If we are to live together in peace, we must first come to know each other better. - Lyndon B. Johnson
OMRI Daily Digest 4 June 1996

Vol. 2, No. 108, Part I, 4 June 1996

The OMRI Daily Digest is published by the Open Media Research Institute, a nonprofit, public service research organization funded by the Open Society Institute, independent grants, and contracts with broadcasting organizations.

RUSSIA

ZHIRINOVSKY MEETS ZYUGANOV, CHERNOMYRDIN. Presidential candidates Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Gennadii Zyuganov met on 3 June, NTV reported. Zhirinovsky said that they did not talk about forming a coalition in the first round but held open the possibility of doing so in the second; Zyuganov confirmed this statement. Sources in Zhirinovsky's campaign suggested that Zyuganov is interested in an alliance because he is feeling insecure about his electoral chances. Aleksandr Lebed had earlier rejected Zhirinovsky's idea of a Zyuganov-Zhirinovsky-Lebed coalition, but Zyuganov only expressed doubts about Zhirinovsky's seriousness, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. Zhirinovsky also met with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, but the government leader's staff described the event merely as one of a series of meetings with the candidates, and one in which Zhirinovsky did most of the talking, ORT reported. Zhirinovsky claimed in an interview with the British newspaper Evening Standard that he would back Yeltsin in the runoff in exchange for being named foreign minister. -- Robert Orttung

ANALYST: RUNOFF WILL DEPEND ON FIRST ROUND LOSERS. Dmitrii Olshanskii, director of the Center for Strategic Analysis and Prognosis, argued on 3 June that the outcome of the second round of the presidential election will depend on how the losing candidates from the first round behave. He said they may influence their supporters who would be reluctant to vote for either President Yeltsin or Gennadii Zyuganov in the runoff. When it was mentioned that many prominent figures, including Grigorii Yavlinskii, Aleksandr Lebed, and Svyatoslav Fedorov, have already announced that they will endorse neither Yeltsin nor Zyuganov, Olshanskii said such pronouncements should be ignored, since no matter what the candidates say now, they are unlikely to stick to an uncompromising position after the first round. -- Laura Belin in Moscow

BETANELI POLL SHOWS YELTSIN CATCHING ZYUGANOV. The director of the Institute for the Sociology of Parliamentarianism, Nugzar Betaneli, announced that his latest poll shows President Yeltsin catching up to Zyuganov two weeks before the presidential election, Russian TV (RTR) reported. Betaneli's polls are highly respected in Moscow because his 1995 Duma election predictions are considered among the most accurate. His earlier data showing Zyuganov leading were said to be of great concern to Kremlin insiders. Betaneli attributed Yeltsin's success to his recent return "to the needs and hopes of the voters." -- Robert Orttung

EARLY VOTES FOR YELTSIN MAY BE INVALID. Defense Minister Pavel Grachev announced that the sailors who participated in early balloting because they will be at sea on election day "voted unanimously" for the president, AFP reported 3 June, citing Russian Public TV (ORT). However, ORT claimed that Grachev violated the electoral law by revealing the votes early and the sailors' ballots "will inevitably be canceled." -- Robert Orttung

DEFEATED MAYOR TO STAY IN POLITICS. Outgoing St. Petersburg Mayor Anatolii Sobchak has announced that he will continue on in politics despite being defeated in the second round of the city's gubernatorial election on 2 June, ITAR-TASS reported on 3 May. He said that he will not join a coalition government under incoming Governor Vladimir Yakovlev. Instead, Sobchak said he will attempt to consolidate the city's democratic political formations, Our Home Is Russia and Russia's Democratic Choice, which were the only pro-reform regional parties that supported him for re-election. Meanwhile, Yakovlev, who was elected by a 2% margin (see OMRI Daily Digest, 3 June 1996), will take over the governor's office within 10 days. He announced that one of his first steps in the office will be to sign power-sharing agreements with the federal government and Leningrad Oblast. He also called on presidential candidate Grigorii Yavlinskii to form a coalition with President Yeltsin, saying his own election victory was made possible through a coalition agreement. -- Anna Paretskaya

CHECHEN PEACE PROSPECTS. Russian warplanes attacked villages in Vedeno and Nozhai-Yurt raions during the evening of 3 June, NTV reported. However, Lt. Gen. Andrei Ivanov of the Russian General Staff accused Chechen militants of unilaterally violating the 27 May ceasefire agreement, ITAR-TASS reported on 3 June. He added that the Chechen Defense Committee's 2 June decision to insist that all Russian troops be withdrawn from Chechnya within seven days could torpedo the entire peace process. Chuvash President Nikolai Fedorov, who is in Chechnya representing the Council of Europe, met in Grozny with OSCE representative Tim Guldimann, and later expressed concern that acting Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev is unable to convince Chechen field commanders to observe the ceasefire, according to Radio Rossii. Russian TV (RTR) quoted Guldimann as expressing doubt that the 16 June election to a new Chechen People's Assembly will be democratic. Russian and Chechen delegations still plan to meet in Nazran on 4 June to discuss the implementation of last week's ceasefire agreement, Russian and Western media reported. -- Liz Fuller

