GEORGIA ADVOCATES COOPERATION WITH RUSSIA

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GEORGIA ADVOCATES COOPERATION WITH RUSSIA

Trud, December 28, 1999, p. 2

Georgian President Shevardnadze: Georgia has always advocated close cooperation, friendship, and warm relations with its great neighbor Russia. We are faithful to the principles of the big Treaty on friendship and cooperation signed by the presidents of our countries in February 1994 in Tbilisi.

Shevardnadze: Georgian authorities are doing everything they can to prevent the conflict in Chechnya from developing into a Caucasian-wide war.

According to Shevardnadze, “some politicians and officials in Moscow are indignant that we did not allow the Russian troops to enter into Chechnya via Georgia, but we could not have done otherwise… Deployment of Russian troops in Chechnya through our territory would have drawn our country into the conflict and created the danger of having the conflict escalate into a large war”.

TERRORIST ACTS EXPECTED DURING THE NEW YEAR FESTIVITIES

Izvestia, December 28, 1999, p. 2

The Rosinforcenter, which was established on the order of Premier Putin, has released a public service announcement for Russians.

The document states that: “International Islamic terrorist organizations threaten to carry out large-scale terrorist actions against Russia, the United States and India. The New Year and Christmas celebrations may be targeted for carrying out criminal acts.”

Russians, particularly those abroad, have been warned to be cautious and to stay in touch with embassies and consulates.

Foreign law enforcement agencies say that they expect no less than 15 terrorist acts from Usama bin Laden’s commandos. Explosions are possible in London, Paris, New York, Washington, and Jerusalem.

RUSSIAN MISSILE OFFICERS AT A US AIR FORCE BASE

Tribuna, December 28, 1999, p. 1

A group of Russian officers went on combat duty yesterday at the Peterson AF Base in Colorado, United States. The Russian officers will monitor American strategic ICBMs.

Five hot lines were established between the United States and Russia so that officers on both sides of the ocean could talk to each other. All these measures are taken to counter the problems that the Millennium Bug may cause.

THE VALIDITY OF BEREZOVSKY’S MANDATE DISPUTED

Moskovsky Komsomolets, December 28, 1999, p. 1

The scandal surrounding the election of Boris Berezovsky as Duma deputy from Karachaevo-Cherkessia continues.

More than 400 forged ballot papers marked in favor of the notorious business tycoon were discovered in the settlement of Kavkazsky. In all, almost a thousand of such ballot papers have been discovered all over the republic.

The result of the election is disputed by representatives of the Fatherland-All Russia alliance and the communists who have forwarded complaints to the Central Electoral Commission.

AIDS IN MOSCOW

Moskovsky Komsomolets, December 28, 1999, p. 1

The Moscow region is the undisputed leader in terms of the rate at which the AIDS virus is spreading.

According to the Russian AIDS Prevention Center, 15,294 people in the country contracted AIDS between January 1 and December 27.

In 1999, 7,133 residents of the Moscow region contracted AIDS. Doctors say that AIDS is mostly brought to Moscow from the Tver, Irkutsk, and Tyumen regions.

ZHIRINOVSKY VISITS HIS FRIEND HUSSEIN IN BAGHDAD

Moskovsky Komsomolets, December 28, 1999, p. 2

The PR department of the smallest Duma faction has reported that Vladimir Zhirinovsky will meet with Sadam Hussein tete-a-tete to discuss the lamentable outcome of the parliamentary election and “issues of further development of Russian-Iraqi relations”.

INDIAN FOREIGN MINISTER CONTACTS HIS RUSSIAN COUNTERPART

Moskovsky Komsomolets, December 28, 1999, p. 2

During a phone call to Igor Ivanov yesterday, Indian Foreign Minister Jasvant Singh asked Moscow to take part in resolving problems caused by the hijacked Indian plane.

The plane is currently in Kandagar, Afghanistan. The Taleban is not negotiating with the terrorists, and nothing is known about the 150 hostages the extremists have on board. Diplomatic sources say that Moscow is now doing what it can to resolve the situation “through bilateral and multilateral channels.”

BORIS YELTSIN HELD TWO MEETINGS IN THE KREMLIN

NTV (Independent Television), “Segodnya” program, December 27, 1999, 14:00

The President first received Premier Vladimir Putin and was updated on the financial results of the year, the budget, and macroeconomic matters. According to Putin, the President was satisfied with the briefing.

