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No. 193, Part I, 4 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 YANDARBIEV, CHERNOMYRDIN SIGN FURTHER AGREEMENT. A delegation headed by acting Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev held talks in Moscow on 3 October with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed, and Nationalities Minister Vyacheslav Mikhailov, Russian and Western agencies reported. Yandarbiev and Chernomyrdin signed an agreement on the creation of a joint Russian- Chechen commission, in accordance with the agreement concluded on 30 August in Khasavyurt by Lebed and Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov, which is to monitor the withdrawal of Russian forces from Chechnya, implement measures to prevent crime and terrorism, and prepare proposals for economic restoration, according to Reuters and ITAR-TASS. In a statement issued after the meeting, Chernomyrdin noted "differences" between the Russian and Chechen positions and stressed that "the inviolability of the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation is not open to question," according to ITAR-TASS. Yandarbiev told Russian TV (RTR) that "the nature of relations between the Russian Federation and the Chechen Republic will be decided over a protracted period ... we have a minimum of about five years." -- Liz Fuller LEBED THREATENS TO RESIGN, YELTSIN KEEPS HIM ON. President Boris Yeltsin met with Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed on 3 October for the first time since 12 August. Lebed offered his resignation since Yeltsin replaced him with Defense Council Secretary Yurii Baturin as the chairman of the commission that approves all high-ranking military promotions, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. Yeltsin rejected Lebed's resignation and called on him to stop quarreling with the prime minister and state bodies. Lebed had threatened to quit on 16 August if Yeltsin did not remove Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov but later backed down after Yeltsin refused. In his morning radio address, Yeltsin backed Lebed's activities in Chechnya, saying he had fulfilled an order to stop the fighting. Resigning would boost Lebed's chances of winning the next presidential election since he could argue that he had made a valiant effort to resolve the Chechen conflict but that the Kremlin prevented him from implementing it. -- Robert Orttung LEBED STAYS AWAY FROM DEFENSE COUNCIL MEETING. Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed did not attend the first session of the Defense Council on 4 October, Reuters reported. ITAR-TASS quoted a source in the Security Council staff who said that Lebed is busy working with documents from the 3 October negotiations with acting Chechen President Yandarbiev. Yeltsin established the Defense Council on 25 July to counter Lebed's influence over military and security issues. -- Robert Orttung YELTSIN ISSUES BLAND STATEMENT ON OCTOBER 1993 EVENTS, COMMUNISTS DEMONSTRATE. President Yeltsin marked on 3 October the third anniversary of his bloody battle with the Supreme Soviet without placing blame for the conflict in which at least 150 people died. He said that the authorities and the opposition learned from the violence that Russia's future depends on "political dialogue and partnership," ITAR-TASS reported. He also claimed that there are now "precise legal mechanisms" to prevent such a conflict. Meanwhile, Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov attended a rally of about 150 people commemorating the street clashes that occurred around the Ostankino TV headquarters during the crisis. Workers' Russia leader Viktor Anpilov led a march of a few hundred demonstrators, some carrying photographs of those killed in 1993, to the White House, which formerly housed the Supreme Soviet but is now the government headquarters, ORT and ITAR-TASS reported. -- Robert Orttung and Laura Belin THREE GENERALS REMOVED. President Yeltsin has sacked Col.-Gen. Yevgenii Podkolzin, the Airborne Forces commander, Col.-Gen. Vladimir Ivanov, the Space Forces commander, and Col.