|If you are not allowed to laugh in heaven, I don't want to go there. - Martin Luther|
No. 142, Part I, 24 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 *********************************************************************** Available soon -- The OMRI Annual Survey of Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union -- "1995: Building Democracy." Published by M.E. Sharpe Inc., this 336-page yearbook provides a systematic and comprehensive review of the most pivotal events in the 27 countries of the former Communist bloc and former Soviet Union during 1995. Available to OMRI subscribers at a special price of $25 each (plus postage and handling). To order, please email your request to: firstname.lastname@example.org *********************************************************************** RUSSIA YELTSIN: NO MAJOR CHANGES IN THE GOVERNMENT. After meeting with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on 23 July, President Boris Yeltsin announced that the changes in the personnel and structure of the government will be "substantive" but not "major," ITAR-TASS reported. He said the government will be trimmed but the number of power ministries will remain the same. Government staff are now paralyzed with fear that their jobs will be eliminated, forcing Chernomyrdin to set up ad hoc groups to carry out his orders, Segodnya reported on 23 July. Additionally, the Duma has gone into summer recess just as the discussion of the government's composition is entering its final phase, demonstrating its lack of influence over questions of real power in Russia, Nezavisimaya gazeta pointed out on 23 July. -- Robert Orttung CHUBAIS TAKES OVER INAUGURATION PREPARATIONS. Yeltsin named Presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais as chairman of the commission charged with preparing the inauguration ceremony set for 9 August, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 July. The ceremony will include 3,000 guests, among them most of Russia's major political and cultural leaders, representatives of Moscow's foreign diplomatic corps, and the leaders of the CIS countries, Izvestiya reported on 24 July. -- Robert Orttung SOCIAL DEMOCRATS CALL FOR LEFT-CENTER COALITION. Several social democratic parties called for negotiations to set up a left-center coalition, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 July. Yeltsin's attempts to set up a similar bloc under then Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin failed last year. The initiators include Rybkin's Socialist Party of Russia, Vasilii Lipitskii's Social Democratic Union, Gavriil Popov's Russian Movement for Democratic Reform, Aleksandr Yakovlev's Russian Party of Social Democracy, and Sergei Belozertsev's Social-Democratic Party of Russia. All these groups backed President Yeltsin's re-election except for Lipitskii's, which supported Mikhail Gorbachev. Social democratic parties have had little electoral success on their own in recent elections. -- Laura Belin and Robert Orttung COMMUNISTS SAID TO HAVE SAVED MONEY FOR REGIONAL ELECTIONS. Gennadii Zyuganov spent far less than the legal limit of 14.4 billion rubles ($2.9 million) on his presidential campaign, the anti-communist newspaper Komsomolskaya pravda reported on 23 July. It said that, by economizing on campaign trips and advertising in the regions, the Communist Party saved at least 6 billion rubles ($1.2 million) "for a rainy day," which they will spend on campaigns for the regional and local elections scheduled for later this year. If several dozen "red governors" are elected this fall, the paper warned, the Federation Council (parliament's upper house) could swing from a pro-Yeltsin to a pro-Zyuganov orientation. The paper suggested that, to stave off this threat, the president will soon begin replacing unpopular governors in regions where Zyuganov outpolled Yeltsin in the presidential election. -- Laura Belin NDR TO CONTEST COMMUNISTS IN REGIONAL ELECTIONS. The pro-government Our Home Is Russia (NDR) bloc will challenge the Communist Party candidates in this fall's elections to regional legislative and executive bodies and local authorities, NDR executive committee head Vladimir Babichev announced. He said that the movement should not allow Communists to take over the Federation Council, Russian media reported on 23 July. Babichev suggested that NDR will cooperate with all pro-reform organizations on fielding joint candidates for the elections. From September to December this year, 50 governors, 32 regional legislatures and 23 mayors of big cities should be elected. -- Anna Paretskaya NEW KRASNODAR GOVERNOR RESHUFFLES ADMINISTRATION. Nikolai Yegorov, who was appointed Krasnodar Krai Governor last week, will restructure the krai's administration which was created by his predecessor, Radio Rossii reported on 23 July. Yegorov will create a regional government to deal with economic problems and will personally control regional law enforcement