|To appreciate nonsense requires a serious interest in life. - Gelett Burgess|
No. 52, Part I, 14 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 MORE NEWS ON LISTEV INVESTIGATION. Moscow police have arrested three men believed to be professional assassins in connection with the murder of television journalist Vladislav Listev, Izvestiya reported on 14 March. The newspaper said investigators now believe that a prominent Russian businessman and "a criminal kingpin who enjoys an illegal interest in the advertising business" conspired to murder Listev. Police sources said the investigation has been hampered by several uncooperative colleagues, business partners, and friends of the victim. They said Boris Berezovsky, the deputy chairman of Russian Public Television, has been particularly unhelpful, Izvestiya reported. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. GROMOV ORDERED TO LEAVE DEFENSE MINISTRY OFFICES. Defense Minister Pavel Grachev ordered Deputy Defense Minister Boris Gromov and his staff to leave their Defense Ministry offices immediately on 13 March, an RFE/RL Moscow correspondent reported. Gromov's assistants were ordered in the morning to vacate the rooms by 2 p.m. and warned that the telephones would be disconnected by 6 p.m. Gromov told Ekho Moskvy that a senior government official like Grachev should deal with such matters in a statesmanlike way, not with "petty, vindictive arrogance." Gromov added that Grachev's orders might be acceptable in a country like Afghanistan (where both men served in the 1980s), but in Russia "such things are simply intolerable." On 13 February, President Boris Yeltsin transferred Gromov to the position of chief military expert for the Foreign Ministry, but he retained his title as deputy defense minister. The move was widely interpreted as a reaction to Gromov's criticism of Russian policy in Chechnya. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. MISSILE EXPLODES NEAR NUCLEAR POWER STATION. A missile launched by a fighter bomber on a training flight from a base in Voronezh Oblast on 10 March exploded near a nuclear power station, Russian and Western agencies reported on 13 March. The missile hit the ground about 200 meters away from houses in the village of Archangelskoe and 4 kilometers from the Novovoronezh nuclear power station. One person in the village was injured. The reports quoted local authorities as saying they had repeatedly requested that the air base be moved. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. FEDERATION COUNCIL MEMBER CALLS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION. Valentin Tsvetkov, chairman of the Federation Council's committee for the north and small ethnic groups, said on 13 March that the environment has deteriorated sharply in recent years, particularly in the north of the country, and that laws must be adopted to deal with the problem, Interfax reported. The committee is drafting a law on environmental protection, as are the government and the Duma. Tsvetkov said the north is suffering from continued "militarization" of the area and the consequences of policies geared toward maximum short-term economic benefits, which have led to serious accidents such as the Komineft oil pipeline break. He noted that a number of reactors from nuclear submarines remained in the Barents and Kara seas. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. REPUBLICAN PARTY PROTESTS ARREST OF ITS ACTIVIST. The Republican Party demanded the immediate release of one of its members, Viktor Pashinin, who is also vice president of the Association of Farmer Households and Agricultural Cooperatives, Interfax reported on 13 March. The authorities in Tambov Oblast reportedly arrested Pashinin and placed him in a psychiatric hospital. The party statement stresses that Pashinin was detained immediately before an association congress to discredit him as a public figure. The party has lodged a complaint with the Russian prosecutor general's office and the president's Human Rights Commission. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. SHUMEIKO OPPOSES PARTY LIST ELECTIONS. Federation Council Chairman Vladimir Shumeiko said he is against electing any of the State Duma members by party list, Interfax reported on 13 March. He added, however, that the council was ready to compromise and agree that a third of the deputies could be elected by party list. The council would reject any Duma legislation that called for electing half of the deputies by party list. He warned that conflict over the provision might prevent the electoral law from being adopted on schedule. He said the Justice Ministry has registered 60 parties, but their collective influence is extremely small. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. DIFFICULT YEAR PREDICTED FOR AGRICULTURE SECTOR . . . Russia's harvest outlook for 1995 is bleak because the farm sector cannot afford supplies for spring sowing, the Ministry of Agriculture told Interfax on 13 March. Ivan Gridasov, head of the ministry's crop-growing section, said the farm sector could not afford the equipment, fertilizer, fuel, and lubricants needed for sowing. As a result, plowing conditions are poor, fields are weed-infested, and sowing will be delayed. Gridasov said the situation is "critical and even lamentable" and urged the government to find at least 6.5 trillion rubles ($1.5 billion) for farming supplies for the spring sowing. Russia's grain harvest in 1994 was 81.3 million tons, down from 99 million tons in 1993 and 106.8 million tons in 1992. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. . . . YET GOVERNMENT APPEARS OPTIMISTIC. Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zaveryukha announced that the Russian government has signed an agricultural economic ordinance for 1995, which creates new mechanisms for using budget appropriations, Interfax reported. According to Zaveryukha, the ordinance will enable peasants to carry out spring sowing and will provide credits for fuels and lubricants. The government also intends to allocate 1 trillion rubles to expand the leasing of farm machinery and plans to subsidize the prices of mineral fertilizer by 50%. The ordinance anticipates a harvest of at least 82 million tons of grain, 40 million tons of wheat, and 20 million tons of sugar beets. The government also decided to transform 3 trillion rubles in farm debts for credits granted in 1992-94 into internal public debt. The debt will be paid by the farm sector over 10 years at an annual interest rate of 10%. The government plans to appropriate 314 billion rubles from the federal budget and has told local executive bodies to use local budgets to finance 15% of capital investments in private farms. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. FEBRUARY ENERGY PRICES UP 13%. The price of key types of fuel and energy rose an average of 13% in February, exceeding the inflation rate by 2%, according to Russia's Economic Situation Center, Russian and Western agencies reported on 13 March. The largest increase, about 17%, occurred in crude oil, which the center attributed to a surge in prices at oil fields in the Far East, North Russia, and West Siberia. The center said there was no change in the price of natural gas, with the average price standing at 7,000 rubles ($1.52) for 1,000 cubic meters of gas. Meanwhile, the eastern city of Vladivostok is low on electricity and heating supplies, ITAR-TASS reported. The city now has less than half its normal energy supplies and the region's energy sector is suffering from a lack of funds and poor equipment. The report said consumers have failed to pay bills and the government has failed to send the subsidies it promised this year. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. "RUSSIAN MINERS" MOVEMENT CREATED. An inter-regional conference in Kemerovo of representatives of the Russian Coal Miners Trade Union (Rosugleprof) decided to set up a socio-political movement called "Miners of Russia," union deputy chairman Ivan Mokhnachuk told Interfax on 13 March. The movement's main aim is to oppose the decline in living standards of miners and other industrial workers by nominating candidates for legislative bodies at all levels in the upcoming elections, Radio Rossii reported. Rosugleprof leader Vitaly Budko will head the movement's executive committee. Meanwhile, miners in Vorkuta are planning to launch a new strike to protest the nonpayment of wages, AFP reported. However, the action is uncoordinated--two of the region's 12 pits have refused to take part in the strike, while others have already staged spontaneous stoppages--and morale is low. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. SHIRSHOV: US "ARMING" CROATIA TO FIGHT SERBS. The Federation Council Security and Defense Committee chairman, Sergei Shirshov, has accused the U.S. of "arming Croatia for struggle against the Serbs," ITAR-TASS reported on 12 March. Shirshov said he has information that the U.S. sent C-130 military cargo planes into Croatia at night without first obtaining UNPROFOR clearance. He said Russia should "take adequate measures to prevent bloodshed" by first providing "economic assistance to the Serbs." He called Russian participation in the economic sanctions against Serbia a "cruel and unforgivable mistake." -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA COMMUNISTS TAKE LARGEST SHARE OF VOTES IN TAJIK ELECTION. Following the second round of voting, official results show the Communist Party won 60 out of 181 seats in the legislature. The runoff election was held on 12 March because 19 of the constituencies registered less than the required 50% turnout during the voting on 26 February. Two deputies of the opposition Tajik People's Unity Party, supporters of former President Abdumalik Abdulajanov, were elected though they ran against the wishes of their party, which had called for a boycott of the elections, AFP reported. Meanwhile, Tajik President Emomali Rakhmanov arrived in Pakistan on 14 March to meet with other Central Asian leaders including those from Iran, Afghanistan, and Turkey. He will also hold talks with the deputy chairman of the Movement of Islamic Renaissance of Tajikistan, Akbar Turadzhonzoda, to agree on a date and venue for the fourth round of negotiations, according to Interfax. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc. MEMBERS OF FORMER PARLIAMENT ORGANIZE OPPOSITION GROUP. Seventy deputies from the recently dissolved 177-seat Kazakh parliament are calling an alternative assembly on 14 March, Reuters reported. Olzhas Suleimanov, known for his work to stop nuclear testing in the Semipalatinsk area, will lead the group, which is expected to be the major opposition to Nazarbaev's administration when elections are called. Another deputy, Nurbakit Kuashybekov, said the former parliamentarians will endeavor to work within the law but added, "Our regime is becoming a fascist regime." The streets of Almaty were reported to be calm and officials said the parliament chamber was "closed for renovations." -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc. CIS BELARUS ON CIS. Pavel Kallaur, the National Bank of Belarus deputy chairman, said the bank is considering whether to withdraw its share of equity capital from the CIS Inter-State Bank, Interfax reported on 13 March. Kallaur said the Inter-State Bank, which was set up two years ago for work in the ruble zone, will not be capable of multilateral clearing and has not even begun to operate. He said settlements between CIS states have been taken over by merchant banks and there is no reason to revive the centralized system. Interfax also quoted Deputy Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich as complaining about the amount of time it is taking to form a Russian-Belarusian-Kazakh customs union, even though an agreement on the union was signed two months ago. Before the end of the month, Myasnikovich said Russia and Belarus are to draft a program for setting up joint customs checkpoints. Myasnikovich added that all agreements between Russia and Belarus, which must be ratified by parliament, would be submitted to the Belarusian legislature by 20 March. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIAN, GEORGIAN INTELLIGENCE CHIEFS SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENT. Russian Federal Counterintelligence Service director Sergei Stepashin and his Georgian counterpart, Igor Georgadze, signed an agreement in Moscow on 13 March on cooperation in combating organized crime and terrorism, including the creation of a combined data bank, Interfax reported. The agreement presumably expands a Russian-Georgian memorandum signed more than a year ago on cooperation in the fight against drug smuggling, terrorism, and corruption. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc. [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Victor Gomex 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. 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