|The fool wonders, the wise man asks. - Benjamin Disraeli|
No. 53, Part I, 15 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. ************************************************************************ * OMRI also publishes Transition: Events and Issues in the Former * * Soviet Union and East-Central and Southeastern Europe. This * * bi-weekly journal provides in-depth analysis of political, economic, * * social, military, cultural, media, and foreign affairs in the * * region. For subscription information, please contact: * * firstname.lastname@example.org * ************************************************************************ RUSSIA STANDOFF BETWEEN FEDERAL AND MOSCOW AUTHORITIES CONTINUES. Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov has rejected the candidacy of Oleg Gaidanov for the post of Moscow city prosecutor. Prosecutor General Alexei Ilyushenko had nominated Gaidanov to replace Gennady Ponomarev, who was sacked following the murder of TV journalist Vladislav Listev. Luzhkov is appealing the dismissals of Ponomarev and Moscow police chief Vladimir Pankratov to the Constitutional Court, on the grounds that the federal government must first consult Moscow authorities before firing city officials. Luzhkov told Moscow TV on 14 March that the "powerful political attack" on the city's authorities resembled "theater of the absurd," for which Listev's murder was only a "pretext." Luzhkov also said the Russian government had refused to release funds allocated to Moscow, which is tantamount to an "economic blockade" of the city. Luzhkov denied having presidential aspirations and described his relations with Yeltsin as "excellent," Interfax reported. He blamed Yeltsin's security service, led by Alexander Korzhakov, for causing the confrontation, NTV reported. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. CHERNOMYRDIN ENDORSES DRAFT CHECHNYA PEACE PLAN. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin has given his written approval to a five-stage peace plan for Chechnya, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai informed the conference "Peace Initiative in Chechnya" in Moscow on 14 March, Interfax and AFP reported. The plan envisages a cessation of military operations; humanitarian actions; talks on a cease-fire conducted by a Russian-Chechen military commission that will also include Russian Human Rights Commissioner Sergei Kovalev and Ingush President Ruslan Aushev; a formal peace settlement on the basis of talks at the republican and local levels; elections to a new Chechen parliament; and the conclusion of a power-sharing treaty between Russia and Chechnya "similar to that signed between Russia and Tatarstan." Shakhrai also stated that Yeltsin is about to announce a new Chechen peace initiative, according to AFP. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc. TRADE UNION FEDERATION PROPOSES NATIONWIDE PROTEST. The Russian Federation of Independent Trade Unions proposed on 13 March that its members consider staging a nationwide day of protest against falling living standards, Interfax reported the following day. Alexei Surikov, federation deputy chairman, said the protest, provisionally called for 12 April, could vary in form from region to region and industry to industry. He also said the federation, through its electoral association, Unions of Russia, intends to nominate candidates for the upcoming legislative elections independently and enter into alliances with political parties and movements, such as the Communists, Agrarians, and the Socialist Workers' Party. Meanwhile, Ekho Moskvy reported on 13 March that trade unions in Primorsky Krai plan to hold rallies on 27 April to protest against the "critical" economic situation in the region. They will call for the resignation of the government and early presidential elections. -- Penny Morvant YELTSIN APPOINTS NEW PRESS SECRETARY. President Yeltsin appointed television journalist Sergei Medvedev, 37, as his new press secretary, replacing Vyacheslav Kostikov who will now become Moscow's ambassador to the Vatican, Reuters and Interfax reported on 14 March. Medvedev said his most pressing tasks will be to keep Yeltsin in touch with the outside world and establish better relations between the president's team and the media. Medvedev was the first television reporter to publicize Yeltsin's resistance to the August 1991 coup and was instrumental in summoning people to the White House to counter a hard- line takeover. More recently, he has been the host of the political news program "News Plus" on Ostankino. His appointment is a clear attempt to bolster Yeltsin's image before the June 1996 presidential election. Kostikov, who held the job since 1992, is famous for his savage attacks on Yeltsin's political opponents during the president's confrontation with parliament in 1993. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIA TO EXPORT 2 MILLION TONS OF ALUMINUM. First Deputy Economics Minister Yakov Urinson told a cabinet meeting that Russia intends to export about 2 million tons of aluminum in 1995, Interfax reported on 14 March. Urinson said rising prices and Russia's position as a leading producer of aluminum should make 1995 a favorable year for exporting the metal. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. CURRENCY DEMAND INCREASES ALMOST 150%. Initial demand for currency at MICEX trading on 14 March was $192.71 million, up $110.82 million or almost $150% from 13 March trading, the Financial Information Agency reported. Supply was at $168.87 million. The ruble fell 28 points against the dollar to 4,723 rubles. According to the dealers, when the rate reached 4,722 rubles to $1 the Central Bank sold $1 million. When the ruble fell to 4,723 rubles to $1, the bank continued selling, first $1 million, then $15 million, and finally $6.83 million which brought its total intervention to $23.83 million, $9.83 million more than in 13 March trading. Commercial banks were not very active and withdrew $10,000 from sale. Dealers told the news agencies that the dollar's slowdown on the inter-bank market is related to the accumulation of rubles for the upcoming auction of treasury bonds. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. LUKIN: DEAL ON CFE FLANK LIMITS WOULD FACILITATE NATO EASTWARD EXPANSION. State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Vladimir Lukin said in a 14 March interview with Nezavisimaya Gazeta that lifting the flank limits in the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty would facilitate an agreement with NATO on eastward expansion. He said if "Russia is allowed to deploy its armed forces as it wishes, then NATO approaching our borders will not be so dangerous." He also questioned the value of the START-2 treaty given the "very bad geopolitical situation" in which Russia finds itself. He said Russia should form alliances with its immediate neighbors and that progress in that regard has already been made with Belarus. He added that he thought "Ukraine will soon find itself in a precarious situation. We should explain to our Ukrainian friends that all talk about Western aid is a trifle compared to the consequences they will have to face when they find themselves outside a collective security system." -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. AFTERMATH 0F MISSILE ACCIDENT IN VORONEZH OBLAST. The governor of Voronezh Oblast has sent a letter to Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin stating that if the Buturlin air force testing range is not closed, the local public are likely to stage protests, Izvestiya reported on 15 March. A missile launched during a training flight over the range on 10 March went out of control and exploded close to a village and the Novovoronezh nuclear power station. A special commission is investigating the accident, and residents have been assured that no further flights will take place until the government determines the fate of the range. Noting that the authorities made no statement about the accident until 13 March, three days after it took place, Izvestiya drew parallels with the official reaction to the Chornobyl disaster in 1986. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. KOZYREV: "NO FUNDAMENTAL CHANGES" IN RUSSIAN FOREIGN POLICY. Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev announced there would be "no fundamental changes" in Russian foreign policy after a meeting of senior ministry officials with President Yeltsin, Ostankino TV reported. The meeting had been put off several times for "technical reasons." Kozyrev added that the Russian leadership was "unanimous" in objecting to "any hasty and reckless expansion of NATO," which is the "main obstacle" obstructing Russia's partnership with the alliance. RIA reported that Yeltsin wants the ministry to conduct better strategic analysis which should improve its coordination with other federal offices. He also said it should pay more attention to the needs of ethnic Russians living abroad. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. SOLZHENITSYN: RUSSIA BECOMING A "COLONY" OF THE WEST. Nobel prize- winning author Alexander Solzhenitsyn charged that Russia is letting itself become an "ideological colony" of the West, during a 13 March interview with Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Vladimir Lukin on Russian TV. Solzhenitsyn claimed that Russia has pursued a foreign policy of "infantilism" in recent years and singled out Radio Liberty, an "ambiguous organization," for conducting "direct interference in our affairs." While admitting that RL "was once irreplaceable," he said Russians no longer need the service and claimed the U.S. Congress now uses it to promote Siberian separatism. Solzhenitsyn said Russia also needs to boost its "ideological defense" against scientific and cultural grants from the Soros Foundation, as well as American trade unions, U.S. government-funded organizations to promote democracy, and various Western charities that use the Russian media to undermine Orthodoxy. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA COUP UNDERWAY IN AZERBAIJAN. Azerbaijani government troops surrounded the headquarters of the OMON special police near Baku, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported on 15 March. Fighting between government troops and OMON forces is reported elsewhere in the country. Deputy Interior Minister Rovshan Dzhavadov has reportedly called for the resignation of President Heidar Aliev and the Azerbaijani government, charging that they have brought the country to the verge of ruin. Aliev's whereabouts are unknown. Aliev had cancelled a scheduled visit to Pakistan to attend the ECO heads of state meeting after an incident on 13 March when OMON forces occupied two towers in northern Azerbaijan. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc. TAJIK OPPOSITION LEADER READY TO TALK AS VIOLENCE CONTINUES. Sa'id Abdullo Nuri, leader of the Islamic Revival Movement based in Tajikistan, has indicated he is ready to hold talks with Tajik President Emomali Rakhmanov "at any time and at any place," Interfax reported on 14 March. Nuri, who was speaking to General Hassan Abasa, head of the UN military observers in Tajikistan, added that the opposition "will not initiate any combat operations on the Tajik-Afghan border this Spring." However, talk of peace did not prevent six masked gunmen from kidnapping and executing Zainiddin Mukhiddinov, a newly-elected member of the Tajik parliament. Meanwhile, three Tajiks, described by the chief of the Tajik Foreign Ministry section Zafar Saidov as militants, were fired upon as they tried to cross into Tajikistan from Afghanistan. Saidov told Interfax that one of them was killed and the other two fled back to Afghanistan. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc. MEMBERS OF DISSOLVED KAZAKH PARLIAMENT MEET. On 14 March, 130 of the former Kazakh parliament's 177 deputies met and decided to continue working, Interfax reported. They requested that the UN and other international organizations send independent experts to assess the legality of recent events. President Nursultan Nazarbaev dissolved parliament on 11 March after a Constitutional Court verdict. The deputies are disputing the verdict, claiming that it refers to only one electoral district and that the court ruling has not taken effect because it has not been published or sent to any government institution. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc. CIS CIS SECRET SERVICE CHIEFS MEET. The heads of the CIS secret services are scheduled to meet in Moscow on 15 March to discuss ways of cooperating in their fight against crime, Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported. Federal Counterintelligence Service department head Yuri Demin said the aim of the conference is to develop an alliance among the secret services which have so far only cooperated on a bilateral basis. He suggested that Interpol is a good model for multilateral cooperation that would save money and increase effectiveness. Demin dismissed the notion that such an arrangement would lead to the resurrection of the KGB, insisting that cooperation will focus only on those crimes which threaten national security including terrorism, money laundering, corruption, smuggling, and sabotage of strategic installations. Each service will retain its independence. -- 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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