Volume I Number 3 (December 4, 1996)
Controversy over tape continues
Following a Duma appeal to President Yel'tsin for the suspension of
Anatoli Chubais and Viktor Ilyushin until the completion of an investigation
into the arrests of campaign staffers Yevstafyev and Lisovsky, Moskovsky
Komsomolets (23 November 1996, pp. 1,3) returned to the issue of the secret
tape transcript (See 11/20/96 Digest) and the events of June 19-20, 1996.
According to MK, Procurator-General Skuratov confirmed that the tape did
exist and had been attached to the investigation for some time, but that
they had not yet confirmed that the voices on the tape were indeed Chubais
and Ilyushin. The Procurator, when pressed by the Duma, promised a full
investigation of the tape, including the questioning of Chubais. In the
meantime, the tape has been sent to the president's Communication and Information
In reviewing the circumstances of the arrests of Lisovsky and Yevstafyev,
MK published excerpts of both the arresting officers' reports and statements
by the suspects. The MK excerpts confirm the report of Colonel Streletsky
(See Digest 11/20/96) about the involvement of a third party, an employee
of the National Reserve Bank, Boris Lavrov. According to the MK account,
Lisovsky and Yevstafyev were stopped while attempting to leave the Kremlin
with a box. When asked for a permit, they refused but the box was opened
by the guards. When it was found to contain $500,000, the Main Protection
Directorate was informed and Lisovsky and Yevstafyev were detained.
Colonel Streletsky from the MPD soon arrived at the checkpoint, and then
he and two deputies proceeded to the office of the deputy Finance Minister
German Kuznetsov. In Kuznetsov's office, they found Boris Lavrov, who was
carrying $38,850. in an envelope. Lavrov claimed that he was just a courier,
and that he had delivered the $500,000. to Lisovsky in Yevstafyev's presence.
(He also claimed to have signed receipts). During questioning, Yevstafyev
denied any knowledge of the box of money, claiming it was a plant by the
security services. Lisovsky claimed the money was to be used to pay performers
for the "Vote or Lose" campaign concerts.
MK speculates that the events represented an attempt by the Korzhakov-led
hardliners to discredit Anatoli Chubais by catching his close associates
engaging in illegal currency transactions. There have been numerous reports
about Korzhakov's previous attempts to inform the president of illegal activities
within the campaign staff ; some Korzhakov associates have claimed that
the president gave the MPD broad oversight of election financing just weeks
before this incident. (I have however, been unable to find any documentary
confirmation of this). In any event, it was Anatoli Chubais' spin on the
events that won the President's ear in June. Whether Yel'tsin will be swayed
by the new information being published by MK and the eventual results of
an investigation (and that will probably be a long time coming) or whether
he will support the actions of his Chief of Staff will only be known once
he returns to work in the Kremlin. It should be noted that Moscow Mayor
Yuri Luzhkov is believed to have close ties with MK, and the continued coverage
of an event embarrassing to Chubais might represent part of an ongoing power
struggle between the two.
Investigation into document shredding
The Main Military Prosecutor's office has opened an investigation into
the shredding of documents by the presidential security services following
the dismissal of Aleksandr Korzhakov in June 1996. The investigation, initiated
at the request of Chief of Staff Anatoli Chubais, has thus far determined
that some subdivisions of the Main Protection Directorate (with particular
loyalty to Korzhakov) did shred documents on national security during the
period from June - September 1996. While charges of abuses of power are
expected to be filed, no names have been released in connection with the
investigation. Although some sources in the Military Prosecutor's office
claim (Ekho Moskvy, 25 November 96) that Korzhakov has been cleared in the
investigation because the orders to dispose of documents were signed after
his dismissal, deputy Chief of the Presidential Administration Yevgeni Savostyanov
claims that MPD service staffers told him that they received verbal orders
from Korzhakov to destroy the archives.
On November 26, 1996 President Yel'tsin signed a decree turning Severomorsk
into a closed administrative-territorial district. The area will be used
as a secured zone for ship repair and as basing for the Northern Fleet.
