|Words that open our eyes to the world are always the easiest to remember. - Ryszard Kapuscinski|
No. 110, Part I, 6 JUNE 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 NAZRAN PEACE TALKS CONTINUE. The ongoing Russian-Chechen peace talks in Nazran ran into difficulties on 5 June after Chechen Vice President Said-Hassan Abdumuslimov demanded that all Russian troops be withdrawn from Chechnya by 1 July, prior to the disarming of Chechen detachments, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. Chechen Information Minister Movladi Udugov told reporters to disregard Abdumuslimov's statements; Abdumuslimov himself admitted that the Chechen camp is split between those who want to continue talks with President Yeltsin, and a faction that prefers to await the outcome of the Russian presidential election, according to Reuters. The two sides signed a protocol on 5 June on procedures for an exchange of all prisoners of war within the next two weeks, ITAR-TASS reported. Speaking at a press conference in Moscow after his regular weekly meeting with Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, pro-Moscow Chechen head of state Doku Zavgaev said that 70 candidates have already registered for the 16 June election to a new 93- seat Chechen People's Assembly, ITAR-TASS and NTV reported. -- Liz Fuller ZYUGANOV ANNOUNCES CHECHNYA PLAN. Communist presidential candidate Gennadii Zyuganov on 5 June announced his plans for ending the Chechen conflict, ITAR-TASS reported. Zyuganov intends to convene a congress of the Confederation of Peoples of the Caucasus, and would withdraw troops from those areas were there is no fighting, while blockading regions where military activity continues. Although the Communists have consistently criticized Yeltsin for his handling of the war, the vagueness of these proposals suggests that they have no concrete ideas about how to end the fighting and preserve the integrity of the country. -- Robert Orttung INDEPENDENCE OF CENTRAL BANK CHALLENGED. The State Duma rushed through a bill on 5 June ordering the Central Bank to transfer 5 trillion rubles ($1 billion) to the federal budget, ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin signed the measure into law the same evening, and the money must be released by 10 June. The funds in question are the 1994 profits of the Central Bank, which the government has made several attempts to acquire. The money will be allotted to defense plants, teacher's wages, and vacations for inhabitants of the Far North. The Duma's move came in response to a request from Finance Minister Vladimir Panskov, and was opposed by the Duma's own Budget Committee, according to ORT. The bank is threatening to go to court to block the law. The first deputy chairman of the bank, Sergei Aleksashenko, said "This money does not in fact exist," and argued that the measure violates the 1995 law on the bank's independence. -- Peter Rutland and Natalia Gurushina TULEEV TO DROP OUT OF RACE IN FAVOR OF ZYUGANOV. Presidential candidate Aman Tuleev announced that he intends to drop out of the race and called on his supporters to vote for Communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov, Ekho Moskvy reported on 5 June. Tuleev's move was expected from the time he began the campaign. Zyuganov said that he expects an announcement at a rally of patriotic groups in Moscow on 8 June, although Tuleev has said his announcement could come as late as three or four days before the 16 June election. Tuleev will not formally withdraw from the race since he would the have to repay the money the Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) has given him as well as other costs incurred, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. Tuleev, the head of the Kemerovo Oblast legislature, has said that he was running to give more attention to the Communists because the media strongly favors Yeltsin. Last month, Tuleev successfully sued the TsIK to change the way it identifies him on the ballot, forcing the commission to reprint the papers. -- Robert Orttung DUDAEV'S WIDOW, PAMYAT BACK YELTSIN. Dzhokhar Dudaev's widow, Alla, said that she would vote for President Yeltsin since "only by defending him can we save our democracy, that is our freedom," Russian TV (RTR) reported on 5 June. Her remarks came at the founding congress of the women's movement, United Russia. She also announced support for Yeltsin's peace initiatives in Chechnya, called on both sides to stop the fighting, and appealed for an amnesty of the Chechen field commanders. She blamed Yeltsin's inner circle for convincing Yeltsin that Dudaev did not want to negotiate with him, although Dudaev tried four times to contact Yeltsin. Last month Dudaev's wife, who is an ethnic Russian, was prevented for boarding a plane for