|The person who knows how to laugh at himself will never cease to be amused. - Shirley MacLaine|
No. 83, Part I, 26 April 1996
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 RUSSIA, CHINA SIGN ACCORDS. President Boris Yeltsin and his Chinese counterpart, Jiang Zemin, issued a joint statement regarding the 15 agreements signed on 25 April, Russian and Western media reported. In it, they outline their desire to create a strategic partnership, which will include a mechanism for information exchanges, military cooperation, nuclear cooperation, and border stability. Yeltsin also relayed the message that China is now willing to consider signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty as early as the end of September. The Clinton administration welcomed the news, saying it was "very encouraged" by the progress Yeltsin made in prompting this decision, AFP reported. -- Roger Kangas RUSSIA, CHINA SIGN ECONOMIC AGREEMENTS. Russia and China signed on 25 April a series of accords to boost economic relations and cooperation in the energy and nuclear energy sectors and space exploration, ITAR-TASS, Reuters, and AFP reported. The countries signed a protocol aimed at increasing two-way trade from $5.46 billion in 1995 to an annual total of $20 billion eventually. In the first two months of 1996, the volume of mutual trade rose by 20% on a year-to-year basis. The nuclear agreements confirm Russia's participation in the construction of a $4 billion nuclear power plant in northern China. Russia also hopes to win a bid to supply turbo generators to China's Three Gorges Dam. Other accords included agreements on the protection of intellectual property rights, quality controls for exports and imports, and the elimination of illegal monopolies and illegal currency operations. -- Natalia Gurushina YANDARBIEV VOWS REVENGE FOR DUDAEV'S DEATH. Speaking at a press conference at an undisclosed location in Chechnya on 25 April, acting President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev confirmed the death of Dzhokhar Dudaev and said that Chechen field commanders intend to exact revenge on those members of the Russian intelligence responsible for the rocket attack that killed him, NTV reported. He added that the revenge will not be directed against "peaceful citizens of Russia." Yandarbiev added that an investigation is underway to establish who gave the orders to kill Dudaev, and ruled out the possibility of peace talks if evidence comes to light that either President Yeltsin or Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin was directly involved. Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev told RIA that Dudaev's death removed any need for him to act as a mediator between Yeltsin and the Chechen leadership. Russian Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov also confirmed Dudaev's death to Ekho Moskvy, adding that some unnamed Chechen field commanders are now ready to cease hostilities. -- Liz Fuller YELTSIN THANKS CHORNOBYL CLEAN-UP WORKERS. Exactly 10 years after the Chornobyl disaster, President Yeltsin thanked those who fought the fire at the power station and said safety at nuclear power plants needs to be stepped up, Reuters reported on 26 April. In a speech broadcast nationwide on radio and television, Yeltsin said the victims of the world's worst nuclear accident would never be forgotten. On the eve of the anniversary, the Duma called on the government to increase social benefits to the victims of the disaster. The Chornobyl Union said that about 300,000 Russians participated in the clean-up operation; about 8,000 of them have died, while another 30,000 are invalids. -- Penny Morvant HARD-LINE COMMUNISTS DEBATE ALLIANCE WITH ZYUGANOV. The 5th congress of the Russian Communist Workers' Party (RKRP) heatedly debated whether the party should support Gennadii Zyuganov in the presidential campaign, Moskovskii komsomolets reported on 25 April. The congress removed Workers' Russia leader Viktor Anpilov, who has signed on with Zyuganov, from the position of secretary of the Central Committee and stripped his newspaper, Molniya, of RKRP financing and its status as a Central Committee publication. However, the congress stopped short of expelling him because many members support an alliance with Zyuganov and the anti- Zyuganov faction feared provoking a split. The party will only agree to support Zyuganov if his Communist Party of the Russian Federation signs a bilateral treaty with the RKRP. -- Robert Orttung BABURIN: ZYUGANOV MUST WIDEN CAMPAIGN APPEALS. According to State Duma Deputy Speaker Sergei Baburin, Gennadii Zyuganov's presidential campaign is "too cautious" and too narrowly