We do not live an equal life, but one of contrast and patchwork; now a little joy, then a sorrow, now a sin, then a generous or brave action. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

No. 94, Part I, 16 May 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


COMMUNIST WINS KOLOMNA BY-ELECTION. Cosmonaut Col. Gen. German Titov won
the State Duma seat in the Moscow region's 107th Kolomna constituency,
Russian and Western agencies reported on 15 May. In a crowded field of
eleven candidates, Titov won the by-election with just 44,000 votes, or
8.5% of the ballots cast. Factory director Mikhail Guberman received
about 38,000 votes (7.3%), and former model Yelena Mavrodi, wife of the
MMM investment fund chief Sergei Mavrodi, won 26,500 votes (5.1%). Lt.
Col. Stanislav Terekhov, leader of the military dissident group
Officers' Union, came in fourth with some 23,000 votes (4.4%). Ultra-
nationalist Alexei Vedenkin was far behind the leaders. On 16 May,
Nezavisimaya gazeta reported that the Kolomna results confirmed the
Communist Party's position as the favorite before nationwide
parliamentary elections in December. The Kolomna seat was previously
held by Liberal Democratic Party deputy Sergei Skorochkin, who was
murdered in February. -- Laura Belin and Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

had agreed to cooperate with Yegor Gaidar, Yabloko leader Grigory
Yavlinsky announced, "There will be no parliamentary electoral bloc
between Yabloko and Russia's Choice under any circumstances," Ekho
Moskvy reported on 15 May. On 14 May, in a joint live appearance with
Gaidar on NTV, Yavlinsky had suggested forming a partnership of
democratic forces for parliamentary and presidential elections. Gaidar
welcomed Yavlinsky's proposal as "sensible and constructive" and said
his party would discuss a possible electoral alliance with Yabloko.
However, the next day Yavlinsky ruled out a united democratic front,
noting "essential differences" between his party and Russia's Choice. --
Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

concentrate on economic issues instead of campaign activities, First
Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais suspended his membership in the
Russia's Democratic Choice party and Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin's bloc Our Home Is Russia until the December parliamentary
elections, Interfax reported on 15 May. The move resolves a dilemma for
Chubais, who was caught between the "party of the idea" and the "party
of power," Izvestiya suggested on 16 May. Chubais has long been one of
the leading figures of Russia's Democratic Choice, along with Yegor
Gaidar, but on 29 April, as a high-ranking cabinet member, he was named
to the steering committee of Chernomyrdin's bloc. On 10 May, Gaidar
announced that his party would not join Our Home Is Russia and would
consider the question of Chubais' simultaneous participation in both
parties. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

AEROFLOT PILOTS WORK TO RULE. The Sheremetevo pilots' union called on
its members to work to rule for a week beginning 15 May, but airline
officials say flights are operating normally, Russian and Western
agencies reported. An Aeroflot official said "more than 90% of scheduled
international flights from Moscow left according to schedule on Monday.
We had only five flights delayed for several minutes because of
technical problems," Reuters reported. Kuranty (no. 87) speculated that
the central aim of the action was to demonstrate to the company's
general director that the union is still a powerful force. The latter
has staged a number of protests in recent months to demand changes in
Aeroflot's privatization plan. Two strikes announced last month were
called off at the last minute, but Aeroflot is suing the union for
damages in lost ticket sales. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

"PEOPLE'S POWER" BLOC SET UP IN KUZBASS. Aman Tuleev, a Federation
Council deputy and chairman of the Kemerovo Oblast legislative assembly,
has set up an electoral bloc uniting various communist, agrarian, and
trade union groups in the Kuzbass, Sovetskaya Rossiya reported on 16
May. In an interview with the paper, Tuleev said his aim is to combat
"the party of power" and the threat of a "powerful dictatorship of the
executive over the legislative branch." He wants to change the "anti-
popular" course of reform and restore the Soviets. Tuleev claims that
funds from the state budget will be used to support the campaign of the
Kemerovo Oblast administration. He says he has been refused permission
to speak on live television. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

chairman of the State Duma Defense Committee, suggested on 15 May that
Russia should be given associate membership in NATO. Interfax quoted him
as saying such a relationship "would contribute to the formation of a
new security system in the framework of OSCE on the basis of existing
NATO structures." The treaty does not provide for associate membership
and NATO governments have always rejected such proposals. -- Doug
Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

Individuals from the OSCE permanent mission in Chechnya seeking the
whereabouts of Fred Cuny, a former adviser to the Open Society Institute
who has been missing since April, came under fire from Russian units on
13 May, Hungarian Radio reported on 15 May. Earlier reports that a
member of the OSCE team had been killed in the incident that occurred in
the Shali district were later denied, according ITAR-TASS on 14 May.
Hungarian Foreign Ministry spokesman Gabor Szentivanyi stressed that the
individuals involved, including the American member of the delegation,
were acting under the auspices of the U.S., not the OSCE. Szentivanyi
said the incident is under investigation. Meanwhile, a body believed to
be Cuny's was found near Geldugin in the Chechen Shali region, Interfax
reported on 15 May. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

Minister Pavel Grachev is heading a high level delegation to China to
discuss military cooperation, international agencies reported on 15 May.
Chinese Defense Minister Chi Haotian hailed Grachev as "an old friend of
the Chinese army." They are scheduled to discuss the possibility of
allowing Beijing to manufacture Sukhoi-27 aircraft under license and
further arms sales. Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry expressed
"regret and anxiety" that the Chinese exploded a nuclear device on 14
May, ITAR-TASS reported the next day. The ministry statement said
China's action does not promote "a favorable atmosphere for the
multilateral Geneva talks on a comprehensive ban on nuclear tests,"
which Moscow supports. Grachev said, "Russia responded calmly to the
nuclear test, conducted by China, but is following closely the
developments connected with it." The Kazakh government has also made an
official protest, according to Reuters. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

