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Newsline - December 23, 1997


President Boris Yeltsin returned to the Kremlin on 23 December after spending nearly two weeks in the Barvikha sanitorium. Russian news agencies reported on 22 December that roundtable talks on land reform have been rescheduled for 26 December. Senior officials representing the government, presidential administration, and both houses of parliament will take part in the roundtable, which is to be chaired by Yeltsin. Those talks were scheduled for 22 November, then postponed until 11 December in the midst of a government scandal over book fees, and postponed again after Yeltsin's latest illness was disclosed. LB


A group of gunmen -- variously estimated as numbering from 30 to 100 -- attacked a Russian army unit in Geralakh, a village in Dagestan, early in the morning of 22 December and took several hostages, all of whom were subsequently released, Interfax reported. The attackers were driven off with an unknown number of wounded on both sides. The Russian defenders also took a number of prisoners. Russian officials said the attackers were Chechens and Dagestanis, but the Chechen government in Grozny denounced the raid as a provocation. In the aftermath of the raid, border guards in Dagestan were placed on high alert, reinforcements were sent to posts on Chechnya's border with North Ossetia and Dagestan, and security was tightened on the border between Chechnya and Stavropol Krai, the site of a major hostage-taking by Chechens in 1995. PG


Former Security Council Deputy Secretary Boris Berezovskii has charged that the Russian government and presidential administration have no "systematic program of building strategic relations with Chechnya," Interfax reported on 22 December. Berezovskii warned that a "systematic approach to resolving the Chechen crisis" is needed to prevent future attacks such as the 22 December raid in Dagestan. Berezovskii also commented that a planned trip to Chechnya by Yeltsin in January is "simply out of the question." Berezovskii was involved in negotiations with Chechen leaders when he served on the Security Council from November 1996 to November 1997. On 17 December, he told Interfax that he maintains contacts by telephone and in person with Chechen First Deputy Prime Ministers Movladi Udugov and Shamil Basaev and with Chechen Deputy Prime Minister Akhmed Zakaev. LB


Rem Vyakhirev, the chairman of the gas monopoly Gazprom, and Fuel and Energy Minister Sergei Kirienko on 21 December signed an trust agreement on management of a 35 percent state-owned stake in Gazprom. Under the agreement, Vyakhirev will be able to manage the stake until 1 March 1999 but will not be allowed to make certain kinds of decisions (such as changing the Gazprom charter or issuing more company stock) without the consent of the collegium of state representatives in Gazprom. In addition, the government may break the trust agreement, as long as Gazprom is warned three months in advance. Yeltsin recently removed several officials, including First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, from the collegium of state representatives at Gazprom (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 December 1997). Nevertheless, Nemtsov hailed the agreement, saying it significantly strengthens the state's role in managing Gazprom. LB


Nemtsov claimed on 22 December that the federal government will on 23 December finish transferring its share of the funds to pay wage arrears to state employees, Russian news agencies reported. The federal government is supposed to pay half the wage backlog. Regional governments are to pay the remainder out of their own budgets. Deputy Finance Minister Viktor Khristenko said the federal government has already transferred to the regions 97 percent of the 11.3 trillion rubles ($1.9 billion) it is contributing toward paying the back wages. Nemtsov charged that regional leaders will be to blame if the arrears are not settled by the end of the year, as Yeltsin has demanded. According to Khristenko, several regions are unlikely to meet the deadline, including Primorskii and Altai Krais, Sverdlovsk, Kemerovo and Chita Oblasts, and the Republic of Khakassia. LB


First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais will head a new interdepartmental commission on cooperation with international financial and economic institutions, Interfax reported on 22 December, citing a government decision of 18 December. Chubais has already been conducting negotiations on behalf of Russia with institutions such as the IMF, World Bank, and Paris Club (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 June, 18 and 23 September 1997). The decision on creating the new commission was made the same day that "Nezavisimaya gazeta," financed by Boris Berezovskii's LogoVAZ empire, charged that international financial institutions are trying to control Russian economic policy. On 20 December, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" directly accused Chubais of leaking information to officials in the World Bank and the IMF. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin has said the government will find the source of the alleged leaks. LB


