The road uphill and the road downhill are one and the same. - Heraclitus
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 141, Part I, 21 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

FEDERATION COUNCIL FAILS TO OVERRIDE YELTSIN VETO ON PARLIAMENTARY
POWERS. Only 89 Federation Council members voted on 20 July to override
Yeltsin's veto of a bill that would give the parliament greater powers
to gather information, ITAR-TASS reported. The override attempt needed
118 votes. Those members who voted to overturn the veto said the bill
will enable parliament to carry out its constitutionally-defined
functions; Yeltsin warned that it created a "confrontational danger" in
the relationship between the executive and legislative branches. --
Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA APPROVES COMPROMISE VERSION OF LAW ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT. The Duma
approved a compromise version of the law on local government on 20 July,
Rossiiskie vesti reported. Many of the regional governors in the
Federation Council had rejected an earlier draft on 3 July because they
felt that it would give too much of their power to cities, towns, and
villages in their jurisdictions. Anatolii Sliva, chairman of the Duma
Committee on Local Government, said the psychology of current leaders is
preventing a greater distribution of power to local governments. --
Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

CONCERN OVER AMERICAN INVOLVEMENT IN INDEPENDENT TV. The liberal
newspaper Moskovskii komsomolets charged on 20 July that the non-profit
organization Internews, which is linked to the U.S. Information Agency
and the American fund to support independent television broadcasting in
Russia, exerts undue influence over 47 independent regional television
stations, reaching an audience of 30 million people in Russia. The paper
noted that Internews created and largely finances the Independent
Broadcasting System, the largest Russian association of private
television stations. The paper added that it is not difficult to foresee
the consequences of an American "takeover" of regional Russian
television, saying, "He who pays the piper orders the music." -- Laura
Belin, OMRI, Inc.

GREEN MOVEMENT TO RUN FOR PARLIAMENT. The new electoral bloc Green
Movement of Russia, which will include the Russian Green Party, Social-
Ecological Union, Green Cross, and the All-Russian Society for the
Preservation of Nature, will compete in the December parliamentary
elections, ITAR-TASS reported on 20 July. Green Party secretary Aleksei
Gurnev said the environmentalist bloc would not cooperate with any
existing nationalist, communist, or democratic political parties on the
grounds that all traditional parties are consumerist and "morally
antiquated." -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

CONTROVERSY OVER SHUMEIKO'S REMARKS ON ABKHAZIA. One hundred and three
Duma deputies signed an appeal to the Federation Council stating that
its chairman, Vladimir Shumeiko, harmed Russia's national interests when
he accused Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba of genocide and compared
him to Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev on 13 July, ITAR-TASS reported
on 20 July. The appeal asks the upper house of parliament to clarify its
position toward Shumeiko's statements, Ardzinba, and the Abkhaz people.
The Council is unlikely to comply with the Duma's request; on 20 July,
Council deputies voted down a proposal from Tatarstan President and
Council deputy Mintimer Shaimiev to hold a debate on Shumeiko's remarks.
-- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

GAIDAR RENEWS CALL FOR DEMOCRATIC UNITY. In response to Yabloko leader
Grigorii Yavlinskii's assertion that disunity among democratic ranks "is
not a tragedy" in Izvestiya on 12-13 July, Russia's Democratic Choice
leader Yegor Gaidar again called for unity, Literaturnaya gazeta
reported on 19 July. Gaidar stressed that while there are differences
within the democratic camp, they should be set aside until more
fundamental issues are resolved, such as "will there be a market,
private property, and democracy?" -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

GROZNY NEGOTIATIONS RESUME. Talks between Russian and Chechen
negotiators in Grozny reopened on 20 July with discussions focusing on
the final wording of a proposed agreement, international and Russian
agencies reported. Minister for Nationalities Vyacheslav Mikhailov, the
chief Russian negotiator, said only the four lines of the proposed
document that define the status of Chechnya remain in dispute. In
response to questions, Mikhailov denied that the Russian delegation was
making excessive concessions, adding "we are seeking a compromise, and
we have almost found it." Sporadic fighting in Grozny and other areas of
Chechnya on 19 July resulted in the death of one Russian serviceman and
the wounding of four others, ITAR-TASS reported. Negotiations are
scheduled to continue on 21 July. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

