|Comedy is an escape, not from truth but from despair; a narrow escape into faith. - Christopher Fry|
No. 207, Part I, 24 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 ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ JOURNALISTS: A directory of OMRI analysts covering Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union is now available. You can access it from OMRI's World Wide Web page (http://www.omri.cz/SD/SDIntro.html) or request a hard copy by sending an e-mail to email@example.com ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ RUSSIA YELTSIN-CLINTON SUMMIT: STYLE OVER SUBSTANCE? At a jovial 23 October press conference, President Boris Yeltsin and his U.S. counterpart, Bill Clinton, announced that they had agreed that Russian troops would participate in policing a future Bosnian peace settlement, Russian and Western agencies reported. But while the two presidents rhetorically lauded the virtues of "partnership," their meeting generated few substantive results. The two leaders admitted that the details of Russian participation, after weeks of talks, remain unresolved. The presidents agreed to push for rapid ratification of START-2, revision of the flank limitations in the 1990 CFE treaty, and a total ban on nuclear testing in 1996. The two sides had already been in general agreement on those issues before the summit. -- Scott Parrish YELTSIN HINTS AT PRESIDENTIAL BID. The tough tone of President Yeltsin's 22 October speech to the UN and his statements during his meeting with UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali indicate that he will seek a second term, according to Izvestiya on 24 October. During their meeting in Washington, Yeltsin gave President Bill Clinton a pair of T-shirts from the Moscow Penguins hockey team. The jerseys bore the names of the presidents on the front and "96" on the back, AFP reported. -- Robert Orttung COUNCIL OF EUROPE CONSIDERS RUSSIAN APPLICATION. At a meeting in Moscow on 23 October, a committee of the Council of Europe began hearings on Russia's application for membership in the 36-member parliamentary assembly, Russian agencies reported. Most Russian political parties support Russia's entry into the council; it is opposed by Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party. Council officials expressed optimism that Russia, which had its application frozen earlier this year because of Chechnya, will be admitted to full membership in January 1996. Belarus and Croatia are also under consideration for membership; Ukraine and Macedonia were admitted last week. -- Scott Parrish YAVLINSKII PLAYS CHINA CARD. Speaking in Chelyabinsk, Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii warned that an economic crisis is brewing in China which could unleash a flood of immigrants into Russia, ITAR-TASS reported. Yavlinskii claimed that there are already approximately 5 million Chinese living in Russia illegally, a figure much higher than other data indicate. Li Fenglin, the Chinese ambassador to Russia, told Tikhookeanskaya zvezda on 14 September that the problem of Chinese immigration to Russia "simply does not exist." -- Robert Orttung RYABOV: YELTSIN DID NOT VIOLATE ELECTORAL LAW. Central Electoral Commission Chairman Nikolai Ryabov said President Yeltsin did not violate the electoral law when he recently stressed the need to prevent a Communist victory in the December parliamentary elections, Interfax reported on 23 October. In an almost Orwellian phrase, Ryabov said the article of the law prohibiting "federal bodies of power and their employees" from campaigning for or against political parties does not apply to Yeltsin, because as head of state he is neither a federal body of power nor an employee of one. The Communist Party pledged to sue the president following his 19 October remarks. However, while letting Yeltsin off the hook, Ryabov suggested that Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin should step down from his government post for at least a week or two before the elections, when he will be campaigning for Our Home Is Russia, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. -- Laura Belin BAD TIMES FOR DEMOCRATIC RUSSIA. Democratic Russia, the anti-Communist umbrella movement that became one of the most powerful political forces of the Gorbachev period, managed to acquire just 35,000 signatures this year--far short of the 200,000 required to appear on the ballot, Izvestiya reported on 24 October. Meanwhile, Democratic Russia co- chairman Gleb Yakunin withdrew his candidacy for a Duma seat in a single-member constituency in Moscow, according to Interfax. The Party of Economic Freedom, whose leader Konstantin Borovoi is running for the same seat, alleged that Yakunin failed to submit enough valid signatures, but the secretary of the local electoral commission said Yakunin himself decided to quit the race. -- Laura Belin LIST OF CRIMINAL DUMA CANDIDATES RELEASED. On 23 October, Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) Chairman Nikolai Ryabov handed Interfax the list of 87 candidates running for the Duma who are currently under investigation or had been formerly convicted (see OMRI Daily Digest, 4 October, 1995). Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) leads with 12 candidates who had served criminal sentences; two of them were sentenced by military courts. Aleksandr Rutskoi's Derzhava movement includes six people who have been sentenced. Four candidates from the Communist Party, three from Forward, Russia!, and two each from Yabloko and the Agrarian Party were earlier sentenced for various crimes. Existing legislation bars a person from taking a seat in the Duma if they have been convicted of a criminal offense, but once elected deputies are immune from prosecution. -- Anna Paretskaya MUHAMMADIYA MEDRESSE CASE RESOLVED. The disputed status of the former Muhammadiya medresse and mosque in Kazan has been resolved, according to Radio Rossii on 20 October. The government of Tatarstan has put the complex under the jurisdiction of a medresse functioning there already; it will not be put under the control of the republic's Muftiyat for administrative purposes nor converted into an Islamic university as Tatar Mufti Gabdullah Galiulla had demanded. Six months ago, the complex was to be transferred to those operating the medresse, but others using the complex dragged their feet on it. After Galiulla put forward his own demands, the case became divisive for Kazan's Muslim community, while non-Muslims who opposed both transfer options played up the specter of Islamic militancy. The rector of the medresse, Vinerulla Yakupov, told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir service that Tatar President Mintimer Shamiyev was instrumental in quickly resolving the dispute. -- Lowell Bezanis PERSONNEL CHANGES IN CHECHNYA. As anticipated, the head of the pro- Moscow Chechen government of National Revival, Salambek Khadzhiev, formally announced his resignation on 23 October; he has been offered the post of chairman of the Russian State Committee for Industry, Russian TV reported. The head of the Chechen National Accord Committee, Umar Avturkhanov, was quoted by Russian Public TV (ORT) as saying that he has been offered the post of Russian tax police deputy chairman and will also resign. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin has approved both of the new appointments. Khadzhiev is likely to be succeeded by former Chechen-Ingush Supreme Soviet Chairman Doku Zavgaev, and Avturkhanov by his first deputy, Lecha Magomadov. -- Liz Fuller RUSSIA, IRAN TO DRAW UP NEW LEGAL STATUS FOR CASPIAN. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksei Bolshakov is due in Tehran on 24 October with a new draft proposal on the legal status of the Caspian Sea, AFP reported, quoting an interview given by Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Maleki to the Iran News. The draft excludes any partition of the sea by littoral states, each of which would be limited to a 10-mile stretch of territorial water for mineral exploitation and a 20-mile zone for fishing; a board consisting of representatives form all five littoral states would jointly oversee the exploitation of oil reserves lying outside the 10-mile zone. -- Liz Fuller RUSSIAN TROOPS GO TO KANSAS FOR EXERCISE. About 150 Russian servicemen left Tomsk for Fort Riley, Kansas, on 23 October to participate in the joint Russian-U.S. exercise, Peacemaker '95, Interfax reported. Russian officials had postponed the exercise to protest NATO actions in the former Yugoslavia. A similar joint exercise was held in September 1994 in Tomsk, Russia. -- Constantine Dmitriev OREKHOV'S SENTENCE REDUCED. A Moscow court decided on 23 October to uphold the charges against former KGB officer and dissident Viktor Orekhov but to reduce his sentence to one year, NTV reported. Orekhov was sentenced to three years' imprisonment in July for the illegal possession of a weapon, but his supporters maintain that the charges were fabricated and appealed the verdict on procedural grounds. In the opinion of Valeriya Novodvorskaya, leader of the radical Democratic Union, the security services were trying to even up the score with Orekhov, who in the 1970s informed dissidents about KGB actions. -- Penny Morvant CONCERN OVER PRISON OVERCROWDING. About 275,000 pre-trial prisoners are being held in facilities designed to accommodate no more than 174,000 people, Duma Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin said in a letter to presidential chief of staff Sergei Filatov. According to Rossiiskie vesti on 24 October, more than a third of remand