The soul that is within me no man can degrade. I am not the one that is being degraded on account of this treatment, but those who are infliciting it upon me. - Frederick Douglass
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 99, Part I, 23 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 VETOES DUMA ELECTORAL LAW. President Boris Yeltsin vetoed the
Duma electoral law and plans to send amendments back to the legislature,
ITAR-TASS reported on 22 May quoting reliable sources in the Kremlin.
Yeltsin objects to three features of the version approved by the Duma,
according to presidential chief of staff Sergei Filatov. First, he
believes that electing 50% of the Duma members by party ticket is too
many. Second, he wants to peg the necessary turnout for the elections to
be considered valid at 50%, rather than the current bill's proposal of
25%. Third, Yeltsin objects to the provision that requires public
servants and government officials who run for the Duma to suspend their
professional activities two months before the elections. Since Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and most of his government are running for
the Duma, Filatov argued that such a requirement would leave Russia
without leadership. Yeltsin's veto was unexpected because his aides had
been saying he would sign the law and immediately propose amendments to
correct the features he found unacceptable. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI,
Inc.

RYBKIN CALM ABOUT VETO. Even before Yeltsin had vetoed the law, Duma
Speaker Ivan Rybkin said he did not see "anything special" in the
president's move. He told Interfax on 22 May that electing only 150
members on party lists is "quite acceptable." Nor did he object to
making changes to address Yeltsin's other concerns. However, Galina
Starovoitova, Co-Chair of the Democratic Russia Party, said Yeltsin's
proposals could wreck the elections and increase the chances of another
coup attempt. She called on all parties to demand that the president
"not create obstacles to free elections." -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

ALL-RUSSIAN PEOPLE'S CONGRESS FOUNDED. Promising to promote the
interests of the middle class and revive Russian science and culture,
the All-Russian People's Congress (VNK) held its founding conference in
Moscow, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 23 May. Duma deputy Nikolai
Stolyarov, formerly of the New Regional Policy faction, will lead the
new movement. Unlike many political parties, which are hoping to receive
the necessary 5% of the vote nationwide to enter the Duma from party
lists, the VNK will concentrate its resources on electing Duma deputies
in single-member constituencies. Stolyarov said his group will cooperate
with "a broad spectrum of organizations" interested in "stabilizing the
situation" in Russia. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

BABURIN: "UNITE NATIONAL AND SOVIET VALUES." Russian Public Union (ROS)
leader Sergei Baburin told an interviewer in the 20 May edition of
Pravda that his party wishes to form an electoral bloc with "patriotic"
and "left-wing" organizations. Baburin said he regretted that the
Communist and Agrarian parties plan to campaign for parliament
independently. He named Stanislav Terekhov's Officers' Union as a
possible partner but rejected cooperation with Vladimir Zhirinovsky's
Liberal Democratic Party or Alexander Rutskoi's Derzhava movement.
Baburin said Russia's revival depends on uniting "our national
traditions with the values of the Soviet period and the practical
achievements of the Soviet Union." -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

