|If you are not allowed to laugh in heaven, I don't want to go there. - Martin Luther|
No. 118, Part I, 19 June 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 RUSSIAN TROOPS FAIL TO SEIZE HOSPITAL IN BUDENNOVSK. Early on the morning of 17 June, Russian commandos attacked the regional hospital in Budennovsk, international and Russian agencies reported. The assault troops stormed the building, freeing a number of hostages, but they failed to dislodge the Chechen gunmen and their leader Shamil Basaev from the upper floors. A second attack that afternoon also failed. At least five Russian soldiers were killed during the fighting, and Basaev later told journalists that 30 hostages and been killed and 70 wounded during the assault. It remains unclear who ordered the attack. Speaking from the G-7 summit in Halifax, President Boris Yeltsin told an Ostankino correspondent he had granted preliminary authorization for the attack. However, a spokesman for Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said the attack was not authorized and had been "impulsively" launched by the troops without orders. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. CHERNOMYRDIN NEGOTIATES RELEASE OF HOSTAGES, CEASEFIRE FOR CHECHNYA. At an early morning press conference in Halifax on 18 June, President Yeltsin denounced Chechnya as "a center of world terrorism," NTV reported. Only a few hours later, Prime Minister Chernomyrdin personally opened negotiations with Basaev, Western and Russian agencies reported on 18 June. In a series of nationally televised phone conversations, Basaev and Chernomyrdin agreed upon conditions for the release of the hostages still held in Budennovsk. Chernomyrdin accepted most of Basaev' s demands, including cessation of federal military actions in Chechnya, the opening of negotiations between the federal government and representatives of Chechen separatist President Dzhokhar Dudaev, and safe passage back to Chechnya for Basaev and his fighters. Basaev released about 200 hostages on the afternoon of 18 June, after he and Chernomyrdin had agreed to the terms in principle. In accordance with the agreement, General Anatoly Kulikov, the commander of joint federal forces in Chechnya, ordered all combat activities to cease as of 8 p.m. local time, ITAR-TASS reported. Preparations for the release of the hostages and Basaev' s departure continued early Monday morning. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIAN DELEGATION DEPARTS FOR GROZNY. Meeting another condition of the agreement between Chernomyrdin and Basaev, a Russian government delegation departed Moscow for Grozny on the afternoon of 18 June, Western and Russian agencies reported. The delegation is headed by Deputy Minister of Nationalities Vyacheslav Mikhailov, and also includes Arkady Volsky, head of the Russian Union of Industrial Producers, and General Kulikov, commander of federal forces in Chechnya. The Russian delegation will hold talks with Usman Imaev, former Procurator-General of the Chechen Republic, who will represent Chechen separatist President Dzhokhar Dudaev. The talks will aim at resolving the question "of Chechnya' s status within the Russian Federation," Volsky told Russian Television before departure. He added that negotiations would begin "immediately on arrival." The cessation of military activities and the opening of negotiations, if consistently implemented, would represent a major shift in Russian policy toward the Chechen conflict. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. YELTSIN, DUMA REACT TO BUDENNOVSK. On his return from Canada, President Yeltsin called on the nation not to become "slaves to emotion," in a statement published on 18 June, Interfax reported. In the statement, he said the people who planned the attack hoped for a Russian breakdown and sought to spread ethnic violence across the country. He also denounced members of the Duma "who want to score political points from the common grief." An impeachment attempt launched by Duma Deputy Speaker Gennady Seleznev, a member of the Communist faction, gathered only 150 votes, short of the 226 needed to pass it. The Duma proposed that Yeltsin impose a state of emergency in Chechnya and sent Stanislav Govorukhin' s Chechnya committee to Budennovsk to investigate the situation on the ground. The Democratic Party of Russia had already collected 102 signatures in favor of a no-confidence vote in the government by 15 June and the Duma will debate this measure on 21 June. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. POLITICAL PARTY REACTION TO BUDENNOVSK. Yegor Gaidar called for the dismissal of the power ministers, Security Council Secretary Oleg Lobov and Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Yegorov, and the disbandment of the Security Council itself on 17 June, Interfax reported. Addressing a congress of his Democratic Choice of Russia party, he said that if those demands are not met the formerly pro-Yeltsin party would support a vote of no confidence in the government on 21 June. In light of Chernomyrdin' s negotiation efforts, however, Gaidar said he would reconsider his position, NTV reported on 18 June. Liberal Democratic Party, Communist Party, and Yabloko will support the no-confidence vote. Only the Party of Russian Unity and Concord, New Regional Policy, Russia, and Stability plan to support the government, NTV reported. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. UNITED DEMOCRATIC ELECTORAL BLOC FORMED. Leaders of several democratically oriented parties and movements formed the United Democratic Electoral Bloc (ODIB), Russian media reported on 16 June. Yegor Gaidar' s Russia' s Democratic Choice (DVR), Alexander Yakovlev' s Russian Party of Social Democracy (RPSD), Yury Chernichenko' s Peasants' Party (KP), the movements Soldiers for Democracy and Women for Solidarity, and the congress National Associations of Russia (NOR) will join the alliance, which will back one candidate in each single-member Duma constituency. Yury Skokov, a leading figure in the Congress of Russian Communities (KRO), said he would join the united democratic bloc, according to Russian Public Television. Gaidar said the bloc was holding talks with leaders of Democratic Russia. Grigory Yavlinsky' s Yabloko group did not take part in the negotiations. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. UNION OF PEOPLES OF RUSSIA HOLDS FOUNDING CONGRESS. Pledging to support the principles of democracy, federalism, and equal rights, the Union of Peoples of Russia (SNR) held its founding congress on 16 June, Radio Mayak reported. Yury Skokov of the Congress of Russian Communities (KRO) addressed the delegates and wished them success in creating a "new federation of regions." In April, the KRO announced plans to help form and cooperate with a union for non-Russian nationalities in Russia. