|It matters not how a man dies, but how he lives. - Samuel Johnson|
No. 111, Part I, 7 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 TALKS ADJOURN WITHOUT AGREEMENT. The Russian-Chechen talks in Nazran adjourned for three days on 6 June after the two sides failed to sign a written agreement, Russian and Western agencies reported. The Chechen side continues to insist that a Russian troop withdrawal should precede demilitarization, and that the elections to a new People's Assembly scheduled for 16 June should be postponed. The Russian delegation proposes that the Russian troop withdrawal and the disarming of Chechen detachments proceed simultaneously. The head of the Russian delegation, Nationalities Minister Vyacheslav Mikhailov, condemned the Chechen position as "unconstructive and unrealistic," Radio Rossii reported. The spokesman for the Russian government commission for a settlement of the conflict, Sergei Slipchenko, sharply criticized Chechen head of state Doku Zavgaev for making disparaging comments about the Chechen separatist leadership, according to Russian Public TV (ORT). Moskovskie novosti (issue no. 22) predicted that Zavgaev would be replaced soon, possibly by former Russian parliament speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov. -- Liz Fuller YELTSIN SAYS THERE IS NO WAR IN CHECHNYA. . . On a campaign swing through Tver, President Boris Yeltsin claimed that "there is no war in Chechnya, it is only a battle with crime," NTV reported 6 June. He said all that remained of the resistance was small bands of "three, five, or 10 people." In a conversation with the oblast leadership, Yeltsin called for a treaty between the federal government and Tver as a way to solve the economically depressed region's problems. He criticized local authorities for not keeping tight control over the enterprise directors in their area, arguing that many of the directors had simply stopped working. He accused some directors of holding up wage payments to their employees even though they had the money to pay them. -- Robert Orttung . . .AND SIGNS DECREE ON IMPLEMENTING HIS DECREES. While in Tver, the president signed a decree that specifies penalties for bureaucrats who do not carry out presidential decrees. The punishments range from administrative discipline to being fired, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 6 June. Yeltsin said that "I constantly hear: the decree is not working, the law does not function" and called on ordinary citizens to point out who was ignoring these orders, ITAR-TASS reported. The constitution requires that Yeltsin's decrees be implemented throughout Russia. Yeltsin is obviously concerned about the general collapse in the state's ability to carry out its functions but apart from issuing yet another decree seems to have no real plan to solve the problem. Yeltsin remarked that he signed the decree at 3.00 am. -- Robert Orttung ZYUGANOV DECLARES "NO CIVIL WAR AFTER THE ELECTION." During a campaign stop in Krasnoyarsk, Communist candidate Gennadii Zyuganov said that if he wins the election but is not allowed to take office, people could take to the streets and say "'we voted and we demand that our will be implemented.'" He predicted that this demonstration would be "peaceful" and in accordance with "European standards." Describing himself as "the most peaceful man on the planet," Zyuganov said that "there will be no civil war after the presidential election." -- Robert Orttung LDPR DEPUTY PROPOSES PACT ON SOCIAL POLICY. Sergei Kalashnikov, chairman of the Duma Committee on Labor and Social Policy, proposed on 6 June that all presidential candidates sign a "social pact" setting the fundamental terms for adopting a new social policy. According to Kalashnikov, whoever wins the election will be a "hostage" to his own campaign promises and will be forced to work with political opponents to implement a new policy. Kalashnikov is a leading member of Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia; he declined to say who he would support if President Yeltsin and Gennadii Zyuganov face each other in the second round. His proposal dovetails with Zhirinovsky's recent offers to form a coalition with various presidential rivals. Appearing on Russian TV (RTR) on 6 June, Zhirinovsky struck a similarly conciliatory tone, saying the country should not be divided into opposing groups of communists, democrats, and patriots. -- Laura Belin in Moscow YAVLINSKII SLAMS YELTSIN "TRICKS". . . President Yeltsin's recent maneuvers on the Chechen crisis, including his 28 May trip to Grozny and his negotiations with separatist representatives in Moscow, were merely campaign "tricks" rather than serious attempts to end the war, according to Grigorii Yavlinskii. He said on 6 June that Yeltsin's campaign is violating