NEW FEDERAL TROOPS COMMANDER IN CHECHNYA. Lt. Gen. Anatolii Shirkov has
been named commander of the joint group of federal forces in Chechnya,
Interfax reported on 19 July. He replaces Col. Gen. Anatolii Kulikov who
was named Interior Minister on 6 July. There had been speculation that
Kulikov would be replaced by his deputy, Anatolii Romanov. -- Doug
Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA SUPPORTS REHAB FOR CHECHNYA VETS. The State Duma has called for the
establishment of a medical and psychological rehabilitation system for
soldiers called to duty in Chechnya and their families, ITAR-TASS
reported on 20 July. In a related matter, the Moscow Military District's
press service told ITAR-TASS on 20 July that 1,500 wounded servicemen
from the district had been treated in local hospitals. According to the
report, most of them had already been discharged. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI,
Inc.

DUMA CUTS SERVICE FOR CONSCRIPTS IN COMBAT. The State Duma amended the
law on military service on 20 July so that conscripts who serve in areas
of military action will serve 18 rather than 24 months, Interfax
reported. President Yeltsin had signed the controversial law in April,
extending the draft to 24 months. The Duma also decided to preserve
draft deferments for single sons supporting a lone parent older than 50.
The amended law was forwarded to the Federation Council. -- Doug Clarke,
OMRI, Inc.

ANOTHER BANKER KILLED. Yugorskii Bank president Oleg Kantor was found
dead with his throat cut early in the morning on 20 July at a dacha
outside of Moscow, Russian and Western agencies reported. One of the
bank's guards, Oleg Nepravdy, was found dead by detectives several
meters from the dacha with a gun in his hand, stabbed in the throat and
wounded by two bullets. Earlier this April, the vice president of the
same bank, which was founded by oil and gas interests, was killed along
with his guard. News sources differ on the number of bankers and
businessmen killed in the last few years, but a spokesmen for the
Russian Association of Bankers told Reuters that since 1994 there have
been 30 assassination attempts on top bankers and that 16 have been
killed. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc.

MALARIA DIAGNOSED IN CENTRAL RUSSIA. At least 107 cases of malaria were
diagnosed on 20 July in Voronezh, in Central Russia, ITAR-TASS reported.
The outbreak was worsened by the draining of an artificial lake in the
city, leaving mud and shallow water for mosquitoes to breed. For years,
however, many people in Russia have claimed that the architectural
design of the prefabricated Soviet apartment blocks allows mosquitoes to
breed in the basements. Although some reports claim that malaria has
only been a major problem in the Central Asian republics of the former
Soviet Union, Russia has experienced occasional outbreaks in the past.
-- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc.

DISAGREEMENT OVER THE SECURITY OF SUNKEN NUCLEAR SUBMARINE. The sunken
nuclear-powered submarine Komsomolets has "been localized and will [not]
represent a serious threat over the next 20-30 years," Anatolii
Sagalevich, an academician, said on 19 July. The head of the team that
is working on the Komsomolets in the Norwegian Sea said that experts had
been able to seal the submarine's bow, thus preventing nuclear waste
from escaping. However, he told Interfax that he could not exclude the
possibility of "an unauthorized nuclear explosion" aboard the boat. When
it sank in April 1989, it carried two nuclear-tipped torpedoes. -- Doug
Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA CRITICIZES FRANCE ON NUCLEAR TESTING. Adding its voice to already
widespread criticism, the State Duma passed a resolution on 20 July that
calls on France to cancel its planned series of nuclear tests, ITAR-TASS
reported. The resolution expressed "serious concern" with the French
decision to resume nuclear testing this September and added that France
should find "the courage needed to reconsider." -- Scott Parrish, OMRI,
Inc.

RUSSIAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER IN IRAQ. For the second time in a month,
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Viktor Posuvalyuk is in Baghdad to hold
talks with Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz on Iraq's compliance with
UN disarmament resolutions, Western agencies reported on 20 July. After
reviewing a critical report from the UN Special Commission on Iraqi
Disarmament, the UN Security Council recently voted to extend economic
sanctions against the country for an additional 60 days. Aziz told
Posuvalyuk that Iraq had now "removed all excuses used in the past" to
hinder the lifting of the sanctions, adding that the time had come for
the UN Special Commission to end its mission. Russia, which signed a
major contract for the joint development of Iraqi oil fields in June,
advocates a gradual lifting of the sanctions. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI,
Inc.