Turkey since she was carrying a false passport. In another surprising move, Pamyat leader Dmitrii Vasilev announced on 4 June that his organization had decided to back Yeltsin, Ekspress-Khronika reported. He said that if the Communists returned to power, it will be "better to die on the field of battle, than live in slavery." -- Robert Orttung SATAROV READY TO PROVE CHARGES. Presidential aide Georgii Satarov said that he is ready to prove in court that the Communists are preparing "fighting units" and that they falsified the 1995 Duma election in their favor, ITAR-TASS reported 5 June. He said that it would be hard to make the charges stick to party leaders Gennadii Zyuganov and Valentin Kuptsov, but that "Zyuganov is not an independent figure" and that he is not in control of the more hardline figures in the party. Nezavisimaya gazeta on 5 June described the falsification charges and countercharges as "the new trump in the election battle." -- Robert Orttung FEDERATION COUNCIL CALLS FOR ELECTION CALM. The Federation Council on 5 June adopted a declaration asking candidates and voters not to let the "rise of social tensions threaten a split in society," NTV reported. The declaration called on all sides to respect the will of the people, no matter who is elected. -- Robert Orttung NEW ST. PETERSBURG GOVERNOR TAKES OVER. Newly elected St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev took his oath of office on 5 June in the Marinskii Palace, where the city's Legislative Assembly meets. Sobchak did not show up, although his arrival was anticipated. NTV reported many Zyuganov activists in the hall. Yakovlev said that he intends to sign a power-sharing agreement with the federal government and that he will work to promote better cooperation between the city and Leningrad Oblast, Rossiiskaya gazeta reported on 5 June. Oblast Governor Aleksandr Belyakov supported his candidacy in the second round after failing to enter the runoff himself. Meanwhile, in Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov is running at 79% in the polls in advance of that city's 16 June mayoral election. -- Robert Orttung COMMENTATORS SKEPTICAL OF POSSIBLE DEAL WITH NATO. Writing in Segodnya on 5 June, military commentator Pavel Felgengauer argued that Moscow should insist that any compromise with NATO over the terms of its expansion be codified in a binding international agreement. Felgengauer lamented former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev's failure to get a written commitment that NATO would not expand when he agreed to German reunification in 1990. He contended that any verbal assurances NATO might make now to refrain from expanding its military infrastructure into Eastern Europe could evaporate later. A commentary in Izvestiya on 6 June argued that instead of fruitlessly pushing for such a deal, Moscow should broaden cooperation with NATO so as to minimize the effect of expansion. -- Scott Parrish CIS CHIEFS OF STAFF HOLD FIRST MEETING. The first session of the Committee of CIS General Chiefs of Staff met in Moscow on 4 June, ITAR- TASS reported the following day. Maj. Gen. Viktor Chernenko of the Russian general staff said that strengthening the CIS security system is a top priority for Russia, adding that the first meeting was a "momentous step" in improving this structure. General Mikhail Kolesnikov, who is both chief of the Russian General Staff and chairman of the CIS body, chaired the meeting. While the list of participants was not revealed, the CIS Collective Security Treaty has been signed by all former Soviet republics except the Baltic republics, Ukraine, Moldova, and Turkmenistan. -- Doug Clarke ACCUSED RUSSIAN SPIES TO LEAVE CANADA. Two Russian spies who were arrested in Canada and threatened with deportation have decided to return to Russia voluntarily, Russian and Western media reported on 5 June. Canadians Laurie and Ian Lambert turned out to be Russians Dmitrii and Yelena Ol-shanskii. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) accused the Lamberts of illegally entering Canada in 1988 and assuming false identities based on two deceased Canadian children. The CSIS also accused them of trying to establish a spying net against Canada, although there is no evidence that the Lamberts had undertaken any espionage activity. Canadian authorities claim the Lamberts were "sleeper" agents; such agents are trained to merge into a society and are activated for espionage activities later. -- Constantine Dmitriev GOROKHOVETS SHIPYARD WORKERS PROTEST. Workers of the Gorokhovets shipyard, who claim that they have not been paid since December 1994, blocked the main Moscow-Nizhnii Novgorod highway on 5 June for several hours, ITAR-TASS reported. The yard used to build anti-submarine vessels and other military