Fear of life in one form or another is the great thing to exorcise. - William James
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 181, Part I, 18 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 REGISTRATION REVOKED. The Central Electoral Commission
annulled the registration of the Ivan Rybkin Bloc on 15 September
following the withdrawal of My Fatherland, ITAR-TASS reported. Rybkin's
bloc now has to file new papers to compete in the campaign. Besides Duma
speaker Rybkin, the bloc's top leaders are Deputy Duma Speaker Artur
Chilin-garov and Yurii Petrov, former presidential chief of staff and
now leader of the Union of Realists. These relatively unknown figures
give the bloc little chance of success. My Fatherland elected Col. Gen.
Boris Gromov its leader the same day. -- Robert Orttung

KOVALEV: HUMAN RIGHTS IN RUSSIA DETERIORATING. As he accepted the first
Nuremberg International Human Rights Prize in Germany on 17 September,
veteran human rights campaigner Sergei Kovalev said Russia's new
democracy is on shaky ground. As a result of the conflict in Chechnya,
he said, militarization has received a boost and decision-making
mechanisms are no longer transparent, Western agencies reported. Before
leaving for Germany, Kovalev urged the West to be more direct in its
criticism of human rights violations in Russia but recommended that the
country be admitted to the Council of Europe as a way of forcing the
authorities to adhere to a fixed calendar for human rights improvements.
-- Penny Morvant

FORMER CHECHEN-INGUSH PARLIAMENT BACKS TALKS. Meeting in Grozny on 16
September, 98 of the 173 deputies to the Chechen-Ingush Supreme Soviet
dissolved by Dzhokhar Dudaev in September 1991 expressed their support
for the ongoing talks on disarmament and a political settlement to the
Chechen conflict, Interfax reported. They also undertook to draft a new
constitution and election laws. Zavgaev himself rejected the alternative
election law proposed by Umar Avturkhanov's Committee for National
Accord as "dangerously explosive," as it permits only persons currently
resident in Chechnya to participate in the elections. -- Liz Fuller

POWER TO PLESETSK CUT OFF. Regional power authorities cut off the power
to the Plesetsk strategic missile testing site on 15 September because
the Strategic Missile Forces had not paid their electric bill, ITAR-TASS
reported the following day. According to the report, the testing site
was using its own back-up emergency power system to remain functional.
The missile forces are said to owe the power authorities a total of 73
billion rubles ($17 million), of which 17 billion rubles ($4 million) is
Plesetsk's debt. -- Doug Clarke

YELTSIN DECREE OUTLINES RUSSIAN CIS STRATEGY. President Boris Yeltsin on
14 September signed a decree outlining Russian strategy towards the
countries of the CIS, ITAR-TASS reported on 16 September. The decree
states that Russia's goal is the "creation of an integrated political
and economic community of states which can aspire to a respected
position in the world," and argues that the CIS is a priority area for
Russia because of "important vital interests" in the areas of "security,
economics, and the defense of Russians living abroad." The decree calls
for closer economic ties and underlines the importance of forming a
military alliance in order to create an effective "collective defense"
system. Russian officials and commentators have often warned that such a
CIS military pact might be one of Russia's responses to NATO expansion.
-- Scott Parrish

RUSSIA HAILS POSSIBLE BOSNIA SETTLEMENT. In remarks much milder in tone
than recent Russian declarations, Foreign Minster Andrei Kozyrev told
journalists on 15 September that the U.S.-brokered deal to end the siege
of Sarajevo offers a "real chance" of resolving the Bosnian conflict,
Western and Russian agencies reported. On 17 September, a nationalist
demonstration against the NATO air strikes, staged outside the U.S.
embassy in Moscow, gathered only a few hundred protesters. -- Scott
Parrish

