|Every custom was once an eccentricity; every idea was once an absurdity. - Holbrook Jackson|
No. 209, Part I, 29 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 YELTSIN CANCELS ALL MEETINGS. In order to undergo a series of tests in preparation for his heart surgery, President Boris Yeltsin has canceled all meetings for the coming week, Rossiiskie vesti reported on 29 October, citing presidential spokesman Sergeii Yastrzhembskii. A date has not yet been set for the surgery, though Sergei Mironov, one of Yeltsin's main doctors, told Komsomolskaya pravda on 29 October that it could be anytime from mid-November to early-December. -- Robert Orttung YELTSIN ORDERS DOCUMENTS PREPARED FOR KORZHAKOV DISMISSAL. President Yeltsin instructed the head of the Federal Protection Service to prepare documents for the dismissal from the armed forces of former top presidential bodyguard Lt. Gen. Aleksandr Korzhakov, Russian and Western media reported on 28 October. According to spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii, Korzhakov slandered the president and his family and disclosed confidential information he acquired as Yeltsin's bodyguard. Korzhakov has recently threatened to release compromising material on his opponents and has accused Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais of seizing power with the help of Yeltsin's daughter. Citing military legal experts, Izvestiya reported on 29 October that stripping Korzhakov of his military rank in the security service "will not be easy." -- Laura Belin KORZHAKOV KEEPS UP ATTACK. In an interview published in the German weekly Der Spiegel on 28 October, Korzhakov repeated his allegations that Yeltsin's doctors warned as early as May that the president should not work more than a few hours each day and might not survive the presidential campaign, Reuters reported. He also accused the president's daughter, Tatyana Dyachenko, of controlling the flow of information to the president. Dyachenko reportedly advised her father to fire Korzhakov. -- Laura Belin PREMIER MAKES UNUSUAL TV APPEARANCE. Viktor Chernomyrdin discussed his personal life in an NTV interview on 28 October, ITAR-TASS reported. The usually dour prime minister was shown relaxing with his family and driving his car, Reuters reported. The prime minister played a Russian folk song on the accordion and said he "noticed beautiful women" but lacked time for anything else. The robust Chernomyrdin seems to be presenting a new side of himself to Russian voters as Yeltsin's ability to carry out his duties remains uncertain. -- Robert Orttung CHUBAIS CALLS FOR DISCIPLINE. Presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais called for the establishment of a "dictatorship inside the government" to facilitate democracy in society, Radio Mayak reported on 27 October. Chubais claimed that Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed was fired because he had spoken out about disagreements within Russia's leadership, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. On 26 October, Chubais tried to show solidarity with his former foe, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, a crucial member of Yeltsin's team, by jointly attending a ceremony marking the construction of a new advanced submarine in Severodvinsk, but neither could land at the airport due to heavy fog, Izvestiya reported on 29 October. -- Robert Orttung RYBKIN MEETS CHECHEN LEADERS . . . Russian Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin met acting Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev and Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov on 27 October in Nazran, Ingushetiya and held "fruitful" talks on the withdrawal of the remaining Russian forces from Chechnya and an exchange of prisoners, Russian and Western agencies reported. Rybkin also gave the Chechens draft Duma decrees on conditions for an amnesty for Chechen fighters and for the creation of a special economic zone in Chechnya, according to ITAR-TASS. After returning to Moscow on 28 October and discussing the Chechen situation with Viktor Chernomyrdin, Rybkin stated that elections could be held in Chechnya in January 1997 only if the demilitarization process is completed. -- Liz Fuller . . . WHILE CHECHEN CONGRESS GATHERS. 1,500 delegates gathered in Grozny for the All-National Congress of the Chechen People on 27 October to discuss the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for January 1997, but then adjourned to Urus Martan after a bomb scare. Zelimkhan Yandarbiev told delegates that Chechnya's independence is non- negotiable, AFP reported. Meanwhile, the Russian State Duma expressed concern on 25 October at the ongoing violations of the Chechen demilitarization agreements by illegal armed groups and at the failure to create a Chechen coalition government representing all political factions, NTV reported. Deputy Prime Minister Ruslan Khutaev, however, told Radio Rossii that his talks on the coalition government with Rybkin on 25 October "reached complete agreement." -- Liz Fuller