|Life is what happens to us while we're making other plans. - John Lennon|
No. 21, Part I, 30 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ RUSSIAN PRIEST ABDUCTED IN CHECHNYA. The deacon of a Russian Orthodox church in Grozny was abducted on 29 January by Chechen militants loyal to President Dzhokhar Dudaev, Russian media reported. Meanwhile, talks continued on conditions for the release of 29 Russian power plant workers abducted in Grozny on 16 January and 17 Novosibirsk police officers captured by Salman Raduev's men in Pervomaiskoe. The Chechen side has offered to exchange the police officers for their own men who were taken prisoner during the storming of Pervomaiskoe, and on 30 January they released 5 of the captive policemen who were lightly wounded. A spokesman for the Russian Interior Ministry claimed that only Russian federal authorities--not the Dagestani intermediaries currently conducting the talks--have the authority to release Raduev's guerrillas. -- Liz Fuller ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ RUSSIA NEMTSOV ASKS YELTSIN TO WITHDRAW TROOPS FROM CHECHNYA . . . Nizhnii Novgorod Governor Boris Nemtsov gave President Yeltsin a petition signed by one million residents of his region demanding that the war in Chechnya be ended and Russian troops be withdrawn, Russian media reported on 29 January. Nemtsov told Radio Rossii that the vast number of signatures, collected in only a few weeks, "speaks for itself." He added that Yeltsin is being cut off from information that his advisers deem to be not good for him. Nemtsov said he will support Yeltsin's re- election if the president changes his Chechnya policy. -- Laura Belin . . . BUT ROKHLIN DISAGREES. Duma Defense Committee Chairman Lev Rokhlin, who was elected to the Duma on the pro-government Our Home Is Russia ticket, said recalling troops from Chechnya now would only allow Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev to import more weapons, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 January. He added, "Dudaev clearly is not satisfied with the territory of Chechnya itself" and will attack neighboring republics of the Russian Federation if "decisive measures" are not taken to destroy his armed formations. Lt. Gen. Rokhlin led troops during the storming of Grozny in the early weeks of the fighting but refused to accept a medal for his efforts. -- Laura Belin NATIONAL-SOCIALIST TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT. Aleksandr Barkashov, the leader of the national-socialist party Russian National Unity (RNE), announced that he will seek the presidency, Ekho Moskvy reported on 29 January. An open admirer of Adolf Hitler, Barkashov left the nationalist movement Pamyat in 1990 to form the RNE. At an October 1995 party conference, he announced that he would not run for the Duma because he considered it beneath his dignity, NTV reported on 15 October. -- Laura Belin AGRARIANS TO BACK COMMUNIST PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. The Agrarian Party will back Communist candidate Gennadii Zyuganov in the presidential elections, party leader Mikhail Lapshin announced on 29 January, Reuters reported. Now the three leftist blocs that competed in the Duma elections against the Communist Party but did not clear the 5% barrier have lined up behind the victorious party. In the pro-reform camp, Republican Party leader Ella Pamfilova has called for a forum of "democratic and centrist" parties to support a common candidate, but none of the major players have supported her proposal, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Robert Orttung 33 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN GROUPS REGISTERED. On 29 January, the Central Electoral Commission authorized another five groups to begin collecting the 1 million signatures necessary to put forward a candidate in the presidential election. There are now 33 groups, including six that support President Boris Yeltsin, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. Among the latest crop of contenders is National Republican Party leader Nikolai Lysenko, whose extreme nationalist advertisements attracted lots of publicity but few votes (0.48%) in the Duma campaign. The parliamentary leader of Our Home Is Russia, Sergei Belyaev, announced on 29 January that the bloc, created initially to support Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, would now devote itself to electing Yeltsin, NTV reported. -- Robert Orttung YELTSIN SEEKS STRONGER REGIONAL TIES. On 30 January, President Boris Yeltsin signed agreements with the governors of Krasnodar Krai and Orenburg Oblast on the division of powers with federal authorities, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. This follows similar agreements signed on 12 January with Sverdlovsk and Kaliningrad Oblasts. The same day, Yeltsin instructed Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to review the work of regional administrators by the end of February and "take serious steps, including dismissal" of those who do not carry out presidential decrees. Yeltsin said he now requires weekly reports from each region on the fulfillment of his orders. These steps are mainly aimed at dealing with the immediate problem of wage arrears. -- Peter Rutland FIRED ADMINISTRATIVE HEAD OF CHITA OBLAST COMPLAINS. Boris Ivanov, who was removed from the top executive post in Chita Oblast on 22 January, ostensibly "at his own request," claims he was forced to leave office, Radio Rossii reported on 29 January. Ivanov said he was sacked because of the disappointing Duma election results in the oblast: the Communist Party took 21.6% of the vote in Chita, the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia won 20.6%, and the pro-government Our Home Is Russia just 4.3%. Ivanov also said the federal government has unfairly blamed "him and him alone" for the economic troubles of the eastern Baikal region. -- Laura Belin DUMA MAY NOT RATIFY START II TREATY. Leading figures in the Duma have responded coolly to President Yeltsin's call for a quick ratification of the START II treaty (see OMRI Daily Digest, 29 January 1995), Russian and Western agencies reported on 29 January. Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii said the treaty should be ratified because Russia cannot afford to maintain a large nuclear arsenal. However, the leaders of the Communist Party (KPRF), the Popular Power faction, and the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) all expressed serious reservations about the treaty. Since those three groups hold 237 of the Duma's 450 seats, the prospects of the treaty garnering the majority support necessary for ratification seem slim. Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov suggested that he would not support the ratification of START II as long as NATO expansion remains a possibility--a view supported by other opposition deputies. -- Scott Parrish U.S. WORRIES ABOUT NUCLEAR DEAL WITH RUSSIA. There is concern in Washington that Russia is not living up to the terms of a 1992 deal to sell weapons-grade uranium to the United States, The New York Times reported on 29 January. Under the terms of the agreement, Russia is to take the enriched uranium out of dismantled nuclear weapons. The uranium is then diluted from 90% U235 to 4% U235 so that it can be used as fuel in nuclear powerplant reactors. But this dilution process is carried out in Russia and critics worry the U.S. does not have adequate inspection rights. Russia has already shipped the equivalent of six metric tons of enriched uranium to the U.S. in diluted form, but some have speculated that the original uranium did not come from dismantled weapons warheads but was either from a stockpile or from continued production. -- Doug Clarke CHERNOMYRDIN-GORE COMMISSION MEETS. Prime Minster Viktor Chernomyrdin opened the sixth session of the Russo-U.S. commission on economic and technical cooperation in Washington on 29 January, Russian and Western agencies reported. Chernomyrdin sought to reassure U.S. officials, and the IMF which is currently negotiating a $9 billion three-year extended facility loan with Russia, of his government's continued commitment to market-oriented economic reform. Russian officials said that the commission session will produce several new bilateral agreements, including one on increasing the number of U.S. commercial satellites that can be launched by Russian boosters and another one on launching joint exploration of the Timano-Pechora oil field in northern Russia. -- Scott Parrish PRIMAKOV ON TAJIK CONFLICT. Returning from a three-day visit to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan (see OMRI Daily Digest, 29 January 1995), his first foreign trip since his appointment, Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov told journalists that Russia will not withdraw its troops from Tajikistan soon, Russian and Western agencies reported on 29 January. While pledging support for the latest round of inter-Tajik talks, Primakov warned that if Russian forces left the republic "a wave of destabilization could sweep across all Central Asia," which he described as the strategic "underbelly" of Russia. Rossiiskaya gazeta emphasized that Primakov's trip, which will be followed by a visit to Kiev on 31 January, demonstrates that the CIS is a top priority for the new foreign minister. -- Scott Parrish OVERDUE WAGES TOTAL 13.4 TRILLION RUBLES. Industrial and public sector workers were owed 13.4 trillion rubles ($2.8 billion) on 1 January in late wages, an increase of 219% in comparison with the previous year, Izvestiya reported on 30 January. The average industrial worker is owed 529,000 rubles ($113), equal to 78% of their monthy salary. A third of the January wage arrears (4.1 trillion rubles) are at least two months overdue. The largest amounts are owed in Tyumen Oblast (1.5 trillion rubles); Kemerovo Oblast (685 billion); Krasnoyarsk Krai (616 billion); and Bashkortostan (534 billion). Wage arrears have provoked several labor disputes. ITAR-TASS reported on 29 January that more than 4,500 educational establishments would take part in strike action scheduled to begin today. -- Penny Morvant CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS RESTARTED AGAINST STANKEVICH. The Moscow Procurator's Office has resumed criminal proceedings against former State Duma deputy Sergei Stankevich, Russian media reported on 29 January. Criminal proceedings have also been restarted against MMM investment fund head Sergei Mavrodi (see OMRI Daily Digest, 16 January 1996). Stankevich, formerly a political adviser to President Yeltsin, was accused of accepting a bribe of $10,000 for helping to arrange a concert of Russian classical music on Red Square in 1992, but the criminal proceedings were suspended because of his parliamentary immunity. -- Penny Morvant HOUSING CONSTRUCTION EXPANDS IN 1995. In 1995, Russia's housing construction totaled 49 million square meters (a 25% increase over the 38.5 million square meters built in 1994), Russian agencies reported on 26 January, citing Construction Minister Yefim Basin. Of this amount, 5 million square meters were built in Moscow and the Moscow region. Housing construction expanded despite the fact that the industry is owed some 8 trillion rubles ($1.7 billion) from the federal budget. Federal spending now accounts for only a small proportion of housing construction, having given way to bank credits, foreign investment, and spending by local authorities. -- Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA GEORGIAN ECONOMY MINISTER ON ACHIEVEMENTS AND ENERGY CRISIS. Georgia's engineering, metallurgical, light, and chemical industries all posted higher than expected production figures for 1995, bringing five years of declining industrial output to an end, Russian media quoted Georgian Economy Minister Vladimer Papava as saying on 28 January. Papava also said 1995 saw achievements in financial stabilization and the successful introduction of monetary reform. The minister described last year's annual inflation figure of 60% as "rather promising". At the same time he warned that a "serious shortage of energy supplies" could overshadow the country's economic achievements. -- Irakli Tsereteli TAJIK PEACE TALKS RESUME IN ASHGABAT. The fifth round of peace talks between the Tajik government and the opposition began again in the Turkmen capital Ashgabat on 29 January, Western media reported. The talks had broken down almost immediately after they began in December. During his 28 January visit to Tajikistan, Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov urged the Tajik government to come to an agreement with the opposition. The Tajik government has replaced Deputy Prime Minister Makhmadsaid Ubadollayev with Foreign Minister Talbak Nazarov as the chief negotiator at the talks. Ubadollayev was alleged to be a "hardliner." A spokesman for the opposition, Ali Akbar Turajonzoda, said the personnel change does not mark a change in the government's position. -- 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. 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) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
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