|I'm going to turn on the light, and we'll be two people in a room looking at each other and wondering why on earth we were afraid of the dark. - Gale Wilhelm|
No. 18, Part I, 25 January 1995
We welcome you to Part I of the Open Media Research Institute's Daily Digest. The Digest is distriubed in two sections. This part focuses on Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia, and the CIS. Part II, distributed simultaneously as a second document, covers East-Central and Southeastern Europe. The Daily Digest picks up where the RFE/RL Daily Report, which recently ceased publication, left off. Contributors include OMRI's 30-member staff of analysts, plus selected freelance specialists. OMRI is a unique public-private venture between the Open Society Institute and the U.S. Board for International Broadcasting. RUSSIA YELTSIN MAY CREATE NATIONAL GUARD. President Boris Yeltsin's advisers are preparing to set up a National Guard directly subordinate to the president, Izvestiya reported on 24 January. According to documents Izvestiya cited, during a political crisis, the guard will be an "armed organization . . . that will be an instrument in the battle for political power." In periods of stability, the National Guard will be an "armed pillar for the political leader of the state." The guard will mostly deal with internal problems and threats which are outside the army's jurisdiction. Its membership will be small, but elite. Aleksandr Korzhakov, chief of Yeltsin's Presidential Guard, is said to be the main force behind the creation of a new guard. The idea for it sprang from an "analytical center" under his control which employs between 60 to 100 former KGB experts and is headed by Georgii Pagozin, Korzhakov's deputy. Korzhakov's Presidential Guard currently has 4,000 men, according to AFP. The appearance of this document adds to increasing evidence that Korzhakov is exercising a hard-line influence on the president. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. DUDAEV, GRACHEV ON SITUATION IN CHECHNYA. Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev said that Russian troops do not control any part of Grozny and claimed that pockets of Russian forces in the city are surrounded, according to an interview with radio station Ekho Moskvy quoted by Western agencies on 24 January. He again called for a ceasefire and the withdrawal of all Russian troops and asked for international observers to be stationed in Chechnya. At a press conference in Moscow on 24 January summarized by ITAR-TASS, Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev claimed that his troops had completed the process of disarming illegal formations in Grozny and that there were no longer any substantive centers of Chechen resistance in Grozny or elsewhere. He said the army was ready to turn over responsibility for restoring order to the Russian Interior Ministry. A UN official, cited by Reuters on 24 January, estimated that some 42,000 refugees have fled the fighting in Chechnya. A spokesman for the International Organization for Migration in Geneva said that preparations are being made to evacuate at least half of the 10,000 civilians still stranded in Grozny. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc. FOUR JOURNALISTS SHOT, 107 BEATEN UP BY THE MILITARY. Four journalists have been killed and 107 more intimidated while working in Chechnya, according to a round-table discussion attended by representatives of the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the State Duma, the government, public organizations, and the media. The 24 January discussion, broadcast on Russian TV, dealt with reports that the military has beaten up journalists, confiscated their equipment, fired at their vehicles and even at journalists themselves. While the officers accused the media of siding with the Chechens, the journalists argued that the military was not allowing them to report from the Russian side of the conflict. A military spokesman confirmed that Defense Minister Grachev had ordered his subordinates to keep journalists away from battlefields because he wanted to protect them. -- Julia Wishnevsky, OMRI, Inc. GRACHEV TO FIRE GENERALS. The defense minister Pavel Grachev said he intends to fire six or seven generals for refusing to participate in the Chechen conflict, Interfax reported on 24 January. The only name he mentioned was Col.-Gen. Eduard Vorobev--the first deputy commander of Ground Forces. Grachev said three of his deputies who recently lost their posts-- Col.-Gens. Boris Gromov, Georgii Kondratev, and Valerii Mironov--would not be dismissed from the armed forces. Instead, they would be offered other positions "in military or other structures" at the same rank. He added that he would soon appoint two more deputies. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIAN SECURITY SERVICES ALLEGEDLY ACCUSE WESTERN INVESTORS OF SUBVERTING RUSSIAN ECONOMY. Documents allegedly leaked from Russian security services to a Russian newspaper accuse Western investors of subverting the Russian economy, the Financial Times reports. The attacks appeared in Rabochaya Tribuna of 24 January and mentioned 15 specific Western investments, including CS First Boston's acquisition of portions of several oil companies and involvement by the foreign metals trading company Transworld in the aluminum sector. These investments represented part of "the hidden intervention of foreign capital aimed at undermining the weapons building capacity and economy of the country." the Financial Times interpreted this assault on foreign investment as a reflection of the ongoing struggle within the Russian government over the future direction of the country's economy. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. YELTSIN FIRES PRIVATIZATION CHIEF. President Yeltsin fired Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Polevanov on 24 January on grounds that the country's privatization chief "did not know he needed to toe the government's pro-privatization line," AFP reported. Last week, Yeltsin publicly criticized Polevanov for saying earlier this month that firms in the fuel and aluminum industries which had been "unfairly privatized" should be renationalized in the interests of national security. Polevanov caused another stir earlier this month when he prohibited foreigners and several journalists from entering the State Property Committee headquarters. The ex-privatization chief explained the action at the time as "the need to protect state secrets." When First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais ordered him to reverse the decision, Polevanov refused. Yeltsin said that with Polevanov's dismissal, "nothing changes in the strategy and tactics of reform in Russia on the part of the president or the government." -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. UNEMPLOYMENT INCREASING. Some 1.88 million people were officially registered as unemployed on 1 January 1995, 1.64 million of whom were receiving unemployment benefits, agencies reported on 24 January. Fedor Prokopov, head of the Federal Employment Service, stated that actual unemployment in January was 5.3 million and that 13.5 percent of those who want to work are now jobless, a figure that he said includes hidden unemployment. The same day an Economics Ministry official told a round-table discussion on unemployment in Moscow that the number of officially registered people without work is expected to reach 4.2 million by the end of the year. He added that the official figure reflects just a third of Russia's unemployed. Interfax quoted him as saying that one in four never apply for a new job, some 5 million are looking for work without the aid of the state employment offices, and another 5 million work part-time. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. 1994 GRAIN HARVEST DIPS TO LOWEST POINT IN 13 YEARS. Russia collected 81.3 million tons of grain in 1994, the lowest harvest in 13 years, according to a Goskomstat report cited by Interfax. Goskomstat said that in 1993 Russia harvested 99.1 million tons in comparison with a high of 116.7 million tons reaped in 1990. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food told Interfax that its plant-growing department estimates that 82 million tons of grain will be harvested in 1995. Ministry experts believe this can be achieved if state support for agriculture stays at last year's level, 13.9 trillion rubles (3,947 rubles/$1). The ministry presented this figure in its draft resolution on state regulation measures and on economic conditions for the functioning of Russia's agro-industrial complex. However, the 1995 draft budget, which has been approved by the Duma on the preliminary reading, only allocates 8 trillion rubles for agriculture. Despite the final monetary allocation, Ministry of Economics experts said that 108-110 million tons of grain will be required to fulfill the population's needs this year. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. CONFERENCE ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT TO BE HELD IN FEBRUARY. The Analytical Center led by Chief of Staff Sergei Filatov decided to hold an all-Russia conference in February to speed up the adoption of a new law on relations between the federal and local governments, Interfax reported 24 January. The conference will also examine controversial issues surrounding tax and regional property rights. Filatov has made numerous statements recently warning Russia's regions against trying to take too much power. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. ZYUGANOV TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT. The Communist Party has decided to back Gennadii Zyuganov as its presidential candidate, he announced at a press conference 24 January. According to Interfax, he stressed he will seek alliances with other groups favoring a strong state. The Communist leader specifically named the Agrarian Party and the Russian National Union as potential partners. Asked about working with Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Zyuganov said, "sometimes in the morning Zhirinovsky qualifies [as an ally] but then stops after lunch." Zhirinovsky has already announced his intention to run for Russia's highest office. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. SPACE TROOPS LAUNCH AMERICAN SATELLITE. For the first time, an American commercial satellite has been launched by Russia, a spokesman for the Space Troops told Interfax on 24 January. He said that a FAISAT experimental communication satellite, belonging to the U.S. firm Final Analysis, Inc., had been one of three satellites sent into space from the Plesetsk cosmodrome that day aboard a Cosmos booster. Built by the Polyet Aerospace Association in Omsk, the Cosmos is touted to be the world's most reliable booster for placing light loads in low earth orbit. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. GENERAL LEBED SAYS HE PASSED INSPECTION. Lt.-Gen. Aleksandr Lebed, told Interfax on 23 January that his controversial command of Russia's 14th Army in Moldova had been given a clean bill of health from a group of Moscow military inspectors, headed by Deputy Defense Minister Konstantin Kobets. He was quoted as saying the inspection was "successful, no serious reproaches were voiced." Like Kobets, he also denied press rumors that the purpose of Kobets visit had been to remove him from his post. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA TASHKENT PROSECUTOR THREATENS ACTION AGAINST FORMER PRIME MINISTER. Tashkent Prosecutor Ergash Dzhuraev wants legal proceedings brought against former Prime Minister Shukurulla Mirsaidov, who recently announced that he was creating a new opposition political party in Uzbekistan, according to an article published in the Uzbek press on 21 January and summarized by Interfax that day. Dzhuraev claimed that in 1990-1991, during his tenure as prime minister, Mirsaidov had abused his official position, causing $5,635,000 in financial losses. Uzbekistan's Supreme Court found him guilty, but he was later amnestied on the first anniversary of the country's independence. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc. CIS RUSSIA AND BELARUS SIGN TRADE AGREEMENT. Russia and Belarus signed a trade and economic cooperation agreement for 1995 in Moscow, Belarusian television reported on 23 January. Under the terms of the agreement, Belarus is to receive 10 million tons of oil from Russia and an additional four million tons may be delivered if the two can work out a clearing arrangement. The report says it will be difficult for Belarus to deliver enough acceptable goods to Russia which would cover the extra four million tons. After the agreement was signed, Russia resumed oil deliveries to Belarus at Russian domestic rates. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. CIS FOREIGN MINISTERS DISCUSS NEXT MONTH'S MEETING IN ALMATY. Foreign ministers of the CIS states are scheduled to meet 25 January to discuss the agenda for next month's CIS summit in Almaty, agencies reported. Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev said they will discuss a Russian-authored draft "peace and accord" pact. He added that such a pact "would be a blessing for all peoples in the post-Soviet era." In a related development, Russian officials responsible for CIS affairs said that Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan would sign agreements this week on convertible currencies, a customs union and free trade.-- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Victor Gomez The OMRI Daily Digest offers the latest news from the former Soviet Union and East-Central and Southeastern Europe. It is published Monday through Friday by the Open Media Research Institute. The Daily Digest is distributed electronically via the OMRI-L list. To subscribe, send "SUBSCRIBE OMRI-L YourFirstName YourLastName" (without the quotation marks and inserting your name where shown) to LISTSERV@UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU No subject line or other text should be included. The publication can also be obtained for a fee in printed form by fax and postal mail. 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