|If you wish to make an apple pie truly from scratch, you must first invent the universe. - Carl Sagan|
No. 124, Part I, 26 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 AX FALLS ON 7 GENERALS... President Boris Yeltsin on 25 June fired seven top generals, international and Russian media reported. All had close ties to fired Defense Minister Pavel Grachev. They included three deputy chiefs of the General Staff: Col.-Gen. Viktor Barynkin, Col.-Gen. Anatolii Bogdanov, and Col.-Gen. Vyacheslav Zherebtsov. Also removed were Lt.-Gen. Sergei Zdorikov, the head of the ministry's Main Directorate for Educational Work; Lt.-Gen. Dmitrii Kharchenko, who headed the International Military Cooperation Directorate; the head of the ministry's administrative staff, Col.-Gen. Valerii Lapshov; and a deputy commander of the Ground Forces, Lt.-Gen. Vladimir Shulikov. Four of them had been named by Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed as participants in an attempted coup--a charge Lebed later retracted. Lapshov, Kharchenko, and Zdorikov were military academy classmates of Grachev, and Kharchenko's daughter was married to Grachev's son. The same day, ITAR-TASS reported that Yeltsin appointed Lebed to head the commission which vets candidates for the highest military posts. -- Doug Clarke ... AND AT THE SECURITY COUNCIL. President Yeltsin on 25 June dismissed two deputy secretaries of the Security Council, Vladimir Rubanov and Aleksandr Troshin, ITAR-TASS reported. Two new deputies--Vladimir Denisov and Sergei Kharlamov--were appointed. Former Federal Security Service head Mikhail Barsukov also lost his seat on the council. Yeltsin decreed on 25 June that the Security Council secretary will have one first deputy and three deputies and that the council's staff should be cut to 183. Yeltsin also instructed Lebed to draft a new statute governing the work of the council, its structure, and staff. According to presidential press secretary Sergei Medvedev, Yeltsin wants to broaden the functions of the council. -- Penny Morvant YELTSIN CREATES POLITICAL CONSULTATIVE COUNCIL. President Boris Yeltsin has transformed his presidential Social Chamber, created in 1994, into a Political Consultative Council (PKS) to incorporate the opinions of a wider body of political parties and movements into the process of defining political and economic policy, ITAR-TASS reported on 25 June. Yeltsin invited the political parties represented in the Duma, as well as those parties that did not gain seats in the December elections, to join the body. Gennadii Zyuganov made a similar proposal on 24 June and published a long list of the members he would include in his council in the 25 June edition of Sovetskaya Rossiya. Yeltsin's proposal is merely cosmetic since he expects to win the 3 July presidential vote without establishing a broad coalition with the communists. -- Robert Orttung FURTHER REACTION TO ZYUGANOV PROPOSAL. Presidential spokesman Sergei Medvedev criticized Zyuganov's call for a coalition government, saying it was a pity that he concluded the need for "civil peace and accord" only after losing the first round of the elections, ITAR-TASS reported 25 June. Medvedev also rejected the idea of creating the Council on National Accord, saying that the Constitution did not make a provision for it and that it was not necessary. Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii and Federation Council Speaker Yegor Stroev also rejected Zyuganov's overtures, as did a host of other regional leaders, such as Novosibirsk Governor Vitalii Mukha. NTV declared that Zyuganov's announcement of the plan was well-timed since it did not have to compete with other events and brought him a lot of attention, but that his initiative is faltering since he has nothing new to add to it. -- Robert Orttung ZYUGANOV REJECTS CLAIM THAT THE COMMUNISTS ARE OUT OF MONEY. Zyuganov rejected the assertion of key campaign aide Aleksei Podberezkin that the communists were out of money for the election campaign, NTV reported on 25 June. He said that his staff had just sent 1,000 workers to the provinces and that he was concentrating on forming a coalition government in Moscow. Podberezkin, the head of the Spiritual Heritage think tank which is supporting Zyuganov, had blamed Zyuganov's low visibility on his lack of funds and a bias in the media, Reuters reported. Zyuganov said he was confident of victory in the second round and called the reports of the numerous rebuffs to his coalition government proposal incorrect. Zyuganov also played volleyball on 25 June to demonstrate his vigorous health, NTV reported. -- Robert Orttung YELTSIN CAMPAIGN EXPECTS TURNOUT AT 64%. Deputy Chairman of the All- Russian Movement for the Social Support of the President (ODOPP) Vyacheslav Nikonov said that the president expects turnout at 64% and that Yeltsin will win 50.8%, while Zyuganov will take 