centers were erected in the 17th-19th centuries and 26 of them are unfit for habitation. Altogether there are almost one million inmates in Russian prisons, and the number is rising by about 10% a year. -- Penny Morvant ABORTIONS OUTNUMBER BIRTHS BY 2:1. The Russian Family-planning Association said on 23 October that more than 3 million abortions are carried out in Russia every year, ITAR-TASS reported. In 1992, there were 216 abortions for every 100 live births; in 1993, 235; and in 1994, 217. Health officials are most concerned about the increase in the number of terminations among teenagers. The number of girls under 18 undergoing abortions has more than doubled over the last five years. -- Penny Morvant DUMA APPROVES NEW FAMILY CODE. The Duma has passed the draft Family Code in its third reading, Russian TV reported on 21 October. The new code, two years in the making, provides the legal basis for resolving numerous problems related to the family such as custody of children and alimony payments. Meanwhile, the Social Security Ministry announced on 19 October that the number of teenaged mothers in Russia is increasing every year. According to Interfax, one in six children were born to women aged between 15 and 19 in 1994. -- Penny Morvant FOREIGN INDEBTEDNESS INCREASES. Russia's indebtedness to foreign creditors has reached $113 billion, Russian TV reported on 21 October. Russia owes $35 billion to private creditors (the Paris Club), $28 billion to official creditors (London Club), and $8 billion to foreign companies. Another $16 billion in interest and repayments will fall due in 1996. At the same time, Russia claims that developing countries owe it about $170 billion. -- Natalia Gurushina GOVERNMENT PROGRAM TO STIMULATE INVESTMENT. The government has adopted a new program to stimulate domestic and foreign investment in Russia, Segodnya reported on 21 October. The bulk of investment in the country is self-financing by firms: federal investment programs in 1996 will only account for about 1.5% of GDP and commercial bank credit for 3%. It is hoped that the proportion of foreign investment in the total amount of investment will increase from 3.3% in 1995 to 5.2% in 1997 and 10% by the end of the decade. -- Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA RUSSIAN-ABKHAZ AGREEMENT ON RAIL TRAFFIC. On 20 October, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksei Bolshakov and Abkhaz Prime Minister Gennadii Gagulia signed a protocol on the resumption of rail traffic from the Russia through Abkhazia to Tbilisi and Baku, Interfax reported on 23 October. Traffic was halted after the onset of hostilities between the Abkhaz secessionist government and Tbilisi in 1992; Russian and Georgian officials signed an agreement on its resumption during Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's visit to Tbilisi in September. Also on 23 October, Russian border guards moved to blockade the Abkhaz port of Sukhumi as part of a move to disrupt sea traffic between Abkhazia and Turkey. -- Liz Fuller KAZAKHSTANI OFFICIALS JAILED FOR ILLEGAL EXPORT OF WEAPONS. The former deputy defense minister of Kazakhstan, General Valerii Sapsaev, and a senior defense official, Colonel Zhailaubai Sadibekov, have been sentenced to eight- and four-year jail terms respectively for illegally exporting $2 million worth of weapons, Reuters reported on 23 October. Sapsaev is the first senior official to be sentenced since the government began a concerted inquiry into allegations published in Karavan of top level corruption within defense ranks (see OMRI Daily Digest, 7 and 12 September 1995). The convictions coincided with the seizure by Russian customs officials of a trainload of weapons on their way from Kazakhstan to North Korea. -- Bhavna Dave WORLD BANK POSITIVE ON UZBEK ECONOMY. A report recently released by the World Bank praised Uzbekistan's economic performance over the first six months of 1995, Interfax reported on 23 October. The monthly inflation rate dropped from 17% in January to 1.6% in June, even though price liberalization continued. Uzbek President Islam Karimov has tried to avoid "shock therapy" and has pursued privatization and monetary reform in a more gradual fashion over the past three years. -- Roger Kangas MILITARY MANEUVERS IN TURKMENISTAN. The Turkmen national army recently completed its first military exercises, according to Zaman on 24 October. Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov, Defense Minister and Chief of the General Staff Danatar Kopekov, and a host of diplomats and journalists watched the exercises, which allegedly involved tanks supported with air cover. Other details have not been made available. -- Lowell Bezanis [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
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.