|Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece. - Vladimir Nabokov|
No. 48, Part I, 07 March 1996
New OMRI Analytical Briefs: - "No End in Sight to Turkey's Political Disarray", by Lowell Bezanis - "Subtle Change", by Bruce Pannier 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ FIGHTING CONTINUES OVERNIGHT IN GROZNY. The Chechen militants who entered Grozny during the early morning of 6 March began withdrawing from the city overnight, following fierce fighting that claimed the lives of at least 26 Russian troops and the head of the Chechen OMON detachment, Russian and Western agencies reported. The Chechen rebels, variously estimated at 500-1000 men, blew up three water stations and a fuel line, and penetrated to within a few hundred yards of the government building. Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev interrupted the retransmission of Russian Public TV (ORT) with a five-minute statement, in which he said the attack had been launched on his instructions, according to Radio Mayak. On 7 March, the Security Council, meeting in Moscow to discuss the Chechen situation, postponed for one week its decision over which plan to select to end the conflict, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Liz Fuller ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ RUSSIA U.S. BLASTS HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD IN CHECHNYA. In its annual human rights report, the U.S. State Department said Russia's record remained uneven, "with reversals and worsening in some areas, most notably in the conduct of the war in Chechnya," according to Reuters. The report noted numerous killings and other serious human rights violations in Chechnya but said those committed by federal forces "occurred on a much greater scale than those of the Chechen separatists." It added that security forces elsewhere in Russia were increasingly targeting citizens from the Caucasus for "arbitrary searches and detention on the pretext of maintaining public safety." The report found that the media generally functioned unhindered but noted a few exceptions. It also criticized the dismissal of former Human Rights Commissioner Sergei Kovalev, cited reports of prison inmates dying due to torture by security forces, and noted the continuation of "hazing" in the military. -- Penny Morvant YELTSIN: MEDIA SHOULD BE "SOOTHING" DURING CAMPAIGN. President Yeltsin said the mass media should be "soothing" during the upcoming "turbulent period" of the presidential campaign, since "society faces hard times," ITAR-TASS reported on 6 March. In February, Yeltsin sacked Russian TV Chairman Oleg Poptsov, prompting fears that he will tighten control over the media during the campaign. The Central Electoral Commission has not yet adopted regulations on campaign coverage, but it is reportedly considering rules to prohibit journalists on state-owned media from commenting on candidates or asking questions during debates. -- Laura Belin YELTSIN VOWS TO SAVE RUSSIA FROM TERROR. Speaking to a conference on legal reform in the Kremlin, President Yeltsin said he intends to win the June presidential elections to protect Russia from "the terror of arbitrary rule, lawlessness, and mass repressions," which he said would return if the Communists gained power, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 6 March. Yeltsin's main rival, Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov, criticized the president for belatedly realizing the need to introduce legal order in Russia, NTV reported. Meanwhile, First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets told ITAR-TASS that Deputy Prime Minister Yurii Yarov will go on leave from the cabinet in order to run Yeltsin's campaign headquarters. Soskovets said he may also go on leave for a month or so later this spring. He added that Yeltsin will announce his election program at a 22-23 March conference, and the program will be "significantly different" from his recent "state of the nation" address to parliament (see OMRI Daily Digest, 23 February 1996). -- Laura Belin MORE COMPETITION ON THE WEEKLY NEWS MAGAZINE MARKET. Vladimir Gusinskii's Most Group, which already finances the Segodnya newspaper and NTV, has teamed up with the U.S. magazine Newsweek to launch a weekly news magazine in Russia, to be called Itogi, (Results or Summing Up), ITAR-TASS reported on 6 March. The first issue will appear in May and will be distributed in Moscow and other large cities. About 15% of the material in the magazine will be translated from Newsweek, and the rest will be produced by Russian staff. In January, the weekly magazine Ponedelnik (Monday) was launched with money from U.S. and Dutch investors. Ogonek, Russia's most popular weekly magazine, is 100% financed by Russian investors. Kommersant-weekly, which is