|Nothing helps scenery like ham and eggs. - Mark Twain|
No. 7, Part I, 10 January 1996
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/Index.html ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^TODAY'S TOP STORY^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CHECHENS RELEASE HOSTAGES, LEAVE KIZLYAR. After all-night negotiations with prominent Dagestani officials, a group of Chechen militants occupying a hospital in the town of Kizlyar withdrew their demands and released the majority of their estimated 3,000 hostages on 10 January, ITAR-TASS and Western agencies reported. The group of several hundred militants, under the command of Salman Raduev, left for Chechnya with 160 people, including Dagestani government officials who volunteered to take the place of the hostages. Earlier, Raduev had extended his original demand, saying Russian forces should withdraw from the entire North Caucasus, not just from Chechnya and Dagestan. He also requested that Russian leaders hold a face-to-face meeting with Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev, who is related to him by marriage, according to ITAR- TASS. The pro-Moscow Chechen government issued a statement on 9 January condemning the hostage taking and expressing sympathy with the residents of Kizlyar, Interfax reported. -- Liz Fuller ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ RUSSIA RUSSIAN POLITICIANS BLAME GOVERNMENT FOR KIZLYAR. Several Russian politicians attributed the hostage crisis in the Kizlyar to the failed policy of the Russian government in Chechnya, NTV reported on 10 January. Duma deputy and human rights activist Sergei Kovalev said that Kizlyar is the "logical result of government policy in Chechnya," including the recent "farcical" elections for Chechen leader. Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii urged President Yeltsin to end the conflict by negotiating the full withdrawal of Russian troops from the republic with Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev. A political commentary on Ekho Moskvy blamed the Kizlyar events on the government's "ostrich-like tactics of neither war, nor peace" in Chechnya. -- Constantine Dmitriev PRIMAKOV APPOINTED FOREIGN MINISTER. President Boris Yeltsin appointed the current director of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), Yevgenii Primakov, as Foreign Minister on 9 January, Russian and Western agencies reported. Primakov, 66, is a Middle Eastern expert. He has served as director of the Soviet and then Russian foreign intelligence services since September 1991, when Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev appointed him to the position. Before 1991, Primakov served as a foreign policy adviser to Gorbachev, often serving as an advance man in the preparation of summit meetings with Western leaders. He is notorious for his role in Gorbachev's February 1991 efforts to mediate the Persian Gulf crisis, in which Primakov tried to make use of his long-standing acquaintance with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. From 1985-1989, Primakov was director of the Institute for World Economy and International Relations and one of the architects of Gorbachev's "new thinking." -- Scott Parrish REACTION TO PRIMAKOV APPOINTMENT. Primakov's appointment met with approval in Moscow but evoked a guarded response from Western capitals, Russian and Western agencies reported on 9 January. U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher said he expected to have a good relationship with Primakov, noting there is no "reason for me to prejudge the situation." But anonymous officials in Washington expressed surprise and concern at the appointment, Reuters reported. Primakov is regarded as much less sympathetic to Western interests than his predecessor because of his current position as head of foreign intelligence and his close ties with Middle Eastern leaders, acquired during his years as a journalist and academic studying the region. Vladimir Lukin, chairman of the Duma International Affairs Committee, welcomed Primakov's appointment, saying "he understands what Russia's real priorities are." Independent foreign policy analyst Andrei Kortunov described Primakov as "pragmatic" but said "he is not a liberal in the Kozyrev sense." -- Scott Parrish YELTSIN APPOINTS NEW DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER. President Yeltsin appointed a new deputy prime minister on 9 January, bringing the number of Viktor Chernomyrdin's deputies back to eight following the resignation on 5 January of Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai. The new appointee, the little known Vladimir Kinelev, is chairman of the State Committee for Higher Education. According to ITAR-TASS, Kinelev was born in 1945 and is a graduate of the prestigious Bauman Higher Technical School in Moscow. He obtained his first senior state post in 1990, becoming first deputy chairman of the RSFSR State Committee for Science and Higher Schools. From 1992 until the Science Ministry was reorganized in April 1993, he served as first deputy minister of science and technical policy. He then obtained the new post of Higher Education State Committee chairman. -- Penny Morvant CHERNOMYRDIN: CABINET CHANGES NOT CONNECTED TO ELECTION RESULTS. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said recent cabinet changes are only designed "to make the government work better" and "have no relation to the elections to the State Duma," ITAR-TASS reported on 10 January. Since the elections, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai and Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev have resigned their posts to serve in the Duma. Neither were members of the prime minister's bloc, Our Home Is Russia (NDR), which won only about 10% of the vote on party lists. No one has yet been appointed to succeed Sergei Belyaev as State Property Committee chairman; Belyaev quit the government to lead the NDR Duma faction. -- Laura Belin GROUP PROPOSING ZYUGANOV FOR PRESIDENT FORMED. An initiative group nominating Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) leader Gennadii Zyuganov for president was formed in Moscow, Russian media reported on 9 January. Valentin Chikin and Aleksandr Prokhanov, the head editors of Sovetskaya Rossiya and Zavtra, joined the group; Chikin called Zyuganov "an absolutely irreproachable person morally, a bold strategist and a skillful tactician." Prokhanov has in the past called for all communist and nationalist forces to unite their efforts against the current regime. Russian TV reported that a plenum of the KPRF will soon nominate Zyuganov officially. -- Laura Belin ANPILOV NOT SURE YET ABOUT PRESIDENTIAL BID. Contrary to earlier reports that Viktor Anpilov, leader of the orthodox communist Workers' Russia, will seek the Russian presidency in June 1996, a representative of the movement told Interfax on 8 January that Anpilov is still negotiating with other left-wing parties to nominate a single candidate. She said if other communists ignore his appeals, Workers' Russia will formally nominate Anpilov for president at a congress on 18-19 January. Anpilov's group campaigned for the Duma in the bloc Communists-Workers' Russia-For the Soviet Union after Zyuganov rejected his bid for an electoral alliance with the KPRF. -- Laura Belin MAVRODI SEEKS PRESIDENCY. Two more initiative groups nominating candidates for the presidential election were registered on 9 January, Russian media reported. The first will collect signatures for Sergei Mavrodi, the head of the notorious MMM investment fund who was stripped of his immunity from prosecution as a Duma deputy in October 1995 and failed to win reelection to the parliament in the December elections. The second supports businessman Leonid Kazakov, who was born in 1953 and is an economics adviser to a Saratov fund. Most of the initiative groups registering with the Central Electoral Commission are unlikely to obtain the million signatures necessary for their candidates to run in the election. -- Penny Morvant RYZHKOV TRYING TO FORM DUMA FACTION. Former Soviet Prime Minister Nikolai Ryzhkov has recruited 27 deputies to join a Duma faction under his leadership, to be called Popular Power, Russian media reported on 9 January. Ryzhkov's Power to the People bloc won nine Duma seats in single-member districts; he needs 35 deputies in order to form a registered faction. According to Power to the People co-leader Sergei Baburin, the group has been joined by filmmaker Stanislav Govorukhin, formerly of the now-defunct Democratic Party of Russia, and Svyatoslav Fedorov, leader of the Party of Workers' Self-Management. The five deputies elected from the Congress of Russian Communities will also join, Radio Rossii reported. The group's leaders said their main goal will be to change the government's economic policy. -- Laura Belin YELTSIN VETOES AMENDMENTS TO MILITARY LAW. President Boris Yeltsin again vetoed amendments to the law on military service passed by the outgoing Duma on 22 December, Ekho Moskvy reported on 9 January (see OMRI Daily Digest, 28 December 1995). Yeltsin said the amendments, which would have retained the 18-month service term