Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand. - Thomas Carlyle
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 171, Part I, 1 September 1995


[NOTICE TO READERS: The OMRI Daily Digest will not appear on Monday, 4
September 1995, an American holiday.]

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

GOVERNMENT TO SERVE ITS TERM REGARDLESS OF ELECTIONS. Prime Minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin said that his government will serve until the June
1996 presidential election, regardless of the results of the December
parliamentary elections, ITAR-TASS reported on 31 August. According to
the Russian Constitution, the government serves at the will of the
president, not the parliament. Chernomyrdin said that he would seek to
win as many seats in the Duma as possible. His statement reflects the
weakness of the legislative branch in relation to the executive. --
Robert Orttung

ASSOCIATION OF TELEVISION BROADCASTERS FORMS. A new association of
braodcasters has been formed to push for speedier privatization of
television facilities and lower taxes for private broadcasters.
Representatives of 50 independent television companies, including
Russian Public Television (51% state owned), NTV, and 2X2, founded the
National Association of Television Broadcasters on 31 August, ITAR-TASS
reported. Eduard Sagalaev, the director of TV 6, was elected president
of the association. He said that during the campaign the association
would support "those forces which favor the continuation of reform" and
that if the association decided to support a particular party, it would
"achieve remarkable results." Central Electoral Commission head Nikolai
Ryabov announced on 31 August that the new regulations for the media
during the campaign would guarantee equal access for parties and
candidates to state-owned mass media. The formation of the new
association gives the broadcasters greater leverage in battling state
control. -- Robert Orttung

NEW LAW ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT INTENSIFIES DEBATE ABOUT ELECTING GOVERNORS.
The new law on local government mandating the election of city and
village leaders rather than their appointment by krai and oblast
governors has increased calls for the election of the governors
themselves, Segodnya reported on 31 August. The Duma adopted the law at
its 12 August special session, and Yeltsin signed it on 29 August.
Anatolii Sliva, chairman of the Duma Committee on Local Government,
believes that the governors should be elected, while the Yeltsin
administration opposes the idea. About 30 krais and oblasts have taken
steps to hold elections to their executive branch, Rossiiskie vesti
noted on 31 August. If the governors are elected on the same day as Duma
deputies, as some propose, they could become members of the parliament's
upper house. The future composition of the Federation Council is in
doubt after Yeltsin vetoed a law calling for its members to be directly
elected. -- Robert Orttung

CHERNOMYRDIN WARNS OF REFERENDUM ON LAND OWNERSHIP. The prime minister
warned parliament that the government will call a referendum on land
ownership if lawmakers do not rapidly enact new legislation to settle
the issue, ITAR-TASS reported on 31 August. Without a new law, "economic
reforms will not make progress," Chernomyrdin said during a visit to an
agricultural fair in St. Petersburg. "Who will pour money into a factory
if he does not own the land on which it is built?" he questioned.
Chernomyrdin also criticized leaders of the powerful farming lobby,
which represents state and collective farms and food-processing plants,
for blocking private land ownership. -- Thomas Sigel

YELTSIN TELLS STUDENTS TO REMEMBER LESSONS OF THE PAST. In a televised
address to mark the beginning of the new academic year, Yeltsin told
school children to respect the past but not forget the atrocities
committed by the communist regime. Speaking on Russian Public Television
on 31 August, the president said the country's history must be treated
with care and respect, but "at the same time let us not forget what the
Communist Party did to Russia, how many officers, scientists,
intellectuals, and peasants perished." -- Penny Morvant

SOLZHENITSYN BEGINS ANOTHER TOUR OF THE PROVINCES. The writer Aleksandr
Solzhenitsyn began a tour of Penza, Samara, and Saratov Oblasts on 31
August, ITAR-TASS reported. He plans to investigate the problems of
local government, small cities, and refugees from other former Soviet
republics. The writer took a train trip across the country in the summer
of 1994 and now hosts a weekly television show. Although the former
dissident does not have much impact on national politics, his activities
are drawing attention to problems outside Russia's large cities. --
Robert Orttung

