|The only certainty is that nothing is certain. - Pliny the Elder|
No. 141, Part I, 23 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 ************************************************************************ Do you need sharply focused economic news? OMRI's weekly Economic Digest provides thorough coverage of business and financial developments throughout the region. The latest edition includes these stories: Ukraine deals Russian banks another blow; Czech social democrats call for changes in economic policy; and Moldova faces an energy crisis. For subscription and rate information, please send a message to email@example.com *********************************************************************** RUSSIA RODIONOV PLEDGES TO FIGHT CORRUPTION IN MILITARY. Newly-appointed Defense Minister Igor Rodionov met with the top leadership of the armed forces in Moscow on 22 July, Russian media reported. Rodionov told the assembled generals and admirals that reform of the Russian military is an "urgent necessity," which will be "carried out immediately," according to ITAR-TASS. In a thinly-veiled criticism of his predecessor Pavel Grachev, Rodionov argued that "any instances of corruption" among the leadership of the armed forces will "be decisively combated." He also said that his cadres policy would advance "independent" officers of "irreproachable reputation." -- Scott Parrish TsIK UPDATES ELECTION RETURNS. The Central Electoral Commission updated the 16 June election results because 14 regions and republics made "technical mistakes" in calculating the results, ITAR-TASS reported on19 July. Dagestan was the only republic to make mistakes in the 3 July vote counting. As a result of the change in the runoff vote, Yeltsin's total dropped about 4,500 votes and Zyuganov's 11,000. The Central Electoral Commission punished the chairman of the Dagestan electoral commission only by reducing the size of his bonus, Izvestiya reported on 23 July. -- Robert Orttung CHERNOMYRDIN, LEBED MEET. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed met for more than an hour on 22 July in what is expected to become a regular occurrence, Kommersant- Daily reported. The paper described the meeting as one between "two powerful political forces" involved in a Byzantine struggle for influence within Yeltsin's inner circle. The meeting focused on crime, corruption, Chechnya, and the problem of financing military reform. The topics suggest that Lebed will not be able to expand his power to cover economic questions as he had initially sought to do. The paper described the relationship between the two leaders of the competing factions as on a "normal and even fairly constructive track." -- Robert Orttung YELTSIN VETOES LAW ON FASCISM. President Boris Yeltsin vetoed a proposed law banning fascism, describing it as vague, and called on the Duma to develop a legal mechanism to fight any form of extremism, ITAR-TASS reported on 22 July. Yeltsin noted that the Constitution and the laws on the mass media, social organizations, and the criminal code already regulate this issue. Similar charges were leveled against Yeltsin's own 23 March 1995 anti-fascism decree, Ekho Moskvy pointed out. The radio suggested that Yeltsin's proposal could play a role in developing an anti-communist majority in the Duma. -- Robert Orttung NEW KRASNODAR GOVERNOR TO FACE COMMUNIST CANDIDATE. Nikolai Yegorov, who was appointed Krasnodar Krai Governor after his 15 July dismissal as presidential administration head, will face Communist Party candidate Nikolai Kondratenko in the October gubernatorial election, Russian TV (RTR) reported on 22 July. Kondratenko, the Soviet-era Krasnodar executive committee chairman and a presidential election campaign aide to Gennadii Zyuganov, has been one of the most popular politicians in the region. Yegorov, whose dismissal was reportedly related to his failure to build strong support for Yeltsin in Russia's southern regions, announced his wish to stand for election two days after his new appointment. -- Anna Paretskaya CHECHENS ABJURE TERRORIST ACTS IN RUSSIA. Akhmed Zakaev, a former Chechen field commander who is now national security aide to acting President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev, told ITAR-TASS on 22 July that the Chechen forces would not launch any more terrorist attacks on Russian territory. The spokesman for the Russian state commission on resolving the Chechen conflict, Sergei Slipchenko, argued that discrepancies between Chechen spokesman Movladi Udugov's claim that the various field commanders are subordinate to Yandarbiev and the statement by Salman Raduev that he rejects the Nazran peace agreement and will continue combat operations demonstrate serious rifts within the Chechen leadership. Pro-Moscow Chechen head of state Doku Zavgaev plans to abolish the position, currently occupied by Nikolai Fedosov, of Russian government envoy to Chechnya. Bad weather on 22 July halted Russian attacks on the village of Shatoi. -- Liz Fuller RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPERS WILL NOT ARREST KARADZIC. Col.