|Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece. - Vladimir Nabokov|
No. 140, Part I, 22 July 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 STEPASHIN ASSERTS THAT DUDAEV IS DEFINITELY DEAD. Following a session on 19 July of the Russian government commission on resolving the Chechen conflict, commission secretary Sergei Stepashin told journalists he can assert with 100% confidence that Chechen President Dzhokar Dudaev is dead, Reuters reported. Stepashin also said he does not doubt that the Chechen field commander who claimed in a televised press conference in Gudermes on 18 July that Dudaev is alive is Salman Raduev. ITAR-TASS quoted a senior German government spokesman as stating that Germany has no record of Raduev's presence in Germany, where he claimed to have undergone plastic surgery. -- Liz Fuller CHECHEN COMMANDER ACCEPTS OFFER OF TALKS. Chechen chief of staff Aslan Maskhadov on 20 July accepted an offer made the previous day by the commander of the North Caucasus Military District, Lt.-Gen. Anatolii Kvashnin, to meet and discuss implementation of the 10 June Nazran peace agreement. Russian Nationalities Minister Vyacheslav Mikhailov similarly stated that the Russian government is ready to resume talks on implementation of the demilitarization agreements. On 20-21 July Russian air, artillery and infantry forces launched an attack on Chechen detachments in the southeastern village of Shatoi. Both sides claimed to have inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy; a Russian military spokesman rejected Chechen claims to have shot down a Russian helicopter and warplane and destroyed several armored vehicles, AFP reported. -- Liz Fuller RUSSIA DENOUNCES EUROPARLIAMENT RESOLUTION ON CHECHNYA. The Russian Foreign Ministry on 19 July rejected as "unacceptable" a resolution on the Chechen conflict passed by the European Parliament the previous day, Russian and Western media reported. The Europarliament's resolution condemned Russia for violating the recent ceasefire accord in Chechnya, and called for the withdrawal of Russian troops from the region. A Russian Foreign Ministry statement charged that the resolution "misinterpreted" recent developments in Chechnya, and blamed the current upsurge of fighting on "aggressive terrorist actions" by Chechen fighters. Meanwhile, Amnesty International blasted the Clinton Administration for failing to criticize human rights violations in Chechnya, charging that the administration views the conflict there as merely "a footnote" to the development of democracy in Russia. -- Scott Parrish YELTSIN UNDER DOCTORS' CARE. President Boris Yeltsin is under doctors' care, according to his spokesman Sergei Medvedev, Russian TV reported on 21 July. Medvedev said the president is undergoing "necessary restorative procedures." The spokesman said that the president is spending time watching television, especially news programs from state broadcasters. -- Robert Orttung CASE OPENED AGAINST CAMPAIGN AIDES. The procurator general has opened a criminal case against Sergei Lisovskii and Arkadii Yevstafev, the two Yeltsin campaign aides detained while allegedly taking more than $500,000 out of the White House, Ekho Moskvy reported 19 July. The procurator's Moscow office will conduct the investigation. Lisovskii has denied that they were carrying the money, although Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin has stated that they were authorized to have the cash. (See OMRI Daily Digest, 21 June 1996.) -- Robert Orttung YELTSIN NAMES KAZAKOV AS CHUBAIS' FIRST DEPUTY. President Boris Yeltsin named Aleksandr Kazakov as his first deputy chief of staff under Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais, NTV reported 19 July. Kazakov was the head of the State Property Committee (GKI) and a deputy prime minister just before his new appointment. He served as Chubais' assistant at the GKI when Chubais headed it. Additionally, he is chairman of the Gazprom board of directors, a member of Our Home is Russia, and known to have close relations to Prime Minister Chernomyrdin. Kazakov headed the presidential administration's office for coordinating regional policy from 1994 to 1996, experience that will be valuable as the president seeks to influence the outcome of regional elections set for later this year. Kazakov's replacement at the GKI has not been announced. -- Robert Orttung ROKHLIN FLESHES OUT CORRUPTION CHARGES . . . Speaking to the Duma on 19 July, Defense Committee Chairman Lev Rokhlin brought further charges of corruption against senior military officers. Rokhlin caused a stir on 5 July by accusing former Defense Minister Pavel Grachev of allowing massive embezzlement in the armed forces (see OMRI Daily Digest, 8 and 9 July 1996). Rokhlin has now accused Col.