|I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of my existence, and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race. - James Joyce|
No. 90, Part I, 10 May 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 MOSCOW VICTORY CELEBRATIONS CONTINUE. Veterans from the Chechen campaign were sighted in the parade that marched through Red Square on 9 May, news agencies reported. Several Western leaders had earlier said they would only attend the ceremonies if there was no Chechnya connection. However, U.S. National Security Adviser Anthony Lake said he was satisfied that the Russians had kept their pledge. After the parade of veterans and soldiers on Red Square, Russia put on a display of its most advanced military hardware, sending tanks, rocket launchers, and columns of troops past a new war monument on Poklonnaya Gora in western Moscow, while aircraft flew overhead. The military parade was not held in Red Square for the first time as a concession to Western leaders who refused to attend a parade displaying military equipment. During a 45- minute meeting with Yeltsin, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl told him that the ongoing Chechen conflict is harming Russia's relationship with the West. According to AFP, Clinton made no mention of Chechnya in his public statements during the day, but an administration official said it is sure to come up during their talks on 10 May. In St. Petersburg, thousands of people filled the city's cemeteries to mourn their relatives who died in the Nazi siege of Leningrad. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. ALTERNATIVE RALLY IN MOSCOW. Thousands of demonstrators waving red flags and carrying portraits of Josef Stalin marched through the capital in an alternative Victory Day rally, Russian and Western agencies reported on 9 May. The march was organized by various opposition groups, including the Communist Party, Viktor Anpilov's Workers' Russia, and the Officers' Union, and attracted an unusually large turnout. Police said about 30,000 people took part, including many veterans. Participants argued that Yeltsin has no right to lead celebrations marking the victory over Nazi Germany. One veteran quoted by AFP said 1945 marked "the victory of the Soviet people and not that of these traitors to the Soviet Union who are running Russia." In his address, Anpilov said Yeltsin had put too much emphasis on Russia's rather than the Soviet Union's contribution to the war, while General Valentin Varennikov argued that "what Hitler failed to do, the current regime has done through betrayal and lies." Speakers called for the restoration of a unified state on the territory of the CIS and for bringing "patriotic forces" to power in Russia. The Moscow authorities had initially tried to prevent the opposition from rallying in central Moscow. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIA TO COMPLETE NUCLEAR POWER PLANT IN IRAN. In his talks with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl on 9 May, President Yeltsin stressed that Russia would honor its contract to complete the nuclear power reactors in Iran, Interfax reported the same day. Yeltsin's foreign policy aide, Dmitry Ryurikov, said the president once again asserted the peaceful nature of the deal. Yeltsin said Germany's positions on nuclear aid to Iran and the "Chechen problem" are not as "tough" as those of the U.S., ITAR-TASS reported. Meanwhile, Russian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Economic Relations Oleg Davydov said a decision on supplying equipment for the nuclear power reactors to Iran would be put off until after the 10 May summit between Yeltsin and U.S. President Bill Clinton. While Davydov said a compromise is possible, "one should not forget that Iran is Russia's neighbor and it is not in our interests to create opposition on our southern borders." Davydov also confirmed that the U.S. has "familiarized the Russian leadership with studies according to which one can draw the conclusion that Iran intends to come closer to creating nuclear weapons." -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. YELTSIN: NO HASTY NATO EXPANSION. Russian President Boris Yeltsin reiterated his opposition to the hasty expansion of NATO in his talks with British Prime Minister John Major on 9 May, Interfax reported the same day. According to Yeltsin's foreign policy aide, Dmitri Ryurikov, the Russian president stressed that "a solution [must] be found in the interests of Europe, Russia, and the world as a whole." Meanwhile, Russian State Duma Chairman Ivan Rybkin held talks with Bulgarian Prime Minister Zhan Videnov on 9 May about methods for developing a collective security system in Europe based on the OSCE. Rybkin spoke against haste in expanding NATO and added that Russian membership in NATO would create a "lasting belt of peace from Vancouver to Vladivostok." -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. U.S.