|We are all apt to believe what the world believes about us. - George Eliot|
No. 56, Part I, 20 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 NEW HEAD OF BROADCASTING SERVICE APPOINTED. President Boris Yeltsin has appointed Valentin Lazutkin to head the Federal Television and Radio Broadcasting Service, which oversees all broadcasting in the country, Russian and Western agencies reported on 17 March. Yeltsin said Lazutkin, who had been first deputy chairman of the broadcasting service, commands the respect of Ostankino employees. Alexander Yakovlev resigned as head of the federal broadcasting service and chairman of Ostankino on 16 March in order to concentrate on building the Russian Party of Social Democracy he launched in February. A replacement for Yakovlev at Ostankino, which is being reorganized into a production company, has yet to be appointed. Lazutkin declined Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's offer to appoint him to the post, Interfax reported. In 1994, Lazutkin resigned as vice chairman of Ostankino after admitting the network's coverage during the 1993 parliamentary campaign had been biased toward Yeltsin's supporters, Reuters reported. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. GRYZUNOV RESPONDS TO GOVERNMENT NEWSPAPER. Sergei Gryzunov, the State Press Committee chairman, has responded to charges published in Rossiiskaya gazeta that he mismanaged the committee, Segodnya reported on 17 March. Gryzunov accused the government newspaper of intentionally distorting the facts and called on the government to do some "hard thinking" about whether to continue subsidizing the newspaper. He claimed that Rossiiskaya gazeta received 24.8 billion rubles from the federal budget in 1994, while all other Russian newspapers and magazines combined received only 31 billion rubles. Gryzunov pledged to raise those and other issues in court and said he is confident he will win the case. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. YELTSIN SEES BIG ROLE FOR RUSSIAN PARTY OF SOCIAL DEMOCRACY (RPSD). President Yeltsin believes that the new Russian Party of Social Democracy (RPSD), led by Alexander Yakovlev, will play an "important role in the election campaign," Russian TV reported on 17 March. He envisions the new political organization as a united, democratic party, according to Reuters. The new organization is intended to support Yeltsin since Yegor Gaidar's Russia's Democratic Choice Party, which formerly had close ties to him, opposes the president's policy in Chechnya. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. RPSD MOSCOW BRANCH ELECTS FORMER FSK CHIEF AS LEADER. At its founding conference, the Moscow branch of RPSD unanimously elected Yevgeny Savostyanov as its leader, Interfax reported on 19 March. Until 2 December 1994, he was deputy director of the Federal Counterintelligence Service (FSK) and the head of its Moscow department. More recently, he has been an adviser to the chairman of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia. Addressing the conference, RPSD leader Yakovlev said the party has the support of "18 federal organizations," but refused to name them. Savostyanov struck a very different note in his remarks. He said the main problem with the democratic movement since 1991 was its inability to distance itself from the executive branch, obliging it to take responsibility for the errors committed by that branch. Citing one example, he blamed the executive for overestimating the willingness of foreign partners to cooperate with Russia and said that, to some extent, "foreign countries have betrayed our reforms." Savostyanov said the main aim of the party is to build "a regime as favorable for working people as possible" and to achieve "stability meaning the ability to work on the basis of predictable rules and the idea of restoring domestic production." The Moscow branch of the party passed a resolution indicating its willingness to form a coalition with the trade unions. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. IT'S OFFICIAL--GROMOV OUT. Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev ended several days of confusion when he told Interfax on 17 March that his former deputy, Col.-Gen. Boris Gromov, had been dismissed from his post the previous day by a presidential decree. Grachev said Gromov would hold the rank of a deputy foreign minister in his post as expert on military issues at the Foreign Ministry. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. SIBERIAN OIL SPILL. A burst pipeline in Irkutsk Oblast in Siberia leaked about 3,500 cubic meters of oil on 16 March, Russia's Ministry for Emergency Situations said on 19 March. According to Interfax, the oil spilled over an area of 19,500 square meters. Cleanup work has begun, but there is a danger that the oil could seep into a nearby river during the spring thaw. Aging pipelines have led to a series of oil leaks over the past year, causing severe environmental damage in Russia's north. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. ENERGY CRISIS IN PRIMORSKY KRAI. The Primorsky power station, which provides 70% of the krai's electricity, virtually shut down operations on 17 March owing to a lack of fuel, Kommersant-Daily reported on 18 March. The local power authority Dalenergo owes fuel suppliers in other regions nearly 200 billion rubles. Electricity supplies from Khabarovsk Krai have also stopped, owing to repair work on the power transmission line. According to Interfax, electricity consumers in Primorsky Krai, with the exception of vital enterprises and hospitals, are experiencing severe power cuts. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. DUMA TO ENTER THE BLACK SEA FLEET DEBATE. The State Duma voted overwhelmingly on 17 March to form a commission to consider the fate of the former Soviet Black Sea Fleet, Interfax reported. Konstantin Zatulin, chairman of the Committee on CIS Affairs, had proposed that the commission be drawn from his committee and those on defense and geopolitics. He criticized the draft agreement being worked out by Russian and Ukrainian negotiators as having "little to do with [Russian] national interests." The agency reported that deputies were concerned that they had not seen the package of documents being prepared for Yeltsin's upcoming visit to Ukraine. As a result, the Duma also approved Zatulin's proposal that First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets--due to visit Kiev on 20 March--make a report to the Duma when he returns. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. EU OFFERS SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP TO RUSSIA . . . The EU has offered a special relationship to Russia if it drops its objections to NATO's eastward expansion and resolves the conflict in Chechnya, international agencies reported on 19 March. Meeting in Carcassonne, France, the EU foreign ministers said if those conditions are met, NATO should negotiate an agreement with Russia that would include a special consultative mechanism, regular political dialogue, and a mutual non- aggression pact. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. .. . . BUT STALLS ON TRADE DEAL. The EU's foreign ministers have agreed not to go ahead with an interim trade pact with Russia because not enough progress has been made on assuring human rights in Chechnya, international agencies reported on 18 March. Some of the ministers expressed optimism that the pact could be signed by their next scheduled meeting on 10 April. Russian Foreign Economic Relations Minister Oleg Davydov complained that the EU's decision was economically motivated. "We have learned Adam Smith better than you," he said, according to the Financial Times on 18 March. "You are employing protectionist measures against a weakened Russia." -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. HARSH RUSSIAN REACTION TO U.S. SENATE VOTE TO BLOCK RUSSIAN-IRANIAN DEAL. Several Russian officials reacted harshly to a U.S. Senate vote on 16 March to block U.S. nuclear cooperation with Russia if it goes ahead with its plan to provide further aid to the Iranian nuclear program, Interfax reported. Yury Kotov, director of the Third Asian Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, said Russia will not "follow instructions by third parties" and will continue cooperation with Iran. On 17 March, Moscow TV reported that Vladimir Lukin, the head of the State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee, said, "Not a single international law is being breached." Citing U.S. President Bill Clinton's decision to cancel the Conoco oil deal with Iran, Lukin added, "Now, however, when Clinton has clearly shown that the desire to punish Iran is even stronger than the interests of American companies, it will be far more difficult for Russia to protect a profitable contract to construct the light hydrogen industrial reactor [in Iran]." -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA CRACKDOWN FOLLOWS AZERBAIJAN COUP. Azerbaijani government troops and Interior Ministry forces succeeded in defeating rebel police units on 17 March after fierce fighting in which dozens of people were killed or wounded, Russian and Western agencies reported. Speaking at a press conference on 17 March, President Heidar Aliev claimed that former President Ayaz Mutalibov and disgraced former Prime Minister Suret Huseinov had masterminded the coup attempt, according to ITAR-TASS. Reuters quoted Interior Minister Namig Abbasov as claiming that the insurgents led by Deputy Interior Minister Rovshan Dzhavadov had planned to assassinate Aliev. Some 200 people were arrested on 17-18 March, including former Interior Minister Iskander Hamidov, head of the radical Boz Gurd party, some of whose members were allegedly aligned with the insurgents. Azadlyg, the newspaper of the opposition Azerbaijan Popular Front, was banned from publishing and Musavat Party leader Isa Gambarov was detained and warned not to speak to the press, Reuters reported on 18 March. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc. NEW KAZAKH GOVERNMENT NEARLY FORMED AS OPPOSITION DWINDLES. Kazakh Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin announced he has almost finished selecting members for a new government. Although opposition from members of the dissolved parliament persists, the threat is apparently not sufficient to prevent Kazhegeldin from travelling to the United States tomorrow for an eight-day official visit, according to Interfax. After Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev called for their resignations last week, 130 of the 177 members of parliament held a meeting and formed the "People's Parliament" with 72 of the deputies participating in a hunger strike. A day later, all but 22 of the deputies had stopped fasting, and by 18 March, only 50 members still supported the opposition, Reuters reported. Vladimir Chernyshov, one of the hunger strikers, was attacked by unknown assailants on 18 March and taken to the hospital with head injuries. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc. CLASH ON TAJIK BORDER, MURDER IN DUSHANBE. Russian troops killed six people attempting to cross from Afghanistan into Tajikistan, Reuters reported on 18 March. Several hours later, a Russian serviceman was wounded en route from the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, to his base. On 17 March, Captain Andrei Romanov was shot and killed in the entryway to his home in Dushanbe. Five other Russian soldiers have been slain away from the border zone of conflict so far this year, and as yet, no one has been charged in the crimes and police have no suspects. Col.-Gen. Valery Patrikaev, commander of the allied peacekeeping forces in Tajikistan, announced on 18 March that he intends to lodge a note of protest demanding a proper investigation of those crimes and the arrest of the culprits. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc. TURKMENISTAN TO RECEIVE WORLD BANK GRANT FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PROJECT. The World Bank intends to grant Turkmenistan a $25 million credit for an environmental project in the Aral Sea region during the first half of 1995, FIA-Interfax reported on 17 March. -- Lowell A. Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. ECO MEMBERS SIGN ONTO UNDCP. Although the third summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), which met in Islamabad on 14-15 March, ended with an apparent lack of consensus on key proposals, an agreement was signed with the United Nations Drug Control Program for mutual coordination and technical assistance in narcotics control, AFP reported on 16 March. ECO, which made little headway after its establishment by Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan in the 1960s, was recently enlarged to include Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. Several members are major producers of opium and opium derivatives as well as cannabis products. Key items on the Islamabad summit agenda, notably accords on the establishment of an ECO Bank for Trade and Development, a reinsurance company, an airline, and a shipping company, were not all signed by all 10 member countries. -- Lowell A. Bezanis, 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
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.