scholars and journalists interested in the subject of human rights violations in the USSR. It was also a key source on Soviet dissidents' struggle for their individual, political, social, national, and cultural rights. Dornan joined Radio Liberty in 1956 as a research analyst. He was instrumental in the creation of a samizdat archive at Radio Liberty in 1968 and was its custodian until 1988, when he retired. He was also the author of the most exhaustive study on Andrei Sakharov at the beginning of the 1970s (which was included in "Dissent in the USSR: Politics, Ideology, and People," ed. Rudolf Tokes, Johns Hopkins University Press). Thanks to Peter Dornan, samizdat documents played a key role in Radio Liberty broadcasts. Indeed, it was thanks to samizdat and the efforts of Dornan that Radio Liberty's broadcasts became a real "domestic" service, broadcasting to the Soviet Union documents about and authored by people living inside the country. Dornan also acted as a talent scout for other departments of Radio Liberty: it was on his initiative that the current editor of "RFE/RL Newsline," who began her career as a freelance translator of Georgian samizdat, was signed up in 1980 by Radio Liberty Research. The samizdat archive, comprising more than 5,000 documents, is now housed at the Central European University in Budapest. Dornan recently donated his personal archive to the Drew University Library in the U.S. state of New Jersey. Mario Corti is acting director of RFE/RL's Russian Service. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word subscribe as the subject of the message. HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE Send an email to email@example.com with the word unsubscribe as the subject of the message. 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