Settlement of tsarist debt to France
A longstanding obstacle in the relations between Russia and France finally
has been cleared. Alain Juppe and Chernomyrdin reached an agreement whereby
Russia will pay $400 million to some 400,000 investors who hold the tsarist
bonds. Given this agreement Russia may be admitted to the Paris club of
creditor states. (Reuters Tue, 26 Nov 1996 15:01:24 PST; and 14:01:14 PST)
Mixed messages on "NATO threat"
On Nov. 19, during his visit to England, Defense Minister Rodionov stated
the NATO poses no threat to Russia. On the following day this statement
was directly contradicted RF Ambassador Grinevskiy who argued NATO expansion
would substantially increase the nuclear threat in Europe. (Moscow NTV in
Russian, 0300 GMT 20 Nov 96)
1st tier NATO candidates undistracted by Russian stance
While Russia's sometimes not entirely consistent anti-NATO campaign
continues Polish Prime Minister Cimoszewicz and Czech Ambassador Dobrovsky
underline their desire to join the alliance despite Moscow's position. At
the same time Poland increases its cooperation with Russia in the economic
sphere and in the area illegal immigration control. (Moscow TRUD in Russian,
16 Nov 96 p 4; Warsaw Polskie Radio First Program Network in Polish, 1800
GMT 14 Nov 96;)
PRC-RF strategic relationship
During his visit to China Primakov and his counterpart Qian Qichen praised
the reduction of military forces along the Sino-Russian border and expressed
their intention to sign and agreement in this issue area. The underlying
theme of Primakov's visit was the emphasis of a "strategic relationship"
between Moscow and Beijing in a "polycentric world structure."
(Moscow ITAR-TASS in English, 1453 GMT 19 Nov 96; Moscow INTERFAX in English,
1707 GMT 20 Nov 96)
Primakov "offers" joint development of Kuriles
Foreign Minister Primakov officially proposed joint Japanese-Russian
development of the South Kuriles while visiting Tokyo. Prime Minister Nakasone
expressed his willingness to examine this proposal provided that the Japanese
position in principle on the Kuriles remains unaffected.(Moscow ITAR-TASS
World Service in Russian, 0425 GMT 15 Nov 96)
Russian spy in CIA arrested after release of Ex-KGB officer
Reminiscent of the Cold War Era Russo-American ties are dominated currently
by issues of espionage. Almost immediately after American authorities released
former KGB officer Galkin, who was arrested during his visit to the US,
the FBI arrested CIA veteran Harold Nicholson on charges of spying for Russia.
Galkin was released after his former boss and current Foreign Minister Primakov
personally took the matter into his hands. Reprisals against retired US
intelligence specialists, currently in Russia on business unrelated to their
former occupation, had been threatened. (United Press International Thu,
21 Nov 1996 16:01:48 PST; Moscow INTERFAX in English, 0854 GMT 14 Nov 96;
Moscow NTV in Russian, 1100 GMT 19 Nov 96)
Lebed's image enhancement tour to the US
Lebed second trip to the West, after his recent visit to Brussels, brought
him to the US. The purpose of his visit was to dispel "...the view
that he is an anti-Semite, an ultra-nationalist...and a loose cannon."
During his stay he met Deputy Secretary of State Talbot. President Clinton
was on a trip to Asia during Lebed's visit. (United Press International
Fri, 22 Nov 1996 17:00:43 PST)
Declining migration from Near Abroad, stable number of Russians leaving
Compared to last year the number of Russians migrating from the Near
Abroad to Russia has dropped by 50 per cent. The number of Russians wanting
to leave their country remains stable at about 100,000 per year. The most
popular destinations are the US, FRG, Israel, and Greece. (Moscow ROSSIYSKAYA
GAZETA in Russian, 16 Nov 96 p 2)
The confidence with which Poland and the Czech Republic underline their
intention to join NATO, suggests that the tough stance against alliance
expansion taken by Yel'tsin, Rodionov and certainly Primakov has been recognized
in Prague and Warsaw as a bargaining tactic to attain maximal concessions
for "tolerating the western military machinery" at Russia's border
Rodionov's "threat" perception expressed during his visit to
the UK (NATO poses no threat to Russia) reflects the view underneath the
official bargaining position. Perhaps the Defense Minister's tongue slipped
due to his enthusiasm over just having signed the first military cooperation
agreement with a NATO country (Italy) and the prospect of a similar agreement
Immediately following Rodionov's comment Moscow's bargaining position
was shored up. The prospect of increased nuclear danger in case of a larger
NATO was underlined by Russia's envoy to Sweden, Grinevskiy, whose boss,
Foreign Minister Primakov, concurrently attempted to show in Beijing that
Russia also has the option of looking (far-)eastward. Before Chernomyrdin's
departure for the OSCE meeting, Rodionov had been brought back into the
fold and emphasized with Yel'tsin Moscow's (official) opposition to NATO
The Duma adopted an appeal to stabilize the situation in the north Caucasus
According to the 30 October appeal, the Russian Federation president should
instruct the Russian Federation defense minister to carry out an inventory
at arms and ammunition warehouses located in the North Caucasus and an inspection
of the state of the records and the procedure by which arms and ammunition
are received for storage and their safe keeping is monitored.
