|The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none. - Thomas Carlyle 1975-1881|
No. 75, Part I, 14 April 1995
NOTICE TO READERS: THE DAILY DIGEST WILL NOT APPEAR ON MONDAY, 17 APRIL 1995, A CZECH NATIONAL HOLIDAY. 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 RUSSIAN TROOPS CARRY OUT MASSACRE IN SAMASHKI. At least 47 people died in a massacre in Samashki, a village of 7,000 to 15,000, on the night of 7-8 April, representatives of the Russian human rights organization Memorial told NTV. Sergei Kovalev, President Boris Yeltsin's human rights adviser, and Memorial member Andrei Blinushov, said the actual number may be as high as 211, Ekho Moskvy reported. Official Russian reports claim that troops captured 100 Chechen fighters and did nothing wrong. Memorial told Russian television that the village was given an ultimatum to turn over all its weapons within one and a half hours. When it could not comply, masked soldiers entered the town and threw grenades into basements where people were hiding and destroyed the buildings with flame-throwers. Reuters reported that many of the Russian soldiers injected themselves with drugs during the massacre and that the village was still littered with used syringes on 13 April. According to Russia's Choice Duma member Anatoly Shabad, the purpose of the massacre was to "terrorize the Chechen population so that it would not resist any further." Kovalev said it is still necessary to find out exactly what happened in Samashki. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIAN TROOPS ATTACKING BAMUT. Russian troops are now attacking Bamut, seven miles from Samashki, described as the last stronghold of the Chechen resistance, Russian TV reported 13 April. The Russian air force is participating and witnesses at the site report artillery fire. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. RIGHTS GROUPS CALL ON WESTERN GOVERNMENTS TO SPEAK OUT. Memorial and Human Rights Watch have appealed to Western governments to use their May visits to Moscow to protest the war in Chechnya, AFP reported. Sergei Kovalev said "Western leaders can be partially blamed for the bloodshed" because of their refusal to act. Minister of Internal Affairs Viktor Yerin, however, denounced the activists, saying "I suggest that those activists stand in the trenches with the soldiers and officers who are carrying out the special operations, walk together with them, and then give their evaluations," NTV reported. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. DUDAEV ESCAPES ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT. Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev is in a military camp in the mountains near Bamut, in southern Chechnya, according to reports on Russian TV. Earlier statements by Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev that Dudaev had been killed or wounded are not true, according to Ruslan Movsaev, commander of a Chechen fighting unit, AFP reported. On 12 April, artillery destroyed the house that Dudaev had occupied only hours earlier. The exact location of the house is unclear. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. FEDERATION COUNCIL APPEALS TO CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OVER CHECHNYA DECREES .. . . The Federation Council challenged the legality of secret decrees on restoring law and order in Chechnya, Russian Public Television reported on 13 April. By a vote of 97 to one, with two abstentions, the Council decided to ask the Constitutional Court to rule on Yeltsin's decrees of 30 November and 9 December, as well as the government's 9 December resolution. Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai said Russia's armed forces were sent to Chechnya in accordance with the constitution, Interfax reported. He praised the draft law on settling the Chechen conflict, which the Duma passed on 12 April, as an example of cooperation between the legislative and executive branches. Shakhrai said a conference on reaching a peaceful settlement would be held in Grozny later this month, but he ruled out direct talks with Dudaev. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. .. . . WHILE DEPUTIES CRITICIZE SHUMEIKO'S STAND ON CHECHNYA. Yelena Mizulina, deputy chairman of the Federation Council's Committee for Constitutional Law and Legal Matters, said Council Chairman Vladimir Shumeiko should share the blame for the escalation of violence in Chechnya, NTV reported. She said Shumeiko, who is a permanent member of Yeltsin's Security Council, failed to express the views of the upper house of parliament adequately to the president. Deputies also criticized Shumeiko and Defense and Security Committee Chairman Petr Shirshov for concealing the contents of Yeltsin's secret decrees on Chechnya from the rest of the Federation Council. Shumeiko defended the Security Council as a constitutional body and said he was obliged not to reveal state secrets. He also threatened to sue deputy Viktor Kurochkin for calling the Security Council a "gang" and accusing "the Politburo" of starting a war in Chechnya. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. GOVERNMENT MAKES CONCESSIONS TO DISGRUNTLED WORKERS. At a cabinet meeting on 13 April, the day after workers nationwide rallied to protest wage arrears, First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets announced the government's decision to pay in full the wages it owes workers in the defense industry by the end of the week, Interfax reported. First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais reported on the improvement in the situation in Primorsky Krai (see below) and said the government would loan regional authorities 85 billion rubles to pay the wages owed to school workers and teachers, Interfax reported. Noting the low average wage in Russia, Labor Minister Gennady Melikyan conceded that trade unions had reason to be unhappy. According to Minister of Internal Affairs Yerin, 450,000 people took part in the day of action organized by the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia; union representatives said about 1.5 million participated. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. PRIMORSKY MINERS GO BACK TO WORK. Ending a week-long strike, miners in Primorsky Krai went back to work on 13 April as they began to receive their wages, Interfax reported that day, citing the Fuel and Energy Ministry. The miners were owed wages from as far back as November. In Vladivostok on 12 April, Fuel and Energy Minister Yury Shafranik said the government had found the means to pay the miners in full and that 80 billion rubles were being dispatched to the krai, Ekho Moskvy reported. Shafranik, like First Deputy Prime Minister Chubais, was very critical of the performance of the krai administration and Governor Yevgeny Nazdratenko in particular. Chubais accused Nazdratenko of exacerbating tensions, recalling that he had urged a blockade of the Trans-Siberian railway, and vowed to investigate his "political games." He was also critical of the governor's decision to leave for an EBRD meeting in London at a critical juncture. In response to the allegations, Nazdra- tenko's deputy argued that the main cause of the miners strike was delays in federal subsidies to the energy sector. On 13 April, Izvestiya questioned what had happened to a 600-billion-ruble federal subsidy sent earlier to the krai, noting that the miners had only received 20 billion of those funds, although coal provides 90% of the region's energy. The paper also said it had been unable to find any trace of Nazdratenko in London. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. FINANCE MINISTER SAYS RESERVE FUND EMPTY. Vladimir Panskov told a cabinet meeting on 13 April that the reserve fund for 1995 has been completely exhausted, Interfax reported. The fund is used to cover expenditures for emergency situations and other measures not foreseen in the regular budget. He did not indicate whether measures would be taken to replenish the fund. Earlier in the week, Panskov announced a 7- trillion-ruble shortfall in first-quarter revenue, which amounts to about 14% less than calculated in the budget. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIANS PUSH FOR CHANGE IN ARMS TREATY. The "flanks" restrictions in the CFE treaty must be changed if the accord is to be viable, according to Grigory Karasin, a spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, who was commenting on the current Vienna meeting of the treaty's Joint Consultative Group. The Russian military has long complained that the limits unfairly restrict the amount of military equipment it can deploy in the strategic North Caucasus Military District. Karasin told ITAR- TASS that Russia expected its treaty partners "to produce a constructive response" to its compromise proposals, adding that the treaty "must correspond to new realities." -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA TAJIK ROUND-UP. Fighting in Gorno-Badakhshan continued as opposition forces shelled Khorog, and Russian border guards retaliated with missile and bomb strikes, using helicopter gunships and planes belonging to CIS peacekeeping forces, Interfax and Western agencies reported on 13 April. ITAR-TASS reported that six more frontier guards-- raising the estimated number of deaths to 42--were killed the same day. An estimated 200 Tajik opposition fighters have died to date. A Tajik government delegation, led by parliament Deputy Chairman Kazidavlot Koimdodov and other high-ranking officials, left for Badakhshan to analyze the military and political situation there, Interfax reported. President Yeltsin called for "immediate measures," including dispatching technical and military aid to Tajikistan; his defense minister had earlier gone on record opposing such measures. The UN Security Council expressed its "deep concern" on 12 April and said the Tajik opposition is jeopardizing an earlier cease-fire agreement, Reuters reported. Multiple sources noted increasing coordination between the Ismaili Pamiri forces and the Afghanistan-based Islamic Tajik opposition. As both the Russian and Tajik opposition forces are said to be receiving reinforcements, the conflict looks set to continue. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. AFGHANISTAN PROTESTS RUSSIAN BOMBING. The headquarters of the Islamic Renaissance Party in Toluqan was bombed killing 40 civilians, according to Deputy Chairman Kazi Akbar Turadzhonzoda, Interfax reported on 13 April; Kabul Radio, however, cited 100 dead and 200 wounded. Repeated strikes against alleged opposition targets in Takhar and Badakhshan provinces have occured in recent days, and the Kabul government has protested Russian bombing of its territory to the UN. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. AZERBAIJAN REJECTS IRANIAN CRITICISM OVER OIL DEAL. Azerbaijan Parliament chairman Rasul Guliev has rejected as "totally incomprehensible" Iran's angry reaction to his government's decision to cancel an agreement giving Iran a 5% share in the consortium to develop three Caspian oil fields, Interfax reported on 13 April. Instead, Azerbaijan has given a 5% stake to Exxon and another 5% to the Turkish company TPAO. Also on 13 April, a spokesman for Azerbaijan's State Oil Company SOCAR said Iran would be offered a share in the development of the Shakh Deniz oil and gas deposits as compensation. Meanwhile, an Azerbaijani government delegation traveled to Moscow on 13 April for talks on lifting the transport blockade imposed on Azerbaijan late last year. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc. KURDS KILLED TRYING TO ENTER NAKHICHEVAN. Azerbaijani border guards have in recent days repelled numerous attempts by groups of Kurds to cross the border from Iran into the Azerbaijani enclave of Nakhichevan, AFP reported on 13 April, quoting a security ministry official in Baku. Several Kurds have been killed in the attempt. Iran has closed its border with Turkey to prevent the PKK from launching cross-border attacks. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc. CIS AS MANY AS 3 MILLION RUSSIANS MAY MIGRATE TO HOMELAND. Only 2-3 million ethnic Russians are likely to migrate to Russia from other countries in the CIS, not the tens of millions that some estimate, according to Emil Pain, a member of the Presidential Council. Interfax reported on 12 April that the main problem confronting ethnic Russians in the "near abroad" is getting used to changing economic circumstances, not ethnic discrimination. Citing opinion polls conducted in Kazakhstan and Estonia in December 1994, Pain said 66% of the Russians in Kazakhstan consider low living standards the worst problem and 87% of the Russians in Estonia said they never had any problems with the local population. However, Rossiiskaya gazeta reported on 13 April that migration from Kazakhstan to Orenburg Oblast increased dramatically in the first quarter of 1995, mainly by families interested in pursuing Russian- language education for their children. -- 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. To receive the OMRI Daily Digest by mail or fax, please direct inquiries to OMRI Publications, Na Strzi 63, 140 62 Prague 4, Czech Republic; or electronically to OMRIPUB@OMRI.CZ Tel.: (42-2) 6114 2114; fax: (42-2) 426 396 OMRI also publishes the biweekly journal Transition, which contains expanded analysis of many of the topics in the Daily Digest. For Transition subscription information send an e-mail to TRANSITION@OMRI.CZ
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