|Life is what happens to us while we're making other plans. - John Lennon|
No. 53, Part I, 14 March 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ FEDERAL FORCES POUND BAMUT. Russian aircraft and artillery bombarded rebel positions near the western Chechen village of Bamut on 13 March, Russian and Western agencies reported. Military spokesmen refuted earlier reports that the Chechen fighters in Bamut had taken federal troops hostage and had threatened to shoot them if the village were attacked. Meanwhile, sporadic fighting continued in Grozny, where Russian troops told AFP that about 400 servicemen had been killed in the recent fighting, many more than the official death toll of 79 reported by Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov. -- Scott Parrish ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ RUSSIA DUDAEV: RADUEV, MASKHADOV STILL ALIVE. In an exclusive telephone interview with RFE/RL, separatist Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev refuted recent reports that field commander Salman Raduev had been killed and Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov seriously wounded. Dudaev said both Raduev and Maskhadov would be willing to meet with Russian officials to confirm his claims. He added that the recent Chechen attack on Grozny had been "revenge" for Russian violence against the Chechen people. Meanwhile, in Moscow, the State Duma defeated a proposal by Deputy Konstantin Borovoi to grant Dudaev amnesty. Borovoi argued that negotiations with Dudaev are the only way to resolve the conflict. -- Scott Parrish YELTSIN AT ANTI-TERRORISM SUMMIT. Addressing a 13 March meeting of world leaders in Sharm-el-Sheik, Egypt, President Boris Yeltsin condemned terrorism and called for united action by the international community to oppose it, Russian and Western agencies reported. Yeltsin denounced Chechen President Dudaev as a "criminal" disguising himself as a "freedom fighter." In an oblique request for support in Chechnya, the Russian president declared that "terrorism is the same everywhere," and contended that "double standards cannot be tolerated" in the struggle against it. While in Egypt, Yeltsin also met with U.S. President Bill Clinton. -- Scott Parrish DUMA QUESTIONS YELTSIN'S SIGNATURE COLLECTION. The Duma has asked the Procurator General's Office to look into how President Boris Yeltsin's campaign has collected signatures, Radio Rossii reported on 13 March. According to Sergei Filatov, one of Yeltsin's top campaign organizers, 8 million signatures have already been collected supporting the president. There have been numerous allegations, however, that workers in the Railways and Communications Ministries were forced to sign the petitions by their superiors (see OMRI Daily Digest, 15 February 1996). -- Laura Belin ZYUGANOV FIRST TO RECEIVE CAMPAIGN FUNDS. Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov, the first registered presidential candidate, became the first to receive 150 million rubles ($31,000) from the Central Electoral Commission for his campaign fund, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 13 March. The commission will give all registered candidates an additional 50 million rubles later in the campaign. -- Laura Belin OUR HOME IS RUSSIA TO PUBLISH WEEKLY NEWSPAPER. The pro-government Our Home Is Russia (NDR) movement will launch its own weekly newspaper by the end of March, ITAR-TASS reported on 13 March. The paper will be a supplement to the official government newspaper Rossiiskaya gazeta, which has a circulation of about 500,000, and extra copies will be distributed by regional NDR branches. According to Segodnya on 13 March, NDR claims to have branches in 86 regions of the Russian Federation, but insiders say only 40 of those are "active." -- Laura Belin LEBED PROPOSES COMMISSION ON CAPITAL FLIGHT. Duma member and presidential candidate Aleksandr Lebed offered to help create and lead a federal commission to track down and return money that has been taken out of Russia illegally during the last several years, Russian media reported on 13 March. Earlier, Izvestiya reported that a government representative had offered the post to Lebed in what appeared to be an attempt to co-opt him (see OMRI Daily Digest, 12 March 1996). Lebed told RFE/RL that with the help of Interpol, he could return about $10 billion to Russia. -- Laura Belin YAVLINSKII IN RACE TO STAY. Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii told supporters at Moscow's Dom Kino that he will not withdraw his candidacy for president and will not cooperate with the so-called "third force" alliance, which may nominate either Aleksandr Lebed or Svyatoslav Fedorov, Russian media reported on 13 March. Portraying himself as the only viable alternative to President Yeltsin and Communist leader Zyuganov, he declined to say whom he would support if those two candidates face each other in the second round of presidential elections. Yavlinskii also said he will continue to push for a vote of no confidence in the government; so far Yabloko has collected only 58 of the 90 deputies needed to put a confidence vote on the Duma's agenda. -- Laura Belin FASCISTS SENTENCED IN YAROSLAVL. A Yaroslavl court sentenced two members of the neo-Nazi group Werewolf Legion, including its leader Igor Pirozhok, to five- and nine-year prison terms for murder and stirring up ethnic hatred, the first guilty verdicts ever brought under Article 74 of the Criminal Code (inciting ethnic hatred), NTV reported on 13 March. Pirozhok admitted to Izvestiya that his group commits terrorist acts against "Jews, communists, and democrats." -- Laura Belin DEFENSE MINISTRY COLLEGIUM SUPPORTS GRACHEV. The Collegium of the Defense Ministry issued a statement of support for Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, Ekho Moskvy reported on 13 March. The statement comes on the heels of confusion over a reported meeting of the collegium earlier this week (see OMRI Daily Digest, 13 March 1996). -- Constantine Dmitriev DUMA OVERRIDES FEDERATION COUNCIL VETO ON PENSION HIKE. The Duma on 13 March overrode the Federation Council veto on a bill raising the monthly minimum pension to 75,900 rubles as of 1 March, ITAR-TASS reported. President Yeltsin is unlikely to sign the bill, however, since the government has argued consistently that there are not enough funds available to finance such an increase (see OMRI Daily Digest, 25 January and 8 and 23 February 1996). -- Penny Morvant DECREE ON POWER-SHARING SIGNED. President Boris Yeltsin signed a decree on power-sharing between the federal and regional authorities on 12 March, ITAR-TASS reported. The decree sets out the conditions and procedures for signing individual power-sharing agreements with the federation's subjects. Under the decree, such agreements cannot change the constitutional status of federation members or violate the supremacy of the federal constitution. -- Anna Paretskaya MAYORAL ELECTIONS IN ST. PETERSBURG SCHEDULED FOR MAY. President Yeltsin has set 19 May as the date for the mayoral election in St. Petersburg, Russian media reported. Although St. Petersburg Mayor Anatolii Sobchak supports the presidential decree, the city legislative assembly failed to approve it at a 13 March session because the Communist deputies, who oppose early mayoral elections, staged a walkout causing the assembly to lose its quorum, NTV reported on 13 March. Earlier this year, the city legislature voted to hold the poll on 16 June along with the presidential election. -- Anna Paretskaya TRIAL BALLOON ON NATO EXPANSION? Russian Ambassador to the Czech Republic Aleksandr Lebedev told CTK on 13 March that Russia is prepared to hammer out a compromise on the question of NATO expansion. The Russian diplomat suggested that while Moscow could not accept the extension of NATO military infrastructure into Eastern Europe, it could live with the enlargement of NATO's political institutions and even accept the extension of certain military guarantees by NATO to the East European states. His comments resemble recent remarks made by Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov, who suggested a compromise on NATO expansion might be possible if NATO agreed to refrain from deploying military forces on the territory of new members. -- Scott Parrish RUSSIA SIGNS MILITARY PACT WITH COLOMBIA. Russia and Colombia signed an agreement on military and technical cooperation in Bogota on 12 March, ITAR-TASS reported the following day. The agency reported that the pact was the first of its kind between Russia and a Latin American state. The five-year agreement calls for Russia to supply Colombia with arms, ammunition, and other military equipment as well as license Colombian firms to produce Russian-designed weapons, Reuters reported on 13 March. -- Doug Clarke DUMA RESPONSE TO LAND DECREE. Agrarian Party deputies in the Duma submitted a draft law on land on 13 March that bars foreigners from owning land and puts a two year moratorium on the resale of land which was given free to farm workers, ITAR-TASS reported on 13 March. The draft is a response to the land decree that President Yeltsin issued on 7 March. The Duma also instructed one of their committees to investigate the constitutionality of Yeltsin's decree. The Russian Constitution (part 3, article 36) states that the use of land is regulated by federal laws. Also on 13 March, the Agrarian Party announced that it is revoking the membership of Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Zaveryukha. -- Peter Rutland CHERNOMYRDIN VISITS KHRUNICHEV SPACE CENTER. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin visited the Khrunichev space scientific-industrial center in Moscow on 13 March, ITAR-TASS reported. The government owes the space industry nearly 437 billion rubles ($91 million). The federal financing of the space program continues to slide--the 1996 space budget is only 1.5 trillion rubles. In these circumstances, budgetary funds form only 30% of the Khrunichev center's revenue. The remainder comes from commercial launches of Russian and foreign satellites, and from participation in international space programs, such as the construction of Alfa orbital station modules. The center manufactures Russia's most powerful rocket booster Proton, and the new boosters Rokot and Angara. -- Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA U.S. DELEGATION SEEKS RESOLUTION TO NAGORNO-KARABAKH CONFLICT. Representatives of the Clinton administration, including Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and Deputy National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, are scheduled to meet with Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev and Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan in an effort to resolve the two countries' ongoing dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, ITAR- TASS and Western media reported on 13 March. A resolution to the dispute could facilitate oil pipeline deals in the region. The same day Karen Baburjan, the chairman of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, was replaced by Arthur Tavmosian, Radio Mayak reported. -- Roger Kangas IMF LOAN TO AZERBAIJAN. The IMF will extend an enhanced structural adjustment facility loan of $80 million to Azerbaijan, ITAR-TASS reported following a meeting between Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev and IMF Managing Director Michel Camdessus in Baku on 12 March. An additional $260-$350 million will be made available when Azerbaijan completes its economic restructuring plan. Camdessus was positive about the recent turnaround in the Azerbaijani economy, noting that the monthly inflation rate had fallen from 50% to 2.5% over the past year. -- Roger Kangas MUTINEER APPOINTED TO PRESIDENTIAL GUARD. Mahmud Khudaberdiyev, commander of the Tajik Army's First Brigade has been appointed deputy head of the presidential guard, ITAR-TASS and RFE/RL reported on 13 March. Khudaberdiyev made news in late January when he captured the city of Kurgan-Tyube and advanced to within 15 km of the Tajik capital Dushanbe (see OMRI Daily Digest, 31 January 1996). -- Bruce Pannier NAZARBAYEV FORMS NEW MINISTRY OF SCIENCES, SUPREME COURT COUNCIL. President Nursultan Nazarbayev on 11 March merged the National Academy of Sciences, Kazakh Academy of Agricultural Sciences, and the Ministry of Science and New Technologies to create a new Ministry of Sciences and Academy of Sciences, ITAR-TASS reported. Vladimir Shkolnik, the former minister of science, will head the new ministry. Nazarbayev also created a Supreme Court Council with himself as its chairman. The council will comprise the chairman of the Constitutional Council, the head of the Supreme Court and some of its members, the rector of the Law Institute, two parliamentary deputies, and representatives of oblast, city, and regional courts. -- Bhavna Dave TOP SECRET KAZAKHSTANI MAP SEIZED IN MOSCOW. Customs officials in Moscow seized a box labeled "top secret" which contained maps showing the location of gold and silver mining sites in Kazakhstan, ITAR-TASS reported on 14 March. The box was on its way to a private address in the U.K. from Kazakhstan. -- Bhavna Dave BBC TO BEGIN BROADCASTING ON MEDIUM WAVE IN UZBEKISTAN. An agreement reached between the BBC and the Uzbek Ministry of Communication on 12 March will permit the radio station to broadcast on medium wave in the country, RFE/RL reported the next day. Until now, BBC listeners in Uzbekistan have been able to receive programming in Uzbek, Russian, and English on shortwave only. The agreement represents a slight relaxation of Uzbekistan's strict information policy that makes it difficult to receive any foreign broadcasting. Later this month, RFE/RL is expected to open an office in Tashkent. -- Lowell Bezanis and 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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