|The only certainty is that nothing is certain. - Pliny the Elder|
No. 102, Part I, 27 May 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 YELTSIN CAMPAIGNS IN THE NORTH . . . President Boris Yeltsin took advantage of a campaign trip to Arkhangelsk Oblast and Vorkuta (Komi Republic) to hand out favors to northern regions. Yeltsin addressed 500 administrative heads of small towns in Arkhangelsk on 24 May and a congress of far northern cities in Vorkuta the next day, ITAR-TASS and Radio Rossii reported. Over the weekend, he signed decrees promising more state support for the social and economic development of Arkhangelsk Oblast and instructing the government to approve a development program for small and medium-size towns within the next two weeks. In a 24 May interview on Arkhangelsk regional television, Yeltsin also promised to enact a presidential or governmental program to help regional television and radio companies. -- Laura Belin . . . AND CONTINUES TO DOLE OUT BENEFITS. On his campaign trip to Russia's far north, Yeltsin said in Arkhangelsk on 24 May, "I've come with full pockets...Today a little money will be coming into Arkhangelsk Oblast," Russian and Western agencies reported. On his next stop, in Vorkuta, Yeltsin announced a 133 billion ruble ($26.6 million) package of support for the Pechora coal basin. According to the head of the Independent Miners' Union, 78 billion rubles in back wages arrived on the eve of Yeltsin's visit. In an attempt to win back the allegiance of miners, Yeltsin, whose itinerary included a trip down a mine, promised a variety of benefits including subsidized summer holidays for thousands of children, grants for the construction of retirement homes in warmer regions, and a 40-60% reduction in railroad tariffs on coal from Vorkuta. -- Penny Morvant COMMUNIST ECONOMIC PROGRAM PUBLISHED. Nezavisimaya gazeta published a leaked draft of the economic program of presidential candidate Gennadii Zyuganov on 25 May. The document, entitled "From Destruction to the Creation of a Road to the 21st Century for Russia," was submitted to the State Duma on 27 May. The document eschews Marxian rhetoric in favor of a Keynesian tone, stressing the importance of reviving demand. It says the country is facing "national catastrophe" due to the "neutron bomb of monetarism," and calls for import controls and an end to international borrowing which "surrenders our independence." It does not threaten the imposition of large-scale price controls or a wave of renationalization, although it says some privatization projects should be reversed in the courts. -- Peter Rutland NO YELTSIN, YAVLINSKII COALITION BEFORE SECOND ROUND. Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii says he will not resume negotiations with President Yeltsin until after the results of the first round of the election are known, NTV reported 24 May. Yeltsin campaign organizer Sergei Filatov also said on 25 May that there would be no further negotiations with the other candidates since they were merely using their talks with the president to increase their own stature. Filatov also expressed grave concerns over Yeltsin's ability to win in the second round, since the voting is likely to take place on 7 July when many people will be at their summer homes and may not return to the city to vote. -- Robert Orttung in Moscow MOST FORWARD, RUSSIA! VOTERS WILL SUPPORT YELTSIN. Forward, Russia! leader Boris Fedorov on 26 May urged his party's activists to support President Yeltsin in the June election, NTV reported. Fedorov predicted on 24 May that about 90% of the 1.3 million voters who supported his party in the December Duma election will support Yeltsin on 16 June. He criticized Yeltsin for making numerous mistakes but said that he is the only guarantee of reform. Fedorov praised Yeltsin's recent decree to create a professional army and called on him to replace Defense Minister Pavel Grachev with Col. Gen. Boris Gromov, adding that a civilian defense minister would be even better. Fedorov, who led a boisterous campaign in December, told OMRI that if he were in charge of Yeltsin's television campaign--which mostly consists of testimonials by ordinary people and does not show Yeltsin at all-- he would make it more energetic. -- Robert Orttung in Moscow CONGRESS OF RUSSIAN COMMUNITIES DROPS SKOKOV. The Congress of Russian Communities (KRO) voted at an extraordinary congress--held at the request of more than 30 of its regional branches--to remove the movement's leader, Yurii Skokov, and named Dmitrii Rogozin in his place. Rogozin holds more radical nationalist views than Skokov. Skokov was blamed for the congress' failure to overcome the 5% barrier in the December Duma election, particularly since Skokov led the ticket and put Aleksandr Lebed in the number two position. The congress is backing Lebed in the first round of the presidential election. Yeltsin sent a telegram to the congress supporting the idea of helping Russians who are currently living abroad and asking for cooperation with the movement. Lebed also sent a telegram thanking the KRO for its support and backing steps to strengthen the Russian state, unify the Russian people, and reduce the threat of civil war. -- Robert Orttung in Moscow DUMA PROMISES