|Absence makes the heart grow fonder. -|
No. 131, Part I, 7 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 HARD-LINER APPOINTED AS NEW INTERIOR MINISTER. President Boris Yeltsin has named Anatolii Kulikov, the hawkish commander of Russia's forces in Chechnya, to replace Viktor Yerin as Interior Minister, Russian and Western agencies reported on 6 July. Kulikov had been a deputy interior minister since 1992 and before the collapse of the Soviet Union, was the Interior Ministry's commander in the North Caucasus. His new appointment is the second stage of a cabinet reshuffle after Yeltsin sacked Yerin, Nationalities Minister Nikolai Yegorov, and Federal Security Service Director Sergei Stepashin in a concession to the parliament in the wake of the bungled attempts to resolve the Budennovsk hostage crisis. However, deputies and observers regard Yeltsin's new appointments (see OMRI Daily Digest on 6 July) as no more than a reshuffle of insiders loyal to the president. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. DUMA APPROVES PRESIDENTIAL VERSION OF CIVIL SERVICE BILL. The Duma passed the Law on the Basics of the Civil Service in the Russian Federation on 5 July, Segodnya reported on 6 July. An earlier draft was rejected by the president, and the new version incorporates virtually all his amendments. It will now be considered by the Federation Council. The law, which divides public offices into three categories and has been compared to Peter the Great's Table of Ranks, has been under discussion for years. It was inherited by the Duma from the Supreme Soviet, then went through a year of repeated rejections and fine-tuning before finally being approved on 10 February. It was then rejected by the Federation Council and again reworked before being vetoed by the president. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. FEDERATION COUNCIL REJECTS LAW ON LOCAL SELF-GOVERNMENT. The Federation Council sent a draft law on local self-government back to the Duma for amendments, Russian media reported on 6 July. In particular, Council deputies noted that the financial obligations of local government and principles for the division of state-owned regional property were insufficiently defined in the draft law. Also on 6 July, the Council rejected a law that would have allowed regional legislatures, instead of administrative heads, to appoint local prosecutors. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. CONGRESS OF RUSSIANS LIVING ABROAD OPENS IN MOSCOW. About 320 representatives from former Soviet republics convened in Moscow to discuss problems of ethnic Russians living in the near abroad, Russian media reported on 6 July. Konstantin Zatulin, chairman of the Duma Committee on CIS Affairs, told the delegates that the Congress of Russian Communities (KRO), led by Yurii Skokov, would defend their interests in the upcoming parliamentary elections, Russian TV reported. Zatulin said the KRO, of which Lt. Gen. Aleksandr Lebed is a leading member, is conducting negotiations with other prominent opposition politicians, including Sergei Glazev of the Democratic Party of Russia and Viktor Ilyukhin of the Communist Party. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. GOVERNMENT CREATES FUND TO HELP RUSSIANS LIVING ABROAD. A government commission has created a fund to support ethnic Russians and Russian- language publications in the near abroad, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai told Radio Mayak on 6 July. Shakhrai said the draft 1996 budget proposed allocating about 120 billion rubles ($27 million) to the fund, which will provide financial aid to at least 30 organizations in former Soviet republics. Shakhrai said businessmen and non-governmental organizations would also be encouraged to contribute to the fund. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. APPARENT DISCORD IN MOSCOW OVER CHECHEN TALKS. Russian negotiators returned to Grozny on 6 July and resumed talks with representatives of Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev, Russian and international agencies reported. As the delegation departed, mixed signals from Moscow suggested the existence of heated disagreements within the Yeltsin administration over the talks. Presidential spokesman Sergei Medvedev said in an interview that Russian negotiator Arkadii Volskii "was incorrect," when he told journalists that President Yeltsin had agreed to modify his 4 July decree on the permanent basing of federal troops in Chechnya. The decree has been signed, and is fully consistent with the constitution, said Medvedev, adding that a withdrawal of federal troops from Chechnya could "destabilize" the situation. Volskii had earlier threatened to resign if the decree was not modified, and Chechen delegation head Usman Imaev has denounced it as a violation of the military protocol signed by Russian and Chechen negotiators in June. