|To live is so startling, it leaves little time for anything else. - Emily Dickinson|
No. 164, Part I, 23 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 Central, Eastern, 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 TRAVKIN, LUZHKOV ENDORSE CHERNOMYRDIN BLOC. Minister without portfolio Nikolai Travkin and Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov announced that they would support Our Home Is Russia in the upcoming parliamentary elections, ITAR-TASS and Russian Public TV reported on 22 August. Travkin founded the Democratic Party of Russia in 1990 and was its leader until December 1994. Luzhkov also announced plans to seek re-election as mayor and denied speculation that he may run for president in 1996. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. CHIEF INVESTIGATOR TAKEN OFF LISTEV CASE. Investigator Boris Uvarov of the Procurator General's Office has been dismissed as head of the investigation into the 1 March murder of television journalist Vladislav Listev, Radio Mayak reported on 22 August. Uvarov's removal had been rumored for some time. In July, he claimed that acting Procurator General Aleksei Ilyushenko was sending him on a forced vacation after Uvarov admitted to journalists that there were no promising suspects in the case. Procurators continue to insist that the Listev case will be solved--an optimism that was echoed by Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov on 22 August, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. KULIKOV APPOINTS NEW DEPUTIES IN INTERIOR MINISTRY. Minister of Internal Affairs Anatolii Kulikov announced that Lt. Gen. Vladimir Kolesnikov and Lt. Gen. Pavel Golubets are replacing Col. Gen. Mikhail Yegorov and Col. Gen. Yevgenii Abramov as first deputy ministers, Radio Rossii reported on 22 August. They will be responsible respectively for the fight against organized crime and the internal structure of the ministry. Kolesnikov was in charge of the Main Administration for Criminal Investigation at the ministry and is famous for capturing serial-killer Andrei Chikatilo. Izvestiya reported on 23 August that one of his assistants was charged with illegal possession of weapons and taking bribes, but Kolesnikov stood by him. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. DESPITE FIGHTING IN ARGUN, NEGOTIATIONS CONTINUE. Federal troops recaptured the police headquarters in Argun and forced the group of Chechen fighters led by field commander Alaudi Khanzatov to flee the town, Western and Russian agencies reported on 22 August. Russian military sources said that one Russian soldier was killed and 12 wounded during the fighting and added that at least 60 Chechen fighters had been killed. In Grozny, Chechen military commander Aslan Maskhadov said the Argun incident had been planned by the Federal Security Service (FSB), which he accused of trying to undermine the peace talks. He later added that "elements of both parties" were responsible for the incident. Maskhadov claimed the use of force in Argun violated the provisions of the 30 July military accord, declaring that if federal forces repeated the tactics used in Argun, the Chechen side would have no choice but to resume fighting. Nevertheless, on 22 August Chechen and Russian negotiators, together with mediators from the OSCE, continued discussions on the implementation of the military accord. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. CHERNOMYRDIN: PEACE TALKS WILL CONTINUE. Speaking to journalists in Barnaul during a trip to the Altai Republic, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said "provocations" like the recent incident in Argun, would not derail the ongoing peace process in Chechnya, Russian and Western agencies reported. According to ITAR-TASS, Chernomyrdin said "it is impossible to stop the negotiation process." Minister for Nationalities Vyacheslav Mikhailov, arriving in Grozny on 22 August to resume discussions on the political status of Chechnya, also reiterated the commitment of the federal government to a negotiated settlement but, added that the disarmament process, which he characterized as only "symbolic" to date, must make much more progress before a political agreement can be finalized. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. TATAR PRESIDENT APPEALS FOR RELEASE OF PILOTS. Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev appealed to the leaders of the Afghan rebel group "Taliban" for the release of the seven-member crew of a cargo plane being held in the Afghan city of Kandahar, Western and Russian agencies reported on 22 August. The IL-76 cargo plane, owned by Areostan, a company based in the Tatar capital, Kazan, was carrying ammunition purchased by the Kabul government in Albania when it was forced to land by the anti-government Taliban rebels on 3 August. Russian diplomatic efforts to secure the release of the crew have so far been unsuccessful. Shaimiev called on Taliban to release the crew on humanitarian grounds and reminded them of the "common religious beliefs of the Tatar and Afghan people." A senior Russian diplomat told Interfax that a delegation of Tatar religious leaders would soon depart for Kandahar to try and negotiate the release of the crew. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. YUGOSLAV SANCTIONS COST RUSSIA BILLIONS. Following a Moscow meeting of the Russian-Yugoslav commission on trade and technical cooperation, Russian Deputy Minister of Economics Andrei Shapovalyants told ITAR-TASS on 22 August that Russia loses billions of dollars each year as a result of UN sanctions against rump Yugoslavia. Shapovalyants estimated that before the sanctions, Russian-Yugoslav trade had been worth $7 billion annually. He added that the commission is currently preparing several economic agreements for signature but that only humanitarian aid could be sent to rump Yugoslavia until the sanctions are lifted. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Demurin said on 22 August that the meeting of the commission did not signal that Moscow is planning to unilaterally exit from the UN sanctions regime but is simply planning future joint projects which will enter into force "immediately after" the embargo is lifted by "collective action" of the UN. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. MALE LIFE EXPECTANCY FALLS TO 57.3 YEARS. The breakdown of Russia's health care system has resulted in an unprecedented rise in mortality rates and a fall in life expectancy, Labor Ministry department head Aleksandr Tkachenko told ITAR-TASS on 22 August. Tkachenko said the average life expectancy for men is now 57.3 years and for women, 71.1 years. He added that infant mortality is twice as high as in the U.S. and maternal mortality five to 10 times as high as in developed countries. Tkachenko attributed the rise in infectious diseases in Russia to the collapse of the epidemiological system, an increase in the number of refugees from other CIS countries and elsewhere, increased contamination of the water supply, a shortage of medicine, and the fall in the standard of living of much of the population. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. POLICE CRIMES. To gauge corruption among traffic police, Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov sent a truck loaded with vodka on a 700 km trip across southern Russia, Reuters reported on 22 August. Police stopped the truck 24 times and asked for bribes on 22 of those occasions, Kulikov said, adding that the state of the police reflected the poor morale of society in general. Meanwhile, on 23 August, Izvestiya reported that in Saratov Oblast a raion police chief had been arrested for heading a criminal gang. Among other crimes, the police officer, a colonel, is suspected of extorting 25.5 million rubles ($5,760) from a local farmer. The report catalogued various other offenses committed by law enforcement officers as well as cases of police incompetence and noted that eight cells in Saratov's jail are now occupied by police officers, including several members of the regional organized crime department. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. WAGE ARREARS SPARK HUNGER STRIKES IN AMUR, KUZBASS. Nineteen construction workers are on hunger strike at the Buriiskii hydroelectric power station in Amur Oblast to protest a five-month delay in the payment of their wages, Radio Mayak reported on 22 August. Another 200 workers have threatened to join the hunger strikers if the issue of their wage arrears, which amount to 40 billion rubles ($9.1 million), is not resolved by 25 August. Meanwhile, in the Kuzbass, five miners from the Krasnobrod open-cast mine are also on hunger strike to protest wage arrears, Radio Rossii reported on 22 August. Work there has come to a halt in the first strike by miners at an open-cast mine in the coal basin. The financial crisis at Krasnobrod is due primarily to nonpayments by coal consumers. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. FOREIGN OIL COMPANIES COMPETING FOR ASTRAKHAN OIL FIELDS. Eight foreign firms are vying for the right to exploit Astrakhan oil fields, Russian and Western agencies reported on 22 August. The candidate companies are Agip (Italy), British Petroleum, Total (France), Royal Dutch Shell (Britain/Netherlands), the U.S. companies Chevron, Mobil Oil, and Unocal, and the Oman Oil Company. The companies chosen will be responsible for setting up the oil fields in southern Russia and will receive, in return, a share of the oil extracted under a contract proposed by Russia. The reserves include an estimated 5-6 billion tons of oil and 400-500 billion cubic meters of gas. The first phase of exploration is expected to cost $250 million and the total cost is estimated at $2.5-3 billion. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA NAZARBAEV COUNTS ON NORTHERN REGIONS FOR SUPPORT AMIDST PROTESTS. As opposition activists continue to picket around the parliament building in Almaty, President Nursultan Nazarbaev has been widening his support base in the industrial regions of north Kazakhstan in the course of the last couple of weeks, Russian TV reported on 22 August. Already, 100,000 workers at a dozen major mining and metallurgical enterprises are reported to have expressed wholehearted support for the new constitution. Just two days before Nazarbaev's visit to the Kustanai Oblast in the north, the heads of the major enterprises held a meeting in the city of Rudny to announce the formation of a political lobby in support of the president. The push for such a move is said to have come from foreign investors in the region as well. Meanwhile, the anti- referendum demonstrators declared that other political parties and social movements are expected to join the protests and a hunger strike on 24 August. The opposition activists are urging the electorate of Kazakhstan to boycott the referendum on the constitution scheduled for 30 August. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc. KAZAKHSTAN ASSURES RUSSIA OVER CASPIAN PIPELINE. Kazakh Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin declared that the recent agreement between Kazakhstan and Turkey to set up a Kazakh pipeline to the Mediterranean Sea via Turkey would not affect the implementation of the Caspian pipeline consortium project backed by Russia and Oman, Interfax reported on 21 August. "The second pipeline through Turkey is still a matter subject to further negotiations, whereas the Caspian pipeline consortium is a concrete reality," Kazhegeldin told Interfax. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Albert Chernyshev also confirmed that increasing collaboration between Kazakhstan and Turkey will not have any adverse effect on Kazakh-Russian cooperation in the Caspian region. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc. CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO DETER AKAEV REFERENDUM? A legislative meeting of the upper chamber of the Kyrgyz parliament has proposed an amendment to the law on referendums that would ban a nationwide referendum on the extending the terms in office of the president and parliament deputies, Radio Mayak reported on 22 August. In an interview with Interfax, the director of the Center of Comparative Analysis in the Kyrgyz parliament, said the amendment is warranted because of a recent collection of signatures in support of holding a referendum on whether President Askar Akaev's term should be extended until the year 2001. (See OMRI Daily Digest, 22 August 1995). -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc. CIS CIA: NUCLEAR SMUGGLING SMALL BUT REAL. Nuclear smuggling involving Russian nuclear arsenals poses a small but real danger in the CIS and Eastern Europe, according to a CIA official who testified before the U.S. Congress on 22 August, international agencies reported. David Osias, the CIA national intelligence officer for strategic programs, said most of the more than 100 reports about smuggling nuclear weapons or weapons grade nuclear material have been either "unsubstantiated or unreliable." Weapons grade material smuggling was reported in Germany and the Czech Republic in the last year, but all other reports involved scams using low enriched uranium. Osias said Russian officials maintain a "generally effective control" over the former Soviet arsenal, but "the break-up of the Soviet Union, the opening of Russian society, and its economic difficulties have subjected the security system to stresses and risks it was not designed to withstand." -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. KUCHMA ON BLACK SEA FLEET. While visiting Sevastopol, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said the signing of the Russian-Ukrainian treaty on friendship and cooperation depends 99% on Russia, Reuters and Radio Mayak reported on 22 August. He expressed doubts that the dispute over the Black Sea Fleet, which is preventing the signing of the friendship agreement, will be settled until after the Russian election campaign. Narodna armiya reported on 10 August that the commander of the fleet, Eduard Baltin, is already flying the Russian imperial St. Andrew's flag over its ships. The fleet is still technically under both Russian and Ukrainian command and should continue to fly the Soviet naval flag instead of the Russian one. -- 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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