Calmness of mind does not mean you should stop your activity. Real calmness should be found in activity itself. - Shunro Suzuki
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 172, Part I, 5 September 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

YELTSIN APPROVES ELECTION OF NIZHNII NOVGOROD GOVERNOR. Russian
President Boris Yeltsin approved Nizhnii Novgorod's intention to hold
elections for its governor, Radio Rossii reported on 1 September.
Novgorod, Vladimir, Novosibirsk, Omsk, Tambov, and Saratov oblasts have
also officially requested permission to hold similar elections as has
the Khanty-Mansii Autonomous Okrug, ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin will
soon approve elections in two or three of these, according to
Presidential Chief-of-Staff Sergei Filatov. Meanwhile, in a 1 September
Kremlin meeting with the newly-elected Governor of Sverdlovsk Oblast,
Eduard Rossel, Yeltsin agreed to consider a treaty defining the
relationship between the federal government and the oblast. Rossel
defeated Yeltsin's preferred candidate in his campaign. -- Robert
Orttung

BOLDYREV QUITS YABLOKO. One of Yabloko's founders, Yurii Boldyrev,
dropped out of the party on 2 September because he believes that
Grigorii Yavlinskii's leadership has become autocratic and sacrificed
liberal principles, Ekho Moskvy and Reuters reported. He did not appear
at the party's congress on 2-3 September in Moscow. Although Boldyrev
was one of the party's founding members, contributing the "B" to its
name, his withdrawal does not have immediate consequences since he was
not planning to run for the Duma. The party's top three candidates will
be Yavlinskii, Chairman of the Duma Committee on International Affairs
Vladimir Lukin, and Deputy Chairwoman of the Duma Committee on Labor and
Social Security Tatyana Yarygina. Seven other parties held their
congresses over the weekend. -- Robert Orttung

OUR HOME IS RUSSIA NAMES PARTY LIST. The second congress of Our Home Is
Russia set on its tone for the election campaign on 2 September,
choosing supporters of strong Russian statehood for its party list.
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin will top the list, followed by film
director Nikita Mikhalkov ("Burnt by the Sun"), and General Lev Rokhlin,
commander of the troops that stormed Grozny, Russian media reported on 3
September. Mikhalkov had previously been associated with former vice
president Aleksandr Rutskoi and his Derzhava movement. Other prominent
figures on the list include former Democratic Party of Russia chairman
Nikolai Travkin and Vladimir Bashmachnikov, leader of the liberal
farmers' union AKKOR. In his address to the congress, Chernomyrdin was
optimistic that his bloc will overcome early campaign setbacks and
divisions among supporters of economic reform. On 20 August, the bloc's
candidate was defeated in Sverdlovsk gubernatorial elections, and Deputy
Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai deserted the bloc last week. -- Laura
Belin

PROCURATOR CLOSES OCTOBER 1993 CRIMINAL CASE. The Procurator-General's
Office has closed its criminal investigation of the events on 3-4
October 1993 in which more than 150 people died. It declared that both
executive authorities and supporters of the Supreme Soviet were to blame
for the armed clashes and bloodshed, Russian Public Television reported
on 4 September. Prominent parliamentary supporters, including Ruslan
Khasbulatov and Aleksandr Rutskoi, were released from prison in February
1994 when the Duma granted amnesty to all sides in the conflict. One NTV
reporter commented that by not charging a single person in the case,
procurators had followed one of Russia's "most frightening traditions:
bury the dead, but don't name the murderers." -- Laura Belin

LITTLE PROGRESS IN CHECHNYA. The recent highly-publicized meeting of the
Security Council to discuss the Chechen conflict has as yet delivered
few concrete results. The disarmament process continues to move very
slowly, with federal military sources telling Interfax on 2 September
that only 1,100 weapons had been surrendered by Chechen fighters. Some
fighters are keeping their weapons because they are being allowed to
join new self-defense units, AFP reported. On 2 September, Chechen
military commander Aslan Maskhadov said that an agreement had been
reached on the terms of a long-delayed prisoner exchange, but Russian
Public Television reported on 4 September that the exchange had still
not taken place. Meanwhile, on the night of 3-4 September, federal
troops in Chechnya came under attack 19 times, with mortars used to
shell federal positions for the first time in weeks, according to ITAR-
TASS. -- Scott Parrish

