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No. 115, Part I, 13 June 1996
*********************************************************************** Available soon -- The OMRI Annual Survey of Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union -- "1995: Building Democracy." Published by M.E. Sharpe Inc., this 336-page yearbook provides a systematic and comprehensive review of the most pivotal events in the 27 countries of the former Communist bloc and former Soviet Union during 1995. Available to OMRI subscribers at a special price of $25 each (plus postage and handling). To order, please email your request to: firstname.lastname@example.org *********************************************************************** 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 LAST POLLS GIVE YELTSIN STRONG LEAD. The last polls to be published before election day give President Boris Yeltsin a strong lead over Communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov. A VCIOM poll found that 36% of respondents would vote for Yeltsin, only 24% would back Zyuganov, and 9% of those who plan to vote are still undecided, NTV reported on 12 June. ROMIR gave Yeltsin 34% and Zyuganov 23%, with 18% undecided. Both polls showed Aleksandr Lebed, whose campaign is making a strong finish, in third place. The polling agencies anticipate that Zyuganov's support will be higher than indicated in the polls, but not enough to overtake Yeltsin who is also expected to win the runoff. Institute for the Sociology of Parliamentarism Director Nugzar Betaneli, often cited as having made the most accurate predictions in the 1993 and 1995 Duma races, gave Yeltsin 40% and Zyuganov 31%, Ekho Moskvy reported. In contrast, the pro-communist Sovetskaya Rossiya on 13 June published a poll showing Zyuganov with 36% and Yeltsin with only 27%. -- Robert Orttung REACTIONS TO BOMB BLAST. President Yeltsin on 12 June condemned the previous day's "brutal, barbaric" bomb attack on the Moscow metro and promised that the 16 June election would go ahead as scheduled despite what he termed the attempt to "destabilize the situation in the capital." In a bid for support, he urged Russians to respond to the "extremists" by voting for "stability," Russian and Western agencies reported. The Communist Party also expressed outrage at the attack, and Workers' Russia leader Viktor Anpilov angrily denied allegations by Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov that left-wingers were behind the bombing, calling the accusations an "evil fabrication." ITAR-TASS on 13 June reported that two people of Caucasian nationality had been detained in Moscow after allegedly making a call to the police threatening further terrorist acts, but there is no evidence that the two were behind the metro blast. -- Penny Morvant YELTSIN LEADS RED SQUARE RALLY. Yeltsin and Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov held a large rally and concert near the Kremlin on 12 June, a holiday marking Russian independence, despite concerns over additional terrorist attacks following the metro bombing on 11 June. Organizers expected 300,000 participants, according to Russian TV (RTR), but observers reported a turnout of 40,000 to 100,000 people. Yeltsin said that the bombers wanted to disrupt the election, but that the "motherland would not let them." The rally was held amid tight security. The bands seemed to be the main draw, but most of the crowd of young people seemed inclined to support Yeltsin, AFP reported. -- Robert Orttung COMMUNISTS HOLD COUNTER-RALLY IN MOSCOW. Several hundred supporters of Workers' Russia leader Viktor Anpilov marched to Lubyanka Square, in the shadow of the former KGB headquarters, to support Communist candidates for the presidency and Moscow Mayor's office on 12 June. In contrast to Yeltsin, Anpilov marked the day as a tragedy since the 1990 declaration of Russian sovereignty foreshadowed the collapse of the Soviet Union. Officers' Union leader Stanislav Terekhov claimed that Yeltsin had brought several regiments into the city to impose martial law in case of a Zyuganov victory, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. Both speakers called on the crowd to be vigilant against provocations from the authorities. Zyuganov did not attend the rally. -- Robert Orttung ZHIRINOVSKY PORTRAYS HIMSELF AS CENTRIST. Vladimir Zhirinovsky told about a thousand supporters in Moscow's Teatralnaya Ploshchad on 12 June that only three candidates are seriously contesting the election: the current president, the "left forces" led by Zyuganov, and himself, "in the middle." "People are tired of extremes," he added. During his 35- minute address, Zhirinovsky repeatedly stressed that his Liberal Democratic Party of Russia will not tolerate any extremist