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No. 178, Part I, 13 September 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 TIKHOMIROV SAYS TROOP PULLOUT HALTED FROM CHECHNYA . . . The commander of federal troops in Chechnya, Lt.-Gen. Vyacheslav Tikhomirov, announced on 12 September he has halted the federal withdrawal from the republic until all problems connected to the exchange of prisoners of war are resolved, NTV reported. The Chechens are demanding the release of prisoners held throughout Russia on various criminal charges, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. Russia claims that these individuals do not fall under the framework of the POW exchange, and Tikhomirov said Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed agrees. Tikhomirov accused the Chechen separatists of taking counter-productive positions in the negotiations and trying to take power in the republic. There are currently 11,000 Russian soldiers in the republic. -- Robert Orttung . . . LEBED DISAGREES, BUT THERE ARE CONFLICTING REPORTS ON PULLOUT. Lebed, however, said that while it is necessary to work out a list of POWs to be exchanged, Tikhomirov had been "a little hot-headed" in his statements, NTV reported. He noted that both sides are working calmly to resolve the outstanding issues. ITAR-TASS reported that the withdrawal is continuing on schedule. Russian TV (RTR), however, said that it has been halted, not by Tikhomirov, but by orders from Moscow. -- Robert Orttung YANDARBIEV CALLS FOR GOOD RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA. Acting Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev said the main task is to find a mutually acceptable formula for relations between Chechnya and Russia and that the question of Chechnya's independence is no longer an issue, ITAR-TASS reported on 12 September, citing an interview in the Egyptian weekly Al Musavvar. He said that he is prepared to hold a referendum in Chechnya, but that such a vote is not necessary to confirm Chechen independence. Yandar-biev said reconstruction and compensation agreements should be signed with Russia. Once all Russian troops leave the republic, he added, it would be possible to sign a "treaty between two states" on the presence of some federal military personnel in Chechnya on a temporary basis. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on 12 September re-emphasized the need to preserve Russia's territorial integrity and Lebed told the German journal Stern that he believes Chechnya will still be a part of Russia 10 years from now. -- Robert Orttung JUSTICE MINISTER INSISTS LEBED-MASKHADOV AGREEMENT HAS NO LEGAL FORCE. Justice Minister Valentin Kovalev defended his 11 September statement that the 31 agreement signed by Security Council Secretary Lebed and Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov is only a "political declaration" with no legal force, Russian media reported on 12 September. During an appearance on Ekho Moskvy, Lebed described Kovalev as an "unwise" minister. Kovalev countered that Lebed is unable to evaluate the legal significance and consequences of the accords he signed. He added that Russia's territorial integrity must be rigorously protected, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Laura Belin ZYUGANOV ON TRANSFER OF POWER, CHECHNYA. Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov called on President Yeltsin to issue a formal decree transferring power to Chernomyrdin for the duration of his illness, Russian media reported on 12 September. According to Duma deputy Nikolai Ryzhkov, a Zyuganov ally, the Duma will soon discuss a formal transfer of power to the prime minister, Kommersant-Daily reported on 13 September. Ryzhkov added, "I personally do not want [Chief of Staff Anatolii] Chubais to govern the state, which he is essentially doing today." Also on 12 September, Zyuganov and Chernomyrdin met to discuss a range of topics and agreed that any solution to the Chechen conflict must preserve Russia's territorial integrity, ITAR-TASS reported, citing Chernomyrdin's press secretary. Zyuganov has unequivocally denounced the Lebed-Maskhadov agreement; Chernomyrdin has said he "does not like" certain aspects of the agreement but generally praised the halting of bloodshed. -- Laura Belin FOREIGN DOCTORS TO PLAY ROLE IN YELTSIN OPERATION. Foreign doctors, including U.S. surgeon Michael DeBakey of Baylor Medical Center in Houston, will participate in a series of meetings in late September to decide when to operate on President Yeltsin, according to Sergei Mironov, director of the presidential medical center, NTV reported on 12 September. The foreign experts may also be present at the operation, but Russian doctors will do the actual work. Yeltsin is to make a public announcement soon on whether he will hand over control of the country's nuclear arsenal to Chernomyrdin during