also influential despite its smaller circulation, is said to have both Russian and foreign investment. -- Laura Belin DUMA CONDEMNS DESECRATION OF SOVIET FLAG. . . The Duma passed a resolution on 6 March condemning any desecration of the flag of the former Soviet Union, Russian and Western agencies reported. The resolution was in response to a TV report on 3 March showing a member of an anti-fascist youth committee wiping his feet on the flag. It and a flag of Nazi Germany were placed at the entrance to a Moscow hall where a national youth conference was in progress (see OMRI Daily Digest, 4 March 1996). A sign read, "Democrats wipe their feet here." The resolution, supported by 289 deputies, called on the Procurator- General's Office to "institute criminal proceedings against hooliganism as regards historical symbols of our country." -- Penny Morvant . . .WHILE CONSTRUCTION WORKERS WANT SOVIET-ERA NAME OF METRO STATION CHANGED. Workers rebuilding the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow have asked Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov to rename a metro station near the construction site, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 March. The station is currently called Kropotkinskaya after Petr Kropotkin, an anarchist who supported the October Revolution. The station was first called the Palace of the Soviets, as it was supposed to serve a giant public building of the same name to be built on the site of the original cathedral, which was torn down by the authorities in the 1930s. When the project fell through and a swimming pool was built instead, the station was renamed so as not to remind people of the failure. -- Penny Morvant REGIONAL PARTY ORGANIZATIONS UNITE FOR PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN. An association of left-wing patriotic forces and an alliance of pro-reform organizations have been created in Krasnodar Krai, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 6 March. The "Fatherland" movement, which unites the krai- level organizations of the Communist Party (KPRF) and the hardline Communist Workers Party and United Workers Front, backs the nomination of KPRF leader Gennadii Zyuganov for the presidency. The krai organizations of Yabloko, Svyatoslav Fedorov's Party of Workers Self- Government, and Yegor Gaidar's Russia's Democratic Choice united in support of the candidacy of Grigorii Yavlinskii. The same day, Segodnya reported that a movement called "For the revival of the Urals" has been formed by branches of various left-wing parties in Chelyabinsk to support Zyuganov. -- Anna Paretskaya KOMI DEFENDS RIGHTS OF NORTHERN MIGRANTS. Komi Republic head administrator Yurii Spiridonov has formally requested that the Constitutional Court defend the constitutional rights of migrants from the north, mostly pensioners heading south for their retirement, Russian TV reported on 6 March. The request was sparked by the fact that some regional administrations in Russia have been charging immigrants from the north up to 30 million rubles ($6,500) for permanent residency papers. The 1996 federal budget has allotted the Komi Republic 300 billion rubles ($62 million) under a program to aid resettlement. By 2005, 148,000 people are slated to be moved out of the area. -- Anna Paretskaya PLANS FOR A NEW CONFEDERATION. First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets said on 6 March that President Boris Yeltsin will announce "plans for movement toward a confederation of Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan" on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the  referendum on the preservation of a unified state," ITAR-TASS reported. This will probably take place at a pre-election meeting in Moscow which Yeltsin will address on 22 March. CIS integration will be the central theme in the campaign of both leading presidential candidates. -- Peter Rutland CIS TO HAVE COMMON AIR DEFENSE SYSTEM. The members of the CIS Interstate Economic Committee on 6 March signed an agreement on the "establishment and development" of a common air defense system, ITAR-TASS reported. All 12 CIS member states are involved in the system. including Ukraine, which is cooperating but has not formally joined its ranks. Money will be allocated for extending the system to Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, and Tajikistan, and a transnational company ("Granit") will be formed to manufacture equipment. -- Roger Kangas LIGHTS OUT IN THE FAR EAST. A 12 hour power shutdown in Primorskii Krai triggered street protests on 6 March, blocking the center of Vladivostok for several hours, ITAR-TASS reported. The government forbids the national electricity producer, EES, from cutting off certain categories of consumers--about 25% of the total - even if they do not pay their