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. STATE DUMA ADOPTS BILL ON TAX SYSTEM. The State Duma has passed a federal draft law which will pave the way for radically changing the tax system, Segodnya reported on 17 June. The draft contains a full register of taxes, the number of which will be reduced. Under the law, Russia would collect 43 federal taxes. In December 1993 Yeltsin issued a presidential decree allowing local authorities to introduce additional local and regional taxes at will. Over 60 such taxes have been introduced in the country. Over 100 taxes currently exist in Russia. The new law, which is to come into effect on 1 October, will reduce the number of taxes to 20. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. FINANCE MINISTRY ENLISTS BANKS TO SUPPORT QUAKE RESTORATION. Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets asked the Finance Ministry and the Sakhalin regional administration to involve commercial banks in funding restoration work and compensation for the Neftegorsk earthquake victims, Interfax reported on 16 June. According to Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu, the earthquake claimed 1,989 lives and 2,364 people were rescued from the debris. Seven foreign states have provided 220 tons of humanitarian aid and about 60 billion rubles ($1.2 million) have been spent on emergency and rescue operations. Igor Farkhutdinov, governor of the Sakhalin oblast, said the victims will receive financial compensation and money will be allocated to build homes for the victims during the next month. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA RUSSIAN ENCLAVE IN KAZAKHSTAN. An agreement to turn the city of Leninsk with a population of 100,000, near the Baikonour cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, into a Russian federal constituent member was initialed on 16 June, Interfax reported. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Bolshakov and Kazakh First Deputy Prime Minister Nigmatzhan Isingarin initialed the agreement in Moscow; it provides for Leninsk' s budget to be financed by Russia for the duration of Baikonour' s lease, which is 20 years. The agreement must be signed by the presidents of Kazakhstan and Russia. Bolshakov said the living standards of the city' s residents should improve due to the agreement. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. UN MISSION IN TAJIKISTAN STAYS ON. The UN Security Council renewed the mandate of the 74-man observer mission in Tajikistan (UNMOT) for six months on 16 June, provided the parties to the conflict remain committed to a ceasefire, AFP reported the same day. The resolution extending UNMOT' s mandate, which passed by a 15-0 vote, said the council will consider UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali' s recommendation to deploy UN personnel in northern Afghanistan to investigate border incidents; it also called for another round of the inter-Tajik talks to implement various confidence building measures. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. TASKHENT ACCUSED OF BACKING SEPARATISM IN AFGHANISTAN. Citing a high- ranking official in the Afghan embassy in Moscow, Interfax reported on Kabul' s suspicion of Uzbek support for General Rashid Dostum on 16 June. The source noted that there is widespread belief in Kabul that Dostum--an ethnic Uzbek who was a key military supporter of former communist President Najibullah in the past and currently controls a stretch of northern Afghanistan populated by ethnic Uzbeks--is a separatist. The diplomat claimed that last week' s discovery of 18 metric tons of counterfeit Afghanis showed that Tashkent was trying to destabilize the Afghan currency. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. TURKEY: NO REQUEST FOR ASYLUM RECEIVED. Turkish officials have denied that Dzhokhar Dudaev applied for, or received, asylum in Turkey, Western agencies reported on 18 June. Speaking in Halifax at the G-7 summit the day before, President Yeltsin said Turkey had agreed to grant Dudaev asylum provided he later moved to another country, noting that, "We don' t care where he goes so long as he is far away from Russia." Turkey is interested in playing a role in resolving the crisis in Chechnya; Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Omer Akbel left the door open to accepting Dudaev by noting that a decision on accepting Dudaev could not be taken without an application for asylum. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. CIS KUCHMA: FLEET BASES STILL A PROBLEM. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma told Interfax on 16 June that the question of Ukrainian naval bases had not been settled despite the agreement he signed with President Yeltsin at their summit in Sochi. Kuchma was quoted as saying there would have to be "very serious preparations before a decision can be made...We shall discuss that question with the military behind closed doors." -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIA SIGNS MEMORANDUM WITH BELARUS. A Russian delegation signed a memorandum in Minsk on cooperation between the presidential control service of Belarus and the control administration of the Russian Federation, Belarusian radio reported on 16 July. Interfax reported that Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka proposed that the two countries control services verify bilateral agreements between Russia and Belarus in order to help speed their implementation. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINIAN-ARMENIAN AGREEMENTS. Armenian Prime Minister Hrant Bagratyan signed three agreements with his Ukrainian counterpart, Yevhen Marchuk, in Kiev, Ukrainian radio reported on 17 June. The two countries agreed to consultations to increase cooperation and signed agreements on civil aviation and social protection for Ukrainian and Armenian workers in each other' s countries. During the visit Ukraine offered to mediate in the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute. the two sides also discussed the issue of Ukrainian-Armenian cooperation in building a nuclear power plant in Armenia. -- 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 OMRI 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 Copyright (c) 1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.
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