MUTUAL ACCUSATIONS IN GROZNY. Following a session in Grozny on 31 August
of the special observer commission to monitor implementation of the 30
July ceasefire agreement, the Russian and Chechen co-chairmen told
Russian media that the disarmament process has been extended to 33
villages, with a total of 905 weapons surrendered. The chief Chechen
negotiator Hodj-Ahmed Yarikhanov told Ekho Moskvy, however, that Russian
federal troops are violating the ceasefire agreement by bombarding
Chechen villages; he also accused Moscow of "trying to split the Chechen
people." A spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry told Interfax that
five Russian servicemen were killed over the previous 24 hours in
Chechen attacks on Russian positions. Also on 31 August, Interfax quoted
an official from the Russian Fuel and Energy Ministry as stating that
Chechnya is currently producing 120,000 tons of oil per month and could
resume oil refining at any time. -- Liz Fuller

RUSSIA PROTESTS NATO ATTACKS IN BOSNIA. On 31 August, Russian political
leaders of all persuasions continued to condemn the ongoing NATO
airstrikes against Bosnian Serb positions. A statement issued by the
Russian Foreign Ministry said that the bombardment "must be stopped,"
because it "goes beyond the framework" of existing UN Security Council
resolutions, Interfax reported. Ministry spokesman Grigorii Karasin
reiterated Moscow's position that the Yugoslav conflict can only be
resolved through negotiations and criticized NATO Secretary General
Willy Claes for his "tendentious" comments on Yeltsin's reaction to the
airstrikes. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIA POWERLESS TO INFLUENCE YUGOSLAV EVENTS. Russia has lost all
influence over events in the former Yugoslavia, according to commentary
in the Russian press over the last two days. Izvestiya on 1 September
noted that the recent NATO airstrikes were launched without even
consulting Moscow, despite the fact that Russia formally remains a
member of the international Contact Group seeking a negotiated
settlement of the conflict. Sergei Rogov, director of the USA/Canada
Institute, told The Washington Post that the airstrikes demonstrate the
"complete collapse of the notion of Russian-Western partnership" and
show "how much the West ignores Russia." -- Scott Parrish

RUSSO-JAPANESE TALKS END WITHOUT AGREEMENT. Russian and Japanese
negotiators have again failed to reach agreement over fishing rights off
the disputed south Kuril Islands. Their talks were suspended after two
days, international agencies reported. Russia claims that Japanese
fisherman poach in Russian territorial waters, and Russian border guards
have fired on Japanese vessels in the past, aggravating already shaky
relations between the two countries. On the eve of the talks, comments
by Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev describing the disputed
islands as "genuine Russian territory," which had been "returned" to
Russia as a result of WW II, provoked a storm of criticism in the
Japanese press. -- Scott Parrish

HIGH LEVEL OF RADIATION IN KOLA GULF . . . The level of radioactive
contamination in the Kola Gulf is higher than in the area of the
Norwegian Sea where a Russian nuclear submarine sank, according to the
director of the Kola Research Institute of Marine Life, Professor
Gennadii Matishev. ITAR-TASS on 31 August summarized an interview with
Matishev appearing in Murmanskii vestnik. The Kola Gulf is the narrow
fjord off the Barents Sea on which Murmansk and the Russian naval base
of Severomorsk are located. The report said that nuclear waste once
dumped into the sea had accumulated in hollows on the bottom of the gulf
and posed a serious threat both to marine life and to the local
population. -- Doug Clarke

. . . AND THE URALS NUCLEAR LEGACY. Nuclear waste at the Mayak Chemical
Complex in the Urals is "an ecological bomb for Russia," Izvestiya
warned on 30 August. It said that the water level is rising in one of
three reservoirs built to hold radioactive water and that contaminated
ground water is spreading under the Karachai Lake, into which all
nuclear wastes had been drained and which is now being filled in. A plan
to build a nuclear power station that would use plutonium accumulated at
the Mayak Chemical Complex is on hold owing to lack of funding, the
paper said. -- Penny Morvant

EBRD CREATES $30 MILLION VENTURE FUND IN URALS. The European Bank for
Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has created a regional venture
fund in Yekaterinburg that will invest $30 million in the charter
capital of small and medium-sized industrial enterprises. The EBRD
appointed the U.K.'s Fleming Investment Ltd., an investment bank, as the
fund's managing company. The venture will invest in enterprises in
Sverdlovsk, Chelyabinsk, and Perm Oblasts over a 10-year period. --
Thomas Sigel

