Volume II Number 3 (February 19, 1997)
Yel'tsin recovery slow, staff still jockeying for position
As doctors warn Yel'tsin's recovery will take more time, his staff continue
the infighting that has marked the president's convalescence. The appointment
of MVD chief Anatoli Kulikov to the government as deputy prime minister,
tasked with fighting economic crime and supervising tax and customs services,
pulls this critical duty away from the purview of Anatoli Chubais. Chubais
had been leading the charge for improved tax collection through the Provisional
Emergency Commission created in October 1996. Control over economic policy
has proven quite contentious since the summer, with overlapping and contradictory
powers meted out between the presidential and governmental apparat. This
round would seem to go to the government as Chernomyrdin is said to have
been the motivating force behind the decision to bring in Kulikov.
Yel'tsin also stepped in to force a public display of goodwill between
the Defense Minister Rodionov and the Defense Council head Yuri Baturin.
After days of sniping back and forth between the two over military reform,
Yel'tsin ordered a joint press conference to demonstrate their commitment
to work out a reform plan together. Yesterday (17 February) however, Yel'tsin
acknowledged that the two had different "points of view", and
claimed that he would make the final decision on military reform and funding.
(OMRI, 18 Feb 97)
Old staffers shed new light
Interviews with former Yel'tsin Chief of Staff Sergei Filatov (Kuranty,
29 Nov 96) and former Press Secretary Sergei Medvedev (Moskovsky Komsomolets,
11 Nov 96) reveal some interesting details of Kremlin operations and intrigues.
Medvedev, in response to a question of whether or not Aleksandr Korzhakov
had hired him as Press Secretary, explained that while the President had
actually hired him, everyone who worked in the administration was interviewed
by the president's bodyguard. The subject of his interview with Korzhakov
centered on his biography, extent of loyalty to the president, and the nature
of the post of press secretary. Medvedev did add, however, that Korzhakov
never attempted to control the press service or "foist off any kind
of information for official reports."
Sergei Filatov also had quite a bit to say about Korzhakov. According
to Filatov, the strengthening of the Presidential Security Service came
in the wake of the corruption scandals of 1993, when Rutskoi claimed to
have "suitcases" full of information on corrupt officials. Korzhakov
appealed to the president for the right to run checks on all administration
staff. Filatov says, "This check was the beginning of everything. People
collected compromising material -- true and untrue, verified and unverified,
I do not know, this is for the procuracy to look into." Filatov also
points out that it was not Korzhakov alone who gathered information on people,
suggesting that the leaks of Kompromat could be coming from other quarters
Filatov also described the smear campaign launched by Korzhakov, Barsukov
and their security services to have him dismissed from the post of Chief
of Staff. A newspaper article attacked the personnel policies of an unnamed
"Benefactor," taken to be Filatov. When Filatov confronted Korzhakov
over it, Korzhakov denied authorship but not the possibility that one of
his men had done it. He then criticized Filatov's work for the president.
Filatov believes Korzhakov then convinced Yel'tsin, through persuasion and
misinformation, to replace him with Nikolai Yegorov.
RF SECURITY COUNCIL
Boris Berezovsky sues Forbes over mafia allegations
Deputy Secretary of the Security Council Boris Berezovsky has filed suit
against Forbes magazine for libel in connection with an article in its December
30, 1996 issue. The article, published anonymously for fear of Berezovsky's
retribution, details some of Berezovsky's financial transactions, as well
as his ties with mafia organizations and his alleged involvement in the
1995 murder of Vlad. Listiev. In a press release distributed in connection
with the suit, Berezovsky said. "The Forbes article should have been
labeled as fiction. It is constructed on falsehoods and mean-spirited assertions
that have nothing to do with the reality of my life. I deeply resent being
falsely accused as someone who would ever physically hurt someone. I know
who Paul Klebnikov [The Forbes editor he claims contacted him (under false
pretenses) for the story] is and I know what he wrote, and he has nothing
to worry about. To suggest otherwise is absolutely ludicrous. However, I
do expect Forbes to retract the story and apologize to those it has hurt
through this careless and highly unprofessional episode."
It may do well to note that Forbes is not the first, and by no means
the only, publication to point out Berezovsky's mafia ties or his status
as a suspect in the Listiev slaying. In an article published in The Observer,
May 5, 1996, Andrei Piontkowski, a respected political analyst tied Berezovsky
not only to the Listiev murder, but to Aleksandr Korzhakov as well: "When
he was hauled in for questioning after Vladimir Listiev's murder (the media
mogul murdered in March 1995), he was openly boasting about how he got out
thanks to a phone call from Korzhakov. (...)"
by Susan J. Cavan
National Patriotic Front leader Zyuganov ambivalent about "Elders"
Speaking to an audience at Northeastern University in Boston, MA on February
17, Communist Party and National Patriotic Front leader Gennadi Zyuganov
said that he had read 'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion' but was "not
sure if it is a real document. Maybe it was some type of fantasy. I believe
that it is maybe considered to be some kind of political essay that you
must know but not that doesn't mean that you will follow it, but not more
than some kind of historical paper."
The Protocols, which began circulating in Russia in the late 1800s, claimed
to reveal a plot by which Jews sought world domination through such devious
means as organizing pogroms against their own villages. Richard Pipes, the
historian of Russia, described the Protocols "as a scurrilous forgery
concocted at the end of the nineteenth century by the tsarist police."
