|A disagreement may be the shortest cut between two minds. - Kahlil Gibran|
No. 40, Part I, 26 February 1996
New OMRI Analytical Briefs: - "Turkish Government Coalition Talks Fail Again", by Lowell Bezanis - "Primakov in Central Asia: A View from the South", by Roger Kangas Available only via the World Wide Web: http://www.omri.cz/Publications/Analytical/Index.html 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ INGUSH SECURITY COUNCIL DEMANDS WITHDRAWAL OF TROOPS. The Security Council of Ingushetiya, meeting at night on 24 February, denounced a military operation being carried out by federal troops in the republic as unconstitutional and demanded the withdrawal of the units, Russian media reported. According to Ingush President Ruslan Aushev, army units and Interior Ministry troops entered the republic on 21 February and sealed off two Ingush villages near the Ingush-Chechen border, Arshty and Dattykh. According to commanders from the 58th Army, Chechen militants ambushed Russian troops en route through Ingushetiya near Arshty, killing 14 of them, NTV reported. The Ingush government claims that the federal air force bombed Arshty and the Chechen village of Bamut on 23 February, killing seven civilians. The Defense Ministry denies that it used aviation and artillery in the area. -- Anna Paretskaya ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ RUSSIA ZYUGANOV LEADS PRESIDENTIAL POLLS. A VCIOM poll shows that Gennadii Zyuganov continues to lead the presidential preference polls with 18% support, 3% more than a month ago, NTV reported on 25 February. Zhirinovsky is in second place with 10%, up 1% from a month ago, and Yeltsin is third with 8%, up 2% from January. Yavlinskii dropped from 11% to 8% during the last month and lost his former second place position. KRO leader Aleksandr Lebed dropped from 8% to 7%. These figures include the 37% of repondents who said they do not intend to vote. If they are excluded, Zyuganov's score rises to 24% and Yeltsin's to 9%. Zyuganov was the first candidate to turn in the 1 million signatures necessary to run, the BBC reported. -- Robert Orttung ZYUGANOV SLAMS YELTSIN SPEECH. Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov denounced President Boris Yeltsin's 23 February speech to the parliament, saying that it was a "populist" speech that had "no conceptual view of the development of the country nor an honest, critical evaluation of everything that is taking place," NTV reported on 23 February. Vladimir Zhirinovsky supported the speeches' "centrist policy" of denouncing "capitalist ministers and communist deputies" in the Duma. Duma Deputy Galina Staro-voitova described it as a "campaign speech" in which the president simultaneously spoke as the head of state and as an opposition leader criticizing his own policies, Radio Rossii reported. -- Robert Orttung ILYUSHIN NOW KEY YELTSIN ADVISER. First Presidential Aide Viktor Ilyushin is now Yeltsin's key adviser, according to Nezavisimaya gazeta on 23 February. With the removal of Presidential Chief of Staff Sergei Filatov, he controls most personnel decisions. The article also asserts that the head of Yeltsin's security service, Alexander Korzhakov, is losing influence while the current chief of staff, Nikolai Yegorov, is an "independent and weighty" figure. Yeltsin is unhappy with Korzhakov because of the "scorched earth" tactics used recently in the Chechen conflict. -- Robert Orttung SOSKOVETS FAILS TO EXPLAIN CAMPAIGN OFFICE TO DUMA. First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets failed to testify before the Duma on the activities of the office on preparing for the presidential elections, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 February. Instead, he sent a letter saying that he thought it is "pointless" for the Duma to examine the issue. Many deputies believe that the president is using Soskovets' office to funnel state money into his campaign. At a press conference following his meeting with IMF Managing Director Michel Camdessus, Soskovets said the president had asked him to organize his re-election campaign, Russian Public TV reported. -- Robert Orttung HOSTAGES IN CHECHNYA. Eleven Russian power plant workers were kidnapped on 23 February in Grozny, then released when their captors' truck broke down, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. A group of 29 power workers were seized on 16 January and are still in captivity. Other hostages held by Chechen rebels include 36 Russian construction workers, three Russian Orthodox priests, a Muslim cleric, two ministers of the pro-Moscow Chechen government, and nine Chechen police officers. The State Duma commission on hostages and POWs negotiated the release of 12 Novosibirsk OMON police officers who had