|When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain|
No. 206, Part I, 23 October 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. 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 KOZYREV TO STAY, FOR NOW. Presidential spokesman Sergei Medvedev confirmed on 20 October that President Yeltsin intends to keep Andrei Kozyrev as foreign minister, Western and Russian agencies reported. Yeltsin had suggested on 19 October that he would sack Kozyrev. -- Scott Parrish YELTSIN AND CHIRAC DISCUSS YUGOSLAV CONFLICT. Following talks on 20-21 October with his French counterpart Jacques Chirac, President Boris Yeltsin told journalists that they had agreed on the terms of Russian participation in a proposed NATO-led peace implementation force for Bosnia, Russian and Western agencies reported. Yeltsin and Chirac also jointly proposed a meeting of the Croatian, Serbian, and Bosnian presidents in Moscow before the end of October in preparation for the scheduled November opening of Yugoslav peace talks in New York. -- Scott Parrish YELTSIN ADDRESSES UN. In a speech to the UN General Assembly in New York, President Boris Yeltsin warned that NATO is overshadowing the UN Security Council in the resolution of European security problems, Russian and Western agencies reported on 22 October. Yeltsin denounced NATO's recent use of force in Bosnia as "an obvious and clear-cut" violation of UN principles. He also condemned the proposed expansion of NATO, saying it would prevent the creation of "a unified Europe." Russia will participate in policing a settlement in the former Yugoslavia, Yeltsin added, but only under "a clear-cut mandate of the UN Security Council." Yeltsin will meet with U.S. President Bill Clinton to discuss Yugoslavia and other issues on 23 October. -- Scott Parrish 43 PARTIES SUBMIT SIGNATURES. Forty-three parties have submitted lists of signatures to apply for registration in the 17 December Duma election, Nikolai Ryabov, the chairman of the Central Electoral Commission (TsIK), announced on 23 October. Sixty-nine parties had announced their intention to collect the 200,000 signatures necessary to compete, ITAR-TASS reported. Twenty-five of the parties submitted their signatures on 22 October, just before the midnight deadline. Several minor parties were a few minutes late and could not submit their documents. The TsIK must check the authenticity of the signatures and register the parties by 2 November. So far eight parties have been registered: the Communist Party, the Congress of Russian Communities, the Agrarian Party, Ivan Rybkin's bloc, the Trade Unions and Industrialists of Russia-Union of Labor, the Women of Russia, the Liberal Democratic Party, and Our Home is Russia. The deadline for submitting signatures in the single-member districts is 27 October. -- Robert Orttung CONSTITUTIONAL COURT CHAIRMAN SAYS DUMA MAY NOT BE REPRESENTATIVE. The legitimacy of the State Duma could be questioned if more than half of the electorate cast a ballot for parties that do not receive 5% of the vote, Constitutional Court Chairman Vladimir Tumanov told Kommersant- Daily on 21 October. Such an outcome would mean only a minority of voters were represented in the Duma and could lead to appeals to the Constitutional Court. Tumanov questioned the validity of a scenario in which 30 parties compete but only five receive slightly more than the 5% necessary to secure representation in parliament. In 1993, about 9% of the voters supported five parties that did not clear the 5% barrier. Party of Russian Unity and Concord leader Sergei Shakhrai has proposed reducing the number of parties by forcing them to give the government a 10 billion ruble deposit that will only be returned if they win at least 5% of the vote. -- Robert Orttung COMMUNISTS TO SUE YELTSIN. Duma Deputy Anatolii Lukyanov, a Communist Party member, denounced recent remarks by President Boris Yeltsin as "interference" in the election campaign and said the Communists plan to take the president to court, Russian and Western agencies reported on 20 October. In a 19 October press conference, Yeltsin said he maintained "normal" relations with all parties except the Communists and Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party. Lukyanov said the head of state should not take sides before the December parliamentary elections, while Agrarian Party leader Mikhail Lapshin accused the president of advocating a "witch-hunt." -- Laura Belin GRACHEV MAKES PEACE WITH MOSKOVSKII KOMSOMOLETS EDITOR. Defense Minister Pavel Grachev's lawsuit against the popular daily Moskovskii komsomolets appears to have been resolved. During a 21 October interview with Grachev on Moscow TV, the paper's editor