|Absence makes the heart grow fonder. -|
No. 206, Part I, 23 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: email@example.com *********************************************************************** RUSSIA SCANDAL IN THE INTERIOR MINISTRY. Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov on 22 October dismissed Vladimir Rushailo, the first deputy head of the Interior Ministry's Main Administration for Organized Crime, ITAR-TASS reported. Rushailo, until 10 October the head of the Moscow Regional Organized Crime Administration (RUOP), held an unsanctioned press conference on 22 October at which he criticized his new boss and his RUOP replacement, Moskovskii komsomolets reported. Rushailo had reportedly asked Kulikov to give him back his old post and threatened to call the press conference if his request was not met. The RUOP, modeled on the FBI, was set up in February 1993. There has been speculation that the decision to move Rushailo to a more senior, but less powerful post was linked to his regard for the former head of the presidential security service, Aleksandr Korzhakov. -- Penny Morvant LEBED PREDICTS RYBKIN WILL HAVE GREATER POWERS . . . Former Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed met with his successor Ivan Rybkin and suggested that, since Rybkin is very loyal to the president, the powers of his office may soon be "significantly strengthened," NTV reported on 22 October. On the same day, presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii said President Boris Yeltsin will not formally appoint a new adviser on national security as Rybkin can fulfill that role. Until 17 October Lebed served as both Yeltsin's national security adviser and Security Council secretary. Lebed's prediction is supported by comments made on 21 October by Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, who suggested that in addition to the Chechnya crisis, the Security Council would examine questions concerning the power ministries, as well as certain economic problems. Chernomyrdin had repeatedly rebuffed Lebed's attempts to assert authority in those areas. -- Laura Belin . . . BUT COMMUNISTS SEEK TO LIMIT HIS AUTHORITY. A draft law being prepared in the State Duma would define the Security Council as a purely consultative organ and would limit its secretary to "organizational" activities such as implementing the council's decisions, NTV reported on 22 October. Communists in the parliament criticized Lebed's peacemaking activities in Chechnya and charged that he exceeded his authority in signing the Khasavyurt accords. The draft law would also make the chairmen of both houses of parliament members of the Security Council ex officio, ITAR-TASS reported. Rybkin joined the council when he was Duma speaker, currently Seleznev has been excluded. -- Laura Belin DOCTOR, SPOKESMAN: YELTSIN'S OPERATION TO GO AHEAD. American cardiologist Michael DeBakey announced that, for now, there are no complications that could force President Yeltsin's heart bypass operation to be postponed, ITAR-TASS and NTV reported on 22 October. On the same day, Yeltsin's press secretary Sergei Yastrzhembskii said Yeltsin remains "firmly committed" to undergoing heart surgery, AFP reported. DeBakey, who took part in medical consultations with the president in September, confirmed that he will travel to Moscow sometime in the second half of November for the operation. -- Laura Belin KORZHAKOV CALLS ON YELTSIN TO STEP DOWN. Describing Yeltsin as "an ill old man," former Presidential Security Service head Aleksandr Korzhakov told The Guardian on 23 October that the president should hand over power to the prime minister. The previous day, Nikolai Yegorov, another former Kremlin hardliner, urged Yeltsin to hold early presidential elections, saying he was not fit to rule. Korzhakov contended that Yeltsin had fallen under the influence of his daughter and Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais, whom he claimed controlled all appointments and presidential decrees. "We have a regent with a president still alive," he asserted, adding "I wouldn't like things to get to a level of popular revolt, but events are moving this way." -- Penny Morvant CHECHEN LEADERSHIP REAFFIRMS COMMITMENT TO PEACE. Ruslan Khutaev, deputy premier of the newly-formed Chechen interim coalition government responsible for relations with Russia and the CIS, traveled to Moscow on 22 October to deliver to Chernomyrdin a statement by acting Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev and Prime Minister Aslan Maskhadov reiterating their commitment to the Chechen peace process, ITAR-TASS and AFP reported. Khutaev also aims to open a new representation in Moscow and to meet with Rybkin, NTV reported. Maskhadov has issued orders on the creation of special armed units to guard Chechen oil installations against theft, ITAR-TASS and NTV reported on 22 October. -- Liz