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No. 216, Part I, 7 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 RUSSIA YELTSIN HEALTH UPDATE. Doctors say President Boris Yeltsin has already started walking after his 5 November heart surgery, Reuters reported on 7 November. The same day ITAR-TASS, citing the presidential press service, reported that Yeltsin "is active, is able to sit, gets up and walks about the ward, and ate breakfast on his own." Yelsin also met with Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais for 15 minutes. Although Yeltsin wants to be transferred to the main Kremlin hospital where he has been treated in the past, his doctors advised him to stay at least another 24 hours under intensive care in the Moscow Cardiological Center where the operation was performed. According to AFP on 6 November, American cardiologist Michael DeBakey said Yeltsin should recover in six to eight weeks. Meanwhile, Yeltsin issued a decree on 7 November, the anniversary of the October Revolution, changing that holiday's name to the Day of Accord and Reconciliation. -- Nikolai Iakoubovski REACTION TO CLINTON VICTORY. Yeltsin congratulated his American counterpart Bill Clinton on his re-election, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 November. In his message, Yeltsin described "constructive and equal partnership" between the U.S. and Russia as "an indispensable condition for global security." Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov likewise hailed Clinton's victory, terming him a "predictable" negotiating partner. Reuters cited a senior Foreign Ministry official as saying that Yeltsin and Clinton's warm personal ties would bolster bilateral relations. Duma First Deputy Vice Speaker Aleksandr Shokhin (Our Home is Russia), however, said Clinton's re-election would lead American "imperial ambitions" to "reach a new level," and he suggested Washington is deliberately exacerbating Russian-Ukrainian differences in order to use Ukraine as a "buffer zone" between Russia and NATO. -- Scott Parrish ZYUGANOV DISCUSSES YELTSIN'S HEALTH, CLINTON'S VICTORY . . . Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov wished Yeltsin well but said the president should wait until his recovery is complete before taking back his powers. "He must get well first, and only then try to run the country. It's impossible to run a country from an intensive care unit, from a hospital, especially when the country itself is very seriously ill," Russian TV (RTR) reported Zyuganov as saying on 6 November. Zyuganov has previously called for Yeltsin to step down permanently because of his health problems. On the same day, Zyuganov congratulated Bill Clinton on his election victory, adding, "We respect the traditions and customs of elections for U.S. citizens, but we want America to respect our choice and our traditions, and interfere less in our internal affairs," Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. -- Laura Belin . . . CALLS FOR "GOVERNMENT OF NATIONAL INTERESTS." Addressing more than 2,000 supporters who gathered to commemorate the 1917 revolution, Zyuganov criticized the current authorities and called for organized protests that could lead to the creation of a "government of national interests," Russian media reported on 6 November. Referring to the recent suicide of nuclear physicist Vladimir Nechai (see OMRI Daily Digest, 31 October 1996), Zyuganov said, "We have become witnesses of a time when junior researchers, thieves, and drunkards are running the country, and at the same time talented academicians are shooting themselves," ORT reported. Zyuganov noted that his party favors an evolutionary rather than revolutionary path of development. -- Laura Belin COMMUNISTS COMMEMORATE OCTOBER REVOLUTION. About 20,000 people marched on 7 November from the Lenin statue on Moscow's Oktyabrskaya Ploshchad to the Karl Marx statue on Teatralnaya Ploshchad to mark the 79th anniversary of the October Revolution, AFP reported. Several radical communist groups, including Anatolii Kryuchkov's Russian Party of Communists, Stanislav Terekhov's Officers' Union, and the Russian Communist Party--Communist Party of the Soviet Union, had sought to march on Red Square. However, the Supreme Court rejected their appeal against the Moscow city government's decision not to allow demonstrations on Red Square, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 November. -- Laura Belin KULIKOV SEES MORE CONSPIRACIES. Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov defended his record at a press conference on 6 November, rejecting charges that he has become too involved in politics, NTV reported. He said preserving the constitutional order was his "direct responsibility." Commenting on the 3 November killing of U.S. businessman Paul Tatum, Kulikov noted that this occurred on the eve of the U.S. presidential election and Yeltsin's heart surgery, and suggested that it could have been part of a conspiracy to embarrass the police and destabilize the political system. Kulikov said that so far this year there have been 560 murders or attempted murders that appeared to be contract killings. (In Russia, professional assassins typically leave their weapon at the scene.) Only 10% of these had been solved. Overall, the total number of crimes in the first 10 months of the year fell by 4%, although Kulikov said that economic crime continues to rise. -- Peter Rutland SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES CHECHNYA. Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin on 6 November met with his deputies, Boris Berezovskii and Leonid Mayorov, and the newly appointed permanent representative of the Russian federal government in Chechnya, Georgii Kurin, to discuss the Chechen situation in the light of talks held with the Chechen leadership over the past two weeks, Russian media reported. Also on 6 November, a spokesman for the Russian military commandant in Grozny denied charges that Russian troops based at Grozny's Severnii airport had subjected the Argunskii farm to artillery fire during the night of 5-6 November. The spokesman admitted that flares were fired and would investigate the incident further. Interim Chechen Prime Minister Aslan Maskhadov convened a meeting of field commanders in Argun on 6 November to discuss financing and discipline within the ranks of the Chechen armed forces, according to Radio Rossii. -- Liz Fuller PRIMAKOV AT BARENTS-EUROARCTIC SUMMIT. The Council of the Barents and Euroarctic Region held its fourth session in Petrozavodsk on 5-6 November, ITAR-TASS reported. Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov chaired the session, which was attended by foreign ministers and top diplomats from council members Iceland, Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark, plus observers from several other countries. Besides regional environmental and economic cooperation, the session discussed European security, with Primakov reiterating Moscow's opposition to NATO expansion. He argued that the OSCE should anchor a new European security system, and criticized those who view either NATO or a Russian-NATO charter as playing that role. In subsequent comments, Primakov cautioned that despite recent progress in border talks with Estonia, a final agreement would be contingent on the treatment of the Russian minority there, which Russia believes suffers discrimination. -- Scott Parrish RUSSIAN, INDIAN INTERIOR MINISTERS MEET. Anatolii Kulikov met with his Indian counterpart Indraijit Gupta in Moscow on 6 November, ITAR-TASS reported. Kulikov described drug trafficking as the main problem that bilateral law-enforcement cooperation should address, attributing it to the "friendly" attitude of Indian authorities toward Russian visitors. He said the two countries would sign an extradition treaty in early 1997. While Kulikov hailed the "unlimited" possibilities of bilateral cooperation in law enforcement, Gupta pointed out that financial problems in both countries had hampered the effective implementation of four previous joint law-enforcement agreements. Gupta also met First Deputy Prime Minister Aleksei Bolshakov to discuss economic and military ties. They predicted that Russo-Indian trade would increase this year by 30% over the $1.9 billion level reached in 1995. -- Scott Parrish KHANTY-MANSI DECIDES TO PARTICIPATE IN TYUMEN ELECTIONS. The Khanty- Mansi Autonomous Okrug State Duma voted on 6 November to participate in the Tyumen Oblast gubernatorial elections set for 22 December, ITAR-TASS reported. Khanty-Mansi and the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, simultaneously subordinate to Tyumen and one of the 89 members of Russian Federation, control 53% of Russian oil and 90% of natural gas reserves. The legislature of Yamal-Nenets has already decided not to participate in the Tyumen elections (see OMRI Daily Digest, 24 October 1996). The newly elected legislature of Khanty-Mansi on 27 October, on the other hand, chose to be a part of Tyumen. Khanty-Mansi's decision, however, does not resolve difficulties over the Tyumen gubernatorial elections, in which Yamal also should take part, according to the Russian constitution. -- Ritsuko Sasaki OFFICIALS TO BE TRIED FOR FABRICATING CASE AGAINST VLADIVOSTOK MAYOR. The Procurator-General's Office began criminal proceedings against four members of the Primorskii Krai Internal Affairs Department for allegedly fabricating a corruption case against Vladivostok Mayor Viktor Cherepkov in 1994. A spokesman for the procurators said the charged officials had abused their power by fabricating evidence and inducing false testimony from witnesses, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 November. The charges against Cherepkov were eventually dropped, and two of those who will face trial were first arrested last year for framing him (see OMRI Daily Digest, 19 May and 25 July 1995). Cherepkov has since been reinstated as