Logic, n. The act of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human understanding. - Ambrose Bierce
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 175, Part I, 8 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

RYBKIN BLOC GARNERS PROMINENT INDIVIDUALS, SUFFERS ANOTHER DEFECTION.
The top three candidates of Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin's left-center bloc
will be Rybkin, reform economist Stanislav Shatalin, and Col.-Gen. Boris
Gromov, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 September. Gromov was the last commander
of Soviet forces in Afghanistan and left the Defense Ministry after
clashing with Defense Minister Pavel Grachev. Other prominent members of
the bloc, which will campaign under the slogan "My Homeland," include
former presidential chief of staff Yurii Petrov, chairman of the Russian
Television Radio Company Oleg Poptsov, and Imperial Bank President
Sergei Rodionov. One of the bloc's founding members, Duma deputy
Vyacheslav Nikonov, announced his departure because he was unhappy with
his rank on the party's list and said other Duma members were likely to
follow suit, NTV reported on 7 September. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

CHRISTIAN-DEMOCRATIC UNION ANNOUNCES CAMPAIGN PLANS. The Christian-
Democratic Union will campaign to remove criminals and corruption from
the State Duma, party leader Vitalii Savitskii announced in Moscow,
Russian Public Television reported on 7 September. He expressed concern
that the Duma had rejected attempts to limit deputies' immunity,
creating a situation where the next Duma could have as many as 50% of
its members, according to his estimation, under criminal investigation.
The Orthodox church has said it will not support any Christian parties.
-- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

COSSACK ATAMANS MEET IN MOSCOW. More than 300 Cossack Atamans from
across Russia attended a Moscow congress to discuss the 9 August
presidential decree establishing a state register for Cossack groups,
NTV and Radio Rossii reported on 7 September. Presidential chief of
staff Sergei Filatov read President Boris Yeltsin's address, which
called on Cossacks to participate in civil and military service. The
congress asked the president and government to create legal conditions
for Cossack land ownership and self-government, Rossiiskaya gazeta
reported on 8 September. However, Izvestiya warned the same day that
creating formal Cossack institutions would lead to "dual power" and
inevitably to conflict between Cossacks and local authorities. -- Laura
Belin, OMRI, Inc.

SOLZHENITSYN: "ONLY THE ZEMSTVO CAN SAVE US." Former dissident writer
and Nobel laureate Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said Russia's problems can
only be solved by reviving the zemstvo system, elected councils that
handled most local administration from 1864 until 1917, ITAR-TASS
reported on 7 September. Appearing at a Samara conference on the
zemstvo, Solzhenitsyn called for the State Duma to complete and pass a
law currently being drafted on local self-government. -- Laura Belin,
OMRI, Inc.

CALLS FOR REFERENDUM TO ABOLISH PRESIDENCY IN CHUVASHIYA. Opponents of
Chuvash President Nikolai Fedorov have collected 25,000 signatures in
favor of a referendum to abolish the presidency in Chuvashiya, Russian
TV reported on 6 September. The Chuvash State Soviet will now decide
whether to call a referendum, ITAR-TASS reported. Fedorov was elected
the first post-Soviet president of Chuvashiya in December 1993 with less
than 30% of the vote. He has frequently clashed with the anti-reformist
majority in the soviet (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 and 14 July 1995). --
Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

SUPPORT FOR ZHIRINOVSKY IN ARMY STILL STRONG. Roughly 15% of Russian
soldiers surveyed in August said they trusted Liberal-Democratic Party
leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky more than any other politician, according to
the 3-10 September edition of Moskovskie novosti. Zhirinovsky finished
first in a similar poll in March 1995. Yabloko leader Grigorii
Yavlinskii finished second in the August poll, up from eighth place in
March, while Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin dropped from second to
fifth place. Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov's support in the
military was more stable; he finished third in both surveys. -- Laura
Belin, OMRI, Inc.

