|A good eater must be a good man; for a good eater must have a good digestion, and a good digestion depends upon a good conscience. - Benjamin Disraeli|
No. 26, Part I, 06 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CHUBAIS: ZYUGANOV'S ECONOMIC POLICY WOULD LEAD TO "BLOODBATH." Russian Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov made headlines over the weekend with his assurances to investors at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, but former First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais warned the same Western businessmen on 5 February not to fall for a "classic Communist lie," Russian and Western agencies reported. Chubais claimed that there are "two Zyuganovs," one for domestic and one for foreign consumption, and that the Communist leader's economic policy, which calls for a revision of the privatization program, would lead to a "bloodbath." He also warned that Russia could be in for financial disaster this spring if President Boris Yeltsin goes on a pre-election spending spree. Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii had hoped to present himself as the main alternative to Yeltsin at Davos, but he has been eclipsed, first by Zyuganov's speeches and now by Chubais' accusations. -- Laura Belin ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ RUSSIA ANTI-GOVERNMENT DEMO IN GROZNY CONTINUES. Supporters of Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev continued their demonstration in central Grozny on 6 February for the third straight day to demand the withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya, the resignation of Doku Zavgaev's government and direct talks between Dudaev and Russian President Boris Yeltsin, Russian media reported. On 5 February, Russian Television reported that Chechen chief of staff Aslan Maskhadov had ordered the release of 29 Russian energy sector workers abducted by Chechen forces last month. Speaking at a press conference in Moscow, Russian Prosecutor-General Yurii Skuratov said that 12 criminal cases had been instigated in connection with the embezzlement of funds intended for Chechen reconstruction, but that the present Chechen government was not involved. He further argued that the Russian internal troops' presence in Chechnya should be increased as federal troops are gradually withdrawn, according to NTV. -- Liz Fuller GOVERNMENT PORTFOLIOS DEFINED. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin left for a two-week vacation in Sochi on 3 February, and in his absence the government will be led by First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets. A full listing of the division of duties between Soskovets and newly- appointed First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Kadannikov has been made public, Radio Rossii reported on 5 February. Soskovets will supervise industrial policy, including energy, engineering, transport, and military industry. Kadannikov will monitor financial and monetary affairs, including foreign loans. Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Kazakov, the new head of the State Privatization Committee, will also answer for the committees dealing with anti-monopoly policy and the securities market. -- Peter Rutland YELTSIN MEETS PRIMAKOV, LOBOV. President Boris Yeltsin met Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov on 5 February and discussed the results of the foreign minister's recent visits to Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Belarus, and Ukraine, Russian agencies reported. The visits were Primakov's first as foreign minister, and underline Yeltsin's declared intention to make the CIS a priority in Russian foreign policy. Primakov is scheduled to meet U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher on 9-10 February in Helsinki. Also on 5 February, Yeltsin met Security Council Secretary and Presidential Representative in Chechnya Oleg Lobov, and discussed "means of normalizing" the situation in Chechnya. -- Scott Parrish NEW DEPUTIES FOR PRIMAKOV. A presidential decree from 3 February has appointed two new deputies to Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov, Russian agencies reported on 5 February. Boris Pastukhov, formerly Deputy Minister, has been promoted to First Deputy Minister. Pastukhov, 62, a former first secretary of the Komsomol, has been a diplomat since 1986 and served as ambassador to Afghanistan from 1989 to 1992. He has recently been involved in talks on the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict. He told journalists he will concentrate on resolving conflicts in the CIS. Rear- Admiral Yurii Zubakov, 53, who served as deputy director of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), will serve as Deputy Foreign Minister for personnel matters. He had similar