|Some things have to be believed to be seen. - Ralph Hodgson|
No. 126, Part I, 29 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 YELTSIN MEETS WITH POWER MINISTERS. President Boris Yeltsin met with Federal Border Guards' Service Director Andrei Nikolaev, Federal Security Service director Sergei Stepashin, Internal Affairs Minister Viktor Yerin, and Defense Minister Pavel Grachev individually on 28 June, Russian Public Television reported. In each case, he discussed material gathered by the Security Council examining the conditions that allowed Shamil Basaev to succeed in his attack on Budennovsk. Russian TV reported that the Security Council is unlikely to recommend the sacking of any ministers, but that Yeltsin will use the conclusions of the meeting to make personnel decisions later. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. GOVERNMENT, DUMA PREPARE FOR VOTE. The Duma will take a second vote on the issue of no confidence in the government first and only then consider the government's demand to give it a positive vote of confidence, Speaker Ivan Rybkin announced at the conclusion of two conciliatory commission meetings that brought together all the Duma factions on 28 June, Ekho Moskvy reported. He said the decision would allow the Duma to complete the constitutional process it started with the first vote. He rejected the so-called "zero option," strongly supported by the official Rossiiskaya gazeta, in which the government would withdraw its demand that the Duma give it a vote of confidence if the Duma rejected a second no-confidence measure, NTV reported. The deputies also said that no agreement has been struck with Yeltsin to support the government if he fires the power ministers, as he claimed yesterday, Russian Public Television reported. The factions' conciliatory commission will meet again on 29 June to discuss the results of today's Security Council meeting. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. SECOND ROUND OF RUSSIAN-CHECHEN TALKS BEGIN. After a three-day break, Russian and Chechen negotiators resumed discussions in Grozny on 28 June, Russian and international agencies reported. The current round of talks focuses on political issues. Russian TV reported that negotiators spent the day discussing a Russian proposal for the formation of an interim Chechen National Council to govern the country until elections are held. After the talks ended for the day, an OSCE mediator described the atmosphere as "good," while Russian delegation head Vyacheslav Mikhailov characterized the day's discussions as "difficult." Russian military spokesmen again claimed that the Chechens had violated the current ceasefire in attacks on 27 June that killed two Russian servicemen and wounded 12 others. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. CONSTITUTIONAL COURT SETS DATE FOR CHECHNYA CASE. The Constitutional Court will consider a Federation Council appeal concerning the legality of secret decrees on Chechnya beginning on 10 July, NTV reported on 28 June. The secret decrees were issued by the president and government in November and December 1994 to authorize the deployment of troops in Chechnya and the start of the military campaign. In May, the court turned down the council's first request to rule on the Chechnya decrees because of technical flaws in the documents attached to the appeal. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. KOVALEV REPORTED TO PUSH AMNESTY FOR BASAEV. Komsomolskaya pravda on 29 June attacked outspoken war critic Sergei Kovalev for seeking an amnesty for all Chechen fighters, including Shamil Basaev. The newspaper reported that in a 28 June speech, Kovalev and two other Duma deputies condemned Russian special forces much more strongly than Basaev, whom they called "not so bad" and a "remarkable personality." The author noted that Kovalev's speech and amnesty petition were not well received, even by those who oppose the government's military campaign in Chechnya. Komsomolskaya pravda has generally given favorable coverage to Kovalev in the past. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. ONE MURDER COMMITTED IN MOSCOW EVERY FIVE HOURS. One murder is committed in the Moscow Oblast every five hours and one gang assault takes place every six hours, the Moscow Oblast Police Department and Moscow Oblast Prosecutor's Office revealed at a joint meeting on 28 June, according to Moskovsky komsomolets on 29 June. The meeting addressed the crime problem and acknowledged that the crime rate has risen beyond a "socially tolerable level." -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. GRYZUNOV: RUSSIAN PRESS IN FORMER SOVIET REPUBLICS NEEDS SUPPORT. State Press Committee Chairman Sergei Gryzunov said the government should allocate more than 16 billion rubles ($3.6 million) to support Russian- language publications in former Soviet republics, Russian TV reported on 28 June. Currently the government only spends 3 billion rubles ($680,000) on such subsidies. Committee members suggested that priority should be given to Russian-language newspapers in areas where the ethnic Russian population is most threatened, such as Abkhazia and South Ossetia. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. YELTSIN ADDRESSES MILITARY ACADEMY GRADUATES. On 28 June, President Yeltsin outlined four "priority tasks" of Russian national security policy in a speech to graduates of Russian military academies, Russian and international agencies reported. These are: the restoration of constitutional order in Chechnya, the formation of a CIS collective security system, the development of a new European security system, and the strengthening of Russian ties with the Asia-Pacific region. While expressing willingness to "deepen cooperation" with NATO, Yeltsin reiterated Russian objections to any expansion of the alliance. He said NATO should transform itself from a "Western military bloc" into a component of an all-European security order. The Russian president also announced that the stabilization of the Russian economy has rendered further cuts in the military budget unnecessary, and he promised that military expenditures for 1996 would be held at the 1995 level. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. BANKING SECTOR NON-PAYMENTS OVERDUE. The volume of non-payments in the banking sector totals 158 trillion rubles ($359 million), Russian Bank Association President Vyacheslav Zakharov said, according to Rossiiskaya gazeta on 29 June. Of that total, 35 trillion rubles ($79.54 million) is owed by enterprises to banks for overdue loan payments. The rest of the money is made up of interbank debts. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. CENTRAL BANK TELEGRAM STIRS TALK OF MONEY REFORM. Russian Central Bank managers moved to "maximally reduce cash in circulation" after they received a confidential telegram signed by the bank's first deputy chairman, Arnold Voylukov on 27 June, Segodnya reported the next day. The telegram ordered cash balances and settlement and clearing ledgers to be reduced to a minimum by 30 June. It also instructed the bank to fully transfer bank notes from circulation cash departments to reserve funds. The telegram, which was leaked, stirred talk of a money reform of cash circulation, although a law on the Central Bank explicitly forbids cash circulation confiscation measures. More likely, the telegram was a directive to the Central bank to continue tightening cash discipline for banks and enterprises. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. MELIKIAN URGES WAGE HIKE. A wage hike is needed to counter the continuing decline in Russian living standards, even if it means overburdening the country's lean budget, Russian Labor Minister Gennady Melikian said on 28 June, ITAR-TASS reported. The minister said the government must raise minimum wages and pensions by this autumn to stem the decline. Real incomes have fallen by 20% since September 1994, despite a steady rise in inflation-adjusted incomes. A 113% minimum wage hike on 1 April to 43,700 rubles (about $10) a month had little effect, Melikian said. The Labor Ministry proposes to raise the minimum wage to a maximum of 65,000 rubles a month by early autumn, a costly step for the federal and local budgets. Very few workers are actually paid at minimum wage. Instead, the figure is used as a multiplier to calculate wages and benefits throughout the state sector. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA TAJIKS ARREST RUSSIAN OFFICER IN CONNECTION WITH TERRORISM. The Tajik Interior Ministry has taken Lt. Col. Sharip Shapirov into custody in connection with the murders of 12 Russian and Tajik government soldiers and other subversive acts, Western soruces and Ekho Moskvy reported. Shapirov was arrested along with eight other suspects in the Tajik capital, Dushanbe. Besides the charges of murder, Shapirov is suspected of using military cargo planes to smuggle rebels and drugs from Afghanistan. Police allege the Russian officer was receiving orders from Islamic opposition leaders. Shapirov serves in the 201st army division, currently stationed on the Tajik-Afghan border. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc. NEW UZBEK SECURITY CHIEF. Maj. Gen. Rustam Inoyatov, 50, was appointed head of Uzbekistan's national security service on 28 June, Russian and Western agencies reported. He replaced Gulyam Alieyev, who will be appointed to an as-yet unspecified post. Uzbek authorities have not given a reason for the personnel change. Inoyatov reportedly rose to become Alieyev's first deputy after having begun his career as a rank- and-file KGB agent. Tashkent was said to be the KGB's regional center in Central Asia during the Soviet period; since independence, outlawed opposition groups and international human rights organizations have accused its successor of being very intolerant of any activities against the present regime. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. UPDATE ON ARMENIAN ECONOMY. After experiencing the sharpest economic decline of any of the former Soviet republics, Armenia was the first to record economic growth--5%--in 1994. Annual inflation ran at 50% last year, but the government forecasts it to fall to a monthly rate of 1% by August and hopes for an economic growth rate of 7.5% next year, Reuters reported on 29 June. The dram has also stabilized. Armenian Economy Minister Armen Yegiazaryan told the agency "we have passed the most difficult times." He argued that the gradual turnaround in the economy stems from the government's tight fiscal policy, price liberalization, and support from international financial organizations. The republic's currency reserves are $64 million, according to Noyan Tapan on 28 June. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. ACCORD SIGNED IN ASHGABAT. Following two days of talks beginning on 25 June, the foreign ministers of Turkmenistan, Armenia, and Iran signed several accords in Ashgabat, Noyan Tapan reported on 28 June. A package of documents, including agreements on the mutual exchange of goods and services and the establishment of trilateral joint enterprises and a transport company were signed. Armenia and Turkmenistan also signed a protocol on cooperation in the field of energy. The next round of talks between the three sides is scheduled for the second half of August. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. MUD SLIDES IN KYRGYZSTAN CAUSE SEVEN DEATHS. Heavy rains in southern Kyrgyzstan have caused mud slides, killing four people in the Jalalabad region and three in the Osh region on 27 June, according to Reuters. Hundreds of houses have been damaged. The Central Asian republic is more than 90% mountainous and the people have traditionally herded sheep, which provide food and material for clothing. However, overgrazing has left much of the area susceptible to mud slides in the rainy season. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc. STATUE OF LENIN DECAPITATED IN SEMIPALATINSK. The largest statue of Vladimir Lenin in the former Soviet Union had its head removed in the northern Kazakhstan city of Semipalatinsk on 27 June, Segodnya reported. The removal of the head is the first step in the total dismantling of the statue ordered by Semipalatinsk Mayor Galymzhan Zhakiyanov. Zhakiyanov had ordered the removal of all monuments to former Soviet leaders to "get rid of the last vestiges of the communist ideology, which caused numerous deaths." Kazakhstan lost millions of people during the famine and purges of the 1930s. The 59-foot-high, 176-ton statue will be moved to a park for historical monuments on the bank of the Irtysh River, Reuters reported. -- Bruce Pannier, 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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