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No. 190, Part I, 1 October 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 CHERNOMYRDIN, SELEZNEV MEET ON EVE OF FALL DUMA SESSION. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and State Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev agreed at a 30 September meeting that closer cooperation was needed between the government and Duma, ITAR-TASS quoted Seleznev as saying. The communist- dominated Duma is set to open on 2 October. In addition to drafting the 1997 budget and analyzing the situation in Chechnya, the Duma will work on tax legislation and the land code. It will also consider banning the death penalty as part of Russia's commitment to the Council of Europe. Seleznev said there are no plans to pass a law on certifying the health of the country's top officials. Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov on 30 September repeated his call for such certification and suggested again that President Boris Yeltsin should resign because of his impending operation. -- Robert Orttung YANDARBIEV'S MOSCOW TRIP POSTPONED. Chechen Minister of Information Movladi Udugov told journalists on 30 September that acting Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev will not travel to Moscow on 1 October for talks with Russian leaders, as was previously announced, Radio Rossii reported. He said that, instead, a representative of Yandarbiev will fly to Moscow on 3 October to prepare for a visit by Yandarbiev at a later (unspecified) date. Meanwhile, acting commander Yevgenii Avakumyants told Russian Public TV (ORT) on 30 September that the ongoing withdrawal of Russian forces from Chechnya is proceeding well and will be completed by the end of October, two weeks earlier than originally planned. A meeting of Chechen social and political organizations held in Kabardino-Balkariya on 28-29 September proposed the 35-year-old Ada-Shamala Deniev, the virtually unknown leader of the self-proclaimed "government for the salvation of the Chechen people," as the head of a new Chechen coalition government, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Liz Fuller GOVERNMENT DIVIDED OVER ECONOMIC POLICY. Ministers are split into two camps and "Russia is on the brink of a fierce bureaucratic battle following a fairly long political breathing space," Nezavisimaya gazeta argued on 1 October. The "finance" group, led by First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Potanin and including Finance Minister Aleksandr Livshits and Economics Minister Yevgennii Yasin, wants to concentrate on reducing the interest rate (in part to allow more foreign borrowing), fighting tax arrears, and breaking up monopolies like Gazprom. The "sectoral" group, led by First Deputy Prime Minister Aleksei Bolshakov, wants to halt the slide in industrial production. This battle, based on two different concepts of Russia's economic development, may remain hidden from view because Chernomyrdin will not allow public attacks. However, it will likely surface as the Duma begins to debate the 1997 budget. -- Peter Rutland GAIDAR FORMS "LIBERAL COALITION." Seven groups, including Yegor Gaidar's Russia's Democratic Choice, have joined forces, pledging to offer a "liberal alternative to bureaucratic capitalism," Russian media reported on 30 September. As expected, Democratic Russia co-leader Galina Starovoitova, Common Cause leader Irina Khakamada, and former presidential chief of staff Sergei Filatov joined Gaidar's "confederation," along with four tiny parties that cooperated with Gaidar before the 1995 parliamentary election. The alliance lacks electoral clout, since the member groups gained less than 5% last December, and neither the pro-government Our Home Is Russia movement nor Grigorii Yavlinskii's Yabloko party will join. -- Laura Belin COMMUNIST GROUPS FAIL TO UNITE. Representatives of various communist groups failed to agree on forming a united party at a 28 September meeting in Moscow, Russian media reported. The main organizer of the conference, the Union of Communist Parties--Communist Party of the Soviet Union, supports the moderate line adopted by Gennadii Zyuganov's Communist Party of the Russian Federation. However, several small radical groups have long criticized Zyuganov for abandoning the class struggle and other aspects of Marxist ideology. -- Laura Belin APPEAL AGAINST LEBED/MASKHADOV AGREEMENT TO BE SENT TO CONSTITUTIONAL COURT. Ninety-three Duma deputies will appeal to the Constitutional Court against the agreement reached on 31 August between Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed and Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov, Kommersant-Daily reported on 1 October. The court appeal was initiated by two deputies from Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, who claimed that Lebed exceeded his authority in signing the document. In addition, they objected to a provision recognizing Chechnya as a subject of international law and charged that the agreement did not clarify how Russia should deal with the pro-Moscow Chechen leadership. -- Laura Belin NORTH KOREA BLASTS RUSSIAN ARMS DELIVERIES TO SOUTH KOREA. The official North Korean press agency on 30 September denounced Russia over recent weapons shipments to Seoul that included T-80 tanks and armored personnel carriers, Russian and Western agencies reported. It