|Absence makes the heart grow fonder. -|
No. 149, Part I, 2 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 RUSSIA YELTSIN FILLS OUT ADMINISTRATION. President Boris Yeltsin appointed Yevgenii Savostyanov, Maksim Boiko, and Aleksei Kudrin as deputies to Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais on 1 August, at Chubais' recommendation, ITAR-TASS reported. Savostyanov, who will be in charge of personnel, was a democratic activist who was appointed to head the Moscow office of the KGB (and its successor organizations) from 1991 to 1994. Yeltsin fired Savostyanov after the clash between the presidential security service and Most Bank guards in December 1994. Boiko will coordinate the administration's ties with political parties and social groups. Kudrin, former first deputy to former St. Petersburg Mayor Anatolii Sobchak covering economic issues, will head the president's oversight department, following socio-economic developments in the regions. -- Robert Orttung KREMLIN PREPARES STRATEGY FOR REGIONAL ELECTIONS. The presidential administration has started developing strategies to try to prevent the Communists winning the forthcoming gubernatorial elections. The 31 July edition of Nezavisimaya gazeta published a document prepared by Kremlin analysts which outlines the main directions for the regional campaign. It suggests that the president should keep his personal involvement in the campaign to a minimum, and should avoid clashes with incumbent governors prior to the elections. The document also proposes making a careful selection of incumbent governors to be supported for reelection while trying to eliminate the influence of various Kremlin clans on this selection. Since Yeltsin has no party of his own, the document says, he should run his campiagn out of the Our Home Is Russia's regional branches. -- Anna Paretskaya STUDY ANALYSES RUSSIANS' FEELINGS ABOUT DEMOCRACY. Russians consider freedom of the press and free elections of their leadership as the most important kinds of freedom, winning 18% each in a poll of 1509 voters conducted at the end of May by the Central Electoral Commission, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 1 August. Regarding the form of government Russia should have, 48% support the current presidential republic, while 11% prefer a parliamentary democracy and 21% want a republic of soviets. 59% support using free elections to elect their leaders, while 5% prefer that they be named from above. 22% would prefer a mixed system of elections and appointments. 68% believe that elections can change the situation for the better. Only 20% consider themselves members of political parties, and 56% of these are communists. -- Robert Orttung TALKS ON BLACK SEA FLEET MAKE NO PROGRESS. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Hennadii Udovenko met in Moscow on 1 August with his Russian counterpart Yevgenii Primakov, Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed, and presidential foreign policy aide Dmitrii Ryurikov, Russian and Western agencies reported. Ryurikov told ITAR-TASS that no progress had been made yet on resolving the issue of the Black Sea Fleet, which continues to block the signing of a long-delayed bilateral friendship treaty. -- Scott Parrish OFFICIAL NEWSPAPER TERMS ALLEGATIONS OF CIA PLOT PLAUSIBLE. The official newspaper of the Presidential Administration, Rossiiskie vesti, published an article on 31 July contending that recent allegations by Duma Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin of a CIA plot to overthrow Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka are "plausible." Although other government officials and most Moscow media ridiculed Ilyukhin's allegations, the paper asserted that while they were unverifiable, his charges "fit entirely" with current plans to expand NATO eastward and isolate Russia with a "cordon sanitaire." It also argued that the allegations were consistent with what it termed an American policy aimed at minimizing Russian influence in the other former Soviet republics. Meanwhile, Nezavisimaya gazeta, which had earlier lent credence to Ilyukin's charges, on 2 August published two additional articles suggesting that the allegations have some substance. -- Scott Parrish RUSSIA SKIPS PFP EXERCISE DUE TO LACK OF FUNDS. Russia will not send even a single observer to an upcoming 12-30 August Partnership for Peace (PfP) exercise at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Izvestiya reported on 1 August. Defense Ministry officials said that as they have no budget funds for PfP operations, so cannot afford to participate. Russia did take part in PfP maneuvers near Lviv, Ukraine, this June, but only because the United States paid some $40,000 to cover the transportation costs of the Russian