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No. 178, Part I, 13 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 GROMOV, SHATALIN DESERT RYBKIN BLOC. The My Fatherland movement issued a statement on 12 September announcing its withdrawal from State Duma speaker Ivan Rybkin's bloc. Col. Gen. Boris Gromov and economist Stanislav Shatalin were among the prominent members of the bloc who signed the document. They decided to cut their ties with Rybkin because of his "political sluggishness and indecision, his tendency to remain aloof from major events, and his unwillingness to consider himself a member of the constructive opposition to the executive," Russian TV reported. My Fatherland will now campaign as an independent party. These defections are the latest in a series of setbacks for Rybkin as he tries to establish the bloc at the president's bidding. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. BLOC "89" CEMENTS SPLIT WITHIN RUSSIA'S CHOICE MOVEMENT. The creation of the new electoral bloc "89," named for the number of regions in the Russian Federation, cements the split within Russia's Choice, the leading pro-reform movement in the 1993 parliamentary elections, Segodnya reported on 12 September. The schism has been brewing since Yegor Gaidar, leader of the parliamentary delegation Russia's Choice, founded the party Russia's Democratic Choice (DVR) in June 1994. The Russia's Choice movement formed "89" at a 9 September congress, to which Duma deputies from the Russia's Choice faction, most of whom now support Gaidar's party, were not invited. Only two of the five original co- chairmen of Russia's Choice--Pavel Medvedev and Viktor Davydov--joined "89." Gaidar's party has already decided to compete in this year's parliamentary elections as part of the United Democrats bloc. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. ILYUKHIN ACCUSES SHUMEIKO, SOSKOVETS OF CORRUPTION. Denouncing corruption "in the top echelons of power," Duma Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin accused Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets and Federation Council Chairman Vladimir Shumeiko of conducting shady business deals, Ekho Moskvy reported on 12 September. According to Ilyukhin, Valentina Soloveva, who is being prosecuted for the activities of her now-defunct Vlastelina company, implicated Shumeiko in profiteering operations and said Vlastelina issued a 200 billion ruble ($1.8 million) loan to Soskovets in 1993. The Federation Council press service dismissed Ilyukhin's charges as campaign mudslinging, Russian TV reported. Ilyukhin is a leading member of Gennadii Zyuganov's Communist Party of the Russian Federation. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. PRIMORSK KRAI DUMA CALLS FOR GOVERNOR'S ELECTIONS. The Primorsk Krai Duma has asked President Boris Yeltsin to authorize elections on 17 December to the governorship of the krai, ITAR-TASS reported on 13 September. The Primorsk Duma told the president it had just adopted necessary legislation for the elections, which would help "stabilize the socio-economic situation" in the krai. Yeltsin appointed Yevgenii Nazdratenko Primorsk governor in May 1993, and Nazdratenko was subsequently elected to the Federation Council. The Primorsk governor tried to hold gubernatorial elections in October 1994, but these were canceled by a decree issued by President Yeltsin. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. KARACHAEVO-CHERKESSIYA SELECTS NEW PRIME MINISTER. Vladimir Khubiev, head of the administration of Karachaevo-Cherkessiya, named Anatolii Ozov the republic's first prime minister, with the approval of the People's Assembly, ITAR-TASS reported on 12 September. Khubiev had held both posts since January 1993. However, a law recently adopted in the republic stipulated that it was unacceptable for one person to serve in both positions. The republic's first professional parliament was elected on 10 June, after several years' wrangling over the structure of the republic's legislature. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIA ACCUSES NATO OF GENOCIDE. In a rhetorical blast reminiscent of the cold war, a Russian government statement said the "unilateral" NATO airstrikes in Bosnia had caused significant civilian casualties and threatened the Bosnian Serbs with "genocide," Russian and Western agencies reported on 12 September. NATO officials have repeatedly denied Bosnian Serb claims that civilians have been bombed, and Bosnian Serb authorities have refused to allow UN observers into areas where they claim civilians were killed. In a further signal of Russian frustration, Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigorii Karasin expressed "great regret and concern" that a memorandum, which Russia claims was agreed between the UN and NATO last month, was not discussed with Moscow. According to ITAR-TASS, the memo allowed NATO to launch sweeping air attacks against the Bosnian Serbs. Meanwhile, at the UN, a Russian draft resolution calling for a halt to the airstrikes failed in the Security Council, meeting opposition from 10 of its 15 members. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. IZVESTIYA CRITICIZES RUSSIAN INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES. In a front-page article on 13 September, Izvestiya criticized the Russian intelligence community for an amateurish attempt to convince the Russian public that the mortar attack on a Sarajevo marketplace which precipitated the current NATO airstrikes was a provocation. An earlier report by ITAR- TASS had cited an "anonymous source" from a Russian intelligence agency who claimed the mortar attack had not been launched by the Bosnian Serbs, as the UN had concluded, but was the result of a Western intelligence operation, code-named "Cyclone," designed to provide NATO with a pretext to launch a massive air offensive. Izvestiya said its own investigation had failed to uncover any information supporting this report and that when queried, even the main Russian intelligence agencies now denied responsibility for the implausible story. The paper concluded that someone in the government had floated the rumor in an unsuccessful attempt to manipulate public opinion and justify Russia's opposition to the NATO airstrikes. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIA REITERATES OPPOSITION TO BALTIC STATES JOINING NATO. Speaking at the Fourth Parliamentary Conference of the Nordic Council on Cooperation in the Baltic Region, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Krylov declared that the eastward expansion of NATO "contradicted Russian national interests," Russian and Western agencies reported. Mocking his Baltic counterparts, Krylov asked, "Everybody in Europe says they have no enemies anymore, so why is it important to expand NATO? Just who is the enemy?" Krylov added that if NATO expanded eastward to the borders of Russia by admitting the Baltic states, Russia would be forced to respond with economic, political, and even military measures, although he ruled out direct military intervention in the Baltics as a possible response. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. LAX OFFICIALS BLAMED FOR MINE BLAST. Investigators looking into the 4 September explosion at the Pervomaiskii coal mine in the Kuzbass concluded that it was caused by gross safety violations and sacked 5 of the mine's officials, including its director. The explosion of methane and coal dust caused a cage bringing workers down to the bottom of the pit to collapse, resulting in 15 deaths. According to Russian and Western agencies, the investigators said that the unexpected release of methane was caused by poorly made equipment and that miners should have been ordered to leave the danger area sooner. Meanwhile, miners in Sakhalin have stopped coal deliveries to consumers in protest against wage arrears, and their colleagues in Primorsk Krai are preparing to strike, also on account of delayed wage payments. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. CENTRAL BANK TO RELEASE DATABASE INFORMATION ON BANKS. Russia's Central Bank, in efforts to broaden the country's securities market, will release its financial information database to the public, Russian TV reported on 12 September. Central Bank Deputy Chairman Andrei Kozlov said that the database, which goes back two years, includes key financial and business data, including balance sheets of about 1,000 banks. Kozlov said that any bank issuing securities is required to file information with the Central Bank, which has set up a national computer network to collate it. The banker noted that the Central Bank does not verify all the data, so it cannot guarantee the soundness of the information. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. TRADING AND FINANCIAL GIANTS MERGE. One of Russia's largest trading companies, AO Mikrodin, and FPG Interros, a top financial and industrial group, have agreed to merge to form one of the country's largest industrial conglomerates, Russian and Western agencies reported on 12 September. AO Mikrodin has huge stakes in several industrial companies, including truck maker AMO Zil. FPG Interros, an umbrella holding organization created by presidential decree last year, has a stake in Oneximbank, Russia's fourth largest commercial bank, and RAO Norilsk Nikel, the country's largest nickel smelter. Mikrodin President Dmitrii Zelenin will serve as general director of the new venture, with Oneximbank President Vladimir Potanin as chairman of the board. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA ABKHAZ DEPUTY PARLIAMENT CHAIRMAN MURDERED. The eminent historian and deputy chairman of the Abkhaz parliament, Yurii Voronov, was stabbed and then shot in Sukhumi on 11 September, Ekho Moskvy reported on 12 September. Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba said that the murder was "a political act by a hired assassin," who has been apprehended and is under interrogation. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc. NAZARBAEV REVIEWS ARMED FORCES, PROMISES PROTECTION. In an interview with TV Kazakhstan on 9 September, Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbaev promised to take steps to improve the situation in the armed forces. Reports of discontent over pay and the diminishing morale in the armed forces have surfaced in recent months (see OMRI Daily Digest, 12 September). Nazarbaev promised a special presidential decree within a month, which will provide for a "wide-scale program of social protection." Nazarbaev said that Kazakhstani officers with training in the "highest military academies" in the Russian Federation will join the country's armed forces next year but promised that Kazakhstan will set up its own military academy. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc. NAZARBAEV CALLS FOR GREATER SINO-KAZAKHSTANI COOPERATION. On the second day of his visit to China, Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbaev urged Chinese business people to invest in Kazakhstan, saying the country's new constitution offers greater security to foreign investors, Xinhua news agency reported on 12 September. Nazarbaev assured China that Kazakhstan adheres to a "one-China" policy and that it will not develop official relations of any sort with Taiwan. Chinese President Jiang Zemin expressed appreciation for Kazakhstan's support on that issue, as well as its support on the Tibet question. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc. KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT TO DEBATE REFERENDUM. The Kyrgyz parliament is to convene before the end of September to discuss holding a referendum on extending the mandate of President Askar Akaev until 2001, Interfax reported on 11 September. A spokesman for the Kyrgyz Central Electoral Commission reported that over a million signatures--amounting to 50% of the total electorate--have been collected in support of a referendum. The standing chamber of the Kyrgyz parliament, the Legislative Assembly, proposed an amendment to ban a referendum on extending the presidential mandate, Interfax reported on 22 August. Presidential elections are scheduled for autumn 1996. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc. DISPUTE OVER VENUE FOR NEXT ROUND OF TAJIK TALKS. According to an RFE/RL correspondent's report, the governments of Tajikistan, Russia, and Turkmenistan plan to hold the next set of negotiations between the Tajik government and the opposition, scheduled to begin on 18 September, in the Turkmen capital, Ashgabat. The opposition has been against holding talks in Ashgabat, preferring Tehran instead. According to Interfax, one opposition representative, Ali Akbar Turadzhonzoda, said that Turkmenistan's poor record on human rights makes it inappropriate for peace talks. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc. UZBEKISTAN JOINS THE ASIAN DEVELOPMENT BANK. Uzbekistan has taken another step toward integration into the Asian community. According to ITAR-TASS on 12 September, Uzbekistan has officially become a member of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Representatives of the organization will visit the country to determine the extent and type of aid needed for Uzbekistan's economy. An ADB official stated that the main effort of the bank will be aimed at assisting in the transition to a market economy. -- Roger Kangas, OMRI, Inc. CIS FEW CIS STATES WILL MEET CFE DEADLINE. Economic, technological, and political problems will prevent most CIS states from fulfilling the terms of the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty when it comes into force on 17 November, representatives of various CIS countries said on 12 September. The statements were made by officials from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan while meeting to discuss disarmament at the CIS headquarters in Minsk, Interfax reported. The Ukrainian representative cited problems in resolving the dispute over the division of the Black Sea Fleet, although the CFE does not cover naval weapons. The official from Belarus said President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's decision to halt the destruction of weapons in February prevented compliance, but he added that Belarus would resume destruction soon. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Penny Morvant 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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