described the arms deliveries as "an irresponsible and reckless act" demonstrating that Russia is "no less hostile" to North Korea than the U.S. The shipments, which began last month, will total $451 million and are part of a 1995 deal to partly repay $1.47 billion in Russian debt. -- Scott Parrish RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER CONCERNED ABOUT AFGHANISTAN. Speaking in Morocco on 30 September, Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov noted that Moscow has no plans to establish contacts with the Islamic Taliban movement, Reuters reported. The Taliban now controls the Afghan capital Kabul as well as most of the country. Primakov also denounced the summary execution of former Afghan President Najibullah as an "odious massacre." Reflecting Russian concerns that the Taliban victory may spark a wave of regional instability in Central Asia, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman the same day described that victory as a "catastrophe for the Afghan people" that threatened "the entire region." -- Scott Parrish YELTSIN URGES COMPROMISE IN BELARUS . . . President Boris Yeltsin on 30 September urged his Belarusian counterpart Alyaksandr Lukashenka to do "everything possible" to forge a compromise with his parliamentary opponents, Russian and Western agencies reported. In a message to Lukashenka, Yeltsin said steps to avoid inflaming the situation in Belarus were "very important" if the April agreement on forming a Russo- Belarusian community were to move forward. Yeltsin's unusually frank advice, which contradicts the Russian president's own use of force to crush parliamentary opposition in October 1993, reflects concern in Moscow over the consequences of the current political confrontation in Minsk. Meanwhile, Belarusian Supreme Soviet Chairman Syamyon Sharetsky met with Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev in Moscow to discuss the development of the Russo- Belorusian community. -- Scott Parrish . . . WHILE LUZHKOV PRAISES LUKASHENKA. In contrast, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov praised Lukashenka as "a dynamic, strong, open individual," NTV reported on 30 September. Luzhkov said that in his struggle with the parliament "my sympathies without question are with the Belarusian president. The parliamentary path of development," Luzhkov continued, will also only be suitable for Russia "after it has put itself on its feet and strengthened its economy." Luzhkov's remarks were made as he accepted a gift of a trolley from Lukashenka, marking his 60th birthday. -- Peter Rutland CHERNOMYRDIN ON RELATIONS WITH UKRAINE. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin announced that he hopes to sign an agreement which will "finally resolve the problem of dividing the Black Sea Fleet," during a visit to Kyiv scheduled for late October, ITAR-TASS reported on 30 September. Chernomyrdin termed his 28 September meeting with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, "extraordinarily useful," saying that the two sides had "synchronized" their views on issues like VAT on bilateral trade and NATO expansion. Nationalist deputies in the Duma remain discontented with the state of bilateral relations, however. Georgii Tikhonov, chairman of the Duma Committee on CIS Affairs, declared the same day that his committee will submit draft legislation halting the division of the fleet, Radio Rossii reported. Tikhonov also declared that the Crimean capital of Sevastopol "was, is, and will be Russian," a slogan sure to irritate Kyiv.-- Scott Parrish TENSION RISING IN THE MILITARY. Nezavisimaya gazeta on 1 October warned that the mounting state debt to the military is leading to a dangerous rise in tension in Russia's armed forces. Noting that the Defense Ministry is more than 30 trillion rubles in debt ($5.5 billion), the paper asked how long the army can endure this situation. According to opinion polls cited by the paper, about a quarter of servicemen are ready to take part in protest actions if their financial situation deteriorates further. Military personnel are barred from striking, but the paper warned that there may be the creation of a wave of officers' organizations and their integration into left-wing and nationalist political organizations; and the development of separatist military tendencies in some regions, such as Kaliningrad and the Far East. -- Penny Morvant CHEREPKOV RETURNS TO OFFICE. Viktor Cherepkov, the newly reinstated mayor of Vladivostok, returned to work on 30 September, Russian TV reported. His first priorities will be looking into the city's finances and making preparations for winter. He has promised not to fire city officials appointed by his predecessor, Konstantin Tolstoshein, unless they try to sabotage his work. But many have said they want nothing to do with the mayor and have called for a referendum on his dismissal. Cherepkov will also face considerable opposition from the krai authorities--in particular, from Tolstoshein, who in his new position as first deputy governor of Primorskii Krai will still have jurisdiction over Vladivostok. The mayor's reinstatement was also opposed by the president's representative in the krai, Vladimir Ignatenko. Cherepkov was accompanied to Vladivostok by three Duma deputies and a senior member of the presidential administration to ensure the orderly transfer of power. -- Penny