the law on presidential elections by doling out gifts to voters funded at the taxpayers' expense. He added that the media is "manipulated" and engages in censorship to keep candidates other than Yeltsin off news programs. Yavlinskii told OMRI that a 5 June article in Moskovskii komsomolets, which alleged that his campaign is fraught with internal discord and mismanagement of party finances, was not important because, he argued, in any party with thousands of workers and volunteers, there is bound to be disagreement. -- Laura Belin in Moscow LUZHKOV'S RUNNING MATE INJURED IN BLAST. Valerii Shantsev, who is running for the post of deputy mayor of Moscow, and an aide were injured on 7 June in an explosion at the entrance to Shantsev's apartment block, Russian and Western agencies reported. Shantsev, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov's running mate in the 16 June mayoral election, was hospitalized and is said to be in a satisfactory condition. Currently prefect of Moscow's southern okrug, Shantsev was a secretary of the Moscow City Communist Party Committee from 1990 to 1991. -- Penny Morvant ST. PETERSBURG GOVERNOR APPOINTS DEPUTY. The day after his inauguration, St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev appointed Vyacheslav Shcherbakov as his first deputy, Radio Rossii reported on 6 June. Shcherbakov had been a gubernatorial candidate but withdrew from the race before the first round of election and threw his support behind Yakovlev. Currently a deputy of the city Legislative Assembly, he was elected former Mayor Anatolii Sobchak's deputy mayor in 1991 but was dismissed by Sobchak in 1994 after supporting the rebel federal parliament in its October 1993 clash with the president. Shcherbakov is a rear admiral and professor at the St. Petersburg Naval Academy. In the December 1995 parliamentary election he ran on the unsuccessful party list of the Ivan Rybkin bloc. -- Anna Paretskaya RUSSIA CONDUCTS ICBM TEST. Russia successfully tested an SS-19 ICBM on 6 June, ITAR-TASS reported. The 20-year-old missile was launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome and all six warheads hit their designated targets in Kamchatka Oblast. According to Col. Gen. Viktor Yesin, chief of staff of the Russian strategic missile forces, this was the 26th ICBM test since 1991. He added that despite its age the missile performed without any malfunction. -- Constantine Dmitriev FOREIGN MINISTRY: BERLIN MEETING A SUCCESS FOR RUSSIA. Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigorii Karasin declared on 6 June that at the recent meeting in Berlin between Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov and his NATO counterparts, NATO had "heard Russia's worries" and "dropped the idea that expansion was determined," Reuters reported, citing Interfax. Karasin argued that NATO leaders are now reconsidering the alliance's enlargement because of Yeltsin's firm position on the issue. The same day, the presidential administration newspaper, Rossiiskie vesti, published an article contending that the meeting showed that NATO had now adopted a "sober" and "realistic" position, realizing that Russian interests must be considered in any decisions about enlargement. However, speaking in Rome on the same day, NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana reiterated that "enlargement of the alliance will take place," although he added that any expansion "must take into account" Russian concerns. -- Scott Parrish WEU HEAD IN MOSCOW. Beginning a two-day visit, the secretary-general of the West European Union (WEU), Jose Cutileiro, discussed European security and Russian-WEU cooperation with Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov on 6 June, Western agencies reported. Cutileiro, the first head of the 14-member organization to visit Moscow, said the WEU wants to increase cooperation with Russia, although he admitted that currently there are "not many" areas of cooperation. While silent on the issue of NATO enlargement, the WEU chief noted that Russia plays an important role in European security, and predicted that there would be no renewed confrontation between Russia and the West, no matter who wins the upcoming Russian election. Cutileiro is also scheduled to meet with Defense Minister Pavel Grachev and parliamentary deputies. -- Scott Parrish RUSSIAN-NORTH KOREAN RAILROAD DISPUTE. Railway officials in Primorskii Krai told ITAR-TASS on 6 June that they will continue to block rail traffic into North Korea because of Pyongyang's failure to pay a $20 million debt. Since the beginning of May, the railway has refused to let any trains cross the border, said spokesman Yurii Khomichuk, adding that prior to the blockade, about 50 freight cars per day crossed into North Korea, currently undergoing