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No. 173, Part I, 6 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 AGRARIANS CRITICIZE OUR HOME IS RUSSIA. In his speech to the congress of the Agrarian Party, leader Mikhail Lapshin described the current government's policy as "anti-popular" and "anti-peasant," Ekho Moskvy reported on 5 September. Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Zaveryukha denounced Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's idea of holding a referendum on private property for land because, he argued, the land should belong only to rural workers. His speech reflects the rift in the cabinet over agrarian issues. The congress, held on 5 September in Moscow, also called for the restoration of the Soviet Union. The party removed Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin from its leadership, but stopped short of excluding him from the party, NTV reported. Lapshin, Agriculture Minister Aleksandr Nazarchuk, and Chairman of the Agrarian Union Vasilii Starodubtsev will top the party list. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. TRADE UNIONS SUPPORT BLOC WITH INDUSTRIALISTS. After failing to build an alliance with Rybkin's left-center bloc and then the Agrarian Party, Mikhail Shmakov's trade union organization and Vladimir Shcherbakov's Russian United Industrialist Party set up a group tentatively called Trade Unions and Industrialists of Russia-Union of Labor. Though there were heated discussions at the 5 September trade union meeting on uniting with the industrialists, the vast majority were in favor of the alliance, ITAR-TASS reported. Shmakov said that trade unions and industrialists have common interests in employment, respectable salaries, and legality. The industrialists will hold their congress on 6 September and the new bloc will meet two days later. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. CENTRAL ELECTORAL COMMITTEE DEFINES OBSERVERS' RIGHTS. Since there is no law defining the public's right to monitor vote counting procedures, the Central Electoral Commission has released a list of rights for domestic and foreign poll watchers and the media, Kommersant-Daily reported on 5 September. Although the document gives the observers wide-ranging rights, it does not specify punitive measures in cases where electoral committees violate these rights. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. FEDOROV CHARGES GOVERNMENT INTERFERENCE. Forward, Russia! leader Boris Fedorov charged that some regional governors have prevented their subordinates from joining his movement, Russian Public Television reported on 5 September. Despite such interference, Fedorov said, Forward, Russia! has approved 137 candidates to run for parliament in single-member constituencies and will soon have the 200,000 signatures needed to appear on the party-list ballot. The party list is headed by Fedorov, Duma deputy Bella Denisenko (formerly of Russia's Choice), and Aleksandr Vladislavlev (head of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs). Fedorov's campaign includes an innovative joke contest, Reuters reported on 16 August. Members of the public are invited to submit jokes about other political parties, with the best one receiving a $3,000 prize. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. SHAKHRAI TO JOIN FORCES WITH ROSSEL? Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai and his Party of Russian Unity and Concord (PRES) may strike an alliance with Sverdlovsk Governor Eduard Rossel, according to Ekho Moskvy and Russian Public Television on 5 September. Shakhrai reportedly supported Rossel's ouster in 1993, after Rossel backed the creation of a Urals Republic. However, the Sverdlovsk branch of PRES helped organize Rossel's August campaign against the candidate backed by Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's bloc Our Home Is Russia, to which PRES officially belonged. On 31 August, Shakhrai left the prime minister's bloc, denouncing it as a closed party of bosses. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. TAIMYR ANNEXES NORILSK. The Duma of the Taimyr Autonomous Okrug voted to annex the city of Norilsk, removing it from the jurisdiction of Krasnoyarsk Krai, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 September. Krasnoyarsk Krai's executive branch opposes the move. Norilsk is the site of a huge, profitable nickel mine, and the conflict began when the director of Norilsk Nikel, Anatolii Filatov, sought the city's subordination to the okrug in April 1995. The president's representative in Krasnoyarsk Krai, Yurii Moskvich, said that changing the status of the city would have serious consequences and that a treaty protecting the status quo should be signed. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. CHECHEN LEADERS IN ELECTION DISPUTE. The head of the Moscow-backed Chechen government of national revival, Salambek Khadzhiev, told journalists in Grozny on 5 September that he objects to the 1 September decision of Umar Avturkhanov's Committee for National Accord to postpone indefinitely the parliamentary elections planned for 5 November, Interfax and Segodnya reported on 5 September. Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev has scheduled alternative elections for 27 October. Ekho Moskvy on 5 September quoted former Russian Supreme Soviet speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov as pledging his support for the newly-created Chechen Popular Union for Revival, the aims of which coincide with those of his 1994 Chechen peace mission. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc. COUNCIL OF EUROPE MAY RECONSIDER RUSSIAN MEMBERSHIP. A positive evaluation by a German parliamentarian may lead the Council of Europe to reconsider Russia's now frozen application for membership, Russian and Western agencies reported on 5 September. Ernst Muehleman, in a report to the 26-member council, concluded that Russia was now making progress towards "a peaceful settlement of the Chechen conflict," meeting the main condition which the council had set for reactivating the Russian application when it was frozen in February. At its 26 September meeting, the council will formally vote on reinstating Russia's petition for membership. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIA TO SELL TWO ADDITIONAL REACTORS TO IRAN. Indicating that Russia will not bow to ongoing American pressure to break off nuclear cooperation with Iran, a spokesman for the Ministry of Nuclear Power told ITAR-TASS on 5 September that Russia recently signed a contract to supply an additional two light-water reactors for the Bushehr power station. The first contract, signed in January, provides for Russia to complete an unfinished site at Bushehr, installing a new Russian VVER- 1000 reactor. The new contract calls for the construction of two additional VVER-440 reactors at the same location. The spokesman, Eduard Akopyan, brushed off potential criticism of the new contract, saying that "the United States doesn't want to see Russia as a competitor" in the nuclear industry, and noting that 26 Russian-built reactors are currently operating safely under international safeguards in 10 countries. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. URANIUM FROM SCRAPPED WEAPONS SENT TO U.S. An initial shipment of $120 million worth of uranium derived from scrapped nuclear weapons has been sent to the U.S., an official of Tekhsnabeksport told reporters on 5 September. ITAR-TASS quoted Igor Kupryanov as saying the exports had initially been "somewhat behind schedule" but were now back on track. In 1992 the U.S. agreed to pay Russia $12 billion for 500 metric tons of weapons-grade uranium from dismantled Russian nuclear weapons, in a deal that seemed to be in trouble earlier this year. Kupriyanov, whose company is affiliated with the Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy, said that long-term contracts for the export of uranium had been recently signed with U.S., South Korean, and South African companies. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIA TO REPROCESS FOREIGN NUCLEAR WASTE. The Nuclear Energy Ministry said on 4 September that it is ready to accept foreign nuclear waste for reprocessing and temporary storage. According to Reuters, on 1 September the government approved controversial new rules allowing waste from abroad to be stored at the nuclear city of Krasnoyarsk-26 until a new reprocessing facility is built. That plant will process the waste for a fee, and Russia will use the resulting plutonium and uranium; the final waste will be sent back to the country of origin. Environmentalists argue that radiation levels are already too high at storage sites and that Russia does not even have the capacity to process its own nuclear waste. The Nuclear Energy Ministry says two-thirds of the storage complex at Krasnoyarsk-26 is empty. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. CHINA TO TAKE DELIVERY OF SUBMARINE. The Krasnoe Sormovo shipyard in Nizhnii Novgorod is about to hand over a diesel-powered submarine of the Varshavyanka class to its new Chinese crew, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 September. It will be the second delivery by the shipyard to China this year. Known as the Kilo-class in the West, the submarine reportedly cost about $250 million, which China will pay half in hard currency and the rest in consumer goods. Foreign sources have reported in the past that China had contracted to buy as many as ten of the Kilos. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. BUDGET FUNDS MISUSED IN PRIMORSK KRAI. A detailed examination of the way in which funds from the federal budget have been used in Primorsk Krai found that billions of rubles designated for the fishing industry and the purchase of grain and oil products were loaned to "questionable" commercial structures. Russian Public Television said on 5 September that the four-month investigation had already resulted in a number of criminal cases. An interdepartmental government commission headed by Petr Karpov was sent to investigate Primorsk finances following an energy crisis in the krai earlier this year caused in large part by nonpayments. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. POLICE BRUTALITY INCREASING? Many Russians are more afraid of the police than they are of the mafia, claims a report in Izvestiya on 1 September. According to Andrei Babushkin, head of a prison watchdog body, nongovernmental organizations in Moscow alone receive hundreds of complaints every month from people claiming to have been beaten and tortured by the police, yet complaints against the police are almost always dismissed as groundless. A poll conducted in Nizhnii Novgorod found that 46% of victims of a crime did not want to turn to the police for help. According to Valerii Abramkin, head of the Center for Criminal Law Reform, police lawlessness is worse now than it was in the communist era. One incident highlighted in the press was the killing in police custody of a 19-year-old man in Mordoviya in late July. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. GOVERNMENT TO STREAMLINE TAX SYSTEM. The Russian government plans to streamline the country's tax system from 1 January by lifting certain company taxes and limiting various regional taxes, Russian and Western media reported on 1 September. Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Shatalov told reporters the taxes to be lifted included the special tax for supporting farmers, which forms 1.5% of the value added tax. Shatalov described the current tax system as "vague, unstable and unpredictable," saying it discouraged investors and encouraged tax fraud, which could deprive the 1995 budget of 40% of its planned revenue. The new tax code also restricts local authorities' ability to impose various regional taxes. Since 1994, Moscow has permitted regions to impose their own taxes. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. PARAMONOVA ADDRESSES BANKERS IN VLADIVOSTOK. Speaking at the Asian- Pacific International Congress of Bankers in Vladivostok, Russia's Acting Central Bank Chairwoman Tatyana Paramonova said the Central Bank plans to repeal its resolution adopted last February which introduced stricter reserve requirements for commercial banks, Pravda reported on 6 September. Commenting on the bank crisis, Paramonova said certain banks have already collapsed; the Central Bank canceled 160 licenses since 25 August. But, she noted that the combined assets of these banks amount to less than 1% of the total assets of Russia's banking system. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA TURKMENISTAN: PIPELINE DEALS IN MAKING. Pakistani President Faroor Leghari arrives in Ashgabat on 6 September to begin talks on bilateral trade, Reuters reported the same day. Talks are expected to focus on a $3 billion natural gas pipeline linking Turkmenistan to Pakistan via Afghanistan. A memorandum on the project was signed by the two countries in March. The pipeline could eventually provide Pakistan with 22 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually. Leghari's visit comes on the heels of a visit by Iranian Oil Minister Gholamreza Aqazadeh, who proposed a 40-kilometer pipeline linking the Korpedzhe gas field in Turkmenistan with Iran, ITAR-TASS reported. The Iranian project will cost $215 million and is expected to yield eight billion cubic meters of gas annually. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc. JAPANESE BANK LOAN TO KAZAKHSTAN. The Export-Import Bank of Japan will lend 16.2 billion yen ($165 million) to Kazakhstan to assist its economic reform program, according to a report by AFP on 6 September. A sum of 9.72 billion yen will be loaned in co-financing with the International Monetary Fund and the remaining 6.48 billion yen will be co-financed with the World Bank. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc. ARMENIA TO RESTART NUCLEAR PLANT. Armenia will restart its nuclear power plant at Medzamor later this month, according to Vladimir Kurginyan of Armenia's nuclear safety committee, Interfax reported on 4 September. The plant, 30 kilometers south of Yerevan, was shut down after the December 1988 earthquake. Kurginyan said that work will also begin on two new reactors at the site. -- Peter Rutland, OMRI, Inc. [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Pete Baumgartner 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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