|The only certainty is that nothing is certain. - Pliny the Elder|
No. 78, Part I, 20 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 REAFFIRMS COMMENTS ON MILITARY FORCE IN NEAR ABROAD. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev reaffirmed his opinion that Russia could intervene militarily to protect ethnic Russians in the "near abroad," ITAR-TASS reported on 19 April. Speaking in the Kremlin, Kozyrev said his comments were "neither a slip of the tongue, nor a pre-election ruse." On 20 April, Izvestiya called Kozyrev's comments "sensational," recalling his notorious 1992 Stockholm speech when he portrayed himself as a nationalist only to say it was a joke within an hour. Both Vladimir Lukin, head of the State Duma's Foreign Affairs Committee, and Sergei Yushenkov, head of the Defense Committee, criticized Kozyrev's remarks while Lt.-Gen. Alexander Lebed applauded them. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. GOVORUKHIN URGES CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS AGAINST SAMASHKI CRITICS. Stanislav Govorukhin, who heads the State Duma commission on Chechnya, called for outspoken critics of the Russian massacre in Samashki to be prosecuted, Russian and Western agencies reported on 19 April. Govorukhin accused Memorial society leaders Anatoly Shabad and Lev Ponomarev and human rights advocate Sergei Kovalev of spreading "slanderous and provocative information," taken almost verbatim from pro-Dudaev propaganda pamphlets, Russian Public Television reported. While Govorukhin admitted that a "tragedy occurred in Samashki," he estimated that only about 30 civilians had been killed there the night of 7-8 April, Russian TV reported. Ponomarev and Shabad stood by the testimony gathered by Memorial, which suggests that up to 300 civilians perished in the massacre. Shabad said he went to Samashki before Russian soldiers cleaned it up in anticipation of Govorukhin's visit. Meanwhile, Col.-Gen. Anatoly Kulikov told reporters that even Chechen fighters consider Kovalev a "political prostitute" and do not take his charges seriously, NTV reported. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. DUMA VOTES TO INVESTIGATE ZHIRINOVSKY'S CONTACTS WITH DUDAEV. The Duma has authorized Govorukhin's committee to examine Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky's contacts with Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev in the fall of 1992 or 1993 (reports vary) to celebrate the anniversary of Chechen "independence," Interfax and Ekho Moskvy reported. On 16 April, NTV broadcast footage of Zhirinovsky's trip. Govorukhin, who chairs the Duma's Security Committee, is demanding answers to a number of questions: who sent Zhirinovsky to Dudaev, what sort of deals did they make about Chechnya's secession from the Russian Federation, whether Dudaev gave Zhirinovsky any money, and whether they made plans to send any of Zhirinovsky's Falcons to Chechnya or Dudaev's fighters to Moscow. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. YAVLINSKY CONFIRMS HE WILL RUN FOR PRESIDENT. Grigory Yavlinsky, leader of the Yabloko group, confirmed his intention to run for president in June 1996, Interfax reported on 19 April. While no potential presidential candidate currently enjoys mass support nationwide, Yavlinsky consistently ranks as one of Russia's most popular politicians in opinion polls. He is seen as a serious presidential contender abroad as well; in March he met with Chancellor Helmut Kohl in Germany and senior government officials in China. Yavlinsky told Interfax that Yabloko is working with other groups to nominate joint candidates for the upcoming parliamentary elections, so as not to split the democratic vote, as happened in December 1993. In recent weeks, several prominent democrats, including Boris Fedorov and Yegor Gaidar, have expressed the desire to form an electoral bloc with Yavlinsky. However, so far Yabloko has distanced itself from Russia's Choice and other proponents of President Boris Yeltsin's unpopular economic reforms. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. NEVZOROV TO BROADCAST ON RUSSIAN PUBLIC TELEVISION . . . Duma member Alexander Nevzorov will broadcast a weekly series on the new Russian Public Television station recently created by President Yeltsin, according to Moskovskie novosti. Beginning this week, the former St. Petersburg journalist will host Dikoe Pole (The Wild Field), a program that focuses on crime. The station's leadership said that by allowing Nevzorov to broadcast, it is making a concession to Yeltsin's opposition on what is considered to be a pro-presidential station. Nevzorov agreed not to discuss politics in his broadcasts as a condition for gaining access to the airwaves. He gained fame for his St. Petersburg television program 600 Seconds, which was critical of the communists initially and then of the city's democratic leaders. His broadcasts also supported the use of force in the Baltic States in 1991. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. .. . . WHILE ANOTHER JOURNALIST CLAIMS RESTRICTED FREEDOM AT THE STATION. Sergei Alekseev, host of the Voskresene program on Russian Public Television, has come into conflict with the station's management over the content of his program, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 19 April. The paper cites Alekseev's recent refusal to broadcast information supplied by presidential spokesman Sergei Medvedev on Yeltsin's vacation in Kislovodsk. The management severely criticized Alekseev for his intransigence. Alekseev said he plans to leave the station if he cannot defend his position there. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. DUMA ANNOUNCES AMNESTY TO MARK VICTORY DAY. The lower house of the Russian parliament voted on 19 April to approve an amnesty to mark the 50th anniversary of the Allied victory in World War II, celebrated in Russia on 9 May, Russian and Western agencies reported. Viktor Mironov, deputy chairman of the Duma Security Committee, said up to 30,000 prisoners, including 70 WWII veterans, will be released and criminal charges against another 270,000 people lifted. The amnesty does not cover serious crimes such as murder, rape, or extortion. The parliament also voted in principle, by 268 to eight, in favor of a resolution offering an amnesty to those rebels in Chechnya who agree to surrender. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. OFFICIALS SAY 40% OF INCOME HIDDEN FROM TAX INSPECTORS. Vyacheslav Bobkov, a spokesman for the Labor Ministry, told reporters on 19 April that about 40% of the Russian economy operates in the shadows and that no taxes are paid on it, Interfax reported. "However sad it may seem, we have to admit that we do not control a considerable part of the economy. We know too little about it and cannot exactly determine the parameters and scale of shadow incomes," he said. According to Bobkov, many private companies claim to pay their employees the minimum wage and then give them large cash payments on the side. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. GRACHEV DENIES RUMORS HE WILL BE SACKED. Defense Minister Pavel Grachev called reports of his imminent dismissal and radical cuts in the military nothing more than attempts "to destabilize the situation," Interfax reported on 19 April. He said the rumors are aimed at disorganizing the officer corps and are tied to the upcoming parliamentary elections. He also denied that a civilian would be appointed to succeed him or that the General Staff would be removed from the Defense Ministry and placed directly under the president. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. NEW RUSSIAN ATTACK ON BAMUT. Russian federal troops succeeded in driving the last Chechen defenders from the southwestern village of Bamut on 19 April, following an unsuccessful assault the previous day, according to Interfax and AFP quoting Col.-Gen. Anatoly Kulikov, the former Russian troop commander in Chechnya. Kulikov estimated Chechen losses in Bamut at 400, with 14 Russians killed. Kulikov's successor in Chechnya, Col.- Gen. Mikhail Yegorov, told Interfax that Russian forces were still not in complete control of Bamut and were being subjected to artillery fire from Chechen units positioned in the surrounding hills. Also on 19 April, Ingush President Ruslan Aushev issued a statement, summarized by Interfax, protesting what he termed the deliberate Russian bombing of the Ingush village of Arshty, near the Chechen-Ingush border, on 18 April in which three women died and seven other people were injured. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc. DAVYDOV HINTS OF POSSIBLE DEAL ON IRAN. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Davydov hinted on 19 April that Russia may reconsider its nuclear deal with Iran if the U.S. proves willing to buy Russian uranium, ITAR- TASS reported. On a trip to Washington, Davydov said, "If the issue 'of uranium shipments' is solved, then the Russian-Iranian agreement can be considered from another point of view. We are strategic partners of the U.S. and therefore can hold talks on the 'nuclear deal' issue." Davydov said arrangements for Russia to provide nuclear reactors to Iran will not be finalized before September. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA ARMENIAN BILL BETWEEN TURKEY AND RUSSIA . . . Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Ferhat Ataman registered Ankara's displeasure with the Russian State Duma's passage of a bill that establishes 24 April as the day marking the massacre of Armenians by Turks, international media reported on 19 April. Ataman called the bill, passed on 14 April, an "extreme move" and criticized Russia for indirectly threatening Turkey's territorial integrity by making reference to the "historical Armenian homeland." He said it would affect not only Turko-Russian relations but would hamper recent efforts to improve ties with Armenia. The 18 April opening in Moscow of a two-day international conference under the title "Genocide--Crimea Against Mankind" suggests Turko-Russian relations will remain chilly. In a welcoming speech to the conference, Konstantin Zatulin, chairman of the State Duma Committee for CIS Affairs and Contacts with Compatriots, noted that Russians "have become better aware of the problem of genocide" since the breakup of the U.S.S.R. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. .. . . AND OVER CFE. Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Ferhat Ataman stressed that the CFE treaty should not be violated or altered prior to a review conference scheduled for May 1996, Reuters reported on 19 April. He was responding to Russian Defense Minister Grachev's 16 April statement that Russia would refuse to comply with the flank provisions of the CFE treaty while fighting continues in Chechnya. Ataman noted that anything less than total observance of the treaty would endanger Europe's security structure. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIA TO BUILD ENERGY INSTALLATIONS IN TURKMENISTAN. An agreement to construct fuel and energy installations in Turkmenistan has been reached by that country's Oil and Gas Ministry and Russia's Zarubezhneftegazstroi, Interfax reported on 19 April. The agreement calls for the establishment of a gas measuring installation at Daryalak on the Turkmen-Uzbek border, a pipeline network linking gas fields, and locating and developing new gas fields. The Russian company will also be involved in constructing the Turkmen section of the gas pipeline to Europe, in addition to potential participation in the Iranian section. The Turkmen side will pay for services rendered with gas in volume and at a price determined by annual contracts. In 1995, 4 billion cubic meters of gas will be delivered to settle accounts with the Russian outfit. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. BORDER FORCES IN TAJIKISTAN TO GET NEW COMMANDER. Lt.-Gen. Valentin Bobryshev has been named the new commander of border forces in Tajikistan, AFP reported. Bobryshev will replace Col.-Gen. Patrikeyev, whose term as commander expires on 30 June. At a meeting of the Council of Commonwealth Defense Ministers in Moscow, Patrikeyev took the opportunity to criticize some of Dushanbe's policies. He said the "fragile balance" in the republic was broken by the Tajik government's decision to increase the military presence in Gorno-Badakhshan in April and that such action violates the truce arranged in Tehran last September. Patrikeyev said the Tajik government is "still prone to settling the Gorno-Badakhshan problem by force," according to Interfax. Besides naming a new commander, the council extended the peacekeeping mandate to 31 December 1995 from 30 June 1995, according to Interfax. -- Bruce Pannier, 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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