Russian Public Television (ORT) played up the scandal involving alleged leaks to the World Bank and the IMF on the weekly program "Vremya" on 20 December. ORT is 51 percent state-owned but is largely influenced by Berezovskii. Coverage of the scandal on the private network NTV on 21 December also stuck close to the script followed by ORT and "Nezavisimaya gazeta," implying that Chubais gave information to the IMF and World Bank. NTV is owned by Vladimir Gusinskii's Media-Most, and its coverage of recent scandals has favored Berezovskii's version of events. Meanwhile, fully state-owned Russian Television (RTR) on 21 December broadcast an interview with Economics Minister Yakov Urinson, who denied there was anything unusual about recent letters sent to Chernomyrdin by heads of the World Bank and IMF. RTR chairman Nikolai Svanidze is considered close to Chubais. LB


"Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 23 December argued that First Deputy Prime Minister Nemtsov is rapidly losing influence in the government and may soon resign. The paper noted that Nemtsov recently lost the portfolio of the Fuel and Energy Ministry, and that Gazprom signed a trust agreement with the government only after Yeltsin removed Nemtsov from the collegium of state representatives in the gas monopoly. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" argued that Nemtsov may fade into obscurity, as have past "favorites" of Yeltsin such as Sergei Shakhrai (now the president's representative in the Constitutional Court) and Gennadii Burbulis (now a State Duma deputy). On 19 December, the newspaper slammed Nemtsov's conduct during his recent official visits to Chile, Mexico and Venezuela, saying he was unprepared for the trip and made statements that could harm Russia's interests. LB


The Moscow Arbitration Court on 19 December ordered that 51 percent of the shares in the Sibneft oil company be frozen pending the outcome of a legal challenge to the May privatization auction in which those shares were sold, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 20 December. The Financial Oil Company, which is linked to Boris Berezovskii, won the May auction. The firm KM-Invest, which is part of the Oneksimbank empire, was barred from competing in that auction and filed the lawsuit. The court's decision will prevent the Financial Oil Company from selling the Sibneft shares to a friendly firm before the court case is resolved. Hearings are scheduled to continue on 24 December. LB


"Moskovskii komsomolets" argued on 23 December that the ruling by the Moscow Arbitration Court will hamper Berezovskii's efforts to find a foreign partner for the upcoming auction of a stake in the state-owned oil company Rosneft. Sibneft and Mikhail Khodorkovskii's Rosprom-Yukos group intend to submit a joint bid in the Rosneft auction but are still seeking a major foreign investor to join their consortium (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 December 1997). During the last six months, the popular "Moskovskii komsomolets," which is close to Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, has devoted substantial negative coverage to Berezovskii and to his main business rival, Oneksimbank head Vladimir Potanin. The paper has also sharply criticized Berezovskii's leading enemy in the Russian government, First Deputy Prime Minister Chubais. LB


The Audit Chamber has concluded that laws were broken in the conduct of several privatization auctions this year and has recommended that the government review the results of those auctions, Interfax reported on 22 December. The chamber had previously announced that four major sales of state property were conducted with legal irregularities (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 December 1997). Two of those -- the July sale of a stake in Svyazinvest and the August sale of shares in Norilsk Nickel -- were won by companies linked to Oneksimbank. The Audit Chamber also criticized the May auction for a stake in Sibneft (won by a company linked to Berezovskii), and the July sale of shares in the Tyumen Oil Company (won by Alfa Group). LB