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. SOLDIERS' MOTHERS PROTEST TREATMENT OF SOLDIERS REFUSING TO FIGHT IN CHECHNYA. The Soldiers' Mothers Committee said the rights of soldiers refusing to participate in the military campaign in Chechnya are routinely violated, Russian TV reported on 6 July. Citing statistics from the Prosecutor General's Office, the committee said approximately 2,000 enlisted men and 500 officers have refused to fight in Chechnya. They complained that in many cases, Russian servicemen whose mothers had secured their release from military duty were subsequently arrested and charged with "betraying the motherland." According to the soldiers' mothers, such arrests are unconstitutional, since the military campaign in Chechnya is not an officially declared war. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. GRACHEV COMPLAINS ABOUT LACK OF MONEY. Defense Minister Pavel Grachev told a group of air defense officers in the Moscow Oblast that the armed forces had in June received only 40% of the money allotted to it, ITAR- TASS reported on 5 July. He said the ministry could not even pay the salaries of most of the people in the military. He also predicted that financial problems would increase with every passing day, adding that revenues from the sale of military equipment had been exhausted. "Our only hope is the commander-in-chief, President Boris Yeltsin. I am forced to turn to him for help." -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. STRIKE FIGURES RELEASED. In the first five months of this year, 859 strikes were registered in Russia, a 120% increase over the same period last year and more than the total for all of 1994, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 July citing a Labor Ministry report. The ministry said that about 183,000 people took part in strikes, which is up from 155,000 in all of 1994 but still a remarkably low figure given the magnitude of the problem of unpaid wages. Education was the worst affected sector, accounting for 70% of the work stoppages. Low wages and labor law violations were the main grievances. A fifth of the total number of strikes occurred in the energy industry, mostly over delays in wage payments. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. GOVERNMENT APPROVES PLAN FOR DESTRUCTION OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS. The government approved a draft law for the destruction of Russia's stock of chemical weapons at a 6 July meeting. The law, which is to be submitted to the Duma for ratification, is a key step in the implementation of the 1993 Paris Convention on chemical weapons. The draft legislation establishes special facilities for the destruction of the weapons, which are currently stored in seven depots in Russia. The location of the disposal facilities has been controversial, and the legislation provides for special "social and environmental guarantees" for the areas surrounding the disposal plants. A government spokesman estimated that it would cost $5.5 billion to destroy the estimated 40,000 tons of chemical weapons in Russia. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. IMF ENDORSES RUSSIAN PLAN TO CONTROL RUBLE EXCHANGE RATE. The IMF hailed the Russian plan to create a fixed exchange rate band for the ruble, international agencies reported on 6 July. Stanley Fischer, first deputy managing director of the IMF, said that if "the exchange rate policy is backed up . . . Russia's prospects for achieving sustainable economic growth with low inflation are bright." -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. U.S. TO ADVANCE $100 MILLION TO RUSSIA FOR URANIUM. William Timbers, president of the U.S. Enrichment Corporation, said on 6 July that his company will advance Russia $100 million for the purchase of uranium from dismantled Soviet nuclear weapons, international agencies reported. The advance is designed to help salvage a troubled U.S.-Russian uranium purchase agreement. Vice President Al Gore and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin announced in Moscow last week that problems with the agreement had been resolved. The Russian Ministry of Nuclear Energy had complained about American plans to delay payment for the uranium to be purchased under the agreement. However, a dispute over the pricing of future shipments of uranium remains unresolved. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. FOREIGN MINISTRY BRIDLES AT U.S. LEGISLATION. The Russian Foreign Ministry sent a statement to ITAR-TASS on 4 July complaining that recent American draft legislation interferes in Russian internal affairs. The ministry was particularly upset by a draft resolution submitted on 28 March 1995 by Rep. Christopher Cox, a Democrat from California, which called for Kaliningrad Oblast to be made into a demilitarized zone and its administration transferred to an international body. The statement said that "the Kaliningrad region is a component, inalienable part of the Russian Federation." It suggested that American congressmen would hardly like a foreign proposal for the demilitarization of Alaska. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. PANSKOV ON 1996 BUDGET. At a 6 July press conference, Finance Minister Vladimir Panskov announced that the draft 1996 budget would be submitted to the government on 10 July and to the Duma after 20 July, Rossiiskaya gazeta reported on 7 July. The draft envisages revenues of 355 trillion rubles ($79 billion), expenditures of 440 trillion ($98 billion), a budget deficit equal to 4% of GDP, and inflation of no more than 2% a month. In order to give the budget a greater "social orientation," spending on health, education, and other social spheres has been increased. More money is also to be allocated to conversion of the military-industrial complex and high-technology projects. The deficit is to be covered from non-inflationary sources, but unlike this year the emphasis will be on domestic rather than foreign borrowing. Panskov also said that in recent months the government had reduced its wage debt to 100-200 billion rubles and had sent 306 billion rubles to the regions to ease social tensions. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIA TAKES STOCK OF PROPERTY ABROAD. State Property Committee Deputy Chairman Valerii Fateev said on 2 July that Russia claims to own real estate and shares worth $9 billion in 106 countries, Segodnya and Reuters reported. However, he added that proving ownership is difficult and so far, the country has won only a few of thge disputed cases. According to Fateev, the property in question comprises 1,900 plots of land and buildings and shares in 500 companies. Those include property of the last tsar's family and that of Russian nobles, as well as property that used to belong to the former USSR, which Russia inherited along with the Soviet Union's foreign debts under the terms of a treaty signed with its fellow republics in 1991. The real estate is valued at $3.3 billion, but Fateev said its market value is probably 10 times as high. Several parliamentary factions have accused the Russian government of squandering Russian property abroad. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. CADBURY TO BUILD CHOCOLATE FACTORY IN RUSSIA. A Finnish building firm is to build a $115 million chocolate factory for Cadbury-Schweppes in Novgorod Oblast, AFP reported on 6 July citing Kommersant-daily. The new plant, with an output capacity of 50,000 tons annually, will be the largest Cadbury factory in the world. It is due to begin operation in mid-1996. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA FATE OF TAJIK OFFICIAL UNCLEAR. Authorities have been unable to ascertain the whereabouts of Akabir Odinayev, a Tajik senior official from the Khatlon region in the south who disappeared on 26 June and is believe to have been abducted by a Defense Ministry unit, Reuters reported. The Defense Ministry has two units in the area, the first and eleventh brigades, which were formed from groups owing allegiance to local warlords who supported the present regime during the Tajik civil war three years ago. Though nominally part of the Tajik military, the two groups are competing for control of supplies in the Kurgan Tyube area. A commander from the first brigade said the eleventh brigade is holding Odinayev. An officer in the eleventh brigade, Islam Radzhabov, denied his group is responsible and accused the first brigade of killing his group's commander, Izat Kuganov, early last month. The government has sent reinforcements to the area. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc. KYRGYZ PRESIDENT WANTS TWO OFFICIALS TO RESIGN. Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev called on Transport Minister Sadykbek Ablesov and government Chief of Staff Orozmat Abdykalykov to resign on 6 July, Reuters reported. Akayev said Ablesov committed numerous unspecified offenses and that Abdykalykov had been leaking state secrets to the media. The Kyrgyz president called for the resignations at a meeting of law enforcement officials dealing with the rising crime rate and corruption in the government. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc. CIS ANOTHER ROUND OF BORDER TALKS WITH CHINA ENDS. The 16th round of talks between China and its CIS neighbors on reducing the level of military forces along their borders ended in Beijing on 6 July, Xinhua reported. Originally, the talks were held between China and the Soviet Union, which has now been replaced by Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. The agency said the sides had exchanged views in a "friendly and truth-seeking" atmosphere, and progress was made. No other details were released. -- Doug Clarke, 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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