The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none. - Thomas Carlyle 1975-1881
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 80, Part I, 24 April 1995

We welcome you to Part I of the Open Media Research Institute's Daily
Digest. 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.  Back issues of the Daily
Digest, and other information about OMRI, are available through our WWW
pages: http://www.omri.cz/OMRI.html

RUSSIA

DUMA CLARIFIES POSITION ON ELECTORAL LAWS. The State Duma agreed to
lower the number of signatures presidential candidates must collect to
one million from 1.5 million, with 340 deputies supporting the
Federation Council's recommendation, Interfax reported. By a vote of
174-100 and six abstentions, the Duma rejected the upper house's
proposal to lower the minimum voter turnout required to make the
elections valid to 25% from 50%. The Duma also rejected President Boris
Yeltsin's proposal on choosing future members of the Council. The
deputies supported a joint Duma/Council bill, by a vote of 300-14 with
two abstentions, to elect the members directly, rather than have each of
the regions' and republics' legislative and executive branches appoint a
member. The Duma also rejected the Council's amendments to the Duma
electoral law. By a vote of 259-68 with two abstentions, the Duma voted
again to elect half of its members on party lists and half in single
member districts. Only 133 deputies supported the Council's suggestion
to elect all members in single-mandate districts. If the Council rejects
the bill again, and the Duma cannot muster 300 votes to overcome the
upper house's veto, the two chambers will have to resolve their
differences in a conciliatory committee. Presidential Chief of Staff
Sergei Filatov said the parliamentary elections will be held on 17
December and the campaign will officially begin on 17 September. --
Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA BY-ELECTION CAMPAIGN HEATS UP. Almost all of the eleven candidates
running to replace murdered deputy Sergei Skorochkin in the Kolomna
district by-election come from the irreconcilable opposition, according
to NTV. The station speculated that the campaign could foreshadow the
tone of the December parliamentary election. According to Ekho Moskvy,
the lists of signatures collected by registered candidates Alexei
Vedenkin, who has threatened to kill two Duma members, and Yelena
Mavrodi, wife of MMM Director Sergei Mavrodi, include falsified
signatures. The local prosecutor is currently looking into the matter.
NTV broadcast Vedenkin's appeal to Kolomna district voters on 22 April:
"If you vote for me, your life will be happy. I guarantee it." -- Robert
Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

CHARGES OF VOTE-RIGGING IN 1993 ELECTIONS. Duma deputies from the
Communist Party, Russia's Choice, and Yabloko factions have asked the
Central Electoral Commission to release the full results of the December
1993 parliamentary elections and referendum on Russia's constitution,
Interfax and Russian Television reported on 21 April. Communist Anatoly
Lukyanov claimed the commission, which still has not released complete
election figures from the regions, destroyed ballot papers in order to
make a re-count impossible, Interfax reported. According to the weekly
Novoe vremya, computer results show irregularities in certain regions
with strong pro-Yeltsin constituencies, where the total number of votes
tallied for and against the constitution exceeded the official turnout.
Since the adoption of the constitution, which assigns much greater
powers to the president than the parliament, some of Yeltsin's critics
have made persistent charges that the electoral commission falsified
results to achieve the necessary 50% turnout for the vote to be legally
binding. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

KOVALEV TO REFUSE PARLIAMENTARY IMMUNITY. Human rights advocate Sergei
Kovalev asked the Duma to adopt a special resolution depriving him of
parliamentary immunity, Russian agencies reported on 22 April. In doing
so, Kovalev noted accusations from inside and outside the Duma that he
should be prosecuted for stirring up ethnic hatred and treason. In
March, the Duma voted to remove the outspoken Kovalev from the post of
Duma human rights commissioner. On 19 April, Duma Chechnya Commission
Chairman Stanislav Govorukhin suggested opening a criminal case against
Kovalev for distributing "pro-Chechen propaganda" regarding atrocities
committed by the Russian army at Samashki. Although Kovalev continues to
insist that hundreds of civilians were killed in Samashki, Col.-Gen.
Anatoly Kulikov once again asserted that even Chechen fighters dismiss
Kovalev as a "political prostitute," NTV reported on 23 April. -- Laura
Belin, OMRI, Inc.

