|When we can begin to take our failures non-seriously, it means we are ceasing to be afraid of them. It is of immense importance to learn to laugh at ourselves. - Katherine Mansfield|
Vol 1, No. 65, Part I, 2 July1997
Vol 1, No. 65, Part I, 2 July1997 This is Part I of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Newsline. 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 RFE/RL NewsLine are available through RFE/RL's WWW pages: http://www.rferl.org/newsline/search/ Back issues of the OMRI Daily Digest are available through OMRI's WWW pages: http://www.omri.cz/ xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part I * FORMER FSB CHIEF APPOINTED RUSSIAN JUSTICE MINISTER * PRESIDENTIAL ADMINISTRATION DEFENDS DYACHENKO'S APPOINTMENT * CHERNOMYRDIN DENIES SANCTIONING ARMS SHIPMENTS TO ARMENIA End Note : REACTIONS TO DYACHENKO'S APPOINTMENT AS YELTSIN'S IMAGE ADVISER xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx RUSSIA FORMER FSB CHIEF APPOINTED JUSTICE MINISTER. President Boris Yeltsin has appointed former Federal Security Service (FSB) director Sergei Stepashin justice minister, Russian news agencies reported on 2 July, citing the presidential press service. Yeltsin also sacked suspended Justice Minister Valentin Kovalev, who "Sovershenno sekretno" recently alleged to have ties to organized crime. Stepashin was removed as FSB head following the failed attempt to resolve the hostage crisis in Budennovsk (Stavropol Krai) in June 1995. More than 100 people were killed in the effort to free the hostages and capture the Chechen hostage-takers. TULEEV APPOINTED GOVERNOR OF KEMEROVO. Yeltsin has appointed Aman Tuleev governor of Kemerovo Oblast and simultaneously removed him as CIS affairs minister, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported on 1 July. Tuleev was reportedly appointed at his own request, after notifying government officials recently that he plans to contest the gubernatorial election in Kemerovo scheduled for 19 October. Tuleev chaired the Kemerovo legislature before running for president in 1996. He withdrew from the presidential race shortly before the June election and backed Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov. Tuleev replaces Governor Mikhail Kislyuk, whom Yeltsin appointed in 1991. Tuleev is likely to retain the post as governor in October; analysts give Kislyuk no chance of winning his former job back. There was no word on whether trade union leaders in Kemerovo will go ahead with an oblast-wide strike planned for 11 July. PRESIDENTIAL ADMINISTRATION DEFENDS DYACHENKO'S APPOINTMENT. The presidential press service released a statement on 1 July defending the recent appointment of Yeltsin's daughter Tatyana Dyachenko as presidential adviser, Russian news agencies reported. Duma Speaker Seleznev claimed that Dyachenko's appointment violated the law on the civil service, which bans nepotism. However, the official statement dismissed Seleznev's objection as "legally inadequate," noting that the president is technically not a civil servant and is therefore not subject to restrictions on appointing close relatives. But in an interview with Ekho Moskvy, Seleznev dismissed that argument as "legalistic evasion." Meanwhile, Interfax reported on 1 July that an attorney who resides in Moscow Oblast has filed a Supreme Court appeal challenging the legality of Dyachenko's appointment (see also "End Note" below). CHUBAIS ACCUSED OF RECEIVING SUSPICIOUS INTEREST-FREE BANK LOAN. "Izvestiya" on 1 July charged that First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais received a loan from Aleksandr Smolenskii's Stolichnyi Savings Bank under suspicious circumstances. The newspaper alleged that in February 1996, Stolichnyi Bank extended a five-year, interest-free loan worth 14.5 billion rubles ($2.9 million) to the Center for the Defense of Private Property, which Chubais had created shortly before. The center reportedly put up no collateral for the loan, the stated goal of which was the "development of civil society." The bank credits were allegedly used to speculate on the lucrative treasury bill market. "Izvestiya" also claimed that Chubais helped Stolichnyi win a November 1996 competition to acquire Agroprombank and implied that Chubais's contacts with international financial organizations have helped Stolichnyi to participate in programs run by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank. Since 1991, "Izvestiya" has almost always supported Chubais . CHERNOMYRDIN, SELEZNEV DISCUSS CONVENING SPECIAL DUMA SESSION. After meeting with State Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev on 1 July, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin announced that some Duma committees and a conciliatory commission of government and parliamentary representatives will continue to work on proposals to cut 1997 budget spending and social benefits, Russian news agencies reported. Chernomyrdin said that if a compromise on the proposed cuts is reached, the government will formally request that the Duma interrupt its summer recess to consider the proposals. Meanwhile, Seleznev told journalists that a final date for convening a special Duma session cannot be set until the government revises the proposed legislation and submits it to the relevant Duma committees. The Duma rejected the government-backed budget cuts and reductions in social benefits in the final days of its spring session (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 and 25 June 1997). LUZHKOV CRITICIZES GOVERNMENT'S PRIORITIES. Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov has again criticized the government's domestic policy priorities. In a 1 July interview with RFE/RL's Moscow bureau, he said First Deputy Prime Minister Chubais and his allies have mistakenly made reform of housing and municipal services their top priority. Luzhkov believes the government's main goal should be reviving domestic industry, which he said will make it easier to address other issues, including housing reform. Luzhkov also repeated his opposition to Russian policy toward Ukraine. In particular, he objects to "renting our own city" by leasing port facilities in Sevastopol, where the Black Sea Fleet is based. With regard to Duma Defense Committee Chairman Lev Rokhlin's recent appeal to the president, Luzhkov said he highly respects Rokhlin and understands the hardships in the armed forces but would not "dramatize the situation." YAVLINSKII CONDEMNS "CORPORATE CAPITALISM," TAX CODE. Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii says the government's policies are creating "corporate capitalism" in Russia, which "has nothing in common with a democratic state, open society and free market economy," RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported on 1 July. In particular, Yavlinskii criticized the draft tax code, which the Duma recently passed in the first reading. He described the proposed code as a "repressive document" containing many provisions that violate citizens' rights guaranteed in the constitution, the civil code, and the family code. For instance, he said the tax code would allow the tax police to carry out interrogations and would impose a presumption of guilt against those suspected of tax evasion. Yavlinskii also argued that the government's "superficial economic activity" would not prevent declines this year in GDP by 2%-3%, industrial production by 4%-5%, and agricultural output by up to 10%, Interfax reported. MINISTER ORDERS INSPECTION OF ALL NUCLEAR RESEARCH REACTORS. Atomic Energy Minister Viktor Mikhailov has ordered thorough inspections of all Russian nuclear reactors used for research to be conducted over the next several months, Interfax and AFP reported on 1 July. The order was prompted by the recent fatal accident at the Arzamas-16 center in Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18, 23, and 30 June 1997). An investigative commission has already concluded that human error and flawed procedures at the center caused the accident. Ministry spokesman Georgii Kaurov said the inspections will involve a "complete verification, from the instruction booklets to the equipment." Mikhailov's order does not apply to reactors at ordinary nuclear power plants. TATARSTAN ACQUIRES CONTROLLING STAKE IN KAMAZ. The board of directors of the truck manufacturer KamAZ on 1 July voted to transfer 43% of the company's shares to the government of the Republic of Tatarstan and to appoint First Deputy Prime Minister Ravil Muratov as chairman the KamAZ board, the Kazan bureau of RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir service reported. President Mintimer Shaimiev, who attended the meeting, said his government is entitled to the shares because it assumed more than 3 billion rubles ($520,000) in KamAZ's debts. He also pledged that his government will guarantee loans and investments in KamAZ to turn around the loss-making company. In October, Shaimiev negotiated a reduction in KamAZ's back taxes with high federal government officials. A special government commission on tax collection had threatened to force the company into bankruptcy (see "OMRI Daily Digest," 16, 24, 25, and 31 October 1996). KOZYREV PROTESTS FALSE MEDIA REPORTS. State Duma deputy and former Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev has claimed that someone in the Interior Ministry is trying to discredit him by leaking false reports to the media, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported on 1 July. In news coverage of the recent murder of Rosinterbank deputy president Stanislav Alymov, major Russian television networks and the Interfax news agency reported that Alymov was an assistant to Kozyrev. However, Kozyrev told RFE/RL that he had no contact either with Alymov or Rosinterbank, adding that the murdered man was an assistant to Duma deputy Aleksandr Kozyrev of Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR). (In the last year, several assistants to LDPR Duma deputies believed to have links to organized crime have been murdered.) Andrei Kozyrev said he has asked the Procurator-General's Office to investigate the source of the media reports. TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA CHERNOMYRDIN DENIES SANCTIONING ARMS SHIPMENTS TO ARMENIA. Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on 1 July told journalists that neither he nor any other member of the Russian government approved arms supplies to Armenia, ITAR-TASS reported. "Izvestiya" the same day claimed to possess documentation proving Chernomyrdin sanctioned arms shipments to Armenia between 1994-1996 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 July 1997). Russian government spokesman Igor Shabdurasulov told Interfax that in March the government had submitted to the Chief Military Prosecutor's office documentary evidence that it complied with a directive issued by Russian President Boris Yeltsin on 9 September 1993 to suspend all arms deliveries to both Armenia and Azerbaijan pending a peaceful solution of the Karabakh conflict. (At the time, Karabakh Armenian forces had just launched a major offensive.) Shabdurasulov said the "unauthorized activities of numerous ministries or officials" are still being investigated. GEORGIAN COMMANDOS KILLED IN ABKHAZIA. Five members of a Georgian commando unit allegedly subordinate to the Georgian security service and one Abkhaz soldier were killed in a skirmish early on 1 July near the border between Abkhazia's Gulripsh Raion and the rest of Georgia, Interfax reported, quoting an Abkhaz Interior Ministry official. Also on 1 July, Russian Security Council deputy secretary Boris Berezovskii proposed "new ideas" about a possible solution of the Abkhaz conflict during talks with President Eduard Shevardnadze in Tbilisi, according to Reuters. RUSSIAN-ARMENIAN ECONOMIC AGREEMENTS SIGNED. At the first session of the Russian-Armenian intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation on 1 July in Yerevan, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Valerii Serov and Armenian Premier Robert Kocharyan signed seven agreements, including one on restructuring Armenia's debt to Russia, Armenian agencies reported. Serov termed the agreements "pragmatic" and said that Russia believes economic relations with Armenia should be "mutually supplementary and mutually beneficial," Noyan Tapan reported. Following parallel talks with Armenian government officials, Gazprom chairman Rem Vyakhirev said agreement was reached on resuming Russian gas supplies to Armenia and that talks on the export of Russian gas to Turkey via Georgia and Armenia are continuing. CHECHEN PRESIDENT IN BAKU. Aslan Maskhadov on 1 July was in Baku on a "working visit" for talks with Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev, RFE/RL's Baku bureau reported. The two presidents refused to speak to journalists after their meeting. Chechen press spokesman Kazbek Akhmedov said that they had not signed any agreements. He added that the question of exporting Azerbaijan's Caspian oil via Chechnya was not discussed but said a trilateral agreement between the Russian Fuel Ministry, the Chechen oil company Yunko, and the Azerbaijani state oil company SOCAR would be signed in Moscow after the successful conclusion of Russian-Chechen accords on customs and banking. Chechen First Deputy Prime Minister Movladi Udugov told Interfax on 1 July that talks with Russian officials in Moscow had yielded consensus on almost all points of both accords. AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT ASSESSES NATIONAL SECURITY MINISTRY. Speaking at a ceremony in late June to mark the anniversary of the National Security Ministry, Heidar Aliev said that body's primary tasks are to liberate "occupied territories" and to gather information about Armenia, according to Turan on 30 June and the "Turkish Daily News" on 1 July. Aliev said that at least one political party in Azerbaijan is controlled by a foreign intelligence service. He accused the intelligence services of Russia, Iran, Turkey, and Georgia of interference in Azerbaijan's internal affairs. He also called for strengthening control over the country's borders to prevent drug trafficking via Azerbaijan. "Akhali taoba" on 1 July quoted a senior Azerbaijani frontier official as claiming that Georgia is illegally selling Armenia part of the crude oil it receives from Azerbaijan. KYRGYZ FOREIGN MINISTER REPLACED. President Askar Akayev dismissed Roza Otunbayeva as foreign minister on 1 July, according to RFE/RL correspondents in Bishkek. Otunbayeva is replaced by Muratbek Imanaliyev, who until now was the head of the International Department of the presidential administration. He served as foreign minister from 1990-91 and was later ambassador to China. Otunbayeva, who was previously ambassador to Canada and then the U.S, was named as ambassador to Great Britain; however, there is no Kyrgyz embassy in London. According to Interfax, she requested to be relieved of her duties as foreign minister. TAJIK PRESIDENT IN SAUDI ARABIA. Imomali Rakhmonov arrived in Saudi Arabia on 30 June at the start of a four-day visit, according to ITAR-TASS. Rakhmonov and a delegation of Tajik businessmen and government officials held talks in Jeddah on 1 July with the chairman of the Islamic Development Bank and the secretary-general of the League of the Islamic World. Discussions centered on ways to improve cooperation following the official end of the civil war in Tajikistan. Rakhmonov met with King Fahd on 2 July to discuss Saudi-Tajik relations. The Tajik president is also scheduled to visit Mecca to make the "umra" or little Hajj. UN EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER DRUG TRADE IN KAZAKSTAN. A UN official monitoring the drug trade in Kazakstan voiced alarm at increasing drug use in Kazakstan and at the country's role as a transit point for narcotics heading westward, Reuters reported on 1 July. The official cited marijuana cultivation as the leading problem in Kazakstan's fight against the drug trade. He also said Kazakstan has the potential to become the leading producer of marijuana in the world. Nurlan Abdirov, the head of Kazakstan's State Drug Control Committee, said marijuana is currently being cultivated on at least 138,000 hectares of land, mostly in the Chu Valley region of southeastern Kazakstan. Abdirov pointed out that law enforcement officials in 1996 confiscated 12 tons of drugs being shipped westward via Kazakstan. In the first five months of 1997, officials have already seized more than 17 tons. Abdirov