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No. 167, Part I, 28 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 DERZHAVA HOLDS CONGRESS. Derzhava's top three candidates will be former Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi, former Liberal Democratic Party campaign organizer Viktor Kobelev, and the press secretary for the Metropolitan of St. Petersburg, Konstantin Dushenov, NTV reported. Rutskoi told his 26 August party congress that its main strength lies in the fact that it did not participate in the 1993 Duma elections and did not make empty promises. He rejected any alliances with other groups because of the "snobbism, opportunism, and the personal ambitions of political leaders who dream of being president." Rutskoi announced that his main themes would be restoring Russia as a great power within its natural borders as well as "housing, food, clothing, health care, education, ecology, and personal and collective security." Rutskoi's party does not have enough money to run an effective national campaign, according to Kommersant-Daily on 26 August. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. COMMUNIST PARTY DECIDES ELECTION STRATEGY. Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov, former RSFSR Supreme Soviet Deputy Chairwoman Svetlana Goryacheva, and Kemerovo Oblast Legislative Assembly Chairman Aman Tuleev will top the Communist Party's list, the party's conference decided on 26 August, ITAR-TASS reported. The party's campaign platform calls for forming a government of national salvation and "eliminating the catastrophic consequences of the reforms." The platform also outlines the party's plans for the June 1996 presidential race. Zyuganov denounced the extreme Communist groups for seeking "Communist purity" and affirmed that his party's platform is based on "Marxist dialectics." The party will cooperate with Nikolai Ryzhkov's Power to the People movement and Mikhail Lapshin's Agrarian Party, Ekho Moskvy reported. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. MASYUK INTERVIEWS BASAEV AGAIN. NTV journalist Yelena Masyuk interviewed Chechen field commander Shamil Basaev, who led the 14-19 June operation in Budennovsk, and Chechen fighter Alauda Khamzatov, who led last week's raid on police headquarters in Argun, for the network's popular weekly current events show "Itogi." The interview is a challenge to the Procurator General's Office, which on 13 July opened a criminal investigation of Masyuk for allegedly concealing information from law enforcement authorities following her 26 June interview of Basaev. Other Russian and Western journalists who interviewed Basaev in recent weeks have not faced criminal investigations, leading NTV to charge that the network has been singled out in an official campaign of intimidation. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. THIRD CONGRESS OF RUSSIA'S DEMOCRATIC CHOICE FORMS "UNITED DEMOCRATS" BLOC. Delegates to the third congress of Yegor Gaidar's Russia's Democratic Choice agreed to form a new electoral bloc called Russia's Democratic Choice--United Democrats, Russian media reported on 26 August. The bloc will include Yurii Chernichenko's Peasant's Party, Aleksandr Yakovlev's Russian Party of Social Democracy, Women for Solidarity, and Soldiers for Democracy. According to Ekho Moskvy, Gaidar will lead the bloc's party list, followed by human rights activist Sergei Kovalev, the actress Lidiya Fedoseeva-Shukshina, and General Eduard Vorobev, who refused to lead the military operation in Chechnya. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. MOSCOW BRANCH OF OUR HOME IS RUSSIA FORMED. At the founding conference of the Moscow branch of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's bloc Our Home Is Russia, Mayor Yurii Luzhkov confirmed that the city's government will support the bloc, NTV reported. The bloc's regional council includes the deputy head of the Moscow government, Ernest Bakirov, Vechernyaya Moskva editor-in-chief Aleksandr Lisin, and cultural figures such as singer Lyudmila Zykina. The Moscow branch became the 83rd regional organization of the prime minister's bloc, which will hold its second nationwide congress on 2-3 September. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. LOBOV APPOINTMENT CONFIRMED. In an interview with ITAR-TASS on 25 August, President Boris Yeltsin confirmed that he had appointed Security Council secretary Oleg Lobov as his special representative in Chechnya. Yeltsin said Lobov will have authority over all military and civilian authorities in Chechnya during the "transitional period" before new elections. Lobov will continue to serve as Security Council secretary, said Yeltsin, adding that he expects Lobov's assignment in Chechnya to last about one year. Lobov's appointment did not meet with the approval of Khodz-Akhmed Yarikhanov, lead Chechen negotiator, who told NTV in Grozny that he would have preferred to see someone of "a more peaceful profession" appointed to the position. Lobov, who supported the decision to send federal troops to Chechnya, beat out more moderate candidates such as Arkadii Volskii and Vyacheslav Mikhailov, although he reportedly did not want the appointment. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. AFGHAN REBELS RAISE NEW DEMANDS FOR RELEASE OF RUSSIAN CREW. A Russian delegation, led by Timur Akulovyi, a representative of Tatarstan, failed to gain the release of the seven crew members of a Tatar-owned IL-76 cargo plane, who have been held captive by Afghan rebels since being forced to land in the Afghan city of Kandahar on 3 August, Russian and Western agencies reported on 27 August. Akulavyi told ITAR-TASS that the rebels said they could discuss the release of the plane's crew only at an "international conference" to be held in Kandahar and only in exchange for a written promise from Russia not to aid any of the parties involved in the ongoing Afghan civil war. On 25 August, Patriarch Aleksei II and Russian Supreme Mufti Sheikh-ul-Islam Talgat Tadzhuddin issued a joint appeal for the "immediate liberation" of the crew, Interfax reported. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. YELTSIN ADDRESSES MVD COLLEGIUM. Making his first public appearance of the week on 25 August, President Yeltsin addressed a meeting of the Interior Ministry (MVD) collegium, Russian and Western agencies reported. There had been renewed speculation about the president's state of health following his failure to attend an airshow on 22 August. At the MVD meeting, the president again emphasized the threat crime poses to national security and said the ministry, the structure of which has remained virtually unchanged for the past decade, should be reorganized to combat it. Yeltsin stressed the importance of upgrading the role of operational units and local police to create "a strong and mobile" system. He also emphasized the need to solve high-profile crimes such as "contract killings" and take steps to prevent juvenile crime, the criminalization of the economy, and illegal arms dealing, ITAR-TASS reported. Kommersant-Daily argued on 26 August that the main purpose of the meeting was to show that Yeltsin fully supports the policies of the new interior minister, Anatolii Kulikov, who has made major personnel changes in the upper ranks of the ministry. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. U.S. WARNS OF POSSIBLE TERRORIST ATTACKS IN ST. PETERSBURG. The U.S. State Department announced on 25 August that it had received threats of possible attacks on U.S. citizens traveling in St. Petersburg. It said tour groups comprising U.S. citizens may be at greatest risk, adding that the warning covered the period from late August through early September, AFP and ITAR-TASS reported. U.S. officials advised travelers to be cautious, watch their luggage, and avoid accepting gifts and packages. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. KOKOSHIN CALLS FOR MORE MONEY FOR DEFENSE INDUSTRY. First Deputy Defense Minister Andrei Kokoshin, the highest ranking civilian in the ministry, urged the government on 26 August to support the defense industry and give the military the money allotted to it in the 1995 budget. ITAR-TASS quoted him as saying the military had received just a little more than 35% of what they needed to buy new weapons and support weapons research and development. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX TO BE RESTRUCTURED. President Yeltsin's aide for military and technical cooperation told a press conference on 25 August that the government had approved a plan to restructure Russia's military-industrial complex. Interfax quoted Boris Kuzyk as saying the plan involved the formation of "Financial-Industrial Groups (FIG)" made up of weapons designers, producers, banks, insurance, and investment companies. He said that two or three FIGs would be formed this year--one involving the main designers and producers of MiG-29 fighters. It would consist of 20 to 35 aviation enterprises and five banks. Kuzyk added that other CIS and foreign companies might participate in future FIGs but added that the government would exert strict control over the new group's activities. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. BANKS FACE TEST AFTER CREDIT CRUNCH . . . Russian banks face a survival test this week after the Central Bank of Russia infused cash into the economy on 24-25 August to ease a severe credit crunch, Russian and Western agencies reported. The Central Bank and government said their actions would be enough to calm the crisis, which triggered fears of bank closures or mergers. The non-payments crisis emerged after some banks ceased lending, fearing they would not get their money back. On 24 August, overnight interest rates sky-rocketed to 1,000% from 300% the day before. The Central Bank made 300 billion rubles ($68 million) worth of short-term credits available to the banks. It also bought treasury bills worth 1 trillion rubles ($227 million) on 25 August to infuse extra cash into the economy, but the credit market remained inactive. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. . . . PARAMONOVA SAYS SITUATION WILL RETURN TO NORMAL. While Central Bank acting Chairwoman Tatyana Paramonova said the credit crunch was over and conditions should return to normal this week, doubts remained about whether the action was sufficient to revive the market, Segodnya reported on 26 August. Further cash injections could lead to higher inflation and a weakening of financial policy, the publication indicated. First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais said on 25 August that the credits would not be inflationary or knock economic reforms off track. Meanwhile, Kommersant-Daily on 26 August argued that the government could not have ignored the crisis with parliamentary elections due in December; to allow the collapse of fairly large banks on the eve of elections would have meant practically giving away most of the votes to the left-wing opposition. Some bankers said the crisis marked a shake-up of the system and will lead to a restructuring of the banking system. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. SIBERIAN AGREEMENT MEMBERS SIGN PROTOCOL OF INTENT. The 19 Russian Federation subjects that are members of the regional association known as the Siberian Agreement have signed a protocol of intent to organize a common promissory note circulation zone, Kommersant-Daily reported on 25 August. The idea is that promissory notes issued by any republic, krai, or oblast that is an association member will be legal tender throughout the entire zone to pay for supplies or as local taxes. Authorized banks would have to agree on mutual acceptance of each other's promissory notes. At the moment, only Tveruniversalbank's promissory notes are freely circulating throughout the Siberian Agreement territory. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA NAZARBAEV PREDICTS VICTORY IN REFERENDUM. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev predicted that the draft constitution would be approved by a wide margin in the 30 August referendum, Reuters reported on 25 August. Nazarbaev said it is especially important that executive power be strengthened during a time of crisis and chaos in a multiethnic state. The various opposition parties, who have formed a united anti-referendum bloc, have denounced the new constitution for concentrating too much power in the presidential office. Six out of 10 constitutional court judges also concurred that the draft constitution would curtail "human rights and civil liberties [and] distort the principle of balance of powers," according to Reuters. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIA OFFERED MANAGEMENT OF KAZAKH ENTERPRISES. Kazakh Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin has offered the Russian corporation ROSKONTRAKT the opportunity to take over the management of several dozen industrial enterprises, with an eventual possibility of buying them from Kazakhstan, Radio Rossii reported on 27 August. The director of ROSKONTRAKT, Stanislav Anisimov, told Interfax that the enterprises include machine tool and ore-processing industries. It is believed that a take over by Russia would enhance their produtivity and efficiency. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc. KYRGYZSTAN-PAKISTAN AGREE TO COOPERATE. Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and Kyrgyz Prime Minister Apas Dzhamagulov signed agreements on the mutual protection of investments, joint action against drug trafficking, and the possible sale of Kyrgyz electricity to Pakistan during talks in Bishkek, Interfax reported on 26 August. The two prime ministers also discussed the prospects of constructing an international highway through China and Kazakhstan that would connect the land-locked republic of Kyrgyzstan to Karachi. Bhutto earlier denounced India's policy in Kashmir, condemning the brutalities committed by Indian soldiers in crushing the demands for self-determination among the local population, AFP reported on 26 August. The Kyrgyz authorities voiced support for Pakistan's position on Kashmir, according to a source in the Pakistani government who requested anonymity. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc. UZBEKISTAN'S PRIORITIES. At a briefing in Tashkent in advance of the fourth anniversary of Uzbekistan's independence, President Islam Karimov named four priority tasks facing the republic: ensuring stability, establishing a class of property owners, eliminating a "dependency culture," and making citizens more aware of the value of independence, Uzbek Television reported on 25 August. Karimov also said that he anticipates the som will be made convertible soon, Interfax reported the same day. -- Lowell Bezanis, 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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