|He who knows nothing is nearer the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors. - Thomas Jefferson|
No. 145, Part I, 29 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 PAPER WARNS OF ATTEMPTS TO CO-OPT COMMUNISTS. The authorities hope to trick the leadership of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) into supporting the government of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, according to the latest edition of the nationalist weekly Zavtra, which has backed KPRF leader Gennadii Zyuganov and his coalition of communist and patriotic movements. The State Duma, which is dominated by left-wing deputies, will be under pressure to confirm Chernomyrdin in early August, since Yeltsin could dissolve the Duma if it refuses to confirm his nominee for prime minister three times. The authorities know that if KPRF deputies vote confidence in Chernomyrdin, they will be discredited in the eyes of their grass-roots followers, the paper asserted. Furthermore, the patriotic movements that supported Zyuganov for president may switch their allegiance to Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed, one of Chernomyrdin's main rivals in the Yeltsin camp. -- Laura Belin SHOKHIN DESCRIBES POSSIBLE GOVERNMENT APPOINTMENTS. Presidential advisor Viktor Ilyushin is likely to become first deputy prime minister for social issues, according to First Deputy Duma Speaker Aleksandr Shokhin, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 27 July. He also said that Presidential Economic Advisor Aleksandr Livshits was qualified to serve as first deputy prime minister for economic and financial issues. From Yabloko, Shokhin believes that Duma Member Tatyana Yarygina could lead a ministry dealing with social issues. Shokhin said that he would probably remain in the Duma rather than take a government post. -- Robert Orttung RODIONOV ON MILITARY REFORM, NATO. In his first major televised interview since his appointment as Defense Minister, Igor Rodionov told NTV's Itogi on 28 July that it will be "difficult, but possible" to transform the Russian military into an all-professional force by 2000, as President Yeltsin has ordered. He added, however, that the "necessary economic preconditions" would have to be created for such a professional military, which he suggested could remain at the current level of about 1.5 million troops, although he did not rule out further reductions. Currently only 50% of military personnel serve on a professional basis, while the rest are conscripts. Rodionov also reiterated his opposition to NATO enlargement, to which he said, "for some reason, colossal forces are being devoted." He dismissed as "just words" Western assurances that NATO enlargement does not threaten Russia, arguing that "we must draw conclusions from history." -- Scott Parrish TsIK CHANGES RUNOFF RESULTS YET AGAIN. The Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) of Mordoviya has corrected the presidential runoff results in one of the republican constituencies, Ekho Moskvy reported on 26 July. An investigation conducted by the commission revealed that 702 votes (less than 0.001% of those who voted in the second round) were incorrectly counted as "against both candidates" while they were in fact cast for Gennadii Zyuganov. A TsIK representative, Nikolai Fadeev, acknowledged that it was a "technical mistake" but ruled out any possibility of deliberate forgery. A Communist Party Duma expert Vadim Solovev, who initiated the investigation, claims that at least in five other voting districts the runoff results were incorrectly counted. Last week, TsIK updated figures received in Dagestan (see OMRI Daily Digest, 23 July 1996). -- Anna Paretskaya EDITORIAL SHAKE-UP AT PRAVDA. The pro-communist newspaper Pravda, which suspended publication on 24 July (see OMRI Daily Digest, 25 July 1996), may reappear soon, according to its weekly supplement Pravda-5 on 26 July. Pravda-5 also has a left-wing orientation, but its flashy format and subject matter appeal to a more youthful audience. Its circulation is about 270,000, while Pravda's has fallen to 200,000 in recent years. Pravda-5's top editor Vladimir Ryashin will reportedly replace Pravda's editor-in-chief Aleksandr Ilin, who was very close to Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov. Theodoros Giannikos, the Greek financial director of the joint stock company that publishes Pravda and Pravda-5, told Moskovskii komsomolets on 27 July that financial, not political concerns lay behind the decision to replace Ilin with a "more competent" editor. -- Laura Belin REACTION TO ILYUKHIN ALLEGATIONS OF