Audience members peppered Zyuganov with accusations that he is an anti-Semite.
One quoted Zyuganov's book I Believe in Russia, in which he had written
that "the ideology, culture and international attitudes of western
countries are being influenced more and more by Jews." Zyuganov denied
that members of his National Patriotic Front were anti-Semites and said
that most anti-Semites had rallied around Vladimir Zhirinovsky. (Recorded
by ISCIP staff, 17 Feb 97).
National Patriotic Front leader Gennadi Zyuganov has failed again to dispel
the suspicion that he remains an anti-Semite at heart. But, as one ISCIP
fellow noted after the Q & A session at Northeastern, Zyuganov also revealed
that not only Jews would be in trouble under an NPF regime. Asked whether
the Communist Party that he leads should seek to make amends for the Gulags
of its past regime, Zyuganov launched into an apparently irrelevant discussion
of how much Russia had suffered during World War II. By indulging in a self-pity
that diminishes even the most valiant struggles of Russia's past, Zyuganov
reveals exactly the sort of 'victim-complex' that has made Serbian president
Slobodan Milosevic so popular -- and so dangerous.
Russia in violation of Chemical Weapons Convention?
Decrying White House pressure to abide by the Chemical Weapons Convention,
foreign policy analyst J. Michael Waller has argued that a group of countries
including Russia "maintain clandestine chemical weapons programs designed
to elude detection."
The Clinton administration, Waller wrote, "has virtually ignored
reports of Moscow's continuing covert development and production of binary
nerve agents, and made no visible attempt to terminate the programs"
until the violations were reported in The Washington Times in mid-February.
Waller noted that claims of Russian scientists who had quit the secret weapons
programs in disgust have been ignored for five years. (The Wall Street Journal,
13 Feb 97).
Fear of lack of prestige driving Russian anti-Western movement?
Comments by the deputy director of Moscow's Institute of U.S. and Canada
Studies seemed to indicate that a fear of lacking prestige on the world
stage is driving Russia's elites into opposition to the expansion of NATO.
Assessing new U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Viktor Kremenyuk,
deputy director of the institute, said that Albright's emphasis on Russia
showed "a serious indication that the accent of U.S. foreign policy
has changed slightly compared to the preelection situation." Before
the election, Kremenyuk said, the White House had "tried to picture
relations with Moscow as insignificant," as if Russia were "now
just a regional power, is not very important for the United States."
(Moscow Interfax in English, 1803 GMT 4 Feb 97; FBIS-SOV-97-024)
EAST AND CENTRAL EUROPE
Baltics as a buffer zone against NATO?
Vadim Lukov, the Foreign Ministry's director of foreign policy planning,
said on 13 February that the Baltic states could not join any Western alliances
and should serve instead as a buffer zone against the expansion of NATO,
Russia wants the Baltic states to remain neutral in the growing dispute
over NATO expansion, Lukov said. Moscow would prefer that Lithuania, Latvia,
and Estonia work with Russia on the basis of "economic cooperation,
the "indivisibility" of each state's security, and respect for
human rights and national minorities," he said. (OMRI Daily Digest
I, No. 32, 14 Feb 97)
SOUTHWEST AND SOUTH ASIA
Controversial sales to India, Iran
Moscow plans to sell India two nuclear power reactors in spite of U.S. objections,
according to a report in The New York Times on 6 Feb 97. The sale appears
to violate a 1992 agreement which Russia signed that prohibits the sale
of nuclear technologies to states which have not allowed inspection of all
their nuclear facilities. Russian Deputy Minister of Atomic Energy Yevgenii
Reshetnikov said that Moscow and New Delhi had originally agreed on the
sale in 1987. The nuclear suppliers agreement exempts deals concluded before
1992. (OMRI Daily Digest I, No. 27, 7 Feb 97).
The U.S. has also issued a diplomatic warning to Russia for allegedly
transferring SS-4 missile technology to Iran that could threaten U.S. troops
in the Persian Gulf, according to the Los Angeles Times and news agencies.
The SS-4 has a range of 1,250 miles, giving Iranian warheads a range three
times greater than that of its current weapons. (OMRI Daily Digest I, No.
31, 13 Feb 97).
Discussion of regional elections continues
Anatoliy Guzhvin has remained governor of Astrakhan Oblast, and Viktor Ishayev
governor of Khabarovsk Kray. The Communist Oblast Duma Chairman Ivan Shabanov
has won in Voronezh Oblast. Nikolay Vinogradov, member of the Russian Federation
Communist Party, has won in Vladimir. In Kostroma the Communists' candidate,
Viktor Shershunov, and current Oblast Administration Head Valeriy Arbuzov
have gone through to the second round. Oleg Bogomolov, the candidate of
the people's patriotic forces, has become governor in Kurgan. In Ryazan,
Vyacheslav Lyubimov, member of the Russian Federation Communist Party, and
Igor Ivlev, acting oblast administration head went through to the second
round. In Perm, the current governor, Gennadiy Igumnov, and the publisher
Sergey Levitan went through to the second round.
Ironically, in those regions were procedural problems occurred, the growing
stabilization of the democratic process can be seen. In the Kurghan region
for example, voters received ballots with only one name -- Oleg Bogomolov.
