|When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain|
No. 162, Part I, 21 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 Central, Eastern, 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 TRADE UNIONS ABANDON POSSIBLE RYBKIN BLOC. The trade union movement Trade Unions of Russia-For the Elections founded by the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia (FNPR) has voted to campaign independently rather than join the left-center bloc that Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin is planning to set up later this month, ITAR-TASS reported 18 August. At the movement's conference, the regional trade union leaders rejected the idea of cooperating with Rybkin as the FNPR leadership had proposed. They particularly objected to Rybkin's close ties with President Boris Yeltsin and his recent polemics with Agrarian Party leader Mikhail Lapshin, Russian Public TV reported on 18 August. The trade unions' decision deprives Rybkin's bloc of several million potential supporters. FNPR leader Mikhail Shmakov said Rybkin could not make it to the conference because of "family obligations," NTV reported. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. PROCURATOR FILES ADDITIONAL CHARGES AGAINST KUKLY. The procurator general has filed tax evasion and illegal currency dealing charges against Vasilii Grigorev, the producer of the satirical show Kukly (Puppets) which is already under investigation for insulting the president and other top officials, ITAR-TASS reported 18 August. The charges are punishable by terms of five to 10 years in prison as well as stiff fines, penalties much greater than the previous charges carried. Grigorev represents a French company which paid tens of thousands of dollars for the show in cash without completing the proper documents, according to the procurator's charges. NTV, which broadcasts Kukly, said the procurator came up with the new charges because the investigation into charges of discrediting government officials is encountering problems. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. FIRST FIVE PARTIES GAIN REGISTRATION TO BEGIN CAMPAIGN. The Central Electoral Commission has officially registered the first five party lists, allowing the parties to begin the process of collecting the necessary 200,000 signatures to get on the ballot, Russian TV reported 18 August. The parties are Forward, Russia!, Women of Russia, both currently represented in the Duma, and the lesser-known Conservative Party, Union of Communists, and Advocates of Lower Taxes. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. COUP ANNIVERSARY MARKED. In a 19 August interview with the popular daily Komsomolskaya pravda to mark the fourth anniversary of the failed hard- line coup, President Boris Yeltsin called on reformers to unite to prevent the restoration of a totalitarian system. He bemoaned the divisions in the democratic camp, warning that without unity the road back to a Soviet style empire remains open. On 20 August, prodemocracy groups gathered outside the White House to remember their defense of the building four years earlier, Russian and Western agencies reported. The same day, hard-line communists and nationalists took to the streets of the capital to call for mass protests to overthrow Yeltsin. Speakers at the rally, which attracted about 1,000 people--far fewer than had been expected,--blamed Yeltsin and the West for unemployment, the collapse of industrial production, crime, and corruption. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. COSSACKS CELEBRATE. On 18 August, Cossacks from all over Russia launched their first festival in Moscow since their political rehabilitation in 1991, Russian and Western agencies reported. Opening the festival, Nationalities Minister Vyacheslav Mikhailov said "the revival of Cossack culture is today going hand in hand with a rebirth of the Cossacks themselves, who always defended Russian interests." President Yeltsin resolved on 9 August to include 20 Cossack units in the Russian army as border guards and pledged to give the Cossacks part of their ancestral lands. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. DISARMAMENT PROCESS CONTINUES IN CHECHNYA. On 18 August, Chechen military commander Aslan Maskhadov told journalists that he had accepted Russian explanations that the bombing of Roshni-Chu on 17 August resulted from a "misunderstanding," NTV reported. Subsequently, Russian and Western agencies reported gradual progress in implementing the 30 July military accord, as Chechen fighters in several villages began to hand in their weapons. The implementation of the accord received an additional boost when a spokesman for Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev, Movladi Udugov, said Dudaev and Maskhadov had met on 19 August and agreed on all "main questions for peacefully ending the war," although the spokesman added that Dudaev objected to some provisions of the accord. Reports had suggested growing divisions between Dudaev and his military commander, prompting speculation that the negotiation process might break down. Sporadic fighting continued across Chechnya, however, as an 18 Augusat explosion at the main electric plant in Grozny cut off power to much of the city. It is unclear when talks on Chechnya's political status, adjourned last week, will resume. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIA PRESSES FOR INTERNATIONAL MEETING ON YUGOSLAVIA. Russia hopes to organize a conference of all the warring parties in the Yugoslav conflict this October, a high-ranking Russian diplomat told Interfax on 19 August. The conference, which would also include representatives of the international Contact Group, could use the most recent U.S. peace proposals as a starting point, according to the diplomat. He added that Moscow could be the site of the conference and, if it were successful, international sanctions against rump Yugoslavia could be lifted. On 18 August, an anonymous source at the Russian Ministry of Foreign Trade told AFP that Russia would soon sign several economic cooperation agreements with rump Yugoslavia, although it is unclear if their terms would violate the UN sanctions. Other sources said the agreements concern oil and a joint gas pipeline construction project. Earlier cooperation agreements signed by Moscow and Belgrade will not enter into force until sanctions are lifted. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. CONSTRUCTION TO BEGIN ON IRANIAN REACTOR IN NOVEMBER. Speaking after arriving in Tehran, Deputy Minister of Nuclear Energy Yevgenii Reshetnikov told ITAR-TASS on 18 August that construction on the controversial nuclear power complex in Bushehr would begin in November or December. Rejecting criticism of the deal, Reshetnikov said "there is no question of submitting to American pressure" to cancel the contract, signed in January, to build the plant. Reshetnikov leads a delegation of Russian specialists who will discuss the financing of the reported $1 billion contract with Iranian officials. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. VIETNAM EXCHANGES LAND FOR DEBT TO RUSSIA. The Saigon newspaper Gai Phong reported on 20 August that Vietnam has leased a 1,000 hectare rubber plantation to a Russian firm for 25 years to repay part of Vietnam's Soviet-era debt to Russia. The exchange is one of a number of debt-for-equity swaps that Vietnam is using to repay its estimated $2.27 billion debt to the former Soviet Union, of which 80% is owed to Russia. Despite the reorientation of the Vietnamese economy toward the West, Russia still plays a significant role in the local economy, especially as a partner for joint ventures in the petroleum sector. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. NEW RULES ON SHARE REGISTERS. Russia's Federal Securities Commission issued new rules on share registers on 18 August aimed at increasing investor confidence in the country's emerging securities markets, Russian and Western agencies reported. The commission said in a statement that the regulations defined the duties of everyone involved in a securities transactions, including shareholders and keepers of share registers. Other rules deal with issuing, splitting, consolidating, and canceling securities. The rules, which will be binding pending passage of a comprehensive securities law, are aimed at ensuring there is no repetition of recent scandals such as secret takeovers, stock dilutions, and other violations of shareholders' rights. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. SAVINGS BONDS RESOLUTION ADOPTED. The Russian government has introduced a new scheme for the sale of government savings bonds to the general public, Interfax reported on 18 August. According to the report, the Finance Ministry is to start issuing up to 10 trillion rubles ($2.3 billion) worth of government savings bonds in 1995-1998. The first installment, with a circulation period of 12 months, will be floated on the domestic market in September. Aleksandr Livshits, the president's economic adviser, said the savings bonds would be fully guaranteed by the state. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. McDONALD'S OPENS FIFTH RESTAURANT IN MOSCOW. The U.S. fast-food chain McDonald's opened its fifth restaurant in Moscow on 18 August, five years after opening its first in Russia, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. The company announced that the first four restaurants in Moscow, which employ 2,650 people, have served a total of 103 million meals. The first restaurant, opened on Pushkin Square on 31 January 1990, has served 81 million customers. The new restaurant is located on Prospekt Mira. The chain plans to open its first restaurant in St. Petersburg in the near future. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. ZAVERYUKHA REFUTES GRAIN HARVEST FORECAST. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Zaveryukha bluntly refuted media reports claiming Russian will collect only 45-50 million tons of grain this year, Interfax reported on 18 August. According to reports, the forecast came from specialists within the Agriculture Ministry (see OMRI Daily Digest, 17 August 1995). Zaveryukha said that amount has already been milled and asserted that the agrarian sector will collect 70-75 million tons of grain in 1995, compared to 81.3 million tons in 1994. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA POLITICAL EXILE OR PLUM FOR SULEIMENOV? Olzhas Suleimenov, founder of the Nevada-Semipalatinsk anti-nuclear movement and chairman of the Peoples' Congress Party, has been appointed Kazakhstan's ambassador to Italy, Kazakh Radio reported on 19 August. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev made the appointment after establishing an embassy in Rome by decree, according to the report monitored by the BBC. Suleimenov has come under attack recently for his alleged financial misdealings and corruption, as well as for his advocacy of close ties with Russia. -- Lowell Bezanis and Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc. KAZAKHSTAN AND RUSSIA SIGN CUSTOMS TREATY, DISAGREE OVER CASPIAN OIL. Visiting Russian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksei Bolshakov signed a package of documents in Almaty with Kazakh officials on implementing a customs union, environmental protection, natural resources, and rules for visits to the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, ITAR-TASS reported on 19 August. Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus had signed an accord on a customs union in January. Kazakh Deputy Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Gizatov told Interfax on 19 August that the two sides had developed "similar approaches" to the issues of navigation, fishing, ecology, and biological resources in the Caspian Sea. However, differences over the rights of the states bordering on the sea to develop offshore oil and gas deposits are still being negotiated. Russia is opposed to Azerbaijan's proposal that the sea be divided into national sectors. During Turkish Prime Minister Tansu Ciller's visit to Almaty last week, Turkey and Kazakhstan agreed to set up a joint-stock company that would build an oil pipeline to the Mediterranean Sea. Almaty is to host a meeting of experts from the five littoral states next month. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc. IZVESTIYA TO BE SUED OVER SALIMOV CASE. The Tajik Interior Ministry has decided to sue Izvestiya for articles published on 15-16 August concerning former Tajik Interior Minister Yakub Salimov, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 August. The articles accused Salimov of corruption. Tajik First Deputy Interior Minister Gennadii Blinov told the agency that the articles, which he said called Salimov's honor into question with the aim of destabilizing the country, was an "invention." He also claimed that "certain forces" had assigned this task to Izvestiya journalist Yurii Snegirev. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. IN-HOUSE TAJIK DEMOCRATS SPEAK OUT. The leaders of the pro-government Democratic Party of Tajikistan called on the people of Tajikistan to rally around President Imomali Rakhmonov and help lift the republic out of its economic crisis, according to an 18 August Tajik Radio report monitored by the BBC. Habibullo Abdurazzakov made the appeal following a meeting between Rakhmonov and the party's leaders led by Deputy Chairman Azam Afzali. A statement by the party's leader, Shodmon Yusuf, and circulated by the Khovar news agency explained that the party, officially registered on 20 July, reiterated its shift away from the opposition and toward the government. The elections and the "creation of legal and responsible leadership" in Tajikistan were cited as reasons for this change of heart. Yusuf was dismissed as party chairman at a meeting in Almaty on 5 June; he now represents only the views of those who favor cooperation with Rakhmonov. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. CIS RUSSIA TO GET MISSILE CRUISER FROM UKRAINE. Russia has secured ownership of the missile cruiser Admiral Lobov, which was under construction in a Ukrainian shipyard when that country gained independence, Ukrainian Radio reported on 19 August. The fourth and last of the Slava-class anti-ship cruisers, the Admiral Lobov was laid down at the 61 Kommuna Shipyard in Mikolaiv in 1985 but was only three-quarters complete when the Soviet Union collapsed. According to the report, the Ukrainians have virtually completed the 12,500-ton warship. The Russians have offered to offset the construction costs incurred after 1 January 1992 and to provide funds to complete the ship's construction. The agreement is awaiting approval from both governments. -- 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 Please note that there is a new procedure for obtaining permission to reprint or redistribute the OMRI Daily Digest. Before reprinting or redistributing this publication, please write firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy of the new policy or look at this URL: http://www.omri.cz/Publications/Digests/DigestReprint.html 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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