|Every custom was once an eccentricity; every idea was once an absurdity. - Holbrook Jackson|
No. 84, Part I, 28 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, SHUMEIKO WILL NOT JOIN CHERNOMYRDIN, RYBKIN BLOCS. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev announced in Washington on 26 April that he will not participate in either of the new electoral blocs set up by State Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Ekho Moskvy reported. He said that if he participates in the campaign, it will be as an independent candidate "in the presidential bloc." Chernomyrdin had announced on 26 April that all the members of the government would support his grouping. Minister for Social Protection Lyudmila Bezlepkina said that the cabinet's support for the prime minister does not mean that all the ministers will automatically participate in the elections. Mikhail Poltoranin, chairman of the Duma Committee on the Press, commented that Chernomyrdin's announcement would lead to a split in the cabinet, Russian Public Television reported. Speaker of the Federation Council Vladimir Shumeiko also announced that he will not participate in the new blocs, according to Russian Television. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. PRESIDENT WILL ACCEPT PARLIAMENTARY VERSIONS OF ELECTION LAWS. Presidential aide Georgy Satarov said that Boris Yeltsin is willing to accept practically any legislation on elections to the parliament and the presidency adopted by the Federal Assembly, NTV reported. The president is concerned, Satarov said, that the two houses of the parliament will be unable to reach agreement on the electoral laws. The president is willing to act as an intermediary to help resolve their disputes but will not issue decrees that supersede the laws adopted by the parliament, his aide said. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. ROSSIISKAYA GAZETA ACCUSES GRYZUNOV OF TRYING TO FORM "CENSORSHIP COMMITTEE." The official government newspaper Rossiiskaya gazeta charged on 26 April that a draft presidential decree would create a "censorship committee" headed by State Press Committee Chairman Sergei Gryzunov. The draft decree would form a Joint Federal Agency on State Information Policy (Gosinform), consisting of the State Press Committee and the Federal TV and Radio Broadcasting Service. Rossiiskaya gazeta alleged that the plan, supported by Yeltsin's chief of staff Sergei Filatov, was an "attempt to form a large propaganda machine to provide tight control over the mass media." Such sharp criticism of a draft presidential decree in an official newspaper points toward a split within the administration; Gryzunov and Filatov are considered among the "liberals" in the president's circle. On 14 March, two weeks after Yeltsin intervened to halt the announced dismissal of Gryzunov, Rossiiskaya gazeta accused the press committee chairman of mismanaging funds and showing favoritism. Gryzunov took the case to the president's Chamber on Information Disputes, which reprimanded the newspaper. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. JOURNALISTS' UNION BEMOANS LACK OF GOVERNMENT SUPPORT. . . Many of the 350 delegates to the fourth congress of the Union of Russian Journalists criticized the government for failing to provide financial support and social protection for journalists, Russian agencies reported on 27 February. Union Chairman Vsevolod Bogdanov complained that many publications were in debt, while the average salary for journalists was only 150,000 rubles a month, NTV reported. Director General of Russian Television (Channel 2) Anatoly Lysenko also noted the inadequate funding for state-run television. He said that television networks no longer have new ideas or new programs--only new sponsors, Russian Television reported. State Duma Press and Information Committee Chairman Mikhail Poltoranin regretted that Yeltsin had not signed a law on state support for the mass media in time for the journalists' congress. The need to "rejuvenate" the union and special problems faced by the provincial press were also discussed at the congress. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. .. . . WHILE OTHER JOURNALISTS COMPLAIN OF GOVERNMENT INTERFERENCE. American journalist Steve Levine remains in Tbilisi, having been refused entry into Russia en route to Almaty, Russian and Western agencies reported on 27 April. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said Levine was sent back to Tbilisi in accordance with a 1992 CIS agreement to deny entry to foreigners who were unwelcome in any CIS republic. The authorities in Uzbekistan revoked Levine's visa in 1994. However, Levine's accreditation was renewed recently in Russia, and he told Reuters that he has traveled to Russia several times since being deported from Uzbekistan. Levine connected the expulsion with his more recent articles on Chechnya and Russian policy towards Central Asia. Meanwhile, the editor of the weekly Sobesednik complained about the "unprecedented" arrest of two of his correspondents, Ekho Moskvy reported. The journalists are being held for "suspicion of hooliganism" but have not been charged with a crime. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. GOVORUKHIN MAY RUN FOR PRESIDENT. Stanislav Govorukhin, the well-known film director who heads the Duma's committee investigating the causes of the Chechnya conflict, may run for president as the candidate of the Democratic Party of Russia, Duma member Yury Yakovlev told his constituents in Vladivostok. According to the Radio Mayak report, Govorukhin will enter the campaign if he is assured support beyond his own party. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. KOZYREV MEETS WITH CLINTON ON SUMMIT. The Russian foreign minister met on 27 April with U.S. President Bill Clinton to discuss preparations for the summit between the Russian and U.S. presidents to be held during the VE celebrations in Moscow on 9-10 May, Western agencies reported. Although Kozyrev and U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher indicated at a news conference on 26 April that progress had been made on a number of contentious issues, there has been little headway on specific questions. When asked whether Christopher had persuaded him to cancel the Russian nuclear deal with Iran, Kozyrev replied, "I don't think so." Christopher, for his part, said "the United States has a very strong national interest in engagement with Russia" and expressed the hope that the forthcoming summit would help "to manage our differences constructively." Christopher added that European security and Chechnya were the major focus of his talks with Kozyrev, although arms control was also discussed. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. IZVESTIYA: KOZYREV IS "SCAREMONGERING" ABOUT NATO. On 28 April Izvestiya criticized Kozyrev's address in Minneapolis, in which the minister departed from his prepared text and warned that any eastward expansion of NATO would add grist to the mill of Russian nationalism. He is reported to have said that the nationalists could devour even him and that he would have to write his memoirs "from the Gulag." The paper concluded that "diplomacy is too serious a business to be left to diplomats" and complained that Kozyrev was "demonizing" Russian nationalism. It also contended that "people in the West are not afraid" of the foreign minister's "scaremongering." -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIA "ALARMED" BY U.S. ANTI-MISSILE TESTS. Russia is "alarmed" by recent U.S. anti-missile tests, Interfax reported on 27 April. A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Nikita Matkovsky, pointed out during talks on differentiating strategic from non-strategic systems that the U.S. is conducting these tests before an agreement has been initialed on the issue. He noted that until this agreement is signed, Russia cannot accept that these tests are non-strategic, as the Americans claim, and thus conform to the ABM treaty. Matkovsky added, however, that despite their technical complexity, he thought that the talks had been productive and that the basis existed for agreement. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. PART OF IMF LOAN ALLOCATED TO PAY FOREIGN DEBT. Russia will use the first installment of the $6.8 billion standby loan from the International Monetary Fund to service its foreign debt of about $120 billion (including debts inherited from the former Soviet Union), Deputy Prime Minister for Foreign Economic Relations Oleg Davydov told Russian and Western news agencies on 27 April. The first $1.1 billion installment of the IMF loan will be paid to Moscow in May. Davydov said that discussions with the Paris Club, the sovereign creditors on Russia's foreign debt, initially scheduled for the end of April have been postponed to 28 May at the request of creditor countries. The deputy prime minister commented that Moscow wants to obtain foreign debt restructuring over at least 25 years, but he added that certain Paris Club members, especially France and Italy, are opposed to long-term restructuring. In any event, Moscow will repay $1.2 billion to the Paris Club this year on a $36 billion debt. Russia will also negotiate with the London Club, which represents foreign creditor banks. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. RESTRICTIONS LIFTED ON U.S. BANKS. President Yeltsin signed a decree on 27 April lifting restrictions applied to U.S. banks that received permission to operate in Russia before 15 November 1993, the Financial Information Agency reported. The new edict supplements a decree on banking issued on 10 June 1994 that authorized foreign and jointly-owned banks with licenses from the Central Bank to work with Russian citizens. That decree did not, however, apply to banks such as Chase Manhattan Bank, which has been operating in Russia for more than 20 years. A total of 12 foreign and jointly-owned banks have been licensed by the Central Bank to carry out operations in Russia. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA ON INTER-TAJIK CONSULTATIONS. . . Russia has assessed positively the 26 April agreement between the Tajik opposition and government to extend a seven-month-old cease-fire and hold the fourth round of inter-Tajik talks in Almaty beginning on 20 or 22 May, Interfax reported on 27 April. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Albert Chernyshev said both sides displayed good will and wisdom and reached "good agreements." He asserted that Russia itself is not a party to the conflict and that Russian border guards and CIS peacekeeping troops will respect the accords. He added, though, that the troops may use force if the agreements are violated on the Tajik-Afghan border. The head of the Tajik opposition delegation, Qazi Ali Akbar Turadzhonzda, praised Russia's recognition of the cease-fire and its promise not to violate it. But he noted that the delegations were unable to clear one obstacle- -namely, the withdrawal of 950 government troops sent to Gorno- Badakhshan in contravention of earlier agreements, as he termed it. Turadzhonzoda said that the presence of those troops made the situation "explosive" there and that the overall size of Russia's military presence in Tajikistan should be strictly limited, as it serves to prop up the Tajik regime and could threaten the security of neighboring countries. Both sides have apparently agreed on the need to control the movement of government and opposition troops: UN military representatives may be called upon to monitor the movement of opposition forces in Afghanistan with the permission of the Afghan government. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. .. . . AND GOALS OF TAJIK ISLAMIC OPPOSITION. Speaking to journalists in Moscow on 27 April, Turadzhonzoda pledged to "refrain from seizing power even if we record sufficient gains in the next elections," AFP reported that day. He went on to say that the sole goal of the Tajik Islamists was to teach people the meaning of Islam as they had been distanced from it during 70 years of Soviet rule. He also proposed the inclusion of an article in the Tajik Constitution that would "exclude for the next 30 to 40 years the establishment of both a theocratic Islamist society and a communist society." Since January, the opposition has insisted that the agenda of the fourth round of inter-Tajik talks include a new political order. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Penny Morvant 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
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.