|Science and art belong to the whole world, and before them vanish the barriers of nationality. - Goethe|
No. 147, Part I, 31 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 RUSSIANS DENY INVOLVEMENT IN ATTACK ON MASKHADOV. Chechen spokesman Movladi Udugov on 30 July accused Russian intelligence of instigating the failed assassination attempt on chief of staff Aslan Maskhadov on 29 July, but Sergei Slipchenko, spokesman of the Russian government commission on resolving the Chechen conflict, ruled out Russian involvement and said the attack had been staged by supporters of rival Chechen field commander Salman Raduev, ITAR- TASS reported. Maskhadov canceled a planned 31 July meeting with the commander of the North Caucasus Military District, Lt.-Gen. Anatolii Kvashnin, pending investigation of the assassination attempt. At its session on 30 July the Russian State Commission for resolving the Chechen conflict issued an official statement calling on acting Chechen president Zelimkhan Yandarbiev to clarify his stance on Raduev and the latter's repeated threats to perpetrate further terrorist acts in Russia, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Liz Fuller ROKHLIN ACCUSED OF CORRUPTION. A 30 July article in Izvestiya contended that Duma Defense Committee Chairman Lev Rokhlin, who has accused a number of high-ranking Defense Ministry generals of corruption, has himself been involved in dubious financial transactions, centered in Volgograd oblast. Izvestiya detailed the activities of a volunteer society of Reserve Soldiers and Officers that Rokhlin allegedly headed and four commercial companies associated with it, suggesting that Rokhlin and his family benefited financially from their dealings. It also accuses Rokhlin of disregarding Defense Ministry orders. Rokhlin has denied any wrongdoing and puts the allegations down to the fact that he is not on good terms with the Volgograd mayor and the heads of the region's law enforcement bodies. -- Penny Morvant CHUBAIS GETS OFFICE NEXT TO YELTSIN'S. Presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais' new office is near President Boris Yeltsin's on the third floor of the former Senate in the Kremlin, NTV reported on 30 July. Yeltsin's powerful First Aide Viktor Ilyushin previously occupied this office. Chubais' location will give him crucial access to the president and, perhaps, an edge over Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed, his competitors for power within the president's inner circle. Ilyushin took leave to work on Yeltsin's presidential campaign and is expected to be named first deputy prime minister. His departure, combined with the purge of the hard-liners, will make Chubais a much stronger chief of staff than his immediate predecessors, Nikolai Yegorov and Sergei Filatov. -- Robert Orttung DEMOCRATS DECRY DUMA'S INEFFICIENCY... Russia's Democratic Choice Duma Member Sergei Yushenkov described the Duma as less efficient than a steam engine and said that it was possible Yeltsin would disband it and call new elections, Russian TV (RTR) reported on 30 July. Although Yushenkov suggested that opposition leaders in the current Duma were slowly adopting more constructive positions, his colleague Viktor Pokhmelkin warned that the communist majority was seeking to strengthen its position while torpedoing the president's program. The deputies claimed that only one third of the legislation adopted by the Duma has been signed into law by the president, ITAR-TASS reported. They called for a shake-up of the Duma leadership, including the removal of Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin, whose recent accusation that the CIA was preparing subversive actions against Belarus "caused enormous damage to Russian interests." -- Robert Orttung ...SEE CONSOLIDATION OF REFORM PARTIES. Both deputies believe that pro-reform parties would win if early elections were called. Although the reformers split into more than 10 parties in the 1995 elections, they are now forming three large blocs, defined by liberal (including Russia's Democratic Choice, Forward, Russia!, and Common Cause), centrist (Our Home is Russia and the Party of Russian Unity and Accord), and social-democratic (Yabloko) leanings. The communists and their nationalist allies are seeking to establish a unified popular-patriotic bloc, whose first congress is planned for 7 August. -- Robert Orttung YELENA BONNER HOSPITALIZED. Human rights activist Yelena Bonner, 73, was hospitalized after suffering a heart attack on 30 July, Russian and Western agencies reported. Bonner, the widow of Andrei Sakharov, has had a history of heart problems. Earlier this month, human rights campaigner Sergei Kovalev was hospitalized following a heart attack (see OMRI Daily Digest, 9 July 1996). Bonner and Kovalev have been among the most vocal critics of the war in Chechnya; in recent months, they urged Russia's democrats not to support President Yeltsin's re-election. -- Laura