UNEMPLOYMENT GRADUALLY INCREASING. Despite signs that unemployment might
surge in Russia, it is only gradually increasing at the moment, Federal
Employment Service head Fedor Prokopov told Russian and Western agencies
on 20 July. Unemployment reached 7.7% in June, up slightly from 7.1% at
the beginning of the year. Prokopov said unemployment will rise to 8.3%
by the end of the year, according to official estimates. Those figures
are based on labor force surveys which are substantially higher than
data based on people registering for unemployment benefits, because the
benefits are too small to attract many of the country's jobless.
Prokopov said Russia's unemployment rate has been low compared to many
former communist countries of Eastern Europe. In addition, he noted that
many Russians, raised in the tradition of collectivism, are reluctant to
leave jobs even when they have not been paid for months. -- Thomas
Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

LUZHKOV LAUNCHES AMBITIOUS CONSTRUCTION PROJECT. Moscow Mayor Yurii
Luzhkov laid the cornerstone of a massive new underground business and
cultural complex next to the Kremlin on 20 July, Izvestiya reported. The
Russian Cultural Center will cover 182,000 square meters and will house
exhibition centers, concert halls, a 300-room hotel, hundreds of stores,
restaurants, offices, and an underground parking lot. The complex is a
joint project between the Russian Culture Ministry, the Moscow city
government, and the Turkish construction firm ENKA. The first stage of
construction is slated to be completed by February 1996. The entire
project is due for completion in 1999. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

RESTORATION OF CHECHEN ECONOMY WILL COST 4.5 TRILLION RUBLES.
Restoration of the shattered Chechen economy will cost 4.5 trillion
rubles ($1 billion), according to Russian Finance Minister Vladimir
Panskov, Radio Rossii reported on 20 July. In his report to a special
session of the Duma, Panskov noted that the Finance Ministry has already
allocated about 2 trillion rubles ($4.4 million) to Chechnya and claimed
that the expenses connected with the restoration of the Chechen economy
will not increase the spending side of Russia's federal budget. --
Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

LAW ESTABLISHED ON SUBSISTENCE MINIMUM. The Federation Council adopted a
law on 20 July that defines the subsistence minimum as a basis for
determining minimum salaries, pensions, stipends, and other social
allowances, Radio Rossii reported. Preliminary calculations for 1
January 1996 place it at 218,000 rubles ($48) per month. People with
incomes that fall below this level will be eligible for an allowance
from the state. The amount of the subsistence minimum will be indexed to
inflation on a quarterly basis. The law will go into effect after it has
been signed by President Yeltsin. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT OR RICOCHETING ROCK? Authorities in Uzbekistan
denied rumors circulating in the republic that President Islam Karimov
had survived an assassination attempt, Reuters reported on 20 July. A
spokeswoman for Uzbekistan's national security service, Natalya
Kochubey, said an unidentified object struck and dented the wind-shield
of the president's car on 17 July, the agency reported, citing Interfax.
Experts are analyzing the car. She said there are "no grounds" to assume
that there had been an attempt on Karimov's life, noting that "it is
quite possible" that a stone ricocheted off the wheels of a car in front
of Karimov's vehicle. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

AKAYEV SIGNS ECONOMIC AGREEMENTS IN MALAYSIA. Kyrgyz President Askar
Akayev and his Malaysian counterpart, Mahathir Mohamad, signed a number
of bilateral economic agreements, according to Western agencies on 19
July. Akayev asked for more Malaysian investment in Kyrgyzstan's mining
and tourism industries. Last year, trade between Kyrgyzstan and Malaysia
amounted to about $100,000, according to AFP. The Kyrgyz president is on
a tour of Southeast Asia. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.

CIS

BELARUSIAN TAX LAWS STILL NOT IN LINE WITH RUSSIA'S. Belarus has yet to
make its legislation regulating taxation on foreign economic activities
comply with Russia's despite the fact that customs controls between the
two countries were lifted on 15 July, Segodnya reported on 20 July.
Currently, Belarus has a lower value-added tax than Russia on goods
imported from third countries. Under the customs union agreement, Russia
and Belarus should have had their legislation on foreign trade, customs,
and taxation completely standardized by early May. -- 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
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Copyright (C) 1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights
reserved.


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