focused on people who already support the Communist Party, in particular the elderly, the latest edition of Pravda-5 reported. Baburin, a leading figure in Nikolai Ryzhkov's Power to the People movement and its Duma faction Popular Power, said Zyuganov must work with other social groups who might be inclined to support a "popular-patriotic" candidate. Although Ryzhkov endorsed Zyuganov in January, Baburin withheld his support and even flirted with joining the "third force" group before finally announcing his support for the Communist Party leader in early April. -- Laura Belin OUR HOME IS RUSSIA BACKS YELTSIN AT THIRD CONGRESS. To no one's surprise, the 3rd congress of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's Our Home Is Russia movement endorsed President Yeltsin as the only person capable of preventing new revolutionary upheavals in Russia. An appeal issued to voters stressed that "We have gone too far toward the stabilization and strengthening of Russia to allow the country to turn back," Russian media reported on 25 April. Chernomyrdin told delegates that a "fierce political battle" will be waged in the coming weeks, but he told reporters later in the day that the president's campaign should focus on consolidation, not just confrontation: "One can't build a campaign exclusively on anti-communist slogans." Preserving Russia's fragile stability was a constant refrain during Our Home Is Russia's parliamentary campaign last year. -- Laura Belin ZHIRINOVSKY CELEBRATES 50TH BIRTHDAY. Well-wishers offered gifts, drank Zhirinovsky-brand vodka, and lavishly praised Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky on the occasion of his 50th birthday, Russian media reported on 25 April. The North Ossetiyan branch of the LDPR presented Zhirinovsky with a race horse. On the same day, the LDPR hosted an "international congress of patriotic parties and movements" in the party's State Duma offices. Members of right-wing groups from Austria, Germany, Greece, Belarus, Ukraine, Hungary, and Serbia discussed plans to create an international "patrintern" of patriotic parties before adjourning to the birthday celebrations, ITAR- TASS reported. -- Laura Belin MILITARY ELECTORATE BACKS OPPOSITION. The military electorate-- servicemen, retirees, employees of the military-industrial complex, and their families comprising 18-20 million people--will probably not support President Yeltsin in the 16 June election, Nezavisimaya gazeta's military supplement Voennoe obozrenie reported on 25 April. According to data from the security ministries, 80-90% of military men voted in the December Duma elections, well above the overall turnout figure of about 65%, making them about a quarter of the active electorate. In districts where the military make up the majority of voters, the vast majority supported the opposition during the December elections--23% voted for the Communists, 21% for the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, 17% for the Congress of Russian Communities, and only 12% for the pro-government Our Home Is Russia. The military is unhappy with the government because of its slowness in providing housing, the Chechen war, and delays in paying salaries. -- Robert Orttung RUSSIAN REGIONS HAVE LITTLE LOVE FOR STALIN, BREZHNEV. Former Soviet leaders Josef Stalin and Leonid Brezhnev have few supporters in the Russian countryside, according to research conducted by the Russian Independent Institute of Social and National Problems, Moskovskaya pravda reported on 26 April. Lenin, however, is still revered by many. Yurii Andropov is also popular for his attempts to impose discipline on Soviet enterprises and government and for his attacks on bureaucratic corruption. The study found a strong social basis for a return to authoritarian rule since many people said they feel "shame for the present state of our country," "a sense of injustice about what is happening around me," and "fear of crime." -- Robert Orttung NATIONAL SECURITY POLICY DRAFT UNVEILED. A working group under the direction of presidential national security adviser Yurii Baturin has drafted a 47-page paper entitled "Russia's National Security Policy," which defines the military and security interests of the Yeltsin administration, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 25 April. The document notes that Russia "abandons the principle of military-strategic parity with the United States," condemns all forms of military aggression, and reiterates its commitment to collective security, as established by the 15 May 1992 Tashkent Treaty. While supportive of drastic reductions in nuclear weapons, the draft paper stresses that Russia will remain a