|To live is so startling, it leaves little time for anything else. - Emily Dickinson|
No. 230, Part I, 28 November 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 ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^TODAY'S TOP STORY^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ UKRAINIAN MINISTER WELCOMES SOCHI ACCORDS. Speaking in Kiev, Ukrainian Defense Minister General Valerii Shmalov welcomed the results of the military agreements signed with Russia last week in Sochi, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 November. He said "our two powers have great military- industrial potential, which must be used to the benefit of both sides." As part of the agreements, Russia has agreed to hand over to Ukraine some 150 naval installations belonging to the Black Sea Fleet, with all their equipment, commencing on 1 December. -- Peter Rutland ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ RUSSIA YELTSIN LEAVES HOSPITAL FOR SANITARIUM. On 27 November, President Boris Yeltsin left the hospital where he has been recovering from heart trouble since 26 October. He will continue his treatment in the suburban Moscow Barvikha sanitarium for several more weeks, Rossiiskie vesti reported. Yeltsin's wife Naina, now in Paris for an international conference on children's rights, repeated her wish that her husband not seek a second term but added that "it is hard to give him advice." -- Robert Orttung ROSSEL DENIES THAT HE WILL FORM BLOC WITH SHUMEIKO. Sverdlovsk Governor Eduard Rossel denied that he would work with Federation Council Speaker Vladimir Shumeiko to form a new bloc called Russian Reforms-New Course. Only last week Rossel had signed the document creating the new movement, Interfax reported on 27 November. Rossel apparently changed his mind after a personal meeting with President Yeltsin on 24 November, during which Yeltsin told him Shumeiko's bloc was "no good" and advised him not to spend any time on it, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 27 November. Rossel also said that he did not like the bloc's name, since the idea of a new "course" had been invoked too often in Russian history. Rossel will continue to try to build his Transformation of the Fatherland into a strong party of the regions. -- Robert Orttung VOLSKII SEEKS ALLIANCE WITH COMMUNISTS. Arkadii Volskii, one of the leaders of Trade Unions and Industrialists of Russia-Union of Labor, announced that his bloc would be willing to work with Gennadii Zyuganov's Communists if it wins seats in the next Duma, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 November. However, Communist Duma Deputy Viktor Ilyukhin said that many people who two to three years ago rejected the word "communist" now seek alliances with the party because it is leading in the polls. He proposed that Volskii first get himself elected to the Duma and then worry about forging alliances, Ekho Moskvy reported. -- Robert Orttung FIRST CANDIDATE APPLIES FOR PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. Vladimir Voronin, the head of the TIBET Association of Investors, became the first candidate to apply officially for the June 1996 presidential elections, Russian media reported on 27 November. The same day Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia leader, confirmed that he intends to run for the office next summer, according to Ekho Moskvy. On 28 November, ITAR-TASS reported that former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev said he might join the presidential race. Stanislav Govorukhin, a film director and leader of his own electoral bloc, Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii, and deputy leader of the Congress of Russian Communities Lt. Gen. (ret.) Aleksandr Lebed announced last week that they would run for president, though none of them has officially applied (see OMRI Daily Digest, 21 November 1995). -- Anna Paretskaya ELECTORAL COMMISSION LOOKS INTO CAMPAIGN FUNDING. Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) Chairman Nikolai Ryabov said he is investigating some parties' campaign financing for the Duma election, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 November. If a party is found in violation of the rules, the TsIK will turn the case over to the Supreme Court, which could drop the party from the December polls and forward the case to the Procurator General's Office if violations are discovered. Ryabov said the TsIK will release the results of its investigation on 1 December. -- Anna Paretskaya YAKOVLEV ON COMMUNIST REPRESSION OF RELIGION. The Commission for Rehabilitating Victims of Political Repression submitted a report to President Yeltsin on 27 November calling for the rehabilitation of those who were persecuted under communist religious repression from 1917 to 1980, Russian and Western agencies reported. Commission head Aleksandr Yakovlev said that about 200,000 religious figures were brutally murdered by the Soviet regime for their beliefs and that the communists destroyed "40,000 churches, half of the country's Muslim places of worship, and over half of the Jewish synagogues." He then blasted Gennadii Zyuganov's Communists for "falling in love" with the Russian Orthodox Church to enhance their public image, saying to do so "without repentance shows the very extreme of moral decline." Yakovlev denied that the timing of the report's release was intentional but added that he would be "very satisfied" if it dealt a blow to the Communists' election chances. -- Penny Morvant MAVRODI LOSES CASE AGAINST IZVESTIYA. Sergei Mavrodi, chairman of the notorious MMM investment fund, has lost a 400 million ruble ($90,000) lawsuit against Izvestiya, the paper reported on 25 November. Mavrodi sued because of two articles in which he was called a swindler and a scoundrel (one of the articles was written by Forward, Russia! leader Boris Fedorov). He argued that such labels are libelous since he has not been sentenced by any court for a crime. Izvestiya asserted that Mavrodi has filed similar lawsuits against other media organizations in attempts to create a legal precedent that would shield him from future accusations in the media. The Duma voted to strip Mavrodi of his immunity and his mandate on 6 October so that he could be prosecuted for the activities of the MMM fund (see OMRI Daily Digest, 9 October 1995). -- Laura Belin in Moscow DEPUTIES DECRY MARKIDONOV INVESTIGATION. Duma Deputy Aleksei Levushkin on 27 November attacked the security services' investigation into the death of fellow Stability member Sergei Markidonov, arguing that the killing was politically motivated rather than the result of a drunken dispute between the deputy and his bodyguard as police in Chita Oblast had initially concluded, NTV reported. Levushkin said that forensic reports showed no alcohol in Markidonov's blood and that he had died while sleeping. He also dismissed later suggestions by the Chita Procurator's Office that the bodyguard had accidentally killed Markidonov by mishandling his gun. Other Duma deputies, including Common Cause member Irina Khakamada, have also criticized the investigation, Izvestiya reported on 28 November. -- Penny Morvant CHELYABINSK AUTHORITIES DEPORT ILLEGAL CHINESE IMMIGRANTS. Chelyabinsk police sent nine illegal Chinese immigrants by plane back to China, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 November. The immigrants were arrested during raids conducted by local authorities, who claim that illegal immigrants are involved in criminal activities and believe that most Chinese living in Chelyabinsk do not have valid visas. The deportation is part of an ongoing campaign against illegal immigration in the city which was launched two months ago. -- Scott Parrish RUSSIA AND SOUTH AFRICA SIGN ACCORDS. Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets and South African Vice Premier Thabo Mbeki signed a military-technical agreement, a tax accord, and a consular agreement in Pretoria, Russian and Western agencies reported on 27 November. Soskovets, on a four-day visit, later met with South African President Nelson Mandela, to whom he presented a medal and a personal message from President Yeltsin. Accompanying Soskovets are officials of Almazy Rossii-Sakha, Russia's largest diamond producer, who are negotiating the renewal of a 1990 contract with De Beers Consolidated Mines under which Russia markets 95% of its diamonds through the South African firm. The contract expires this year, and although some reports suggest that Russia might establish an independent marketing agency to rival De Beers, Soskovets told journalists that he expects a new agreement to be concluded. -- Scott Parrish GRACHEV DENIES EXCLUDING FOREIGN MINISTRY. Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev denied that there are differences between his ministry and the Foreign Ministry over Russian policy toward NATO and possible Russian participation in the planned Bosnian peace implementation force. Grachev, contradicting comments made by Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev on 24 November, (See OMRI Daily Digest, 27 November 1995), said the Russian position on those issues was worked out in consultation with Foreign Ministry officials. A Defense Ministry spokesman later refuted speculation in the Russian press that Grachev has taken over part of Kozyrev's responsibilities. However, the denials do little to conceal Kozyrev's increasingly marginalized position in Russian foreign policy decision-making. -- Scott Parrish ARKHANGELSK TEACHERS STRIKE, VORKUTA MINERS SAY THEY WILL TOO. Teachers from 37 schools in Arkhangelsk went on strike on 27 November to demand a raise and the timely payment of their wages, ITAR-TASS reported. Local officials, however, say they have paid their debts to the schools and do not have the resources to satisfy the teachers' demand that their salaries be doubled to equal the average wage in industry. Meanwhile, in another manifestation of worker discontent, miners in Vorkuta resolved on 27 November to begin a regional strike on 1 December under the slogan: "Don't vote on 17 December for blocs and parties that include members of the Chernomyrdin cabinet," Russian TV reported. -- Penny Morvant RUSSIAN ARMS EXPORTS RISE. Russian arms exports could reach $3.5 billion next year, presidential adviser Boris Kuzyk told ITAR-TASS on 24 November. Arms exports in 1995 will reach $2.5 billion, up from $1.7 billion last year, according to Russian Public TV (ORT) on 22 November. Aleksandr Koletkin, the head of the Rosvooruzhenie company, said that $6 billion worth of future contracts have been signed this year, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 24 November. Rosvooruzhenie, which has a monopoly on arms exports, was set up in November 1993. Last week, an additional body was established to supervise arms exports: the State Committee for Military-Technology Policy. -- Peter Rutland RUSSIAN ENERGY DEBTS. CIS and Baltic countries owe Russian energy exporters 14.4 trillion rubles ($3.2 billion), an official from the Ministry for Cooperation with the CIS told Interfax on 27 November. Ukraine's debts total 8.7 trillion rubles ($1.9 billion), or 61% of the total, followed by Belarus (17%), Kazakhstan (11%), and Moldova (9%). The ministry is proposing the introduction of compulsory prepayment for energy exports to those countries from the beginning of next year. However, during his visit to St. Petersburg on 23 November Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said that there are no plans to cut off energy supplies to Russia's neighbors, ITAR-TASS reported the next day. "We will not abandon anyone, we will support all," he said. "After all, there are 11 million Russians in Ukraine, and in Kazakhstan half of the population consists of Russians." -- Peter Rutland TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA TURKEY'S DIYANET VAKFI TO OPEN OFFICES IN CENTRAL ASIA. Turkey's richest foundation, Diyanet Vakfi [Religious Foundation], is preparing to open branches in Central Asia in an attempt to strengthen ties between the governmental religious affairs' departments in that region and the Turkic-speaking regions of the Caucasus, Russia, and the Balkans, Zaman reported on 28 November. The undertaking follows the establishment of the Eurasian Islamic Council Organization at an October conference of top, official Muslim clerics sponsored by Turkey. Diyanet Vakfi is independent of Turkey's Religious Affairs Department but supports that body's work. It is financed by donors and eight corporations that it controls. -- Lowell Bezanis TURKMEN-RUSSIAN BORDER OPERATION. Turkmen and Russian border guards completed what was described by RIA news agency as a joint operation on the Turkmen-Afghan border on 23 November. The effort, termed a "successful example" of coordinated efforts to protect the external borders of the CIS, caught 19 intruders, 24 smugglers, 60 kg of narcotics, a small number of firearms and grenades, and "a large amount of ammunition." Speaking at a press conference on 21 November, an officer with the Russian Border Guards in Turkmenistan said that 1,800 people, mainly Afghans, were detained on the border in 1995, Interfax reported the same day. He also claimed his service, which confiscated about 2 metric tons of drugs in that period, was involved in approximately 50 armed clashes, mainly with drug smugglers. Russia appears to be directing the Turkmen-Afghan border controls. -- Lowell Bezanis [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Victor Gomez The OMRI Daily Digest offers the latest news from the former Soviet Union and Central, Eastern, 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. 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