|We are all apt to believe what the world believes about us. - George Eliot|
No. 187, Part I, 26 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 OPERATION DELAYED SIX TO TEN WEEKS. Doctors attending President Boris Yeltsin decided on 25 September to delay his heart operation by six to 10 weeks, and Yeltsin will rest until then in the hospital or the Barvikha sanatorium. He will also need about six to eight weeks to recover from the procedure, NTV reported. American doctors would perform the operation quickly to avoid the risk of a serious heart attack during the delay, The Washington Post argued. Yeltsin's doctors stressed that his kidneys, lungs, and liver were functioning normally, but that he was suffering from anemia. The continued uncertainty surrounding the president will undoubtedly encourage more infighting among his closest lieutenants. -- Robert Orttung YANDARBIEV, KHARLAMOV WRAP UP TALKS. Russian Security Council Deputy Secretary Sergei Kharlamov on 25 September ended talks with the Chechen leadership on the agenda for acting President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev's upcoming meeting with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed in Moscow, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. In Moscow, Lebed chaired a closed meeting to discuss implementation of the agreements on demilitarization. Meanwhile, the withdrawal of Russian troops and Interior Ministry forces from Chechnya is proceeding according to schedule, although the situation there remains tense. The Russian military procuracy has instigated criminal proceedings against the former commander of the Russian interior ministry forces in Chechnya, Maj.-Gen. Partagen Andrievskii, for negligence during the defense of Grozny against a massed attack by Chechen forces in March. -- Liz Fuller LEBED HOPES CHECHNYA WILL NOT SECEDE. Lebed, in an interview published in Izvestiya on 26 September, said that Chechens will likely vote to remain within the Russian Federation in the envisioned referendum five year from now, but that their decision depends on how well the Russian government meets its commitments to the republic. Lebed defended his advisor Sergei Glazev's attacks on the government's economic policies as "normal" and giving no cause for removing him. He sees the Security Council's job as determining the direction of defense, social, information, and economic security, while the government implements policy. Lebed said that he "did not rule out" supporting former Director of the Presidential Security Service Aleksandr Korzhakov if he ran for the Duma seat in Tula that Lebed had to resign when he joined Yeltsin's administration. He described the situation in Tula as "criminal" and suggested that Korzhakov might be able to improve it. -- Robert Orttung RUTSKOI FOUNDS POPULAR-PATRIOTIC UNION. The Justice Ministry has registered a new movement called the Popular-Patriotic Union, whose honorary chairman is former Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi, Pravda-5 and Kommersant-Daily reported on 26 September. The movement is separate from Gennadii Zyuganov's Popular-Patriotic Union of Russia (NPSR), which was founded in August but has not yet been officially registered, although Rutskoi remains on the NPSR's executive committee. The papers said the new movement could strengthen Rutskoi's hand in the opposition camp. Kommersant-Daily also speculated that Rutskoi is taking revenge against Zyuganov's Communist Party for not doing more to help him register as a gubernatorial candidate in Kursk Oblast. Communists in the Kursk legislature, who have a majority, could have repealed the residency requirement under which the local electoral commission denied Rutskoi registration, the paper argued. Rutskoi has appealed to the Supreme Court, claiming the residency requirement is illegal. -- Laura Belin FSB ARRESTS ALLEGED CIA AGENT. Federal Security Service (FSB) agents have arrested a Russian citizen on charges of spying for the U.S., an FSB official told ITAR-TASS on 25 September. The accused spy, identified only as Finkel, worked at a naval scientific research institute, and was recruited a year ago by the CIA, which wanted information on the latest generation of Russian nuclear submarines, according to the FSB source. The FSB official claimed that Finkel had been recruited by a CIA field officer named John Satter, whom he described as working under the cover of a consular position at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. Finkel, who was arrested "some time ago," allegedly hoped to trade classified information for political asylum in the U.S. -- Scott Parrish CHERNOMYRDIN MEETS MILITARY LEADERS. Chernomyrdin met with Defense Minister Col.