46.8%. If turnout is below 60%, Nikonov warned, Zyuganov could win, NTV reported on 25 June. Nikonov claimed that, in the first round on 16 June, Zyuganov was leading before 6 p.m. and that Yeltsin's supporters only voted in the evening, demonstrating their "lack of discipline and even irresponsibility," ITAR-TASS reported. -- Robert Orttung YELTSIN ORDERS PULLOUT FROM CHECHNYA. President Boris Yeltsin signed a decree on 25 June calling for the "gradual withdrawal of forces and material" from Chechnya, Xinhua reported. The withdrawal is to be completed by 1 September. Previously, military sources had indicated that troops not permanently assigned to the North Caucasus military district would be pulled out. These include forces from the Leningrad, Moscow, Volga, and Urals MDs. The same day, NTV quoted the deputy commander of the North Caucasus MD as saying that the 205th Motorized Rifle Brigade would remain in Chechnya, with its 204th Regiment to be stationed in the foothills near the village of Shali. Novosti quoted Lt. Gen. Vyacheslav Tikhomirov, the commander of the federal forces in Chechnya, as saying the pullout would begin on 28 June with troops from the 245th regiment. -- Doug Clarke PRIMAKOV OUTLINES FOREIGN POLICY GOALS. In a speech to the Moscow State Institute of International Affairs last week, Foreign Minister Yevgennii Primakov laid out the main principles behind Russian foreign policy, Trud reported on 25 June. He challenged some widespread ideas about the character of the international system, denying that there had been "winners" and "losers" in the Cold War, or that the U.S. was the sole superpower in a "unipolar" world. Primakov also argued that the opening of Russia's economy did not condemn it to the position of a "raw materials appendage." He said it was a "very important priority" to build relations with China as a strategic partner. He warned against excessive focus on relations with the U.S., and argued that Russia should not seek to join "the club of civilized nations" at any price. His two leading concerns at present are NATO expansion and Western objections to CIS integration, which he described as the "main task" of his ministry. -- Peter Rutland ARMS TRADE BREEDS CONSPIRACY ACCUSATIONS. A Nezavisimaya gazeta report on 25 June claimed that the U.S. has adopted a deliberate policy of trying to block sales of Russian weapons in Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America. For example, the paper alleged that U.S. officials are trying to prevent the sale of Russian helicopters to Colombia, Peru and Ecuador, even arguing that the "fabrication" of evidence of corruption among Russian officials may be part of the strategy. -- Peter Rutland RUSSIAN-BELARUSIAN JOINT ASSEMBLY MEETS. The Russian-Belarusian Parliamentary Assembly met for the first time on 25 June in Smolensk, Russian and Belarusian agencies reported. The assembly is meant to provide a basis for the merger of the two countries' economies, and some other government functions under the terms of the 2 April Agreement on the Formation of a Community. Belarusian parliamentary speaker Syamyon Sharetsky was elected Chairman of the Assembly, and Russian State Duma speaker Gennadii Seleznev was voted first deputy chairman. Six commissions were set up: legal affairs, economics, social issues, foreign policy, crime, and ecology. The first three are chaired by Russians, and the remaining three by Belarusians. The assembly is to meet at least four times a year. The next session will take place in the fall. -- Ustina Markus MURMANSK OBLAST ASKS NORWAY FOR AID. Murmansk Oblast has asked Norway for a loan to help pay wages, a Norwegian Foreign Ministry spokesman said on 25 June. Spokesman Ingvard Havnen said the oblast had asked for $12 million to help cover expenses such as the wages of teachers and doctors, AFP reported. Havnen said Norway would normally turn down requests to cover running expenses but added that the application would be considered. In 1995 Norway gave Murmansk more than $11 million in aid to help clean up pollution and improve the region's infrastructure. Meanwhile, Izvestiya reported on 26 June that opposition parties in the Norwegian parliament have spoken out against a joint Russian-Norwegian project to ensure the safety of nuclear waste dumps on the Kola Peninsula. Norway has said it will allocate about $24 million to the program. Its opponents claim it will help Russia increase its nuclear potential. -- Penny Morvant FRATERNIZATION RULES TIGHTEN AT U.S. EMBASSY? Sources in the U.S. embassy in Moscow leaked a copy of a State Department memorandum, issued on 4 June, that specifies the rules governing romantic relations between U.S. embassy employees and local personnel, Western media reported on 25 June. According to the reports, it was only last year that the rules were relaxed for U.S. personnel: in future, they must officially