-RUSSIA ECONOMIC PACKAGE DRAFTED. Russia has drafted an economic package which endorses continued bilateral economic cooperation with the U.S., Russian Minister for Foreign Economic Relations Oleg Davydov told Interfax on 9 May. Davydov said U.S. President Bill Clinton's visit to Russia for the upcoming summit will be significant if the U.S. continues to support Russian economic reforms, including foreign debt restructuring and Russia's membership in the World Trade Organization. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. GRACHEV ASSESSES THE ARMED FORCES. In a speech at the 9 May ceremonies on Poklonnaya Gora in Moscow, Defense Minister Pavel Grachev said the Russian armed forces are "battleworthy, under control, and ready to defend the state from any encroachment and guarantee the country's national security," First Channel TV network reported. In it, he said the military should "only serve the people and their state." While acknowledging that the confrontation of the Cold War was a thing of the past, he cautioned that regional armed conflict is capable of sparking another major war. As long as there is "a complex combination of historical, territorial, political, economic, and inter-ethnic contradictions, we must strengthen and qualitatively renew our armed forces," he said. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. ACCUSATIONS OF PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN "SLUSH FUND." The political commentator Sergei Parkhomenko charged in the 30 April-7 May edition of Moskovskie novosti that presidential security operatives are maintaining a "slush fund" for Yeltsin's re-election campaign. Quoting anonymous sources within the government, parliament, and counterintelligence service, Parkhomenko said the president's "inner circle" has given up plans to cancel the elections and is now concentrating on acquiring campaign funds. He asserted that money is being obtained from Russia's most profitable sectors: the oil industry, the arms trade, and the precious metals and stones industry. Parkhomenko named Maj.-Gen. Georgy Rogozin, a close associate of presidential security service chief Alexander Korzhakov, as the most likely head of the "slush fund." -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. PROSECUTOR GENERAL ISSUES ORDER ON FIGHTING EXTREMISM. Acting Prosecutor General Alexei Ilyushenko issued an order demanding "uncompromising efforts against manifestations of fascism and other forms of political extremism," Interfax reported on 6 May. He urged all prosecutors to better enforce both laws on the equality of citizens and bans on associations that call for changing the constitutional order by force. The order also instructs prosecutors to apply tougher measures against people who circulate fascist and extremist materials. At the same time, Ilyushenko ordered judicial bodies and agencies in charge of media registration to ensure stricter observance of laws protecting freedom of the press and media, Ekho Moskvy reported. On 23 March, Yeltsin issued a decree instructing government officials at all levels to step up the battle against fascism in Russia. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIA'S PATRIOTIC FRONT FORMED. The fourth congress of the National Salvation Front and the Union of Deceived Investors of the "Tibet" Concern agreed to form a new electoral bloc called Russia's Patriotic Front, Radio Mayak reported on 6 May. Vladimir Voronin, leader of the Tibet investors, said the bloc will win widespread support among Russia's approximately 80 million deceived investors, who have no chance of getting their money back under the current regime. He said the main competition for Russia's Patriotic Front would be Alexander Rutskoi's Derzhava movement and Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party. National Salvation Front chairman Ilya Konstantinov told Russian TV that the new bloc is preparing "scandalous actions" for the near future, but he refused to be more specific about the group's campaign plans. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. WASHINGTON HINTS AT CFE TREATY CHANGES. The top American arms control official said on 8 May that the CFE treaty could be amended to meet Russian objections if Moscow continues to comply with the pact. Reuters reported that John Holum, director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, said Washington is "dead set" against any changes before the May 1996 review conference, but would be receptive to "revisiting" some portions of the treaty at that time "because of changes in the security situation." Russia has objected to the terms which limit the amount of weapons they can deploy in the North Caucasus Military District. Those limits go into effect in November, at which time the Russians will almost certainly have more arms in the region than the treaty permits. Holum speculated that discussions