Все к лучшему в этом лучшем из миров. - Вольтер
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 148, Part I, 1 August 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

RUSSIAN MOTION TO DISCUSS CROATIA FAILS IN UN. A Russian proposal that
the UN Security Council condemn the recent Croatian military offensive
in Bosnia failed to gain the support of other council members, Western
and Russian media reported on 31 July. Instead of adopting the Russian
proposal, the council simply reiterated earlier appeals for all sides in
the conflict to cease hostilities. Acting Russian delegate to the UN,
Vasilii Sidorov, blamed the U.S. for the council's failure to explicitly
condemn Croatian actions, which he said gave the "green light" to a
further escalation of hostilities by Croatia. -- Scott Parrish

DETAILS OF CONSTITUTIONAL COURT VERDICT. The Constitutional Court handed
President Boris Yeltsin a major victory with its 30 July ruling on the
constitutionality of three presidential decrees and one government
directive that initiated the military intervention in Chechnya, Russian
and Western agencies reported. The court ruled that both Yeltsin's 9
December 1994 decree on disarming illegal armed formations in Chechnya
and a subsequent 12 December 1994 government directive implementing it
were "fully consistent with the constitution." The ruling did strike
down two individual provisions of the government directive, one
restricting press coverage and the other calling for the deportation of
"dangerous individuals" from Chechnya. The other two presidential
decrees, one a "secret" decree of 30 November 1994 on restoring
constitutional order in Chechnya and the other a 2 November 1994 decree
on the basic elements of Russian military doctrine, were judged by the
court to be beyond its jurisdiction. -- Scott Parrish

REACTION TO CONSTITUTIONAL COURT DECISION. Constitutional Court Deputy
Chairwoman Tamara Morshchakova said the verdict was not unanimous and
that seven of the court's 19 judges will file "special opinions"
outlining their differences with the majority decision, Russian TV
reported. Presidential Chief-of-Staff Sergei Filatov said he is "fully
satisfied" with the verdict. Judge Valerii Zorkin, former chairman of
the court, declared that he fundamentally disagreed with the decision,
saying it showed that the court is "a prisoner of the letter of the law"
while ignoring its spirit. The pro-Communist newspaper Pravda criticized
the court for capitulating to the president, contending that the
president not only has "his own" procurator but now has the court in his
pocket as well. -- Scott Parrish

REACTION TO GROZNY ACCORDS. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin
congratulated the delegation of Russian negotiators, led by Minister for
Nationalities Vyacheslav Mikhailov, on the signing of the 30 July
military accord in Grozny, and told journalists that President Yeltsin
had fully approved its terms, Russian and Western agencies reported on
31 July. Presidential adviser Mikhail Krasnov added that Yeltsin would
soon appoint a special representative to Chechnya to oversee the process
of normalization. Mikhailov dismissed reports that Chechen President
Dzhokhar Dudaev had rejected the accord, and Russian negotiator Arkadii
Volskii assured journalists that the accord would "work" even if Dudaev
rejected it. Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov added that if the
agreement is implemented, the conditions for democratic elections can be
created in Chechnya within 2-3 months. In Chechnya, however, despite the
signing of the agreement, Russian military officials announced that six
federal servicemen and 35 Chechen fighters had died in clashes during
the last 24 hours. -- Scott Parrish

YELTSIN PLANS TO DEMOTE KOVALEV'S COMMISSION. President Boris Yeltsin is
planning to demote the presidential Human Rights Commission led by
Sergei Kovalev, an outspoken critic of the Chechen campaign, to a
section of the presidential administration that deals with citizen
correspondence, Ekho Moskvy reported on 31 July. The radio characterized
the new status of the commission as at the level of a "trash can." On 10
March, the Duma voted to abolish Kovalev's position as the Duma's Human
Rights Commissioner because nationalist and pro-communist deputies felt
that his criticism was embarrassing Russia. Yeltsin's expected decision
is seen as payback for Kovalev's criticism of the war. -- Robert Orttung