KOHL AND YELTSIN DISCUSS YUGOSLAV CONFLICT. Talks on 2 and 3 September
between German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and President Yeltsin failed to
produce agreement between Russia and the Western members of the
international Contact Group on the conflict in the former Yugoslavia,
Western and Russian agencies reported. Kohl told journalists that "our
opinions on the air raids did not coincide," in reference to NATO
airstrikes against the Bosnian Serbs, which Russia has condemned. Kohl
did add, however, that he and Yeltsin agreed that the Yugoslav conflict
could only be solved at the negotiating table, not by military means. On
other issues, Kohl promised German financial aid for the destruction of
Russian chemical weapons, and Yeltsin reiterated Russian opposition to
the eastward enlargement of NATO. -- Scott Parrish

TRAGEDY IN KUZBASS. Fifteen people were killed in an explosion on 4
September at the Pervomaisk mine in the Kuzbass coal field in western
Siberia. Izvestiya on 5 September said it was the ninth serious accident
in the Kuzbass this year. According to Kemerovo Governor Mikhail
Kislyuk, the death rate in the area's mines has tripled since 1989. On
average, every million tons of coal mined now costs two lives.
Meanwhile, Russian Public Television said that 27 miners are on a hunger
strike in the southern Russian mining area of Rostov to protest wage
arrears totaling at least 27 billion rubles ($6 million). -- Penny
Morvant

PRISONERS SUFFOCATE IN PERM. Two prisoners suffocated and four others
collapsed in an overcrowded remand prison in Perm in the Urals on 2
September. ITAR-TASS quoted the prison warden as saying the remand wing
housed twice as many suspects as it was built to hold. In July, 11
inmates died of heat exhaustion in a remand cell in Novokuznetsk.
Rossiiskaya gazeta on 24 August said that more than 270,000 suspected
criminals are held on remand in Russia. -- Penny Morvant

YELTSIN APPROVES LOAN-EQUITY SWAP PLAN. In a move to reduce the federal
budget deficit, President Boris Yeltsin signed a decree on 1 September
authorizing banks and private investors to manage state shares in
certain enterprises in exchange for major loans, Russian and Western
agencies reported the same day. The measure allows the state to retain
ownership of the shares, but they will be transferred to the banks and
investors if the state defaults on the loans. The decree said the rights
to manage the shares would be allocated by tender, open to the banks and
Russian and foreign investors. The amount of the loans and the
conditions and guarantees attached to them will be determined by the
successful bidders. The tenders will be issued from 1 October. -- Thomas
Sigel

EXPORT TARIFFS SLASHED, YET GOVERNMENT TO MILK GAZPROM. Russia slashed
tariffs on key exports on 1 September, but moved to boost state coffer
revenues by hiking natural gas excise taxes of the state gas giant,
Gazprom, by 10% and eliminating a tax break on the company's hard
currency earnings, Russian and Western agencies reported the same day.
President Yeltsin signed a decree to lower export tariffs by an average
of 30% on goods from metals to machinery. The new rates, which have not
been made public, took effect immediately. At the same time, the
government decided to raise the excise taxes on Gazprom's natural gas
from 25% to 35%. Gazprom already channels billions of dollars into the
Russian economy. According to Segodnya, First Deputy Prime Minister
responsible for the Economy and Finance, Anatolii Chubais, said the
extra revenue from Gazprom would bring in an additional 3.5 trillion
rubles ($780 million) by the end of the year. -- Thomas Sigel

INDUSTRIAL OUTPUT AND GNP FALL. Russia's industrial output fell by 7% in
the first half of 1995, compared with the same period in 1994, and gross
national product (GNP) fell by 4%, Russian agencies reported on 2
September. Citing official statistics, First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg
Soskovets said that recent figures were more encouraging, and pointed to
a 2% increase in June's industrial production, compared with May, and a
rise of 3% in GNP. He said the rate of decline was slowing compared with
1994. For all of 1994, industrial production fell by 21%, after a
decline of 16% in 1993, while GNP dropped by 15% in 1994, compared with
12% in 1993. Soskovets said that June's figures gave rise to optimism
that recovery was on the way. He pointed to a rise in production during
the first six months of 1995 in the steel, chemical, petrochemical,
machine and paper industries, but noted a 35-40% decline in light
industrial production. Meanwhile, the government released August's
monthly inflation rate--4.6%--the lowest level in one year. -- Thomas
Sigel