SUPPORT FOR NORTH. As President Yeltsin campaigned in Arkhangelsk, the State Duma passed a law on the social and economic development of the north, which would compensate those living and working in northern regions and provide more funding for the development of the economy and culture of indigenous peoples of the north, ITAR-TASS reported on 24 May. A similar law passed by the Duma in June 1994 was vetoed by Yeltsin. Vladimir Goman, chairman of the Duma Committee on Northern Affairs, said the president's suggestions were incorporated into the new law. -- Laura Belin DUMA PASSES REVISED CRIMINAL CODE. The Duma on 24 May passed a revised version of the Russian Criminal Code that includes amendments suggested by President Yeltsin, ITAR-TASS reported. The code has been under discussion in the parliament for three years. Yeltsin vetoed the previous version on 6 December 1995 on the recommendation of law enforcement agencies. If passed by the Federal Assembly, the code will go into effect on 1 January 1997. The new Criminal Code retains capital punishment (albeit for five rather than 18 crimes), although Russia's membership in the Council of Europe obligates it to abolish the death sentence by early 1999. -- Penny Morvant U.S. EMBASSY REFUTES REPORT OF EVACUATION PLAN. The U.S. Embassy in Moscow has denied that it warned U.S. citizens in Russia to prepare for evacuation in the event of civil unrest following the upcoming presidential election, ITAR-TASS reported on 24 May. Nezavisimaya gazeta on 24 May cited a U.S. citizen named Efroim Sevel who said he witnessed evacuation preparations at the embassy. Embassy First Secretary Thomas Graham, however, said the report was "forged." He said the embassy had no record of any visit by a person named Efroim Sevel. The story is the latest sensationalist canard by anti-communist newspapers that are openly attempting to scare voters into supporting President Yeltsin. -- Scott Parrish PROSPECTS FOR CHECHEN PEACE TALKS. Pro-Moscow Chechen head of state Doku Zavgaev and First Deputy Prime Minister Abdulla Bugaev on 24 May expressed skepticism that the peace talks between President Yeltsin, Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, and acting Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev in Moscow on 27 May would yield positive results, NTV reported. Zavgaev is scheduled to participate in the talks, as are several Chechen field commanders with the exception of Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov, who told Western agencies that Yeltsin and Yandarbiev will sign an agreement on an immediate ceasefire. Maskhadov warned, however, that the Chechen side is not prepared to compromise over its insistence on Chechnya's independence. -- Liz Fuller CHECHYNA CASUALTIES DETAILED. Russian federal forces have lost 2,483 men killed in Chechnya since the hostilities began in December 1994, Reuters reported on 24 May, citing Interfax. Lt. Gen. Andrei Ivanov was quoted as saying 16,843 Chechen separatists had been killed during the same period. Federal forces also lost four aircraft, 18 helicopters, and 80 tanks; the Chechens lost 119 tanks. -- Doug Clarke NEW RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE. President Yeltsin has dismissed Ambassador to Ukraine Leonid Smolyakov from his post and replaced him with one of Moscow's most experienced diplomats, Yurii Dubinin, Russian media reported on 24 May. Dubinin, 65, who will retain his current post of deputy foreign minister, has been special ambassador for negotiations with Ukraine since 1992. In the diplomatic service since 1955, Dubinin previously held ambassadorial posts in Spain (1978-86), the U.S. (1986- 1990), and France (1990-91). The appointment of a deputy foreign minister as ambassador in Kyiv may signal that Moscow wants to work even harder to resolve continuing difficulties with Ukraine over the Black Sea Fleet and other issues. -- Scott Parrish RUSSIA, VENEZUELA SIGN AGREEMENTS. Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov and his Venezuelan counterpart, Miguel Burelli, have signed a friendship and cooperation treaty and a cultural and scientific cooperation agreement in Caracas, Russian and Western agencies reported on 24 May. Primakov and Burelli both expressed interest in reviving a trilateral arrangement with Cuba under which Caracas would supply Havana with oil in exchange for Russia supplying oil to Venezuelan clients in Europe. A similar agreement was in effect from 1978-1990 and all three sides benefited from reduced transportation costs. Primakov, on the final stop of a week-long Latin American visit which also included Mexico and Cuba, said Russia continues to have "long-term strategic interests" in Latin America. -- Scott Parrish NIKITIN'S KIN FLEES TO FRANCE. The daughter and son-in-law of former Russian naval officer Alexander Nikitin--jailed for espionage in connection with his work for the Norwegian environmental group Bellona-- have fled to France due to secret police pressure, The Sunday Times reported on 26 May. Igor Kudrick, Nikitin's son-in-law, had continued Nikitin's work with Belonna after his father-in-law was arrested; he decided to flee to the West after being interrogated several times by the Federal Security Service. "The methods