|If we are to live together in peace, we must first come to know each other better. - Lyndon B. Johnson|
No. 147, Part I, 31 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 CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RULING: SECRET DECREES ON CHECHNYA LEGAL. Representatives of the Russian Constitutional Court announced on 31 July that the court ruled that two secret decrees issued by the president and government authorizing the military campaign in Chechnya were fully in accordance with the constitution, an RFE/RL correspondent in Moscow reported the same day. The court also decided that it was beyond its competence to rule on two other decrees relating to Chechnya whose legitimacy had been challenged by parliamentary representatives. At press time, more details about the ruling were not available. Deputies from both the State Duma and the Federation Council had challenged the decrees on several grounds; their main argument was that troops cannot be deployed on the territory of the Russian Federation unless a presidential decree establishing a state of emergency has been published. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. MILITARY ACCORD SIGNED IN GROZNY . . . Russian and Chechen negotiators initialed a military agreement on 30 July but again postponed the resolution of troublesome political issues, Western and Russian agencies reported. The long-anticipated agreement provides for the cessation of military activities, a prisoner exchange, the disarmament of Chechen fighters, and the withdrawal of most federal troops from the republic. A mixed commission will monitor its implementation. After a three-day break, talks on the political status of Chechnya are scheduled to resume on 3 August. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. . . . BUT DUDAEV REJECTS IT. Chechen President Dudaev reportedly rejected the agreement, telling an RFE/RL correspondent on 31 July that it "had no legal force" because the Russian delegation had resorted to "blackmail, threats, and physical pressure" to coerce the Chechen delegation into signing it. He added that he had not seen the accord, and it is "not valid" without his "confirmation." Dudaev also rejected a provision of the accord that calls for the surrender of Shamil Basaev, leader of the raid on Budennovsk, saying, "a deal on that matter is inappropriate." Russian commentators have likewise expressed doubts that the military accord will lead to lasting peace in Chechnya. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. YELTSIN AND CLINTON DISCUSS BOSNIA. Russian President Boris Yeltsin discussed the situation in Bosnia by telephone with U.S. President Bill Clinton on 28 July, Western agencies reported. Yeltsin reiterated Russia's commitment to finding a "political solution" and expressed concern that lifting the UN arms embargo on Bosnia could lead to an escalation of the fighting. Speaking in Brunei, on 30 July, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev said Yeltsin had sent the UN Security Council a proposal to dispatch Russian troops as reinforcements for peacekeepers in the UN "safe area" of Gorazde. In Moscow, presidential adviser Yurii Baturin warned in a 29 July interview with NTV that if the U.S. unilaterally lifts the arms embargo against the Bosnian government, as recently called for by the U.S. Senate, it would strengthen "hawks" in the Duma, like Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who want Russia to unilaterally ignore the UN embargo against Serbia. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. YELTSIN PLANS TO VETO FEDERATION COUNCIL LAW. President Yeltsin told Federation Council Speaker Vladimir Shumeiko that he will veto the law on the formation of the Federation Council in a telephone conversation on 28 July, ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin will also appeal to the Constitutional Court to define exactly what the constitution states about forming the upper house. If no compromise can be found by the December elections, Yeltsin will issue a presidential decree to define the membership of the Federation Council. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. YELTSIN PROMOTES KORZHAKOV, REARRANGES SECURITY SERVICES. Yeltsin promoted the head of the Presidential Security Service (SB), Aleksandr Korzhakov, from major general to lieutenant general, NTV reported on 29 July. In a separate decree, Yeltsin made the SB part of his administration, but explicitly stated that Chief-of-Staff Sergei Filatov would not have jurisdiction over it. Additionally, Yeltsin subordinated the formerly independent Main Protection Administration (GUO) to Korzhakov's Security Service. The previous head of the GUO, Mikhail Barsukov, was recently named to head the Federal Security Service. The new head of the GUO will be Yurii Krapivin, Barsukov's former first deputy, who was also promoted to the rank of lieutenant general. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. REACTION TO SECURITY RESTRUCTURING. NTV speculated on 30 July that the restructuring could presage an attempt by Yeltsin to bring the power ministries under Korzhakov's control. The decision on the GUO "seriously strengthened Korzhakov's political position" and gave him access to more information, NTV concluded. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin apparently knew nothing about the decree before it was adopted. Aides to presidential adviser for national security Yurii Baturin and legal affairs adviser Mikhail Krasnov said they had nothing to do with Yeltsin's decrees, NTV reported on 29 July. Filatov refused to comment in detail but did not deny that the decree had not been checked with him beforehand. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. TRETYAKOV: NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA TO RESUME PUBLICATION SOON. Nezavisimaya gazeta has received credit from an unnamed Russian commercial bank and will resume publication soon at its previous circulation of 56,000 copies, the newspaper's editor-in-chief Vitalii Tretyakov told Ekho Moskvy on 30 July. Tretyakov said work on transforming the newspaper into a joint-stock company continues. Financial problems forced Nezavisimaya gazeta to suspend publication on 24 May. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. CENTRAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION TRIES TO LIMIT CANDIDATES' USE OF MASS MEDIA BEFORE CAMPAIGN. In a document approved and released on 28 July, the Central Electoral Commission asked all politicians running for parliament to refrain from using media appearances for campaign purposes until they are officially registered as candidates, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. In addition, the commission asked editors not to give air time or space in print to any political figures, "regardless of their official position and political views, for campaign agitation" before the campaign officially begins on 17 September, three months before scheduled Duma elections. The commission did not specify how remarks by government officials or Duma deputies in the mass media concerning policy matters could be distinguished from campaigning. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. JOURNALIST: PROCURATOR GENERAL'S OFFICE AGAINST NTV. Journalist Yevgenii Kiselev, the moderator of the NTV weekly program "Itogi," suggested on 30 July that the Procurator General's Office is pursuing a "coordinated" campaign against NTV. On 13 July, procurators began investigating NTV journalist Yelena Masyuk for her 26 June interview of Chechen fighter Shamil Basaev, who led the raid on Budennovsk. If Masyuk is prosecuted and convicted for not revealing Basaev's whereabouts to the authorities, she could receive up to five years in prison. On 14 July, procurators opened a criminal case against the NTV puppet show "Kukly" for allegedly insulting the president and other high government officials. Kiselev charged that the procurators' decision to initiate both investigations almost simultaneously could not be a coincidence. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. BORDER GUARD GOES ON RAMPAGE. A border guard stationed at the Popova Island outpost in far-eastern Russia fired on his comrades-in-arms while on guard duty early in the morning of 30 July, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. Russian TV reported that his fellow border guards had accused him of being an informer and had threatened him. The son of the guards' commander, two sergeants, and two privates were killed and six other people were wounded, including an officer's wife. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc. EXPLOSION IN CAR PARK CALLED TERRORISM. Five cars and a minibus were destroyed in an explosion in Vladivostok, Interfax reported on 31 July. The explosion occurred in the parking lot of the joint-stock company Dalzavodservis, and Interfax referred to it as an act of terrorism. The three-year-old Dalzavodservis company buys cars in Japan and sells them in Russia's eastern territories. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc. BURYAT FUNDS GO TO BAIKAL. The government of Buryatiya has allocated almost 10 million rubles ($2,300) to the preservation of Baikal, ITAR- TASS reported on 31 July. The money will pay for the construction and reconstruction of heating sources for settlements in the reservoir zone of Baikal and for equipping the republic's buses with exhaust filters. The presidential press service and the government stated that the measures are part of a complex federal program for preserving Baikal. ITAR-TASS did not mention whether any funds had been allocated to maintaining the ecological balance of the lake itself, which is affected in several areas by industrial waste. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc. RUSSO-CHINESE BORDER GROUP ENDS MEETING. The head of Russian delegation to the sixth round of the Russian-Chinese Border Demarcation Commission expressed satisfaction with the results of the latest talks. The Foreign Ministry's special envoy, Genrich Kireev, told ITAR-TASS on 28 July that the commission had "settled many issues" and signed several protocols at its meetings in Chita. A seventh round is to be held at a future date in China. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. SECURITIES EXCHANGE COMMISSION APPROVES MUTUAL FUND RULES. Seeking to attract billions of dollars hoarded by ordinary Russians, Russia's Securities Exchange Commission approved rules to create a network of mutual funds, Russian and Western media reported on 28 July. The funds, in contrast to the so-called investment funds that mushroomed after the country launched its privatization campaign, will be required to provide detailed information about their investment activities and full financial details to shareholders, according to Dmitrii Vasilev, the Securities Exchange Commission director. Last year, thousands of investors lost money by investing in pyramid schemes. Investors are also distrustful of depositing money in banks, for fear that opening accounts will lead to financial scrutiny from the tax authorities or even the mafia. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. CENTRAL BANK TO TIGHTEN CONTROL OVER HARD CURRENCY. Russia's Central Bank and the State Customs Committee announced a new measure effective on 1 November that tightens control on cash flowing abroad, Segodnya reported on 29 July. The rules have been designed to curtail the main channel of capital flight, namely money transfers under fake import deals, according to acting Central Bank Chairwoman Tatyana Paramonova. Under the new rules, an importer must give the bank a customs declaration certifying that goods have been delivered or an authorized notification that they had been dispatched before making a money transfer at a bank. Paramonova said a bank would need "convincing guarantees" that goods would be delivered in case of advance payment. The banker said the breach of import rules costs Russia $300-400 million a month. Central bank officials estimate overall capital flight from Russia at $30 billion since the start of 1990. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA NEW ARMENIAN MINISTER OF INFORMATION. Armenian Prime Minister Hrant Bagratyan's nomination of the 43-year-old philologist and poet Hrachya Tamrazyan to head a new Ministry of Information that will coordinate media policy nationwide appears to be a badly-needed public relations exercise following international criticism of the 5 July parliamentary elections. A former head of the state publishing house, Tamrazyan is a supporter of Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan, with whom he worked at the Matenadaran in the early 1980s. He is not, however, a member of the ruling Armenian National Movement; his political affiliation is characterized by RFE/RL's Armenian service as "liberal." The nomination has not yet been approved by the new parliament. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc. TAJIKISTAN'S PRISONS. Inmates at Tajikistan's prisons and camps are starving, 80% have no footwear, and all are in need of medical attention, according to an interview with Djumboi Niyezov, the recently elected chairman of the banned Democratic Party of Tajikistan, published in Obshchaya gazeta on 27 July. Niyezov, who was himself imprisoned in the overcrowded Yavansky camp until 1994 when he was released in a prisoner-exchange deal, said 10-12% of the inmates in his camp were political prisoners. Most had been arrested on charges of "illegally storing weapons" or drug possession. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. REFERENDUM DATE SET IN KAZAKHSTAN. A constitutional referendum will be held in Kazakhstan on 30 August, according to a recently published presidential decree, cited by Reuters on 31 July. A draft of the constitution will be published on 1 August. Public debate on the merits of the constitution that hands sweeping powers to President Nursultan Nazarbaev is to continue until the referendum is held. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. CIS MINISTER SAYS GEORGIA WANTS RUSSIAN BASES TO STAY. Lt. Gen. Vardiko Nadibaidze, the Georgian defense minister, told a visiting NATO commander that Russian military bases must remain in Georgia because Russia is its "major partner," ITAR-TASS reported on 28 July. Nadibaidze met with British Lt.-Gen. Sir Jeremy McKenzie, and was said to have briefed him on the Georgian armed forces. The NATO delegation also discussed Georgia's individual Partnership for Peace program. -- 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. ISSN 1211-1570
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.