|The fool wonders, the wise man asks. - Benjamin Disraeli|
No. 127, Part I, 30 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 SEVEN OFFICIALS APPARENTLY RESIGN OVER BUDENNOVSK. Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, Interior Minister Viktor Yerin, Federal Security Service Director Sergei Stepashin, Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Yegorov, Security Council Chairman Oleg Lobov, Stavropol krai Governor Yevgeny Kuznetsov, and Prosecutor-General Alexei Ilyushenko tendered their resignation at the Security Council meeting on 29 June, Russian media reported. State Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin revealed the names to reporters, but no official documents listed who had offered their resignations. The president will decide the fate of the ministers after the Duma declares its position on the government on 1 July. Rybkin told Russian TV that he should do so before 10 July. Earlier, Yeltsin had announced that he would make his decision only by 22 July, when the Duma's summer session was over. Waiting will allow Yeltsin to avoid the appearance that he had to sack some of his ministers because of pressure from the parliament. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. MINISTERS STILL AT WORK. Sources inside the Kremlin say that Yeltsin will not accept all of the resignations, according to NTV on 29 June. The press secretaries of Lobov, Stepashin, and Yegorov said their bosses had not formally offered to resign. Although, on his way out of the Security Council meeting, Stepashin had told reporters that "they want to put me on a pension," a Federal Security Service spokesman later explained that his statement had been in jest, Russian TV reported. All of the power ministers were at work as normal after the Security Council meeting, Russian Public Television reported on 30 June. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. POLITICAL PARTY CAMPAIGN FINANCING DISCUSSED. An intensive effort to find financial backers for the parliamentary campaign is underway, Izvestiya reported on 29 June. To wage a successful campaign, parties must spend approximately $2 million, according to the paper's estimates. The author said the Agrarian Party receives substantial funds indirectly from the state budget, in the form of donations from agribusiness concerns which receive large credits and subsidies. The Communist Party has 500,000 dues-paying members and 120 newspapers and bulletins to publish campaign propaganda. By contrast, Yegor Gaidar's Russia's Democratic Choice is mired in financial difficulties, since many of its 1993 backers are supporting Chernomyrdin's bloc, Our Home Is Russia, this year. Izvestiya noted that risk-averse businesses are not likely to support radicals or parties of "pure ideas." -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. COSSACK UNION MEETS IN MOSCOW. The All-Russian Cossack Union met in Moscow on 28-29 June to discuss the status of Cossacks in Russia, NTV and Russian TV reported. Currently the Cossacks serve only in military units subordinate to the Defense Ministry in Chechnya. Since December, the Cossack leaders have wanted to set up units that can help the local police in Stavropol krai when unexpected situations arise, such as the attack on Budennovsk. According to Union leader Alexander Martynov, Yeltsin supports the idea. The Cossack leaders are also planning to submit a draft law to the Federation Council that would grant them the right to guard and protect Russia's borders. Ministerial sources say that a draft law and five presidential decrees on the Cossacks are under consideration. The Cossack Union marked its fifth anniversary on 28 June. It unites 2.5 million members from Russia's 10 million Cossacks. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. EXTREMISTS CALL FOR DEPORTING CITIZENS FROM THE CAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA. Nikolai Lysenko's National-Republican Party of Russia (NRPR) is distributing leaflets calling for the expulsion of all natives of the Caucasus and Central Asia from Russia, Izvestiya reported on 30 June. The leaflets depict certain ethnic groups as snails and insects being cleared away by a Russian man in camouflage wearing the NRPR insignia. Lysenko's party has distributed similar leaflets for more than a year, but more than a million new copies were printed following the Budennovsk hostage crisis. Izvestiya said such calls for "pogroms" or deportations violate the constitution and play into the hands of Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. CHECHEN NEGOTIATIONS CONTINUE. Despite sporadic fighting overnight, Russian and Chechen negotiators continued working in Grozny on 29 June, Russian and Western agencies reported. Russian television reported that discussions centered on a Russian proposal, called the "zero option." In order to prepare for new elections in the fall, the proposal calls for the current Moscow-backed Chechen authorities and separatist leader Dzhokhar Dudaev to both renounce their claims to being the legitimate government of Chechnya, followed by the declaration of a general amnesty for all participants in the Chechen fighting. Although the talks adjourned at the end of the day without reaching agreement, Chechen delegation head Usman Imaev said the atmosphere remained "friendly." Russian negotiator Arkady Volsky also told journalists that if a third round of talks becomes necessary, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin is prepared to personally lead the Russian delegation. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. YELTSIN SIGNS TREATY WITH SAKHA. President Boris Yeltsin and Mikhail Nikolaev, President of the Sakha Republic (Yakutiya), signed an agreement on 29 June that delineates the division of powers between the federal and Sakha governments, Russian Public Television reported. The treaty is the fifth such accord signed between Moscow and subjects of the Russian Federation. At the signing ceremony, President Yeltsin praised the agreement as a successful example of center-regional relations. However, a recent analysis published in Nezavisimaya Gazeta contends that such treaties contradict the Russian constitution. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIAN MILITARY LACKS FUNDS TO PAY TROOPS. The Russian Defense Ministry has enough money to pay only about 30% of its military personnel this month, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 June. The agency reported that sources in the ministry blamed the federal government for the problem, which apparently resulted from late allocation of funds to the ministry from the federal budget. Some personnel may have to wait until September for their pay, a situation which might "create undesirable tension" in the military, the agency added. The report comes one day after President Yeltsin told a gathering of military officers that military spending would not be cut in 1996. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. YELTSIN SIGNS LAW ON PENSION INCREASES. President Yeltsin signed a law increasing all pensions by 20% and raising the minimum pension to 52,486 rubles ($12) per month, Radio Rossii reported on 29 June. However, the chairman of the board of the pension fund said the fund lacks the money to implement the increases, which would cost an extra 1 trillion rubles ($227 million) a month. He added that the pension fund is currently owed more than 2 trillion rubles ($454 million) from the federal budget. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. LEADERS VIEW U.S.-RUSSIA SPACE COOPERATION. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and U.S. Vice President Al Gore watched a live broadcast of the American space shuttle Atlantis docking with the orbiting Russian space station Mir, Russian and Western agencies reported on 29 June. The docking was the first meeting of American and Russian spacecraft since the 1975 Apollo-Soyuz mission. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. KOZYREV CRITICIZES FRANCE FOR RESUMING NUCLEAR TESTS. Speaking before the International Conference on Disarmament on 29 June, Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev criticized the French government's recent decision to resume nuclear testing, Russian and international agencies reported. Kozyrev called on France to adhere to the existing voluntary moratorium on testing and said that a resumption of testing would violate the spirit of the decisions reached at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty conference this spring. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. FOREIGN MINISTRY REGRETS U.S. CONGRESSIONAL VOTE. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigory Karasin expressed regret at the recent vote in the U.S. House of Representatives to suspend aid to Russia under the Nunn-Lugar program, Russian TV reported on 29 June. Karasin said the 13 June vote, which called for a suspension of the aid unless President Bill Clinton certifies that Russia has no biological weapons program, would complicate Russian efforts to dismantle its nuclear weapons. Karasin said Russia "decisively rejects the insinuation" that it is violating its obligations under a 1992 agreement on biological weapons with Britain and the U.S. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. U.S. TO HELP RUSSIAN DEFENSE PLANTS BUILD HOUSES. Using money provided by the Nunn-Lugar program, a U.S. consortium plans to convert three Russian plants that once built weapons of mass destruction into producers of prefabricated housing for demobilized Russian officers. According to a Pentagon press release on 28 June, the three Russian companies were NPO Soyuz, NPO Kompozit, and NPO Mashinostroeniya. Besides converting the plants, the U.S. consortium--American Housing Technologies--will train Russian military and defense industry personnel in the manufacture and marketing of the prefabricated units. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA MORE THAN 20 KILLED ON TAJIK-AFGHAN BORDER. Russian border forces clashed with a group of suspected drug-traffickers on 28 June, killing more than 20 of them, Western agencies reported. The group was part of a caravan that was attempting to cross into Tajikistan from neighboring Afghanistan along the Pyandj River. When the Russian troops tried to stop them, they opened fire. No Russian casualties were reported. Meanwhile, troops of the Tajik army's 11th brigade have taken a deputy regional governor, Akakbir Odinayev, hostage in Kurgan-Tyube, according to Western sources and Ekho Moskvy. The brigade was under the command of Izat Kuganov, a Tajik parliament deputy also described as a local warlord, who was murdered recently. The soldiers are dissatisfied with Dushanbe's efforts to find and punish the killers. Tajik officials have gone to Kurgan-Tyube to try to negotiate Odinayev's release. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc. LOANS TO TRANSCAUCASIAN REPUBLICS. The IMF has approved loans for Armenia and Georgia, Reuters reported on 29 June. Armenia is to receive $96 million to improve economic growth and living conditions and reduce inflation; Georgia is to get $157 million to speed economic reform, reduce inflation, and stabilize the economy. The same day, the World Bank announced that it had approved a $61 million rehabilitation loan for Azerbaijan provided in the form of an SDR credit from the bank's affiliate, the International Development Association. It will be used to improve the water supply in Baku. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. VORONOV: NO COMMANDO CAMPS IN ABKHAZIA. Abkhaz Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Voronov rejected allegations that there are training camps in Abkhazia for Middle Eastern commandos destined for Chechnya, according to Radio Rossii on 29 June. Voronov's statement was confirmed by the head of the UN military observers' mission in Abkhazia. The day before, Ekho Moskvy reported that the head of the Abkhaz security service had denied separate allegations that Shamil Basaev is hiding in Abkhazia. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. KYRGYZ PRESIDENT SAYS ECONOMY IS A CATASTROPHE. There are no indications that the Kyrgyz economy is on the road to recovery or that the financial situation in the industrial sector is improving, Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev said in a 29 June interview on Radio Mayak. He added that the government will not be able to meet the budget accepted in December 1994. Also, 103 large and medium-sized businesses, which amounts to one out of every five business in the country, shut down in May and more than 100 others do not have the money to pay wages to workers. The government itself needs another 500 million som ($45 million) to pay wages. While accepting that the government shares some of the blame for the situation, Akayev also criticized enterprise managers. -- 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. 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