|Every custom was once an eccentricity; every idea was once an absurdity. - Holbrook Jackson|
No. 79, Part I, 22 April 1996
New OMRI Analytical Briefs: - "More Than a Cadre Reshuffle: Nazarbayev Appoints New Head in East Kazakhstan," by Bhavna Dave 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ NUCLEAR SAFETY SUMMIT ROUNDUP. President Boris Yeltsin co-chaired a meeting of the G-7 plus Russia on the topic of nuclear security on 20 April, Russian and Western agencies reported. The meeting issued joint communiques calling for the signing of a comprehensive nuclear test ban by September and pledging to implement more stringent nuclear safety standards. Russia's support for a total ban on all nuclear tests was its first official endorsement of this position, already supported by Britain, France, and the U.S. but still regarded skeptically by China. Although Russian media emphasized that the meeting showed that the West is increasingly taking Russian interests into account, some disagreements emerged. Yeltsin's proposal that nuclear powers base their weapons only on their own soil did not meet with approval, nor did another Russian proposal for a nuclear-free zone in Eastern and Central Europe. -- Scott Parrish ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ RUSSIA CLINTON, YELTSIN: ATMOSPHERICS OVER SUBSTANCE. Following the G-7 meeting, Yeltsin held five hours of talks with his U.S. counterpart, Bill Clinton, on 21 April, Russian and Western agencies reported. With their eyes on their respective re-election campaigns, both presidents tried hard to portray their 10th meeting as a success, despite its meager substantive results. They announced "progress" toward resolving long-running disputes involving the 1990 CFE treaty and the 1972 ABM treaty but refused to give details. Similar vague statements about resolving the CFE flank limits dispute at the presidents' previous meeting in Hyde Park last October failed to deliver concrete results, however. Despite the friendly atmosphere of the meeting, other disagreements involving NATO expansion, Russian nuclear cooperation with Iran, the Middle East peace process, and the Chechen conflict remained unresolved. -- Scott Parrish YELTSIN WINS FRENCH SUPPORT ON OSCE. The presidents of Russia and France on 19 April issued a joint declaration saying that the OSCE should serve as the basis for the new European security architecture, UPI reported. Russia has long pushed the OSCE as an alternative to NATO in this role, believing that it would have a stronger voice in the former organization. France has often puzzled its NATO partners, and this statement by President Jacques Chirac comes at a time when French military cooperation with NATO is closer than it has been since the French withdrew from the alliance's integrated military structure 30 years ago. French presidential spokeswoman Katerin Kolonna was quoted as saying that France continues to support NATO expansion into Eastern Europe "gradually and within the interest of our partners." -- Doug Clarke YELTSIN MEETS JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER. Before the G-7 meeting, Yeltsin met with Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, Russian and Western agencies reported on 19 April. Yeltsin pledged that Russia will no longer dump liquid radioactive waste in waters near Japan, and promised that Russia will soon sign a protocol to the 1993 London Convention banning nuclear waste dumping at sea. The two leaders agreed that Japanese Defense Agency Director-General Hideo Usui will visit Moscow on 27-29 April. Usui will be the first Japanese defense chief to visit Russia since the end of World War II. Hashimoto also announced that he and Yeltsin had decided to revive talks on the disputed southern Kuril islands--which would not begin until after the June presidential election in Russia. -- Scott Parrish CLINTON HEARS DIFFERENT POINTS OF VIEW. President Clinton met with a diverse group of politicians on 21 April and emphasized that the U.S. will respect whatever choice Russians make in the upcoming presidential elections, Russian and Western media reported. Yeltsin's election rivals Gennadii Zyuganov, Grigorii Yavlinskii, and Aleksandr Lebed were present, but Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Mikhail Gorbachev were not invited to the meeting. Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, Nizhnii Novgorod Governor Boris Nemtsov, and Sverdlovsk Oblast Governor Eduard Rossel, all influential regional leaders who are backing Yeltsin's re-election, were also present. Zyuganov, accompanied by Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev and Deputy Speaker Svetlana Goryacheva, both members of his Communist Party, assured Clinton that he supported political pluralism and a mixed economy. However, Yavlinskii, former First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais, and others warned Clinton not to trust Zyuganov's promises. -- Laura Belin TsIK REGISTERS MORE CANDIDATES. The Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) registered Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii, eye surgeon and Duma member Svyatoslav Fedorov, and Duma member Aleksandr Lebed as presidential candidates on 19 March. Yavlinskii announced that negotiations on forming a coalition were going well with Fedorov and Lebed, Radio Rossii reported, while Fedorov said that they would choose a single candidate based on the ratings of the three, according to Russian Public TV (ORT). Lebed said "a tentative result may appear only in May," Segodnya reported on 19 April. The TsIK rejected the signatures of entrepreneur Artem Tarasov, NTV reported. However, the Supreme Court ordered the TsIK to register Martin Shakkum, whom it had earlier refused to register, by 23 April. The procurator general froze a court decision to register Vladimir Bryntsalov after the TsIK rejected his petition. -- Robert Orttung GRACHEV ANNOUNCES READINESS TO RESIGN. Answering questions put to him by Duma members, Defense Minister Pavel Grachev said on 19 April that he is ready to resign if the deputies believed that he was personally responsible for the disorder in the military and the heavy losses the federal troops suffered in Chechnya on 16 April, Radio Mayak reported. Grachev reported that 53 people were killed, while NTV said it was 93; the Grozny garrison said that 76 were killed, ITAR-TASS reported. Grachev also said that he did not implement Yeltsin's 31 March ceasefire order until 6 April because it would have endangered his troops. -- Robert Orttung RUSSIA SUSPENDS TROOP WITHDRAWAL FROM CHECHNYA. The withdrawal of Russian forces to the Chechen border has been suspended in reaction to the deaths of an estimated 76 Russian troops in an ambush near the Chechen village of Yarysh-Mardy on 16 April, Chechen head of state Doku Zavgaev told Russian Public TV (ORT) on 19 April. Also on 19 April, President Yeltsin accepted Moroccan King Hassan II's offer to mediate in the Chechen conflict, NTV reported. Speaking at a 20 April meeting of representatives from all Chechen political parties in Grozny, Zavgaev called for a consolidation of Chechen society to achieve peace, ORT reported. Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev's chief of staff, Aslan Maskhadov, was invited to the meeting but failed to attend. On 21 April, NTV quoted Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev as saying that he would begin mediating between the Russian leadership and Dudaev only after large-scale military operations in Chechnya have ceased. -- Liz Fuller RUSSIA HALTS DIVISION OF BLACK SEA FLEET. Defense Minister Pavel Grachev has suspended the process of dividing up the Black Sea Fleet and related infrastructure with Ukraine, AFP reported on 19 April. Grachev said it is "useless" to continue dividing the fleet while "the main political questions," such as the status and basing of the Russian part of the fleet, remain unsettled. Ongoing talks have failed to resolve differences between the two countries over the terms under which the Russian fleet will use the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol, and Grachev is probably trying to pressure Kyiv into accepting Moscow's terms. -- Scott Parrish PRIMAKOV GETS COLD SHOULDER IN ISRAEL. As part of a multilateral diplomatic effort to broker a ceasefire in southern Lebanon, Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov made a whirlwind trip to Syria, Lebanon, and Israel on 20-21 April, Russian and Western agencies reported. In Damascus on 20 April, Primakov met with Syrian President Hafez Assad, and also held talks with visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati. He also participated in a meeting of the Russian, French, and Italian foreign ministers and the U.S. secretary of state later that day. In Beirut on 21 April, Primakov reiterated that Russia views the recent Israeli military actions against Hezbollah geurillas in Lebanon as "unacceptable"--a stand that earned him a cold reception in Tel Aviv, where Prime Minister Shimon Peres said he prefers U.S. mediation in the conflict. -- Scott Parrish PRIVATIZATION IN JANUARY-FEBRUARY 1996. The press service of the State Property Committee announced that 864 companies were privatized in Russia in January-February 1996, a sharp decrease from the 2,000 firms privatized in the first two months of 1995, ITAR-TASS reported on 19 April. The budgetary revenue from privatization was 270 billion rubles ($56.5 million). Such a slow start casts doubts on the 1996 privatization revenue target of 12.4 trillion rubles ($2.5 billion). State Property Committee Deputy Chairman Alfred Kokh said a lack of investor interest in companies' shares on the eve of the presidential election and political considerations