I'm going to turn on the light, and we'll be two people in a room looking at each other and wondering why on earth we were afraid of the dark. - Gale Wilhelm
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 142, Part I, 24 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

RYBKIN FORMS LEFT-CENTER BLOC WITHOUT AGRARIANS. State Duma Speaker Ivan
Rybkin announced the formation of his long-awaited left-center bloc on
21 July, Segodnya reported. The coalition includes about 25 small
parties, but not the Agrarian Party of Russia, by far the most important
potential member of the coalition. Agrarian Party leader Mikhail Lapshin
said his party would campaign independently and he cast doubt on the
idea that Rybkin could actually form a bloc, NTV reported on 23 July. In
addition to Rybkin, one of the leaders of the new bloc will be Col. Gen.
Boris Gromov, the last commander of Soviet forces in Afghanistan and a
critic of the Chechen war. The bloc will hold a founding congress by 20
August. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

FEDERATION COUNCIL FAILS TO DISCUSS DUMA LAW ON ITS FUTURE FORMATION.
The Federation Council lacked a quorum on 21 July and could not discuss
a Duma-approved law calling for future members of the Council to be
elected rather than appointed by local executive and legislative
branches, Russian Public TV reported. Instead, parliamentary leaders
decided to take the unprecedented step of allowing each member to vote
in writing even if he or she is outside of Moscow. The results are
expected on 27 July. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA FINISHES SPRING SESSION. The Duma ended its spring session on 21
July and will not meet again until 4 October, Izvestiya reported. The
paper said that by adopting bills on the budget and elections, the
parliament had begun to establish the basis for a rule-of-law government
in Russia. Yabloko's Viktor Sheinis told ITAR-TASS that the spring
session wasted too much time on political questions that did not affect
legislation. Communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov, however, felt the
session was more productive than previous ones because of the Duma's
vote of no-confidence in the government, and attempts to impeach the
president. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA COMMISSION BLAMES YELTSIN FOR CHECHNYA CRISIS. The Duma Commission
on Chechnya released a report blaming President Yeltsin for the crisis
in Chechnya and recommending that a special commission be created to
impeach him, Ekho Moskvy reported on 21 July. The report held Defense
Minister Pavel Grachev and former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev
partly responsible for the crisis and also sharply criticized the
actions of outspoken human rights defender and war critic Sergei
Kovalev. Commission Chairman Stanislav Govorukhin recommended that a
constitutional amendment be adopted to exclude Chechnya from the Russian
Federation. Four of the commission's 10 members refused to sign
Govorukhin's report, including Yabloko member Viktor Sheinis, who called
the report's conclusions "unreliable" and "shameful." -- Laura Belin,
OMRI, Inc.

FORMER SECURITY MINISTER BARANNIKOV DIES. Former Security Minister
Viktor Barannikov, 54, died of a heart attack on 21 July, ITAR-TASS
reported the next day. Barannikov headed the Security Ministry from
January 1992 until July 1993, when he was fired for violating "ethical
norms" and "serious deficiencies in work." He was involved in the hard-
line parliamentary uprising against Yeltsin in October 1993, after which
he served five months in prison before being released under the February
1994 amnesty passed by the Duma. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA ASKS PRESIDENT NOT TO CHANGE MEDIA LEADERS BEFORE ELECTION. Despite
voting down a similar measure on 5 July, the Duma passed a resolution
asking the president and government not to replace leaders of the state-
owned mass media during the upcoming campaign for parliament and
president, Russian TV reported on 21 July. Duma Press and Information
Committee Chairman Mikhail Poltoranin said the request, which passed by
a vote of 242 to one, applied to the news agencies ITAR-TASS and RIA-
Novosti, along with Russian TV (Channel 2) and the government newspaper
Rossiiskaya gazeta, whose editor Natalya Polezhaeva was fired earlier
this month. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

MOSCOW REFUGEES RESETTLED. Moscow authorities have decided to move all
refugees who now live in various Moscow hotels and hostels to a special
refugee center in the Solntsevo municipal district, even though
residents consider the region to be ecologically dangerous because of
nearby industry, Moskovskii komsomolets reported on 22 July. On 21 July,
Rossiiskaya gazeta reported that there are currently 500,000 to 1
million immigrants in the country with no clear legal status. The paper
laid the blame for the situation on liberal entrance regulations. --
Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc.

