|The road uphill and the road downhill are one and the same. - Heraclitus|
No. 167, Part I, 28 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 TIKHOMIROV, MASKHADOV MEET. Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov and the commander of the Russian federal forces in Chechnya, Lt.-Gen. Vyacheslav Tikhomirov, met in Noviye Atagi south of Grozny on 27 August and reached agreement on resuming the withdrawal of Russian forces from Grozny, Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported. The pullout was suspended on 25 August following the seizure of Russian weaponry by renegade Chechen detachments. The last of the snatched arms were returned on 27 August, according to ITAR-TASS. The Russian troop withdrawal should be completed by 1 September, Reuters reported. The two commanders also agreed that joint Chechen-Russian patrols should begin in Grozny in the next few days. -- Liz Fuller ZAVGAEV LAMBASTS LEBED . . . Speaking at a press conference in Moscow on 27 August, pro-Moscow Chechen head of state Doku Zavgaev harshly criticized Russian Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed's Chechen involvement, Russian and Western agencies reported. Zavgaev said he believed Lebed sincerely desired to halt the Chechen war, but charged that his approach is "superficial" and "could unleash an uncontrollable civil war." Specifically, Zavgaev argued that the peace agreement between Lebed and Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov will bring to power in Chechnya "the heroes of Budennovsk," who he charged are engaged in systematically killing supporters of the pro-Moscow Chechen leadership. Zavgaev repeated that his leadership is "ready for any concessions, including political ones" to help resolve the crisis, according to ITAR-TASS. Radio Rossi on 26 August, however, cited unnamed analysts as suggesting that Zavgaev and his supporters may be creating their own military units with an aim to retake Grozny. -- Liz Fuller . . . BUT LEBED SPOKESMAN REJECTS CHARGES. Lebed's press secretary, Aleksandr Barkhatov, described Zavgaev's comments as an "open lie," ITAR-TASS reported on 27 August. Barkhatov noted that President Boris Yeltsin and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin approved Lebed's actions, charging that Zavgaev was attacking the Russian leaders when he attacked Lebed. Barkhatov suggested that Zavgaev made his accusations to deflect blame from himself for not being able to resolve the Chechen conflict. -- Robert Orttung LEBED SUBMITS PEACE PLAN. Lebed planned to give Yeltsin a peace plan for resolving the Chechen conflict on 27 August, a day after the president wanted it, according to the Security Council Press Service (See OMRI Daily Digest, 16 August 1996). On the 27th, the president's office asked Lebed to submit his plan and an account of his recent trip to the republic in written form, after which the president would decide whether to meet with him in person or discuss the documents over the telephone, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 August. Lebed's plan reportedly rules out the further use of military force while maintaining Chechnya as part of the Russian Federation with special status, AFP reported. The plan envisages a referendum to be held in five years on Chechnya's status. It is not clear whether the Chechen armed forces would be independent or merely a part of the Russian military. -- Robert Orttung YELTSIN NAMES NEW SECURITY CHIEF. Yeltsin named Anatolii Kuznetsov as the new head of his Presidential Security Service, NTV reported on 27 August. Kuznetsov replaced Aleksandr Korzhakov, a close friend of the president who lobbied for strong-arm policies in the president's inner circle, including the use of force in Chechnya. Korzhakov fell in the purge of hardliners following the first round of the presidential election. Kuznetsov has served as Yeltsin's main personal bodyguard for the last two years and is not expected to play a political role. -- Robert Orttung RUSSIA AND UKRAINE SIGN ACCORDS. Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Pavlo Lazarenko, visiting Moscow, have signed a number of agreements including accords on cooperation in technological and space research, Russian TV (RTR) and ITAR-TASS reported on 27 August. The sides also discussed the question of refining Russian oil in Ukraine and manufacturing internationally competitive military products. Chernomyrdin noted that there was no further progress in talks over the future of the Black Sea Fleet. But he pointed out that Russia would like to establish a strategic partnership with Ukraine and that a general treaty on friendship and cooperation is likely to be signed at the next meeting of the intergovernmental commission in October or November in Kyiv. -- Natalia Gurushina SHAPOSHNIKOV OUT OF ARMS EXPORT COMPANY. President Yeltsin on 26 August released Marshal Yevgenii Shaposhnikov as his representative at the Rosvooruzheniye arms export company, ITAR-TASS