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OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 155, Part I, 10 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

MILOSEVIC ARRIVES IN MOSCOW; TUDJMAN REFUSES INVITATION. Serbian
President Slobodan Milosevic accepted President Boris Yeltsin's recent
invitation and arrived in Moscow on 9 August, Russian and Western
agencies reported. Yeltsin's attempt to mediate a settlement of the
conflict in the former Yugoslavia fell through, however, when Croatian
President Franjo Tudjman, after some confusion in Zagreb and Moscow,
declined the invitation. Tudjman claimed that talks on the conflict
required additional preparation and that Croatia could only participate
in such discussions if Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic, whom Yeltsin
had not included in his earlier proposal, was also invited. On 10
August, Izvestiya speculated that Tudjman's refusal had been prompted by
pressure from the Western powers who feared that Russia might broker a
Serb-Croat deal that would harm the interests of the Muslim-led Bosnian
government. Milosevic is scheduled to meet with Yeltsin and other top
Russian officials on 10 August. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

YELTSIN ON YUGOSLAV CONFLICT. In an interview with the Japanese
newspaper Nihon Keizai, carried by ITAR-TASS on 9 August, President
Yeltsin praised the activities of the UN peacekeepers in the former
Yugoslavia but expressed concern about recent decisions to deploy a
rapid-reaction force and simplify the procedures for using NATO air
power to support the peacekeepers. Yeltsin condemned the recent vote in
the U.S. Congress to ignore the UN arms embargo against the Bosnian
government, saying that the embargo should be tightened. Russia does not
favor the Serbs, Yeltsin claimed, but added that the accusations put
forward by the international war crimes tribunal against Bosnian Serb
leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic were "unjust" since the
conflict is a civil war in which nobody is either "right" or "guilty."
On the same day, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev released a
letter to UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali that harshly
condemned the recent Croatian military offensive and claimed it had been
"indirectly encouraged from the capitals of a number of leading world
states." -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

COMMUNISTS, LDPR WANT TO DISCUSS BOSNIA AT SPECIAL SESSION. The
Communists and Vladimir Zhirinovskii's Liberal Democratic Party of
Russia have proposed that the situation in Bosnia be included on the
agenda of the Duma's 12 August special session, ITAR-TASS reported. On 8
August, several deputies proposed that Bosnian Serb leader Radovan
Karadzic be invited to the meeting. The deputies will also try to adopt
a Duma statement on the situation or pass a law calling on Yeltsin to
abandon UN sanctions against rump Yugoslavia unilaterally. The Duma
Council rejected all those proposals because, according to Duma Speaker
Ivan Rybkin, the initiative to hold the special session addressed only
the issue of the Russian elections, Russian Public TV reported. --
Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

CHEMICAL WEAPONS USED IN CHECHNYA? A group of UN-sponsored humanitarian
aid workers have discovered evidence suggesting that chemical weapons,
possibly chlorine gas, were used during the Chechen conflict, AFP
reported on 9 August. The aid workers found that a large number of
inhabitants of the Avatury area, southwest of Grozny, are suffering from
skin irritations which are "consistent with the use of toxic chemicals."
Many trees in the area are defoliated. Witneses reported seeing yellow
gas near ground level in the area in May. Similar evidence, in addition
to containers resembling those used for chemical warfare, has also been
found in other parts of Chechnya, the aid workers told AFP. Russian
officials have denied that federal forces could have used chemical
weapons, although the aid workers speculated that the chemicals could
have been obtained from local oil refineries. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI,
Inc.

