|Words that open our eyes to the world are always the easiest to remember. - Ryszard Kapuscinski|
No. 177, Part I, 12 September 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 PARTY LEADERS ASSESS COMMUNISTS. Union of Communist Parties leader Oleg Shenin claimed the Communists will win no less than 35% of the vote in the parliamentary elections, but prominent reformers said that such success is not guaranteed, Moskovskii komsomolets reported 12 September. The paper quoted Russia's Democratic Choice leader Yegor Gaidar as saying he sees the Communists' strength in their current opposition status while their weakness is their difficulty in finding support among voters under 30. Gaidar believes that if they do take power, the first consequences will be reimposition of state censorship, repression of other political groups, confiscation of private property, and instigation of numerous wars to defend Russian interests. According to the paper, Communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov sees his party's strength as having the best network of regional branches in Russia's cities and villages. He claimed that his main task now is to build a strong alliance of opposition groups to compete for the presidency. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. WOMEN'S GROUPS FORGE CAMPAIGN ALLIANCES. At a meeting with voters in Arkhangelsk, Women of Russia co-leader Aleftina Fedulova announced that, although her party will be running independently, its closest allies are the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and the Democratic Party of Russia, ITAR-TASS reported 12 September. Meanwhile, the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia set up a regional women's branch in the Kuzbass that will seek to instill "the spirit of Russian patriotism" in Siberian women. The organization is the first branch of Vladimir Zhirinovsky's party based on gender. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. TRETYAKOV TRIES TO REGAIN CONTROL OF NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA. Vitalii Tretyakov, editor in chief of Nezavisimaya gazeta from its creation in December 1990 until his ouster by the editorial board on 30 August, has returned to his office to try to regain control of the paper, ITAR-TASS reported on 11 September. He had been dismissed for failing to attract enough investors to revive the paper, which suspended publication due to financial problems on 24 May. Tretyakov, who considers the board's decision illegitimate, arrived accompanied by armed men from a private security firm to "restore the status quo." He then demoted deputy editor Aleksandr Gagua and acting editor-in-chief Igor Kuzmin and canceled all orders they had given to staff since 30 August. Gagua likened the standoff to internal feuds at the Bolshoi theater and other Russian organizations struggling to overcome large debts, Reuters reported. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIAN OBJECTIONS TO NATO AIRSTRIKES INTENSIFY. The Russian Foreign Ministry again demanded a halt to the airstrikes in Bosnia and said NATO's cruise missile attacks on the Bosnian Serbs had undermined the ongoing peace talks, demonstrating that NATO was more interested in asserting its "new role" in Europe than in promoting a settlement, Russian and Western media reported on 11 September. Meanwhile, at the UN, Russia said the use of American naval forces to launch missile attacks against the Bosnian Serbs "grossly violated" existing UN mandates. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIAN OFFICIALS ACCUSE CHECHENS OF HINDERING DISARMAMENT. Despite the signature on 10 September of a protocol to the 30 July military accord, providing a detailed timetable for the disarmament of Chechen fighters, Russian officials continued to complain on 11 September that little progress has been made toward disarmament. Vyacheslav Mikhailov, minister for nationalities and leading federal negotiator in Chechnya, told ITAR-TASS that only about 1,500 weapons have been handed in so far, mostly by individuals who have no connection with pro-Dudaev fighters. At a Grozny press conference, Oleg Lobov, Security Council secretary and presidential representative in Chechnya, accused Chechen leaders of deliberately hindering the disarmament process, thereby torpedoing further progress in the peace talks. Lobov did, however, express support for the idea of holding a roundtable of all political forces in Chechnya, including former Russian Supreme Soviet Chairman Ruslan Khasbulatov, to work out a political settlement of the conflict. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. KHASBULATOV MAY PLAY ROLE IN CHECHEN SETTLEMENT. Following President Boris Yeltsin's suggestion on 8 September, Ruslan Khasbulatov, former chairman of the Russian Supreme Soviet, might return to politics in his native Chechnya. Khasbulatov told ITAR-TASS on 11 September that he was prepared to form a "Council of Accord" in Chechnya to promote dialogue between the populace and the federal authorities until new elections are held. Commentators have suggested that Yeltsin proposed the political resurrection of his former arch-rival in order to isolate separatist Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev. While Khasbulatov does not advocate independence for Chechnya, however, he does reject much of current federal policy. He told journalists that local elections in the republic, which have been postponed, should be held as soon as possible. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. BANK BAILOUT DISCUSSED IN ST. PETERSBURG. St. Petersburg officials disagree over the bailout of the Severnii Torgovlii Bank, which is suffering from a liquidity crisis, Smena reported on 9 September. Viktor Khalmonski, the Russian Central Bank's representative in St. Petersburg, has asked the city's other banks to contribute to the bailout. Anatolii Zelinskii, the first deputy representative of the city's Economic and Finance Committee, suggested instead that St. Petersburg's profit tax on banks be raised from the current level of 22%--the lowest in Russia, compared with 30% in Moscow and Nizhni Novgorod--to provide funds for the bailout, but his superior, Aleksei Kudrin, ruled out a tax increase. Kudrin suggested that the city's Legislative Assembly allocate funds for the bailout. Due to the crisis, the city has recently removed all public funds deposited in the bank. -- Brian Whitmore, in St. Petersburg PAYMENTS CRISIS SHUTS DOWN MILITARY RADAR IN KALININGRAD. Planes at Kaliningrad's military airport cannot fly because the electricity supply to the airfield's radar has been cut off. Nonpayment of bills has prompted the local electricity company to shut off power to a number of other military installations in the area as well, Russian Public Television said on 11 September. A spokesman for the Baltic Fleet said "many important installations--anti-aircraft sites, communications--have been disabled." The fleet is responsible for the air defense of the Kaliningrad enclave. According to the TV report, the Kaliningrad Military District is owed large sums by the Defense Ministry, and officers serving in Kaliningrad have not been paid for two months. Reports of cuts in the Kaliningrad military's electricity supply began appearing in late August. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. PLANE BUILDERS ASK FOR STATE SUPPORT. At an 11 September round-table discussion held at the Federation Council, representatives of Russia's aircraft industry asked the legislators to increase support to the industry in the 1996 federal budget, ITAR-TASS reported. One designer called the industry "a mirror reflecting the state of science and engineering in the country." The participants said that the aircraft industry could not work its way out of its present financial quandary alone and called for state investment of some $300 million. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. CENTRAL BANK TO MAKE SECURITIES MARKET MORE ATTRACTIVE TO FOREIGNERS. Russia's Central Bank plans to attract up to 10 trillion rubles ($2 billion) in the next 4-6 months by opening up the government securities market to foreign investors, Russian and Western agencies reported on 11 September. Central Bank acting Chairwoman Tatyana Paramonova told reporters that many barriers, such as customs procedures, taxation, and lack of modern banking technology discourage foreigners from investing in treasury bills (GKOs) and federal loan bonds (OFZs). Central Bank Deputy Chairman Andrei Kozlov, who heads the bank's interim committee on foreign investment, said that within the next two months, restrictions will be lifted on repatriation of profits by non-residents investing in GKOs and OFZs. Under a Central Bank order dating back to 1993, non- residents are not allowed to repatriate profits from operations involving short-term paper and their participation is limited to 10% of each issue. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN OPENS IN MOSCOW. American fast-food giant Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) opened its doors to Muscovites on 11 September, Russian and Western agencies reported. Fast-food restaurants are now fairly common in Russia's capital, ranging from the leader-- McDonald's--to the latest Russkoe Bistro, which serves traditional Russian cuisine. Prices at the new restaurant are comparable to KFC stores in the United States, however, and 10,000 rubles ($2.25) for three spicy wings is no bargain for average Russians. KFC will use frozen American chickens: Russia is already one of the largest markets for U.S. chicken exports. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA ELECTION PREPARATIONS IN GEORGIA. In a radio interview on 11 September, Georgian leader Eduard Shevardnadze said he was confident that he would win 70-75% of the vote in the 5 November presidential elections, Western agencies reported. Jaba Ioseliani, founder of the paramilitary group Mkhedrioni, told Western reporters Monday that his group would boycott the parliamentary elections, also to be held 5 November. About 250 of the organization's 2,000 members have been arrested, mainly on weapons possession charges, in a crackdown following the recent assassination attempt on Shevardnadze. Ioseliani, who is immune to arrest thanks to his parliamentary status, accused Shevardnadze of running a "police state." He left open the possibility that he might run in the presidential election. Other candidates include Guram Kharatishvili (National Congress); Roin Liparteliani (Agrarian Union); writer Akaki Bakradze (Ilia Chavchavadze Society); and former communist leader Jumber Patiashvili (Movement for Peace). -- Peter Rutland, OMRI, Inc. BAIKONUR IN CRISIS. Leninsk, the city in Kazakhstan that houses the Baikonur cosmodrome, Russia's main space-launching station, continues to suffer a financial crisis. It has lost half its population (50,000 out of a total of 100,000) due to the exodus of its Russian military personnel and civilians, Mayor Dmitrienko [first name not given] of Leninsk told Russian Public Television on 10 September. Dmitrineko was appointed mayor earlier this year by the presidents of Russia and Kazakhstan. Leninsk's unique situation, jointly administered by the two states, leaves it with two police forces, four procurators offices, and two security services. Russia finances the city, paying 70 billion rubles ($16 million) in 1995, although the mayor complained that he still has to pay taxes to Kazakhstan. The mayor also voiced concern over the settlement of more than a hundred Kazakh families in the city, saying that only those who work at the cosmodrome are authorized to live in the city. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc. DISCONTENT IN KAZAKH ARMED FORCES. Economic discontent, corruption, and frequent changes in personnel have undermined the morale of the Kazakh armed forces and jeopardized the country's defense capability, according to an army officer quoted in Karavan on 11 August. About 70% of the officer corps has left the army in the past three years, causing a shortage of officers in the troops and in the Defense Ministry. Vacancies, some at the top levels, are being filled with reserve soldiers and civilians. The military prosecutor has admitted publicly that 40 servicemen have died this year due to violence in the army and that property worth over 9 million tenge ($150,000) has been embezzled. Corruption charges against the head of the Defense Ministry's financial department and the former deputy defense minister have already been proved. The current deputy defense minister and his subordinate are currently being tried by a military court on corruption charges (see OMRI Daily Digest, 7 September, 1995). -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc. NAZARBAEV VISITS CHINA. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev arrived in Beijing 11 September on a three-day official visit to China, Western and Chinese agencies reported on 12 September. Nazarbaev and Chinese President Jiang Zemin held a first round of talks on bilateral issues and signed an agreement on the approval of the Sino-Kazakh border treaty, a memorandum of cooperation between the two Defense Ministries, and an agreement allowing Kazakhstan to use China's Lianyungang port as transit point for its goods. It is Nazarbaev's third visit to China as Kazakh president. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc. TAJIKISTAN LATEST PARTNER IN TURKMEN-IRAN TRADE. On the heels of the barter agreement among Turkmenistan, Iran, and Ukraine, Tajikistan has also concluded an agreement with Turkmenistan and Iran, ITAR-TASS and the Iranian Republic News Agency, IRNA, reported on 11 September. The deal calls for Turkmenistan to supply impoverished Tajikistan with natural gas, which will be paid for with goods from Iran, and then Tajikistan will repay Iran with cotton. A memorandum was signed expanding economic, political, and cultural cooperation among the three countries. The foreign ministers of the three states are scheduled to meet again in December. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc. TAJIK DRUG PROBLEM GETTING WORSE. In August alone, border guards confiscated 390 kilograms of raw opium, according to ITAR-TASS on 11 September. That amount represents only a fraction of the total narcotics that eventually pass through Osh in Kyrgyzstan and from there to Russia and the West. The lucrative trade has often been cited as one of the means of support for the Tajik opposition, which converts profits from drugs into weapons to fight the Dushanbe government. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc. [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Susan Caskie 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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