The opposition, a businessman named Koltashev, refused to participate in
the second round. This decision by the local electoral commission resulted
in a call for a moratorium on future elections by the Central Election Commission
in Moscow until the Federal Assembly could close legal loopholes. Significantly,
the citizens group -- Movement for Honest Elections -- filed a protest with
the Russian constitutional court. (Itar-Tass in English, 8 Dec 96, 2003
The emerging Lebed power base
Colonel Aleksey Lebed, Aleksandr Lebed's brother, was elected chairman of
the Republic of Khakassia during the second round of voting with 77% of
the vote. Rumors that Aleksandr Lebed is forming a party to coordinate his
almost certain run for the presidency are common. His brother in the Federation
Council is certainly helpful. (Itar-Tass World Service in Russian, 22 Dec
96, 2130 GMT)
Kovalev insists on refugee return
Aleksandr Kovalev, the Russian President's Plenipotentiary Representative
in North Ossetia and Ingushetia, said, "Without a return of refugees,
the consequences of the Ossetian-Ingush conflict of 1992 cannot be eliminated.
The right to bear arms
Perhaps bowing to the realities of Russian contemporary life, President
Yeltsin signed a bill permitting individuals to use guns in self-defense
or in extraordinary situations to protect their lives, health or property.
Under the law, before using arms, a person should clearly warn the attacker.
If that is not possible, deadly force may be used as long as the authorities
are notified within twenty-four hours. Presumably this will be the responsibility
of surviving defendants. This bill is part of a long legislative trend of
reconciling the needs for public safety with the state's inability to provide
it. Just how Faustian this solution is, remains to be seen. (Itar-Tass in
English, 16 Dec 96, 1648 GMT)
Maskhadov's inauguration and the race for recognition
Despite his image as a moderate and Moscow's favorite, Alsan Maskhadov has
stated that he favors Chechen independence and will push for international
recognition. The Russian Foreign Ministry has made it clear that it will
view the recognition of Chechnya by any country as an unfriendly act. Thus
far there has been no indication that any state is ready to recognize Chechnya,
but the chairman of the Lithuanian Parliament called on Russia to be the
first. Vytautas Landsbergis, chairman of Lithuania's parliament, told a
news conference: "It would be a normal decolonization method. I think
Russia will opt for this path to recognize both de facto and de jure that
Chechnya can independently manage its matters and maintain international
links." (ELTA, 29 Jan 97)
Indeed, the actions of the executive fall just short of formal recognition:
Security Council Secretary, and Chechnya envoy, Ivan Rybkin attended the
ceremony and personally presented Maskhadov with a letter of congratulations
from President Yel'tsin in which the Russian president acknowledges that
"the democratic elections in Chechnya on January 27 mark an important
step toward the political settlement of relations between the authorities
of Russia and Chechnya." (Interfax, 2 Feb 1997)
Nevertheless, Russia would regard representatives of foreign states attending
the inauguration as interference in the internal affairs of Russia according
to Mikhail Demurin, First Deputy Director of the Information and Press Department
of the Foreign Ministry. (TASS, 5 Feb 97) According to the Chechen side,
the Russian Foreign Ministry denied visas to delegations from Lithuania,
Turkey, and the Netherlands that intended to attend the inauguration. Also
air corridors for delegations from Ukraine and Jordan were not made available.
The only leaders of North Caucasian republics that attended President
Aslan Maskhadov's inauguration were Magomedali Magomedov of Dagestan and
Ruslan Aushev of Ingushetia. (Interfax, 12 Feb 97) This low turnout is hardly
surprising since the first session of the Federation Council, which dealt
with the budget, coincided with the inauguration on February 12. President
Boris Nemtsov of Nizhniy Novgorod and Tatar President Mintimer Shaymiyev
expressed their regret that they would have to attend the Federation Council
session and sent state delegations to represent them.(Interfax, 10 Feb 97)
Yet, it did not escape notice that Magomedov and Aushev were also the only
North Caucasian Republic leaders who refused to sign the November 1994 address
to the Russian President which urged him to "restore constitutional
law and order in Chechnya" and constituted a pretext for the invasion.
Final vote count in presidential elections
On February 1 the Central Electoral Commission completed processing returns
from all 437 polling stations. In total 241,951 people (59.3%) voted for
Maskhadov. Shamil Basayev received 95,841 (23.5%) votes. Zelimkhan Yanderbiyev
received 41,180 (10.1%) of the votes.
Voter participation was 407,696, or 79.3% of all those on the electoral
rolls. (Interfax, 1 Feb 1997)
Concerns have been raised about Russian transfer of SS-4 missile technology
to Iran (1,250 mile range/3000 lb TNT (equivalent) warhead). This transfer
would constitute a significant increase in Iranian surface-to-surface missile
capability -- in range, accuracy and payload. Iran would then have the ability
to target, among other things, U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia.
Russian rhetoric is becoming increasingly hostile towards NATO expansion,
but some voices of moderation are being heard. These groups see no threat
from NATO, but do see a threat from the exploitation of the issue by reactionary
elements. Anti-NATO (anti-Western) rhetoric is one of the few areas on which
the most politically active elites seem to be able to find common ground.
In a stunning statement, the chief of Russia's Federal Security Service
warned that NATO expansion could result in increased terrorist attacks against
NATO facilities. The comment was widely perceived as a thinly veiled threat.
Turkey has indicated it may link its support for NATO expansion to EU
membership (i.e., NATO expansion may be held hostage to a more forthcoming
European attitude toward the Turks).