On 2 November 1996 the Duma approved nominees to the National Bank
The State Duma has approved six candidacies proposed by the Central
Bank of Russia [CBR] for CBR the National Banking Council. They are Arnold
Voylukov, CBR first deputy chairman; Yakov Dubenetskiy, chairman of Promstroybank;
Sergey Yegorov, president of the Association of Russian Banks; Leonid Onushko,
president of the "Kontinent" Bank in Naberezhnyye Chelny; and
experts Oleg Lavrushin and Nikolay Pugin. This proposal by the Budget Committee
was backed by 338 deputies.
On 20 October Zyuganov voiced support for Yeltsin and governmental
. [If] one goes against the law, tomorrow there will be shooting...throughout
the country. That is why we have demanded that there should be a normal
government, and that no one, be it Lebed or Chubays, should interfere with
the actions of the executive. This is why we backed [Lebed's dismissal].
Alleged CPRF document claims Lebed/Kulikov conflict is the result
On 4 November the Communist Party of the Russian Federation Duma faction
distributed an "information memo." "According to information
obtained from a number of independent sources and in the opinion of high-ranking
MVD [Ministry of Internal Affairs] officials, the main purpose of hyping
up the public conflict between A. Lebed and A. Kulikov is to disorganize
MVD activities and discredit its head to such an extent as to justify starting
yet another 'reform' of the MVD: taking investigative structures out of
the MVD by resubordinating them to the RF General Procuracy or creating
a separate Investigations Committee on their basis; taking the Internal
Troops out of MVD structures and resubordinating them to the RF Ministry
RF REGIONS: ELECTIONS
Tula residents do not favor Korzhakov in upcoming elections.
The Tula Center for Applied Sociology conducted a poll on local support
in Tula for Aleksandr Korzhakov, former presidential security adviser, in
the State Duma elections scheduled for February 1997. "In reply to
the question: Are you prepared to support Aleksandr Korzhakov in the State
Duma elections, 35.9 percent of those polled said no, and 22.4 percent said
Valeriy Ustyugov relected chairman of the Kaliningrad Oblast Duma.
Altogether, two candidates were nominated for the chairman of the highest
legislative body in the region --Valeriy Ustyugov and Yuriy Semenov. In
his speeches at the first meeting of the second Oblast Duma, deputies expressed
the opinion that the personality of Valeriy Nikolayevich [Ustyugov] introduces
stability and common sense.
Airborne troops commander dismissed for violating ethics
Major General Vladimir Kazantsev, deputy commander of the Airborne troops
was removed from his position for allegedly disagreeing with possible upcoming
Airborne Troops reform during a news conference. It is unclear as to whether
or not his removal was for the disagreement or because he publicly commented
on it. Since the troops stand ready to make the reforms, it is probable
that he was removed for his public comments. Apparently it is important
for senior officials in Russia to support military reforms.
Korzhakov discharged from military service for slander
Yeltsin reported fired Korzhakov for making slanderous statements about
Pres Yeltsin and his family as well as for disclosing information known
to him in connection with his official duties. This action was prior to
Mr Yeltsin's surgery. One can only wonder if it is linked.
Foreign Intelligence Service above internal power conflict
Actions are still underway to calm the waters after the Lebed problems.
These disclaimers are reminiscent of the Stalinist era where no one trusted
anyone else nor did they want to be associated with someone who wasn't still
Moscow regards South Korea as "serious" military partner
Russia for the first time will participate in the Seoul Air Show in
Oct 1996. Earlier articles indicate sales of the SU aircraft to S. Korea
are planned. This cooperative effort to demo their aircraft is yet another
indicator of how desperate the Russians are to obtain hard currency. They
apparently fear no negative comments from N. Korea for this partnership
activity. "Russia believes that both North and South Korea have the
right to strengthen their national defense as full-fledged members of the
Rodionov signs defense accord with India
The results of this accord will be an exchange of information on military
issues, conduct of joint war games, mutual visits by warships and training
of officers at each other's military academies. During the visit leading
to this accord peace in the region was discussed including Afghanistan and
the need to ensure its territorial integrity and end intervention into Afghanistan's
Defense complex output falls by 75-80% over recent years
Agreements with South Korea, China, and India re but examples of attempts
to increase demands for defense products. If the Russian budget is unable
to allocate sufficient monies outside partners and buyers must be found
to support production.
Russia to introduce new weapon systems
Despite financial problems and Defense Industry Restructuring, research
and development has continues in Russia in the areas of hydro acoustic engineering,
radars, and computer hardware. New weapon systems will be brought out such
as anti-aircraft missile systems, means for radio electronic war. Russia
believes they are far ahead of foreign developments in these areas. Obviously
Russia continues to look at development of technologies where they can capture
a good corner if not all of the market share.
Rodionov has "carte blanche" for army reform
Defense Minister Rodionov has won a hard fought battle for the right
to reform the military as he sees fit, based on reducing numerical size
but ensuring effective combat strength. He may be the charismatic leader
sought to make successful military reforms.