CHANCES OF POLITICAL PARTIES DURING ELECTIONS ASSESSED. The democratic
parties have a strong chance of doing well in the upcoming parliamentary
elections, according to an analysis of the results of previous
elections, Izvestiya reported on 23 May. Izvestiya identified the
fragmentation of the democratic parties themselves and the possibility
of electoral fraud on the part of the federal and local executive branch
authorities as posing a threat to the democratic parties' chances.
Assuming that the elections are ultimately conducted honestly, the paper
recommends that the democrats overcome their disunity by conducting
primaries to ascertain which of their candidates is the most popular and
then rally behind him or her in the December elections. In an analysis
of Russia's political spectrum, Moskovsky komsomolets gives good chances
to Gennady Zyuganov's Communist Party, especially outside the major
cities. The paper predicts that Vladimir Zhirinovsky's party will have
greatly reduced representation in the new Duma. Chernomyrdin's bloc is
also unlikely to attract mass support among the voters. -- Robert
Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIA TO CONTINUE NUCLEAR COOPERATION WITH IRAN. Russian Nuclear Energy
Minister Viktor Mikhailov announced on 22 May that Russia intends to
sign a contract later this year to build a 40 megawatt research light-
water nuclear reactor in Iran, Interfax and AFP reported the same day.
Mikhailov accused the West of inconsistency in acting to thwart Russian
plans to train some 20 to 40 Iranian experts, while "thousands" are
studying in the West. Responding to criticisms that Iran lacks the funds
to pay for the Bushehr power reactors, Mikhailov said the Iranians will
pay "because it is a matter of prestige for them." Contradicting earlier
statements from the Russian Foreign Ministry, Mikhailhov said no
decision has been made on whether to supply Iran with gas centrifuges
for uranium enrichment. He argued that the centrifuges are unrelated to
nuclear weapons and even Germany and Japan have them. -- Michael
Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA BUDGET COMMITTEE CRITICIZES GOVERNMENT. The Duma Budget Committee
has accused the government of exaggerating progress in cutting the
budget deficit and stabilizing the economy, international media reported
on 22 May. In a draft resolution responding to a cabinet report on the
implementation of the budget in the first quarter, the committee said
that although revenues exceeded planned levels by 3%, that reflected the
sale of gold and profits from currency speculation rather than improved
economic performance, Interfax reported. The committee noted that
revenues from privatization and import and export tariffs were lower
than planned and that government spending was underfinanced by 18%. It
also challenged the government's assertion that it will finance the
budget deficit from noninflationary sources, noting that deficit
financing is 36% below target. Meanwhile, the Finance Ministry said it
intends to make 50.4 trillion rubles ($10 billion) available for
government spending in the second quarter, that is 91% of planned
expenditure. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

TAX ARREARS CONTINUE TO GROW. According to the Federal Tax Service, the
amount of taxes owed to the federal budget grew from 7 trillion rubles
($1.4 billion) at the beginning of the year to 16.3 trillion rubles
($3.2 billion) by 1 May, Interfax reported on 22 May. Tax arrears to
budgets at all levels totaled 28.5 trillion rubles ($5.7 billion). VAT
arrears amounted to 8.5 trillion rubles ($1.7 billion) and profits tax
arrears to 3.4 trillion rubles ($670 million). The government is
currently debating changes in the tax system to make collection more
efficient. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

TRADE UNION ELECTION PLANS. Mikhail Shmakov, the chairman of the
Federation of Independent Trade Unions (FNPR), called on 22 May for
regional unions to support the association Russian Trade Unions in the
election campaign, Interfax reported. He said the federation had signed
a declaration of intent to form an electoral bloc with Vladimir
Shcherbakov's Russian United Industrialists' Party and Yury Petrov's
Union of Realists and that it is still considering the possibility of
cooperating with other blocs. The FNPR will finalize its election
platform at a meeting of its general council on 1 June. -- Penny
Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

YELTSIN RENOMINATES PARAMONOVA AS CENTRAL BANK HEAD. Presidential aide
Alexander Livshits said that President Yeltsin intends to renominate
Tatyana Paramonova for the post of Central Bank head, Segodnya reported
on 20 May. Paramonova has been acting head since Viktor Gerashchenko was
dismissed in the wake of "Black Tuesday" last October. The Duma rejected
her candidacy the first time round in protest at the dismissal of her
predecessor. Paramonova's performance as bank head has generally been
positively assessed, and Yeltsin's renomination of her is viewed as
evidence of his commitment to curbing inflation. Segodnya argued that if
Paramonova's appointment is approved, tension is likely to increase
between the Finance Ministry and the Central Bank, as the bank attempts
to restrain the inflationary aspirations of the executive. In earlier
confrontations between the Finance Ministry and the Central Bank, the
former was the stronger defender of financial stabilization policies. --
Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

