|A man seldom thinks with more earnestness of anything than he does of his dinner. - Samuel Johnson|
No. 122, Part I, 24 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 DUMA REFUSES TO LENGTHEN VOTING HOURS. The Duma on 21 June rejected a Yeltsin-sponsored proposal to extend voting hours on 3 July from the usual 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. to midnight. The vote was 202 against and only 117 in favor, RTR reported. Yeltsin believes he will win more votes with a higher turnout and sought to attract people to the polls before or after they head out of the city to their country houses. -- Robert Orttung YABLOKO INDIRECTLY BACKS YELTSIN. The fourth congress of Grigorii Yavlinskii's Yabloko party agreed that under no circumstances could it support Gennadii Zyuganov or ask its supporters to vote against both candidates on 3 July, NTV and RTR reported on 23 June. However, rather than formally endorsing Yeltsin, Yabloko leaders asked the president to answer five questions: Is he ready to accept legislation to limit his own power? How does he plan to develop democracy in the regions? What steps will he take to end the war in Chechnya? Who will be in the government after 3 July, and what policies will it carry out? Who will head Russia's "power structures," and will they be placed under civilian control? The questions are reminiscent of conditions Yavlinskii offered Yeltsin in May in exchange for his potential support--terms Yeltsin ignored (see OMRI Daily Digest, 7 May 1996). -- Laura Belin in Moscow CHERNOMYRDIN SAYS MORE PERSONNEL CHANGES IN THE OFFING. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said that the personnel changes in the government will continue, NTV reported on 22 June. However, he did not see a new position for former Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais, who has gained renewed prominence following his press conference after the sacking of several Kremlin hard-liners last week. Chernomyrdin said that new Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed's powers will be limited to those specified in the law on the Security Council, noting that people could request new powers from the president, but not demand them. He said that there was no coup attempt in the detention of two key Yeltsin campaign aides, a charge made by Lebed, but that Yeltsin had to take quick action if he wanted to retain the presidency. Chernomyrdin described the scandal as "not the first case of people doing things to undermine me," AFP reported. -- Robert Orttung PREFERENCES OF LEBED, YAVLINSKII, ZHIRINOVSKY VOTERS. Attracting supporters of candidates who did not advance to the second round will be the key to winning the 3 July presidential election. The latest VCIOM poll indicates that 39% of those who voted for Aleksandr Lebed plan to vote for Boris Yeltsin on 3 July, while just 14% lean toward Gennadii Zyuganov, 6% said they would vote against both, and 39% had trouble answering the question, NTV reported on 23 June. 51% of Yavlinskii voters said they will back Yeltsin, 6% plan to vote for Zyuganov, 7% will vote against both candidates, and 32% had trouble answering the question. Only 14% of Zhirinovsky supporters said they will back Yeltsin, 25% lean toward Zyuganov, 21% plan to vote against both, and 32% had trouble answering the question. Between 2% and 4% of those surveyed said they do not plan to vote at all on 3 July. -- Laura Belin in Moscow ZYUGANOV WORKS ON FORMING CABINET, CAMPAIGN STRATEGY. Gennadii Zyuganov intends to name his shadow "government of national trust" this week, and he has indicated that he would still welcome Aleksandr Lebed, NTV reported on 23 June. Zyuganov also told NTV that Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia includes many "capable and competent" people, such as Labor and Social Policy Committee Chairman Sergei Kalashnikov. NTV speculated that the more extreme members of Zyuganov's coalition, such as Viktor Anpilov, Albert Makashov, and Valentin Varennikov, will be excluded from the shadow cabinet. Meanwhile, during the final 10 days of the campaign, KPRF activists in the regions will depict last week's scandal over the arrest of two leading Yeltsin campaign organizers (see OMRI Daily Digest, 20 June 1996) as proof that the president's team has misused state funds. -- Laura Belin in Moscow YELTSIN CAMPAIGNS IN KALININGRAD. President Boris Yeltsin wooed nationalist and military voters in a campaign trip to the Kaliningrad Oblast on 23 June, Russian and Western agencies reported. Addressing sailors and naval officers in Baltiisk, the