|To appreciate nonsense requires a serious interest in life. - Gelett Burgess|
No. 104, Part I, 29 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 IN GROZNY. In the course of a brief four-hour visit to Chechnya on 28 May, President Boris Yeltsin visited a village behind the Russian lines and a Russian military base in Grozny where he told troops that although "the war is over," it is unlikely that the Chechen fighters will surrender their arms, and that "any attempts to resume terrorist or criminal activities will meet with the toughest measures in response," Russian media reported. Yeltsin also told the 205th motorized-rifle brigade that conscripts with 18 months of service in the military who have served in "danger areas" for six months are to be sent home. Acting President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev flew back to Ingushetiya on 28 May after continuing talks with Russian officials on the implementation of the 27 May ceasefire agreement. Yandarbiev said that the Chechen side had made "great compromises," and would not abide by the ceasefire agreement if the Russian military failed to observe it and "dirty politics" continued, according to AFP. -- Liz Fuller REACTION TO CHECHNYA EVENTS. Predictably, government figures and supporters of President Yeltsin lauded his trip to Grozny and the ceasefire agreement as vital steps toward solving one of Russia's most important problems. However, rival presidential candidates Gennadii Zyuganov and Vladimir Zhirinovsky dismissed the visit and the deal as a campaign trick, NTV reported on 28 May. While NTV supports Yeltsin, the network's coverage was skeptical about the long-term prospects for peace, noting that no one in Chechnya entertains the illusion that the war will end quickly. At the same time, one NTV reporter criticized Yeltsin's political opponents for seeming to have an interest in prolonging the war for their own electoral benefit. The strongly pro- Yeltsin but anti-war Izvestiya on 29 May praised the president for opening the road to peace but regretted that such steps were not taken earlier. -- Laura Belin IZVESTIYA: MILITARY SKEPTICAL OF CHECHEN ACCORD. An article published in Izvestiya on 29 May contends that the leadership of the Russian Defense Ministry is not enthusiastic about the Chechen ceasefire agreement. Officially, ministry officials are reluctant to comment on the agreement, saying they are charged with implementing the orders of the president, not discussing them. But unofficially, the paper claimed that top brass believe the new agreement will merely repeat the experience of last July's Russian-Chechen military agreement. Many Russian officers feel that the agreement prevented them from crushing the Chechen separatist forces and winning a military victory. The paper also suggested that Yeltsin had intentionally refrained from personally signing the 27 May agreement in order to keep his future options open. -- Scott Parrish JUDGES: VERDICT ON COMMUNIST PARTY NOT FULFILLED. Two of the 19 Constitutional Court judges, Ernst Ametistov and Tamara Morshchakova, charged that a May 1992 ruling prohibiting the recreation of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (KPSS) has not been enforced, ITAR- TASS and Ekspress-khronika reported on 28 May. In 1992, the court upheld in large part President Yeltsin's August 1991 decrees banning most KPSS activities. Gennadii Zyuganov was among those who appealed to the court on behalf of the KPSS. Ametistov noted that since its creation in February 1993, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF)-- which Zyuganov now leads--has built national structures and become very much like the KPSS. The press conference at which Ametistov and Morshchakova appeared was organized by the movement supporting President Yeltsin's re-election, even though the federal law on the Constitutional Court prohibits judges from taking part in political activities or election campaigns. -- Laura Belin ROSTOV MINERS DENOUNCE COAL INDUSTRY LEADERSHIP. A Rostov Oblast regional conference of the Russian Coal Industry Workers' Union, representing divisions of 150,000 members, passed a resolution expressing the miners' disagreement with the government's current economic policies and demanding the resignation of Russian Coal corporation (Rosugol) President Yurii Malyshev, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 28 May. A recent conference in the Kuzbass basin (Kemerovo Oblast), attended by Malyshev, passed a resolution supporting the economic reforms in