|The salvation of mankind lies only in making everything the concern of all. - Alexander Solzhenitsyn|
No. 27, Part I, 7 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 "ARMY HAS FULFILLED ITS TASKS IN CHECHNYA" -- GRACHEV. Meeting with military leaders in Moscow on 6 February, Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev asserted that the army had fulfilled its task in Chechnya by establishing control over the last remaining Chechen stronghold in Grozny, Interfax reported. A military source in Mozdok told Interfax on the same day that Russian troops had succeeded in blocking the main roads into Grozny, thus preventing the transport of arms and supplies to the remaining Chechen fighters. He also predicted the Russian military would formally hand over the Chechen territory under its control to the Russian Interior Ministry "within ten days." -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc. MORE DETAILS ABOUT THE DECISION TO INTERVENE IN CHECHNYA COME TO LIGHT. The head of President Yeltsin's Analytical Center, Emil Pain, and a consultant to the center, Arkady Popov, have published a report describing the decision to intervene in Chechnya, Interfax reported on 7 February. The two experts claim they had presented a plan for the peaceful resolution of the conflict which was ultimately rejected. The plan proposed economic and social support for the three northern regions of Chechnya, where the population had demonstrated sympathy for remaining within the Russian Federation in September 1994. The goal was to improve conditions in this part of Chechnya so that when elections were held in the republic, residents would be able to make a clear choice between staying within Russia or leaving it. The plan sought to strengthen the position of Umar Avturkhanov, in his capacity as head of the Nadterechny Regional Administration, and make public Moscow's attempts to help the loyal regions. The advisers claim the Security Council's power ministers rejected this plan because they did not want to deal with "either the Chechen opposition or political partners deserving respect and confidence." Much of the presidential apparatus and many of Yeltsin's advisers were excluded from reviewing the military plans for Chechnya. Deputy Prime Minister and then Minister for Nationalities and Regional Policy Nikolai Egorov did not inform his ministry's board of the secret plans. As a result, Deputy Minister for Nationalities Vyacheslav Mikhailov, appointed head of the negotiating delegation, went to Mozdok without knowing that the war would begin before he could start his work. The experts said the media's critical reaction drove the generals and politicians who supported the policy to even more cruel actions. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. LUKIN FORESEES ECONOMIC SANCTIONS OVER CHECHNYA. Russia may become the target of economic sanctions as a result of Chechnya, according to Vladimir Lukin, chairman of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs, Interfax reported on 6 February. He based his conclusion on the Council of Europe's decision to defer consideration of Russia's application for membership. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. RUMORS OF GRACHEV'S REMOVAL EXAGGERATED? Defense Minister Pavel Grachev will participate in Russia's official delegation to the CIS summit in Almaty on 10 February, Interfax reported. According to a "high-ranking military source speaking on condition of anonymity," the minister's inclusion in the delegation "completely goes against the rumors of Grachev's imminent removal, intentionally spread in Moscow." The source said this trip is an indication of "normal relations between the president and the defense minister." -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. DRAFT ELECTORAL LAWS TO BE CONSIDERED IN MARCH. Responding to media concern, Chairman of the Duma Committee for Legislation and Judicial Reform, Vladimir Isakov told Interfax on 6 February, that draft laws for electing the Duma and President, and holding referenda will be submitted for their second reading in parliament no later than March. Isakov confirmed reports that his committee and its counterpart in the Federation Council are working on a law for elections to the council. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. REGIONAL LEADERS DENOUNCE PARTY LIST ELECTIONS, FEDERAL ENCROACHMENTS. Regional interests are not represented in elections by party list, Vladimir Medvedev, leader of the New Regional Policy parliamentary group, said in a Duma debate, reported in Nezavisimaya gazeta on 7 February. All the parties fight for support in Moscow, he explained. He advocated the election of Duma deputies from single-member districts as the best solution. In the same discussion, St. Petersburg Mayor Anatolii Sobchak complained that federal authorities were accumulating power at the expense of the regions. In St. Petersburg there are now 64 federal structures employing 11,000 individuals. Not one of them was set up with the consent of local officials, as provided for in the constitution, he claimed. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. RUTSKOI SPLITS SOCIAL DEMOCRATS. The board of the Russian Social Democratic Party has ruled to expel its ex-leader, former Vice-President Aleksandr Rutskoi, along with nine of his supporters, Interfax reported. According to the board's communique, Rutskoi's group had organized a meeting on 4 February called "a session of the party's federal council" where it decided to take the party out of the umbrella organization, the Social Democratic Union, in order to concentrate its efforts on Rutskoi's "Derzhava" (Great Power) movement. In a 6 February interview with RFE/RL, Rutskoi explained the meeting as his attempt to expel Vasilii Lipitsky, the RSDP former first deputy who now heads the union. The umbrella group was formed last fall in an attempt to consolidate various social democratic forces. The union is the only social democratic group in Russia to have won the support of the trade unions. Thanks to good relations with Mikhail Gorbachev, the union has also succeeded in winning recognition from Socialist International, as the legitimate representative of world social democracy in Russia. In contrast, Rutskoi's "Derzhava" is a relatively moderate nationalist movement that seems to have little in common with traditional social democracy. -- Julia Wishnevsky, OMRI, Inc. "MEMORIAL," DPR REBUFF YELTSIN'S "PUBLIC" INITIATIVES. The leadership of Russia's oldest non-communist political party--the Democratic Party of