|If you're sure you understand everthing that is going on, you're hopelessly confused. - Walter Mondale|
No. 166, Part I, 25 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 OPPOSITION GROUPS RESIST UNITY. Although the major groups of the patriotic opposition support the common goal of restoring Russia as a great power, they do not want to form a united bloc, Izvestiya reported on 25 August. The main cleavage is between the national-patriots and the Communist-patriots, with numerous divisions within each of the camps. Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democrats take the most extreme position, declaring "we have no allies." Former Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi's Derzhava also rejects any ties to the Communist Party and to the Congress of Russian Communities because of the presence of Lt. Gen. Aleksandr Lebed in its leadership. Several of the smaller parties at this end of the political spectrum have formed alliances, but they are unlikely to win many votes. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. TRADE UNIONS AND INDUSTRIALISTS SEEK BLOC WITH AGRARIANS. Mikhail Shmakov's trade union electoral bloc and Vladimir Shcherbakov's Russian United Industrialist Party held negotiations with Agrarian Party leader Mikhail Lapshin about a possible electoral alliance, ITAR-TASS reported on 24 August. State Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin tried to recruit the three parties for his Yeltsin-sponsored left-center bloc, but they all spurned cooperation with him. Shcherbakov said that a bloc with the Agrarians would be a "real left-wing centrist association" and that final decisions will be made by 5 September, when the parties are holding congresses to select their list of candidates. Lapshin expressed some willingness to coordinate with the parties, Interfax reported. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. PERM SEEKS TO ELECT GOVERNOR. The Perm Oblast Legislative Assembly has asked President Yeltsin to approve its plan to hold elections for oblast governor on 17 December in conjunction with the parliamentary elections, ITAR-TASS reported on 24 August. There is still no federal legislation on electing governors, but the Perm legislature last month approved a local law on electing its governor. At the moment, Yeltsin has reserved the right to appoint oblast governors. He granted Sverdlovsk special permission to hold the election for governor which took place earlier this week, and which resulted in the surprise defeat of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's favored candidate. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. BRYANSK OBLAST DUMA VOTES NO CONFIDENCE IN ITS SPEAKER. The Bryansk Oblast Duma voted to remove its chairman Valerii Rogachev for discrediting the local legislature, ITAR-TASS reported on 24 August. Working with former Bryansk Governor Vladimir Karpov, the Duma charges, Rogachev gave generous tax benefits to several commercial enterprises in the region. Rogachev was on vacation when the vote was taken, although he had been invited to the session. Yeltsin removed former Governor Karpov on 16 August, and his replacement, Vladimir Barabanov, participated in the Duma session. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. JOURNALIST PRIZES AWARDED. The Confederation of Journalists' Unions announced the winners of its annual prizes "for courage and professionalism," ITAR-TASS reported on 24 August. St. Petersburg journalist Lev Korsunskii of the St. Petersburg newspaper Chas Pik won the prize for crime reporting named after Dmitrii Kholodov, the journalist killed in October 1994 while investigating corruption in the military. Among the other recipients were 15 journalists who in June volunteered to accompany Chechen fighters and hostages traveling from Budennovsk to Chechnya. The prizes were established in August 1991 to honor journalists who demonstrated courage and professionalism during the attempted coup. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. LOBOV REPORTEDLY APPOINTED PRESIDENTIAL REPRESENTATIVE IN CHECHNYA. Following a meeting with President Boris Yeltsin, Vladimir Lysenko, chairman of the Duma Committee on the Development of Federalism, said that Oleg Lobov, secretary of the Security Council, had been appointed to be the special presidential representative to Chechnya, Interfax reported on 24 August. NTV later reported that the presidential press service refused to confirm or deny Lobov's appointment. Lysenko quoted Yeltsin as praising Lobov's "high professional qualities" and saying that with his appointment, "the situation in Chechnya will embark on a normal, working path." -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. DISARMAMENT PROCESS MAKES SLOW PROGRESS. In Grozny, a spokesman for the federal forces told Interfax on 24 August that the disarmament of Chechen fighters had begun in the Vedensk, Achkhoi-Martan, Nozhai-Yurt, and Sunzhen regions of Chechnya. He added that a protocol outlining practical details of the disarmament process had been signed on 24 August by General Anatolii Romanov, commander of federal forces, and Chechen military commander Aslan Maskhadov. However, another federal military spokesman expressed concern with the slow pace of disarmament, telling Interfax that Chechen fighters have only turned in 221 weapons to date, while the military estimates that over 60,000 weapons are in the hands of the fighters. Sporadic fighting continued overnight in Chechnya, with federal positions coming under fire 10 times, wounding eight federal servicemen, according to ITAR-TASS. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. EXPERTS AGAIN SAY NO CHEMICAL USE IN CHECHNYA. Experts from the St. Petersburg Institute of Hygiene and Disease Prevention said they could find no evidence that chemical weapons had been used in the Chechen village of Avtury, ITAR-TASS reported on 24 August. This was the third investigation into the possible use of such agents by federal forces. The other two also returned the same opinion. Yurii Musiichuk, the institute's director, said 110 of the 226 Avtury residents his team examined had scabies--a disease medical professionals estimate could affect one quarter of Chechnya's population. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. CHECHEN WAR BANKRUPTING ARMED FORCES. The fighting in Chechnya has cost the military 1.9 trillion rubles ($430 million), more than its entire budget for the current fiscal year, the Defense Ministry chief of the military budget and finances told ITAR-TASS on 24 August. Maj. Gen. Vladimir Osadchi said the war alone is not the sole cause of the military's financial crisis. He explained that the Finance Ministry has not been allocating the armed forces all the money called for in the budget. "The outstanding debt to the Defense Ministry for the last year was 12 trillion rubles ($2.7 billion) and the debt has been growing this year," he said. Osadchi added that the Defense Ministry is 3.6 trillion rubles ($820 million) in debt and does not have the money to pay wages to either uniformed or civilian personnel. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. CABINET MINISTERS EXPRESS CONCERN OVER ILLEGAL CHINESE IMMIGRATION. At a meeting of the Russian government on 24 August, several members of the cabinet expressed concern with illegal Chinese immigration in the Russian Far East, Western and Russian agencies reported. Interfax reported quoted Defense Minister Pavel Grachev as saying "Chinese citizens are peacefully conquering Russia's Far East," and adding that military sources had reported that Chinese settlers in the region have organized martial arts training centers. The head of the Federal Migration Service, Tatyana Regent, admitted that Chinese are using "illegal immigration channels" to settle in the Russian Far East. She suggested that to counter this trend, some of the 5 million ethnic Russians who are expected to migrate to Russia from other areas of the former Soviet Union be resettled there. First Deputy
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