|When we can begin to take our failures non-seriously, it means we are ceasing to be afraid of them. It is of immense importance to learn to laugh at ourselves. - Katherine Mansfield|
No. 118, Part I, 18 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 YELTSIN MAKES LEBED TOP SECURITY AIDE. President Boris Yeltsin on 18 June met with Aleksandr Lebed for the second time in two days and appointed him Security Council secretary and national security aide, replacing Oleg Lobov and Yurii Baturin, respectively, ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin gave Lebed the posts in hopes of winning over his supporters, who made up nearly 15% of the vote on 16 June. Yeltsin described his alliance with Lebed, who has often been critical of the president, as "the union of two politicians and two programs." Yeltsin said that Lebed would help correct his course on military reform, security issues, and the battle against crime and corruption. When journalists asked Yeltsin if Lebed was the person the president had in mind when he said on 14 June that he knows who will be president in the year 2000, Yeltsin said, "it's early to speak about that," but added with a smile, "you are thinking correctly." -- Robert Orttung LEBED BACKS YELTSIN. After coming in third place in the first round of the presidential election, Lebed has come out in strong support of President Yeltsin, who narrowly defeated Communist challenger Gennadii Zyuganov. Lebed said that there are two ideas in the country, "the old, which has shed a lot of blood, and the new, which has, to date, been realized very poorly," ITAR-TASS reported on 18 June. Lebed said that he chose the new. "Eleven million people believed that I can impose order, and I take on myself this difficult responsibility." -- Robert Orttung GRACHEV REMOVED AS DEFENSE MINISTER. President Yeltsin on 18 June declared that he had relieved Defense Minister Pavel Grachev of his duties, Russian and Western agencies reported. Grachev, who had survived countless rumors of his imminent dismissal, finally fell victim to the pressures of electoral politics. Lebed and Grachev have been bitter enemies since Lebed's days as commander of the Russian 14th Army in Moldova, and the two men could not have easily worked together in Yeltsin's administration. While Reuters reported that Grachev had decided to resign rather than serve under Lebed, it is equally likely that Lebed had insisted on Grachev's removal in exchange for supporting Yeltsin. The chief of the General Staff, Army General Mikhail Kolesnikov, will serve as acting Defense Minister, pending the appointment of a permanent successor to Grachev. -- Scott Parrish ZYUGANOV APPEALS TO LEBED . . . Zyuganov on 18 June said that "it is still not too late" to conclude an agreement with Lebed, Russian media reported. He said that he had assumed since the beginning of May that Yeltsin would appoint Lebed to a high-profile position. Zyuganov added that Lebed's electorate "does not take orders" and that if it feels it has been deceived, it will vote for the popular-patriotic bloc. The day before, Zyuganov was the first candidate to call on Lebed's voters for support. "Lebed's electorate will either not go to vote or it will vote for us," he argued. -- Anne Nivat in Moscow and Robert Orttung . . . AND CHALLENGES YELTSIN TO A DEBATE. Zyuganov also once again invited President Yeltsin to a television debate "as soon as the Central Electoral Commission has finished the vote count." He criticized Yeltsin for broadcasting a pre-recorded address to voters on ORT on 17 June, thereby "openly violating the electoral law which doesn't allow any propaganda for any candidate until after the official results." "If Yeltsin would have spent less money on rock concerts and more on giving workers their wages, he would have received more support," Zyuganov commented. -- Anne Nivat in Moscow LEBED VOTERS UNPREDICTABLE. Even though Lebed has explicitly backed President Yeltsin over Zyuganov, there is no guarantee that his voters will follow the general's advice in the runoff. Russian analysts believe that Lebed's supporters come from diverse social and political backgrounds, and their actions in the runoff are unpredictable. Lebed apparently stole many votes from Zhirinovsky and it is not clear whether these voters would be willing to back Yeltsin, Zyuganov, or just stay at home. Lebed lacks a disciplined campaign organization, and there is not much ideological unity among his supporters, according to Andrei Neshchadin, director of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs Institute, Radio Rossii reported on 17 June. -- Robert Orttung YELTSIN NOW LOOKING FOR YAVLINSKII ALLIANCE. After his meeting with Lebed, President Yeltsin expressed the hope that he would find