|Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece. - Vladimir Nabokov|
OMRI DAILY DIGEST - No. 60, Part I, 26 March 1997
No. 60, Part I, 26 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 VOICES CONCERN AHEAD OF NATIONAL PROTEST. President Boris Yeltsin on 25 March ordered the government to do more to end wage delays and to help people who lost their savings in shady investment schemes, international agencies reported. Yeltsin ordered Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to submit a detailed personal report on the total size and causes of wage debts on 26 March, the day before a trade union national day of protest. Mindful of the violent unrest in Albania following the collapse of pyramid investment schemes, he also instructed the government to submit a draft law to parliament on improving investor protection and to issue quarterly reports on progress in helping defrauded savers. About 17 to 20 million Russians are thought to have lost money in dubious investment schemes, about 1,000 of which are operating in Russia, according to Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov. -- Penny Morvant PROTEST PREPARATIONS CONTINUE. Mikhail Shmakov, chairman of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia (FNPR), which is organizing the 27 March day of action, said on 25 March that about 17 million people will take part in rallies and other protests. He appealed to both workers and the authorities not to give in to acts of provocation but warned that "some political forces are fostering fear and hysteria around the forthcoming action and spreading rumors about pogroms and massive clashes," ITAR-TASS reported. Claiming that the protest has already yielded fruit, he noted the government's renewed attention to repaying wage debts. In some areas, protests are already occurring: pensioners in Samara, for example, picketed the oblast legislature building on 25 March to protest the doubling of rents in 1997, while Nezavisimaya gazeta noted that last week the 21st paratroop brigade, based in Stavropol, had refused to take part in manouvers in protest at wage arrears. -- Penny Morvant CHUBAIS ON THE NEW GOVERNMENT. Speaking to Russian Television (RTR) on 23 March, First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais indignantly denied his interviewer's suggestion that there is a now a "coalition government" between centrists and radical reformers. Chubais objected in principle to the idea of making concessions to political parties to attract people into the government, saying this was a luxury which may come in three to five years time. He equivocated over the government's relations with the leaders of the utility monopolies, in one breath saying "we must work with them," in the next threatening to fire them if they do not cooperate. He praised new Deputy Prime Minister Alfred Kokh as such a "strong, professional" man that he will boost budget revenue to 15 trillion rubles a month, while without him it would have been 5 trillion. -- Peter Rutland YAVLINSKII ON GOVERNMENT, PROTESTS. Despite repeated attempts to lure State Duma deputies from his Yabloko movement into the government, Grigorii Yavlinskii said Yabloko members will not accept any cabinet posts, as "we are not at all convinced" that the government will adopt the social and economic policies Russia needs, ITAR-TASS and Radio Rossii reported on 25 March. However, Yavlinskii characterized the appointment of First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov as the best personnel decision of late and promised to support Nemtsov "personally and professionally." He added that Yabloko will support the nationwide protest action planned for 27 March. -- Laura Belin CHECHEN ROUNDUP. A spokesman for the Russian Federal Security Service on 25 March dismissed claims by Chechen Vice President Vakha Arsanov that groups in Russia intent on sabotaging the ongoing Russian-Chechen talks were recruiting renegade Chechens to perpetrate terrorist acts in Russian cities, ITAR-TASS reported. He attributed such claims to the inability of the Chechen leadership to control former fighters. Also on 25 March, ITAR-TASS reported that a meeting of Chechen field commanders held two days earlier had demanded that the Russian leadership extradite to Chechnya 70 persons considered traitors to the Chechen people, including pro-Moscow former President Doku Zavgaev and several of his aides. -- Liz Fuller KIDNAPPED RUSSIAN JOURNALISTS IN CHECHNYA ALIVE. A photograph of the ITAR-TASS correspondent and three Radio Rossii journalists who were kidnapped in Chechnya in early March was delivered to the ITAR-TASS bureau in Grozny, the agency reported on 25 March. The four journalists signed appeals for help in a note attached to the photograph, which was dated 24 March. Kommersant-Daily reported on 26 March that the kidnappers have demanded a large ransom for the journalists. Two Russian Public TV (ORT) reporters were released