|Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece. - Vladimir Nabokov|
No. 112, Part I, 9 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 AGREEMENT REACHED ON ELECTORAL LAW. President Boris Yeltsin and both houses of the Federal Assembly have reached an agreement on the State Duma electoral law behind closed doors, NTV and Russian Public Television reported on 9 June. The leaders accepted an equal division between party-list and single-mandate seats. In a compromise, however, the federal part of the list will only contain 12 candidates, while the rest of the candidates must represent a particular region. Candidates running simultaneously on a party list and in a single-mandate constituency must collect 5,000 signatures in their support. However, those signatures will be considered as part of the 200,000 that each party must collect to register its list for the campaign. The compromise allows government and media employees to continue their jobs during the campaign, but a vaguely worded clause prohibits them from abusing their office for campaign purposes. The committee retained the Duma's proposal to set the minimum voter turnout for the elections to be valid at 25%. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. RYBKIN FORMS LEFT-CENTER BLOC WITH RUSSIA'S REGIONS, AGRARIANS. The Russia's Regions association elected State Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin its leader at its second All-Russian Conference in Moscow on 8 June, Interfax reported. Rybkin said Russia's Regions will form a bloc with the Agrarian Party. If the bloc wins a majority in the Duma, Rybkin will again become speaker and Mikhail Lapshin, head of the Agrarian Party, will be the leader of the combined bloc of the Agrarian Party and Russia's Regions, NTV reported. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. YELTSIN ADVISER: ECONOMIC SANCTIONS AGAINST BALTIC STATES POSSIBLE. Abdualakh Mikitaev, head of the presidential Department of Citizenship, told journalists that economic sanctions against the Baltic states could be an acceptable means of protecting Russians living there, Segodnya reported on 8 June. The presidential aide qualified his statement only by adding that sanctions should be designed so as not to injure those they would be intended to support, as had happened earlier when a Russian natural gas embargo led to unemployment for many Russian workers in the region. Mikitaev also criticized Estonia for its recent deportation of a Russian political activist, Petr Rozhek. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. DOUBTS ABOUT ELECTORAL PROSPECTS FOR CHERNOMYRDIN BLOC. Members of the Russian government may run in single-mandate districts rather than on the party list of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's right-center bloc, Izvestiya reported on 9 June. By running in carefully-chosen, safe districts, the ministers guarantee that they will be members of the new Duma, even if Chernomyrdin's party does not win sufficient votes on the party list to guarantee their leaders seats in the Duma. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. POLICE OFFICER KILLED IN SHOOT-OUT WITH SECURITY FORCES. In a clash on 7 June between a group of police officers and Federal Security Service (FSB) agents, one officer was killed and another injured; two FSB agents were also injured. Police responded to a report of armed men on Moscow's Profsoyuznaya street., and a gun-battle ensued between them and the men, who were actually FSB agents in the process of arresting an alleged uranium thief, Ekho Moskvy, NTV, and Interfax reported. The incident is being investigated by military and city prosecutors. Last December, security service officers clashed with members of Alexander Korzhakov's Presidential Guard outside the Moscow mayor's office. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. DUMA REJECTS EXTRA-BUDGETARY FUNDS BILL. After a stormy debate, Duma deputies on 7 June rejected a draft law tightening control over extra- budgetary funds, Segodnya reported. The bill would have required the budgets of all social funds to be submitted to the Duma for approval and to be audited, and fund contributions to be collected by the State Tax Service. Argument was fiercest over the Pension Fund, with the bill's opponents arguing that turning over collection to the Tax Service would wreck the pension system. The chairman of the Duma Labor and Social Support Committee expressed doubts that the Finance Ministry would be able to " look after the money more efficiently than the funds do." Segodnya commented that the deputies appeared to have overlooked the fact that the main thrust of the bill was to make spending by social funds accountable to the Duma. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIA FEARS REPETITION OF SOMALIA IN BOSNIA. Despite reassurances from Western leaders, the Russian government still has reservations about the deployment of a NATO rapid reaction force to Bosnia. A senior Russian diplomat told Interfax on 8 June that he feared the new peacekeeping troops might turn " into a group for enforcing peace, and then into a multi-national force like the one...in Somalia." He added that only the full incorporation of the NATO force into the existing UNPROFOR command would completely defuse such concerns. Also on 8 June, opposition deputies in the State Duma continued to criticize what they termed " unilateral power actions by NATO in Bosnia," Interfax reported. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. KULIKOV DISPUTES REPORT ON INTERNAL TROOPS REORGANIZATION. Col. Gen. Anatoly Kulikov, commander of the internal troops of the Russian Internal Affairs Ministry (MVD), has disputed claims made in an article on the reorganization of the internal troops that appeared in Obshchaya gazeta, the same newspaper reported in its 8-14 June edition. Kulikov claims that the internal troops' civilian and military personnel number only 264,000 and not 800,000 as reported in the article. Kulikov also said, " The internal troops...do not have a structure or organization to carry out combat operations against an external enemy, nor are they armed with heavy weapons." However, Kulikov's statement contradicts a number of eyewitness accounts. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. NORTHERN PORT DECLARED A CLOSED CITY. President Yeltsin on 8 June declared the northern port of Polyarny--located some 20 km northeast of Murmansk--to be " a closed administrative and territorial unit," AFP reported. A naval repair facility for Northern Fleet nuclear submarines is located in Polyarny as well as several nuclear-waste storage and transport ships. There were some 30 closed cities in the former Soviet Union, many of which have been opened. In July 1994, Yeltsin closed the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk-26 where plutonium for Soviet nuclear weapons had been produced. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. MiG DEAL WITH MALAYSIA FULFILLED. A senior official at the Moscow Aviation Production Organization (MAPO) told Reuters on 8 June that the factory had delivered the last of 18 MiG-29 jet fighters to Malaysia in fulfillment of a 1994 contract worth $550 million. The same official said four MiG-29s would be delivered to India in August--part of a ten- plane order--and indicated that talks on selling the jet to the Philippines are underway. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. EIGHTEEN-YEAR-OLD BALLISTIC MISSILE FIRED. An intercontinental ballistic missile built in November 1976 was successfully fired from Baikonur in Kazakhstan by Russian space troops on 8 June, ITAR-TASS reported. The RS-18 missile--known in the West as the SS-19--had been " combat ready" for more than 18 years before being given a dummy warhead and used in this test. As many as 350 SS-19s were once deployed in the former Soviet Union, including 130 in Ukraine. The space troops would like to convert some of the missiles into space launch vehicles, and have stressed their high reliability. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. RAILROADS TO REMAIN STATE PROPERTY. Anything connected to railroad transportation cannot be privatized, Railroad Minister Gennady Fadeev told the State Duma Industry, Construction, and Energy Committee on 8 June, Interfax reported. The committee endorsed a bill which preserves federal ownership of the railroads. Fadeev said a railroad takeover by joint-stock companies would disrupt economic links inside the country because 15% of the lines, such as the Transbaikal and the Baikal-Amur Railroads, might be cut because they cannot survive without subsidies. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. MOSCOW GOVERNMENT ADDRESSES OPEN LETTER TO CHUBAIS. The Moscow government addressed an open letter to First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais on 8 June expressing their disagreement with his support for increasing customs duties on imported foodstuffs, Russian agencies reported. Chubais wants to raise import duties on food to encourage people to purchase domestic goods. The letter told Chubais that everyone who is familiar with the domestic agricultural situation knows that food producers are only able to fulfill 20-40% of Moscow's needs. Moscow experts estimate that with import duties increasing by 5-6% on 1 July, consumer prices for milk powder and butter will rise by 40%, beef 70%, vegetable oil 60%, and sugar 80% -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA NAZARBAEV CALLS FOR EURASIAN ECONOMIC UNION. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev, speaking at the International Conference on Disarmament in Geneva on 8 June, used the opportunity to again bring up his idea for a Eurasian economic union. Nazarbaev called the area from Russia to India a " belt of uncertainty" which belongs neither to the West nor the East, according to Western agencies. The Kazakh president emphasized that such a union would be in the economic interest of all countries in the region, and would mitigate the need for arms build-up by promoting regional cooperation. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc. DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF TAJIKISTAN MEETS IN ALMATY. Delegates to a congress of the Democratic Party of Tajikistan voted to relieve party chairman Shodmon Yusuf of his duties, Interfax reported on 5 June. Yusuf, who now lives in Iran, had been strongly criticized for his support of Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov in last November's elections. The party named Dzhumaboi Niyazov, who is from the Leninabad region in Tajikistan's north, as the new chairman. Niyazov was recently released from jail where he had been held for about two years. The congress was held in Almaty because the party has been banned in Tajikistan since 1993. According to the party's first deputy chairman, Abdunabi Satorzoda, 14 party members attended the congress, representing 3,000 supporters, half of whom " remain outside Tajikistan." -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc. KAZAKHSTAN TAKING BIDS ON OIL INDUSTRIES. Kazakhstan announced on 8 June it is prepared to take bids on three major oil enterprises and is offering up to 90% of the shares. On the block are the Aktyubinskneft and Yuzhneftegaz production associations and the oil refinery in Shymkent. Companies wishing to purchase the enterprises are expected to help in the building of an east-west pipeline across central Kazakhstan, Reuters reported. The Kazakh government expects to take in $3 billion from the sales. At a recent conference on privatization, Kazakh Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin said that in light of recent criticism from the West over the referendum extending the term of President Nursultan Nazarbaev, this is a chance to show Kazakhstan's commitment to reform, Reuters reported. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc. UZBEK MILITARY DOCTRINE. An Uzbek draft military doctrine has been unveiled for national discussion, Interfax reported on 7 June. The draft says Uzbekistan is guided by the principles of peaceful co-existence, non-interference in the affairs of other states, and the inviolability of inter-state borders. It pledges Uzbekistan will not initiate military operations against any country unless it or any of its allies is attacked. The draft reiterates Uzbekistan's committment to nuclear non- proliferation, a global ban on nuclear testing, the elimination of nuclear, chemical, and bacteriological weapons, and reductions in conventional armed forces. It also calls for Central Asia to become a nuclear-free zone and seeks to strengthen the UN's role in ensuring security. The draft will be submitted to the Uzbek parliament following a nationwide discussion of its merits. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. CIS YELTSIN-KUCHMA SUMMIT OPENS. President Yeltsin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Leonid Kuchma, arrived in Sochi on 8 June, Interfax and Western agencies reported. The main item on the agenda for the summit is the future of the Black Sea Fleet, over which serious disagreement between the two countries persists. Neither delegation seems to anticipate resolving the issue of the fleet at this meeting. Kuchma told journalists that he had come to the meeting with " good intentions," and added that " it will be necessary to find a compromise," but he also said he did not expect the long-simmering dispute to be " solved in one day." -- Scott Parrish, 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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