agencies. In addtion he intends to cut the staff by 20%. Yegorov plans to stand for reelection in the gubernatorial election in October (see OMRI Daily Digest, 23 July 1996). -- Anna Paretskaya KHASBULATOV TO MEDIATE IN CHECHNYA? In an official statement on 23 July, acting Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev reaffirmed his readiness to continue peace talks with the Russian leadership despite the latter's failure to implement the agreements of 27 May and 10 June, but confirmed his commitment to the cause of Chechen independence, Reuters reported. Yandarbiev also named ex-Russian parliament speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov, himself an ethnic Chechen, as one of a group of advisors who would hold new peace talks with Moscow. Khasbulatov said that these should begin with a new meeting between Chechen representatives and President Boris Yeltsin, whom he termed the sole Russian official capable of assuming responsibility for ending the conflict, according to ITAR-TASS. Also on 23 July, Russian warplanes resumed their bombardment of the villages of Shatoi and Itum-kale, and warplanes and artillery began a new offensive against Nozhai-Yurt, Vedeno, Gudermes, and Achkhoi-Martan, ITAR-TASS and AFP reported. -- Liz Fuller MILITARY DENIES USING CHEMICAL WEAPONS IN CHECHNYA. The commander of Defense Ministry troops in Chechnya, Maj.-Gen. Vladimir Shamanov, on 23 July denied that his forces had used chemical weapons against the Chechen separatists, ITAR-TASS reported. He was responding to a charge made earlier that day by a separatist spokesman, Khozh-Akhed Yarikhanov. Shamanov said his forces had never had any chemical weapons at their disposal. In Moscow, Maj.-Gen. Vladimir Orlov, chief of the Chemical, Bacteriological and Radiological Defense Troops, termed Yarikhanov's charge "ill-intentioned disinformation." Yarikhanov had reported that several militants killed by federal troops in the districts of Itum-kale and Shatoi had signs similar to those left by toxic agents. He admitted that no laboratory analyses had been made. -- Doug Clarke PRIMAKOV, CHRISTOPHER ENDORSE COMPROMISE ON NUCLEAR TEST BAN. Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov and his American counterpart Warren Christopher announced in Jakarta on 23 July that their countries will sign a compromise Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) at the next session of the multilateral Geneva talks on the issue, international media reported. According to Primakov, the compromise draft, proposed by Dutch diplomat Jaap Ramaker last month, "does not fully satisfy both sides." But both decided to accept it in order to persuade other countries--such as India and China--to do likewise and speed the establishment of an international ban on nuclear tests. The Russians were unhappy with some of the monitoring provisions. The U.S. wanted the treaty to come into effect if 40 country signed it: the current draft insists that all five current nuclear powers and three "threshold" powers must sign before it comes into effect. The two diplomats also discussed a number of other issues, but reportedly made little progress resolving differences between Moscow and Washington on such issues as NATO enlargement and the candidacy of UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali for a second term. -- Scott Parrish RUSSIA ON BOSNIAN ELECTIONS. Vladimir Andreev, a spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, declared on 23 July that the removal of former Bosnian Serb President and internationally wanted war criminal Radovan Karadzic from his government and party posts had "removed all obstacles to the normal organization of elections" in Bosnia, ITAR-TASS reported. Andreev said that holding the elections, currently scheduled for mid- September, should now be viewed as the "main strategic objective" in Bosnia, to which the international community should "direct all its efforts." He cautioned against "ill-considered actions," like the arrest of Karadzic or Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic on war crimes charges, which he claimed might torpedo the elections. Moscow has consistently argued that arresting Karadzic or Mladic would undermine the Bosnian peace process. -- Scott Parrish DUMA DELEGATION IN NICARAGUA. A delegation led by Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev arrived in Nicaragua on 23 July on the first leg of a Latin American tour which also includes Cuba and Venezuela, Russian and Western agencies reported. The delegation met with Nicaraguan President Violeta Barrios de Chamorro to discuss bilateral ties. Seleznev later said that the discussion had revealed "many similar moments" in Nicaraguan and Russian politics, especially in the area of legislative- executive relations. The Russian parliamentarian also took the opportunity to denounce the recent tightening of the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, saying that the