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No. 114, Part I, 12 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 FOUR KILLED IN MOSCOW METRO EXPLOSION. Four people were killed and another 12 injured in an explosion on the Moscow metro on 11 June, Russian and Western agencies reported. The blast, caused by about one- half kilo of TNT, went off in a train leaving the Tulskaya station at about 9 p.m. President Boris Yeltsin and Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov said they believed it was a terrorist attack designed to disrupt the 16 June elections. In a reference to the Communists, Luzhkov claimed the bombing was carried out by people "shaking with fear," because of opinion polls giving Yeltsin the lead in the presidential race. The Communists, meanwhile, blamed Yeltsin and his entourage. Workers' Russia leader Viktor Anpilov accused them of trying to whip up "anti-communist hysteria," while Duma deputy Viktor Ilyukhin contended that the bombing could be used by Yeltsin to "start to repress the opposition." Another possibility is that the explosion was linked to Russia's conflict with Chechen separatists, who have long threatened a campaign of terror in Russian cities. -- Penny Morvant MEDIATORS, JOURNALISTS ESCAPE CHECHEN BLASTS. The convoy in which OSCE and Chechen mediators returned from Nazran to Grozny on 11 June was halted twice by explosions and fired upon by unidentified gunmen near the town of Achkhoi Martan, Western media reported. Eight people were injured in the attacks. Also on 11 June, pro-Moscow Chechen head of state Doku Zavgaev insisted that contrary to the agreement reached at the Nazran peace talks on 10 June, the election to a new Chechen People's Assembly will be held as originally scheduled on 14-16 June, AFP reported. Zavgaev also postponed until 13 June a scheduled meeting with the OSCE mission head in Grozny, Tim Guldimann, whose mediation efforts he has harshly criticized, according to ITAR-TASS. -- Liz Fuller GAZPROM ACQUIRES ABOUT 30% OF NTV. NTV President Igor Malashenko and MOST Group Director Vladimir Gusinskii announced that Gazprom had acquired approximately 30% of NTV's stock, Russian TV (RTR) reported on 11 June (see also OMRI Daily Digest 10 June). Gazprom President Rem Vyakhirev explained that his firm has 1 million stock holders and that he hopes to use NTV to communicate with them. Gazprom is backing Yeltsin in the presidential campaign, as is Malashenko, raising questions about the objectivity of the station's news programs. -- Robert Orttung YELTSIN SEEKS COSSACK VOTE IN NOVOCHERKASSK. During a stop in Novocherkassk on 11 June, President Yeltsin laid a wreath at the statue of the city's founder, Cossack Ataman Matvei Platov, NTV reported. Additionally, he sent a proposed law on Cossack communities to the Duma, ITAR-TASS reported. He observed a moment of silence in honor of the people killed in 1962 following a Soviet crackdown on protesters who took to the streets to denounce price increases. Up to 120 people were imprisoned and some of them thanked Yeltsin for signing recent decrees rehabilitating them and raising their pensions. -- Robert Orttung YAVLINSKII LEANS TOWARD YELTSIN IN THE SECOND ROUND. Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii said that if Yeltsin and Zyuganov enter the second round, he would ask Yeltsin to replace several key figures in the government, remove those politicians involved in corruption, and end the war in Chechnya, Russian Public TV reported 11 June. If Yeltsin agreed, Yavlinskii said that he would then consult with his voters on whether or not to back the president. He said that he would not accept any offers to work with Zyuganov since his program "arouses no interest." -- Robert Orttung ZYUGANOV PROFESSES MODERATION. Although he was recently quoted in a Hungarian newspaper praising Stalin (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 June), Gennadii Zyuganov struck a moderate tone during 11 June appearances at Moscow's Dom Zhurnalista and on NTV. He promised several times to respect a multi-party system and freedom of speech if elected. When asked about the more extreme elements in his coalition, Zyuganov argued that the real radicals in Russia are President Yeltsin and his team, who "unleashed a war in Chechnya" and "ruined the economy." He dismissed recent opinion polls showing Yeltsin's support growing faster