|Life is what happens to us while we're making other plans. - John Lennon|
No. 181, Part I, 18 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 YELTSIN IN HOSPITAL UNTIL END OF WEEK. President Boris Yeltsin will remain in the hospital undergoing medical tests until the end of the week, NTV reported on 17 September. Ekho Moskvy reported that his operation may be postponed. A date has not been set, but it was expected at the end of the month. Press secretary Sergei Yastrzhembskii denied rumors that the president's condition has worsened. Yeltsin met with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on 17 September and discussed the main issues of the day. Argumenti i fakti reported that Yeltsin's politically influential daughter Tatyana Dyachenko also entered the hospital with a cold, AFP reported. Yeltsin's wife Naina remains hospitalized after her 24 August kidney operation. -- Robert Orttung LEBED VISITS GROZNY... Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed went to Chechnya on 17 September to resume the pullout of Russian troops, resolve difficulties surrounding the POW transfer, discuss the composition of the coalition government, and begin restoring normal life in Grozny. Lebed described his trip as "highly successful," ITAR-TASS reported on 18 September. He met with the commander of the federal troops, Lt.-Gen. Vyacheslav Tikhomirov, acting Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev, and Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov. Lebed returned to Moscow on 18 September and plans to discuss the results of his work with Chernomyrdin. -- Robert Orttung ...ANNOUNCES RESULTS. Lebed announced that the pullout of Russian troops will resume in three days and that he had reached a complete understanding with Tikhomirov on the issue. However, the commander of the Interior Ministry troops, Col.-Gen. Anatolii Shkirko, said that his soldiers would not be withdrawing from Chechnya, according to Rossiiskie vesti on 18 September. Lebed said there were no major disagreements between the two sides over the composition of the coalition government to rule Chechnya until free elections are held, AFP reported. The government will now include more representatives of Doku Zavgaev's pro- Moscow government as well as Chechens not linked to Zavgaev or to the separatist fighters. Lebed said he hoped that Chernomyrdin will participate directly in these negotiations. He also announced that the demilitarization of the city would continue and that joint law enforcement groups would start functioning on 18 September. Lebed said that both sides would trade their POWs "all for all" by the end of the week. He also said that the Chechens agreed that Russian law would remain in force in the republic, superseding Yandarbiev's introduction of a criminal code base on Islamic law. -- Robert Orttung LEBED ON CHECHNYA RECONSTRUCTION LOSSES. Asked in an interview with Komsomolskaya pravda on 17 September how much the Chechen war had cost, Lebed said there were no hard data but estimated the price tag at $12-15 billion. He also cited Zavgaev as saying that 8 trillion rubles ($1.5 billion) were allocated for reconstruction work in the republic in 1995 and another 2.5 trillion this year. He said nothing had been rebuilt, claiming that 90% of the money had been stolen. Izvestiya on 4 September cited an unpublished report by the Russian Federation Accounting Chamber as saying that 11 trillion rubles not envisaged in the budget were sent to Chechnya for reconstruction in 1995. Other reports have pointed out that the renewed battles in Grozny this summer make it difficult to check that funds were properly spent. -- Penny Morvant SECURITY COUNCIL DENOUNCES PRESIDENTIAL ADMINISTRATION INTRIGUE... The Security Council press service released a statement denouncing "several officials in the presidential administration" for trying to drag Lebed into a dispute about his responsibilities, NTV reported. On 16 September, ITAR-TASS cited sources close to the prime minister saying that Lebed's responsibilities in Chechnya would be reduced so that he could focus on other issues (see OMRI Daily Digest, 16 September 1996). Lebed had earlier complained that Yeltsin was not signing his own decrees (see OMRI Daily Digest, 21 August 1996). -- Robert Orttung ...CHUBAIS DENIES TENSION... Presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais claimed in an interview with Izvestiya published on 18 September that he is working in "close cooperation" with Lebed. He warned that it was not in his, Yeltsin's, or Chernomyrdin's interests for there to be renewed fighting in Chechnya. Chubais said the main job of the presidential administration is to work on issues of personnel and to improve the quality of civil servants. A second crucial task for the administration is the distribution of money between regions, a job he claimed that the government could not perform. He said that his dismissal from the government in January was a political decision by Yeltsin and not the work of