Yeltsin signed a decree on 22 December posthumously awarding Colonel Anatolii Savelev the title of "Hero," according to Russian media. Savelev died after volunteering to exchange places with a Swedish diplomat taken hostage by a terrorist in Moscow on 19 December. The terrorist was later killed by Alpha antiterrorist force commandos. Savelev's death is still the source of controversy in the Russia. The chief cardiologist of the Russian Federal Security Service says Savelev died of a heart attack brought on by the extreme stress of the situation, not the four bullet wounds Savelev received during the attack which killed the terrorist. According to the doctor Savelev's autopsy revealed the colonel was already so stricken by the heart attack that Savelev could not have felt the bullet wounds, not fatal in any case. BP


In elections to the Tambov Oblast Duma on 21 December, 13 candidates supported by the regional Communist Party branch and another five candidates supported by local communist organizations won seats, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported the next day. No other political party won a mandate in the 50-seat Tambov Duma. Communist-backed candidates also won 11 out of the 30 seats in the Smolensk Oblast Duma. A candidate from the Communist-allied Agrarian Party won one seat, and the remaining 18 mandates were won by candidates not affiliated with any political party, Interfax reported. LB


Communist Party candidates won 17 of the 49 seats in the Novosibirsk Oblast legislature on 21 December, and the Agrarian Party won three seats, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported on 22 December. A "third force" alliance of supporters of Grigorii Yavlinskii and Aleksandr Lebed won six seats, according to ITAR-TASS. The remaining seats were won primarily by independent candidates, many of whom are directors of prominent local enterprises. Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, which had performed well in Novosibirsk in the past, failed to win any seats. In the most high-profile race, LDPR State Duma deputy Yevgenii Loginov came in last out of four candidates in a district that was carried by Viktor Kuznetsov, the deputy chairman of the Novosibirsk legislature and the first secretary of the Communist Party in the oblast. LB


Preliminary results following the 21 December runoff elections to the Krasnoyarsk Krai legislature indicate that the Communist Party and the allied Agrarian Party have won 13 out of the 42 seats, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported on 22 December. Candidates considered to be on the democratic end of the political spectrum gained 10 seats. Candidates backed by former Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed won five seats, while Grigorii Yavlinskii's Yabloko movement won three seats. LB


Independent candidates, many of whom are directors or high-ranking executives in the local oil industry and banking sector, won most seats in the Tomsk Oblast legislative elections on 21 December, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported on 22 December. Candidates supported by the Communist opposition won only five out of the 42 seats in Tomsk. LB


Nikolai Gonchar has vowed to contest the results of the Moscow City Duma elections in court, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 23 December. Gonchar led a bloc that was expected to win several seats in the city legislature but won none in the 14 December election (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 and 17 December 1997). Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov actively campaigned against his critics, including Gonchar, although by law he was not allowed to participate in the campaign. In addition, Gonchar said he is gathering evidence of vote fraud in favor of candidates backed by the mayor. A commentary published in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 19 December argued that there is ample reason to suspect that pro-Luzhkov officials falsified the election results. The State Duma has formed a commission to investigate alleged misconduct related to the Moscow City Duma elections. LB


Representatives of the Gorky Automobile Factory (GAZ) in Nizhnii Novgorod and the Italian car manufacturer Fiat on 22 December signed an agreement creating a joint venture called Nizhegorodmotors, Russian news agencies reported. Under the agreement, which is to involve some $850 million in direct investment, Nizhegorodmotors will produce three models of Fiats, beginning in late 1998. The cars will be sold for $12,000 to $17,000 each. According to GAZ President Nikolai Pugin, Yeltsin is to sign agreements relating to the joint venture, including a document on state support for the project, during a planned visit to Italy in February. LB


First deputy foreign minister Vardan Oskanian told a press conference 22 December that Yerevan was pleased that the meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe had not produced any new documents on the Karabakh issue, Interfax reported. He said that progress in talks about the disputed area had been stalled following the Lisbon OSCE summit at which a statement critical of Armenia was adopted. And, consequently, the absence of any new statement or even a reassertion of the old meant that more progress could be made, Oskanian suggested. PG


Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrosian told the founding conference of the Armrosgazprom gas company on 22 December that this joint enterprise reflected the strategic partnership of the two countries on a variety of issues, Interfax reported. He expressed the hope that this company would eventually be able to expand its activities throughout the Caucasus. PG


In his weekly radio address on 22 December, President Eduard Shevardnadze said that a Georgian-Abkhaz meeting held in Sukhumi last week was "extremely important" and "an undoubted step forward" toward peace, Interfax reported. Shevardnadze said that he had received a letter from U.S. President Bill Clinton guaranteeing American help in settling the conflict and overcoming the destruction it has wrought. In other comments, the Georgian leader defended his decision to lift diplomatic immunity for Gueorgui Makharadze, a Georgian diplomat sentenced to seven years in prison in the United States after an automobile he was driving killed a pedestrian in Washington. Shevardnadze said no Georgian court would have given a lesser sentence. PG


Georgian Defense Minister Vardiko Nadibaidze said on 22 December that Tbilisi is asking that Russia transfer to the Georgian military some 50 military facilities on Georgian territory, Interfax reported. Nadibaidze said his Russian counterpart Igor Sergeyev had suggested Moscow might be willing to do so if the Georgian parliament ratifies an agreement allowing for Russian basing in Georgia. PG


Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin arrived in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, on 22 December, according to ITAR-TASS and Interfax. Chernomyrdin and Uzbek President Islam Karimov signed six agreements, including pacts on peaceful use of nuclear power, protection of investments and means of counter-acting illegal financial operations. The two denied relations between their countries had worsened, noting that bilateral trade this year has surpassed last year's figures. Chernomyrdin also expressed satisfaction with the treatment of ethnic Russians and Russian speakers in Uzbekistan. Chernomyrdin said his visit to Tashkent serves as a good basis for next year's planned visit by Boris Yeltsin to Uzbekistan. BP


Kyrgyzstan's Procurator General Asanbek SharshenAliyev said at a 22 December press conference in Bishkek that 144 government officials at various levels, including ten in the parliament, are guilty of some economic crime, RFE/RL correspondents reported. SharshenAliyev also reported that the more than 10,000 economic crimes registered in Kyrgyzstan over the last 3 1/2 years had cost the country about $70 million. He said the legal system had recovered about 44 percent of the money. BP


Kyrgyzstan's Security Minister Feliks Kulov said on 22 December that the government is alarmed by "the activities of extremist religious groups" in the country's southern regions, according to ITAR-TASS. Kulov said the Kyrgyz government is particularly concerned about Wahhabi sects in light of recent events in neighboring Uzbekistan's city of Namangan (See "Newsline" 22 December) . Kulov announced that a special government commission will soon be formed to "keep under control" the growth and activities of these extreme groups. BP


Nikolai Maspanov, the leader of the Russian Party in Estonia, told BNS 22 December, that he believed Moscow is discriminating against all residents in Estonia -- including ethnic Russians -- by imposing a double customs barrier on Estonian exports. Maspanov said that he would tell visiting Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Avdeyev that "it is time to free" Estonia and Estonia's Russians from such discrimination. PG


In an interview published in Luup magazine, BNS reported 22 December, Estonian President Lennart Meri says that Estonia is moving toward becoming a law- governed state but is not there yet. He said that the country's future depended on the extent to which the constitution was observed in all its details. PG


Estonian interior minister Robert Lepikson told BNS 22 December that the lack of tight control over Estonia's southern border with Latvia was limiting its ability to abolish visa requirements with the Schengen countries. He said: "We can apparently be satisfied with our eastern border, but we can certainly not be content with our southern border." Lepikson indicated that the Estonian government currently lacks the 50 million kroons ($4 million dollars) needed to bring the the Estonian-Latvian border up to international standards. PG


