Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls. - Mother Teresa
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 136, Part I, 14 July 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

RUSSIA SKEPTICAL OF UN RESOLUTION ON SREBRENICA. Russian Foreign
Ministry spokesman Grigorii Karasin criticized a French proposal to
retake the Muslim enclave of Srebrenica from Bosnian Serb forces,
Western and Russian agencies reported on 13 July. Karasin told
journalists that "UN forces cannot and should not undertake actions
which would drag them into the conflict." Karasin reiterated Moscow's
stance that the only way to resolve the Bosnian conflict is through
negotiations, and he repeated Russian objections to the use of NATO
airpower. A high-ranking Russian diplomat later told Interfax that a UN
Security Council resolution calling for the restoration of the
Srebrenica "safe haven" would likely prove "ineffective," because it
would require the use of force to reopen a corridor to the town. --
Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

GROZNY NEGOTIATIONS STALL. Talks between Russian and Chechen negotiators
were adjourned on 13 July, so that the Chechen delegation could consult
with Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev, Russian Television reported.
Although the talks have reportedly made progress, the issue of
Chechnya's status remains unresolved. Chechen negotiators continue to
insist on the recognition of Chechnya's independence, while their
Russian counterparts contend that the issue should be resolved only
after the election of a new Chechen government. The deadlock threatens
to scuttle the talks. Russian Interior Minister General Anatolii
Kulikov, a member of the Russian negotiating team, told journalists that
if the Chechen delegation returns from these consultations without a
positive response to the Russian proposals, then the operations to
disarm the "illegal armed formations" of Chechen fighters will resume.
-- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

KOVALEV TESTIFIES IN CHECHNYA CASE. Outspoken human rights advocate and
Chechen war critic Sergei Kovalev testified before the Constitutional
Court on 13 July, Russian media reported. Kovalev argued that the
November and December 1994 decrees authorizing the military campaign in
Chechnya led to thousands of deaths and clear violations of fundamental
rights and freedoms, which the constitution does not permit even under a
state of emergency. Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai, who is
representing the president and government in the case, noted a certain
irony in Kovalev's court appearance in that members of the parliament's
legal team, including Communist deputy Anatolii Lukyanov, called Kovalev
as an expert witness despite voting to remove him from the post of Duma
human rights commissioner in March as a result of his controversial
statements on Chechnya, Ekho Moskvy reported. Testimony in the case will
resume on 17 July. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

OGONEK: POTENTIAL FOR VOTING FRAUD HIGH. Local electoral commissions
charged with running the upcoming Duma elections will be controlled by
the local executive branches, according to Aleksandr Sobyanin, an expert
at the Russian "Politics" Foundation, in an interview with Ogonek no. 28
(July 1995). Sobyanin contends that the local executives record election
returns with a pencil and erase any undesirable figures when the
precinct reports are tabulated. No fixing is done at the polling
stations since there are usually observers present. He claims that the
Central Electoral Commission is also in effect controlled by Russian
President Boris Yeltsin, even though the Duma and Federation Council are
represented on it. Sobyanin, a former member of this commission, said
that it only rubber stamps the results it receives and does not actually
check the precinct reports. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA BEGINS HEARINGS ON START II TREATY. The Duma has begun closed
hearings on the ratification of the START II treaty, Segodnya reported
on 13 July. According to Aleksandr Piskunov, deputy chairman of the
Duma's Defense Committee, the hearings have so far generated support for
the treaty, provided certain conditions are met, such as the
unconditional implementation of the 1972 ABM treaty. Piskunov also noted
that economic considerations will make it difficult to implement the
reductions envisioned in the treaty within the specified ten-year time
frame, although he added that further reductions in nuclear forces "are
already necessary." He questioned President Yeltsin's judgment in
submitting the treaty for ratification only shortly before the December
parliamentary elections, expressing concern that the treaty could become
a "token" in the "political struggle." -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIA MAY DUMP MORE NUCLEAR WASTE AT SEA. Yevgenii Stomatyuk, chairman
of the Primorsk Krai administration's natural resources committee, said
on 13 July that Russia might be forced to renew dumping of nuclear waste
into the Sea of Japan unless storage facilities are soon built, Russian
and Western agencies reported. He said Russian tankers are full of waste
and Russia lacks the means to dispose of the liquid. He added that a
dispute between the Nuclear Power Ministry and the krai administration
was holding up construction of the storage tanks. Last year, Japan and
other Asian countries protested after nuclear submarines from the
Pacific Fleet dumped over 200,000 gallons of radioactive waste into the
Sea of Japan. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA PASSES LAW ON SUPPORT FOR LOCAL PRESS. The Duma passed a draft law
allocating 280 billion rubles ($62 million) from the federal budget to
regional and city newspapers, Russian TV and Russian Public Television
reported on 13 July. The law was adopted on all three readings in one
session, with 243 deputies voting in favor and none voting against. Duma
Press and Information Committee Chairman Mikhail Poltoranin said the law
would benefit small newspapers that currently are almost completely
controlled by local administrations. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

ZORIN LIKELY TO BE NEW DIRECTOR OF FSB. The most likely candidate to
replace Sergei Stepashin as director of the Federal Security Service
(FSB) is Viktor Zorin, the FSB's current head of counterintelligence,
Ekho Moskvy reported on 13 July. If he is appointed, there is likely to
be little reorganization of the service. The appointment is expected
next week. Stepashin's deputy, Anatolii Safonov, is currently the acting
director. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