they used against us," he said, "were a typical KGB operation where you don't just intimidate the accused but also his family." -- Doug Clarke UN, RUSSIA ON CIS MIGRATION. The UNHCR has described migration trends within the CIS states as a potential threat to regional stability, ITAR- TASS and Reuters reported on 23 May. There are some 9 million forced migrants on the territory of the former Soviet Union, according to the report. Russian Federal Migration Service (FMS) Director Tatyana Regent announced on 23 May that forced migration into Russia has increased dramatically, totaling 1,062,997 people out of the 3 million who have moved to Russia since 1993, ITAR-TASS reported. More than 70% of the migrants come from Central Asia, especially Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, she added. The UNHCR report noted that there are an estimated 164 territorial disputes "based on ethnic issues" in the former Soviet Union. Another concern is that about 2 million of the migrants are ethnic Russians who may provide a base of support for "resurgent communist-nationalist" feelings in Russia. -- Roger Kangas and Constantine Dmitriev ECONOMY MINISTER WARNS OF FINANCIAL COLLAPSE. Economy Minister Yevgenii Yasin has written a letter to Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin warning him that Russia is on the brink of a financial crisis, Kommersant-Daily reported on 25 May. Yasin reportedly wrote that trying to pay all the wage arrears before the election is "absolutely unrealistic," and the effort could cause currency reserves to slump to $3-4 billion. The paper noted that only last week the IMF released the latest tranche of its $10.1 billion loan, while World Bank President James Wolfensohn was in Moscow negotiating loans worth $1.4 billion, showing their confidence in Moscow's economic course. The paper speculated that Yasin's skepticism may reflect the fact that key decisions are being taken not by his ministry but by the Central Bank and the Finance Ministry. Deputy Finance Minister Oleg Vyugin assured Kommersant-Daily that gold and currency reserves have now reached $16 billion, which is even enough to cover 70% of the rubles in circulation. -- Peter Rutland NEW $650 MILLION LOAN FROM GERMANY. A Russian delegation headed by Foreign Economic Relations Minister Oleg Davydov has signed a memorandum on a DM 1 billion ($650 million) loan from Germany, ITAR-TASS and Segodnya reported on 24-25 May. Among the projects financed by the seven-year, 4% loan will be the modernization of the Magnitogorsk Metallurgical Plant. The agreement specifies that 80% of the sum must be spent on buying equipment in Germany. -- Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA GEORGIA CELEBRATES INDEPENDENCE DAY. Georgia celebrated its independence on 26 May, Russian media reported same day. Although the Georgian parliament declared independence on 9 April 1991, the country celebrates its independence on the date of the previous declaration in 1918. In the capital, Tbilisi, the celebrations opened with a military parade followed by a concert. Supporters of former President Zviad Gamsakhurdia also held a meeting to mark the anniversary of his election; they later marched through downtown Tbilisi with the flags of Georgia and the Republic of Ichkeria (Chechnya). Police intervened in the march and detained a handful of the demonstrators. -- Irakli Tsereteli TYPHOID OUTBREAK IN TAJIKISTAN. A typhoid epidemic appears to have broken out in southern Tajikistan, ITAR-TASS and RFE/RL reported on 25 May. Tajik Health Minister Alamkhan Akhmedov said 600 cases had been registered in the Kulyab region; ITAR-TASS put the figure at 800 in Kulyab and Gissar (west of Dushanbe) since 24 May. The epidemic seems to have been caused by mud slides that contaminated the water supply. Acute shortages of medical supplies are compounding the problem. -- Bruce Pannier [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Victor Gomez ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570 ------------------------------------------------------------------------ SUBSCRIBING/UNSUBSCRIBING 1) Compose a message to LISTSERV@UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU 2) To subscribe, write: SUBSCRIBE OMRI-L FirstName LastName (include your own name) To unsubscribe, write: UNSUBSCRIBE OMRI-L 3) Send the message REPRINT POLICY To receive a copy of OMRI's reprint policy, contact OMRIPUB@OMRI.CZ or see the Web page at http://www.omri.cz/Publications/Digests/DigestReprint.html OTHER OMRI PUBLICATIONS TRANSITION OMRI publishes the biweekly journal TRANSITION, which contains expanded analysis of many of the topics in the Daily Digest. For subscription information send an e-mail to TRANSITION@OMRI.CZ ECONOMIC DIGEST The OMRI Economic Digest is for those who need more detailed economic news from the region. There is a four-week free trial subscription available; for more information, write ECON@OMRI.CZ or go to the Economic Digest Web page at http://www.omri.cz/Econ/Info.html RUSSIAN DAILY DIGEST The OMRI Daily Digest is translated into Russian and distributed the following day. 1) Compose a message to MAJORDOMO@DEMOS.SU 2) In the body of the message, write SUBSCRIBE OMRI
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.