reported. Shaposhnikov was the last minister of defense of the Soviet Union and briefly led the stillborn CIS joint armed forces. In early 1994, he was named to the Rosvooruzheniye post but in October 1995 was also appointed to head Russia's international air carrier Aeroflot. -- Doug Clarke FIRST CANDIDATE REGISTERED FOR VLADIVOSTOK MAYORAL ELECTION. Konstantin Tolstoshein, the incumbent mayor of Vladivostok, Primorskii Krai's main city, became the first candidate officially registered for the 6 October mayoral poll, Radio Rossii reported on 27 August. Six more hopefuls are collecting signatures in order to register with the regional electoral commission. However, former Mayor Viktor Cherepkov, who was dismissed in 1994 but reinstated earlier this month (see OMRI Daily Digest, 15 August 1996) opposes the election. He claims that since he was elected in July 1993 for a five-year term, the election should be postponed until summer 1998. Primorskii Krai Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko has filed an appeal with the Moscow court that reinstated Cherepkov. The court must consider the case in the first week of September. -- Anna Paretskaya DUMA DEPUTIES WANT EMERGENCY SESSION ON NORTH. Deputies have collected 70 out of the 90 required signatures to call an emergency Duma session devoted to the food supply situation in Russia's northern territories, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 August. Only about 50% of supplies have been shipped to the North and about 5 million people may be left without food during the winter. The signature collection was initiated by Liberal Democratic Party faction leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky. The deputies expect the emergency session to be held by 10 September. -- Anna Paretskaya HEALTH MINISTER SETS PRIORITIES. New Health Minister Tatyana Dmitrieva warned in her first press conference that the health sector is poorly funded, and Russian medical workers may go on strike by early October if financing is not improved, NTV reported on 27 August. She said her top priorities would be fighting AIDS and providing good pediatric and maternity care but indicated that the government has up to now been unwilling to devote the necessary funding for such programs, according to ITAR-TASS. Dmitrieva also said structural changes have been made in the Health Ministry. For instance, while the ministry will no longer supervise the medical industry, it has gained the authority to oversee the state committee Goskomsanepidnadzor, whose responsibilities include infectious disease control. -- Laura Belin PROTESTS OVER WAGE ARREARS CONTINUE. Coal miners, physicians, teachers, and other public sector employees went on a one-day warning strike in Kemerovo Oblast on 26 August. The miners threatened to call for the president to be impeached and the government disbanded if their demands for payment of overdue salaries totaling about 530 billion rubles (about $100 million) are ignored, Sovetskaya Rossiya reported the next day. About 2,000 employees of the Samara airplane construction company Aviakor held a protest rally over wage arrears on 27 August, ITAR-TASS reported. The Aviakor workers have not been paid since February. Meanwhile, 15 more people have joined their five colleagues who have been on a hunger strike for a week in a Tsentralnaya pit in Perm Oblast. The miners have not received their wages for three months, RTR reported. -- Anna Paretskaya FATHER THREATENS SELF-IMMOLATION TO SAVE SON FROM DRAFT. A man whose 18- year-old son was recently arrested for draft evasion locked himself in a car outside a courthouse in Krasnodar Krai and threatened to set himself on fire with Molotov cocktails to save his son from military service, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 August. Firefighters eventually captured the man, who was placed in a prison cell next to his son's. Tens of thousands of young men attempt to evade the draft every year in Russia, and parents of unsuccessful draft dodgers occasionally have resorted to extreme measures (see OMRI Daily Digest, 13 August 1996). On the same day, ITAR-TASS reported that a preliminary investigation into the recent suicides of two sailors on a ship in the Arctic Sea attributed one to brutal hazing from fellow sailors. -- Laura Belin SERIAL KILLER STRIKES AGAIN IN PERM. A woman was raped and murdered in an elevator shaft in the same Perm neighborhood where six other women have been attacked in recent months, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 August. Police believe that one person is responsible for all the crimes, but the only suspect arrested so far was not recognized by victims who survived the attacks. -- Laura Belin MINISTER OF NATURAL RESOURCES DEFINES TASKS. Viktor Orlov, who heads the newly-created Ministry of Natural Resources, said on 27 August that his ministry will coordinate all departments devoted to the use of natural resources and reconcile sometimes contradictory laws concerning