Immediately after the Election Commission announced the results of the first round of voting for a new president, Lithuanian politicians began to maneuver to support or block one of the two remaining candidates. In the first round, Arturas Paulauskas won 45.35 percent of the vote while Valdas Adamkus won 27.89 percent. Conservative party leader Vytautas Landsbergis, who finished third with 15.85 percent of the vote, on 22 December threw his support behind Adamkus, as did several other parties. As a result, some polls suggested that Adamkus might overtake Paulauskas in the second round, but Paulauskas remained confident in his public statements that he would win on 4 January. He even suggested that he might name a new prime minister sometime after that date. PG


President Alyaksandr Lukashenka told Interfax 22 December that Minsk would conduct elections "exactly on time" as defined by the constitution adopted in November 1996 -- the year 2001 for the presidential vote and the year 2000 for the parliamentary tally. And he added that he would be a candidate for reelection. Lukashenka also said that at present he has no intention of dissolving the parliament, arguing that it has been working efficiently. And he added that the opposition in Belarus was now "scared to death of elections" because it enjoyed so little popular support. PG


Ukrainian Prime Minister Valery Pustovoitenko and Chinese Prime Minister Li Peng on 22 December signed a series of agreements and declarations anticipating the expansion of trade between the two countries, Interfax-Ukraine reported. The Ukrainian leader stressed that he wanted to diversify his country's trading partners, while the Chinese leader for his part praised Kyiv for not establishing ties with Taiwan, Xinhua reported. The two sides agreed among other things to establish joint enterprises in the machine building and fertilizer sectors. PG


The Verkhovna Rada announced 22 December that later this week it would discuss how to respond to the Council of Europe's insistence on prohibiting the death penalty, ITAR- TASS reported. It said, too, that it would consider ratifying the Russian-Ukrainian treaty. The parliament is also considering a possible no confidence vote on the current government, parliament Chairman Aleksandr Moroz said. He indicated that the Verkhovna Rada will not reconsider a 1989 law defining Ukrainian as the country's state language. PG


President Aleksander Kwasniewski and Foreign Minister Bronislaw Geremek on 22 December in Warsaw pledged to coordinate their foreign policy. The move comes ahead of EU entry talks, due to start in spring1998. Even though the reform-communist Kwasniewski and the right-wing coalition government agree in principle on EU and NATO membership, both sides expressed concerns that they might clash over issues of shared responsibility during the negotiations. Kwasniewski and Geremek proposed to put the government's European Integration Committee under joint control of Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek and the Foreign Ministry. The government and president face four years of cohabitation. Meanwhile, they agreed to replace a controversial ambassador to Belarus. FS


The Central Statistical Office said on 22 December that just over 1.8 million Poles were unemployed at the end of November. Unemployment thus was the same at 10.3 percent as in October. The office said that unemployment may rise, since about 700 enterprises are expected to fire a total of 11,000 employees. Another 19,000 are expected to lose jobs in the public sector in 1998. FS


Josef Tosovsky on 22 December said he was not counting on the participation of his predecessor Vaclav Klaus in the new government, "Mlada Fronta Dnes" reported. He received Jan Cerny, head of the parliamentary club of Klaus' Civic Democratic Party (ODS), for negotiations. Tosovsky said he would not announce the new government until the new year. Others participating in the negotiations were outgoing finance, foreign and trade ministers Ivan Pilip, Jaroslav Sedivy and Karel Kuhnl as well as Deputy Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda and the head of the State Auditing Board Lubomir Volenik. Pilip, former ODS vice-chairman and a Klaus critic, said he would take his old job if the ODS supported him. FS


The Social Democratic Party (CSSD) insisted on 22 December that new elections take place in June 1998. Party leader Milos Zeman said that the new interior minister, who will be in charge of organizing new elections, should not be a representative of a political party, "Lidove noviny" reported. Tosovsky is likely to need CSSD backing to achieve majority support in parliament after refusing to cooperate with Klaus. FS


