|The fool wonders, the wise man asks. - Benjamin Disraeli|
No. 140, Part I, 20 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 RUMORS ABOUT NEW FSB CHIEF DENIED. Presidential press secretary Sergei Medvedev denied rumors that Col. Gen. Mikhail Barsukov, currently head of Kremlin security, had been appointed as the director of the Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor to the KGB, ITAR-TASS reported on 20 July. Barsukov himself said he was "surprised" by the reports. The position, formerly held by Sergei Stepashin, is the last of the federal- level jobs to remain vacant after the Budennovsk events. Barsukov's name remains prominent among the contenders for the post, although a 9 June Komsomolskaya pravda article claimed that Barsukov has better access to the president in his current position and would not want the FSB post. The article also pointed out that he has close ties to the director of Yeltsin's security service Aleksandr Korzhakov and that Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and his aides treat him very cautiously. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. CHERNOMYRDIN DESCRIBES ECONOMY IN DUMA SPEECH. Russia's GDP stood at 606 trillion rubles ($134.6 billion) in the first half of 1995 representing a fall of 6% from the figure for the same period last year, while industrial output, at 420 trillion rubles ($93.3 billion), dropped 3% over the same periods, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin told the State Duma in a government address on 19 July, Russian and Western agencies reported. However, Chernomyrdin said the decline in GDP and industrial output was slower than in 1994. He noted that from September 1994 to March 1995, per capita national income had fallen by 25%, but the situation improved in April. He said there are signs of overall economic stabilization and recovery, including stabilization of the ruble and reduction of inflation. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. DUMA REACTION TO CHERNOMYRDIN SPEECH COOL. Various factions in the Duma were critical of Chernomyrdin's speech. Sergei Glazev, leader of the Democratic Party of Russia, continued to express a lack of confidence in the entire government, Russian TV reported on 19 July. Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov said the current government course is "doomed" and unless Chernomyrdin finds new economic advisers, Russia cannot expect any improvement. Vladimir Zhirinovsky said the government should be tried and punished. Russia's Choice leader Yegor Gaidar said, "I cannot criticize him for anything he said, but unfortunately, everything that is said is not carried out well," Ekho Moskvy reported. Deputies from Stability and New Regional Policy supported the prime minister. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. DEPUTIES CHARGE PROCEDURAL BIAS IN CHECHNYA CASE. While Constitutional Court judges met in closed session to rule on the legality of secret decrees on Chechnya, Federation Council deputies Issa Kostoev and Yelena Mizulina, who represented the upper house of parliament in the case, complained about how the hearings were conducted, Russian Public TV reported on 19 July. The deputies noted that the hearings were cut short and the court rejected nearly all the petitions from the parliament's legal team, particularly those concerning the testimony of expert witnesses. On the same day, court Chairman Vladimir Tumanov defended the judges' decision not to call more legal experts to testify in the case, arguing that all 19 judges on the Constitutional Court are experts on the law. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. COSSACK GROUPS AT ODDS OVER CHECHNYA TALKS. The Union of Cossack Officers and the Foundation for the Restoration and Development of Chechnya agreed to cooperate on rebuilding the economy in Chechnya and the Caucasus region as a whole, Ekho Moskvy reported on 19 July. The groups expressed the hope that negotiations between the Russian government and Chechen separatists would focus not on how many people died or who did what during the war, but on how to repair the damage. A spokesman added that border questions should be considered secondary issues in the talks. But on the same day, the council of Stavropol Cossack Atamans denounced the negotiations in Chechnya as a deal struck "behind the backs of the Russian people," Radio Rossii reported. The Stavropol Cossacks demanded that the talks be suspended and that the Naursk and Shelkovsk regions of Chechnya be returned to the Stavropol region. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. MORDOVIYA CONSIDERS REINTRODUCING PRESIDENCY. The draft constitution of the Republic of Mordoviya, issued on 19 July, proposes the establishment of a presidency for the republic, Radio Rossii reported. The president would serve a five-year term and have the power to appoint the head of the government as well as disband the republic's legislature with the agreement of the Russian Constitutional Court. The former constitution also had a presidency, but the republican Supreme Soviet disbanded it in the spring of 1993 during a period of intense conflict between the two branches of government. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. GOVERNMENT CRISIS IN CHUVASHIYA CONTINUES. The central electoral commission of Chuvashiya announced that 14 out of the 47 deputies in the republic's State Soviet must resign following a 10 July Constitutional Court ruling that struck down the law under which they were elected in November 1994, ITAR-TASS reported on 19 July. The 14 deputies represent about 700,000 voters, more than half the population of the republic. Several deputies who have long opposed Chuvash President Nikolai Fedorov over economic reforms charged that Fedorov used the court to remove "inconvenient" figures in the legislative branch. They pointed out that 19 Russian regions have adopted similar electoral laws, but only Fedorov appealed the matter to the Constitutional Court, and he only did so seven months after the elections in question were held. Meanwhile, the deputies whose authority was not called into question by the ruling will convene a special session of the soviet on 21 July to try to restore the jobs of their colleagues. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. OIL SPILLS INTO THE KAMA RIVER. At least 25 tons of black oil spilled into the Kama River on 19 July, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. The Kama runs through Perm, an industrial city on the western edge of the Urals, in an area known also for its numerous prisons, labor camps, and closed military industrial factories. Apparently one of the larger factory complexes, Motovilikhinskie zavody, had not been able to afford gas power and was using its own oil reserves, which flowed into the river from a broken pipe. Perm is already considered to be heavily polluted, and local specialists told ITAR-TASS that this was probably not the first such incident. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc. ACDA CONCERNED WITH RUSSIAN BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS. In a U.S. Congress report made public on 18 July, the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) criticized Russia for its apparent lack of progress in implementing the 1992 Bacteriological Weapons Convention (BWC), international agencies reported. The ACDA report suggested that some Russian research facilities "may be maintaining the capability to produce biological warfare agents" and complained that Russia had submitted incomplete and inaccurate information on its compliance with the treaty. The report comes in the wake of a June vote in the U.S. House of Representatives to freeze American aid for Russian nuclear disarmament under the Nunn-Lugar Act, unless President Clinton certifies Russian compliance with the BWC. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. DISPUTE OVER INTERPRETATION OF ABM TREATY CONTINUES. Russia has rejected the latest American proposal to clarify the terms of the 1972 ABM Treaty, Western agencies reported on 19 July, quoting from a classified diplomatic note. The treaty specifically prohibits the development of mobile "strategic" defensive systems to shoot down incoming long-range missiles. Washington wants to develop mobile systems to defend against short-range "tactical" missiles, such as the Scuds used by Iraq in the 1991 Gulf War and has proposed to Russia that the treaty be interpreted so as to permit the development of such systems. A key point in the recent American proposal was a provision which would allow each country to determine independently whether new high-speed "tactical" defensive missiles were consistent with the treaty. Russia reportedly rejected that approach, saying it would lead "to the possibility of actual circumvention of the treaty." Russia also views American plans to test such a "tactical" defensive system as a violation of the treaty. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. DUMA ADOPTS LAWS TO RAISE MINIMUM WAGE AND PENSION. Hours after Russian Prime Minister Chernomyrdin addressed the State Duma, the lower house of parliament adopted laws to raise both the minimum wage and minimum pension to 55,000 rubles ($12) a month beginning on 1 August, Russian and Western agencies reported on 19 July. President Boris Yeltsin had urged parliament to quickly adopt the law on the minimum monthly wage, which currently stands at 43,000 rubles ($10). Chernomyrdin, outlining the government's plans for social policy in his address, had proposed an increase of the minimum wage and pension to 105,000 rubles ($23) beginning on 1 August. Minimum wage does not reflect actual salary levels in Russia, where the average monthly pay is 495,000 rubles ($109), but it is used as the basis to calculate other wages and social benefits. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. PARAMONOVA REJECTED AGAIN BY STATE DUMA. For the second time in eight months, the Duma did not confirm the appointment of Tatyana Paramonova as Central Bank chairwoman on 19 July, Russian and Western agencies reported. Only 167 deputies voted for the appointment, short of the necessary 226 votes she needs out of the house's 450 deputies. One hundred members voted against and 13 abstained. The vote does not necessarily mean that Paramonova, who has been acting central bank chairwoman since Viktor Gerashchenko was dismissed after last October's ruble crisis, will herself be dismissed. Paramonova's tight monetary policies have reduced monthly inflation from 17.8% in January to 6.7% in June and have strengthened the ruble. But her policies have alienated Duma groups such as the powerful banking lobby who must contribute to compulsory reserves and the agrarian lobby who insist on continuing centralized credits. Under Russian law, President Boris Yeltsin can nominate Paramonova to the post one more time. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIA ON TARGET FOR IMF CREDITS. Negotiations between the Russian Finance Ministry and the IMF mission are nearing completion, Ekho Moskvy reported on 19 July. IMF experts, who have been in Moscow since 11 July, are checking if the Russian government is carrying out the conditions specified in the agreement for receiving a $6.8 billion reserve credit. In their preliminary report, the IMF representatives said Russia's major economic indicators are within the parameters specified by the IMF, and the next $500 million drawdown is likely to be granted. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA TAJIKS TALK IN TEHRAN . . . The Tajik government and opposition went ahead with talks in Tehran on 19 July, according to international media reports. During an interview with Radio Liberty's Uzbek service immediately after the negotiations, the vice chairman of the Islamic Renaissance Movement (IRM), Akbar Turadzhonzoda, said Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov finally agreed to meet not only with Said Abdullo Nuri, head of the IRM, but other opposition leaders. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati opened more than five hours of talks between Rakhmonov, Nuri, Turadzhonzoda, and prominent opposition representatives Atakhon Latifi and Khudaberdi Khalik Nazarov. At the end of the session, a joint communique was issued, to which Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani added his signature. The fact that the talks actually took place--involving representatives of different opposition groups--is a breakthrough in itself; in hosting them, the Iranians strengthened their credibility as peace brokers. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. . . . AND OUTCOME. According to Turdzhonzoda, Rakhmonov continues to reject fundamental opposition demands for the establishment of an interim government and a peace council. The sides did agree to hold a congress of the peoples of Tajikistan in the future. Each side is to nominate two representatives who will determine by 10 August where and when the congress will be held. Turadzhonzoda said government and opposition representatives are to participate in the congress on an equal basis; delegates to the congress are to come from each of Tajikistan's provinces, cities, and towns. He also indicated that the Tajik opposition remains committed to the fifth round of inter-Tajik talks under UN auspices. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. KYRGYZ SIGN DOCUMENT WITH RUSSIANS ON MIGRATION. Representatives of Kyrgyzstan and Russia signed a document on 18 July on the migration process and the rights of migrants, according to ITAR-TASS. Kyrgyz Labor and Social Protection Minister Zafar Khakimov and the head of the Russian Federal Migration Service, Tatyana Regent, signed an agreement to protect the rights of migrants and prevent any forced migrations. ITAR-TASS reported that the agreement is especially significant for Kyrgyzstan, which has lost 300,000 people since 1991, a third of whom have moved to Russia. The major causes of emigration from Kyrgyzstan appear to be a law that adopted Kyrgyz as the official language and the continuing decline of the Kyrgyz economy. However, in the first quarter of this year, only 8,911 people are reported to have left the republic. -- 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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