|The fool wonders, the wise man asks. - Benjamin Disraeli|
No. 77, Part I, 19 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 KOZYREV: RUSSIA MAY INTERVENE FOR ETHNIC RUSSIANS ABROAD. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev asserted on 18 April that Moscow reserves the right to intervene militarily to protect the rights of ethnic Russians living in the "near abroad," Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported on 19 April. Kozyrev cited the emigration of over 240,000 Russians from the CIS in 1994 as evidence of the abuse of their rights outside Russia. However, a Russian study released last week said most of the migration was economically motivated. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. ELECTORAL LAW FOR FEDERATION COUNCIL UNDER DEBATE. Both houses of Russia's parliament are working together to develop an electoral law for the Federation Council, Chairman of the State Duma's Committee for Legislation and Judicial Reform Vladimir Isakov told Interfax on 18 April. The two houses have very different approaches. Whereas the Duma wants voters to approve candidates nominated by the regions' and republics' executive and legislative branches, the president and the Council want the heads of local administrations and legislatures to become automatic members. Isakov believes the country needs a permanently functioning Council, in which members quit their other jobs and devote their full attention to drafting legislation. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. DEMOCRATS CONSIDER KOVALEV FOR PRESIDENT. Democratic Russia and Russia's Democratic Choice may support human rights activist Sergei Kovalev as their presidential candidate, according to Russian TV, citing an article in Argumenty i fakty slated to be published on 20 April. Galina Starovoitova, co-chairwoman of Democratic Russia and a former adviser to President Boris Yeltsin, said "Yegor Gaidar and I have discussed the question of nominating Kovalev as a presidential candidate in the upcoming elections." She said he might become "a unifying figure as Andrei Sakharov was in his time." -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. YAVLINSKY DENIES RUMORS OF PACT WITH ZYUGANOV. Grigory Yavlinsky, leader of the Yabloko group, denied that he had agreed to cooperate with Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov in the upcoming presidential elections, Interfax reported on 18 April. Some Russian observers have speculated that Yavlinsky and Zyuganov made a deal to support each other if one of them qualifies for the second round of presidential elections, scheduled for June 1996. Yavlinsky called the rumor "a political provocation" and absurd as well, since his supporters are not "serfs" who can be told how to vote. He described Yabloko as the "democratic opposition [in parliament]," unlike the Communists, whom he accused of planning "to alter the political system, restore the soviets, and abolish the presidency." Kommersant-Daily reported on 13 April that Yabloko and the Communists displayed identical voting patterns in the Duma this year on many important issues, such as the budget, the creation of Russian Public Television, and the recently proposed no- confidence vote in the government. The paper also suggested that Zyuganov and Yavlinsky have a common enemy in the current government and have avoided attacking each other in public. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIAN UNITED INDUSTRIAL PARTY CREATED. The Russian United Industrial Party, created on the basis of Arkady Volsky's Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, has held its first congress in Moscow, Russian news agencies reported on 18 April. Volsky told the congress that the new "centrist" organization would not be merely a "party of directors," but would be open to everyone, Russian Television reported. He called for "real economic reforms" to enlarge the state's role in the economy, led by "realistically-minded people, who do not call for settling old scores or returning to the past," Interfax reported. Volsky said Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin is not to blame for the current economic crisis, since he was left with a "difficult inheritance" after officials "attempted to change everything and everyone at once" in 1992, NTV reported. In 1991, Volsky helped create the Movement for Democratic Reform. Volsky then formed an industrial lobby, the Union of Renewal, which later joined the centrist Civic Union bloc in 1992. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. DAVYDOV CRITICIZES WESTERN PROTECTIONISM. Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Davydov said restrictions on Russian trade to the West remain as they were during the Cold War, despite political statements to the contrary, Business World reported on 18 April. He said Russia had already removed all barriers and that the EU is using Chechnya as pretext for not proceeding with an interim trade accord, thus allowing EU-Russian trade to be regulated by an agreement reached with the former Soviet Union. Russia is not recognized as a transitional market economy and all anti- dumping and protectionist measures remain intact. He cited Russian capabilities in aerospace industry and in the production of fissionable materials, aluminum, and nickel, as areas in which Russia is more than competitive with the West. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. AUM SHINRI KYO SECT BANNED. A Moscow judge shut down the Russian branches of the Japanese sect Aum Shinri Kyo on 18 April and ordered its representatives in Russia to pay 20 billion rubles in damages to the group of parents who sued the sect, Russian and Western agencies reported. The judge also ordered Radio Mayak and Moscow Television to stop broadcasting Aum Shinri Kyo programs. The sect's lawyers say they will appeal the ruling--the first against a religious group in post- Soviet Russia--but the parents' group, the Youth Salvation Committee, has vowed to fight to the end. Some human rights groups fear that the ruling may signal a crackdown on religious freedoms. Aum Shinri Kyo, which has been implicated in the sarin gas attack in the Tokyo subway on 20 March, has six branches in Moscow and seven in other Russian cities. Religious sects have boomed in Russia since the collapse of communism. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. MORE ON THE CASE AGAINST ROSVOORUZHENIE. A representative of the Rosvooruzhenie weapons company said on 18 April that the charges of tax evasion and illegal financial transactions leveled the previous day by the Prosecutor's Office should be addressed to the company's former management, NTV reported. Rosvooruzhenie's current general director, Col. Alexander Kotelkin, took the job in November 1994, succeeding Lt.