No serious progress reported in paying army's wage arrears
Articles continue that both deny the existence of a problem as well
as those which allude to its rapid solution. Obviously, no real resolution
is insight as we approach the date of the projected strikes.
Source of nuclear materials for terrorists
Nuclear submarine Komsomolets sank in April 1989 leaving 116 Kilograms
of nuclear-grade uranium and two nuclear warheads with more than 6 kilos
of plutonium-239 for the taking. 50 nuclear warheads lie near Bermuda, 10
near the Bay of Biscay and several near Hawaii. None of these sites is at
a depth that is too difficult to reach - well within reach of someone with
the money to pay for it. The Komsomolets has already been visited by an
unknown party. Russia is seeking support and dollars to "render Harmless"all
the submarines which have sunk. Russia has the technology and the expertise
but not the money.
by Lt.Col. Cathy Dreher
Russia recovers nukes
Belarus has finally turned over 18 SS-25 strategic nuclear missiles
to Russia. Officially, this appears to account for all the "stray"
Soviet strategic missiles held by the newly independent states.
One Russian voice on NATO expansion?
After weeks of mixed signals from Moscow on NATO expansion the attitude
of the Russian leadership seems to have solidified (or their public pronouncements
have finally been coordinated) indicating a solid front against NATO expansion,
just prior to the Lisbon meeting of the OSCE.
Chemical weapons in Syria
Russian connections to Syria's chemical weapons program have been reported.
Russia denies any involvement.
Black Sea Fleet
Ultimate disposition of the Black Sea Fleet and the port facilities
in Sevastopol continue to negatively impact Russian-Ukranian relations.
Recent apparent progress proved illusory. Russia is saying now that not
only must Sevastapol remain part of Russia, but that the Ukrainian Fleet
may not be based there at all.
New attack helo
Russia unveiled a new attack helicopter, the KA-52 "Alligator."
This helo is a two seat variant of the KA-50, which has not found a ready
market to date in either Russia or abroad.
Paychecks still late
Most units in the Russian military are still not being paid regularly.
Dire warnings of mutiny and other extralegal actions continue to surface,
though the Defense Minister has softened his rhetoric on this particular
issue. The lack of reaction to these pronouncements (i.e. that the second
largest nuclear military power on earth is in danger of collapse) in either
Russia or the West is nothing short of astounding.
Last Russian troops out of Chechnya
The last two brigades of Russian troops have left Chechnya. Earlier
threats from the DUMA to impeach Yeltsin over this issue have come to nothing.
Public opinion seems overwhelming (70+ percent) in support of the pullout,
even when the question of the withdrawl explictly acknowledges that Russia
may permanently lose the territory as a result.
Ukraine to join NATO?
Ukraine has indicated it may wish to ultimately join NATO. The expressed
possibility may be much more related to Ukrainian - Russian relations than
Ukrainian relations with western Europe.
Russian advisors to Ukraine
70 Russian military advisors led by a general officer have been assigned
to the Tajik military. The reports indicate the head of the group will have
"direct access" to the Tajik president and prime minister. That
kind of access is extraordinary for the head of a military advisor group,
as is the assignment of a general officer over a group of 70 individuals.
The head of the Russian ground forces, General Vladimir Semenov, was
summarily fired for "actions that discredit the honor and dignity of
a serviceman." Speculation has it that it may be the activities of
his wife (who works for a helicopter manufacturer) that precipitated the
by CDR John G.Steele
CONSTITUTION: Voters support Lukashenka's constitution
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's draft constitution, which greatly
increases his powers, won 70.5% of the vote in a referendum held Sunday,
November 24.In other questions, 88.5% of respondents voted in favor of changing
the national holiday from 17 July, when the republic declared independence,
to 3 July, when the Red Army liberated Minsk from the Germans. Lukashenka's
other two questions--on banning the free sale and purchase of land and on
retaining the death penalty--also passed by a wide margin.
Neither of the parliament's two questions passed. Only 29.9% voted for
electing local administrations by direct popular vote and only 32.1% were
in favor of funding all state agencies directly from the budget. Voting
among the KGB and military was particularly high, with 99.6% casting ballots.
Former head of the Central Electoral Commission Viktar Hanchar said the
results were forged, and independent observers claimed irregularities in
On 26 November Lukashenka set up a new parliament, international agencies
reported. Between 102 and 112 deputies met with Lukashenka and declared
themselves the new lower house of the legislature. Under the new constitution,
the lower house must have 110 members from the current 199-strong parliament.
There will also be an upper house made up partly of the president's appointees.
DOMESTIC AFFAIRS: Demonstrators clash with police in Minsk
Between 5,000 and 10,000 people took part in a "March of Silence"
in Minsk on 17 November to protest President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's proposals
to increase his powers, Reuters reported. Ten people were arrested and some
20 were slightly injured. The demonstrators, carrying red and white Belarusian
flags, marched on the parliament building where deputies were scheduled
to hold an emergency session on the political situation in the republic.
