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Newsline - September 9, 1998


By mid-afternoon local time, Russian President Boris Yeltsin had not named his candidate for the post of prime minister in the third round of voting. "Izvestiya" on 9 September argued that Yeltsin "realizes that in the event of the [State] Duma's dissolution, he will not have 100 percent control of the situation." It added that he has not immediately put forward acting Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's name for a third time because Duma factions continue to promise they will swiftly reject it. "Kommersant-Daily" criticized the president harshly for the delay: "Now Yeltsin--not the Duma--has prolonged for at least two days a lack of power.... It is again uncertain not only whether there will be a prime minister in Russia for some time but also whether there is a president." JAC


"Izvestiya" on 9 September said that the candidacy of Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov has been pushed too forcefully and that Yeltsin characteristically resists pressure. "For Yeltsin," the newspaper concluded, "Prime Minister Luzhkov means political capitulation. Prime Minister [Yevgenii] Primakov means an organized retreat." Federation Council Chairman Yegor Stroev called Yabloko's proposal of acting Foreign Minister Primakov for prime minister "surprisingly appropriate." However, Primakov told reporters on 8 September that he would not agree to accept the post of prime minister if offered to him. Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov hinted that Yeltsin is considering former Minister of Industry Yurii Maslyukov for prime minister. Zyuganov told journalists that Maslyukov has been called back from vacation for "an important meeting."JAC


According to Interfax, Saratov Governor Dmitrii Ayatskov told a local radio station on 9 September that Krasnoyarsk Governor General Aleksandr Lebed would form a government in Russia this week. Lebed arrived in Moscow the same day for talks with regional leaders, telling Interfax that he would be ready to assume responsibility for leading the country out of its present crisis. On 8 September, Interfax reported that Lebed said he regards financial magnate Boris Berezovskii as one of his political partners. He noted that Berezovskii has "quite concrete interests in Russia. These are Aeroflot, LogoVAZ, and shares in ORT [Russian Public Television], therefore he obviously wants to preserve the state. And I am interested in anyone, without exception, who takes the position of preserving a single and indivisible Russia." Many Moscow observers believe that Berezovskii orchestrated Chernomyrdin's recent return to the Kremlin. JAC


On 9 September, the demand for dollars weakened slightly with the ruble rate rising to 16 to $1 on Russia's electronic foreign exchange. Traders said Russian banks need to buy rubles to pay debts.. The Central Bank on 9 September set the official exchange rate at 20.83 rubles to $1, a drop of 9.24 percent from the previous day's level of 18.9 rubles to $1. The ruble has fallen almost 70 percent against the dollar since 17 August, when the Central Bank said it would abandon its defense of the ruble owing to the lack of foreign exchange reserves. Bloomberg reports that the ruble is the world's poorest performing currency and that Russian economy could contract by 4.5 percent this year, its worst performance in four years. The agency quotes Western economists as forecasting declines in GDP for the second half of 1998 that range from 4 percent to 9 percent. In August, the monthly inflation rate climbed 15 percent, the biggest monthly increase in more than four years. JAC


Chairman of the Duma Security Committee, Viktor Ilyukhin, told ITAR-TASS on 8 September that the special Duma impeachment committee has concluded that "there are elements of a crime" in President Yeltsin's signing of the Belavezha agreements, which dissolved the Soviet Union in 1991. If the Duma Council agrees with this assessment, then a draft conclusion on the first count of impeachment could be submitted to the Duma as early as 11 September. However, Duma deputy and Yabloko member Yelena Mizulina told reporters on 8 September that the president's participation in the disintegration of the Soviet Union was "rather a historic mistake than a criminal offense." She thought that the Russian Supreme Court would confirm only the second and third counts of impeachment: the president's initiation of the conflict in Chechnya and his forcible disbandment of the Supreme Soviet in October 1993. JAC


Mizulina said that if President Yeltsin nominates Chernomyrdin a third time, then the Duma will put forward the issue of impeachment first. That way, it can prevent an immediate dissolution of the Duma after it rejects Chernomyrdin for a third time. Three hundred deputies need to vote in favor of impeachment for the accusations to be brought formally before the Federation Council. JAC


