|When we can begin to take our failures non-seriously, it means we are ceasing to be afraid of them. It is of immense importance to learn to laugh at ourselves. - Katherine Mansfield|
No. 74, Part I, 15 April 1996
New OMRI Analytical Briefs: - "Amnesty International on Turkmenistan: Words for Deaf Ears?," by Lowell Bezanis - "Improving Czech-Polish Relations," by Jiri Pehe Available on the World Wide Web: http://www.omri.cz/Publications/Analytical/Index.html This is Part I of the Open Media Research Institute's Daily Digest. Part I is a compilation of news concerning Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia. Part II, covering Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe is distributed simultaneously as a second document. Back issues of the Daily Digest, and other information about OMRI, are available through OMRI's WWW pages: http://www.omri.cz/Index.html ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^TODAY'S TOP STORY^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ EASTER CELEBRATED AT CATHEDRAL OF CHRIST THE SAVIOR. President Boris Yeltsin on 14 April headed a 1,500-strong congregation at an Easter mass at the newly rebuilt Christ the Savior cathedral in Moscow, Russian and Western agencies reported. The mass was celebrated by Patriarch Aleksii II, who called the restoration of the cathedral "a symbol of the resurrection of Russia." Both Yeltsin and his main rival for the presidency, Communist contender Gennadii Zyuganov, have taken pains to express support for the Orthodox Church, and the Easter mass, which was televised nationwide, provided Yeltsin with useful pre-election media coverage. -- Penny Morvant ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ RUSSIA SUPREME COURT SUSPENDS ORDER TO TsIK. The Supreme Court on 13 April suspended for further study its order to the Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) to register Duma member Vladimir Bryntsalov as a presidential candidate, NTV reported. The TsIK had protested a 10 April court order to register Bryntsalov to Procurator-General Yurii Skuratov, who told the Duma on 12 April that the court could overrule the TsIK's decision not to register Bryntsalov but could not force the TsIK to register him, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. Meanwhile, the TsIK registered former USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev as the fourth candidate and denied registration to Martin Shakum, president of the International Foundation for Economic and Social Reform, on the grounds that he did not submit enough valid nomination signatures. -- Robert Orttung GRACHEV PREVENTS COMMUNISTS FROM CAMPAIGNING AMONG TROOPS. Defense Minister Pavel Grachev has turned down a request from Communist Party campaign organizer Valentin Kuptsov to allow Zyuganov to meet with servicemen during the presidential campaign, ITAR-TASS reported 12 April. Zyuganov had planned a series of meetings with military units in the coming months. The Defense Ministry's top leadership has strenuously denied that there are political divisions among the ranks, and has signaled its support for Yeltsin. -- Robert Orttung POLL SHOWS WEAK SUPPORT FOR DEMOCRACY, MARKET ECONOMY. A recent VTsIOM poll found that 41% of respondents believed that the Soviet political system existing before the 1990s was the best option for Russia, 27% supported Western-style democracy, and 9% favored the current system, Radio Rossii reported 14 April. Also, 42% said that they favored an economic system based on state planning, while approximately one-third favored a market economy and 25% chose "difficult to say" as a response. -- Robert Orttung NOVODVORSKAYA CHARGED FOR BELITTLING RUSSIAN NATION. Valeriya Novodvorskaya, the head of Russia's Democratic Union, is facing criminal charges for "repeatedly expressing opinions and spreading ideas suggesting the inferiority of the Russian nation," ITAR-TASS reported on 11 April. She is being charged under Article 74 of the Russian Criminal Code for "deliberate instigation of interethnic enmity." The writ cites articles by Novodvorskaya in Novyi vzglyad on 29 August 1993 and 15 January 1994 and an interview with Estonian television. It said she used "tendentiously selected facts and false statements about the Russian way of life" to generate "negative attitudes toward people of Russian nationality." Novodvorskaya was a prominent dissident in Soviet times and was imprisoned during perestroika for publicly calling President Mikhail Gorbachev a fascist. -- Penny Morvant BARSUKOV EMPLOYS EX-KGB OFFICERS AS ADVISERS . . . Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Mikhail Barsukov has decided to restore the institution of veteran-advisers, Moskovskii komsomolets reported on 13 April. Barsukov has reportedly appointed Col. Gen. Nikolai Golushko (Rt.), former security minister (1993-94), as a special adviser to the FSB director. Golushko served in the KGB for 34 years and was the last head of the Ukrainian KGB. -- Constantine Dmitriev in Moscow . . . WHILE COMMUNISTS FEAR SECURITY SERVICE PROVOCATIONS. Communist deputy Viktor Ilyukhin, the head of the Duma Committee on Security, told Ekho Moskvy on 12 April that the Russian security services are preparing three scenarios to discredit the Communist Party presidential candidate and his campaign. Ilyukhin said that the security services may accuse the Communist Party of creating paramilitary units to take power by force; of financial machinations during the 1995 parliamentary campaign; and of conducting separate negotiations with the Chechen separatist leaders. -- Anna Paretskaya in Moscow ST. PETERSBURG DVR BACKS YELTSIN, NATIONAL LEADERSHIP DIVIDED. The St. Petersburg branch of Russia's Democratic Choice (DVR) voted 49-25 to back President Yeltsin in the presidential campaign on 13 April, Express Khronika reported. The day before, the party's national Political Council failed to come to a decision. Party leader Yegor Gaidar told Segodnya that "Sergei Kovalev supports Yavlinskii, Anatolii Chubais is for Yeltsin." The 18 May party congress will resolve the issue. -- Robert Orttung SPLIT IN DEMOCRATIC PARTY. Twelve Democratic Party of Russia (DPR) regional branches have declared that they disagree with the party's decision at the 9th DPR Congress to support Duma deputy Lt. Gen. (ret.) Aleksandr Lebed for the presidential bid, Rossiiskaya gazeta reported on 13 April. Twelve DPR regional branches, which include the Moscow, Sverdlovsk, Kaluga, and Primorie organizations, have created an association supporting President Yeltsin for re-election. -- Anna Paretskaya NEW CHECHEN PRIME MINISTER NAMED. The Supreme Soviet on 13 April voted to appoint the former deputy head of the Russian railway troops, General Nikolai Koshman, as Chechen prime minister, NTV reported. Sporadic fighting in the west Chechen villages of Bamut, Goiskoe, and Stary Achkhoi between Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev's forces and Russian federal troops continued on 13-14 April, but the commander of the Russian federal troops, Lt. Gen. Vyacheslav Tikhomirov, announced on 13 April that the first contingent of Russian troops would begin withdrawing from Chechnya on 15 April. In an interview with NTV cited by AFP on 14 April, Dudaev's chief of staff, Aslan Maskhadov, said he is ready for peace talks, and blamed Russian forces for not observing the ceasefire proclaimed by President Yeltsin on 31 March. Meanwhile, Nadezhda Chaikova, 33, a reporter for the Moscow weekly Obschaya Gazeta became the 16th journalist killed in Chechnya since the conflict began in December 1994, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Liz Fuller CIS PRIME MINISTERS MEET IN MOSCOW. The prime ministers of the 12 CIS member-states signed an integration plan for 1996-97, a crime-fighting agreement, and several other economic accords at a 12 April meeting in Moscow, Russian and Western agencies reported. The anti-crime agreement calls for the coordination of criminal codes and the creation of a united CIS criminal data base. NTV reported that the session, which dealt with 30 agenda items in less than three hours, had been much more productive than anticipated. Also concluded at the session were agreements bolstering the CIS unified air defense system and coordinating oil transit policy. -- Scott Parrish PRIMORSK GOVERNOR CLAIMS MISUNDERSTANDING. Primorsk Krai Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko announced on 12 April that he has "no disagreement with the president over the Russo-Chinese border," Russian and Western agencies reported. Nazdratenko said journalists had misinterpreted him, and denied that he had announced that Yeltsin was suspending the ongoing demarcation of disputed segments of the Russo-Chinese border along the Tuman River. Yeltsin later angrily refuted Nazdratenko's remarks. (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 and 12 April 1996). On the same day, Ussuri Cossack Ataman Vitalii Poluyanov announced that his troops would picket the disputed segments, which they claim are traditional Cossack territory, in order to prevent the demarcation. -- Scott Parrish NORILSK NICKEL DIRECTOR FIRED. Anatolii Filatov, the head of the Norilsk Nickel plant, has been fired by a decision of the Russian government, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 13 April. The giant combine has been mired in controversy since ONEKSIMbank acquired 38% of its shares in return for a $170 million loan last November. Filatov was preventing the bank from calling a shareholders meeting in order to appoint new members to its board. On 27 February, ONEKSIMbank won a court case the firm had brought to try to have the bank's purchase of shares declared illegal. The first deputy chairman of the State Metallurgy Committee, Vsevolod Generalov, will now take over as Norilsk director. -- Peter Rutland TAX REVENUE PROBLEMS. The Federation Council was told that budget revenues reached only 56% of the planned level in the first two months of this year, Russian TV reported on 13 April. The volume of uncollected taxes had risen to 40 trillion rubles ($8 billion) by the end of that period. Nizhnii Novgorod Governor Boris Nemtsov complained that his province had received only 16 billion rubles in transfers from the federal government, instead of the allotted 100 billion. Leningrad Governor Aleksandr Belyakov said that inflation had been needed to keep revenues rising: now that it has slowed, the government is in a quandary. -- Peter Rutland GOVERNMENT TO WRITE OFF FARM DEBTS. Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Zaveryukha said that the government will write off 18 trillion rubles ($11 billion in 1993-94 prices) borrowed by the agro-industrial complex from banks in 1993-1994, ITAR-TASS reported on 12 April. He also said the government will write down the 5 trillion rubles "commodity credits" given to farms in the form of tractors, machines and equipment during the same period. Zaveryukha said that unfavorable shifts in prices were largely responsible for the fact that farms lost a total of 46 trillion rubles ($10.1 billion) in 1995. -- Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA AZERBAIJAN'S EX-PRESIDENT ARRESTED IN MOSCOW. Former Azerbaijani President Ayaz Mutalibov and former Defense Minister Rahim Gaziev were arrested in Moscow on 11 and 14 April respectively, Turan and Western agencies reported. Mutalibov, who was ousted by the Azerbaijani Popular Front in May 1992, and has been living in Moscow ever since, was briefly detained by Russian police in May last year. The Azerbaijani authorities have repeatedly demanded his extradition, claiming that he was implicated in the alleged coup attempts against current President Heidar Aliev in October 1994 and March 1995. Gaziev, a former leading member of the Azerbaijani Popular Front, was arrested for allegedly surrendering the towns of Shusha and Lachin to Armenian forces in the spring of 1993. He escaped from prison in September 1994 and fled to Moscow but was tried and sentenced to death in absentia in February 1996. -- Liz Fuller ARMENIAN ENVOY IN ANKARA. Gerard Libaridian, chief adviser to Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan, arrived in Ankara on 12 April in a visit aimed at urging Turkey to balance its Caucasus policy by undertaking an unconditional dialogue with Armenia, Turkish and Western media reported the same day. Libaridian will meet with Turkish President Suleyman Demirel for talks on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. His arrival immediately preceded the departure of Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz for Baku. -- Lowell Bezanis UZBEKISTAN STOPS TAJIKS GOING TO MECCA. Some 2,000 Tajik pilgrims en route to Mecca were detained on Tajikistan's southern border with Uzbekistan because their travel documents were allegedly incomplete, according to an opposition Voice of Free Tajikistan report monitored by the BBC on 11 April. -- Lowell Bezanis CADRE CHANGES IN KAZAKHSTAN, KYRGYZSTAN. Kazakhstani Supreme Court Chairman Mikhail Malakov was suspended on 11 April pending investigation into charges that he accepted bribes from a convicted criminal, ITAR- TASS reported (see OMRI Daily Digest, 5 February 1996). The day before, Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev sacked the head of East Kazakhstan, Leonid Desyantik, for "serious mistakes and neglecting his duties." He was replaced by Kazkhymurat Nigmanov, formerly head of Zhezkazgan, which will now be headed by Yerlan Smailov, according to a Kazakh Radio report monitored by the BBC. In Kyrgyzstan, police Colonel Omurbek Kutuyev was appointed to the post of interior minister on 11 April, according to a Kyrgyz TV report monitored by the BBC. Former Interior Minister Modalbek Moldashev was obliged to resign on 2 April (see OMRI Daily Digest, 3 April 1996). -- Lowell Bezanis PRESS FREEDOM IN THE CIS. Press freedom is in a sorry state in the countries of the CIS, according to the latest report from the Glasnost Defense Fund, Russian TV reported on 12 April. Aleksei Simonov said that journalists throughout the region find it difficult to get hold of information. The report divided the CIS into five groups. In Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan, freedom of speech is completely absent. Things are a little better in Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, where on occasion journalists are jailed. In Kyrgyzstan and Belarus, independent journalists are harassed, and Armenia, Georgia, and Moldova are not far behind. There are also "black holes" in press freedom in Russia--most notably, Chechnya. -- Peter Rutland [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Victor Gomez ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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