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No. 123, Part I, 26 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 IMPEACHMENT MOTION FAILS IN DUMA. A motion to start impeachment proceedings against President Boris Yeltsin received only 172 of the 226 votes needed to put it on the Duma's agenda for 23 June, Russian Public Television reported. Communist deputies, who had collected 150 signatures in favor of the motion, vowed to raise the question again in the near future. Beginning the impeachment process could protect the Duma from dissolution if its standoff with the government continues. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. DUMA CALLS FOR SACKING MINISTERS RESPONSIBLE FOR CHECHNYA. The State Duma recommended that President Yeltsin fire Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, Interior Minister Viktor Yerin, and Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Yegorov for their handling of the Chechen crisis, Western and Russian agencies reported. A motion to dismiss Sergei Stepashin, the director of the Federal Security Service, failed after garnering only 202 of the necessary 226 votes. Calls for the ousting of Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, first deputy prime ministers Anatoly Chubais and Oleg Soskovets, and Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai also failed. The Duma scheduled its decisive vote of confidence in Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's government for 1 July. If 226 members of the Duma do not give the government a positive vote of confidence, the president must sack the government or dissolve the Duma. This requirement puts the Duma deputies in a difficult position since in order to avoid being disbanded, they will have to reverse their earlier no-confidence vote, a politically difficult move in the run-up to the elections. Only 70 members supported the government in the 21 June vote. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. CHERNOMYRDIN, DUMA SEEK COMPROMISE. Chernomyrdin does not want to see the Duma dissolved and plans to meet with the deputies before the 1 July vote, NTV reported on 25 June. He said the Security Council and the president will decide the fate of the power ministers at the Council's 29 June meeting, two days before the Duma vote. NTV suggested that Yeltsin would dismiss Yerin and Yegorov if he were sure the Duma would vote its confidence in the government, but that he would not fire Grachev, with whom he has a close relationship. Nikolai Kharitonov, of the Agrarian faction, said his colleagues could reverse themselves and support the government if the president were willing to demonstrate that he was taking their views into account. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIAN NEGOTIATORS CONSULT WITH CHERNOMYRDIN . . . The Russian delegation to the Chechen peace talks returned to Moscow to meet with Chernomyrdin, Western and Russian agencies reported on 25 June. After the meeting, Chernomyrdin told Russian TV that "we will seek a political solution to this problem, only a political solution." On 23 June, Russian and Chechen negotiators agreed to an indefinite extension of the three-day ceasefire put into effect on 20 June, and also signed a protocol on holding elections in the republic later this year. However, they remained deadlocked on Chechnya's political status and the future role of President Dzhokhar Dudaev. Chechen negotiator Usman Isaev told journalists on 23 June that "the documents we have signed mean that a return to the use of force is not possible," and that outstanding differences will be resolved "peacefully." -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. . . . WHILE CHECHEN CEASEFIRE REMAINS TENUOUS. The ceasefire between federal and Chechen separatist forces has been violated several times in the last few days, Russian and international agencies reported on 25 June. Federal forces shelled and bombed the area around the village of Dargo, in the Vedeno region of Chechnya. Russian officers told ITAR-TASS that the attacks were not a violation of the ceasefire, because they were launched in order to "detain terrorists" led by Shamil Basaev who had carried out the attack on Budennovsk. Russian military sources also claimed on 24 June that Chechen separatists had "repeatedly violated the moratorium on military actions," killing one federal soldier and wounding another. Also on 24 June, a bomb explosion derailed a passenger train crossing Chechnya near the village of Gertzel, injuring two people, ITAR-TASS reported. Russian officials blamed Chechen separatists for the attack. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. CHINESE PREMIER ARRIVES IN MOSCOW. Chinese Premier Li Peng arrived in Moscow for a three-day official visit, Russian and international agencies reported on 25 June. In talks with Russian officials, including Prime Minister Chernomyrdin and President Yeltsin, the Chinese premier will discuss economic cooperation, environmental protection, and measures against organized crime. Among the expected results of Li's visit is an agreement to construct a bridge across the Amur River, linking the Russian and Chinese towns of Heihe and Blagoveshchensk. Rossiiskaya Gazeta commented on 23 June that the visit signals a warming in Russian-Chinese relations, even as U.S.-Chinese relations worsen. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. ZHIRINOVSKY PARTY WALKS OUT ON KNESSET CHAIRMAN. Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party walked out of the Duma as Shevah Weiss, chairman of the Israeli Knesset began to give a speech, Segodnya reported on 24 June. Zhirinovsky objected to the hoisting of the Israeli flag by the Duma on the day of the visit. Zhirinovsky and his supporters left the hall as Weiss, who was born in Western Ukraine, was thanking the Russian army for liberating his family from the Nazis. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. SOLDIER CHARGED IN JOURNALIST'S DEATH. The Interior Ministry soldier who shot and killed journalist Natalya Alyakina in Budennovsk on 17 June is in custody after being charged with mishandling a firearm, Russian TV reported on 23 June. If convicted of carelessness in what military prosecutors are calling an accidental shooting, the soldier faces one to 10 years in prison. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. CONSTITUTIONAL COURT AFFIRMS EX-CRIMINALS' RIGHT TO HOUSING. The Constitutional Court struck down article 60 of the Housing Code, which had been used to seal the apartments of convicted criminals even if they served only a short prison sentence, Russian Television reported on 23 June. Judge Nikolai Vedernikov blamed the enforcement of article 60 for making many ex-criminals homeless and therefore increasing the number of repeat offenders. The court ruled that a citizen retains his constitutional right to housing if he is absent from his residence for up to six months, regardless of whether he is serving a prison sentence. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. DUMA TO FOUND ITS OWN TV STATION? Dissatisfied by allegedly biased news coverage on the Russian Public Television network (ORT), Duma deputies may create their own "mini-tv- and radio-company," Radio Mayak reported on 23 June. Sergei Kalashnikov, chairman of the Duma Committee on Labor and Social Protection, complained that ORT refused to cover parliamentary discussions surrounding the 21 June no-confidence vote but broadcast extensive coverage of the government's meeting the next day. Duma Deputy Chairman Gennady Seleznev told reporters he hoped a Duma-run television company funded by the federal budget would be operational in 1996. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. YUSHENKOV WARNS AGAINST NATO EXPANSION. NATO's eastward expansion would affect Russia's vital interests and cause nationalistic tendencies in the country to grow stronger, Sergei Yushenkov, chairman of the State Duma Defense Committee, told a conference in St. Petersburg on 25 June. He said talk of such expansion enables "the reactionary part of the Russian military brass to demand greater military spending," ITAR-TASS reported. He also warned that NATO's enlargement could threaten previous arms control agreements, such as the CFE treaty and the Open Skies agreement. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIANS TO PUT SHIELD AROUND SUNKEN SUB. A Russian research ship equipped with underwater robots left St. Petersburg on 24 June to install a protective shield around the hull of a sunken Russian nuclear submarine in the Norwegian Sea, ITAR-TASS reported. The Komsomolets sank off northern Norway in April 1989 and 42 members of the crew drowned. Besides its nuclear power plant, the boat was carrying two nuclear-armed torpedoes. The report said the work would continue until the end of July. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. MORE WOMEN DYING DURING CHILDBIRTH. The number of Russian women who die during childbirth has risen sharply in the past three years, the Labor Ministry reported to Interfax on 24 June. The rate is 10 times higher than in industrialized European countries, the report said, adding that since 1992, the childbirth mortality rate has increased from 47 per 100,000 to 52. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. DUMA PASSES BILL ON REFUNDS IN WAGE ARREARS. The Duma passed the second reading of a draft law on delays in the payment of wages, pensions, and stipends on 23 June, Segodnya reported on 24 June. The law requires those guilty of delays to pay fines as well as wage arrears. Duma Labor and Social Protection Committee Chairman Sergei Kalashnikov said he doubts that President Yeltsin will sign the law since state agencies are among the worst culprits for non-payment of wages. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. MEAT AND MILK PRODUCTION DECLINE. The production of meat and milk fell almost 25% during the first five months of 1995 Segodnya reported on 23 June. Goskomstat figures revealed that the output of prepared meat products, cheese, preserved milk, and low-fat milk products fell by 17- 35% on average. In the food industry, output of staples has decreased by an average of 12%. Production of potatoes and margarine products fell by 34% and 20% respectively. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA ETHNIC GERMANS HOLD CONGRESS IN KAZAKHSTAN. Ethnic Germans living in Kazakhstan and other republics opened a congress on 24 June in Almaty with the aim of strengthening their influence in the CIS, AFP reported. Some of the goals are to create a German business class, increase the number of young Germans attending universities, and secure rehabilitation for the charges leveled at them under the Stalin regime. Representatives from Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Germany attended the meeting, according to Ostankino's "Novosti." During World War II, hundreds of thousands of Germans were deported from the European parts of the Soviet Union to areas in Siberia and Central Asia. Migration back to Germany has cut the population in Kazakhstan from 1 million in 1989 to 640,000 today. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc. KYRGYZSTAN TO GET MONEY FROM JAPAN. The Japanese Foreign Economic Cooperation Fund will give Kyrgyzstan up to $40 million for plants that produce exports, Interfax reported on 23 June. In 1993 and 1994, the Japanese government gave $100 million in credits which allowed Kyrgyzstan to improve their cloth mills in order to produce, among other things, export quality wool yarn. Japan is also helping to improve the international airport in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, by providing air- control technology. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc. GEORGIA PASSES BANK LAW. The Georgian parliament passed a law that establishes the legal framework for an independent central bank, AFP reported on 23 June. The bank law permits the disbursement of $140 million worth of IMF loans starting on 28 June; its passage was a precondition set by the IMF for the loans. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. DRO TRIAL TO PROCEED. Rejecting an appeal made by defense attorneys, the collegium of the Armenian Supreme Court decided on 22 June that hearings on the Dro organization will begin on 7 July, Interfax reported on 23 June. Last December, 20 members of Dro, which Armenian authorities say is the military wing of the opposition party Dashnaktsyutyun, were detained on charges of politically-motivated murder, drug trafficking, and gangsterism. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. ZULFUGAROV UPBEAT. The head of Azerbaijan's delegation to the Helsinki talks, Deputy Foreign Minister Tofik Zulfugarov, said the latest round of discussions held under OSCE auspices were "fruitful," Turan reported on 21 June, citing the BBC. During a BBC interview, Zulfugarov said results from the negotiations could be expected "in the near future." He also said that the major political agreement under discussion would not resolve the status of Nagorno-Karabakh. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. EBRD FUNDS TO TURKMENISTAN. According to an EBRD official visiting Ashgabat, a $150 million credit will be made available to Turkmenistan for the renovation of the Turkmenbashi seaport, the Ashgabat-Mary highway, and various other projects, Interfax reported on 23 June. -- Lowell Bezanis, 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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