in February after being held hostage for a month; although network officials denied paying any ransom, unofficial reports suggested up to $1 million had been paid to the kidnappers. The whereabouts of Italian photographer Mauro Galligani, who disappeared in Grozny in February, remain unknown. -- Laura Belin WARM WORDS FOR ASIAN PARTNERS. President Boris Yeltsin met in Moscow with visiting Indian Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda and Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen on 25 March, AFP reported. The Indian prime minister said after his meeting that the deal to buy two nuclear reactors from Russia had been "finalized," Reuters reported, although Russian spokesmen merely said that progress had been made (See OMRI Daily Digest, 25 March 1997). After meeting with Qian, Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov said: "We share a point of view on the post-Cold War world order. We believe this consists in creating a multi-polar world." Russia regards NATO expansion as a bid to project U.S. power into areas formerly under Moscow's sphere of influence. RTR praised India as "a long-standing and serious partner who has never caved in to Washington." -- Peter Rutland RELATIONS WITH UKRAINE DEADLOCKED. Russian government spokesman Igor Shabdurasulov told journalists on 25 March that "a visit to Kyiv by Viktor Chernomyrdin, to end with the final solution of the Black Sea fleet problem, is a condition for the Ukrainian visit of Russian President Boris Yeltsin," ITAR-TASS reported. The same day Ukrainian First Deputy Foreign Minister Anton Buteiko said in Kyiv that Ukraine saw no reason for delaying the signing of a Russo-Ukrainian friendship treaty, and that agreement on temporary basing of Russian units on Ukrainian territory could be reached after the treaty was signed. Also on 25 March a Russian Navy spokesman condemned as "anti-Russian" and "provocative" the "Sea Breeze" naval exercise planned for this summer, AFP reported. The exercise will involve ships from Ukraine, the U.S., and eight other countries. -- Peter Rutland MOSCOW RESPONDS TO MINSK MEDIA CRACKDOWN. Presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii held a press conference on 25 March to discuss the Belarusian government's imposition on 23 March of restrictions on Russian television journalists, Reuters reported. "The very fact that Russian television channels have been denied the right to send information materials from Minsk prompts deep concern in the Kremlin," Yastrzembskii said. At the same time he called upon Russian journalists "to preserve the rules of objectivity and lack of bias." It is the first time Moscow has criticized attempts by Minsk to censor Russian journalists, whose coverage of Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka is far more hostile than coverage found in the Belarusian media. NTV correspondent Aleksandr Stupnikov, who was recently stripped of his accreditation by the Belarusian authorities, reported on 25 March that a videotape was confiscated from him at the Belarus-Lithuania border. -- Peter Rutland and Laura Belin SUPREME COURT RULES DUMA BAN ON ORT CORRESPONDENTS INVALID. The Supreme Court on 25 March instructed the State Duma to reverse its decision to revoke the accreditation of Russian Public TV (ORT) correspondents for one month, Russian media reported. Duma deputies revoked ORT's accreditation on the grounds that the network's coverage of the Duma is consistently biased. In particular, deputies were upset by a 20 February report on a parliamentary debate over a pornography law. ORT is informally known as "the president's television," and its reporting frequently puts a negative spin on the Duma's activities. However, lawyer Genri Reznik, who argued the case on behalf of the network and its journalists, said it was not for the court to decide whether ORT's coverage was "objective," but merely to determine whether the Duma had unlawfully hindered journalists from performing their professional duties, according to the 26 March Kommersant-Daily. -- Laura Belin IMPORT OF DOLLARS TO RUSSIA. Since 1993, when Central Bank monitoring began, hard currency with a total value of $84 billion has been imported into Russia, Central Bank official Yelena Ishchenko told a conference in Moscow on "Hard currency control" on 25 March, ITAR-TASS reported. Of that amount, $63.7 billion were net sales to individuals. The bank estimates that tourists and shuttle traders have exported some $31 billion in cash, meaning that there is roughly $33 billion in circulation among the population. This would account for more than half the Russian money supply, since there are some 125 trillion rubles in circulation, worth $22 billion. -- Peter Rutland BANKS' CREDIT GUARANTEES WITHDRAWN. The Finance Ministry has announced it will stop providing guarantees for commercial banks' credits to budgetary organizations, Kommersant-Daily reported on 26 March. The