also noted that other drugs have made their way into Kazakstan, including opium, LSD, and heroin. KAZAK PRESIDENT PRAISES PARLIAMENT. Nursultan Nazarbayev, addressing the parliament at the close of its second session, has expressed satisfaction with the progress toward implementing reforms, according to Interfax. Nazarbayev noted that during the nine-month session, the parliament adopted more than 150 draft laws. He added that the overhaul of the civil service has saved the country about 3 billion tenge ($40 million) to date. He cited an Economics and Trade Ministry report predicting a 0.5% growth in GDP in the first six months of 1997 and 2% industrial growth. By year's end GDP may have increased by 2%, the president predicted. END NOTE REACTIONS TO DYACHENKO'S APPOINTMENT AS YELTSIN'S IMAGE ADVISER by Floriana Fossato The Moscow press showed relief, rather than surprise, over the 30 June decision of Russian President Boris Yeltsin to name his younger daughter, Tatyana Dyachenko, as his official image adviser. Two influential pro-government newspapers, "Segodnya" and "Kommersant-Daily," ran front-page articles on 1 July saying Dyachenko's appointment had long been expected. They said it helps to clarify Dyachenko's role at a time when her public profile is increasing, particularly during Yeltsin's foreign trips. Those comments echo Dyachenko's own statement following her appointment. After the official announcement by Yeltsin's press secretary Sergei Yastrzhembskii at a Kremlin news briefing, Dyachenko said her appointment "removes the whole ambiguity of my situation." The Russian media have consistently reported that the 37-year-old Dyachenko has played an influential political role behind the scenes at least since last year's presidential election campaign. In a commentary titled "Legalization," "Kommersant-Daily" reminds reader s that at the first press conference following Yeltsin's re-election, Viktor Ilyushin, then presidential first aide, said Yeltsin's advisory election team would be preserved. He praised Dyachenko for her role as a "communication channel" to the president. At her first news briefing, Dyachenko said that for her "it is easier to tell the president unpleasant things, since it is easier for him to hear them from me than from others." "Kommersant" concludes that "even after her appointment, Dyachenko remains Yeltsin's daughter and this is her main strong point." Dyachenko, who for months has been named in opinion polls as one of most influential figures in Russian politics, was already rumored to have an office in the Kremlin and to control access to the president. Since Yeltsin resumed his political activities following the heart ailment that disrupted his first months in office after re-election, Dyachenko has become increasingly visible, particularly during official foreign trips. She was in Baden-Baden, Germany, in April, when Yeltsin met with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. And she was part of the Russian delegation in Paris in May, when Yeltsin signed the Founding Act defining relations with NATO. Yastrzhembskii declined to say why Yeltsin made the appointment now, say ing only that the president took the decision "when he considered it necessary." But "Segodnya" commented that after the recent trips abroad, it was imperative to clarify Dyachenko's role. The newspaper added that it was also becoming increasingly difficult to explain to the public her inclusion in official Russian delegations. Meanwhile, some observers say Dyachenko's appointment is likely to provo ke angry reactions from Yeltsin's opponents, especially in the Communist- and nationalist-dominated parliament. Those opposed to the president have constantly criticized Dyachenko for allegedly supporting their main enemy, First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais, and for manipulating the president since his re-election, particularly during his long illness.State Duma Chairman Gennadii Seleznev, a Communist, told the Interfax news agency that Dyachenko's appointment violates the law on the civil service, which prohibits appointing close relatives of officials to top state positions. Dyachenko said at her news briefing that she "does not have personal ambitions" and that she has assured her husband--who, she said, opposed her appointment--that she will work in the Kremlin only for the next three years, until the end of her father's second and, under the constitution, last term. "Kommersant-Daily" said that this may indeed prove to be the case, judgi ng from what it called the unusual openness with which Dyachenko answered journalists' questions. The paper commented that Dyachenko looks "too candid...in comparison with experienced politicians." But it also noted that after obtaining a Kremlin post, Dyachenko may well acquire the "political clout" she does not seem to have now. Some observers also point out that many Russians will likely disapprove of the appointment and may be concerned that it signals the onset of a wave of nepotism. Recently, Yeltsin appointed the husband of his elder daughter to head the state airline, Aeroflot. Muscovites questioned by RFE/RL's Moscow bureau said that Dyachenko appe ars to be a "sincere and strong woman" and may prove effective in her new job. But others criticized her appointment, saying it "diminishes Yeltsin's authority." The author is an editor at RFE/RL's Moscow bureau. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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