participants. The Defense Ministry blames the Finance Ministry for the situation, saying that although President Yeltsin has ordered the release of funds for PfP exercises, the Finance Ministry has failed to disburse them. -- Scott Parrish KOVALEV CLAIMS CHECHENS PREPARING DUDAEV DOUBLE. Russian counter- intelligence director Nikolai Kovalev on 1 August attributed rumors that Chechen president Dzhokhar Dudaev is still alive and will return to Chechnya on 2 August to plans by his supporters to produce a double, Russian media reported. Kovalev, speaking at a press conference in Moscow , also claimed that a group of Chechen fighters led by field commander Ruslan Khaikharoev are planning terrorist acts in the Russian Federation in order to draw Dagestan and North Ossetiya into the conflict. Chechen Security Council secretary Ruslan Tsakaev stated that reports of an attempt on 29 July to kill chief of staff Aslan Maskhadov were untrue and had been circulated to bolster Maskhadov's standing in advance of his planned meeting with the commander of the North Caucasus Military District, Lt.-Gen. Anatolii Kvashnin, according to ITAR-TASS. -- Liz Fuller COURT SENTENCES BUS HIJACKERS; MAN DETAINED IN LISTEV CASE. The Stavropol Krai court on 1 August convicted three Chechens in connection with the hijacking of a bus near Mineralnye Vody in May 1994, ITAR-TASS reported. Four men stormed the bus, demanding $10 million, drugs, arms, and a helicopter in exchange for freeing the hostages on board. The hijackers' demands were met, but three of the men were arrested when the helicopter landed in Chechnya; they were each sentenced to 15 years imprisonment last year. The fourth, captured later, has now also received a 15-year term. The other two men convicted yesterday were sentenced to 12 years for supplying weapons to the gang. Also on 1 August, the Georgian security minister confirmed that a man has been detained on suspicion of organizing the murder of TV star Vladislav Listev on 1 March 1995. -- Penny Morvant IZVESTIYA MAKES NEW CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS. In the latest of a spate of articles on corruption, Izvestiya on 1 August accused the Russian coal association Rosugol of squandering 1.2 billion rubles ($235,000) on a fund to support the poor and the unemployed. The fund, located on Rosugol premises, received money from the association for scientific research projects. It then contracted out the work to false companies, which the tax police found to be registered to people who had at some point lost their passports and had no idea of the firms' existence. The money disappeared. Rosugol President Yurii Malyshev denied any wrongdoing, Radio Rossii reported. -- Penny Morvant LACK OF ALTERNATIVE MILITARY SERVICE LAMENTED. In an interview with Trud on 1 August, Institute of Religious Rights Director Anatolii Pchelintsev commented on the failure to resolve the question of alternative military service--something that is guaranteed by the constitution but for which there is no legal mechanism. He argues that the current situation means that many draftees end up performing no service, since many courts, particularly in Moscow and St. Petersburg, show understanding toward conscientious objectors. In the spring the Duma Defense Committee recommended against an alternative service bill prepared by liberal deputies. He then criticized a new draft prepared by the Communists that envisages a four-year term of service to be performed on Defense Ministry construction sites rather than in hospitals or other social services. The total number of conscientious objectors in 1995 exceeded 23,000. -- Penny Morvant NAZDRATENKO THREATENS FOREIGN RELIGIOUS GROUPS... Primorskii Krai Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko threatened on 1 August to banish members of Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church and various other religious groups active in the region, Reuters reported. "I want to warn activists of foreign religions," he said on television, "that if religious psychoses happen again while I am leader... I will employ the police force to throw them out." Many foreign religious groups, including Hare Krishna and the Church of Christ, are active in the region. Moon's church is reported to be particularly active in the education sphere. -- Penny Morvant ... AND VISITS POWER STATION. Also on 1 August Nazdratenko visited the Primorskii power station, where more than 300 workers have been on hunger strike for nine days to protest a five-month delay in the payment of their wages. He handed over an interest-free credit of 5 billion rubles from the Russian Savings Bank, ITAR-TASS reported. The agency added that miners at 14 mines in the region are continuing to strike (earlier reports had put the figure at 