|The business of art lies just in this--to make that understood and felt which, in the form of an argument, might be incomprehensible and inaccessible. - Leo Tolstoy|
No. 148, Part I, 1 August 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 RUSSIAN TROOPS LAUNCH NEW CHECHEN OFFENSIVE. Despite ongoing hostilities in the Vedeno, Nozhai-Yurt, and Itum-Kale raions of Chechnya, pro-Moscow Chechen head of state Doku Zavgaev told representatives of the Chechen community in Moscow on 31 July that there had been no fighting in Chechnya for a week, AFP reported. Meanwhile, Russia began air and artillery attacks on the village of Shatoi south of Grozny, prompting Chechen Minister of Information Movladi Udugov to warn that the Chechens will not agree to any further talks with the Russian military until the bombardment is halted, according to AFP. Controversy continues over the identity of the man claiming to be field commander Salman Raduev. Zavgaev claims that Raduev is dead and the man is an imposter from Dagestan; ITAR-TASS cited a spokesman for the Chechen Ministry of Information who insists that the man in question is indeed Raduev. ITAR-TASS also quoted unnamed Chechen field commanders as stating that President Dzhokhar Dudaev is alive and will return to Chechnya on 2 August. -- Liz Fuller HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGNERS SLAM YELTSIN ON CHECHNYA. Representatives of the Moscow Helsinki Committee and the International Human Rights Assembly accused President Boris Yeltsin of violating various laws and campaign promises by allowing violence to escalate in Chechnya immediately after his re-election. In a statement published by Ekspress-khronika on 1 August, they noted that those long considered to make up the Kremlin's "party of war," including former Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, Chief of Staff Nikolai Yegorov and Yeltsin's top bodyguard Aleksandr Korzhakov, have been sacked and are therefore not to blame for the continued fighting and human rights violations. A separate appeal signed by human rights activists who voted against Yeltsin, including Yelena Bonner, charged that the war in Chechnya and Yeltsin's recent decree on fighting crime in Moscow and Moscow Oblast (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 and 12 July 1996) violate at least seven articles of the Constitution. -- Laura Belin YELTSIN ORGANIZES STAFF FOR REGIONAL ELECTIONS. President Boris Yeltsin will personally coordinate the administration's campaign for this fall's regional elections, Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais announced on 31 July. The campaign headquarters will include representatives of the presidential administration, the government, the Federation Council, the Security Council, and political parties with influence in the regions, NTV reported. Chubais noted that Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed has already agreed to participate in the campaign. However, Chubais stressed the need to avoid a situation in which "one Moscow boss supports one candidate, while another supports someone else." The chief of staff said that the team will use the experience gained in the presidential campaign as much as possible. -- Robert Orttung YELTSIN BACKS CHUBAIS RESTRUCTURING OF ADMINISTRATION. Yeltsin "showed a high level of trust" in Chubais' proposals for restructuring the administration on 31 July, even though several of them were unexpected, Chubais said. During their nearly two-hour meeting, Chubais and Yeltsin discussed the candidates for the post of first deputy prime minister covering economic issues, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. Yeltsin has tapped Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to lead the new government and he and Chubais are competing to influence its composition, a decision that ultimately rests in Yeltsin's hands. Chubais said that Yeltsin needs "a normal vacation," which he may take following his 9 August inauguration. -- Robert Orttung CHERNOMYRDIN LISTENS TO COMMUNISTS. Chernomyrdin listened to the views of Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov and 15 members of his Duma faction on 31 July, but they did not discuss who would be in the new government, ORT reported. Before the meeting, Zyuganov said that it would play an important role in the faction's decision whether to support Chernomyrdin's candidacy as the new prime minister, ITAR-TASS reported. Neither side released any details of the discussion. -- Robert Orttung PRIMAKOV SUGGESTS COMPROMISE ON NATO EXPANSION. In an interview published in the 1 August edition of the Paris daily Le Figaro, Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov reiterated that Moscow could accept the eastward enlargement of NATO if it does not entail the expansion