|It matters if you don't just give up. - Stephen Hawking|
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 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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