MOSCOW WANTS TO SCRAP TREATY WITH NORTH KOREA. Moscow has proposed to
Pyongyang that the 1961 treaty committing Russia to come to North
Korea's aid in case of an attack be scrapped and replaced by a new
friendship agreement, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced on 7
September. ITAR-TASS reported that the new agreement would contain no
provisions regarding military assistance should either party become the
object of an armed attack. The treaty, which was due for renewal later
this month, expires in September 1996. Russian-North Korean relations
have been strained since the Soviet Union recognized South Korea in
1990. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

YELTSIN SIGNS LAW ON HUMANITARIAN AID FOR YUGOSLAVIA. President Yeltsin
on 7 September signed a law allowing Russian firms to trade with rump
Yugoslavia, so long as the deals involve only "humanitarian" goods,
ITAR-TASS reported. The law, designed to facilitate the delivery of
Russian food and medicine to rump Yugoslavia while UN economic sanctions
are in effect, was passed by the State Duma during its 12 August special
session. The new law could bring Russia into conflict with the UN
sanctions regime, however, as it includes fuel among the commodities
that can be shipped. Yeltsin's parliamentary critics are calling for
Russia to withdraw entirely from UN sanctions against rump Yugoslavia.
-- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

DEFECTOR: IRAQ HAS ORDERED 4,000 RUSSIAN TANKS. Iraqi defector General
Hussein Kamel Hassan claimed that Iraq has ordered 4,000 modern tanks
from Russia to replace those lost during the 1991 Gulf War, Western
agencies reported on 6 September. The agency said Hassan told that to UN
disarmament chief Rolf Ekeus when the two met in Jordan in late August.
Hassan reportedly said that Iraq was hoping to buy both T-80 tanks and
the new T-90, to be delivered over several years once the UN arms
embargo is lifted. The defector reasserted his claim on 8 August in the
wake of denials by Rosvooruzhenie, the state-owned Russian military
export firm. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

POWER CUT OFF AT NORTHERN, BALTIC MILITARY DEPOTS. Energy supplies to
several mine and torpedo storage depots of the Russian Northern Fleet
were cut off by Arkhangelsk authorities following the fleet's failure to
pay its bills, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 September. Earlier the same day,
the city administration in the Crimean port of Sevastopol threatened to
cut off power supplies to the Black Sea Fleet for the same reason. On 4
September, the power was turned off at 24 facilities of the Baltic Fleet
Air Force because of unpaid bills, Russian Public Television reported.
-- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

SARATOV DEFENSE-INDUSTRY WORKERS PROTEST. Employees of the Saratov
military-industrial complex held a rally on 5 September to draw
attention to the plight of the defense industry in the city. Izvestiya
on 8 September said the protest was initiated by the Saratov Aircraft
Plant, which has been idle for two years and has debts of more than 100
billion rubles ($22 million), including 7 billion ($1.5 million) in
unpaid wages. Presumably hoping to boost their electoral prospects,
Communist Party officials took an active part in the demonstration. No
other political party has taken up the cause of the region's defense
workers. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

PENSIONS TO BE INDEXED IN 1996. Pension Fund head Vasilii Barchuk told a
cabinet meeting on 7 September that, despite the fund's financial
difficulties, in 1996 pensions will be indexed every quarter to take
account of inflation. According to ITAR-TASS, the minimum pension will
rise by about 36% during the year and the average pension by about 28%,
to 313,500 rubles a month by December 1996. The minimum pension is
currently 55,000 rubles, but pensioners also receive a monthly
compensation payment of 50,000 rubles, which will be discontinued.
Barchuk said that the fund's budget is under strain because of a
shortfall in contributions from enterprises, the increase in the minimum
pension, and the one-time payments to World War II veterans on the 50th
anniversary of V-E Day. Many pensioners have been receiving their
payments late as a result of the fund's difficulties. -- Penny Morvant,
OMRI, Inc.