Russia--has accused the government of violating all the provisions of the Public Accord Agreement, ITAR-TASS reported. DPR leaders called for an assembly of the agreement's signatories to discuss the Russian executive's recent actions. The agreement was penned last year in the office of Yeltsin Chief of Staff Sergei Filatov, who persuaded both Russian parliament speakers, leaders of political parties, and various non-political organizations to sign it without discussion. Later, on 4 February, the widely respected human rights "Memorial" society officially resigned from the presidential Public Chamber. Yeltsin set up the chamber in 1993, and entrusted it, rather than the rebel parliament, with the task of drawing up a new constitution. He maintained the chamber after the December 1993 elections because his supporters had not gained enough support in the new parliament. -- Julia Wishnevsky, OMRI, Inc. YELTSIN SIGNS PRIVATIZATION DECREE. Russian President Boris Yeltsin signed a decree ordering a special privatization plan for Moscow, Interfax reported on 6 February. The decree, based on proposals by economist Grigorii Yavlinsky, leader of the reformist Yabloko group in parliament, authorizes municipal authorities to set asking prices in auctioning state property, allowing them to sell such property at prices much higher than the rest of the country. The regulation cancels a clause in the official privatization program, effected by Yeltsin last July, which stipulated that asking prices for the property of an enterprise should be based on its fiscal balance as of 1 January 1994. The decree also allows the municipal government to sell non-residential buildings at market prices and gives a building owner the right to a 49- year lease of the land on which the building is situated. Municipal authorities are now allowed to entrust the administration of unsold shares to the managers of the privatized enterprise. The decree also allows for some of the receipts from the sale of state enterprises to be used to renovate other enterprises. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. INVESTORS PROTEST IN MOSCOW RALLY. More than 1,000 people, who lost their investments in Russian shareholding companies and banks, held a protest rally in Moscow on 5 February, Interfax reported. In the demonstration, organized by the Labor Forum Trade Union Association and the Union of Privatization Check Holders, protesters demanded the government take tight control over Russia's money market and called for the creation of a political party of investors. The rally brought together stockholders who have interests in investment companies which include the Tibet and Chara concerns, the Ronika Company, and Capital Bank. Moscow City Duma Councilor Vyacheslav Marakov, an organizing member of the protest, told Interfax the president and the government should meet with the investors' representatives and appoint a conciliation commission to solve the problems of company debts and non- payments to clients. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIA ENCOURAGES INVESTMENT IN MINERAL DEPOSIT REGIONS. In an attempt to attract western investments to its eastern regions where major mineral deposits are located, Russia's Trade and Industry Chamber stressed the need to develop this sector at a recent Moscow conference, Finansovye Izvestia reported on 7 February. Meanwhile, the South African company, De Beers, which controls 80% of the world's raw diamond market, hopes to sign a trade agreement with Russia before the end of the year, Interfax reported. Before the agreement is signed, the two sides must settle some disputed points, including De Beer's insistance that most of Russia's diamond sales be channeled through their Central Sales Organization. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. PROSPECTS FOR IMF LOAN TO MOSCOW REMAIN CLOUDED. The IMF delegation visiting Moscow was set to leave on 7 February without having concluded an agreement on a $6.25 billion IMF standby loan, the Financial Times and Interfax reported. Nevertheless, both IMF and Russian officials still think the deal will go through. IMF officials continue to have doubts about Russian revenue forecasts and the government's political commitment to stabilization. In addition, the IMF is concerned that Russia has failed to deliver on its promise to liberalize oil exports. Disbursement of a $600 million loan from the World Bank depends on a successful conclusion to the IMF talks -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA AZERBAIJAN DEFENSE MINISTER DISMISSED. Azeri President Heidar Aliev issued a decree dismissing Defense Minister Mamedrafi Mamedov "for errors committed when organizing the building up of the army," Interfax reported on 6 February. Former Deputy Defense Minister Safar Abiev was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-general and appointed in his place. He is Azerbaijan's eighth defense minister since September 1991. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc. KYRGYZ ELECTIONS INDECISIVE. Two deputies have been elected to the Legislative Assembly and eleven to the Assembly of People's Representatives, a spokesman for the Kyrgyz Central Electoral Commission told Interfax on 6 February. A second round of voting will take place on 19 February for the 90 constituencies where no single candidate won the required number of votes. President Askar Akaev predicted that former Communist Party members will constitute an overwhelming majority in the new Kyrgyz parliament, while "democrats got lost somewhere on their way," Interfax reported on 6 February. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc. CIS CIS SUMMIT SET TO GO AHEAD. Despite media speculation to the contrary, the CIS summit is set to go ahead on 10 February, Russia's Vice-Premier Aleksei Bolshakov told Interfax on 6 February. Members of the executive secretariat left Moscow for Almaty on the same day to prepare for the summit. A preliminary agenda lists more than 20 items to be addressed, including agreements on a joint economic space, tariff policy, and aid to refugees. Commenting on Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev's proposal to strengthen security relations, Georgian Parliament Chairman Eduard Shevardnadze said, "This is a very interesting proposal, but it will remain on the level of declaration, unless my amendments concerning aggressive separatism, and the Commonwealth's attitude to it, are reflected in the document." -- 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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