acts or violence, whatever the election results. He drew cheers by condemning the so-called "fifth column" in the presidential election and what he called attempts by the U.S. to turn Russia into a colony. Lauding his own party's staying power, Zhirinovsky mocked the "dozens of artificial parties" that were once powerful but have "disintegrated" in recent years, such as Democratic Russia, Yegor Gaidar's Russia's Democratic Choice, and Sergei Shakhrai's Party of Russian Unity and Concord. -- Laura Belin in Moscow TULEEV WITHDRAWS WITH PRAVDA STATEMENT. Presidential candidate Aman Tuleev announced that he has withdrawn from the race in favor of Gennadii Zyuganov, according to a statement published in Pravda on 13 June. He called on voters not to believe the "lies" of President Yeltsin's campaign, claiming for example that the store shelves were not empty under the "Communists" but only under the "traitor" Gorbachev. Tuleev also argued that there was a much better selection of hard alcohol and wine under the Communists, charging that lines for vodka only appeared under Gorbachev. He also engaged in populist media- bashing, asking whether NTV's popular "Itogi" host Yevgenii Kiselev could have been responsible for the heroic deeds of the Soviet Union. -- Robert Orttung KRO BLASTS TsIK. The Congress of Russian Communities (KRO) held a rally in Moscow on 12 June, protesting against "depriving millions of former Soviet citizens of their right to vote," ITAR-TASS reported. KRO and the Russian Popular Party argued that, according to the Russian Constitutional Court, all people born in the Russian Federation before the break up of the USSR--including those who left Russia for one of the Soviet republics but never gave up Russian citizenship--are automatically entitled to Russian citizenship and therefore a right to vote (see OMRI Daily Digest, 21 May 1996). KRO leader Dmitrii Rogozin said the very fact that "the Central Electoral Commission ignores this issue casts doubt on the legality of the 16 June presidential election." -- Constantine Dmitriev MAYOR OF MOSCOW OBLAST TOWN MURDERED. Viktor Mosalov, the mayor of Zhukovskii, was shot dead outside his apartment on 13 June, Reuters reported, citing Interfax. Zhukovskii, a town about 20 km east of Moscow, has a population of about 100,000 and houses a major Russian space research center. It is not clear why Mosalov, who was elected mayor in March, was killed. The murder comes less than a week after Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov's running mate was badly hurt in an assassination attempt. -- Penny Morvant CHECHEN LEADERSHIP VOWS TO DISRUPT ELECTION. Acting Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev on 13 June vowed to employ "any means" in order to disrupt the scheduled 16 June election to a new Chechen People's Assembly, AFP reported. Speaking in Moscow on 12 June, Arkadii Volskii argued that the pro-Moscow Chechen government should postpone the election in accordance with President Yeltsin's decision and the agreement reached at the Nazran peace talks. But pro-Moscow head of state Doku Zavgaev claimed that Yeltsin had personally told him that the election should go ahead as scheduled; Yeltsin's press service has refused to comment, according to Russian Public TV (ORT). The commander of the Russian federal forces in Chechnya, Lt. Gen. Vyacheslav Tikhomirov, denied reports that the Russian troop pullout from Chechnya has already begun, and said that no date has been set for the withdrawal. -- Liz Fuller MEMORIAL TO STALIN'S VICTIMS UNVEILED IN FAR EAST. A monument to the victims of Stalin's slave labor camps was unveiled in Magadan on 12 June, Russian and Western agencies reported. The 15-meter high monument, the first of its kind, portrays a haunting face called the Mask of Sorrow and stands on the site of the area's first transit camp. From 1932 to 1956, millions of political prisoners were shipped to Magadan, the administrative center of the northeastern corrective labor camps. Yeltsin sent a number of representatives to the ceremony, including his campaign head Sergei Filatov and Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Zaveryukha. Reiterating a common campaign theme, they cautioned that voting for Zyuganov in the presidential election could bring back the terror. Reuters reported, however, that local officials who urged the crowd to vote for Yeltsin were heckled. Magadan is one of the most expensive cities in Russia. -- Penny Morvant RUSSIA TO SUPPLY IRAQ WITH FOOD, MEDICINE. Russian Deputy Foreign Trade Minister Vladimir Karastin announced on 12 June that Russia will supply Iraq with food and medicine under the terms of a recent UN resolution allowing Iraq to sell a limited amount of oil in exchange for humanitarian goods, AFP