|He who knows nothing is nearer the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors. - Thomas Jefferson|
OMRI DAILY DIGEST - No. 58, Part I, 24 March 1997
No. 58, Part I, 24 March 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 March issue of OMRI's journal TRANSITION**: THE MIDDLE CLASS - Economic Reform Casts a Long Shadow in Russia - The Making of the Middle Classes - Poland's Perpetually New Middle Class - Some Russians Are Learning to Be Rich PLUS... - RUSSIA: The NATO Distraction (A discussion with Grigorii Yavlinksii) - UKRAINE: Caution is the Key for Ukraine's Prime Minister (a profile of Pavlo Lazarenko) - CENTRAL EUROPE: Security Services Still Distrusted - TAJIKISTAN: Defining the 'Third Force' MEDIA NOTES: Journalists as Physical Pawns; Political Moves at Russian TV For subscription information about OMRI's new monthly, send an e-mail message to transition-DD@omri.cz Note: Transition is not available electronically **See important message below on the upcoming changes to TRANSITION ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ RUSSIA YELTSIN AND CLINTON AGREE TO DISAGREE ON NATO . . . Signaling that Russia will grudgingly acquiesce in the admission of some East European countries into NATO, Russian President Boris Yeltsin and his U.S. counterpart Bill Clinton sharply disagreed on NATO expansion after their 21 March talks but pledged to forge a new Russia-NATO cooperation agreement, international agencies reported. Yeltsin said that he continued to view NATO expansion as "a mistake, and a serious one at that," while Clinton said it would move ahead as planned. Yeltsin added that to "minimize" its impact, Moscow would conclude a cooperation agreement with the alliance. He also dropped Moscow's earlier demand that the agreement be a legally binding international treaty. Instead, a joint statement said the agreement, to be signed by Yeltsin and the heads of state of the 16 NATO members, would be "a firm commitment adopted at the highest political level." -- Scott Parrish . . . BUT MOSCOW STILL OPPOSES NATO MEMBERSHIP FOR BALTICS, FORMER SOVIET REPUBLICS. Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov quickly made clear, however, that Moscow's limited tolerance for NATO expansion does not extend to the territory of the former Soviet Union, Russian and Western agencies reported on 22 March. If the Baltic States were to join NATO, he said, it would "shatter the whole relationship between Russia and NATO" which the new cooperation agreement will forge. Meanwhile, Yeltsin said Moscow should "guarantee the Baltic republics' security" to "eliminate" Baltic concerns that "Russia could repeat its actions of several decades ago." He added that Russia should step up efforts to "establish contacts" with the Baltics, and "not just complain that these countries infringe the rights of the Russian-speaking population." -- Scott Parrish YELTSIN AND CLINTON ON START, ABM, CWC. Yeltsin and Clinton also issued joint statements on nuclear arms reductions, anti-missile defenses, and the elimination of chemical weapons, international agencies reported on 21 March. To facilitate ratification of START II by the Russian Federal Assembly, the two leaders pledged to open talks on a START III agreement which would reduce warhead levels on both sides to 2,000-2,500 "immediately" after START II enters into force. They also agreed to extend the deadline for fully implementing START II from 2003 to 2007. These initiatives aim to address concerns about cost and fairness which have been raised by critics in the Russian parliament. The two presidents also pledged to press for ratification of the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention, promised their adherence to the 1972 ABM Treaty, and ordered their negotiators to complete agreements clarifying its terms. -- Scott Parrish ECONOMIC CONCESSIONS ARE FLIMSY. Yeltsin traded acquiescence in NATO enlargement in return for a number of economic concessions -- an enhanced status in the G7, $4 billion in U.S. loan guarantees, and U.S. assistance in joining the Paris Club of official creditors in 1997 and the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1998. There is less to these concessions than meets the eye. U.S. officials initially said on 21 March that Russia will be a full participant in the Denver "summit of 8" in June, but Japan soon made it clear that Russia will not join the G7 and will be excluded from the key economic negotiations. Similarly, U.S. support will do little to accelerate the process of Russian entry into the WTO. Russia has been trying to get into the WTO (and its forerunner, GATT) since 1993. It has completed four rounds of complex negotiations, and was expecting to join the WTO by 1998. -- Peter Rutland ZYUGANOV BLASTS HELSINKI SUMMIT RESULTS. While Russian Public Television (ORT) and other pro-government media highlighted Yeltsin's insistence that he had effectively defended Russian national interests at Helsinki, Communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov charged that Yeltsin's foreign policy "suffered a crushing defeat" at the summit. Zyuganov likened Yeltsin's agreements with Clinton to the 1919 Versailles Treaty, which imposed harsh terms on Germany after its defeat in World War I. Zyuganov accused Yeltsin of "completely betraying the national interests of the country," and he expressed doubts that NATO will fulfill its pledges not to station nuclear weapons in new East European members and to consult with Moscow on matters of mutual interest. -- Scott Parrish CHERNOMYRDIN ADDRESSES DUMA. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin explained the new government's goals to the State Duma on 21 March, ITAR-TASS reported. He said the government will regulate the electricity, gas, and rail monopolies but has no plans to "cut them up into pieces." He pledged the elimination of tax privileges, which he said cost the budget 160 trillion rubles ($29 billion) a year. On 22 March Chernomyrdin held a telephone conference with regional governors, and promised to send them 4 trillion rubles for state employee wages and 3.45 trillion for pensions before the 27 March protest action, ORT reported. -- Peter Rutland NEMTSOV TO LEAVE NIZHNII NOVGOROD POST. First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov announced on 22 March that he will resign his post as Nizhnii Novgorod governor following his promotion to the federal government. Initially, he had conditioned his acceptance of the federal job on being able to stay on as governor, but Russian law prevents holding two such positions. Nemtsov said that Yeltsin will sign a decree ordering all state officials to use domestic rather than imported cars, while denying that this was merely a protectionist measure to help the GAZ factory, the producer of Volga sedans, which is located in Nizhnii Novgorod, Ekho Moskvy reported. After meeting with Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii for two hours, Yavlinskii and Nemtsov decided that Yabloko members would not join the cabinet, but would provide advice on an informal basis, ORT reported. -- Robert Orttung DUMA ROUNDUP. The State Duma on 21 March failed to pass in the third reading a draft law banning fascist propaganda, instead referring it for further revisions, Russian media reported. Representatives of the left opposition, including Legislation Committee Chairman Anatolii Lukyanov, voiced fears that the law's vague definition of fascism could allow the measure to be directed against "Russian patriots." On the same day, the Duma passed a resolution criticizing the government's agricultural policy and specifically attacking agricultural reforms adopted in Nizhnii Novgorod under the leadership of Boris Nemtsov. However, the Communist, Agrarian, and Popular Power factions fell 10 votes short of the majority needed to pass a resolution denouncing as "vandalism" President Yeltsin's proposal to move Vladimir Lenin's body from the mausoleum on Red Square to a St. Petersburg cemetery. -- Laura Belin KRO LEADER WINS DUMA BY-ELECTION. Dmitrii Rogozin, head of the Congress of Russian Communities (KRO), was elected to the State Duma on 23 March from Voronezh Oblast, ITAR-TASS reported the next day. Rogozin fills the seat Ivan Rybkin vacated last October when he was appointed Security Council secretary. Meanwhile, Nikolai Shaklein, the head of the Kirov Oblast Justice Department, won a by-election to fill the Duma seat vacated by the Communist Vladimir Sergeenkov, who was elected governor of Kirov last autumn. -- Laura Belin OPPOSITION TAKES TWO MORE GOVERNORSHIPS. Former coupmaker Vasilii Starodubtsev won more than 60% of the vote to sweep Tula's gubernatorial elections on 23 March, ITAR-TASS reported. Turnout was 58% and the current governor, Nikolai Sevryugin took third place, following Tsentrgaz Director Viktor Sokolovskii. Communist-backed Anatolii Belonogov, the chairman of the regional legislature, won the Amur Oblast repeat gubernatorial elections with more than 60% of the vote, while incumbent Governor Yurii Lyashko took approximately 30%. Turnout was just over 52%. An Amur Oblast court canceled the results of last September's original elections, citing massive forgery. In that race, Lyashko lost to Belonogov by 189 votes. -- Robert Orttung EXPLOSIONS IN MOSCOW, NORTH OSSETIYA. A parliamentary aide to Duma deputy Aleksandr Filatov (Liberal Democratic Party of Russia) was killed by a car bomb in Moscow on 21 March, international agencies reported. Anatolii Frantsevich was the fifth LDPR parliamentary assistant to be killed since November 1996. Also on 21 March, three policemen were killed and two others seriously injured in a land-mine explosion in North Ossetiya, ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported. A North Ossetiyan Interior Ministry spokesman said he feared further such incidents as the snow melts and mines are exposed. The area was the scene of fighting in the 1992 Ingush-Ossetiyan conflict. -- Penny Morvant POLICE SEIZE STOLEN URANIUM. Police in Berdsk in Novosibirsk Oblast have seized five kilos of stolen Uranium-235, AFP reported on 22 March citing Interfax. The uranium, found in the possession of two unemployed men and a trolleybus maintenance worker, had reportedly been stolen from a metallurgical plant in Ust-Kamenogorsk in Kazakstan. It is not clear to what degree the uranium was enriched. In 1994, in the joint U.S.-Kazak operation "Project Sapphire," about 600 kilograms of weapons-grade uranium were transferred to the U.S. from the Ulba Metallurgy Plant outside Ust-Kamenogorsk. -- Penny Morvant COAL CONGRESS PROPOSES CHUBAIS AS COAL COMMISSION HEAD. The All-Russian Congress of Coal-Industry Workers, meeting in Kemerovo on 21 March, proposed that Viktor Chernomyrdin appoint First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais head of the government's Interdepartmental Commission on the Socioeconomic Problems of Mining Regions, ITAR-TASS and RTR reported. Chubais, who attended the Kemerovo congress (see OMRI Daily Digest, 21 March 1997), headed the government's coal commission during his previous term in office. Russian media reports, which generally characterized Chubais' trip to Western Siberia as a victory for the new first deputy premier, also noted a statement by the leaders of the two main miners' unions saying that their organizations are planning to take part in protest rallies but not to go on strike during the 27 March trade union national day of action. -- Penny Morvant PARATROOP PROTEST. Officers of the 21st