against the privatization of some large companies make the figure look unrealistic. He suggested that the privatization target be lowered to 8.6 trillion rubles. -- Natalia Gurushina IMF PRESSES RUSSIA ON ECONOMIC POLICY. The IMF mission, visiting Moscow as part of the fund's program to monitor the Russian economy, has succeeded in convincing the Russian government to stick to the conditions of its three-year $10.2 billion loan agreement, Reuters reported on 21 April. The fund warned last week that if the Russian government steps up trade protectionism, a $340 million tranche scheduled for disbursement at the end of April may be put at risk. The IMF was also concerned with Russia's failure to halve taxes on oil exports from 1 April, and with President Yeltsin's pre-election promise to increase government social spending and strengthen support for the defense and agricultural sectors. Russia's faithfulness to the IMF loan conditions may also affect negotiations with the Paris Club over the rescheduling of Russia's $38 billion public debt. -- Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA MORE ARRESTS IN AZERBAIJAN. Police in Baku on 18 April arrested Giyas Sadykhov, the head of former President Abulfaz Elchibey's administration, and Arif Hadjiev, the secretary of the Musavat Party, Turan reported. During the late evening of 19 April, 20 police officers occupied Elchibey's present headquarters in the Nakhichevan village of Keleki; Elchibey whereabouts are not clear. Addressing a 19 April press conference of representatives of human rights organizations in Moscow, the chairman of the Social-Democratic Party of Azerbaijan, Araz Ali- Zade, claimed that 2,500 people are currently serving prison terms in Azerbaijan for their political convictions, Kuranty reported on 20 April. Also on 20 April, Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev signed a decree commuting five death sentences, including one passed on a Russian mercenary who fought in Nagorno-Karabakh. -- Liz Fuller KAZAKHSTANI PROCURATOR GENERAL SEEKS BAN ON COMMUNIST PARTY. Kazakhstani Procurator-General Maksut Narikbayev has appealed to the Justice Ministry to ban the Communist Party, ITAR-TASS reported on 20 April. Narikbayev claimed that the party's charter seeks to create "a unitary state with a socialist orientation and pro-communist ideology," goals which violate the principles of territorial integrity and sovereignty enshrined in Kazakhstan's constitution. A number of Communist Party activists were fined for holding "unsanctioned meetings" on 16-17 March in several cities in support of the Duma's denunciation of the Belavezha accords (see OMRI Daily Digest, 5 April 1996). The party recently elected Serikbolsin Abdildin, the former speaker of Kazakhstan's Supreme Soviet and until recently a member of the less radical Socialist Party, as chairman. -- Bhavna Dave A NEW OPPOSITION MOVEMENT EMERGES IN KAZAKHSTAN. A new nationwide opposition movement called Azamat (Citizen) held its first congress in Almaty on 20 April, ITAR-TASS reported. The 400 delegates elected a coordinating council of 49 members and three co-chairmen: Murat Auezov, Kazakhstan's former ambassador to China; Petr Svoik, the Socialist Party leader and the former chairman of the State Committee on Pricing and Anti-Monopoly Measures; and Turegeldy Sharmanov, a member of the Kazakhstani and Russian academies of medical sciences. The movement adopted a charter that pledges to form a government "of honest and competent people, enjoying people's trust," and expressed willingness to cooperate with the government in promoting these goals. Azamat is the first large-scale opposition movement led by eminent public figures who are not part of the government. The movement is seeking to register with the Justice Ministry. -- Bhavna Dave RURAL SETTLERS IN BISHKEK THREATEN CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE. The leaders of the Kyrgyz movement of rural migrants, Ashar, have threatened to start a civil disobedience campaign outside the presidential palace on 26 April if the Bishkek authorities fail to deal with the problems of about 100,000 former peasants who have been seeking permanent residency in Bishkek, ITAR-TASS reported on 19 April. In a letter addressed to President Askar Akayev, the leaders of Ashar complained that despite promises, the government has failed to provide the settlers' quarters on the outskirts of the capital with electricity, water, medical facilities, or a transportation network. They have asked the government to allocate 840 million som ($76 million) to create these basic amenities and another 100 million som ($9 million) to build a service infrastructure. -- Bhavna Dave [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Victor Gomez ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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