|When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain|
No. 210, Part I, 30 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 YELTSIN NAMES BEREZOVSKII AS DEPUTY SECURITY COUNCIL SECRETARY. President Yeltsin named Boris Berezovskii and Col. Gen. Leonid Maiorov as deputy Security Council secretaries, ITAR-TASS reported 29 October. Berezovskii is a wealthy businessman, director of LogoVAZ, and the key figure controlling Russian Public TV (ORT). Maiorov, formerly first deputy commander of the CIA armed forces, will handle issues relating to the military industrial complex and Chechnya. Berezovskii said that "Russia's strategic security is connected with the continuation of economic reforms" and that he would work in this area. Berezovskii played a key role in Yeltsin's re-election campaign and helped Presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais oust former Presidential Security Service Director Aleksandr Korzhakov. He said that he would withdraw from commercial enterprises while he holds the Security Council post. -- Robert Orttung SELEZNEV CALLS FOR CHUBAIS TO STEP DOWN. Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev denounced Berezovskii's appointment as "one of the most serious mistakes in personnel policy" and demanded the removal of Chubais, who he claimed is behind Berezovskii's appointment. Seleznev accused Berezovskii of carrying out "an anti-Russian informational coup on ORT" and warned that he now was going to infiltrate "the holy of holies -- the security of the Russian state." The Consultative Council, which brings together Seleznev, Chubais, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and Federation Council speaker Yegor Stroev is set to meet on 1 November. Seleznev said that he would not take part in the meeting if Chubais is present. -- Robert Orttung YELTSIN'S SURGERY MAY BE NEXT WEEK. American cardiologist Michael DeBakey said in Houston on 29 October that the surgery on Yeltsin's heart could take place as early as next week, Reuters reported. DeBakey, who will consult with the medical team during the operation, is preparing to go to Russia later this week. On the same day the Kremlin started issuing a medical bulletin about Yeltsin's condition. -- Nikolai Iakoubovski KREMLIN INTENDS TO CRACK DOWN ON "LEGAL SEPARATISM." Continuing his campaign to strengthen the Russian state, Anatolii Chubais chaired a 29 October Kremlin conference on developing ways to prevent regional and local governments from adopting laws that violate the Russian constitution and federal legislation, NTV reported. Chubais proposed creating a single authority for registering local and federal enactments, expanding the procurator's power, and holding officials who sign documents in violation of federal law personally responsible. The chairman of the Constitutional Court, Vladimir Tumanov, pointed out, however, that the local procurators are very weak and would not be effective enforcers. The conference noted that it would be a long and difficult process to end Russia's "legal chaos." Kommersant-Daily on 30 October suggested that Chubais is picking a fight with the regional elite and it is not clear who is stronger. -- Robert Orttung NATO WANTS PACT WITH RUSSIA BY 1997. NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana hopes a "solid" Russian-NATO agreement will be signed by early 1997, Russian and Western agencies reported on 29 October. Solana said Russian objections to the extension of NATO's military structures could be addressed by modifying the 1990 CFE treaty, and declared that NATO has no plans to deploy tactical nuclear weapons on Eastern European soil. Vladimir Nasinovskii, an official of the Russian Security Council, assessed Solana's statement as a response to President Yeltsin's proposal that such a pact be signed before NATO accepts new members. A NATO spokesman later clarified that Russian-NATO talks on the proposed pact have yet to begin. -- Scott Parrish CIS DEFENSE COUNCIL REJECTS RUSSIAN NOMINEE. The CIS Defense Ministers Council met in Dushanbe on 29 October and rejected Russian President Boris Yeltsin's nomination of General Mikhail Kolesnikov to head the CIS military cooperation staff, AFP reported. The Uzbek delegation declared that a non-Russian should now head the CIS staff, since its previous chief, Army General Viktor Samsonov, was Russian. Most Russian news reports glossed over this rejection, emphasizing the meeting's adoption of a regional "collective security concept" which includes a "comprehensive plan" for dealing with the situation on the Tajik-Afghan border. Defense ministers from all CIS members except Moldova and Turkmenistan attended the meeting. -- Scott Parrish PRIMAKOV IN MIDDLE EAST. Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov began a Middle East tour by meeting Syrian President Hafez Assad in Damascus and Lebanese Foreign Minister Faris Bouez in Beirut, agencies reported on 29 October. Primakov's trip, designed to boost Russia's role in the Middle East peace process, also includes stops in Egypt, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and Jordan. In Beirut, Primakov criticized the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu for backtracking on commitments made by its predecessor. He denied that Russia is competing with the U.S. in the region, saying "We are not trying to go against the Americans." -- Scott Parrish BATURIN: RUSSIAN MILITARY TOTALS 2.5 MILLION. Defense Council Secretary Yurii Baturin, in an interview with Itogi on 29 October, admitted "no one can say how many people we have on active military service," Reuters reported. He said the actual number of troops serving under the Defense Ministry is about 2.5 million, not the frequently cited official figure of 1.5 million. Baturin said the larger figure includes "ghost" units not listed in official budgetary documents, which partly explains the problem of military wage arrears. He suggested a 50% cut to 1.25 million troops as part of a military reform program. Baturin's numbers apparently do not include personnel serving in other agencies, such as Interior Troops, Border Guards, and Railway Troops, which could total another 1.8 million. -- Scott Parrish RUSSIAN SCIENTISTS SOLD STUDY ON NUCLEAR TESTS TO U.S. Under a 1992 contract with the U.S. Defense Department, scientists at the Arzamas-16 nuclear weapons lab produced a report analyzing some 715 Soviet nuclear tests over a 41-year period, The Washington Post reported on 27 October. The scientists each received about $500 for their work, which was designed in part to keep them from peddling their skills outside Russia. The report, which remains classified, does not discuss Soviet nuclear weapons design or deployment, and its lead author, Aleksandr Chernyshev, insisted that all materials used had been cleared for sharing with Washington. Defense Department spokesmen said the data in the report would help monitor compliance with the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban and prevent nuclear proliferation. -- Scott Parrish KRASNODAR TO HOLD NEW ELECTIONS. In a reversal of an earlier decision (see OMRI Daily Digest, 29 October 1996), the Krasnodar Krai legislature has declared the 27 October gubernatorial elections in the Krai invalid due to a low turnout: only 43% of voters participated, short of the required 50%, NTV reported on 29 October. Krasnodar's legislature set new elections for 22 December and lowered the minimum turnout required to 25%. The main contenders are likely to be the opposition-backed Nikolai Kondratenko and the incumbent Nikolai Yegorov. On 27 October Yegorov won 25% of the vote to Kondratenko's 57%. -- Anna Paretskaya in Moscow REGIONAL SEPARATISM INCREASING. In the wake of the Yamal-Nenets legislature's decision not to participate in the Tyumen Oblast gubernatorial elections on 22 December, the Nenets Autonomous Okrug legislature voted 29 October not to participate in the Arkhangelsk Oblast gubernatorial and legislative elections set for 8 December, ITAR- TASS reported. The administration of the Burlinskii Raion of Altai Krai also decided to hold a referendum on seceding from Altai Krai and joining Novosibirsk Oblast on 17 November, the day of gubernatorial elections. Since regional borders can only be changed with the support of all the federation members concerned, the referendum will not resolve the issue. -- Robert Orttung and Ritsuko Sasaki STUDENT RALLY IN ST. PETERSBURG. About 2,000 students and their teachers rallied in St. Petersburg on 29 October to demand higher grants and protest the government's low funding of higher education. The meeting called on the government to honor legislation stipulating that monthly student grants should amount to double the minimum wage (150,000 rubles, or $27). Currently, they receive half that amount. -- Penny Morvant in St. Petersburg PRISON CONDITIONS CONDEMNED. Andrei Babushkin, head of the human rights group New House, detailed the appalling conditions in Russia's prisons at a Moscow press conference on 28 October, AFP reported. Babushkin said that 208 people had died in prisons this year (which hold people awaiting trial, as opposed to camps, where convicts are held). He cited the case of an actor, Aleksandr Polyanin, who died in custody on 10 October after allegedly being tortured. -- Peter Rutland DUMA DEPUTIES CALL FOR MORATORIUM ON DEATH PENALTY. Duma speaker Gennadii Seleznev and Duma International Affairs Committee Chairman Vladimir Lukin sent a letter to President Yeltsin on 29 October calling for a moratorium to be placed on the death penalty in Russia in line with the demands of the Council of Europe, NTV reported. When Russia joined the Council of Europe early this year it undertook to abolish the death penalty within three years. The CE also called on Russia to end all executions immediately, but they have continued. -- Penny Morvant in St. Petersburg ACADEMY OF SCIENCES RE-ELECTS PRESIDENT. Mathematician Yurii Osipov was re-elected president of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAN), Russian TV (RTR) reported