If you wish to make an apple pie truly from scratch, you must first invent the universe. - Carl Sagan
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 96, Part I, 18 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

RUSSIA

YELTSIN SIGNS LAW ON PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. President Boris Yeltsin
signed the law on presidential elections, Russian agencies reported on
17 May. The law was rejected at first by the Federation Council, but on
21 April, the State Duma passed an amended version, which was approved
by the Council on 4 May. The law sets presidential elections for the
first Sunday after the president's term expires in June 1996. In order
to register, presidential candidates must collect one million
signatures, no more than 7% of them from any one region of the Russian
Federation. Campaigns will not be publicly funded, but candidates may
create and manage their own election funds. Total campaign expenditures
may not exceed 250,000 times the minimum wage; individual donations are
limited to 50 times the minimum wage, and contributions from legal
entities are limited to 5,000 times the minimum wage. -- Laura Belin,
OMRI, Inc.

WOMEN OF RUSSIA TO CAMPAIGN INDEPENDENTLY. Yekaterina Lakhova, leader of
the Duma faction Women of Russia, announced that her group will campaign
for the next parliamentary elections independently, Rossiiskie vesti
reported on 18 May. Lakhova described Women of Russia as a "centrist"
movement with its own "political niche" and a stable group of
supporters. She accused other political parties of thinking about women
only "on the eve of elections." Lakhova cited the experience of the
Women's Forum, which joined Grigory Yavlinsky's Yabloko bloc before the
1993 parliamentary elections. That group's leaders were placed too low
on the Yabloko party list and were left with no representatives in the
Duma. Lakhova said financing the campaign would be her movement's
biggest problem, since wealthy donors would be drawn to more powerful
blocs. However, she said she was confident of once again clearing the 5%
barrier to enter parliament. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

ZAVERYUKHA TO REMAIN OUTSIDE CHERNOMYRDIN BLOC. Deputy Prime Minister
Alexander Zaveryukha will stay away from the new electoral bloc set up
by Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Interfax reported 17 May. He will
instead work within the Agrarian Party. Earlier, Chernomyrdin had said
that all members of the government would participate in his bloc.
Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev has also kept his distance from the new
organization. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

RYBKIN'S CONCORD MOVEMENT SEEKS REGISTRATION. The new Concord movement,
which is led by Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin and includes the Free Russia
People's Party, the Socialist Workers' Party, and the Federation of
Independent Trade Unions, is seeking formal registration with the
Justice Ministry, according to Vasily Lipitsky, leader of the Free
Russia People's Party, Interfax reported on 17 May. He also said the
Russian Youth Union had affirmed its plans to join Rybkin's alliance in
a meeting with him on 17 May. According to parliamentary sources quoted
by Interfax, Rybkin participated in the founding conference of the
Concord movement on 15 May and his aide Nikolai Sakharov was elected
head of the new movement's executive council. Rybkin himself said it is
still too early to talk about the new coalition and his role in it.
Mikhail Lapshin, leader of the Agrarian Party of which Rybkin is a
member, said the Duma speaker remains on the Agrarian Party list and
rumors that he would lead a left-center bloc are an attempt to discredit
him and damage the Agrarian Party, Russian Public Television reported.
-- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

GREENPEACE PROTESTS ALLEGED IMPORT OF TOXIC WASTE. Greenpeace has
accused Russian customs authorities of letting about 1,000 tons of
French toxic waste into the country and then selling it, Interfax
reported on 17 May. About 20 Greenpeace activists carrying posters
saying "Foreign Waste Collection Point" demonstrated outside the Main
Customs Committee building in Moscow to protest the alleged deal; about
10 protesters were arrested. The environmental organization claims that
waste containing a cocktail of dangerous substances was illegally
brought into the country in January 1994 and sold by customs officials
to a private firm that lacks safe storage facilities. It says the
materials must be sent back to France, which is ready to accept them,
and that the customs officials should be punished. The Customs
Committee, however, refuted the charges, saying Greenpeace has distorted
the facts. It says it uncovered poisonous waste in a cargo bound for a
Urals firm in January 1994 and confiscated it. The customs then hired a
company to track down the owner and return the waste, according to a
company spokesperson cited by Western agencies. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI,
Inc.

CRIMES BY AND AGAINST FOREIGNERS IN MOSCOW ON THE RISE. The number of
crimes committed by foreigners in Moscow is increasing, mostly involving
drug trafficking and extortion, police official Viktor Seroshtan told
reporters on 17 May. He said 516 crimes by residents of countries
outside the former Soviet Union were reported in the first four months
of the year compared with 460 during the same period in 1994, Russian
and Western agencies reported. Seroshtan blamed the increase on
transparent borders with the other former Soviet republics which allow
criminals to enter Russia more easily. Foreigners are also increasingly
falling victim to crimes. So far this year, 300 crimes against
foreigners have been reported in the Russian capital, including six
murders. The number of violent crimes jumped to 259 from 141 in 1994.
Seroshtan said those doing illegal business are most at risk. -- Penny
Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIAN GENERALS OPPOSE PARTNERSHIP FOR PEACE, AGREEMENT ON ABMs.
Russian senior military commanders oppose the agreements on anti-
ballistic missile systems (ABMs) concluded at the recent Moscow summit
between Russian President Boris Yeltsin and his U.S. counterpart Bill
Clinton on anti-ballistic missile systems (ABMs) and NATO's Partnership
for Peace, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 17 May. They felt the
decision to begin consultations on ABMs could allow the U.S. to deploy
"theater" systems as early as next year, possibly providing a strategic
cover for the continental U.S. The commanders view recent military
exercises between NATO and the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and
Slovakia as preparations for future NATO military operations at the
beginning of a war. Sources at Russian Army headquarters also cite NATO
plans to move five divisions into the Baltic states. Russia should only
cooperate with NATO if it is allowed to base "powerful" forces along its
borders, which would require a revision of international treaties.
Moreover, they believe Russia should join NATO as an equal and be
allowed to veto any decision that conflicts with Russian interests. --
Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

