|When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain|
No. 61, Part I, 26 March 1996
New OMRI Analytical Briefs: - "Slovak Parliament Aproves Territorial Arrangement Law," by Sharon Fisher 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ YELTSIN CONSIDERED CLOSING DUMA. The extremist newspaper Zavtra , quoting sources close to the presidential administration, charged that presidential security adviser Yurii Baturin drafted decrees disbanding the State Duma and banning the Communist Party of the Russian Federation following the State Duma's vote to restore the Soviet Union. Baturin denied that he had prepared such decrees, although he admitted there was a discussion among the president's aides, NTV reported on 24 March. The disbanding option was quickly dismissed as "dangerous and provocative" and the president decided instead on proposing a bill to confirm Russia's legal status and international commitments. -- Robert Orttung ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ RUSSIA OPPOSITION DUMA LEADERS APPEAL TO MILITARY. The initiators of the Duma's 15 March decision to denounce the treaty disbanding the Soviet Union, including Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov and Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, issued an appeal to servicemen of all ranks in Sovetskaya Rossiya on 26 March. The appeal warns the military to be "vigilant" against attempts at provocation. It reminds them that the Russian constitution prohibits the use of the military against its own people and its elected officials and warns them not to bring the "black shadow of shame" on the Russian army. The appeal suggests that the military will play a greater role in politics if tensions between the president and Duma intensify. -- Robert Orttung ZYUGANOV OPPOSED DECISION TO VOTE ON USSR RESTORATION. Communist leader Zyuganov opposed the decision to denounce the Belavezha accords in the Duma on 15 March rather than later in the year, according to the anti- communist Izvestiya on 26 March. The decision was allegedly made by the Communist Party's Central Executive Committee--the analog of the politburo--in Zyuganov's absence under the chairmanship of Valentin Kuptsov, and was presented to the party leader as a fait accompli. Zyuganov wanted to wait until after the presidential election to act on restoring the USSR. Zyuganov's plans, however, divided the party leadership and Kuptsov acted to subordinate Zyuganov to the party's more hardline faction, the paper claims. -- Robert Orttung DUMA PASSES LAW ON HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSIONER. The Duma passed on 23 March in the second reading the draft law on Russia's human rights commissioner, Russian TV reported. The bill has been under discussion for more than two years, but three earlier attempts to pass it at the second reading failed because of disagreement over how the commissioner should be appointed. The latest draft stipulates that the nomination of candidates to the post must be approved by a two-thirds majority in the Duma but that the appointment must be approved by only a simple majority. -- Penny Morvant LENINGRAD OBLAST GOVERNOR TO JOIN CITY AND OBLAST. Leningrad Oblast Governor Aleksandr Belyakov has proposed that the oblast be administratively united with its capital, St. Petersburg, one of two Russian cities that is a separate federation subject, ITAR-TASS reported on 22 March. Belyakov plans to promote his proposal by running in St. Petersburg's mayoral elections on 19 May. If elected, he said he will keep his post as oblast governor, which he said does not violate the Russian constitution. Belyakov added that the Our Home Is Russia bloc will back his candidacy. -- Anna Paretskaya KALMYKIYA TO BUILD "CHESS VILLAGE." The republic of Kalmykiya has contracted a Turkish company to build a "chess village" in the republic's capital Elista, ITAR-TASS reported. The village, consisting of an 8,000-seat "chess palace," four-star international hotel, and other structures, will accommodate some 10,000 people expected for the International Chess Federation's (FIDE) 67th Congress and the 33rd World Chess Olympic Games in 1998. Kalmykian President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was elected FIDE chief in November last year. In 1993, Gari Kasparov, who had wrested the world title from Anatolii Karpov eight years before, helped found the rival Professional Chess Association. Karpov is now the FIDE champion. -- Anna Paretskaya YELTSIN VISITS NORWAY. In Norway for an official visit on 25 March, President Boris Yeltsin suggested that East European states could become political members of NATO without joining its military structures, Western media reported. Yeltsin referred to this as the "French example." His two previous planned trips to Norway, in July and November 1995, were canceled due to ill health. Norway shares a 200 km border with Russia, and has grave concerns over Russian industrial and nuclear pollution in the Arctic region. Yeltsin will also discuss the demarcation of their respective territory in the Barents Sea. Norway is thought to be one of the NATO members (along with Greece) that is most skeptical about NATO expansion. The approval of all 16 NATO member states is required