|The only certainty is that nothing is certain. - Pliny the Elder|
No. 165, Part I, 24 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 NEW PATRIOTIC BLOC FORMS. The new political movement "For the Revival of Great Russia," which seeks to appeal to military officers, held its founding congress on 22 August, NTV reported. The movement unites Maj. Gen. Aleksandr Sterligov's Russian National Assembly (RNS), Col. Gen. Vladislav Achalov's All-Russian Officers' Assembly (VOS), and 1991 coup leader Aleksandr Tizyakov. However, the patriots appear to be just as divided as the democrats. Other patriotic military groups have begun allying with rival blocs. For example, Lt. Col. Stanislav Terekhov's Officers' Union will be working with Nikolai Ryzhkov's Power to the People, while Lt. Col. Viktor Alksnis will cooperate with former Vice President Maj. Gen. Aleksandr Rutskoi's Derzhava. Both were excluded from the leadership of the VOS, ITAR-TASS reported on 22 August. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. PAMFILOVA, LYSENKO TO LEAD NEW ELECTORAL BLOC. Ella Pamfilova, the former minister for social security in the Yegor Gaidar government, will top the party list of a new electoral bloc created by the centrist Republican Party, Interfax reported on 23 August. Pamfilova was elected to the Duma in 1993 as a leading figure in Russia's Choice. She resigned from her post as minister in January 1994 because of the slow pace of reform and quit Gaidar's party later in the year because of its support for the government's social policies. The second and third candidates on the new electoral bloc's party list will be Republican Party Chairman Vladimir Lysenko, who joined Yabloko during the 1993 campaign but left the group the following year, and Aleksandr Gurov, whom Mikhail Gorbachev appointed to lead the Soviet Interior Ministry's department for fighting organized crime. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. DUMA MEMBER ATTACKED IN DAGESTAN. State Duma deputy Sergei Reshulskii was brutally attacked in the entrance of his apartment building in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, Sovetskaya Rossiya reported on 24 August. Reshulskii was on his way to an organizational meeting of the republican Communist Party where his nomination for the post of first secretary was to be considered. He is now in the intensive care unit of the city hospital. On 14 August, unidentified assailants fired a grenade at the home of Dagestan Prime Minister Abdurazak Mirzabekov, Radio Mayak reported. There were no casualties, but the apartment sustained considerable damage. Neither of the cases has been solved. -- Robert Orttung and Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. ROSSEL'S FIRST STEPS AS SVERDLOVSK GOVERNOR. Eduard Rossel, the newly- elected governor of the Sverdlovsk Oblast, appointed former deputy administrative head Valerii Trushnikov to lead the regional cabinet, Russian Public TV reported on 23 August. Trushnikov finished third in the first round of the gubernatorial elections in Sverdlovsk, but he threw his support behind Rossel in the runoff against administrative head Aleksei Strakhov, the candidate backed by Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's bloc Our Home Is Russia. Rossel also announced that when he meets with President Boris Yeltsin in Moscow on 24 August he will ask him to sign a power-sharing agreement between federal authorities and Yeltsin's home region of Sverdlovsk within 60 days, Interfax reported. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. DISARMAMENT TALKS CONTINUE IN CHECHNYA. Talks between Russian and Chechen negotiators on the implementation of the 30 July military accord continued on 23 August, Western and Russian agencies reported. After the talks concluded for the day, General Anatolii Romanov, commander of federal forces in Chechnya, said the two sides had agreed that Chechen formations in the regions of Achkhoi-Martan and Sunzhan would disarm by 30 August, by which time federal troops would also withdraw from those areas. However, Minister for Nationalities Viktor Mikhailov complained in Moscow that a list of Chechen units to be disarmed under the accord, which Chechen military commander Aslan Maskhadov recently submitted, is incomplete. There is mounting speculation about whom President Yeltsin will appoint as his special representative in Chechnya to oversee the peace process. Mikhailov, Arkadii Volskii, and Oleg Lobov are the most frequently mentioned candidates for the position. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. SOSKOVETS PROPOSES OIL SHIPMENT TO YUGOSLAVIA. Following a meeting with rump Yugoslav Trade Minister Djordje Siradovic, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets asked the ministries of Fuel and Energy and Foreign Economic Relations to draft proposals for the shipment of an unspecified quantity of natural gas to rump Yugoslavia, Interfax reported on 23 August. Soskovets also asked the Ministry of Emergency Situations to prepare a proposal to ship 5,000 tons of fuel oil to rump Yugoslavia. Both shipments are intended as "humanitarian aid." Soskovets asked the Foreign Ministry to draw up a corresponding proposal for consideration by the UN International Sanctions Committee. Siradovic said a protocol calling for rump Yugoslavia to sell Russia 2 million tons of wheat and 1 million tons of corn is ready for signing, adding that "sanctions must be lifted from Yugoslavia as soon as possible" because of the influx of refugees from Krajina. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc RUSSIA AND CHINA SIGN BORDER AGREEMENT. After holding talks with the leaders of China's three "power" ministries in Beijing, Col. Gen. Andrei Nikolaev, head of the Federal Border Troops, signed an agreement on strengthening cooperation in guarding the 4,334 km Russo-Chinese border, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 August. The deputy commander of the Border Troops' maritime forces, Admiral Sergei Skalinov, told the agency that the new measure would provide for better information exchange and allow for improved means of preventing violations on both sides, such as smuggling and poaching. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. MOSCOW MAYOR DISPLEASED WITH CITY POLICE. Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov says he is ready to begin "an internal war" with the capital's police force because of its failure to combat crime, Interfax reported on 23 August. Luzhkov made the statement at a meeting with Moscow trade union leaders in response to a complaint by the Moscow police union that Interior Department heads are squandering money allocated to fight crime. The Moscow police have received "unprecedented financial aid over the past few years," enabling the force to be equipped "at the level of the New York police," Luzhkov asserted. Crime in Moscow rose by over 7% in the first six months of 1995 compared with the same period last year, international agencies reported on 26 July. Premeditated murder, kidnapping, extortion, swindling, and drug-related offenses were all up. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. YELTSIN SIGNS LAW ON BENEFITS FOR SEMIPALATINSK RADIATION VICTIMS. President Yeltsin has signed the Law on Social Protection for the Victims of Radiation Caused by Nuclear Tests at the Semipalatinsk test site in Kazakhstan, Krasnaya zvezda reported on 24 August. The law, passed by the Duma on 20 July, entitles people who suffered from radiation caused by the nuclear tests at Semipalatinsk between 1949 and 1963 to privileges and benefits equal to those granted to the victims of the Chornobyl accident. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. DUMA CRITICISM FOR PENSION REFORM PLAN. Sergei Kalashnikov, head of the Duma Committee for Labor and Social Security, has criticized a program recently approved by the government to reform the country's pension system, Segodnya reported on 23 August. According to Finansovye izvestiya on 22 August, the plan envisages replacing the current uniform pension system with a Western style three-tier scheme consisting of basic pensions, pensions that are dependent on contributions, and non- state pensions. Kalashnikov objects to the concept in its present form because it does not link the basic pension to the subsistence minimum. He also argues that the draft pays insufficient attention to state regulation of non-state pension funds. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. FORMER DEPUTY MINISTER DETAINED ON SUSPICION OF SMUGGLING. Federal Security Service officers have detained Andrei Dogaev, former deputy minister for foreign economic relations and now general director of the Mashinimport firm, on suspicion of involvement in the attempted smuggling of scrap copper from Russia, Segodnya reported on 23 August. Investigators believe that when, as deputy minister, Dogaev was responsible for supervising the licensing of raw material exports, not all licenses were given on sufficiently lawful grounds. As yet no charges have been brought against Dogaev. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. DATA ON JUVENILE DELINQUENCY. The number of juvenile crimes rose by 11% over the last three years, Interior Ministry official Yakov Stakhov told ITAR-TASS on 22 August. He added, however, that the number of crimes committed by minors during the first half of this year has fallen. Segodnya on 23 August quoted Stakhov as saying that the number of murders and cases of grievous bodily harm committed by youths over the last two years has doubled. It also said that over a third of juvenile offenders are aged 13 to 15, many of whom have been expelled from school, and that there has been a sharp rise in the number of drug- related offenses. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. FOOD SITUATION IN THE MILITARY BECOMING CRITICAL. The head of the Defense Ministry's central food directorate said in a 22 August interview on Russian TV that underfinancing of the military's food supplies is bringing the armed forces "to the brink of a critical situation when there will simply be nothing to feed the personnel . . . with." Vyacheslav Savinov said that the ministry currently owes almost 700 billion rubles ($160 million) to food suppliers. Lt. Gen. Valentin Panichev, the chief military prosecutor, told ITAR-TASS that a number of units are feeding their personnel with dry bread and canned food from emergency stocks. With the military behind in paying salaries, many officers and NCOs have had to moonlight at other jobs just to feed their families, while other servicemen have turned to crime to raise money. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. CITIZENS LOSE 20 TRILLION RUBLES TO FRAUDULENT FIRMS . . . Russians who were lured by promises of high interest rates to entrust their money to fraudulent firms lost 20 trillion rubles ($454.5 million) over the last two years, Gennadii Mironov, head of the independent Association of Private Investors, told Interfax on 23 August. Mironov said that about 135 firms defaulted on their obligations to depositors in Moscow, while there were over 220 such firms all over Russia. He said that the association demands that the government repay the depositors for their losses. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. . . . GOVERNMENT REFUSES TO COMPENSATE FOR LOSSES. Meanwhile, on his working trip in Altai Krai this week, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said the "government will be deaf to the outcry of defrauded depositors," Moskovskii komsomolets reported on 24 August. The government refused to compensate those who incurred losses from dealing with now defunct "pyramid" companies, such as Tibet and Selenga, despite the claims that those companies operated with unspoken approval of the Central Bank of Russia. The report said that in September 1994 the bank "mildly reproached" the managers of the companies for not applying for an official license to operate with individual depositors. However, Tibet and Selenga continued operating until January 1995 without a license. With the collapse of these schemes, investors were left high and dry. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. BROKERS TO ESTABLISH STOCK MARKET ORGANIZATION. The leaders of the brokerage associations in Moscow, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg, and St. Petersburg will join forces to establish a single nationwide stock market organization, Interfax reported on 23 August. The president of the Moscow-based Professional Association of Stock Market Agents (PAUFOR), Dmitrii Ponomaryov, told the news agency that the creation of this organization, will be the first step towards uniting trading entities and developing inter-regional rules for off-exchange stock trading. PAUFOR encompasses 64 investment companies and brokerage firms. It was founded in mid-1994 to standardize off-exchange activities. The association trades stocks through an electronic system accessible only to its members. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA ANTI-REFERENDUM ACTIVISTS REPRIMANDED. Conflicting reports continue on the action taken against the anti-referendum activists in Almaty. Authorities in Kazakhstan have fined 17 opposition activists for staging an unauthorized rally and hunger strike outside the parliament building on 21 August, Interfax reported on 22 August. The opposition sources stated that a former parliament deputy who went on a hunger strike, Vladimir Chernyshev, was beaten at the entrance of his apartment on the night of 21 August and received "serious brain damage, rib fractures, and other injuries." If the new constitution is approved by voters in the referendum on 30 August, the day is likely to become a new national holiday. The draft constitution, which incorporates the 1,100 most important additions proposed in the course of a nationwide discussion, was published on 1 August. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc. BHUTTO VISITS KAZAKHSTAN, KYRGYZSTAN. Kazakhstan and Pakistan signed several agreements on economic cooperation during Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's visit to Almaty, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 August. Among those are agreements on protecting investments, double taxation, visas, and travel. Both countries agreed to step up cooperation to tackle terrorism and drug trafficking. This was Bhutto's first visit to Kazakhstan; a visit scheduled for the summer of 1994 was canceled due to Islamabad's displeasure over Kazakhstan's decision to bar flights from Pakistan, alleged to be carrying cholera-infected visitors. Bhutto will arrive in Kyrgyzstan on 25 August to take part in the 1,000th anniversary celebrations of the folk epic Manas. Pakistan, Iran, and Turkey are founding members of the 10-nation Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), which includes the five Central Asian republics, Azerbaijan, and Afghanistan. -- Bhavna Dave, 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
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