|Everyone knows it is much harder to turn word into deed than deed into word. - Maxim Gorky|
No. 174, Part I, 7 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 DUMA COUNCIL CALLS FOR YELTSIN TO SACK KOZYREV. The NATO airstrikes against the Bosnian Serbs continue to provoke political controversy in Moscow. In response to a petition signed by more than 100 deputies, on 6 September the Duma Council decided to convene a special session on 9 September to discuss the situation in the former Yugoslavia, Western and Russian agencies reported. The council also suggested that President Yeltsin immediately sign the law, passed by the Duma on 12 August, calling for Russia to unilaterally withdraw from UN sanctions against rump Yugoslavia, reconsider Russian membership in NATO's Partnership for Peace program, and coordinate Yugoslav policy with Ukraine and Belarus, who have also criticized the airstrikes. The council also recommended that Yeltsin sack Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, whose "many serious mistakes" had led to a "humiliating defeat of Russian diplomacy in the Balkans." Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin told Radio Mayak that the council meeting had been "hot," with several deputies calling for even more extreme measures, such as withdrawing from the UN altogether. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. YELTSIN SAYS RUSSIA MAY SUPPORT BOSNIAN SERBS. Responding to the Duma, President Yeltsin complained to visiting Spanish Prime Minster Felipe Gonzales, who currently holds the rotating EU presidency, and European Commission President Jacques Santer, that NATO had unilaterally appointed itself "judge and executioner" in the former Yugoslavia, Western agencies reported on 7 September. Yeltsin also charged NATO with employing a "double standard" by punishing the Bosnian Serbs for attacks while doing nothing in response to aggression by Croat and Muslim forces. He added, "it might come to the Russian side taking an adequate response," suggesting some form of aid to the Bosnian Serbs. Yeltsin also warned that if unilateral NATO action continues, Russia would have to "reconsider relations" with the alliance, and noted that Russia must be given a bigger role in ongoing discussions of a new pan-European security system, saying that otherwise, Europe might "return to two camps which are at war with one another." -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. FRENCH NUCLEAR TEST: RUSSIA CONDEMNS, ZHIRINOVSKY PRAISES. Presidential press secretary Sergei Medvedev told journalists on 6 September that Russia condemns the nuclear test carried out by France on the South Pacific atoll of Muraroa on 5 September. The Russian Foreign Ministry described the test as a "serious blow" to international negotiations on disarmament and nonproliferation, ITAR-TASS reported. Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, on the other hand, told Russian Public Television that he had sent a letter to French President Jacques Chirac expressing support for the French test. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. NEW COMPUTER SYSTEM WON'T COUNT VOTES IN COMING ELECTIONS. The new automated vote-counting system "Vybory" will not be used in the upcoming parliamentary or next year's presidential elections, according to Nikolai Ryabov, chairman of the Central Electoral Commission, Segodnya reported on 6 September. The system will be implemented slowly through 2000 and only a few components will be tested in the 1995 and 1996 elections. Until now, Ryabov had planned to use the system to quickly tally preliminary results, while the official results would still be determined by hand. The use of the system has aroused considerable controversy among groups critical of President Boris Yeltsin, who charge that it could make voting falsification easier. Ryabov also warned that local officials had formed only 34 of the 225 district electoral committees and that if they were not formed by 15 September, the Central Electoral Committee would do the job itself, Kommersant-Daily reported on 6 September. According to current legislation, the local executive and legislative branches should each form half of the committee, Ogonek (issue #28) reported. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. CONSTITUTIONAL COURT FACES QUANDARY OVER FEDERATION COUNCIL. The Russian Constitutional Court cannot resolve the dispute between the parliament and Yeltsin over whether the Federation Council should be elected or appointed because the constitution says that this decision is determined by law, according to Constitutional Court Chairman Vladimir Tumanov. He said "the Constitutional Court cannot take on the responsibility which the constitution gave the legislature because then the Constitutional Court itself would be violating the constitution," Ekho Moskvy reported on 6 September. Despite this, Tumanov indicated that the court will probably decide in Yeltsin's favor, by declaring the parliament's version of the law unconstitutional. The court has tried to avoid becoming entangled in political questions, but, as in the case of the Chechen war, has tended to favor the president. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. "HOT LINE" FOR JOURNALISTS OPENS. Journalists will now be able to call a "hot line" for information on President Yeltsin's daily program and on laws and decrees he has signed, Izvestiya reported on 6 September. The gesture reflects the president's campaign to win back the support of liberal journalists. Opening the "hot line" was one of many promises Yeltsin made in his 1 September address in Moscow to the Democratic Press Forum. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. AGRARIANS, COMMUNISTS FIGHT EACH OTHER IN BRYANSK. The Bryansk Oblast Communist Party has rejected cooperation with the local branch of the Agrarian Party. The Agrarians had proposed to the Communists that they divide the oblast's two Duma districts, nominating a Communist in one district and an Agrarian in the other, and then uniting their campaign efforts, Radio Rossii reported on 6 September. However, the Communists rejected the proposal and nominated their candidates in both districts. Several of the local democratic parties have united to avoid the mistakes of the last elections, Bryanskii rabochii reported on 4 August. In 1993, Bryansk elected one Communist and one Agrarian from the single mandate districts, although Vladimir Zhirinovsky's party won 27% of the party list vote. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. INGUSH PRESIDENT SHUNS UNION OF MUSLIMS. Ruslan Aushev, the president of the Republic of Ingushetiya, refused offers to lead the party list of the Union of Muslims of Russia (SMR), Ekho Moskvy reported on 6 September. Aushev's rebuff is the latest sign of conflict within the union, which claims to represent the interests of 20 million Muslims in the Russian Federation. Moskovskii komsomolets noted that Federation Council Deputy Chairman Ramazan Abdulatipov also has not joined the union's leadership. According to the 3-10 September edition of Moskovskie novosti, protests at the SMR's 1 September conference in Moscow forced the union's organizer, Akhmet Khalitov--who helped Vladimir Zhirinovsky create the Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia--to give up his LDPR membership. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. CHECHNYA MARKS FOURTH ANNIVERSARY OF INDEPENDENCE. Some 3,000 to 5,000 people assembled in Grozny on 6 September to mark the fourth anniversary of the violent dispersal by Dzhokhar Dudaev's supporters of the Chechen- Ingush Supreme Soviet and concomitant declaration of independence, Russian media reported. Participants in the demonstration carried banners praising Allah and Dudaev and calling for those Russian officials responsible for the carnage in Chechnya to be brought before a war crimes tribunal. Addressing the demonstration, Chechen military commander Aslan Maskhadov warned against a new "fratricidal war" between rival Chechen factions, according to Ekho Moskvy. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc. SOBCHAK SEEKS TO EXPAND ST. PETERSBURG'S BORDERS AND HIS OWN POWER. St. Petersburg Mayor Anatoli Sobchak introduced two draft laws to the legislative assembly (city council) that would significantly alter the city's geographic size and administrative structure, the paper Chas pik reported on 6 September. The first proposal would end the current administrative system based on "raions" and replace them with districts more directly under the control of the mayor's office. The second draft law would incorporate the suburbs of Pushkin, Pavlovsk, Petergof, Kronshtadt, Lomonosov, and Kolpino into St. Petersburg. These suburbs, which currently elect their own administrative organs, would be made administrative districts of St. Petersburg and be placed under the control of the mayor's office. -- Brian Whitmore, OMRI, Inc., in St. Petersburg CAMPAIGN TO BUY UP ILLEGAL ARMS IN TATARSTAN, TULA. In an attempt to reduce the number of crimes involving firearms, the Tatar government has decided to pay people who hand in illegal weapons. Izvestiya reported on 7 September that those taking up the government's offer will be immune from criminal proceedings and their names will not be revealed. A similar program has also been introduced in Tula Oblast, home of a major weapons factory. But, as NTV noted on 3 September, the campaign's prospects are poor, since the 150,000 to 200,000 ruble compensation ($33-44) being offered by the local authorities is well below the sum the weapons would fetch on the black market. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. YELTSIN CALLS FOR CIVIL SERVICE REFORM. Speaking at the Government Service Academy in Moscow on 6 September, President Boris Yeltsin called for changes in the civil service, particularly in its personnel policy, to address the perennial problem of corruption and ensure the successful implementation of reforms. The president admitted that mistakes had been made in hiring in 1992 and 1993, when half the staff of federal administrative bodies and a third of regional administrative personnel were replaced. He said some officials had sacrificed the interests of the state to line their own pockets, leading to a decline in efficiency. Yeltsin called for a clear delimitation of powers between federal and regional structures and the introduction of a program to attract young people into the civil service. A law on the fundamental principles of state service was signed by the president about one month ago. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. NEW STRATEGIC MISSILE TESTED. Russia's newest strategic intercontinental ballistic missile was successfully launched from Plesetsk on 5 September, ITAR-TASS reported. The Topol-M, a modernized version of the SS-25, is to be the backbone of Russia's future land-based, strategic missile force. The first test, a success, took place in December 1994, but the missile failed in its second test in May 1995. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. DEFENSE WORKERS KEEP GRACHEV FROM SEEING NEW SUB. Workers at the "Vostok" shipyards in Vladivostok spoiled Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev's World War II victory celebrations by not allowing a new nuclear-powered submarine to take part in a scheduled review. According to the paper Vladivostok of 6 September, the workers kept the new Akula- class attack submarine "Dragon" blockaded in the shipyard for four days. They were said to be indignant at not being paid for four months with the defense ministry owing the shipyard 57 billion rubles ($13 million). The submarine was released only after two high-ranking military officials visited the yard and promised to settle the wage problem. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. NIZHNII NOVGOROD TO COMPENSATE DEFRAUDED DEPOSITORS. The Nizhnii Novgorod legislative assembly approved Governor Boris Nemtsov's proposal to partially compensate defrauded depositors, Radio Rossii reported on 6 September. The decision only applies to the clients of two insolvent Nizhnii Novgorod banks. Two other city banks, which are solvent, will start paying the debts of these insolvent banks, provided that the regional administration becomes a shareholder and contributes municipal property to their charter capital. Nemtsov said that the pilot project will probably serve as a model for the entire country to resolve the widespread problem of defrauded depositors. The report suggested that some 200,000 Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast residents have been swindled. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. DROUGHT COMPENSATION FOR KALMYKIYANS. Due to a drought which has cut in half expected grain harvests of 600,000 tons, the Russian government plans to issue a natural disaster decree which will allocate financial compensation to Kalmykiyan residents for losses, Segodnya reported on 5 September. Agricultural damage is estimated at 17 billion rubles ($3.8 million). -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA KAZAKH DEPUTY DEFENSE MINISTER ON TRIAL FOR CORRUPTION. The military collegium of Kazakhstan's Supreme Court is examining charges of corruption "on a particularly large scale" against Deputy Defense Minister Valerii Satbaev and one of his subordinates, Kazakh TV reported on 6 September. The TV report mentioned that the National Security Committee decided to conduct the trial behind closed doors because the case pertains to the use of state military secrets. Satbaev and one of his subordinates were detained in April after Military Prosecutor Yurii Khitrin issued a report charging them with illegal arms trading and negligence in carrying out official duties. Satbaev has now challenged Khitrin's nomination as prosecutor, arguing that as Khitrin's signatures appears on a number of documents related to the case, he could appear as a witness, but not be a prosecutor. Satbaev's arrest is part of a crackdown on crime and corruption launched in April. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc. BIDS ON TURKMEN OIL REFINERY. The Turkmenbashi oil refinery, built during World War Two and in need of upgrading, is reviewing modernization offers from companies representing fifteen countries, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 September. The current capacity of six million tons will be increased by one million tons after upgrading, and will be oriented towards high-octane fuels. -- Bruce Pannier, 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. To receive the OMRI Daily Digest by mail or fax, please direct inquiries to OMRI Publications, Na Strzi 63, 140 62 Prague 4, Czech Republic; or electronically to OMRIPUB@OMRI.CZ Tel.: (42-2) 6114 2114; fax: (42-2) 426 396 Please note that there is a new procedure for obtaining permission to reprint or redistribute the OMRI Daily Digest. 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