on 30 October. Addressing a general assembly of the Academy prior to the vote, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin promised that the government would increase spending on scientific research, NTV and ORT reported on 29 October. A leading academician went on a hunger strike recently to protest the lack of funding for science. -- Penny Morvant in St. Petersburg SOROS INTERNET PROGRAM REACHES FAR EAST. Some 12,000 students and teachers at the Far East State University in Vladivostok have been hooked up to the Internet, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 October. The connection is part of the 5-year program, financed by philanthropist George Soros, to link 32 Russian provincial universities to the world computer network, and follows similar projects in Novosibirsk and Yaroslavl. An agreement on the program was signed in March 1996 by Soros and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. -- Natalia Gurushina FOREIGN INVESTMENT STILL LOW. According to preliminary estimates, foreign direct investment (FDI) in Russia in 1996 will total only $800 million, down from $1.5 billion in 1995, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 29 October. Political instability and a lack of clear rules governing taxation, accounting, and property rights are named as the main reasons. In the first eight months of 1996, 41% of FDI went into trade and services, 14% to financial services, and 9% to the energy sector. Per usual, Moscow absorbed the bulk of investment (47%), followed by Tatarstan and St. Petersburg (6% each), and Western Siberia (5%). -- Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA KARABAKH LEADER SAYS ELECTION WILL BE HELD. Robert Kocharyan, the president of the self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, said on 28 October that the presidential election in Karabakh will be held despite criticism from Azerbaijan and Russia (see OMRI Daily Digest, 29 October 1996), Noyan Tapan reported. Kocharyan predicted that the Nagorno-Karabakh peace negotiations will drag on "for years" and did not expect any progress from the upcoming OSCE summit. Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department expressed its concern over the planned election and warned against "complicating the outcome of the OSCE's Minsk Group peace process," Turan reported on 29 October. -- Emil Danielyan OPPOSITION LEADERS ON ARMENIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT. Paruyr Hayrikyan, the leader of the Union of National Self-Determination, said he hopes that the Armenian Constitutional Court will rule in favor of the opposition candidate Vazgen Manukyan and annul the results of the 22 September presidential elections, Noyan Tapan reported on 29 October. According to a leader of the Scientific-Industrial and Civic Union, Suren Zolyan, the court cannot be trusted because "it is not independent." Zolyan alleged that the judicial branch did nothing to prevent human rights violations in Armenia, and therefore "leadership cannot be changed through elections." -- Emil Danielyan NAZARBAYEV REPLACES DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER, SECURITY CHIEF. Deputy Prime Minister Garry Shtoik has been removed by Kazakstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 October. Shtoik was replaced by Dyusembai Duseinov, an industry official. The following day Nazarbayev appointed Beksultan Sarsekov as secretary of the country's Security Council, replacing Baltash Tursumbayev. Continuing his changes, Nazarbayev on 30 October signed a decree restructuring the country's executive branch, disposing of several committees, among them the State Committee on Cooperation with CIS states, RFE/RL reported. -- Bruce Pannier and Merhat Sharipzhan TAJIK OPPOSITION MAKES NEW DEMANDS. The United Tajik Opposition (UTO) insists that the National Reconciliation Council that the UTO has proposed be comprised 40% by the Movement for the Islamic Revival of Tajikistan, 40% by other opposition groups, and just 20% by government representatives, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 October. The next round of talks between the Tajik government and UTO, to be held in Moscow, are not expected anytime soon, a spokesman for the UTO said. -- Bruce Pannier FOUR CENTRAL ASIAN STATES ATTEND TEHRAN CONFERENCE. A conference on the situation in Afghanistan opened in the Iranian capital Tehran on 29 October, ITAR-TASS and IRNA reported. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati said "the countries in the region ... are obliged to do their utmost to put a stop to outside interference in Afghanistan's internal affairs." Representatives from all the Central Asian CIS states except Uzbekistan were at the conference as well as Russia, Turkey, India, and envoys from the UN and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia did not attend though Velayati noted "they were invited." -- Bruce Pannier [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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