GOVERNMENT CRISIS GROWING IN CHUVASHIYA. Conflict between Chuvash
President Nikolai Fedorov and the Chuvash State Soviet is growing
following the Constitutional Court's 10 July decision to strike down the
region's electoral law, Russian media reported on 13 July. The court
ruled that the constitution requires at least a 25% turnout for any
elections in the Russian Federation. In November 1994, under an amended
electoral law, 14 deputies (out of 47 total) were elected to the State
Soviet despite turnout in their districts below 25%, Russian TV
reported. Fedorov, who has long been at odds with the anti-reformist
majority in the soviet, announced that the ruling gave him the right to
dissolve the soviet, Segodnya reported. However, the court's decision,
published in Rossiiskaya gazeta on 13 July, states that the ruling does
not affect the legitimacy of the Chuvash State Soviet or the authority
of 33 deputies who were elected with sufficient voter turnout. Segodnya
noted that Fedorov, who served as Russian justice minister from 1990 to
1993, surely understood the ruling but was dissatisfied because the 33
deputies remaining in the soviet will still be able to override his
vetoes. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA ADOPTS NEW PROCEDURE FOR CONSIDERING BUDGET. The parliament's lower
house has adopted a law on the procedure for considering the 1996
budget, Rossiiskie vesti reported on 14 July. The new law calls for
three readings of the draft, instead of the previous four. The
government's draft must be submitted to the Duma by 1 August, along with
a preliminary report on the socioeconomic situation during the current
year and a forecast for developments in 1996. The Central Bank must
submit a draft of monetary and credit policy for 1996 by 15 September,
and the draft budget must receive its first reading by 10 October.
Within one month after the Law on the 1996 Federal Budget is adopted by
the Duma, the government must submit to the parliament a draft of
anticipated quarterly income and expense distribution. The government is
also required to give monthly briefings and submit comprehensive
quarterly progress reports to the Duma. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA BOOSTS SOCIAL SPENDING. The Duma passed a number of laws on 12 July
increasing social spending, Segodnya reported the following day. A new
version of the Law on the Subsistence Minimum was approved, which
provides for all families with a joint income below the poverty line to
claim benefits. (An earlier draft was rejected by the Federation
Council.) The legislation will cost an estimated 14.2 trillion rubles in
spring 1995 prices. The deputies also passed amendments to the Law on
Employment in the second and third readings and amendments to
legislation on protection for citizens affected by radiation from
Chernobyl. The latter stipulates continued support for those involved in
the clean-up operation and those living in contaminated areas but annuls
foreign trade privileges for funds and organizations set up following
the disaster. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

GOVERNMENT COMMISSION DEBATES WAGE ARREARS. At a session of the
government commission on payments problems, the Labor Ministry said wage
arrears totaled 6 trillion rubles by 1 July, Segodnya reported on 13
July. The problem is mainly attributable to interenterprise debt, but
the state also owes 1 trillion in delayed wages to the defense industry,
agro-industrial sector, and mining industry, according to the paper.
Finance Minister Vladimir Panskov said the situation has been
exacerbated by the fact that defense enterprises are producing more
goods than the government has ordered and that the "power" ministries
have given their personnel pay increases not envisaged in the budget.
Segodnya also noted that the Defense Ministry is financing the Chechen
war at the expense of defense procurement, capital construction, and
research and development. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

FOREIGN TRADE TURNOVER UP. Russia's foreign trade turnover equaled $59.9
billion (exports--$35.6 billion; imports--$24.3 billion) during the
first half of 1995, which is a 19% increase compared with the same
period last year, Segodnya reported on 13 July. Of the $59.9 billion,
$46.7 billion involved trade with countries other than former Soviet
republics and $13.2 billion trade with CIS states. -- Thomas Sigel,
OMRI, Inc.

FOREIGN FIRMS MUST REPORT INCOME. A new Russian tax law requires foreign
corporations to indicate to the State Tax Service income sources,
Segodnya reported on 13 July. The corporations will also be required to
open accounts in Russian banks in order to pay the taxes. -- Thomas
Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

RETAIL PRICES RISE IN SECOND QUARTER. Russian retail prices rose by an
average of 25% (8.5% in April; 7.9% in May; 6.7% in June) during the
second quarter of 1995, Rossiiskaya gazeta reported on 14 July, citing
Goskomstat. During the first half of 1995, retail prices increased by an
average of 78%. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

DEMONSTRATIONS IN TURKMENISTAN. An unprecedented protest march took
place on 12 July in Turkmenistan. An estimated 1,000 protesters, mainly
ethnic Turkmen, marched in Ashgabat calling for new presidential and
parliamentary elections, Izvestiya reported the next day. The
demonstrators distributed leaflets calling on local ethnic Russians to
pay no heed to possible rumors that the march was directed against the
"Russian speaking part of our country." Calling on them to "be on our
side," the protesters appealed to local Russians to stop being patient
with the "lies and promises" of Turkmenistan's president, Saparmurad
Niyazov. On 13 July Reuters reported that hundreds of police and
security officers trailed the estimated one-hour-long march. According
to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Turkmen Service, police arrested
some protesters; how many is unclear, however. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI,
Inc.

SENTENCES HANDED DOWN IN INTEFER CASE. The Tajik Supreme Court returned
death sentences for three men involved in the assassination of
businessmen Vladimir Nirman, Russian Television reported on 13 July. The
case was widely publicized in Tajikistan because Nirman was head of the
Interfer Tajik-American joint venture. Investigators determined that
Nirman was killed for around $3,000. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

SINKIANG DELEGATION IN BISHKEK. On 13 July an official delegation from
Sinkiang arrived in Bishkek, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported the same
day. It reached an agreement with Kyrgyz authorities under which
Kyrgyzstan will supply the autonomous region with electricity in
exchange for petroleum. -- 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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