than "bamboo," adding "ratings don't grow from 6% to 40%; any sociologist knows that." Zyuganov also denied that he had offered Vladimir Zhirinovsky several cabinet posts in exchange for his support. -- Laura Belin in Moscow DUMA TRIES TO BLOCK ENTRY TO PARIS CLUB. The State Duma has adopted a resolution urging Russia not to join the Paris Club of creditor nations until its auditing commission completes an investigation into Russia's foreign loans, Kommersant-Daily reported on 11 June. Earlier this year Russia negotiated a 25-year rescheduling of its $40 billion debt to Paris Club members (see OMRI Daily Digest 29 April 1996). The government wants Russia to join the Club in view of its own outstanding loans to mostly Third World countries, which it claims total $130 billion. Nationalist deputies expressed the fear that if Russia joins the Paris Club it will have to forgive most of its loans to former clients. The Duma's resolution is not binding on the government, which is expected to press for Russia's entry to the Club at the G-7 meeting in Lyons, France, later this month. -- Peter Rutland ROSTOV SIGNS POWER-SHARING TREATY WITH MOSCOW. Rostov Oblast Governor Vladimir Chub and President Yeltsin signed a power-sharing treaty during the president's campaign swing through the oblast, Russian media reported on 11 June. A similar agreement was signed with Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast on 8 June. Rostov is the 23rd Russian Federation subject to sign such a treaty; 12 of them have been signed since the beginning of the presidential election campaign. A power-sharing treaty with St. Petersburg is expected to be signed during Yeltsin's visit to the city three days before the election. -- Anna Paretskaya TATARSTAN SIGNS TREATY WITH MOSCOW CITY. Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzkkov and President Mintimer Shaimiev of Tatarstan signed a cooperation treaty in Moscow on 12 June, ITAR-TASS reported. RFE/RL has acquired the text of the three-year treaty, which details a number of economic and cultural cooperation plans. Moscow will re-open the Tatar cultural center which was closed in 1941, and provide accomodation for the republic's permanent representative in the city. Oil refineries in Tatarstan will cooperate with the Moscow Tire Factory in supplying rubber and tires to auto producers in both regions. Tatarstan will supply the raw materials for a new polypropylene line in Moscow and buy the finished product. -- Peter Rutland RUSSIA REGRETS CHINESE NUCLEAR TEST. Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Demurin on 11 June criticized the recent nuclear test conducted by China, ITAR-TASS reported. Demurin said that the 8 June test explosion, and Chinese plans to conduct another in September, would "create a fertile climate for open and concealed opponents" of a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, negotiations on which are currently underway in Geneva. However, Demurin welcomed the Chinese announcement that after the September test, China will adhere to the voluntary moratorium on tests being observed by the other four declared nuclear powers. China is the only nuclear power currently conducting tests, and Demurin claimed Beijing's decision to join the moratorium reflected President Yeltsin's advice during his April visit to China. -- Scott Parrish COUNCIL OF EUROPE CRITICIZES RUSSIA, UKRAINE ON DEATH PENALTY. Peter Leuprecht, secretary-general of the Council of Europe, condemned Russia and Ukraine on 11 June for failing to abolish the death penalty, Reuters reported. Under the European Convention on Human Rights, which both countries signed when admitted to the council, they agreed to abolish capital punishment within three years and were urged to institute an immediate moratorium on executions. Leaders in both countries have hesitated to act, however, citing rising crime. In May, President Yeltsin ordered preparations for the gradual phasing out of the death penalty, but Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov publicly opposed its abolition a few days later. While Justice Minister Konstantin Kovalev claimed on 28 May that Yeltsin now commutes all death sentences, human rights activists assert that the pace of executions has actually accelerated since early 1995. -- Scott Parrish RUSSIA ALLEGEDLY HINDERING JEWISH EMIGRATION AGENCY'S WORK. Russian government actions