|Live all you can: it's a mistake not to. It doesn't so much matter what you do in particular, so long as you have your life. If you haven't had that what have you had? - Henry James|
No. 23, Part I, 01 February 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ YELTSIN SACKS BLACK SEA FLEET COMMANDER. Ending nearly two weeks of confusion, Russian President Boris Yeltsin has signed a decree dismissing Admiral Eduard Baltin as commander of the Black Sea Fleet, effective from 27 January. (See OMRI Daily Digest, 22 and 29 January 1996). The Black Sea Fleet press center told ITAR-TASS on 1 February that Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev had notified Baltin of his removal and given him 10 days to hand over command to his first deputy, Vice Admiral Gennadii Suchkov, who will serve as acting commander. Baltin, appointed by Yeltsin and former Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk in December 1992, has long been viewed by many as hampering the settlement of the dispute over the fleet. His dismissal may hasten its resolution, perhaps triggering an improvement in Russian-Ukrainian relations. -- Scott Parrish ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ RUSSIA RUSSIAN COMMANDER IN CHECHNYA REJECTS FURTHER TALKS WITH DUDAEV. The commander of federal forces in Chechnya, Lt.-Gen. Vyacheslav Tikhomirov, argued on 31 January that attempts in 1995 to negotiate a settlement of the Chechen conflict with President Dzhokhar Dudaev had led nowhere and that the Russian leadership should concentrate on supporting the government of Prime Minister Doku Zavgaev, NTV reported. Tikhomirov said he did not plan military operations against the civilian population and proposed concluding agreements with villages under the control of Zavgaev's government as a precondition for the withdrawal of federal troops from those areas. Also on 31 January, Russian State Duma deputies voted to create a commission uniting all branches of federal power to work for a settlement of the Chechen conflict. Meanwhile, talks are still proceeding on conditions for the release of some 70 hostages still held by Dudaev's field commanders. -- Liz Fuller YAVLINSKII ISSUES APPEAL TO END WAR IN CHECHNYA. Besides "a small group of operatives" in the Kremlin, all of Russia is against the war in Chechnya, Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii wrote in Izvestiya of 1 February. He proposed a "clear and simple" plan to end the conflict: first withdrawing all Russian troops from the breakaway republic; then letting Dudaev and Zavgaev work out a "non-agression pact" among themselves toward gradual demilitarization; and ultimately holding a referendum in Chechnya to decide the republic's future status. Yavlinskii also invited political parties, trade unions, human rights groups, and other anti-war organizations to convene a Moscow conference on peaceful solutions to the Chechen conflict, which "could not be ignored" by the authorities. -- Laura Belin LEBED JOINS RYZHKOV'S PARLIAMENTARY FACTION. Lt.-Gen. (ret.) Aleksandr Lebed has joined the leftist Popular Power, the Duma faction led by former USSR Prime Minister Nikolai Ryzhkov, NTV reported on 31 January. Ryzhkov said that Lebed would primarily work on military issues. Lebed's decision may spark a split in the Congress of Russian Communities (KRO), for in the past party leader Yurii Skokov has expressed less support for the communists than has Lebed. The chairmen of the party's Krasnodar and Rostov branches, Konstantin Zatulin and Viktor Petrov, have requested that Lebed and Skokov call a meeting of the KRO's national council shortly to clarify their relationship. -- Robert Orttung ZYUGANOV RANKS NUMBER 2 ON LIST OF 100 LEADING POLITICIANS. Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov ranked directly behind President Yeltsin on a list of 100 leading politicians published by Nezavisimaya gazeta on 1 February. The paper's panel of experts also see Zyuganov as likely to win the presidential elections in June. Zyuganov moved past Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin following communist gains in the Duma and the violence in Dagestan. Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov was listed as the politician making the most useful contribution to Russian foreign and domestic policy. -- Robert Orttung ELECTORAL COMMISSION WANTS MORE INFORMATION ON SOSKOVETS' OFFICE. Aleksandr Ivanchenko, deputy chairman of the Central Electoral Commission (TsIK), told the Duma on 31 January that the TsIK still has no information on the office set up to prepare for the presidential elections under First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets and has requested more from the presidential administration, NTV reported. The government has already disclaimed any knowledge of Soskovets' office, while Soskovets himself failed to make a scheduled address in the Duma on 31 January. Yeltsin set up the office on 15 January, claiming that it was non-partisan, but deputies have accused him of using state money to support his campaign, while the TsIK believes that Soskovets' offices duplicates its functions. Ivanchenko also said he had received information about Transport Ministry workers who had allegedly been told that their pay would be withheld if they did not sign petitions supporting Yeltsin's candidacy. -- Robert Orttung CHERNOMYRDIN REJECTS NOMINATIONS. Prime Minister Chernomyrdin called "unacceptable" the formation of groups to support his candidacy for the presidency, saying he knew nothing about them, ITAR-TASS reported on 31 January. Groups have appeared in St. Petersburg and Orenburg. The Petersburg group, which includes members of Russia's Democratic Choice, described Chernomyrdin as a "goal-oriented, strong-willed, centrist leader" who could form a cabinet of professionals and stop the war in Chechnya, Segodnya reported on 31 January. -- Robert Orttung DUMA IN NO HURRY TO RATIFY START II. Despite President Yeltsin's request that the START II treaty be ratified by April, on 31 January the Duma failed to set a date for a vote on the agreement, instead referring it to three committees for study, Russian agencies reported. Vladimir Lukin, chairman of the Duma International Affairs Committee, described the treaty as "extremely advantageous" for Russia and warned that if it is not ratified, Russia may become a "secondary nuclear power." He added, however, that ratification should be postponed to prevent the treaty from becoming a "political football" in the upcoming presidential elections and said newly elected deputies need more time to study it. In a subsequent interview with Russian TV, Lukin suggested that even if the Duma does not ratify the treaty, the Russian government may observe its terms anyway, as the U.S. did with SALT II in the 1980s. -- Scott Parrish and Doug Clarke MIKHAILOV DENIES RUSSIA CHEATING ON URANIUM AGREEMENT. Russian Atomic Energy Minister Viktor Mikhailov has refuted recent allegations that inadequate inspection provisions could have allowed Russia to violate the terms of a bilateral agreement under which it sells diluted uranium extracted from dismantled nuclear warheads to the U.S. "We obtain high- grade uranium when dismantling nuclear weapons," he told ITAR-TASS on 31 January, "then process it into a low-grade uranium for subsequent deliveries abroad." He explained that U.S. experts had watched the process at the two plants involved--Tomsk-7 and Sverdlovsk-44--but said they "would like to make a more thorough analysis." Mikhailov said that in turn Russia wants assurances that uranium shipped to the U.S. is not re-enriched, complaining that the U.S. companies involved "seem reluctant to see Russian experts at their enterprises." -- Doug Clarke and Scott Parrish RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPERS COMPLETE BOSNIA DEPLOYMENT. The deployment of the 1,600-man Russian airborne brigade that is participating in the international Bosnian peace implementation force (IFOR), has been completed, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 February. Col.-Gen. Yevgenii Podkolzin, a spokesman for the Russian airborne forces, said it had taken 76 transport flights and 11 trains to transport the brigade to Bosnia from its central Russian base. The Russian troops will now begin patrolling their assigned 70-km segment of the line separating Bosnian government and Bosnian Serb forces in the eastern part of the Posavina corridor, just south of the Serb-held town of Brcko. -- Scott Parrish NUMBER OF CRIMES COMMITTED BY WOMEN INCREASING. The crime rate among women in Russia is rapidly increasing, Interior Ministry official Yurii Kalinin said on 31 January. ITAR-TASS said women committed about 238,000 crimes in 1995, up from 142,000 in 1993. Over 5,600 women were convicted of premeditated murder and about 3,350 of grievious bodily harm. The total number of recorded crimes in 1995 was about 2.75 million. Kalinin attributed the rise in crime among women to growing unemployment, forced migration, increased juvenile crime, and general moral decay. -- Penny Morvant MINERS STRIKE ACROSS RUSSIA. About half a million miners from over 120 pits and open cast mines went on strike on 1 February, a representative of