|Благо - не всякая жизнь, а жизнь хорошая. - Сенека|
No. 168, Part I, 29 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 CONCILIATORY COMMISSION CONSIDERS FEDERATION COUNCIL LAW. A committee of representatives from the parliament and the president met on 28 August to find a compromise on the issue of the formation of the Federation Council, ITAR-TASS reported. President Boris Yeltsin earlier vetoed a bill approved by both houses of the parliament calling for elections to the upper house. The president wants to appoint its members from the leadership of Russia's 89 republics and regions. The Constitutional Court has not yet answered a Duma request to determine the constitutionality of the president's proposal. Duma representative to the commission Vladimir Isakov said that a number of compromise solutions were possible, including delegating local governors to the Federation Council after they are elected by popular vote. The majority of governors currently serving were appointed by Yeltsin. The commission chose five possible compromises which will now be developed by a group of experts for discussion in the Duma when it reconvenes in October. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. POWER TO THE PEOPLE SETS PARTY LIST. A congress of Power to the People (Vlast--Narodu) has drawn up the bloc's list for the December parliamentary elections, Interfax reported on 28 August. Former Soviet Prime Minister Nikolai Ryzhkov will top the list of 270 candidates, followed by Russian Public Union (ROS) chairman Sergei Baburin and Mothers for Social Justice leader Yelena Shuvalova. Lt. Col. Stanislav Terekhov, head of the Officers' Union, and renowned chess player Anatolii Karpov are also included. Power to the People was created in July and calls itself a "patriotic left-centrist" alliance. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. COMMUNISTS, ALLIES AGREE ON CAMPAIGN COOPERATION. Valentin Kuptsov, deputy chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF), said that the Communists have agreed not to compete against candidates from the Agrarian Party or the bloc Power to the People in 65 of Russia's 225 single-member constituencies, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 August. Party chairman Gennadii Zyuganov said his party hopes to form the next government and expressed confidence that Communists and their left-wing allies will win a majority of seats in the next Duma. The Communists have drawn up a party list of 270 candidates and will nominate candidates in 160 single-member constituencies. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. YAKOVLEV TO CAMPAIGN ON GAIDAR'S LIST. Aleksandr Yakovlev, chairman of the Board of Russian Public TV, will run for the Duma on the party list of Yegor Gaidar's Russia's Democratic Choice-United Democrats, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 August. Yakovlev will be among the top ten names on the list. The 71-year-old former Politburo member, who developed many of former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev's reforms, earlier declined a spot on age and health grounds. The delegates to the bloc's 26 August congress voted to include him because they felt he would bring additional votes. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. ROMANOV STEPS UP SECURITY IN CHECHNYA. General Anatolii Romanov, commander of federal forces in Chechnya, issued an order on 28 August forbidding Chechen citizens to carry arms in the republic's towns and cities, ITAR-TASS reported. The order is in response to recent incidents involving Chechen fighters who returned to the cities and town of Chechnya after the signing of the July 30 military accord but have not yet turned in their weapons because of the stalled disarmament process. Romanov's order also called for tightening passport controls at checkpoints within the cities. According to Interfax, Chechen delegates submitted to their Russian counterparts on 28 August a schedule for the disarmament of Chechen units that will be used by the federal command to formulate a schedule for the simultaneous withdrawal of federal troops from the republic. However, the long-delayed prisoner exchange was postponed once again on 28 August, and federal positions were attacked 11 times on the night of 28-29 August. One federal serviceman was killed and three others wounded -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. MIKHAILOV DENIES PLANS TO SELL MILITARY REACTORS TO IRAN. Nuclear Power Minister Viktor Mikhailov denounced as "total rubbish" a 27 August article in The Sunday Telegraph (London) claiming that Russia had concluded a secret deal to provide Iran with two 400-megawatt reactors for its nuclear research program, to be built at Neka, in northern Iran, international agencies reported. The Telegraph report claimed that the reactors would be used in the Iranian nuclear weapons program. Mikhailov said that "there is no secret accord" between Moscow and Tehran and emphasized that all contacts between Iranian and Russian nuclear officials concern only the completion of the nuclear power station at Bushehr, for which a contract was signed in January. Russia and Iran have repeatedly claimed that the Bushehr project will have no military implications. Mikhailov did add that, in the future, Russia might help Iran construct as many as four power reactors at the Bushehr site. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. TATARSTAN TO MARK FIFTH ANNIVERSARY OF DECLARATION OF SOVEREIGNTY. President Yeltsin met with Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev to congratulate him on the fifth anniversary of Tatarstan's declaration of sovereignty, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 August. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin will fly to Kazan to take part in ceremonies commemorating the anniversary on 30 August. Shaimiev is a prominent figure in the prime minister's bloc Our Home Is Russia. In February 1994, federal authorities and Tatarstan signed the first power-sharing agreement in the Russian Federation. Since then, five other autonomous republics have signed agreements to divide power with Moscow. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. TYUMEN OBLAST REGISTERS MOVEMENT SEEKING TO PRESERVE THE OBLAST'S UNITY. A new movement in Tyumen Oblast called Unity of the Oblast, just registered by the local justice administration, has proposed an oblast- wide referendum on preserving the oblast's unity, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 August. The oblast contains two other constituent parts of the Russian Federation: the Khanty-Mansii and Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrugs. Both okrugs have confirmed their status within the oblast in their charters, but the Tyumen administration does not agree with several articles that limit its management responsibilities. In fact, the dispute is more about the division of power between the oblast and the okrugs, than the unity of the oblast. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. NEMTSOV PREDICTS PROBLEMS WITH PENSIONERS. Nizhnii Novgorod Governor Boris Nemtsov believes that delays in the payment of old-age pensions will lead to hunger or even mass unrest, Radio Rossii reported on 28 August. Nemtsov said his oblast's Pension Fund, like those in many other regions, does not have enough money to pay pensioners and is not receiving sufficient funds from Moscow to make up the shortfall. As a result, he went on, every month pensions are late or not paid in full. According to Yevgenii Gontmakher, deputy chairman of the presidential Commission on Social Policy, the Pension Fund is in dire financial straits because of the fall in real wages and diminishing importance of wages in the income of the population. He noted also that some of the Pension Fund's money is used to finance projects and benefits that should be covered by the federal budget. According to First Deputy Prime Minister Yurii Yarov, the fund is now owed more than 10 trillion rubles ($2.26 billion) and since July pensions in many parts of the country have been delayed by 20 days, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 August. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. FIVE BANKS SIGN DEAL TO RESUSCITATE LOAN MARKET. Five of Russia's largest banks pledged to resume interbank trading in a bid to restore confidence in the paralyzed short-term loan market, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported on 28 August. The two national banks, Sberbank and Vneshtorgbank, as well as Inkombank, Imperial, and Most-Bank, signed an agreement to resume loan operations among themselves with the aim of slowly opening up the market to other operators. Russia's short-term loans market came to an abrupt halt on 25 August, when a liquidity crisis hit a number of banks, forcing them to halt short-term credits and threatening several with collapse. Fears of insolvency created a domino effect, prompting nearly all Russia's banks to suspend operations on the short-terms loans market amid a general cash shortage. On 28 August, the majority of banks remained on their guard after last week's panic, despite Central Bank intervention to boost liquidity and dispel fears of a general crash. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIA AND VIETNAM CREATE JOINT BANK. Russia and Vietnam have joined forces to establish a bank in Vietnam that will service Russian- Vietnamese joint ventures, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 August. The bank will mainly service the Russian-Vietnamese joint oil venture Vietsovpetro, which was created in 1985. It will also handle Vietnam's debt payments to Russia. The report said that Vietcombank, Vietnam's largest bank, will own half the bank and that two Russian banks, Imperial and National Credit, will own 20% each. A Russian government oil firm, Zarubezhneft, will own 10%. The protocol of intent was signed last week in Hanoi, and officials anticipate charter approval within six months. The authorized start-up capital of the bank will be $10 million. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. DIAMOND INDUSTRY IN GOOD FINANCIAL SHAPE. Russia's main diamond producer reported sales of $628 million in the first half of the year and said it was in good financial shape, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 August. AK Almazy Rossii-Sakha Vice President Semen Zelberg told the news agency that sales were $28 million over projections. Russia exports 95% of its uncut diamonds, most of which are mined by the company in Siberia. Almazy- Rossii sold $1.14 billion worth of diamonds in 1994, mostly through the South African De Beers-run cartel. The company is currently renegotiating a new contract with De Beers, and Zelberg complained that the cartel's new price list is "unacceptable" to the Russian side. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA THIRD TURKIC SUMMIT . . . Following a two hour meeting of the heads of state of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, a 21 article "Bishkek Declaration" was signed in Bishkek on 28 August, Western and Russian media reported the same day. Overall, this summit, like its two predecessors, was longer on rhetoric than on substance. Kyrgyzstan Foreign Minister Roza Otunbayeva termed the "Turkic alliance," part of the Bishkek Declaration, the key document signed by all participants in the summit; she said it was a cultural union based on "the community of cultures, languages, and traditions," Interfax reported on 28 August. Initiatives advanced by Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan for holding various international conferences on security, cooperation, and confidence building in Central Asia, or Asia in general, were adopted. Participants in the summit also backed Turkmenistan's efforts to be recognized as a neutral state; expressed concern over ongoing conflicts in Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and former Yugoslavia; and called upon the OSCE to take a more active role in resolving these problems. Russia's reaction to the proceedings was unusually muted; this may be connected with Moscow's decision to hold its own summit of Turkic-speaking countries in Moscow in September. In his opening speech to the meeting, Turkish President Suleyman Demirel sought to allay Russian fears concerning the gathering of "siblings and related communities" but urged the latter to avoid becoming dependent on other states by moving their natural gas and oil through Turkey en route to world markets, international media reported. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc. . . . AND DETRACTORS. President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan expressed his reservations about the effectiveness of economic cooperation among Turkophone countries, Interfax reported on 28 August. He termed the suggestions made to date "confused" and emphasized that Central Asian economic cooperation should be stepped up. Specifically, he called for Turkmenistan and Tajikistan to join in the Central Asian economic union, established in 1994 by Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan. Karimov also said Uzbekistan will not participate in such gatherings in future if they are "strikingly political." The same day, ITAR-TASS noted that Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov had told the other participants in the summit not to rush into a Turkic-language alliance. He was quoted as saying "a common language" cannot become a platform for a "political bloc." He also said that close attention to ties with Russia, other CIS states, and Iran would go hand in hand with efforts directed toward regional integration with Turkey. -- Lowell Bezanis, 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. 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