Several Russian newspapers on 8 September reported that Moscow International Bank head Viktor Gerashchenko has the best chance of replacing Sergei Dubinin, who offered his resignation as chairman of the Central Bank on 7 September. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" noted that Gerashchenko has the support of many different members of different political factions, while "Russkii telegraf" said that Gerashchenko's "professionalism" is respected by both Russian oligarchs and Western bankers. "Kommersant-Daily" pointed out that Gerashchenko's only liability is the perception that he "is not an entirely apolitical figure" since his name has increasingly been linked with that of Moscow Mayor Luzhkov. Other candidates suggested by "Kommersant-Daily" are Aleksandr Shokhin, leader of the Our Home is Russia faction, Dmitrii Tulin, head of Vneshtorgbank and former Central Bank official, Sberbank chief Andrei Kazmin, and former presidential aide Aleksandr Livshits. JAC


The economic program that acting Prime Minister Chernomyrdin outlined during his speech to the Federation Council on 4 September has drawn some stinging criticisms. Democratic Choice party leader Yegor Gaidar told reporters on 8 September that Chernomyrdin's plan is "adventurous and extremely dangerous." He said "if the printing of money is added to the present panic, all rubles will only go one way--demand for dollars at any price--and we will enter into classic hyperinflation." IMF Deputy Managing-Director Stanley Fisher told the "Wall Street Journal" on 8 September that the latest plan to rehabilitate the Russian economy is "very destructive." He said Russia should increase tax collection, not print more money. ITAR-TASS on 8 September quoted acting Deputy Prime Minister Boris Fedorov as saying that the government's plan "does not envisage the printing of money but aims to resume genuine economic reform" through three steps: the introduction of a tough monetary system, the passage of a balanced budget, and the implementation of a radical tax reform. JAC


ITAR-TASS reported on 8 September that participants in the national strike planned for 7 October will not demand simultaneous elections to the presidency and State Duma. However, President Yeltsin's resignation will remain one of the key demands. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 8 September suggested that the All-Russia Strike Committee, headed by Vorkuta miner Viktor Semenov, is the logical nucleus for Russia's next social revolution. The newspaper noted that the committee emerged directly from the spontaneous workers' movement, rather than from the official establishment. And although "it is by no means certain that current crisis in Russia will develop into some kind of social upheaval..., a revolution is the result of purposeful ideological and organization work by a defined circle of people, who transform a single explosion into a significant occurrence. It seems such people are beginning to appear in Russia." JAC


Kaliningrad Governor Leonid Gorbenko has denied media reports that he declared a regional state of emergency (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 September 1998). He said that he spoke only of urgent measures required for the economic and social spheres, according to ITAR-TASS. He declared the introduction of a state of emergency in the "political sphere" out of the question. Meanwhile, regional "rebelliousness" continues. Interfax on 9 September reported that Kemerovo Governor Aman Tuleev has reduced the profit tax for local processing enterprises by 40 percent and lowered electricity tariffs without first consulting Moscow authorities. Tuleev told ITAR-TASS that "the Finance Ministry is not recognizing previous agreements, although its minister, Mikhail Zadornov, has retained his post." Unless federal authorities "change their attitude toward the regions," he warned in comments to Interfax, "the threat of a split in the federation will become more real every day." JAC


Kofi Annan on 8 September expressed concern over the lack of progress in resolving the Kosova crisis and called on the international community to provide aid to avert a "major humanitarian disaster," AFP reported. In a monthly report to the UN Security Council, Annan said he is "alarmed" by the situation and the "further loss of life." Annan also said he has sent a letter to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic protesting the "excessive use of force" by Serbian forces in Kosova. And he criticized ethnic Albanian separatists for "acts of provocation." PB


Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin on 8 September said that Moscow is against possible NATO intervention in Kosova because it would only exacerbate the humanitarian situation in the province, Interfax reported. Rakhmanin said this message was delivered by Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov to Milosevic on 4 September. Rakhmanin said Milosevic praised Moscow for the role it played "in the settlement of the Kosova crisis" and said that his government "guarantees safety for all refugees and displaced persons returning to their homes." PB


The independent daily "Glas Javnosti" reported on 8 September that Milosevic has instructed Serbian officials to begin drafting a plan to hold elections in Kosova. The newspaper said parliamentary elections would be held in three months and that the formation of a Kosova parliament could be the centerpiece of an accord between Belgrade and ethnic Albanian leaders in Kosova. Adem Demaci, the Kosova Liberation Army's political representative, said the proprosed draft of an accord has no guarantees that Milosevic would abide by the agreement. "Only force can make [Milosevic] carry out what he promises..., that's the only language he understands," Demaci said. PB


