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No. 158, Part I, 15 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 RUSSIA TOUGHENS STANCE IN GROZNY TALKS . . . At a 14 August Kremlin meeting with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Minister for Nationalities Vyacheslav Mikhailov, and Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov, President Boris Yeltsin expressed dissatisfaction with the deadlocked process of disarming Chechen fighters but reiterated that the negotiation process must continue, Russian and Western agencies reported. Chernomyrdin subsequently told reporters that the Chechen side had until 6 p.m. local time to accept the most recent Russian plan for implementing the disarmament provisions of the 30 July military accord. He added that if the Chechen fighters did not "stop playing games" with the disarmament process, they would face "severe measures." The failure to move the disarmament process forward threatens to torpedo the entire negotiated peace process in Chechnya and could trigger renewed fighting, NTV commented. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. . . . BUT CHECHEN DELEGATION REBUFFS ULTIMATUM. In Grozny that evening, Chechen military commander Aslan Maskhadov refused to accept this ultimatum and rejected the Russian disarmament plan, calling some of its provisions unacceptable. However, he did promise to assist in carrying out the provisions of the military accord. Late in the evening of 14 August, the Russian government responded with an official statement accusing "the Dudaev regime" of attempting to unilaterally change the terms of the military accord and again threatening to take "all necessary measures" to implement the accord. With fears of renewed fighting increasing, NTV reported that the situation in many Chechen villages appears very unstable. Talks on implementing the military accord between Maskhadov and General Anatolii Romanov, commander of federal forces in Chechnya, are scheduled to resume on 15 August, ITAR- TASS reported. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. YELTSIN VETOES LAW ON CHECHNYA CRISIS. On 14 August, President Yeltsin vetoed a bill that the Duma had passed on 12 July, specifying the process for negotiating a political settlement in Chechnya. Yeltsin justified his veto in a letter to Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin that said the proposed law would contradict the Russian constitution and would violate the principle of separation of powers. Yeltsin especially objected to a provision of the law that would have charged a joint commission of officials from all branches of government with negotiating a settlement to the Chechen conflict and another clause prohibiting the stationing of Russian troops in Chechnya, except for those permanently based there. Both provisions infringed on presidential powers, Yeltsin contended. Since last year, both houses of the Federal Assembly have repeatedly tried without success to establish legislative oversight of government policy in Chechnya. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. FSB ON TURKISH INVOLVEMENT IN CHECHNYA. Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) spokesman Alexander Mikhailov claimed that Turks are responsible for Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev's communications systems and Russian demands for an explanation from Ankara have so far received only "very vague" answers, Rabochaya tribuna reported on 11 August. Mikhailov pointed to the arrest in the spring of Turkish national Isak Kasap as evidence of Turkey's involvement in rendering aid to Dudaev. Mikhailov also said that FSB representatives traveled to Turkey to discuss this matter and were told that the country is not aiding Dudaev, but that Turkish officials "cannot stop" the Chechen diaspora from helping their "native country" and that they cannot control transfers of money from Turkey "via American banks." He also said armed units from Afghanistan and Jordan are fighting on Dudaev's side. Turkish North Caucasians of Circassian and Abkhaz descent are numerous and largely assimilated; Turkey's Chechen community is tiny, numbering at most 40,000 people but probably closer to 3,000. (CORRECTION: Isak Kasap was arrested on 23 April 1995, not in late May as reported in OMRI Daily Digest, 14 August 1995.) -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. FOREIGN MINISTRY BACKTRACKS ON YUGOSLAV SANCTIONS. An unnamed high- ranking diplomat at the Russian Foreign Ministry backed away from earlier comments by President Yeltsin and a bill passed by the Duma, suggesting that Russia was not seriously considering unilaterally abandoning UN sanctions against rump Yugoslavia, Interfax reported on 14 August. The diplomat said that "we are not ruling out such measures, but we think we can do without them for the time being." Interfax also quoted the diplomat as characterizing the Duma bill as merely "rhetorical" and without "practical content." Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Demurin later disavowed this comment, telling Interfax that the Foreign Ministry had not yet received a full text of the bill and would "closely examine" it when it arrived. Against the backdrop of these contradictory comments, several Moscow papers have harshly criticized the lack of any coherent strategy in Russian policy towards the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. KALMYKIYA EXTENDS TERM OF ITS PRESIDENT. The legislature of Kalmykiya, a small republic in southwest Russia, has voted to extend the term of its president, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, until the year 2000, Russian and Western agencies reported. The body turned down an alternative proposal to make him president for life. Russian TV stereotyped that proposal as a product of the "specific Eastern character" of the republic. The 33- year-old Ilyumzhinov, a wealthy businessman before becoming president in April 1993, disbanded the previous republican legislature and local councils on coming to power. NTV stressed the president's draconian approach to crime prevention in Kalmykiya, reporting his suggestion at the session that thieves' hands be severed. -- Robert Orttung and Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc. ISAKOV: DUMA WILL NOT BACK DOWN ON FEDERATION COUNCIL LAW. The Duma will cooperate with the president and Federation Council to draft a new law on the parliament's upper house following the president's veto, ITAR- TASS quoted Vladimir Isakov, chairman of the Duma Committee on Legislation, as saying on 14 August. He said that a conciliatory commission is slated to meet on 28 August and asked President Yeltsin and the upper house to designate delegates to it. However, he warned that the Duma will not back down from its position that the members of the Federation Council must be elected but added that the possibility of compromise is "not hopeless." Nevertheless, an article he published in Sovetskaya Rossiya on 15 August was harshly critical of Yeltsin's position on this issue. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. FORWARD, RUSSIA! ADOPTS PARTY LIST. Forward, Russia! named the top three members of its party list at its congress on 14 August. Former Finance Minister Boris Fedorov, the party's leader, tops the list, while Bella Denisenko, chairwoman of the Duma Committee on Health Care, is second and Aleksandr Vladislavlev, one of the leaders of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, is third, Russian Public TV reported. Vladislavlev's appointment was a surprise and apparently only happened at the last minute. He was one of the leaders of the Civic Union political bloc. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC UNION REJECTS RYBKIN BLOC. Vasilii Lipitskii's Social Democratic Union will campaign independently, Lipitskii told Russian Public TV on 14 August. Lipitskii was one of the original supporters of Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin's left-center bloc but now has decided that the bloc will not be social-democratic enough for his taste. Rybkin's bloc is scheduled to hold its founding congress at the end of August. Lipitskii's Social Democratic Union grew out of the Russian Social Democratic People's Party which split when former Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi, the party's leader, formed his Derzhava movement. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. ARZAMAS-16 GETS OLD NAME BACK. President Yeltsin signed a decree on 14 August giving the formerly secret nuclear research city known as Arzamas-16 its old name of Sarov, ITAR-TASS reported. Sarov was a major religious center for more than 200 years before the Soviet authorities turned it into a hub of nuclear research in 1946. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. BELYAEV SAYS INCOME FROM PRIVATIZATION ON TARGET. Russian State Property Committee Chairman Sergei Belyaev announced that state privatization sales this year are on target and will bring in 8.7 trillion rubles ($1.9 billion) to the state coffers, Radio Rossii reported on 14 August. Belyaev told the press that the state-owned share in the Russian Joint Energy System and Rostelecom are currently being sold and those sales are expected to bring a "solid contribution" to the state budget. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. MINISTRY SOURCE CLAIMS STOCKPILE OF FOREIGN GRAIN. According to information from an Economic News Agency correspondent from a source in Russia's Food and Agriculture Ministry, certain domestic commercial entities have purchased 2 million tons of food-grade wheat from foreign countries, Izvestiya reported on 15 August. According to the report, the grain has been shipped to Russia and stored already. The commercial entities are now waiting for wheat prices to climb this fall. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA KYRGYZ PRESIDENT SACKS COMPANY MANAGERS. Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev has fired several top managers, including the directors of the Kant oil products supply enterprise and the Sokuluk trade machinery plant, for tax evasion, according to a Kyrgyz Radio broadcast monitored by the BBC. The Kyrgyz prosecutor general has received orders to examine the "criminal liability" of other managers and officials at a number of enterprises. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc. BAIKONUR TALKS BOG DOWN. Some issues relating to the Russian lease of the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan remain unresolved, according to a Kazakh Radio report monitored by the BBC on 10 August. Legal experts on both sides are unable to compromise on two issues, namely cooperation between Kazakh and Russian law-enforcement bodies in the zone of the rocket launch site and settlements for lease payments. Negotiations on the mechanism for implementing the 20-year lease with an annual rent of $115 million are to be wrapped up by the beginning of September. In mid- April Kazakhstan's president ratified the agreement by decree; Russia ratified it in early May. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. IRAN TO INVEST IN KAZAKH PORT. Following talks between Kazakh Minister of Transport and Communications Serik Aligozhanov and Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, Iran has offered to help reconstruct the Kazakh Caspian sea port of Aktau, Kazakh Radio reported on 10 August. According to the report which was monitored by the BBC, an expert group will be formed "in a week" to study the situation "on the spot." Iran has offered $49 million for the project. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. KARIMOV AND DEMIREL MEET. A closed-door meeting between Uzbek President Islam Karimov and his Turkish counterpart, Suleyman Demirel, took place on 10 August in the Turkish resort of Kemer where Karimov is vacationing. According to a Turkish Television (TRT) broadcast monitored by the BBC, Demirel said after the meeting that "there are no problems in our bilateral relations." The recent trip of Turkish Prime Minister Tansu Ciller to Tashkent demonstrated an improvement in bilateral relations that had been cool. Karimov's stay in Turkey and meeting with Demirel reinforces this view. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. INDONESIA TO INVEST IN UZBEKISTAN. Indonesia's ambassador in Tashkent, Hasan Abduljali, told Interfax on 10 August that his country will invest $280 million in Uzbekistan in the next three years. The bulk of the funds will be invested in Indonesian-Uzbek joint ventures; $100 million of which will go into telecommunications, another $100 million into the textile industry, and the remainder divided almost evenly between hotel businesses and the mining industry. This is in keeping with an agreement reached during a recent visit of Indonesian businessmen to Uzbekistan. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. PIPELINE PRESSURE RISING. The Caspian Oil Pipeline Consortium (Russia, Kazakhstan, and Oman) has announced its decision to lay a pipeline connecting the Russian city of Kropotkin with a projected marine oil terminal north of Novorossiisk. The 250 km-long pipeline is to export not only Russian but also Azerbaijani and Kazakh oil, according to a 14 August Russian Public TV report. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIA'S CASPIAN PACKAGE AND TURKMENISTAN. Russia has prepared a package of documents on the legal status and "rational" use of the Caspian Sea, Interfax reported on 12 August. The documents "take into account" the interests of all the littoral states, according to a letter sent to Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov by Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. The letter was delivered by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksei Bolshakov, who is in Turkmenbasi (Krasnovodsk) to discuss the status of the Caspian Sea and boosting bilateral economic relations. Niyazov's remarks concerning the Caspian hew closely to the Russian line; after Turkmenistan provides its rubber stamp support to the package, Iran can be expected to follow suit. Bolshakov and Niyazov are also expected to discuss a project to link Russia, Turkmenistan, and Iran in a "single transport corridor." -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. CIS RUSSIAN-BELARUSIAN FRIENDSHIP TREATY COMES INTO FORCE. On 11 August, the Russian-Belarusian treaty on friendship and cooperation, which had been signed in Minsk by Russian President Boris Yeltsin and his Belarusian counterpart, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, came into force, Belarusian TV reported on 13 August. Belarusian Foreign Minister Uladzimir Syanko exchanged documents with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov confirming that both parliaments had ratified the accord. Syanko said the agreement is necessary so that relations with Russia can proceed smoothly. -- Ustina Markus, 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 Please note that there is a new procedure for obtaining permission to reprint or redistribute the OMRI Daily Digest. Before reprinting or redistributing this publication, please write firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy of the new policy or look at this URL: http://www.omri.cz/Publications/Digests/DigestReprint.html 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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