|It is the chiefest point of happiness that a man is willing to be what he is. - Erasmus|
No. 129, Part I, 5 July 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 FEDERATION COUNCIL REJECTS CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS. The Federation Council rejected three proposed constitutional amendments that would have expanded parliamentary control over the executive branch, Ekho Moskvy reported on 4 July. The amendments, passed by the required two- thirds majority of the Duma on 21 June, needed the support of three- fourths of the Council (134 senators) in order to be sent to regional legislatures for ratification, but fewer than 134 senators were present at the session. Furthermore, constitutional changes granting more power to legislatures were denounced by many Council senators, who also serve as the heads of regional executive branches. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. FAILED NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE MAY NOT END POLITICAL CRISIS. Conflict between the Duma and the government is likely to continue despite the failure of the 1 July no-confidence vote, according to Moskovskaya pravda on 4 July. Although Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said the failed no- confidence vote reflects the willingness of both sides to compromise and accept political responsibility, deputies from the Communist Party, the Liberal Democratic Party, and the Democratic Party of Russia have all vowed to continue fighting the government. In addition, Communist deputy Oleg Mironov told Moskovskaya pravda that a special Duma commission is being formed in order to raise the question of impeaching the president again. A Communist-sponsored motion to put impeachment proceedings on the Duma's agenda failed to pass on 23 June. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. POLTORANIN ON "STRANGE MANEUVERS" AT ROSSIISKAYA GAZETA. In the 4 July edition of Rossiiskaya gazeta, Duma Press and Information Committee Chairman Mikhail Poltoranin denounced alleged "strange maneuvers" behind the possible dismissal of Rossiiskaya gazeta editor-in-chief Natalya Polezhaeva. Poltoranin helped recruit Polezhaeva in fall 1993, when the government took over the publication of Rossiiskaya gazeta, which had been the parliament's newspaper. Referring to the controversial transfer of Channel 1 broadcasting from Ostankino TV to Russian Public Television (ORT) on 1 April, Poltoranin said the campaign against Polezhaeva reflected a government policy of "ORT-ization" of the mass media. Poltoranin also said some government officials are plotting to replace Oleg Poptsov as chairman of state-owned Russian Television (Channel 2). Meanwhile, Kommersant-Daily reported on 4 July that Rossiiskaya gazeta staff members are circulating an open letter in support of Polezhaeva among Duma deputies. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. GROZNY NEGOTIATIONS REMAIN DEADLOCKED . . . Russian-Chechen talks in Grozny adjourned on 4 July without making substantial progress, Russian and Western agencies reported. The Russian delegation returned to Moscow that evening for consultations with Prime Minister Chernomyrdin and President Yeltsin. On 3 July, deputy head of the Russian delegation, Arkadii Volskii, held a meeting with Chechen separatist President Dzhokhar Dudaev at an undisclosed location. The two men discussed the so-called "zero option," a Russian proposal for ending the Chechen conflict. On his return, Volskii told journalists that Dudaev had agreed to resign, as called for in the Russian proposal, but only if Moscow grants Chechnya independence. Volskii added that while Moscow is prepared to grant Chechnya sovereignty within the framework of the Russian Constitution, Dudaev's insistence on independence is unacceptable. Volskii said the talks, which are scheduled to resume on 6 July, are "not at a standstill." -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. . . . WHILE MILITARY CRITICIZES NEGOTIATION STRATEGY. On 4 July, Defense Minister Pavel Grachev implicitly criticized the efforts of Prime Minister Chernomyrdin to negotiate an end to the Chechen conflict, Russian and international agencies reported. "A political settlement would have been easier if the question of [Chechen military leader Shamil] Basaev and his gang had been resolved at Budennovsk," said Grachev. He added that the current ceasefire in Chechnya is enabling Chechen fighters to "regroup," "bring in ammunition," and "restart the hostilities," which he predicted would soon resume. On 5 July, an article in Krasnaya zvezda contended that the Russian delegation at the Grozny talks has "illusions" about the "good faith" of their Chechen counterparts. The Russian side has made too many concessions, commented the paper, and should adopt a harsher stance in order to pressure the Chechens into accepting a settlement. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. YELTSIN CALLS FOR PERMANENT TROOPS IN CHECHNYA. President Boris Yeltsin on 4 July signed a decree permitting the permanent deployment of Russian military units in Chechnya, ITAR-TASS reported. That same day the agency quoted Defense Minister Pavel Grachev as saying a motorized rifle division with "several auxiliary units" as well as "sub-units of Interior Troops" would be permanently stationed in the republic. It would also have a Border Troops office, and military registration and conscription offices. In prior years, a Russian training division had been located in Chechnya. ITAR-TASS reported that a combined Army Group built around the 58th Army is now temporarily stationed in the republic. It also included the 106th Combined Marine Regiment and the 166th Guards Independent Motorized Brigade. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. POLICE OFFICER IN CHARGE OF BUDENNOVSK ROADBLOCK ARRESTED. Prosecutors in Stavropol Krai arrested a police officer in charge of a roadblock en route to Budennovsk following allegations that the Chechen separatists who seized some 1,500 hostages in the city last month had bribed police, AFP reported on 4 July citing Interfax. Seven other police officers employed along the route were also dismissed. Members of Chechen commander Shamil Basaev's convoy said they were able to cross all the military posts in the border area after bribing police. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. BANKS COMPETE FOR SHARE IN REBUILDING CHECHNYA. As the military conflict in Chechnya winds down, a new 'bank war' is gearing up, Segodnya reported on 4 July. The leading Russian commercial banks are competing for a share in the reconstruction program announced by the government in April, which plans to spend 5 trillion rubles ($1.04 billion) in Chechnya this year. The Grozny branch of the Interregional Transport Bank (Rostov) has taken over the functions of the National Bank of Chechnya, and banks such as Kredo Bank are offering credits to governmental agencies for the reconstruction of Chechnya's transport and communications system. Receipts from oil sales, which will be exempt from taxes and duties, will reportedly be lodged in an account at Imperial Bank, and will be used to pay back the credits. -- Peter Rutland, OMRI, Inc. KOZYREV CAUTIONS WEST ON BOSNIA. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev expressed doubt about plans to dispatch additional troops to reinforce UN peacekeepers in Bosnia, international and Russian agencies reported on 4 July. Kozyrev said such plans "encourage belligerency rather than realism in the Bosnian parties." He also voiced special concern with the recent decision of the German Bundestag that approved the use of German troops to provide support for the new Anglo-Dutch-French "rapid reaction force." He said Germany should take historical factors into consideration and reconsider its decision. Kozyrev also called on Bosnian Croatian and Muslim forces to cease "offensive operations." -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. IAEA OFFICIAL DOWNPLAYS RUSSIAN NUCLEAR SMUGGLING. Hans Blix, director- general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said on 4 July that the threat of nuclear smuggling from Russia had been exaggerated, Russian and international agencies reported. Blix said most of the reported cases of nuclear smuggling involved only low-grade materials unsuitable for the manufacture of nuclear weapons. He said that although some cases are serious, many are "smoke without fire." Blix added that his agency has "no complaints" about the sale of two Russian light-water nuclear reactors to Iran. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. EBRD PRESIDENT CAUTIOUS ABOUT RUSSIAN ECONOMY. At the end of a five-day trip to Russia, the president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Jacques de Larosiere, cautioned that Russia had a long way to go to complete its transition to a market economy, international agencies reported. The EBRD chief said on 4 July that Russia is at a crossroads, and "arbitrary" and "corrupt" elements in its economy must be eliminated. He warned that under certain circumstances, "Russia could become a distorted market economy centered on a limited group of powerful lobbies." He urged the government to take anti- corruption and austerity measures, and added that "the decisions taken by the government will directly influence the kind of market economy Russia becomes." -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. NEW ACTING HEADS OF FSB AND MVD. Following the departures of Interior Minister Viktor Yerin and Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Sergei Stepashin, their responsibilities have been assumed by their first deputies, Segodnya reported on 4 July. Yevgenii Abramov is now in charge of internal affairs and Anatolii Safonov of the FSB. The 56-year-old Abramov has the rank of MVD colonel general and is a graduate of the Law Department of Moscow State University. He has been Russian first deputy interior minister since 1992. Safonov was born in 1945 in Krasnoyarsk Krai and began work with the KGB there in 1969. From 1990 to 1993 he was a member of the Russian Congress of People's Deputies, and he became first deputy director of the Federal Counterintelligence Service (the forerunner of the FSB) in 1994. He is a colonel general. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT SETS PROVISIONAL ELECTION DATE. In an emergency session on 4 July, the Georgian parliament voted to hold parliamentary and presidential elections on 5 November, Western agencies reported. Before the elections can be held, parliament must approve by 26 July either a new constitution or a law that defines the respective powers of the president, parliament, and cabinet and by 4 August, it must pass laws on parliamentary and presidential elections, AFP reported. Georgian parliament chairman Eduard Shevardnadze has argued consistently in favor of restoring the post of president, abolished in 1992 after the violent ouster of the first incumbent, Zviad Gamsakhurdia. Elections for a new Chechen parliament are also tentatively scheduled for 5 November. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc. KYRGYZ PRESIDENT SUES NEWSPAPER. Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev filed a libel suit on 3 July against the newspaper Respublika, which had published an open letter from citizens objecting to the planned destruction of their garages and other buildings in order to make space for a new presidential house in Bishkek, according to Western agencies. Akayev changed the location, but city officials tore down the buildings anyway. The newspaper then published an article which claimed Akayev had a villa in Switzerland and a house in Turkey. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc. NIYAZOV DETERMINED. On his third visit to Iran this year, Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov arrived in Tehran on 4 July for discussions with his Iranian counterpart, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Western news agencies reported. During the one-day visit, talks focused on kick- starting a stalled plan, agreed to last August, to construct a gas pipeline that will run through Iran and Turkey and link Turkmenistan with Western Europe. Financing for the project, which it is estimated will cost $7 billion, is being held up due to Western views of Iran. The U.S. in particular has pressured Turkmenistan not to use Iran for its gas exports; IRNA said Niyazov denied that Turkmenistan had come under "foreign pressure" and noted that Niyazov was "firmly" determined to realize the project. Russia, Kazakhstan, and Turkey have supported the deal. In the first phase, the projected pipeline would permit Turkmenistan to export 15 billion cubic meters of gas to Europe annually; at present, an export quota limits it to 11 billion cubic meters annually. -- 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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