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No. 6, Part I, 9 January 1997
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 OMRI Daily Digest, and other information about OMRI, are available through OMRI's WWW pages: http://www.omri.cz/Index.html RUSSIA YELTSIN HOSPITALIZED AGAIN. President Boris Yeltsin was taken to the Central Clinical Hospital with symptoms of pneumonia in the evening of 8 January, Russian media reported. Yeltsin's surgeon Renat Akchurin said the current illness has no connection to the president's 5 November heart surgery. The Kremlin continued to downplay Yeltsin's condition by quoting American doctor Michael DeBakey to the effect that Yeltsin will be better in a week. Yeltsin returned to the Kremlin for the first time following his surgery on 23 December. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin decided to begin a one-week vacation despite the president's illness. Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Aleksandr Livshits was also hospitalized right after the 8 January government session with flu symptoms. -- Anna Paretskaya in Moscow REACTION TO YELTSIN ILLNESS. While presidential aides tried to minimize the seriousness of Yeltsin's illness, former Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed saw the latest events as more proof that the president should step down for the good of the country. Lebed told Ekho Moskvy on 8 January, "Our country is headed by a very sick and elderly man. He needs to retire, since he can neither govern due to the state of his health nor lead a normal life." Lebed and Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov, who would be among the leading contenders should an early presidential election become necessary, have frequently expressed doubt that Yeltsin is well enough to run Russia and have called for him to resign (see OMRI Daily Digest, 30 December 1996). -- Laura Belin BOMB BLAST IN KABARDINO-BALKARIYA PARLIAMENT BUILDING. A bomb exploded in the basement of the Kabardino-Balkariya Republic parliament building, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 8 January. No one was injured though the blast caused considerable damage, blowing out the windows of the parliament building and of some other buildings in the vicinity. Republican officials claim the blast was aimed at a nearby commercial bank and had no political motive. On 12 January, the republic will hold its presidential election. -- Anna Paretskaya in Moscow PREPARATIONS ADVANCE FOR CHECHEN ELECTIONS. OSCE mission chief Tim Guldimann said that the U.S. and EU have raised some $350,000 to finance the 27 January Chechen elections, NTV reported on 8 January, while Russian TV (RTR) noted that they have turned down offers of organizational and financial help from the Russian Central Electoral Commission. Momadi Saidaev, the head of the Chechen Electoral Commission, said they expect 70 OSCE observers. Guldimann said "there is a good chance that these elections will be free, fair, and democratic," despite the limited opportunities for refugees to vote, Ekho Moskvy reported. Ruslan Kutaev, Chechen minister for CIS affairs, said that it is now likely that Chechens living outside the republic will have to travel back to vote, and voting facilities will not be arranged in Dagestan and Ingushetiya. -- Peter Rutland NEW CHECHEN PROCURATOR. The Chechen administration has appointed Khavazha Sergbiev Procurator General of the republic without consulting Moscow, NTV noted on 8 January. Russian Procurator General Yurii Skuratov commented that while they want to cooperate with the Chechen authorities, the appointment violates Russian law since procurators must be nominated by Moscow. On 7 January RIA Novosti quoted Sergbiev as saying that the 1995 raid on Budennovsk, led by presidential candidate Shamil Basaev, was not a terrorist act but was intended to bring about peace. -- Peter Rutland PRIMAKOV REVIEWS FOREIGN POLICY IN 1996 . . . In an interview with ITAR- TASS on 8 January marking his first year as foreign minister, Yevgenii Primakov emphasized that domestic factors drive current Russian foreign policy, saying its principal goal remains the creation of international conditions which facilitate internal democratization and economic reform. Moscow aims for "equal partnership" with its partners around the globe, he added, emphasizing that he wanted to steer a middle course between the extremes of Soviet-style anti-Westernism and what he termed the romantic pro-Western approach of his predecessor, Andrei Kozyrev. Using a favorite theme, he said the emerging multipolar world order gave Russian diplomacy room for maneuver, and he lauded Russian successes during 1996 in building ties with China and pushing forward with CIS integration. But he also admitted that Russia's economic and military problems often undermine its international position. -- Scott