|When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years. - Mark Twain|
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 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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