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No. 222, Part I, 15 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 EVIDENCE OF CAMPAIGN COVER-UP LEAKED. Moskovskii komsomolets on 15 November published what it claimed is a transcript of a 22 June meeting between then Yeltsin campaign chief Anatolii Chubais, senior aide Viktor Ilyushin, and presidential aide Sergei Krasavchenko in which they discussed attempts to cover up the use of money in the campaign. While the source of the tape is not identified, it most likely comes from former Presidential Security Service chief Aleksandr Korzhakov and his allies. The conversation took place after the arrest of Chubais's aides, Sergei Lisovskii and Arkadii Yevstafev, as they were walking out of the White House with more than $500,000 on 19 June. In the transcript, Ilyushin is quoted as saying that he told President Yeltsin that they could catch 15-20 men leaving the President Hotel (Yeltsin's campaign headquarters) with sports bags full of money. Chubais at one point noted that "we will pay for this with our heads." -- Robert Orttung U.S. RELEASES FORMER RUSSIAN AGENT. A Massachusetts federal judge has approved a motion by the U.S. Justice Department to dismiss espionage charges against former Russian intelligence agent Vladimir Galkin, Russian and Western agencies reported on 14 November. A Justice Department spokesman said consultations with the CIA and the State Department had led to the conclusion that Galkin's release would be "in the national interest." Russia had reacted angrily to the ex-agent's 29 October arrest (see OMRI Daily Digest, 5 and 13 November 1996), and had threatened retaliation against U.S. operatives if he was not freed. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin had earlier that day pressed for Galkin's release in a phone conversation with U.S. Vice President Al Gore. Galkin plans to return to Russia in a few days. -- Scott Parrish STATE DUMA UNCOVERS EMBEZZLEMENT OF PENSION FUND'S MONEY. The Audit Chamber of the State Duma has found that in the last quarter of 1995 and the first half of 1996, the amount of money misappropriated from the Pension Fund totaled 667 billion rubles ($122 million), ITAR-TASS reported on 14 November. Inspectors found that some 163 billion rubles were invested in commercial banks and another 87.5 billion rubles were used to buy real estate. In some regions, pensions have not been paid for three months. The government's 14 trillion ruble debt to the fund has worsened its financial situation. In the first 10 months of 1996, the misused money of all non-budgetary funds reached almost 1.8 trillion rubles. Meanwhile, wage arrears increased by 2.8 trillion rubles between 23 September and 28 October, reaching 43.1 trillion rubles. -- Ritsuko Sasaki PRIMAKOV PROPOSES JOINT ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF KURILS. Meeting in Tokyo with his Japanese counterpart, Yukihiko Ikeda, Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov proposed that Russia and Japan develop a joint program of economic development for the disputed southern Kuril Islands, Russian and Western agencies reported on 15 November. According to ITAR-TASS, Moscow hopes to reduce tension over the islands through "pragmatic cooperation," while postponing a final resolution of the territorial dispute. The agency said Ikeda promised to study the proposal, hinting at a possible change in the Japanese policy, as Tokyo has previously made such projects contingent on settling the territorial issue. -- Scott Parrish CONTROVERSY OVER BEREZOVSKII CITIZENSHIP CONTINUES. Izvestiya on 15 November charged that Security Council Deputy Secretary Boris Berezovskii has not been entirely accurate in answering questions about his dual citizenship with Israel (see OMRI Daily Digest, 14 November 1996). The paper noted that Berezovskii's statements on the subject have changed several times and have not always been confirmed by official sources, such as the Russian or Israeli Foreign Ministry. It suggested that Berezovskii does not like "unpleasant details" and simply wanted to close the matter. Meanwhile, the 14 November issue of Segodnya quoted Berezovskii as objecting to what he called anti-Semitic insinuations made about his citizenship by Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov, Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev, and Izvestiya. -- Laura Belin SELEZNEV, STROEV: YELTSIN SHOULD ATTEND MEETINGS OF "PERMANENT FOUR." Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev confirmed that he will not participate in the newly formed Consultative Council until President Boris Yeltsin is well enough to attend meetings in person, Russian media reported on 14 November. The council was to include Presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais (representing Yeltsin), Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Seleznev, and Federation Council Speaker Yegor Stroev. However, following the appointment of Boris Berezovskii as Security Council deputy secretary, Seleznev threatened to boycott all meetings of the "permanent four" if Chubais was present (see OMRI Daily Digest, 30 and 31 October 1996). Stroev, who had not previously objected to Chubais's membership on the Consultative Council, on 14 November backed Seleznev, saying the council should only meet when Yeltsin can attend, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. -- Laura Belin FIFTH ANNIVERSARY OF CONSTITUTIONAL COURT. The Constitutional Court marked the fifth anniversary of its creation with a conference attended by Prime Minister Chernomyrdin and presidential Chief of Staff Chubais, Russian media reported on 14 November. In September 1993, led by Chairman Valerii Zorkin, the court declared Yeltsin's decree no. 1400, which dissolved parliament, unconstitutional. The court did not meet between October 1993 and March 1995 after Yeltsin ordered it not to hold a session until a new constitution had been adopted. When it met again in March 1995, a new constitution and a new law on the court had been passed and several new judges had been appointed. The new court elected Yeltsin ally Vladimir Tumanov to be its chairman. Under the law on the Constitutional Court, Tumanov was required to step down by the end of October 1996, having turned 70 years old, but he remains in office pending the appointment of his replacement. -- Laura Belin FEDERATION COUNCIL REFUSES TO LIFT MEMBER'S IMMUNITY. The Federation Council refused to lift St. Petersburg Assembly Speaker Yurii Kravtsov's parliamentary immunity from criminal prosecution, Radio Rossii reported on 14 November. The procurator general is seeking to prosecute Kravtsov on charges that he spent 350 million rubles ($65,000) of city budget money to renovate his apartment. Federation Council member Vladimir Platonov said they found no basis for letting Kravtsov stand trial. -- Robert Orttung CENTRAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION ELECTS NEW CHAIRMAN. The Central Electoral Commission elected Aleksandr Ivanchenko to be its chairman on 14 November, ITAR-TASS reported. Ivanchenko has been a deputy chairman of the commission since 1993 and succeeded Nikolai Ryabov, who was appointed Russia's ambassador to the Czech Republic on 12 November. -- Nikolai Iakoubovski RUSSIA, ITALY SIGN DEFENSE COOPERATION AGREEMENTS. Russian Defense Minister Igor Rodionov signed two bilateral agreements on military and defense industry cooperation with his Italian counterpart, Beniamino Andretta, in Rome, Russian and Western agencies reported on 14 November. The defense industry agreement provides for the joint development of radar planes, helicopters and other systems, while the military cooperation agreement calls for joint work on security and arms control concepts, as well as planning for peacekeeping operations. Rodionov said the agreements were the first of their kind with a NATO country, showing that Russia can cooperate with alliance members. He added that Moscow remains opposed to NATO's plans to expand eastward. -- Scott Parrish INDIA TO PURCHASE SU-30S. The Indian cabinet has approved a long- anticipated deal to purchase 20 SU-30 fighters from Russia with an option to purchase 20 more planes later, AFP reported on 14 November. The previous cabinet had approved the estimated $1.8 billion purchase, but the change of governments in New Delhi earlier this year had necessitated its reconsideration. -- Scott Parrish YAKUBOVSKII SENTENCED. The city court of St. Petersburg has sentenced lawyer and businessman Dmitrii Yakubosvkii to five years in prison for participating in the theft of manuscripts worth $139 million from the Russian National Library in 1994, ITAR-TASS reported on 14 November. The court further ordered that Yakubovskii's property be confiscated. He was also found guilty of conducting illegal operations with foreign currency and will soon be charged with allegedly injuring his cell-mate in the Kresty prison. In 1992, Yakubovskii acted as a governmental advisor. He played a prominent role in the 1993 power struggle in Russia and was involved in a corruption scandal around former Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi. Yakubovskii was arrested in December 1994. -- Natalia Gurushina CHERNOMYRDIN PROMISES TO REPAY BUDGETARY DEBT TO LOCAL TV COMPANIES. Prime Minister Chernomyrdin has promised to repay part of the federal budget's 840 billion rubles ($153 million) debt to regional television companies, ITAR-TASS reported on 14 November. The remaining debt will be included in the 1997 budget. Chernomyrdin also said that the government intends to abolish the VAT on vital telecommunications and radio equipment imported from abroad. He noted that the heads of local TV companies may soon be classified as civil servants, which should make them more independent from local authorities. -- Natalia Gurushina RUSSIAN ECONOMY STILL SHRINKING. In the first 10 months of 1996, Russia's GDP and industrial output fell by 