NOT ENOUGH RATIONS FOR RUSSIAN SOLDIERS. The Russian Defense Ministry
told Interfax on 21 July that it does not have enough money to feed the
troops. The minister has asked for extra funds (the equivalent of $555
to $666 million). In the meantime, soldiers in some areas are eating
emergency rations usually saved for war time or other crises. The
current budget allocates only 1,721 billion rubles ($380 million) for
food, which is only enough for 25% of the soldiers' meals. Bread
factories, among other food producers, have stopped delivering to the
army garrisons, which are unable to pay for the food, Krasnaya zvezda
reported on 21 July. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc.

SCIENTISTS STAGE ZOO SIT-IN. Three scientists, who were formerly
employed at the Moscow Institute of Scientific Research, sat in cages at
the Moscow zoo on 23 July, Russian and Western agencies reported. The
scientists said they wanted to show moral support for their colleagues
who work in research institutes that are going to be closed down because
of a lack of subsidies. The scientists, Yevgenii Spirodonov, Vladislav
Perlin, and Viktor Pekin, said they were not protesting but rather
trying to underline their belief that Russian scholars should be less
dependent on the state. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc.

MORE CASES OF CHOLERA. Cholera bacteria were found in the Urup River in
Krasnodar Krai on 22 July and a virulent form of the bacteria was found
the next day in Omsk, ITAR-TASS reported. In both places, authorities
have forbidden swimming on local beaches. Besides those, four other
cases have been reported recently: two in Moscow, one in Chechnya, and
one in Rostov-na-Donu. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc.

TWO SOLDIERS SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR HAZING REVENGE. Two soldiers, who
killed six of their comrades at a Far Eastern base in March 1994, were
sentenced to death by a military court, Moskovskii komsomolets reported
on 22 July. Both men told investigators that the killings were an act of
revenge against the soldiers who had beaten and humiliated them during
hazing. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIA SIGNS TRADE ACCORD WITH LIBYA. Russian Deputy Prime Minister and
Minister for Foreign Trade Oleg Davydov signed trade and technical
cooperation agreements with Libya on 22 July, international agencies
reported. The deals, worth an estimated $1.5 billion, provide for
Russian firms to construct electric power facilities and help modernize
Libyan oil and gas pipelines. Davydov said earlier difficulties with
Libya's $2.4 billion debt to Russia, "had been resolved," clearing the
way for the accords. He added that Russia "fully supports" Libya's
attempts to have UN sanctions imposed on the country in 1992 lifted,
adding that they have "no particularly firm foundations." -- Scott
Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIA STEPS UP PRESSURE ON AZERBAIJAN. A senior Russian diplomat told
Interfax on 22 July that Russia intends to increase political pressure
on Azerbaijan to route pipelines for oil exported from the Caspian Sea
region through Russia. The official said that Moscow planned "tough
measures to persuade Azerbaijan and other countries in the Caspian Sea
region to adopt a more realistic position" on the pipeline and other
issues related to the development of oil resources in the Caspian
region. Turkey and Iran are also pressing for oil from the Caspian
region to be exported across their territory. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI,
Inc.

RUSSIA REJECTS "MILITARY SOLUTION" TO BOSNIAN CONFLICT. Russian Foreign
Minister Andrei Kozyrev said on 21 July that attempts to turn the London
meeting on Bosnia into a "conference for the declaration of an air war"
on the Bosnian Serbs had failed, Russian and Western agencies reported.
Kozyrev reiterated Russian opposition to any escalation in the use of
force by UN peacekeeping troops in Bosnia. Russia remains committed to
finding a negotiated settlement, Kozyrev noted, complaining that "our
Western partners are artificially restraining the political process." --
Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

CHINESE BORDER COMMISSION MEETING. The Russo-Chinese commission on the
demarcation of the border is holding its sixth session in the Siberian
regional center Chita, ITAR-TASS reported on 20 July. Genrikh Kireyev,
the foreign ministry special envoy heading the Russian delegation
contrasted the positive attitude of the Transbaikal officials with the
"extremely negative" actions of certain leaders in the Primorsk Krai.
The former, he said had concluded an agreement with the Chinese over the
joint economic use of an island in the Argun River that will be handed
over to China. On the other hand, the stand of the Primorsk officials,
who have denounced the border agreement with China, "threatens to
disrupt all demarcation work, harm Russo-Chinese relations, and lead to
a reanimation of territorial claims," he said. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI,
Inc.