-Gen. Igor Rodionov and other top Defense Ministry officials on 25 September to discuss the financial situation of the armed forces, ITAR-TASS reported. The meeting took place on the same day as Lebed harshly criticized the government for neglecting the financial needs of the military (see OMRI Daily Digest, 25 September 1996). The meeting suggests that Chernomyrdin may be assuming more responsibility for the military due to Yeltsin's illness. Meanwhile, Krasnaya Zvezda on 25 September reported that 123 servicemen had committed suicide this year, which it attributed to the demeaning material conditions of military service. The same day, Izvestiya reported that pilots of an air defense unit in Kamchatka, unpaid since May, had gone on a hunger strike in protest. -- Scott Parrish PAPERS TAKE HARD LINE ON NATO. On the eve of Rodionov's meeting with his NATO counterparts in Bergen, Norway, Izvestiya on 24 September lambasted U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry's recent proposal for a European "security ring" as "only a new verbal strategy" to cover NATO expansion. The next day, Nezavisimya gazeta panned another Perry proposal to give Russia a "special status" in its relationship with NATO, complaining that while Poland and Estonia would be admitted to NATO, Russia would be "shown the door." It attributed this "unfair treatment" to Western unwillingness to help defend Russia, and to fears that Moscow would not "march to the American tune" if admitted to the alliance. Izvestiya on 26 September said that Rodionov faced a "hard task" in Bergen, trying to persuade his Western colleagues to accept Russian views on the "depressing subject of NATO's eastward expansion." -- Scott Parrish CONTROVERSY SURROUNDS AMUR GOVERNOR ELECTION. Central Electoral Commission Chairman Nikolai Ryabov has recommended that the Amur Oblast Commission defer announcing the final results of the 22 September gubernatorial elections in Amur until all complaints about procedural violations have been examined, Radio Rossii reported on 25 September. Complaints have reportedly been filed by residents of remote regions unable to vote because of bad weather. Preliminary unofficial results put Communist challenger Anatolii Belonogov, the chairman of the oblast legislature, less than 200 votes ahead of incumbent Yurii Lyashko, who was appointed by Yeltsin only three months ago. The Communists have done well in previous elections in Amur Oblast. Kommersant-Daily likened the delay in announcing the results to the situation in Tatarstan during the first round of the presidential election, when early reports gave Zyuganov more votes than Yeltsin but the final results reversed the situation. -- Penny Morvant REFERENDUM IN VLADIVOSTOK? Viktor Cherepkov, the newly reinstated mayor of Vladivostok, told Russian Television (RTR) on 25 September that he doubted whether a referendum called by his opponents in the city administration would be fair. The first deputy head of the Vladivostok city administration said the same day that 30,988 signatures had been gathered in favor of a referendum on ending Cherepkov's term in office prematurely and that it would take place on 27 October. Signatures began to be collected in August after a Moscow court ruled that Cherepkov's dismissal was unlawful. Cherepkov's replacement, Konstantin Tolstoshein, refused to comment on Yeltsin's decree of 24 September reinstating Cherepkov until he had seen the original rather than a faxed copy, ORT reported on 25 November. The decree was published in Rossiisaya gazeta on 26 September. -- Penny Morvant FOREIGN INVESTMENT IN CIS. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has issued a report on foreign direct investment in 1995, ITAR-TASS reported on 25 September. Russia received a mere $2 billion, compared to $3.5 billion for Hungary, and $2.5 billion each for Poland and the Czech Republic. Other CIS countries also fared poorly. Kazakstan received $284 million, Ukraine $200 million, Uzbekistan $115 million, Azerbaijan $110 million, Moldova $32 million, Belarus $20 million, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan $15 million each. The total flow of investment worldwide was $315 billion, of which $38 billion went to China. -- Peter Rutland GLAZEV'S APPROACH TO ECONOMIC POLICY. In an interview with Trud on 25 September, the Deputy Secretary of the Security Council in charge of economic affairs, Sergei Glazev, said the Russian economy has entered a stage of deep decline following a short period of stabilization in 1995. In July 1996 GDP fell by 9%, industrial output by 7%, agricultural production by 13%, and investment by 20% over the same period in 1995. He stressed that Russia is losing its status in the world and may become an economy of the colonial type. According to Glazev, the government's focus of attention should shift from monetary targets to the real sector. In order to overcome the industrial crisis, Glazev suggested introducing strict price and currency controls, export duties on raw materials, and tax exemptions for the part of companies' profits spent on the development of production. -- Natalia Gurushina WAGE ARREARS CONTINUE TO MOUNT. Minister of Labor and Social Development Gennadii Melikyan is concerned that wage arrears have reached a total of 36.5 trillion rubles ($6.8 billion) and continue to increase by 5-6% a month, ITAR-TASS reported on 25 September. Wage arrears in budget organizations amount to 6.6 trillion rubles, of which 1 trillion is owed by the federal budget. The Federation of Independent Trade