|To appreciate nonsense requires a serious interest in life. - Gelett Burgess|
No. 82, Part I, 25 April 1996
New OMRI Analytical Briefs: No. 81: "Chechnya after Dudaev," by Liz Fuller 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 RUSSIA YELTSIN IN BEIJING. Russian President Boris Yeltsin received a warm welcome in Beijing on 24 August, marked by a 21-gun salute and a bear hug from his Chinese counterpart, Jiang Zemin, international agencies reported. After a formal dinner that evening, Yeltsin and Zemin signed a joint declaration and 13 other bilateral agreements at a 25 April ceremony. Yeltsin declared that Russia and China have "no areas of disagreement." He also pointedly noted that China supports Russian opposition to the eastward expansion of NATO, and added that he believes China will soon join the other major nuclear powers in supporting a total ban on nuclear tests, a position that China has previously rejected. The two presidents also agreed to establish a direct "hot- line" between Moscow and Beijing, the first such communications link between Beijing and a foreign capital. -- Scott Parrish RUSSIA, CHINA CRITICIZE U.S. Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov and his Chinese counterpart, Qian Qichen, meeting in Beijing on 25 April, issued a joint statement saying that both Russia and China "oppose any country's attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries," Russian and Western agencies reported. The statement also attacked attempts by unnamed countries to "monopolize international affairs," a thinly-veiled reference to the U.S. Moscow supports China's "one China" policy, while Beijing terms Chechnya an "internal affair" of Russia. Primakov and Qichen rejected suggestions that China and Russia intend to form a new alliance, however, asserting that the further development friendly ties between the two neighbors "is not directed against any third country." -- Scott Parrish CONFUSION OVER DUDAEV'S DEATH. Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev was buried on 24 April in the village of Shalazhi, NTV reported, quoting acting President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev and military commander Shamil Basaev, both of whom claimed to have attended the funeral. Russian media have, however, quoted both Chechen and Russian officials as continuing to doubt reports of Dudaev's demise. Russian Public TV (ORT) cited a Russian Interior Ministry official as saying that Dudaev was killed in revenge for the deaths of some 70 Russian Interior Ministry soldiers in a 16 April ambush; the commander of Russian federal forces in Chechnya, Lt. Gen. Vyacheslav Tikhomirov, told ITAR-TASS that the Russian military was not responsible for killing Dudaev. Russian Nationalities Minister Vyacheslav Mikhailov told Radio Rossii on 24 April that the search for a peaceful solution to the Chechen conflict will continue, but on 25 April Tikhomirov told Russian media that gunships inflicted considerable damage on the village of Shali, where Chechen chief of staff Aslan Maskhadov is reportedly under siege, Reuters reported. -- Liz Fuller COUNCIL OF EUROPE CRITICIZES RUSSIA OVER CHECHNYA. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe blasted Russian policy in Chechnya on 25 April, AFP reported. Parliamentarians from the 39 member states of the council, which Russia joined in February, passed a resolution unconditionally condemning the "indiscriminate use of force" by Russian troops in the breakaway republic. The motion also accused Moscow of failing to honor its commitment to find a peaceful solution to the Chechen conflict, which Moscow promised to do when it was admitted to the council. At the request of former Lithuanian President Vytautas Landsbergis, the assembly also observed a minute of silence in memory of separatist Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev. Critics have charged that the council, which has the declared mission of promoting human rights, has not done enough to pressure Russia on the Chechnya issue. -- Scott Parrish CANDIDATES RELY ON DIFFERENT GROUPS FOR SUPPORT. Presidential candidates Boris Yeltsin and Gennadii Zyuganov appeal to very different social groups, according to polling data in Nezavisimaya gazeta on 24 April. Yeltsin draws support from men and women under 30, the technical and humanitarian intelligentsia, office workers, members of the military, and entrepreneurs living in big cities and oblast capitals. Zyuganov attracts men and women aged 41-60, members of the technical intelligentsia, members of the military, agricultural workers, pensioners, and residents of big cities, small towns, and villages. Looking at possible matches in the second round, Zyuganov would defeat all potential opponents, with Yeltsin giving him the most competition in a predicted outcome of 36.5% to 31.7%. -- Robert Orttung YELTSIN LAGS IN CAMPAIGN "STREET WORK." While thousands of Communist Party campaign volunteers have already begun to distribute leaflets promoting Gennadii Zyuganov, supporters of President Yeltsin do not yet have a single leaflet ready for mass production, Segodnya reported on 24 April. The paper said so-called "street" agitation using posters, leaflets, and rallies may be more important for the June election than they were for last December's parliamentary election, because candidates will receive less free air time in the electronic media during this campaign. Communist