|When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain|
No. 197, Part I, 10 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 *********************************************************************** Available now -- The OMRI Annual Survey of Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union -- "1995: Building Democracy." Published by M.E. Sharpe Inc., this 336-page yearbook provides a systematic and comprehensive review of the most pivotal events in the 27 countries of the former Communist bloc and former Soviet Union during 1995. Available to OMRI subscribers at a special price of $25 each (plus postage and handling). To order, please email your request to: firstname.lastname@example.org *********************************************************************** RUSSIA FEDOROV FILES SUIT AGAINST KORZHAKOV. . . Boris Fedorov, former chairman of the National Sports Fund, has formally accused Aleksandr Korzhakov of trying to extort $40 million from him, Russian and Western agencies reported on 9 October citing the Procurator General's Office. Fedorov first made the charge publicly in television interviews over the weekend (see OMRI Daily Digest, 7 October 1996). In an interview with Izvestiya, Col. Valerii Streletskii, one of the men implicated by Fedorov, rejected the latter's allegations. He contended that Fedorov was backed by presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais who was trying to prevent an alliance between Korzhakov and Lebed. Speculation has been rife that Lebed wants access to the money and information Korzhakov accumulated as head of the Presidential Security Service. Moskovskii komsomolets quoted anonymous sources as saying Korzhakov would bring a libel suit against Fedorov. -- Penny Morvant . . . KORZHAKOV ATTACKS BEREZOVSKII. In an interview with the magazine Litsa (no. 4), Korzhakov alleged that in 1993 Boris Berezovskii, currently deputy chairman of the board of Russian Public Television (ORT), sought to persuade him to arrange the assassination of Vladimir Gusinskii, the head of Most Bank and Berezovskii's business rival. He claimed that Berezovskii told him incredible stories about Gusinskii and said he began to wonder whether Berezovskii was mad. Berezovskii is thought to have been instrumental in the publication of the July Novaya gazeta article accusing Korzhakov and the former sports committee chairman, Shamil Tarpishchev, of corruption and involvement in organized crime. In an interview with Komsomolskaya pravda, Gusinskii said he did not believe the allegations, noting that Berezovskii had himself survived an attempt on his life. -- Penny Morvant LEBED WARMS TO NATO. On leaving Brussels on 9 October after his "unofficial visit," Lebed said that "Russia's passivity in relation to NATO" had left it on the periphery of constructing the "new architecture of European security" and deprived it of influence, ITAR-TASS reported. Lebed called for more active involvement with NATO, noting that Russia has few other levers for influencing the alliance, and that the organization is not a "monolithic unity." The Duma invited Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed to explain his position on NATO expansion at its 11 October session, NTV reported. Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party faction initiated the invitation because it wants Lebed to be firmer in opposing NATO expansion. -- Robert Orttung VOTERS TRUST LEBED. A VTsIOM poll conducted in September for Segodnya asked voters to name politicians they trust, Reuters reported on 10 October. Aleksandr Lebed topped the list with 40%, followed by Gennadi Zyuganov with 16%, Viktor Chernomyrdin 14%, Grigorii Yavlinskii 12%, Boris Yeltsin 11%, and Yurii Luzhkov 7%. Before leaving Brussels Lebed was asked by ORT whether his position as Security Council Secretary gave him sufficient power to carry out his objectives, such as "putting relations with NATO on a civilized basis." He replied "It does. Nobody ever gives anybody any power. It is only taken." -- Peter Rutland RODIONOV VISITS FAR EAST. Defense Minister Igor Rodionov traveled to Kamchatka and Vladivostok to check the battle-readiness of the Far Eastern Military District and the Pacific Fleet, ITAR-TASS reported on 10 October. In Kamchatka, Rodionov met with Governor Vladimir Biryukov, who is contending the region's 17 November election, and said that there would be no "sweeping cuts" in military personnel deployed there. The two discussed paying the military's debt to local energy companies, supplying housing to servicemen and retirees, and closer cooperation with the local government. Kommersant-Daily reported on 9 October that Rodionov has now cast his lot with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and left his erstwhile patron Aleksandr Lebed. -- Robert Orttung RADUEV RESURFACES; CHECHEN ROUNDUP. Chechen field commander Salman Raduev, who led the hostage-taking attack on Kizlyar in January 1996, intends to run for mayor in Gudermes, the second largest town in Chechnya, NTV and Ekho Moskvy reported on 9 October. Acting