been seized during the Pervomaiskoe raid last month. They were released in Dagestan on 19 February in exchange for 11 Chechen fighters, captured in Pervomaiskoe, who had been amnestied by the State Duma. -- Peter Rutland JOURNALIST BEATEN. Moskovskie novosti correspondent Aleksandr Krutov was beaten by two men in the Volga region city of Saratov, NTV reported on 23 February, citing the Defense of Glasnost Foundation. The journalist was hit over the head with metal pipe more than 10 times. The attack is thought have been a response to an article written by Krutov for Moskovskie novosti in early February, titled, "The Chechen syndrome in the Volga region." -- Anna Paretskaya FBI ARRESTS SUSPECTED SOVIET SPY. The FBI arrested Robert Stephan Lipka, 50, a former employee of the National Security Agency (NSA), on charges of espionage, Russian and Western agencies reported on 23 February. Lipka worked at NSA headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland from 1964-67, where he had access to top-secret intelligence communications data. ITAR-TASS reported that the FBI arrest warrant for Lipka cited passages from retired KGB Maj.-Gen. Oleg Kalugin's book, The First Directorate. In the book, Kalugin, a former head of the KGB's foreign counterintelligence operations who served at the Soviet Embassy in Washington in the late 1960s, describes an unidentified Soviet agent who worked at the NSA. The agency suggested that Kalugin's book may have played a key role in Lipka's arrest. -- Scott Parrish RUSSIA UNILATERALLY SUSPENDS SANCTIONS ON BOSNIAN SERBS. President Yeltsin issued a directive on 23 February unilaterally withdrawing Russia from UN sanctions against the Bosnian Serbs, Russian and Western media reported. Russian UN Representative Sergei Lavrov told journalists the directive implemented UN resolution 1,022, passed in November 1995, which called for the automatic suspension of the sanctions after Bosnian Serb forces withdrew behind separation lines designated in the Dayton accords. A formal UN Security Council suspension of the sanctions has been blocked by disagreement between Russia and the U.S. over whether the Bosnian Serbs had met those conditions (see OMRI Daily Digest, 13 and 16 February 1996). A U.S. spokesman called the Russian decision "premature" but described the differences between Russia and the other members of the Security Council as technical, rather than substantive. -- Scott Parrish YELTSIN ON FOREIGN POLICY PRIORITIES. In his State of the Nation Address on 23 February, President Yeltsin mentioned the possible expansion of NATO as the most serious current challenge to Russian interests, ITAR- TASS reported. The president also expressed concern with Western policies which attempt to limit Russian influence in the CIS, marginalize Russia's role in the Yugoslav settlement, and undermine the 1972 ABM treaty. Among the accomplishments of Russian foreign policy, Yeltsin mentioned accelerated CIS integration, warming ties with China, Russian admission to the Council of Europe, and ongoing nuclear arms reductions. Yeltsin also appeared to undermine his own warnings about NATO expansion when he declared that for the first time this century, Russia does not face any real military threat. -- Scott Parrish ORTHODOX CHURCHES DISPUTE OVER ESTONIA. The decision of the Constantinople patriarchate to reinstate its jurisdiction over the Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church evoked a sharp protest from the Russian Orthodox Church on 23 February, Western agencies reported. The Moscow patriarch formally suspended relations with Constantinople. The Estonian church split from Moscow in 1919 and its leadership moved to Stockholm during World War II. After independence was restored, the church registered again in Estonia. This move prevented Orthodox believers who wanted to be subordinate to Moscow to register under the same time. The Russian Orthodox Church has accused the Estonian authorities of having an anti-Russian policy. -- Saulius Girnius ANTI-CORRUPTION DRIVE INTENSIFIES. President Boris Yeltsin pledged to wage a war on corruption in his state of the nation speech on 23 February, which was carried by Russian TV. He reported that 1,200 state officials have been charged in 1995, including 109 from the procuracy itself, which is charged with preserving the integrity of the legal system. Some 23,000 personnel have been fired from the Interior Ministry for disciplinary infractions, of which 1,500 are being prosecuted. Aleksei Ilyushenko, acting procurator-general from February 1994 to October 1995, has been in detention in Lefortovo prison since 15 February. He is charged with taking bribes (art. 173) and abuse of office (art. 170). Ilyushenko is implicated in