Party leaflets obtained by OMRI reflect several aspects of Zyuganov's strategy: some are entirely devoted to attacking Yeltsin, some emphasize Zyuganov's biography, and some focus on Zyuganov's promises to restore social guarantees to impoverished groups and protect "Russia, Motherland, [and] The People!" -- Laura Belin YELTSIN PLAYS REGIONAL CARD IN KHABAROVSK. Hoping to make the Far East more friendly electoral territory, President Yeltsin used his visit to Khabarovsk to hand out favors to regional constituencies. Before departing for China on 24 April, Yeltsin signed a power-sharing agreement between the federal authorities and Khabarovsk Krai, gave the federal program to develop the Far East presidential status, froze tariffs on electricity and heating for residents of the Far East, and promised to pay off debts owed by the Defense Ministry to defense enterprises in the region, Rossiiskie vesti reported on 25 April. In the December parliamentary election, the pro-government Our Home Is Russia won only about 4% of the vote in Khabarovsk Krai, compared with 16% for the Communist Party and 12% for the Liberal Democratic Party. -- Laura Belin LEBED: COMMUNIST NOMENKLATURA RESEMBLES CURRENT AUTHORITIES. As the presidential campaign appears more and more to be a two-man race between President Yeltsin and Gennadii Zyuganov, presidential candidate Aleksandr Lebed argued in Izvestiya on 25 April that the front-runners are not as different as they appear, since both descended from the same "old communist nomenklatura." Lebed portrayed Zyuganov and other Communist Party leaders as the "younger, unsuccessful but voracious brothers of the current authorities," who no longer believe in the dogma of the Soviet period and merely aspire to gain power. He also argued that Zyuganov plays up his party's staunch opposition to the current government, while Yeltsin plays up the communist threat, but these campaign postures are merely a "game" designed to trick voters. The idea that voters must choose the "lesser of two evils" is a threat to the prospects of third-party candidates like Lebed. -- Laura Belin ZHIRINOVSKY'S CAMPAIGN POSTERS. Several posters obtained by OMRI promoting the presidential candidacy of Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky use familiar slogans, such as "You will all be better off with me" and "I will raise Russia from her knees!" One leaflet shows two smiling elderly women holding pictures of Zhirinovsky, and a poster shows an elderly woman asking the LDPR leader to "Defend us from them!" Other posters show Zhirinovsky next to smiling children or an Orthodox priest. In contrast to Communist Party campaign materials, which rarely include pictures of Gennadii Zyuganov, Zhirinovsky's picture dominates every LDPR poster. Candidates are allowed to begin campaigning with posters and leaflets as soon as they are registered by the Central Electoral Commission. Campaign advertising on television will begin on 14 May. -- Laura Belin MINERS DIVIDED. Representatives of the Independent Coal-Industry Workers' Union (NPRUP), whose annual conference opened in Moscow on 24 April, do not support any one candidate for the Russian presidency. The union's chairman, Vitalii Budko, was quoted by Russian TV (RTR) as saying that the union would not officially endorse any of the contenders because its members have widely divergent views. Some back Zhirinovsky, others Zyuganov, and still others Yeltsin. Russian miners used to be firmly behind Yeltsin, but the downsizing of the industry and the perennial problem of wage arrears have prompted many to switch their allegiance. The union, which has about 700,000 members, is the largest representing coal miners. -- Penny Morvant TsIK REJECTS PODOPRIGOR AS PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. The Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) denied registration to Vladimir Podoprigor, a former member of the Federation Council and chairman of the Assembly of Parliamentarians, on the grounds that he did not turn in 1 million valid nomination signatures, ITAR-TASS reported on 24 April. Of the 17 candidates who submitted signatures, the TsIK has registered eight, denied four, and is reviewing five. Millionaire Duma member Vladimir Bryntsalov said that the Procurator General's Office has decided that there are no grounds to withhold registration from him and that now the TsIK should carry out the Supreme Court order to register him, NTV reported. -- Robert Orttung GORBACHEV ATTACKED ON CAMPAIGN TRAIL. A young, unemployed engineer punched former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in the face at a campaign meeting in the Siberian city of Omsk on 24 April, ITAR-TASS reported. The man later told police he did it because of "what [Gorbachev] had done to the country." Reuters quoted Gorbachev as saying that the attack was a professional assassination attempt, but Russian agencies described the incident as "hooliganism." After the incident, Gorbachev cut short his visit to Omsk and returned to Moscow. Gorbachev is trailing badly in opinion polls, with less than 1% support. -- Penny Morvant DUMA PASSES LAW ON DEFENSE . . . The State Duma passed a compromise version of the law "On Defense" on 24 April, Krasnaya zvezda reported the next day. An earlier version was vetoed by President Yeltsin and sent to a conciliatory commission. Under the law, all branches of the armed forces