|When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain|
No. 64, Part I, 29 March 1996
New OMRI Analytical Briefs: - "Romania to Apply for Full NATO Membership," by Dan Ionescu - "Russo-Belarusian Union: New Beginning, or Dead End?," by Peter Rutland - "Hungary's OECD Membership is Now Official," by Zsofia Szilagyi 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ FOUR CIS PRESIDENTS MEET IN MOSCOW. The presidents of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan met in Moscow on 29 March for a one-day conference on regional integration, Russian media reported. Among the issues discussed were the customs union, military cooperation, and social and energy matters, RFE/RL reported. While each leader has indicated that their countries will remain sovereign states, they also recognized that existing economic links necessitate greater cooperation. Regional security, as discussed at the 27 March CIS defense ministers' meeting, is another aspect of this cooperation (see OMRI Daily Digest, 28 March 1996). Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev stressed that such efforts do not signal the return of the USSR but rather the "coming together of its former republics on a new basis," ITAR-TASS reported. Russia's increased importance in these measures was underscored by the announcement that the CIS headquarters is scheduled to move to Moscow from Minsk in 1998. -- Roger Kangas ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ RUSSIA YELTSIN CRITICIZES RED PROFESSORS. . . President Boris Yeltsin charged that "some social science instructors remain ideologists and active functionaries for parties of a communist orientation" in a speech to the Union of Rectors on 28 March, ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin said that it is unacceptable to pine for the past and "not understand that the so- called tranquillity was paid for with camps, the destruction of entire social groups, the exile of the best minds, and the devastation of the soul." He also accused the Communists of organizing party cells at the universities, an illegal activity following the 1991 ban on party activities in schools, and said the responsible rectors will be prosecuted, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. -- Robert Orttung . . .YELTSIN DECREES MORE FUNDS FOR SCIENCE AND EDUCATION. The same day he addressed the congress, President Yeltsin issued a decree outlining a number of new measures to support science and higher education, Rossiiskie vesti reported on 29 March. The decree provides for 100 presidential grants worth a total of 6 billion rubles ($1.2 million) to be awarded annually to young scientists and calls on the government to draft a law on higher retirement pensions for professors and researchers. Yeltsin also ordered the transfer to higher educational establishments of state-owned buildings they have leased for over 10 years. Scientists have repeatedly protested underfunding of their sector. -- Penny Morvant CHUBAIS BACKS YELTSIN. Former First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais backs a second term for President Yeltsin as the only way to prevent Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov from becoming president, Reuters reported on 28 March. Chubais said that he is actively participating in the campaign and that he meets with Yeltsin more often now than when he was in power. Yeltsin sacked Chubais on 16 January, blaming his conduct of economic policy for the poor performance of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's Our Home Is Russia bloc in the December State Duma election, when it won only 10% of the vote. -- Robert Orttung CLINTON PART OF RE-ELECT YELTSIN TEAM? In a private meeting during the anti-terrorism summit in Egypt on 13 March, U.S. President Bill Clinton promised that he would help President Yeltsin win re-election, according to a 27 March Washington Times report, based on a leaked State Department memorandum written by Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott. Yeltsin supposedly appealed for U.S. support, and Clinton said that "He wanted to make sure that everything the United States did would have a positive impact, and nothing should have a negative impact." White House spokesman Mike McCurry said that the report is "inaccurate," since the U.S. is keen to preserve good relations with Russia but is not specifically concerned with Yeltsin's re-election chances, Reuters reported. -- Peter Rutland DEPUTY MAYOR TO RUN AGAINST SOBCHAK IN ST. PETERSBURG. Deputy Mayor Vladimir Yakovlev announced on 27 March that he would run against Mayor Anatolii Sobchak in St. Petersburg's 