|We are all apt to believe what the world believes about us. - George Eliot|
No. 46, Part I, 6 March 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 CRIME CONTROL DEBATED FOLLOWING LISTEV'S MURDER. In the wake of the murder of Vladislav Listev, the Security Council is meeting on 6 March to discuss ways to tackle organized crime and corruption, which even President Boris Yeltsin has acknowledged is pervasive in Russian political and economic life, agencies reported. Yeltsin has also urged the State Duma to quickly approve the draft law on organized crime, scheduled to receive its third reading later in March, according to a 3 March RFE/RL correspondent's report. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. YELTSIN TO LET PONOMAREV STAY? According to NTV, quoting unnamed Kremlin sources, President Yeltsin has decided to let Moscow Prosecutor Gennady Ponomarev and Moscow MVD chief Vladimir Pankratov -- who were dismissed following Listev's assassination -- stay on if they meet an unspecified deadline for solving the case. In a 2 March speech, Yeltsin had blamed Ponomarev for failing to stop the mafia's growing power in Moscow. Meanwhile, employees of the Moscow Prosecutor's Office held a meeting on 3 March to protest Ponomarev's imminent dismissal, Interfax reported. In a message to Yeltsin and parliamentary leaders, the prosecutor's office employees said that firing Ponomarev "will not only fail to help the [Listev] investigation, but will play into the hands of the forces destabilizing legal order." Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov called Yeltsin's order an emotional reaction to the killing, because firing Ponomarev would only be welcomed by gangsters, Interfax reported on 4 March. Duma deputies of various political orientations have defended Ponomarev, charging that he has been made into a scapegoat for the journalist's assassination and other problems in the prosecutor's office. Ponomarev himself was not present at his colleagues' protest, but has said that after crimes such as Listev's murder, "someone" should resign. -- Penny Morvant and Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. THOUSANDS ATTEND LISTEV FUNERAL. Many of Russia's top political figures, including Yeltsin's chief of staff Sergei Filatov, First Deputy Premier Oleg Soskovets, and Duma Deputy Speaker Artur Chilingarov, attended Listev's funeral, Interfax reported on 3 March. The public funeral was held at Ostankino's concert studio, and the line of people wishing to pay their last respects to the popular television journalist stretched for two kilometers outside the building. The funeral had to be postponed for several hours after an anonymous caller threatened to blow up the studio. (No bomb was found on the premises.) Listev was buried next to the legendary Russian folk singer Vladimir Vysotsky at Moscow's Vagankovo Cemetery. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. CHECHEN ROUNDUP. Talks in Ingushetia between Chechen military leaders and Russia's administrator for Chechnya, Nikolai Semenov, on implementing a conditional ceasefire agreement failed to take place as arranged on 4 March, Western agencies reported. An Ingush official told Interfax that Russian commanders had prevented the Chechen delegation from attending. Meanwhile Russian troops strengthened their hold over southern Chechnya on 3 March and on 4-5 March intensified artillery bombardment of the towns of Samashki and Argun where Chechen forces are concentrated, Western agencies reported. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIA HINDERS OSCE MISSION. An OSCE diplomat has accused Russia of hindering the organization's latest mission to Chechnya, AFP reported on 3 March. He said, "The mission was taken for a ride" by the Russians. The mission could not travel to Dagestan or Igushetia to investigate the refugee situation there. The OSCE press release stated, "The mission's findings confirmed the seriousness of the human rights situation. It also confirmed that the most urgent problems are the distribution of relief goods and [Red Cross] access to Chechnya, the security of the civilian population, and refugee problems. The mission believes the fundamental issue remains a negotiated ceasefire as the condition for any substantial improvement." -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. GENERAL WHO HALTED ADVANCE IS PROMOTED. The commanding officer of the 76th Guards Airborne Division, Maj.-Gen. Ivan Babichev, has been promoted to head an army corps, ITAR-TASS reported on 3 March. Babichev gained notoriety last December during the Russian attack on Grozny by halting the column he was leading when confronted by Chechen civilians. Western agencies reported him as saying he would not fire on civilians and telling the crowd that the military operation violated the constitution. Babichev, however, soon ordered his troops to continue their advance, and played a key role in the capture of Grozny. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. ARMY BACK IN COMMAND OF FORCES IN CHECHNYA. Col.-Gen. Anatoly Kvashin, the newly-appointed commander of the North Caucasus Military District, has been placed in command of the Russian armed forces in Chechnya, ITAR-TASS reported on 3 March, quoting a spokesman at the press center of the joint federal forces headquarters. On 1 February, the post had been turned over to General Alexander Kulikov, commander of the Russian Interior Troops. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. RADIO STATION EMPLOYEE KILLED IN PRIMORSKY KRAI. The body of radio engineer Igor Kaverin was found on the morning of 3 March in Primorsky Krai, Interfax reported. He was an employee of Free Nakhodka. Police said he was shot at point blank range and that they are seeking three 23- to 25-year-old men as the suspected assassins. Kaverin's murder is the second serious crime against media personnel in the Primorsky Krai in the last six months. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. DEMOCRATIC LEADERS CONCERNED ABOUT ELECTIONS. Boris Fedorov, leader of the new Forward Russia party, called for a congress of democratic forces to work out common election tactics and agree on forming a coalition government after the elections, Interfax reported. Fedorov said he has long supported such a congress because a split in the democrats on the eve of the elections could lead to the restoration of dictatorship. Yegor Gaidar, Russia's Choice leader, has also called for such a coalition on numerous occasions. Speaking in Omsk on 3 March, Gaidar said he is worried about the elections and that it is difficult to predict their outcome, since "Russia has come to reconsider its priorities every now and then." -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. CHINA TO BUY MORE RUSSIAN SUBMARINES. China has agreed to buy six Russian Kilo-class diesel powered submarines in addition to four others it recently acquired, the Hong Kong South Morning Post reported on 4 March. The paper quoted Beijing sources as saying the two countries had also finished preliminary discussions on the Chinese purchase of an additional 12 Russian submarines during the next five years. Western officials had voiced concern after the first submarine sale that Russia was upsetting the naval balance in the region. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. FOOD CRISIS MUST BE RESOLVED. The Russian food crisis must be resolved immediately, Deputy Premier Alexei Bolshakov told Interfax on 3 March. Bolshakov said the government was taking all necessary measures to create a steady supply of food, develop a network of wholesale food markets, and restore relations with the CIS countries. According to Russian Trade Committee statistics, the production of meat fell 25% in 1994 against 1993, dairy products by 17%, butter by 33%, sugar by 36%, and flour by 14%. The agricultural sector is unable to meet the consumption needs of the population. As a result, the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations reported the nation had to import three times more meat and fish in 1994 than in 1993, 4.3 times more poultry, and two times more milk powder. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. YELTSIN WON'T VISIT AUSTRIA. The Russian ambassador to Austria, Valery Popov, announced on 3 March that President Yeltsin will not visit Austria in April as previously planned, Reuters reported. Popov said Yeltsin would be too busy for a visit in April. The Austrian president had invited Yeltsin, along with leaders of the US, Britain, and France, to Vienna to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the second Austrian republic. However, Russia had come under fire from Austrian politicians over Chechnya and its demand that Austria reaffirm its neutral status. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. GENERAL GROMOV IN JAPAN. In his first trip as the Foreign Ministry's military expert, Deputy Defense Minister Col.-Gen. Boris Gromov took part in the first high-level bilateral military talks between Russia and Japan on 3 March in Tokyo, ITAR-TASS reported. Gromov was a member of the delegation led by Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev. Gromov said Russia had offered Japan a long list of cooperative measures, including invitations to military exercises, personnel exchanges, aircraft overflights, and joint naval maneuvers and port visits. He said the main purpose of those initiatives was to "contribute, with due account of our agreements with the United States and China, to the . . . security of the Asia-Pacific region." -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. KOZYREV: DISCUSSES KOREA, CHECHNYA IN JAPAN. During his visit to Japan on 3-4 March, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev said Russia should supply light-water nuclear reactors to North Korea as part of a program to allow inspections of its nuclear facilities, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 March. North Korea has rejected the proposal that South Korea supply the reactors. Meanwhile, Japanese Foreign Minister Yohei Kono told Kozyrev that Japan will provide $500,000 to Russia for assistance to Chechen refugees. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA CENTRAL ASIAN STATES MEET OVER ARAL CRISIS. At a one-day summit in Dashkhovua, Turkmenistan to discuss ways to alleviate the shrinking of the Aral Sea, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev chided the other Central Asian states for a lack of effort, Reuters reported on 3 March. He said the international community has done its part, but that Central Asia has only paid 15% of its capital pledge into a fund for saving the Aral Sea. He noted that Kazakhstan has paid 30% of its initial pledge, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan 2%, and Turkmenistan and Tajikistan nothing at all. The meeting was to have been held at the CIS summit last month, but was put off because Turkmenistan's President Saparmural Niyazov failed to show up. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. CEASEFIRE EXTENDED IN TAJIKISTAN. Representatives of the Tajik opposition, the UN, and the OSCE held talks in Islamabad on 3 March to discuss the venue for the fourth round of UN sponsored talks on a settlement of the civil war, a Radio Liberty correspondent reported. In a 3 March interview with Interfax, the head of the Tajik opposition Islamic Revival Movement, Akbar Turadzhonzoda, said he did not recognize the 27 February elections as valid. He denied aspiring to seize power in Tajikistan and proposed that power be transferred to a new state council representing both the present leadership and the opposition. On 4 March, Turadzhonzoda sent a letter to the UN announcing that the ceasefire agreed to in September 1994 would be extended until 26 April, AFP reported on 4 March. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc. MKHEDRIONI STRIKES AGAIN. Georgian parliament chairman Eduard Shevardnadze has demanded "severe punishment" for some 200 members of the paramilitary organization Mkhedrioni who briefly occupied the mayor's office in Rustavi on 3 March, Interfax reported on 5 March. The group was protesting planned measures to prevent the illegal extortion of motor vehicle drivers in transit through southern Georgia to Armenia and Azerbaijan. Mkhedrioni is reportedly deeply involved in the extortion. Shevardnadze stated that such actions undermine Georgia's statehood and could jeopardize parliamentary elections scheduled for autumn 1995. On 2 March, the Tbilisi deputy police chief was shot dead by a subordinate, according to AFP. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc. CIS FIRST STEP TOWARDS CIS AIR DEFENSE SYSTEM. Georgian parliament chairman Eduard Shevardnadze held talks in Tbilisi with the chairman of the CIS Committee on Air Defense, Col.-Gen. Viktor Prudnikov, on 4 March, Interfax reported. They discussed how to develop the Georgian air defense system in light of an agreement reached at the CIS summit in February. The Georgian Defense Ministry said earlier that the Georgian air defense system had fallen apart after the Russians left and much of the equipment was stolen. -- 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. 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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