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No. 9, Part I, 12 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ DEADLOCK IN PERVOMAYSKOE. Talks continued on 11 January in Pervomayskoe between the Chechen militants under Salman Raduev and representatives of the Dagestani leadership, Russian media reported. A request by the Chechens to negotiate directly with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin was refused, according to Interfax and Russian Public TV (ORT). The Chechens are now demanding that they be allowed to move on to the village of Novogrozny in Chechnya, accompanied by foreign journalists, representatives of international organizations, and State Duma deputies, after which they will release their hostages. The Chechens seized an additional 100 hostages from among the population of Pervomayskoe on 11 January and Raduev threatened to open fire on them if Russian tanks and troops advance to within 100 meters of the village, according to ITAR- TASS. Speaking to journalists in Paris on 11 January, President Boris Yeltsin said Russian troops will be withdrawn from Chechnya as soon as a peace agreement is concluded, Radio Rossii reported. -- Liz Fuller ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ RUSSIA WHO IS SALMAN RADUEV? Salman Raduev, the leader of the Chechen fighters that attacked Kizlyar, is thought to be 27-28 years old and the husband of either the daughter or niece of separatist Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev. ITAR-TASS on 9 January reported that Raduev graduated from a construction school, after which he rose to head the Chechen-Ingush Komsomol organization. In 1989, he became the leader of a union of volunteer construction brigades in Gudermes, where Dudaev appointed him prefect in 1992. Russian commentators regard Raduev, nicknamed the "Lone Wolf," as more violent and irrational than Shamil Basaev, who led the Budennovsk raid. Last year, Raduev is reported to have executed a wounded Russian soldier in front of witnesses and in March had police fire on anti-Dudaev demonstrators in Gudermes. -- Peter Rutland MEDIA INTERPRETATIONS OF KIZLYAR EVENTS. The military newspaper Krasnaya zvezda claimed on 10 January that the hostage-taking at Kizlyar was the direct result of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's decision to negotiate an end to the June Budennovsk crisis, rather than using "more forthright methods," as the military recommended. Izvestiya on 11 January rejected that argument, saying that the massive use of force had failed to end the Chechen conflict and asserting that it was "the appalling realities of the massacre in Chechnya" which provoked the "terrible barbarities" of Budennovsk and Kizlyar. The media discussion mirrors the ongoing debate in Moscow between those who advocate a military solution to the Chechen conflict and those who favor negotiations. -- Scott Parrish NO CONGRESS OF CHECHEN PEOPLE IN VOLGOGRAD. In reaction to events in Kizlyar, Volgograd Oblast Governor Ivan Shabunin has protested against holding a congress of Chechen representatives in Volgograd, ITAR-TASS reported on 11 January. Shabunin said that the congress could increase tensions in the region. The leaders of Chechen communities that live in other Russian regions outside Chechnya were scheduled to meet in Volgograd in the second half of January to discuss "the situation in Chechnya and rights of Chechens in Russia." -- Anna Paretskaya KRO NOMINATES LEBED FOR PRESIDENT. Although the Congress of Russia Communities (KRO) failed to win 5% of the vote in the December elections, the party shows no signs of disappearing and on 11 January unanimously nominated Aleksandr Lebed to run for president in June 1996, Russian media reported on 11 January. KRO co-leader Yurii Skokov, who in the past has had presidential ambitions himself, appeared at the congress to back Lebed. However, KRO's number three candidate, Sergei Glazev of the now-defunct Democratic Party of Russia, was absent, ostensibly for health reasons. Declaring his candidacy on 28 December, Lebed asked for an alliance with the Communist Party, but KPRF leaders are for now remaining loyal to Gennadii Zyuganov. Yesterday, Lebed told reporters that the KPRF "doesn't want victory in the presidential elections, they wouldn't know what to do with a victory." -- Laura Belin "REGIONS OF RUSSIA" DUMA FACTION FORMED. At least 41 Duma deputies have agreed to form a "centrist" faction called Regions of Russia to