Unions intends to stage a national day of protest against wage arrears on 5 November, Ekho Moskvy reported on 25 September. -- Ritsuko Sasaki NEW COMMISSION TO TACKLE MONOPOLY POLICY. A special government interdepartmental commission has been created and instructed to recommend by the end of the year a new policy for regulating energy and communications monopolies, Segodnya reported on 25 September. The report said that the government has agreed with the IMF to reduce state shareholding in the "natural monopolies" and remove their tax privileges -- which are seen as a major reason for the shortfall in budget revenues. The government also plans to turn Gazprom's extracting firms into judicially independent daughter companies, who will bid for access to gas pipelines. The newspaper also reported that a decree reintroducing export duties on oil and gas condensate will be issued shortly. -- Peter Rutland TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA OPPOSITION SUPPORTERS STORM ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT. Following a session of the Central Electoral Commission on 25 September, four commission members issued a statement rejecting as inaccurate the preliminary presidential election returns released on 24 September by CEC Chairman Khachatour Bezirjian. The four claimed that opposition candidate and National Democratic Union Chairman Vazgen Manukyan polled 55% of the vote as opposed to 37% for incumbent Levon Ter-Petrossyan, Western agencies reported. Some 10,000 Manukyan supporters marched to the building housing the CEC and the Armenian parliament, which was cordoned off by special police. Some 45 minutes after Manukyan entered the building, Paruir Hairikyan, chairman of the radical Union for National Self-Determination and one of three presidential contenders who withdrew to support Manukyan, announced (mistakenly) that the latter had been arrested, whereupon demonstrators broke through the perimeter fence and forced their way into the building. Riot police used water cannon and fired over the heads of the demonstrators; parliament Chairman Babken Ararktsyan and his deputy were hospitalized after being beaten by demonstrators. According to Noyan Tapan, Western agencies, and The New York Times of 26 September, one person was killed in the clashes and up to 50 others, including former presidential candidate Lenser Agahalovyan, were injured -- Liz Fuller MANUKYAN ARRESTED. Presidential spokesman Shahen Karamanukyan and Interior Minister Vano Siradeghyan denounced the attack on the parliament building as "an attempted fascist coup ordered by one of the leaders of the National Democratic Union," Reuters and AFP reported. ITAR-TASS quoted Siradeghyan as stating that three organizers of the protest had been arrested; Prosecutor General Artavazd Gevorkyan announced that the organizers would be charged with attempting to stage a coup d'etat and the attempted murder of the parliament speaker and his deputy, according to AFP. Speaking on state television on the morning of 26 September, President Ter-Petrossyan imposed a ban on all unsanctioned meetings and demonstrations. Early the same day, riot police surrounded the presidential palace, which is close to the parliament building, and tanks and armored personnel carriers cordoned off Yerevan's main square and the nearby headquarters of the NDU. On the morning of 26 September, the Armenian parliament voted by an overwhelming majority to lift Manukyan's immunity. He and several other opposition leaders were subsequently arrested, Western agencies reported. -- Liz Fuller AZERIS DISTURBED BY JOINT RUSSIAN-ARMENIAN EXERCISE. The Azerbaijan Foreign Ministry on 25 September expressed concern at the recent joint Russian-Armenian military exercises, ITAR-TASS reported. A ministry statement charged that the maneuvers were aimed at enhancing the combat effectiveness of the "Armenian occupation forces" in Nagorno-Karabakh. The Azeris were particularly concerned that officials from Nagorno- Karabakh attended the exercises, as did the Armenian president and Russian Chief of Staff Col.-Gen. Mikhail Kolesnikov. -- Doug Clarke ELECTION OUTCOME IN ADZHARIA, GEORGIA. According to the Central Election Commission in Batumi, 93.8% of the electorate voted in the 22 September parliamentary elections in Adzharia, ITAR-TASS reported on 25 September. As widely predicted, the ruling coalition and election bloc composed of the All-Georgian Revival Union, led by parliamentary chairman Aslan Abashidze, and the ruling party in Georgia led by President Eduard Shevardnadze, the Union of Georgian Citizens, secured 83% of the vote. One seat each is known to have been secured by the Union of Georgian Traditionalists and the Tavisupleba [Freedom] bloc. The number of seats secured by the Adzharian regional branch of the United Communist Party of Georgia, which took over 5% of the vote, is still unclear. -- Lowell Bezanis [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Steve Kettle ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 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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