MEDIA: Media restrictions in Belarus
President Lukashenka on 19 November issued a decree cutting off Russian
Public TV and NTV's communication lines to Belarus, Russian media reported
on 19 November. The restrictions, however, were lifted later that day. Lukashenka
had claimed the move was justified because the Russian channels were unobjective
and provocative in their reporting on Belarus. Under the decree, Russian
reports on Belarus could be sent to Russia only after Belarusian media authorities
had checked and approved them.
RF RELATIONS: Russian-backed Belarus deal collapses
A Russian-brokered deal to end the political standoff in Belarus collapsed
Friday, November 22, as Parliament failed to approve the compromise and
President Alexander Lukashenko indicated he would no longer seek a solution
to the crisis.
MILITARY: Last Belarus nuclear missiles gone
Belarus sent the last of its former Soviet nuclear missiles to Russia
on Tuesday, November 27. On Friday, November 22, Belarus officials, including
a top presidential aide, said the last missiles had left the republic's
territory -- several weeks ahead of a year-end deadline set as part of a
deal that gave Russia control of the ex-Soviet nuclear arsenal.
Lukashenka has won this round with the opposition. He cleverly avoided
a physical confrontation with the parliament and instead let his lackeys
in the administration skew the vote for him. He has quickly moved to dissolve
parliament, the one platform the opposition had.
CHERNOBYL: Ukraine may restart a Chornobyl reactor
Ukrainian nuclear authorities prepared plans to restart Chornobyl reactor
No. 2, which was shut down in 1991 after a fire incident, international
media reported on 14 November. Valerii Idelson, spokesman for Chornobyl,
told Reuters that technical documents have been sent for approval to the
Ukrainian government. Chornobyl reactors 1 and 3 still function and contribute
5% of Ukraine's electricity.
CRIMEA: Ukraine in uproar over draft law on Sevastopol
Leaders of all caucuses in the Ukrainian parliament have signed a statement
condemning a draft law on the withdrawal of Ukrainian military from Sevastopol,
UNIAN reported on 15 November. The bill was proposed by Ivan Symonenko of
the Soyuz caucus, who demanded that the Ukrainian "occupational forces"
pull out from Sevastopol by 1 July 1997. Symonenko described Crimea as a
Ukrainian colony and Sevastopol as a temporarily occupied city. The Rukh
caucus has demanded that Symonenko be stripped of his parliamentary immunity
and prosecuted. It also called for the dismissal of parliamentary speaker
Oleksander Moroz and his first deputy, Oleksander Tkachenko, for "turning
a blind eye to the anti-state activities of some deputies."
ECONOMY: Ukrainian President, Premier take hard line on budget
Leonid Kuchma and Pavlo Lazarenko have told representatives of some
caucuses that they will fight any attempts by lawmakers to increase social
spending and the 1997 budget deficit, Ukrainian agencies reported on 21
November. Lazarenko said the government has prepared a package of amendments
to the draft 1997 budget that provides for further reductions in social
benefits, the laying-off of civil servants, and tax cuts for Ukrainian industry.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian National Bank Director Viktor Yushchenko has said the
devaluation of the national currency has ended, Ukrainian TV reported on
19 November. He noted that the bank will intervene to support the exchange
rate against the dollar because if the hryvnya falls below 1.9 to $1, inflation
Parliament seemed to be heading in the opposite direction. Lawmakers
on 22 November voted to suspend the privatization of 208 state-owned enterprises
deemed "strategically important" until laws governing investments
in such businesses are adopted, UNIAN reported on 22 November. They also
decided to investigate how the State Property Fund has so far conducted
the privatization of such companies and to increase the number of state-owned
enterprises barred from privatization from 1,475 to 7,111.
Ukraine is headed into a long winter of struggle over the president's
austerity program, a tussle that will threaten the newly-established currency.
DNIESTR: Reactions to Russian Rresolution on Dniester
A Russian State Duma resolution proposing that the government declare
the Dniester region a zone of special strategic interests for Russia has
provoked a sharp reaction in Chisinau, Moldovan media reported on 14 November.
The resolution, adopted a day earlier, was dismissed by Moldova's Deputy
Foreign Minister Vasile Sova as interference in his country's internal affairs.
FOREIGN RELATIONS: Moldova on backburner for westward-looking Romania
Romania will keep a close eye on neighbouring Moldova, but ties with
ethnic kin there are on the backburner as Bucharest looks west towards NATO
and the European Union. The foreign policy priorities of centrist Emil Constantinescu,
who was sworn in as Romanian president on Friday, look in the opposite direction
from the former Soviet republic.
