|Absence makes the heart grow fonder. -|
No. 70, Part I, 7 April 1995
We welcome you to Part I of the Open Media Research Institute's Daily Digest. 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. Back issues of the Daily Digest, and other information about OMRI, are available through our WWW pages: http://www.omri.cz/OMRI.html RUSSIA MINISTER SAYS NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE WILL FAIL. Deputy Prime Minister Yury Yarov said the Duma's 12 April no-confidence vote in the government will not succeed, Interfax reported on 6 April. He said the vote has more to do with pre-election maneuvering than the details of Russia's agreement with Kiev to restructure Ukraine's debt. A majority of the deputies in the Duma (226) must support the motion for it to succeed. If the vote does pass, the president can either replace the government or disagree with the Duma vote. If the Duma passes it again within three months, the president must either replace the government or call new Duma elections within four months. Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin said events will develop according to the constitutional provisions if the Duma denies the government its support, Russian TV reported. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. VERACITY OF DENIALS THAT YELTSIN WILL POSTPONE ELECTIONS QUESTIONED. Nezavisimaya gazeta doubted recent statements by Yeltsin's advisers that he has no intention of postponing the parliamentary and presidential elections, according to the 6 April edition of the paper. The presidential office's recent denunciations of those predicting that Yeltsin will postpone the elections, provides the best proof that the allegations are true, according to the paper. "Absurd ideas would not be rebutted so hotly," it claimed. Nezavisimaya gazeta speculated that the denunciations will continue until the 50th anniversary of World War II, when many foreign leaders will visit the country. Then, according to the paper's scenario, Russian Public Television will begin a campaign of "no change for the stake of stability." -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. VEDENKIN ANNOUNCES ELECTION PLANS. Alexei Vedenkin, currently the most visible "fascist" in Russia, announced plans to work with the Great Russia bloc, NTV reported on 5 April. He claimed to "have enough money to win 60% of the seats in the Duma." Vedenkin said he had been building up a financial base since 1990. He has been extremely successful, he claimed, because he had the support of the U.S.S.R. Council of Ministers, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Central Committee, and the KGB. According to his account, the leaders of those institutions understood even then that nationalism would play an important role after the collapse of the U.S.S.R. He also denied that he is a fascist and announced that he will sue all media outlets that have dubbed him one and use the proceeds to rebuild churches. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. MINERS GO ON STRIKE IN PRIMORSKY KRAI. Miners in Primorsky Krai downed tools on 6 April to protest a four month-delay in wage payments, Russian and Western agencies reported. Twenty-seven miners at the Avangard pit in the city of Partizansk have already been on hunger strike since 29 March; 16, however, have been brought to the surface in critical condition and hospitalized. The local railway, an ore refinery, and a transport company were also reported to be on strike. According to Reuters, regional legislative officials said they would urge Trans- Siberian railroad workers to join the stoppage as well. Economics Minister Yevgeny Yasin and Finance Minister Vladimir Panskov say money from the federal budget to pay the miners is reaching Primorsky Krai on time, Ekho Moskvy reported. The local public prosecutor's office said Primorskugol officials had misused money from the state budget earmarked for salaries. According to Izvestiya, cited by Reuters, First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais said the problem was two-fold: nonpayment of bills by coal consumers and "laxity or even plain stealing concealed by the overall problem of debts." -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. SECURITY SERVICE GAINS NEW POWERS. Commenting on reports that Yeltsin had signed the law on the Federal Security Service (FSB), a senior Federal Counterintelligence Service (FSK) official said the new service will be able to infiltrate foreign organizations and criminal groups, institute inquiries, carry out preliminary investigations, maintain its own prisons, demand information from private companies, and set up special units and front enterprises, Interfax reported on 6 April. The spokesman said the FSB's duties will include foreign intelligence activities to boost Russia's "economic, scientific, technical, and defense potential" and to ensure the security of all government bodies. He said the FSB is the legal successor to the FSK and the latter's personnel will not have to reapply for their jobs but will be simply transferred. The FSK employs more than 75,000 people. Human rights groups say they fear the security body's enhanced powers could be used to crack down on civil liberties rather than to fight organized crime. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIA, UNITED STATES TO COOPERATE ON ECONOMIC CRIME. Russia's Interior Ministry (MVD) and the U.S. Secret Service announced on 6 April that they will cooperate in the fight against money-laundering, counterfeiting, and other international economic crimes, Western agencies reported. K. David Holmes Jr., deputy assistant director of the Secret Service, said that in a recently concluded two-week seminar the services had identified "several criminal cases . . . with direct associations in Russia and the United States." He declined to elaborate, but Boris Tereshchenko of the MVD's Economic Crimes Department said the Americans are helping Russia in a counterfeiting case by analyzing the paper and ink used to produce the fake notes. He said money-laundering in Russia is a major international problem. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. DUMA DEPUTIES APPEAL TO CONSTITUTIONAL COURT ON USE OF ARMY IN CHECHNYA. About 90 Duma deputies have asked the Constitutional Court to rule on the legality of the use of the army in Chechnya, Ekho Moskvy reported on 6 April. The deputies maintain that the constitution does not allow the president and his cabinet to deploy the armed forces by decree. Speaking on behalf of the group, Communist deputy Anatoly Lukyanov told Ekho Moskvy the Chechen events demonstrate that the president and government "simply do not respect either the constitution or our laws." The court has not said when it will consider the deputies' request. On 5 April, the Duma approved the first reading of a law instructing the government to begin negotiations with the Chechen authorities toward a peaceful settlement of the crisis. A second reading of the draft law is scheduled for mid-April. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIA STALLS ON OSCE PERMANENT CHECHNYA MISSION. Despite an agreement in principle to station a permanent mission in Chechnya, Russia did not agree to proceed at the weekly OSCE meeting of the Permanent Council on 6 April, Western agencies reported. That means the European Union is unlikely to conclude an interim trade accord with Russia when the foreign ministers meet on 10 April. Russian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Relations Oleg Davydov again repeated his accusation that the EU action, which he viewed as foregone, is more economically motivated than concerned with human rights violations in Chechnya, Interfax reported. He was particularly critical of France, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, saying Russia is France's number one competitor in aluminum, nuclear materials, and provision of space services. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIA WILL NOT USE NUCLEAR WEAPONS UNLESS ATTACKED. As part of a campaign to promote the indefinite extension of the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Russia has agreed to join in a UN Security Council resolution not to use nuclear weapons against a signatory of the NPT unless it or its armed forces are attacked, Interfax reported on 6 April. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Grigory Karasin said that if nuclear weapons were used or threatened against a non-nuclear state that adhered to the NPT, then the members of the UN Security Council would take measures to provide the victim with the necessary assistance in accordance with the UN Charter. Karasin said Russia hopes the resolution will strengthen the nuclear nonproliferation regime and further international stability and security. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. LUKOIL TO FLOAT BONDS. The Russian oil company LUKoil is preparing to float bonds for Russian and foreign investors in two installments over the next few months, firm president Vagit Alekperov announced to Russian and Western agencies on 5 April. The first, planned for May or June, is reserved for foreign investors and should bring in "at least $300 million," Alekperov said. The Russian portion of the issuance should come in the fall. The bonds will be guaranteed by 11% of the state-held shares in LUKoil, a big Russian oil conglomerate with activities ranging from extraction to distribution. The proceeds of the bond issue will be used for technical equipment, rebuilding refineries, new deposit operations, and repaying debts due to the state which amount to more than 1 trillion rubles ($200 million). In 1994, LUKoil accounted for 15% of Russian oil production. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. SOLZHENITSYN DENOUNCES CAMPAIGN "HYSTERIA." In a televised speech that was excerpted in the 7 April edition of Rossiiskaya gazeta, Nobel Prize- winning author Alexander Solzhenitsyn denounced Russian politicians of all persuasions for succumbing to pre-election "fever and hysteria." Eight months before scheduled parliamentary elections, he said, Duma deputies and party leaders were devoting more energy to campaign strategy than to improving the lives of Russians, which is a "shame." Solzhenitsyn added that by autumn, the "pre-election epilepsy" would afflict all Russians. He proposed limiting campaign activities to the four weeks before elections, as is done in England. Solzhenitysn criticized Duma deputies in particular for not passing laws on crime, corruption, or local self-government in recent months. He said deputies design their speeches and actions not to serve "the fatherland" or "the people," but only "my faction, my party, my personal use and profit." -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA TAJIK PARLIAMENT ELECTS SPEAKER. At its opening session in Dushanbe on 6 April the new Tajik parliament elected the chairman of the Popular Party of Tajikistan, lawyer Safarali Radzhabov, as its speaker by an overwhelming majority, Interfax reported. Radzhabov was the only candidate nominated for the post, following President Emomali Rakhmonov's statement that the head of state and parliament speaker should not both come from the same region. Abdulmadzhid Dostiev (like Rakhmonov a native of Kulyab), who had been tipped as a possible candidate, was elected first deputy speaker. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc. PERRY IN TASHKENT, KARIMOV ON RUSSIA. U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry held talks on defense and economic cooperation with Uzbek President Islam Karimov, Defense Minister Rustam Akhmedov, and Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov on 6 April, Russian and Western agencies reported. They agreed on setting up a working group to study the prospects for bilateral cooperation and a program for joint actions including the training of Uzbek officers. Karimov identified three factors which threaten Uzbek independence: "imperialist ambitions in Russia . . . which are intensifying daily," "the threat from the south . ... . fundamentalism," and the problem of "how to ensure irreversibility," Interfax reported. Karimov is seeking "close cooperation" with the U.S., whose presence in Central Asia he termed a "guarantee of stability" adding, however, that the U.S. had a "distorted picture" of Uzbek and regional affairs. Karimov rejected the standing Kazakh proposal for a Eurasian union, saying it would undercut Uzbek independence. He expressed sympathy for the Ukrainian military doctrine (which does not mention Russia but regards any country that follows a consistently hostile policy as an enemy) and urged the U.S. to help strengthen that country's independence. Perry expressed concern for the slow pace of democratic reform in Uzbekistan but praised the republic as "an island of stability in a troubled area." -- Lowell 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. 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