YELTSIN LOWERS ARMS EXPORT DUTIES. Russian President Yeltsin has ordered
the government to reduce export duties on defense industry products,
Interfax reported on 1 September. First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg
Soskovets announced this to Khabarovsk authorities during his working
visit to Russia's Far East. He said this would mean that the aircraft
factory in Komsomolsk would not be required to pay any duty on its Su-27
jet exports to China. -- Doug Clarke

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

NAGORNO-KARABAKH TALKS OPEN IN MOSCOW. Talks began near Moscow on 4
September between representatives of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Nagorno-
Karabakh, Russian and Western media reported. The talks, which are being
held under the auspices of the OSCE, are aimed at consolidating the
ceasefire which has held in the region since May 1994. Azerbaijan is
refusing to recognize the independent status of Nagorno-Karabakh until
Armenia returns the Azerbaijani territory which was seized during
earlier fighting, including the land corridor linking Nagorno-Karabakh
to Armenia. Upcoming talks over the construction of pipelines to export
oil from the Caspian Sea, scheduled for 9 October, may encourage the two
sides to reach a settlement. -- Peter Rutland

SHEVARDNADZE TIGHTENS GRIP AFTER ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT. Georgian
Security Minister Igor Giorgadze and his deputy Temur Khachishvili were
sacked on 2 September for failing to prevent the 29 August bomb attack
on Georgian leader Eduard Shevardnadze, AFP reported on 3 September.
Khachishvili, a supporter of Shevardnadze opponent Dzhaba Ioseliani, was
arrested on 2 September along with two leading members of the
Mkhedrioni, a paramilitary group. They were accused of involvement in an
April attack on a Shevardnadze aide. On 3 September, police conducted
raids on regional headquarters of the Mkhedrioni, which backs Ioseliani,
seizing their buildings and confiscating weapons. On 3 September Deputy
Minister Avtandil Ioseliani was appointed interim security minister,
while Shevardnadze told the parliament he will take direct, personal
control over three elite security units. The parliament officially
approved Shevardnadze's actions. On 4 September, Shevardnadze concluded
a one-day visit to Uzbekistan. -- Peter Rutland

AZERBAIJAN COURT BANS COMMUNIST PARTY. The Supreme Court of Azerbaijan
has banned the Communist Party, preventing it from registering for the
12 November elections, a Western news agency reported 4 September. Fazil
Mamedov, a spokesman for the Justice Ministry, accused the Communist
Party of threatening Azerbaijan's independence by calling for the
restoration of the Soviet Union. Party leader Ramiz Akhmedov said the
party will appeal to President Heidar Aliev to lift the ban. On 2
September Interfax reported that two major opposition parties, the
Popular Front of Azerbaijan and the Social Democratic Party, will be
allowed to run in the elections despite earlier being denied
registration (See OMRI Daily Digest 4 August 1995). -- Peter Rutland

TAJIK MILITARY UNITS FIGHT EACH OTHER, AGAIN. The Kurgan-Tyube area in
Tajikistan's south was once again the scene of fighting between the
first and eleventh brigades, according to western sources. Both groups
were members of the Popular Front which backed the Communists return to
power in late 1992. Conflict broke out following the assassination of
Izatullo Kuganov, commander of the eleventh brigade, in early June.
Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov had announced that both brigades would
be moved to positions on the Tajik-Afghan border, but this didn't occur.
The eleventh brigade came under attack on 1 September. Usmon Marchayev,
a commander in the eleventh brigade, said 300 men, six tanks and several
armored personnel carriers participated in the assault on his unit. --
Bruce Pannier

KAZAKHSTAN OFFICIALS REJECTS U.S. CRITICISM ON REFERENDUM. Kazakhstan's
Foreign Minister Kasymzhomart Tokaev rejected a statement by the U.S.
embassy in Almaty that criticizes the new Kazakh constitution as
undemocratic, Interfax reported on 2 September. Tokaev said that the
people of Kazakhstan have democratically adopted the new constitution,
favoring a strong presidential system, and expressed faith that his
country's ties with the U.S. will only become closer. A leader of the
Russian opposition in Kazakhstan told Reuters on 1 September that voter
turnout in the 186 voting stations in Almaty was between 14 and 28%. The
Chairman of the Human Rights Committee of Kazakhstan claimed that in the
622 polling stations monitored by the opposition, the actual turnout was
only 34%. Yuri Kim, the chairman of the electoral commission, claimed
that 90 percent of the electorate voted in the referendum. He denied the
"biased" claims of the opposition, who he said had observed only 622 of
the 10,253 polling stations. -- Bhavna Dave

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Pete Baumgartner

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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