CIA PLOT. Most Russian media ridiculed the allegations by Duma Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukin that the CIA is plotting to overthrow Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka (see OMRI Daily Digest, 26 July 1996). NTV commented on 28 July that Ilyukin's remarks showed that "all is not in order with the heads" of leading Russian leftists, while Izvestiya dismissed Ilyukin's allegations as "ravings." Deputy Duma Speaker Aleksandr Shokhin also rejected Ilyukin's charges, and addressed an official apology to the Belarusian Supreme Soviet, while Economics Minister Yevgenii Yasin said Ilyukhin should see a pschyotherapist, and accused him of deliberately fostering xenophobia. Nezavisimaya gazeta, however, published on 27 July a series of articles arguing that Ilyukin's allegations contain a grain of truth, contending that American policy in Belarus, Ukraine, and the rest of the CIS deliberately aims to undermine Russian influence there. -- Scott Parrish DUMA DELEGATION IN CUBA. A Duma delegation led by speaker Gennadii Seleznev visited Cuba on 25-28 July, ITAR-TASS reported. The delegation met Cuban leader Fidel Castro on 26 July, and while Castro said that "the Cuban people love Russians," he added that Cuban industry urgently needs Russian spare parts for its Soviet-era equipment. Seleznev said the issue should be resolved through intergovernmental talks. The Duma speaker expressed support for plans to complete the controversial Soviet-era nuclear plant at Juragua, but admitted that financing for the estimated $750 million project remains a problem. The delegation wraps up its Latin American tour, which began in Mexico, with a three-day visit to Venezuela. -- Scott Parrish ANTI-GOVERNMENT DEMONSTRATION IN GROZNY. Some 200 people staged an unsanctioned demonstration in Grozny on 26 July to demand the resignation of the pro-Moscow Chechen government and the withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya, AFP reported. Three of the organizers were detained, according to ITAR-TASS. Also on 26 July, the head of the OSCE mission in Chechnya, Tim Guldimann, met with pro-Moscow Chechen head of state Doku Zavgaev who has repeatedly criticized his mediation efforts, Reuters reported. Guldimann said he was in telephone contact with Chechen chief of staff Aslan Maskhadov and is confident that the planned meeting between Maskhadov and the head of the North Caucasus Military District, Lt.-Gen. Anatolii Kvashnin, will take place soon. Guldimann also denied Russian media reports that the OSCE had helped President Dzhokhar Dudaev to escape from Chechnya to Turkey via Azerbaijan. On 27 July Chechen and Russian representatives met to discuss arrangements for an exchange of prisoners, Reuters reported. -- Liz Fuller SOLDIERS BITTER ABOUT STAYING IN CHECHNYA. Young conscripts who believed president Boris Yeltsin had promised they would be sent home from Chechnya have found out they were wrong, Reuters reported on 28 July. On 31 May, the president issued a decree saying that all those who had served in the combat zone for six months would be sent home. Some 20 conscripts told the agency that they found out after the election that the decree would apply only to those who had served this time before it was issued. -- Doug Clarke MORE BOMBS DISCOVERED. A bomb was discovered on railway tracks near the city of Smolensk on 27 July, ITAR-TASS reported. It was defused without incident. The previous day another bomb was found in a room reserved for the military at a railway terminal in Astrakhan in the Volga region. The device was later destroyed by security forces. On 25 July a bomb exploded in a railway carriage in Volgograd. Last week a man claiming to be Chechen leader Salman Raduev threatened to conduct a bombing campaign against Russia's railways on the grounds that they constitute a military target. -- Penny Morvant UNEMPLOYED DIE OF MALNUTRITION IN ARKHANGELSK. A number of unemployed people and members of their families have died of malnutrition in Arkhangelsk Oblast, according to an official letter from the regional employment center to the Federal Employment Service, ITAR-TASS reported on 26 July citing Pravda severa. The letter said unemployment benefit payments are delayed for as long as seven months because of lack of funds. The region has a high unemployment rate: 8.5% compared with a national figure of 3.6% (in June). -- Penny Morvant ANGRY WIVES GROUND AIR FORCE REGIMENT. The wives of pilots in an air force regiment near Kursk have been forming human chains on the runway to protest the state's failure to pay their husbands' wages, Russian