in chief, Pavel Gusev, apologized for "emotional" outbursts and accusations following the October 1994 murder of investigative reporter Dmitrii Kholodov. Grachev accepted Gusev's apology and said that "journalists are not to blame for the fall in the army's prestige." Grachev sued the paper last year for alleging that he was involved in army corruption and Kholodov's murder. ITAR-TASS speculated that the paper will offer an official apology in court on 25 October to settle the case. -- Laura Belin LOBOV SENDS MIXED SIGNALS ON CHECHNYA. Speaking at a press conference in Grozny on 21 October, presidential representative Oleg Lobov said he is "optimistic" at the prospects of a peace settlement in Chechnya, but also that he agreed with Defense Minister Pavel Grachev that military operations could be resumed if the 30 July military agreement is not implemented, Interfax reported. A round-table conference of Chechen political parties on 21 October rejected the idea of a nationwide conciliatory conference and called for the resumption of the stalled peace talks; the head of the Russian delegation to the talks, Vyacheslav Mikhailov, told Russian Public TV (ORT) that they will resume on 24 October. Mikhailov also told Ekho Moskvy that the head of the pro-Moscow Chechen government, Salambek Khadzhiev, has been offered a post in Moscow; NTV reported that Khadzhiev has resigned and recommended that the chairman of the former Chechen-Ingush Supreme Soviet, Doku Zavgaev, succeed him. -- Liz Fuller TURKEY DENIES TRAINING OF CHECHEN FIGHTERS. The Turkish Foreign Ministry has formally denied that Chechen rebels are being trained in Turkey, the Turkish Daily News reported on 23 October. The denial follows President Boris Yeltsin's allegation on 19 October that Turkey is one of several countries that are involved in training forces for Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev. The paper also noted that two of Turkey's largest construction firms, ENKA and GAMA, have decided to scrap large contracts they signed with the Russian-supported Chechen government to rebuild parts of Grozny. Russia's failure to fulfill a promise to make advance payments of $10 million to each company has reportedly soured the deal. -- Lowell Bezanis CASPIAN LITTORAL STATES TO CREATE INTER-PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY. Meeting in Makhachkala on 20-21 October, a group of legislators from the Caspian littoral states voted to create an inter-parliamentary Caspian Assembly, Radio Rossii reported on 21 October. Federation Council Deputy Chairman Ramazan Abdulatipov will head a working group of representatives from Russia, Iran, and Azerbaijan that has been formed to draft the body's founding principles. It is unclear how the assembly will divide responsibilities with the Caspian Sea Council that was reactivated by Russia two years ago. -- Liz Fuller RUSSIAN MILITARY THINK-TANK RECOMMENDS RUSSIA-WEST CONFRONTATION. A report by the Institute for Defense Studies, reportedly commissioned by the Defense Ministry, concludes that "the U.S. and its allies represent the main threat to Russian national security" and recommends a return to a nuclear stand-off and reoccupation of the Baltic states to counter Western attempts to isolate and destroy Russia, Segodnya reported on 20 October. The institute also recommends economic protectionism, a military-nuclear alliance with Iraq, Iran, and Libya, and the creation of a new state including Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine. Duma Defense Committee Chairman Sergei Yushenkov, a member of Russia's Choice, said the report is a cause for concern as it reflects the mindset of the Russian high command. -- Constantine Dmitriev SENIOR OFFICIAL ACCUSED OF SMUGGLING CHEMICAL WEAPONS. Anatolii Kuntsevich, former head of the State Committee for Converting Chemical and Biological Weapons Production Facilities, has been accused of smuggling 800 kg of toxic chemicals belonging to the military to the Middle East, Western agencies reported on 22 October. Kuntsevich was to run in the December elections on the ticket of Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party, but the party has now dropped him from its list. -- Penny Morvant FOUR ARRESTED AT OREKHOV DEFENSE RALLY. Four participants in an unsanctioned rally in Moscow to support Viktor Orekhov were taken into police custody on 20 October, Ekho Moskvy reported. One of the detainees, Yevgeniya Frumkin, has already spent five days in jail for participation in a similar rally on 17 September. Orekhov, a former KGB officer who warned dissidents of impending investigations, was sentenced to three years imprisonment in July on what his supporters say were