19 May gubernatorial elections, RFE/RL reported. Yakovlev said that Sobchak speaks of democratic principles but fails to act on them. He expects Sobchak to fire him and blame him for many of the city's problems. Yakovlev's program focuses on uniting Leningrad Oblast with St. Petersburg, economic development, and road-building. Sobchak has a long history of conflict with his subordinates, including former Vice Mayor Vyacheslav Shcherbakov. -- Robert Orttung SUPPORT FOR REFORMERS WEAK OUTSIDE MAJOR CITIES. The December Duma elections show that reformers are losing support in Russia's regional capitals, presidential adviser Leonid Smirnyagin argued in Rossiiskie vesti on 29 March. Moscow and St. Petersburg are pro-reform, but they have lost their influence over the capitals of the other federation subjects, who are now more influenced by the conservative rural areas where they are located. The elections also suggest that, contrary to the conventional wisdom, regional elites are very weak in their ability to influence the attitudes of the local public. The governors of the Russian areas are less influential in this regard than the leaders of the republics because the republican leaders are involved in political dispute resolution on a day to day basis while the governors tend to function as economic managers. -- Robert Orttung RUSSIAN FORCES CONTINUE OFFENSIVE IN CHECHNYA. Russian federal troops continued their artillery and aerial bombing attacks on the villages of Bamut, Orekhovo, and Stary Achkhoy on 28 March in an attempt to inflict the maximum damage on forces loyal to Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev prior to President Yeltsin's unveiling of his master peace plan for Chechnya on 31 March, Russian media reported. Three other mountain villages in southeastern Chechnya, where Dudaev's headquarters are reportedly now located, have been surrounded by Russian troops. Izvestiya on 29 March published details of alleged routes for clandestine arms shipments from Turkey and Iran via Azerbaijan to Chechnya; however, Yeltsin's adviser on military affairs, Boris Kuzyk, told Ekho Moskvy on 28 March that it would be impossible for the Turkish government to re-export to Chechnya weaponry it had purchased from Russia. -- Liz Fuller RUSSIA REVIVES OLD TIES. Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov left for a three-day visit to India on 29 March, where he is expected to sign $3.5 billion worth of contracts, mainly for weapons, Reuters reported. It was also announced that India will revive the direct "hot line" telephone link with Moscow, which was disconnected after the collapse of the Soviet Union. India accounted for 40% of Russia's weapons sales in 1995, AFP reported on 28 March. Meanwhile, an MI5 report released in Britain said that Russia has revived its intelligence activities in that country, AFP reported on 29 March. MI5 is obliged to devote 20% of its resources to monitoring Russian agents. -- Peter Rutland BUMPER YEAR FOR ARMS EXPORTS. Russian arms producers have orders for more than $7 billion in foreign sales this year according to Aleksander Kotelkin, the general director of the state-owned Rosvooruzhenie arms export company, Russian media reported on 28 March. This compares with 1995 sales of $2.8 billion. ITAR-TASS quoted Kotelkin as saying that his company had invested heavily in domestic defense enterprises in 1995 to support promising export producers. It also dramatically increased its spending on advertising, and has offices in 30 countries. -- Doug Clarke SOLDIER IN FAR EAST STARVES TO DEATH. A conscript serving in the army in the Far East has died of starvation, a press officer of the Far Eastern Military District told ITAR-TASS on 28 March. The official cause of his death was reported to be "acute cardiac insufficiency with a deficit of the weight of the body." The press service said that the district's Military Council had fired the commander of Mikhail Kubarskii's regiment along with several other medical and commissary officers. In 1992, four Russian naval cadets in the Far East died of starvation. Military commanders have complained that they have not received enough money to feed their troops adequately while press reports of corruption in food procurement are not uncommon. -- Doug Clarke THE NUMBER OF FOREIGN TOURISTS DOUBLES IN 1995. The number of foreign tourists in Russia in 1995 reached 1.8 million, double the 1994 figure, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 March. This figure is still rather low, but the rapidly developing service sector and transport infrastructure may boost the tourist industry. There