|Words that open our eyes to the world are always the easiest to remember. - Ryszard Kapuscinski|
No. 67, Part I, 3 April 1996
New OMRI Analytical Briefs: - "Bulgarian Political Class Divided over Yeltsin's Remark," by Stefan Krause - "Balkan Defense Minitsers Meet in Tirana," by Fabian Schmidt 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ TERMS OF RUSSIAN-BELARUSIAN TREATY. The seven-page "Treaty on Forming a Community," signed in Moscow on 2 April calls for the formation of an integrated political and economic community based on the "sovereignty and equality" of the member-states, ITAR-TASS reported. The two sides agreed to coordinate their foreign policies and cooperate in policing their common outside border. They also pledged to form a common economic space with harmonized labor, pension, customs, taxation, and investment policies by the end of 1997. The joint activities of the community will be directed by a Supreme Council, consisting of top government officials. Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka will head the council for the next two years, while Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin will chair its executive committee, which will implement the agreement. Joint projects initiated by the community will be financed from its budget, provided by contributions from the two member states. -- Scott Parrish ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ RUSSIA QUESTIONS OVER NAME OF RUSSIAN-BELARUSIAN COMMUNITY. Several Western and Russian news agencies have been describing the new Russo-Belarusian entity as the "Community of Sovereign Republics," abbreviated as CSR in English and SSR in Russian. However, ,Presidential foreign policy aide Dmitrii Ryurikov told NTV on 2 April that this term should not be used. Ryurikov insisted that the "SSR" abbreviation is not in the text of the treaty, which he said was titled "Agreement on the Formation of a Community." A preliminary draft of the agreement obtained by OMRI said it would form a "union (community)" between the two states: the final official name of the new entity remains unclear. Russian media are using the term "Russo-Belarusian Community." Russia and Belarus declared that henceforth 2 April will be a public holiday marking the treaty signing. -- Scott Parrish REACTION TO RUSSIAN-BELARUSIAN TREATY. The reaction by Russian politicians to the agreement signed on 2 April was generally positive. The leaders of both houses of the Federal Assembly, Gennadii Seleznev and Yegor Stroev, hailed it and promised speedy ratification, ITAR-TASS reported. Communist presidential candidate Gennadii Zyuganov praised the agreement, telling NTV that it outlines "concrete steps" toward strengthening bilateral economic ties, a view seconded by Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the Liberal Democratic Party leader. Liberals such as Galina Starovoitova and Boris Federov also expressed approval of the document. Some others voiced skepticism, however, with an Ekho Moskvy commentary wondering about the consequences of closer links to a country in deep economic crisis led by a president who has restricted independent media, trampled on the political opposition, and praised Adolf Hitler as a positive role model. -- Scott Parrish YAVLINSKII SUPPORTERS SPLIT RUSSIA'S DEMOCRATIC CHOICE. The decision of Russia's Democratic Choice members Sergei Kovalev and Arkadii Murashev to support Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii was made in violation of the party council's instructions, Duma member Sergei Yushenkov told NTV on 2 April. Yushenkov suggested that Kovalev and Murashev suspend their membership in the Yavlinskii group until Russia's Democratic Choice decides whom it will back in the presidential campaign. Murashev replied that he and Kovalev would not suspend their membership because they decided to support Yavlinskii as "private citizens," not as party members. -- Robert Orttung YELTSIN DESIGNATES COSSACK LEADER. President Yeltsin appointed Anatolii Semenov as the head of the main department of Cossack units subordinate to the Russian president, ITAR-TASS reported 2 April. Yeltsin created the department on 20 January 1996 to improve government-Cossack relations. The department consists of 35 people and will coordinate with a 2 million-strong force of Cossack fighters, Reuters reported. The department is part of Yeltsin's effort to win the backing of various interest groups among the Russian electorate. -- Robert Orttung COMMUNISTS LOSE GROUND IN ALTAI LOCAL ELECTIONS. The Communist faction in the Altai Krai legislature lost about 10 seats in the 50-seat body, failing to meet expectations for a left-wing victory in the krai's 31 March elections, Radio Rossii reported on 2 April. Even a pre-election visit by Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov did not help. A centrist bloc of Our Home Is Russia and Yabloko deputies is now about the same size as the leftists. Russia's Democratic Choice and