trumped-up charges. -- Penny Morvant DUMA VOTES TO INCREASE MINIMUM WAGE. The Duma voted on 20 October to increase the minimum wage, which provides the basis for calculating numerous social benefits, from the current 55,000 rubles ($12) a month to 57,750 on 1 November, 60,500 on 1 December, and 63,250 on 1 January 1996, ITAR-TASS reported. The increases would cost an additional 400 billion rubles ($90 million) by the end of the year. The Duma earlier proposed raising the minimum to 63,250 on 1 November, which would have cost an extra 1.7 trillion rubles--a sum Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said the government could not afford. -- Penny Morvant SIGNS OF ECONOMIC STABILIZATION. After five years of decline, the situation in the Russian economy is improving, according to official figures published in Segodnya on 20 October. Industrial output fell by only 2% in the first nine months of 1995 (compared with 23% in 1994) and GDP dropped by 3%. Metallurgy, chemical, and petrochemical industries reported a rise in output, although production in light industry and agriculture fell by 32% and 10-12% respectively. There was a 16% increase in spending on consumer durables, although official data show the real income of the population fell by 12%. -- Natalia Gurushina BANKS' PLANS FOR INTERNATIONAL EXPANSION ARE HALTED. The Bank of England has blocked recent applications by Russian banks to open branches in London, Finansovye izvestiya reported on 20 October. The British authorities object to slack Russian accounting practices and suspect some of the banks of having close ties with politicians and organized crime. The banks may, however, be granted permission to set up representative offices. There are currently seven Russian banks (including Alfa bank and Most-bank) with offices in London. -- Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA AZERBAIJANI PRESS MINISTER RESIGNS TO PROTEST CHESME VERDICT. Azerbaijani Information and Press Minister Sabir Rustamkhanli announced his resignation at a Baku press conference on 20 October, Turan reported. Rustamkhanli's said he resigned in order to run in next month's parliamentary elections, but he also sharply criticized as "undemocratic" and "a violation of the law" the 19 October sentencing of five journalists connected with the satirical samizdat journal Chesme to two to five years' imprisonment (NOT 25 years as erroneously stated in the OMRI Daily Digest, 20 October 1995) for insulting President Heidar Aliev. -- Liz Fuller SHEVARDNADZE WILL NOT TRAVEL TO NEW YORK. Georgian parliament chairman Eduard Shevardnadze will not travel to New York to attend the 50th anniversary session of the UN General Assembly, Russian media reported on 21 October. Shevardnadze said that since Russia has refused to extradite former Georgian Security Service head Igor Giorgadze, who is wanted in connection with the 29 August bomb attack on Shevardnadze, Giorgadze and his supporters could take advantage of his absence from the country to perpetrate new terrorist acts in the run-up to the 5 November elections. Also on 21 October, the Stalinist Communist Party announced that it would support Shevardnadze's candidacy for Georgian president, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. -- Liz Fuller and Irakli Tsereteli NAZARBAEV COMPLETES PERSONNEL RESHUFFLE AT TOP. President Nursultan Nazarbaev announced that all personnel changes at the top echelons of power are now complete, according to a 20 October Kazakhstani TV report cited by the BBC. Nazarbaev said that about a third of the country's regional administration heads (hakims) have been replaced. Nazarbaev has also dismissed the members of the Constitutional Court and suspended its operations. In his own office, he has appointed Sagynbek Tusunov to replace Nurtai Abykaev as head of the presidential administration. Abykaev has been named ambassador to Britain. Last week, Nazarbaev appointed Kairbek Suleimenov to the post of interior minister. -- Bhavna Dave RUMORS OF COUP IN KYRGYZSTAN. The leader of the Human Rights Movement of Kyrgyzstan, Medetkan Sherimkulov, has denied allegations published in Slovo Kyrgyzstana that he is organizing a plot to overthrow President Askar Akaev. According to the article, Sherimkulov and other opponents of Akaev plan to picket the government building on 27 October, the fifth anniversary of the president's election to office. Sherimkulov, the former parliamentary speaker, is the leading presidential candidate, according to a 3 October poll of the country's political experts by Res Publica. -- Bruce Pannier [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. 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