of the alliance's military infrastructure in areas near Russia. "Can you guarantee me that the enlargement of NATO will not result in the installation of military infrastructure?" asked Primakov. "If you reply to me yes, then I too will respond in a positive way," he added, but complained that Western leaders had so far not responded to his repeated overtures for a compromise along these lines. NATO officials and East European leaders have rejected this sort of compromise, arguing that it would relegate new members to "second class status" in the alliance. -- Scott Parrish ILYUKHIN STANDS BY HIS CHARGES OF CIA PLOT IN BELARUS. In an interview in the 1 August edition of the pro-communist daily Sovetskaya Rossiya, Duma Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin defended his charges that the CIA is plotting to overthrow Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, (see OMRI Daily Digest, 26 & 29 July 1996) and denounced Russian politicians and journalists who questioned his allegations as "fifth columnists." Ilyukhin asserted that the top levels of the Russian government have been penetrated by Western intelligence agencies, which are "imposing their views." Ilyukhin said that, despite his campaign rhetoric, President Yeltsin does not really favor integration between Russia and the other former Soviet republics, a position which mirrors American policy. On 31 July ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky supported Ilyukin's charges, and warned U.S. President Bill Clinton to "stay away from Belarusian affairs." -- Scott Parrish NEW FIGHTER ON DISPLAY. For the first time the new SU 37 fighter, whose reversible thrust engine makes it highly maneuverable, was shown in public display on 1 August, ITAR-TASS reported. According to the engineers at the Sukhoi Design Bureau, the plane has no equivalent in other airforces and is "the first plane of the 21st century." However, financial constraints mean that the Ministry of Defense has given no date for the start of mass production of the SU 37. -- Peter Rutland SENIOR BANKRUPTCY OFFICIAL ARRESTED. Petr Karpov, deputy head of the Federal Bankruptcy Administration (FUDN) with the rank of deputy prime minister, has been arrested, Russian and Western agencies reported on 31 July. First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Kadannikov said the Saratov Procurator's Office had begun criminal proceedings against Karpov but gave no details. NTV said Karpov was suspected of taking bribes. Over the past year Karpov headed a team that raised 10 trillion rubles ($2 billion) in overdue taxes from delinquent enterprises, mainly in the oil and gas sector. His activities reportedly made him many enemies among the industrial elite and in the Duma. Karpov's boss, Petr Mostovoi, is also under investigation for alleged involvement in violating privatization procedures. Segodnya argued that the arrests could signal a campaign against the FUDN, which it described as a leading reform agency. -- Penny Morvant STRIKES CONTINUE IN FAR EAST. Despite the government's announcement that it has allocated 45 billion rubles ($8.7 million) to miners in Primorskii Krai, protests have now spread to all 15 of the region's mines, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 August. A miners' spokesman said the protest will continue until wage debts are cleared. He described the government statement as "political cunning," contending that the money had been intended to cover capital construction and other such expenses and had thus been "taken from the miners' pockets." The same day, Primorskugol said it will suspend deliveries to debtor enterprises, including the power company Dalenergo. The strikes are spreading to other regions of Russia. Some miners have also struck in Rostov Oblast, while workers at a Krasnoyarsk mine have stopped deliveries to the local power station. Numerous reports have highlighted the suffering endured by Primore mining families. In one of the most shocking incidents, nine children were taken to hospital suffering from food poisoning after eating a stray dog. Their miner parents, who had not been paid for six months, were unable to feed them so they had set out to find their own food. -- Penny Morvant CONFLICTING REPORTS ON TAX SITUATION. A State Tax Service spokesman claimed on 31 July that tax revenues in July were 20 trillion rubles ($3.8 billion), or 97% of the planned level. Seven regions pay the bulk of the taxes: Moscow city and oblast, Khanty-Mansii Autonomous Okrug, Sverdlovsk, Omsk, and Samara oblasts, and St. Petersburg. However, overall tax receipts for the first half of the year are only 60% of the expected amount. A special operational group has been created under Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to cut spending, according