duties at the SVR, where he reportedly developed a close relationship with Primakov. -- Scott Parrish EYE SURGEON RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT. Renowned eye surgeon Svyatoslav Fedorov announced that he will run for president in June, since he believes "the policies of the current president and government are leading us nowhere, into a dead end, to primitive capitalism and gradual transformation into a colonial state," Russian media reported on 5 February. He pledged to double Russia's gross national product within five years if elected. Fedorov's Party of Workers' Self-Government gained a surprising 4% in the December elections, and he was elected to the Duma in a single-member district. Also on 5 February, a group was formed to nominate pro-reform Nizhnii Novgorod Governor Boris Nemtsov for president, Radio Mayak reported. -- Laura Belin FOUR MORE QUIT HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION. Four members of the presidential Commission for Human Rights, including Deputy Chairman Sergei Sirotkin, have followed Sergei Kovalev's example and resigned their posts, Russian media reported on 5 February. Kovalev resigned as commission chairman on 23 January. According to Sirotkin, another member also plans to quit. If he does, the commission will have three members: Deputy Chairman Aleksandr Kopylov, former Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, and writer Fazil Iskander. The resignations followed the release of the commission's report on human rights in Russia in 1994-1995, which noted "a visible retreat from democratic achievements" in many areas. Among human rights violations, the commission highlighted the increasing militarization of society; the increasing tendency to resolve internal conflicts by force, most notably in Chechnya; and a rise in racial discrimination and intolerance. -- Penny Morvant YELTSIN'S REPRESENTATIVES TO PARLIAMENT AND HIGH COURT RESIGN. President Boris Yeltsin accepted the resignations of his representatives to the parliament and Constitutional Court, Aleksandr Yakovlev and Valerii Savitskii respectively, Russian media reported. Yakovlev reportedly left because he reached retirement age. Though agencies reported that Savitskii was released from the post at his own request, Savitskii said he did not know why he was dismissed, NTV reported. A presidential decree appointed Mikhail Mityukov, a deputy chairman of the previous State Duma and a member of the Russia's Choice faction, to represent the president in the Constitutional Court. -- Anna Paretskaya OFFICIALS SAY NEW LAW MEANS REAL MONEY FOR MEDIA. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitalii Ignatenko, who is also the director general of the ITAR-TASS news agency, and State Press Committee Chairman Ivan Laptev said that the law on financial support for the mass media will mean several trillion rubles a year for the media, ITAR-TASS and Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 2 February. Unlike media subsidies, which in the past benefited a small number of publications, more than 14,000 newspapers, hundreds of television and radio companies, and several thousand printing presses will be eligible for the new tax breaks and financial privileges. Some local tax services have reportedly refused to grant the financial privileges to newspapers, but Ignatenko promised to take steps to educate tax inspectors about the terms of the law. Only erotic publications and those devoted exclusively to advertising are not covered by the law. -- Laura Belin AVTOVAZ OWES 400 BILLION RUBLES IN WAGE ARREARS. The troubled AvtoVAZ car manufacturer owes 400 billion rubles ($85 million) in wage arrears and nearly 1 trillion rubles to suppliers, Aleksei Nikolaev, the company's new general director, told reporters in Togliatti on 5 February. Nikolaev replaced Vladimir Kadannikov, who became Russian first deputy prime minister on 25 January. The company's press service said tough cost-cutting measures planned in December would be implemented. AvtoVAZ, which produces Ladas and is one of the ten largest industrial enterprises in Russia, plans to make 650,000 cars in 1996, 170,000-180,000 for export. In 1990, it produced 740,000 cars, 40% of which were exported. -- Penny Morvant PRIVATIZATION REVENUES MODEST IN 1995. Receipts from privatization totalled 2.8 trillion rubles ($590 million) in 1995, according to a State Statistics Committee report cited in Russian media on 5 February. Only one-third of the total came from sales of federal property, the remainder was generated by city and regional sales. Moscow alone raised 716 billion rubles ($150 million). The federal budget received 720 billion rubles from privatization, plus another 5.1 trillion ($1.1 billion) in credits and debt repayments as a result of the