REDUCED GOLD RESERVES INDICATE POSSIBLE FUNDING OF CHECHEN WAR. The
Russian government has repeatedly claimed that the Chechen war and
restoration costs are being financed solely within the federal budget's
framework, but some speculate that the government resorted to selling
gold to finance the war operation, Segodnya commented on 9 August. The
newspaper noted that recent statistics from the State Committee for
Precious Metals showed that on 1 July, gold reserves amounted to 278
tons, compared with 375 tons on 1 December 1994, prior to the large-
scale warfare in Chechnya. Within seven months, gold reserves fell 97
tons. Since a troy ounce of gold (31.3 grams) during this period was
fluctuating between $350-390 on world exchange markets, Russia could
have gained no less than $1 billion (approximately 4.5-5 trillion
rubles) if the gold was sold. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA CALLS SPECIAL SESSION TO DISCUSS DISTRICT BOUNDARIES. The Duma
Council passed a motion on 9 August to hold a special session of the
legislature that will vote on the law defining district boundaries for
the 225 single-mandate districts in the December elections, Izvestiya
reported on 10 August. The Federation Council failed to pass an earlier
version of the law just before the beginning of the Duma's summer
recess. Duma member Vladimir Isakov, one of the sponsors of the special
session which will be held on 12 August, feared that if the Duma did not
adopt a law, Yeltsin might try to disband the new Duma on the grounds
that its election lacked a proper legal basis. The new electoral law
states that there can be up to a 15% difference in the size of the
districts, while a 20% difference was allowed in 1993. If no new law is
adopted, the 1995 elections would have to be held on the basis of the
1993 law. The new division reduces the number of districts in the east
while increasing them in central Russia. The special session's
organizers fear that they may not be able to muster a quorum among the
vacationing deputies. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

RUTSKOI HITS THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL. General Aleksandr Rutskoi arrived in
Murmansk to open a regional branch of his Derzhava electoral bloc, ITAR-
TASS reported on 10 August. Rutskoi has already announced his candidacy
for the presidency and believes that his party can win a majority of the
seats in the Duma. Rutskoi is one of the most active campaigners on the
circuit, having already visited 49 regions of the Russian Federation,
Izvestiya reported on 9 August. Rutskoi's campaign manager, Viktor
Kobelev, organized Vladimir Zhirinovskii's campaign in 1993. -- Robert
Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

RULES ON USE OF CAMPAIGN FUNDS PUBLISHED. Detailed instructions approved
by the Central Electoral Commission on the use of campaign funds by
political parties and electoral associations were published in the
official newspaper Rossiiskaya gazeta on 9 August. The rules correspond
to guidelines laid out in the law on parliamentary elections, adopted on
21 June, which provided for campaign funds to be kept in special
temporary accounts in Russia's Sberbank. The instructions specify how
the bank accounts must be opened, limits on individual contributions and
how they must be deposited, and how candidates must register the receipt
and expenditures of campaign funds. The electoral commission may file
suit to revoke the registration of candidates or political parties if
funds outside the special Sberbank accounts are used for campaign
purposes. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

MUSLIM ORGANIZATIONS PREPARE FOR ELECTIONS. Two large Muslim
organizations are preparing for the December 1995 parliamentary
elections, according to the 6-13 August issue of Moskovskie novosti. The
Union of Muslims, led by Akhmet Khalitov, was organized this year to
represent the interests of Muslims of various political orientations; it
already claims to have 50 regional branches. The All-Russian "Nur"
(Light) movement, chaired by Khalit Yakhin, also hopes to unite Muslim
voters and claims 47 regional organizations. The paper pointed out that
both movements have had some connection to Vladimir Zhirinovskii's
Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR). Khalitov was involved in the
LDPR in its early years but split with Zhirinovskii; Yakhin is currently
an aide to LDPR Duma deputy Aleksei Mitrofanov. -- Laura Belin, OMRI,
Inc.

REWARD SET AT $1 MILLION TO FIND KIVELIDI'S KILLERS. The Russian
Business Round Table has offered a $1 million reward for information
leading to the capture of the killers of murdered banker Ivan Kivelidi,
Russian and Western agencies reported on 9 August. Kivelidi, who headed
Rosbiznesbank and the Round Table, died on 4 August after being
poisoned. The banker is the latest in a series of Russian businessmen to
be assassinated. The Round Table's vice-president and former Russian
finance minister said, "The police are incapable of doing anything, or
else they are in league with the criminals." -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