Belin RYZHKOV: POPULAR-PATRIOTIC UNION NOT DOMINATED BY COMMUNISTS. Communist Party (KPRF) activists will not dominate the new Popular- Patriotic Union of Russia (NPSR), the movement formed from the coalition that backed Gennadii Zyuganov for president, according to NPSR organizing committee chairman Nikolai Ryzhkov. In an interview published in Nezavisimaya gazeta on 30 July, Ryzhkov said Zyuganov lost the presidential election because Yeltsin's team successfully used the anti-communist card, and that Zyuganov's political future will depend on his ability to represent a broader organization. Ryzhkov added that KPRF officials will not lead more than one half of the NPSR's regional branches, and that in upcoming regional elections the NPSR may support the re-election of some non- communist incumbent governors. -- Laura Belin RUSSIAN DELEGATION AT PARIS ANTI-TERRORISM MEETING. Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov and Federal Security Service Director Nikolai Kovalev represented Russia at a 30 July conference of officials from the G-7 plus Russia to discuss joint action to combat international terrorism, Russian and Western agencies reported. The session approved a list of 25 measures, including improvements in intelligence-sharing, police cooperation, monitoring of banks and computer networks, and extradition procedures. Primakov used the session to argue that the Chechen conflict is an example of international terrorism, repeating allegations that separatist fighters receive arms from abroad. -- Scott Parrish RUSSIAN CAMPAIGN AGAINST NATO EXPANSION CONTINUES. Despite recent statements by Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed (see OMRI Daily Digest, 25 July 1996), other Russian officials continue to vocally criticize plans to expand NATO. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Krylov, visiting Oslo on 30 July, said that expanding NATO would not improve European security. He pointedly questioned how expansion would affect the security of those European countries "not wanting to join NATO or not wanted inside" the alliance. The same day, meeting with his British counterpart Malcolm Rifkind in Paris, Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov said Moscow wants to deepen cooperation with NATO, but not if it expands. In the 28 July issue of Moskovskie novosti, First Deputy Defense Minster Andrei Kokoshin contended that expanding NATO would provoke "a confrontation that nobody needs," and urged that alternative means of building a new European security system be found. -- Scott Parrish PERSONNEL RESHUFFLE AT FOREIGN MINISTRY. Grigorii Karasin, head of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Information and Press department and its chief spokesman since July 1993, has been appointed Deputy Foreign Minister, Russian media reported on 30 July. According to Izvestiya, Karasin will supervise the several Asian departments of the ministry, largely taking over the responsibilities of Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Panov, who will soon take up the post of ambassador to Japan. Gennadii Tarasov, currently ambassador to Saudi Arabia, will reportedly replace Karasin as chief spokesman. The paper also criticized Karasin for restricting journalists' access to diplomats during his tenure, a policy which it said had tightened further since the January appointment of Yevgenii Primakov as foreign minister. -- Scott Parrish PRAVDA-5 PUBLISHES DAILY. The left-wing tabloid Pravda-5, formerly a weekly, has begun to publish daily as the standoff between the Pravda editorial board and the paper's Greek financiers continues. Pravda suspended publication on 24 July, and Theodoros and Christos Giannikos, who own the joint-stock company that publishes both papers, have asked Pravda editor Aleksandr Ilin to resign. Ilin told Komsomolskaya pravda on 31 July that since the Pravda editorial collective is the paper's founder, Pravda staff--not the Greek owners or Pravda-5--have the right to publish daily, collect money from subscriptions and elect Pravda's editor. -- Laura Belin ELECTIONS SAID TO REFLECT "SOVIETIZATION" OF PRESS. Aleksei Simonov, head of the watchdog group Glasnost Defense Foundation, said at a 29 July round table in Moscow that the recent presidential elections reflected "the clear Sovietization of the press," Ekspress-khronika reported the next day. He admitted that opinion poll projections were more accurate than in previous elections but said "the bright democratic future is as distant as it was before the first elections [in Russia]." Covering the same round table, the official ITAR-TASS news agency misleadingly quoted Simonov as saying that cooperation among politicians, journalists and sociologists during the campaign was "fruitful," and that journalists presented information about the campaign to the public "more precisely and competently" than they did before last year's parliamentary elections. Simonov told OMRI on 30 July