PRIMAKOV, NATO SEEK COMPROMISE? Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov met with his counterparts from the 16 NATO member-states in Berlin on 4 June, for discussions that may lead to negotiations on finding a compromise resolution to the disputed issue of NATO expansion, Russian and Western agencies reported. AFP, citing an anonymous NATO official, said that Primakov told his NATO counterparts that Russia could accept the political expansion of the alliance eastward but considered "unacceptable" the establishment of NATO military installations near Russia's borders. The official added that the NATO ministers, while saying Moscow cannot veto expansion, assured Primakov that any expansion would not involve major military exercises or base construction in areas near Russia. At a subsequent press conference, Primakov termed the session "frank, useful, and constructive," adding that he now hopes the alliance's expansion is not "pre-determined" but will be "discussed in dialogue with Russia." -- Scott Parrish

SELEZNEV ON NORTH KOREA. At a 3 June press conference, Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev said his recent visits to North Korea and Mongolia would boost relations with both countries, which he labeled "strategic partners" of Russia, ITAR-TASS reported. Optimistically, Seleznev said that a recently formed bilateral economic cooperation commission is actively working to "restore the previous links between the two countries." However, this assessment conflicts with earlier reports that the two countries continue to disagree over settlement terms for North Korea's debt to the former Soviet Union, which Russia inherited. After urging the conclusion of a new bilateral friendship treaty, the Communist Duma speaker flatly asserted that "life in North Korea is normal," adding that "there is no food shortage." International aid agencies estimate that North Korea is in a state of "pre-famine." -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIAN, ESTONIAN, FINNISH BORDER GUARDS HOLD JOINT EXERCISES. Russian, Estonian, and Finnish border guards will hold joint exercises in the Russian part of the Gulf of Finland on 4 June, ITAR-TASS reported. Three Russian, two Estonian, and two Finnish ships and two helicopters will practice joint lifesaving operations. A similar exercise was held last year near the Finnish town of Kotka. Swedish, Polish, Lithuanian, and Latvian observers will also attend the drill. -- Constantine Dmitriev

ENERGY WORKERS THREATEN STRIKE IN PRIMORE. Miners and electric power workers held a demonstration outside the offices of the Primorskii Krai administration in Vladivostok on 4 June to protest a four-month delay in the payment of their wages, ITAR-TASS reported. Workers from Primorskugol and Dalenergo are threatening to go on strike on 16 June if payment is not forthcoming. Consumers owe Dalenergo 1.4 trillion rubles ($280 million), which in turn owes the miners about 400 billion rubles. The electric power sector has been hit particularly hard by the payments crisis, in part because of legislation preventing cuts in power supplies to strategically important facilities. Meanwhile, at a conference on 3 June in the Kuzbass, the regional branch of the Independent Miners' Union and local workers committees spoke out against a return to communism despite the problems experienced by the coal industry. -- Penny Morvant

NEW MEASURES AGAINST TAX DODGERS IN THE OFFING. Under legislation being drafted by the Finance Ministry, Russian citizens buying property or vehicles costing more than 1,000 times the minimum monthly wage would have to submit a declaration to the tax authorities affirming that they have paid income tax, ITAR-TASS reported on 3 June. The minimum wage is currently set at 75,900 rubles a month. The draft, "on state monitoring of the conformity of large consumer purchases with the incomes received by physical persons," is directed against high-income tax dodgers. The tax authorities, using information from organizations that record such transactions, would have the right to verify the incomes of people who fail to make a declaration. The draft has been submitted to the government for review. The measure was first proposed by the State Tax Service; an earlier version proposed including purchases of artworks, antiques, jewelry, and securities, Finansovye izvestiya reported. -- Penny Morvant

YELTSIN CRITICIZES DECEIVED INVESTORS BILL. President Yeltsin on 4 June sent a letter to State Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev criticizing the draft law on compensation for deceived investors, passed by the parliament in the first reading on 17 May. Yeltsin argued that the mechanism for compensating investors must be changed, with compensation first coming from the sale of the assets of the financial companies that defrauded investors (such as MMM) and from the commercial organizations that advertised their services--and only then from the federal budget. -- Penny Morvant

YELTSIN TOSSES BONE TO AILING AIRCRAFT ENGINE PLANT. President Yeltsin on 3 June sent a telegram to the workers of the Perm Motors joint stock company ordering a set of four engines for the government's Il-96-300 aircraft, ITAR-TASS reported. He told the workers that their PS-90A jet engines are "the best plane engines in the country, and you together with the investors must make them one of the best in the world." Both the engine and the company have had problems of late. The first PS-90A engines failed after only 1,500 hours of use. Last November, the company had to go to a three-day work week and lay off 1,000 employees. -- Doug Clarke