INCREASE IN NUMBER OF BORDER-CROSSINGS. The head of the federal border
service, Maj. Gen. Mikhail Shkuruk, told ITAR-TASS on 9 August that the
number of checkpoints at the border has nearly doubled in the last two
to three years because of an increase in the number of border-crossings.
Shkurok said that in the last seven months of 1995, 33.5 million people
have been allowed to cross along with 4 million transport vehicles. In
comparison, during the whole year of 1992, only 13.7 million people and
fewer than 1.4 million vehicles crossed. Since the beginning of the
year, border guards have stopped 550,000 people trying to cross
illegally. The agency framed the story with statistics on contraband
narcotics and weapons smuggling since the beginning of 1995
(respectively 412 kg and 600 guns), underlining growing fears in Russia
of increased migration and refugees. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc.

YELTSIN ISSUES SAVINGS LOAN SCHEME DECREE. Russian President Yeltsin
issued a decree ordering the cabinet to begin issuing bonds in September
that will be available to the entire population, ITAR-TASS reported on 9
August. The main purpose of the savings loan scheme is to help people
protect their savings from inflation. Commenting on the loan scheme,
Presidential aide Aleksandr Livshits said the government will issue sets
of bonds over the next three years. Each set will consists of 10 series
and each series will have bonds worth a total of 1 trillion rubles. The
State Savings Loan bonds are fully guaranteed by the state. -- Thomas
Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

GULIZADE: PROTECT US FROM RUSSIA AND IRAN. A paper referring to Russia
as "the biggest enemy of Azerbaijan" was presented in Washington DC by
Vafa Gulizade, foreign policy adviser to the president of Azerbaijan,
Moskovskaya pravda reported on 9 August. The U.S. press described
Gulizade's report as "sensational" and "scandalous," according to the
paper. It noted that Gulizade said Iran is "spending vast sums" to
export fundamentalist Islam to Azerbaijan and is cooperating with Russia
to suppress Azerbaijan's independence. Gulizade was reported as arguing
that Russia is manipulating the newly independent states by playing one
off the other and views Azerbaijan as the main obstacle to exercising
control over the region because Baku has refused to accept the
stationing of Russian troops on its soil. His call for the U.S. and the
West in general to protect Azerbaijan from Russian and Iranian
influences, the paper reported, will likely "negatively affect" Russian-
Azerbaijani relations. Noting that 70% of Azerbaijan's exports go to
Russia and some 1.5-3 million Azerbaijanis live there, the paper argued
that "ordinary" people in Azerbaijan, as opposed to the present
government, favor drawing closer to Russia. The subtext of the article
contained a warning: it noted that the "Azeri community in Moscow"--
which includes pro-Russian alternatives to Azerbaijani President Heidar
Aliev--"strongly condemned" Gulizade's report. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI,
Inc.

IRAN TO AZERBAIJAN: NO TIES TO ISRAEL. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali
Akbar Velayati warned Azerbaijan to stay away from Israel or risk
instability in the Caucasus region, AFP reported on 9 August, citing
IRNA. Velayati, who is visiting Almaty, made the remarks to Azerbaijani
President Heidar Aliev, who is also visiting Kazakhstan. Any further
rapprochement between Azerbaijan and Israel will harm Islamic unity and
"those governments themselves" the minister warned. Tehran's relations
with Baku have been increasingly rancorous since Iran was forced out of
the "deal of the century" to exploit oil in the Caspian Sea. Aliev is
expected to visit Israel later this year. Tehran has not used such
strong language with Turkmenistan, with which it has close ties,
although Ashgabat maintains economic and political ties with Tel Aviv.
-- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

KAZAKHSTAN TO SELL URANIUM TO LIBYA. The government of Libya is prepared
to purchase uranium from Kazakhstan, AFP reported citing the official
Libyan news agency Jana on 9 August. No details of the agreement were
available. Libya was recently critical of what the country perceived as
secrecy surrounding the 600 kg of enriched uranium that the U.S.
purchased from Kazakhstan in 1994 and appealed to the United Nations for
the destruction of the material. The Libyan report did not specify how
the country would use the uranium. -- 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
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Copyright (C) 1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights
reserved. ISSN 1211-1570


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