COMMUNISTS MARK LENIN'S 125TH BIRTHDAY. More than a thousand members of
the Communist Party of the Russian Federation gathered in Moscow to
celebrate the 125th anniversary of Vladimir Ilych Lenin's birth, Russian
agencies reported on 22 April. Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov
credited Lenin with turning a war-torn country into a unified state with
"a mighty army, a new economic policy, and a stable ruble." The party
adopted a resolution declaring that the 21st century will be "a century
of triumph for Leninism." Meanwhile, at a rival demonstration held by
the extremist left-wing group Workers' Russia, Viktor Anpilov spoke of
the need to employ "Bolshevik methods of battle" against the current
government, Radio Rossii reported. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

FIGHTING CONTINUES IN CHECHNYA. Russian reinforcements were dispatched
to the contested village of Bamut on 21 April, and launched new
artillery and air attacks against Chechen forces in the surrounding
hills on 23 April, Western agencies reported. In an appeal read to the
opening session of the Conference on National Accord on 21 April,
Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin reaffirmed Russia's readiness
for unconditional peace talks with Chechen military leaders. He
guaranteed an amnesty to all Chechen fighters "not guilty of grave
crimes" who lay down their arms, according to ITAR-TASS and Interfax.
The conference was attended by members of the Chechen government and
commanders of troops loyal to Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev. -- Liz
Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

CHUBAIS NEW REPRESENTATIVE TO IMF, WORLD BANK. Russian First Deputy
Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais will serve as his country's
representative to the IMF and the World Bank, international agencies
reported on 22 April. Chubais will replace former Deputy Prime Minister
Alexander Shokhin at the IMF, and former Central Bank head Viktor
Gerashchenko at the World Bank. President Yeltsin also appointed
Economics Minister Yevgeny Yasin to serve as Chubais' deputy at the
World Bank and Finance Minister Vladimir Panskov to perform the same
function at the IMF. In addition, ITAR-TASS reported that Gerashchenko
has also been dismissed from his post as a representative to the
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Meanwhile, on 22
April, Kommersant-Daily interpreted the appointment of Mikhail Sarafanov
to the post of deputy foreign trade minister as a move by Deputy Prime
Minister and Minister of Foreign Trade Oleg Davydov to improve his
relations with the economic liberals in the government led by Chubais.
-- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIAN ARMS TO SOUTH KOREA FOR DEBT. The South Korean Defense Ministry
reported on 21 April that South Korea has agreed to accept Russian arms
as partial repayment of its loans to Russia, Yonhap reported on 22
April. Under the agreement, South Korea will get T-80U tanks, BMP-3
infantry fighting vehicles, and two types of missiles. The deal--said to
be worth $200 million--will also include parts and ammunition. A Defense
Ministry official said the Russian T-80U tanks are superior to North
Korean tanks. The missiles offered in the deal are the "Igla" man-
portable air defense system and the "Metis-M" wire-guided antitank
missile. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA SEEKS TO RESTRICT GOVERNMENT'S PRIVATIZATION POWERS. On 21 April,
the Duma passed in the first reading a law that requires parliamentary
approval for most transactions involving state-owned shares in
privatized enterprises, Kommersant-Daily reported on 22 April. The draft
was submitted by Sergei Burkov, the chairman of the Property,
Privatization, and Economic Activity Committee, who has been a vocal
critic of the government's privatization plans. He argues that the
government's need to raise revenue is likely to result in the disposal
of state shares in strategically important enterprises at knock-down
prices. An alternative draft by the State Property Committee, which
would have left most decision-making in the government's hands, was
rejected. The 1995 budget envisages revenues of 9.1 trillion rubles
through the sale of federally owned blocks of shares in privatized
enterprises--a target the government is unlikely to reach without
resorting to such unconventional maneuvers as borrowing money from
commercial banks in return for collateral in the form of state-owned
shares. Kommersant-Daily speculated that the clash over privatization
signals the beginning of a more acrimonious phase in relations between
the parliament and the government on economic issues now that the budget
has been passed and loans from the IMF have been obtained. -- Penny
Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

