|To live is so startling, it leaves little time for anything else. - Emily Dickinson|
No. 81, Part I, 24 April 1996
New OMRI Analytical Briefs: No. 76: "A New Opposition Movement is Launched in Kazakhstan," by Bhavna Dave No. 77: "NATO Enlargement and Slovakia," by Sharon Fisher No. 78: "Yeltsin and the Myth of the China Market," by Scott Parrish No. 79: "Former Polish Prime Minister Cleared from Spy Allegations," by Jakub Karpinski No. 80: "The Constitutional Debate in Ukraine," by Ustina Markus 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ IS DUDAEV DEAD? Conflicting reports appeared on 23 April over whether or not Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev had been killed in a rocket attack on the village of Gekhi-Chu southwest of Grozny during the night of 21- 22 April. Khodzh-Akhmed Yarikhanov, who initially represented the Dudaev camp at last summer's Chechen-Russian peace talks, told ITAR-TASS that Dudaev had been killed, but later on 23 April a Chechen government official said in Istanbul that he had spoken to Dudaev by telephone that day. Russian Nationalities Minister Vyacheslav Mikhailov questioned Yarikhanov's reliability, saying he has had no contact with Dudaev for three months, according to Ekho Moskvy. On 24 April, however, AFP reported that Chechen military commander Shamil Basaev had confirmed the reports of Dudaev's death and had told Interfax that Vice President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev had assumed the presidency. Yandarbiev, 44, is a former writer who founded the Vainakh Democratic Party in May 1990. ITAR-TASS on 24 April quoted President Boris Yeltsin as saying that a peace agreement would be signed with or without Dudaev. -- Liz Fuller ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ RUSSIA CHAIRMAN OF ST. PETERSBURG LEGISLATURE CHARGED WITH ABUSE OF OFFICE. The Procurator General's Office has charged St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly Chairman Yurii Kravtsov with abuse of public office, forgery, and incitement to steal property from the mayor's housing department, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 April. Kravtsov was ordered to remain in the city, but this restriction will probably be lifted so that he can travel to Moscow to participate in meetings of the Federation Council as a member. In March, Kravtsov was charged with illegally using state money to remodel his apartment at a cost of 350 million rubles ($73,000). Kravtsov and many of the deputies in the assembly believe the charges are an attempt to discredit the city legislature on the eve of the 19 May gubernatorial elections. Kravtsov has no intention of resigning and the deputies will work to prevent any attempt to remove him. -- Robert Orttung ITAR-TASS: YELTSIN MUST BRING MILITARY LEADERSHIP TO HEEL. The president must take action so that he does not appear before the voters as a commander whose orders are not obeyed, ITAR-TASS commentator Tamara Zayatina argued on 23 April. Defense Minister Pavel Grachev's admission that he did not implement the president's 31 March order to halt combat activities in Chechnya until 6 April show that the "military leadership is practically blocking presidential policy" (see OMRI Daily Digest, 22 April 1996). She added that Grachev's statements are causing "disorder and unsteadiness" in the military. -- Robert Orttung FEDOROV ANNOUNCES "THIRD FORCE" AGREEMENT. Presidential candidate Svyatoslav Fedorov announced that he and fellow candidates Grigorii Yavlinskii and Aleksandr Lebed would soon sign a charter on economic priorities for the next two years and allow opinion polls to decide which one of them should stand for the presidency a month before the election, NTV reported on 23 April. Fedorov announced his willingness to step aside and then either "disappear into the shadows" or take a position in the executive branch. He said that different economic approaches would not divide the candidates and that he would invite Yavlinskii to his ophthalmological institute to convince him that "facts are much more important than the theories of Milton Friedman and Adam Smith." -- Robert Orttung DEMOCRATS CALL FOR PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY. Seven pro-reform Duma deputies, including Sergei Yushenkov of Russia's Democratic Choice, Vladimir Ryzhkov of Our Home Is Russia, Democratic Russia co-leader Galina Starovoitova, Common Cause leader Irina Khakamada, and Forward, Russia! leader Boris Fedorov, signed an appeal for holding "preliminary" presidential elections on 15-16 May in the city of Moscow and in Moscow Oblast, Russian media reported on 23 April. Republican Party leader