Thousands of depositors have taken their money out of Slovakia's Investment and Development Bank (IRB) since 20 December fearing the bank's imminent collapse. The run started after Central Bank Governor Vladimir Masar announced on 19 December that he put IRB under the Central Banks direct administration after discovering a deficit of about $12 million. Officials are still trying to determine the actual size of losses that Slovakia's third largest bank suffered after taking over a steel mill in Kosice earlier the year. Masar ordered IRB to keep its branches open throughout Slovakia and pledged to make sure the bank could pay small investors. FS


U.S. President Bill Clinton stressed in his individual meetings with the three members of the joint presidency in Sarajevo on 22 December that they must do more to implement the Dayton agreement and rebuild their country (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 22 December 1997). He made similar points before a larger audience made up of Bosnia's political and cultural elite. Momcilo Krajisnik, the Serbian member of the joint presidency, met Clinton privately in the morning but boycotted the larger session. Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic told Clinton that building peace will take time. She stressed that prosperity is the key to peace. PM


Clinton went on to Tuzla on 22 December and addressed some of the 8,000 U.S. soldiers stationed in Bosnia. The president, who recently announced that the U.S. will maintain a military presence in Bosnia after SFOR's mandate expires in June, said: "In spite of all you have done, I think it is imperative that we not stop until the peace here has a life of its own, until it can endure without us. We have worked too hard to let this go." (See "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 December 1997). Clinton, who was accompanied by former Republican presidential candidate, former Senator Bob Dole, thanked Congress for supporting his policies in Bosnia. PM


Bosnian joint presidency Chairman Alija Izetbegovic and Foreign Minister Jadranko Prlic met Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Defense Minister Volker Ruehe when the German visitors arrived at Sarajevo airport on 23 December. Kohl and Ruehe plan to meet with each of the three members of the joint presidency, as well as with Bosnian political and religious leaders. The main purpose of his trip, however, is to talk for several hours with some of the 2,700 German peacekeepers stationed around Sarajevo. The "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" wrote that Kohl wants to use his last trip abroad of 1997 to underscore the German army's role in international peacekeeping. PM


A Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said in Ottawa on 22 December that Canada is negotiating with the Hague-based war crimes tribunal about enabling witnesses to emigrate to Canada under special, favorable conditions. The program is designed to encourage witnesses to speak out by offering them a new home away from possible threats of retaliation in the former Yugoslavia, the Vienna daily "Die Presse" reported. PM


Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic announced in Belgrade on 22 December that his own candidate, Milan Milutinovic, won the Serbian presidential election the previous day, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Serbian capital (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 December 1997). Serbian Election Commission officials said that Milutinovic took 58.66 percent of the vote, as against 38.14 percent for his challenger, Vojislav Seselj of the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS). The commission also stated that 50.53 percent of registered voters turned out to cast their ballots, thereby making the vote valid. PM


Dragan Todorovic, the SRS campaign chairman, said in Belgrade on 22 December that the real turnout had been only 49.33 percent, which would make the vote invalid. He said that the SRS will demand that the government set up a special commission to investigate possible election fraud. Todorovic charged that there were widespread irregularities at some polling stations in Kosovo, where the ethnic Albanian majority boycotted the elections. Spokesmen for Serbian opposition leader Zoran Djindjic told the Vienna daily "Die Presse" of 23 December that Djindjic and his supporters feared electoral fraud all along and hence boycotted the campaign and the vote. PM


Representatives of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said in Belgrade on 22 December that Serbian authorities had failed to implement OSCE recommendations for improving the electoral process. The OSCE officials noted that some polling stations in Kosovo that did not open eventually reported a voter turnout of 100 percent. PM


Albanian Foreign Minister Paskal Milo said on state-run television in Tirana on 22 December that Milutinovic's election shows that Serbia has distanced itself from its "warmongering policies of the past," Belgrade's BETA news agency reported. Milo added that regional stability will depend on Serbia's respecting "the legitimate rights of the Kosovars" and observing agreements it has concluded regarding Kosovo. Milo said that Milutinovic's election shows that Serbia is "serious" about meeting its obligations. And in Moscow, the Russian news agency Interfax reported that an unnamed Foreign Ministry source hailed Milutinovic's election as a victory for a "sober-minded approach to the difficult problems the republic faces." The source added that a Radical victory "could have had the most unpredictable consequences both for Serbia itself and for the region as a whole." PM