Russian military woes
The Russian Defense Minister, Igor Rodionov, stated the country's military
was in such bad shape that the reliability of its nuclear weapons (and their
command-and-control structure) was in doubt. This astounding statement met
with little or no media interest. It would be hard to overstate the furor
which would result from a similar statement by a Western nuclear power.
Russia's military may undergo de facto downsizing as a result of massive
draft avoidance. Military reform efforts have been paid much lip service,
but substantive change has not yet been forthcoming. Benign neglect may
be the only way to effectively reduce forces in the face of entrenched bureaucracies.
60 Minutes recently ran a story about Russian military problems, which
showed pictures of Russian conscripts begging on Moscow streets. These images
must be extremely painful to a military which only six years ago was considered
one of the finest in the world. Predictions continue of imminent Russian
military collapse, leading to massive social upheaval.
The U.S. has accused the Russians of continuing to produce nerve gas, though
the Russians deny it. This can only serve to make the ratification of the
Chemical Weapons Treaty more problematic.
Russian military doctrine has been formally changed to allow for the
first-use (or threat thereof) of nuclear weapons. Given the manifest atrophy
of the conventional Russian force structure, this development is hardly
surprising. The weaker Russia perceives itself to be, the harsher the rhetoric
is likely to become.
Russian border troops expelled (by firing on) Turkish fishermen poaching
in Georgian waters. This is not the first instance of Georgian-based Russian
troops acting unilaterally in the Black Sea.
by CDR John G. Steele
Next CIS summit scheduled
Moscow Interfax reported on February 5 that the likeliest date for the next
summit of the CIS is 28 March. The meeting, originally scheduled to be held
in Moscow in January, has been put off twice.
Lukashenka concerned about Russian-Ukrainian relations
Belarusian President Lukashenka said he was concerned about the deterioration
of Russian - Ukrainian relations over Sevastopol "as a city and the
chief fleet base." "This is a problem for the two countries. However,
at the same time, this confrontation affects the general political climate
in the CIS," Lukashenka said, adding that he could not ignore that.
(Interfax, 6 Feb 97)
Solana surprised by press secretary's statement
NATO Secretary General Javier Solana was surprised when Russian Presidential
Press Secretary Sergey Yastrzhembskiy claimed there was a secret agenda
to Solana's tour of CIS nations. According to Moscow Interfax, Yastrzhembskiy
indicated the hidden purpose was to confirm that NATO enlargement plans
remained unchanged. Solana replied that he was personally invited by the
presidents of Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan to visit their countries.
Solana also indicated that he intended to visit all the 27 countries involved
in the Partnership for Peace program, and that he intends to visit the Central
Asian countries next March.
Preparing for CIS-China summit
The Voice of Russia World Service reported on February 1 that Russian Deputy
Foreign Minister Karasin visited Beijing, meeting with Chinese diplomats
to make preparations for a summit between Chinese and Russian leaders in
Moscow next April. Moscow and Beijing are making preparations to sign a
political document reflecting the stance of the two countries on the international
situation, and to explain the current role of Russian-Chinese relations.
Several countries dissatisfied with CIS integration
ITAR-TASS reported on February 5 that Kyrgyzstan is dissatisfied with the
current level of CIS integration. "Life itself demands deeper integration
in the CIS," said Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev Akayev, who confirmed
that his country is mostly cooperating with Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
He continued, "There is no alternative to . . . integration because
it is the only way to develop our economies. We have no other markets than
that of the CIS." Other Kyrgyz officials are concerned by the fact
that although 128 agreements and accords have been concluded between Russia
and Kyrgyzstan, the implementation of many of them leaves much to be desired.
One official elaborated, saying, "Russia must not lose its power of
attraction for all the CIS countries, the need for closer economic, political,
and military cooperation between our countries is plainly evident."
President Nazarbayev had a similar opinion, stating that the integration
process within the CIS is proceeding slowly. Additionally, Kazakhstan supported
the draft concept of the CIS's economic integration development at a meeting
of CIS heads of government.
Rodionov describes Russia's spheres of interest
Russian Defense Minister Rodionov, when asked by what Russia's spheres of
interest included replied, "First and foremost, Russia's sphere of
strategic interests includes the independent CIS states, with which we are
linked by our past life in the all-Union home." (Trud, 11 Feb 97)
Lukashenka downplays Belarusian-Russian cooperation
Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenka has denied the speculation that
he wants to use the Belarusian-Russian Community in order to create "something
similar to the former Soviet empire and again throw the continent into the
times of the Cold War and confrontation." (Moscow Interfax, 6 Feb 97)
Pastukhov comments on CIS military coordination
The stepping up of military coordination among CIS member nations "is
in no way a response to NATO enlargement and poses no threat to our partners,"
Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Pastukhov told a round-table
meeting in Moscow. He admitted that emergence of the Community of Russia
and Belarus was not universally welcomed among CIS member nations. "The
mistrust has to an extent been overcome, but a kind of jealousy and a suspicion
that Moscow and Minsk are secretly planning something harmful to other CIS
member states still exist," Pastukhov said. (Moscow Interfax, 4 Feb
Intra-CIS trading increasing
Last year marked a significant increase in trade among the CIS countries.