TV (RTR) reported on 26 July. The men are owed about 6 billion rubles ($1.2 million). One woman said a divisional commander had told them that criminal charges would be brought against them, AFP reported. Pilots' wives have also been picketing a landing strip in Murmansk. Their husbands have not been paid since May, according to RTR on 28 July. -- Penny Morvant STRIKES, HUNGER STRIKES GATHER MOMENTUM IN FAR EAST. About 300 workers are on hunger strike at a power station in Primore to protest wage arrears dating back to February, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 July. The protest, initially involving 50 workers, began on 26 July after representatives of a commission from the national energy company refused to meet with the workforce. Meanwhile, about 10,000 of Primore's miners are also on strike. The protest began with a hunger strike by five miners two weeks ago. The national coal company Rosugol transferred 7.5 billion rubles ($1.45 million) to Primorskugol on 26 July to help with the problem of wage arrears, but union leader Petr Kiryasov said the money was only a drop in the ocean. He said some miners are so desperate they have threatened to throw themselves down mine shafts and block the Trans-Siberian Railway. -- Penny Morvant TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA GEORGIA AND RUSSIA SIGN MILITARY TREATY. Georgia's defense ministry on 28 July revealed that Defense Minister Lt.-Gen. Vardiko Nadibaidze signed a military cooperation treaty with his Russian counterpart during his visit to Moscow the previous week, ITAR-TASS reported. The statement emphasized that Nadibaidze had been the first foreign military official to be received by newly appointed Russian Defense Minister Igor Rodionov. On 27 July, a Russian military spokesman had said the two would discuss the operation of Russian military bases in Georgia and the "flanks" restrictions of the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty. Georgia has agreed to "loan" Russia some of its entitlements. -- Doug Clarke AZERBAIJANI TRADERS BEATEN. Some 40 Azerbaijani traders were beaten by police during a 26 July raid on the Krasnogvardeiskii market in southern Moscow, RTR reported. One man was hospitalized. The ostensible purpose of the raid was to check the traders' residence papers, but witnesses reported that the police tore up the men's passports and registration documents. The Azerbaijani ambassador lodged a protest, and a Ministry of Interior investigation into the police action is under way. -- Peter Rutland UZBEK ECONOMIC FIGURES RELEASED. A government report summarizing Uzbekistan's economic development for the first half of 1996 highlights several positive trends, ITAR-TASS reported on 26 July. According to the report, the budget deficit is currently 2.1% of GNP, compared to 3.5% in the same period last year. The inflation rate dropped by over half from last year (now at 4-5% per month), real income rose by 16% comapred to the first half of 1995, and only 80 businesses are listed as in debt, compared to 630 last year. President Islam Karimov was reported as saying that the private sector now accounts for over 50% of industrial output and 95% of agricultural output, and that "the current year will become the year of economic growth for Uzbekistan." -- Roger Kangas TAJIK CEASEFIRE AGREEMENT NEAR TOTAL COLLAPSE. With fighting continuing in the Tavil-Dara region despite the Ashgabat ceasefire agreement signed on 20 July, the Tajik Defense Ministry says it will no longer hold back its forces in central Tajikistan, Russian Independent Television (NTV) reported on 27 July. Tajik Radio reported that two government soldiers were killed and five wounded in the Tavil-Dara region since the ceasefire came into effect. Hostilities continue to spread in the region with the town of Jirgatal being the latest area to report fighting. Opposition forces shelled the town for two hours on 25 July, according to ITAR-TASS. -- Bruce Pannier OSH OBLAST GOVERNOR SACKED. During President Askar Akayev's visit to the Osh Oblast of southern Kyrgyzstan on 27 July, the Osh "Kenesh" (regional council) voted to sack Governor Janysh Rustenbekov, Vechernii Bishkek reported on 29 July. Rustenbekov was critical of the results tallied from his oblast during the December 1995 presidential elections. Akayev reportedly won more than 50% of the vote from the Osh Oblast, where he is rumored to be unpopular. -- Bruce Pannier [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Steve Kettle ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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