|If you wish to make an apple pie truly from scratch, you must first invent the universe. - Carl Sagan|
No. 101, Part I, 25 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 DUMA FAILS TO OVERRIDE YELTSIN VETO OF ELECTORAL LAW. An attempt by a group of deputies in the State Duma to override President Yeltsin's veto of the Duma electoral law on 24 May, fell short of the necessary 300 votes, Reuters reported. In two rounds of voting, the president's critics found only 243 votes in the first round and 237 in the second. On 11 May, 302 deputies voted for the bill, but now, fewer are willing to risk direct confrontation with the president. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. AGRARIAN PARTY MAY INITIATE NO CONFIDENCE VOTE IN GOVERNMENT. The Agrarian Party is dissatisfied with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's government because of its policies of redistributing land and its reduction in state suppoN ALONE. The Dem7=9Cy=A3_=81=81=C4=F5W=9D=D7=9DW=9A=9E=C41=BFerfax on= 24 May. Lapshin complained that terfax on 24 May. Lapshin complained that the cabinet delayed payments on credits offered in 1993 and 1994, failed to improve relations between the state and the agricultural sector, and did nothing to eliminate the disparity between the prices farmers must pay for their equipment and the prices they get for their produce. Lapshin's faction has 54 members, short of the 90 necessary to initiate a no-confidence vote. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF RUSSIA TO CAMPAIGN ALONE. The Democratic Party of Russia will not join any parliamentary electoral blocs, the party's parliamentary leader Stanislav Govorukhin announced on 24 May, according to Interfax. However, party leader Sergei Glazyev did not rule out an alliance with Dmitry Rogozin's Congress of Russian Communities or Yury Skokov's =46ederation of Commodity Producers. Glazyev said stabilization is impossibl= e in Russia unless the ministers responsible for the country's current social-economic policy are replaced. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. =46EDERATION COUNCIL'S COURT APPEAL ON CHECHNYA STILL FLAWED. The Constitutional Court may again refuse to consider the Federation Council's appeal concerning Yeltsin's secret decrees on the military campaign in Chechnya, Interfax and Russian Public Television reported on 24 May. Earlier this month, the court rejected the Council's first appeal on the constitutionality of the Chechnya decrees for two reasons: the documents had been marked "classified," and they did not contain the text of the decrees the court was asked to consider. Council Chairman Vladimir Shumeiko, who is also a member of the president's Security Council, promised to correct those flaws and resubmit the case. However, sources close to the court told Interfax that although the second appeal was declassified, the Council "ignored" the court's request to attach the text of the presidential decrees to the documents. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. ROSSIISKAYA GAZETA: MASS MEDIA "UNDER CHUBAIS' HEEL." In an unusually sharp attack on a cabinet member, the official government newspaper Rossiiskaya gazeta on 25 May accused First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais of controlling the mass media. The author noted that Chubais' former press secretary was appointed deputy director general in charge of news programming at the new Russian Public Television company, which broadcasts on Channel 1. The author also said Chubais had helped Vladimir Gusinsky's Most group buy broadcasting privileges for NTV on what had been a state-owned channel. As a result, Rossiiskaya gazeta charged, NTV "directly conducts a policy to discredit the president and the government" but displays an "almost servile deference" to Chubais. The author asserted that many Russian newspapers were also "under the heel" of Chubais, who could potentially put them out of business by privatizing state-run publishing houses. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. DUMA REJECTS DRAFT LAW ON PRESERVING LENIN MEMORIALS. The Duma rejected on its first reading a proposal advanced by the Communist Party to protect Vladimir Lenin memorials as historical and cultural monuments, Interfax reported on 24 May. The draft law would have guaranteed the preservation of Lenin's body and his mausoleum in Moscow, along with other Lenin museums nationwide and Lenin statues "of outstanding architectural merit." -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. COUNCIL ON SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY POLICY CREATED. Appearing at the first meeting of the Council on Science and Technology Policy, President Yeltsin said science policy should be aimed toward "development," not only "survival," Rossiiskaya gazeta reported on 25 May. Yeltsin charged the council with solving the problem of the emigration of talented scientists, defending the intellectual property of Russian scientists, and developing more international scientific contacts. He also promised to increase state funding for science in the 1996 budget. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIA PARTICIPATION IN NATO'S PfP REMAINS UNCERTAIN. Uncertainty remains over whether Russia will sign an individual work plan in NATO's Partnership for Peace (PfP) program, Interfax and AFP reported on 24 May. After the Russian Security Council held a meeting to discuss NATO and European security on 24 May, council secretary Oleg Lobov said "conditions for enlarging [NATO] must be linked to this partnership." He said signing the work plan on 31 May has not been "ruled out," if Russia and NATO can "agree on a formula for this signature." After his 10 May summit with President Yeltsin, U.S. President Bill Clinton said he had been given assurances that Russia would sign its NATO PfP work plan by the end of the month. However, Lobov cast doubt on the 31 May date when he said the document outlining the principles for dialogue between Russia and NATO "will not come into being in the next few weeks." -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. "NEW" NAVAL MISSILE IS YEARS OLD. The Russian underwater anti-ship missile named "Shkval [Squall]," recently reported on by Jane's Intelligence Review, has been in service with the Russian navy for several years, according to a senior Russian official quoted by ITAR-TASS on 24 May. The magazine reported that the "new" weapon could travel at nearly 200 knots and "could put Western naval forces at a considerable disadvantage." Anton Surikov, an adviser with the Institute of Defense Research, told the agency that the fuss about the Shkval was timed to coincide with parliamentary hearings on defense budgets in Western countries. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIA HOPES TO RESTRUCTURE LONG-TERM DEBT. Russian Economics Minister Yevgeny Yasin said he hopes Russia can restructure its long-term debt by the end of the year, Reuters reported on 24 May. The comment came after Yasin met with the head of the Paris Club of government creditors to which Russia owes over 50% of its $130 billion debt. The Paris Club has continually restructured Russia's massive short-term4I=EFy=A3e last three ye= ars and is expected to do so again for 1995 when it meets next week. Rescheduling the long-term debt will probably depend on Russia's success in sticking to its IMF-backed economic stabilization plan for 1995. -- Michael Mihalka., OMRI, Inc. PANSKOV UPBEAT ON ECONOMY . . . Finance Minister Vladimir Panskov told the Duma on 24 May that Russia's economic performance in the first four months of the year "reaffirmed the trend toward economic stabilization," Interfax reported. He said GDP reached 275 trillion rubles ($55 billion) (compared with planned levels of 200-260 trillion rubles ($40-$52 billion), output fell by 5% instead of 6%-8%, and the budget deficit dropped to 3.5% of GDP instead of the expected 8%. According to a government budget report, revenue rose to 32 trillion rubles ($6 billion) in the first quarter (103.3% of planned levels), while expenditure totaled 38.7 trillion rubles ($8 billion) (82% of the target figure). -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. . . . BUT OTHERS LESS CONFIDENT. There is no reason to speak of "economic stability," according to a Duma Economic Policy Committee report cited by Interfax. It noted that the decline in manufacturing output is disproportionately large and that inflation ran at an average rate of 13% from January to March although the budget envisaged a rate of 5%. Meanwhile, Harvard professor Jeffrey Sachs observed that Russia had made some headway on macroeconomic stabilization recently but warned that low public confidence could undermine further progress if the country's leaders were not more open. He criticized the Finance Ministry and Central Bank for withholding key data or sharing them only with insiders. Transparency, he contended, helps build public confidence and dampens inflationary expectations. Sachs also said the Chechen war is "one of many mysteries" in Russian economic policy, noting that on paper, the five-month operation had cost nothing because it was spread across numerous budgets. Reform economist Andrei Illarionov pointed to growing state consumption as an indirect indicator of the cost of the war, Interfax reported. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. OIL EXPORT FIGURES. From January to April, Russia exported 37.6 million tons of crude oil and 71.9 billion cubic meters of natural gas, Interfax reported on 24 May, citing Goskomstat. Oil exports to the "far abroad" amounted to 29.5 million tons--a 10% increase on the same period in 1994. The average price of oil to Europe and the U.S. was $110 per ton and to the CIS, $78.80 per ton. Exports to the CIS--8.1 million tons--were down 7% on the previous year. Exports of natural gas to the CIS and other countries were up 16% and 10% respectively over the first four months of 1994. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. INVESTIGATION INTO MEN CASE CONTINUES. According to a press release from the Prosecutor's Office, the investigation into the murder of priest Alexander Men is continuing, Interfax reported on 24 May. Earlier reports said the investigation had been discontinued. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA RECRIMINATIONS OVER KARABAKH TALKS. Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Hasan Hasanov responded on 24 May to the Armenian government's decision to boycott the next round of OSCE-mediated Karabakh peace talks in protest against the repeated sabotage of gas supplies to Armenia, Reuters reported on 24 May quoting Interfax. Hasanov accused Armenia of trying to interrupt the Karabakh peace process and rejected Armenian charges that Azerbaijan is responsible for blowing up the gas pipeline, accusing the Armenians of having done so themselves. Azerbaijani state foreign policy adviser Vafa Gulu-Zade told journalists on 24 May that he thinks the Armenian decision is "a spontaneous, rash one," and that the Armenian government will reconsider it. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc. KAZAKHSTAN CONFIRMS IT IS NUCLEAR FREE. The Kazakh Foreign Ministry announced on 24 May that there are no more nuclear warheads on the republic's territory, Kazakh radio reported. The commander-in-chief of Russia's Strategic Missile Forces made a similar announcement on 25 April. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. CIS RUSSIA RATIFIES TREATY WITH BELARUS. The Russian State Duma ratified the treaty on friendship and cooperation with Belarus by a vote of 333 to one, Radio Rossiya reported on 24 May. The Belarusian parliament had ratified the treaty on 12 April. Belarusian radio reported the same day that Russian and Belarusian leaders are expected to decide on forming a joint customs union during the 26 May CIS summit in Minsk. Russian Minister for Cooperation with CIS Countries Valery Serov said the price his country charges Belarus for gas might be lowered, Interfax reported. Belarus is paying $53 per 1,000 cubic meters, which is more than the $50 Ukraine pays, but considerably less than the world price of $80. Serov linked the price of gas to Russia's use of military bases in Belarus by pointing out that Minsk is not charging Russia for leasing the facilities that would cost about $340 million annually. -- Ustina Markus, 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 "SUBSCRIBE OMRI-L YourFirstName YourLastName" (without the quotation marks and inserting your name where shown) to LISTSERV@UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU No subject line or other text should be included. 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