mayor, but his relations with allies of Primorskii Krai Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko remain strained (see OMRI Daily Digest, 1 and 3 October 1996). -- Laura Belin SMALL VICTORY FOR ENVIRONMENTALISTS. A local court has fined the Saratov oil company 260 million rubles ($50,000) for damage to three hectares of arable land caused by leaks from an oil well in Bagaevskii one year ago, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 November. The suit was brought by the regional nature conservation committee, which is also pursuing a 1.5 billion ruble claim arising from a pipeline leak near Lysye Gory. The same day, Russian customs officials in Smolensk turned back five train cars laden with 150 tons of cyanide waste, Radio Rossii reported. They were headed from Poland for disposal in Krasnoyarsk, but did not have the required documentation. -- Peter Rutland TAX COLLECTION IN OCTOBER. Federal tax revenue in October reached 14.6 trillion rubles ($2.7 billion), ITAR-TASS reported on 6 November, citing the State Tax Agency. This is a 52% increase over September, when 9.6 trillion rubles were collected. However, 21% of tax "receipts" (3.1 trillion rubles) were in the form of treasury tax waivers and other surrogates. Non-cash sources accounted for 18% of tax receipts, or 1.7 trillion rubles, in September. Ten of Russia's 89 regions provide 60% of all federal taxes. They are Moscow; Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug; Tatarstan; St. Petersburg; Samara, Moscow, Omsk, Chelyabinsk, and Sverdlovsk Oblasts; and Krasnodar Krai. -- Natalia Gurushina MARKET REACTION TO YELTSIN'S OPERATION. International financial markets reacted positively on the news about Yeltsin's successful heart surgery, Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported on 6 November. The prices of both Finance Ministry Foreign Currency Bonds and old Soviet commercial debt (Vneshekonombank debt) went up, with the latter surging over the last 48 hours by 6% to 80 cents on the dollar. In Russia, the price of state short-term securities also went up, pushing yields down by as much as 4% (compared to last week's auctions). Yeltsin's successful recovery should also improve the prospects for the forthcoming issue of Russia's eurobonds slated for mid-November. -- Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA ARMENIA'S NEW PRIME MINISTER TO CONTINUE ECONOMIC REFORMS. Armen Sarkisyan said he will continue the economic reforms of his predecessor, Hrant Bagratyan, with a "new impetus" and uphold the country's independence, international media reported on 6 November. According to Sarkisyan, Armenia should enter the 21st century with a competitive and modern economy so that certain unspecified "regional economic and political forces cannot swallow our state." Bagratyan's replacement is seen as an attempt by President Levon Ter-Petrossyan to soothe Armenia's tense internal political situation. Meanwhile, Interior Minister Vano Siradeghyan told RFE/RL on 6 November that he and Foreign Minister Vahan Papazyan are ready to step down. Siradeghyan said he is ready to take over as mayor of Yerevan and suggested that Alexander Arzumanyan, Armenia's permanent representative to the UN, could succeed Papazyan. -- Emil Danielyan NEW GEORGIAN OPPOSITION COMMITTEE CALLS FOR RUSSIAN TROOP WITHDRAWAL. Representatives of 18 Georgian opposition parties have formed a committee to lobby for the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgia, Segodnya reported on 5 November. The committee is an offshoot of the National Liberation Movement of Georgia founded several months ago by 14 political parties not represented in the present parliament (see OMRI Daily Digest, 1 August 1996). -- Liz Fuller LEGITIMACY OF KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT SPEAKER QUESTIONED. The Constitutional Court has begun reviewing the selection of Mukar Cholponbayev as speaker of the Kyrgyz parliament, RFE/RL and ITAR-TASS reported on 5 November. Cholponbayev has been in trouble over the transfer of more than three million som ($200,000) from the parliamentary budget to a firm partly owned by his wife. He nonetheless received a vote of confidence from the Legislative Assembly on 24 September. When Cholponbayev was chosen speaker in March 1995, only 29 deputies were present and 17 voted for him. But, the number of deputies in the Legislative Assembly is 35, making 17 votes less than a majority. -- Bruce Pannier PRINCE CHARLES BEGINS CENTRAL ASIAN TRIP. The heir to the British throne, Prince Charles, arrived in the Turkmen capital Ashgabat on 6 November, kicking off a six-day tour of four Central Asian states, RFE/RL and ITAR-TASS reported. The first member of the British royal family to visit the region, Charles will travel to Kazakstan on 7 November, to Kyrgyzstan on 9 November, and wind up the trip in Uzbekistan. -- 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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