|Every custom was once an eccentricity; every idea was once an absurdity. - Holbrook Jackson|
No. 151, Part I, 4 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 YELTSIN DELIVERS SPEECH FROM HOSPITAL ON CHECHEN ACCORD. In a speech broadcast by Russian Public TV (ORT) on the evening of 3 August, President Boris Yeltsin praised the military agreement recently signed in Grozny, saying it provides "a real chance of completely ending the fighting and bringing peace to Chechnya." He added that talks on the still unresolved issue of Chechnya's political status "must continue" but reiterated that Chechnya must remain within the Russian Federation. The president also defended his decision to send troops into Chechnya last December. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. REACTION TO YELTSIN SPEECH. President Yeltsin's speech, taped in an office at the sanitarium where he is recovering from a heart ailment, was only Yeltsin's second public appearance since his hospitalization in July. The tape also left an impression that Yeltsin might not be strong enough to deliver a ten-minute speech without interruption. Lev Ponomarev, a leader of the Democratic Russia movement, which has harshly criticized Yeltsin's policy in Chechnya, said the speech was "Orwellian." -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. SUPPORTERS ANNOUNCE PLANS TO RE-ELECT YELTSIN. Three little-known Russian organizations announced their plans to support President Yeltsin's candidacy for a second term on 3 August, ITAR-TASS reported. The organizers are the Moscow Regional Fund for the Support of the First Russian President, the United Democratic Center, and the Russian Energy and Technology Congress. The groups plan to set up a regional network to collect the one million signatures necessary to register a presidential candidate. Yeltsin has yet to announce his intentions. Vladimir Komchatov, the president's representative in the city of Moscow, told the news conference that if Yeltsin did not seek a second term, the groups would support whomever he nominates instead. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. SIGNATURES COLLECTED TO CALL SPECIAL DUMA SESSION. Duma member Aleksandr Yegorov announced that the necessary 90 deputies had signed a demand for a special Duma session to approve the district boundaries for the 225 single-mandate seats in the December elections, Ekho Moskvy reported on 3 August. The session is needed to overcome the veto passed by the Federation Council just before the Duma began its summer vacation. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. NEW ADVERTISING COMPANY AT RUSSIAN PUBLIC TELEVISION. Sergei Blagovolin, director-general of the partly-private Russian Public TV company (ORT), announced that the network has created the company ORT-Reklama to sell advertising time on Channel 1, ITAR-TASS reported on 3 August. When ORT took over Channel 1 broadcasting privileges from Ostankino on 1 April, it suspended advertising until 1 August. ORT reaches an estimated audience of 200 million viewers in the former Soviet Union, and depending on the time of day, a one-minute advertisement on the network will now cost between $1,500 and $28,000. Sergei Lisovskii, the chairman of the large advertising agency Premier-SV, was hired to head ORT- Reklama, even though ORT's new advertising rules, announced by then- director general Vladislav Listev before he was assassinated on 1 March, were ostensibly designed to reduce the influence of large private agencies on Channel 1 advertising. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. LAPTEV ON THE PRESS AND THE CAMPAIGN. State Press Committee Chairman Ivan Laptev warned that if steps are not taken quickly to support the printing industry, candidates might not be able to have campaign literature printed in time for the December parliamentary elections, Russian Public TV reported on 3 August. Laptev added that since there is no clear legal definition of "state-owned" versus "private" newspapers, radio, and television companies, the Central Electoral Commission's proposal to allow political advertising and certain types of campaign coverage only in the state-owned mass media could cause "very big problems," Russian TV reported. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. IRKUTSK CONSIDERS ITS RELATIONS WITH MOSCOW. The Irkutsk Oblast administration is developing a treaty and more than 30 other documents to regulate its relationship with Moscow, ITAR-TASS reported on 3 August. The main issues addressed include the ownership of natural resources, social benefits, health care, crime prevention, science, and culture. Six republics, Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Karachaevo- Cherkessiya, Kabardino-Balkariya, Yakutiya (Sakha), and Buryatiya, have already signed treaties with Moscow, but no oblasts have done so. Irkutsk Governor Yurii Nozhikov said, "It is time to stop the practice of dividing the members of the federation into first class republics and second class krais and oblasts." -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. TWO VIEWS ON ROLE OF REGIONS IN SVERDLOVSK GUBERNATORIAL ELECTIONS. Voters' views on the proper level of autonomy for Russian Federation subjects will decide the outcome of gubernatorial elections to be held in Sverdlovsk Oblast on 6 August, according to Izvestiya on 4 August. Nine candidates are registered in the race, but Sverdlovsk administrative head Aleksei Strakhov and regional Duma Chairman Eduard Rossel are the clear front-runners. Strakhov heads the regional branch of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's bloc, Our Home is Russia. Rossel, who was Strakhov's predecessor as administrative head, once proposed creating an independent Urals Republic and is a vigorous advocate of greater regional autonomy. It was Rossel who pressed for the holding of direct gubernatorial elections in the province. Rossiiskie vesti reported on 4 August that Strakhov had accumulated a campaign war chest of 793 million rubles ($180,000) from private contributions. Rossel is estimated to have about 250 million rubles ($57,000) in his campaign fund. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. BELGOROD OBLAST ADMINISTRATION TAXES FOREIGN LANGUAGE NAMES. In an effort to "preserve the purity of the Russian language," Belgorod Oblast administration officials have started levying a special tax on companies that use foreign letters in their names, ITAR-TASS reported on 3 August. Companies using non-Russian letters will be taxed the equivalent of more than $6,000. Foreign names written in Russian letters will cost companies the equivalent of more than $3,000. There are also regulations in Moscow on the use of foreign letters by companies. Foreign-language inscriptions in advertisements must be explained in Russian. Companies are also required to transliterate their names into Russian on store signs or billboards. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. MAYOR OF MOSCOW AGREES TO AMEND POLICY TOWARDS CHECHENS. Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov said he considers Chechens to be Russians, ITAR-TASS reported on 2 August. Luzhkov made the statement when he met with representatives of the Chechen diaspora in Moscow on 2 August, the second such meeting in the last six months. The representatives had asked Luzhkov to consider repealing the obligatory registration of Chechens as foreigners and the mayor promised to do so as soon as negotiations in Chechnya are successful. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc. RESIDENTS LEFT UNAWARE OF MERCURY SPILL IN RIVER. An increase in the amount of mercury has been discovered in the Severnaya Dvina River, Izvestiya reported on 4 August. The mercury was traced to the Kotlasskii pulp and paper complex in Arkhangelsk. It is the second time this year mercury has been spilled into the river, the first was in January when several tons polluted the waters. For five days, residents were not told that the water was unsafe to drink. A commission was created by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources to investigate the January accident. Although a group of academics disputed the commission's statement that the water was safe, the officials who initially hid the accident were not punished, and so for a second time residents found themselves drinking and bathing in mercury-laden waters, unaware that a spill had occurred. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc. KOZYREV: RUSSIA WILL HELP KUWAIT STRENGTHEN DEFENSES. Speaking in Kuwait City at the end of an official visit, Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev told journalists that Russia is ready to help Kuwait "strengthen its defense capabilities," agencies reported. Kozyrev, who persuaded Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to recognize Kuwait last November, also offered to mediate a dispute between Kuwait and Iraq over missing Kuwaiti prisoners. The visit is the latest step the ongoing Russian diplomatic effort to gain international support for the gradual lifting of UN economic sanctions on Iraq, with which Russia had extensive economic ties prior to the UN embargo. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. CZECH SATELLITE LAUNCHED FROM PLESETSK. Dusting off a work-horse space booster that has been in use since 1960, Russian Space Forces on 3 August placed two satellites in orbit from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, ITAR-TASS reported. The main payload was a Russian Interbol-1 satellite but it in turn carried a Czech-made space research module called Magion- 4 which will be ejected on the seventh or eighth day of the flight. The satellites were placed into orbit by a four-stage Molniya booster rocket, which is a direct descendant of the world's first ICBM, the Soviet SS-6 Sapwood. The commander of the Space Forces, General Vladimir Ivanov, told ITAR-TASS that his troops would place the first Chilean- designed spacecraft into orbit from Plesetsk on 28 August. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. GERMANS TURN MORE HOUSING OVER TO RUSSIAN MILITARY. German officials in Bonn announced on 3 August that the German-financed housing construction program for Russian forces that withdrew from former East Germany is nearly complete, ITAR-TASS reported. Altogether, 38,000 of the planned 45,000 flats in 42 cantonments have been built. According to the report, program will cost Germany DM 8 billion. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. GOVERNMENT APPROVES 1996 DRAFT BUDGET. The Russian government announced the 1996 draft federal budget on 3 August, Russian and Western agencies reported the same day. Aiming to reduce monthly inflation to 1.2% and lower the budget deficit to 3.9% of GDP, the plan calls for 411 trillion rubles ($75 billion) in spending and 329 trillion rubles ($60 billion) in revenues, leaving a deficit of 82 trillion rubles ($15 billion). The biggest budget item remains defense at 79 trillion rubles ($14 billion), up from 51 trillion rubles this year, taking up 19.2% of the federal budget, slightly less than last year's figure of 20.9%. The budget allocates 15 trillion rubles to education ($2.7 billion). The government plans to borrow $9 billion from foreign creditors, down from $12 billion this year. Privatization is projected to bring in 11 trillion rubles ($2 billion), compared to 9 trillion rubles ($1.6 billion) this year. The State Duma will examine the budget when it convenes in September. Finance Minister Vladimir Panskov said he expects a difficult battle ahead as virtually every cabinet minister is unhappy with his allocation. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. ROSEKSPORTLES SEEKS INVESTMENTS. Russia's leading supplier of wood and timber, the Roseksportles, has launched a program designed to attract medium and long-term investments from Russian and foreign banks in the domestic wood and timber industry, Segodnya reported on 2 August. The joint-stock company plans to raise $1.5 billion. Roseksportles Director Valerii Kaikaev said the company's turnover was about $230 million during the first half of 1995 and is expected to hit $550-600 million by the end of the year. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA AZERBAIJAN POPULAR FRONT TO BE BARRED FROM PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS? In direct contravention of a pledge by Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev last month that all political parties would be allowed to field candidates in the 12 November parliamentary elections, on 2 August the Azerbaijan Popular Front was refused registration by the Ministry of Justice. The ministry said the party had allegedly "been involved in illegal and anti-state activities," Reuters reported on 3 August, quoting AzPF leader Gulamhussein Aliev. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc. THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OF KAZAKHSTAN. Under the new constitution, which will be voted on at the end of August, Kazakhstan's Constitutional Court will be replaced by a Constitutional Council. According to Izvestiya on 3 August, six of the 11 members of the court published an open letter in the local press disagreeing with changes to the republic's system of government and the expanded powers of the president. The court ceased to function when the rest of the judges declined to continue working with those who signed the letter, saying their colleagues had violated the principle of noninterference in politics. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev claims the scandal had no effect on the decision to remove the term "Constitutional Court" from the new constitution. However, the draft presented in July still contained the term. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc. CIS BLACK SEA FLEET SAYS UKRAINIAN NAVY MISINFORMS KIEV. The Black Sea Fleet's press center rejected Ukrainian accusations that its commander is undermining the negotiations on dividing the fleet, ITAR-TASS reported on 3 August. The statement disputed the Ukrainian accusation that Ukrainian navy chief Vice Admiral Volodymyr Bezkorovainy had been denied a seat on the honor stand at the Navy Day celebrations, claiming he had stayed away to attend a joint U.S.-Ukrainian exercise. The press center said a number of Ukrainian senior officials attended the celebration, including the interior minister, the security service chief, and the Ground Forces commander. -- Doug Clarke, 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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