reported. Karastin, on a visit to Baghdad, added that Russia had also received permission from the UN Sanctions Committee to supply Iraq with spare parts for several thermal electric plants. Russia and France pushed the "oil-for-food" deal through the UN Security Council, hoping it would facilitate a full lifting of the UN economic embargo on Iraq, with which both countries had extensive trade with prior to 1990. Iraq's refusal on 11 June to allow UN inspectors access to a suspected weapons site, however, has torpedoed any hopes that the sanctions might be lifted soon. -- Scott Parrish WASHINGTON PROTESTS RESTRICTIONS ON JEWISH EMIGRATION AGENCY. State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns on 12 June protested against possible Russian government restrictions on the activity of the Jewish Emigration Agency, AFP reported. While Washington opposes the restrictions reported on 12 June by The Washington Post, Burns said it has no evidence that "there has been any effect on the ability of Jews to emigrate from Russia." Burns said U.S. Ambassador to Russia Thomas Pickering had met with Moscow's chief rabbi to discuss the issue but attributed the restrictions to "bureaucrats," and said the U.S. remains confident that the current Russian government is committed to freedom of movement, expression, and immigration. -- Scott Parrish AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL DEPLORES HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION. The international human rights agency Amnesty International sent an open letter on 12 June to Russia's presidential candidates deploring the continuation of human rights abuses in the country, Ekspress-khronika reported the following day. The letter argued that Russia's promises to become a true member of the Council of Europe were no more than an exercise in diplomacy and public relations, adding that abuses still abound both in civilian life and in the conflict in Chechnya. Repeating criticism made by other human rights groups, it noted the infringement of human rights in prisons and the army, the continued use of the death penalty, and abuses perpetrated by Russian troops in Chechnya. The letter called on Russia's future president to meet the obligations the country assumed when it joined the Council of Europe and take steps to improve human rights. -- Penny Morvant LARGEST U.S. INVESTORS INTEND TO STAY IN RUSSIA REGARDLESS OF ELECTION OUTCOME. The largest U.S. investors in Russia--including the oil companies Amoco, Conoco, and Mobil, and the consumer goods manufacturer Procter and Gamble--intend to stay in the country regardless of the outcome of the presidential election, AFP reported on 13 June. Officials from the companies say they can work with any government, adding that the next president should be judged by "actions and not words." They also noted that Communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov may not necessarily be opposed to foreign businesses. U.S. direct investment in Russia last year amounted to $812 million, or 41% of total foreign investment. Meanwhile, uncertainty over the outcome of the election caused a decline in share market volume in Prague, Warsaw, and Budapest, Reuters reported on 12 June. -- Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA GEORGIAN DEPUTY COMMENTS ON CFE QUOTAS. The chairman of parliament's Committee for Security and Defense, Revaz Adamia, denied reports that Georgia may hand over part of its weapons quota under the CFE treaty to Russia, ITAR-TASS reported on 10 June. He said that the legislature is unlikely to consider the issue in the near future, adding that the protocol on the quotas of weapons and military equipment is part of a bilateral treaty on Russian military bases in Georgia, which will be ratified only after Georgia restores its territorial integrity. -- Irakli Tsereteli GOVERNMENT FORCES BOMB TAVIL-DARA. Tajik government forces backed by Russian aircraft on 11 June attacked the rebel occupied town of Tavil- Dara in central Tajikistan, AFP and ITAR-TASS reported. Warplanes struck Tavil-Dara with such ferocity that United Tajik Opposition leader Said Abdullo Nuri described the town as "flattened" and opposition representative Ali Akbar Turajonzoda, speaking from Tehran, claimed Tavil-Dara "has been practically wiped off the face of the Earth." Government troops were also reported to be conducting operations in the Kulyab region of southwestern Tajikistan. Nuri sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali, saying that all out war could start within the next few days. No exact casualty figures were given, but reports say that hundreds of people have died. -- 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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