to Vek no. 20. Steps already taken include freezing spending on reconstruction in Chechnya, on defense conversion in Tatarstan, and on some cultural programs. Central Bank Head Sergei Dubinin said measures to be adopted soon include excise stamps on alcohol, levying VAT on Ukrainian imports, and a ban on all tax privileges, Radio Rossii reported on 25 July. -- Peter Rutland NEW CUSTOM DUTIES ON IMPORTED CARS. Effective from 1 August, the government has introduced higher duties on imported cars, ITAR-TASS reported. The duty on cars with engines over 1,599 cc will be 75% of the retail value. Any car up to three years old will now be deemed "new", instead of one-year old cars, as in the past. Russians who have lived abroad for over six months will be allowed to import one car and pay duty of 40 cents per cubic centimeter. No duties will be levied on foreigners importing their cars for less than a year. -- Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA GEORGIAN OPPOSITION DOWN BUT NOT [YET] OUT. Leading figures from the 14 Georgian political parties not represented in the new parliament, who joined forces to create a Coordinating Council, met in Tbilisi on 31 July to discuss Georgia's future territorial- administrative system, the Abkhaz conflict, and the Russian military presence in Georgia, NTV reported. The opposition parties in question take a markedly harder line on all these issues than does the Georgian leadership. On 30 July, the deputy chairman of the Round Table/Free Georgia coalition (originally headed by now deceased ex-president Zviad Gamsakhurdia) told BGI that the Georgian authorities were trying to prevent the coalition from participating in the September parliamentary elections in Adzharia, in what he claims is an ongoing campaign of reprisals against Gamsakhurdia's supporters. -- Liz Fuller KARABAKH DIPLOMACY. Outgoing Russian co-chairman of the OSCE "Minsk Group" Vladimir Kazimirov arrived in Stepanakert on 31 July to introduce his successor, former Russian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Yurii Yukalov, to the leadership of the self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, Noyan Tapan reported. Kazimirov, whose departure from the Karabakh negotiating process was announced after the last round of talks in Helsinki in early July, characterized the prospects for a settlement of the Karabakh conflict as "favorable," despite the fact that the Azerbaijani side displayed such intransigence at last month's round that no date has been set for a resumption of talks. Kazimirov and Yukalov travel to Yerevan on 1 August and are scheduled to meet with Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev in Baku on 2 August, according to Noyan Tapan quoting the Azeri wire service ANS-Press. -- Liz Fuller AZERBAIJAN, IRAN SIGN SECURITY AGREEMENTS. Azerbaijan's Interior Minister Ramil Usubov and his Iranian counterpart, Ali Mohammed Besharati, signed two cooperation agreements in Tehran on 30 July, the Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran first network (monitored by the BBC) reported the same day. The first agreement covers the creation of a border commission and the relaxation of customs and border regulations, and would seem to undercut the second, which is on increasing cooperation to combat drug abuse. -- Liz Fuller UZBEK GANG LEADERS SENTENCED TO DEATH. An Uzbek court sentenced five members of a criminal gang to death after they were found guilty of murdering 25 local farmers, ITAR-TASS reported on 31 July. Based in a village outside of Tashkent, the gang met with individual farmers on the pretext of buying their produce and then killed them, taking the food. The victims' bodies were dumped in the Keles River late last year (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 November 1995). Other gang members were given prison terms. -- Roger Kangas UN OBSERVERS STILL HAVEN'T REACHED TAVIL-DARA. Despite several attempts at fixing the positions of combatants in the Tavil-Dara region, UN observer teams had not entered the area as of 30 July, according to the opposition's Radio Voice of Free Tajikistan as monitored by FBIS. The UN teams were to determine the locations of the warring factions at the time the ceasefire came into effect on 20 July. The opposition radio report claimed that two UN teams had been turned back at Garm and Khovaling. Another team was stopped by the Tajik army, which, according to the radio broadcast, "turned them back with the threats, violence and kind of treatment so characteristic of them." The report claimed this was the last attempt by UN teams to implement their part of the Ashgabat agreement which should have taken place on 23 July. -- 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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