former Presidential Security Service Chief Aleksandr Korzhakov. Chubais also claimed that he did not want the job as chief of staff and would have preferred to set up his own consulting company. -- Robert Orttung ...WHILE LEBED'S ALLIES SEE CHERNOMYRDIN/ZYUGANOV CONSPIRACY. With Yeltsin's health increasingly in doubt, the Democratic Party of Russia (DPR), whose leader Sergei Glazev is one of Lebed's deputies in the Security Council, issued a statement accusing Chernomyrdin and Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov of conspiring against Lebed and planning a "creeping coup d'etat," Izvestiya reported on 18 September. The statement said both government figures and Communists are waging a campaign to discredit Lebed and his peace initiatives in Chechnya. Izvestiya said the DPR press service later told the paper that its statement was mainly directed against Zyuganov, not Chernomyrdin. -- Laura Belin LEBED WON'T ATTEND COUNCIL OF EUROPE HEARINGS. Lebed said he will not accept an invitation from the Council of Europe to hearings on the Chechnya crisis later this month, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 September. He added that there was "no sense" in the council discussing human rights in Chechnya when Chechen separatists are implementing a criminal code based on Islamic law. The council had earlier invited Lebed and Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov to the hearings, prompting a storm of protest from Russian politicians. -- Laura Belin YAVLINSKII OUTLINES PRIORITIES. In an interview published in Trud on 17 September, Yabloko leader and failed presidential candidate Grigorii Yavlinskii said poverty is the main problem facing Russia and described Yabloko as the only political force defending the interests of working people. He said the authorities do not worry when Communists speak out against poverty, because the Communists have shown themselves to be a "convenient" opposition (for instance, by voting to confirm Chernomyrdin and sending one of their allies, Aman Tuleev, to join the government). Yavlinskii, who has kept a low profile since the presidential election, said no Yabloko members joined the cabinet because it soon became apparent after the election that Yeltsin did not plan to change his social and economic policies. Instead, he said, Yabloko hopes to build a strong democratic opposition, so that Russian voters are not forced to choose "between two evils" in future elections. -- Laura Belin NO MONEY FOR ARMED FORCES IN AUGUST. Defense Ministry officials told ITAR-TASS on 17 September that the ministry had received no money at all from the federal government in August and only 4.4% due it in July. Officials of the Information Department were quoted as saying: "The time has come for state officials to look in the eyes of the military and honestly say whether Russia needs the army at all." The officials complained that the other "power structures" were getting most of their funds. -- Doug Clarke QUALIFIED SUPPORT FOR START 2. Leading a delegation of parliamentarians to Washington, Duma Defense Committee chairman Lev Rokhlin said on 18 September that it was in Russia's interest to ratify the Start 2 nuclear weapons treaty, ITAR TASS reported. However, Rokhlin still expressed some reservations about the treaty. He said that it was more beneficial to the U.S. than to Russia, and that it would cost Russia $40-50 billion to dismantle the old missiles and build 500 new single warhead missiles. He urged the preparation of a START 3 to correct these deficiencies. -- Peter Rutland IRAQI PRAISE FOR MOSCOW. During a visit to Moscow, the deputy foreign minister of Iraq, Riyad al-Kaisi, said that there is "unity in the evaluation of events [in the Gulf] between Russia and Iraq," ITAR-TASS reported on 17 September. The Iraqi minister said that Russia was a firm supporter of the territorial integrity of Iraq, and claimed that Russian protests had helped deter the U.S. from further military action. Russian diplomats have tried to take a more even-handed stance than the minister suggests, urging Iraq not to take provocative actions. -- Peter Rutland STRIKE CONTINUES IN PRIMORE; REFERENDUM CALLED OFF. The regional strike by 10,000 Dalenergo power workers entered its third day on 18 September, ITAR-TASS reported. Power output -- already low -- has not been reduced significantly, but all maintenance work and storing of supplies has stopped. At the Primorskii power station, 189 workers are now into the third week of a hunger strike over wage arrears, a union representative told ITAR-TASS. One billion rubles have been transferred to the plant by Dalenergo, but the strikers are determined to hold out for the entire 22.6 billion owed. Meanwhile, the Primorskii Krai Duma canceled a scheduled referendum on confidence in Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko. The governor said the plebiscite was unnecessary because solutions worked out with the federal government would stabilize the situation in the krai's energy