15) despite the transfer of about 50 billion rubles from Moscow. Work has also stopped at 17 mines belonging to the Rostovugol company in southern Russia. -- Penny Morvant OILMEN TURN DOWN FOREIGN LOANS. Kogalymneftegaz, a subsidiary of Lukoil, has declared that it will not take up the remaining $130 million of the $272 million loan it received from the World Bank back in 1993, Segodnya reported on 1 August. Earlier Purneftegaz, part of Rosneft, also refused $80 million of the $174 million credit it was granted by the EBRD. The companies complain that high taxes and transport costs make it unprofitable to invest in new oil wells even with the favorable loan terms offered by international institutions. A bill lifting the tariffs on imports of equipment paid for by international loans (one of the main complaints of the oil companies) was passed by the Duma last month. (See OMRI Daily Digest 22 July). State Investments Corporation Deputy Chairman Boris Furmanov said that Russia is expected to attract only some $1.6 to 2 billion of foreign direct investment in 1996, Finansovye Izvestiya reported on 1 August. -- Peter Rutland INFLATION ONLY 0.7% IN JULY. Consumer prices rose by only 0.7% in July, down from 1.2% in June, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 August, citing the State Statistical Committee (Goskomstat). Inflation in the first seven months of 1996 was 16.4%, compared to 87.5% over the same period last year. Annual inflation in 1996 may be as low as 20% if the current trend continues. However, this reduction in inflation has come against a background of a continuing fall in living standards and GDP -- which fell 5% in the first half of the year, Reuters reported on 15 July. -- Natalia Gurushina CROP IMPORTS STILL POSSIBLE. Official projections put Russia's 1996 grain harvest at 73-77 million metric tons, up from 63.4 million tons in 1995, but down from an average of 88 million tons in the early 1990s, Reuters reported on 1 August. Much of Russia is currently experiencing a drought. The International Grains Council (London) predicts that Russia will need to import around 1.5 million tons this year. -- Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA KVIRAYA DENIES ALLEGING RUSSIAN INVOLVEMENT IN WOODRUFF MURDER. Georgian Minister for National Security Shota Kviraya on 1 August denied ever having claimed that the murder in August 1993 near Tbilisi of U.S. diplomat Fred Woodruff was instigated by Russian intelligence, ITAR-TASS reported. Kviraya said that a statement to this effect attributed to him, which was circulated on 25 July by Noyan Tapan, was aimed at undermining relations between the Russian and Georgian security services. -- Liz Fuller ARMENIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE WITHDRAWS. Businessman Yuri Mkrtchyan, one of10 candidates who announced their intention to contest the 22 September Armenian presidential election, has withdrawn, protesting that the pre-election campaign is "unfair and immoral", Noyan Tapan reported on 1 August. Other candidates and opposition political organizations have repeatedly claimed that the electoral law, although apparently democratic, gives an unfair advantage to incumbent Levon Ter-Petrossyan, who is seeking reelection. -- Liz Fuller AZERBAIJAN PROTESTS ARRESTS. First Deputy Prime Minister Abbas Abbasov and Azerbaijani ambassador to Russia Ramiz Rzayev met Russian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksei Bolshakov and Nationalities Minister Vyacheslav Mikhailov to discuss the recent wave of arrests of Caucasians in Moscow, Turan reported on 30 July, as monitored by the BBC. Some 4,000 Azerbaijani citizens have been arrested over the past week. Bolshakov also talked to Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev by phone, trying to reassure him that the operations were not targetting Azerbaijanis. -- Peter Rutland KYRGYZSTAN AND IRAN SIGN ECONOMIC AGREEMENTS. In a sign of further cooperation between their countries, Kyrgyz Prime Minister Apas Jumagulov and Iranian Vice President Hasan Habibi on 31 July signed several economic accords, according to Kyrgyz Television First Channel monitored by the BBC. The agreements include mutual investment protection, cooperation in industry, and trade and transportation. Among the first fruits of industrial cooperation will be the establishment of a factory in the northern Kyrgyz city of Tokmak to produce minibuses and later automobiles. The accord on trade and transportation allows direct air links between Bishkek and Tehran, and Bishkek and Meshhed. Kyrgyzstan will receive 200,000-300,000 tons of crude oil beginning in 1997 and in turn will export meat to Iran. -- 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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