the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia did not win a single seat. Independent deputies who have yet to announce their political leanings will probably determine the direction of the legislature. -- Robert Orttung DUDAEV COOL OVER YELTSIN'S PEACE PLAN. In an interview with Turan on 2 April, Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev dismissed Yeltsin's Chechen peace plan as "tactical tricks" on the eve of the Russian presidential election campaign, and stated that talks with Russian representatives at this point would be tantamount to "surrender." He said talks would be possible only after the cessation of hostilities and the withdrawal of Russian forces from Chechnya. Fighting continued in various parts of Chechnya despite the announced ceasefire by Russian forces that supposedly went into effect at midnight on 31 March, as Chechen fighters have attacked federal positions. -- Liz Fuller COSTS OF CHECHEN WAR. The federal government spent 6 trillion rubles ($1.2 billion) on the economic and social reconstruction of Chechnya in 1995, ITAR-TASS reported on 31 March. There are no reliable figures for military outlays, but the operational costs of the 40,000 or so troops in the breakaway republic can be assumed to have been several times that amount. A UN Human Rights Commission report released on 2 April estimated the civilian casualties in the first five months of the war at 26,550, citing a Russian non-governmental organization source, AFP reported. Tatyana Regent, the head of the Federal Migration Service, said on Radio Rossii on 1 April that in the past year her service has registered 437,000 refugees from Chechnya -- about one third of the pre- war population. Another 1 million refugees and forced migrants arrived from the former USSR. -- Peter Rutland CLINTON DENIES TAKING SIDES IN RUSSIAN ELECTIONS. In response to U.S. media allegations of a "secret deal" with President Yeltsin, U.S. President Bill Clinton declared that he is not taking sides in the Russian presidential elections, Reuters reported on 2 April. On 27 March, The Washington Times, citing leaked documents, alleged that when Clinton met Yeltsin at the 13 March anti-terrorism summit in Egypt, he had pledged to support Yeltsin's re-election in exchange for the Russian president's promise to resolve "difficult" bilateral disputes, including one involving U.S. poultry exports to Russia, much of which are produced in the president's home state of Arkansas. Both Russian and U.S. spokesmen have refuted the report, but the Russian Foreign Ministry criticized the U.S. Embassy in Moscow for "leaking" confidential bilateral discussions, and the Clinton administration has opened a Justice Department investigation into how the paper obtained classified information. -- Scott Parrish RUSSIA BALKS AT PROVIDING ARMS SALES DATA. Russia's refusal to disclose details of it arms exports has threatened to derail the Vienna talks on establishing a new control regime for military exports, Reuters reported on 2 April. Talks on inaugurating the so-called Wassenaar Arrangement were to take place between 31 Western and former communist states. The new apparatus is designed to replace the old COCOM system set up by NATO to prevent the transfer of advanced military technology to the former Warsaw Pact. In the preliminary talks last December, Russia had agreed to provide details of its foreign arms sales. Apparently afraid that they will lose valuable hard-currency deals, the Russians have reneged on this pledge according to diplomatic sources in Vienna. -- Doug Clarke CIS FOREIGN MINISTERS DISCUSS INTEGRATION MEASURES. Following on the heels of the 29 March quadripartite treaty and concurrent with the 2 April Russian-Belarusian agreement, the CIS foreign ministers met in Moscow to discuss military cooperation among member states. The ministers are seeking ways to implement the principles of the May 1992 Tashkent Treaty on Collective Security, ITAR-TASS reported on 2 April. Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov underscored the value of integrating military policies. The foreign ministers also rejected the Georgian call to have peacekeepers in the Abkhaz region play a more active role, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 2 April. -- Roger Kangas GOVERNMENT APPROVES SPACE ROCKET DEAL. The Russian government has approved a deal for the Russian aerospace company NPO Energomash to provide RD-180 rocket engines to Pratt and Whitney that will be used in a new-generation U.S. space launch vehicle, a senior Russian Space Agency official told Reuters on 1 April. Aleksandr Kuznetsov said the controversial deal "has a green light." In January, the U.S. aerospace firm Lockheed Martin chose the RD-180 to power its new Atlas IIAP vehicle. The Russian military strongly opposed the deal, warning that the technology transfer involved would harm Russia's security. -- Doug Clarke SOCCER PRESIDENT BANNED FOR SEASON. Nikolai Tolstykh, the head of the Professional Soccer League and the