severe economic difficulties. On the same day, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Panov said Russia does not intend to politicize the dispute, and hopes for a speedy resolution but added that the Russian Far East has suffered considerable economic losses as the result of North Korea's failure to pay its debts. -- Scott Parrish OMON BREAKS UP SHIPYARD WORKERS' PROTEST. OMON special militia detachments were used to disperse the Gorokhovets shipyard workers who blocked the main Moscow-Nizhnii Novgorod highway on 5 June to protest wage arrears, Radio Rossii reported the following day. The Interior Ministry forces were on guard at the gates of the plant on 6 June to prevent further protests. Unable to adapt to economic reform, the shipyard is on the verge of closure (see OMRI Daily Digest, 6 June 1996). -- Penny Morvant FURTHER INTERNATIONAL LOANS FOR RUSSIA. The IMF has approved the release of the fourth tranche ($330 million) of its $10.1 billion Extended Facility Fund loan to Russia, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 June. An IMF working group reported that Russia had complied with the principles of the credit agreement in the first quarter. Meanwhile, the World Bank announced it will lend Russia $270 million to improve the health care system, Kommersant-Daily reported on 6 June. Money will be spent on training programs and purchasing medical equipment, much of which will probably have to be imported. -- Natalia Gurushina SMALL BUSINESS UPDATE. There are 877,000 small businesses in Russia, accounting for about 15% of the labor force and 12% of Russia's GDP, Vyacheslav Prokhorov, chairman of the State Committee for the Support of Small Business, told ITAR-TASS on 6 June. Small businesses--defined as those with less than 200 workers--employ 8.9 million people full-time and another 5 million part-time. Their number has shrunk by 2% since 1994. Private investment in the sector reached about 28 trillion rubles ($5.6 billion) by the start of 1996. These are all official estimates; the inclusion of informal activity would boost the role of small businesses considerably. Factors holding back their development include high taxes, bureaucratic red-tape, and pressure from extortionists. -- Peter Rutland TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA GEORGIA'S ARMENIAN COMMUNITY AGAIN RAISES QUESTION OF AUTONOMY. The predominantly ethnic Armenian population of Georgia's Akhaltsikhe and Akhalkalaki raions, which border on Armenia, took advantage of Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan's visit to the region on 5 June to demand some degree of autonomy, NTV reported. The Georgian Interior Ministry has refuted Georgian media reports that Armenian military units violated the frontier and advanced 4 km into Georgian territory, according to BGI on 6 June. There are approximately 500,000 Armenians in Georgia, or 10% of the entire population. -- Liz Fuller KAZAKHSTAN WRITES OFF FARM DEBTS. Faced with a severe economic crisis, the Kazakhstani government has decided to write off half the debt of agricultural commodity producers, including the entire amount of interest owed, Deputy Prime Minister Zhanibek Karibzhanov told ITAR-TASS at a press conference on 6 June. The government has also decided to write off the farmers' arrears in electricity payments until the period ending on 1 May. A total $300 million of debt has been written off. -- Bhavna Dave JAPAN PLEDGES MONEY FOR KYRGYZ AIRPORT. Kyrgyz officials announced on 6 June that Japan will extend a $55 million credit to Kyrgyzstan for improving the Manas Airport in Bishkek, RFE/RL and AFP reported. Japan has invested about $160 million in Kyrgyzstan since the Central Asian nation gained independence in 1991. The same day the Asian Development Bank announced that it will provide a $30 million concessional loan to Kyrgyzstan to upgrade its power and heating sector. -- Bruce Pannier TAJIK REFUGEES A PROBLEM IN ALTAI KRAI. Refugees from Tajikistan who have turned to begging in order to live are creating a large problem in Russia's Altai Krai and Gornyi Altai Republic, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 June. Viktor Oblogin, the mayor of Gorno-Altaisk, the republic's capital, expelled the Tajiks from the city and in so doing created a problem in neighboring Altai Krai. The report claims Tajik beggars lined the streets and often carried disease such as malaria and cholera. The forced relocation of the Tajiks has already begun. Buses have brought them to a no man's land called "Freedom Valley" on the border of the Gornyi Altai Republic and Altai Krai. -- Bruce Pannier [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Victor Gomez ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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