CENTRAL BANK TO ISSUE NEW BANK NOTES. In an effort to curb
counterfeiting, Russia's Central Bank will gradually introduce new bank
notes ranging in value from 50,000 rubles ($10) to 1,000 rubles (20
cents) beginning on 26 July, Moskovskii komsomolets reported on 22 July.
The bills will be circulated parallel to the old currency. The new notes
will have a protective thread that can be detected with a special
device. There will also be certain water signs on the new bank notes. --
Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

VALUE ADDED TAX TO INCREASE IN 1996. Russia plans to raise its value-
added tax (VAT) rate from 20% to 21% beginning in January 1996, Finance
Minister Vladimir Panskov told Russian agencies on 21 July. No details
were given on why the tax, which is added to goods or services at all
stages of production and is borne by the final purchaser, was being
increased or how much revenue Russia intended to raise with the measure.
Russia's 1995 budget states that VAT, which is easier to collect and
harder to evade than other taxes because it is based on consumption,
will bring in almost 50 trillion rubles out of a total anticipated tax
revenue of 128 trillion rubles, although the figures are not reliable.
-- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

FEDERATION COUNCIL APPROVES FOREIGN ECONOMIC ACTIVITY DRAFT LAW. The
Federation Council approved the bill "On State Regulation of Foreign
Economic Activity" on 21 July, Kommersant-Daily reported the next day.
Previously vetoed by President Boris Yeltsin, the new version stipulates
that the control of military exports is established under presidential
edicts. In the previous version, the parliamentarians had claimed the
right to control military exports. The bill awaits the president's
signature. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

NEW TYUMEN OIL CONGLOMERATE ESTABLISHED. A new Russian oil giant, the
Tyumen Oil Company, was established by grouping together the controlling
shares of 12 major oil enterprises, Russian and Western agencies
reported on 22 July. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin signed a
directive to establish the company on 21 July. It will include
Nizhnevartovskneftegaz, which produced 10.4 million tons of oil in 1994,
Tyumenneftgaz (0.77 million tons), the Ryazan oil refinery, and
Tyumenneftgazstroi. The Tyumen Oblast of western Siberia is one of
Russia's largest oil and gas producing areas. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI,
Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

UZBEK REVERSAL ON IRAN. Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Komilov, on a
visit to Tehran to attend the formal opening of Uzbekistan's embassy on
23 July, rejected the claims of "some western media" that his government
backed the U.S. trade embargo against Iran, IRNA reported. Claiming
illness, Komilov had earlier canceled a 12 May visit to Tehran after
Uzbek President Islam Karimov expressed support for the embargo against
Iran. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT DEPUTY KILLED. A Georgian parliament deputy for the
Agrarian Party, Soso Makhaldiani, was killed in his home village of
Chardzho on 22 July, AFP reported. According to police, the motive
appeared to be robbery rather than his political views. -- Lowell
Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

BAGRATYAN REAPPOINTED. Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan signed a
decree reappointing Grant Bagratyan as prime minister, Reuters reported
on 23 July, citing ITAR-TASS. The composition of the new government is
expected to be announced on 27 July when parliament is to meet for its
first session. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

TAJIK BUSINESSMAN KILLED IN DUSHANBE. The Tajik Interior Ministry
reported that the body of the vice-chairman of the Tajik-Austrian-U.S.
joint venture AAA was found in the Tajik capital on 21 July, according
to AFP. The ministry report said 32-year-old Zainiddin Echonkulov had
been shot several times. An investigation has been launched. -- Bruce
Pannier, OMRI, Inc.

TAJIK OPPOSITION PARTY REGISTERED AGAIN. The Democratic Party of
Tajikistan has been allowed to register officially again, Radio Rossii
reported on 21 July. The party was banned in 1993 along with other
"radical" parties in Tajikistan. According to the report, the party was
allowed to register itself again because its new platform does not
contradict the current constitution. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.

KAZAKHSTAN LIMITS IMMIGRATION. Kazakhstan has placed a limit on the
number of immigrants it will accept this year, Radio Rossii reported on
20 July. The government announced it will take 5,000 families this year
because of problems in resettling those Kazakhs currently living abroad
who would like to move to the country. The cabinet has set aside 250
million tenge (about $4 million) for the repatriation process. -- Bruce
Pannier, 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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