BASAYEV SAYS THE PRISONERS HAVE BEEN EXECUTED

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BASAYEV SAYS THE PRISONERS HAVE BEEN EXECUTED

Izvestia, April 6, 2000, p. 1

Chechen sources announced on April 5 that the nine servicemen of the Perm OMON captured by the guerrillas according to Movladi Udugov had been executed. Field commander Shamil Basayev had sent an ultimatum to the federal forces. He demanded Colonel Yuri Budanov, arrested for murder of an eighteen-year old Chechen woman, and promised to send back the captives. Otherwise Basayev threatened to execute the prisoners and send a tape to the Western media. The guerrillas offer to exchange the servicement’s for Budanov now.

For the time being, there are no official confirmations of the deaths of the nine OMON servicemen who are still considered missing in action. The Federal Security Service refuses to comment. General Igor Zubov, Senior Deputy Interior Minister, announced yesterday that the investigation into the attack on the federal convoy in the Vedeno district was over.

Meanwhile, Chechen sources published the names and badge numbers of the OMON servicemen whom the guerrillas are supposed to have executed.

The federal forces still refuse to admit the fact of the capture. If the Chechens come up with hard evidence, the Interior Ministry and the Federal Security Service will find themselves in a tight corner. Nobody can blame them for the refusal to exchange Budanov (apart from the purely legal point of view, the officer would have been tortured there), but still…

BABITSKY ON HIS TESTIMONY TO THE PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY

Izvestia, April 6, 2000, p. 1

Radio Liberty correspondent Andrei Babitsky gave an interview to us concerning his address to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The journalist says that the actions of the federal troops in Chechnya include “indications of crimes against humanity” and “war crimes”. According to Babitsky, the Russian politicians who sent the troops to Chechnya in the first place had accepted inevitable losses among noncombatants.

Babitsky believes that the scale of hostilities in the Caucasus requires international monitoring.

"ECHELON OF THE DEAD" IS STILL IN CHECHNYA

Izvestia, April 6, 2000, p. 2

Few if any changes have taken place as far as the “echelon of the dead” is concerned. Pierced by numerous shells and bullets, the boxcars full of bodies are still there outside Grozny.

For comments we approached the Defense Ministry. Igor Konoshenkov (head of public relations) says that he does not know anything about the bodies in railway cars.

Years have passed since the first Chechen war, but the echelon is still there. The Russian state still has to learn to value the individual.

COMMUNISTS ALLEGE FOUL PLAY

Trud-7, April 6, 2000, p. 2

During his press conference recently, Communist leader Gennadi Zyuganov announced that he has written to the Central Election Commission about mass tampering with the vote on March 26. Similar letters were sent to the General Prosecutor’s Office, the Federation Council, and the Duma.

According to Zyuganov, an independent vote count done by his followers indicates that “the zone of fraud has grown since the previous presidential election.” The Communists uncovered alleged serious violations in 25 regions, and termed them “a total falsification” in nine regions.

Zyuganov refused to elaborate on the “pervasiveness” of the tampering, but said that he insists on “a thorough check” of the results of the vote in Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Dagestan, Karachaevo-Cherkessia, Ingushetia, Mordovia, as well as in the Saratov, Kaliningrad, and his native Kursk region.

Chairman of the Central Election Commission Alexander Veshnyakov also called a press conference. He doubts that the executive power structures have too much clout during elections these days. Veshnyakov cited results of gubernatorial elections throughout Russia, in which 50 per cent of governors who ran for re-election lost.

EXERCISES OF THE NORTHERN FLEET

Rossiiskaya Gazeta, April 6, 2000, p. 1

Exercises of the Northern Fleet have begun under the command of Fleet Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov, Navy Commander-in-Chief.

The participation of President Vladimir Putin is possible.

FEDERAL BUDGET REVENUE

Rossiiskaya Gazeta, April 6, 2000, p. 1

The Ministry of Taxes and Duties collected 127 billion rubles for the federal budget in the first quarter of 2000 (its target was 88 billion rubles).