-Gen. Vladimir Zhurbenko, the first deputy chief of the General Staff, NTV and ORT reported on 3 October. The removals, which followed a meeting with Defense Minister Igor Rodionov, were officially attributed to the fact that the three generals had reached the retirement age, 60, for their rank. However, Russian law allows for exceptions to be made to this rule, and Izvestiya on 4 October linked Podkolzin's removal to a recent Defense Ministry announcement that the Airborne Forces personnel will be reduced from 63,000 to 48,000 by 15 December. -- Scott Parrish NUCLEAR MISSILES TESTED IN STRATEGIC FORCES EXERCISE. As part of the "Redut-96" strategic command and control exercise, nuclear-capable missiles, including a RS-12m "Topol" ICBM, a submarine-launched ballistic missile, and two air-launched cruise missiles were test- launched on 3 October, ITAR-TASS reported. The test missiles performed satisfactorily and hit their designated targets, according to Russian military officials. The exercise involved the use of the "nuclear suitcase," and was directed from General Staff headquarters by Defense Minister Igor Rodionov, who was joined by Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. Chernomyrdin, who is not normally in the nuclear chain-of- command, will become acting president for the period of Yeltsin's heart surgery, and has been increasing his involvement in military and security affairs in recent weeks. -- Scott Parrish BORDER GUARDS SERVICE. The head of the Federal Border Guards Service, Gen. Andrei Nikolaev, analyzed the work of his organization in an interview published in Vechernyaya Moskva on 2 October. His 210,000 troops, equipped with their own artillery and helicopters, guard the borders not just of Russia but also of Belarus, Armenia, Georgia, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakstan. Nikolaev explained that "we follow the 'two borders' strategy, which means that we have to protect the national interests and guard the borders of CIS countries, along with protecting Russia's national interests on Russia's borders." In 1995, 1,340 people were detained on the Russian border for trespassing and 57,000 for having incorrect documents--which are small numbers in comparison with, for example, U.S. border detentions. -- Peter Rutland NORTH KOREA DENIES INVOLVEMENT IN SOUTH KOREAN DIPLOMAT'S MURDER. The North Korean Embassy in Moscow dismissed as "rubbish" reports linking Pyongyang to the recent slaying of a South Korean diplomat in Vladivostok, ITAR-TASS reported. Choi Duk-kun, who worked on North Korean issues at the South Korean consulate there, was found murdered in his apartment block on 1 October. Since the diplomat still had his wallet when he was discovered and some witnesses reported seeing "Asiatic" men fleeing the scene, Russian media have speculated that the killing was ordered by Pyongyang. Izvestiya on 4 October hypothesized that it may have been linked to Pyongyang's outrage with recent Russian arms shipments to South Korea (see OMRI Daily Digest, 2 October 1996), but the Vladivostok Procurator's Office regards any link to North Korea as unlikely. -- Scott Parrish RUSSIA, JAPAN DISCUSS PEACE TREATY. The Russian-Japanese working group on a peace treaty held its sixth meeting in Tokyo on 3 October, Russian and Western media reported. The head of the Russian delegation, Deputy Foreign Minister Grigorii Karasin, said the two sides had agreed to continue talks on the peace treaty within the framework of the October 1993 Tokyo declaration. But he responded negatively to Japanese proposals to fix a definite date for the resolution of the territorial dispute over the Southern Kuril islands, the main obstacle to concluding the treaty. Karasin reiterated the traditional Russian stand that bilateral ties should not be held "hostage" to the territorial dispute. The two sides did agree to intensify talks on bilateral security and defense cooperation, and Karasin announced that Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov will visit Japan in November. -- Scott Parrish RUSSIA THREATENS TO UNILATERALLY DEMARCATE BORDER WITH LATVIA. If Latvia continues to "artificially hinder" ongoing border talks, Russia will have "no other choice" but to "mark the location of the border unilaterally," according to Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Gennadii Tarasov on 3 October. ITAR-TASS quoted Tarasov as accusing the Latvian side of "artificially politicizing" the talks by insisting that Russia recognize the 1920 Soviet-Latvian peace treaty, a position which Moscow rejects. Russia claims the treaty was invalidated when Latvia joined the Soviet Union in 1940. Riga argues that since Latvia was illegally occupied, the treaty remains valid. Because some territory that belonged to Latvia in 1920 was subsequently transferred to Russia, Moscow accuses Riga of having territorial claims, which Riga denies. In June 1994, Russia unilaterally demarcated the Soviet-era border with Estonia in a similar dispute that remains unresolved. -- Scott Parrish MOSCOW GOVERNMENT REJECTS CHARGES THAT POLICE BEHAVED IMPROPERLY. Moscow government officials on 3 October refuted charges of wrongdoing by the capital's police in an incident at a mosque on 1 October (see OMRI Daily Digest, 3 October 1996). Mayor Yurii Luzhkov said his government had concluded after a thorough investigation that law enforcement bodies had not acted improperly, insisting that only one police officer--a Muslim-- had