Momcilo Krajisnik, the Serbian member of the Bosnian presidency, has accused the leadership of the Republika Srpska of preventing it from uniting with Serbia, Reuters reported on 8 September. Krajisnik said that the goal of the Western-supported Bosnian Serb president, Biljana Plavsic, is to "destabilize the Serb ethnic region and weaken our emotional affiliation to Yugoslavia." Krajisnik is seeking reelection in the 12-13 September elections. In Yugoslavia, Serbian Radical Party leader Vojislav Seselj said the Republika Srpska is under "foreign occupation," and he severely criticized OSCE mission chief Robert Barry for prohibiting him from campaigning in Srpska (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 September 1998), BETA reported. He called Plavsic and Bosnian Serb Premier Milorad Dodik "quislings." PB


Ante Jelavic, president of the nationalist Croatian Democratic Union of Bosnia-Herzegovina (HDZ BiH), said on 8 September that his party will participate in the September elections, HINA reported. The HDZ BiH said it was considering a boycott after the OSCE banned 15 of its candidates for violating election regulations. Meanwhile, the OSCE said that Croatian television programs are now abiding by election regulations on media coverage of the Bosnian elections (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 September 1998). PB


U.S. Assistant Secretary of State John Shattuck said on 8 September in the Montenegrin capital of Podgorica that Washington supports democratization in Montenegro, AFP reported. Shattuck held talks with President Milo Djukanovic and Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic about the influx of refugees from Kosova. Montenegro Deputy Premier Dragisa Burzan said on 6 September that some 40,000 people from Kosova have fled to Montenegro and that the small republic does not have the resources to cope with the refugees. Germany pledged $4.3 million to Montenegro the next day to help provide for the refugees. PB


NATO's Supreme Commander in Europe, U.S. General Wesley Clark, met with Slovenian officials in Ljubljana on 7-8 September, AP reported. Clark discussed plans for NATO expansion and the situation in Kosova with President Milan Kucan, Defense Minister Alojz Krapez, and the chief of staff of the Slovenian army, General Iztok Podbregar. Podbregar told Clark that NATO membership is Slovenia's "strategic aim." Slovenia is a member of NATO's Partnership for Peace program. PB


In the 8 September issue of "RFE/RL Newsline," the U.S. ambassador to Croatia should have been identified as William Dale Montgomery.


Fatos Nano on 8 September said that he is willing to halt the prosecution of officials appointed by former President Sali Berisha, Reuters reported. Nano said in a speech to the parliament that he will support "initiatives which, without paralyzing and demotivating justice, bring to a formal end punishment of a political nature and aspire towards...national reconciliation." Six Berisha-era officials have been detained and accused of crimes against humanity for their roles in last year's unrest. Berisha has led demonstrations in Tirana to protest their arrest and vows to continue such protests until Nano steps down. PB


The leaders of the ruling coalition parties have failed to reach an agreement that would satisfy the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR)'s demands for university-level instruction in the Hungarian language, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported on 8 September. They will meet again on 14 September to discuss the issue. Prime Minister Radu Vasile commented that he is "confident" a compromise solution can be reached. UDMR chairman Marko Bela said his party demands that the Chamber of Deputies' Education Commission change the wording of the provision prohibiting instruction in national minority languages at university level. Observers say this may be a hint that the UDMR is now ready to settle for the amendment passed last year by the Senate allowing private universities that teach in national minority languages and "multicultural" universities. MS


In its 7 September issue, the tabloid "Atac la persoana" said there are too many "potential soap [people] from Tel Aviv" on Bucharest's streets. It deplored the fact that owing to its present economic "penury," Romania does not have "sufficient barbed wire and Cyclone-B gas" to provide a solution to this problem. The prominent columnist Cornel Nistorescu, in an editorial in "Evenimentul zilei" on 9 September, called upon the authorities to sanction the tabloid in line with existing legislation. MS