(Minsk Belpan, 5 Feb 97)
Trans-Asian railway under construction
The Iranian Islamic Republic Railways (IIRR) has assured its participation
in the trans-Asian railway project which is expected to link Europe and
CIS countries to major emerging economies of Asia. (Tehran IRNA, 4 Feb 97)
Russia wants its money back
The debt payment by CIS countries to Russia will speed up in the current
year. Russia received only 500 billion rubles from CIS countries toward
the repayment of their indebtedness, mostly for energy carriers, in 1995.
It expects to receive 1,000 billion rubles in 1996 and no less than 2,000
billion rubles in 1997. (ITAR-TASS, 31 Jan 97)
CIS countries selling arms
The former USSR republics are behaving "not quite decently" according
to Mikhail Timkin, first deputy general director of the Rosvooruzheniye
state-run arms trading company. CIS countries are offering the same military
hardware as Russia does, but two or three times cheaper. (Moscow Interfax,
3 Feb 97)
NATO's Solana rejects Lukashenka's non-nuclear zone idea
NATO Secretary General Solana welcomes the voluntary withdrawal of all former
USSR nuclear weapons from Belarus to Russia in line with the Lisbon Protocol.
However, Solana rejects President Lukashenka's proposal to establish a nuclear
weapon free zone in Central and Eastern Europe (Interfax in English, 11447
GMT 30 Jan 97).
EU delegation investigates social and human rights situation
A delegation from OSCE and EU's Council of Europe visited Belarus to assess
the socio-political situation, as well as the issues of death penalty referendum.
The delegation interviewed "disgraced" members of the "legitimate"
Supreme Soviet, President Lukashenka, and other members of the government
(Rossiyskays Gazeta in Russian, 30 Jan 97 p.7). [Due to the violation of
agreement on a moratorium on death penalty and failure to uphold the original
Constitution,] Belarus was recently stripped of its special guest status
at the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly session and its application
for membership has been put on hold. A report on this investigation will
be presented on February 24 to the European Union Council of Ministers (BELAPAN
in English, 1827 GMT 31 Jan 97).
Popular Front supporters continue to picket at Russian Embassy
In Minsk, some 20 supporters of the opposition Belarussian Popular Front
are protesting against Yeltsin's integration initiatives. They protest against
the possibility of a political and economic unification of Russia and Belarus.
There was no violence; however, the two leaders of BPF received a protocol
on the breach of public order by the police. BPF will continue to protest
until March 25 (Interfax in English, 1157 GMT 30 Jan 97).
Dissident parliament members meet
Forty-eight members of the Supreme Soviet loyal to the 1994 Constitution
held a session on January 29. The session accepted Viktar Hanchar's proposal
to form a Commission for a Legal Assessment of the Violations of the Constitution
and Laws by President Lukashenka (Belapan in English, 0640 GMT 31 Jan 97).
Views on NATO expansion
Prime Minister Ion Cubac states, "Moldova has proclaimed its neutrality
[as stated in the 1994 Constitution] and will strictly observe it with regard
to NATO as well as the CIS military-political union. As before, Moldova's
participation in the CIS will be limited to economic cooperation."
Chisinau does not regard the enlargement as a threat to its security, but
he insists that NATO needs to take Russia's interests into account in admitting
new members. (Interfax in English, 0957 3 Feb 97)
Military assets will be sold
Andrei Turcanu, presidential spokesman, said salary and pension arrears
may be partially covered from the sale of "useless" military equipments.
The most likely scenario will be the sale of MiG-29 planes. Three years
ago, the Chisinau cabinet sold several MiG-29 planes (Basapress in English,
1415GMT 1 Feb 97).
Prime minister on reforms
Prime Minister Ciubuc urged economic and governmental reforms to get ready
for the March 1998 parliamentary elections. He stresses the urgency to repay
the external indebtedness, including energy debts (Infotag in English, 1550
GMT 31 Jan 97).
Tiraspol accused of violating 1992 Agreement
The leadership of the Dniester region refuses an inspection of the Joint
Control Commission for Peacekeeping to check the facilities in the security
zone. Sources reveal that Dniester armed units are quartered in the security
zone and that parts of armaments are manufactured there. This action violates
the 1992 peace agreement signed with Russia's mediation (ITAR-TASS in English,
1017 GMT 31 Jan 97).
President Lucinschi supports talks with Tiraspol on Transdniester
Lucinschi will soon appoint a full-time envoy to lead a team of experts
to settle the Transdniester dispute. Lucinschi did not sign the memorandum
for normalizing the relations which was initialed last June, but he now
wishes to continue the negotiating process. However, Igor Smirnov, president
of the self-proclaimed Transdniester Republic, states that he sees no point
in continuing talks until the original memorandum is signed (Interfax in
English, 1740 GMT 6 Feb 97).
President Lucinschi formed new government to avert crisis
Lucinschi explained that he had accepted the new Cabinet to avoid a parliamentary
crisis. He explained that those in the previous government had resigned,
but continued to rule without bearing responsibility for what might happen
in the country (Infotag in English, 1900 GMT 4 Feb 97).
Talks begin with G-7 on Chernobyl shutdown
On Monday, Feb. 10, a Ukrainian official delegation in Washington started
the three-day-long negotiations with the G-7 countries on how to shut down
the Chernobyl nuclear power plant (Kiev Intelnews in English, 0044 GMT 11
Feb 97). Earlier, France had agreed to give financial assistance for the
closure of the plant. It is targeted to close before the year 2000 (Interfax
in English, 1528 GMT 30 Jan 97).
