It matters if you don't just give up. - Stephen Hawking
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 111, Part I, 8 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
YELTSIN ACCEPTS DUMA VERSION OF ELECTORAL LAW, WITH SOME MODIFICATIONS.
President Yeltsin has agreed to accept an electoral system requiring an
equal proportion of Duma deputies elected on party lists and in single-
member districts, Interfax reported on 7 June. However, Yeltsin
suggested that 90% of the party tickets be made up of candidates from
the provinces with candidates from the national leadership making up the
rest. The national candidates would not be allowed to run simultaneously
in single-member districts; so if a party does not win at least 5% of
the popular vote, which is the minimum required to be included in the
Duma, its leadership would be excluded from the lower house. However,
Duma deputy Anatoly Lukyanov said the conciliatory committee had already
rejected this proposal, NTV reported. Additionally, Yeltsin wants to
limit the representation of any single region to 20% of the regional
part of the list. He is also willing to accept a 25% voter turnout as
sufficient to validate the elections, as long as they are held in two
rounds. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

RYABOV WELCOMES ELECTION WATCHDOG GROUP. Nikolai Ryabov, chairman of the
Central Electoral Commission (TsIK), welcomed the plans of several
democratic parties to create the watchdog group "For Honest Elections,"
NTV reported on 7 June. Ryabov promised to facilitate the work of
independent election observers and said he only hoped they would not
limit their activities to supervising vote counts. -- Laura Belin, OMRI,
Inc.

YELTSIN VETOES LAW ON RUSSIAN PUBLIC TELEVISION. President Yeltsin
rejected a law that would have suspended the creation of the partly-
private Russian Public Television company (ORT), Ekho Moskvy reported on
7 June. The law also would have prohibited ORT from broadcasting on
Channel 1 and blocked all state funding for the network. The Duma will
now ask the Constitutional Court to consider the legality of Yeltsin's
November 1994 decree on the restructuring of Ostankino TV and the
creation of ORT, NTV reported. ORT took over Channel 1 broadcasting from
Ostankino on 1 April. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

OIL AND GAS INDUSTRIALISTS JOIN CHERNOMYRDIN BLOC. . . Vladimir
Medvedev, president of the Union of Oil and Gas Industrialists,
announced that his union would join Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's
bloc Our Home Is Russia, Russian TV reported on 7 June. Medvedev said
the union would advocate a policy of "rational protectionism" for the
energy sector, Russian Public Television reported. Our Home Is Russia
has already won the support of Russia's largest oil producer Lukoil, as
well as Gazprom, the gas monopoly Chernomyrdin headed from 1989 to 1992.
-- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA COMMISSION TO INVESTIGATE NEFTEGORSK TRAGEDY. The Duma decided on 7
June to set up a commission to investigate the tragedy in Neftegorsk,
which was flattened by an earthquake on 28 May, Interfax reported.
Sergei Baburin, head of the nationalist Russian Public Union, called for
criminal proceedings against those responsible for closing the
seismological stations on Sakhalin and refusing help from abroad,
Russian TV reported. The Duma also resolved to draft a law on support
for Sakhalin Oblast and to ask the government to report on the work of
the interdepartmental commission on the clean-up operation, headed by
First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets. There have been angry
exchanges between Soskovets and the Sakhalin authorities over the
conduct of the relief effort. As of 7 June, the quake death toll had
risen to 1,743. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

MURMANSK POLICE ON HUNGER STRIKE. The staff of a district criminal
investigation department in the Arctic city of Murmansk went on hunger
strike at midnight on 6 June to demand the payment of wage arrears,
Interfax reported. The action is thought to have been sparked by the
suicide of a police officer, who left a note saying he had no more money
to live on. According to Interfax, local police are owed 4 billion
rubles in back pay. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIAN NUCLEAR SUB LAUNCHES GERMAN SPACE LAB. A Russian Delta-IV class
strategic ballistic missile submarine launched an unmanned German space
lab on 7 June, ITAR-TASS reported. The German equipment was in a capsule
atop a converted SS-N-18 ballistic missile. It was fired from the
Barents Sea and the capsule parachuted to earth on the Kamchatka
Peninsula in the Russian Far East after a 20-minute weightless flight.
The launch--scheduled for 6 June--was delayed "due to unfavorable
weather conditions," according to Interfax on 6 June. However, Western
agencies quoted the German Space Agency as saying the launch had been
delayed because an American START inspection team was in Murmansk that
day. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

GRACHEV: EVENTUALLY ONLY THREE SERVICES. Russian Defense Minister Pavel
Grachev told the Military Council of the Ground Forces on 7 June that
the ministry had a "long-term" plan to reorganize the armed forces into
just three services: ground forces, navy, and air force. However, he
said the present five services would remain in place for the time being,
Interfax reported. Those include the above mentioned three services plus
the strategic rocket forces and the air-defense troops. -- Doug Clarke,
OMRI, Inc.