The Customs State Committee collected 74 billion rubles instead of the target 66 billion rubles.

RESISTANCE IS FUTILE

Rossiiskaya Gazeta, April 6, 2000, p. 1

One hundred and seventeen Chechen guerrillas of “Angel’s gang” surrendered to servicemen from Siberia. Fifty servicemen of the Siberian detachment of the West Siberian Regional Directorate for Combating Organized Crime convinced the guerrillas that resistance was futile.

It took Police Lieutenant Colonel Viktor Vaschuk, detachment commander, an hour to persuade the guerrillas. All this time the officer was alone among the guerrillas.

ECONOMIC SANCTIONS AGAINST LATVIA?

TV-Center (3rd Channel), “Sobytia” program, April 5, 2000, 11:00

Duma deputies at their plenary session once again raised the question of economic sanctions against Latvia. They discuss the third reading of the draft law on measures aimed at preventing violation of the human rights of ethnic Russians in Latvia. One of the authors of the document admits that this bill entails sanctions against Latvia. Specifically, it prohibits any economic agreements between Russian companies and the Latvian government or Latvian private companies. Duma deputies seem to be on the brink of taking resolute steps to combat discrimination against ethnic Russians in Latvia.

The draft law was initially prepared and discussed by the previous Duma, where the left had a majority. A great deal has changed since then, and the Duma majority is not on the left anymore. In fact, this bill was proposed by the Communists.

This was the third reading of the draft law. As a rule, drafts are not debated in the third reading, they are merely voted on. This did not happen today. Backed by a majority, Yevgeny Primakov announced that the draft law was somewhat outdated already, and that some of its provisions and postulates were fine two years ago, but obsolete now. Primakov admitted at the same time that the rights of ethnic Russians in Latvia should be protected. The matter was put to the vote, and most deputies voted for its revision.

In short, the draft law entails an economic blockade. Deputy Chekhov (Communist Party) was quoted as saying that Latvian trade turnover with Russia amounted to $1.5 billion out of a total of $2.7 billion, and that passage of this bill would be a blow from which Latvia would take some time to recover.

MATVIENKO IS OUT, OTHERS WANT IN

REN-TV, News program, April 5, 2000, 15:30

Now that Deputy Prime Minister Valentina Matvienko is out of the gubernatorial race in St. Petersburg, various political forces are coming up with their candidates for the post. Igor Artemiev of the Yabloko party is one of them. There is, however, a possibility of a broad democratic coalition which may come up with a single candidate. Yabloko approached the Union of Right Forces with a proposal to name a single candidate. The Union of Right Forces does not seem to be objecting, but so far nothing is known about any consultations between the parties on the right of the political spectrum.

Sergei Kirienko: I do believe that negotiations between the Union of Right Forces and Yabloko are possible. The situation being what it is, we should put aside small ambitions. Coordinated effort is needed.

It should be noted that candidates for governor need to collect 70,000 signatures in their support in order to register. Only nine days remain.

CHECHNYA UPDATE

Russian Television (RTR), “Vesti” program, April 5, 2000, 14:00

The latest reports from Chechnya indicate that the federal forces are neglecting security regulations. Some classified information is transmitted without encryption, on frequencies anybody can scan. The federal forces say that the guerrillas have sophisticated radio equipment, and that is probably why they frequently know all data on combat force composition, time of movement, and routes of federal convoys. Specialists do not rule out the possibility that this is precisely how the Chechens ambushed the Perm OMON convoy. On the other hand, there is another theory accepted by many servicemen.

Paratrooper Vitaly Imskov: There is, unfortunately, a certain lack of coordination on command levels. This particular convoy, for example, never informed anyone nearby that it planned to enter the area. Moreover, without knowing it, the convoy took a route all here know to be unsafe. We would never have taken it, nor advised the convoy to take this route.

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