entered the mosque while OMON officers conducting a check of identity papers remained outside. Later in the day, his first deputy, Ernest Bakirov, refuted charges by the Russian Union of Muslims that police had desecrated the mosque, asserting that the aim of such "an outrageous lie" was to "destabilize the situation in Moscow," Russian media reported. A Moscow police spokesman said the force intends to sue for libel. Representatives of Muslim organizations said after the police raid that believers had been insulted and beaten. -- Penny Morvant SITUATION DETERIORATES IN FAR NORTH. The situation in the Far North of Russia is verging on the disastrous, as stocks of fuel and food are far too low to see residents through the winter, Izvestiya reported on 2 October. The paper said that government officials are avoiding public discussion in the hope of "preventing panic" but a number of settlements in Magadan, Chukotka, and the Taimyr Autonomous Okrug will almost certainly have to be evacuated. Security Council Secretary Lebed said last week that if urgent measures are not taken soon, the government would have to evacuate several hundred thousand residents from the Far North. There are also problems in the Far East. At the Zvezda nuclear submarine repair plant at Bolshoi Kamen, for example, coal and food stocks for the winter are only 10% of the required levels. -- Penny Morvant NEGLIGIBLE INFLATION IN SEPTEMBER. Russia recorded consumer price inflation of 0.3% in September, compared to a 0.2% drop in August, ITAR- TASS reported on 3 October. If the present trend continues, the 1996 annual rate of inflation will be only 18%. At a press conference in Washington on 2 October marking the conclusion of talks with IMF, World Bank, and G-7 officials, First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Potanin said that the IMF and World Bank approved the government's tight anti- inflation policy. However, Potanin admitted that the Russian government had failed to comply with the timetable for disbursement to the regions of the first tranche of a $500 million loan which the World Bank granted for restructuring the coal industry. -- Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA ARMENIAN ELECTORAL COMMISSION REJECTS OSCE CRITICISM. Central Electoral Commission Chairman Khachatour Bezirjian on 3 October rejected as "misleading" the report issued the day before by the OSCE/ODIHR mission that monitored the 22 September presidential election, Reuters and NTV reported. Bezirjian and President Levon Ter-Petrossyan's spokesman Levon Zurabyan both argued that the OSCE report contained mathematical inaccuracies, and that even if the 21,000 ballots that the OSCE said were unaccounted for had all been cast in favor of opposition candidate Vazgen Manukyan, Ter-Petrossyan would still have won more than the 50% voted required to avoid a runoff. The Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly Committee for Non-Member States plans to send a delegation to Armenia to assess the post-election situation there, RFE/RL reported on 3 October. -- Liz Fuller ALMATY PREPARES FOR CIS SUMMIT. On 4 October Russian and Central Asian leaders will gather in Almaty to discuss the implications of the Taliban victories in Afghanistan, along with other issues. Turkmenistan announced that it would not attend the Almaty summit due to its policy of "positive neutrality," Russian and Western media reported on 3 October. Kazakstani Security Council chief Baltash Tursumbayev said Russian Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed has exaggerated the threat posed to Central Asia by Taliban successes in Afghanistan, Nezavisimaya gazeta and RTR reported on 3 October. Tursumbayev termed Lebed's 1 October assertion that the Taliban coveted territory in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, including Bukhara, as "rash and lacking foundation." -- Lowell Bezanis and Bruce Pannier TAJIKISTAN AKS FOR AID. Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov has requested additional support for his country in light of recent events in Afghanistan and it appears that he will get it, ITAR-TASS reported. The head of the Federal Border Guards Service, Gen. Andrei Nikolaev, says he has already made proposals to the Russian leadership that are scheduled to be discussed at the CIS summit in Almaty. Nikolaev noted that extra measures had already been taken this summer in response to a build up of Tajik opposition forces along the Tajik-Afghan border. Nikolaev called upon Kazakstan and Kyrgyzstan to take a more active role in defending this border, pointing out that each country has only 500 men guarding the border while Russia has around 4,500. -- Bruce Pannier [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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