Wherever there is love, there is peace. - Burmese proverb
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 139, Part I, 19 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 APPEARS HEALTHY ON TV. President Boris Yeltsin appeared healthy
in his first television appearance since being hospitalized on 11 July,
agencies reported. Yeltsin's appearance now may have been motivated by
claims that a photograph of the president released on 14 July was
actually a picture of him during an April vacation. Yeltsin's aides
claimed that the photo showed him in his hospital room, but Western
agencies pointed out that it was identical to shots of Yeltsin taken
while he was in Kislovodsk. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIA WARY OF ALTERING UN MANDATE IN BOSNIA. Foreign Minister Andrei
Kozyrev stated that Russia opposes any alteration of the current mandate
under which UN peace- keepers operate in Bosnia, ITAR-TASS reported on
18 July. Referring to plans to reinforce the peacekeepers, Kozyrev said
that while protecting those UN peacekeepers who are threatened by the
recent escalation of hostilities in Bosnia is "a top priority," actions
to achieve this goal "should not be confused with plans to bring in
forces which would not fulfill a peacekeeping but a fighting role." In
connection with the upcoming 21 July meeting of foreign and defense
ministers of the Contact Group, the acting Russian ambassador to the UN,
Vasilii Sidorov, told journalists that Russia would not support any
attempt to change the procedures which govern the use of NATO air power
to support the peacekeepers. Some Western commentators have suggested
that NATO should be empowered to launch air strikes without the prior
approval of the UN, as is now required. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

GROZNY DELEGATION HEAD MEETS WITH YELTSIN. Minister for Nationalities
Vyacheslav Mikhailov, the lead negotiator at the talks in Grozny, met
with President Yeltsin and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on 18
July, Russian TV reported. After the meeting, the president's press
secretary, Sergei Medvedev, said Yeltsin had approved a new Russian
proposal on the status of Chechnya, which Mikhailov will bring back to
Grozny for the scheduled reopening of negotiations on 20 July.
Chechnya's status remains the main stumbling block in the Russian-
Chechen negotiations. Also on 18 July, an opinion poll published in
Segodnya showed that only 26% of respondents said the Chechnya should be
forced to remain in the Russian Federation and 74% said it should not.
-- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

FINAL ARGUMENTS IN CHECHNYA CASE. The Constitutional Court heard final
arguments in the case concerning secret presidential and governmental
decrees authorizing the military campaign in Chechnya, Russian media
reported on 18 July. Anatolii Lukyanov spoke on behalf of Duma deputies
challenging the legality of the November and December 1994 decrees, and
Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai, representing the president and
the government in the case, argued that the deployment of armed forces
in Chechnya was not only legal but essential to protect Russia's vital
national interests. Judge Valerii Zorkin tried unsuccessfully to extend
the hearings to allow more testimony from expert witnesses, but he was
overruled by his colleagues. Judges will now consider the case in closed
session before handing down a decision. Parliamentary representatives
have vowed to take the case to regular court if they are dissatisfied
with the Constitutional Court's ruling, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Laura
Belin, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIA TO JOIN COUNCIL OF EUROPE IN 1996. Council of Europe General
Secretary Daniel Tarschys said on 18 July that Russia's application for
membership would probably be accepted early next year, Ekho Moskvy
reported. Tarschys made the statement during a meeting with Federation
Council Deputy Speaker Valerian Viktorov, adding that Moscow's recent
decision to pursue a political settlement to the Chechen conflict had
cleared the way for Russian membership in the council. -- Scott Parrish,
OMRI, Inc.

NTV HEAD: CASE AGAINST "KUKLY" DESIGNED TO INTIMIDATE THE MEDIA. Igor
Malashenko, director general of NTV, accused authorities of bringing
charges against the popular satirical puppet show "Kukly" in order to
intimidate the mass media, Russian media reported on 18 July. On 14
July, the Procurator General's Office opened a case against the show
under article 131 of the Criminal Code for allegedly insulting the honor
and dignity of the president and high-ranking government officials.
Malashenko said the criminal case was actually aimed at punishing the
network for its coverage of events in Chechnya, Russian Public TV
reported. On 13 July, procurators opened a separate investigation
surrounding a recent NTV interview with Chechen field commander Shamil
Basaev. Malashenko said NTV will continue to air "Kukly" on Saturday
evenings despite the charges against the show. -- Laura Belin, OMRI,
Inc.

