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

No. 102, Part I, 26 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
RUSSIAN REACTION TO NATO AIR STRIKES IN BOSNIA. According to a statement
issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry, and reported by ITAR-TASS on 25
May, Moscow does not stand behind NATO's 25 air attacks against Bosnian
Serb targets. The strikes were launched when the Bosnian Serb side
failed to comply with a UN ultimatum to return four heavy guns stolen
near the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. "The course of events in Bosnia
over the past months and weeks requires urgent efforts toward political
settlement, with maximum restraint in the use of force," the statement
said, stressing that singling out the Bosnian Serbs is no path to
resolving regional conflict. Nevertheless, Moscow's support for the
Bosnian Serb side also appears less than wholehearted. On 26 May Reuters
quoted President Boris Yeltsin as saying the Bosnian Serbs "got it"
because they did not halt their military activities. -- Stan Markotich,
OMRI, Inc.

CONFLICTING REPORTS ON LUZHKOV'S FUTURE. Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov may
soon be fired or forced to resign due to conflicts with the federal
government over the city's financial problems according to Moskovsky
Komsomolets  on 25 May. However, the official newspaper Rossiiskie vesti
reported on 26 May that in recent weeks, Luzhkov has patched up
relations with the federal government and can easily "find a common
language" with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. Rossiiskie vesti
argued that "whatever one may think of Luzhkov," the mayor helps
maintain stability in the capital and is therefore too important a
political figure to "simply leave the scene." President Both Yeltsin and
Luzhkov recently have denied rumors of Luzhkov's imminent dismissal. In
a televised interview on 24 May, Yeltsin said, "I do not know a better
mayor in Russia," Interfax reported the next day. -- Laura Belin, OMRI,
Inc.

COMMISSION REJECTS YELTSIN'S MAIN AMENDMENTS TO DUMA ELECTORAL LAW. The
conciliatory commission, bringing together representatives of the
president, State Duma, and Federation Council, agreed to maintain the
Duma version of the electoral law preserving the current division of 225
seats to be determined by party list and 225 by single-member district,
although it recommended an increase in regional influence on the party
lists, Russian and Western agencies reported on 25 May. Vladimir Isakov,
co-chairman of the Duma delegation, said most commission members support
the Duma proposal to peg the necessary voter turnout for the elections
to be considered valid at 25%, rather than the Yeltsin proposal of 50%.
The commission supported a presidential proposal to allow civil servants
to continue their jobs while campaigning but said it will propose an
amendment to prevent them from using government-issue cars and official
access to the media for campaigning purposes. The commission is
scheduled to reconvene on 5 June. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

MORE ACCUSATIONS AGAINST CENTRAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION. An article in the
21-28 May edition of Moskovskie novosti accused the Central Electoral
Commission (TsIK) of dragging its feet on requests to disclose full
returns from the December 1993 elections and referendum on the
constitution. Duma deputies from Russia's Choice, the Communist Party,
and Yabloko have asked the commission to release the relevant figures.
With new parliamentary elections looming, the author wrote, the deputies
are particularly anxious to learn whether fraud took place in 1993, and
if so, how to prevent the use of similar techniques this year. Although
ballots were destroyed long ago, vote rigging could be discerned by
comparing the aggregate local returns (still stored in the commission's
archives) with final regional figures published by the commission.
Moskovskie novosti suggested that the commission's reluctance to comply
with Duma requests indicates "something is rotten there." -- Laura
Belin, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIAN ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENT SUFFERING CRISIS. The Russian
environmental movement will be unable to participate in the
parliamentary elections as an independent party according to
participants in a conference entitled "Ecological Policy and Peace-
Making Processes in the Former Soviet Union," Interfax reported.
Instead, Russia's green movement plans to provide voters with
information about the ecological programs of the various political
parties in order to inform them who genuinely cares about the
environment and who is engaging in campaign rhetoric, Grigory Khozin of
the Diplomatic Academy's Global Problems Center said on 25 May. He said
the greens will be ready to participate directly in the parliamentary
elections four years from now. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

