|Change is always powerful. Let your hook be always cast. In the pool where you least expect it, will be a fish. - Ovid|
No. 113, Part I, 12 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 DUMA PASSES DUMA ELECTORAL LAW. The State Duma passed an electoral law that will fill half of the lower house's seats by party list in 264-45 vote, with three abstentions on 9 June, Interfax reported. President Boris Yeltsin had vetoed an earlier draft of the bill on 23 May in part because he wanted to lower the number of party-seats to one-third. However, the Duma deputies and the president were able to put together a compromise at the end of last week. Vladimir Isakov, chairman of the Conciliatory Commission, said the Duma refused to cave in on the party- list voting and forced the president to accept many of their demands, Segodnya reported on 10 June. The agreement rejected Yeltsin's proposal to hold the elections in two rounds. The Federation Council, which did not approve earlier Duma versions, will begin considering the law 13 June. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. YELTSIN SAYS IT IS TOO EARLY TO ANNOUNCE HIS PLANS. President Yeltsin said he will only announce his plans for seeking a second term at the last minute in order not to disrupt the country, according to an interview with Izvestiya excerpted by Western agencies. He said that if he declared right away, all of his actions would be seen as part of the campaign, and if he announced he would not run, it would upset the work of the presidential staff, the government, and other parts of the executive branch. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. DUMA SEEKS CONSTITUTIONAL COURT CLARIFICATION ON SEPARATION OF POWERS. Viktor Ilyukhin, chairman of the Duma Security Committee, has won the Duma's approval to ask the Constitutional Court to examine the role of the Russian president, Segodnya reported on 10 June. The request pointed out that the constitution mandates a division between executive, legislative, and judicial branches but does not describe the president as part of any branch. Moreover, the Duma identified a contradiction in the separation of powers because the constitution states that half of the seats in the Federation Council must be filled by regional representatives of the executive branch. With apparent agreement over the Duma electoral law, the president and parliament must now define how future members of the Federation Council will be chosen. Yeltsin wants them to be executive and legislative leaders from each of Russia's 89 republics and regions, while his critics want them to be directly elected by the population. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. GRACHEV SKIPS NATO MEETING: SNUB OR DOMESTIC POLITICS? Defense Minister Pavel Grachev did not attend a 9 June meeting in Brussels of defense ministers from countries in NATO and the Partnership for Peace (PfP) program. Western agencies reported that NATO and American officials expressed understanding for Grachev's absence since he had accompanied President Yeltsin to his summit with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, but quoted one unnamed source as saying "it would not hurt for Grachev to send a deputy." According to Kommersant-Daily on 9 June, Grachev had intended to send one of his deputies, but Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev "saw to it that the Defense Ministry mission's trip to Belgium was canceled." Russia was represented at the meeting by its ambassador to Belgium, Vitaly Churkin, who is a former Kozyrev deputy. The paper explained that while both ministries were opposed to NATO expansion, the Foreign Ministry preferred "different, softer, and smoother tactics in relation with the West" than those of the blunt generals. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. FEDERAL FORCES LAUNCH NEW ATTACK IN CHECHNYA. Federal troops launched an offensive against Chechen separatist forces over the weekend, Interfax and Western agencies reported on June 10. Fighting was particularly intense around the villages of Shatoy and Nozhay-Yurt, which Russian officers described as two of the last strongholds of Chechen resistance. In an interview with Radio Rossii on 11 June, Lt. Gen. Gennady Troshev, commander of the joint group of federal forces in Chechnya, described the offensive as "the final one," adding that the Chechen separatist forces "should be destroyed within two weeks." On 9 June, the Duma passed a resolution calling on President Yeltsin to end military action in Chechnya. According to the resolution, there have been some 5,000 Russian army casualties in the fighting. In an interview with Izvestiya on the same day, Yeltsin showed no sign of changing his approach to the conflict. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. HUNT FOR QUAKE VICTIMS ENDS. On 9 June, rescue workers called off the search for survivors in the rubble of Neftegorsk, which was flattened by an earthquake last month, Russian and Western agencies reported. The Emergencies Ministry said the death toll had risen to 1,841 by the time the search was halted; more than 400 people from the town survived the quake and about 200 are missing. A new series of tremors registering up to 4 points on the Richter scale shook northern Sakhalin on 10 June. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. CONSTITUTIONAL COURT NOT TO RULE ON LEGALITY OF NUCLEAR FUEL DECREE. The Constitutional Court resolved on 9 June to end its examination of a presidential decree on the storage in Russia of spent nuclear fuel from foreign nuclear power plants, Interfax reported. Yeltsin's decree provided for continuing construction of a plant near Krasnoyarsk to process spent nuclear fuel; Duma deputies appealed to the court on the grounds that the decree contradicts the Law on the Environment, which bans the import of nuclear fuel. According to Izvestiya on 9 June, Russia is obliged under international agreements to accept spent fuel from power plants constructed according to Russian design, but the new plant is intended to process radioactive waste that has no connection with Russia as well. The court decided to drop the case on the grounds that the decree is not a legal act because it is meant to cover a limited period and contains specific instructions for one plant. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. ROSUGOL TO BECOME JOINT-STOCK COMPANY? At a meeting on 9 June, the Fuel and Energy Ministry board backed a proposal by the directors of Rosugol to convert the state-owned coal association into a joint-stock company, Kommersant-Daily reported on 10 June. Under a six-year restructuring program, approved by the Duma's Industry, Construction, Transport, and Energy Committee on 8 June, about 100 loss-making mines are to be closed, including about 70 by 1998. According to Rosugol chairman Yury Malyshev, the coal industry will need subsidies of 14 trillion rubles in 1996. The 1995 budget allotted 7.5 trillion rubles to the industry, and another 2.5 trillion rubles will be paid later in the year from India's debt to the USSR. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. DUMA PROPOSES PEACE PLAN FOR BOSNIA. The Duma passed a resolution outlining a proposed peace plan for Bosnia on 9 June, Interfax reported. The plan calls for Bosnian Serb forces to release their hostages in exchange for a moratorium on NATO air strikes against their positions, followed by an "indefinite truce" and negotiations between Bosnian Serbs and Muslims on a political settlement. In a declaration accompanying the proposed plan, the Duma expressed its opinion that the recent creation of a NATO "rapid reaction force" to support UN peacekeeping in Bosnia "presents a special danger" and is aimed "at the gradual replacement of UN peacekeeping forces . . . with NATO forces." The declaration also criticized Foreign Minister Kozyrev's suggestion that Russian troops might be added to the rapid reaction force, calling it a "mistake." -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIAN AND AMERICAN SPACE GIANTS PLAN JOINT MARKETING. The American firm Lockheed Martin and Russia's Khrunichev State Space Research and Scientific-Production Center announced on 10 June in Paris that they had set up a joint company to market their space boosters, AFP reported. The new company, International Launch Services (ILS), will compete directly with the European space company Arianespace which currently holds half the world market for commercial space launches. ILS will offer both the American Atlas and the Russian Proton rockets, and company officials said they could provide clients greater flexibility in placing satellites in orbit. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. MISSILE MAIL. The converted submarine-launched intercontinental ballistic missile that carried a German experiment into space on 9 June also delivered mail to the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East ITAR-TASS reported. The agency said 1,270 letters were aboard the missile, which was fired from a Russian submarine in the Barents Sea. The mail was parachuted to the ground on the peninsula and was delivered the same day along with special certificates certifying it had been delivered by ballistic missile. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. RUBLE STRENGTHENS AGAINST DOLLAR. The Russian ruble strengthened against the dollar on 9 June, closing at 4,881 to $1 compared with 4,991 to $1 on 8 June, the Financial Information Agency reported. Trading was substantial at $202.9 million. Since April, the ruble has gained almost 5% against the U.S. dollar, even though monthly inflation hovers around 8%. On 8 June, Economics Minister Yevgeny Yasin expressed concern that the ruble's rise was not necessarily beneficial for the economy. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. STATE DUMA REJECTS PRODUCTION SHARING LAW. The State Duma rejected a production sharing agreement that could have paved the way for large foreign oil and gas investments on its second reading, Russian and Western agencies reported on 9 June. The bill would have removed some of the vagueness concerning jurisdiction over resources, licensing, and taxation, thus encouraging foreign oil companies to move forward with projects. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. CHUBAIS ENCOURAGES INVESTMENT. Russia's monetary stabilization policy is attracting financial investment and foreigners are participating more actively on the stock market, Russian First Deputy Premier Anatoly Chubais told Russian and Western agencies on 9 June. He said foreign portfolio investments totaled $40 million in March, $100 million in April, and $200 million in May and noted that 40-45% of the investments in shares were in the oil sector. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA AZERBAIJAN SIGNS NEW CASPIAN OIL DEAL. The Azerbaijan State Oil Company (SOCAR) has signed an agreement with Russia's Lukoil, the Italian company Agip, and the U.S. company Pennzoil to develop the Karabakh offshore oil field with estimated extractable resources of 85-120 million metric tons, Interfax reported on 9 June. Lukoil has a 32% stake in the consortium, Agip and Pennzoil hold 30% each, and SOCAR, which is experiencing serious problems financing its share in a larger consortium to develope three other offshore fields, holds 7.5%. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc. CIS UKRAINE AND RUSSIA REACH AGREEMENT OVER BLACK SEA FLEET. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and his Russian counterpart Boris Yeltsin reached an agreement over the Black Sea Fleet during their meeting in Sochi, international agencies reported on 10 June. Although the accord was hailed by Kuchma as having "generally solved" the dispute over the fleet and its basing, it left many of the controversial points open to interpretation. The agreement reiterated that the fleet itself would be divided equally but Russia would buy out the majority of Ukraine's share, leaving Kiev with less than 20% of the fleet's vessels. It was also agreed that Russia would be able to base its share of the fleet in Sevastopol, a concession earlier opposed by Ukraine. The text of the accord did not, however, preclude the basing of Ukraine's navy in Sevastopol as well. The accord was assailed by the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists and Ukrainian communists as betraying the country's interests by allowing Russia to use Sevastopol as its main base, and one deputy, Stepan Khmara, called for Kuchma's impeachment. -- Ustina Markus, 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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