President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev plans to hold local elections across the republic within two months of 20 October, when the Russian troop withdrawal from Chechnya is scheduled to finish. In other news, the new Chechen coalition government, which includes three ministers from the government of pro-Moscow Chechen head of state Doku Zavgaev, will be comprised primarily of economists rather than professional politicians, according to ORT and Ekho Moskvy. Meanwhile, a Chechen government spokesman has condemned the confiscation by Russian customs officials at the Russian- Ukrainian frontier of 5,000 copies of Yandarbiev's memoirs, Komsomolskaya pravda reported on 9 October. -- Liz Fuller YELTSIN OUTLINES PRINCIPLES OF BORDER POLICY. Russia has no territorial claims against its neighbors and rejects all such claims against it by neighboring states, according to a document issued by President Yeltsin on 9 October, ITAR-TASS reported. In addition to "mutual respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states and the inviolability of borders," the document calls for the peaceful settlement of all border conflicts. Russia has unresolved border disputes with China and Japan and has accused Estonia and Latvia of having territorial claims against it, although the Baltic countries deny the charge. -- Laura Belin RUTSKOI'S DAY IN COURT POSTPONED. The presidium of the Supreme Court delayed for one week its review of former Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi's appeal against the Kursk Oblast electoral commission, Radio Rossii and ORT reported on 9 October. Rutskoi was denied registration for the 20 October Kursk gubernatorial election on the grounds that he did not meet a residency requirement (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11, 16 and 27 September 1996). He has already lost appeals to an oblast court and the Supreme Court. Even if the court's presidium finds in favor of Rutskoi next week, he will have just three days left to campaign. Still, Rutskoi, a Kursk native, is considered the favorite if he is allowed to compete. His Derzhava party gained about 30% of the vote in Kursk in the December 1995 parliamentary election, despite winning only about 2.5% support nationwide. -- Laura Belin TAX INSPECTORS TO STEP UP WORK AT DISTILLERIES. The State Tax Service intends to put inspectors on 24-hour duty at enterprises producing alcoholic beverages from 1 November in an attempt to improve the collection of excise duties, ITAR-TASS reported on 9 October. About 4 trillion rubles ($740 million) in duties were collected in the first eight months of this year--less than half the planned amount. The service also recommended raising the minimum price for strong Russian spirits from the current 18,400 rubles a liter. The same day, the European Commission urged the Russian government to rethink its decision to impose quotas on the import of vodka in 1997. The commission said the limit--100 million liters of vodka and 10 million liters of ethanol-- would harm EU producers, who exported 200 million liters of spirits to Russia in 1995, Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported. -- Penny Morvant BOMB FOUND AT ST. PETERSBURG RAILWAY STATION. After a warning phone call, on 9 October police detonated in a controlled explosion a bomb containing 500 grams of TNT which had been planted in a St. Petersburg railway station, ITAR-TASS reported. The bomber reportedly left a note demanding $100,000. -- Peter Rutland MINE DISCOVERED AT ROSVOORUZHENIE. Security guards found a OZM-72 anti- personnel mine at the Rosvooruzhenie arms export company central office in Moscow on 8 October, Moskovskii komsomolets reported. The mine was found near the office of General Director Aleksandr Kotelkin. A statement released by the company's press service linked the incident to what it called a smear campaign against the company's management in the mass media. It added that there have been several attempts on Kotelkin's life since he took over as director in 1994 and that other officials have been threatened after excluding "a number of semi-criminal structures" from the arms trade, ITAR-TASS reported. Moskovskii komsomolets noted that specialists had found that the mine was "incomplete," while Izvestiya cited a police officer as saying the mine was a dummy. -- Penny Morvant RUSSIA'S DEMOGRAPHIC DECLINE. An article in Pravda-5 on October 9 noted that average life expectancy in Russia had fallen to 64 years by the end of 1995, 58 years for men and 70 years for women. It paid particular attention to the fate of middle-aged men, noting that mortality rates for men aged 40 to 44 had climbed from 7.6 per 1,000 in 1990 to 15.2 in 1995. In the age group from 55 to 59, the paper said, mortality rates had climbed from 23.4 and 36.2. The paper attributed the deterioration in Russia's demographic indicators to environmental pollution and the increase in unemployment, poverty, crime, and drug addiction. -- Penny Morvant TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA AIOC CHAIRMAN NAMES DATE FOR EXPORT OF FIRST "EARLY