Kuchma seeks expansion of ties with NATO
Speaking at a conference in Davos, Kuchma stated, "We do not see any
threat in NATO's expansion." However, he added, he is not quite pleased
with the Partnership for Peace program. He wants to expand cooperation (ITAR-TASS
in English, 1738 GMT 1 Feb 97).
Council of Europe sees resistance to EC capital punishment request
Council of Europe is pressing Ukraine to introduce a moratorium on capital
punishment, but the Ukrainian government answered that "Ukraine's population
refuses to see any alternative to capital punishment." The Ukrainian
government has sent a bill concerning the additions and changes to the criminal
code relating to capital punishment (ITAR-TASS in English, 0952 GMT 30 Jan
Ukrainian aircraft in Asia cited and investigated
The sale of Ukrainian SU-17 M4 combat aircraft to Yemen was a barter deal,
exchanged for medicines and some property, according to Colonel General
Kuzmuk (Kiyevskiye Vedomosti in Russian, 30 Jan 97).
by Alexandra S.Y. Pak
Kazakh party calls for ban on all protests
Kazakhstan's most powerful political party, the Party of People's Concord
(also known as the Party of People's Unity, President Nazarbaev's party)
has called on all other parties and public movements to refrain from staging
any rallies, strikes or other protest actions in 1997 in order not to hinder
government measures to stabilize the economy (reported by ITAR-TASS, 6 Jan
97). Instead, party leaders suggested that collective problem-solving and
negotiated compromise should be the methods used to address popular dissatisfaction.
It is estimated that approximately 10% (6 million people) of Kazakhstan's
working age population is currently unemployed.
Workers on strike in southern Kazakhstan
RFE/RL reported on 21 January 1997 that the workers at the Achisay Polymetal
plant in southern Kazakhstan had gone on strike to demand payment of their
back wages. Local transport workers joined the strike on 20 January.
Boycott of auction for TV, Radio frequencies fails
An auction organized by Kazakhstan's Transport and Communications Ministry
to sell the rights to television and radio frequencies took place as scheduled
on 24 January 1997, despite efforts by a few independent media stations
to stage a boycott in protest of the government's recent attempts to censor
independent media broadcasts. However, the auction was deemed a failure
because only four frequencies were actually sold. Due to the large number
of stations which applied for frequencies, very few of them were able to
garner a 3/4 majority of votes among the members of the tender commission.
A second auction was scheduled for 28 January 1997, at which the remaining
frequencies were sold.
US journalist found murdered in his apartment
Christopher Gehring, a US journalist and head of Internews, a USAID-funded
project to support independent media stations, was found murdered in his
apartment in Almaty on 9 January 1997. Police believe that Gehring was killed
during the burglary of his apartment, due to the fact that his laptop computer
and answering machine were missing. On 14 January police arrested three
men in whose possession the missing items were found, and all three suspects
subsequently confessed to Gehring's murder. However, there has also been
speculation that his murder may have been in connection with his work. Apparently,
Gehring had recently received a large bank loan to sponsor independent TV
and radio stations at the media auction which took place on 24 January,
and members of the journalist community have suggested that his murder could
have been a contract hit.
Following Gehring's murder, the international Committee to Protect Journalists
(CJP) sent a letter to President Nazarbaev, demanding that he ensure that
Gehring's death be thoroughly investigated and asking for his public assurance
that Kazakh authorities would protect the safety of all local and foreign
journalists working in the country. The letter also contained a warning
about the Kazakh government's recent efforts to suppress the independent
Kazakhstan plans more nuclear power plants
Moscow Interfax reported on 22 January 1997 that Vladimir Shkolnik, the
Kazakh Minister for Science and New Technology, is formulating plans to
build several more nuclear power plants with a total capacity of 4-6 million
kilowatts over the next four to six years. One location under consideration
is near Lake Balkhash (420 km north of Almaty), the site of an abandoned
coal-fired plant. $220 million have already been invested to prepare the
site for construction, but Shkolnik stated that ultimately it would be up
the public to decide whether or not to go ahead with the plant's construction.
Kazakh railways face bankruptcy
The Kazakh government passed a resolution to grant the country's three railroad
companies an additional year in which to settle their outstanding debts
to the state budget. Their debts total approximately 65 billion tenge ($1US=75.15
tenge). The Kazakh Commercial Bank is responsible for supervising the railroad
companies and an audit of their finances is in progress (reported by ITAR-TASS,
20 Jan 97).
Pension, wage arrears equal to 40% of Kazakh GDP
At a meeting with government members and regional administration chiefs
on 27 January 1997 in Almaty, President Nazarbaev stated that it would require
40% of Kazakhstan's GDP to pay the pension and wage arrears owed by the
government to its citizens. He suggested that a special task force be established
which would give him weekly reports on the steps being taken to clear these
debts. He also ordered the government to come up with repayment plan by
1 March, on which date government leaders must issue a public announcement
to inform its citizens of when they can expect to receive their pensions
and wages. Local budget spending has been frozen until the pension and wage
arrears are paid in full.
