|Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece. - Vladimir Nabokov|
No. 150, Part I, 3 August 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 BARSUKOV NAMED TO SECURITY COUNCIL. President Boris Yeltsin appointed Federal Security Service Director Mikhail Barsukov to the Security Council on 1 August, ITAR-TASS reported. The appointment was widely expected and continues a pattern by which Yeltsin has been appointing personal friends to run the most powerful security bodies. Barsukov was formerly head of the State Protection Administration, the Kremlin security service, and has close ties to Aleksandr Korzhakov, head of the presidential security service. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. DEPUTIES SEEK SPECIAL DUMA SESSION. Duma representatives from the Communist Party, New Regional Policy, and Yabloko deputy groups have collected more than two-thirds of the 90 signatures needed to call a special Duma session for 11 August to pass a law defining the district boundaries for the 225 single-member Duma districts in the December elections, Ekho Moskvy reported on 2 August. The deputies fear that if the law is not adopted and Yeltsin is unhappy with the results of the elections, he may question their validity in the Constitutional Court, preventing the new Duma from meeting. Once the signatures are collected, one of the parties must make the proposal to the Duma Council which adopts the final decision on holding the session. To overcome the recent Federation Council veto of the law, the Duma can either override it with 300 votes or pass a new law which will automatically go to the president if the vacationing Federation Council does not act on it in two weeks. Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin is skeptical about the need to call the session, arguing that a presidential decree would be sufficient to define the district boundaries, NTV reported on 1 August. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. MOSCOW CITY GOVERNMENT ACCUSES OBLAST DUMA OF PLAYING NATIONALIST CARD IN ELECTORAL CAMPAIGN. The Moscow city government accused the Moscow Oblast Duma of inciting inter-ethnic strife after the Duma issued an appeal to federal and city leaders not to allow the construction of a synagogue and mosque next to the Orthodox church in the WWII memorial on Poklonnaya Gora, Segodnya reported on 2 August. The Oblast Duma's appeal stated that the "building of a separate memorial in Victory Park only in memory of the Jews is impermissible because the inappropriate separation of this ethnic group creates prerequisites for continual, heated interethnic conflict." The Moscow city government said it would "curb any attempts to foment interethnic strife in the city" whatever the source. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. CHERNOMYRDIN: WAR IN CHECHNYA IS OVER. In an interview with ITAR-TASS on 2 August, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin asserted that the military accord recently signed in Grozny means that "the war is in fact over." Chernomyrdin praised the Chechen negotiators who signed the accord as "courageous people" and expressed confidence that fighting in the republic would now end, "despite provocation," even though the agreement did not address the issue of Chechnya's status. Many Russian commentators have expressed doubt that the agreement will bring lasting peace to Chechnya. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. DUDAEV APPROVES AGREEMENT. In Chechnya, Movladi Udugov, a spokesman for Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev, told ITAR-TASS by telephone on 2 August that Dudaev had now reviewed and approved the agreement. He also confirmed the replacement of former Chechen lead negotiator and Usman Imaev, who signed the deal. In Grozny, the process of prisoner exchange began with the simultaneous release of two Russian soldiers and three Chechen fighters. Military officials from the two sides also exchanged prisoner lists, which caused some disagreement. The Chechens listed only seven prisoners, while Russian military officials claim 100 of their troops are in captivity. Likewise, Chechen delegates said 5,000 Chechens are in Russian custody, while the official Russian list numbers only 1,200. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. CENTRAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION PROPOSES RESTRICTIONS ON CAMPAIGN COVERAGE. The Central Electoral Commission advanced a controversial proposal that would allow only fully state-owned radio and television companies to devote air time to campaign-related appearances by candidates or campaign advertising, Russian media reported on 2 August. Under the proposed guidelines, after 15 November state-owned companies would devote some free air time to political parties and could also accept paid political advertising, but other stations, including privately- owned NTV and partly-private Russian Public TV (ORT), would be prohibited from broadcasting political ads of any kind. Media leaders almost unanimously criticized the proposal. Despite the fact that state- owned Russian TV (Channel 2) would benefit from the proposal, its chairman Anatolii Lysenko, charged that such restrictions would lead to an "official" and an "unofficial" campaign. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION OF JOURNALIST DENOUNCED. The Glasnost Defense Foundation denounced the criminal investigation of NTV journalist Yelena Masyuk in connection with her 26 June televised interview with Chechen field commander Shamil Basaev, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 August. The Procurator General's Office is investigating whether Masyuk violated Article 189 of the Criminal Code (harboring a criminal) or Article 190 (not reporting information concerning a crime to law enforcement authorities). The foundation noted that other journalists also interviewed Basaev following the Budennovsk hostage crisis, but only Masyuk was subsequently investigated. The foundation added that Arkadii Volskii, a member of the government's negotiating team in Grozny, recently met with Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev, who is wanted by Russian law enforcement authorities. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. ANOTHER DEFENSE PLANT SHUTS DOWN. One of Russia's largest defense plants laid off its 1,500 employees on 2 August because it had run out of money, ITAR-TASS reported. The Defense Ministry owes the Vladivostok- based Dalpribor company 5.5 billion rubles but has not paid anything to it this year, Dalpribor's directors told the agency. The workers, who were last paid in April, have been laid off for 45 days during which time the directors said they hope to find a solution to their financial crisis and resume production. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. GOVERNMENT COMMISSION TO REVIEW FOREIGN MINISTRY. Prime Minister Chernomyrdin appointed his deputy, Vitalii Ignatenko, to lead a government commission reviewing the performance of the Foreign Ministry, agencies reported on 2 August. The commission was formed in response to appeals from Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev for additional resources. In a recent letter to President Yeltsin, quoted by AFP, Kozyrev said inadequate financial and technical support for the ministry poses "a real threat to the country's security." The letter complained that insufficient financing of Russian embassies "has a negative impact on Russia's image abroad," adding that diplomatic personnel are paid only one-third of the salaries of comparable personnel at the Finance Ministry. In the past three years, the letter noted, more than one- quarter of the diplomats at the ministry had quit, causing an "acute shortage of specialists." The commission has two months to formulate proposals for improving the ministry. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIA CRITICIZES U.S. HOUSE VOTE ON ARMS EMBARGO. Aleksandr Zotov, President Yeltsin's special envoy to the former Yugoslavia, urged U.S. President Bill Clinton to veto a bill, now passed by both houses of Congress, which calls for the U.S. to ignore the UN arms embargo in Bosnia. If the embargo ended, Zotov said, "the whole methodology of dealing with this conflict would collapse." Zotov also told journalists that Moscow would play an important role in any political solution of the conflict in Bosnia, since "when it comes to producing influence on the ground, the road is usually through Moscow." Izvestiya argued on 3 August that recent Bosnian Serb actions demonstrated Moscow's complete inability to influence the situation. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. EBRD TO GRANT $300 MILLION TO SMALL BUSINESSES. The EBRD will grant $300 million in long-term credits to Russian small businesses, ITAR-TASS reported on 2 August. Under the program, Russian small businesses will be able to receive a two-year credit of up to $50,000 to finance production and/or service oriented projects. In some cases, sums of up to $75,000 may be granted. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. PARAMONOVA TO REMAIN ACTING HEAD OF CENTRAL BANK. President Yeltsin decided not to nominate a candidate to head the Central Bank of Russia until parliament returns from its summer recess in October, ITAR-TASS reported on 2 August. Acting head Tatyana Paramonova, whose candidacy has been rejected twice by the State Duma, will remain in charge in the meantime, Yeltsin's press office announced. Paramanova's tight monetary policy has helped bring down inflation, but she has alienated Duma groups such as the powerful banking lobby, by requiring commercial banks to increase compulsory reserves; and the agrarian lobby, who insist on continuing centralized credits. According to Russian law, she can be nominated by Yeltsin one more time. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA RASHID BEKDZHAN IMPRISONED. Rashid Bekdzhan, elder brother of the leader of the banned Uzbek opposition party Erk, Mohammed Salih, was recently sentenced to five years in jail by a court in Khorezm province, according to RFE/RL's Uzbek service, which cited sources in the Association of Young Democrats of Turkistan (YDT), an illegal youth wing of Erk on 1 August. YDT sources indicate Bekdzhan was tried on trumped up charges of "negligence" at the state enterprise where he worked. They allege that Bekdzhan has been jailed for political crimes and his connections to Erk. They believe his imprisonment is directly related to his involvement in the YDT and their samizdat publication "Yildirim" (Thunderbolt) which criticized the Uzbek authorities and urged Uzbek citizens to boycott last December's "undemocratic" elections. They claim as well that Bekdzhan has been tortured in jail and that the Uzbek authorities have not respond to letters sent by international human rights organizations inquiring into the case and the allegedly deteriorating health of the prisoner. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. TAJIK DEPUTY KILLED IN DUSHANBE. The head of the Tajik parliament's administration, Ainulo Nimatov, was murdered on 1 August, Russian and Western agencies reported. According to the reports, Nimatov was shot in his government car by unknown assailants. The motives for the killing are unknown. Nimatov is the fourth deputy killed this year. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIAN FEDERAL COUNCIL APPROVES MILITARY ADVISERS TO TAJIKISTAN. The Russian Federation Council ratified a law on sending Russian military advisers to Tajikistan, according to a 2 August article from Rossiiskie vesti. The advisers are to help train the Tajik army, which must contend with the Tajik-Afghan border problems and the lingering effects of the civil war in the republic. The Council also ratified the agreement on the rules for maintaining and using the optical communications unit of the space control system "Nurek" in Tajikistan. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc. KAZAKH FARMERS COMPLAIN TO PRIME MINISTER. Kazakh Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin attended the recent congress of the Peasants Union and had to listen to "sharp disagreement" with the government's policies, according to Pravda on 3 August. Union chairman Koshebai Zhanatov said farmers are suffering from the high cost of fuel and electric energy. By his estimate, farmers are losing $50 on every ton of wheat produced. Zhanatov said that farmers' average monthly wage is 1,600 (about $25) tenge compared to the government's official minimum wage of 2,230 tenge (about $35). -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc. CHKALOV ASSEMBLES IMPROVED IL-76. A new aircraft designed by the Ilyushin design bureau and assembled at the Chkalov aircraft factory in Uzbekistan has successfully passed a test flight, Russian Public TV reported on 2 August. The new aircraft is outwardly identical to the IL- 76; it now carries a PS-90A model engine manufactured by Perm Motors. The new engines emit much less noise than the old IL-76, permitting them to land at airstrips worldwide. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. CIS NAVAL PARADE SLIGHTS ANNOY UKRAINIANS. A Ukrainian Foreign Ministry statement on 2 August denounced a weekend incident in which the commander of the Ukrainian navy was prevented from taking his seat on the reviewing stand at the Sevastopol Navy Day parade, Reuters reported. The Ukrainians charged that the Russians "did everything possible to make the naval parade of the joint fleet look like a parade of Russian ships under Russian flags . . ." Ukrainian Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk and Defense Minister Valerii Shmarov both postponed planned visits to Moscow. While the official reason for the delays was that the Ukrainian- Russian commission had not had time to prepare all the documents on the division of the fleet, ITAR-TASS quoted unofficial sources in Kiev as saying the Ukrainians were incensed at the slight, and at fleet commander Admiral Eduard Baltin's statement at the event that "the Black Sea Fleet was, is, and will be Russian." The agency said the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry had prepared an official note denouncing the statement and charging that Baltin is "playing a destructive role in Ukrainian- Russian relations." -- 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
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