|The fool wonders, the wise man asks. - Benjamin Disraeli|
No. 36, Part I, 20 February 1995
We welcome you to Part I of the Open Media Research Institute's Daily Digest. The Digest is distributed 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. RUSSIA EXTENDED CHECHEN CEASE-FIRE EXPIRES. Chechen and Russian military commanders have agreed to extend an ongoing two-day cease-fire until 19 February, Russian and Western agencies reported. The two sides also reached agreement on exchanging lists of prisoners at their third meeting in Ingushetia on 17 February. Chechen military Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai, and Ingush Vice President Boris Agapov called for talks at the political level to resolve the Chechen crisis. In contrast, Sergei Filatov, head of Yeltsin's presidential staff, told Interfax on 18 February that the Chechen people must first elect a new leadership before such talks can take place. Chechen mufti Muhamed Alsabekov said at a 17 February news conference in Moscow that Chechen religious leaders would support neither the head of the government of national trust, Salambek Khadzhiev, nor Provisional Council chairman Umar Avturkhanov, nor Ruslan Khasbulatov, according to Interfax. Meanwhile, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times on 18 February, Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev threatened a terrorist campaign in Russia. On 19 February, Col.-Gen. Anatoly Kulikov, the commander of Russian federal troops in Chechnya, accused Chechen forces of violating the cease-fire with an attack on Russian troops south of Grozny on 18 February, ITAR-TASS reported. Although Kulikov said the possibilities for stopping hostilities were "exhausted," Ostankino television and ITAR-TASS reported on 19 February that Russian and Chechen military representatives were discussing a possible time and venue for future talks. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc. THREE NEW PARTIES SET UP IN RUSSIA. Three new political parties held founding congresses on 18-19 February, but President Yeltsin sent a welcoming address to only one of them, Russian TV's "Vesti" reported. Yeltsin's address to the congress of the Social Democratic Party was read by the president's chief of staff, Sergei Filatov. The congress elected Aleksandr Yakovlev, the Federal Broadcasting Service chairman, to lead the new party and former Moscow KGB head Yevgeny Sevastyanov to be one of Yakovlev's five deputies. In an interview with ITAR-TASS, Yakovlev, the architect of liberal reform under former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, denied claims that the new political group is in the pocket of the president. Yakovlev specifically named Yegor Gaidar's Russia's Choice and Grigorii Yavlinsky's Democratic Alternative parties as potential allies. At a similar founding congress, former Finance Minister Boris Fedorov launched the new "Forward, Russia!" party. He also pointed to Gaidar and Yavlinsky as potential partners. At the same time, Fedorov identified "Forward, Russia!" as the party of democratic opposition to Yeltsin. Meanwhile, State Duma member Viktor Kobelev founded a third new political movement, Vozrozhdenie derzhavy (Revival of the Great Power), to contest the coming elections, Interfax and AFP reported 18 February. Kobelev was a former ally of Vladimir Zhirinovsky, but left his party after coming into conflict with him. The leader of the new party rejected alliances with other political groups because their platforms were too "dogmatic." The main plank of the movement's platform is "to save and resurrect Russia." -- Julia Wishnevsky and Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. CONFERENCE ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT HELD. A conference on local government bringing together federal and provincial leaders took place in the Kremlin on 17 February, Interfax reported. President Yeltsin told the conference that "an updated system of municipal self-rule will work for the territorial integrity of Russia." In his speech, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said that, traditionally, local governments have been seen as extensions of the federal authorities and that it will take many years to overcome that legacy. The writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn told the conference that local governments are the key to Russia's future. He supported the sections of Yeltsin's draft legislation that emphasize separating power between federal and local authorities and granting the local governments financial independence. Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai said Yeltsin will now set up a "public council" to put together a final draft for consideration by parliament. Chuvash President Nikolai Fedorov rejected a proposal to abolish the ethnic republics advanced by a number of speakers, including Solzhenitsyn. Both Solzhenitsyn and Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov warned that it would not be wise to adopt a single law on local government for both Russia's cities and rural areas. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. RIGHT-WING OFFICERS ASSEMBLY MEETS. The ultra-nationalist and unofficial "All-Russia Army Officers Assembly" opened its annual meeting on 18 February in Moscow by singing both the Russian and Soviet national anthems and then continuing with its usual attacks on the government, the defense minister, and the West, Interfax reported. Retired Col.-Gen. Vladislav Achalov railed against the media and the authors of "the uncountable number of books of reminiscences" for revealing military secrets to the West--which he said was aiming to "weaken the Russian military potential and obtain Russian know-how." He asked the 300 delegates to work out concrete measures that would "contribute to uniting the aspirations of all patriotic forces in restoring the combat preparedness, honor, and dignity of the Russian armed forces." Retired Gen. Valentin Varennikov called for a law forbidding the use of the army in internal armed conflicts. He charged that the military was being used as a scapegoat for the failure of politicians to solve the crisis in Chechnya. On 19 February, Stanislav Terekhov, leader of the Union of Officers, told Interfax that the conference would become a permanent body which would "act for strengthening the defense capacity of the country and unmask anti-national forces which destroyed the USSR and are completing this process in Russia." -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. BOOK ON SOVIET NUCLEAR WEAPONS. President Yeltsin has signed a decree calling for the publication of archive documents dealing with the history of nuclear weapons in the Soviet Union, Interfax reported on 18 February. The project "aims at reconstructing an objective picture of the emergence of the national nuclear industry and the history of the creation of nuclear weapons in the Soviet Union," according to the decree. The report said an unclassified book would be published covering nuclear developments through 1954, but it did not indicate when it would be available. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. CHUBAIS VOWS TO SLASH CREDITS TO AGRO-INDUSTRIAL SECTOR. The Russian government intends to "stop or radically reduce the allocation of centralized credits to the agro-industrial sector," First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais said at a conference with leaders of territorial property management committees, property funds, and bankruptcy agencies, Segodnya reported on 18 February. Chubais said the process of crediting the countryside is ineffective. "In receiving a credit, everybody understands that it can neither be returned nor can interest be paid on it," he said. The minister noted that assistance to the countryside must be provided, but in the shape of budget financing and by introducing a special tax patterned after a value added tax. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. CHUBAIS CALLS JANUARY FINANCIAL RESULTS "CATASTROPHIC." First Deputy Prime Minister Chubais called January's financial results "catastrophic" in a speech before an expanded board meeting of the State Property Committee, Segodnya reported on 17 February. Budget revenue was 6 trillion rubles (4,314 rubles to $1) instead of the 13 trillion rubles planned. Chubais said the main reasons for the crisis were the slow pace of cash privatization and delays in IMF talks on a $6 billion loan which had been included in first quarter budget revenues. The budget envisions the sale of state property to generate 9.1 trillion rubles in revenue. In January, the proceeds amounted to only 13 billion rubles. Chubais also noted that by the end of 1994, privatization measures came to a virtual standstill and he called upon the State Property Committee to move the process along. "The domestic economy will not survive investment postponement for another year," he said. -- Thomas Sigel , OMRI, Inc. RUSSIAN STOCK MARKET FACES CRISIS. The Russian securities market has been in crisis since the fall of 1994, Securities and Stock Market Commission director Dmitry Vasilev said at a conference on 17 February, Interfax reported. The director said the crisis was caused by low demand for Russian bonds and securities which is linked to lack of consumer confidence due to imperfect legislation regarding stock exchange operations. Neither the government nor market agents have devised an effective market control mechanism. Vasilev also said Russia's unfavorable economic situation and the Chechen crisis have affected the bonds and securities market. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. YELTSIN ISSUES DECREE ON ADVERTISING. President Yeltsin has issued a decree barring the media from advertising alcohol, tobacco, and the services of unregistered healers on the grounds that they pose a threat to public health, Reuters reported on 18 February. Under the decree, media that break the law will be sued and their revenues used to fund public health programs. In December 1994 , the Duma passed a law on its first reading banning tobacco and alcohol advertising. Public health has deteriorated rapidly in Russia in recent years and life expectancy has fallen sharply, particularly for men. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. INDEPENDENT TRADE UNIONS TO FORM ELECTION ASSOCIATION. The leadership of the Russian Federation of Independent Trade Unions decided on 17 February to set up an electoral association, called Trade Unions of Russia, and select candidates for a federal list, Interfax reported. Federation chairman Mikhail Shmakov said other unions might also join the association which would consider entering into a coalition with the Agrarians, Communists, and the Socialist Workers' Party. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. STRIKES INCREASE IN JANUARY. There was a sharp increase in the number of strikes this January in comparison with the same month in 1994, Radio Rossii reported on 18 February. Strikes occurred at 95 organizations, mostly in the education sector. The main reason for the industrial action was late payment of wages. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA SECOND ROUND OF KYRGYZ ELECTIONS. Despite the assassination of a parliamentary candidate in Bishkek on 16 February and an appeal for a postponement by representatives of the intelligentsia on 18 February, the second round of parliamentary elections took place in Kyrgyzstan as scheduled on 19 February, ITAR-TASS reported. Voter turnout was estimated at more than 60%. Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev admitted procedural violations, characterizing the voting as "free and competitive but not absolutely honest," Interfax reported on 19 February. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc. ANTI-GOVERNMENT DEMONSTRATION IN ARMENIA. Some 20,000 people attended a protest meeting in Erevan on 18 February convened by the opposition "Alliance for National Accord" to demand the resignation of President Levon Ter-Petrossyan, ITAR-TASS reported. Meanwhile, 300 journalists from a number of publications financed by the temporarily banned Dashnak Party continued to demonstrate outside the president's official residence demanding that the ban be lifted and that they be allowed to resume work. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc. CIS BLACK SEA FLEET COMMANDER ON RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN ACCORD. Black Sea Fleet commander Admiral Eduard Baltin said the treaty on Russian-Ukrainian friendship and cooperation initialed in Kiev on 8 February did not resolve any issues regarding the fleet, Ukrainian radio reported on 17 February citing an interview in Slava Sevastopolya. While the agreement calls for future meetings between Russian and Ukrainian delegations to resolve the division of the fleet, Baltin said it does not commit either side to anything. Baltin also criticized Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets who had initialed the agreement, saying he led the talks badly and did not know the real state of affairs within the fleet. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINIAN-RUSSIAN MILITARY COOPERATION. Ukrainian Defense Minister Valerii Shmarov on 18 February met with a Russian military delegation headed by Viktor Glukhikh, Ukrainian Radio reported. The two sides discussed joint production of military hardware, including the TU-70 and TU-334 aircraft, and the exchange of military information. They also signed an agreement on military-technical cooperation and on setting up a financial group to be called "International Aviamotors." Interfax reported on 17 February that Vyacheslav Chrnovil, leader of the national-democratic Rukh, criticized Shmarov for attempting to restore the ex-USSR military-industrial complex rather than building a national one. -- Ustina Markus, 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: firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone: (42 2) 6114 2114 Fax: (42 2) 426 396
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