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No. 156, Part I, 11 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 YELTSIN PROPOSES NEW BALKAN PEACE INITIATIVE. After meeting with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic on 10 August, President Boris Yeltsin proposed that an international conference be convened on the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, Russian and Western agencies reported. In a statement read to journalists, Yeltsin said recent Croatian actions in Krajina had brought the region to "the brink of a major war" and expressed regret that Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, under "pressure" from other states, had declined to come to Moscow for talks. In contrast, Yeltsin praised Milosevic's commitment to a negotiated settlement of the conflict and said that UN sanctions against rump Yugoslavia had become a major obstacle to its achievement. He added that Russia would press for the lifting of the sanctions, adding that any delay in addressing the issue might lead Russia to take "unilateral steps." Yeltsin also renewed his bid to mediate an overall settlement to the conflict, inviting Milosevic, Tudjman, and Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic to Moscow for a meeting to lay the groundwork for a later international conference. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. RYBKIN MEETS WITH MILOSEVIC. During his 10 August visit to Moscow, Serbian President Milosevic also met with Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin, Russian and Western agencies reported. Rybkin echoed President Yeltsin's comments that UN sanctions against rump Yugoslavia should be lifted and told Interfax that if an appropriate international decision is not taken soon, the Duma is prepared to pass a law calling on Russia to unilaterally ignore the sanctions. Rybkin added that all factions and parties in the Duma supported his earlier statements condemning Croatian actions in Krajina and said he expected Russian policy toward the Yugoslav conflict to be discussed at the special session of the Duma scheduled for 12 August. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. GROZNY TALKS STALEMATED. Negotiations in Grozny again made no tangible progress on 10 August, Russian and Western agencies reported. Chechen negotiators briefly walked out of the political talks in the morning after claiming that they had been denied entry into the city by Russian troops at a checkpoint. After the Russian delegation issued an apology, discussions continued. The long-delayed prisoner exchange, which should have been carried out on 7 August under the terms of the Russian-Chechen military agreement, was postponed again on 9 August, as disagreement persisted over the number of prisoners each side is holding. That evening, however, in a move perhaps designed to accelerate the implementation of the military accord, NTV reported that the commander of federal forces in Chechnya, Anatolii Romanov, had ordered federal troops to unilaterally withdraw from towns and villages in Chechnya. The overall situation remained tense though, with other Russian military officers complaining that pro-Dudaev fighters were descending from the Chechen mountains and reasserting "control" over towns on the plains, ITAR-TASS reported. In sporadic fighting overnight, 10 federal servicemen were wounded. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. KULIKOV RESHUFFLES MINISTRY OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS. Two top generals in the Ministry of Internal Affairs have tendered their resignations, Moskovskii komsomolets reported on 10 August. Col. Gen. Mikhail Yegorov, the first deputy minister who headed the fight against organized crime, and Col. Gen. Yevgenii Abramov, the first deputy minister who was responsible for the ministry's internal structure, are reportedly leaving. Reports also said that Deputy Minister Vladimir Strashko, who supervises the ministry's logistics and financial affairs, has been asked to resign as well. The ministry's press center, however, pointed out that the resignations must be accepted by President Yeltsin and that it has not received word from his office yet, Radio Mayak reported on 10 August. After Internal Affairs Minister Anatolii Kulikov appointed a new head of the local interior ministry in Stavropol from among the internal troops, observers complained that the appointee would not be prepared for the difficulties of battling the mafia. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. RADICAL COMMUNISTS FORM ELECTORAL BLOC. The extreme Russian Communist Workers' Party (RKRP) and the Russian Party of Communists (RPK) have signed an agreement to form an electoral bloc without the largest of Russia's Communist parties, Gennadii Zyuganov's Communist Party of the Russian Federation, ITAR-TASS reported 10 August. Anatolii Kryuchkov, leader of the RPK, complained that Zyuganov had set the requirements for alliance with his party too high, but said he is hoping for future negotiations. Zyuganov's Communists are unlikely to seek stronger ties with the radicals since they would gain few votes while alienating some of their more moderate supporters. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. TRETYAKOV MAY QUIT NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA. Vitalii Tretyakov, editor-in- chief of Nezavisimaya gazeta since its creation in 1990, may quit if he cannot lead the newspaper out of its financial crisis soon, Interfax reported on 10 August. On 30 July, Tretyakov announced that the paper would soon resume publication, which was suspended on 24 May. However, Tretyakov told Interfax that closing the paper may be the solution to the crisis. Meanwhile, the newspaper Novaya yezhednevnaya gazeta, which closed due to financial problems in February, resumed publication as a weekly on 10 August, Obshchaya gazeta reported. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. CONFLICT BETWEEN PRIMORSK GOVERNOR AND RUSSIA'S DEMOCRATIC CHOICE. Representatives of Yegor Gaidar's Russia's Democratic Choice in Primorskii Krai announced plans to sue regional Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko for accusing the party of instigating the July arrest of Primorsk tax police chief Aleksandr Bondarenko, Segodnya reported on 10 August. Bondarenko is accused of helping fabricate corruption charges against former Vladivostok Mayor Viktor Cherepkov in March 1994 (see OMRI Daily Digest, 25 July 1995). Nazdratenko recently claimed that Russia's Democratic Choice arranged the arrest out of revenge, after Bondarenko exposed alleged tax evasion by a prominent local supporter of the party. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. DETAINED U.S. OFFICER TO LEAVE RUSSIA. U.S. Army Cpt. Jason Lynch, an instructor at the Military Academy at West Point who was briefly detained by Russian security agents while working near the nuclear center of Krasnoyarsk-26, will be leaving Russia voluntarily on 11 August, a U.S. Embassy spokesman told ITAR-TASS on 10 August. The agency had previously reported that Lynch would be expelled for conducting "unauthorized geodesic work" near the sensitive Siberian facility. He had been invited to Russia by the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences to work on a joint Russo-American environmental project. The embassy spokesman said he is leaving after having finished his part in the joint expedition. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIA DENIES SENDING ARMS TO AFGHANISTAN. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Demurin denied that Russia is exporting arms to the Afghan government, ITAR-TASS reported on 10 August. Earlier reports said a Russian-made Il-76, loaded with ammunition for the Kabul government had been forced to land in the Afghan city of Kandahar on 3 August by anti-government rebels, who were holding its Russian crew hostage. Demurin confirmed that the plane was owned by a Russian firm based in the Tatar capital of Kazan but said that the ammunition had been legally purchased in Albania and that the Russian government had no connection to the shipment. Russia is pressing for the crew's release, noted Demurin, adding that Russia does not "interfere in the civil war" in Afghanistan and supports a negotiated settlement to the conflict. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. THREE-MONTH INTER-BANK CREDIT RATES STABLE FOR TWO WEEKS. Interest rates on three-month inter-bank credits (IBCs) have remained unchanged for the past two weeks in 52 of Russia's 60 regions, the Financial Information Agency reported on 10 August. Creditor banks now offer three-month IBCs to commercial banks at an annual interest rate of 100-200%, and to the Sberbank (Savings Bank) regional offices at 65-100%. Rates are lower at savings banks because they are considered to be a more reliable holder of people's savings. The relative stability of interest rates on IBCs is due to the summer lull in business activity, the report noted. Experts do not expect rates to fall because inflation expectations remain rather strong. The high profitability of short-term government bonds (STBs) is another factor that affects IBCs. The annual yields of STBs are now above 150% which increases the price of credits on the inter-bank markets. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. WESTERN-STYLE FINANCIAL CENTER OPENS IN MOSCOW. The Soyuznik insurance company and the Stolichnii Savings Bank, one of Russia's major banks, opened a financial center in Moscow, ITAR-TASS reported on 10 August. The first of its kind in Russia, the center will offer clients banking, insurance, and travel services. The Stolichnii Savings Bank has been involved in joint projects with Soyuznik for more than a year. Several thousand insurance certificates have been sold through Stolichnii's affiliate banks, mainly for holders of international and Russian plastic cards issued by Stolichnii. In the new financial center, Soyuznik will offer insurance services that include life, health, medical, accident, travel, and property. The Stolichnii Savings Bank and the U.S. American Fidelity International Holdings are among Soyuznik's shareholders. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. PROTOCOL SIGNED WITH WORLD BANK. The World Bank and the Russian State Standards Committee signed a protocol on 10 August that sets the stage for bringing Russian standards in line with international trade requirements, the Financial Information Agency reported the same day. The head adviser at the World Bank's Moscow office, Hasso Molineus, told the agency that the project provided for extending to Russia a credit of $24 million under which the State Standard Committee would receive the necessary equipment for "increasing the committee's [ability] to certify Russian products meant for export and products imported by Russia." The World Bank will grant Russia the credit for 17 years with a five-year deferment. The initial interest rate was set at 7.02% but will be adjusted every six months depending on the current exchange rate. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. INKOMBANK LEAVES CONSORTIUM THAT IS TO PROVIDE CABINET WITH CREDITS. Moscow's Inkombank, one of Russia's five top banks, announced on 10 August that it is leaving the consortium of 10 banks that is to grant credits to the Russian cabinet under guarantees in the form of state- owned blocks of shares in privatized enterprises, the Financial Information Agency reported the same day. According to the report, Inkombank withdrew from the group because of a lack of clarity on the distribution of shares among the consortium's members and the deteriorating situation on the credit-financial market, which limits credit reserves. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA KAZAKHSTAN DENIES SALE OF URANIUM TO LIBYA. Kazakhstan was quick to refute an 8 August report from the Libyan news agency "Jana" that it planned to sell enriched uranium to Libya. The head of Kazakhstan's Atomic Energy Agency, Ergali Bayadilov, told Reuters "Kazakhstan has not been approached by Libya, and we are not prepared to sell nuclear fuel to Libya"; he said Kazakhstan would abide by its obligations as a signatory of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc. OUT OF THE LIMELIGHT: TAJIK OPPOSITION IN TASHKENT. The Tajik opposition delegation has held talks in Tashkent with Uzbek Foreign Ministry officials. According to an 8 August report on the Voice of Free Tajikistan monitored by the BBC, the Tajik opposition delegation was headed by the deputy chairman of the Islamic Rebirth Party, Akbar Turadzhonzoda and took place on 5-6 August. Otakhon Latifi, chairman of the Moscow-based Coordinating Center of Democratic Forces of Tajikistan, said the visit was completed "successfully," according to the radio. Additional information on the talks has not been made available. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. CENTRAL ASIAN UNITS IN LOUISIANA. Central Asian military units are participating in military exercises in the state of Louisiana under NATO's Partnership for Peace program, Russian Public TV reported on 9 August. The exercises, which opened on 8 August, involve units from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan and their counterparts from 11 European countries, the U.S., UK, and Canada. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. CIS PAPER: UKRAINE WAGING "FINANCIAL WAR" AGAINST BLACK SEA FLEET. A representative of the Black Sea Fleet's financial service said Ukraine is waging "a financial war against the fleet," Komsomolskaya pravda reported on 9 August. While the fleet is nominally under the command of both the Russian and Ukrainian presidents, only Russia is providing money to maintain it, the paper reported. Russia allotted more than 137 billion karbovantsi (approximately $900,000) to pay military and civilian wages through July. However, Ukraine required two of the fleet's air bases to pay 23 billion karbovantsi (approximately $150,000) in taxes, meaning that fleet personnel were only paid for June. -- 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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