To live is so startling, it leaves little time for anything else. - Emily Dickinson
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 137, Part I, 17 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

YELTSIN IN HOSPITAL FOR ANOTHER WEEK. President Boris Yeltsin will
remain in the hospital for an additional week and has canceled all
appointments through 23 July, including a planned trip to Norway that
was still scheduled to go ahead after Yeltsin checked into the hospital
last week, agencies report. Earlier reports said Yeltsin planned to
leave the hospital on 17 July. The Kremlin has refused to allow
television cameras into his room to dampen speculation about the true
state of his health. ITAR-TASS released a photograph of the president on
14 July, but it provided few details of Yeltsin's condition. The
official Kremlin photographer is still waiting for a chance to take a
picture, AFP reported. Russian television stations continue to report
that the president is working from his bed. Yeltsin's wife, in a rare
public appearance, said her husband is fine and accused the media of
"verbal sadism," in its coverage of his illness, Reuters reported. --
Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS SET FOR 17 DECEMBER. President Yeltsin signed a
decree officially setting 17 December as election day, removing
lingering doubt over whether the elections will be held, Ekho Moskvy
reported on 14 July. Although the December date is not a surprise,
Yeltsin's announcement came earlier than expected since the law allowed
him until 17 August to set a date, Segodnya reported on 15 July.
Political parties and blocs now have the right to hold meetings to
nominate candidates and collect the 200,000 signatures necessary to gain
registration; they must have those signatures ready 50 days before the
elections. On 14 July, the Duma adopted the law defining the boundaries
of the single-mandate districts. Candidates for those seats cannot begin
collecting signatures until the law is signed by the president, a step
the electoral law requires by 18 August, Russian Public TV reported. The
parliament and the president have yet to determine whether elections
will be held to the Federation Council. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

LEBED TO RUN FOR DUMA IN TULA. Lt. Gen. Aleksandr Lebed, former
commander of the 14th Army in Moldova and a leading figure in the
Congress of Russian Communities (KRO), announced that he will run for
the State Duma in a single-member constituency in Tula, AFP reported on
15 July. Lebed will discuss his campaign plans with regional KRO leaders
in Tula later this week. He refused to comment on speculation that he
will run for president in 1996. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

BUSINESS SECTOR PLANS POLITICAL ACTIVITY. Business leaders will
participate in the parliamentary elections mainly by providing financial
support to candidates, according to a roundtable discussion sponsored by
the Trade and Industry Chamber and the Russian Association of Political
Technologies, Segodnya reported on 14 July. Participants in the talks
estimated that winning one seat would cost at least $200,000-$250,000.
Business circles will mostly concentrate their attention on single-
member districts. Covering the same conference, Kommersant-Daily
reported that most business people have so far paid little attention to
the campaign. Nevertheless, the speakers at the conference, mainly
political scientists, believe that business will play a leading role in
it. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

GROZNY TALKS POSTPONED AGAIN. The Russian-Chechen negotiations in Grozny
have again adjourned after intensive talks on 15 July failed to produce
agreement on a political accord, Russian and international agencies
reported. Both delegations will carry out consultations during a planned
three-day break. The Russian delegation head, Minister for Nationalities
Vyacheslav Mikhailov, said on his return to Moscow that while some
disagreement persists over the issue of Chechnya's future status, he
expects a final political agreement to be signed soon after the
scheduled resumption of talks on 19 July. An additional reason for the
delay in the talks is the sudden illness of Chechen lead negotiator
Usman Imaev, who has a serious viral infection. Mikhailov said it would
not be expedient to continue talks without Imaev. -- Scott Parrish,
OMRI, Inc.