The leader of the separatist region, Igor Smirnov, says the Transdniester has "sufficient military equipment," which is "domestically produced," and that its military forces are "consistently improving their training [methods]." Smirnov, whose speech marked the seventh anniversary of the separatist military forces, said the main objective of the Transdniester army is to defend "the state and the citizens' lawful interests," RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported on 8 September. Transdniester media, citing military sources in Tiraspol, say the Transdniester army has 10,000 troops, of whom some 20 percent are retired Russian military and 10 percent new recruits. MS


Responding to the removal of ethnic Turkish commemorative plaques in a village in southeastern Bulgaria, Petar Stoyanov on 7 September said he will "do his best to prevent any further exploitation of inter-ethnic relations in Bulgaria for cheap political dividends." Stoyanov said he is "convinced that neither Hasan not Ivan, who are now harvesting, are likely to become hostages to an artificially sought and inspired conflict" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 September 1998), BTA reported. MS


Bulgaria, Romania, and Greece have signed an agreement aimed at coordinating the struggle against organized crime. Meeting in Sofia on 8 September, the interior ministers of the three countries pledged to exchange information and launch concerted actions against drug and weapons smuggling, illegal immigration rackets, money laundering, and illegal financial operations, AP reported. MS


by John Varoli

Amid Russia's economic and political crisis, cadets ended a 10-day convention in Moscow on 8 September that was designed to infuse them with the ideals of the Tsarist military.

The convention was the first-ever gathering in Russia of the United Russian Cadet Corps Abroad, a group of descendants of exiled White Army officers dedicated to preserving the military ideals of the Tsarist era. Since 1992, the group has been playing an active role in preparing new generations of Russian soldiers. Some 42 senior cadets, most between the ages of 60 and 75, returned to Russia for the convention.

The convention was the cadets' 16th major meeting since 1931.

"This is an extremely emotional event for us," Alexei Jordan, vice president of the New York chapter of the Russian Cadet Corps Abroad, told RFE/RL. "It is the first time that we, the sons of White officers who fought during the Civil War and who were educated as cadets abroad, have met in Russia."

Jordan is also the father of the leading Russian-U.S. banker Boris Jordan, head of MFK-Renaissance. Over the past three years, Boris Jordan has made significant personal contributions to the Cadet Corps in St. Petersburg. Also, according to the MFK- Renaissance public relations office, Jordan's bank has donated $200,000 to various cadet activities and to renovating the grave of the 18th-century Russian general Alexander Suvorov.

Russia's cadet corps dates back to the reign of Empress Anne. In 1731, she decreed the creation of the corps to prepare boys for study at an institution of higher education that would eventually lead to a career either in the military or in the state civil service.

But when the Russian Revolution of 1917 swept away the Tsarist order, only eight of Russia's 301 cadet corps were able to make their way to Crimea, then a stronghold of the anti-Bolshevik White Army, under the command of General Pyotr Wrangel. Those boys who did not make it were executed by the Bolsheviks. The Whites abandoned Crimea in 1920, and the eight cadet corps sailed with other refugees to Yugoslavia, whose king, Alexander I, had also studied in the Russian cadets school in St. Petersburg.

In Yugoslavia, a new generation of cadets were raised in the imperial spirit of, "Faith, Tsar, and Fatherland." There, they waited to return to Russia, hoping for the collapse of the Bolshevik regime.

The cadets were pushed farther west by Soviet troops entering Yugoslavia at the end of World War II. Many were scattered as far as the U.S. and France. By 1956, the last educational institution of the Russian cadet corps had closed its doors in Paris.

Igor Andrushkevitch, a chief ideologue for the Russian Cadet Corps Abroad, told RFE/RL that the so-called Soviet morality was based on economic materialism and this emphasis has led to moral decline in contemporary Russia. The Russian Cadet Corps Abroad offers to fill what its members see as a moral void with the ethics of bygone days. "The purpose of the cadet [corps] is to educate youths with the ideas of service to the Motherland," Yerzhan Yusupov, a former Soviet army captain and co-organizer of the conference, told RFE/RL.

"It is time to do something about the utter lack of values in the Russian military," Vladimir Braun, chairman of the Russian Order of St. George, told RFE/RL. "If we do not change the current situation in the military, then we'll have a potentially explosive situation on our hands."

It is unclear whether any representatives of the active Russian military took part in the convention either as participants or observers. The author is an RFE/RL correspondent based in St. Petersburg.