MOSCOW MUFTI CRITICIZED. The director general of the Russian Islamic
Cultural Fund, Abdel Vakhed Niyazov, publicly criticized Ravil
Gainutdin, identified by Interfax as the Mufti of the Moscow Mosque, for
abuse of power and violating shariah norms, Interfax reported on 25 May.
On behalf of several Islamic and national cultural organizations in
Moscow, Niyazov read out a statement at a press conference the same day,
condemning the Mufti for "illegally dismissing" two imams, "transforming
the house of Islam into a private office," and dividing visiting Muslims
into "ours" and "foreign ones." Nafigulla Ashirov, chairman of the
supreme coordinating center of the Muslim Spiritual Board, said the
conflict began because of Gainutdin's openly pro-government position,
the aspirations of other muftis for greater independence, and the
Chechen war. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

OSCE CHECHNYA TALKS COLLAPSE.  The OSCE-mediated talks in Grozny between
representatives of the federal authorities, Chechen President Dzhokhar
Dudaev, and the Chechen government of national salvation broke up after
three hours, when the Russian delegation, headed by Nikolai Semyonov,
walked out, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. The talks may resume "after
preliminary consultations," according to Chechen chief of staff Movladi
Udugov, who said the Russians had been "unprepared" for negotiations,
the agencies reported. Udugov further stated that the Chechen
presidential delegation had demanded an immediate withdrawal of Russian
troops from Chechnya and the creation of internationally-controlled safe
zones. Semyonov said the talks had merely been "suspended" to allow for
consultation with military commanders, according to ITAR-TASS. -- Liz
Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

CONSTITUTIONAL COURT TO HEAR CASE ON CHECHNYA. Constitutional Court
Chairman Vladimir Tumanov announced that despite legal flaws in the
documents submitted to it, the court will consider the Federation
Council's request concerning the constitutionality of secret
presidential and government decrees on Chechnya, Interfax reported on 25
May. Tumanov expressed surprise that the Council ignored the court's
instructions to attach copies of the decrees in question to its appeal.
However, he said the court would overlook the Council's error so as not
to be accused of "procrastination" on the controversial Chechnya case.
-- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

MILITARY PROCUREMENT BUDGET APPROVED. The Russian government approved
"about 10 trillion rubles" for the 1995 defense order at a 25 May
meeting, Finance Minister Vladimir Panskov told ITAR-TASS. The money
will be earmarked for paying off last year's debts, purchasing new
equipment, and as advance payments for 1996 weapons deliveries. Panskov
said it would be up to the Defense Ministry to decide "whether to buy
military hardware or uniforms." In 1994, the defense order amounted to 8
trillion rubles (about $2 billion). The agency said it had learned from
"well-informed sources" that no fighter aircraft will be purchased in
1995. Aircraft manufacturers will have to depend on foreign orders. --
Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

DISSIDENT OFFICER SEEKS REINSTATEMENT. Lt. Col. Stanislav Terekhov,
leader of the right-wing Officers' Union, told Interfax on 25 May that
the legal proceedings in his battle to be reinstated in the armed forces
had resumed. Defense Minister Pavel Grachev discharged Terekhov
following his participation in the 1993 attack on the headquarters of
the CIS joint armed forces. A military court of the Moscow Military
District has twice ruled that Terekhov's discharge was illegal, but the
case has been appealed to the Military Board of the Supreme Court by the
chief military prosecutor. Terekhov told the agency that he was "calling
on mass media, officers, and the patriotic public for support." -- Doug
Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

CHERNOMYRDIN TURNS DOWN INVESTMENT PROGRAM. At a 25 May cabinet meeting
to discuss economic and financial stabilization, Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin refused to approve a program to encourage domestic and
foreign investment in 1995-97, Interfax reported. Chernomyrdin sharply
criticized the authors of the program--including First Deputy Prime
Minister Anatoly Chubais (castigated yesterday in the official
Rossiiskaya gazeta on a different topic) and Economics Minister Yevgeny
Yasin--on the grounds that it was too general. They were given a month
to submit a radically revised plan. According to Labor Minister Gennady
Melikyan, investment in industry in the first four months of this year
is down 35% on the same period of 1994. Overall investment in 1994 was
down 26% compared to 1993. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

