|Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece. - Vladimir Nabokov|
No. 42, Part I, 28 February 1996
New OMRI Analytical Briefs: - "Turkey's War of Words with Syria and Iraq over Water", by Lowell Bezanis 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ BELARUS AND RUSSIA SIGN ECONOMIC ACCORDS. Visiting Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and his Russian counterpart, Boris Yeltsin, signed an agreement renouncing all mutual debts, including Belarus's unpaid energy bills and its claims to compensation for nuclear weapons transferred to Russia, international media reported on 27 February. Yeltsin strongly endorsed closer integration with Belarus but denied that it would recreate the Soviet Union, which he accused the communists of "dreaming about." -- Scott Parrish ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ RUSSIA STATE-CONTROLLED MEDIA LACK FUNDS TO PAY TRANSMITTERS. State-controlled television and radio stations owe transmitters 521 billion rubles ($109 million) for 1995 and an additional 93 billion rubles ($19 million) for January 1996, Anatolii Nazeikin, the chairman of the Communication Workers' Trade Union central committee announced on 27 February, ITAR- TASS reported. For 1995, Russian Public TV (ORT) owes 77 billion rubles ($16 million) and Russian TV owes 27 billion rubles ($6 million). Many of the transmitting stations are in danger of shutting down because their employees have not been paid and they lack the necessary spare parts. ORT General Director Sergei Blagovolin complained that the president has issued decrees authorizing payment, but they have not been carried out, Russian TV reported. In addition, there is no money for ORT in the 1996 budget, even though it is 51% state owned. -- Robert Orttung STATE MEDIA LEADERS UNHAPPY WITH RULES FOR CAMPAIGN COVERAGE. State- controlled media leaders want the Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) to specify who will compensate them for giving free air time to presidential candidates since the stations have yet to receive payment from the government for air time given to Duma candidates in last December's election. The issue was not covered in the new draft instructions on the role of the media in the presidential campaign recently prepared by the TsIK, NTV reported on 28 February. The media leaders complain that the law does not require candidates to participate in debates rather than presenting pre-packaged clips or monologues in their free air time. ORT General Director Blagovolin questioned how the candidates, including Yeltsin, would meet the requirement not to use their current position to gain advantage over other candidates. -- Robert Orttung INGUSHETIYA TO SUE OVER TROOP INCURSION. Ingush President Ruslan Aushev told ITAR-TASS on 27 February that he plans to sue the Defense Ministry for the damage and loss of life caused by the 58th Army in his republic (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27 February 1996). He said that the operation "did not raise the authority of the Russian president as the commander- in-chief, especially on the eve of the presidential elections." The troops were pulled out on 26 February. -- Robert Orttung PUBLISHER ISSUES BOOK ON NORTH KOREAN LEADER. At a 27 February Moscow ceremony, the Paleya publishing house unveiled a book on North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, the first in a planned 80-volume series on 20th century world leaders, ITAR-TASS reported. The series will include volumes on Kim's father, Kim Il Sung, Chinese leader Deng Xiao-ping, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, and Indonesian President Suharto. Not intended for a broad readership, the series will be distributed directly to world political leaders in order to "demonstrate the diversity of contemporary society." Among those present at the ceremony was former Soviet Defense Minister and 1991 coup plotter Dmitrii Yazov, who said Kim had suggested the series to him during a visit to North Korea last year. Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Panov chairs the series' editorial board. -- Scott Parrish DEPUTY PRAISES INTEGRATION WITH BELARUS. Duma Deputy Nikolai Gonchar told ITAR-TASS on 28 January that he regarded the debt renunciation deal signed with Belarus as "extremely favorable for Russia." Gonchar emphasized the "economic and geopolitical" importance of Belarus as a market for Russian industrial products. He also praised Yeltsin and Lukashenka's intention to construct a new highway linking Russia with its Kaliningrad enclave via Belarus and Poland. Gonchar added that the new agreements could foster the creation of a new union of the two states "without the words Soviet or Socialist," which might encourage Russia's southern and southeastern neighbors to accelerate their economic integration with Russia. -- Scott Parrish FRANCE PAYS $16 MILLION FOR SPACE FLIGHT. The French National Space Agency agreed to pay $16.4 million to send one of its astronauts for a two-week flight on the "Mir" orbital space station in July 1996, ITAR- TASS reported on 26 February. The cost will be split between the Russian Space Corporation Energiya and the Cosmonauts' Training Center in Zvezdnyi gorodok near Moscow. Russia also has signed an agreement with Australia to use "Start" booster rockets for launching Australian communications and ecological monitoring satellites beginning in fall 1998. Satellites will be launched from the Woomera space center in Australia. -- Natalia Gurushina SEMENOV CRITICIZES NATO EXERCISES IN NORWAY. Current NATO naval and ground exercises in northern Norway "jeopardize Russia's security," according to Col. Gen. Vladimir Semenov, the commander-in-chief of Russia's Ground Forces. ITAR-TASS on 26 February quoted Semenov has saying that Russian troops in the region had been put on alert and instructed to keep a close watch on the situation. He expressed puzzlement at the type and location of the exercises and claimed that they reflected "continued Cold War thinking" on the part of Western military leaders. -- Doug Clarke NEW JOB FOR PACIFIC FLEET COMMANDER. Admiral Igor Khmel-nyov, the commander-in-chief of the Pacific Fleet, has been appointed chief of the Main Staff of the navy, Reuters reported on 27 February, quoting a statement from the fleet's press office. His successor was reported to be Vice-Admiral Vladimir Kuroedov, who had been chief of staff in the Baltic Fleet. Khmelnev will replace Admiral Valentin Selivanov on the navy staff. -- Doug Clarke FEDERAL SECURITY SERVICE AND INTERIOR MINISTRY HOLD CLOSED MEETING. The leadership of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and Interior Ministry held a joint closed meeting on 27 February, Russian media reported. FSB Director Mikhail Barsukov, Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov, Procurator-General Yurii Skuratov, and Presidential National Security Adviser Yurii Baturin attended the meeting. Both Barsukov and Kulikov admitted that terrorism and organized crime are destabilizing reforms in Russia and may threaten the forthcoming presidential election. They pledged to strengthen interdepartmental cooperation in combating terrorism and organized crime. A similar joint meeting took place in 1992. -- Constantine Dmitriev WARRANT ISSUED FOR ARREST OF SERGEI STANKEVICH. Sergei Stankevich, a former Duma deputy, presidential adviser, and deputy chairman of the Moscow City Duma, is the latest prominent public figure to face corruption charges in a campaign that has already seen the institution of criminal proceedings against former acting Procurator-General Aleksei Ilyushenko and former Roskom-dragmet Chairman Yevgenii Bychkov. According to Ekho Moskvy, on 26 February the Moscow Procurator's Office issued a warrant for the arrest of Stankevich, who is suspected of accepting a $10,000 bribe during preparations for a gala concert on Red Square in the summer of 1991. Ilyu-shenko asked the Duma to lift Stankevich's immunity in April 1995, but that request was turned down. Stankevich did not run in the December parliamentary elections, and his current whereabouts are unknown. Stankevich was a leading figure in the democratic movement in the late Gorbachev era, and with his fluent English was often seen on Western TV screens. -- Penny Morvant JOURNALIST, BUSINESSMEN MURDERED. A Russian photographer, Feliks Solovev, who occasionally freelanced for the German newspaper Bild, was shot dead in Moscow on 26 February, Russian and Western agencies reported the following day. The motive for the killing is unclear. Also on 26 February, three people, including a British businessman, were killed when gunmen burst into the prestigious Nevskii Palace Hotel in St. Petersburg, Reuters reported. The gunmen opened fire on a group sitting at a table in the hotel's Vienna Cafe, killing two off-duty policemen who were working as bodyguards for a Russian businessman. The Briton, John Hyden, was apparently hit by a stray bullet. -- Penny Morvant DEBATE CONTINUES