Every custom was once an eccentricity; every idea was once an absurdity. - Holbrook Jackson
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 170, Part I, 31 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

SHAKHRAI LEAVES CHERNOMYRDIN BLOC. Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai
announced that he is leaving Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's bloc
Our Home Is Russia, NTV reported on 30 August. In recent months,
Shakhrai is said to have lost influence over the bloc's organization to
other government figures, including presidential adviser Aleksandr
Shokhin. Shakhrai was reportedly dissatisfied with the number of spots
allocated to his Party of Russian Unity and Accord (PRES) on the
proposed party list for Our Home Is Russia. Shakhrai was an early
advocate of creating two centrist blocs led by Chernomyrdin and Duma
Speaker Ivan Rybkin. PRES competed independently in the 1993
parliamentary elections and barely cleared the 5% barrier necessary to
win representation in the Duma from party lists. -- Laura Belin, OMRI,
Inc.

PATRIARCH WARNS OF MUSLIM-ORTHODOX CONFRONTATION. Patriarch Aleksii II
criticized the plan of the Russian Union of Muslims to elect
representatives to the Duma, arguing that it could cause confrontation
in Orthodox-Muslim relations, Russian Public TV reported on 30 August.
He called on the spiritual leaders of Russia's Muslims not to
participate in the campaign and not to support any candidates. The
Orthodox Church will refrain from supporting political organizations
that call themselves "Christian" or "Orthodox." The same day, a
conference opened in Moscow to coordinate the nonpolitical activities of
Russian and foreign Islamic groups. Foreign representatives included
delegations from several CIS countries, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. The
goals of the conference were to find ways to send Russian students
abroad and increase foreign aid for Islam in Russia. -- Robert Orttung,
OMRI, Inc.

TRETYAKOV OUSTED FROM NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA. The editorial board of
Nezavisimaya gazeta, which is not currently in production, voted nearly
unanimously to remove Vitalii Tretyakov from the post of editor-in-
chief, which he had held since the paper was founded in December 1990,
NTV reported on 30 August. In order to preserve its editorial
independence, Nezavisimaya gazeta refused to run advertisements or
accept any state subsidies, but financial problems forced the paper to
suspend publication on 24 May. Tretyakov initially endorsed a proposed
rescue plan to convert the paper into a joint-stock company, but more
recently he suggested that it would be better to close the paper
altogether than to sell shares to commercial interests. -- Laura Belin,
OMRI, Inc.

SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES CHECHNYA . . . The Security Council met on 30
August to discuss the situation in Chechnya, Western and Russian
agencies reported. President Boris Yeltsin chaired the widely publicized
meeting, which made two decisions aimed at speeding up the peace process
in Chechnya. First, federal authorities will try to "broaden" the base
of Chechen leaders with whom they are currently holding talks. Second,
Yeltsin expressed willingness to meet personally with Chechen leaders to
push the talks forward. Asked by journalists if this decision meant that
direct talks with separatist Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev might
take place, Security Council Secretary and Presidential Representative
in Chechnya Oleg Lobov said the issue had not been discussed. NTV
commented that this position is illogical, since federal negotiators are
already talking with Chechen delegates who frequently consult with
Dudaev. The council also discussed measures for restoring the heavily
damaged Chechen economy, including paying compensation to citizens for
property damaged during the fighting. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

. . . WHILE SLOW DISARMAMENT CONTINUES. In Grozny, implementation of the
30 July military accord continued to experience difficulties. The
Chechen rejection of a Russian proposal for a partial prisoner exchange
again postponed the deal. Regarding disarmament, Lobov told journalists
that, with an estimated 70,000 weapons still in the hands of Chechen
fighters, it was impossible to set a date for new elections in Chechnya.
Izvestiya noted on 31 August that Chechen fighters have still only
turned in about 800 weapons. The paper added that the 50 billion rubles
($11.4 million) which have been allocated from the federal budget to buy
up weapons under the disarmament plan would not be sufficient (at the
current price of 900,000 rubles [$205] per gun) to buy all those
weapons, leaving at least 10,000 in the hands of the population. --
Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