President Nazarbaev orders privatization to be completed by 1 July
At his 27 January meeting with government members and regional administration
chiefs mentioned above, President Nazarbaev also ordered his Cabinet to
complete the privatization of Kazakh state enterprises by 1 July 1997. Approximately
88% of enterprises in basic economic sectors have already been privatized,
however, President Nazarbaev stressed that the development of small- and
medium-sized businesses still needs encouragement. Efforts made thus far
by the Cabinet and regional administrations to promote the growth of these
businesses have been a failure, Nazarbaev stated.
Kazakh Security Council approves new foreign policy guidelines
The main objectives of the new foreign policy guidelines approved by the
Kazakh Security Council on 22 January 1997 are to establish a balanced relationship
with Russia and China, as well as to improve ties with the US, Western Europe,
India, Turkey, Pakistan, and Iran. Kazakh Foreign Minister Qasymzhomat Toqaev
also stated that his country intended to cooperate with the UN and its agencies
and with the IMF and the World Bank.
Crime rate increasing in Kazakh armed forces
The Kazakh military prosecutor's office held a meeting on 14 January 1997,
in order to discuss disciplinary problems in Kazakhstan's armed forces.
In 1996 Kazakh servicemen were responsible for 3,065 of the crimes which
were committed, and there were 203 deaths in the military, including 66
suicides. Many of the convicted servicemen were officers (277 officers were
convicted in 1996). The solution proposed for reducing the crime rate among
military personnel is to increase the servicemen's wages.
Opposition leader found guilty of embezzlement
Topchubek Turgunaliev, former chairman of the Erkin Kyrgyzstan Party (a
pro-reform opposition party), was found guilty of embezzlement by a Bishkek
municipal court and sentenced to a 10-year prison term and confiscation
of all his property on 8 January 1997. He was accused of embezzling $10,000
from the Bishkek University for the Humanities in 1993 when he was rector
of the university. He allowed the deputy director, Timur Stamkulov, to withdraw
$10,000 from university funds. Stamkulov repaid only part of the money.
Turgunaliev was also accused of embezzling funds from the Erkin Kyrgyzstan
Party in the fall of 1996, and was subsequently expelled from the party.
His supporters claim that his arrest and conviction are politically motivated
and stem from his opposition to President Akaev. Turgunaliev received a
suspended sentence for his activities during the 1995 presidential campaign,
when he distributed leaflets which reportedly blackened President Akaev's
Human Rights Watch sent an appeal to President Akaev on 13 January 1997,
asking him to overturn Turgunaliev's conviction, on the grounds that the
$10,000 which he obtained from the Bishkek University for the Humanities
was actually a loan. The university's chief accountant has stated that the
university has no financial claims against Turgunaliev. Human Rights Watch
also protested the harshness of the sentence and the way in which the case
had been handled. Since 1994, Turgunaliev's case has been re-opened six
times, due to disagreements over whether it should be tried in a civil or
A demonstration of approximately 30 people was held in front of the Kyrgyz
government building in Bishkek to protest Turgunaliev's prison sentence,
RFE/RL reported on 23 January 1997. The protesters also delivered petitions
to President Akaev and to the Supreme Court.
New Kyrgyz opposition movement applies for registration
A new opposition movement, For Deliverance From Poverty, founded by Topchubek
Turgunaliev and Jumagazy Usupov in December 1996, applied for registration
as an official opposition bloc on 21 January 1997. The movement has charged
President Akaev's government with implementing policies which have caused
delays in payment of wages, deterioration of social services, and a general
decline in the standard of living in Kyrgyzstan. Both Turgunaliev and Usupov
were arrested at the movement's founding congress in December 1996. Usupov
was released after 15 days.
Parties oppose privatization of electric company
On 8 January 1997, President Akaev issued a decree ordering the government
to draw up plans for the privatization of Kyrgyzenergokholding, the country's
largest electric power company. Seven political parties and public movements
(including the Agrarian Labor Party, the local communist party, and the
trade union which represents agricultural workers) issued a joint statement
on 29 January expressing their opposition to President Akaev's decree. They
stated that privatization of Kyrgyzenergokholding would result in loss of
government control over the electric power industry, and allow the company
to shut off power to entire cities in Kyrgyzstan (presumably to those cities
which are unable to pay for the electricity). This, in turn, would damage
the development of the Kyrgyz national economy.
Kyrgyz government owed 600 million soms in back taxes
President Akaev expressed grave concern about the low level of state revenues
in a 17 January address to senior law enforcement and financial officials.
He accused the officials of failing to prevent economic crimes such as tax
evasion, inaccurate payment of customs duties, failure to repay state loans,
and misuse of state funds, and ordered them to crack down on these offenses.
At a 20 January news briefing on the president's address, Deputy Finance
Minister Alymbek Biyalinov stated that in 1996 more than 600 million soms
($1US=17 soms) in tax revenues had gone uncollected and that approximately
50% of customs duties which are paid never reach the state treasury. He
blamed the government's inability to pay wages, pensions, and welfare allowances
on time on the lack of tax revenue.
Penalties increased for public morals violations
Amendments to Turkmenistan's Criminal Code which raise the penalties for
the violation of "public morals" went into effect on 16 January
1997. Public morals violations include prostitution, black market transactions,
participating or organizing illegal rallies and meetings, and hooliganism.
Anyone found engaging in activities which violate public morals will be
held by the authorities until the case is brought to trial. Penalties for
these violations range from fines equal to 10 times the average monthly
salary to prison terms of 8-10 years.