CENTRAL BANK HEAD ON RESERVE REQUIREMENTS. Paramonova said on 22 May
that a sharp reduction in the compulsory reserves of commercial banks at
the Central Bank was out of the question at present, Interfax reported.
She said such a move would "intentionally promote higher inflation . . .
We cannot endanger the country's economic interests to meet those of
major commercial banks." The Association of Russian Banks has been
calling for the mandatory reserve requirements to be reduced from 20% to
10% on ruble accounts and from 1.5% to 0.5% on hard currency accounts,
arguing that high rates hinder investment in industry. -- Penny Morvant,
OMRI, Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIA SETS CONDITIONS FOR FUTURE PARTICIPATION IN KARABAKH TALKS. The
pipeline supplying Armenia with natural gas from Turkmenistan was
damaged by an explosion near the Georgian frontier during the night of
21-22 May, according to Reuters and Interfax. Gas supplies to Armenia
were suspended, according to Reuters, but it is unclear for how long.
This is the ninth attempt to sabotage the pipeline in two years. The
Armenian Foreign Ministry accused Azerbaijani agents of causing the
explosion and announced that Armenia would not participate in the next
round of OSCE-mediated talks on a settlement of the Karabakh conflict in
Helsinki next month until the Armenian government received unspecified
guarantees that its energy supplies would not be further disrupted. --
Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

U.S. CHIEF OF STAFF OFFERS MILITARY AID TO GEORGIA. General John
Shalikashvili, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in
Tbilisi on 22 May that the U.S. is prepared to assist Georgia in
building and strengthening its armed forces, ITAR-TASS reported.
Shalikashvili--whose father was born in Georgia--had just met with
Georgian Parliament Chairman Eduard Shevardnadze and Defense Minister
Vardiko Nadibaidze. He added that American assistance should be
accompanied "not by rivalry but rather by cooperation with Russia." --
Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

KARIMOV AND BHUTTO ON KASHMIR, AFGHANISTAN. During Pakistani Prime
Minister Benazir Bhutto's visit to Uzbekistan on 21 and 22 May, several
agreements on increasing economic cooperation, tourism, and science were
signed, Western news agencies reported. Talks between Bhutto and her
Uzbek counterpart Abdul Hassan Mulatov and President Islam Karimov
focused on bilateral trade issues as well as Kashmir, which Pakistan and
India are at loggerheads over, and the situation in Afghanistan.
Although Uzbekistan has traditionally maintained close ties with India,
Karimov called for UN-sponsored talks between India and Pakistan to
resolve the Kashmir conflict. Bhutto for her part said she was
"encouraged" by Uzbek support on Kashmir and voiced "satisfaction that
our views coincide." Karimov said Bhutto's visit would strengthen joint
efforts to stabilize Afghanistan and Tajikistan; Islamabad pledged to
support a UN Security Council initiative to impose an arms embargo on
Afghanistan. Some 15 agreements between Pakistan and Uzbekistan have
been signed since 1991. Both sides are seeking to increase rail and road
links and are committed to establishing a road that will connect
Pakistan with Central Asia and Xinjiang, China. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI,
Inc.

CIS

FORECASTS ON EMIGRATION FROM CENTRAL ASIA. During hearings at the
Russian Federation Council, the Federal Migration Service (FMS) revealed
official statistics on the number of registered refugees and the amount
of expected emigres in the coming year, Interfax reported on 22 May.
Since July 1992, a total of 702,500 refugees have been registered from
the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union and unstable
regions of the Russian Federation. The actual number of refugees is
likely to be considerably higher than the figures for registered
refugees would indicate. In the coming year, the FMS expects 180,000-
195,000 people to emigrate from Kazakhstan; 85,000-95,000 from
Uzbekistan; 66,000-75,000 from Kyrgyzstan; 35,000-40,000 from
Tajikistan; and 14,000-16,000 from Turkmenistan. Ukraine is also
expected to generate about 180,000-200,000 emigrants. -- Lowell Bezanis,
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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