|Words that open our eyes to the world are always the easiest to remember. - Ryszard Kapuscinski|
OMRI DAILY DIGEST - No. 61, Part I, 27 March 1997
No. 61, Part I, 27 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 FINAL GOVERNMENT APPOINTMENTS. After meeting with President Boris Yeltsin, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and First Deputy Prime Ministers Anatolii Chubais and Boris Nemtsov announced the final government appointments at a joint 26 March press conference, Russian media reported. Former Economics Minister Yevgenii Yasin is now minister without portfolio and will cover economic strategy questions. Aleksei Kudrin, formerly head of the main control department of the presidential administration, was appointed first deputy finance minister. Aleksandr Krupnov was appointed head of the State Committee on Information. Minister for CIS Affairs Aman Tuleev, Fuela and Energy Minister Petr Rodionov, and Labor Minister Gennadii Melikyan all retained their posts. Minister for Foreign Economic Relations Oleg Davydov was removed: his ministry will temporarily be headed by former first deputy minister Mikhail Fradkov. -- Laura Belin STRUCTURE OF NEW GOVERNMENT. The "streamlined" government will consist of 68 positions: two first deputy prime ministers, six deputy prime ministers, 23 ministries (three of them headed by deputy premiers), 16 state committees, and 20 other federal agencies. According to ITAR-TASS, the responsibilities of the deputy prime ministers will be as follows: Anatolii Chubais -- economic reform, financial policy, relations with the media; Boris Nemtsov -- social and housing reform, anti-monopoly policy; Oleg Sysuev -- social policy, pensions, labor; Vladimir Bulgak -- science, technology, and transport; Alfred Kokh -- tax and customs policy, alcohol, foreign trade, privatization; Yakov Urinson -- economic policy, industry, agriculture; Anatolii Kulikov -- law and order, economic security; and Valerii Serov -- nationalities, regional policy, relations with CIS. Kulikov will continue to monitor the daily operations of the State Tax Service and State Customs Committee, although Kokh will supervise the policy of the those agencies. Two ministries (industry and defense industry) and two state committees (forestry and fishing) were abolished. The heads of the ministry of foreign trade and three anti-monopoly agencies remain to be appointed. None of the appointments seem to have been made at the suggestion of Boris Nemtsov. -- Peter Rutland AUTHORITIES PREPARE FOR STRIKE. The federal authorities on 26 March sought to demonstrate that they were taking action to pay off wage and pension arrears on the eve of a national strike to protest the 50 trillion rubles ($9 billion) that strike organizers claim are owed to the population. Chernomyrdin claimed that the government will pay 11.8 trillion rubles ($2 billion) in back wages and pensions in March. He also announced that during the first three months of the year the government had more than halved the amount of the money owed to the country's soldiers, Kommersant-Daily reported. He rejected "emotion and provocation," arguing that demonstrations will not solve the problems, Reuters reported. Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov said he expects about 7 million protesters nationwide, much lower than the 20 million figure cited by strike organizers, Ekho Moskvy reported. Interior Ministry troops are ready for operations in 650 Russian cities, according to Kulikov. -- Robert Orttung STRIKE BEGINS IN THE FAR EAST. The nationwide strike organized by the Federation of Independent Trade Unions under the banner "For work, justice, and social guarantees" began on 27 March in the Far East with as many as 150,000 protesters in Primorskii Krai and 90,000 in Khabarovsk, ITAR-TASS reported. Traffic in downtown Vladivostok came to a standstill by 10 a.m. Most miners in the region reported for work to prevent a further worsening in the krai's energy situation. Members of the Sakha (Yakutiya) government talked to pickets in front of the republican administration building. Yeltsin is spending the day in his suburban Gorki-9 residence. -- Robert Orttung BIG CITIES PREPARE FOR STRIKE. Authorities expect about 160,000 demonstrators in Moscow and 100,000 in St. Petersburg, Ekho Moskvy reported. 