Paratroop Brigade, based in Stavropol Krai, refused to take part in maneuvers on 23 March until their wage arrears were paid, NTV reported. The unit's commander denied that his orders had been disobeyed, but the protest action was verified by the network's local correspondent. -- Peter Rutland RUSSIA AND IRAQ SIGN MAJOR OIL DEAL. Russian Fuel and Energy Minister Petr Rodionov and Iraqi Oil Minister Amer Mohammed Rashid have signed a $3.5 billion contract for the development of the Qurnah oil field in Iraq, whose proven oil reserves top 1 billion metric tons, ITAR-TASS, AFP and Reuters reported on 21-22 March. The Russian oil giant LUKoil will get a 52.5% share in the project, while Iraq will receive 25%. The remaining 22.5% will go to other Russian firms. AFP and Reuters cited Rodionov as saying the deal will be implemented independently of the lifting of economic sanctions on Iraq. However, according to ITAR-TASS, while the preparatory work on the contract will begin immediately, its actual implementation will only start after the sanctions are lifted. -- Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA MORE REACTION TO KOCHARYAN'S APPOINTMENT. A day after the president of the self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, Robert Kocharyan, became Armenia's prime minister, Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliev canceled a planned visit to Pakistan, Reuters reported on 21 March. Observers suggest the move was connected with Kocharyan's appointment. Speaker of the Azerbaijani parliament Murtuz Aleskerov, who replaced Aliev at the summit meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Islamabad, said Armenia "has chosen the wrong path." According to the leader of the opposition National Independence Party, Etibar Mamedov, the choice of prime minister shows that Nagorno-Karabakh "has been annexed by Armenia." Reuters quoted Western diplomats in Baku as suggesting that Ter-Petrossyan's decision signifies that Armenia will take a tougher stance on the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. -- Emil Danielyan DPs FROM ABKHAZIA DEMONSTRATE IN TBILISI. Some 7,000 people, primarily ethnic Georgians forced to flee Abkhazia in 1993, staged a demonstration in Tbilisi on 21 March to demand the withdrawal from Abkhazia's Gali raion of the nominally CIS but exclusively Russian peacekeeping force currently deployed there and Georgia's non-participation in the upcoming CIS summit that is to debate expanding the peacekeepers' mandate, Segodnya reported on 22 March. The previous day, 10 Georgian parliament deputies from the Abkhazia faction suspended the hunger strike they began on 2 March to demand the withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers from both Abkhazia and South Ossetiya, according to AFP. -- Liz Fuller KAZAKSTANI MARCHERS TURNED BACK WITH PROMISES. Kazakstani police and local officials dissuaded an estimated 200 protesters from marching 800 kilometers from Kentau to Almaty on 23 March to claim their wage arrears, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. The march was blocked 15 kilometers outside Kentau; protesters, many of whom are employed by the Achpolimetal ore-dressing plant in Kentau, agreed to return to the city after being promised that their salaries would be paid within three days and that they would receive free food during this period. -- Lowell Bezanis AKAYEV ON RUSSIAN LANGUAGE. Speaking at a conference in Bishkek, Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev called for the Russian language to be accorded official status, arguing that this would strengthen relations between the country's ethnic communities, RFE/RL reported on 22 March. His remarks appear aimed at giving impetus to the Constitutional Court's efforts to amend the 1993 constitution by making Russian an official language along with Kyrgyz. In other news, an estimated 2,000 students demonstrated in Bishkek on 19 March to protest plans to revoke their free public transport privileges. The same day Prime Minister Apas Joumagulov reassured students their privileges would not be suspended. -- Naryn Idinov and Lowell Bezanis [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Steve Kettle *^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^! What's in Store for the magazine Transition We've learned much in the last two years about what sort of magazine Transition can be and what role it should play in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Of greatest help in this process has been the advice of readers. Among some of the desired changes are for Transition to offer even more articles by writers in the region - lively opinion pieces as well as fact-filled analysis and expanded departments. Accordingly, Transition will be substantially restructured and relaunched as a monthly with the issue dated June 1997. The last biweekly issue will be 6 April, followed by a brief hiatus. All existing subscriptions will be honored and extended according to the new monthly frequency, which is priced at $65 for 12 issues. As before, we offer a substantial discount for readers in and of the countries we cover (apply to the contacts listed below for more information). For engaged intellectuals, policymakers, journalists, and scholars from the region, the new Transition will provide a rare forum for the exchange of ideas and criticism on political, economic, and cultural issues and events. For more information, contact the OMRI Marketing Department at tel. (420-2) 6114 2114, fax (420-2) 6114 3181; email: transition-DD@omri.cz *^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^! ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1997 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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