general while appealing to President Yeltsin to change the tax system and resolve the nonpayment crisis in the industry, Rabochaya tribuna reported on 25 May. Nezavisimaya gazeta speculated that despite the president's recent promises to coal miners in Vorkuta (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27 May 1996) the Rostov Oblast coal miners will not support Yeltsin. -- Laura Belin OUSTED VLADIVOSTOK MAYOR DECLARES HUNGER STRIKE. Viktor Cherepkov, the first democratically-elected mayor of Vladivostok who was ousted on corruption charges in March 1994, announced plans to begin a hunger strike in front of a Moscow court, Moskovskii komsomolets reported on 28 May. The charges against Cherepkov were later dropped and the tax police chief of Primorsk Krai was arrested for fabricating them, but Cherepkov was never reinstated as mayor (see OMRI Daily Digest, 19 May and 25 July 1995). The Helsinki International Human Rights Organization will request that Cherepkov's case be considered by the European Court, according to Moskovskii komsomolets. -- Laura Belin NORTH KOREA WANTS NEW TREATY WITH RUSSIA. Meeting with visiting Russian Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev, North Korean Foreign Minister Kim Yong- nam said his country wants to conclude a new bilateral treaty with Russia to replace the 1961 Soviet-North Korean Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation. In 1993, Moscow unilaterally annulled the military assistance clauses of the old treaty, and has since pressed Pyongyang to negotiate a new agreement. Kim said North Korea is carefully studying a new draft treaty, which Russia sent it last August. However, he complained that "tactless" reporting on North Korea by Russian media is hampering the development of bilateral ties. Seleznev and Kim also discussed North Korea's Soviet-era debt to Russia, valued at 3 billion foreign-exchange rubles. -- Scott Parrish PRIMAKOV VISITS ITALY, VATICAN. Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov began a two-day official visit to Italy and the Vatican on 28 May, meeting with his Italian counterpart, Lamberto Dini, President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, and Pope John Paul II, Russian and Western agencies reported on 28 May. According to a Vatican spokesman, Primakov and John Paul II discussed "the situation in Russia," including religious freedom and ecumenical dialogue. At his meeting with Dini, Primakov held talks on bilateral ties, the Yugoslav peace process, and Russia's integration into Western international institutions. Dini said he expected the 27-29 June G-7 summit in Lyon, France, to boost links between Russia and the leading Western powers. Before leaving Italy on 29 May, Primakov will meet with the EU "troika" of foreign ministers, composed of representatives from the previous, current, and next countries to hold the rotating EU presidency--Italy, Spain, and Ireland. -- Scott Parrish CIS INTER-PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY MEETS. The CIS Inter-parliamentary assembly met for its seventh session in Bishkek on 28 May, Russian media reported. Delegates from Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, and Tajikistan discussed a draft agreement on social guarantees for former Soviet veterans living in the CIS, other draft integration legislation, and their own budget for the coming year. On the same day, also in Bishkek, parliamentarians from Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan signed an agreement forming a quadripartite inter-parliamentary committee, as called for by their 29 March integration agreement. The committee, which will draft proposed integration legislation, will consist of 40 deputies--10 from each member-state. -- Scott Parrish SCIENCE MINISTER BEMOANS LOSS OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. Russia is losing millions of dollars in intellectual property to foreign countries, Science Minister Boris Saltykov told a meeting of the State Commission on Science and Technical Policy on 28 May. The loss to the U.S. alone is estimated at $600 million to $700 million, ITAR-TASS reported. About 8,000 Russian scientists are said to be participating in U.S. government programs. Saltykov attributed Russia's poor record in protecting its intellectual property rights to a lack of experience and legislative shortcomings. He added that presidential decrees have been drafted on licensing consulting services and introducing a system of state registration for agreements envisaging international