ELECTIONS: Incumbent beaten in Moldovan election
Moldovan Parliament speaker Petru Lucinschi defeated incumbent Mircea
Snegur in a close presidential runoff vote whose result Monday signaled
warmer relations between the former Soviet republic and Russia. A preliminary
count of ballots from all districts in the nation of 4.4 million indicated
the moderate Lucinschi won just over 54 percent of the vote in the two-man
contest Sunday, while the reformist took 45.9 percent, election officials
Snegur and Lucinschi squared off in a runoff election after a first round
vote held Nov. 17. In the first round, Snegur had 38.7 percent, well ahead
of the more moderate Lucinschi at 27.3 percent but far shy of the clear
majority needed to win outright.
Moscow will be happy with Luchinschi's electoral victory. At a meeting
with foreign election observers in February 1994, Luchinschi suggested that
he should speak to the crowd in Russian rather than Romanian. (He was shouted
down). Apparently not even the Russian Duma's stroppiness over its military
bases in Dniestr could spook the Moldovan electorate.
by Chandler Rosenberger
Kyrgyzstan to participate in Eurasian transport corridor project
Kyrgyzstan is ready to join a transport treaty already established between
Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan for the purpose of building
a transport artery through the Southern Caucasus. It is expected that Kyrgyzstan
will be signing the treaty in the near future, following an exchange of
visits by Presidents Akayev and Shevardnadze.
Akayev downsizes civil service staff
In an effort to reduce the budget and increase government efficiency,
President Akayev has decreed that the presidential administrative staff
and the parliamentary administrative staff should be cut by 30%. In addition,
the staffs of the ministries, government departments and their territorial
subdivisions should be reduced by 20%, and the staff of local executive
bodies is to be decreased by 10%.
Akayev signs decree regulating religious organizations
President Akayev has signed a decree requiring all religious organizations
and associations to register with the state commission on religious affairs.
This decree is to remain in effect until the end of 1996, when the Kyrgyz
parliament is expected to adopt a law on religion.
Kyrgyzstan to receive $466 million in foreign aid
Kyrgyzstan is to receive $466 million in foreign donations in 1997.
The United States will donate $49 million ($30 million is to be used to
strengthen the Kyrgyz currency), and Japan and France are also major donors,
and Russia has offered Kyrgyzstan a 40-year repayment plan for its $132
million debt to Russia.
Akayev reviews economic progress for 1996
In the first 10 mos. of 1996, Kyrgyzstan's GDP has risen 7.3% and real
incomes rose 0.8% (after dropping in the previous 2 yrs.). Inflation has
fallen to 21.1%, consumer goods production rose 20%, and the output of food
items rose 27%. The budget deficit currently stands at 6.6% of GDP, and
unemployment is still rising. Tax evasion and black market activities still
pose significant problems, depriving the national treasury of 25-30% in
taxes due, and the black market has grown to equal 15% of GDP. Bureaucratic
corruption is still rampant, prompting President Akayev's recent cuts in
civil service employment.
Kyrgyz parliament elects new speaker
On 12 November, the Kyrgyz Constitutional Court declared Mukar Cholponbayev's
election to the office of speaker of the Kyrgyz Legislative Chamber to be
illegitimate, due to his election by less than a majority of the Chamber's
members. Following this decision, the Legislative Chamber elected a new
speaker, Usup Mukambayev, on 15 November.
Tajik president And Moscow mayor discuss cooperation
President Rakhmanov and Mayor Luzhkov met in Moscow on 18 November to
discuss developing direct economic ties, specifically in the textile industry.
Moscow textile mills are to begin processing shipments of Tajik cotton.
The two men also discussed the situation of the 160,000 Tajik refugees who
have settled in Moscow, and Mayor Luzhkov agreed to appoint a special commission
to address the refugees' problems.
Rakhmanov dissatisfied with progress of Russian-Tajik accords
President Rakhmanov met with Yevgenii Belov, the new Russian ambassador
to Tajikistan, on 22 November and informed him of his dissatisfaction with
all aspects of the Tajik-Russian accords, especially in regard to economic
cooperation. Rakhmanov called on Russia to increase its economic cooperation
with all of the Central Asian states. He also stated that he would like
to increase Tajikistan's political cooperation with Russia, since Russia
is the only country which can guarantee peace and stability in the region.
Comment: Rakhmanov's government is already heavily dependent on Russian
support for its continued existence, so it is difficult to determine exactly
how the current Tajik government could achieve even greater political cooperation
with Moscow than presently exists. Furthermore, far from guaranteeing peace
and stability in Tajikistan, Russian troops have been involved in Tajikistan's
civil war from its outset, and may well have contributed to prolonging it.