GROUND FORCES COMMANDER WORRIED. Col. Gen. Vladimir Semenov, the
commander in chief of the Ground Forces, is "concerned" about his
forces, his spokesman told Interfax on 7 June. Semenov said units in
several military districts are manned at only 30-50% of their assigned
strength. He also complained that equipment is gradually becoming
obsolete. He added that if the situation is not improved, the ground
forces aviation will "cease to [exist] by 2005" and electronic warfare
units, communications, and artillery intelligence units will have only
"a limited military capacity." Semenov called for improvement in the
pre-draft preparation of conscripts and for better medical screening. --
 Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

KOZYREV: RUSSIA NOW SUPPORTS REINFORCEMENT OF UN PEACEKEEPERS. Following
his 7 June meeting with British Foreign Minister Douglas Hurd and
Defense Secretary Malcolm Rifkind, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei
Kozyrev expressed support for the proposed NATO "rapid response force"
to back up UN peacekeepers in Bosnia, Izvestiya reported on 8 June.
Kozyrev said he had been reassured that the additional force would be
created and employed in a manner consistent with the existing UNPROFOR
mandate, under UN control. In response to a direct question, Kozyrev did
not rule out the possibility that Russia might also contribute troops to
such a force. -- Scott Parrish

FUROR IN DUMA OVER POSSIBLE NATO ACTION IN BOSNIA. On 7 June Russian
radio reported that several Duma deputies, including Konstantin Zatulin
(DPR) had condemned plans by NATO to send a "rapid response force" to
reinforce UN peacekeepers in Bosnia. The Duma passed a resolution asking
its International Affairs Committee to send a statement expressing the
chamber's concern with the Bosnia situation to President Yeltsin.
Interfax reported that Vladimir Zhirinovsky (LDP) denounced the NATO
plan as a "dress rehearsal" for an eventual attack to "destroy and
dismember Russia." Zhirinovsky also told journalists that the LDP would
call for Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev's resignation at the Duma's 9
June session. -- Scott Parrish

WORLD BANK GRANTS SECOND LOAN TO RUSSIA. The World Bank granted a second
loan worth $600 million to Russia to help finance imports, AFP reported
on 7 June. The funds were granted under conditions contained in an
agreement reached with the IMF to assist Russia with economic reforms.
The agreement calls for freeing trade, abolishing quotas and export
licenses, reducing tariffs, and streamlining fuel export procedures. --
 Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

INITIAL HEARINGS ON 1996 BUDGET HELD. The outline of the 1996 Russian
budget was presented to regional representatives at a conference in
Krasnoyarsk earlier in the week, Izvestiya reported on 7 June. First
Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais stressed that next year's budget
will have a lower proportion of foreign loans and subsidies than in
1995. Finance Minister Vladimir Panskov presented the main indicators of
the 1996 budget: spending 349 trillion rubles; revenue 273 trillion
rubles; deficit 76 trillion rubles, or 4% of GNP. (The 1995 deficit is
forecast at 5% of GNP). The deficit will be covered by issuing state
securities (40 trillion rubles) and by loans from international
financial organizations (23 million rubles). -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

GRAY WOLVES FUNNELING WEAPONS TO CHECHENS. The Azeri ultranationalist
group Buz Gurd [Gray Wolf] is moving weapons and ammunition to Chechen
rebels from Turkey aboard fishing boats that travel via Iranian sea
ports to Azerbaijan, Interfax reported, citing unidentified sources in
one of Russia's power ministries. It was also alleged that the
Azerbaijani Popular Front may be involved in funneling weapons to the
Chechen rebels. Buz Gurd is headed by Iskander Hamidov, currently in
prison, who served as interior minister in Azerbaijan during the rule of
Abulfaz Elchibey. In its ideology and organization, Buz Gurd is believed
to be closely tied to the Turkish Nationalist Action Party, led by
Alparslan Turkes. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

TAJIKISTAN "ONE OF THE MOST DANGEROUS COUNTRIES FOR REPORTERS."
Tajikistan is one of the most dangerous countries for reporters,
according to the international human rights organization Freedom House,
Utro Rossii reported in its 18-24 May edition. This comes after the
recent arrest of popular Tajik journalist Mirza Salimpur, who wrote for
the outlawed paper Charogi Ruz, now published outside Tajikistan. The
Ministry of National Safety is currently detaining Salimpur. According
to the article, in the past three years, 36 journalists have died and
more than 30 newspapers and magazines have been outlawed in the Central
Asian republic. The former head of Tajik government television and radio
and several TV journalists have been in jail for more than two years,
according to Utro Rossii. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.

CIS

YELTSIN-KUCHMA MEETING TO OPEN TOMORROW. President Yeltsin and his
Ukrainian counterpart, Leonid Kuchma, will meet in Sochi on 9 June,
Interfax and Western agencies reported. The division of the Black Sea
Fleet will be the main issue on the agenda. Despite intensive
preparations for the meeting, Russian presidential spokesman Sergei
Medvedev said on 7 June that the meeting would probably not "resolve any
practical problems over the future of the Black Sea Fleet." Should the
fleet issue remain unresolved, it will likely further delay the signing
of the long-anticipated Russian-Ukrainian friendship treaty. -- Scott
Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

FLEET IMPASSE HOLDS UP BOMBER DEAL. A "well informed source in Moscow
military circles" told Interfax on 7 June that the deal in which Ukraine
would sell the 44 ex-Soviet strategic bombers to Russia still on its
territory will not be implemented until the problem of dividing the
Black Sea Fleet is resolved. Russian and Ukrainian negotiators agreed
some months ago that the bombers and their 600 air-launched cruise
missiles would be turned over to the Russian air force in return for a
$190 million reduction in Ukraine's debt to Russia. The bombers include
19 Tu-160 "Blackjack" bombers--the largest in the world. Russia has only
five of those aircraft. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

CHERNYSHEV AND ALIEV STICK TO THEIR GUNS. Neither Russian Deputy Foreign
Minister Albert Chernyshev nor Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev
changed their positions on the Caspian Sea during talks in Baku,
Interfax reported on 7 June. Earlier signs that Aliev was moving closer
towards Russian security and regional interests were not confirmed in
this case. Aliev argued that "Azerbaijan has more rights to explore [the
Caspian oil] fields than any other Caspian state," while Chernyshev
reiterated Russia's position, that the resources of the Caspian are
common to all littoral states. -- 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
through Friday by the Open Media Research Institute.  The OMRI Daily
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Copyright (c) 1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights
reserved.


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