8,000 policemen and trade union volunteers will maintain order in the capital, ITAR-TASS reported. Moscow police spokesman Vladimir Vershkov said that armored personnel carriers were not going to be used during the protests. He was responding to questions about reports of such vehicles being sighted on the edge of the city. -- Robert Orttung YELTSIN PLEDGES TO IMPROVE CONDITIONS IN MILITARY. On the eve of the protest actions, Yeltsin issued an appeal to the Russian armed forces, promising that military reform would begin soon and pledging to improve living conditions for soldiers and officers, ITAR-TASS reported. Nezavisimaya gazeta on 25 March published an analysis of a recent incident involving a paratroop unit in Stavropol Krai which refused to go on maneuvers unless back wages were paid. Although the troops later agreed to follow orders, the paper said the incident showed that "Russia could witness a repetition of the Albanian revolt." -- Scott Parrish YELTSIN DEFENDS RESULTS OF HELSINKI SUMMIT. In a 26 March radio address, Yeltsin rejected criticism that he had been "insufficiently tough" at his recent meeting with U.S. President Bill Clinton in Helsinki, international agencies reported. Yeltsin argued that taking a harsher stance on the issue of NATO expansion would have isolated Russia and decreased its security. He cited progress on a "strictly binding" NATO- Russia charter and NATO pledges not to station nuclear weapons or additional troops in new member states as evidence that his stance had minimized the effects of NATO enlargement. Yeltsin said Russia should seek economic cooperation with the West, not confrontation, adding that the summit's results meant that Russia will become a full member of the G-7 this June, and soon join the Paris Club. He emphasized, however, that Russia would continue building ties with other parts of the world, including China, India, and the CIS. -- Scott Parrish STATE DUMA RELUCTANTLY ADMITS TELEVISION JOURNALISTS. One day after the Supreme Court ruled that the State Duma unlawfully revoked the accreditation of journalists for Russian Public TV (ORT), officials in the lower house of parliament resisted admitting the network's correspondents, ORT reported on 26 March. The Duma's press service said it had not yet received a written copy of the court decision, and that the ban on ORT journalists would remain in force while Duma representatives decided whether to appeal to the Supreme Court's presidium. However, court judges indicated that the implementation of their decision could not be delayed pending an appeal, according to the 27 March Kommersant-Daily. The journalists were finally admitted on orders from Duma Deputy Speaker Aleksandr Shokhin (Our Home Is Russia), who is filling in while Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev is away from Moscow. -- Laura Belin RUSSIA MAY REOPEN COSMODROME IN KAPUSTIN YAR. Russia may reopen a cosmodrome at Kapustin Yar in the Volgograd Oblast which has not been used for launches since 1988, Reuters reported on 25 March, citing a Russian rocket-manufacturing firm official. He said that the first launch, which will carry a German astronomical satellite, is slated for February 1999. At the same time, a spokesperson for the Military Space Forces said that the cosmodrome cannot be used for commercial launches since it is located near densely populated areas. Russia recently ran into trouble when it began using the new Svobodnyi cosmodrome in the Far East. The government of Yakutia and local ecologists argue that discarded parts of booster rockets are damaging the environment. -- Natalia Gurushina YELTSIN PROHIBITS PURCHASES OF FOREIGN CARS BY STATE ORGANIZATIONS. On the eve of the nationwide day of protests, President Boris Yeltsin signed a decree which prohibits foreign car purchases by state organizations, Kommersant-Daily reported on 27 March, a policy change suggested by new First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov. The decree ordered state organizations to sell the foreign cars they already own and use the proceeds to buy Russian ones. -- Natalia Gurushina GKO MARKET EXPANDS. The volume of state short-term securities (GKOs) reached 248.4 trillion rubles ($43 billion) by the end of January 1997, Delovoi ekspress reported in number 11. In 1996, the state domestic debt increased to 10.4% of GDP, compared to 1.7% in 1995, and experts predict a further 6% increase by the end of 1997. Average annual GKO yields have now dropped to 30%. The government intends to bring them down further to 16-19% by the end of 1997. According to Delovoi mir on 13 February, foreign investment in GKOs now tops $6.5 billion. Of that, some $1.1 billion were invested in January 1997. -- Natalia Gurushina RUSSIA PONDERS PARIS CLUB MEMBERSHIP. One of the carrots offered to Yeltsin in Helsinki was membership in the Paris Club of government creditors. Russia owes other countries about $130 billion (of which $110 billion