represent the interests of the regions in parliament, ITAR-TASS and Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 11 January. The faction was organized by Vladimir Medvedev, who chaired the New Regional Policy faction in the last Duma, and Artur Chilingarov, one of five deputy speakers in the last Duma. Regions of Russia will have several co- chairmen, and its members will include former Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai, Col. Gen. (ret.) Boris Gromov, and former Federation Council Deputy Chairman Ramazan Abdulatipov, in addition to well-known "democratic" politicians such as corruption investigator Telman Gdlyan, Ella Pamfilova and Vladimir Lysenko of the bloc Pamfilova-Gurov-V. Lysenko, and Common Cause leader Irina Khakamada. -- Laura Belin FIRST MEETING OF OUR HOME IS RUSSIA DUMA FACTION. The pro-government Our Home Is Russia (NDR) Duma faction held an organizational meeting on 11 January, Russian media reported. It has 58 deputies, indicating that only three independents have joined. NDR Duma leader Sergei Belyaev said Yabloko was his party's closest ally in parliament and described the new Duma as "balanced" enough not to allow the passage of laws that would threaten reform, Russian TV reported. Belyaev also said Ivan Rybkin would be a good choice for Duma speaker. Meanwhile, Lt. Gen. Lev Rokhlin, who was third on the NDR party list, has changed his mind about serving in the Duma. Rokhlin initially turned down his seat, but he has reconsidered because in his view and in "the opinion of the Defense Ministry leadership," someone should represent the army in parliament, ORT reported. -- Laura Belin ANATOMY OF THE RUSSIAN ELITE. Sociologist Olga Kryshtanovska presented the results of a survey of the new Russian elite in Izvestiya on 10 January. According to her calculations, 75% of the new political elite and 61% of the new business elite comes from the old Soviet nomenklatura. The businessmen mostly came from the Komsomol (38%) and from economic positions in the old nomenklatura (38%). She stressed the crucial role played by a few leading banks that were favored by the government in unifying the new elite in the wake of the collapse of the Communist party-state apparatus. -- Peter Rutland YELTSIN MAY SUSPEND LOCAL ELECTIONS. President Boris Yeltsin may move to ban all local elections until after the June presidential vote unless the Constitutional Court rules on his appeal of the local election law soon, ITAR-TASS reported on 11 January, quoting Presidential Administration head Sergei Filatov. Filatov said that the State Duma legislators had exceeded their authority by setting election dates for the local and regional legislatures. In August, the Duma passed a law on local self government stipulating that regional elections be held by March 1996. Yeltsin signed that law, but in September, he decreed that local governors be elected in December 1996, and local legislatures in December 1997 (see OMRI Daily Digest, 19 September 1995). -- Anna Paretskaya FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SIGNS POWER SEPARATION ACCORD WITH SVERDLOVSK, KALININGRAD. Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and the governors of Sverdlovsk and Kaliningrad oblasts, Eduard Rossel and Yurii Matochkin, signed an accord on separation of powers, ITAR-TASS reported on 12 January. Another package of agreements with Kaliningrad Oblast will be signed after President Yeltsin approves the creation of the free economic zone on the oblast's territory (see OMRI Daily Digest, 8 January 1996). Already, nine Russian Federation ethnic republics have signed such accords; the first accord with regional subjects was signed last month with Orenburg Oblast. -- Anna Paretskaya YELTSIN MEETS CHIRAC, KOHL. In Paris to attend memorial services for former French President Francois Mitterrand, President Yeltsin met his French counterpart Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Russian and Western agencies reported on 11 January. Yeltsin and Chirac agreed to form a new joint economic commission, chaired by Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and his French counterpart Alain Juppe, which will hold its first meeting in Moscow this February. Yeltsin described as "interesting" Chirac's proposal that any further discussion of NATO expansion be postponed until after Russia's June presidential elections to avoid "irritating the Russians." Yeltsin later told Kohl that the results of the 17 December Duma elections "were not a tragedy," saying he would use his veto powers to keep the Duma in check. -- Scott Parrish RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPERS DEPART FOR BOSNIA. The first detachment of the Russian brigade slated to join the Bosnian peace implementation force (IFOR) departed for Tuzla on 11 January, Russian and Western agencies reported. Eleven transport planes carrying 150 paratroopers and their equipment flew from an Ivanovo air base to Tuzla, from where the Russian peacekeepers will move to their deployment area near the Serb-held town of Brcko in the Posavina corridor. Colonel Aleksandr Lentsov, commander of the brigade, said all of his 1,600 troops will be fully deployed by the end of January. The Russian brigade will work together with elements of the U.S. First Armored Division in what will be the first joint Russo-U.S. operation in a possible combat zone since WW II. -- Scott Parrish KINELEV TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR SCIENCE, EDUCATION, AND CULTURE. Russia's newest deputy prime minister, Vladimir Kinelev, who was appointed on 10 January, will have responsibility for education, science, and culture. Interfax, citing an unnamed high-ranking government official, said Kinelev will continue to chair the State Committee for Higher Education. -- Penny Morvant VORKUTA MINERS URGE GOVERNMENT TO RETHINK NORTHERN POLICY. The Vorkuta Independent Miners' Union has sent a letter to the president and government urging them to rethink their financial policy toward the far north or resettle Vorkuta residents in more hospitable climes, Russian TV reported on 11 January. The union, which is planning to picket government buildings in Moscow from 24 to 26 January to protest the government's economic policy, said some employees of the Vorkutugol coal association have not been paid since October. Wage arrears and the issue of social benefits for miners laid off from unprofitable pits in the Pechora coal basin have provoked a number of strikes and hunger strikes in recent months. The Pechora region produced 22 million tons of the country's total 1995 coal output of about 250 million tons, according to Interfax on 11 January. -- Penny Morvant RUSSIA STILL NOT A FREE MARKET ECONOMY. The Heritage Foundation, a Washington think-tank, has released its 1995 economic freedom rating. The ranking is based on 10 criteria, such as the size of the state sector and the degree of legal protection for private property. The report considers 65 of the 142 countries surveyed to be "free market economies." Russia is ranked at 100th on the list, on a par with Moldova, Bulgaria, and Nepal. Russia is ranked ahead of Belarus, Armenia, and Ukraine, but behind Estonia and Latvia. -- Peter Rutland INDUSTRIAL PRICES IN 1995. Industrial prices rose only 2% in December, but nearly 200% over the whole of 1995, ITAR-TASS reported on 11 January. They outpaced consumer prices, which rose only 130% last year. Energy prices rose 170% and electricity 180%--despite the fact that these prices were frozen by the government for the last three months of the year. The price of washing machines rose 196%, tractors 288%, refrigerators 164%, paper 200%, televisions 83%, and aluminum 98%. Buyers prefer imports over Russian manufactures not just because of the poor quality and design of the latter but also because their prices are rising closer to world levels. -- Peter Rutland TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA HEAD OF KAZAKHSTANI STATE SECURITY GIVES INTERVIEW. The most serious domestic problems facing Kazakhstan are forged banking documents, economic and technological espionage, illegal exporting, and money laundering, according to an interview with Kazakhstani State Security Committee Chairman Jenisbek Jumanbekov published in the 30-31 December edition of Kazakhstanskaya pravda. Jumanbekov said that in 1995 his service confiscated $6 billion worth in false bank guarantees and registered 406 incidents in which people attempted to illegally export raw materials and products from the country. He said his committee is working to prevent spies from acquiring information on nuclear and aerospace technology. He also claimed that some countries are trying to launder money through Kazakhstan, noting a group from the Nigerian government who allegedly wanted to transfer $30-40 million into Kazakhstani bank accounts. -- 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. 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