President Niyazov speaks out on corruption in police force
In a speech reported by Tashkent Radio Mashal on 23 January 1997, President
Niyazov stated that prostitution is one of the most serious problems currently
afflicting Turkmen society. He further stated that one of the reasons for
the problem's gravity is the fact that many members of the police force
allow prostitution rings to operate in return for bribes. Following his
speech, 63 policemen were arrested and prosecuted. Tashkent Radio Mashal
noted that the significance of this speech was the fact that it was the
first time that President Niyazov publicly admitted the existence of serious
problems with crime and corruption in Turkmenistan.
Foreign visitors to Ashgabat face restrictions
RFE/RL reported on 23 January 1997 (in OMRI Daily Digest) that the mayor
of Ashgabat has issued an order that all future foreign visitors will be
required to stay either in apartments which they lease from the city, or
in officially approved hotels. Turkmen government offices and businesses
which invite foreign visitors to the city must register their presence with
Transfer of state farm land to private owners begins
On 18 January 1997, President Niyazov presented the first certificates of
private land ownership to 80 people. This constituted the first step in
his program for agricultural reform in 1997, which is intended to decrease
Turkmenistan's dependence on agricultural imports. Land formerly belonging
to state and collective farms is to be transferred to private ownership
by 1 March. The new owners may not resell the land or give any part of it
to anyone else.
Gas pipeline to Iran to be completed by October 1997
Turkmenistan plans to finish the construction of a natural gas pipeline
from the western Karakum desert to Iran by October of this year. The construction
is currently underway and is proceeding at a rate of 800 meters per day.
Iran is funding 90% of the construction cost ($190 million) in return for
Turkmen natural gas deliveries for the first 3 years after the pipeline's
completion. When the pipeline is finished it will be the first Caspian gas
export route to bypass Russian territory entirely.
Turkmen, Azerbaijani Disagreement Over Caspian Oil Fields
In an interview with the British Financial Times (published on 23 Jan 97)
President Niyazov made the statement that the Azeri oil field located in
the Caspian Sea is actually in Turkmen territorial waters, and therefore
does not belong to Azerbaijan. The Turkmen government also disputes Azerbaijan's
claim to the Caspian Chirag oil field. The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry
responded to President Niyazov's statement by admitting that there were
ownership questions about a number of oil fields which are located along
the border between the two countries' territorial waters and suggesting
that a joint commission should be set up to discuss the issue. However,
the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry also stated that the Azeri and Chirag oil
fields are clearly located within its own territorial waters. This dispute
could have negative repercussions for an agreement which Azerbaijan signed
with a consortium of international oil companies (including US, British,
and Russian oil companies) in 1994 to develop the Azeri and Chirag oil fields
in a $7.5 billion project. The two countries have agreed to begin a dialogue
soon in order to try to resolve their dispute.
Uzbek parliament approves 1997 budget
The Uzbek parliament (the Supreme Assembly of the Republic of Uzbekistan)
passed a resolution on 27 December 1996 to approve the state budget draft
for 1997 and to release the official results of the 1996 state budget, as
given by the Cabinet of Ministers (published on 3 Jan 97 in the Tashkent
Narodnoe Slovo). The 1997 state budget sets the deficit ceiling at 3% of
Uzbekistan's GDP; increases allocations for the development of priority
investment projects and for the development of infrastructure in rural areas;
and pledges to increase public social welfare, based on quarterly budget
returns. Domestic debt repayment is to be completed within the next five
years. The official results of the 1996 state budget are as follows: state
revenues totaled 182.5 billion soms, expenditures totaled 202.1 billion
soms, and the resulting deficit came to 19.5 billion soms (approximately
3.5% of Uzbekistan's 1996 GDP).
Uzbekistan's foreign trade volume increasing
According to an ITAR-TASS World Service report on 11 January 1997, Uzbekistan's
trade relations with foreign (non-CIS) countries are increasing. Today,
Uzbekistan engages in trade with 80 countries, as opposed to 60 countries
three years ago. Uzbekistan's foreign trade turnover has nearly doubled
in the past year, especially with the developed, industrialized countries,
and apparently the US is one of its leading foreign trade partners.
President Karimov ends first official visit to Czech Republic
President Karimov completed his first official visit to the Czech Republic
on 16 January 1997 by signing a joint statement on the development of bilateral
cooperation with President Havel. A cooperation treaty between the Uzbek
Foreign Economic Relations Ministry and CKD Praha Holding (the leading industrial
company in the Czech Republic) was also signed. In their discussions about
NATO , President Karimov assured President Havel that Uzbekistan does not
support Russia's opposition to NATO expansion and does not intend to join
any type of military alliance with Russia.
President Karimov meets Slovak prime minister
President Karimov met with Prime Minister Meciar in Bratislava on 17 January
1997. As a result of their discussions, six agreements were signed on such
topics as the cancellation of visa duties for holders of diplomatic and
service passports; cooperation in tourism; international passenger and cargo
transport; aviation; and fighting organized crime.
New law on political parties takes effect
A new law on political parties came into effect in Uzbekistan on 7 January
1997. The law forbids the formation of political parties based on ethnicity
or religion, as well as those which promote war or subversion of the constitutional
order. The Uzbek Supreme Court has the power to ban or suspend any political
party found guilty of persistent legal violations. (OMRI Daily Digest, No.5,
Part I, 8 Jan 97)