KOZYREV DENIES RUSSIA PROPOSED NEW COMECON. On 15 September, Russian
Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev refuted reports in the Polish media (see
OMRI Daily Digest, 15 September 1995) that Russia had proposed the
formation of a new economic-political bloc in Eastern and Central Europe
similar to the communist-era COMECON, Western agencies reported. Kozyrev
said that although Russia wants to deepen economic cooperation with
countries in the region, where Russian foreign trade has plunged since
the dissolution of COMECON, it is not considering the creation of a new
regional organization. Increased trade between the countries of the
region and Russia should not be viewed as "directed against NATO," he
added. -- Scott Parrish

COMPROMISE ON RUSSIAN CFE VIOLATIONS POSSIBLE? The U.S. and its NATO
allies met in Brussels to discuss a plan to offer Russia a compromise
proposal that would allow it to retain more weapons in the Caucasus than
the 1990 CFE treaty allows, Reuters reported, citing U.S. officials on
15 September. The agency quoted an unnamed U.S. official as saying that
something must be done to avoid a "train wreck" on 17 November when the
treaty's limits become binding. Russia might be allowed to have more
weapons than the treaty allows in the flank zones that include the
Caucasus but less than it has stationed there now. The Republican-led
U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee immediately issued a sharp
condemnation of the proposed compromise. -- Doug Clarke

YELTSIN SUBMITS CHEMICAL WEAPONS DESTRUCTION BILL TO DUMA. President
Boris Yeltsin has submitted a draft law on the destruction of Russia's
40,000 metric tons of chemical weapons agents to the State Duma,
Interfax reported on 16 September. The draft law is said "to provide a
legislative basis to the work on the destruction of chemical weapons
stored on the territory of the Russian Federation while ensuring the
safety of the population and the environment." Yeltsin signed a decree
on 25 March to have the weapons destroyed at specially-built plants near
their current storage sites. The government approved the destruction
plan on July, at which time a government spokesman estimated that it
would cost some $5.5 billion to destroy the Russian chemical stockpile.
-- Doug Clarke

PREPARATIONS FOR JOINT U.S.-RUSSIAN EXERCISE SUSPENDED. Preparations for
Russian participation in a joint Russian-U.S. peacekeeping exercise have
been suspended because of Russia's displeasure with the NATO bombing of
the Bosnian Serbs, Interfax reported on 15 September. A team of Russian
officers was scheduled to fly to the U.S. on 16 September to prepare for
exercise "Peacekeeper-95," to be held in October at Fort Riley, Kansas.
A Defense Ministry source told the agency that the team's departure had
been "postponed for an indefinite period." The same source indicated
that the exercise might be canceled. A similar exercise took place in
Russia in September 1994. It too was subject to several delays. -- Doug
Clarke

RUSSIAN, U.S. SECURITY OFFICERS DETAIN KIDNAPPERS. Russian and U.S.
embassy security officials have detained two men who took a U.S. citizen
hostage on 12 September and demanded a ransom of $40,000, Interfax
reported. The Interior Ministry said the two were picked up on 15
September as they were receiving the ransom. Meanwhile, Russian security
forces are still searching for two people in connection with the grenade
attack on the U.S. embassy on 13 September. -- Penny Morvant

RUSSIAN FOREIGN TRADE PROSPERS. Fears that the introduction of the
"ruble corridor" in July would make exports less profitable appear to be
unfounded. Russia's foreign trade turnover for the first eight months of
the year stood at $49.8 billion, a rise of 24% over the same period in
1994, Business-Tass reported on 15 September. Imports from January to
August were $36.8 billion, 17% up on last year, leaving a trade surplus
of $13 billion. The volume of oil exports fell 5%, while gas exports
rose 3%. Overall, Russian industrial production over eight months fell
by 8% compared to the same period last year. Light industry output fell
by 31%, while the production of sectors oriented towards exports (such
as metals, oil, and chemicals) rose by 10%. -- Peter Rutland

FEDERAL BUDGET ON COURSE... The Ministry of Finance expects the 1995
budget deficit to be below planned levels, despite the need for
additional unexpected spending, Rossiiskie vesti reported on 15
September. Additional expenditures include 13 trillion rubles ($2.9
billion) to cover the 54% indexation of state employee wages, and a
transfer of 4.2 trillion rubles ($944 million) to the budget of the
Chechen Republic. So far this year the federal budget deficit has stayed
below the planned target of 3.2% of GDP. Higher than expected inflation
means that revenue will run above the planned level, while spending has
been kept to the targeted level. The annual deficit is now predicted to
be 58.7 trillion rubles ($13.2 billion) instead of the projected 73.2
trillion ($16.5 billion), Delovoi mir reported on 15 September. Peter
Rutland