are threatening the ability of the Jewish Emigration Agency to operate in Russia, according to The Washington Post on 12 June. Although earlier reports had suggested that bureaucratic difficulties with registration were hindering the agency's work (see OMRI Daily Digest, 2 May 1996), the paper reported that recent events suggest a more serious problem. Local authorities have closed the agency's office in Pyatigorsk, and its offices in several other cities have also been threatened with closure. Furthermore, Russian Justice Minister Konstantin Kovalev recently declared that when its registration is renewed under a 1995 law, the agency will be permitted to have only one office, in Moscow, rather than the 19 currently operating. Jewish leaders cited in the article speculated that the Russian government actions are linked to the presidential campaign, in which nationalist rhetoric has played a conspicuous role. -- Scott Parrish NUCLEAR SPECIALISTS PROTEST WAGE DELAYS. About 5,000 nuclear industry workers in the closed Urals city of Snezhinsk held a demonstration on 10 June to protest wage arrears, ITAR-TASS reported. The scientists and construction workers were last paid in January and are now owed 35 billion rubles ($7 million). Participants in the demonstration warned that if their demands are not met, the program of destroying nuclear weapons could be placed in jeopardy. -- Penny Morvant CHERNOMYRDIN: DEFENSE SECTOR TO GET 7 TRILLION RUBLES. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on 11 June said at a meeting in Voronezh that the government plans to spend some 7 trillion rubles ($1.4 billion) on the defense sector, ITAR-TASS reported. He said that 6 trillion ($1.2 billion) would be used to clear up the government's debt for the 1994- 1996 defense order, while an additional 2 trillion ($400 million) "are likely to be allocated to the implementation of the conversion program in 1996." -- Doug Clarke TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA AZERBAIJAN BETWEEN RUSSIA, TURKEY. Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev told a visiting delegation of Russian parliament deputies in Baku that Azerbaijan "gives priority" to relations with Russia, ITAR-TASS reported on 11 June. He also said he was "pleased" that the emigration of ethnic Russians from Azerbaijan had slowed, and offered to help find a settlement to the Ossetiyan-Ingush conflict. The same day, Aliev hosted a delegation from the Turkish Grand National Assembly, the Turkish Daily News reported. He thanked Turkey for its support in Azerbaijan's dispute with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh. In other news, nearly 200 kg of explosives and printed propaganda literature, believed to be destined for Chechen rebels, was intercepted on the Azerbaijani-Dagestani border, Russian media reported on 11 June. -- Lowell Bezanis KAZAKHSTAN AVERTS PARLIAMENTARY CRISIS. The Kazakhstani parliament on 11 June averted a political crisis by voting 76-29 in favor of a controversial pension bill that raises the retirement age by three years, according to RFE/RL and Reuters. If parliament had voted against the bill for the second time, President Nursultan Nazarbayev would have been constitutionally required to either accept the resignation of the government or dissolve parliament for the third time in as many years (see OMRI Daily Digest, 10 June 1996). Nazarbayev had blamed the previous parliaments for blocking his reforms and this latest vote seems to support his claim that the country needs a strong presidency to speed up the pace of its social and economic transition. -- Bruce Pannier U.S. TO GIVE MORE MONEY TO KAZAKHSTAN FOR NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT. A U.S. Defense Department official, Laura Holgate, on 10 June said that the U.S. government will give Kazakhstan an additional $40 million for its nuclear disarmament program, RFE/RL and AFP reported. Although Kazakhstan turned over the last of its tactical weapons by mid-1995, money is still needed to safeguard nuclear materials and destroy missile silos. Under agreements signed in 1993 and 1995, the U.S. has already given Kazakhstan more than $80 million for its disarmament program. -- Bruce Pannier [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Victor Gomez ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. 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