Vladimir Lysenko, who also signed the document, said a primary election would reveal the most promising candidate from the democratic camp and would allow other presidential contenders to drop out of the race "without losing face." Many pro-reform politicians, in particular members of Russia's Democratic Choice, are torn between supporting President Yeltsin despite misgivings or supporting Grigorii Yavlinskii despite his relatively small chance of winning. Our Home Is Russia, Khakamada, and Fedorov have already endorsed Yeltsin's candidacy. -- Laura Belin ANTI-COMMUNIST NEWSPAPER FOUNDED IN ZYUGANOV'S HOME REGION. A newspaper called Ne dai bog (God forbid), which is entirely devoted to agitating against Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov, has appeared in Zyuganov's home region, Orel Oblast, Ekspress-khronika reported on 24 April. The first issue was left free of charge in the mailboxes of practically all subscribers to other newspapers. It is not clear who is financing the new paper, which did not call on readers to vote for any other specific presidential candidate. President Yeltsin's supporters are counting on the anti-communist press to help dissuade swing voters from backing Zyuganov. -- Laura Belin WORKERS AT SARATOV TRANSMITTER STATION GO ON STRIKE OVER WAGE ARREARS. Workers at the Saratov Radio and TV Center have stopped transmitting Russian Public TV (ORT) and Russian TV (RTR) programs because of delays in wage payments, ORT reported on 23 April. The chairman of the Communications Workers' Union, Anatolii Lazeikin, said that transmitter stations are owed more than 700 billion rubles ($140 million) by television companies. ORT and RTR are two of the biggest debtors. If the issue is not resolved quickly, media coverage of the presidential election campaign could be disrupted. Russian television stations will begin broadcasting election campaign advertisements in mid-May. -- Penny Morvant SVERDLOVSK GOVERNOR FIRES HEAD OF REGIONAL GOVERNMENT. Sverdlovsk Oblast Governor Eduard Rossel sacked Valerii Trushnikov, the head of the region's government, ostensibly for failing to implement the regional budget and pay wages and children's allowances, Kommersant-Daily reported on 23 April. The move is widely seen as politically motivated, since Trushnikov supported a competitor to Rossel's bloc, Transformation of the Urals, in the 14 April election to the Sverdlovsk legislature (see OMRI Daily Digest, 16 April 1996). Rossel admitted to Russian TV (RTR) that those elections had exhausted his patience with Trushnikov. Trushnikov ran against Rossel in the first round of the August 1995 gubernatorial election but supported him in the second round in exchange for keeping his job as head of the oblast government. -- Laura Belin OPEN COMPETITION FOR AIR TIME ON RUSSIAN PUBLIC TV. Three hours of air time on Sunday mornings on Russian Public TV (ORT) will be distributed after a competition in which any television program or production company can participate, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 April. The network's deputy general director said the open competition will be the first in the history of Channel 1. -- Laura Belin FOREIGN MINISTRY DENOUNCES ESTONIAN "PROVOCATION." Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigorii Karasin accused the Estonian government of deliberately pursing an anti-Russian policy and preventing the development of friendly relations, ITAR-TASS and BNS reported on 23 April. Demurin denounced Estonian Foreign Minister Siim Kallas's recent assertion that Russia is developing "a mentality of revanchism," saying the remark was intended to frighten Europe with what he termed "a mythical Russian threat." He accused Tallinn of fostering anti-Russian alarmism in order to facilitate Estonian integration into Western institutions and divert attention from discriminatory policies against the Russian minority in Estonia. Recent Russian moves to deepen CIS integration have increased tensions in already rocky Russo-Estonian relations. -- Scott Parrish RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER WRAPS UP MIDDLE EAST SHUTTLE TOUR. Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov returned to Moscow on 23 April after shuttling between Damascus, Beirut, and Jerusalem in an attempt to broker a ceasefire in Lebanon, Russian media reported. Primakov told Russian Public TV (ORT), that Russia is "doing everything" to resolve the crisis in Lebanon. He emphasized, however, that Israeli troops must withdraw from southern Lebanon before a settlement can be achieved, a position not shared by the U.S. Later the same day, First Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov accused the U.S. of attempting to "monopolize" efforts to broker a settlement. Komsomolskaya pravda on 24 April reported that Primakov had intended his visit to bolster Russia's role in the region, where it has been marginalized by the U.S. in recent years. -- Scott Parrish LOCAL LEGISLATURES SEEK TO RESTRICT FOREIGN VISITORS. The Chita Oblast Duma has voted to restrict visits by foreigners to the region to a maximum of 15 days and to require all foreign visitors staying for more than three days to register with the police, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 April. The law also stipulates that local residents may only rent apartments to foreigners if there is at least 12 square meters of living space for each guest. The law is probably aimed against visitors from China, which borders the oblast. Legislators in Omsk Oblast, which borders on Kazakhstan, have also passed a law imposing restrictions on foreign visitors, Kommersant-Daily reported on 19 April. The regional procurator opposes the law, arguing that federal laws already require foreigners to register and that the passage of such a law at the regional level is unconstitutional. -- Penny Morvant ENVIRONMENTAL POLICE FORCE BEING SET UP. Yet another law enforcement body, this time to protect the environment, is being created in Russia. Moskovskii komsomolets on 23 April quoted Environment Minister Viktor Danilov-Danilyan as saying the president's administration has already approved a plan to set up an ecological police force and that discussion is currently centering on whether it should be a department within the Environment Ministry or a separate federal agency. The force's task will be to prevent the violation of legislation on the environment. Danilov- Danilyan said that the first units should be set up in Moscow within a few months. -- Penny Morvant TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA SHEVARDNADZE FLIES HOME AFTER THREE KILLED IN TBILISI EXPLOSION. Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze interrupted his visit to Brussels to return to Tbilisi on 23 April after three people were killed in an explosion at a local store, ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported. Preliminary reports suggest the blast was an accident rather than sabotage. -- Liz Fuller RUSSIAN SECURITY CHIEF VISITS TAJIKISTAN. The Russian presidential security adviser, Yurii Baturin, met with Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov in Dushanbe on 23 April to discuss bilateral military cooperation, ITAR-TASS reported on 24 April. He also attended military exercises of the Russian 201st Motorized Infantry Division, which is based in the country. Baturin will also make an appearance at an OSCE seminar on confidence-building measures that begins on 24 April. -- Roger Kangas PRISON CRISIS IN KAZAKHSTAN. Kazakhstan urgently needs more prisons, according to Deputy Interior Minister Nikolai Vlasov. He said the prison system has only been allocated 1.9 billion tenge of the estimated 4.5 billion tenge ($70 million) that it requires, Reuters reported on 23 April. As a result, corruption and theft among guards is common and the conditions in the prisons are "appalling." Health standards are virtually non-existent, and of the 76,000 prisoner population, an estimated 1,300 died from tuberculosis last year and an additional 10,000 were afflicted with the disease. Vlasov endorsed a proposed 10- year program that is supposed to bring the country's prisons up to international standards. The need for more prisons is expected to increase if President Nursultan Nazarbayev continues to implement his policy of handing down harsher prison sentences for convicted criminals. -- Roger Kangas OSCE SYMPOSIUM IN TASHKENT. Representatives from 30 countries, including the U.S., U.K., Germany, Japan, and Korea, met in Tashkent on 23 April to participate in an OSCE-sponsored conference on regional security, Russian media reported. Topics ranged from the OSCE security model to discussions of Tajikistan as the "southern gate" of the OSCE, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 April. Russian Public TV (ORT) highlighted the pressing need to resolve local conflicts in the region and the growing problem of drug trafficking in Central Asia. This is the latest in a series of conferences sponsored by the international organization in an effort to bring the Central Asian states closer together on regional issues. -- Roger Kangas [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Victor Gomez ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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