are currently 27 top class hotels under construction in Moscow, and regions most popular with tourists, from Kamchatka to the Black Sea resorts, are getting their own international airports. The number of Russians traveling abroad in 1995 increased only by 2% and totaled 2.4 million. Of this number, 30% were participants in package tours for shoppers to such destinations as Turkey and Bahrain. -- Natalia Gurushina IMF LOAN CONDITIONS. The managing director of the IMF, Michel Camdessus, told a Washington press conference on 27 March that the $10.1 billion loan approved on 26 March may have to be withdrawn if a Communist candidate wins the June presidential election, Western agencies reported. However, he said if a Communist-led government adhered to the terms laid down as conditions for the loan, the disbursements could continue, but a wave of renationalization would not be acceptable. Yusuke Horiguchi, the IMF official who negotiated the loan, said that import duties should be cut by one-third over three years, Reuters reported. Russia has agreed to abolish export duties from 1 April, except for oil which will have its export duties removed from 1 July. Loan conditions also reportedly include the abolition of Gazprom's tax- free stabilization fund. Camdessus insisted that the IMF does not consider the political impact of its loans, but Russia's Communists are likely to take a different view. -- Peter Rutland TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA RESULTS OF AKAYEV-YELTSIN MEETING. Russian President Boris Yeltsin and his Kyrgyz counterpart, Askar Akayev, signed several agreements in Moscow on 28 March that are meant to increase cooperation in economic, financial, and defense spheres, Russian and Western sources reported. Anticipating a subsequent meeting with the leaders of Kazakhstan and Belarus, both members of a customs union with Russia, the Russian-Kyrgyz agreements remove tariffs and other limitations to trade between the two countries. Yeltsin called Kyrgyzstan "a model for all the CIS countries," noting that many of the more than 100,000 Russians who left Kyrgyzstan when reforms began there, are now thinking of returning. Earlier, Akayev met with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to discuss migrant workers, conversion of national currencies, the transmission of Russian television and radio broadcasts in Kyrgyzstan, and cooperation in electricity and air connections. They agreed to set up an inter- governmental commission on economic cooperation. -- Bruce Pannier TALKS RESUME ON CASPIAN PIPELINE CONSORTIUM. Talks on the future of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC), founded by Russia, Kazakhstan, and Oman to transport oil from western Siberia and Kazakhstan to Black Sea ports in Russia, resumed in Moscow on 28 March with a visit by a delegation from the Oman Finance Ministry, ITAR-TASS reported. The Russian Ministry of Fuel and Energy is working to reach an agreement on the size of the respective shares in the Caspian deal that will be allotted to the three founding states of the CPC and foreign oil companies. According to a preliminary accord, 50% will be held by CPC countries, and the remaining half will be distributed between the Russian oil companies Rosneft, Transneft, and LUKoil, and the Western oil companies Agip, Mobil, Arco, and Chevron. The participation of Shell and Amoco is also being discussed. -- Bhavna Dave TUBERCULOSIS CASES INCREASE IN KAZAKHSTAN. The incidence of tuberculosis in Kazakhstan is about seven times that in the West, with at least 50,000 people, or 67 out of every 100,000, suffering from the disease, RFE/RL reported on 28 March. Aldesh Zhunsbekov, director of the Kazakhstani Research Institute of Tuberculosis, said that 4,500 deaths from tuberculosis were reported last year, up from 3,000 the previous year. He added that medication shortages and inadequate government support, in addition to poor nutrition and bad hygienic conditions, are to blame. -- Bhavna Dave WARM RELATIONS BETWEEN ASHGABAT AND TEL AVIV. Relations between Turkmenistan and Israel are "not just good but even excellent," according to the new Israeli ambassador to Turkmenistan, Shmuel Meir. His remarks and equally warm replies from Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov were reported by the state-controlled Turkmen Press news agency on 27 March following a meeting. The flourishing relationship between Tel Aviv and Ashgabat does not appear to be impinging on Turkmenistan's close ties with Iran. -- 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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