-Gen. Vasilii Vorobev, former head of the Defense Ministry's Main Administration for Military Financing and the Budget, of making money out of a currency speculation scam using Defense Ministry funds and of shady dealings with the Gorno Altai commercial bank, Dom i otechestvo (no. 19) reported. Rokhlin also detailed further alleged cover-ups by chief Accounting Chamber auditor Yurii Rodionov, contending that Rodionov had failed to report on large amounts precious metals collected from military scrap. -- Penny Morvant . . . MILITARY PROCURATOR CONFIRMS SOME IRREGULARITIES. In a report to the Duma on 19 July, Military Procurator Valentin Panichev said that checks carried out by his office corroborated Rokhlin's allegations of financial irregularities in the construction of housing for servicemen, ITAR-TASS reported. He said new violations had been uncovered in dealings between the construction firm Lyukon and the Defense Ministry. Panichev also said criminal proceedings had been launched in connection with servicemen repairing generals' apartments for free but he had found no violations in the construction of generals' dachas. A number of newspapers have published reports on luxurious dacha complexes built for high-ranking generals near Moscow using soldiers' labor. Panichev said that the generals had borrowed money from commercial banks to construct the dachas and that it is not illegal to employ servicemen for construction work, Russian Public TV reported. -- Penny Morvant CHERNOMYRDIN HINTS AT COMPOSITION OF NEW GOVERNMENT. Chernomyrdin said that there will be three first deputy prime ministers in the new cabinet supervising financial-economic, social, and industrial issues, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 20 July. A fourth first deputy prime minister may cover the defense industry. Three deputy prime ministers will oversee the agrarian sector, the media, and the power ministries (which are directly subordinate to the president), Kommersant Daily reported on 20 July. Chernomyrdin ruled out the return of former First Deputy Prime Minster Oleg Soskovets, who was purged with several other hardliners following the first round of the presidential election. He also cast doubt on the inclusion of Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii, calling him a "strong economist" but one whose "character and personal ambitions hinder him," ITAR-TASS reported. -- Robert Orttung ANPILOV EXPELLED FROM HARDLINE COMMUNIST LEADERSHIP. Viktor Anpilov, the leader of the Working Russia movement, has been dismissed from his position as first secretary of the Moscow branch of the radical Russian Communist Workers Party (RKRP), because the party's work was deemed inefficient, Radio Rossii reported on 21 July. The closed plenum of the RKRP leadership also decided to join the new opposition movement formed on the basis of Gennadii Zyuganov's electoral bloc only if it proclaims its definite pro-socialist orientation. Zyuganov's opposition movement will not be weakened by the radicals' absence, Valentin Kuptsov, one of the leaders of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF), announced. -- Anna Paretskaya PRIMAKOV IN INDONESIA. Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov arrived in Jakarta on 20 July to attend several meetings under the auspices of ASEAN, Russian and Western media reported. The same day, Primakov met his Indonesian counterpart Ali Alatas, and the two diplomats emphasized the importance of ASEAN's recent decision to grant Russia "dialogue partner" status at its upcoming postministerial conference. Primakov described building ties with ASEAN as a "priority" which would help "diversify" Russian foreign policy. On 22 July, Primakov met with Indonesian President Suharto, and declared that Russia supports ASEAN's push to establish a nuclear-free zone in Southeast Asia. His remarks indirectly criticized the United States, whose worries about transit rights through Indonesian territorial waters for nuclear- armed American naval vessels have kept Washington from joining the Southeast Asian Nuclear Weapons Free Zone, signed last December by ASEAN leaders. -- Scott Parrish DUMA RAISES MINIMUM WAGE, PENSION. The Duma voted on 19 July to increase the monthly minimum wage from 75,900 rubles ($14.70) to 95,320 as of 1 August, ITAR-TASS reported. It also voted to increase pensions by 37% as of 1 August, bringing the minimum up to 95,320 as well. Both bills will now go to the Federation Council. Pension Fund head Vasilii Barchuk spoke against the proposed pension hike, noting that it would require additional expenditure of 15 trillion rubles by the end of the year and lead to massive delays in pension payments, Radio Rossii reported. -- Penny Morvant POWERFUL BOMB FOUND IN VORONEZH. A bomb containing about 1.5 kilograms of TNT was discovered by police at the railway