The essence of our effort to see that every child has a chance must be to assure each an equal opportunity, not to become equal, but to become, different- to realize whatever unique potential of body, mind and spirit he or she possesses. - John Fischer
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 54, Part I, 16 March 1995

We welcome you to Part I of the Open Media Research Institute's Daily
Digest. The Digest is distributed in two sections. This part focuses on
Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia, and the CIS. Part II,
distributed simultaneously as a second document, covers East-Central and
Southeastern Europe.

RUSSIA

CONSTITUTIONAL COURT HOLDS OPENING SESSION. On 16 March, the
Constitutional Court will hold its first session since President Yeltsin
dissolved it in October 1993. The first case, brought by Federation
Council Chairman Vladimir Shumeiko, asks the court to resolve two
contradictory articles in the constitution on the council's duties.
Court Chairman Vladimir Tumanov said interpreting the constitution and
ensuring that regional laws, some of which he claimed threaten Russia's
territorial integrity, are consistent with it would be the court's top
priorities, Interfax reported on 15 March. He admitted, however, that
implementing the court's verdicts would be difficult. Tumanov also said
the court was unlikely to hear Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov's appeal on
behalf of Moscow Prosecutor Gennady Ponomarev for at least a month,
Kommersant reported on 15 March. Many "pre-October 1993" cases will
never be resolved, because the petitioners (such as regional Soviets) no
longer exist, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 16 March. -- Laura Belin,
OMRI, Inc.

GAIDAR DEFENDS DEMOCRATIC UNION LEADER. Russia's Choice leader Yegor
Gaidar has written to Prosecutor-General Alexei Ilyushenko in defense of
Valeriya Novodvorskaya, the leader of the Democratic Union, Interfax
reported on 15 March. Novodvorskaya has been charged with spreading war
propaganda and inter-ethnic discord on October 3-4 1993, when Yeltsin
ordered the assault on the White House after dissolving the parliament.
Gaidar said Novodvorskaya was being used as a "scapegoat," since no
fascists have been brought to trial under the same provisions of the
Criminal Code. Gaidar said that although some may not agree with "many
shocking statements of this talented publicist," she should not be
punished "for other people's sins." The radical Democratic Union was
formed in 1988 as the first alternative political party in the Soviet
Union. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA REFUSES TO RECONSIDER KOVALEV. The Duma defeated a motion to
reconsider the 10 March removal of Human Rights Commissioner Sergei
Kovalev by a vote of 146 to 76, Interfax reported on 15 March. Nikolai
Stolyarov of the New Regional Policy group had called for a new vote,
claiming that at least eight deputies had not understood the substance
of what they approved on 10 March. The Russia's Choice bloc has called
Kovalev's dismissal "a disgrace," and many foreign observers, including
the Council of Europe, also condemned the vote. Despite the Duma
decision, Kovalev remains chairman of the presidential Human Rights
Commission. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA APPROVES FINAL READING OF 1995 BUDGET. The State Duma approved the
1995 draft budget on the fourth and final reading on 15 March, Russian
and Western agencies reported. With 286 votes for and 81 against, the
vote will now go before the Federation Council, for approval. The budget
anticipates expenditures of 248.34 trillion rubles ($52 billion at
current exchange rates) and revenues of 175.16 trillion rubles ($37
billion) for a deficit of 73.18 trillion rubles ($15.4 billion).
International loans, including a $6.4 billion standby credit from the
IMF, will be the main source of deficit financing, although the
government also plans to issue state securities to help close the gap.
The 1995 economic plan aims for a budget deficit equivalent to 7.7% of
GDP, a halt in inflationary central bank financing of the deficit, tight
monetary policies, and the removal of certain foreign trade
restrictions. It also calls for cutting inflation to one percent a month
by the end of the year, down from January's 17.8% figure. Defense
spending of 48.577 trillion rubles ($10.2 billion) is the biggest single
expenditure item, while servicing domestic and foreign debts will cost
Russia almost 23 trillion rubles ($4.8 billion). Deputy Premier Anatoly
Chubais, who is in charge of economic policy, described the budget as "a
very rigorous budget oriented towards cutting inflation." -- Thomas
Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

SHOKHIN COMMENTS ON FEDERAL BUDGET APPROVAL. The 1995 budget approval
fails to take into account several factors, according to former First
Deputy Premier Alexander Shokhin, Russian agencies reported on 15 March.
Shokhin, a member of the Party of Russian Unity and Concord
parliamentary faction, said much more money might be required to restore
the Chechen economy than was allocated in the budget. Military actions
in the conflict zone are not over yet, he said. The budget fails to take
into account the costs of numerous privileges granted to enterprises and
the federation's constituent members. Shokhin also said the federal
budget provides for a "liberal economic regime, allowing the government
to subsidize the oil industry and oil exports." He said Russia should
seek to complete talks with the Paris Club on restructuring the
country's debts to its creditors. "If we attract large credits from
international financial organizations without thinking about how future
governments will survive, we will sentence both the people and the
authorities to a tough financial life," Shokhin said. -- Thomas Sigel,
OMRI, Inc.