A Serbian Orthodox church building was slightly damaged and a UN policeman wounded in separate hand grenade attacks in Vukovar on 22 December. Croatian police said they are holding seven people in connection with the attacks, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Zagreb. The grenade attacks are the latest in a series of incidents in the runup to 15 January, when eastern Slavonia returns to full Croatian sovereignty. The last Serb-held enclave in Croatia is currently under a temporary UN administration, although elements of Croatian rule have been gradually reintroduced under the terms of the 1995 Erdut agreement between Serbia and Croatia. PM


A Zagreb judge on 22 December adjourned a trial of two independent journalists charged with slandering President Franjo Tudjman (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 December 1997). The judge said that he needs more historical background information to decide whether the journalists' comparison of certain of Tudjman's policies to those of the late Spanish dictator Gen. Francisco Franco was indeed slanderous. PM


Twelve Albanian judges, who were trained in six months courses in 1993 staged a hunger strike in Tirana's district court on 22 December. Police broke up the protest. They were protesting against a law that requires judges and prosecutors to hold university degrees. The law would disqualify over 400 prosecutors and judges who went through the controversial courses. Justice Minister Thimio Kondi told VOA's Albanian service on 23 December that the strike was illegal and the protests politically motivated. Most of the students of the courses were hand selected by the then governing Democratic Party. Former President Sali Berisha, meanwhile, accused the government of "attacking the independence of the courts." FS


Ramiz Alia, Albania's last communist president returned to Tirana on 22 December, border officials at the airport told "Koha Jone." The 72 year old Alia fled from jail in March, during a popular revolt in which prisons were opened. He took refuge to France and Sweden. Alia, two former interior ministers and a chief prosecutor were acquitted in October of killing 58 people who tried to flee the country between 1990 and 1992. The Supreme Court earlier ruled that 32 other communists officials could not be sentenced for acts that were not considered a crime at the time. FS


The Democratic Party refused to participate in a meeting of a parliament commission that is preparing a constitution, ATSH reported. All political parties were invited to the meeting on 22 December in Tirana. The Council of Europe had urged the Democrats to participate in the drafting process in order to achieve a broad political consensus over the new constitution. FS


Ex-president Ion Iliescu's Social Democratic Party (PDSR), boycotted a special parliamentary session on 22 December, commemorating the Romanian revolution. Iliescu argued with prosecutors' plans to question him over his role during the 1989 uprising which brought his party to power. Prosecutors are also investigating post-communist defense and interior ministers Victor Stanculescu and Mihai Chitac over their role as army generals in the shooting of 72 demonstrators in Timisoara. More than 1,000 people were killed throughout the country during the revolt. Iliescu's successor, Emil Constantinescu, pledged to reveal the truth about the role of the communist secret service in the events. FS


Emil Constantinescu on 22 December said that Foreign Minister Adrian Severin should resign. He made the remarks after two intelligence agencies reported to the Supreme Defense Council that they found no evidence supporting allegations by Severin that several party leaders and newspaper editors were foreign agents. Severin's allegations had sparked rows within the government coalition three months ago. At the time Constantinescu tried to defuse the conflict by ordering an investigation into the matter. Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea also said that he would ask the foreign minister to resign should his allegations prove false. FS

Migration Among CIS States Large and Variable in 1990s

by Michael Wyzan*

The turmoil that accompanied the break-up of the Soviet Union has set large numbers of people in motion.. CIS Migration Report 1996, published recently by the Geneva-based International Organization for Migration (IOM), contains detailed information on these flows from 1989 to 1996.