for draftees called up before 1 May 1995, would damage Russian national security. Sergei Yushenkov, chairman of the Defense Committee in the old Duma, said the decision may damage Yeltsin's prospects in the June 1996 presidential election and said he hopes the incoming Duma will override the veto. -- Constantine Dmitriev RUSSIA SAYS FISHING DISPUTE IS RED HERRING. A spokesman for the Russian Ministry of Fisheries denied on 9 January Russian media reports that Norway had placed strict limits on the amount of herring Russian trawlers can catch in Norwegian territorial waters, ITAR-TASS reported. The spokesman praised the current level of cooperation between Russia and Norway on fishing issues and said that no "herring war" was in sight, noting that Russo-Norwegian talks on fishing cooperation would open on 23 January in Moscow. Meanwhile, on the same day, the ministry announced that in 1995, Russian fishermen had caught 4.2 million tons of fish, a 18.6% increase over the 1994 catch. -- Scott Parrish MOONIES REPORTEDLY RECRUITING IN URALS SCHOOLS. The Unification Church of Reverend Sun Myung Moon is seeking new followers in the Urals area and school teachers have been introducing pupils to the sect, according to a report on NTV on 7 January. The program alleged that a textbook used in optional courses at 80 schools in the city of Yekaterinburg was based on Moon's teachings. The local authorities have now banned the courses. One local teacher interviewed by NTV said that rich foreign sects had been offering computers and free courses to the schools. A variety of religious sects have become increasingly active in Russia in recent years. -- Penny Morvant TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA CONSTITUTIONAL COUNCIL CREATED BY DECREE IN KAZAKHSTAN. Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed a decree establishing a Constitutional Council to replace the Constitutional Court, ITAR-TASS and Radio Rossii reported on 9 January. The council will carry on the court's function of ensuring that country's laws are in harmony with the constitution. While the council is an independent state body, the head of the state has the right to appoint or dismiss its president and up to two of its seven members. In the future, the council will include former heads of state. -- Bruce Pannier WHAT AKAYEV WILL GAIN BY REFERENDUM. Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev released a draft law on 9 January detailing the additional powers he will receive if citizens vote for the law in the 10 February referendum, Reuters reported. The proposed law would give the president the power to appoint the prime minister and the chairman of the central bank, as well as the right to nominate the chairman of the Central Electoral Commission. Also, the president will have greater power to veto legislation and will be more difficult to impeach. The opposition in the Zhogorku Kengesh, the Kyrgyz parliament, criticized the draft as an attempt to turn Kyrgyzstan into a "presidential republic." -- Bruce Pannier ANOTHER MINISTERIAL REPLACEMENT IN UZBEKISTAN. President Islam Karimov appointed Marks Jumaniazov to replace Rasulmat Khusanov as the new agriculture minister, Interfax reported on 9 January. This is the latest shake-up in the administration resulting from Karimov's concerns that agricultural reform is not moving quickly enough. Until now, Jumaniazov was the hokim of the Khorezm wilayat, a region that has been comparatively successful under the economic reforms. A special commission headed by First Deputy Prime Minister Ismail Jurabekov has been evaluating agricultural efficiency in the regions for the past 18 months. -- Roger Kangas KAZAKHSTAN FAILS TO HONOR CONTRACT WITH CHELYABINSK. The Chelyabinsk electro-metallurgical combine, which is responsible for providing much of the income for the entire city, is at a virtual standstill due to "the absence of ore," ITAR-TASS reported on 10 January. Kazakhstan has failed to deliver the chrome used in the production of high-quality steel to the combine despite an agreement signed at the end of 1995. Last year, even in a situation of financial uncertainty, budgetary and extra-budgetary funding provided 20 billion rubles monthly to Kalinin Raion of the city. The cessation of production at the combine means that for the first quarter of this year, the monthly budget will likely amount to about 2 billion rubles, leaving doctors, teachers, and thousands of other workers without pay. -- Bruce Pannier [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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