OIL." Speaking in Baku on 9 October, Terry Adams, chairman of the Azerbaijani International Operating Committee (which represents the consortium of international oil companies formed to exploit three Caspian oil fields), said that the first oil deliveries from the Chirag field would begin flowing north through Russia to Novorossiisk on 28 August 1997, ITAR- TASS reported. When the consortium signed the "deal of the century" with Azerbaijan's state oil company SOCAR in October 1994, it was anticipated that the first "early oil" would begin to flow in 1996. -- Liz Fuller LEZGINS APPEAL TO RUSSIAN, AZERBAIJANI GOVERNMENTS. Members of a committee organizing an international conference of the Lezgin people-- the ethnic group whose traditional homeland is now divided between Azerbaijan and Dagestan--have called for an immediate dialogue with the Russian and Azerbaijani governments "in order to preclude acts of violence," Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 9 October. They have also appealed to the two countries to alleviate the plight of families prevented from visiting each other by the strict controls currently in force on the Russian-Azerbaijani frontier, and they called on the Azerbaijani leadership to abandon its policy of discrimination against the Lezgin minority. The Congress of the Lezgin People is scheduled to take place in Moscow in January 1997. -- Liz Fuller FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER IN ARMENIA. Herve de Charette met with Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan on 9 October for the first-ever visit by a French foreign minister to Armenia, AFP reported. De Charette said his country is ready to help Armenia and Azerbaijan settle their dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh. France is a member of a 10-nation OSCE Minsk group involved in seeking peace in the troubled region. Ter-Petrossyan and de Charette also discussed the possibility of boosting France's current 3.5% share in Armenia's foreign trade and French assistance in Armenia's plans to build a new atomic plant. Although defeated presidential candidate Vazgen Manukyan expressed a desire to meet with de Charette, it is not clear if the meeting will take place. -- Emil Danielyan KAZAKSTAN'S FIFTH-LARGEST BANK CLOSES. The National Bank of Kazakstan on 4 October announced the bankruptcy of KRAMDS-Bank and annulled its license, Kazakstani media reported. National Bank Deputy Chairman Grigorii Marchenko said that the bank had a 2 billion tenge ($30 million) negative balance, had violated credit regulations, and had wasted money on the construction of luxury bank offices. The National Bank will fully reimburse individual depositors, though no decision has yet been made about business clients. Among the latter was the capital's major bakery, Almaty-Nan, whose operations were paralyzed by the loss of $500,000 blocked in its KRAMDS account. The bankruptcy echoed in Moscow, where the Moscow Inter-Bank Currency Exchange has frozen all trading operations with tenge, Kazakstan's currency, because its account in KRAMDS-Bank is now blocked as well. -- Slava Kozlov in Almaty KAZAKSTAN REGISTERS BUMPER GRAIN CROP. The Kazakstani Agriculture Ministry announced on 10 October that the country's grain harvest yielded enough "not only to fully meet all the republic's requirements, but also to export large amounts of grain," ITAR-TASS reported. More than 11.5 million metric tons have already been thrashed which is an increase of 1.5 million tons over last year's figure. -- Bruce Pannier UZBEK MEDIA SHOOTS BACK. Uzbek media has lashed out at what it deems to be the Russian media's recent slanderous coverage of Uzbekistan, RFE/RL reported on 10 October. The usually cautious Uzbek media was responding to a number of articles that appeared in late September in Izvestiya, Nezavisimaya gazeta, and Komsomolskaya pravda pointing to corruption and political repression in Uzbekistan. The Russian press was also charged with wrongly accusing Tashkent of allying itself with Afghan General Abdul Rashid Dostum, an ethnic Uzbek, to seize territory from Tajikistan. The Uzbek media said the "hostile coverage" was aimed at Russia's efforts to play "big brother" in the region. -- Lowell Bezanis KYRGYZ INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER FAILS TO APPEAR. The most recent edition of Kyrgyzstan's only independent newspaper, Res Publica, was not published by the state publishing house on 9 October, RFE/RL reported. The publishing house, Uchkun, claimed Res Publica has a debt of 10,000 som (about $800) and so refused to print the edition. The editorial staff of the paper responded that the government daily newspaper Slovo Kyrgyzstana owes 370,000 som (about $30,000) but continues to be printed. Editor in Chief Zamira Sydykova told OMRI in September that the paper frequently has problems with the Uchkun printing house. -- Bruce Pannier and Naryn Idinov [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Victor Gomez ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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