a "common language" with Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii but admitted that he did not know how Yavlinskii would conduct himself, ITAR-TASS reported. Yavlinskii has not yet announced his support for either of the two candidates in the runoff. Grachev's departure will make it easier for Yavlinskii to back Yeltsin, since this was one of Yavlinskii's demands in earlier negotiations with the president. Aleksei Zakharov, the deputy leader of the Yabloko Duma faction, said his bloc would back Yeltsin but called for corrections in the president's economic policy, an immediate end to the war in Chechnya, and changes in the government, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 June. Duma Committee on International Affairs Chairman Vladimir Lukin said that Yabloko voters would be more likely to turn out in Yeltsin's favor than those who supported Lebed in the first round, making an agreement with Yavlinskii as important as one with Lebed. Yabloko will hold a congress on 22 June to decide whom it will back in the second round. -- Robert Orttung YELTSIN PROPOSES MOVING RUNOFF DATE TO BOOST TURNOUT. President Yeltsin invited the Duma to make Wednesday, 3 July, a holiday to enable presidential runoffs to be held on that day, ITAR-TASS reported. Currently, the law specifies that the election must be held on a weekend day. Yeltsin campaign advisers Sergei Filatov and Viktor Ilyukhin have been pushing this idea in order to increase voter participation, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 17 June. Yeltsin's team believes that if the turnout had been higher than about 70% on 16 June, the president would have received a greater percentage of the vote. Many Russians spend their weekends at country homes, making it difficult to return to the city where they are registered to vote. Yeltsin's advisers also blamed the low turnout on the president's repeated statements that he would win the election in the first round, and on the optimistic opinion polls released on the eve of the voting. -- Robert Orttung YELTSIN RESHUFFLES SECURITY ADVISERS. After appointing Lebed, Yeltsin shifted his predecessors into other positions, leaving the division of responsibilities among them unclear, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 June. Yeltsin appointed Oleg Lobov, who had headed the Security Council since September 1993, to the post of First Deputy Prime Minister, joining Oleg Soskovets and Viktor Kadannikov, who also hold that cabinet rank. He will also stay on as the presidential representative in Chechnya, although it is unclear what other responsibilities Lobov will hold in his new post. Meanwhile, Yeltsin also said that former national security aide Yurii Baturin will remain as a presidential aide, but presidential spokesman Sergei Medvedev said the division of duties among Yeltsin's aides after Lebed's appointment remains undetermined. -- Scott Parrish CONFUSION OVER ELECTION RESULTS IN TATARSTAN. Although initial reports gave Zyuganov the lead in election results for Tatarstan, subsequent reports put Yeltsin ahead, NTV reported on 17 June. The TV station said that their correspondent had been told by the Tatar Electoral Commission that preliminary results gave Zyuganov 41% to Yeltsin's 33%. ITAR-TASS also put the Communist contender in front. Later results, however, gave Zyuganov only 37.1% to Yeltsin's 37.7%. Yeltsin, who is supported by Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev, had been expected to win in the republic. -- Penny Morvant BALTIC RUSSIANS PREFER ZYUGANOV; OTHER EX-PATS SUPPORT YELTSIN. Russian voters in Latvia and Estonia opted overwhelmingly for Zyuganov in the presidential election, Russian and Western agencies reported. Zyuganov also came out on top in Lithuania but with a smaller lead. More than 23,000 Russians voted in Estonia, with the Communist contender taking 62.7%, according to preliminary results. Some 9,300 Russian voted in Latvia, 64.5% of whom opted for Zyuganov. Voters, many of whom believe they are treated unjustly by the Latvian and Estonian governments, were presumably attracted by the Zyuganov's support for a reconstituted Soviet Union. Ironically, the Russian Foreign Ministry had pushed for more polling stations in both countries. Elsewhere, Yeltsin came out on top. Embassies in the West not surprisingly reported massive wins for Yeltsin, who also did well in most CIS countries. In Central Asia, where citizenship rules exclude all but a handful of the area's Russians from voting. -- Penny Morvant LUZHKOV: NO MAJOR CHANGES IN MOSCOW GOVERNMENT. Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, who won another four-year term with 89.65% of the vote in the 16 June election, said there will be no radical personnel changes in the city's government, NTV reported on 17 June. According to the law on the Moscow mayoral election, the old government must resign when the final results are announced officially, and a new one will be formed. Luzhkov promised that the new team will be apolitical and will concentrate on fighting crime and resolving Moscow's environmental problems as well as on the economy. Luzhkov added that his running mate, Valerii Shantsev, who was badly injured in an attack on 7 June, should be back at work within a couple of months. -- Penny Morvant TRUCE IN CHECHNYA. Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov on 17 June said that the Chechen opposition forces will refrain from further hostilities until after the second round of the Russian presidential election rather than risk jeopardizing the 10 June agreement on the withdrawal of Russian troops, AFP reported. According to preliminary election results released by the Chechen Central Electoral Commission on 17 June, 58% of eligible voters participated in the election for a new Chechen People's Assembly and 60% participated in the Russian presidential election, Ekho Moskvy reported. Of the latter, 39% voted for Yeltsin. OSCE described the voting as "manipulated" and "a parody of democracy," AFP reported. -- Liz Fuller INTERNATIONAL REACTION TO ELECTION RESULTS. Western leaders hailed the first round of presidential balloting as evidence that democracy is taking root in Russia but also expressed relief that President Yeltsin had finished in first place, Western and Russian agencies reported. U.S. President Bill Clinton termed the vote "a milestone" for Russian democracy but also congratulated Yeltsin on his "strong showing" in the first round. Indirectly endorsing Yeltsin, Clinton added that he hoped Russia "would continue to support reform." A French Foreign Ministry spokesman made similar comments, as did the EU foreign ministers, who were meeting in Rome. German Finance Minister Theo Waigel was more direct, saying a Zyuganov victory in the upcoming second round would be "catastrophic." Western leaders have invested considerable political and financial capital in Yeltsin's campaign, and a Zyuganov victory would represent a major foreign policy defeat. -- Scott Parrish FINANCIAL MARKETS' REACTION TO PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. President Yeltsin's performance in the first round of the presidential election resulted in a new flurry of activity on the Russian financial markets, ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported on 17 June. Financial experts believe that security prices--including those of government bonds (GKOs), which have been falling since April--and trading volume were driven up by foreign and Russian traders who are confident of Yeltsin's victory in the second round, and are trying to invest all available resources in still relatively cheap Russian stocks. Some securities rose on purchases by Russian banks anxious not to let Western traders get in first. Still, the largely speculative frenzy is likely to subside before the second round in early July. -- Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA CHINA SEEKS CENTRAL ASIAN SUPPORT TO CURB UIGHUR SEPARATISM. China believes that the Shanghai treaty signed in April to create a demilitarized zone along the 8,000 km border separating China from Russia and the Central Asian states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan will curb Muslim separatism in its Uighur-dominated northwestern province of Xinjiang, AFP reported on 17 June, citing an article in the government newspaper Xinjiang Daily. Uighur leaders exiled in Kazakhstan continue to allege increasing repression of Muslims in Xinjiang by the Chinese authorities since the signing of the Shanghai pact. A visit by Chinese President Jiang Zemin to Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan in early July is seen as an attempt to further strengthen cooperation between the Central Asian states and China in checking separatist activities in the border area. -- Bhavna Dave UN EXTENDS TERM OF OBSERVER MISSION IN TAJIKISTAN. The UN Security Council on 14 June voted to extend the term of its observer mission in Tajikistan until 15 December, RFE/RL and ITAR-TASS reported. Prior to agreeing on the extension, members of the council issued a strong warning to the warring parties in Tajikistan that visible progress must be shown toward settling the conflict in the country. UN Secretary- General Boutros Boutros Ghali noted earlier in the month that the situation in Tajikistan has grown worse since May. The UN's Mission of Observers in Tajikistan has 94 members, of which 44 are military observers. -- 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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