before new entrants can be added. -- Peter Rutland CONTINUING UNCERTAINTY OVER BELARUS TREATY. The terms of the treaty which Belarus and Russia will sign on 2 April remain obscure despite efforts by Yeltsin administration officials to clarify the issue. Dmitrii Ryurikov, Yeltsin's foreign policy adviser, said on 25 March that the pact to be signed on 29 March with Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgystan will have a purely economic character, while the 2 April treaty with Belarus will pursue "deeper integration." He said the 29 March pact will include a payments union and will be open for other nations to join. However, he compared the 29 March pact to the European Union--which other Yelstin officials have used as an analogy for the 2 April Belarus treaty. -- Peter Rutland UN HUMAN RIGHTS MEETING. The head of the Russian delegation to the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva, Grigorii Lukyantsev, complained at the body's latest session about a "new form of racism," ITAR-TASS reported on 25 March. Lukyantsev said that xenophobia is also a problem in democracies, and criticized "quiet discrimination" against ethnic minorities in the name of "historical injustice." This was an implied reference to the treatment of Russian minorities in Estonia and Latvia. -- Peter Rutland UKRAINIAN AIRCRAFT FORCED DOWN IN RUSSIA. Russian air defense detected an incursion by a Ukrainian military aircraft into Russian territory on 24 March, ITAR-TASS reported the next day. The IL 76 aircraft was forced to land at Rostov na Donu. A Russian General Staff spokesman described the incident as a "grave violation of international agreements," since he claimed no flight plan had been filed or prior authorization sought. Ukraine is not a formal member of the unified CIS air defense system, but it does participate on an informal basis, and is expected to sign an agreement with the CIS on this subject in the near future. -- Peter Rutland DISPUTES OVER FISHING GROUNDS INTENSIFY. Russia and Japan failed to agree on conditions for Japan's salmon and trout fishing in Russian territorial waters near the southern Kuril Islands, Western agencies reported on 23 March. The talks may resume in April. Russia is also involved in disputes over fishing quotas in the Atlantic and North Pacific. Russia challenges the International Commission on Fishing in the Northwestern Atlantic's decision to cut its fishing quota from over 60% in 1995 (50-55,000 metric tons) to 24% this year. Meanwhile, representatives of 400 Russian trawlers asked the government to cut quotas for foreign vessels in the North Pacific, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 March. -- Natalia Gurushina YELTSIN ISSUES DECREE ON HOUSING CONSTRUCTION. In another attempt to stimulate the housing market, President Yeltsin issued a decree on 23 March instructing the government to prepare a federal program on individual housing construction, ITAR-TASS reported. The aim of the program, entitled "My Home," is to reduce the cost of one square meter of living space to no more than double the average monthly per capita income in a given region and to facilitate long-term credit for construction projects. Yeltsin also urged the passage of legislation exempting people building homes from housing taxes until loans are paid off. Yeltsin issued a decree authorizing mortgage lending at the end of February. -- Penny Morvant UNEMPLOYMENT INCREASES SHARPLY IN FEBRUARY. The number of people officially registered as unemployed with the Federal Employment Service reached 2.57 million on 1 March after a 6.2% jump in February, Russian agencies reported on 25 March. The registered unemployed now constitute 3.5% of the working population. The situation is worst in Ingushetiya and Ivanovo Oblast, with registered unemployment rates of 23% and 13%, respectively. According to Goskomstat, the total number of jobless at the beginning of March was 6.24 million, or 8.5% of the country's workforce. -- Penny Morvant SUPREME COURT REINSTATES FIRED DEPUTY EDUCATION MINISTER. The Supreme Court ruled on 12 March to reinstate a deputy education minister who was sacked in October 1992, ITAR-TASS reported on 25 March. The court ruled that the government's dismissal of Yevgenii Kurkin for alleged abuse of office was unlawful and that he should be paid his salary for the past two and a half years. According to Kurkin, the court cleared him of suspicion that he used his office for commercial ends. -- Penny Morvant BUY ONE, GET ONE FREE. Shopkeepers in Kamchatka have come up with a novel way of getting around the new minimum price on imported vodka. Since 12 March, the minimum price for a liter of vodka imported from outside the CIS has been set at 40,000 rubles. ($8.25). Fearing that a sudden price hike would lead to a sharp drop in vodka consumption, traders in Kamchatka are handing out a free bottle with every liter purchased at the new price of 40,000-50,000 rubles, ITAR-TASS reported. This practice is likely to continue as long as old stocks last. -- Penny Morvant NAKHODKA FREE ECONOMIC ZONE GETS STATE SUPPORT. The Finance Ministry will allocate $25 million annually for the development of the free economic zone in Nakhodka, a port on the Sea of Japan port, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 25 March. Japanese businesses have allocated $81 million for the development of the free economic zone. President Yeltsin on 11 March authorized the building of a Russian-Korean industrial park in Nakhodka. -- Natalia Gurushina RUSSIA AND THE U.S. REACH AGREEMENT ON POULTRY EXPORTS. Russia and the U.S. have ended their dispute over chicken exports, ITAR-TASS reported on 26 March. U.S. Vice President Al Gore's office announced that "Russia recognized that the U.S. inspection system and the American poultry itself are fully acceptable for the Russian market." Russia agreed to allow any chicken shipments that left the U.S. before 20 March to enter the country. The U.S. promised to modify its control procedures to include joint spot inspections of poultry plants, and to impose additional testing requirements on poultry producers. In 1995, exports to Russia were worth $550 million and accounted for 33% of all U.S. chicken exports. -- Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA ILIESCU IN YEREVAN. Romanian President Ion Iliescu arrived in Yerevan on 25 March on the first leg of a tour of the Transcaucasus, Western and Armenian agencies reported. Iliescu and his Armenian counterpart, Levon Ter-Petrossyan, signed eight bilateral agreements on cooperation in economic issues, tourism, air and freight transport, taxation, and engineering, plus a consular agreement. The two leaders had signed a bilateral treaty on friendship and cooperation when Ter-Petrossyan visited Bucharest in September 1994. -- Liz Fuller AKAYEV GRANTS LOCAL GOVERNORS MORE POWERS. Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev on 23 March granted additional powers to the heads of local administrations (akims), ITAR-TASS reported on 23 March. Akims will now be able to suspend any decisions by local self-government bodies or enterprises that contradict the decisions of the central authorities. Any appointments to local bodies made by central authorities will now require the approval of the akims, except for appointments to the posts of judge, prosecutor, or state security agency heads. In addition, akims will also carry greater personal responsibility for the "socioeconomic development of the territory," prompt payment of pensions and wages, and combating corruption. -- Bhavna Dave KAZAKHSTAN BANS ENTRY OF "UNDESIRABLE" PEOPLE. Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev ordered a ban on all flights from the North Caucasus to Kazakhstan until order is restored following what he described as the "uncontrolled entry of foreigners" and "evil-doers" into the country, according to a 21 March Kazakhstani TV report monitored by the BBC. Nazarbayev told a meeting of the Kazakhstani Security Council that Kazakhstan has recently taken in nearly 5,000 Chechens, who "break public order and commit crimes, instead of thanking Kazakhstan." Relations between Kazakhs and Chechens have been tense, particularly in the eastern and northern provinces. Although the majority of the Chechens who were deported to Kazakhstan in 1944 have returned to Chechnya, about 40,000 still remain in Kazakhstan. -- Bhavna Dave CAR PRODUCTION IN UZBEKISTAN. The South Korean Daewoo Corporation officially opened a plant in Tashkent on 25 March, NCA reported. The first products of the joint-venture will be vans, with cars scheduled for regular production by July 1996. It is expected that the plant will produce 30,000 cars and vans this year, with a full capacity production rate of 200,000 vehicles per year. In addition, while 80% of the parts are currently imported, the company plans to produce 70% of the parts locally by 2000. Last year, the German company Daimler-Benz expanded vehicle production at its Urgench plant. -- Roger Kangas CENTRAL ASIAN LEADERS REACT TO BELARUS-RUSSIAN "MERGER." Central Asian leaders have reacted negatively to the recent meeting of the Belarusian and Russian presidents (see OMRI Daily Digest, 25 March 1996), Reuters reported on 25 March. Kyrgyz presidential spokesman Kamil Bayalinov said that his country would "never support" plans for political reunification with Russia. Tajik presidential spokesman Zafar Saidov also rejected full political unification if it compromises political sovereignty. Kazakhstani First Deputy Prime Minister Nigmatzhan Isingarin called Lukashenka's description of the pact "incomprehensible." Instead, Isingarin promoted President Nursultan Nazarbayev's "Eurasian Union," and noted that Nazarbayev and Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev will be in Moscow on 29 March for a summit on regional integration. There was no immediate reaction from the Turkmen government. -- Roger Kangas TAJIK OPPOSITION RELEASES NEW PUBLICATION. The Tajik opposition has launched a weekly newspaper that will carry reports on political, social, and cultural issues, as well as on the condition of Tajik refugees living in northern Afghanistan, according to a 23 March Radio Free Tajikistan broadcast monitored by the BBC. United Tajik Opposition leader Said Abdullo Nuri contributed an article and gave an interview in the first edition. -- Bruce Pannier [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
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.