Fuller CIA: RUSSIAN NUCLEAR SAFEGUARDS WEAKENING. The CIA confirmed on 22 October a leaked report cited by The Washington Times that day, which expressed concern with the erosion of the Russian nuclear command and control system, Western agencies reported. The paper had quoted the report as worrying about "conspiracies within armed units" to commit blackmail using parts of Russia's arsenal of 28,000 nuclear warheads. The report expressed particular concern with the "poor" safeguards preventing unauthorized use of tactical nuclear weapons. Although details of the report undermine official U.S. and Russian assurances that Moscow retains tight control of its nuclear arsenal, CIA analysts emphasized that the chance of unauthorized nuclear use in Russia remains "low." -- Scott Parrish LUZHKOV RENEWS CLAIMS ON SEVASTOPOL. Two days before Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma is scheduled to meet with Yeltsin, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov published an open letter in the 22 October edition of Moskovskaya pravda urging Yeltsin to publicly "confirm on all levels the Russian status of Sevastopol," and include a clause to that effect in the draft Ukrainian-Russian friendship treaty. The letter was reprinted on 23 October in the official Russian government paper Rossiskaya gazeta, and in Trud. Luzhkov argued that Sevastopol remains administratively subordinate to Moscow under a 1948 decree of the Russian Supreme Soviet, which he claimed was not altered by the 1954 transfer of Crimea Oblast from Russia to Ukraine. Although Russian diplomats have repeatedly repudiated Luzhkov's statements and insisted that Russia has no claims on Sevastopol, his remarks have drawn heavy criticism from Kyiv. -- Scott Parrish NOVODVORSKAYA CASE REFERRED. Although a verdict was expected on 22 October, the judge presiding over the trial of longtime dissident Valeriya Novodvorskaya instead asked the prosecutor's office to conduct further investigation, Russian media reported. Novodvorskaya, leader of the radical Democratic Union, is accused of spreading ethnic hatred toward Russians in two newspaper articles and one television interview dating from 1993 and 1994 (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27 September 1996). Prosecutors are seeking a prison term of one and a half years. Novodvorskaya's lawyer, Genri Reznik, described the judge as a "bureaucrat" who was trying to avoid responsibility, since further investigation could take months. -- Laura Belin MEDICAL WORKERS PROTEST. Medical workers staged a string of protests across Russia on 22 October to demand the payment of back wages and adequate funding for the health-care sector, RTR and Reuters reported. They threatened to take further industrial action from 25 October to 5 November if their demands are not met. According to union leader Mikhail Kuzmenko, in the first 10 months of 1996, the health-care sector received only 38% of the 4.6 trillion rubles budgeted for the year. Under the constitution, Russian citizens are guaranteed free medical care, but in practice people pay for food, medicine, and often treatment as well. -- Penny Morvant TULA MINERS STRIKE. About 20,000 workers of the Tulaugol Coal Company on 22 October began an indefinite strike in Tula Oblast, protesting wage arrears of 100 billion rubles ($18.4 million), ITAR-TASS reported. According to the local trade union committee, almost 90% of the employees participated in the strike; they intend to picket the local government building on 29 October. The miners will also attend a march and meeting in Tula as part of a protest of the all-Russian trade union on 5 November. -- Ritsuko Sasaki GAZPROM STARTS INTERNATIONAL SALE OF SHARES. Russia's giant Gazprom, which owns one-quarter of the world's gas reserves, began the first international flotation of its shares on 21 October, ITAR-TASS and Kommersant-Daily reported. The shares (237 million, or 1% of the equity capital) are issued in the form of American Depository Receipts (ADRs) and will be sold in bundles of 10 at $15.75 per bundle. Gazprom's recent conflict with the government over tax payments did not undermine foreign investor's interest: the shares were trading on 23 October at $18.25 per bundle. Gazprom expects to raise some $400 million from this operation. Gazprom is the first Russian company to have its shares listed in London. -- Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA VERDICT IN GEORGIAN ANTI-SEMITISM CASE. Givi Alaznispireli, owner and editor of the newspaper Noe, has been sentenced to one year's imprisonment "for violating national and racial equality," BGI reported on 19 October. Alaznispireli was arrested in August after publishing a virulently anti-Semitic article in his paper. -- Liz Fuller UN CALLS ON ABKHAZ LEADERSHIP TO POSTPONE ELECTIONS. The UN Security Council on 22 October called on the leadership of the breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia to postpone parliamentary elections scheduled for 23 November until a political settlement is reached on Abkhazia's status vis-a-vis the Tbilisi government, Reuters reported. The statement contradicts the opinion expressed two weeks ago by UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali's special envoy for Abkhazia, Swiss diplomat Edouard Brunner, who told Abkhaz Radio that a new parliament should be elected given that the term of the existing one was due to expire. Also on 22 October, the UN Security Council passed a resolution (despite Chinese objections) to establish a two-person office in the Abkhaz capital, Sukhumi, to monitor human rights violations, according to AFP. Abkhaz Security Service head Astamur Tarba denied Georgian TV reports that Abkhaz militants had attacked a village in Abkhazia's Gali raion and abducted four ethnic Georgians, ITAR-TASS reported on 22 October. Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba accused the Georgian authorities of launching a campaign of "terror and sabotage" in order to prevent the elections. -- Liz Fuller FINAL RESULTS OF ARMENIAN ELECTIONS. The Armenian Central Election Commission released the final results of the 22 September presidential polls, confirming the victory of the incumbent Levon Ter-Petrossyan with 52.75% of the vote, ITAR-TASS reported on 22 October. The opposition, whose candidate, Vazgen Manukyan, won 41.3% of the vote, has accused the authorities of election rigging and plans to appeal the official results to the Constitutional Court. -- Emil Danielyan LEADER OF RULING PARTY ON ARMENIAN PRIME MINISTER. The chairman of Armenia's ruling Armenian Pan-National Movement party (HHSh), Ter-Husik Lazaryan, in an interview with RFE/RL on 22 October, called on Prime Minister Hrant Bagratyan to step down. Lazaryan claimed that Bagratyan is to blame for the country's economic hardships that resulted in the poorer than expected performance of Ter-Petrossyan in the disputed 22 September election. Lazaryan's statements follow similar comments by other HHSh leaders. In his first post-election speech Ter-Petrossyan promised a "serious reshuffle" of the government. -- Emil Danielyan KARABAKH ELECTION RUMPUS. Azerbaijan's Central Electoral Commission on 22 October issued a statement condemning as "an attempt to legalize a puppet regime" the presidential elections scheduled for 24 November by the self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, Turan reported. The agency also quoted the U.S. Ambassador to Baku, Richard Kauzlarich, as stating that the U.S. government does not recognize the legitimacy of the elections. To date four presidential candidates have been registered: incumbent Robert Kocharyan, former parliament deputy speaker Boris Arushanyan, Nagorno-Karabakh Communist Party head Hrant Melkumyan, and the head of the Control Inspection of the government of the RNK, Albert Ghazaryan, Noyan Tapan reported on 22 October. -- Liz Fuller AID FOR RECONSTRUCTION, REFUGEES IN AZERBAIJAN. Representatives of the World Bank, the UN Development Program, and the Azerbaijani government signed an agreement in Baku on 22 October on financial aid for reconstruction work in seven raions of Azerbaijan destroyed by fighting in 1993, ITAR-TASS reported. The estimated cost of reconstruction is $22 billion; the World Bank will provide $50 million. Donor countries provided $7.6 million towards the cost of UNHCR programs for reconstruction in 1996, according to Turan on 22 October, quoting the head of the UNHCR program for Azerbaijan, Ann Howard-Whiles. -- Liz Fuller UZBEK YOUTH ORGANIZATION STARTS PAPER. The youth organization Kamolot (Perfection) sent to press the first issue of its independent newspaper, Uzbek radio reported on 20 October. Also called Kamolot, the newspaper will begin service in the Namangan region and will partially act as a promotional vehicle for the organization. Founded in the summer of 1996, Kamolot is a government-funded "non-governmental organization" which is supposed to fill the role of the Soviet-era Komsomol. Unlike that entity, however, Kamolot is allowed to court Western companies for financial assistance which can be matched by government contributions. -- Roger Kangas JAPAN TO LOAN TURKMENISTAN $120 MILLION. The Export-Import Bank of Japan, after consulting with Japanese commercial banks, announced that a loan of $120 million would be extended to Turkmenistan, according to Reuters and RFE/RL. The money is slated to be used in upgrading the oil refining industry with the hope of diversifying the economy and reducing pollutants. The Export-Import Bank will put up 60% of the loan (about $73 million) and the remainder will be co-financed by three Japanese banks. -- Bruce Pannier [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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