CHERNOMYRDIN, YELTSIN LAUD TATARSTAN. Speaking at a meeting in Kazan on
30 August to mark the fifth anniversary of Tatarstan's declaration of
state sovereignty, Russian Prime Minister Chernomyrdin praised
Tatarstan's "outstanding role" in the development of the "new Russian
federalism," Interfax reported on 30 August. Chernomyrdin also read an
appeal from Russian President Yeltsin, who affirmed that support for
Tatarstan's aspiration for wider independence had not been a mistake.
Citing the example of Tatarstan to underscore the distinction between
extremism on the one hand and equality and self-determination on the
other, Chernomyrdin argued that Russia needs a new and clearly
formulated nationalities policy to regulate relations between the center
and the regions. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIA DENOUNCES NATO ATTACKS ON BOSNIAN SERBS. Russian President
Yeltsin condemned both the recent Bosnian Serb mortar attack on Sarajevo
and the NATO airstrikes launched in response, international agencies
reported. In an interview with Russian Public TV, he said that Russia
"opposed a military resolution of the Yugoslav crisis" and repeated his
call for an international conference to resolve the conflict, to be held
no later than October. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigorii
Karasin told Interfax that "it is impermissible for the international
community...to wage war against only one of the parties to the Bosnian
conflict," because "all participants in the conflict" share
responsibility for it. Karasin described the recent mortar attack on
Sarajevo, for which he blamed the Bosnian Serbs, as a "barbaric act."
But he added that there could be no military resolution of the conflict,
saying that "tit-for-tat" retaliation would only create a vicious circle
of violence. Interfax also reported that Russia planned to raise the
issue of the airstrikes at the UN Security Council. -- Scott Parrish,
OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIAN-TURKISH TRADE. The actual exchange of goods and services between
Russia and Turkey is not reflected in official statistics, according to
the August edition of Birzhevye vedomosti (no. 35). Officially, the
volume of bilateral trade is $2 billion, but the paper suggests that
Turkish construction work in Russia is worth $6 billion annually and
"shuttle" trade by individuals another $5 billion. The paper notes that
officially, Russia provides oil, gas, metals, Lada cars, industrial
equipment, newsprint, and timber to Turkey, while Turkey supplies Russia
with candy, textiles, and medicines. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

FAR EASTERN SCIENTISTS PROTEST LOW FUNDING. Scientists in Russia's Far
East said at a press conference on 30 August that they intend to begin a
campaign of civil disobedience to protest government policies that are
"discrediting Russian science," Russian TV reported. The researchers are
angry at the government's failure to make scheduled budget payments to
the sector, saying that unique research is suffering as a result. The
average monthly salary of the scientific workers is a low 319,000 rubles
(about $72)--two-thirds of the subsistence minimum in the Far East. --
Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

MORE MILITARY FUNDING WOES. The Defense Ministry received only slightly
over half the funds it was scheduled to receive in August from the
Finance Ministry, Krasnaya zvezda reported on 31 August. As a result, it
said, only 30% of servicemen would now receive their August pay. --
Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

NEW FEDERAL ENERGY COMMITTEE TO BE CREATED. The government has prepared
the documents necessary to set up a Federal Energy Committee (FEC) to be
headed by First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais, Segodnya
reported on 30 August. The FEC will regulate the prices of the fuel and
energy sector, determine access to pipelines, and monitor electric
energy exports. The committee will also enjoy exclusive investment and
arbitration rights. The economic activities of companies that operate
within the sector will be subject to strict monitoring. The companies
will be required to submit routine reports, data concerning investment
projects, and detailed price list drafts, including net cost, taxation,
and profit items to the FEC. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

FINANCIAL MARKETS STILL SLOW. In the wake of the interbank crisis,
financial market activity is still slow. According to Interfax, only a
few deals were concluded on the Moscow interbank credit market on 30
August. Finance Ministry bond prices continued to rise on the off-
exchange market. Traders said the sharp increase was due to MinFin bond
market stabilization and commercial banks renewing operations with
MinFin bonds. During the bank crisis, banks were selling securities,
whereas now investors are trying to buy back bonds they sold earlier. --
Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