Parrish . . . AND LINKS CFE REVISION TO RUSSIA-NATO CHARTER. Primakov cited the December 1996 NATO statement that the alliance has no intention of deploying nuclear weapons in new East European members as evidence that firm Russian opposition to NATO expansion was delivering results. He described the pledge as "insufficient," however, adding that Russia would use NATO's approach to planned talks on revising the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty to evaluate whether the alliance was serious about negotiating a substantive Russia-NATO charter. Hinting that Moscow wants the revised CFE treaty to strictly limit NATO deployments, Primakov said it could serve as the basis for "mutual security," and address Russian concerns about the eastward expansion of NATO military infrastructure. He also insisted that any charter provide for joint decision-making on important issues, presumably including NATO enlargement. -- Scott Parrish RUSSIAN OFFICIALS SLAM WESTERN OBJECTIONS TO CYPRUS MISSILE DEAL. A wide range of Russian officials and parliamentarians condemned Western criticism of the recently announced Russian sale of air defense missiles to Greek-controlled Cyprus on 8 January, Russian and Western media reported. Expressing the most common viewpoint, Duma Defense Committee Chairman Lev Rokhlin said the criticism stems from Western efforts to "oust Russia from the world arms market." Denying that the sale would jeopardize peace on Cyprus, foreign policy analyst and presidential council member Sergei Karaganov said the Western reaction to the sale reflected the "dishonest" competitive tactics used by Western governments in the struggle for weapons contracts. Gennadii Khormov, a Ministry of Defense Industry official, told ITAR-TASS the vocal American objections aimed to deflect attention from Washington's intention to violate the 1972 ABM treaty. -- Scott Parrish MOSCOW RADIO STATIONS SILENCED IN CHUVASHIYA. The radio and television center of the Republic of Chuvashiya cut off local transmissions of the national radio stations Radio Mayak and Radio-1, RTR reported on 8 January. The center lacks money to pay energy and communications workers; in particular, it is owed millions of rubles in debts accrued by the two radio stations last February and March. The radio stations were restructured in June of last year and have announced that they will not be responsible for debts accumulated before then. Similar protests by communications workers have recently silenced transmissions of Moscow-based radio and television networks in Murmansk Oblast and Krasnoyarsk Krai. -- Laura Belin ST. PETERSBURG READIES FOR OLYMPIC BID. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on 8 January held a meeting of the organizing committee to prepare St. Petersburg's bid to host the 2004 summer Olympics. Eleven cities are participating in the first round of bidding on 7 March which will reduce the list to five, with the final selection to be announced in September. The cost for the city to hold the games is estimated at $2.2 billion, with proceeds in the $2-3 billion range, RIA Novosti reported. St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev said that the federal government promised to provide full organizational and financial support. The 1994 Goodwill Games in St. Petersburg were marred by an algae-infested swimming pool and low attendance. -- Robert Orttung YELTSIN SIGNS CRIMINAL-CORRECTIONAL CODE. President Yeltsin signed on 8 January the new Criminal-Correctional Code, ITAR-TASS reported. The code, which consists of 190 articles governing the conditions in which convicts serve their sentences, was passed by the Duma on 18 December 1996 and approved by the Federation Council on 25 December (see OMRI Daily Digest, 3 January 1997). It will go into effect on 1 July, six months after the new Criminal Code entered into force. According to Lev Glaukhman, head of the criminal law department at the Interior Ministry's Moscow Institute, about 150,000 criminal cases will have to be reviewed in light of the new Criminal Code, ITAR-TASS reported. Those imprisoned on charges that no longer carry criminal responsibility will be released. -- Penny Morvant CITY BAILS OUT MOSKVICH PLANT. The Moscow Court of Arbitration has rejected an appeal by the Federal Bankruptcy Commission to declare bankrupt the AZLK "Moskvich" auto plant in Moscow, Ekho Moskvy reported on 8 January. The 7,500 workers at the AZLK Moskvich plant have been idle for an entire year: production is now restarting with financial support promised by the Moscow City government. They plan to introduce a new model, the "Arbat," in the fall and are also negotiating to assemble Renault cars. AZLK owes roughly 1 trillion rubles in taxes. -- Peter Rutland TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE CHARGES GEORGIAN DIPLOMAT. The U.S. State Department has formally requested Georgia to waive immunity for diplomat Georgi Makharadze, who was involved in a car accident in which an American girl died (see OMRI Daily Digest, 7 January 1997), ITAR-TASS and AFP reported on 9 January. The move follows a letter to the State Department from the U.S. attorney's office that says there is "enough evidence" of Makharadze's guilt to press charges against him. The last time diplomatic immunity was waived in such a serious case was that of a Belgian diplomat in 1989. -- Emil Danielyan ALIEV ON GEORGIA. Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Ukleba held talks in Baku with Azerbaijani President Haidar Aliev on 8 January, RFE/RL reported the same day. Aliev, who termed Georgia a strategic ally, declared Baku's full support for Tbilisi's position on Abkhazia, noting that Azerbaijan opposes separatism, aggression, ethnic cleansing, and instability. It appears Georgia is seeking Azerbaijani backing to push for a toughened stance on Abkhazia among CIS states in advance of the 17 January CIS summit in Moscow. -- Lowell Bezanis DASHNAK LEADERS MEET WITH ARMENIAN JUSTICE MINISTER. During a meeting with leaders of the banned Dashnak party (HHD), Armenian Justice Minister Marat Aleksanyan said that documents submitted by the HHD are "not sufficient" for the party to be legalized, Noyan Tapan reported on 8 January. Ruben Hakobyan, a HHD leader, complained that the authorities have not specified the steps that his party should take in order to resume its activities. The meeting comes amid speculation that the party might soon be legalized following a 10 December court verdict that found no connection between the HHD and the alleged terrorist group Dro. The HHD's activities in Armenia were suspended in January 1995 by the Supreme Court on the grounds that it violated Armenian law on political parties by having foreign members. In a bid to overcome the legal deadlock, the HHD in November 1995 made significant changes in its structure, granting its Armenia organization a substantial degree of autonomy. -- Emil Danielyan FIGHTING BREAKS OUT IN TURSUN ZADE. Despite a presidential order to withdraw his forces from the Tursun Zade area, elements of Col. Mahmud Khudaberdiyev's First Brigade attacked outlaw forces in the city on 8 January, international media reported. Khudaberdiyev had moved his force close to the city claiming that Tursun Zade's criminal band, loyal to former Popular Front commander Kadyr Abdullayev, raided the First Brigade's headquarters on 29 December to steal weapons, in the process killing one officer. Khudaberdiyev said the attack was sparked by the government's refusal to do anything about the situation. He is demanding Abdullayev return the weapons and vacate the city. Efforts by the Tajik government, Russian forces in Tajikistan, and the UN observer mission to mediate the isolated conflict have not met with any success. Both government and opposition representatives say the fighting in Tursun Zade will not have an impact on peace talks being held in Tehran. -- Bruce Pannier TURGUNALIYEV FOUND GUILTY. A Bishkek municipal court on 8 January found Topchubek Turgunaliyev, the chairman of the Erkin Kyrgyzstan Party, guilty of embezzlement and sentenced him to 10 years in prison and confiscation of all his property, RFE/RL reported. Co-defendant Timur Stamkulov received a six-year sentence but his property will not be confiscated. The charges stem from a 1994 incident when Turgunaliyev was the rector of Bishkek's Humanitarian University and approved a request by Stamkulov, then the deputy director of the university, to withdraw $10,000 from university funds. Stamkulov claims he was robbed and lost all the money, but he still returned $2,300 and later attempted to return an additional $3,000, which the university refused to accept. Lawyers for Turgunaliyev and Stamkulov have claimed from the beginning of the trial that it was politically motivated. -- Bruce Pannier and Naryn Idinov UZBEK GAS-CHEMICALS COMPLEX. A foreign consortium will help develop a chemical complex, with an estimated value of $1 billion, in Uzbekistan's Kashgadarya province, according to a 6 January report in Rossiiskaya Gazeta monitored by the BBC. The paper, citing sources in Uzbekneftgaz, noted the complex will be built by a consortium comprising three subsidiaries of the Swiss-Swedish ABB group, Japan's Mitsui, and Nissho Iwai. The complex at the Shurtan gas-condensate field is to produce 125,000 metric tons of polyethelene, 137,000 metric tons of liquefied gas, and 37,000 metric tons of unstable condensate. It is estimated $600 million will be spent on the technological side of the project and $400 million on construction to be carried out by Uzbek contractors. -- Lowell Bezanis [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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