the sector, Kommersant-Daily reported the next day. Orlov previously headed the state committee on geology and natural resources. (The last government included a Ministry on Natural Resources and Protecting the Environment; now a separate state committee will oversee environmental issues.) Orlov hopes to attract tens of millions of dollars in new investment, while using production-sharing agreements to retain some state control over the private capital involved in the export of natural resources, the paper said. This policy may put him in conflict with Sergei Glazev, deputy secretary of the Security Council, who has said he will review all production-sharing agreements. Moreover, the Duma has hitherto refused to make changes in legislation necessary to facilitate such agreements. -- Laura Belin GAZPROM-BOTAS DEAL. Turkey's state-owned pipeline concern, Botas, announced it had reached a deal with Gazprom to significantly increase the amount of natural gas it buys from Russia via an existing and projected pipeline, AFP reported on 27 August. The tender for a new 'eastern' pipeline, with an estimated price tag of $1.1 billion, will be opened after Ankara and Moscow formally seal the deal in September. Construction of the 1,160 km-long pipeline is expected to begin in 1997 and will carry an estimated 14 billion cubic meters of gas to Turkey via Georgia by 2010. At present Turkey buys 6 billion cubic meters of gas from Russia via a 'western' pipeline passing through Ukraine, Romania, and Bulgaria. This amount is to be increased to 16 billion cubic meters by 2010. -- Lowell Bezanis TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA SHEVARDNADZE, CHIBIROV MEET. Meeting in Vladikavkaz on 27 August, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze and the speaker of the parliament of the autonomous region of South Ossetia, Ludvig Chibirov, again reaffirmed their determination to resolve the issue of South Ossetia's relations with Tbilisi, ITAR-TASS reported. Specifically, they agreed on restoring economic cooperation which was halted after the conflict over South Ossetia's status in 1990-91. The meeting had been jeopardized by an interview given by Chibirov to Nezavisimaya gazeta on 7 August in which he expressed confidence that "some day" South Ossetia would unite with the Republic of North Ossetiya-Alania, which is a subject of the Russian Federation. -- Liz Fuller AZERBAIJAN'S FOREIGN MINISTER IN TEHRAN. Hasan Hasanov, in Tehran on a two-day official visit, assured President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani on 27 August that Azerbaijan wishes to improve its relations with Iran, which have been clouded by the recent arrests of Azerbaijani religious activists accused of links with Iranian intelligence, Reuters reported. Hasanov also met with his Iranian counterpart, Ali Akbar Velayati, and discussed an upcoming meeting of foreign ministers of Caspian littoral states which is to propose a new ruling on the division of the Caspian. Iranian parliament speaker Ali Akbar Nateq-Nuri expressed his anger at negative Azerbaijani media coverage of Iran, according to AFP, quoting IRNA. -- Liz Fuller AZERBAIJAN CREATES ANTI-NARCOTICS COMMISSION. Deputy Prime Minister Iziat Orudzhev has been named to head a state commission on fighting drug abuse and trafficking, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 August. The commission was established just before a conference was convened in Baku, attended by senior UN International Drug Control Program (UNDCP) officials, devoted to these same issues. Azerbaijani officials participating in the 27 August conference pointed to skyrocketing figures for drug-related crimes, the cultivation of narcotic plants, and drug seizures in the country. President Heidar Aliev told the conference that the fight against the spread of drug addiction is one of the country's priorities; the UNDCP will reportedly provide Baku with $500,000 to help in the fight. -- Lowell Bezanis KILLERS OF TAJIK JOURNALIST RECEIVE DEATH SENTENCE. Abdunabi Boronov and Nurali Janjolov were sentenced to death on 21 August by Tajikistan's Supreme Court, according to the Tajik opposition's Radio Voice of Free Tajikistan monitored by the BBC. The two men were found guilty of killing Tajik journalist and member of parliament Zayniddin Muhiddinov on 13 February 1995, the day after the second round of elections to the Tajik parliament. Blame for Muhiddinov's murder was attributed to the Tajik opposition which boycotted the elections; however, according to the radio broadcast, the two killers were members of the paramilitary Popular Front, which was formed during the Tajik civil war and helped bring the neo-communist government to power in 1992. It is the first time in four years that someone has been convicted for killing a journalist. A total of 40 journalists have been murdered in that time. -- 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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