might be held before November about the changes to be considered the following May, and implied that the Americans might overlook those Russian excesses "so long as the Russians are committed to live up to their obligations." -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. CONCERN ABOUT BRAIN DRAIN. The youngest and most talented scientists are abandoning the research sector, creating a brain drain that will have a damaging impact on Russia, according to a 5 May report in Kuranty. Between 1990 and 1993, the number of scientists fell by 1.2 million, or by almost a third. Most go into business, where wages are considerably higher. In 1993, for example, the average wage for scientists was 38% lower than that in industry. The brain drain abroad is on a smaller scale, but also significant. The report said 34,000 scientists had emigrated over the last six years, mostly to Israel, Germany, or the U.S. No data are available for the number working abroad on temporary contracts, but it is likely to be higher. Spending on scientific research and development as a percentage of national income is now a quarter of what it was in 1985, while GNP itself has fallen by nearly half. Fundamental research has suffered the most, with 60% of the money allocated for it being spent on wages, leaving virtually no money to purchase equipment. -- Penny Morvant and Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. MORE RUSSIAN GAS TO TURKEY. An agreement to double Russian natural gas supplies to Turkey has been reached, Russian media reported on 9 May. Turkish Prime Minister Tansu Ciller held talks with her Russian counterpart Viktor Chernomyrdin in conjunction with her visit to Moscow for V-E day celebrations. The talks focused on economic relations between the two countries with Russia registering its willingness to increase its natural gas exports to Turkey from nearly 5 billion cubic meters to 9.2 billion cubic meters. In addition to announcing their mutual aim to boost bilateral trade, currently estimated at $2.2 billion a year, Chernomyrdin assured his Turkish counterpart that Russia had not and will not help Kurdish separatists in any way. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. INDUSTRIAL ENTERPRISES LESS PROFITABLE IN SIBERIA, FAR EAST. The majority of unprofitable industrial enterprises are located in Western Siberia, Eastern Siberia, and the Far East, Russian Radio announced on 4 May. According to a Russian Economics Ministry report, the unprofitable enterprises represent 30% of the entire industrial potential in those areas. In contrast, the number of unprofitable enterprises in Northwestern Russia and Central Russia amounts to only 18%. As for Moscow, St. Petersburg, and the Moscow and Yaroslavl regions, only 10% of industrial enterprises are unprofitable. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA FORMER PRESIDENT OF AZERBAIJAN ARRESTED IN MOSCOW. Former Azerbaijani President Ayaz Mutalibov, who has been living in Moscow since his abortive attempt to regain power in May 1992, was detained by Russian security services on 7 May, Interfax reported on 9 May. Successive Azerbaijani leaderships have demanded Mutalibov's extradition. He faces charges of complicity in the January 1990 Soviet military crackdown in Baku and the February 1992 killings of Azerbaijanis in the Karabakh villages of Khodzhaly, and of involvement in the alleged coup attempts of October 1994 and March 1995. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc. ARMENIA, IRAN SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENTS. Armenian Prime Minister Hrant Bagratyan signed ten agreements on economic, technical, and political cooperation with Iran during a four-day official visit to the country ending on 6 May, Russian and Western agencies reported. The economic agreements include one under which Iran will supply Armenia with natural gas for a period of 20 years through a pipeline specially constructed for that purpose; Iran will also supply electricity, according to Interfax. Armenia's energy sector has been crippled for the past three years by repeated sabotage of the pipeline that supplies Turkmen gas to it via Georgia. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc. CIS KOZYREV: UN SUPPORTS RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPING. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev said on 9 May that Russia's peacekeeping activities in the CIS are getting "full support" from UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Interfax reported the same day. Kozyrev said President Yeltsin pressed Boutros-Ghali on the need for the UN to eliminate the double standard of financing peacekeeping in Bosnia and Croatia but not in the CIS. Boutros-Ghali said his talks with Kozyrev centered on economic issues, not peacekeeping. -- 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. 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