controversial Helms-Burton act, should be revoked. Latin American countries have also condemned the American legislation. -- Scott Parrish GLOBAL RADIO BROADCASTING CONTINUES. The Russian state radio company Golos Rossii still broadcasts worldwide in 32 different languages for a total of 539 hours per week, Argumenty i fakty reported in issue no. 28. This is down from 66 languages and 1638 hours per week in 1991. The broadcasts currently use 19 European languages plus a broad range of African and Asian tongues, including Arabic, Korean, and Nepalese. Interestingly, there are no broadcasts in the languages of CIS member countries, although they can all receive Russian-language domestic radio broadcasts. -- Peter Rutland RUSSIAN PRESS CHARGES OLYMPICS RIDDLED BY U.S. CHAUVINISM. Russian newspapers on 23 July charged that the Atlanta Olympics have been poorly organized and marred by jingoism and favoritism for U.S. competitors. "Politics always played a leading role at the Olympics, but judging by the way they have started, politics have eclipsed all else at these Games," Izvestiya quoted Vladimir Lukin, a former Russian ambassador to the U.S., as saying. Moskovskii komsomolets , meanwhile, claimed that "the Americans, without any restraint, give the impression (as always) that non-native sportsmen do not exist," according to Reuters. ITAR-TASS complained about the NBC television coverage of the Games, saying U.S. athletes received a disproportionate amount of air time. The Russians are not the only ones to have complained about organizational problems in Atlanta: the BBC has quoted British athletes bemoaning poor transport and accommodation arrangements. -- Penny Morvant MORE MINERS STRIKE IN PRIMORE. Miners at another pit in Primorskii Krai went on strike on 24 July, bringing the total number of strikers up to about 3,500, ITAR-TASS reported. Mines in Partizansk have been idle for about a week because of a dispute over wage arrears. According to union official Petr Kiryasov, mines in Primore are owed 450 billion rubles by consumers. The massive, interlocking problem of nonpayments in the region last week resulted in severe power cuts as the local electric company Dalenergo could not afford to purchase supplies of diesel oil. -- Penny Morvant FINANCIAL SITUATION IN ENERGY SECTOR. Fuel and Energy Minister Yurii Shafranik said that in the first half of 1996 the sector contributed 26 trillion rubles ($53 billion) to the budget, ITAR-TASS and Kommersant- Daily reported on 23-24 July. Customers' debts to fuel and energy companies rose by 60% over the same period, reaching 179 trillion rubles (54% of the total customers' debt in industry). Shafranik noted that high taxes have pushed domestic prices on fuel and energy products up to 75-95% of the world price level. -- Natalia Gurushina NEW CUSTOM DUTIES FOR SHUTTLE-TRADERS. The government will lower the level of duty-free imports for individual travelers, known as shuttle- traders (chelnoki), from $2,000 to $1,000 per person starting from 1 August, ITAR-TASS and Kommersant-Daily reported on 23-24 July. Duties will be set at 30% of the goods' value, but not less than 4 ECU per one kilogram. If the goods' total value exceeds $10,000 or their total weight is over 200 kilograms, shuttle traders will have to pay the same duties as legal entities. There are some 10-30 million people involved in the shuttle trade and their turnover is estimated at around $10 billion a year. According to the First Deputy Economic Minister Yakov Urinson, the new measures should increase tax receipts and help fight corruption among customs officers. -- Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA CRACKDOWN ON GEORGIAN INDEPENDENT TV STATION. The management of the private Georgian TV station Rustavi-2, which has an estimated audience of 300,000 people, continues to protest the station's closure by the Georgian authorities on 17 July, allegedly because the station's charter did not allow it to broadcast on a TV frequency. The station's management has produced documentation proving that it received the appropriate license from the Ministry of Communications, and claims the crackdown was initiated by unspecified forces seeking to sabotage the process of democratization in Georgia, Radio Rossii reported on 23 July. -- Liz Fuller NEW UN OFFICE OPENS IN UZBEKISTAN. The United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) officially opened an office in Tashkent on 22 July, Uzbek TV reported as monitored by the BBC. The UN permanent representative to Uzbekistan, Khalid Malik, and Uzbek Deputy Prime Minister Saidmukhtar Saidkasymov attended the ceremony. The center is to study the problems of "health services, education and social welfare" in Uzbekistan. The office joins a growing list of UN institutions working in Uzbekistan, including UNHCR and UNESCO. -- Roger Kangas [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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