|As courage endagers life even so fear preserves it. - Leonardo Da Vinci|
No. 215, Part I, 6 November 1996
No. 215, Part I, 6 November 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 REGAINS CONSCIOUSNESS . . . President Boris Yeltsin regained consciousness at 6:45 p.m. Moscow time on 5 November, less than five hours after the end of the operation during which his heart was stopped for 68 minutes, Russian and Western media reported. He was taken off a respirator on the morning of 6 November. Renat Akchurin, the surgeon who headed the surgery, said his team had completed five bypasses, The Washington Post reported. Akchurin also said five or six days must pass before he will be able to determine when Yeltsin might resume work. According to Reuters, top cardiologists said the 48 hours after the operation are crucial in Yeltsin's recovery. -- Nikolai Iakoubovski . . . TAKES POWERS BACK FROM CHERNOMYRDIN. Yeltsin signed a decree terminating Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's tenure as acting president at 6 a.m. on 6 November, only 23 hours after transfering all his powers to the prime minister, Russian and Western agencies reported. Although Yeltsin once again controls the so-called "nuclear suitcase," Chernomyrdin will continue to perform some presidential functions, such as chairing Security Council meetings, until Yeltsin has fully recovered. The same morning, Chernomyrdin and Yeltsin met for about 15 minutes, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Laura Belin WORKERS STAGE DAY OF PROTEST. Workers took to the streets on 5 November in nationwide demonstrations coordinated by the Federation of Independent Trade Unions, Russian and Western media reported. Their main demand was the payment of wage arrears, which now total 43 trillion rubles ($7.9 billion). The protests were the largest since 1993. The unions claim 15 million people participated in various ways, while the Interior Ministry put the figure of street demonstrators at 320,000, spread over 50 regions. Some 40,000 marched in Moscow but only 8,000 in St. Petersburg. Turnout was high in the Far East: 20,000 in Vladivostok and 15,000 in Khabarovsk. In some regions, such as Yaroslavl, workers also staged two-hour strikes. Chernomyrdin addressed the crowd in Moscow, saying that he regretted the non-payment of wages but saw no easy solution. The government said it has already released 320 billion rubles to pay wages owed to culture, education and health workers. Radical communist leader Viktor Anpilov complained that union officials tried to prevent the display of red flags, NTV reported. -- Peter Rutland SELEZNEV HOSPITALIZED. State Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev has been hospitalized with asthma and bronchitis, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 November. It was not clear whether he will be released from Moscow's Central Clinical Hospital in time for the Duma's next plenary session on 10 November. Seleznev had already announced plans to boycott this week's planned inaugural session of the Consultative Council if presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais is present (see OMRI Daily Digest, 30 and 31 October 1996). The council, informally known as the "permanent four," consists of Chernomyrdin, Chubais, Seleznev, and Federation Council Speaker Yegor Stroev. -- Laura Belin CORRUPTION INVESTIGATION IN ST. PETERSBURG. The head of the Interior Ministry administration for St. Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast, Yurii Loskutov, has been suspended while prosecutors investigate some of his recent business trips abroad. Loskutov has been replaced temporarily by Anatolii Ponidelko, a former colleague of Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov. The head of the economic crimes administration, Nikolai Danilov, has also been suspended following charges that a number of his officers were involved in extortion, NTV reported on 1 November. Last but not least, the head of the St. Petersburg legislative assembly, Yurii Kravtsov, has been accused of abuse of office and bribe-taking, but as a Federation Council member he cannot be sued without the permission of that body. The investigation was started after the St. Petersburg newspaper Chas pik published an article saying that Kravtsov had spent 350 million rubles ($65,000) from the city budget to renovate his apartment, Moskovskie novosti (no.44) reported. -- Penny Morvant in St. Petersburg MAYOROV IN GROZNY. Russian Security Council Deputy Secretary Leonid Mayorov and the newly appointed permanent representative of the federal government in Chechnya, Georgii Kurin, on 5 November met in Grozny with the commander of the Russian federal forces in Chechnya, Maj.