RYZHKOV TO LEAD NEW ELECTORAL ALLIANCE. Nikolai Ryzhkov, former Soviet
prime minister under Mikhail Gorbachev, announced that he will lead the
electoral bloc "Power to the People" in the December 1995 parliamentary
elections, Radio Rossii reported on 18 July. On 17 July, Ryzhkov agreed
to top the party list of Sergei Baburin's nationalist Russian Public
Union (ROS). "Power to the People" unites the ROS and the movements
Fatherland, For Popular Self-Government, the Patriotic Union of Women,
and other organizations. Valentin Varennikov, one of the leaders of the
August 1991 coup, is also on the new bloc's organizing committee. --
Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

LEFT-CENTER BLOC FOUNDING CONGRESS POSTPONED. Ivan Rybkin has announced
that the congress of the Regions of Russia organization, planned for 22
July and intended to serve as the founding congress of his left-center
bloc, has been postponed until late August or September, Rossiiskaya
gazeta reported on 18 July. The reason given is to "think things over."
Unlike Chernomyrdin who has set up a right-center bloc, Rybkin has had
considerable difficulty finding allies. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

CONCERN OVER NATIONAL FACTOR IN CAMPAIGN. The official Rossiiskaya
gazeta expressed concern over the use of nationality issues in the
upcoming parliamentary campaign in its 18 July issue. The paper cited
numerous examples of campaigning for the national vote, including an
alliance between Yegor Gaidar and Aleksandr Yakovlev's political bloc
with Ukrainian, Polish, and Jewish organizations. The article quoted
Yevgenii Kim, the leader of the Confederation of Korean Associations, as
saying that "those attempts are very dangerous." He warned that
candidates seeking a seat in the Duma by discussing national differences
really have their own goals in mind. Kim, however, named Prime Minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin's Our Home is Russia as one bloc that does not list
national associations as its partners. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

CHOLERA BACTERIA IN VOLGOGRAD, NONE SO FAR ILL. The cholera bacteria has
been detected in Russia for the second time in a week, this time in
Volgograd, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 July. Olga Sukacheva, the chief
doctor of epidemic services, told the news service that they had brought
the town's 44 affected water reservoirs under control, and planned to
chlorinate all the sewers. She also said that no cases of a person
actually contracting cholera had yet been detected, and that anyone with
intestine-related illnesses would be examined. Last week, a case of
cholera had been reported in Rostov-on-Don, on the border with Ukraine,
which is suffering a cholera epidemic. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc.

MINERS THREATEN TO STRIKE AGAIN. Miners at the joint-stock company
Primorskugol have decided to strike because they again have not received
money from the state for their wages since April, when they received 50
million rubles for past wages in arrears. Radio Rossii reported that the
date of the strike depends on the outcome of an upcoming shareholders'
meeting. Meanwhile, Primorskugol's main customer, Dalenergo, has
announced a 300% increase in rates for electricity consumed by
enterprises. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc.

INTERNAL AFFAIRS MINISTRY SUPPORTS LAW ON ORGANIZED CRIME. In a briefing
at the Internal Affairs Ministry on 18 July, the ministry spokesman
blamed the lack of "normal laws" for the failure to prosecute organized
crime leaders who they say are exerting great influence in the
commercial sphere. The ministry is pushing for the passage of a new bill
on organized crime, under which a person could be imprisoned for
managing or being a member of a criminal group, even if they had not
committed a crime. The ministry did not specify how a criminal group
would be defined nor how to determine that an individual is a member of
such a group. Western experts who have examined the law have not voiced
concern that it might be a violation of civil rights, Trud reported on
17 July. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc.