report all "continuing" intimate relations with Russian citizens. The memorandum reportedly stated that Russia still represents a "formidable" intelligence threat to the U.S. A State Department spokeswoman denied that there had been a change of policy, and said the document merely reaffirmed previous practice. -- Peter Rutland JUSTICE OFFICIAL MURDERED; JUDGES UNHAPPY WITH MINISTER. Galina Borodina, acting head of the Moscow Oblast Justice Administration, was shot dead in the stairwell of her apartment block in Podolsk, south of Moscow, on 25 June, ITAR-TASS reported. It was the second murder of a justice official within a month. In late May Deputy Justice Minister Anatolii Stepanov was found dead in his apartment near Moscow. Meanwhile, Moskovskie novosti (issue 25) reported that the All-Russian Council of Judges has adopted a resolution expressing lack of confidence in Justice Minister Valentin Kovalev. The council said that courts have received less than one-fifth of the sums required to cover administrative costs and other expenses, and that some courts have had to stop hearing cases. The judges want responsibility for financing and administering courts to be transferred from the Justice Ministry to the Supreme Court's Judicial Department. -- Penny Morvant BUDGET UPDATE. Finance Minister Vladimir Panskov provided the latest budget information in Ekonomika i zhizn no. 25. By 1 June budget receipts from all sources totaled 103 trillion rubles ($20.3 billion), or 11.6% of GDP. Only 53% of receipts were taxes and other payments. The remaining income came from the sale of treasury bonds (29%), foreign currency (15%), and precious metals (6%). The share of the federal budget in the consolidated budget fell abruptly from 48% in March to 35% in April, showing that regional authorities were better able to generate tax revenue than was Moscow. Tax arrears by the end of April stood at 21 trillion rubles for regional budgets and 38 trillion for the federal budget. -- Peter Rutland TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA UZBEK PRESIDENT MEETS BRIEFLY WITH CLINTON. After meeting with the presidents of the three Baltic States, U.S. President Bill Clinton had talks with visiting Uzbek President Islam Karimov in Washington on 25 June, Reuters and AFP reported. White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry said later the two discussed "key political, economic, and security issues of mutual interest, including progress in political and economic reform." Before the presidents met, McCurry told a press conference that human rights would be a topic but downplayed the issue. Uzbekistan attempted to improve its poor image on human rights by announcing at the start of June that it would release some 80 political prisoners. However, the Washington Post noted in a 25 June article that only a handful had been freed and Radio Liberty could confirm the release of only five. -- Bruce Pannier KAZAKHSTANIS URGED TO GATHER THEIR OWN FUEL. Kazakhstan's chief energy inspector, Yeset Zhumabekov, has urged its citizens to collect their own winter fuel--including dung--given the inability of the country's power sector to meet consumer demands, a BBC monitoring of a 20 June article in Karavan-Blitz reported. Kazakhstan's power sector is bankrupt and has no prospects of collecting the $1 billion debt owed by its consumers. Kazakhstan's debt to CIS countries for electricity exceeds $400 million. -- Bhavna Dave TAJIK GOVERNMENT FORCES TAKE LOSSES. A 24 June report from ITAR-TASS quoted the Tajik opposition press service as saying its forces had "resolutely rebuffed the Dushanbe elite troops" in fighting near Tavil- Dara and Sagirdasht in central Tajikistan. The opposition claimed to have killed at least 21 government soldiers. Meanwhile, as many as 70 opposition fighters attacked a police station in Komsomolabad, a town on a strategic road linking the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, to the eastern regions of the country, according to Reuters. During the 12-hour attack, the opposition killed five militiamen before retreating into the hills. -- Bruce Pannier GEORGIA TO RETURN WAR TROPHIES TO GERMANY. The Georgian government is preparing to return to Germany some 120,000 books from the 1600-1900s that were confiscated from libraries in Bremen and Magdeburg by Soviet troops in 1945, Die Welt reported on 26 June, quoting the Georgian Ambassador to Germany, Konstantine Gabashvili. He said that Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze had wanted to give several of the most valuable volumes to his German counterpart Roman Herzog during the latter's visit to Tbilisi earlier this month, but had been pressured not to do so by Moscow. -- Liz Fuller [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Steve Kettle ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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