GOVERNMENT TO TACKLE TAX ARREARS PROBLEM. Russian firms by early August
owed 23.5 trillion rubles ($520 million) in late tax payments, according
to Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais, Segodnya
reported on 7 September. Since July 1994, the government has allowed
enterprises to reserve 30% of their incomes for paying employee wages;
that serves as a legal loophole to evade federal taxes. Segodnya
indicated that this "30-70" scheme accounts for 60% of the tax arrears.
The same day, the Commission on Streamlining the System of Payments and
Settlements identified 46 large companies guilty of tax arrears and
demanded that they begin paying, Kommersant-Daily reported on 7
September. The commission also called for the Railways Ministry and Fuel
and Energy Ministry to cut their tax debts in half by 1 January 1996.
The State Tax Service and tax police were ordered to ensure that tax
delinquent firms meet their payments. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

FOREIGN INVESTMENT UP. Foreign investors have infused more than $700
million into the Russian economy in the first half of 1995, Ekho Moskvy
reported on 6 September. According to government statistics, the figure
is 25% more than the same period one year ago. Around $200 million has
gone to Moscow projects. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

INDUSTRIAL OUTPUT DOWN IN KHABAROVSK. Industrial production in the
Khabarovsk krai in Russia's far east has declined 19% in the first seven
months of 1995 compared with the same period last year, Segodnya
reported on 5 September. Steel production is down by more than 50%, and
consumer-goods production shrank by 25%. In July, workers had to take
leave without pay or with only partial wage payment, the report said. --
Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

TAJIK, RUSSIAN PRESIDENTS MEET IN MOSCOW. Tajik President Imomali
Rakhmonov met with Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Prime Minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin and signed agreements on bilateral cooperation as
well as a protocol on dual citizenship, according to Western sources.
Tajikistan is only the second country, after Turkmenistan, to sign a
dual citizenship accord with Russia. Discussion centered on the 17
September peace talks between the Tajik government and the opposition.
The Tajik government remains in power largely because of the presence of
Russian troops along the Afghan border and financial support from
Moscow. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.

SHARP FALL IN KAZAKHSTAN GRAIN HARVEST EXPECTED. Kazakhstan, a major
source of grain exports to neighboring states, is facing a sharply
reduced grain harvest this year because of drought and fuel shortages,
Interfax reported on 7 September. Specialists at the Agriculture and
Food Ministry estimate a harvest of 12-14 million metric tons this year-
-which still exceeds Kazakhstan's domestic demand for grain, estimated
at 5-7 million metric tons, but sharply hurts its exports. Kazakhstan
harvested 18 million metric tons of grain in 1994 and 22 million metric
tons in 1993. Russia is also expecting its worst grain harvest in 30
years because of dry weather. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc.

IRAN TO BUILD GAS PIPELINE FROM TURKMENISTAN. Iran and Turkmenistan
concluded a deal on the construction of a 140-km gas pipeline to supply
Turkmen gas to northern Iran, IRNA reported on 6 September. Iranian Oil
Minister Golamreza Aghazadeh, returning from Ashgabat, said the pipeline
will cost $190 billion, with Iran offering 80% of the financing, AFP
reported on 7 September. Construction will start soon and is expected to
be completed in two years. The pipeline is part of a major project
signed last summer between Iran and Turkmenistan to transport Turkmen
gas to Europe via Iran and Turkey. The extended pipeline, 4,000 km long,
is estimated to be constructed in five years. The financing for the
project, estimated to cost around $9 billion, is yet to be concluded. In
contrast, there appears to be no progress on Turkmen plans to build a
pipeline to Pakistan via Afghanistan. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc.

KYRGYZ-PAKISTANI POWER DEAL FACES FINANCIAL PROBLEMS. An agreement
between Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan, in which Kyrgyzstan is to provide
Pakistan with 3-6 billion kilowatts of electricity annually, has run
into financial problems, Kyrgyz Radio reported on 6 September. The
agreement was signed during Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's
visit to Kyrgyzstan last month. The deal could generate much-needed cash
for the Kyrgyz Energy Holding Company. Domestic electricity rates within
Kyrgyzstan are heavily subsidized, yet consumers still owe the
electricity company 380 million som ($40 million). A new power line, for
which the government is seeking financing, will have to be built to
carry the electricity to Pakistan. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc.

ATMS IN TURKMENISTAN. Turkmenistan is preparing to introduce electronic
cash cards before the end of the year, according to the Turkmen press as
cited by the BBC. Turkmenistan's Bank for Foreign Economic Activity is
said to be negotiating with an unnamed French company to produce the
automatic teller machine cards. The cards will first be issued in
Ashgabat, where there will be 14 machines. The plan will be gradually
extended to other regions of the republic. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Susan Caskie

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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