|Words that open our eyes to the world are always the easiest to remember. - Ryszard Kapuscinski|
No. 144, Part I, 26 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 GROZNY NEGOTIATIONS BREAK OFF. Without reaching any agreement, Russian and Chechen negotiators announced on 25 July that further talks would be postponed for three days in order to allow each delegation to carry out consultations, Western and Russian agencies reported. Shortly after the negotiations were suspended, intense fighting erupted between Chechen fighters and federal troops in central Grozny, leaving one federal serviceman and two Chechen gunmen dead, according to ITAR-TASS. Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev, in an interview with RIA-Novosti, described further negotiations as "pointless." Disagreement between Chechen leaders about the issue of Chechnya's status threatens to scuttle the talks entirely. Izvestiya reported on 26 July that several Chechen field commanders expressed discontent with the direction of the negotiations, while in an interview published in Segodnya on 25 July, Shamil Basaev threatened to shoot Chechen lead delegate Usman Imaev if he agrees to Chechnya remaining in the Russian Federation. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. CHECHEN WAR USING UP ALL RUSSIAN ROCKET AMMO. The Russian armed forces are in danger of using up all the ammunition for their rapid fire rocket-propelled "Grad" multiple-launch rocket systems, NTV reported on 24 July. Officials at Tula's "Splav" enterprise, where the Grad was built, said that not a single shell has been produced in the past five years. Gennadii Denezhkin, Splav's chief designer, said the company "now basically lives on trading its arms abroad and conversion. . . . There are no new orders from the Russian Defense Ministry." He added that new weapons projects are "in a comatose state." -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIA'S DEMOCRATIC CHOICE STARTS FUNDRAISING FOR CAMPAIGN. Russia's Democratic Choice leader Yegor Gaidar has sent out a letter soliciting contributions from several hundred government and private organizations, Moskovskii komsomolets reported on 26 July. The letter offers a sliding scale of access to the party for potential sponsors. Contributors of 10 million rubles ($2,200) receive information on the party's progress during the campaign, while gifts of more than 500 million rubles ($110,000) will earn the donor a meeting to discuss specific forms of cooperation. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. NTV TO OPEN BUREAU IN ROSTOV-NA-DONU. The independent television company NTV announced that it will open a bureau in the southern Russian city Rostov-na-Donu, Kommersant-Daily reported on 25 July. The bureau will produce a special news program covering events in the North Caucasus region and eastern Ukraine. NTV's coverage of the military campaign in Chechnya has been highly acclaimed for its professionalism, both inside and outside Russia. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. MOSKOVSKII KOMSOMOLETS CHARGES CONCERNING REGIONAL TV REFUTED. Internews Executive Director Manana Aslamazian and Glasnost Defense Foundation Chairman Aleksei Simonov wrote to the editors of Moskovskii komsomolets protesting that newspaper's unsigned article of 20 July, which alleged that Internews was behind an attempted "American takeover" of regional television in Russia (see OMRI Daily Digest, 21 July). The letters point out numerous factual errors the article, including the following: Internews, an international non-profit organization, is not funded by or linked to the U.S. Information Agency; Internews did not create the Independent Broadcasting System (IBS), a commercial network of regional television stations in Russia; and Internews neither controls administratively nor finances the IBS. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. NINE GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATES REGISTERED IN SVERDLOVSK. Nine candidates have registered to compete in the 6 August gubernatorial elections in Sverdlovsk Oblast, Rossiiskie vesti reported on 26 July. Eduard Rossel, the chairman of the Sverdlovsk Duma and a Federation Council deputy, is the favorite in the race. Other candidates include the head of the oblast administration, the director of a large factory, a prominent Yekaterinburg businessman, and a film director. On 11 May, President Yeltsin issued a decree allowing the Sverdlovsk governor to be elected as an "exception" to a 1994 decree banning elections for regional executive heads without Moscow's explicit approval. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. KHABAROVSK MAYOR APPOINTMENT CONTESTED IN COURT. A Khabarovsk Krai court is examining a lawsuit against regional Governor Viktor Ishaev concerning the controversial appointment of Khabarovsk Mayor Pavel Filippov in 1994, Segodnya reported on 25 July. The suit alleges that Ishaev's decree contradicted the principles of local self-government and violated the right of the city's residents to elect a mayor. Segodnya predicted that the court would find in favor of the governor, who claims that his actions were legal, since Russia has not yet adopted a law on local government. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. MONUMENT TO VYSOTSKII UNVEILED IN MOSCOW. A bronze statue of underground singer Vladimir Vysotskii was unveiled on Moscow's Strastnoi Boulevard on 25 July, the 15th anniversary of the singer's death, Rossiiskaya gazeta and AFP reported. Vysotskii, who once sang, "They'll never give me a monument on Strastnoi Boulevard," attracted a huge following during the Soviet period for his irreverent lyrics. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. TUBERCULOSIS EPIDEMIC BLAMED ON HOMELESS. Russia has registered a 2% infection rate for tuberculosis, Komsomolskaya pravda reported on 26 July. World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines state that 1% constitutes an epidemic. The newspaper blamed the epidemic on a lack of legislation enabling police to detain and screen homeless people. The paper did not mention that, according to WHO guidelines, tuberculosis is usually transmitted via close contact with an infected person and compounded by conditions of chronic poor nutrition and poverty. Those conditions are more commonly encountered in jails, schools, or within impoverished families than on streets in brief contacts with homeless people. About 70,000 adults contract tuberculosis in Russia every year, and the rate among children increased 30% between 1993 and 1994 to 3,500. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc. NARCOTICS PRODUCED WITHIN STATE INSTITUTION. Police discovered a narcotics laboratory within the walls of the Moscow State Textile Academy, ITAR-TASS reported in 25 July. The laboratory had been operating in secret for a year, producing about a kg of synthetic methadone. Six members of a group who produced and sold the drugs were arrested in Nizhnii Novgorod, St. Petersburg, and Moscow. Although the drug trade is often seen as spreading primarily through non-Russian criminal networks, at least 50% of narcotics sold in the country are produced in Russian cities. Authorities believe that the narcotics were made mainly by a 28-year-old graduate student of the academy, and that distribution was managed by a specialist in chemistry and pharmacology. Both of the suspects are from Nizhnii Novgorod. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc. MILITARY SAID TO HAVE POLLUTED ST. PETERSBURG REGION. The Russian military is responsible for massive pollution problems in the St. Petersburg region, according to representatives of the Leningrad Military District preservation inspectorate quoted in the current issue of the English-language weekly St. Petersburg Press. The representatives, who were speaking at a conference, said military units in the area have had problems getting rid of rockets, artillery shells, and chemical weapons. Last June, a group of campers stumbled across an illegal chemical weapons testing site in the Lembolovskii district, 50 km north of St. Petersburg. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. SOSKOVETS CALLS FOR MORE MILITARY COOPERATION WITH CHINA. Following a 25 July meeting with the Chinese ambassador to Russia, First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets called for further cooperation between Russia and China in the military sphere, ITAR-TASS reported. He suggested that a number of Russian defense plants in the Far East might take part in Russo-Chinese programs of military and technical cooperation. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIA LODGES PROTEST WITH LATVIA. Russian diplomats in Latvia will lodge a formal protest with the Latvian government requesting a full and impartial investigation into the circumstances surrounding the self- immolation of a Russian citizen in the Latvian city of Daugavpils, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigorii Karasin told journalists on 25 July. Karasin noted that media reports have attributed the 13 July suicide of Ravil Yagudin to the Latvian Department of Citizenship and Immigration's refusal to grant him a residence permit, even though his wife and children live in Daugavpils. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. SUBS TO LAY CABLE UNDER ARCTIC ICE? A St. Petersburg naval defense plant is working on a program to use nuclear-powered submarines to lay communications cable under the Arctic ice, ITAR-TASS reported on 25 July. The "Malakhit" enterprise is designing the program to convert military submarines for this purpose at the request of the Russian Communication Ministry. A company spokesman told the agency that the first project would be to lay a fiber optic cable between the Kola Peninsula and Canada. According to the report, the problems associated with implementing this plan are "so complicated that international efforts" will be necessary to solve them. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. HOSTILE TAKEOVER BID OF CHOCOLATE FACTORY FAILS. Loyal workers and shareholders of the Red October chocolate factory defeated the hostile takeover bid by Koloss Food Company on 25 July, Russian and Western media reported the same day. Instead, Alliance-Menatep, the investment arm of the Menatep Bank which controls Koloss, will be offered two seats on the chocolate factory's board of directors. The bid has been closely watched by financial analysts because it involved Russia's first public tender offer and first public hostile takeover attempt. Many employees at the factory were worried that Koloss would lay-off a number of workers, while shareholders were concerned that product quality would suffer. To fend off the bid, Red October's board promised large benefits to workers if Koloss acquired a controlling interest. Fulfilling the promise would have made the takeover attempt much more expensive for Koloss. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. ILLARIONOV PESSIMISTIC ON ECONOMIC SITUATION. Russia is nowhere near meeting IMF targets for the economy, particularly for inflation, and has no hope of improving the situation this year, according to Andrei Illarianov, director of the Institute of Economic Analysis. According to Russian media on 25 July, the independent economist noted that inflation was 6.7% in June and is likely to fall to 5% by August, but in September the rate will probably begin rising to reach 10% by the beginning of 1996. Illarionov blamed the Central Bank of Russia more than any other institution for the government's failure to achieve its economic goals. He said the bank undermined moves to achieve financial stability by engineering artificial devaluations of the ruble and by accumulating foreign exchange reserves. He also feared that the ruble would collapse after 1 October, the last day of the guaranteed ruble band. The budget calls for monthly inflation to be cut to 1% by the end of the year and for the deficit to be reduced to 7.9% of GNP. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA OPPOSITION FORCES MASSING ON AFGHAN-TAJIK BORDER. Opposition militants are gathering on the Afghan side of that country's border with Tajikistan, according to military sources cited by ITAR-TASS. The 25 July report claims 800 Tajik rebels have taken up positions opposite the Moskovsky, Kalaikhun, and Khorog detachments of the CIS Border Forces. An additional 200 rebels are reported to be moving up from areas in Afghanistan. The military source said the groups would probably attempt to break through the border and hide in the Pamir Mountains in order to carry out terrorist activities in Tajikistan. To counter the threat, Dushanbe is sending two units from the Kurgan-Tyube region to reinforce the border. The two units have been engaged in a rivalry. (see OMRI Daily Digest, 7 July.) -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc. GREECE AND ARMENIA PLEDGE MILITARY COOPERATION. Greek Chief of Staff Admiral Christos Lymberis concluded what he called "very productive" talks with representatives of the Armenian government aimed at strengthening military cooperation between the two countries, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 July. The Armenian Defense Ministry invited Lymberis to the talks, which is teh first visist by a high-level Greek military official. During the three-day visit Lymberis met with various government ministers and President Levon Ter-Petrossyan. In a likely reference to Turkey, he said military cooperation between Greece and Armenia "is not directed against third countries." -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. KYRGYZ TROOPS TO PARTICIPATE IN NATO EXERCISES. The Kyrgyz Defense Ministry announced on 25 July that a platoon of Kyrgyz soldiers will take part in NATO exercises to be held in the U.S. from 6 to 28 August, according to ITAR-TASS. Although Kyrgyzstan joined NATO's Partnership for Peace program in June 1994, the country's neutrality status prevents it from becoming a member of NATO. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc. CIS CIS AGRICULTURAL COUNCIL MEETS. The latest CIS intergovernmental council on agriculture session in Erevan should produce an agreement on creating a common agricultural market in the CIS, Belarusian Deputy Prime Minister Uladzimir Harkun told ITAR-TASS. The council session that opened on 25 July examined land reform in Armenia, the only country in the CIS that has implemented a complete privatization program. -- Michael Mihalka, 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. ISSN 1211-1570
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