DUMA BLASTS NATO ENLARGEMENT. The State Duma adopted a resolution by a 307-0 vote warning that enlargement of NATO could trigger a "serious crisis" resembling the dispute between NATO and the Warsaw Pact over intermediate-range nuclear missiles in the 1980s, Russian and Western agencies reported on 25 October. The resolution argued that "competition" between prospective NATO members in Eastern Europe could have unpredictable consequences, and claimed that Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia would face "catastrophic" military expenditures of some $100 billion by 2010 if they join the alliance. -- Scott Parrish GENERAL STAFF OFFICERS PROTEST WAGE ARREARS. Although the mass action threatened in an anonymous 17 October protest letter did not materialize (see OMRI Daily Digest , 18 October 1996), some 30 senior officers protested wage arrears in the parking lot of the General Staff building in Moscow, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 26 October. The paper said the Defense Ministry now owes 25 trillion rubles ($4.6 billion) in back wages, while ITAR-TASS reported that payment of August salaries began last week. Meanwhile, Defense Minister Igor Rodionov renewed on 25 October his warnings that these financial problems could lead to "uncontrollable developments." He said the military needs an extra 20 trillion rubles for 1996, and that the latest draft 1997 budget was insufficient. -- Scott Parrish CONSTITUTIONAL COURT CONFIRMS PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE. The Constitutional Court ruled on 28 October that if a criminal case is closed before going to court, the accused cannot be presumed guilty, ITAR-TASS reported. In addition, criminal proceedings cannot be terminated at the investigation stage without the consent of a defendant, who has the right to go to court to vindicate himself if he so desires. Formerly, investigators and procurators had the right to close a criminal case because of "a change in situation," leaving the guilt of the accused an open question. -- Nikolai Iakoubovski THE PERILS OF DOING BUSINESS IN CHINA . . . Two Russian officials, who were detained in China for seven months after a business row, were released on 29 October following an appeal by Federation Council speaker Yegor Stroev, ITAR-TASS reported. The two men, Vasilii Chalikov and Aleksander Silchenko, had traveled to Weifang, Shandong province, to try to regain a $1.3 million debt owed to a joint venture set up by Irkutsk Oblast to import food and clothing. Chalikov is the director of the firm and Silchenko is deputy governor of Irkutsk. -- Peter Rutland . . . AND RUSSIA. Vladimir Strelikov, the deputy president of Russia's Bank for Reconstruction and Development, was shot several times on 28 October by assassins dressed as police who flagged down his car near his home in Moscow, AFP reported. His driver was shot dead. Izvestiya reported on 15 October that there have been 450 contract murders in Russia this year. -- Peter Rutland TWO INCUMBENTS REELECTED . . Incumbent governors Ravil Geniatulin of Chita Oblast and Aleksandr Filippenko of Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug were reelected, receiving 31% and 72% of the vote, respectively, according to preliminary results of the 27 October elections, Russian TV (RTR) and NTV reported the next day. A runoff will be held in Kaluga Oblast and Stavropol Krai where no candidate received a majority. In both regions, the opposition candidates, Kaluga Oblast Legislative Assembly Chairman Valerii Sudarenkov and former Stavropol Komsomol leader Aleksandr Chernogorov, each received about 47%, leading the incumbents, Oleg Savchenko and Petr Marchenko, by approximately 10%. No governor was elected in Agin Buryat Autonomous Okrug since both candidates, the incumbent Bolot Ayushev and his rival Yurii Donkov, failed to win a majority, taking about 49% each. Under the okrug law, the gubernatorial race will have to be repeated with new candidates. -- Anna Paretskaya in Moscow . . . WHILE OPPOSITION CANDIDATE SCORES CONTROVERSIAL VICTORY. Despite turnout lower than required by the krai's electoral law (43% instead of 50%), the Krasnodar Krai legislature has ruled that Nikolai Kondratenko was elected governor in the 27 October election, NTV reported the next day. Kondratenko, supported by the united opposition, outpolled the incumbent Nikolai Yegorov by 57% to about 25%. Constitutional Court member Valerii Zorkin said the decision by the krai legislature on elections was illegal and that the voting will be ruled invalid. Yeltsin reappointed Yegorov as the krai's governor after replacing him with Anatolii Chubais as presidential chief of staff. -- Anna Paretskaya in Moscow KAMAZ TAKEN OFF BANKRUPTCY LIST. The emergency tax commission (VChK) may reconsider its decision to start a bankruptcy procedure against the Tatarstan truck manufacturer KamAZ, Kommersant-Daily reported on 29 October. The head of the Federal Bankruptcy Administration, Petr Mostovoi, said that the company has submitted documents proving that KamAZ had been granted a tax deferment (as an investment credit) in May 1996. Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev, who has strongly criticized the threat to bankrupt KamAZ and the oil company Tatneft, met with Viktor Chernomyrdin on 28 October, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA MASS RALLY IN YEREVAN. The opposition National Accord bloc (AHD) held a rally in Yerevan on 25 October, the first since the government lifted a ban on public gatherings in the capital, Armenian and Western media reported on 25 October. An estimated 40,000 people participated in the sanctioned demonstration. Vazgen Manukyan, the defeated presidential candidate and leader of the opposition, reiterated charges that the 22 September election results were falsified and said the opposition "will continue to struggle to replace the current government" through legal means. Manukyan called for a boycott of the local elections scheduled for 10 November. -- Emil Danielyan DIVERGING VIEWS OF GEORGIAN ECONOMY. Economics Minister Lado Papava predicted on 27 October that the country would experience an "economic miracle," with an annual increase in output of over 12%, ITAR-TASS reported. Papava added that some 110,000 jobs had been created since the beginning of 1996 and that it was hoped that unemployment would be reduced to 5-6% by 2000. The leader of the United Georgian Communist Party, Panteleimon Giorgadze, told delegates to the party's fourth congress on 27 October that the economic situation is catastrophic and that some 775,000 people are unemployed (from a population of some 5 million), according to BGI and ITAR-TASS. -- Liz Fuller RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SLAMS PLANNED PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS IN NAGORNO-KARABAKH. The Russian Foreign Ministry has condemned as "a challenge to the international community" the decision by the parliament of the self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh to hold presidential elections on 24 November while "up to one third of the enclave's population are living as refugees beyond its borders", Radio Mayak reported on 26 October quoting ITAR-TASS. The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan discussed the Karabakh peace process during the Black Sea Economic Cooperation heads of state summit in Moscow on 25 October. A further round of talks on the Karabakh conflict under the aegis of the OSCE Minsk group opened in Moscow on 28 October. -- Liz Fuller TURKMENISTAN CELEBRATES FIFTH ANNIVERSARY OF INDEPENDENCE. A military parade highlighted the 27 October ceremonies commemorating the fifth anniversary of Turkmenistan's independence, Russian and Turkmen sources reported. According to ITAR-TASS, Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov met with Russian and Iranian officials in the days leading up to the celebration, concluding a series of bilateral accords with both states that underscore the country's "permanent neutrality." The Turkmen Press Agency reported on 23 October that in the week before the anniversary a monument to Gurbansoltan-edzhe, Niyazov's mother, was unveiled in Chardjui. -- Roger Kangas POLITICAL HEADS ROLL IN UZBEKISTAN. Uzbek President Islam Karimov dismissed the Hokim (Governor) of Syrdarya region on 28 October, Uzbek TV reported. Ghulomqodir Khasanov was officially relieved of his duties because of his failure to meet grain and cotton harvest targets. He will be replaced by Deputy Prime Minister Utkam Ismailov. Karimov dismissed the Hokim of Jizzak region, Alisher Toshkenboev, on 25 October for the same reason. The firings follow a pattern of Hokim replacements that began after last fall's poor grain harvest. -- Roger Kangas TAJIK POLICEMEN TAKEN HOSTAGE. Forces of Tajik opposition field commander Mullo Abdullo surprised two busloads of Tajik policemen on 24 October taking all 37 of them hostage near the town of Komsomolabad, Russian and Western sources reported. The captors demand the dismantling of all checkpoints along roads in the Karateginskaya valley because, according to the opposition, they are a violation of the truce signed by opposition and government commanders on 17 September. -- Bruce Pannier PAKISTANI PRESIDENT IN KYRGYZSTAN, KAZAKSTAN. Pakistani President Farooq Leghari made a three-day stop in Kyrgyzstan to hold talks with Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev, RFE/RL reported. During the 25-27 October visit agreements were signed on cooperation between interior ministries and fighting drug trafficking. Leghari left on 27 October for the Kazakstani capital Almaty to meet President Nursultan Nazarbayev. The two presidents discussed Afghanistan but found little common ground. Leghari did find Nazarbayev supportive on the issue of Kashmir. -- Bruce Pannier and Naryn Idinov [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Pete Baumgartner ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 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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