are the USSR's debts, which Russia assumed). In turn Russia itself is owed about $132 billion by Soviet-era borrowers, such as Vietnam, Ethiopia, Yemen, Cuba, and Iraq, who are only able to repay a total of $1-2 billion a year. Last April Russia reached agreement over rescheduling the $38 billion it owes to Paris Club members: the coast is now clear for Russia to join as a creditor. However, Deputy Finance Minister Mikhail Kasyanov told Reuters on 25 March that Russia will have to carefully consider whether to join the club, since it would then have to offer the same terms to debtors as do other club members. Russia may think it can strike a better deal with some of those countries - such as Iraq, whose $7 billion debt to Russia could be repaid from future oil exports. -- Peter Rutland TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA ARMENIA TO FREE ALL AZERBAIJANI POWs. The Armenian Foreign Ministry on 25 March issued a statement saying Yerevan will unilaterally free all Azerbaijani prisoners of war held on its territory in order to create a favorable atmosphere for the upcoming meeting between the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents in Moscow, international agencies reported. The statement said the move is a gesture of goodwill and a manifestation of Yerevan's "constructive position" at the OSCE-sponsored negotiations on resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. According to the statement, Armenian authorities are in touch with Red Cross representatives to organize the return of the unspecified number of prisoners. In related news, Yurii Yukalov, the Russian representative to the Minsk group, told Turan on 25 March that the OSCE-sponsored talks on Nagorno-Karabakh will resume on 1 April in Moscow. -- Emil Danielyan MORE DEMONSTRATIONS IN KAZAKSTAN. The coordinating council of opposition movements and trade unions in Kazakstan, Respublica, has called on all the country's citizens to join with those of neighboring Russia and participate in mass protests on 27 March, RFE/RL reported the previous day. The demonstration would be the second in less than a week; miners from the Kentau area marched on the Kazakstani capital on 23 March but were stopped about 15 kilometers from Almaty. General Procurator Stepan Shutkin, in a statement carried by mass media, warned that such protests are illegal and those participating them should be treated as criminals. Payments to some citizens are more than half a year in arrears. In related news, AFP on 26 March carried a story originally run in the weekly Kazak Express K concerning a former worker who retired because of health reasons more than one year ago. He had not been receiving pension payments but was sent a coffin as compensation. -- Bruce Pannier HOUSING LOANS FOR UZBEK CITIZENS. Uzbek President Islam Karimov issued a decree on 26 March on long-term credit for individual housing, ITAR-TASS and RFE/RL reported. The credit will be issued against housing bonds which will be made available by the government in the near future. The state will repay 50% of construction costs and the credit will be repayable over a 10-year period at 20% interest annually. -- Bruce Pannier AKAYEV CLAIMS ECONOMIC SUCCESS FOR KYRGYZSTAN IN 1996. At a joint session of the Kyrgyz parliament President Askar Akayev noted improvements in the national economy during 1996, RFE/RL reported on 26 March. Akayev said GNP had increased by 5.6%, industrial output by 10.8%, and agricultural output by 13.1%. Akayev said the country's goals for 1997 would be to reduce the trade deficit: in 1996 Kyrgyzstan imported 1.7 times more than it exported. Another goal is to bring inflation down to 17% and cut unemployment, which according to government figures is running at 20%. -- Bruce Pannier and Naryn Idinov OPERATION CONTINUES AGAINST TAJIK OUTLAWS. Tajik government troops along with fighters from the United Tajik Opposition (UTO) are rounding up the remnants of the Sadirov brothers' gang still led by Rezvon Sadirov, Reuters reported on 25 March. Gafur Mirzoyev, the commander of the presidential guards, said so far eight outlaws had been killed in the fighting and five more had been captured in the battle, about 80 kilometers east of Dushanbe. The government and UTO forces have each lost three. The Sadirov brothers and their followers were responsible for two hostage-taking incidents, one in December, the other in February and involving UN employees. Mirzoyev said he expects the operation will be concluded within 48 hours. -- Bruce Pannier [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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