6% and 5%, respectively, compared with the same period a year earlier, ITAR-TASS reported on 14 November. In October, both indicators dropped by 4% compared with the same month in 1995. From January through October, the volume of investment totaled 247 trillion rubles, 18% down from the same period in 1995. The number of unemployed increased by 11% and is now at 6.6 million, of which 2.6 million are officially registered as unemployed. ITAR-TASS also reported that Russia's population declined by 300,000 in 1996. -- Natalia Gurushina PRIVATIZATION REVENUE UPDATE. State Property Committee head Alfred Kokh has asked the government to reduce the 1996 privatization revenue target from 12.3 trillion rubles ($2.2 billion) to 7.7 trillion rubles, ITAR- TASS reported on 14 November. He said that the budget has received only 735 billion rubles from privatization so far this year, or 6% of the expected annual figure. Kokh suggested that the collection of 1996 privatization revenue be extended into the first half of 1997, since a massive sale of companies' shares at this point would dampen their prices and reduce potential receipts. Foreign Economic Relations Minister Oleg Davydov supported Kokh's proposal to sell part of the government's stakes in companies that have completed successful international floatations of their shares. Kokh also said that the government could raise $1-2 billion by merging the national telephone company Rostelekom with the telecommunications holding Svyazinvest and selling it to an institutional investor. -- Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA U.S., RUSSIAN DELEGATIONS IN ARMENIA. James Collins, special advisor to the U.S. secretary of state on the newly independent states, arrived on 14 November in Yerevan from Baku where he held talks with the Azerbaijani leadership (see OMRI Daily Digest, 14 November 1996), Armenian and Russian media reported. Collins and Armenian Foreign Minister Aleksandr Arzumanyan agreed that the Caucasus region needs a security system to settle conflicts. Meanwhile, Russian Deputy Security Council Secretary Boris Berezovskii, who is also visiting the Transcaucasus, met the same day with President Levon Ter-Petrossyan, AFP reported. -- Emil Danielyan BEREZOVSKII VISITS TBILISI . . . Russian Deputy Security Council Secretary Boris Berezovskii, on his second visit to Georgia in less than a week, met for two hours behind closed doors with Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze on 14 November to discuss the situation in Abkhazia, Chechnya, and the North Caucasus in general, Russian media reported. -- Liz Fuller . . . AND BAKU. Berezovskii then flew to Baku where he discussed Russian-Azerbaijani relations, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and the situation in Chechnya with Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev, noting that the "urgent" problems of the region are linked and should be tackled jointly. Berezovskii also tried to persuade Aliev of the advantages of exporting Azerbaijan's Caspian Sea oil via the "northern" pipeline that runs through Dagestan and Chechnya, according to Turan. Aliev told TRT on 14 November, however, that he would prefer that Azerbaijan's "strategic" (as opposed to "early") oil be exported through the proposed Baku-Ceyhan pipeline, but that unnamed members of the consortium engaged in exploiting the deposits in question oppose that option. -- Liz Fuller INDEPENDENT TV, RADIO FACE NEW RULE IN KAZAKSTAN. The Kazakstani State Property Committee has notified independent TV and radio stations in Kazakstan that their contracts with the transmission center are not valid and will have to be redrawn, Ekho Moskvy reported on 10 November. Kazakstani officials claim the stations are broadcasting on frequencies that interfere with airline traffic control, and the government shut down three independent radio stations and two television stations on 4 November. Yevgenii Zhovtis of the Kazak-American Bureau told Ekho Moskvy that many of the stations alleged to be interfering with air traffic have been using those frequencies for four years. Zhovtis said the government is holding a public tender for frequencies at the beginning of next year and it appears that many independent stations will not have the means to buy a frequency. -- Bruce Pannier NIYAZOV IN TURKEY FOR MEDICAL CHECK-UP. Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov arrived in Turkey on 14 November for a medical check-up, according to Reuters and RFE/RL. Although he is also there to meet with Turkish officials, Niyazov said he will be in the Istanbul branch of the Houston clinic for four days of post-operative treatment. In 1994, Niyazov had a blood clot removed from his leg at a hospital in Houston, Texas. -- Bruce Pannier [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Victor Gomez ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 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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