ZHIRINOVSKY DENOUNCES GROZNY NEGOTIATIONS. In a 15 July press release,
Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky demanded that the
negotiations in Grozny be terminated, Radio Mayak reported. The
statement described the Chechen negotiators as "bandits," and also
called for the expulsion from Russia of the OSCE mission in Chechnya,
which Zhirinovsky accused of acting as a "middleman" for Chechen
President Dzhokhar Dudaev. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

EVERY SIXTH FAMILY AFFECTED BY NARCOTICS PROBLEMS. Experts from the
Institute for Social and Political Research of the Academy of Sciences
estimate that every sixth family in Russia is affected by addiction to
illegal drugs, Ekho Moskvy reported on 16 July. The experts said the
highest concentrations of addicts are found in port cities and regions
where illegal drugs are grown. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

PROCURATOR OPENS CASE AGAINST SATIRICAL TV SHOW. The Procurator
General's Office opened a criminal case against the popular NTV
satirical show "Kukly" (Puppets) for allegedly insulting the honor and
dignity of the president (Article 131 of the Criminal Code), Kommersant-
Daily reported on 15 July. At issue is a sketch portraying a puppet of
President Yeltsin begging on a train and carrying a baby resembling
Yeltsin's top bodyguard Aleksandr Korzhakov. Another controversial
sketch featured Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin selling parts of a
gas boiler. Kommersant commented that the "extreme stupidity" of the
comedy sketches had provoked "equivalent stupidity" from the
authorities. On the same day, Viktor Shenderovich, the author of the
sketches, suggested that prosecutors hire "qualified jurists" to explain
the difference between a person and a puppet to them, Ekho Moskvy
reported. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

STEPPE REGION EVICTS CAUCASIANS. The administration of Perelyubskom
Region in Saratovskii Oblast has forbidden Armenians, Azerbaijanis, and
other Caucasians and non-Russians from obtaining temporary residence
papers. It has also instructed the head of the regional police to
resettle all "southerners" who have no permanent residence papers. On 15
July, a reporter for Izvestiya wrote that nearly 100 people had already
left the area, that all points of trade belonging to them were closed,
and that only "blacks" were being asked to show their documents. Local
Russians demanded the new policy saying they had suffered a poor harvest
and that few peasants have received wages, while a few Caucasian traders
own stores. The head of the administration and the local procurator
acknowledged that the moves were not legal but said ignoring mass
opinion could lead to pogroms. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc.

LUKIN ON NATO EXPANSION. In an interview with Segodnya published on 15
July, Vladimir Lukin, chairman of the Duma Committee on International
Affairs, criticized both Russian and Western approaches to the issue of
NATO expansion. Lukin contended that there is no "vacuum of power" in
Central and Eastern Europe, because neither Germany nor Russia presents
a real threat to the countries of the region. Hence the question of NATO
expansion is not urgent, he argued, and there is sufficient time to
carefully consider alternative security structures for Europe. Lukin
criticized Western leaders for publicly declaring that Russia has no
veto over NATO expansion, a view which he termed "legally correct" but
"politically senseless." He also lambasted the Yeltsin administration,
saying Russian proposals to expand the OSCE as an alternative to NATO
expansion are "unrealistic" -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

PRAVDA CRITICIZES START-2 TREATY. In an article published on 14 July,
Pravda criticized the provisions of the START-2 Treaty. The paper argued
that because of the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, the impending expansion
of NATO, and continuing economic difficulties in Russia, the country has
no alternative but to rely on strong nuclear forces to ensure its
national security. In those circumstances, the paper questioned the
sharp reduction in nuclear forces called for by the treaty, especially
cuts in land-based ballistic missiles, which are the heart of the
Russian nuclear force. Hearings on the ratification of the START-2
treaty are currently underway in the Duma. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

CLOSER MILITARY TIES WITH SOUTH AFRICA. South African Defense Minister
Joe Modise and his Russian counterpart Pavel Grachev signed an agreement
on closer military cooperation in Moscow on 14 July, Russian and Western
agencies reported. The ties will include exchanges of military
delegations, joint exercises, and training. The two countries will also
launch a joint project to develop Russian jet engines for South Africa's
French-built Mirage fighters. Modise, the former commander of the
African National Congress' Spear of the Nation, underwent military
training in the Soviet Union in 1964. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIAN SPACE BOOSTERS ARRIVE IN U.S. Two Russian NK-33 rocket engines
arrived at the Aerojet plant in Sacramento on 14 July to undergo a
series of tests, a company press release reported. Built in Samara by
the Samara State Scientific and Production Enterprise, the NK-33 was
designed some 25 years ago as part of the Soviet Union's efforts to put
a man on the moon. If the tests are successful, Aerojet intends to
modify the engines for use in the American space program. -- Doug
Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