BUDGET HIT BY OFFICIAL CORRUPTION. The 1995 budget has been undermined
by misspending, Finance Minister Vladimir Panskov said on 25 May.
"Expenditure has exceeded limits during the first few months of the
year...administrations often waste credits from the government," he
said, according to AFP. He added that last year, the ministry uncovered
cases involving the improper use of state funds, embezzlement, and tax
evasion that resulted in losses of hundreds of billions of rubles,
Interfax reported. He named the Federal Employment Service and the
Nationalities Ministry as the worst offenders. Panskov also said large
sums earmarked for supplies for the Far North had been diverted into
private accounts and that funding for regional programs might be stopped
if such abuses continued. Meanwhile, in another development that
strained the budget, the Duma extended foreign trade preferences for the
Sports Fund until 1 July. Duma Budget Committee Chairman Mikhail
Zadornov said that would cost about $285 million, Segodnya reported. --
Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

CENTRAL BANK TO INTRODUCE 100,000-RUBLE NOTE. On 30 May, the Central
Bank will introduce a 100,000-ruble note, worth about $20, Russian and
Western agencies reported on 25 May. At present, the brown 50,000-ruble
note, introduced in 1993, is the largest in circulation. -- Penny
Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

MIDDLE EAST PRIORITY FOR RUSSIAN ARMS SALES. Stanislav Filin, Deputy
Director of Rosvooruzheniye, the scandal-ridden state company
responsible for Russia's arms sales, confirmed that the Middle East
market, particularly Persian Gulf countries, is a priority region for
Russia, Interfax reported on 25 May. He noted that Russia had recently
been able to expand the Russian presence in that market and downplayed
the importance of declining arms sales to Eastern Europe. -- Lowell
Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

TROUBLE IN TAJIK TALKS. Negotiations aimed at stopping the violence in
Tajikistan hit a snag on 25 May, Interfax and Western agencies reported.
The opposition power-sharing proposal envisioned an administration in
which the current government would take 40% of the positions, 40% would
go to the opposition, and 20% to ethnic minorities in Tajikistan.
Representatives from the Dushanbe government called the proposal
unacceptable but made no counter proposal. Opposition leader Ali Akbar
Turadzhonzoda said the opposition's proposal was timed to coincide with
a meeting of the CIS heads of state in Minsk. Turadzhonzoda was in
Bishkek where he handed Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev a letter to be
read at the meeting, Interfax reported. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.

NIYAZOV IN EGYPT, ISRAEL. Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov and his
Egyptian counterpart, Hosni Mubarak, signed four bilateral cooperation
accords and agreed to open embassies in each other's countries, during
talks on 23 May, AFP reported on 24 May. The next day, Niyazov traveled
to Israel where he met with his Israeli counterpart, Ezer Weizman, as
well as Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres
for talks focusing on bilateral economic relations. Israel and
Turkmenistan have had diplomatic relations since 1993; last year
Turkmenistan's deputy prime minister visited Jerusalem and Shimon Peres
visited Ashkhabad. Numerous cooperation accords have been signed to
date. Israel is involved in a $100 million irrigation project in
Turkmenistan and a scheme to build a gas pipeline from that country to
Turkey. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

CIS

KUCHMA SAID TO HAVE SUGGESTED CHANGES IN FLEET AGREEMENTS. In a recent
message to President Yeltsin, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma
suggested changes to the principles that Russian and Ukrainian leaders
have already agreed on regarding the division of the former Soviet Black
Sea Fleet, according to "trustworthy sources" quoted by ITAR-TASS on 25
May. Yeltsin has instructed his aides to study them. The two are
expected to discuss the impasse over the fleet at the Minsk CIS summit.
The sources said one of Kuchma's suggestions was that the [Russian]
Black Sea Fleet would not have "bases" in Ukraine, but rather a "series
of separate installations, including one in Sevastopol." -- Doug Clarke,
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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