LAPSHIN SEES COMMUNISTS AS NATURAL ALLIES. Agrarian Party leader Mikhail
Lapshin said the natural allies for his party are the Communists, trade
unions, and industrialists, Sovetskaya Rossiya reported on 1 August.
State Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin had hoped to get Lapshin to join his
left-center alliance, comprising around 50 parties, that has close ties
to Yeltsin. Lapshin told reporters, however, that "you can never make a
tiger from 50 mice." -- Robert Orttung

LACK OF LEGISLATION THREATENS PARTY CONGRESSES. The Federation Council's
failure to adopt a law fixing the boundaries for the 225 single-member
Duma seats is jeopardizing the plans of Russia's political parties to
hold their congresses in mid-August, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 August.
Many parties had intended to nominate their candidates for the districts
and finalize the party lists for the December balloting at those
meetings. Without knowing the exact configuration of the districts, the
parties will not be able to nominate candidates for them, forcing them
to wait until the situation is clear. The Central Electoral Commission
must publish the district boundaries by 30 August but is waiting for the
parliament to adopt a law on the matter. Both houses of parliament are
in summer recess and there are no plans to convene a special session. If
no law is passed, the elections will be held according to the 1993
divisions. -- Robert Orttung

WOMEN'S GROUP CRITICIZES LACK OF REPRESENTATION IN PARLIAMENT. The
National Council for the 4th World Conference on Women has sent a letter
to President Yeltsin, the leaders of both chambers of parliament, and
Russia's political parties expressing concern about the low number of
women in the parliament, ITAR-TASS reported on 31 July. Of 450 Duma
members, only 57 are women, while there are only nine women among the
176 Federation Council members. The letter particularly objected to the
idea of delegating future Federation Council members from the local
leadership of Russia's regions and republics without voting. The letter
said such a procedure is undemocratic and threatens the achievement of
equal rights in the country by turning the upper house into a men's
club. Yeltsin does not want to hold elections to the upper house and is
threatening to veto a law that mandates them. -- Robert Orttung

FINN0-UGRIC MINORITY CONGRESS OPENS. The second congress of the Finno-
Ugric peoples began on 31 July in Kudymkar (a city in the Komi-Perm
autonomous district, 200 km north of Perm), Radio Rossii reported on 31
July. The Finno-Ugric languages include Hungarian and Finnish, groups
thought to have come from the Urals where Finno-Ugric groups still live.
Representatives from Finland, Estonia, and Hungary attended the
congress. The congress will consider a resolution on bringing legal
protection of human rights in Russia in line with international norms.
The document noted that despite the existence of legislation on
languages, attempts to implement such legislation in many regions have
been sabotaged. A resolution has also been proposed to give indigenous
peoples rights to land held by their ancestors and to compensation for
damages to land caused by industrial development. It is the fifth time
such a large gathering of Finno-Ugric peoples has been held. -- Alaina
Lemon

JAPANESE: RUSSIAN PACIFIC FLEET IN TROUBLE. Quoting what it said were
top secret documents from the Russian Pacific Fleet headquarters, the
Tokyo Shimbun reported on 30 July that the fleet today is only one-third
of its 1985 size. The newspaper, cited by the South Korean Yonhap news
agency, reported that the fleet now numbers 275 vessels with a total
displacement of 660,000 gross tons compared with its former size of 745
vessels and 1,890,000 tons. The reductions were blamed on the lack of
repair funds, old age, and arms control treaty cuts. Of the 35
submarines still in the fleet, only 23 are operational. The daily
reported that the Russian navy is considering a transferal of the
fleet's strategic submarines to the Northern Fleet. -- Doug Clarke

CABINET MINISTERS SUMMONED FOR EMERGENCY MEETING. Russian cabinet
ministers were summoned for an emergency meeting on 31 July to discuss
the results of the budget for the first half of the year and the 1
August draft deadline for the 1996 budget, Russian TV announced the same
day. Finance Minister Vladimir Panskov promised the draft budget would
be submitted to the Duma by the end of the week. According to ITAR-TASS,
ministers said industrial output had declined by only 4% in the first
half of 1995 compared to 17% over the same period in 1994. They also
noted that exports have grown and the ruble strengthened in the first
six months of the year. Panskov and Economy Minister Yevgenii Yasin told
Russian and Western media that the government's main task in the second
half of 1995 is to prevent a jump in inflation. The government aims to
limit monthly money supply growth to 1.5-2% for the rest of the year; it
rose an average of 7% a month in the first half of 1995, while consumer
prices rose an average of 10.1% in the same period. -- Thomas Sigel