that Ekspress-khronika quoted him accurately and that he never described journalists' cooperation with politicians as "fruitful." -- Laura Belin GOVERNMENT SENDS MONEY TO PAY PRIMORSKII MINERS. Yeltsin's economics adviser Aleksandr Livshits announced on 30 July that the government will transfer 45 billion rubles ($8.7 million) from the federal budget to miners in Primore, Russian and Western agencies reported. Unofficial strikes, involving more than 10,000 people, have taken place at a number of pits in the area over the past 20 days. The miners are owed an estimated 130 billion rubles in wage arrears, and they and their families are said to be on the verge of starvation. Union leaders in the Far East threatened to call an official strike from 31 July and miners said they would block the Trans-Siberian railway. -- Penny Morvant KOREAN FIRM LAUNCHES AUTO PLANT IN KALININGRAD. South Korea's car manufacturer KIA Motors has signed an agreement to build a plant in Kaliningrad Oblast to assemble 55,000 jeeps and minibuses a year, AFP reported on 30 July. The Korean company intends to invest over $1 billion in the project ($180 million has already been spent), which also envisages upgrading existing plants, including a former navy shipyard. KIA expects to create 50,000 new jobs over the next five years and manufacture at least 65% of car parts locally. Meanwhile, French technical experts, inspecting the VAZ car plant in Togliatti, determined that the new model VAZ-2110 does not meet the technical parameters required for sale in the EU, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 July. This ban will not affect the sales of older VAZ models. -- Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA CONFUSION SURROUNDS ABKHAZ TALKS. The virtual news blackout imposed on the UN/Russian-mediated talks in Moscow between Georgian and Abkhaz representatives on renewing the mandate of the Russian peacekeeping force in Abkhazia continues to give rise to unverifiable rumors. ITAR-TASS on 29 July again reported that a compromise had been reached on the peacekeeper issue. Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze similarly stated on 29 July during his weekly radio broadcast that some progress had been made. BGI on 30 July quoted Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili as confirming that Shevardnadze had met on several occasions with his Abkhaz counterpart Vladislav Ardzinba but failed to reach an agreement; Shevardnadze's press secretary Vakhtang Abashidze had told RTR on 19 July that no meeting between the two presidents had taken place. On 30 July Noyan Tapan cited Caucasus Press as reporting that the Moscow talks have been suspended indefinitely at the initiative of the Russian mediator, Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Pastukhov. -- Liz Fuller ARMENIAN BANKS IN CRISIS. The deputy chairman of the Central Bank, Armen Darbinyan, told a conference in Yerevan on 30 July that up to one-third of Armenia's 36 banks may close over the next year, Noyan Tapan reported. The banks are owed a total of 20 billion drams ($48 million) and have authorized capital of only 5.5 billion drams ($13 million). Speaking on 27 July, the president of the Armenian Banks Association, Tigran Sarkissyan, had urged the government not to go ahead with its plan to remove privileges for foreign investors, since this would choke off the inflow of private investment. -- Peter Rutland BAKU DEMONSTRATORS DISPERSED. A group of demonstrators in front of the Russian embassy in Baku on 26 July was broken up by baton- wielding police, Noyan Tapan reported as monitored by the BBC. The demonstration, organized by 10 youth groups, was protesting the police actions in Moscow which in the name of fighting crime and terrorism are often targeting "persons of Caucasian nationality." (See OMRI Daily Digest 29 July.) -- Peter Rutland FOOD RIOT REPORTED IN TAJIK CITY. Five people were killed and 11 injured when a riot broke out over food prices on 30 July in the eastern Tajik city of Khorog, according to the opposition's Radio Voice of Free Tajikistan as monitored by the BBC. The trouble apparently began when a shipment of meat, which has been a scarce commodity in the city recently, arrived and a dispute developed over pricing and distributing it. Three of those killed were policemen. -- Bruce Pannier DEMONSTRATION OVER LIVING CONDITIONS IN KAZAKHSTAN. Some 2,000 people gathered in the southern city of Zhanatas on 28 July to protest living conditions, Kazakh Television First Channel reported as monitored by the BBC. The demonstrators also demanded the resignation of the head of the city administration and the formation of a special commission to correct the "ruinous social and economic situation in the city." Those at the illegal rally said they would meet again on 11 August if their demands were been met. -- 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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