-Gen. Yevgenii Podkolzin, commander of the Russian Airborne Forces, announced on 22 July that Russian contingent in IFOR will not participate in any operation to arrest former Bosnian Serb President and internationally- wanted war criminal Radovan Karadzic, Russian and Western agencies reported. Podkolzin said the Russian peacekeepers had not received any orders to participate in Karadzic's arrest from IFOR's command. However, Podlozkin added that if the Russian peacekeepers did receive such an order he would countermand it. Moscow has repeatedly accused the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, which indicted Karadzic, of anti-Serb bias, and argues that the Bosnian Serb leader's arrest would hinder the establishment of a stable peace in Bosnia. -- Scott Parrish DEPUTY: RUSSIA NEEDS FOREIGN ASSISTANCE TO DESTROY CHEMICAL WEAPONS. Nikolai Bezborodov, deputy chairman of the Duma Defense Committee, said that Russia will need significant financial assistance to destroy its stock of some 40,000 tons of chemical weapons, ITAR-TASS reported on 22 July. He was commenting on the latest session of the Preparatory Commission for the Establishment of an Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in the Hague, which is reviewing progress toward implementing the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention. Bezborodov said Russia would need 17 trillion rubles ($3.3 billion) to liquidate its chemical weapons stockpile, adding: "I think we will not manage without serious foreign aid." Russia has still not ratified the convention, and Bezborodov said it would not do so until after the "material, legislative, and other preconditions for its implementation are in place." -- Scott Parrish PRIMAKOV MEETS JAPANESE, INDIAN COUNTERPARTS. On the eve of the scheduled 23 July ASEAN Regional Security Forum, Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov held separate meetings in Jakarta with Japanese Foreign Minister Yukihiko Ikeda and Indian Minister of External Affairs Inder Kumal Gujral, Russian agencies reported on 22 July. Primakov said that he and Ikeda had a "substantive" discussion of bilateral issues, agreeing that the Russian diplomat will visit Japan this November. Primakov said that while the issue of the disputed southern Kuril islands was not directly addressed, the two ministers agreed to push forward with ongoing talks on fishing rights in the waters around them. Primakov and Gujral discussed the situation in Afghanistan and Central Asia. Primakov admitted that India and Russia continue to disagree over the terms of a Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. -- Scott Parrish VODKA RESTRICTIONS INTRODUCED IN MOSCOW. The Moscow city government has banned the sale of vodka and other strong spirits near schools, churches, hospitals, metro and railway stations, and airports, ITAR-TASS and AFP reported. Under the new regulation, shops will no longer be allowed to trade vodka if they are located within 150 meters of schools, churches, child care institutions, and hospitals; for kiosks, the distance is 500 meters from these sites. Sale of drinks containing more than 12% alcohol will be also prohibited within 200 meters of entrances to metro and railway stations and airports. Russia is said to have the highest hard alcohol consumption in the world, with 14 liters consumed per head of the population in 1992, according to AFP. -- Anna Paretskaya JOURNALISTS' RIGHTS VIOLATED, 14 KILLED, IN CIS. Fourteen journalists were killed in the CIS countries in 1996, Russian media reported, quoting the head of the Glasnost Defense Foundation Monitoring Group, Oleg Panfilov. Tajikistan and Chechnya remain the most dangerous regions: 41 and 18 reporters, respectively, have been killed there since the beginning of military conflicts. Belarus, Russia, Tajikistan, Crimea, and the Transdniester region of Moldova, are the worst countries regarding violations of journalists' rights, according to Panfilov. He also pointed out violations of media rights in Tatarstan, where a June presidential decree forbids publishing information and statements insulting the republican president and other state employees. -- Anna Paretskaya HIV INFECTIONS INCREASE. Twice as many instances of HIV infections were reported in Russia during the first six months of 1996 as in the same period of 1995, according to Vadim Pokrovskii, the director of the Russian Center for the Battle with AIDS, ITAR-TASS reported on 22 June. There have been 1,269 registered cases of HIV infection in the country overall since 1987, Ekspress Khronika reported. The cities with the greatest number of infections are Nizhnii Novgorod, Krasnodar, Saratov, Tyumen, and Kaliningrad. Drug users are the main means for spreading the disease. Without a public education campaign, experts fear that there will be as many as 100,000 cases by the year 2000. -- Robert Orttung PROTESTS