|A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday. - Jonathan Swift|
No. 155, Part I, 10 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 MILOSEVIC ARRIVES IN MOSCOW; TUDJMAN REFUSES INVITATION. Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic accepted President Boris Yeltsin's recent invitation and arrived in Moscow on 9 August, Russian and Western agencies reported. Yeltsin's attempt to mediate a settlement of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia fell through, however, when Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, after some confusion in Zagreb and Moscow, declined the invitation. Tudjman claimed that talks on the conflict required additional preparation and that Croatia could only participate in such discussions if Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic, whom Yeltsin had not included in his earlier proposal, was also invited. On 10 August, Izvestiya speculated that Tudjman's refusal had been prompted by pressure from the Western powers who feared that Russia might broker a Serb-Croat deal that would harm the interests of the Muslim-led Bosnian government. Milosevic is scheduled to meet with Yeltsin and other top Russian officials on 10 August. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. YELTSIN ON YUGOSLAV CONFLICT. In an interview with the Japanese newspaper Nihon Keizai, carried by ITAR-TASS on 9 August, President Yeltsin praised the activities of the UN peacekeepers in the former Yugoslavia but expressed concern about recent decisions to deploy a rapid-reaction force and simplify the procedures for using NATO air power to support the peacekeepers. Yeltsin condemned the recent vote in the U.S. Congress to ignore the UN arms embargo against the Bosnian government, saying that the embargo should be tightened. Russia does not favor the Serbs, Yeltsin claimed, but added that the accusations put forward by the international war crimes tribunal against Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic were "unjust" since the conflict is a civil war in which nobody is either "right" or "guilty." On the same day, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev released a letter to UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali that harshly condemned the recent Croatian military offensive and claimed it had been "indirectly encouraged from the capitals of a number of leading world states." -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. COMMUNISTS, LDPR WANT TO DISCUSS BOSNIA AT SPECIAL SESSION. The Communists and Vladimir Zhirinovskii's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia have proposed that the situation in Bosnia be included on the agenda of the Duma's 12 August special session, ITAR-TASS reported. On 8 August, several deputies proposed that Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic be invited to the meeting. The deputies will also try to adopt a Duma statement on the situation or pass a law calling on Yeltsin to abandon UN sanctions against rump Yugoslavia unilaterally. The Duma Council rejected all those proposals because, according to Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin, the initiative to hold the special session addressed only the issue of the Russian elections, Russian Public TV reported. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. CHEMICAL WEAPONS USED IN CHECHNYA? A group of UN-sponsored humanitarian aid workers have discovered evidence suggesting that chemical weapons, possibly chlorine gas, were used during the Chechen conflict, AFP reported on 9 August. The aid workers found that a large number of inhabitants of the Avatury area, southwest of Grozny, are suffering from skin irritations which are "consistent with the use of toxic chemicals." Many trees in the area are defoliated. Witneses reported seeing yellow gas near ground level in the area in May. Similar evidence, in addition to containers resembling those used for chemical warfare, has also been found in other parts of Chechnya, the aid workers told AFP. Russian officials have denied that federal forces could have used chemical weapons, although the aid workers speculated that the chemicals could have been obtained from local oil refineries. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. REDUCED GOLD RESERVES INDICATE POSSIBLE FUNDING OF CHECHEN WAR. The Russian government has repeatedly claimed that the Chechen war and restoration costs are being financed solely within the federal budget's framework, but some speculate that the government resorted to selling gold to finance the war operation, Segodnya commented on 9 August. The newspaper noted that recent statistics from the State Committee for Precious Metals showed that on 1 July, gold reserves amounted to 278 tons, compared with 375 tons on 1 December 1994, prior to the large- scale warfare in Chechnya. Within seven months, gold reserves fell 97 tons. Since a troy ounce of gold (31.3 grams) during this period was fluctuating between $350-390 on world exchange markets, Russia could have gained no less than $1 billion (approximately 4.5-5 trillion rubles) if the gold was sold. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. DUMA CALLS SPECIAL SESSION TO DISCUSS DISTRICT BOUNDARIES. The Duma Council passed a motion on 9 August to hold a special session of the legislature that will vote on the law defining district boundaries for the 225 single-mandate districts in the December elections, Izvestiya reported on 10 August. The Federation Council failed to pass an earlier version of the law just before the beginning of the Duma's summer recess. Duma member Vladimir Isakov, one of the sponsors of the special session which will be held on 12 August, feared that if the Duma did not adopt a law, Yeltsin might try to disband the new Duma on the grounds that its election lacked a proper legal basis. The new electoral law states that there can be up to a 15% difference in the size of the districts, while a 20% difference was allowed in 1993. If no new law is adopted, the 1995 elections would have to be held on the basis of the 1993 law. The new division reduces the number of districts in the east while increasing them in central Russia. The special session's organizers fear that they may not be able to muster a quorum among the vacationing deputies. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. RUTSKOI HITS THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL. General Aleksandr Rutskoi arrived in Murmansk to open a regional branch of his Derzhava electoral bloc, ITAR- TASS reported on 10 August. Rutskoi has already announced his candidacy for the presidency and believes that his party can win a majority of the seats in the Duma. Rutskoi is one of the most active campaigners on the circuit, having already visited 49 regions of the Russian Federation, Izvestiya reported on 9 August. Rutskoi's campaign manager, Viktor Kobelev, organized Vladimir Zhirinovskii's campaign in 1993. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. RULES ON USE OF CAMPAIGN FUNDS PUBLISHED. Detailed instructions approved by the Central Electoral Commission on the use of campaign funds by political parties and electoral associations were published in the official newspaper Rossiiskaya gazeta on 9 August. The rules correspond to guidelines laid out in the law on parliamentary elections, adopted on 21 June, which provided for campaign funds to be kept in special temporary accounts in Russia's Sberbank. The instructions specify how the bank accounts must be opened, limits on individual contributions and how they must be deposited, and how candidates must register the receipt and expenditures of campaign funds. The electoral commission may file suit to revoke the registration of candidates or political parties if funds outside the special Sberbank accounts are used for campaign purposes. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. MUSLIM ORGANIZATIONS PREPARE FOR ELECTIONS. Two large Muslim organizations are preparing for the December 1995 parliamentary elections, according to the 6-13 August issue of Moskovskie novosti. The Union of Muslims, led by Akhmet Khalitov, was organized this year to represent the interests of Muslims of various political orientations; it already claims to have 50 regional branches. The All-Russian "Nur" (Light) movement, chaired by Khalit Yakhin, also hopes to unite Muslim voters and claims 47 regional organizations. The paper pointed out that both movements have had some connection to Vladimir Zhirinovskii's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR). Khalitov was involved in the LDPR in its early years but split with Zhirinovskii; Yakhin is currently an aide to LDPR Duma deputy Aleksei Mitrofanov. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. REWARD SET AT $1 MILLION TO FIND KIVELIDI'S KILLERS. The Russian Business Round Table has offered a $1 million reward for information leading to the capture of the killers of murdered banker Ivan Kivelidi, Russian and Western agencies reported on 9 August. Kivelidi, who headed Rosbiznesbank and the Round Table, died on 4 August after being poisoned. The banker is the latest in a series of Russian businessmen to be assassinated. The Round Table's vice-president and former Russian finance minister said, "The police are incapable of doing anything, or else they are in league with the criminals." -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. INCREASE IN NUMBER OF BORDER-CROSSINGS. The head of the federal border service, Maj. Gen. Mikhail Shkuruk, told ITAR-TASS on 9 August that the number of checkpoints at the border has nearly doubled in the last two to three years because of an increase in the number of border-crossings. Shkurok said that in the last seven months of 1995, 33.5 million people have been allowed to cross along with 4 million transport vehicles. In comparison, during the whole year of 1992, only 13.7 million people and fewer than 1.4 million vehicles crossed. Since the beginning of the year, border guards have stopped 550,000 people trying to cross illegally. The agency framed the story with statistics on contraband narcotics and weapons smuggling since the beginning of 1995 (respectively 412 kg and 600 guns), underlining growing fears in Russia of increased migration and refugees. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc. YELTSIN ISSUES SAVINGS LOAN SCHEME DECREE. Russian President Yeltsin issued a decree ordering the cabinet to begin issuing bonds in September that will be available to the entire population, ITAR-TASS reported on 9 August. The main purpose of the savings loan scheme is to help people protect their savings from inflation. Commenting on the loan scheme, Presidential aide Aleksandr Livshits said the government will issue sets of bonds over the next three years. Each set will consists of 10 series and each series will have bonds worth a total of 1 trillion rubles. The State Savings Loan bonds are fully guaranteed by the state. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA GULIZADE: PROTECT US FROM RUSSIA AND IRAN. A paper referring to Russia as "the biggest enemy of Azerbaijan" was presented in Washington DC by Vafa Gulizade, foreign policy adviser to the president of Azerbaijan, Moskovskaya pravda reported on 9 August. The U.S. press described Gulizade's report as "sensational" and "scandalous," according to the paper. It noted that Gulizade said Iran is "spending vast sums" to export fundamentalist Islam to Azerbaijan and is cooperating with Russia to suppress Azerbaijan's independence. Gulizade was reported as arguing that Russia is manipulating the newly independent states by playing one off the other and views Azerbaijan as the main obstacle to exercising control over the region because Baku has refused to accept the stationing of Russian troops on its soil. His call for the U.S. and the West in general to protect Azerbaijan from Russian and Iranian influences, the paper reported, will likely "negatively affect" Russian- Azerbaijani relations. Noting that 70% of Azerbaijan's exports go to Russia and some 1.5-3 million Azerbaijanis live there, the paper argued that "ordinary" people in Azerbaijan, as opposed to the present government, favor drawing closer to Russia. The subtext of the article contained a warning: it noted that the "Azeri community in Moscow"-- which includes pro-Russian alternatives to Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev--"strongly condemned" Gulizade's report. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. IRAN TO AZERBAIJAN: NO TIES TO ISRAEL. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati warned Azerbaijan to stay away from Israel or risk instability in the Caucasus region, AFP reported on 9 August, citing IRNA. Velayati, who is visiting Almaty, made the remarks to Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev, who is also visiting Kazakhstan. Any further rapprochement between Azerbaijan and Israel will harm Islamic unity and "those governments themselves" the minister warned. Tehran's relations with Baku have been increasingly rancorous since Iran was forced out of the "deal of the century" to exploit oil in the Caspian Sea. Aliev is expected to visit Israel later this year. Tehran has not used such strong language with Turkmenistan, with which it has close ties, although Ashgabat maintains economic and political ties with Tel Aviv. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. KAZAKHSTAN TO SELL URANIUM TO LIBYA. The government of Libya is prepared to purchase uranium from Kazakhstan, AFP reported citing the official Libyan news agency Jana on 9 August. No details of the agreement were available. Libya was recently critical of what the country perceived as secrecy surrounding the 600 kg of enriched uranium that the U.S. purchased from Kazakhstan in 1994 and appealed to the United Nations for the destruction of the material. The Libyan report did not specify how the country would use the uranium. -- 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
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