sector. A spokesman for the Energy Ministry told Reuters, however, that he knew of no comprehensive deal. -- Penny Morvant RUSSIA TAKES FIRST STEPS IN PROTECTING INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS. The State Anti-Monopoly Committee has organized the first hearing in Russia on the violation of intellectual property rights and business reputations, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 September. The committee found the Russian computer firm Bit Software guilty of spreading false information which damaged the reputation of a competitor. The hearing creates an important legislative precedent, the results of which may be closely studied and used by some commercial banks which have recently been misreported in the Russian media. -- Natalia Gurushina SHUTDOWN OF REGIONAL INDUSTRY One of the industrial giants of Russia, the coke and chemical plant Altai KKS in Altai krai, is in a critical financial situation and on the brink of complete shutdown, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 September. Mines have stopped supplying coal, protesting arrears of 44 billion rubles from the plant. The production of coking and chemical gas has fallen fourfold from last year. Presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais recently requested Altai krai's administration to take drastic measures to deal with the region's budget debts of 60 billion rubles. Meanwhile, the Vladivostok distillery has declared bankruptcy, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 September. The company will pay off 3.6 billion rubles of its debts in vodka. -- Ritsuko Sasaki TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA BADALYAN'S CAMPAIGN PROGRAM. Interviewed in Yerevan on 16 September, Armenian Communist Party leader Sergei Badalyan highlighted the key points of his program for the 22 September presidential election. Badalyan advocates "renewed socialism," which he argues is an ideology uniquely suited to the Armenian mindset; a new NEP (New Economic Policy); the creation of agricultural collectives which peasants may join on a voluntary basis without relinquishing the land they acquired through privatization; and the revision of the constitution adopted in 1995 to limit the powers of the president and subordinate the government to parliament. Badalyan's foreign policy focuses on Armenian membership of the Russia-Belarus Union "in order to guarantee Armenia's national security." He believes that in seeking a solution to the Karabakh conflict the right to national self-determination should take precedence over the principle of territorial integrity. RFE/RL reports that there are now only three candidates for the 22 September election. Incumbent Levon Ter-Petrossyan faces the communist Badalyan and the unified opposition candidate Vazgen Manukyan. -- Liz Fuller in Yerevan (monitoring the presidential election for the European Institute for Media) NAZARBAYEV IN TBILISI. Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze and his visiting Kazakstani counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev signed 14 bilateral agreements in Tbilisi on 17 September, RFE/RL reported the same day. The accords cover economic cooperation, sport, transport, transit and trade as well as cooperation between the security agencies of the two countries. -- Lowell Bezanis UZBEKISTAN HOSTS AFGHAN TALKS. An Afghan government delegation arrived in Tashkent on 17 September for three days of what were described as "secret" talks with Afghan General Rashid Dostum, an ethnic Uzbek commander in control of much of Afghan territory south of Uzbekistan, AFP reported the same day. Dostum, widely considered to be under Tashkent's patronage, is being vigorously courted by Kabul after the government lost the strategic town of Jalalabad last week, giving rise to fears Kabul may be overrun by the Taliban militia which presently controls an estimated 60% of the country. -- Lowell Bezanis CEASEFIRE IN KARATEGIN VALLEY. Tajik government officials and opposition field commanders agreed to a ceasefire in the Karategin valley on 16 September, Western and Russian news agencies reported. The agreement appears to stipulate that checkpoints established by both sides are to be lifted in Garm, Jirgatal and Tajikabad, thereby permitting transit on the solitary artery linking the country's capital with the Pamirs and Kyrgyzstan. -- Lowell Bezanis [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Victor Gomez ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570 ------------------------------------------------------------------------ SUBSCRIBING/UNSUBSCRIBING 1) Compose a message to LISTSERV@UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU 2) To subscribe, write: SUBSCRIBE OMRI-L FirstName LastName (include your own name) To unsubscribe, write: UNSUBSCRIBE OMRI-L 3) Send the message BACK ISSUES Back issues of the OMRI Daily Digest are available through the World Wide Web, by FTP and by E-mail. 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