Discussions of further Tajik peace talks continue
Both the leader of the United Tajik Opposition, Sayed Abdullo Nuri,
and President Rakhmanov have repeatedly declared their readiness to hold
long-awaited peace talks in Moscow, but so far, neither side has actually
suggested a date. President Rakhmanov wrote an open letter to Nuri, published
on 11 November, in which declared his willingness to continue the negotiations.
Nuri, for his part, sent a letter to Gerd Merrem, the UN special envoy to
Tajikistan, in which he suggested that a round of negotiations be held prior
to the Moscow meeting, in order to "reconsider the main political issues"
and to prepare any necessary documents.
United Tajik opposition to join with secular opposition group
Following a series of talks between first deputy opposition leader,
Haji Akbar Turajonzoda and Abdumalik Abdullajonov, leader of the National
Revival Bloc held in Tashkent, the two groups have agreed to join forces,
and Abdullajonov is to participate in any further peace negotiations with
the Tajik government. Abdullajonov is a wealthy and powerful politician
who participated in the last presidential election. The National Revival
Bloc is a secular opposition group, which was previously in competition
with the United Tajik Opposition (which is composed of at least 3 different
Tajik opposition captures Komsomolabad peacefully
The district of Komsomolabad, located 160 km from Dushanbe, was captured
by the Tajik opposition forces in what appears to have been an entirely
peaceful takeover on 17 November. Local government militia and Security
Ministry personnel were disarmed and released, after being held prisoner
for a few days. Opposition leader Haji Akbar Turajonzoda claims that rebel
forces are capable of taking over Dushanbe at any time, but have temporarily
halted their military operations because they want to avoid further civilian
casualties. Apparently the opposition forces are also waiting for orders
from their headquarters in Taloqan, Afghanistan.
It is unclear whether Mr. Turajonzoda's confidence that the opposition
is strong enough to take over the capital is shared by the rest of the opposition
leaders, but if it is, this would explain Mr. Nuri's reluctance to set a
date for the next round of peace negotiations.
Rakhmanov attends FAO summit in Rome
President Rakhmanov arrived in Rome on 14 November to attend the UN
Food and Agricultural Organization summit, where he was to present a report
on the state of agricultural production in Tajikistan. He intended to ask
the FAO to provide Tajikistan with agricultural equipment until the country
is able to overcome its current economic crisis. He was also planning to
suggest that the FAO set up a special fund for the purpose of providing
food subsidies to heavily indebted states which have severe balance of payments
Central Asian countries to donate $185 million to Tajikistan
During a 3-day meeting convened in Tokyo on 30 October and organized
by the World Bank and the Japanese Foreign Ministry, the Central Asian states
decided to donate economic aid worth $185 million to Tajikistan in 1997.
The funds are to be used for budget recovery, humanitarian aid, and technical
credits, according to a program designed in conjunction with the IMF and
the World Bank. Projects to be financed by the Central Asian states' donations
are the construction of international airports in Dushanbe, Khodzhent, and
Kulyab, as well as for the construction and repair of highways and railways.
The Japanese Cabinet of Ministers is considering granting Tajikistan considerable
economic aid and Russia has agreed to restructure Tajikistan's $300 million
Tajik army resorts to press-ganging
According to a 4 November report on the Dushanbe Radio Tajikistan Network,
the Tajik army has had to resort to press-ganging in order to implement
the fall 1996 call-up and force men who have recently reached draft age
to fulfill their required military service.
Russian-Turkmen citizenship treaty ratified
The upper house of the Russian parliament recently ratified a treaty
describing the rights and obligations of Russian citizens permanently living
in Turkmenistan and Turkmen citizens living permanently living in Russia.
The treaty states that they are to enjoy all the same rights as the citizens
of their country of residence with the exception of: the right to vote and
the right to run for elected office. They are also prohibited from holding
top posts in the diplomatic and security services of their country of residence,
nor may they occupy the posts of judge or prosecutor.
Foreign Ministry denies arms transported to Afghanistan
The Turkmen Foreign Ministry's press service released a statement on
22 November reaffirming Turkmenistan's status as a neutral territory and
denying that even a single shipment of military cargo bound for Afghanistan
has crossed Turkmen territory on the grounds that such action is prohibited
by the Turkmen constitution. This statement was in response to reports in
the Russian press that the Taleban have received arms shipments via Turkmenistan.
Niyazov in Turkey
President Niyazov recently (14 November) traveled to Turkey for a 3-day
medical check-up at the Istanbul Medical Centre. Following his hospital
stay, he met with President Suleyman Demirel to discuss the progress of
previously signed accords, as well as signing further agreements on cooperation
in education and environmental protection.
and the Caucasus
Interim agreement signed November 23
Prime Minister Chernomyrdin of Russia and Prime Minister Maskhadov of
Chechnya signed a document to regulate relations between them until the
results of the Chechen presidential and parliamentary elections are announced
on January 28. The agreement was developed in Nazran by Sergei Stepashin
and Emil Pain in consultation with Movladi Udugov, Akhmed Zakeyev and the
Ingush President Ayushev. (For a full text of the agreement see TASS, November
Among other provisions the agreement stipulates that:
- After the elections an agreement on economic relations will be concluded.