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

MKHEDRIONI IMPLICATED IN SHEVARDNADZE ASSASSINATION BID. On 31 August
officials investigating the car bomb in Tbilisi two days earlier
discovered quantities of arms and ammunition, ampoules of morphine, and
hard currency in the parliamentary officies of Mkhedrioni leader Dzhaba
Ioseliani, Russian media reported. Ioseliani has denied involvement in
the attack; he also told Ekho Moskvy that he has no intention of
standing as a candidate against Georgian parliament chairman Eduard
Shevardnadze in the November presidential elections. -- Liz Fuller

CILLER IN TBILISI. Turkish Prime Minister Tansu Ciller arrived in
Tbilisi on 31 August for one day's talks with Georgian parliament
chairman Shevardnadze, Interfax reported. The two leaders signed a
protocol on restructuring Georgian repayments of a $50 million Turkish
loan granted in 1993 to finance economic development; Ciller
subsequently told journalists that Turkey would advance Georgia new
credits totaling $150 million. -- Liz Fuller

NAZARBAEV HAILS VICTORY, DISMISSES CRITICISM . . . Kazakhstan's
President Nursultan Nazarbaev hailed his victory in the referendum on
the new constitution, international and Russian media reported on 31
August. Nazarbaev cited the overwhelming support of the people as vivid
proof of the constitution's legitimacy, thereby dismissing Western
criticism that the new constitution violates democratic norms and
consolidates his personal power. According to ITAR-TASS on 31 August,
opposition party leaders claimed that less than half the electorate
voted in Almaty, not 90% as officially reported. A leader of the Slavic
movement Lad from eastern Kazakhstan told Reuters that the voting
figures had been "officially falsified." -- Bhavna Dave

. . . PROMISES NEW LEGISLATION. At his first post-victory press
conference, Nazarbaev promised immediately to pass a new election law
and set a date for parliamentary elections, Western and Russian media
reported on 31 August. Nazarbaev confirmed the decision to move the
nation's capital from Almaty to Akmola and indicated that he would make
"serious changes to improve" the team of ministers. -- Bhavna Dave

TURKMENISTAN ACTIVATED? Turkmenistan's Deputy Prime Minister Boris
Shikhmuradov visited Dushanbe on 31 August in a bid to ensure that
Ashgabat is the venue of the 5th round of inter-Tajik talks scheduled
for 18 September and to make arrangements to open an embassy in
Dushanbe. He also laid the groundwork for a conference which will deal
with barter issues involving Russia's three closest partners in the
south--Tajikistan, Iran, and Turkmenistan, Russian media reported.
Isolationist Ashgabat has studiously avoided involvement in any aspect
of the Tajik problem, but when cementing ties with Russia in May,
Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov pledged to do his best to help
resolve the conflict. A trilateral economic arrangement would be equally
groundbreaking but only survive if Russia gives its blessing. -- Lowell
Bezanis

TAJIK OPPOSITION APPLIES PRESSURE BEFORE TALKS BEGIN. With the next
round of negotiations between the Tajik government and opposition
scheduled to begin on 18 September, the anti-government forces are
resorting to their customary tactic of stepping up military pressure.
Aside from attempts by the rebels to cross the border from Afghanistan,
the opposition is waging a terror campaign within Tajikistan. Civilians
have been killed in the Rogun area to the east of Dushanbe, and
opposition leader Said Abdullo Nuri claims that members of his forces in
the Khorog region to the south will remain there, according to Interfax.
The commander of the Russian-led CIS Peacekeeping Force, Lt. Gen.
Valentin Bobryshev, said recently that there are more than 2,000 armed
rebels inside Tajikistan, mainly in the Garm district in the northeast.
-- Bruce Pannier

CIS

MINSK DENIES LUKASHENKA WILL STAND IN DUMA ELECTIONS. Deputy head of the
Presidential Administration Uladzimir Zamyatalin said reports that
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has agreed to run in the
Russian Duma elections are "absurd," Belarusian radio reported on 30
August. Earlier that day reports said the electoral bloc "Vozrozhdenie"
was planning to add Lukashenka to its list of candidates and quoted bloc
leader Valerii Skurlatov as saying the president had agreed to his
inclusion. According to Zamyatalin, Lukashenka had never heard of the
idea. -- Ustina Markus

[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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