|Absence makes the heart grow fonder. -|
No. 110, Part I, 7 June 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 CHERNOMYRDIN SAYS WILL NOT RUN FOR PRESIDENT. After meeting with the Krasnodar branch of his electoral bloc Our Home Is Russia, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said he will not run for president in 1996, Interfax reported. He said he hoped to advance Russian reforms by winning the December parliamentary elections. Chernomyrdin' s recent entry into partisan politics caused speculation that he would challenge Yeltsin in next year' s presidential elections. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. SHUMEIKO READY TO COMPROMISE ON ELECTORAL LAW. Federation Council Speaker Vladimir Shumeiko is ready to accept an electoral law that lets half of the Duma members be chosen by party lists, according to the head of the Council press center Yury Algunov, Interfax reported on 6 June. Shumeiko' s decision to accept the Duma' s position represents an about- face for the upper house speaker, who as recently as 1 June said the Council would never allow the current ratio of party-list members in the Duma. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. SHAKHRAI' S POSITION IN DANGER? Rumors that President Yeltsin is angry with Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai and wants to fire him appeared in the 3-4 June edition of Kuranty. ITAR-TASS general director Vitaly Ignatenko recently took over Shakhrai' s responsibility for supervising media affairs. The paper suggests that Shakhrai was targeted for criticism because he was becoming too powerful. His competitors within the administration feared that by controlling over the media and playing a major role in Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin' s new right- center bloc, which he helped to found, Shakhrai would have undue influence over the campaign. Another scenario suggests that Shakhrai is being punished for being too critical of the way Russian Public Television was created. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. EFFORTS TO IMPROVE NEWS COVERAGE AT RUSSIAN PUBLIC TELEVISION. Sergei Blagovolin, director general of the partly-private Russian Public Television company (ORT), told Vechernyaya Moskva on 6 June that ORT executives planned "decisive" measures to improve ORT' s news coverage, including a new weekly analytical program along the lines of NTV' s highly-regarded Sunday show "Itogi." NTV attracts higher ratings than ORT for news, which are the only programs currently produced by ORT itself. Blagovolin noted that most programs shown on Channel 1 continue to be produced by state-owned Ostankino, but ORT orders shows from independent TV companies as well. ORT took over Channel 1 broadcasting from Ostankino on 1 April as part of a controversial restructuring plan ordered by President Yeltsin in November 1994. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. GOVORUKHIN ATTACKS MEDIA COVERAGE OF CHECHNYA. In a 6 June interview published in Krasnaya zvezda, Duma Commission on Chechnya Chairman Stanislav Govorukhin attacked the mass media for allegedly spreading lies about the Russian armed forces in Chechnya. Govorukhin singled out NTV and the newspapers Moskovsky komsomolets and Komsomolskaya pravda for reporting that Russian soldiers slaughtered civilians in Samashki on 7-8 April. He called such coverage a "revolt" led by the mass media against the president, the government, parliament, and the Russian people. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. GRYZUNOV ON MEASURES AGAINST EXTREMIST PUBLICATIONS. During the past six months, the Russian Press Committee has issued at least 30 warnings to newspapers and magazines for their content, but none of them have been shut down, Sergei Gryzunov, the committee' s chairman, wrote in Izvestiya on 6 June. There are currently only two cases (against Zavtra and Al Kods) before the courts. Gryzunov complained that the authorities are more interested in taking superficial measures than actually dealing with the root causes of extremism in Russian society. He added that even if the press committee closed all of Russia' s extremist papers, they would immediately reappear under a new name, just as Zavtra has replaced Den. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. ENVIRONMENTAL CONFERENCE CLOSES. The first All-Russian Congress on Environmental Protection, held in Moscow from 3 to 5 June, issued a resolution promising to support political parties and movements "that demonstrate a serious and consistent approach to ecological problems," Izvestiya reported on 6 June. According to Komsomolskaya pravda, the 1,000 or so environmentalists found the army to be one of the biggest polluters, noting in particular the problems of radioactive waste disposal and the destruction of military equipment. Up to 20,000 cubic meters of liquid and 6,000 tons of solid radioactive waste are produced by nuclear-powered vessels each year, much of which is regularly dumped into the northern and far eastern seas. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. JUVENILE CRIME INCREASING. Juvenile crime has increased by about 50% over the past five years, according to officials from the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The number of repeat juvenile offenders has increased by 60% over the past three years, Radio Rossii reported on 2 June. Young people aged between 14 and 18 account for 8% of the Russian population but committed 16% of all recorded crimes. Teenagers committed 60 murders in Moscow last year. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIA HAS THIRD HIGHEST SUICIDE RATE. Russia has the third-highest suicide rate in the world, according to a report in Vechernyaya Moskva on 6 June citing Gennady Osipov, the director of the Russian Academy of Sciences Sociopolitical Research Institute. The number of suicides increased from 39,150 in 1990 to 56,136 in 1993. In addition, 3.6 million people sought psychiatric help in 1993, a 9.6% increase over 1992. In 1994, the suicide rate increased 11%, according to a late March edition of Pravda. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIA REASSERTS POSITION ON CASPIAN SEA REGIME. Russia reserves the right to take measures to block the "unilateral actions" of other states in the Caspian Sea, asserted Russian Foreign Ministry spokesmen Grigory Karasin on 6 June. According to Interfax, Karasin told a briefing in Moscow that Russia regards the Soviet-Iranian treaties of 1921 and 1940 as the basis of international access to the Caspian Sea. Any changes in this regime, he argued, "must involve all the Caspian states," and attempts by outside states to "intervene" were "inappropriate." Karasin also rejected the suggestion that international maritime law is applicable in the Caspian Sea, which he described as an "internal continental basin." The statement is the latest Russian move in the ongoing dispute with Azerbaijan over the issue of oil exploration and exports. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIA SOFTENS STANCE ON NATO FORCE FOR BOSNIA. On 6 June, after talks with his British counterpart Douglas Hurd, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev said he is "somewhat reassured" about the NATO plan to create a "rapid reaction force" to support UN peacekeepers in Bosnia. The weakening of earlier Russian objections to such a force followed assurances by Hurd and other Western officials that its deployment would have to be approved by the UN Security Council, Western agencies and Interfax reported. Kozyrev said Russia could agree to an additional deployment of troops under UN auspices, but said it could prove counterproductive and trigger an escalation of hostilities in Bosnia. Also on 6 June, Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev told Interfax that Russian peacekeepers would remain in Bosnia, although he said there are no plans to reinforce them. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. RETAIL PRICES INCREASE IN MAY. Retail prices in Russia increased 7.9% in May, Izvestiya reported on 6 June. According to Goskomstat figures, food items were up 8.8%, consumer goods 5.6%, and consumer services 11.1% from the previous month. During the first five months of this year, retail prices increased 67%, according to the report. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. BUDGET COMMITTEE REJECTS PARAMONOVA. The State Duma Budget Committee rejected President Boris Yeltsin' s recommendation to name Tatyana Paramonova as Chairwoman of Russia' s Central Bank for a second time, NCA and Interfax reported on 6 June. Paramonova currently serves as acting director of the Central Bank. The committee will recommend that the upcoming Duma plenary conference reject Paramonova' s candidacy for the bank post. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. DUMA TO CONSIDER DRAFT LAW TO TIGHTEN CONTROL OVER EXTRA-BUDGETARY FUNDS. The State Duma presented a draft law on 6 June that would tighten control over extra-budgetary social and economic funds, Interfax reported. The vote on the first reading of the draft, scheduled for 7 June, could prove to be a test of corruption in the State Duma, according to Oksana Dmitrieva, the chairwoman of the Sub-Committee for Budget Systems and Extra-Budgetary Funds, since monitoring of these funds has been lax. The draft calls for budgets of extra-budgetary social funds to be audited before being submitted to the State Duma together with the draft federal budget. The draft law would also require these funds to open accounts in the Central Bank and its branches, not in commercial banks. Dmitrieva said the volume of extra-budgetary social funds in 1994 was 115 trillion rubles, which was equal to 70% of federal revenues. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. PRIVATIZATION OF SBERBANK POSTPONED. A Sberbank representative told Segodnya on 6 June that the state savings bank decided to postpone until the end of 1995 an extraordinary shareholders' meeting to discuss the question of privatization. The bank is waiting for the State Duma Budget Committee to prepare a proposal to amend the Law on the Russian Central Bank, which in part bans the bank from owning shares in other commercial banks, specifically Sberbank and Vneshtorgbank. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA MILITARY ACTION FLARES UP IN TAJIKISTAN AS PEACE TALKS STALL. In the wake of negotiations in Almaty between the Tajik government and the opposition, it appears the opposition has decided to step up pressure on Dushanbe by playing the military card. Although agreement was reached on repatriation of Tajik refugees in Afghanistan and an exchange of prisoners, the two sides failed to agree on the vital issue of restructuring the government to include members of the opposition. The new commander of the CIS border forces in Tajikistan, Lt. Gen. Valentin Bobryshev, repeated old allegations that Islamic extremists, financed by Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and "some other countries are still trying to solve political problems by force," according to Interfax. Novosti and Ekho Moskvy reported that the frequency of incidents on the Tajik-Afghan border has increased dramatically since the talks ended in Almaty on 2 June. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc. AZERBAIJAN AND NATO. Following talks between the deputy commander of NATO combined armed forces in Europe, Jeremy McKenzie, and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Hasan Hasanov, Azerbaijan is ready to sign a document outlining areas of cooperation with the alliance, Interfax reported on 6 June. Mckenzie said NATO could help Azerbaijan in various areas such as training, defense budget planning, creating anti-terrorist units and natural disaster relief. The June NATO conference in Brussels is to discuss the timetable for Azerbaijan' s participation in joint military exercises under the Partnership for Peace (PfP) program. Azerbaijan joined the PfP in June 1994. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. AKAYEV OPENS REGIONAL COOPERATION CONFERENCE. The Central Asian Conference on Regional Cooperation opened on 5 June, not 12 June as was reported in the 6 June edition of OMRI Daily Digest. According to Interfax, in his opening speech to the conference Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev proposed the creation of a new institution to promote trans- border cooperation. The new body would involve representatives of different branches of authority, political parties, and ethnic groups. Akayev was in favor of giving the conference on regional cooperation permanent status in order to forestall economic, military, and political conflicts. The Kyrgyz president also suggested the creation of a consultative council, which would promote cooperation, work out a regional development strategy, and study the effect of the global economy on Central Asia, according to Interfax. -- Bruce Pannier, 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 OMRI 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. To receive the OMRI Daily Digest by mail or fax, please direct inquiries to OMRI Publications, Na Strzi 63, 140 62 Prague 4, Czech Republic; or electronically to OMRIPUB@OMRI.CZ Tel.: (42-2) 6114 2114; fax: (42-2) 426 396 OMRI also publishes the biweekly journal Transition, which contains expanded analysis of many of the topics in the Daily Digest. For Transition subscription information send an e-mail to TRANSITION@OMRI.CZ Copyright (c) 1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.
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