will be placed under a single command in wartime, regardless of their ministerial subordination during peacetime. The law allows the president to deploy the armed forces for "other than their primary purpose" only with the consent of the Federation Council, the upper house of parliament. (Parliamentarians have long complained that Yeltsin waged the military campaign in Chechnya without ever taking the issue to a vote in the Federation Council.) The law also prohibits political parties and social organizations from agitating or distributing materials at military installations, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. -- Laura Belin . . . AND ON BODYGUARDS. The Duma also adopted a draft law on state security providing for bodyguards to be assigned to the country's top leadership, ITAR-TASS reported. The bill stipulates that the bodyguards will be assigned to the president from the day his or her election is announced officially, as well as to the prime minister, the speakers of the Duma and Federation Council, the procurator general, and the chairmen of the Constitutional, Supreme, and Arbitration courts. The president has no right to reject such measures. Former presidents will retain guards for life, but those assigned to family members will be withdrawn when the president leaves office. Segodnya on 11 April reported that there are now three times as many state bodyguards as in Soviet times. -- Penny Morvant 22 CANDIDATES SEEK GOVERNOR'S SEAT IN ST. PETERSBURG. The electoral commission accepted nomination signatures from 22 potential candidates for the 19 May St. Petersburg gubernatorial election, ITAR-TASS reported. Among the competitors claiming to have collected the necessary 40,000 signatures are Mayor Anatolii Sobchak, Leningrad Oblast Governor Aleksandr Belyakov, former Federation Council members Yurii Boldyrev and Aleksandr Belyaev, former Liberal Democrat Duma member Vyacheslav Marychev, Deputy Mayor Vladimir Yakovlev, former Leningrad Ispolkom Chairman Vladimir Khodyrev, and Communist Yurii Sevenard, Sobchak's opponent in the 1991 mayoral campaign. So far, four of the candidates have been registered. St. Petersburg has changed the name of its executive from mayor to governor to reflect the city's status as one of the 89 components of the Russian Federation. -- Robert Orttung GOVERNMENT APPROVES DECREE ON FINANCING SPACE PROGRAM. The government has passed a set of financial support measures for Russia's international space program, Finansovye izvestiya reported on 23 April. The government will allocate 1.1 trillion rubles ($223.4 million)--on top of the 3.3 trillion rubles already earmarked for the space industry in this year's budget--for state purchases of serial equipment and research and development. The measures will also allow the Russian Space Agency to open special purpose credit lines worth up to 700 billion rubles in total with Russian commercial banks and banking consortiums this year. The Finance Ministry will guarantee the credits. -- Natalia Gurushina MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX'S OUTPUT SLIDES DOWN, INDEBTEDNESS GROWS. The output of companies in the military-industrial complex declined by 30% in March 1996 compared to the same month a year earlier, Segodnya reported on 24 April. The only firm that reported an increase (15%) was Energiya company in Voronezh. At the end of the first quarter of 1996, the military-industrial companies' debt to the federal budget topped 3 trillion rubles ($625.4 million). At the same time, the government owes the sector 4.8 trillion rubles in payments for the 1994-1995 defense order. Moreover, only 11-13% of the scheduled defense orders were financed in the first quarter of this year, Segodnya reported on 24 April. Of the 1.4 trillion rubles ($307 million) earmarked for five conversion programs in the 1995 budget, the industry received only 250 billion rubles, or 18% of the total. -- Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA ARMENIA TO GET LATEST RUSSIAN AIR DEFENSE SYSTEM. Russia plans to supply its most modern air defense missile system, the S-300, to Armenia, Turan reported on 22 April, citing sources in the Russian Caucasian Special Border District. Also known as "Buk-M1," the missile/radar complex has a range of up to 100 km and can engage up to six targets at the same time. The report noted Azerbaijani concerns that the new missiles would greatly expand Armenia's capability to strike targets over Azerbaijan. -- Doug Clarke NAZARBAYEV TO IGNORE UIGHUR PLEAS WHILE IN CHINA. Prior to his departure for Shanghai to attend the signing of a five-nation treaty to demilitarize the Chinese border with three Central Asian states and Russia, Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev emphasized that minority issues will not be raised at the summit, AFP reported on 25 April. Nazarbayev was referring to the Uighur population that straddles the Chinese-Central Asian border. The United National Revolutionary Front of East Turkestan, which is based in Almaty, appealed to the summit participants not to "sacrifice" the Uighurs to the Han (Chinese). The group's leader, Yusupbek Moukhlissi, warned that violence may be the only way to achieve independence, noting that there are currently 27 secret Uighur organizations active in the Xinjiang region. -- 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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