VAZ HIKES AUTO PRICES BY 5%. From 1 August, the Volzhskii Automobile
Factory (VAZ) will hike automobile prices an average of 5%, ITAR-TASS
reported on 31 July. The move is a result of higher costs for materials
used in production. The cheapest model, the "Zhiguli 53," will cost
around 32 million rubles ($7,200) and the most expensive model, the
"Zhiguli 99," will be priced at around 53 million rubles ($11,900). --
Thomas Sigel

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

NEXT ROUND OF TAJIK PEACE TALKS, WHEN AND WHERE? Russian Deputy Foreign
Minister Albert Chernyshev arrived in Dushanbe on 31 July to discuss
bilateral relations and the next round of Tajik peace talks with Tajik
President Imomali Rakhmonov, ITAR-TASS reported. Both the Tajik
government and the opposition are willing to meet in August but cannot
agree on whether to meet in Ashgabat or Tehran. In an interview
published in the Iranian daily Iran on 24 July, Ali Akbar Turadzhonzoda,
a spokesman for the Tajik opposition, said that while the opposition
still wants a 40% share of the government, it is not seeking executive
power. The opposition wants a two-year transitional period during which
Rakhmonov would remain as president. -- Bruce Pannier

FIRST GROUP OF TAJIK REFUGEES RETURN HOME. The first 500 Tajik refugees
who had been living in Afghanistan were moved by convoy to Gorno-
Badakhshan on 29 July, Russian agencies reported. The repatriation plan
calls for 9,000 refugees to be returned by 1 September. The government
has been pushing to have all refugees repatriated by 9 September,
Tajikistan's Independence Day. The government views the return of the
refugees as a sign that the situation in the republic is returning to
normal and for just that reason, the opposition has been reluctant to
let them go back. The opposition has also been able use the refugees as
recruits for continual attacks on CIS border forces from bases in
Afghanistan. -- Bruce Pannier

TURKEY AND GEORGIA. On 31 July, Turkey and Georgia signed a framework
agreement on oil pipeline cooperation, AFP reported the same day.
Turkish President Suleyman Demirel, leading a delegation of government
officials, said in Borjomi that Turkey "insisted" on building a new oil
and gas pipeline through Georgian territory, adding, "They [the
Georgians] wanted this." Earlier the same day, Demirel and Georgian
parliamentary chairman Eduard Shevardnadze inaugurated a new border gate
at Turkgozu, international news agencies reported. Demirel and
Shevardnadze both said the gate will be a gate for peace in the region.
Demirel said Turkey wants to establish good relations with "everyone in
the region," specifically naming Greece, Iran, and Syria. Alluding to a
theme popularized by the Turkish right, he also said anyone who passes
through the gate will be able to go "all the way to Central Asia." The
first border gate between Turkey and Georgia opened in 1988; a third one
is expected to be opened in the near future. -- Lowell Bezanis

UZBEKISTAN'S ENERGY DEPENDENCE TO END? Two separate reports in the
Russian press suggest Uzbekistan is on its way to energy independence.
An article in Finansovye izvestiya (No. 53) citing World Bank experts
noted that Uzbekistan will stop importing Russian oil next year.
According to them, the commissioning of oil deposits at Kuktumalak and
Mingbulak, the completion of the first stage of the Bukhara oil
refinery, and the reconstruction of another refinery in Ferghana will
help Uzbekistan end its dependence on Russian oil. The paper noted that
Uzbekistan purchased 3 million tons of oil in 1994 and plans to buy only
750,000 tons in 1995. Meanwhile, Uzbekistan will also give up importing
liquefied gas from Russia after the Shurtan gas deposit is commissioned,
Kommersant-Daily reported on 27 July. -- Lowell Bezanis

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

The OMRI Daily Digest offers the latest news from the former Soviet
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Copyright (C) 1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights
reserved. ISSN 1211-1570


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