RUBLE CLIMB HALTED. After gaining in value against the dollar for three
consecutive days, the ruble fell again on 21 April, closing at 5,053
rubles to the dollar--a drop of two points. The volume of trading was
$100.03 million. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIA DENIES REPORTS OF TROOP WITHDRAWAL OFFER. On 21 April, the
Armenian Foreign Ministry reiterated its denial of reports by Western
media that President Levon Ter-Petrossyan had offered to withdraw
Armenian troops from Azerbaijan in exchange for a lifting of the
Azerbaijani blockade on his country, Interfax reported. According to the
statement, there are no troops of the Republic of Armenia in Nagorno-
Karabakh. Presidential spokesman Levon Zurabyan told Interfax that
Armenia is ready to exchange hostages and prisoners at any time. -- Liz
Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

TALKS CONTINUE IN MOSCOW, SO DOES VIOLENCE ON TAJIK BORDER. With the 50-
day extension of a ceasefire agreement signed in Tehran last September
due to expire on 26 April, diplomatic activity has accelerated from
Dushanbe to the Russian capital. Ali Akbar Turadzhonzoda, the leader of
the opposition delegation, said in Moscow that he hoped a meeting with
Tajik President Emomali Rakhmanov could take place in mid-May, according
to Western agencies. Rakhmanov said on 21 April that he is ready to meet
with Islamic opposition leader Said Abdulla Nuri "anytime, anywhere,"
Interfax reported. The foreign ministers of Russia, Kazakhstan,
Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan called on the warring factions to hasten UN-
sponsored negotiations. In the area along the Pyanj River, border forces
repelled a rebel attempt to cross over from Afghanistan on 23 April.
Interfax reported that five rebels were killed, but AFP cited nine
deaths. No casualties were reported among the border guards. -- Bruce
Pannier, OMRI, Inc.

CIS

CIS MINISTERS AGREE TO EXTEND MANDATE IN TAJIKISTAN, ABKHAZIA. The CIS
foreign and defense ministers agreed on 21 April to extend the mandate
for peacekeeping in Tajikistan and Abkhazia until the end of 1995,
international agencies reported. The CIS border guard commanders were
also in attendance. The agreement must still be approved by the CIS
heads of state at their 26 May meeting. The ministers also drew up plans
to settle the Tajik and Abkhaz conflicts, ITAR-TASS reported. In
addition, Interfax reported that the director of the CIS department in
the Russian Foreign Ministry, Leonid Drachevsky, said all matters on the
meeting's agenda were agreed to in principle, except for a CIS
convention on human rights. At the meeting, Russian Foreign Minister
Andrei Kozyrev said he hoped there would be no need to use force in any
former Soviet republic state, except collectively "for safeguarding the
interests of our compatriots." The statement is a somewhat toned down
variation of assertions he had made throughout the week on the Russian
right to intervene militarily to protect the rights of ethnic Russians.
-- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

MARCHUK: RUSSIA CANNOT USE SEVASTOPOL AS FLEET HEADQUARTERS. Ukrainian
acting Prime Minister Yevgeni Marchuk said his country "will never allow
the Black Sea Fleet to be headquartered de facto--and even less so de
jure--in Sevastopol," Interfax reported on 22 April. Marchuk said that
while Ukraine has not declared the previous presidential agreements on
the Black Sea Fleet null and void, all those agreements "make no sense."
He added that Russian President Yeltsin had told him at their recent
Moscow meeting that he would not visit Kiev until the problem of
dividing the fleet is resolved. -- Doug Clarke, 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
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