|If you wish to live wisely, ignore sayings--including this one. - Heywood Broun|
No. 24, Part I, 2 February 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 WARRANT ISSUED FOR DUDAEV'S ARREST. Russian acting Prosecutor-General Aleksei Ilyushenko's office issued a warrant for the arrest of Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev on charges of high treason (which carries a possible death sentence), incitement to terrorism, violation of ethnic and racial equality, and violation of the law on referendums, Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported on 1 February. ITAR-TASS noted that one of the charges was based on an alleged intercepted telephone conversation between Dudaev and the leadership of an unspecified Azerbaijani opposition party in which Dudaev called for terrorist actions against Russia. Laying the ground for additional criminal charges against Dudaev, Russian Federation Council Chairman Vladimir Shumeiko claimed that Dudaev's regime had amassed 11 trillion rubles in illegal income through trading in oil and drugs and issuing illegitimate advice notes of payment, according to Interfax quoting Komsomolskaya pravda. The head of the pro-Moscow Chechen administration, Salambek Khadzhiev, said Dudaev is supported by the Russian mafia and was until recently supplied with inside information on troop movements from Russian military headquarters in Mozdok, Interfax reported. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc. FIGHTING IN AND AROUND GROZNY CONTINUES. Russian artillery bombardment of Grozny continued on 1 February. A Chechen military spokesman denied claims that Russian forces had succeeded in crossing the Sundzha river and had established a bridgehead in the southeast of the city, Interfax reported. During the night of 31 January-1 February, Russian forces also launched an intensive artillery attack on the village of Samashki, east of Grozny, on grounds that it was harboring Dudaev supporters, Western agencies reported. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc. INTERIOR OFFICER PUT IN COMMAND IN CHECHNYA. The commander of Russia's Interior Troops, General Aleksandr Kulikov, has been appointed to head the joint command of federal forces in Chechnya, Interfax reported 1 February. A senior Defense Ministry official said the military is starting to turn over facilities under its control to Interior Ministry troops. He added that the North Caucasus military district would continue to give artillery and air support to the Interior Ministry forces. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. GRACHEV REPORTED HOSPITALIZED. Defense Minister Pavel Grachev had been in the hospital for two days as of 1 February, Postfactum reported. NTV said a ministry spokesman refused to comment on the report. The television station noted that "the number of military leaders on sick leave is growing steadily as the operation in Chechnya goes on." -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. INGUSH DENOUNCES SHAKHRAI. Ingushetia's Vice President Boris Agapov denounced recent comments by Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai, charging that he and the "power ministers"--military, intelligence, and police--had "blacklisted the Ingush as a disloyal nation which has strong separatist feelings," Interfax reported on 1 February. Agapov warned that some Russian politicians are "looking for a pretext to influence Ingushetia." Such moves, he claimed, would lead to a spread of the conflict from Chechnya into Ingushetia. He expressed concern about the fact that all of the power ministries were directly subordinate to the president. "At one time [they] were directly subordinate to Stalin. The result is well known," he said. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. CHECHEN CONFLICT CHANGES BALANCE OF POWER IN PARLIAMENT. The main winners of the Chechen conflict are the Communist Party and their allies, according to an analysis in Nezavisimaya gazeta on 2 February. The Communists will benefit because, first, they opposed the war, along with a majority of the population. Second, fighting on Russian soil helps them discredit the president. Third, the Chechen crisis threatens a quick economic recovery, which in turn strengthens the position of the opposition in the upcoming elections. The main loser is Russia's Choice, under Egor Gaidar, because his political competitors will blame him for arming, or at least tolerating the arming, of Dzhokhar Dudaev. Russia's Choice will also be blamed for supporting the 1993 constitution, which strengthened the Presidency, and only asking for amendments after it went into effect. The president's decision to ignore the Federation Council, the chamber which is supposed to handle relations between Moscow and the regions, provoked considerable opposition to the war in that body. In the Duma, the only party that consistently supports the president is Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai's Party for Russian Unity and Concord. The support of Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party and other nationalists is tactical and will not extend to support for economic reform. If recent events reflect long-term trends, the article concluded, a major change in the Duma's balance of power has taken place, which could destabilize the Russian socio- political situation. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. KHASBULATOV TESTIFIES ON CHECHNYA. Former Chairman of the Supreme Soviet Ruslan Khasbulatov testified before the special Duma commission investigating the Chechen crisis, commission head Stanislav Govorukhin told Interfax on 1 February. The commission is currently meeting behind closed doors at the Moskva hotel. Khasbulatov, an ethnic Chechen, has been blamed for failing to find a solution to the crisis after Chechnya declared independence in 1991. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. RUTSKOI TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT. Former Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi is planning to hold the founding congress for his Great Power movement in the near future, Interfax reported on 1 February. When asked if he would take part in the upcoming presidential elections, he replied, "yes, of course." -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. LUKIN AGREES THAT RUSSIAN APPLICATION TO COUNCIL OF EUROPE MAY BE DELAYED. The head of the Russian delegation to the Council of Europe, Vladimir Lukin, conceded on 1 February that his country may put off its application to join the body, Reuters reported. "We are in favor of a delay for a precise period, which will end when negotiations on the basis of the Russian constitution replace the military initiative [in Chechnya]," Lukin said. A CE parliamentary committee had recommended on 30 January that consideration of Russia's application be delayed until the Chechen situation is resolved. On 2 February, the CE parliamentary assembly was scheduled to debate a harsh condemnation of Russian actions in Chechnya. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. PRESIDENTIAL ADMINISTRATION TO BE FINANCED BY OIL EXPORTS? The Foreign Economic Relations Ministry has granted a company named Rostoplivo oil export privileges in order to "finance the programs of the administrative department of the Presidency," Izvestiya reported on 1 February. The authorities "are secretly creating their own shadow economy," the article charged. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Davydov denied the allegations, saying no new companies had been added to the list of "special exporters," who handle all Russia's oil exports, according to ITAR-TASS. The presidential administration also rejected the claims, saying it had never heard of Rostoplivo, Reuters reported. In December, Izvestiya caused an uproar by publishing a letter from presidential security chief Maj.-Gen. Aleksandr Korzhakov to the prime minister opposing plans to abolish oil export quotas. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. CHERNOMYRDIN PRIORITIZES FINANCIAL STABILIZATION. Financial stabilization is a priority for the Russian government in 1995, said Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin at a 1 February meeting with the Ministry of Communications, Interfax reported. Chernomyrdin said efforts must also be made to "lay the groundwork for the creation of a favorable atmosphere for investment" in the Russian economy. In efforts to stimulate investment and boost industrial production, the prime minister said his cabinet intends to draw up a "full-scale tax reform" package which would be presented to the government by 1 June 1995. Chernomyrdin also stressed that institutional changes are necessary in key industrial and economic complexes. Also, steps must be taken to address social problems--an issue that Chernomyrdin said is "the most complicated priority of 1995." -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. ABALKIN CRITICIZES RUMORED FIXED RUBLE RATE. Academy of Sciences member Leonid Abalkin called the proposed introduction of a fixed ruble rate a "half-baked measure" that would hurt the Russian economy, Interfax reported on 1 February. Economics Minister Yevgenii Yasin mentioned the idea of a fixed rate at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Abalkin said such simple methods cannot prevent the ruble's decline. The economist added he believes the Finance Ministry would benefit if the ruble fell considerably. With the current budget as it is--foreign borrowings are stated in dollars, while revenues are computed in rubles--the government can exploit the exchange rate gap to considerably increase the revenue side of the budget, Abalkin explained. Meanwhile, the ruble took a tumble again against the U.S. dollar in MICEX trading on 1 February, losing 11 points and closing at 4,057 rubles to $1. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. SUBMARINE WORKERS THREATEN NEW HUNGER STRIKE. Workers at two shipyards in Severodvinsk have threatened to renew a hunger strike to get their pay, Interfax reported on 1 February. Vladimir Makivchik, a union leader, said 11 workers had gone on a hunger strike on 11 January inside a nuclear-powered submarine currently being modernized at Severodvinsk. He reported that the Defense Ministry owed the Atomic Shipbuilding Center 231.2 billion rubles. The workers called off their strike after five days but plan to renew it unless the government places an order for this year with the shipyards. Another worker said 19 other men were ready to join the strike. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. McDONALD'S CELEBRATES 5TH ANNIVERSARY IN MOSCOW. The busiest McDonald's hamburger restaurant in the world celebrated its 5th anniversary this week in Moscow, AFP reported. Located on Pushkin Square, the chain has served more than 17 million Big Mac hamburgers, 33 million orders of french fries, 19 million milk shakes and 15 million soft drinks to over 73 million customers, AFP reported. George Cohon, vice chairman of the Moscow McDonald's, said the restaurant's success can be attributed to the Russian people who "made our dream a reality." In 1990, most of the raw materials, including beef, had to be imported. Today, more than 90% of supplies come from 150 suppliers in Russia and other CIS countries. Cohon also announced that the Ronald McDonald Childrens' Charities of Russia would open a sports complex for disabled children in mid-1995. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. CITY BAILS OUT DEFENSE PLANT. The mayor of St. Petersburg has provided an interest-free credit of 510 million rubles to the former Zhdanov Shipyard to pay workers' wages, Russian media reported on 31 January. The reports said the Defense Ministry had not been able to pay for ships it had ordered. Last month, Interfax reported that two Sovremennyi-class destroyers ordered by the Navy were lying unfinished at the shipyard. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. CIS CITIZENSHIP ISSUE STALLS RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN TREATY. Dmytro Tabachnyk, chief of the Ukrainian Presidential Staff, said Kiev would not sign the Russian-Ukrainian friendship treaty if Moscow insisted on a dual- citizenship clause, dpa reported on 1 February. Earlier, President Yeltsin had said he would not visit Ukraine to sign the treaty if the clause was not inserted. Moscow has been insisting that ethnic Russians in Ukraine have the right to dual citizenship. Kiev has been opposed to this demand saying this could lead to excessive Russian influence on national affairs, particularly in Crimea, where some 65% of the population are ethnic Russians. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. MOSCOW POLICE ARREST FUGITIVE UKRAINE SHIPPING MAGNATE. Moscow police have arrested Pavlo Kudzhukin, fugitive director of the Ukrainian Black Sea Shipping Company, BLASCO, and have informed the Ukrainian Security Service that he will be extradited on 2 February to face prosecution in Kiev, dpa reported. The state merchant shipping firm was transformed into a joint-stock company by former President Leonid Kravchuk under suspicious circumstances. Kudzhukin allegedly leased out about 200 Ukrainian merchant vessels under bad conditions, which cost the country about $1 million in potential profits. When Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma launched a criminal investigation into the affair, Kudzhukin fled to Moscow. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, 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. Please direct inquiries to: Editor, Daily Digest, OMRI, Na Strzi 63, 14062 Prague 4, Czech Republic or send e-mail to: email@example.com Telephone: (42 2) 6114 2114 Fax: (42 2) 426 396
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