headquarters of the Baltic Fleet, Yeltsin promised Russians "freedom and order" in a phrase borrowed from the campaign rhetoric of his new security overlord Aleksandr Lebed, who is popular with military voters. Yeltsin won a plurality of the vote in the Kaliningrad exclave in the first round, but Lebed finished a strong third with almost 20%. Yeltsin also promised increased social support for the navy and pledged to protect the interests of ethnic Russians in the Baltic states. -- Penny Morvant YELTSIN AGAIN CRITICIZES NATO EXPANSION. Speaking at the Brest fortress in Belarus, site of one of the first battles during the 1941 Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, President Yeltsin warned against NATO expansion, Russian and Western agencies reported on 22 June. Striking a familiar stance, Yeltsin said the expansion of the alliance would lead to a "new confrontation" on the continent. Meanwhile, at an international meeting in Switzerland on the same day, former Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev urged Yeltsin to compromise with NATO over the alliance's plans to expand into Eastern Europe. Kozyrev, now a Duma deputy from Murmansk, called on Yeltsin to denounce "the sinister Communist lie" that NATO is an enemy of Russia. Segodnya on 21 June published an article also urging a compromise with NATO, saying both sides should quickly take steps to defuse tension over the issue. -- Scott Parrish LEBED WITHDRAWS COUP ALLEGATIONS... Addressing the Duma on 21 June, Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed retracted his claims of three days earlier (see OMRI Daily Digest,19 June 1996) and said that there had been no coup attempt by military officers close to former Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, Russian and Western agencies reported. Lebed blamed journalists for misinterpreting his remarks, claiming that his ironic comments about a "third State Committee for the State of Emergency," had mistakenly been taken seriously. Lebed said that Grachev's press Secretary, Yelena Agapova, had planned to pressure President Yeltsin by having local military commanders send him telegrams urging that Grachev be retained as Defense Minister. But Lebed said he had blocked the plan by cautioning generals against sending such protests. Lebed assured the Duma that "all was in order" in the Russian military following Grachev's dismissal. -- Scott Parrish ...AND SUGGESTS DEFENSE MINISTER NOMINEE. At a press conference on 22 June, Lebed declared that he would like to see Col.-Gen. Yurii Rodionov, currently head of the General Staff Academy, appointed as Defense Minister, Russian and Western media reported. Lebed described Rodionov as "an outstanding elite general" This declaration may emerge as a test of Lebed's influence, as his position will be undermined if Yeltsin now nominates someone else. Earlier, Lebed met with members of his presidential campaign staff, telling them he had allied with Yeltsin in order to prevent the country from slipping backward. He added that President Yeltsin had granted him wide powers as head of the Security Council, and said that the council would have its own network of regional representatives, in addition to its Moscow staff. He denied he would visit Chechnya soon, saying more preparatory work had to be completed before a visit would prove useful. -- Scott Parrish TENSION RISES IN CHECHNYA. Sporadic fighting continued in Chechnya on 21-23 June, while talks between separatist forces and the federal military command on implementing the 10 June military agreement made no progress, Russian and Western media reported. After a meeting on 22 June between Chechen and Russian military negotiators, Vyacheslav Tikhomirov, commader of federal forces, termed the talks "fictitious," and accused the separatists of dragging them out in order to regroup and resume fighting later. On 23 June, tension rose around the southeastern Chechen town of Vedeno, where separatist forces say that federal troops are preparing an attack. Meanwhile, in the Khasav-Yurt region of neighboring Dagestan, two policemen were kidnapped and two killed on 21 June by gunmen who local officials claim were Chechen fighters. According to ITAR-TASS, the outraged local populace staged several demonstions against such Chechen "provocations" on 22-23 June. -- Scott Parrish JAPANESE BRIDLE AT PRIMAKOV'S REMARKS ON KURIL ISLANDS. A Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman said on 21 June that the Japanese government felt the territorial issue between Russia and Japan over four disputed islands in the southern Kuril chain "should be resolved by the current generation and not by future ones," ITAR-TASS reported. Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov suggested earlier that the dispute should be solved by "future generations." In March President Boris Yeltsin reaffirmed Russia's commitment to a 1993 pledge to bring about a speedy resolution of the issue. The islands were seized by Soviet troops in the final weeks of World War II. -- Doug Clarke TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA NADIBAIDZE ON "COUP," RUSSO-GEORGIAN MILITARY TIES. Georgian Defense Minister Vardiko Nadibaidze denied allegations that he was involved in organizing a coup attempt in support of former Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, according to a 21 June BGI report monitored by the BBC. In rejecting the allegations made by Aleksandr Lebed, Chairman of Russia's Security Council, Nadibaidze said the purpose of his visit to Moscow was to confirm the schedule for upgrading Georgia's arsenal with Russian assistance. He noted that Georgia is to receive 100 tanks, 100 personnel carriers, and six military launches, although he was unable to sign the agreement on these deliveries due to Grachev's dismissal. However, it was agreed that Russia will provide 10.5 billion rubles ($2.1 million) worth of equipment for Georgia's air defense system, Radio Rossii reported on 21 June. -- Lowell Bezanis ALIEV ORDERS RELEASE OF TURKISH JOURNALIST, ACCUSES EMIGRE ORGANIZATION. Azerbaijan's President Haidar Aliev ordered the release of Turkish journalist Isa Yasar Tezel, Turkish and Western agencies reported on 21 June. Tezel was detained in mid-April in the company of Panah Huseinov, a former Prime Minister during the rule of pro-Turkish President Abulfaz Elchibey, and charged with resisting arrest, misappropriating state property and concealing a crime. His release was secured when a delegation from Turkey's Igdir province --where many Turkish Azeri dwell-- met with Aliev and presented him with a petition bearing some 5,000 signatures. Aliev used the opportunity to blast the Ankara-based Azerbaycan Kultur Dernegi (Azerbaijan Cultural Association) for involvement in activities hostile to Azerbaijan, Cumhuriyet reported on 23 June. -- Lowell Bezanis KAZAKHSTAN'S TRADE UNIONS OBJECT TO PENSION LAW. Kazakhstan's trade unions have urged President Nursultan Nazarbayev not to endorse the law on raising the pension age by three years, ITAR-TASS reported on 21 June. The law proposed raising the pension age by 3 years--to 63 for men and 58 for women. The rejection of the draft pension law by Kazakhstan's Majilis (lower house) on 23 May heralded a constitutional crisis, averted by Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin's mediation which resulted in the parliament endorsing the pension bill on 11 June (See OMRI Daily Digest, 12 June, 1996). A new confrontation between the cabinet and the Majilis is likely if President Nazarbayev endorses the trade unions' demands. -- Bhavna Dave UZBEKISTAN SIGNS AGREEMENT WITH EUROPEAN UNION. Uzbek President Islam Karimov signed a partnership and cooperation accord on 21 June, at a ceremony attended by EU leaders in Florence, Italy, Reuters and ITAR- TASS reported. The accord allows for cooperation in "in most areas" but does not include security and military issues. Uzbekistan hopes this latest deal will pave the way for the Central Asian nation to join the World Trade Organization. Uzbekistan is the fifth country from the CIS to be recognized as a trade partner with the European Union. -- Bruce Pannier UZBEKISTAN'S ARMED FORCES. An interview with Colonel Shamil Gareyev, chief of Uzbekistan's Defense Ministry's Operations Department, published in the 20-26 June edition of Obshchaya Gazeta provides rare insight into Uzbekistan's armed forces. In addition to the 70,000-strong Uzbek army, another 180,000 troops are on "alternative service" whereby they continue to hold their regular jobs for two years but pay 20% of their salaries to the Defense Ministry. The "alternative servicemen" are also employed two months per year in harvesting cotton. Garayev made it clear that Uzbekistan did not want to rely on Russian troops. He also said Russia "supports [Tajik President] Rahmonov" while Uzbekistan wants all conflicting forces in Tajikistan to be reconciled. -- Lowell Bezanis [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Steve Kettle ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 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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