ILYUKHIN CONDEMNS SOROS FUND ACTIVITIES. A report prepared by Duma
Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin condemning the activities of
the Soros Fund was published in Sovetskaya Rossiya on 18 May. Ilyukhin
cast doubt on the "philanthropic activities" of the fund, which has
spent hundreds of millions of dollars in Russia in recent years. He
charged that a number of Soros employees are CIA agents. Ilyukhin said
the fund's main function is to train "Soros teachers" and "Soros
professors" to "change the mentality of Russian society," which he said
would lead to a "terrible degradation of societal, patriotic, and
national consciousness." Ilyukhin also blamed alleged speculation by
Soros in the Russian stock market for "Black Tuesday" in October 1994,
when the ruble lost approximately a quarter of its value. Ilyukhin
proposed that the Duma more strictly regulate foreign philanthropic and
commercial activities, especially in scientific fields. -- Laura Belin,
OMRI, Inc.

RETAIL PRICES CONTINUE TO CLIMB. Russian retail prices increased an
average of 1.5% from 4-10 May, according to Goskomstat, Izvestiya
reported on 17 May. Food items were up 1.7%, consumer goods 1.2%, and
consumer services 1.9%. Since the beginning of the month, retail prices
have increased 2.1% (food items 2.5%, consumer goods 1.2%, and consumer
services 3.2%). The average cost of a set of 19 staple items is now at
171,000 rubles ($33.52) per person, a 1.6% increase compared to late
April. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

RUBLE WEAKENS AGAINST DOLLAR AFTER 10-DAY STRENGTHENING. The Russian
ruble, which has been strengthening against the U.S. dollar since 6 May,
slipped 12 points to 5,038 rubles to $1 in MICEX trading on 17 May, the
Financial Information Agency reported the same day. Initial supply was
$82.17 million and demand $102.51 million. Dealers reported that the
Central Bank sold $20.24 million and commercial banks withdrew bids for
$100,000 during the session. Analysts said the resumption of the ruble's
decline was no surprise and attributed the market environment to
commercial banks selling large quantities of currency, thus stimulating
a return of ruble supplies to the inter-bank currency market. -- Thomas
Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

NEW ARMENIAN INTELLIGENCE CHIEF APPOINTED. Armenian President Levon Ter-
Petrossyan has appointed former Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisyan to head
the Department of State Security in place of David Shakhnazaryan, who
has resigned, Reuters reported on 17 May quoting the presidential press
service. The Armenian intelligence service had incurred considerable
negative publicity in 1994 after its agents arrested the deputy to the
president's former national security adviser. Deputy Defense Minister
Mikhail Arutyunyan has been appointed acting defense minister. -- Liz
Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

NIYAZOV IN MOSCOW. Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov's 17-19 May
visit to Moscow is expected to result in the signing of 22 economic and
political agreements between Turkmenistan and Russia, Western and
Russian media reported on 17 May. The key document to be signed is an
agreement on strategic partnership, according to Russian Foreign
Minister Andrei Kozyrev. In addition, accords on the protection of the
rights of ethnic minorities, fuel and energy cooperation, and various
military documents are to be signed. The foreign minister of
Turkmenistan was quoted by Interfax as saying Turkmenistan considers
Russia to be "a long-term and strategic partner." The agreements
constitute a substantive shift in Turkmenistan's orientation back toward
Russia. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

ETHNIC GERMANS DEPARTING CENTRAL ASIA. Russian Deputy Prime Minister
Nikolai Yegorov informed Interfax that the amount of ethnic Germans
leaving Kazakhstan is two times greater than the number leaving Russia,
the agency reported on 16 May. Yegorov said 112,000 Germans have moved
to Russia from other CIS countries, while 200,000 have left Russia for
Germany in the first four months of this year. Germany and Russia have
pledged to allocate 53 billion rubles ($10.5 million) and DM 160 million
in 1995 to improve the living standards of ethnic Germans. In early
April, German President Roman Herzog visited Kazakhstan but failed to
reach an agreement on the protection of an estimated 550,000 ethnic
Germans living there. It is unclear how many ethnic Germans remain in
Central Asia. On 3 May, Aalam reported that Kyrgyzstan's total
population is 4,499,000; how many of the 71,197 people who left the
republic in 1994 were ethnic Germans, is unclear. -- Lowell Bezanis,
OMRI, Inc.

CIS

COOPERATION BETWEEN RUSSIA AND BELARUS TO FORM NEW BASIS FOR CIS. Ivan
Korotchenya, the executive secretary of the CIS, said the recent
memorandum on economic cooperation between Belarus and Russia
"constitutes a qualitatively new basis for the commonwealth," Interfax
reported on 17 May. The agreement will be signed at the summit of CIS
leaders and governments scheduled to be held in Minsk on 26 May.
Korotchenya said the most important items to be discussed at the summit
include the CIS convention on human rights, which "directly concerns
Russian speakers living outside Russia," a treaty on protecting borders
with non-CIS states, and the renewal of mandates for peacekeepers in
Tajikistan and Abkhazia. Korotchenya refuted as "groundless and false"
claims by some politicians that CIS agreements "don't work" although he
did acknowledge that some of them do not work as hoped because of a lack
of "political will" among certain CIS member states. -- Michael Mihalka,
OMRI, Inc.

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

The OMRI Daily Digest offers the latest news from the former Soviet
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