POWER SECTOR'S INVESTMENT REQUIREMENTS. A study of Russia's power generating industry, carried out under the Gore-Chernomyrdin economic commission, projects $3-5 billion worth of investment in the sector per year until the year 2000, and $5-7 billion thereafter. In 1995, investment was 16 trillion rubles ($3.5 billion), and is estimated at 28 trillion rubles for 1996, ITAR-TASS reported on 3 June. The investments are needed to replace old thermal power plants and increase the safety of nuclear power stations. EES Rossii (United Energy System of Russia) plans to build 44 new power plants and 10,000 km of new electrical lines over the next 10 years. -- Natalia Gurushina


TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

CAUCASUS SUMMIT. Meeting in the North Caucasus town of Kislovodsk on 3 June, the presidents of Russia, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan signed a declaration of support for territorial integrity, the non-violability of borders, and for the rights of ethnic minorities, Russian and Western agencies reported. The declaration also abjures terrorism, religious extremism, and aggressive separatism. In a clear reference to Turkey, whose Anatolia news agency on 26 May questioned the rationale for the meeting, President Yeltsin warned against "any attempt to drive a wedge between the Caucasus and Russia," according to ITAR-TASS. Yeltsin also affirmed his determination to enforce last week's Chechen peace agreement. The summit was also attended by the heads of the North Caucasus republics including pro-Moscow Chechen head of state Doku Zavgaev. At the meeting, Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev expressed support for Yeltsin's re-election. -- Liz Fuller

AZERBAIJAN REFUSED TO SHARE CFE QUOTAS WITH RUSSIA. Azerbaijan insisted during the Vienna CFE review conference that its territory be excluded from any regional agreement with Russia on reallocating national CFE quotas, RFE/RL reported on 3 June. With strong support from Turkey, Azerbaijan was said to have forced the negotiations to continue until 3:30 a.m. on 1 June until it obtained a special concession that specifically excludes it from any temporary deployments of Russian troops or reallocation of quotas. Georgia has already "lent" Russia some of its "flanks" quotas, and the Iprinda news agency on 1 June reported that negotiators in Vienna had agreed that Russia could use part of the Georgian and Armenian quotas providing those countries "relinquished [them] voluntarily and their sovereignty was respected." -- Doug Clarke

UZBEK OPPOSITION PARTIES SEND LETTER TO CLINTON. In an open letter to U.S. President Bill Clinton obtained by OMRI, representatives of the exiled Uzbek opposition parties Birlik (Unity) and Erk (Freedom/Will) objected to Uzbek President Islam Karimov's upcoming visit to the U.S. The letter alleges that many Western countries are ignoring human rights violations in Uzbekistan in order to pursue economic interests in the country. The letter lists people who the opposition groups say went missing or were jailed or killed for political reasons. The letter also notes a critical Human Rights Watch report on the Uzbek government. -- Bruce Pannier

JUDGES IN KAZAKHSTAN REQUIRED TO PASS EXAMINATIONS. Judges of the Supreme Court and lower courts in Kazakhstan are now required to take exams attesting to their professional qualifications, ITAR-TASS reported on 3 June. A special committee consisting of well-known scholars, lawyers, and parliamentary deputies will review the exams. Justice Minister Konstantin Kolpakov said that the certification of judges is a part of the ongoing judicial reform process in the country. Kazakhstan has already abolished the Soviet-era practice of people's courts under which judges were simply nominated by higher authorities. -- Bhavna Dave

TAJIK CAPTIVES NOT RELEASED. The scheduled release of 26 government soldiers held captive by Tajik opposition forces was aborted due to heavy fighting in the Pamir mountains near the city of Komsomolabad between opposition and government forces, ITAR-TASS reported on 31 May. The Red Cross/Red Crescent team that was heading into opposition territory to pick up the captive soldiers was forced to turn back because of the renewed fighting. The mission's executive chairman, Nicholas Borsinger, said the team had received no guarantees of personal safety. Upon returning to Dushanbe, the mission resumed talks with government and opposition representatives in an attempt to at least secure permission to visit the prisoners. -- Bruce Pannier

NATO APPROVES PLANS FOR EUROPEAN OPERATIONS. NATO foreign ministers meeting in Berlin approved plans to create a European Security and Defense Identity under which the European members of NATO gain additional flexibility to carry out independent military operations, Western agencies reported on 3 June. The ministers endorsed the concept of Combined Joint Task Forces (CJTFs) that would combine troops from NATO and non-NATO states to respond rapidly to crisis situations, like the Yugoslav conflict. Breaking with NATO tradition, CJTFs would not always include U.S. forces and could sometimes come under the military and political command of the 10-member Western European Union, of which Washington is not a member, rather than that of NATO. French officials pushing for a stronger European identity within NATO hailed the agreement, while U.S. spokesmen downplayed it, saying that the U.S. will remain heavily engaged in crisis management on the continent. -- Scott Parrish


[English] [Russian TRANS | KOI8 | ALT | WIN | MAC | ISO5]

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