Until then, the legislation of the Chechen Republic and of the Russian
Federation will apply.
- To promote movement of people and freight, the civil airport, railways
and roads will resume functioning by December 1, by which time a custom
procedure will be in place.
- By December 1, a separate agreement regarding the production, processing
and transportation of oil and oil products will be concluded. The Chechen
side guarantees the safety of the oil pipeline passing through Chechnya.
- The sides recognize a need to coordinate actions in the defense sphere
and agree not to take actions that threaten their security.
No Russian forces to remain in Chechnya
In accordance with a separate Presidential edict the remaining divisions
of the Interior Ministry and the Defense Ministry are on their way out.
Their departure completes the withdrawal of Russian forces from the republic.
This announcement goes a long way to explain the sudden resignation and
hasty withdrawal to Moscow of the Russian installed Zavgaev government.
The Zavgaev government, though totally irrelevant, had presided over office
space in Severny airport, which will no longer to be occupied by Russian
The Ccandidates so far...
Despite the lack of preparedness for the elections candidates are already
emerging. The current president Zemlikan Yanderbayev has stated that
he expects to run unopposed. He will not get his wish since Shamil Basayev,
the field commander who led the raid against Buddenovsk, is running against
him on a anti-corruption campaign. The Confederation of the Peoples of the
Caucasus has nominated Yusup Soslambekov, who may well emerge as
Moscow's pick for the presidency. The group's previous accomplishments include
funneling mercenaries and arms to the Abkhaz in 1993 and maintaining complete
silence and indifference for the entire duration of the Chechen war.
Perhaps the most important of the provisions in the interim agreement
are the two pertaining to oil. It is believed that the separate agreement
on oil transit will provide for Chechnya receiving part of the transit fee
and a joint Russian-Chechen patrol of the pipeline will be put into effect.
Of greater consequence than the transit fees is the power to stop the flow
of oil for political purposes, among other case, the USSR found this a useful
tool against the Lithuania and Russia used it against Ukraine.
The Chechen guarantee of the pipeline security is perhaps the best indication
of just how little Russia has accomplished in its ill conceived invasion
and how close Ichkeria may be coming to gaining independence. Azerbaijan
and the Caspian Sea Consortium demanded Russian guarantees of pipeline security
before early oil could be shipped via the "northern route." Secretary
of the Security Council, Ivan Rybkin and his deputy Boris Berezovsky promptly
flew to Narzan in the first half of November to receive such assurances
from the Chechen leadership. This chain of events, together with the complete
Russian military withdrawal, suggests that Russian jurisdiction over Chechnya
is little more than a legal formality. It is more than ironic that Russia
today depends on the same individuals to safeguard its pipeline that it
has devoted two years to unseating.
Constitutional Court rejects suit over election results
On November 21, (ten days after the inauguration of president Petrosyan),
the Constitutional court upheld the results of the presidential elections
and rejected opposition claims of electoral fraud. A presidential spokesman
dismissed OSCE, European Parliament, and IFES findings of improper procedure
as having been based on "doubtful data."
Russian Security Council Deputy Secretary Boris Berezovsky visited Baku
on November 18 to assure the Azeri President that the northern oil pipeline
route is secure. The construction of the pipeline was due to be completed
this month, and oil transit is to begin in August 1997.
From Budapest to Lisbon
The president of the OSCE parliamentary assembly, Havyer Rupers, told
reporters that the "puppet presidential elections" in Nagorno-Karabakh
can not be deemed fair since a large part of the population are refugees
who could not vote. He also said that the matter would be brought up at
the Lisbon summit of the OSCE. The Budapest summit of 1994 held out the
possibility of stationing OSCE observers in Nagorno-Karabkh if the sides
could come to a political agreement. To this day despite numerous meetings
and initiatives no agreement seems forthcoming.
Elections held in Abkhazia and South Ossetia
Presidential elections in South Ossetia and parliamentary elections
in Abkhazia were held despite statements from the OSCE and the CIS stating
that the results would not legitimize their governments. South Ossetia concluded
a friendship and cooperation treaty with North Ossetia on the eve of the
balloting. Lyudvig Chiribov, who is seen as the candidate most likely to
negotiate a status within Georgia won in South Ossetia. In Abkhazia on the
eve of the balloting tensions rose as the government in exile summoned 1000
former guards to the Zugdidi district, which borders Abkhazia, the commander
of the Russian peacekeepers General Yakushev called for new security measures
in the Gali district.