Northern Military Complex in St. Petersburg--which produces Russia's
latest S-300 air defense system among other military products--is on the
verge of financial collapse according to an article in the latest
edition of the English-language St. Petersburg Press. The paper reported
that the plant owes 2 billion rubles ($400,000) to the local water and
electric power authorities and another 1.5 billion rubles ($300,000) to
the city's pensioners' fund. Its workers have not been paid since
January and the money recently allocated by the federal government to
help pay the salaries would cover only 80% of those owed for January
alone. The factory's directory said only a small portion of the complex
is operating at below normal levels "thanks to the workers' sense of
responsibility and understanding." The management has high hopes for a
project to build civilian helicopters for CIS countries if they can
raise the capital to carry it out. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

RUBLE GAINS 32 POINTS AGAINST DOLLAR. The Russian ruble strengthened 32
points against the dollar in 15 May MICEX trading closing at 5,056
rubles to $1, Russian and Western agencies reported. After losing more
than 30% of its value against the dollar in the first quarter, the ruble
has rebounded to gain nearly 1% and economists attribute the surge
partly to moves by the Central Bank, including a sharp tightening of
banks' currency reserve requirements and high yields on government
treasury bills that make them more profitable to invest in than the
dollar. But pressures are expected to increase on the government to
loosen its monetary policy, especially from export related industries
such as oil and gas producers who lose money when the ruble rises. Igor
Doronin, a MICEX analyst, said the surging ruble could prove dangerous
for the economy if it continued, fueling inflation if people sell their
hard-currency savings and spend them. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

government issued a resolution confirming the new import customs duties
which came into effect on 10 May, Interfax reported on 15 May. The
tariff provides for a maximum duty of 30%, except on alcohol, tobacco,
and some luxury goods. Import duties on all other goods vary from
nothing to 30%. The zero duty was "imposed" on raw materials which
Russia does not have. The key feature of the new tariff is that the
import duties on food products were raised in an effort to protect
national agricultural producers from competition with cheaper Western
products. Import duties on meat and meat products were raised from 8% to
15%, on poultry from 20% to 25%, on sausage from 8% to 20%, on butter
from 15% to 20%, on fish from 5% to 10%, on white sugar from 20% to 25%,
and on vegetables from 5% to 15%. Russia set 10% import duties for
roasted coffee beans and packaged tea. Import duties on milk and dairy
products remain at 15%. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

Minister of Foreign Trade Oleg Davydov doubts the effectiveness of the
new import duty measures that will cause imported food prices to rise an
average of 17% to 20%. In a 15 May interview with Interfax, Davydov said
the move to protect Russian food producers from foreign competitors
would only be effective if it stimulated the supply of Russian produced
foodstuffs on the domestic market. However, the persistent shortages of
domestic meat, vegetable oil, and sugar will bring about the opposite
results, he said. The minister explained that the increase in import
tariffs on meat and vegetable oil in 1994 caused prices of those
products to rise and destabilized the food market. As a result,
President Yeltsin issued a directive to sharply lower customs duties on
meat and vegetable oil. Davydov said the new tariff scheme may seriously
complicate talks on Russia's membership in the GATT and the World Trade
Organization (WTO), the first round of which is to begin sometime in
June. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.


TAJIK OPPOSITION ARRIVES IN KABUL. Tajik opposition leader Sayid Abdullo
Nuri was flown by an Afghan military helicopter to Kabul on 15 May in
preparation for a meeting with Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov on 17
May, according to Reuters. Tajik government officials including Security
Minister Saidamar Zukhurov and Deputy Foreign Minister Erik Rahmatulayev
arrived in the Afghan capital on the previous day to hold preliminary
talks with the opposition. According to a Tajik Foreign Ministry
statement, the talks will focus on socio-political stability, the
situation on the Tajik-Afghan border, and the repatriation of Tajik
refugees in Afghanistan would be on the agenda. The meeting in Kabul
could lay the groundwork for the fourth round of peace talks scheduled
to be held in Almaty, Kazakhstan on 22 May, AFP reported. Within the
last week, at least six Tajik servicemen, a Tajik police officer, and 10
rebels were killed. Also more than 20 people were arrested in connection
with a plot to assassinate the Tajik president, Interfax reported. --
Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.

Minister Rahim Gaziev has been sentenced to death in absentia by a Baku
court on charges of embezzling $500,000 and surrendering the towns of
Shusha and Lachin to Armenian forces in the spring of 1992, AFP reported
on 14 May quoting Turan news agency. Gaziev was arrested in November
1993 but escaped from the Baku prison where he was being held in
September 1994. He is currently in Moscow. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.


Council's decision on 11 May to extend the mandate of its 136-man
observer force in Abkhazia until January 1996, Russian Foreign Ministry
officials told Interfax on 15 May that although no firm decision had
been taken on renewing the mandate of the Russian peacekeeping troops
currently deployed there under the auspices of the CIS, "there is no
talk" about their withdrawal once their mandate expires on 15 May.
Georgian Defense Minister Lt. Gen. Vardiko Nadibaidze similarly told
Interfax that a proposal by the Georgian and Abkhaz leaderships that the
Russian peacekeepers remain in Abkhazia through 1995 had been approved
at the CIS Defense Ministers' April meeting in Moscow, and the final
decision would be endorsed at the CIS summit on 26 May. On 10 May,
Georgian refugees forced to flee Abkhazia in 1993 had appealed to UN
Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali and to the Russian and Georgian
leaderships not to extend the peacekeepers' mandate before the large-
scale repatriation of refugees begins. -- Liz Fuller, 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
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