GOVERNMENT PROPOSES WAGE RAISE WITHOUT PRINTING EXTRA MONEY. The
government has approved and sent to the Duma a draft law raising the
minimum monthly wage from 48,700 rubles ($10.70) to 55,000 rubles
($12.10), Labor Minister Gennadii Melikyan told reporters on 15 July.
The increase would take effect on 1 August. According to Segodnya,
Deputy Finance Minister Anron Siluanov said the raise was funded by
channeling additional budget revenues accrued from inflation. Siluanov
said the raise would not affect financial stabilization because it will
not be funded by printing additional money, as previous raises have
been. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA PASSES LAND CODE. After failing once in March and twice in June
because of opposition from conservative Agrarian and Communist party
deputies, the Duma passed the Russian Federation Land Code on its first
reading on 14 June, Segodnya reported. Prepared by the Duma Agrarian
Committee, where the Russian Agrarian Party members constitute the
majority, the draft Land Code provides for extremely severe restrictions
on private land ownership which could threaten the entire process of
reforms in Russia. A whole range of bills in connection with the code
will have to be passed before effective implementation can take place.
-- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

OVER 2,500 BANKS OPERATE IN RUSSIA. According to the Russia's Central
Bank department on banking supervision, 2,568 banks were registered in
the country as of 1 July which includes 1,556 share-based banks and
1,012 incorporated banks, Kommersant-Daily reported on 14 July. Since
January, 775 banks have been granted hard currency licenses. Due to
banking legislation violations, 71 banks have had their licenses
withdrawn since the beginning of the year. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

RUBLE RALLIES BY 15 POINTS TO DOLLAR. The ruble rallied by 15 points to
4,550 to $1 in MICEX trading on 14 July, Russian and Western agencies
reported. The volume of trading amounted to $65.62 million on initial
demand of $58.76 million and supply of $105.62 million. -- Thomas Sigel,
OMRI, Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

ASHGABAT PROTESTORS BRANDED DRUG ADDICTS. Turkmen authorities have
attempted to discredit a 12 July protest march in Ashgabat,
international media reported. An unidentified spokesman for the Turkmen
Foreign Ministry told Reuters on 14 July that the protesters did not
have political demands and "were drunk people high on drugs, petty
hooligans." Turkmen Interior Minister Kurganmukhamed Kasymov and State
Security Service Chief Saparmurad Seidov said on Turkmen national
television that the protesters "were trying to avoid their criminal
responsibility for engaging in the drug trade," Reuters reported citing
Interfax. According to Turkmen security sources, 100 people took part in
the march, while Interfax estimated that there were between 300 and 500
participants. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

RAKHMONOV IN TEHRAN. In the first such visit of its kind, Tajik
President Imomali Rakhmonov arrived in Tehran on 16 July for three days
of talks with his Iranian counterpart Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, AFP
reported. The talks are aimed at strengthening bilateral economic ties.
Rakhmonov called his visit "historical," while Rafsanjani described
Tajikistan as an "important" country that has a great religious and
cultural affinity to Iran. He also said Iran is determined to revive the
earlier cooperation that began after the collapse of the Soviet Union
but later stalled because of Tajikistan's internal situation. Tehran had
supported the Tajik opposition against Rakhmonov following a 1992 coup
in which he swept aside a coalition of democratic and Islamic groups.
Since the spring of 1994, Iran and Russia have tried to bring an end to
the intra-Tajik conflict. Rakhmonov's visit is a likely cause for
concern among the Tehran-supported Tajik Islamic opposition as it may
signal that Iran is drifting towards support for the neo-communist Tajik
government. -- 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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