Morvant ENERGY PRICE INCREASES. In accordance with its previous announcement, the government is to raise energy prices beginning 1 October, ITAR-TASS reported. Prices will eventually double for residential consumers using more than 200 kilowatt hours per month. The increases will vary across the country, since regional energy commissions will set rates taking into account local energy costs. Oleg Britvin, vice president of EES Rossii (Unified Energy System), said tariffs for industrial users are lower than those for households. However, some populist regional authorities are not complying with this policy. In Primore, for example, the new tariffs for industrial users are twice as high as those for residents. -- Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA CORRECTION: In the 30 September OMRI Daily Digest, the first sentence of the item "Commission upholds Ter-Petrossyan's election victory" should have read: Armenia's Central Electoral Commission on 29 September released the final results of the 22 September presidential election in which incumbent Levon Ter-Petrossyan received 51.75% of the 1,333,204 votes cast. TER-PETROSSYAN SOFTENS RHETORIC IN TV ADDRESS. Speaking on state TV on 30 September, Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan acknowledged that voter dissatisfaction with his leadership's social and economic policies compelled more than 40% of the electorate to vote against him in the 22 September presidential elections, RFE/RL reported. He reiterated his campaign promises of a government reshuffle and a crackdown on corruption. Ter-Petrossyan characterized the 25 September attack on the parliament building by supporters of his opponent Vazgen Manukyan as "a sad event" but argued that it should not be turned "into a national tragedy." A spokesman for the Armenian prosecutor told Reuters on 30 September that only nine arrest warrants have been issued so far, but Western diplomats estimate that a total of 250 have been detained, many of whom did not participate in the violence. -- Liz Fuller GEORGIA DENIES ABKHAZ ALLEGATIONS. On 30 September, the Georgian Foreign Ministry denied charges by the leadership of the breakaway region of Abkhazia that Georgian troops were responsible for a series of explosions and terrorist acts in Abkhazia's Gali and Ochamchira raions over the past few days, ITAR-TASS reported. Also on 30 September, Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili told a news conference in Tbilisi that the UN does not envisage any participation in peacekeeping operations in Abkhazia, although he did not exclude the involvement of other international organizations in mediating a peace agreement between the central Georgian government in Tbilisi and the separatist leadership in Sukhumi. -- Liz Fuller AUTUMN SESSION OF AZERBAIJANI PARLIAMENT OPENS. Azerbaijan's parliament began its autumn session on 30 September, ITAR-TASS reported, but failed to elect a new speaker to replace Rasul Guliev, who stepped down last month after harshly criticizing the country's economic policy. The agenda for the session includes the establishment of free economic zones and cooperation in the oil sector within the framework of the CIS, according to the news agency Turan. -- Liz Fuller CENTRAL ASIA VOICES CONCERN OVER KABUL'S FALL. The Tajik government on 30 September expressed its concern that the recent events in Kabul will have a negative impact on efforts to secure the Tajik-Afghan border, Russian media reported. Also on 30 September, the Kazakstani Foreign Ministry called on the UN to take urgent measures to end the bloodshed in Afghanistan, warning that economic collapse and political instability there could threaten the stability of Central Asia, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Lowell Bezanis and Bruce Pannier KAZAKSTANI TRADE UNIONS IN DISPUTE WITH GOVERNMENT. The Federation of Kazakstani Trade Unions has unilaterally suspended parts of the General Agreement on cooperation with the government, ITAR-TASS reported on 30 September. In a document released the same day, it blamed the government for the "collapse of economic, financial, and social policies" in the country. It warned that in the future it would not refrain from actions protesting "the mass impoverishment of the majority of the population." -- Bruce Pannier TAJIKISTAN: PEACE IN THE EAST, FIGHTING IN THE WEST. RFE/RL reported on 30 September that, with the truce agreement along Tajikistan's northern highway still holding, a new peace agreement has been worked out between the Tajik government and opposition guaranteeing that the southern highway will be open to vehicles. Tensions along the Tajik-Afghan border remain high following the downing of a Russian helicopter on 29 September by fire from the Afghan side of the border. Meanwhile, in the western Tajik town of Tursun Zade, fighting is reported between two local groups vying for control of the town. Ibodullo Baimatov, who captured the town by force in January 1996, is battling a former ally known only as Kadyrkul, Pravda reported on 28 September. Government troops sent to the area are openly supporting Kadyrkul. -- Bruce Pannier [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Jan Cleave ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 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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