|Words that open our eyes to the world are always the easiest to remember. - Ryszard Kapuscinski|
No. 145, Part I, 27 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 ELECTION LEGISLATION ENDANGERED. If the parliament does not pass legislation on how to fix the boundaries of the 225 single-mandate districts in the Duma by 30 August, the Central Electoral Committee will declare that the districts used in 1993 will remain in force, Nikolai Ryabov announced on 26 July, ITAR-TASS reported. The Duma approved the legislation on 14 July, but the Federation Council rejected it on 21 July, after the Duma had already begun its summer recess. Ryabov said a special session of the Duma may be necessary next month, Segodnya reported on 26 July. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. PARTY SPENDING CAPS PLANNED. According to the Justice Ministry, 259 political parties currently have the right to participate in the elections. Parties can spend no more than 4.37 billion rubles ($950,000) during the course of the campaign, according to a draft directive prepared by the Central Electoral Commission, Russian Public TV reported on 26 July. Parties cannot accept any money from foreign countries, although there is no mechanism yet in place to prevent transfers from abroad. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. NEW STATE PRESS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN APPOINTED. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin appointed Ivan Laptev, editor-in-chief of Izvestiya in the 1980s, to replace liberal Sergei Gryzunov as chairman of the State Press Committee, which oversees press subsidies, Russian and Western agencies reported on 26 July. Laptev, who was chairman of one house of the USSR Supreme Soviet in 1991, had served as deputy press committee chairman since December 1994. Gryzunov had been appointed in November 1994 but subsequently came under fire for criticizing official press coverage of the military campaign in Chechnya. Chernomyrdin first announced Gryzunov would be replaced on 27 February, but President Yeltsin postponed the dismissal following widespread protests in the journalistic community. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. MOSCOW ALTERS APPROACH TO GROZNY TALKS. Following a 26 July meeting with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Minister of Nationalities Vyacheslav Mikhailov, who heads the Russian delegation to the Grozny negotiations, told ITAR-TASS that Moscow will no longer press for the signing of a political accord on the status of the republic. Mikhailov said the Russian side is changing its approach in order to "get the hostilities to stop" as soon as possible and "create the conditions for democratic elections" in Chechnya. The Russian delegation will now call for the inclusion of some subsidiary political questions, on which there is already agreement, into the final military accord. The resolution of Chechnya's status will be postponed until after new elections are held in the republic this November, Mikhailov added. The military accord calls for the disarmament of Chechen fighters, withdrawal of most Russian troops from Chechnya, and a prisoner exchange. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. GOVERNMENT FORMS "GREEN RUSSIA" MOVEMENT. Six days after several environmentalist groups announced the creation of a Green Movement to run for parliament, Environment Minister Viktor Danilov-Danilyan announced that 18 environmentalist groups agreed to join the new government-sponsored electoral coalition Green Russia, Russian TV and AFP reported on 26 July. Green Russia will advocate more laws to protect the environment and more state funding for preservation programs, including a forest protection plan. The new bloc will include the Ecological Women's Assembly and the Association of Veterinarians, as well as the Green Party and the All-Russian Society for the Preservation of Nature, who co-founded the Green Movement on 20 July pledging not to cooperate with any traditional political parties. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. NEGOTIATIONS TOWARD A COALITION OF COMMUNIST PARTIES. Several communist parties are negotiating to form a united bloc for the parliamentary elections called Communists of Russia, first secretary of the Russian Communist Workers' Party Viktor Tyulkin told ITAR-TASS on 26 July. However, Tyulkin said Gennadii Zyuganov, who leads the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, is still afraid that uniting with more left- wing communist parties will cost him the support of centrist voters. Meanwhile, Segodnya reported on 26 July that Viktor Anpilov's Workers' Russia, Stanislav Terekhov's Officers' Union and other hard-line groups including the National Salvation Front have formed the "People's Resistance 95" project, which will organize demonstrations this year to commemorate the August 1991 coup, the October 1993 parliamentary uprising, and the anniversary of the October 1917 Revolution. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. MAVRODI PROMISES TO PAY MMM SHAREHOLDERS IN NOVEMBER. Duma deputy Sergei Mavrodi, head of the controversial MMM investment fund, will begin to pay dividends to MMM investors starting on 16 November, one month before scheduled parliamentary elections, Radio Rossii reported on 26 July. According to a notice posted at the MMM office, investors who are members of Mavrodi's party or who voted for Mavrodi in the November 1994 Duma by-election will be paid first, followed by veterans, pensioners, and invalids. The payment plan is likely designed to boost Mavrodi's re- election chances. One day after winning the November 1994 by-election, Mavrodi suspended all payments to MMM investors, sparking protests outside MMM offices in Moscow. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. ADOPTIONS BY FOREIGNERS BLOCKED. The State Duma Committee on International Affairs has asked Procurator General Aleksei Ilyushenko to reverse his decision that a law on adoption be applied retroactively, Russian TV and ITAR-TASS reported on 26 July. According to the law adopted in March, Russian orphans and handicapped children may be adopted by foreigners only if no Russian family can be found. However, ITAR-TASS reported that changes in family and marriage legislation created a "legal vacuum" that halted adoption procedures for 120 handicapped children, which had started in March 1995. The Education Ministry had proposed that those adoption procedures that were started before the amendments came into effect should be completed according to the old regulations. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc. MINERS STRIKE AFTER TEACHERS PAID. Miners of the Tyrganskaya pits in Kuzbass are threatening to strike if they do not receive wages owed to them since May, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 July. The miners refused to descend into the mines when they learned that money from coal consuming clients had been allocated by the municipal authorities of the city of Prokopevsk to pay teachers' salaries. The municipal administration had been unable to pay the teachers since the end of the last school year. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc. SUIT AGAINST BRANCH OF MOON CHURCH. The Dzerzhinskii raion court of St. Petersburg is examining a suit demanding a ban on the activities of an association that is allegedly a branch of the Moon Church, ITAR-TASS reported on 26 July. The plaintiff in the suit is the St. Petersburg Committee for the Defense of the Family and Personality. Relatives of people who have joined the Moon Church have been seeking help at the committee. ITAR-TASS described the Moon Church as an organization which not only manipulates its members psychologically but which makes demands on them that are "foreign to inhabitants of Russia and the conditions of life in our country." -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc. U.S. COMPANIES TO MARKET RUSSIAN MILITARY SATELLITE IMAGES. Russian military satellites will conduct a space survey of several U.S. states and the resulting images will be processed and marketed by three U.S. companies, Yurii Milov, director-general of the Russian Space Agency, told ITAR-TASS on 26 July. Milov said a contract had been signed between Sovinformsputnik and the three companies: Central Trading Systems, Lambda Tech International, and Aerial Images. He said Russian military satellites of the Cosmos series would perform the survey, which would begin next year. While prices for the images had not yet been set, Milov said they would be "reasonable." -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. YELTSIN DISCUSSES BOSNIA WITH KOZYREV AND GRACHEV. As NATO threatened the Bosnian Serbs with air strikes, President Boris Yeltsin instructed Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev and Defense Minister Pavel Grachev to continue seeking an "exclusively political" solution to the conflict in Bosnia, Russian and Western agencies reported. A high-ranking Russian diplomat told ITAR-TASS on 26 July that during his recent visit to Belgrade, Kozyrev had received assurances that the Bosnian Serbs would not attack the Muslim enclave of Gorazde, adding that Russia will soon propose that an additional UN contingent that would include Russian troops be dispatched to Gorazde. Meanwhile, against the backdrop of a 26 July U.S. Senate vote to unilaterally lift the UN arms embargo on the Bosnian government, both presidential aide Sergei Karaganov and Vladimir Lukin, chairman of the Duma Committee on International Affairs, warned that if the U.S. takes such action, Russia would consider doing the same for Serbia. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. GOVERNMENT ADOPTS RESOLUTION TO SUPPORT AGRICULTURE. The Russian government adopted a resolution that orders the Finance Ministry to proceed an additional 6 trillion rubles ($1.3 billion) from the federal budget to finance domestic agricultural producers before 1 October, Rossiiskie vesti reported on 27 July. The 1995 budget envisioned spending of 8.8 trillion rubles on farm subsidies in 1995. Of 18.1 trillion rubles allotted to farms in the 1994 budget, only 10 trillion rubles were actually spent. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. KOZYREV VISITS VIETNAM TO STRENGTHEN ECONOMIC TIES. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev arrived in Vietnam on 27 July for a two-day visit aimed at strengthening economic and financial cooperation, AFP and ITAR-TASS reported the same day. Prior to 1991, the Soviet Union accounted for 60% of Vietnam's foreign trade; in 1994, it accounted for only 3%. Hanoi has repaid very little of the $10 billion debt to the Soviet Union which it had accumulated before 1991. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA ANOTHER DEMONSTRATION IN ASHGABAT. A group of 100 Turkmen women marched in a 26 July protest to the presidential palace in Ashgabat, Radio Liberty's Turkmen service reported the same day. The radio described the action as a "women's strike" against the decaying economic situation in the republic and the authoritarian rule of President Niyazov. The protesters were blocked by militia troops before they could reach the presidential palace. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIAN HAND IN TURKMEN DEMONSTRATIONS? A 12 July protest march in Ashgabat may have been instigated by Moscow, according to an article in the 23-30 July edition of Moskovkie novosti. It pointed out that a week before the "protest march," Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov signed a contract in Tehran to deliver 8 billion cubic meters of gas as part of deal to lay a pipeline linking Turkmenistan to Iranian and European markets. The paper also notes that Moscow's tolerance of Turkmen opposition activity in Russia and Ashgabat's unwillingness to agree to Russian plans to locate military bases on its territory are causes of friction in bilateral relations. Meanwhile, informal reports indicate some 200 people have been detained in Turkmenistan for their involvement in the protest march. Among this group, an unidentified 19-year-old youth who reportedly identified other participants in the action committed suicide upon his release, according to Radio Liberty's Turkmen service. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. TOO MANY DOLLARS IN KAZAKHSTAN? The purchasing power of the U.S. dollar is declining in Kazakhstan because of the inflow of credits from the IMF, the World Bank, and other international financial institutions, Trud reported on 25 July. At present, the republic has a trade surplus and the gold and foreign currency reserves of the National Bank are $1.277 billion and rising. These are not necessarily positive developments since they suggest that the economy is unable to absorb the amount of dollars now entering the country. The trade surplus, for example, may indicate that importers are having problems gaining access to dollar credits. Kazakh National Bank Chairman Daulet Sembayev also said many of the largest national enterprises are being transferred to foreign companies. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc. CIS CHERNOMYRDIN AND MARCHUK FAIL TO AGREE ON FLEET. Three hours of talks between Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Yevgenii Marchuk, failed to produce an agreement on the implementation of the Sochi accords on the Black Sea Fleet, Western and Russian agencies reported. The two prime ministers said Marchuk would return to Moscow on 2 August to hammer out the details of the division, status, and future location of the fleet. Both leaders expressed optimism that another week of work would lead to the final resolution of the remaining problems, while Chernomyrdin reiterated that President Yeltsin's planned visit to Kiev for the signing of a Ukrainian-Russian friendship treaty hinges on resolving the dispute. The fleet issue did not prevent the signing of four other Russian-Ukrainian agreements on culture, education, environmental protection, and the transit of Russian oil and gas across Ukraine. -- Scott Parrish, 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. ISSN 1211-1570
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