...BUT PENSION FUND IN TROUBLE. Three million pensions were paid late in
September, according to Akim Khormushin, deputy minister of social
security, Russian TV reported on 15 September. Khor-mushin, addressing a
joint meeting of representatives of the government and the Pension Fund,
added that 7 million of Russia's 37 million pensions were paid late in
July and 10 million in August. The meeting blamed employers for failing
to make their social insurance payments, and rejected the Duma's
suggestion that the government take responsibility for firms' arrears.
Deputy Prime Minister Yurii Yarov said on Radio Rossii on 11 September
that the Pension Fund was 12 trillion rubles ($2.7 billion) in arrears,
and faced monthly outlays of 8.5 trillion ($1.9 billion). According to
clause 395.1 of the Civil Code indexation is obligatory for delayed
wages and pensions. -- Peter Rutland

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

CHERNOMYRDIN IN TBILISI. Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin
traveled to Tbilisi on 15 September for talks with Georgian parliament
chairman Eduard Shevardnadze on economic issues and progress in
resolving the conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetiya, Russian media
reported. On 17 September, Interfax and Radio Rossii quoted a spokesman
for the Abkhaz Supreme Soviet as stating that agreement was reached on a
joint Russian-Georgian military operation "to restore Georgia's
territorial integrity"--the primary precondition for signing the
Russian-Georgian agreement on military bases. The two sides also signed
bilateral agreements on legal and economic assistance, rail transport,
and export control. -- Liz Fuller

TASHKENT CONFERENCE ON REGIONAL SECURITY ENDS. Representatives from 16
different countries, including members of the UN, OSCE, and CIS,
attended the conference that was called to find common ground on the
conflict in Afghanistan and the situation in Tajikistan. The day before,
the same agency reported that Uzbek President Islam Karimov proposed a
permanent UN working group that will continue to review those ongoing
crises. -- Roger Kangas

NUKUS CONFERENCE ON THE ARAL SEA CRISIS BEGINS. Leaders of all five
Central Asian states are expected to attend an 18-20 September high-
level conference on the Aral Sea sponsored by the UN Development Program
(UNDP) in the Karakalpak capital of Nukus, Western sources reported. The
conference is expected to reach agreement on a $200 million UN-World
Bank program to deal with the consequences of the shrinking of the Aral
Sea. Recent estimates note that the sea has lost over 50% of its area
and 75% of its volume since 1960, almost entirely as a result of
irrigation and planting strategies developed during the Soviet era. --
Roger Kangas

RIVAL TAJIK UNITS CLASH AGAIN. Five soldiers were killed as armed
conflict broke out again in Tajikistan on 17 September when the Tajik
Army's 1st brigade staged a dawn attack on the 11th brigade using
artillery, tanks, and armored vehicles, ITAR-TASS reported. The attack
was carried out in response to arrest warrants for several officers in
the 11th brigade recently issued by the Tajik prosecutor general. The
two units have been at odds with each other since June when the 11th
brigade's commander was assassinated. Both of the extremely well-armed
groups are in competition for control of the Kurgan-Tyube region's
economy. -- Bruce Pannier

CIS

RUSSIA AND GEORGIA SIGN BASE AGREEMENT. Georgian leader Eduard
Shevardnadze and Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin signed a
long-anticipated agreement on 15 September that allows Russia to keep
three military bases in the Caucasian republic in return for economic
help, Reuters reported. In February 1994, the two countries signed a
protocol of intent for Russia to keep its bases at Vaziani, about 30 km
south of Tbilisi, Akhalkalaki, and Batumi. Russian Defense Minister
Pavel Grachev initialed the agreement in March of this year. -- Doug
Clarke

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

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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