illegal dealing by Balkar Trading, a small company licensed for oil exports, which has been under investigation by the Federal Security Service since February 1995. -- Peter Rutland SOVIET ARMY DAY HONORED. The Day of Defenders of the Fatherland, formerly Soviet Army Day, was marked on 23 February by various events held throughout the country. Some 5,000 communist-patriotic hardliners marched in Moscow and were addressed by Gennadii Zyuganov. In other cities wreaths were laid, medals awarded, and special privileges granted to veterans, such as apartments and free transport passes. According to a survey reported by ITAR-TASS on 23 February, 77% of Russians consider the day a family holiday. -- Peter Rutland RUSSIA AND DE BEERS SIGN NEW AGREEMENT. The Russian government renewed its contract with South Africa's De Beers on 23 February, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. The new agreement preserves De Beers's role as the main agent for Russian diamonds. The present contract, which expired in December and was extended until March, entitled De Beers to handle 95% of Russia's diamond exports. Details of the new agreement are not yet available. The same day, ITAR-TASS reported that YUKOS plans to cooperate with the U.S. firm AMOCO in the development of the giant Priobskii oil field in northern Tyumen Oblast. The field is expected to produce 20 million metric tons of oil annually. -- Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA ANOTHER AZERBAIJANI OFFICIAL CHARGED WITH COMPLICITY IN "COUP ATTEMPT." Adil Gadzhiev, a former state counselor to former Azerbaijani President Ayaz Mutalibov has been apprehended by Russian intelligence and extradited to Azerbaijan, Radio Mayak reported on 24 February. Gadzhiev has reportedly confessed to involvement in what has been called a "coup attempt" in March 1995. -- Liz Fuller TAJIK OPPOSITION REPRESENTATIVE TO UN COMMISSION ABDUCTED. The Tajik opposition representative to the UN commission on monitoring the ceasefire agreement in Tajikistan was kidnapped in the capital, Dushanbe, on 24 February, Russian and Western agencies reported. Four men seized Zafar Rakhmonov as he exited a shop and threw him into a waiting car. The government and the opposition are accusing each other of the crime. News of Rakhmonov's abduction sparked fighting in the Tavil Dara region, about 280 km east of Dushanbe. -- Bruce Pannier CONFLICTING VIEWS ON RUSSO-UZBEK RELATIONS. In an interview published in Pravda on 22 February, Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Komilov voiced his concern over CIS integration and objected to binding decisions being passed at CIS sessions. He said Uzbekistan has shown its reluctance to become enmeshed in an organization dominated by Russia by not signing the CIS treaty on border protection and not attending the recent Interparliamentary Assembly session held in St. Petersburg (see OMRI Daily Digest, 19 February 1996). On 23 February, Segodnya noted that during a recent visit to Tashkent, Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov managed to conclude only one of six proposed agreements with his Uzbek counterpart. -- Roger Kangas INDEPENDENT KAZAKHSTANI TV CRITICIZES GOVERNMENT CONTROL. Kazakhstan's independent television companies, the national information agency Khabar, and the association of independent electronic mass media of Central Asia issued a statement criticizing the government's decision to grant the state company Kazakh Kino the power to act as a "censor" over other television stations in the country, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 February. The statement argues that under the guise of combating video piracy, the government has vested Kazakh Kino with the right to charge a fee for the screening of any film in a movie theater or on television. -- Bhavna Dave IRAN WINS TENDERS FOR PRO-JECTS IN TURKMENISTAN. According to Iranian Oil Minister Gholamreza Aghazadeh, Iranian contractors have won a tender for two projects in Turkmenistan worth about $150 million, Reuters reported on 24 February, citing IRNA. The projects include the construction of gas pipelines and an oil refinery. On the same day, ITAR-TASS reported that Turkmen and Iranian telecommunications companies signed a $22 million contract to lay the Turkmen section of the 19,000 km long Trans-Asia-Europe fibre-optic communications line. Iran's telecommunications company is scheduled to complete the 711 km-long Turkmen segment by March 1997. The Islamic Development Bank will finance the contract with a loan, the agency noted. -- Lowell Bezanis [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 email@example.com 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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