his hospitalization, ORT reported, citing presidential press secretary Sergei Yastrzhembskii. -- Robert Orttung LEBED CRITICIZES BUDGET. Security Council Secretary Lebed criticized the 1997 draft budget in a letter to President Yeltsin dated 29 August, asserting that the government's proposed policy neglects the state's economic security, Izvestiya reported on 13 September. Lebed, clearly hoping that the council's role in economic issues will be strengthened, called for more financing for the military, industrial, construction, and agricultural sectors, as well as for science and culture. The Security Council's Economic Security Department chief, Sergei Glazev, played a role in formulating the letter. He has long been critical of the government's economic policies. -- Ritsuko Sasaki and Robert Orttung CHAMBER ON INFORMATION DISPUTES RULES IN PRAVDA'S FAVOR. The President's Judicial Chamber on Information Disputes ruled that the publishers of Pravda infringed on the rights of subscribers and the editorial staff when they suspended the paper's publication in late July, ITAR-TASS reported on 12 September. Pravda was shut down following a protracted conflict between its editor, Aleksandr Ilin, and the paper's Greek publishers, who soon began publishing Pravda-5, originally a weekly, as a daily in place of Pravda (see OMRI Daily Digest, 25, 29, and 31 July 1996). The chamber said that the publishers usurped rights reserved under Russian media law for a newspaper's founder, in this case Pravda's editorial staff. In addition, the judges found that publishers misled readers by using the Pravda logo at the top of Pravda-5. The chamber asked the Procurator-General's Office to examine whether the publishers' actions unlawfully interfered with the work of journalists. -- Laura Belin RAION LEADERS KEY TO GUBERNATORIAL ELECTIONS. Elections analyst Aleksandr Sobyanin on 13 September argued that a gubernatorial candidate's election would be guaranteed if supported by the raion leaders, since they determine who will sit on the local electoral commissions, NTV reported. The governors appointed by President Yeltsin are strong enough to make sure that sympathetic people are in charge of most of their oblast's raions, he asserted. In the case of Saratov, Yeltsin appointed the victorious candidate, Dmitrii Ayatskov, to the post of governor less then five months before the election and he replaced 27 raion leaders in the run-up to the voting. Ayatskov, however, told a seminar attended by top-level campaign organizers from the presidential administration and campaign chiefs from 18 regions that the key to his success was the resolution of social issues, Kommersant- Daily reported on 13 September. -- Robert Orttung CHEREPKOV COURT CASE CONTINUES. The case of Viktor Cherepkov, reinstated as mayor of Vladivostok by the Khamovniki Raion Court in Moscow on 14 August, is continuing. Lawyers representing President Yeltsin, who sacked Cherepkov in December 1994, contested the verdict in the Moscow City Court--but not within the 10-day period allowed for such appeals. The city court has now returned the case to the raion court for a ruling on whether the appeal should still be considered, ITAR-TASS reported. Cherepkov's lawyer said the Primorskii Krai administration, whose head Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko has long been a bitter opponent of Cherepkov, was responsible for the appeal and that the aim was to delay a final decision until 6 October, when new elections for the post of Vladivostok mayor are scheduled, NTV reported. Cherepkov argues that there is no need for the election as he was elected in 1993 for a five- year term. -- Penny Morvant MORE CRITICISM OF COUNCIL OF EUROPE'S PLANNED CHECHNYA HEARINGS. Presidential spokesman Yastrzhembskii said the Kremlin viewed the Council of Europe's planned hearings on Chechnya as "direct interference in Russian internal affairs," ITAR-TASS reported on 12 September. He added that the status of Chechnya should not be discussed at any international forum. State Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Vladimir Lukin had already written the council to protest its intention to invite Chechen Chief of Staff Maskhadov to the hearings, and Lukin warned that Russia may not send a delegation to the session. The Foreign Ministry on 12 September expressed its full agreement with Lukin's statements on this matter. The council also invited Security Council Secretary Lebed to the hearings, scheduled for later this month, but he has not announced whether he will attend. -- Laura Belin DEBTS AROUSE DISCONTENT IN ARMY. Union representatives of military and defense industry personnel in Moscow and Moscow Oblast resolved on 12 September to picket the Russian White House on 19 December to protest the lack of funding for the Defense Ministry, ITAR-TASS reported. The chairman of the federation of