cooperation. The government has also drafted a resolution on state ownership rights over the results of all work carried out with federal budget money. -- Penny Morvant STATUE OF LAST TSAR UNVEILED. An 11-meter high monument to Tsar Nicholas II was unveiled in Moscow Oblast on 27 May to mark the 100th anniversary of the last tsar's coronation, Komsomolskaya pravda reported on 28 May. First lady Naina Yeltsin and presidential Chief of Staff Nikolai Yegorov attended the ceremony in the village of Taininskoe, north of Moscow. Yegorov said that the statue of the tsar, who was killed by the Bolsheviks in 1918 in Yekaterinburg, was a monument to all the victims of "malice and mistrust." Sculptor Vyacheslav Klykov, who designed the monument, had sought permission to place it in Moscow, near the Kremlin, but was turned down by the government. -- Penny Morvant CENTRAL BANK TAKES NEW STEPS TO STABILIZE BANKING SYSTEM. Central Bank Chairman Sergei Dubinin on 20 May unveiled a new plan to head off a looming banking crisis at a closed meeting of 22 commercial banks, Kommersant-Daily reported on 28 May. Dubinin called for still tighter restrictions on the licensing of new banks, including "daughter banks," to prevent the appearance of new problem banks. The new stricter accounting rules introduced for all banks on 1 March are to be modified. By way of risk allowance, loans with government or securities guarantees will be written down by 10% instead of the previous 50% requirement, and the coefficient on long-term loans to local authorities will be cut from 50% to 20%. On the other hand, the risk assessment of loans to other banks will increase from 50% to 70%, and that of bank premises from 20% to 70%. The net impact of these changes will probably be to increase the liquidity of average banks. -- Natalia Gurushina and Peter Rutland TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA IRANIAN AZERIS PROTEST ARRESTS IN AZERBAIJAN. A rally protesting the arrest of nine Islamists in Azerbaijan took place in Ardabil, in the Iranian province of East Azerbaijan, AFP reported on 28 May. The report did not say how many Iranian Azeri protesters took part in the rally, which was held during the Ashura ritual of mourning for Imam Hussein, the seventh century Shiite Muslim martyr. The agency noted that authorities in Baku arrested three Islamists on 21 May, and charged them with illegally transporting Azerbaijani citizens to Iran. -- Lowell Bezanis KARIMOV VISITS GEORGIA. Uzbek President Islam Karimov arrived in Tbilisi on 28 May to sign 16 bilateral agreements with his Georgian counterpart, Eduard Shevardnadze, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. Speaking at a press conference after their talks, Karimov and Shevardnadze emphasized the importance of the agreements in principle on forming financial and industrial groups and cooperation in air and rail transport. Shevardnadze noted that an ad hoc group will work on opening a ferry link between Georgian and Bulgarian ports. Uzbekistan is interested in reaching European markets through Georgia. Both leaders stressed that there is no alternative to the CIS, RFE/RL reported. -- Lowell Bezanis NAZARBAYEV VISITS MALAYSIA, SINGAPORE. Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev concluded his four-day visit to Malaysia by signing several bilateral agreements to promote investment, trade, and scientific and technical cooperation, AFP reported on 29 May. Nazarbayev invited Malaysian companies to take part in development projects in Kazakhstan, including the construction of the new capital, Akmola. From there, Nazarbayev, accompanied by a delegation consisting of government and private sector representatives, arrived in Singapore. Nazarbayev is expected to sign an agreement on establishing air links between the two countries and on expanding bilateral trade and economic cooperation. -- Bhavna Dave FLOODING IN TAJIKISTAN. Heavy rains that began on 27 May have caused flooding in many areas of Tajikistan, ITAR-TASS and RFE/RL reported. ITAR-TASS reported that the Kofirnikhon, Varsovskii, and Leninskii regions are among the hardest hit. The Tajik commission for emergencies said that hundreds of homes have been destroyed, bridges and roads have been washed out, and power lines are down in several places. Thousands of hectares of winter crops and cotton have been lost. The flooding is expected to compound a recent outbreak of typhoid. -- 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. 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