OVER OIL EXPORT DUTY. First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Kadannikov now says that the oil export duty will be reduced from 20 to 14 ECU per metric ton on 1 April, not to 10 ECU, as earlier reported. Also, he told ITAR-TASS on 27 February that from 1 July the oil export duty will be replaced by only a 3 ECU rise in excise tax, so as to protect domestic oil consumers. Instead, revenue will be raised from a new 17 ECU tax on pipelines, presumably on export pipelines. It appears that the government is looking for a way to formally comply with the IMF condition that export duties be lifted. However, Kadannikov did confirm that the 5 ECU export duty on natural gas will be removed beginning on 15 March. -- Peter Rutland U.S. COMPUTER MAKER HALTS RUSSIAN PRODUCTION. IBM has decided to stop assembling its own PCs at the Kvant enterprise in Zelenograd, near Moscow, AFP reported on 27 February. The joint venture at the former defense plant began in 1993, and was producing 40,000 units a month. The Moscow authorities granted the plant an exemption from taxes on imported components, but in 1994 in response to a Duma law barring such waivers they reimposed the taxes, adding 8.5% to the final cost. IBM was unable to compete with imports of finished PCs by Russian trading companies which continued to enjoy tax exemptions. In 1995, Russians bought roughly 1 million PCs. -- Peter Rutland TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA OPPOSITION INVITED TO ADDRESS TAJIK PARLIAMENT. The Tajik government has offered the opposition an opportunity to speak at a session of the Tajik parliament on 11 March, Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported on 27 February. However, a spokesman for the opposition, Ali Akbar Turajonzoda, said the oppo-sition's participation hinged on the release of Zafar Rakhmonov, the opposition's representative to a joint commission monitoring the ceasefire and supported by the UN. Rakhmonov was taken by four men in the capital Dushanbe on 24 February and his whereabouts since remain unknown. Speaking from Tehran, Turajonzoda said "nobody would dare go to Dushanbe, even if they were told to do so. There is no guarantee of personal safety," Reuters reported. -- Bruce Pannier COSSACK LEADER ACCUSES KAZAKHSTAN OF BEING A "FASCIST" STATE. At a press conference in at the headquarters of the extreme nationalist movement Pamyat in Moscow on 27 February, the Semi-rechie Cossack leader, Nikolai Gunkin, accused Kazakhstan of being a "fascist" state which endorses a "genocide of Russians," Russian TV reported. Gunkin was released on 27 January after serving a 3-month sentence in an Almaty prison for allegedly holding unauthorized public rallies. Gunkin told an Express- Khronika correspondent that he expects the new Russian State Duma to put more pressure on Kazakhstan over human rights issues. He claimed that if Russians continue to migrate and if Russia abandons Kazakhstan, the country will be "annexed" by China. -- Bhavna Dave IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN TASHKENT. Kicking off a tour of Central Asia and the Transcaucasus, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati traveled to Uzbekistan on 28 February, Russian and Western agencies reported. Velayati is to leave for Dushanbe this evening to meet with Tajik President Imomali Rakh-monov and discuss possible resolutions to the ongoing conflict in that country. Velayati will also visit Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turk-menistan, Armenia, and Azerbaijan in an effort to assert Iran's role in the region. -- Roger Kangas HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH/HEL-SINKI CRITICAL OF KARIMOV. In a letter to Uzbek Prime Minister Islam Karimov dated 22 February, the Human Rights Watch/Helsinki organization expressed its "extreme disappointment and distress" at his assessment of a series of meetings held in December 1995. The letter, obtained by OMRI, complains that in an interview given to Pravda vostoka on 30 December 1995, Karimov misinterpreted the organization's findings on human rights abuses in Uzbekistan. The report also noted that Karimov's office inexplicably declined to meet with them during the trip, showing a "disturbing disdain for human rights concerns." Human Rights Watch/Helsinki said an accurate depiction of their findings will be made available shortly. -- Roger Kangas [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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