ministry began issuing such guarantees two years ago as a substitute for direct budgetary financing and they now top 40 trillion rubles ($7 billion). A substantial proportion of the guarantees was in the form of promissory notes (vekselya), and stopping their issue can minimize the influence of this destabilizing factor on the Russian financial system. Yet, the measure may ruin many budgetary firms and organizations which are unlikely to find an alternative source of financing. The ministry also intends to discontinue the mutual clearance of debts between companies. -- Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA GEORGIA TO RECEIVE NEW IMF LOAN. The IMF will grant Georgia a second annual loan of $76 million, to be disbursed in two tranches, ITAR-TASS reported on 26 March. IMF specialists noted Georgia's success over the past two years in economic stabilization, specifically the reduction of inflation, and in structural reform. Among the IMF targets set for Georgia for 1997 are an 8-10% increase in GDP and bringing inflation down from the present 14% to 10-12%. -- Liz Fuller NEW ARMENIAN PREMIER HOLDS FIRST NEWS CONFERENCE. Robert Kocharyan said his appointment, which surprised himself as well as others, may bring a new impetus to the Nagorno-Karabakh peace talks, international agencies reported on 25 March. Kocharyan said that Armenia has no new proposals regarding the settlement of the conflict as its "old ones have not been realized yet." Kocharyan, former Nagorno-Karabakh president, dismissed Azerbaijan's criticism that his appointment runs counter to international norms, saying that "whatever happens in Armenia and Karabakh Azerbaijan always sees as a problem." Formally a citizen of the self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, Kocharyan said he will retain this citizenship. -- Emil Danielyan WHO WILL BE AZERBAIJAN'S NEXT PRESIDENT? Less than one- third of 500 people polled in Azerbaijan are prepared to vote for incumbent Heidar Aliev in next year's presidential election, although more than two- thirds believe he will be reelected, according to 7 Gun of 21 March as summarized by the Tacis-funded Transcaucasia Media Project. Deposed former President Abulfaz Elchibey, the chairman of the Popular Front Party, and Lala-Shovket Gadjieva, the leader of the Liberal Party, each rated 12.2%. Rasul Guliev, the disgraced former parliament chairman, Isa Gambar, former parliament speaker under Elchibey and current chairman of the Musavat Party, Zardusht Alizade, leader of the Social Democratic Party, and Etibar Mamedov, the chairman of the National Independence Party of Azerbaijan, each rated 3-4%. -- Liz Fuller THE SECURITY OF KAZAKSTAN'S BORDERS. The secretary of Kazakstan's Security Council, Beksultan Sarsekov, on 25 March expressed his country's concern about events along the borders with China and Russia, Reuters reported. In the first official reaction to the February clashes between Uyghurs and Chinese in neighboring Xinjiang Province, Sarsekov told a press conference in Almaty "we are concerned by events" and by the "harsh measures" used by the Chinese against the Uyghurs. However, Kazakstan signed a treaty with China in 1996 in which both sides promised not to help separatist movements in the other's country and Sarsekov said Kazakstan has nothing to do with the problems in China. Addressing the issue of the Kazak-Russian border, he criticized the use of Cossack formations to guard the border, which Sarsekov said was at odds with the Kazak-Russian border agreement, especially as "these Cossacks received uniforms and weapons (from Russia). -- Bruce Pannier KYRGYZ JOURNALIST ARRESTED AGAIN. Authorities in Bishkek have taken Ryspek Omurzakov, a journalist from the Kyrgyz weekly Res Publica, into custody, RFE/RL reported. Omurzakov was summoned to the Lenin District prosecutor's office on 24 March and failed to return home. RFE/RL correspondents subsequently learned Omurzakov was being detained by the authorities, who have the right to hold him for 72 hours without filing a charge. In July 1996 Omurzakov was given a two-year suspended sentence for insulting the president. On 14 January Omurzakov published an article in Res Publica criticizing the director of the Frunze Machine building factory, Mikhail Paryshkura, for poor conditions in the factory's hostel. Paryshkura filed libel charges on 7 February but promised to withdraw the suit after meeting with Omurzakov, who showed the director a complaint signed by 108 employees of the factory. Paryshkura did not drop the suit as promised, leading to Omurzakov's detention. -- Bruce Pannier and Naryn Idinov [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. ISSN 1211-1570 ------------------------------------------------------------------------ SUBSCRIBING/UNSUBSCRIBING 1) Compose a message to email@example.com 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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