nuclear power for the foreseeable future. It also urges further reform measures in the structure and organization of the armed forces, a process already underway through recent legislation (see OMRI Daily Digest, 25 April 1996). -- Roger Kangas DUMA AMENDS LAW ON MILITARY SERVICE. The State Duma adopted an amendment to the law on military service, passed in November 1995, that would shorten the term of service from 24 to 18 months for soldiers serving in areas of armed conflicts, Russian media reported on 25 April. ITAR-TASS estimated that tens of thousands of soldiers who have already served for 18 months in so-called "hot spots" could be discharged if the amendment goes into effect. In December, Yeltsin vetoed a similar amendment citing procedural violations but issued his own decree allowing troops to be discharged after 18 months if they are wounded or have been involved in combat duty for at least one month (see OMRI Daily Digest, 5 December 1995). In February, the Duma failed to override that presidential veto, but the new amendment was passed with a veto-proof majority of 325 votes. -- Laura Belin TAX CODE GOES TO CONCILIATION COMMISSION. The Duma voted on 24 April to set up a conciliation commission consisting of representatives of the legislature, president, and government to further discuss the general section of the draft Tax Code, Segodnya reported the following day. The section was submitted to parliament three months ago, but the deputies agreed that it needed further work before they would vote on it. Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Shatalov said that the other three sections of the code should be submitted to the parliament, government, and regional leaders for discussion within a week. According to Shatalov, the code envisages a reduction in the number of taxes from 150 to 30, reduces the overall tax burden, and reduces the severity of penalties for tax violations. He argued that it will provide a stimulus to investment and production and allow for a much needed improvement in tax collection. -- Penny Morvant CORRUPTION SCANDAL IN PERM. The head of the Perm Oblast Employment Center, Vladimir Brokhin, has been arrested on corruption charges, Radio Rossii reported on 25 April. Brokhin, who is reported to possess a number of bank accounts in the U.S. and several apartments, allegedly made money by distributing about 6 billion rubles ($6.4 million) in government credits for job creation schemes to commercial companies. He is said to have received a cut of the loans in bribes, while the rest of the money simply disappeared. In the meantime, there have been long delays in the payment of unemployment benefits in more than half the oblast's raions. The heads of the Perm Mandatory Health Insurance Fund and the Housing and Communal Services Center were also arrested recently. -- Penny Morvant PEPSI-COLA TO EXPAND IN RUSSIA. The Pepsi-Cola company has announced that it intends to invest $550 million in Russia over the next five years, ITAR-TASS reported on 25 April. In order to expand its production and distribution network in the central, northwest, and eastern regions of Russia, the company plans to build 11 new plants and 50 new warehouses, install 29 new production lines, and buy 450 trucks and thousands of new refrigeration units. This will create 5,000 new jobs in Russia. The head of Pepsi-Cola's division for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, David Jones, said the company aims to make Pepsi's soft drinks available to 90% of the Russian population by the year 2000. -- Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA BORDER SUMMIT IN SHANGHAI. Following the Beijing meeting of the Russian and Chinese presidents, the two traveled to the city of Shanghai where they joined the presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan for the 27 April signing of the agreement "On Confidence on the Frontier Area," Russian and Western media reported. The agreement calls for the reduction of military units along the border that China shares with the four CIS states. The agreement also states that the signatory nations will neither attack nor direct military exercises against one another, along the 8,000 km border, ITAR-TASS reported. Prior to the meeting, Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev noted that Russian President Boris Yeltsin will visit Kazakhstan shortly after the signing to work out a mutually acceptable plan on connecting a pipeline between the Tengiz oil fields and the Russian port of Novorossiisk, Izvestiya reported on 25 April. -- 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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