The biggest flows have involved Russians returning to Russia from other republics, with similar movements among the other 14 ethnic groups also reaching significant levels. Another important motivation for migrants has been a desire to leave republics troubled by civil strife (especially Armenia, Georgia, and Tajikistan) to find work, generally in Russia. Peoples deported by Stalin have migrated, returning to their original homelands (e.g., Crimean Tatars), moving somewhere else in the CIS (e.g., Meskhetians deported to Central Asia settling in Azerbaijan), or outside the CIS altogether (e.g., Volga Germans leaving Kazakhstan for Germany).

Ecological and other disasters -have also produced large migratory flows. The most important of these are the 1986 accident at the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant (affecting Ukraine, Belarus, and parts of Russia), the shrinkage of the Aral Sea (in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan), the problems around the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site area (in Kazakhstan), and earthquakes in northern Armenia in 1988. The IOM study estimates that there have been 739,000 ecological migrants since the mid-1980s.

In Armenia and Azerbaijan, large fractions of the population have become refugees or internally displaced persons as a result of the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh and related events. The Abkhaz conflict has created similar problems within Georgia. Finally, recent years have seen a flood of illegal migrants -- and smaller numbers of refugees and asylum seekers -- from Africa, South Asia, and the Middle East to Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova, usually with hopes of finding their way legally or otherwise into Western Europe. The IOM reports that there are between 500,000 and a million illegal migrants in Russia alone.

The figures on migratory trends in Russia mirror major socioeconomic developments there. The net balance of immigrants and emigrants rose steadily from 104,906 in 1991 to 914,597 in 1994, before subsiding again to 355,384 in 1996. During the 1980s, immigration to Russia consisted of both repatriation of Russians and inflows of other titular nationalities. Over the period 1990-96, some 2.4 million ethnic Russians were repatriated from other republics. However, the break-up of the Soviet Union -- and especially the partitioning of the Soviet Army -- abruptly reversed the latter flow for all nationalities except Armenians.

During 1993-94, the fact that economic reform was proceeding faster in Russia than in most other CIS lands spurred an economically-motivated inflow from all such lands. The war in Chechnya and better economic performance in much of the CIS played a role in reducing this net inflow in 1995 and 1996. Over 1992-96, the Central Asian countries produced the greatest inflows to Russia. A surge in migration to Russia in 1994 came principally from Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

The average age of migrants into and out of Russia is similar to that of the general population, unlike world experience -- and that of the Soviet Union from the 1960s through the 1980s -- where migrants are younger than average. However, as elsewhere, Russia's immigrants and emigrants are more educated than average.

After Russians, the largest numbers of migrants to Russia in 1996 were Ukrainians, other groups within Russia (i.e., ethnic groups with their own autonomous republics or administrative units), Armenians, Azerbaijanis, Belarusians, Georgians, Kazaks, and Tajiks. The numerical ranking of those leaving Russia is similar, except that Tajiks figure higher and Belarusians lower.

Repatriation of Russians from other republics began in the mid-1970s, at which time repatriation had an economic motivation. Subsequently, outflows large relative to the size of the sending populations were generated by armed conflicts; in Tajikistan and Transcaucasia, all four countries lost about half of their Russians. Russian outmigration from the latter peaked in 1992 at 70,300 and then declined to 23,000 last year. In 1996, the outflows were dominated by republics with large Russian populations, such as Kazakstan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan, rather than trouble spots. As regards migration from Russia beyond the borders of the former Soviet Union, the principal flows in the post- Soviet period have been of Germans returning to Germany and Jews moving to Israel or the United States. The outflow of Jews declined from 61,000 in 1990 to 14,300 in 1996, while that of Germans rose from 33,800 to 64,400 over that period. Russians account for an increasingly large share of such emigration.

Research conducted at the Institute for Economic Forecasting in Moscow suggests that there is no relationship between where in Russia immigrants chose to settle and local unemployment or production statistics. There is, however, is a correlation between such migration and the extent of the local private sector. *Michael Wyzan is an economist living in Austria.