|Comedy is an escape, not from truth but from despair; a narrow escape into faith. - Christopher Fry|
No. 91, Part I, 11 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 DECISIONS DEFERRED ON NATO EXPANSION, EUROPEAN SECURITY. Although Russia agreed to sign the individual work agreement in NATO's Partnership for Peace program, all other issues of European security remained open after the 10 May summit between Russian President Boris Yeltsin and his American counterpart Bill Clinton, international agencies reported the same day. At their joint news conference on Russian TV, Yeltsin said NATO expansion should be raised in the context of European security. He said discussions will continue at a June summit in Canada and in October, at the 50th anniversary celebrations of the UN in New York. Clinton said no decisions had been made on NATO expansion and added, "Who knows, perhaps there are still disagreements within NATO itself." He said that, along with Yeltsin, he is interested in promoting "European integration." He added, "NATO must advance the security interests of all our partners, including Russia." In a separate interview with Interfax on 10 May, Yeltsin said "the [OSCE] must play the leading role in the efforts to insure stability in Europe." Vladimir Lukin, chairman of the State Duma International Affairs Committee, said the eastward expansion of NATO "in its present form" must not be allowed under any circumstances, Interfax reported on 10 May. He added that Russia might even be prepared to join a "new" NATO but regretted that "no such alliance is in sight yet." -- Michael Mihalka and Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. REACTORS BUT NO CENTRIFUGES TO IRAN. Russia has agreed not to supply gas centrifuges for the enrichment of uranium to Iran but has not backed off plans to provide nuclear power reactors, international agencies reported 10 May. Sergei Filatov, President Yeltsin's chief of staff, said the planned Iran nuclear deal is "today the most strained issue in relations between Russia and the U.S.," RIA Novosti reported on 10 May. Yeltsin said only the deal's civilian aspects would go forward. In principle, a special commission headed by U.S. Vice-President Albert Gore and the Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin will determine those aspects. However, Yeltsin said, "The presidents will make the final decision on the matter." Russian Nuclear Ministry spokesman Georgy Kaurov said the Gore-Chernomyrdin commission "will thoroughly analyze the contract details and not find a single rotten thing in it," Interfax reported on 10 May. Kaurov added that work will continue on the deal. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. CLINTON CALLS FOR PERMANENT CEASEFIRE IN CHECHNYA. At their Moscow summit on 10 May, President Clinton urged President Yeltsin to make the 14-day ceasefire in Chechnya permanent, Interfax reported. Yeltsin argued that there are no "combat operations" going on in Chechnya, and said Russian Interior Ministry forces are confiscating arms from "small illegal groupings." Addressing a meeting of the Chechen State Defense Committee in Shatoi on 10 May, Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev said he did not anticipate any substantive change in Russia's policy in the North Caucasus. He added that Russia is incapable of taking any steps toward a peaceful solution of the Chechen conflict. Also on 10 May, Yeltsin's chief of staff, Sergei Filatov, said he had been requested by the chairman of the now disbanded opposition Provisional Council, Umar Avturkhanov, to mediate unspecified differences between Chechen opposition leaders. However, he said he had proposed Col.-Gen. Mikhail Yegorov, commander of the federal troops in Chechnya, for the task, saying Yegorov "is good at having disputes resolved." -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc. SENIOR OFFICER LAUDS PRESIDENTS' STAND ON ABM TREATY. An unnamed "senior Russian military officer" said the joint statement by Yeltsin and Clinton confirmed their loyalty to the 1972 Antiballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, Interfax reported on 10 May. He warned, however, that Russia is not going to make any concessions to the U.S. effort to build a missile capable of shooting down shorter range ballistic missiles. Negotiators from the two sides have been trying to agree on the technical capabilities of such a missile so that it would not violate the ABM treaty. The officer said Russia had suggested limiting the velocity of such a missile to 3 km per second. The U.S. has pressed for a faster missile, one which the Russians fear could also be used against strategic missiles. "If one of the sides that have signed the treaty starts creating a new ABM system, the other side will inevitably start building up its own strategic nuclear potential," the officer said. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. CFE FLANK LIMITS OPEN FOR DISCUSSION. President Clinton also confirmed earlier reports that the U.S. is willing to consider changes in the CFE treaty to accommodate Russian concerns. Clinton said the issue is under discussion. He added, "We want to sort out how to preserve the principle of the treaty and, at the same time, guarantee Russia's security." -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. CLINTON SUPPORTS RUSSIA'S ECONOMIC REFORM. President Clinton expressed support for Russian economic reform, Russian and Western agencies reported on 10 May. Clinton said Russia "had a great deal to be proud of in the economic progress that has been made," although he acknowledged there are still difficulties. Clinton said he believed the U.S.-Russian partnership has been profitable because "we have a stronger, more democratic, free Russia and we will continue to support that direction." U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, who accompanied Clinton, said "we should continue to support reform in Russia and that reform is the key to democratization and political development." He added that economic reform should not be conditional on other (domestic) issues. Recently, some U.S. Congress members suggested cutting aid to Russia to protest Moscow's involvement in Chechnya and trade with Iran. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. CHERNOMYRDIN'S BLOC TO HOLD FOUNDING CONGRESS. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's center-right electoral bloc will hold its founding congress on 12 May, Russian agencies reported. The conference organizing committee told Interfax that all Russian regions would be represented, along with State Duma deputies from several factions and certain large enterprises, including the ZIL and Moskvich car factories. The congress will determine the bloc's social, political, and economic program and confirm Chernomyrdin as its leader. In addition, delegates will choose an official name for the new bloc, because its working title, Our Home-- Russia, has been criticized in many regions for insufficiently expressing the movement's goals, Radio Rossii reported. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. GAIDAR: RUSSIA'S CHOICE WILL NOT JOIN CHERNOMYRDIN'S BLOC. Yegor Gaidar, leader of the Russia's Choice faction and its companion party Russia's Democratic Choice, said his group would not join Chernomyrdin's bloc, Ekho Moskvy reported on 10 May. Gaidar said Russia's Choice is "categorically opposed" to the Chernomyrdin bloc's stand on four key issues: the war in Chechnya, military reform, the "constant swelling and corruption of the state apparatus," and the unfair social distribution of the government's financial stabilization policy. However, he said Russia's Choice is open to "cooperation with all reasonable, constructive forces" in the battle against political extremism and would leave the nature of that cooperation to the discretion of regional Russia's Choice branches. Gaidar also announced that the political council of Russia's Democratic Choice would soon decide whether First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais and others could participate in both Russia's Democratic Choice and the Chernomyrdin bloc, NTV reported. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. MORE CRITICISM OF "PARTY OF POWER." Sergei Glazev, the leader of the Democratic Party of Russia, dismissed the proposed blocs led by Chernomyrdin and Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin as "one and the same party," Radio Rossii reported on 10 May. He charged that the presidential administration had tried to confuse Russians by creating two blocs, which were in reality a single "party of power." Glazev described the blocs as an attempt to create "a party of the nomenklatura," which he said wants to preserve its own power at any cost. On the same day, Duma deputies Vyacheslav Shostakovsky and Igor Yakovenko of the Yabloko group and its companion Democratic Alternative Party said Chernomyrdin's bloc is designed to keep power in the hands of the current elite, Interfax reported. The Yabloko deputies warned that the authorities would use financial resources and the mass media to support Chernomyrdin's alliance. They asserted that Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky's movement is Russia's only democratic alternative capable of implementing genuine reforms. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. RYBKIN AGREES TO JOIN AGRARIAN BLOC. Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin has signed an agreement to join a new Agrarian-led electoral bloc, Interfax reported on 10 May. Agrarian Party Chairman Mikhail Lapshin will lead the new bloc, which will also include the Agrarian Union of Russia, the trade union of workers in the agro-industrial complex, and other farmers' associations. Rybkin said he signed the agreement as "a rank and file member of the Agrarian Party's leadership." However, he maintained that a broader center-left electoral alliance should be created in the near future to appeal to the 70% of voters who otherwise would not bother to participate in the elections. Rybkin added, "It's not important who will head the center-left electoral bloc." Since 25 April, Rybkin has made ambiguous statements concerning his possible leadership of a broad center-left electoral alliance. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. YELTSIN SIGNS SAVINGS LAW. On 10 May, the president signed a controversial law directing the state to compensate Russians whose savings were wiped out by inflation when economic reforms were introduced, international agencies reported. It applies to money deposited in Sberbank before 20 June 1991 and to funds used to purchase state securities or deposited in Gosstrakh, the state insurance fund, before 1 January 1992. Government officials say the law, which Yeltsin had vetoed on two earlier occasions, could cost up to 500 trillion rubles ($100 billion) and wreck financial stabilization efforts. The constitution forbids the president from shooting down a draft three times. But as Komsomolskaya pravda pointed out on 6 May, the law is very general, amounting to little more than a statement of intent until it is supplemented by a package of specific legislation stating how the value of lost savings is to be calculated and how the population is to be reimbursed. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA MUTALIBOV DENIES ARREST. Former Azerbaijani President Ayaz Mutalibov denied that he had been detained by police in Moscow on 7 May and insisted that he had spent the whole weekend in his apartment. He made the comments in a telephone interview with Radio Liberty's Azerbaijani service on 10 May. Interfax, however, quoted a Russian legal official as stating that the procedures for extraditing Mutalibov to Azerbaijan are underway. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc. ARMENIA RELEASES AZERBAIJANI POWs. Armenian President Levon Ter- Petrossyan announced on 10 May that his country would release "all 29 Azerbaijani" hostages and prisoners of war currently being held on Armenian territory to mark the first anniversary of the Russian-mediated ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh, Interfax and Western agencies reported. Azerbaijani officials claim the number of Azerbaijani prisoners is far higher. National Security Minister Namig Abbasov told Interfax on 6 May that 4,735 Azerbaijanis are missing, and "it is known for certain that 982 of them are in Armenia." -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc. CIS UNIFIED AIR DEFENSE POSSIBLE NEXT YEAR. A unified CIS air defense system might be ready by the end of 1996, according to Col.-Gen. Viktor Prudnikov, the chief of Russia's Air Defense Troops and chairman of the CIS air defense coordinating committee. In February, Prudnikov estimated it would take at least five years to develop the system. He said only the European part of the CIS is reliably protected today, Interfax reported on 10 May. He expressed particular concern about the southern borders of the CIS and the Caucasus. Representatives of Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Ukraine serve on the coordinating committee. Azerbaijan and Moldova did not sign the 10 February agreement to create a unified system. -- Doug Clarke, 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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