|Old age is the most unexpected of all the things that happen to a man. - Leon Trotsky|
No. 160, Part I, 17 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 FOREIGN MINISTRY CALLS FOR COORDINATION OF PEACE EFFORTS. Alexander Gorelik, head of the International Organizations Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, told Interfax on 16 August that Russia could reach consensus with the U.S. on a single peace plan for former Yugoslavia. Gorelik said recent Russian and U.S. initiatives have much in common, although he noted that Russia opposed parts of the American proposal that reportedly call for the use of military force against any of the warring parties that refuse to accept a peace plan. Gorelik's comments represented a step back from President Yeltsin's failed bid last week to mediate a resolution of the Yugoslav conflict unilaterally. Also on 16 August, a convoy of 49 trucks loaded with 150 tons of humanitarian aid left the Moscow suburb of Noginsk, Russian and Western agencies reported. The convoy is the second of three planned shipments of Russian aid for Croatian Serb refugees. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. CHECHEN FIGHTERS BEGIN DISARMAMENT. In the presence of Chechen military commander Aslan Maskhadov, Russian General Yevgenii Skobelev, and OSCE mediators, a group of Chechen fighters began the process of disarmament called for in the 30 July Russian-Chechen military accord, surrendering assault rifles, machine guns, grenade launchers, and mines in the village of Zandak, located in the Nozhai-Yurt region of Chechnya. The weapons are to be turned over to local "self-defense" units. Concerning another provision of the accord, a military spokesman told RFE/RL by telephone that federal forces are already beginning to withdraw 2-4 km away from their present positions, and NTV reported on 16 August that a column of 100 federal armored vehicles was leaving Grozny, while other federal units had withdrawn from their positions in the Vedeno region. Deadlock over implementation of the accord's disarmament provisions had prompted harsh threats from Moscow and threatened to scuttle the negotiation process in Chechnya. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. CHECHEN NEGOTIATIONS TO RESUME. Meanwhile, Chechen head negotiator Khozh-Akhmed Yarikhanov returned to Grozny after consulting with Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev and told journalists that the Chechen delegation is prepared to resume talks with Russian delegates on the future political status of the republic, Western and Russian agencies reported. NTV also reported that on 16 August Dudaev had made an appearance on the "underground" Chechen TV station, during which he called for the simultaneous disarmament of his fighters and the forces of the current Moscow-backed Chechen authorities. Dudaev also reiterated his view that Chechnya must become fully independent and demanded that federal troops withdraw from the republic by 21 August. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. SUPPORT BASES FOR RUSSIAN PARTIES. Parties like Russia's Democratic Choice, Yabloko, and Our Home is Russia are much more likely to get support from abroad than the Communists, according to a report published in Izvestiya on 17 August. Domestically, banks will support the "rightist" parties while agricultural interests will support the Communists and their allies. The study questioned several commonly held beliefs. While it was earlier assumed that the military-industrial complex would support Yurii Skokov's Congress of Russian Communities, the study found that its interests are divided and that it will actually support a number of parties. The gas industry is also not united in its support for the Our Home is Russia bloc of former Gazprom leader and current Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. BANKERS DEMONSTRATE AGAINST CRIME WAVE. Some of Russia's wealthiest and most influential businessman gathered outside the former KGB headquarters on Lubyanka Square on 16 August to protest the murders that have claimed the lives of dozens of business people, Russian and Western agencies reported. The demonstration was prompted by the death on 4 August of Ivan Kivelidi, the head of Rosbiznesbank and the Russian Business Round Table. Kivelidi and his secretary, who died the day before her boss, were apparently the victims of poisoning. A representative of the Round Table read out a statement calling for a government crackdown on organized crime, then the businessmen lit candles and observed a moment of silence in memory of their murdered colleagues. About 500 people were the victims of contract killings last year. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. ROSTOV MINERS END PROTEST. Coal miners from the Rostovugol association removed their pickets from the Shakhty city administration building and called off their hunger strike after agreement was reached in Moscow by union, coal industry, and government representatives on the payment of back wages, Russian TV reported on 16 August. According to ITAR-TASS, the Rostov Oblast administration head has also agreed to allocate 4 billion rubles ($910,000) from the regional budget to help Rostovugol pay the wage arrears. However, disputes may soon erupt again. ITAR-TASS said miners from many of the association's pits are unhappy that under the agreement reached in Moscow, July wages will not be paid until September. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. YELTSIN CHAIRS MEETING ON MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX. Russia has "colossal potential for a powerful technological breakthrough in the field of conversion" of military technologies that can be used in the commercial sphere as well, according to President Boris Yeltsin who was addressing a meeting of the Council for Scientific and Technological Policy on 15 August, ITAR-TASS reported. He added that the government's objective is "to qualitatively change the make-up of the military- industrial complex and to switch to a more effective use of the defense sector's unique production, research, and development potential" in order to convert to the mass production of high-quality, competitive civilian goods. The president announced that a new presidential program on dual-purpose technologies had been drafted and that he intended to raise the funding for research and development in the 1996 federal budget from 3 trillion to 9.5 trillion rubles. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. EBRD ESTABLISHES $30 MILLION FUND FOR NORTHWEST REGION. The EBRD announced on 16 August the establishment of a $30 million equity fund to finance new projects for modernizing Russian industry in the Northwest region of Russia, AFP reported the same day. The deal was signed in London on 14 August by representatives of the EBRD and Norway, Sweden, and Finland. The three countries have provided $20 million in a technical assistance fund. This is the seventh fund to be launched by the EBRD in Russia as part of a countrywide post-privatization initiative. The fund will concentrate on the Murmansk and Arkhangelsk oblasts and the Republic of Karelia. The other EBRD regional venture funds for Russia cover Smolensk, the Urals, St. Petersburg, the Far East and Eastern Siberia, the Lower Volga, and the regions of Southern Russia. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. GRAIN HARVEST LIKELY TO PLUMMET DRAMATICALLY. The Russian grain harvest could plummet this year to 45-50 million metric tons because of drought and equipment shortages, according to Agriculture Ministry experts quoted on 16 August by ITAR-TASS. That compares with a harvest of 81.3 million tons last year and with previous forecasts for this year of 80 million tons (see OMRI Daily Digest, 9 August 1995). According to a 16 August report provided by the Bloomberg Business News Service, Russia is not likely to turn to U.S. suppliers to meet its grain shortfall. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) curtailed credit lines to Russia in December 1992 when it defaulted on payments due for past grain purchases; Russian grain buyers have not made any requests for grain credits since then. The report said that a top USDA official expressed skepticism over the size of Russia's predicted drop in production. On 11 August, the USDA estimated that Russia will harvest 70.1 million tons of wheat, corn, and other coarse grains. At the same time, the USDA raised its forecast for Russian wheat imports from 1 million tons to 4 million tons. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. EXPORT-IMPORT BALANCE UP 28%. Russia's export-import balance equaled $16.1 billion during the first half of 1995, which is a 28% increase compared with the corresponding figure for last year, Finansovye izvestiya reported on 17 August. During the first half of 1995, Russia exported goods worth a total of $41.8 billion (a 23.3% increase compared to the corresponding figure for last year), including goods worth $8.1 billion (up 9%) to the former Soviet republics and goods worth $33.1 billion (up 28%) to other countries of the world. Imports totaled $25.4 billion (up 20.5%), including $6.3 billion (up 14.6%) from the former Soviet republics and $19.1 billion (up 22.6%) from other countries of the world. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA UZBEK STYLE FOREIGN ECONOMIC ACTIVITY. A decree signed by Uzbek President Islam Karimov on 15 August provides for the establishment of six joint-stock companies that will replace their state-owned predecessors in buying and selling commodities and providing transport for import-export operations, Interfax reported the same day. Nevertheless, the Foreign Economic Relations Ministry will maintain a controlling interest of 51% in them and will manage the enterprises on behalf of the state. The workers will get a 25% share and the remaining 24% will be put up for sale on the stock market. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. SOUTH KOREAN INVESTMENT IN UZBEKISTAN. The South Korean Ambassador in Tashkent told Interfax on 15 August that his country's investments in Uzbekistan have doubled in the last year. It appears that the $450 million invested so far has mainly gone into the Daewoo Corporation's automobile-building factory in Andizhan. The ambassador pointed out that South Korea is particularly interested in the production of industrial equipment and home appliances, the textile industry, and communications in Uzbekistan. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. KAZAKH MEASURES TO END COAL MINE CRISIS. The Kazakh government has adopted a series of measures to aid the ailing coal mines in Karaganda, RIA reported on 15 August. These measures include closing down five loss-making mines in the region, exempting the others from paying most taxes until the end of 1996, and allowing foreign companies to temporarily manage some of the mines. The agency added that the Kazakh government had earlier lifted restrictions on the sale prices of coal as well on its export. On 18 July, about 500-600 miners in Karaganda organized a rally calling for more state support for the coal industry and demanding that their wages be paid, Interfax reported the same day. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc. LENINSK TO PROVIDE SOLDIERS. A military registration and enlistment office will be established in the 90th component of the Russian Federation, the city of Leninsk in Kazakhstan, according to a directive issued by the Russian Armed Forces General Headquarters, Krasnaya zvezda reported on 16 August. The office will be subordinated to the Volga military district and will be responsible for managing the local draft and providing social welfare services to Russian military pensioners. Leninsk residents mainly work at the Baikonour cosmodrome; in mid-June, Kazakhstan agreed to lease the city and adjoining lands for 20 years to Russia. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. KYRGYZ-TURKISH AGREEMENTS. On the second leg of her Central Asian tour, Turkish Prime Minister Tansu Ciller visited Kyrgyzstan to sign accords on the protection of the environment, the establishment of a joint bank (Vakif and Kyrgyz Banks), and the establishment of an economic cooperation council, Yeni Yuzyil reported on 17 August. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIA'S MILITARY AGREEMENTS WITH KYRGYZ, TAJIKS RATIFIED. A package of Russian-Kyrgyz and Russian-Tajik agreements and treaties on defense cooperation have been ratified by the Russian Duma and affirmed by President Yeltsin, Rossiiskie vesti reported on 16 August. Agreements with Kyrgyzstan determine procedures and mechanisms for the use of Russian military installations in the republic, the status of the Russian military contingent there, and conditions for renting facilities used by the Russian Seismological Service, which is attached to the Defense Ministry. The agreements with Tajikistan include one determining the terms for Russian military advisers and another specifying terms for the maintenance and use of the "Nurek" space monitoring system. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. TAJIK OPPOSITION VIEWS NEW MINISTER AS CHANGE FOR THE BETTER. The Tajik opposition gave a mild endorsement of the new interior minister, Saidamir Zukhurov, in a 15 August Voice of Free Tajikistan broadcast monitored by the BBC. The broadcast blasted departing interior minister Yakub Salimov saying he had been carrying out an independent policy in his ministry and had been a stumbling block to the peace process. Zukhurov has been in favor of holding talks with the opposition even "at times when [President Imomali] Rakhmonov and Salimov were speaking about the opposition with disgust." The broadcast said Zukhurov is more qualified for the job "because Zukhurov, unlike Salimov, did not come to the position from the streets of crime but is a professional." -- 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 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 email@example.com 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
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.