craft; its workforce has fallen from 3,000 to 600. -- Doug Clarke FEDERATION COUNCIL APPROVES CRIMINAL CODE. The parliament's upper house voted on 5 June by a 121-2 margin with 2 abstentions to approve the draft Criminal Code, ITAR-TASS reported. The latest draft of the code was passed by the Duma on 24 May (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27 May 1996). The maximum single prison term envisaged by the code is 20 years, up from 15. Among other innovations, it introduces criminal liability for participation in an organized criminal group and the concept of corruption. President Yeltsin is expected to consider the code within the next two weeks. -- Penny Morvant QUESTIONS RAISED OVER PRIVATIZATION OF METALS PLANTS. The deputy chair of the State Committee on Metallurgy, Vsevolod Generalov, complained that the privatization of Russia's metals plants has not led to the influx of investment that they urgently need, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 June. Instead foreign traders have bought up blocks of shares (for example, in the Bryansk and Sayansk aluminum works) in order to control their lucrative exports. Generalov urged the firms to issue a fresh batch of shares to raise new capital--although this will dilute the value of the existing shares bought by investors. Of Russia's 400 metallurgy firms, only 12 remain in state ownership, although the government still holds a "golden share" (allowing them a veto over certain decisions) in 55 others. -- Peter Rutland TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA TRIAL OF KAZAKHSTAN'S DISMISSED SUPREME COURT CHIEF IMMINENT. Kenzhebulat Beknazarov, a spokesman for the Kazakhstani State Committee on National Security, told ITAR-TASS on 4 June that the committee has evidence that Mikhail Malakhov, the former chairman of the Kazakhstani Supreme Court, received a foreign car worth $7000 as a bribe. Beknazarov told ITAR-TASS that the Kazakhstani government may have to ask the Russian government to extradite Malakhov, who is currenlty in Russia on a "private visit." Malakhov lost his legal immunity after the Senate voted on 3 June to dismiss him from his post. President Nursultan Nazarbayev had suspended Malakhov in early April. According to a 3 June Kazakhstani TV report monitored by the BBC, four other Supreme Court judges have offered their resignations, bringing the total number of those who resigned to nine; no reasons were given for the resignations. -- Bhavna Dave TASHKENT TO UNDERGO RENOVATION. . . Extensive changes are to take place in Tashkent including the construction of new parks and housing developments, the city's hokim, Kozim Tulyaganov, said in an interview published in Pravda vostoka on 6 June. The plan, approved by the cabinet at the end of 1994, calls for the renovation of the "old city" part of Tashkent, which will entail the destruction of entire neighborhoods of traditional Uzbek homes and their replacement with apartment buildings and wide boulevards. OMRI has learned that UNESCO and residents of the old city have repeatedly voiced their objection to the plan, which is already underway. -- Roger Kangas in Tashkent . . . AS PUSHKIN MONUMENT IS DISMANTLED. Uzbek authorities removed the statue of Aleksandr Pushkin from a central square of Tashkent on the night of 4 June and took it to an undisclosed location, Ekspress- Khronika reported on 6 June. Russians celebrate Pushkin's birthday on 6 June. -- Bhavna Dave TURKMEN ANTHEM WRITER SOUGHT. A presidential decree read on state radio offers the equivalent of $10,000 to anyone who can pen a national anthem for Turkmenistan, Reuters reported on 5 June. The anthem must reflect the country's neutrality and historical traditions. President Saparmurad "Turkmenbashi" Niyazov himself will be on the panel of 14 judges to decide the winner. Results are expected by 1 October in preparation for the 27 October celebration of Turkmen Independence Day. -- Bruce Pannier TAJIK GOVERNMENT FORCES GAINING GROUND. Tajik government forces continue to drive opposition forces eastward and southward in the latest offensive, according to ITAR-TASS and Reuters. Fighting is now taking place near the village of Sagirdasht, which lies between the town of Tavil-Dara and the Kalai-Khumb border post, Russian TV (RTR) reported on 5 June. Four government soldiers are reported dead and 27 are wounded. Presidential spokesman Zafar Saidov denied allegations that Russian forces are providing air support for the latest drive but for the first time mentioned that the opposition forces are in possession of four helicopters. Fighting was also reported near Komsomolabad, north of Tavil-Dara, and at the Khorog border post. -- 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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