|There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in. - Graham Greene|
No. 154, Part I, 9 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 MOSCOW PROTESTS CROATIAN OFFENSIVE. First Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov met with the ambassadors of the international Contact Group to discuss President Boris Yeltsin's recent peace initiative, which reportedly surprised other Contact Group governments, Russian and Western agencies reported on 8 August. Mikhail Demurin, a spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, declared that Russia "cannot allow a humanitarian catastrophe in Croatia and the escalation of the conflict into a full-scale war," adding that Moscow placed top priority on protecting the "full rights of the Serbian population" in the areas recently recaptured by Croatia. Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin told ITAR-TASS that the Croatian offensive aroused "indignation" and "incomprehension" and called for the international community to deliver a "decisive rebuff" to Croatia. Other Duma deputies, led by Vladimir Zhirinovskii, announced on 8 August that they would request that the Duma Council invite Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic to address an extraordinary session of the Duma if it decides to convene later this month. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. PRISONER EXCHANGE DELAYED AGAIN IN GROZNY. The scheduled prisoner exchange called for in the military accord signed in Grozny last month was delayed yet again on 8 August, Russian and Western agencies reported. Russian and Chechen negotiators continue to disagree over who constitutes a prisoner of war and how many prisoners each side holds. The ongoing expert-level talks on the political status of Chechnya are also at a standstill, as the Russian negotiators want to include the current, Moscow-backed Chechen authorities in the discussions, while Dudaev's negotiators refuse. Also on 8 August, Dudaev's chief of staff, Aslan Maskhadov, accompanied by high-ranking Russian military officers, spoke at a public meeting in the town of Shali, where he explained the terms of the military accord and outlined plans for implementing its disarmament and disengagement provisions in the Shali region. Maskhadov expressed discontent with President Yeltsin's statement that elections in Chechnya could be delayed until 1996 and added that to prevent such a delay, "we must implement the [military] accord quickly." -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. ALLIANCE OF COMMUNIST PARTIES UNLIKELY. Yurii Sevenard, a Duma deputy for the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF), believes that his party should not form any alliances with other Communist parties or movements in the country, ITAR-TASS reported on 8 August. He said a united Communist Party would be desirable, but such a party is impossible in current conditions because the various Communist groups have radically different views. He said the Russian Communist Workers' Party (RKRP) in particular wants to work with the more moderate Communists even though the RKRP leaders criticized Sevenard's party for participating in the 1993 elections. Now, according to Sevenard, the RKRP realized that participating in the Duma has increased the KPRF's stature and wants to benefit in a similar way. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. CHERNOMYRDIN BLOC ACCUSED OF TAKING OVER ELECTION PROCEDURES . . . The leaders of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's bloc Our Home Is Russia are trying to take over key electoral procedures in order to guarantee victory in the December parliamentary elections, according to a commentary published in Segodnya on 8 August. In particular, the author attacked the Central Electoral Commission's proposal to ban free and paid political advertising on all radio and television companies that are not state-owned, which he called a "shameless" attempt to limit other parties' access to the media during the campaign. High-ranking government officials, many of whom are also leading figures in Our Home Is Russia, already appear on radio and television nearly every day during news broadcasts, leading some to charge that Chernomyrdin's bloc will in effect receive the "free political advertising" denied to other parties. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. . . . AND USING LOCAL MEDIA FOR CAMPAIGN. In connection with an official campaign by Tula Oblast authorities in support of Our Home Is Russia, local newspapers and radio and television stations in the region have "degenerated" into means for disseminating campaign propaganda for Chernomyrdin's bloc, according to Radio Rossii on 8 August. However, the station speculated that such tactics might backfire with the region's voters. Political opponents of Our Home Is Russia reportedly believe that the more "one-sided" and "primitive" campaign coverage in the local media becomes, the less voters will be inclined to trust the prime minister's bloc. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. ILYUKHIN CALLS ON PROCURATOR TO DROP CASE AGAINST MASYUK. Duma Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin called on the Procurator General's Office to drop its criminal investigation of NTV journalist Yelena Masyuk, ITAR-TASS reported on 8 August. Masyuk interviewed Chechen field commander Shamil Basaev for NTV on 26 June, and procurators opened the investigation on 13 July to determine whether Masyuk could be charged with harboring a criminal or concealing information about a crime from law enforcement authorities. Other journalists who interviewed Basaev following the Budennovsk hostage crisis have not faced criminal investigations. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. FUNERAL OF KIVELIDI; ANOTHER BUSINESSMAN KILLED. On 8 August, top politicians and businessmen, including Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, attended the funeral of prominent banker Ivan Kivelidi, who died on 4 August after being poisoned, Russian and Western agencies reported. Businessmen angrily criticized the government's failure to combat contract killings and organized crime in general. Former Finance Minister and leading industrialist Vladimir Shcherbakov was quoted as saying "Not one conviction has been made . . . The police are incapable of doing anything, or else they're in league with the criminals." On 8 August, Moscow prosecutors claimed to have identified the killers of television star Vladislav Listev and journalist Dmitrii Kholodov but gave no details. Meanwhile, a restaurant manager and his seven-year-old daughter were killed by a car bomb in Vladivostok. Attacks on businesspeople have become commonplace in Primore, where organized criminal groups are strong. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. INTERIOR MINISTRY OFFICIAL ON ORGANIZED CRIME. In an interview with Krestyanskaya Rossiya (7-13 August), deputy head of the Interior Ministry's Department for Combating Organized Crime Aleksandr Dementev said that at the beginning of the year there were more than 8,000 gangs in Russia with a total of about 35,000 members. He added that a quarter of the criminal groups have connections with corrupt officials. Among the cases described by Dementev was an incident last year in Vladimir Oblast in which a gang threatened to pour cyanide into the city's reservoir if the local administration did not pay it $1 million; all five members of the group were arrested. On the subject of money laundering, Dementev said that according to Interior Ministry data, criminal groups had set up 983 front businesses. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. EXPERT CALLS FOR REFORM OF MILITARY BUDGET SYSTEM. The government must strictly control the formation and implementation of the military budget if it hopes to achieve "reasonable sufficiency" in defense spending, a military expert told ITAR-TASS on 8 August. Boris Zhelezov, from the Center of National Security Problems and International Relations, said there was no coordination between the Economics and Finance ministries on one hand and the Defense Ministry on the other. For the third year in a row, the military budget was being adopted six months into the budget year. He complained that the military did not explain how they intend to use the money they are given. He said that all concerned must reject the "old methods" of requesting more than is needed in anticipation of cuts. He called for an itemized national defense budget prepared by "independent experts." -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. DETAINED AMERICAN WAS CONDUCTING ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH. The Federal Security Service (FSB) has confirmed reports that it had detained and then released last week a U.S. serviceman near the Krasnoyarsk-26 nuclear facility, Russian and Western agencies reported on 8 August. The U.S. Embassy in Moscow identified the American as Capt. Jason Lynch, an instructor of geography and military engineering at West Point. The embassy said Lynch was participating in a joint research project investigating radioactive contamination in the Krasnoyarsk region at the invitation of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The FSB has issued no further comments on the incident, although in a comment reminiscent of the cold war, a Russian military source told ITAR-TASS that Lynch may have been gathering data to increase the accuracy of U.S. cruise missiles targeting the Krasnoyarsk facility. The FSB has recently issued repeated warnings that foreign intelligence agencies continue to operate in Russia. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIA PROCEEDING WITH CUBAN NUCLEAR REACTOR. Grigorii Kaurov, a spokesman for the Russian Ministry of Nuclear Energy, told ITAR-TASS on 8 August that Russia would proceed with the construction of a nuclear power plant in Cuba, despite American concerns about its safety. The U.S. House of Representatives voted in June to cut aid to Russia by $15 billion if the project is not canceled. Kaurov said the reactor and turbines for the plant had already been shipped to Cuba and rebuffed American criticism of the project, since "the U.S. always expresses dissatisfaction whenever Russia begins such a project in any country whatsoever." The Russian official added that the U.S. would be welcome to satisfy its safety concerns by participating in the project. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. GRAIN HARVEST TO TOTAL 80 MILLION METRIC TONS. Russia's grain harvest will amount to about 80 million metric tons this year despite severe drought, ITAR-TASS reported on 8 August, citing the Agriculture Ministry. The report's figure was just below last year's level of 81.3 million metric tons. The ministry said higher corn production, which has survived the hot weather, will compensate for the lower yields of other grains. About 1 million hectares of corn will be used for grain production instead of silage, boosting the grain harvest. Last month, Aleksandr Zaveryukha, deputy prime minister for agriculture, said the grain harvest for this year is expected to total 75-78 million metric tons, down 4-8% from last year and the lowest since the early 1970s. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. YELTSIN SIGNS LEGAL INFORMATION DECREE. President Yeltsin signed a decree that defines the conditions required for meeting the legal information needs of the country's state power bodies on the basis of progressive information technologies, Segodnya reported on 8 August. The program calls for the creation of a central integrated legal information bank and a fiber-optics telecommunications system linking state power bodies. The program will be financed from the federal budget and will be implemented during 1996 and 1997. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. DUMA DEPUTIES CLAIM YELTSIN VIOLATED LAW ON NOMINATING CENTRAL BANKER. A group of Russian Duma deputies, headed by Mikhail Zadornov, chairman of the Duma Budget, Tax, Banks, and Finance Committee, sent a letter to President Yeltsin claiming the president has violated the law by failing to nominate a new candidate to head the Central Bank of Russia following the Duma's rejection of Tatyana Paramonova on 19 July, Rosiiiskie vesti reported on 9 August. According to the law, the president has two weeks to nominate a new candidate if the Duma rejects his previous choice. Presidential aide Aleksandr Livshits replied to the letter, stating that because of the Duma's summer recess, it is "impossible to resolve this issue for the time being." -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA NIYAZOV SACKS ADMINISTRATION HEADS. Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov sacked 10 out of the country's 50 local administration chiefs, Radio Rossii reported on 7 August in a broadcast monitored by the BBC. The official reason for the dismissals was the administration heads' failure to meet a state order for wheat supplies. Quoting the Ima press agency, Radio Rossii noted that slightly more than 850,000 metric tons of grain had been harvested instead of the 1 million that had been forecasted. At an 11 July cabinet meeting, Niyazov had criticized the manner in which oblast and raion heads were carrying out the harvest and procurement of wheat and threatened to dismiss those who failed to meet their quotas. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. GROUP OF RUSSIANS DEPORTED FROM KAZAKHSTAN. A group of 62 Russians was deported by order of the Semipalatinsk regional administration, Pravda reported on 9 August. According to the official report on the case, the Russians were not citizens of Kazakhstan and did not have residency permits. Police escorted the Russians to the railway station and put them on trains leaving Kazakhstan without the opportunity to send a telegram or make a phone call to relatives. The Congress of Russian Communities said most of the deportees lived and worked in Semipalatinsk but simply refused to consider themselves citizens of Kazakhstan. The Congress called the deportation a flagrant violation of international laws and the laws of the republic of Kazakhstan. -- 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. ISSN 1211-1570
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.