-Gen. Vladimir Sukhoruchenko, and interim Chechen Prime Minister Aslan Maskhadov, Russian Television (RTR) reported. They discussed the situation of Russian troops still in Chechnya and the timetable for their withdrawal, which according to Mayorov is to proceed in three stages. Kurin and Maskhadov also discussed economic restoration and preparations for the winter. -- Liz Fuller U.S., RUSSIAN CHIEFS OF STAFF MEET. The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. John Shalikashvili, met in Moscow with the chief of the Russian General Staff, Gen. Viktor Samsonov, Russian and Western media reported on 5 November. They discussed security issues including the future of the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Bosnia and bilateral military cooperation. Samsonov told ITAR-TASS that "complete understanding" had been reached on extending the presence of U.S. and Russian peacekeepers in Bosnia. He added that the two countries plan to deepen bilateral military cooperation by increasing contacts not only between top brass, but at lower organizational levels. The General Staff is considering holding joint military exercises with the U.S. during 1997 if financing is available, Samsonov said. -- Scott Parrish PRIMAKOV RAPS RYBKIN ON NATO. Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov rejected Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin's 30 October suggestion that Russia join NATO's political structures, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 November. Commenting in Petrozavodsk on the possibility of Russia joining NATO, he sarcastically asked, "Who wants that?" Primakov said NATO "isn't really interested" in Russian membership, and Moscow doesn't want it either. Primakov quipped that Security Council secretaries "have developed a hobby" of discussing Russian ties with NATO, but insisted that the Foreign Ministry formulates policy, adding that he continues to oppose NATO enlargement. Primakov's remarks quash speculation that Rybkin's comments signaled a new tack in Russian policy toward NATO. -- Scott Parrish RUSSIA TO OPEN UNOFFICIAL MISSION IN TAIWAN. A former diplomat, Vladimir Malshev, has been dispatched to Taipei, where he will open a non- governmental Russian mission before the end of the year, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 November. An analogous Taiwanese mission has been operating in Moscow since 1993. The mission's main function is to promote economic ties; Taiwanese-Russian trade reached $1.8 billion in 1995 and totaled $842 million in the first eight months of 1996. Russia accepts mainland China's "one China" policy, and does not recognize Taiwan. The opening of the informal mission was discussed with the Chinese ambassador in Moscow, Li Fenglin, who told ITAR-TASS that Russia has pledged the mission will not have any official political or diplomatic functions. -- Scott Parrish GRU CHIEF: WEST WANTS TO KEEP RUSSIA WEAK. In a rare interview published in Komsomolskya pravda on 5 November, Col.-Gen. Fedor Ladygin, head of the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) of the Russian General Staff, contended that "Despite all their assurances of friendship, the developed countries do not want Russia to be a strong power and are undertaking decisive measures to weaken it." Ladygin said that, as a result, one of his organization's top priorities is military-related economic and technical espionage, to help prevent Russia from "falling into the ranks of third-rate countries." He revealed that the GRU is not immune from the military's financial crisis, saying his staff only recently received their August salaries. -- Scott Parrish MOSCOW GOVERNMENT PROMISES MORE HELP TO MEDIA. The Moscow city government has promised more financial help to publishing and printing houses, television and radio stations, news agencies, and newspapers, Ekho Moskvy and ITAR-TASS reported on 5 November. Media organizations will continue to pay rent far below market prices; beginning on 1 January their rates for utilities will be reduced and they will be exempt from taxes on building maintenance and for education. Mayor Yurii Luzhkov said the new measures would cost the city about 80 billion rubles ($15 million), but said it was worth it to guarantee that even the poorest citizens could still afford to buy newspapers. Luzhkov's generosity will also carry political dividends; he is hardly ever criticized in the mass media, a fact many observers attribute to the media's financial dependence on the Moscow city administration. -- Laura Belin RUSSIA AND INTERPOL. More than 500 Russian citizens are on the Interpol wanted list, according to Maj.