MENATEP INCREASES BID FOR RED OCTOBER. Russia's Menatep banking group
increased the amount of money it is offering for shares in the Red
October chocolate factory from $7.50 to $9.50 per share on 18 July,
Western agencies reported. The move is the first hostile takeover bid on
the emerging Russian capital market. Menatep launched its bid through
its food company, Koloss, last week with an offer to acquire 51% of the
shares. Menatep holds less than 2% of the shares. Large shareholders
have been pressing for a higher offer, saying that the bid undervalued
the company. To acquire a majority holding, Menatep must buy 3.2 million
shares for a total of $30.4 million. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

OIL AND GAS EXTRACTION DECLINES. Russia extracted 153.4 million tons of
oil and gas in the first half of the year, 2.3% less than in the same
period in 1994, AFP reported on 18 July, citing Goskomstat figures. The
numbers showed that in the first half of 1995, 291.9 billion cubic
meters of gas were extracted, 2.5% less than in the same period one year
ago. The amount of oil refined fell by 3% to 91.7 million tons. The
figure for June alone was 15.1 million tons. In June, Russia produced
25.2 million tons of unrefined oil and gas compared with 26.2 million
tons in May, and 41.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas, down from
46.7 billion cubic meters in May. From January to June, Russia exported
46.3 million tons of oil to countries outside the CIS, which is 6.4%
more than the amount for the same period in 1994. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI,
Inc.

INFLATION RATE INDEX TOPS 100%. During the second week in July, Russia's
general inflation rate index amounted to 101.4%, Rossiiskaya gazeta
reported on 19 July. Since the beginning of the year, it has totaled
181%. The commodities tariffs increased twice as fast as the prices for
goods and food. The average cost of the 19 basic food items reached
204,000 rubles ($45) a month. The price rise of 1.8% for goods and
commodities in Russia's central region was the largest increase in the
country; in Western Siberia and the Far East costs rose by 1.1%. --
Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

TAJIK OPPOSITION CONVERGES ON TEHRAN. In a development as surprising as
the sudden appearance of Tajikistan's president in Tehran on 16 July,
the Islamic Renaissance Movement's (IRM) leader, Said Abdullo Nuri,
arrived in Tehran on 18 July. Other Tajik opposition officials will join
Nuri in Tehran to decide whether to hold peace talks with Tajik
President Imomali Rakhmonov, who is continuing his official visit to
Iran, according to an 18 July AFP report. Rakhmonov expressed a desire
to meet with Islamic opposition leaders in Tehran earlier in the week.
On 16 July, IRM vice president Akbar Turadzhonzoda told AFP the talks
would not go forward unless the "unavailable" UN special envoy Ramiro
Piriz-Ballon and Abdullo Nuri were present. Two days later,
Turadzhonzoda said his group will only hold talks with Rakhmonov if
officials of other opposition groups also participated; their expected
arrival suggests Dushanbe has accepted this new condition. According to
Turadzhonzoda, the Tajik government has refused until now to meet with
any opposition groups except the IRM. If the talks do go forward, they
will be held under Iranian auspices on the night of 19 July "at the
latest," he said. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

IRANIAN LOAN TO TAJIKISTAN. Iran agreed to give Tajikistan a $10 million
loan and expand bilateral cooperation, Reuters reported on 18 July,
citing Tehran radio. The station noted that 12 cooperation agreements
were signed; according to earlier media reports, flights between
Dushanbe and Tehran are to begin, Tajikistan will open an embassy in
Iran's capital, and several expert committees will explore areas of
possible cooperation. In other news, Tajik Prime Minister Dzhamshed
Karimov told a World Bank delegation on 17 July his republic will end
all its price controls by the end of this month, AFP reported the same
day. Citing ITAR-TASS, the agency noted the Tajik government also signed
a series of agreements on economic reform, including a privatization
program. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

CIS

MORE EU FOOD AID FOR CIS. The EU foreign ministers agreed in principle
on 17 July to continue food aid this winter to Armenia, Azerbaijan,
Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan but questions remain on how to fund the $260
million program, Reuters reported the next day. -- Michael Mihalka,
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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