chairman of Moscow's Dinamo club, was barred on 2 April from working as club president for the rest of the season, AFP reported. Tolstykh was accused of punching the referee after a match with Spartak Alania in which a penalty kick was awarded to Alania. -- Peter Rutland YELTSIN SIGNS DECREE TO SUPPORT FINANCIAL INDUSTRIAL GROUPS. President Yeltsin has signed a decree aimed at stimulating the development of financial-industrial groups (FPG), Segodnya reported on 2 April. The decree promises financial assistance from the federal budget for FPGs involved in federal economic programs. It also facilitates the concentration of assets in the head company of the FPG, and the transfer of federally-owned shares to them. As of December 1995, there were 27 FPGs in Russia uniting 414 firms and 65 financial institutions. Continuing cuts in the federal investment program, however, has put a question mark over the decree's implementation. -- Natalia Gurushina GOVERNMENT REPAYS WAGE DEBT . . . The federal government managed to pay off its wage debt to budget organizations by the 31 March deadline set by President Yeltsin, Izvestiya reported on 2 April. Transfers in March from the federal budget for this purpose totaled 20.7 trillion rubles ($4.3 billion). A total of 7.9 trillion rubles was spent on current wage payments, 8.1 trillion rubles on wage debts, and 4.7 trillion rubles on loans to regions to cover other wage payments. However, having spent all its available resources on wage payments, the government does not have money to finance other aspects of budget organizations' activities, such as fuel and energy bills. -- Natalia Gurushina . . . BUT PENSION ARREARS MOUNT. Despite the highly-publicized campaign to clear wage arrears, there is a persisting problem of late pension payments. At the beginning of April, the Federal Pension Fund was short of 3.8 trillion rubles ($780 million), ITAR-TASS reported on 2 April. The state still owes pensioners 1.6 trillion rubles for the period from 1992 to 1994, 3 trillion rubles for 1995, and more than 1.5 trillion rubles for the first three months of 1996. A spokesman for the fund, which is technically separate from the federal budget, appealed to the government for financial assistance. -- Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA AZERBAIJAN ACCUSES ARMENIA OF ABETTING LEZGIN TERRORISTS. The Azerbaijani Ministry of National Security has released the results of its investigation into the bomb explosion on a train in the Baku metro in March 1994, in which 14 people were killed, Turan reported on 2 April. The investigators concluded that the explosion was perpetrated by members of the Dagestan-based Lezgin separatist organization Sadval, at the instigation of the Armenian security service, who had provided them with the necessary training at a base in Armenia in 1992. Five persons directly involved in the Baku bomb attack and six more who had undergone training in Armenia were subsequently arrested. Since its creation in 1991, Sadval has campaigned for the creation of an independent Lezgin state comprising parts of southern Dagestan and northern Azerbaijan, which is home to 150,000-200,000 ethnic Lezgins. -- Liz Fuller KYRGYZ INTERIOR MINISTER QUITS AFTER SCANDAL. Kyrgyz Interior Minister Madalbek Moldashev offered his resignation following a scandal surrounding his offer of new jobs to two officials who had been sacked by the Kyrgyz government, Reuters reported on 2 April. Moldashev tendered his resignation after the newspaper Vechernii Bishkek published a secretly recorded conversation in which he made the promise to the two officials. The Kyrgyz government criticized Moldashev's "two-faced" appointment policy. President Askar Akayev is expected to sign a decree accepting Moldashev's resignation, but no successor has been found. -- Bhavna Dave SHEVARDNADZE IN ANKARA. Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze arrived in Ankara on 3 April to sign several unspecified agreements with his Turkish counterpart, Suleyman Demirel,Yeni Yuzyil reported the same day. Speaking during his weekly radio address two days earlier, Shevardnadze said he was surprised that Georgian-Turkish relations had developed at such a "great pace" in the past two to three years. During his visit, which follows immediately on the heels of his trip to Moscow, the two sides will likely discuss Turkey's hope to move Caspian Sea oil through Azerbaijan and Georgia to Turkey; the timing of Shevardnadze's visit is likely connected to Moscow's apparent willingness to accept this scenario. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Albert Chernyshev said on 3 April that Russia has no objections to the construction of the planned Baku-Ceyhan pipeline, providing that part of Azerbaijan's oil is also exported north through Russia, ITAR-TASS reported, citing the Anatolian News Agency. -- Lowell Bezanis and Liz Fuller [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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