the Coal Workers' Union told ITAR-TASS. The coal association Rosugol put the number of strikers at about 300,000. The miners are demanding payment of over a trillion rubles in delayed wages and a schedule for state funding of the sector in 1996. Rosugol Chairman Yurii Malyshev appealed to miners to call off the strike on 31 January, promising that agreement would soon be reached with the government on the provision of more than 10 trillion rubles in support for the coal industry in 1996, Radio Mayak reported. Meanwhile, strikes continued on 31 January at over 1,170 educational institutions in 23 regions of Russia, Interfax reported. -- Penny Morvant NUCLEAR ENERGY PRODUCTION UP IN 1995. Russia's nine nuclear power plants generated 99.3 billion kilowatt-hours of energy in 1995, a 1.5% increase compared with 1994, Russian agencies reported on 31 January. This is the first sign of stabilization in the industry after two years of decline: nuclear energy production plunged from 120 billion kilowatt-hours in 1992 to 98 billion in 1994. A spokesman for the Russian atomic energy agency noted that the number of accidents in the industry declined from 95 in 1994 to 62 in 1995 (of which only three were classified as serious, compared to eight in 1994). Russia's total energy production in 1995 was 862 billion kilowatt-hours, a 2% decline over 1994. -- Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA AZERBAIJAN JUSTICE MINISTRY TO BAN THREE POLITICAL PARTIES. The Azerbaijan Ministry of Justice decided on 30 January to request that the country's Supreme Court ban the Democratic Youth Organization, the Labor Party, and the Gardashlyg Society on the grounds that all three have sought since their inception to undermine Azerbaijani statehood, Turan reported. The Democratic Youth Organization was founded by OPON police chief Rovshan Dzhavadov, who was killed in a confrontation with the Azerbaijani authorities in March 1995. The activities of the Labor Party and Gardashlyg are said to be directed by ex-President Ayaz Mutalibov, who is currently living in Moscow. -- Liz Fuller INTENSIVE FIGHTING REPORTED IN TAJIKISTAN. Fighting has broken out in the Tavil-Dara region, east of the Tajik capital Dushanbe, Russian and Western media reported. Tavil-Dara has been the scene of a stand-off between Tajik government troops and opposition forces, who captured several villages in October 1995. According to an opposition spokesman, the latest fighting has claimed at least 10 lives. Both sides have accused each other of starting the violence. Meanwhile, Western media reported that in Kurgan-Tyube, the commander of the Tajik army's first brigade, Mahmud Khudaberdiyev, is distributing weapons to the population, while about 1,000 citizens of Kabodien, a city nearby, have surrounded the local police station, trapping police and security officers. -- Bruce Pannier TAJIK PEACE TALKS NEAR COLLAPSE IN ASHGABAT. The renewed hostilities in Tavil-Dara have prompted the Tajik government representatives currently in Ashgabat for peace talks to threaten to withdraw from the negotiations, international media reported. Chief negotiator Talbak Nazarov said the attack on 30 January was a flagrant violation of the ceasefire agreement signed by the protagonists in 1994. The ceasefire has been violated on numerous previous occasions. A spokesman for the opposition, Ali Akbar Turajonzoda, claimed the problems were initiated by the government. The recurrent problem of redistributing power in the government to include members of the opposition parties has also hindered progress in Ashgabat. ITAR-TASS reported on 30 January that Tajik Prime Minister Jamshed Karimov said the government was willing to step down if it would help stabilize the country. -- Bruce Pannier YELTSIN DENIES RUSSIAN TROOPS INVOLVED IN TAJIK FIGHTING. Sergei Medvedev, press spokesman for Russian President Yeltsin, said on 31 January that Russian troops in Tajikistan are only involved in guarding military and other sites for which they are responsible, Russian agencies reported. This statement came in response to rumors that Russian forces in Tajikistan were participating in operations in Kurgan- Tyube, Tursun Zade, and Tavil-Dara. Yeltsin himself said such activity did not conform to the CIS peacekeepers' mandate. The Russian Foreign Ministry expressed deep concern at the renewed unrest in Tajikistan and stressed the need for a negotiated settlement. -- Bruce Pannier [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Penny Morvant 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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