- Gen. Viktor Samoilov. Rosvooruzhenie was audited last year by the Control Department of the presidential administration, the Finance Ministry's Auditing Department, and a number of other specialists, including Air Marshall Yevgeny Shaposhnikov, the president's representative at the company. The results were then submitted to the Prosecutor's Office. Both the audit and the transfer of documents were ordered by President Boris Yeltsin personally, Izvestiya reported on 19 April. The inspection revealed numerous violations by arms traders while the export of military hardware continued to fall and presidential and government decisions were ignored, according to Segodnya on 18 April. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. FOREIGN MINISTRY BACKS GRACHEV ON ARMS TREATY. Defense Minister Grachev's recent warning that Russia may not fulfill some of the provisions of the CFE treaty reflected "the Russian side's real concern and requirements," according to Gregory Karasin, the Russian Foreign Ministry's chief press spokesman. In the past, the Foreign Ministry has tended to be in favor of full compliance. Karasin said Russia is counting on the U.S. "and our other partners . . . to be understanding of our position and to take account of the Russian Federation's interests," ITAR-TASS reported on 18 April. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIA TO SELL MISSILE SYSTEM TO U.S. The Russian Defense Ministry intends to sell a unit of its most modern air defense missile system to the United States, Izvestiya reported on 14 April. For a reported $60 million, the Americans are to receive an S-300V mobile missile system-- known to NATO as the SA-12 Giant--in a contract drawn up by the state arms export company Rosvooruzheniye. Although badly in need of the money, top military leaders are reportedly concerned at allowing the Americans to learn so much about one of their best weapons. There was a public furor recently when Belarus sold a similar, but less capable, system--an S-300PMU (SA-10 Grumble)--to a private company acting on behalf of the U.S. Defense Department. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIA TO LAUNCH GERMAN SATELLITE FROM SUBMARINE. A Russian Delta III class nuclear submarine in the Barents Sea is scheduled to fire a converted SS-N-18 ballistic missile this June which will lift a recoverable German satellite into space, Interfax reported on 15 April. The launch is part of a joint project between the German Agency DARA and the Makeyev State Rocket Center Design Bureau in Miass, in the Chelyabinsk region. This civilian version of the SS-N-18--which was designed to carry as many as seven nuclear warheads--has been named "Volna." The German satellite will not be placed in orbit, but will be used to conduct a 20-minute experiment in fundamental research in conditions of little or no gravity before splashing down off the coast of Kamchatka. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. TURKISH SUPPORT FOR PETRO-CHEMICAL PLANT. Moscow and Ankara are discussing a $120 million loan to Russia in exchange for natural gas deliveries to Turkey, Interfax reported on 18 April. The money would be used to complete construction of the first unit of a polypropylene facility in Budyonnovsk, Stavropol region, by the Turkish contractor Tekfen. The plant, estimated to cost $280 million, is to yield 100,000 metric tons of polypropylene annually. Last year, Russia provided Turkey with 5.1 billion cubic meters of natural gas. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. CIS RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN TALKS. The latest round of Russian-Ukrainian negotiations took place behind closed doors, Ukrainian radio reported on 18 April. After the talks, Ukrainian acting Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk told journalists that President Yeltsin agreed with Ukraine's draft of the article dealing with mutual borders for the future treaty on friendship and cooperation. That version states: "Both sides respect each other's sovereignty and confirm that they will not violate the existing borders between them." Yeltsin also agreed with Marchuk that Crimea will never be a reason for any kind of conflict between Russia and Ukraine. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. YELTSIN, MARCHUK DIFFER ON BLACK SEA FLEET. President Yeltsin and Ukrainian acting Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk failed to reach agreement on the division of the Black Sea Fleet during their 18 April meeting in the Kremlin, and the two leaders offered two vastly different accounts of their discussion. ITAR-TASS quoted a presidential press release in which Yeltsin blamed the impasse on "the unyielding stand of the Ukrainian delegation headed by Marchuk" and said there would be no Russian compromises or concessions from their previous agreements. He added that "new tough variants" of the solution to the Black Sea Fleet problem offered by the Ukrainian government did not improve the chances of Yeltsin visiting Kiev. Marchuk, for his part, told Interfax that the two leaders had a "sincere . . . and rather constructive" dialogue on the fleet, although he admitted the issue had not been resolved. He said Ukraine is working on the April 1994 Russian-Ukrainian agreement under which the fleet would be divided in half, and then Ukraine would give two-thirds of its share to Russia as payment for its fuel debt. However, Marchuk added that the agreement contained too many "generic" provisions that need to be specified. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. DUDAEV'S FAMILY REPORTEDLY IN UKRAINE. The family of Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev is in Ukraine, according to parliament deputy Mykhailo Ratushny, who was cited by Ukrainian Radio on 18 April. Ratushny had accompanied members of the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists (KUN) party on a humanitarian aid mission to Chechnya earlier this month. Russian forces reportedly hindered the mission's attempts to distribute 41 tons of food, medicine, and basic commodities. Ratushny claimed that intervention by the International Red Cross cleared the cargo through customs, but most of the shipment ended up going to the Russian army and disappearing through "commercial agents." The Ukrainian cargo was reportedly the first aid shipment to reach Chechnya. KUN members said Dudaev's family has been granted asylum in Ukraine because they were subjected to a manhunt in Chechnya. -- Ustina Markus, 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. 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