trade unions of servicemen and defense workers said the Defense Ministry owes its personnel about 6.1 trillion rubles ($1.1 billion) in pay and allowances, about 500 billion rubles for child allowances, and 200 billion for victims of Chernobyl. The ministry also owes about 25 trillion rubles for equipment and utilities. According to a survey of military personnel carried out at the beginning of September, a massive 97% of respondents were unhappy with the state's treatment of the army, Krasnaya zvezda reported on 13 September. -- Penny Morvant TATARSTAN'S LEADING AIRCRAFT MANUFACTURER SUSPENDS PRODUCTION. Tatarstan's largest aircraft manufacturer, Gorbunov Company, has suspended production, ORT reported on 11 September. The company assembles Russia's newest passenger airplane TU-214, and the stoppage is believed to be connected to Aeroflot's recent decision to buy 10 Boeing 737-400s (see OMRI Daily Digest, 12 September 1996). Aeroflot General Director Yevgenii Shaposhnikov, however, said that TU-214 has problems with engines. Such engines are installed on airbus IL 96-300s, and 31 of them had to be replaced in 1995. Moreover, the new aircraft still has to get an international certificate. Shaposhnikov added that if Aeroflot tries to save the Russian aircraft manufacturing industry, "it will perish." He suggested that the government should perform this task. -- Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA ARMENIAN PRESIDENT ON FOREIGN POLICY AND KARABAKH. Levon Ter-Petrossyan said that "normalizing" relations with Turkey was his main foreign policy success over the last six years, ITAR-TASS reported on 13 September. He said ensuring that "Turkey remained neutral in the Karabakh conflict" was a great achievement. Ter-Petrossyan said relations with Russia have not been as good as they are now for 300 years but warned that "one careless step" may spoil them. He also expressed satisfaction that Iran is now Armenia's main economic partner. On the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, he was optimistic that an "interim solution" that would "satisfy all three parties" can be found. -- Elin Suleymanov COUNCIL OF CIS BORDER FORCES MEETS IN TBILISI. The commanders of the CIS border guard services gathered in Tbilisi to discuss several agreements aimed at closer cooperation among their forces, including a declaration of demarcation and external border protection principles, Russian and Western agencies reported on 12 September. Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkmenistan did not sign part of the package, including the declaration, and Moldova, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan did not attend the meeting at all, NTV reported on 12 September. Special attention was paid to extending the 22 January 1993 CIS agreement "On measures to stabilize the situation on the state border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan" until 1997. Speaking after his meeting with Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, Russian Federal Border Service Director Andrei Nikolaev denied that Russian-Georgian relations had worsened and noted that Russia pays for 60% of Georgia's external border patrols. -- Elin Suleymanov STRATEGIC MISSILE FORCE ALMOST OUT OF KAZAKSTAN. Russia and Kazakstan signed an agreement in Almaty on 10 September on the withdrawal of the Russian strategic missile force from Kazakstan, according to an Interfax report monitored by the BBC. According to the commander in chief of Russia's strategic missile forces, Gen. Igor Sergeyev, 16 missile regiments have been disbanded, while 898 warhead charges, 98 intercontinental ballistic missiles, and more than 18,000 metric tons of missile fuel components have been removed to Russia. -- Lowell Bezanis OLD TECHNIQUES TO INJECT NEW IDEAS. A decree published in Pravda Vostoka on 10 September and monitored by the BBC sheds light on President Islam Karimov's efforts to supplant "old totalitarian, dictatorship ideology" with "spiritual reform and enlightenment." The decree itself orders regional administration heads to undergo spiritual ideology tests by the end of the year. It also significantly strengthens the role of the Manaviyat and Marifat (Spirituality and Enlightenment) public center. The latter will work to achieve the basic aim of the country's ideological policy of improving "national thinking and historical freedom" and "awakening the spirit of independence." Along with its subsidiary, the Golden Heritage (Oltin Meros) charity fund, the center will work in conjunction with the Uzbek Culture Ministry, Uzbekturizm, the Kamolot republican youth fund, and Uzbek Television and Radio to "spread spirituality and enlightenment." -- Lowell Bezanis [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Victor Gomez ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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