The Premier informed Yeltsin that everything was more or less normal with the economy even without assistance from international financial organizations like the International Monetary Fund. The ruble/dollar exchange rate and inflation rate were not as high as had been predicted (approximately 26.7 rubles per dollar as against the predicted 30 rubles).

According to Putin, the President signed two important decrees concerning pensioners. In December, they will be paid 50 rubles extra as a kind of gift.

The other decree has to do with Heroes of the Soviet Union, i.e. persons with honorary orders of Glory, and Heroes of Russia who will be paid pensions equaling ten minimum wages every month.

Putin: The President wanted to know the state of affairs concerning the process of convening the new Duma. As I see it, we will be able to talk about the final arrangement of political forces only after elected independent deputies have made up their minds on whom they want to support. It is clear already that the government has seriously strengthened its position in the Duma.

Putin: I told the President my opinion on the issue of creating the major committees of the Duma and forming their leadership. The President agreed with my view on the matter. As I see it, the approach should be as follows: Despite the fact that our influence is solid and that we can actually dictate our will there – to a certain extent of course – this is the last thing we actually intend to do.

We believe – and I’m convinced – that we should seek to reach agreement with all factions.

It follows that the Premier intends to cooperate with the Duma. Despite the confidence he now has, thanks to Unity, he believes that the Duma needs a consensus on key issues.

Question: Who is going to become the leader of Unity faction. Yesterday, a certain Boris Gryzlov was named, but his name is not very revealing. I mean this man is not widely known.

Putin: There is indeed such a candidate.

The premier explained that the matter will be resolved at the congress of Unity scheduled for tomorrow.

A CHECHEN UPDATE

NTV (Independent Television), “Segodnya” program, December 27, 1999, 14:00

The federal troops are pressing on with what they call a special operation in Grozny. Large formations are deployed away from the city. The federal troops referred to their major task right now as isolating the city center from the Staropromyslovsky district where the commandos are known to have fortified positions.

Both warring sides claim to be capable of continuing street fights for as long as necessary. The military says that it is not in a hurry while the Chechens reiterate that they have enough ammunitions to last them for long.

Addressing the nation recently on TV which is working only by miracle, President Aslan Maskhadov announced that the Chechens were ready to defend their capital to the end.

According to various reports, there are about 1,500 commandos in Grozny. The Chechens say that they regrouped last night and braced themselves for counterattacks. The federal forces report that several counterattacks have been repelled already and that the city is in a tight ring. Presently, only the commandos can move about the city more or less freely.

The civilians remaining in Grozny stay in cellars and venture into the streets to forage for food and drinking water only when skirmishes die down. Some of them do leave the city by humanitarian corridors. Official reports indicate that almost 6,000 noncombatants have left the city in the past three days.

In the meantime, hostilities continue in the southern mountainous districts of Chechnya. The commandos still control vast territories there, and according to some reports, they have several fortified areas there too. These sites are being bombarded and air-raided now.

The military says that the federal aviation is using 250 and 500 kg detonating bombs in the south. They are supposed to destroy the caves the commandos are hiding in. The military emphasize that such ordnance is being used only in thinly populated areas.

Since October 1, 1999, when the Chechen campaign began, the federal forces in the Caucasus have lost 397 servicemen.

Latest reports indicate that field commanders Shamil Basayev, Salman Raduyev, and Khattab have withdrawn their detachments of 2,000 guerilla fighters into the mountainous Vedeno district. A source in the federal headquarters says that the decision to withdraw is attributed to the field commanders’ discord with Maskhadov concerning issues of tactics. The field commanders are said to be advocating guerilla warfare in the mountains, while Maskhadov believes that it is necessary to defend the settlements and primarily Grozny.

The federal forces say that only mercenaries and the so called “government troops” remain in Grozny now.

ON GUBERNATORIAL ELECTIONS IN TAMBOV AND ORENBURG REGIONS

NTV (Independent Television), “Segodnya” program, December 27, 1999, 12:00

The second round of gubernatorial elections has taken place in the Tambov and Orenburg regions, and both acting governors came in second. In the Orenburg region the election was won by communist Aleksei Chernyshev who polled over 52 percent. His rival and Governor Vladimir Yelagin polled about 43 percent.

Oleg Betin, Presidential representative in the Tambov region, came in first, leaving Governor Alexander Ryabov behind.

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