electricity bills. As a result, by the beginning of January EES was owed some 42 trillion rubles ($8 billion) by customers, with debts rising by 5 trillion a month, Rabochaya tribuna claimed on 5 March. This in turn meant that the regional energy company Dalenergo could not pay its coal suppliers, who halted deliveries, causing the power shutdown. -- Peter Rutland EUROPEAN LOANS FOR RUSSIA. German and French banks announced on 6 March that they will provide Russia with more than $3 billion in new loans, Reuters reported. A consortium of German banks led by Deutsche Bank will lend DM 4 billion ($2.7 billion), mainly in the form of export credits, while France will provide two billion francs ($400 million). The money will start to be released in the next few months, supplementing the first payments of the $10.2 billion IMF loan announced last month. EBRD President Jacques de Larosiere said that he was "very optimistic about Russia," AFP reported the same day. European support for Yeltsin may be connected to the question of NATO expansion. On 5 March, in a speech to the German parliament, President Roman Herzog had appealed to his "Russian friends" not to see NATO expansion as a threat. -- Peter Rutland AEROFLOT LEASES MORE AIRBUSES. Aeroflot Russian International Airlines announced on 6 March that it would be leasing four more widebodied A310s from the French producer Airbus Industrie, ITAR-TASS reported. The planes are equipped with engines from the U.S. firm Pratt and Whitney. Russia acquired five airbuses, its first foreign planes, in 1992. Uzbek Air and Sakha Air each has two A310s. Meanwhile, in Irkutsk customs officials seized a Boeing 757 leased to Air Baikal (a Russian-U.K. joint venture), demanding a $25 million import duty, the Wall Street Journal reported on 6 March. This despite the fact that the Gore-Chernomyrdin commission had agreed at its 30 January meeting to exempt leased U.S. aircraft from import tariffs. -- Peter Rutland DUBININ WARNS FOREIGN BANKS. Central Bank Chairman Sergei Dubinin said that restrictions may be reimposed on foreign banks operating in Russia, Radio Mayak reported on 6 March. He said that the spread of foreign banks threatens the interests of Russian banks. He also complained that Russian banks are treated as "mafia" outlets and are denied access to banking in foreign countries. President Yeltsin had banned new foreign bank branches from taking on Russian clients in November 1993, but he relaxed these restrictions in June 1994 after pressure from the EU. Russia now has 10 fully-owned and 50 partly-owned foreign banks, whose capital accounts for only 5% of total bank assets. -- Natalia Gurushina and Peter Rutland TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA FIVE ARRESTED AT UNAUTHORIZED RALLY IN GEORGIA. Law-enforcement officials arrested five supporters of former Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia at a 5 March rally in Tbilisi, Iprinda news agency reported. About 80 supporters of the former president and members of other non-parliamentary opposition parties participated in the rally outside the Georgian parliament building to protest the adoption of a law on the privatization of arable land. Police made the arrests when the protesters refused to disperse. -- Irakli Tsereteli AZERBAIJANI PARLIAMENTARY OPPOSITION FAILS TO FORCE VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE. National Independence Party of Azerbaijan (NIPA) Deputy Chairman Nazim Imanov's 6 March proposal that the Azerbaijani Milli Mejlis (People's Assembly) debate a vote of no confidence in the government failed to win the necessary majority, Turan reported. Previously considered a "loyal opposition party," the NIPA has hardened its opposition to President Heidar Aliev since the November 1995 parliamentary elections. -- Liz Fuller MORE CABINET MINISTERS SACKED IN UZBEKISTAN. President Islam Karimov dismissed two more ministers on 6 March, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 March. Adbulkhosim Mutalov was relieved of his duties as deputy prime minister and head of the state grain company Uzdonmakhsulot. Last December, Mutalov was demoted from prime minister to deputy prime minister (see OMRI Daily Digest, 22 December 1995). Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Paigin was also dismissed from his post as chairman of the state-owned agricultural machinery company Uzselkhozmash. In a cabinet meeting last month, Karimov criticized the government for failing to make Uzbekistan self-sufficient in grain production. Water Conservation Minister Rim Giniyatulin was promoted to deputy prime minister on 5 March, Reuters reported. -- 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 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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