controversial share-loan auctions in the last two months of 1995. Thus, the auctions brought the government near the 8.7 trillion ruble target for privatization receipts it had set in October. -- Peter Rutland MOSCOW REGION ATTRACTS MOST FOREIGN INVESTMENT. Foreign investment into Moscow city and region rose from $189 million in 1994 to $889 million in the first nine months of 1995, Russian news agencies reported on 4 February, citing the State Statistical Committee. The 1995 figure represents 57% of all the foreign capital flowing into Russia. After Moscow, favored destinations were the oil regions of Tyumen ($71 million) and Tatarstan ($63 million), and the industrial cities of Nizhnii Novgorod ($46 million) and Samara ($41 million). -- Natalia Gurushina GERMAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES CREDITS TO CIS STATES. The German government has approved export credits worth 2.3 billion marks ($1.5 billion) for Russia and other CIS countries, Western agencies reported on 5 February. Russia will receive 1.5 billion marks of credits, followed by 300 million marks to Ukraine and 200 million marks to Uzbekistan. Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan will receive 100 million marks of credit each. The credits are administered by the state-owned insurance company Hermes. For the first time the credits to Russia will be backed by guarantees from Russian commercial banks rather than from the government. -- Natalia Gurushina and Roger Kangas TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA CRISES ABATE IN TURSUN ZADE, KURGAN-TYUBE . . . The commanders of the "mutineers" in Tursun Zade and Kurgan-Tyube began ordering their supporters to withdraw to those cities on 5 January and are collecting weapons distributed to the population, Russian and Western media reported. The Tajik government met some of the rebels' demands by sacking Tajik First Deputy Prime Minister Makhmadsaid Ubadollayev and two others. The Tajik government also agreed to grant amnesty to those involved in the uprisings, another part of the demands. Both groups have withdrawn to the cities they captured at the end of January, although they had advanced to within 20 miles of the capital, Dushanbe. -- Bruce Pannier . . . BUT MORE FIGHTING IN TAVIL-DARA. After a pause due to snowfall in the Garm region, fighting resumed on 5 February between Tajik government forces and opposition fighters near Tavil-Dara, international agencies reported. Tajik Defense Minister Sherali Khairulloyev said reinforcements were preparing to leave for the area, about 280 kilometers east of Dushanbe. There are conflicting reports on the casualty figures from the battles with between four and six government troops dead and at least 19 wounded. On 2 February it was reported that as many as 100 government soldiers were unaccounted for in the Tavil- Dara region. -- Bruce Pannier KAZAKHSTANI PARLIAMENT TO "FUNCTION DIFFERENTLY." Marat Ospanov, who was appointed speaker of the lower house of parliament (Majilis), assured the deputies that the new Kazakhstani parliament will follow "Asian traditions" and function very differently than the two previous ones, Russian TV reported on 4 February. He defended President Nursultan Nazarbayev's dissolving of the parliament in March 1995 after "the entire parliament turned itself into an opposition bloc." Earlier, speaking at the inaugural session of the parliament on 30 January, Nazarbayev warned that he would dissolve the new parliament and dismiss the government if they repeated the mistakes of the old parliament. -- Bhavna Dave SEMIRECHIE COSSACKS REELECT GUNKIN, SEEK REGISTRATION. The Semirechie Cossacks re-elected Nikolai Gunkin as their ataman for two years at their congress in Almaty on 5 February, Russian TV reported. Gunkin was released from an Almaty prison last week after serving a two-month sentence for allegedly organizing unsanctioned political rallies. Gunkin said the Semirechie Cossacks are seeking to register as a public organization with the justice ministry and will refrain from holding unsanctioned rallies. The meeting was attended by 135 Cossack leaders from southern oblasts, as well as from the Ust-Kamenogorsk and Pavlodar regions. -- Bhavna Dave TURKMENISTAN CUTS OFF GAS TO ARMENIA. Turkmenistan cut off its gas supply to Armenia on 4 February because of Erevan's failure to pay a $50 million debt for natural gas, Russian media reported. In other news, a storm ruptured an underwater gas pipeline in the Caspian Sea, disrupting the flow of gas to many parts of Azerbaijan, Western and Russian media reported on 2 February. -- Lowell Bezanis [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Pete Baumgartner 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. 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