DUMA APPROVES ELECTORAL LAW IN SECOND READING. The State Duma approved
the electoral law for future Duma elections in its second reading with
240 votes in favor, 66 opposed, and eight abstentions, Interfax reported
on 15 March. The draft law still faces a third reading for minor
stylistic and technical corrections. As expected, the deputies preserved
the current system of electing half of the deputies from single-member
districts and half by party lists, rejecting a presidential proposal to
increase the number of single-member districts. Parliamentary candidates
can run simultaneously in both types of districts. Parties already
represented in the Duma may automatically take part, while all others
must collect 250,000 signatures to be on the ballot, ITAR-TASS reported.
The Duma also voted to delete boxes on the ballot that allow voters to
reject all candidates or all party lists. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA REGISTERS NEW FACTION. The Duma registered a group called Stability
as a new parliamentary faction on 14 March, Russian and Western agencies
reported. The faction will support Yeltsin by standing for reinforcing
central power, political stability, the avoidance of crises, and
"constructive politics," AFP reported. According to Russian TV, the new
faction brings together 35 deputies, including former members of
Russia's Choice, New Regional Policy, and the 12 December Liberal
Democratic Union. Vladimir Zhirinovsky's party lost two members to the
new group including Viktor Ustinov, the Committee on Geopolitics
chairman, provoking Zhirinovsky to oppose the new bloc's creation. Oleg
Boiko, a wealthy banker who just resigned from the leadership of
Democratic Choice, is one of the faction's main backers. He said seven
or eight of the country's largest banks were behind the new bloc because
they feared the instability associated with upcoming elections, AFP
reported. The faction originated in a meeting of deputies looking for
new alliances called by Yeltsin aide Andrei Loginov last month. --
Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIAN-JAPANESE FISHING TALKS ENDS WITHOUT RESULT. The first round of
talks on Japanese fishing around the South Kurile Islands ended without
results on 14 March, Interfax reported. Vassily Dobrovolsky, the first
deputy head of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Second Asian Department,
said the talks were held in a "constructive and businesslike" manner,
but the fact that no date or place was announced for the next round of
talks suggests that sharp differences remain between the two sides.
Russian Foreign Ministry press spokesman Grigory Karasin said on 15
March that the negotiators would like "to exclude the possibility of the
use of force, even hypothetically, and to work for reaching agreements
to facilitate the development of normal economic ties between Russia and
Japan." Russia seized the South Kuriles from Japan at the end of World
War II. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

MEMBERS OF DISSOLVED KAZAKH PARLIAMENT GO ON HUNGER STRIKE. Seventy-two
members of the former Kazakh parliament went on a three-day hunger
strike to protest the president's decision to disband the assembly based
on the findings of the Constitutional Court, according to Olzhas
Suleimenov, a deputy of the legislature. The 72 deputies will join
Vladimir Cheryshov, Zhasaral Kuanyshalin, and one other, as yet
unidentified, deputy who are already on hunger strikes, Interfax
reported on 15 March. The latter group have not set any limit on their
fasting. Suleimenov accused the court of not making one serious decision
in 18 months and then suddenly deciding to dissolve parliament. He also
announced his intention to meet with President Nursultan Nazarbaev to
express his dissatisfaction with the decision. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI,
Inc.

CONTINUED STANDOFF IN BAKU. Insurgent units of Azerbaijan's OPON police
under Deputy Interior Minister Rovshan Dzhavadov have ignored a demand
by Interior Minister Ravil Usubov to surrender their weapons, Interfax
reported on 15 March. Talks in Baku between the rebels and the
Azerbaijani authorities broke down in the early evening of 15 March
after an abortive OPON attack on police headquarters in Baku's Nizami
raion in which two OPON members were killed, ITAR-TASS reported.
Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev issued a decree on 15 March releasing
Dzhavadov, who is demanding the resignation of Aliev and of parliament
chairman Rasul Guliev and the creation of a coalition government,
according to Interfax of 15 March and The Financial Times of 16 March.
In a live address on national television on 15 March Aliev claimed that
Azerbaijan is "again on the brink of civil war," and called on the
rebels to lay down their arms. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES ELECTION LAW. The Armenian parliament has
passed a law on elections to the new National Assembly scheduled for 15
July, Interfax reported on 15 March. The new parliament will have 160
deputies, compared with the present 260. Forty of those are to be
elected on party lists and the remainder on the first-past-the-post
principle. Prospective candidates for party lists must collect 10, 000
signatures of support. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

RAFSANJANI ON RAIL LINK WITH CENTRAL ASIA. Speaking at the first session
of the ECO summit, Iranian President Ali Albar Hashemi Rafsanjani
announced that "in the next few days, the Bafq-Bandar Abbas rail link
will be inaugurated," AFP reported on 14 March. The 500-kilometer link
will connect Bandar Abbas with a network taking rail traffic to Iran's
northwest border with Azerbaijan, and to its northeastern frontier with
Turkmenistan. -- Lowell A. Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

CIS

CIS SECRET SERVICES TO SET UP COORDINATING BODY. The heads of the CIS
secret services agreed to set up a formal organization to coordinate
their activities, Interfax reported on 15 March. Speaking after their
meeting, Russian Federal Counterintelligence Service Director Sergei
Stepashin said a treaty to define the nature of their cooperation would
be signed in Tbilisi in two months. Stepashin lamented the late start in
coordinating the fight against drug and arms trafficking within the CIS.
Anvar Salikhbayev, deputy chairman of the Uzbek National Security
Service, singled out Afghanistan as a major source of problems, noting
that "dozens of tonnes of drugs are now concentrated in the neighboring
area of Afghanistan to be smuggled into CIS countries." Stepashin also
said the security service heads agreed to set up a common database on
criminals and added that they also discussed ways to counteract third
party intelligence operations against the CIS. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI,
Inc.

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

The OMRI Daily Digest offers the latest news from the former Soviet
Union and East-Central and Southeastern Europe. It is published Monday
through Friday by the Open Media Research Institute. The Daily Digest is
distributed electronically via the OMRI-L list. To subscribe, send
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