AT ST. PETERSBURG NUCLEAR PLANT. Workers at the Leningradskaya nuclear power plant in St. Petersburg resumed protest action on 22 July, Izvestiya reported. Their demands include the payment of 25 billion rubles ($5 million) in wage arrears. The trade union committee said that the protests will not affect the plant's security, since the action takes place after working hours in the station's conference hall. One of the protesters' demands has already been met: ITAR-TASS reported on 22 July that the plant's director, Anatolii Yerepin, had resigned. -- Natalia Gurushina IMF DELAYS PAYMENTS TO RUSSIA. The IMF will delay payment of the next $330 million monthly installment of its $10.1 billion loan to Russia, the New York Times reported on 23 July, according to Reuters. The reason is the worrying slump in tax receipts, which in June were only 58% of the planned level, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 22 July. This problem has been known for months, but the IMF delayed action until after the presidential elections. The precise conditions of the IMF loan have not been made public, and there seems to be disagreement between the IMF and the Russian government over how to classify certain types of spending and receipts. Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported on 19 July that in April and May to finance pre-election spending the Central Bank sold $4.4 billion from its hard currency reserves, which now stand at $4.3 billion -- $300 million less than the minimum specified by the IMF. -- Peter Rutland GOVERNMENT TO BUY CONTROLLING INTEREST IN AGROPROMBANK. President Boris Yeltsin has signed a decree returning Agroprombank to state ownership, Kommersant-Daily reported on 23 July. The bank will now be termed the National Credit and Financial System for Agricultural Producers. Ninety percent of the bank's funds came from state-allotted credits for the farm sector, most of which were never repaid. The bank was on the brink of bankruptcy, and a shareholders' meeting in April 1996 called for the state to acquire a 51% stake. Agroprombank's effective renationalization represents a step back towards the administrative system in agriculture and is likely to put additional pressure on the budget. -- Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA COMPROMISE REACHED ON RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPERS IN ABKHAZIA. At the ongoing quadripartite talks in Moscow on a political settlement of the Abkhaz conflict, agreement was reached on 22 July on broadening the mandate (which expired on 19 July) of the Russian peacekeeping forces now deployed there, ITAR-TASS reported. Russian troops stationed in Gali raion, to which tens of thousands of ethnic Georgian refugees aspire to return, will be granted police powers to enable them to protect Georgian repatriants against possible reprisals by Abkhaz militants. In his traditional Monday radio interview Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze proposed that future relations between the Georgian government in Tbilisi and the Abkhaz leadership in Sukhumi should be modeled on the draft agreement on relations between Moscow and Chechnya, Western agencies reported. ITAR-TASS reported on 22 July that three people have been killed in the past few days in a series of bomb explosions in Abkhazia's Ochamchire raion. -- Liz Fuller FIFTH ROUND OF INTER-TAJIK TALKS ENDS. The fifth round of negotiations in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan between the Tajik government and the United Tajik Opposition (UTO) has adjourned, ITAR-TASS and ORT reported on 22 July. The two sides agreed on an exchange of prisoners at the border city of Khorog sometime before 20 August. Opposition leader Ali Akbar Turajonzoda, however, said the UTO plans to hand over all remaining prisoners from the government forces shortly after the official exchange in Khorog. The agreement on a cessation of hostilities in the Tavil-Dara area receives its first test on 23 July. Under the accord, a team of UN observers is to be permitted access to the Tavil-Dara in order to fix the positions of each side at the time the ceasefire was signed. No outsiders have had access to the region for months and the opposition is already charging that government forces launched an offensive to capture the area's regional center after the agreement was in effect. -- Bruce Pannier ELECTRICITY NO LONGER FREE IN TURKMENISTAN. Turkmen residents are now required to pay for electricity used above a certain limit, according to a 12 July article in Turkmenistan, monitored by the BBC on 23 July. Since independence in 1991, President Saparmurat Niyazov has declared electricity to be free to domestic consumers. They will now be charged for using electricity above the free limit at the rate used in industry. -- Bhavna Dave [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Steve Kettle ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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