-Gen. Ivan Sardak, the head of the Russian Interpol bureau, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 November. So far this year, Russia has received 10 criminals from abroad, and in turn has extradited 11 foreign suspects to other countries. The Russian Interpol bureau was formed in 1991, but only received legal status through presidential and governmental decrees in June and October of this year. -- Peter Rutland CONCILIATION COMMISSION SUGGESTS INTRODUCING NEW TAXES. The joint parliament and government budget commission has agreed to propose the introduction of new taxes on financial operations, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 November. Interest on bank deposits above a certain rate will be taxed at 15%, as will profits from operations in state, regional and municipal securities. A 1.5% tax will be levied on purchases of foreign currency, although state organizations will be exempt from this tax. Such a measure would likely boost the black market trade in foreign currency. In the first six months of this year, foreign currency purchases by the population totaled $30 billion. -- Natalia Gurushina DIAMOND PRODUCER ACCUSED OF FINANCIAL IRREGULARITIES. The Procurator General's Office has started criminal procedures against Russia's principal producer and exporter of uncut diamonds, Almazy Rossii-Sakha (ARS), ITAR-TASS reported on 5 November. The company is charged with concealing profits, resulting in the non-payment of 46 billion rubles ($8.2 million) in taxes. In addition, as of April 1996, ARS owed 3.1 trillion rubles in tax arrears. ARS is also accused of conducting illegal operations with foreign currency and precious stones and metals, from which it received nearly $87 million. Company officials deny all charges, claiming that the move is aimed at disrupting the conclusion of a deal with South Africa's De Beers. The special tax commission has asked the President of Yakutiya (Sakha) to dismiss local government officials responsible for ARS's activity. -- Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA MORE KARABAKH DIPLOMACY. The chairman of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Xavier Ruperes, held talks in Baku on 5 November with Azerbaijan's President Heidar Aliev, Foreign Minister Hasan Hasanov, and representatives of the opposition Azerbaijan Popular Front and Party of National Independence of Azerbaijan, Turan and ITAR-TASS reported. Ruperes advocated direct bilateral talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan to expedite a political solution to the Karabakh conflict. On 4 November, Aliev's special advisor, Vafa Gulu-Zade, left Baku to meet at an undisclosed European location with his Armenian counterpart, Zhirair Liparitian. They were to discuss the progress achieved on the Declaration of Principles that is due to be signed by the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan at the OSCE heads of state summit in Lisbon in early December. -- Liz Fuller ARMENIAN OPPOSITION CRITICIZES CONSTITUTIONAL COURT. Shavarsh Kocharyan, the Constitutional Court representative of defeated presidential candidate Vazgen Manukyan, said the court "violates the principles of equality and transparency" in validating the 22 September election results, Noyan Tapan reported on 5 November. The opposition appealed to the court on 24 October, asking it to annul the vote. Kocharyan claimed that numerous documented cases of irregularities are not being addressed. According to him, Manukyan asked the court to return property and documents from his campaign headquarters seized by the Interior Ministry, but this was refused on the grounds that the court "is not empowered to solve this problem." Kocharyan said the Ministry's actions amount to a virtual suspension of the party, which, according to Armenian law, only the Constitutional Court has the right to decide. -- Emil Danielyan UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER IN GEORGIA. Pavlo Lazarenko arrived in Tbilisi on 4 November for a three-day visit and met with Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze to discuss bilateral cooperation, ITAR-TASS reported. On 5 November Ukrainian and Georgian officials signed a series of bilateral agreements, including one on military technical cooperation. The issue of transporting Caspian oil from Azerbaijan via Georgia to Ukraine was also discussed, according to Radio Mayak. -- Liz Fuller TAJIK GOVERNMENT AND OPPOSITION COURT NATIONAL REVIVAL MOVEMENT. Since the start of November, both the Tajik government and opposition have made overtures to the National Revival Movement founded last spring by three former prime ministers. The United Tajik Opposition (UTO) announced that the movement would be included at the next round of peace talks, and that one UTO leader, Ali Akbar Turajonzoda, had met with the movement's co-founder, Abdumalik Abdullajonov, in Tashkent recently. Following this meeting, UTO leader Said Abdullo Nuri said that cooperation with the movement was possible, according to a Voice of Free Tajikistan radio broadcast monitored by the BBC. ITAR-TASS reported on 5 November that President Imomali Rakhmonov met with the other two leaders of the movement, Jamshed Karimov and Abdujalil Samadov, after they arrived in Dushanbe on 3 November, and appointed Karimov as a senior aide for foreign affairs. -- Bruce Pannier [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Steve Kettle ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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