station in Voronezh on 19 July, international media reported. The bomb failed to explode because of a faulty detonator. Russian police have been high alert for bomb attacks since an explosion in the Moscow metro in June and two bombs went off on Moscow trolley buses earlier this month. -- Penny Morvant DUMA PASSES BILL LIFTING IMPORT TARIFFS. The Duma unanimously approved on third reading a bill lifting tariffs on imports of equipment paid for by international loans or with government guaranteed credits, Kommersant-Daily reported on 20 July. Such imports had been tariff-free until 15 March 1995. Since then many firms, especially in the energy sector, complained that they lacked the money to pay tariffs, which meant machinery was sitting unused in customs warehouses. The new measure, if signed into law, will cost the budget about 6 trillion rubles ($1.2 billion), although First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Kadannikov claimed that increased output at the firms receiving the machinery will lead to higher profit tax revenues. -- Peter Rutland MORE PROBLEMATIC BANKS. Kommersant-Daily reported on 20 July that one more commercial bank -- Kontinent-bank -- has stopped operations. Meanwhile, Chairman of the Central Bank Sergei Dubinin rescinded on 20 July the license of Tveruniversalbank (See OMRI Daily Digest, 9,11 July 1996). However, he asserted that the situation at Inkombank is stable, RTR reported on 21 July, contradicting widespread press speculation about Inkombank's imminent demise. Dubinin blamed the rumors on the unapproved publication of the TsB's preliminary inspection report, parts of which were later withdrawn. -- Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA GOVERNMENT PURGE IN AZERBAIJAN. President Heidar Aliev on 19 July accepted the resignation "on health grounds" of Prime Minister Fuad Kuliev, Western agencies reported. At a session of the Cabinet of Ministers to assess the country's economic performance for the first six months of this year, Aliev then dismissed several more senior ministers and officials, including Deputy Premier and Economics Minister Samed Sadykhov and managers in the oil, gas and transport sectors. All were accused of incompetence or corruption. Both Aliev and Parliament Chairman Rasul Guliev had previously criticized Kuliev's government for failing to expedite economic reform. No replacement for Kuliev has yet been appointed. -- Liz Fuller FIRST CENTRAL ASIAN AUTO PLANT OPENS IN UZBEKISTAN. The Daewoo plant in Asaka, Andijon region, officially opened on 19 July with a ceremony attended by President Islam Karimov, ITAR-TASS reported. The automotive plant, the first of its kind in Central Asia, will produce minivans and two models of cars and will be at full capacity in 2002. Karimov said that the goal is to have 70% of the parts manufactured in Uzbekistan, RFE/RL reported on 19 July. -- Roger Kangas TAJIK CEASEFIRE AGREEMENT QUICKLY BROKEN. An agreement by representatives of the Tajik government and United Tajik Opposition on ceasing hostilities in central Tajikistan was broken within 48 hours of its signing, ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported. Though the agreement on a ceasefire in the Tavil-Dara region of Tajikistan was signed on 19 July, reports from 21 July indicated that fighting had resumed between government troops and the opposition. Both sides accuse the other of initiating the latest battles. -- Bruce Pannier TYPHOID EPIDEMIC WORSENS IN TAJIKISTAN. An epidemic of typhoid which broke out in late May has worsened, AFP reported on 22 July. Heavy rains and flooding devastated sewage and drainage systems, spreading the infection that has now been reported in areas as close as 18 kilometers to the capital Dushanbe. The World Health Organization representative in Tajikistan, Rakhmatullo Rakhmonov, said 3,500 cases of typhoid have been registered, mainly in rural areas, and 45 people have died so far. He added that the "epidemic is generally under control." -- Bruce Pannier THREE BOMBS EXPLODE IN KYRGYZ CAPITAL. Bombs exploded on 19 July at three buildings belonging to Kyrgyzstan law enforcement organizations, Russian television and Reuters reported. No casualties were reported. The bombs were detonated almost simultaneously at the Alamedin district prosecutor's office, a Bishkek police headquarters, and a prison administration building. The Interior Ministry blames the incidents on smuggling groups, which vowed to avenge police confiscations of contraband alcohol, leather, and non-ferrous materials earlier this year. However, there were also bomb explosions in April 1996 and police later arrested a former disgruntled member of its own ranks. -- Bruce Pannier [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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