OBLAST BANKS AFFECTED BY CRISIS. The Moscow banking crisis has caused
interbank credit interest rates in Russia's oblasts to rise, Interfax
reported on 30 August. Interest rate hikes were first felt in central
Russia, where a lack of money increased demand for funds borrowed from
other oblasts. The announced interest rates for 3 month loans in the
oblast branches of Sberbank grew by 10-20% on average in the past week
and have reached 75-85%. Commercial banks' credit rates increased by 5-
10% and are now at an annual rate of 110-130% throughout Russia. --
Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

SUSPECTS IN SHEVARDNADZE ASSASSINATION BID ARRESTED. On 30 August the
Georgian security service arrested ten people suspected of perpetrating
the previous day's car bomb explosion outside the Georgian parliament,
Ekho Moskvy reported. Speaking at a public rally in Tbilisi on 30 August
amid intensified security, parliament chairman Eduard Shevardnadze
formally announced his candidacy for the 5 November Georgian
presidential elections and blamed the assassination attempt on
unspecified "dark forces" who had hoped to clear the way for their own
presidential candidate, according to Radio Rossii. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI,
Inc.

NAZARBAEV WINS REFERENDUM BY A BIG MARGIN. As predicted, preliminary
results from the 30 August nationwide referendum show a major victory
for Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbaev. Central Election
Commission Chairman Yurii Kim told ITAR-TASS on 31 August that 89%
approved the new constitution and that 90% of the 8.8 million electorate
turned out to vote. The united front of opposition parties boycotted the
elections. The turnout was puzzlingly high given widespread apathy and
ignorance of the draft constitution (see OMRI Daily Digest, 25 August).
More than 10,000 polling booths were in operation, and about 1,000
representatives of political parties and public movements monitored the
vote; only 9 international observers were present. Nazarbaev's claim
that people fully endorse the new constitution was disputed by Russia's
NTV on 30 August, which said studies showed that most people had not
even seen the new constitution. Detailed returns will be available in a
week. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc.

UZBEK MILITARY DOCTRINE APPROVED. As widely expected, Uzbekistan's
parliament approved the republic's military doctrine on 30 August,
Interfax reported. It says that Uzbekistan considers no country its
enemy, opposes war as a means to resolve international disputes, and
rejects the unilateral use of force unless it or its allies are
attacked. In other news, Uzbekistan recorded a 5.7% fall in industrial
production in the first six months of this year. -- Lowell Bezanis,
OMRI, Inc.

INDEPENDENCE DAY CENSORSHIP. Uzbekistan's authorities have ordered Uzbek
Television to halt broadcasting of two Russian current affairs programs
"Vesti" and "Podrobnosti" until the end of independence day
celebrations, NTV reported on 29 August. Celebrations for the fourth
anniversary of Uzbekistan's independence begin on 31 August; the
authorities evidently fear coverage of the event in Russia will be
"inadequate," NTV said. ITAR-TASS has estimated that 10,000 people from
all over Uzbekistan and abroad will converge on Tashkent for the
celebrations. On 31 August 1991, 98.2% of the republic's electorate
voted for independence. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

CIS

LUKASHENKA TO RUN IN DUMA ELECTIONS? On 30 August Belarusian radio
reported that the Russian electoral bloc Vozrozhdenie plans to include
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in its list of candidates for
Russia's parliamentary elections. The bloc also intends to include the
president of the self-proclaimed Transdniester Republic, Igor Smirnov.
According to Vozrozhdenie head Valerii Skurlatov, both presidents have
agreed to the move, although Skurlatov acknowledges that there may be
problems registering the two as they are citizens of other countries.
Skurlatov plans to get around this by pointing out that although both
have different citizenships now, previously they were Soviet citizens.
He said the inclusion of such famous individuals on Vozrozhdenie's list
is a good illustration of the bloc's goal of "redefining the Russian
state within its 1975 borders." -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Penny Morvant

The OMRI Daily Digest offers the latest news from the former Soviet
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Copyright (C) 1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights
reserved. ISSN 1211-1570


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