|It is easier to love humanity than to love one's neighbor. - Eric Hoffer|
No. 33, Part I, 17 February 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 ************************************************************************ In the 21 February issue of OMRI's journal, TRANSITION: DISSIDENTS -- THEN AND NOW - Reshaping Dissident Ideals for Post-Communist Times - How Rude pravo 'Helped' Get Charter 77 off the Ground - In Poland, A Long-Standing Tradition of Resistance PLUS... - CENTRAL ASIA: The Gordian Knot of Energy - BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA: Janusz Bugajski on Stabilizing Partition with SFOR - VIEWPOINT: Vladimir Shlapentokh on Creating 'The Russian Dream' After Chechnya For subscription information about OMRI's new monthly, send an e-mail message to email@example.com ************************************************************************ RUSSIA RUSSIA RESERVES RIGHT TO USE NUCLEAR WEAPONS. In an interview on Russian Public TV (ORT) on 15 February, Andrei Konovalov, president of the Institute of Strategic Evaluation, confirmed that the new military doctrine being prepared by the Security Council does allow for Russia to be the first power to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons in certain circumstances--for example, to prevent the expansion of a regional conflict in which Russian conventional forces were engaged. The USSR publicly renounced the first use of nuclear weapons in 1982, but Russia revoked this commitment in the military doctrine it adopted in 1993. Konovalov thus confirmed the statement of Ivan Rybkin (see OMRI Daily Digest ,12 February 1997) which drew criticism from other administration officials. -- Peter Rutland NATO EXPANSION DEBATE HEATS UP: PRIMAKOV . . . Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov told NTV on 16 February that he hopes to reach agreement with NATO to limit new cross-border troop deployments in East Europe within the framework of a renegotiation of the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe. He reiterated that Russia is looking for a binding treaty and not a loose commitment to cooperate. Primakov denied that he was "anti- Western," but said that the formation of "a mighty armed fist near our borders" was a potential threat. He said "Indeed, we cannot now send our tanks, and will never do so, I hope, to stop NATO expansion." He added "We would like NATO to transform itself gradually into a political structure with mainly peace-keeping functions." On 15 February an article in the government newspaper Rossiiskie vesti condemned the recent visit of NATO General Secretary Javier Solana to the Caucasus as "a blatant invitation to the CIS countries to join [NATO]" and prevent their cooperation with Russia. -- Peter Rutland . . . ALBRIGHT, ZHIRINOVSKY. In an interview broadcast on NTV on 16 February, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said NATO "is not an alliance against Russia, but an alliance for stability for Europeans, including Russians." She described George Kennan's criticism of NATO expansion as an example of "old system thinking," since it assumed NATO was still carrying out its Cold War role. Izvestiya published on 15 February an article by German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel and his French counterpart Herve de Charette in which they tried to persuade Russians to see NATO expansion as part of the emergence of a new European security architecture, as evidenced by the strengthening of the EU and OSCE. On 15 February around 100 people gathered near the U.S. Embassy in Moscow to protest NATO expansion. Vladimir Zhirinovsky told the crowd that "The United States, the world's last great power, is about to repeat the mistakes of Napoleon and Hitler," Reuters reported. -- Peter Rutland CHECHNYA REJECTS YELTSIN'S CALL FOR RUSSIA-CHECHNYA POWER-SHARING TREATY. Russian President Boris Yeltsin has created a commission headed by Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin to prepare by 31 March a draft treaty on the division of powers between Moscow and Chechnya, ITAR-TASS reported on 14 February, quoting the Russian Presidential Press Service. Chechen Vice President Vakha Arsanov told ITAR-TASS the same day, however, that "such a treaty is out of the question" and that relations between Russia and Chechnya should be based on international law in compliance with the Khasavyurt agreements signed on 31 August. Under the terms of those agreements, the final decision on Chechnya's future political status is deferred for up to five years. -- Liz Fuller MASKHADOV BEGINS TO FORM NEW GOVERNMENT. Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov dissolved the government on 16 February but asked the ministers to continue performing their duties until the new cabinet is unveiled, Russian media reported. Maskhadov will hold the post of prime minister and commander in chief of the Chechen armed forces; there will be no defense minister. Former Information Minister and defeated presidential candidate Movladi Udugov will be offered the post of foreign policy issues minister and Musa Doshukaev will be named first deputy prime minister, a post he held under deceased President Dzhokhar Dudaev. NTV on 13 February quoted Maskhadov as saying that field commander Shamil Basaev, who polled 22.7% in the presidential elections, would be invited to join the new government in an unspecified capacity. -- Liz Fuller MINIMAL TURNOUT IN SECOND ROUND OF CHECHEN PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS. Repeat elections took place on 15 February for the 58 seats not filled in the first round of elections on 27 January to the new 63-member Chechen parliament, Russian and Western media reported. Voter turnout was less than 30% in most districts, but the Electoral Law requires a minimum turnout of 50% and the vote may therefore be declared invalid, according to Radio Rossii. Twenty-six more deputies were elected, bringing the total to 31, which is below the minimum 33 required for a quorum. AFP quoted Interfax as stating that there would be a third round of voting in two months. -- Liz Fuller ZYUGANOV PREPARES FOR PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. At a gathering to address the results of the Popular-Patriotic Union's first six months on 14 February, Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov called on his supporters to begin preparing for new presidential elections. NTV, however, pointed out that the Communists will not push very hard for new elections because they fear that former Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed may win. The meeting adopted a statement saying that the State Duma would block START-2 ratification if NATO went ahead with its expansion plans. Zyuganov urged his supporters to follow an "evolutionary path" and to work toward the establishment of a new TV network. -- Robert Orttung DUMA PASSES LAW ON AMENDING CONSTITUTION. The Duma passed a new draft of a law defining a procedure for amending the Russian constitution on 14 February in a vote of 281-48 with no abstentions, RIA Novosti reported. President Yeltsin had vetoed an earlier version. Aleksandr Kotenkov, the president's representative to the parliament, said that the president would veto the law again since he believes the procedures the Duma proposed are "unconstitutional," Radio Rossii reported. -- Robert Orttung THINK-TANK SEES ARMY AS THREAT TO RUSSIA. A report issued by the non- governmental Council for Foreign and Defense Policy describes the current state of the Russian army as a "catastrophe, which could soon become a national catastrophe" if the government does not act quickly, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 14 February. The report asserts that the underfunded army long ceased to be a guarantee against external threats and warns that without reform it could collapse or break up into armed groups that survive by selling arms or carrying out armed robberies. There could even be a military coup, which could lead to a dictatorship or civil war, the report argues. Russian Defense Minister Igor Rodionov, scheduled to meet Yeltsin on 17 February to discuss funding problems, has issued a series of dire warnings in recent weeks about the state of the army, Reuters and RFE/RL reported. -- Penny Morvant LEBED IN PARIS. Former Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed started a private five-day trip to France on 16 February, AFP reported. In an interview with Le Figaro of 17 February, Lebed predicted that the Russian political system will collapse within a year. He warned that moves to prevent fresh elections should President Yeltsin be forced to resign could lead to social conflict within Russia that could trigger a "third world war." Lebed will meet with the speakers of both houses of the French parliament, with officials at the Foreign Ministry, and with various political party leaders. This is Lebed's fourth trip to the West since October 1996. NTV reported that Lebed had to cancel his planned visit to Napoleon's tomb after undergoing medical treatment for a stubbed toe. Lebed's rival, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, is currently in the middle of a four-day official visit to Madrid and Lisbon. -- Peter Rutland INVESTMENT DECLINED IN JANUARY. The volume of domestic investment in the Russian economy in January totaled 18 trillion rubles, a 9% decline over the same period a year earlier, ITAR-TASS reported on 14 February. The volume of industrial investment went up by 4% compared with January 1996, and the construction and technical reconstruction of industrial objects absorbed 62% of all investment. Investment in objects of the social sphere, however, fell by 4%. An 8% reduction was recorded in housing construction (0.4 million sq. m). The continuing decline in investment is largely due to drastic cuts in federal investment programs, high interest rates for banking credits, and the fact that higher returns are possible on the market for state short-term securities (GKOs). -- Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA RULING PARTY LEADER ON ARMENIA'S 1997 BUDGET. The chairman of the ruling Armenian Pan-National Movement (HHSh), Ter-Husik Lazaryan, said the government's 1997 draft budget has placed the HHSh-led Hanrapetutyun (Republic) bloc--which holds an overwhelming parliamentary majority--in a "difficult situation," Noyan Tapan reported on 14 February. Lazaryan said that several provisions in the proposed budget contradict the electoral platforms of both the Hanrapetutyun bloc and President Levon Ter-Petrossyan. He called on the government to "either come up with a new platform...or stick to the existing one." Lazaryan added that Prime Minister Armen Sarkisyan has agreed to attend a 17 February meeting of the bloc's parliamentary faction. He also admitted that the bloc's electoral promises to establish two electrical power plants in the country are "impossible to fulfill." -- Emil Danielyan ARMENIA DENIES RECEIVING ILLEGAL ARMS SHIPMENTS FROM RUSSIA. The Armenian Foreign Ministry on 15 February issued a statement refuting a claim made at a press conference in Moscow on 14 February by Russian Minister for Relations with the CIS Aman Tuleev that over the past year Russia has illegally supplied Armenia with 270 million rubles ($50,000) worth of weapons, Noyan Tapan reported. Tuleev said that he had asked Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and the secretaries of the Russian Security and Defense councils, Ivan Rybkin and Yurii Baturin, to investigate the shipments, but Baturin reportedly told Interfax that he had received no such request from Tuleev. Moskovskii komsomolets similarly claimed on 14 February that in 1995-1996 Russia had supplied Armenia with 84 T-72 tanks, 50 armored combat vehicles, and spare parts worth 7 billion rubles. -- Liz Fuller NATO COMMANDER IN BISHKEK DISCUSSES CENTRASBAT '97. A NATO delegation headed by Supreme Allied Commander John Sheehan arrived in Bishkek on 15 February for talks with the defense ministers of Kyrgyzstan, Kazakstan, and Uzbekistan, RFE/RL reported. The discussions focused on preparations for military excercises slated to take place in September to improve interaction between the 1996-established Central Asian Battalion, Centrasbat, NATO units, and PfP member countries in carrying out peacekeeping and humanitarian operations. -- Lowell Bezanis REACTIONS TO EVENTS ON CHINESE BORDER WITH KAZAKSTAN. Ethnic Uighurs residing in Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkey have harshly condemned Beijing's crack down on violent separatist riots among Uighurs in China's Xinjiang province in early February, according to Western media. Three Uighur exile groups based in Kazakstan, the United Association of Uighurs, the United National Revolutionary Front, and the Organization for Freedom of Uighuristan, have declared their intention to unite and form the Uighuristan movement. The groups also said on 14 February that contrary to official Chinese statements, the riots in Xinjiang have spread from the city of Yining to Kucha, Shaghiar, and Khotan. Three Uighur protest marches have taken place in Turkey over the past week, according to Turkish media reports. On 17 February, some 300 people, mainly ethnic Uighurs, picketed the Chinese Embassy in Bishkek, RFE/RL reported. An estimated 200,000 Uighurs reside in Kazakstan and 50,000 live in Kyrgyzstan. -- Lowell Bezanis TAJIK HOSTAGE CRISIS WINDING DOWN? Face to face talks between Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov and representatives of hostage-taker Bakhrom Sadirov aimed at resolving the Tajik hostage crisis began in Obi Garm on 17 February, RFE/RL reported the same day. On 16 February, the crisis appeared to be winding down as the kidnappers released five hostages: a Swiss UN military observer, a UNHCR worker of unknown nationality, a Tajik interpreter, and two Russian journalists. Another of the hostages, Tajik Security Minister Saidamir Zukhurov, is to be released during the talks. The other five remaining hostages, including UN workers, are to be released "no matter what the outcome of the talks," Russian media sources reported. The reports seem to indicate that future guarantees for the safety of the hostage-takers are being discussed at Obi Garm. The rebels explained that the reason they had reneged on the all-for-all deal late last week was that the Tajik government had only granted free passage from Afghanistan to Tajikistan to 35 of their supporters rather than the 40 they were supposed to have delivered. -- Lowell Bezanis [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Victor Gomez ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1997 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570 ------------------------------------------------------------------------ SUBSCRIBING/UNSUBSCRIBING 1) Compose a message to firstname.lastname@example.org 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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