|Words that open our eyes to the world are always the easiest to remember. - Ryszard Kapuscinski|
No. 182, Part I, 19 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 YELTSIN SETS REGIONAL ELECTIONS. President Boris Yeltsin ordered members of the Russian Federation to elect their heads of administration in December 1996, Russian agencies reported. The elections are to be held in all regions where the current governor was appointed by Yeltsin. Until now, elections of regional governors were held on an ad hoc basis and Yeltsin has recently faced an increasing number of petitions from regions requesting elections. The issue is doubly sensitive because Yeltsin wants to have governors appointed ex officio to the Federation Council. Elections to the regional legislatures to be held in December 1997. Russia's ethnic republics fell into a separate category and most of them have held elections. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. INTEREST IN DUMA RACES HIGH AMONG CONTENDERS. As of 18 September, there are already an average of 28 candidates competing for each of the 225 seats to be determined by party list and 14 in each of the 225 single- member districts, according to Nikolai Ryabov, chairman of the Central Electoral Commission (CEC). The CEC has already registered candidate lists from 41 parties and blocs, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. IZVESTIYA NOTES CHANGE IN ELECTION CAMPAIGNING. The political content of the current parliamentary campaign has changed markedly from earlier Russian electoral cycles, with slogans of stability and order replacing calls for radical change, according to a report by Yurii Levada in Izvestiya on 19 September. In the previous elections of 1989-90 and 1993, the competing groups tried to push the state toward one extreme or another, but now they are engaged in a battle for the political center. Levada stressed that negative voting will dominate the December polls, since voters find it easier to identify parties they would never support than parties they like. As in past elections, voters are more oriented toward individual personalities than party identities, Levada argued. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. LOGOVAZ TO FINANCE NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA? Nezavisimaya gazeta editor in chief Vitalii Tretyakov is once again firmly in control of the paper, having been promised financial support from the Obedinennyi (United) Bank, which is owned by Boris Berezovskii's Logovaz company, according to Segodnya on 16 September. Acting editor in chief Igor Kuzmin and others on the editorial board who voted on 30 August to sack Tretyakov have submitted their resignations. Segodnya reported that a private security firm linked to Logovaz provided the armed guards who accompanied Tretyakov when he reclaimed his office on 11 September. Nezavisimaya gazeta suspended publication on 24 May due to financial problems. Berezovskii is co-chairman of the board of directors for the pro-government Russian Public TV (Channel 1), and he is closely involved with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's bloc, Our Home Is Russia. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. SITUATION IN GROZNY TENSE. Arriving in Grozny on 18 September, Russian presidential representative Oleg Lobov called for "effective political measures" to stabilize the situation in Chechnya, Russian Public TV reported. Lobov characterized the situation in Grozny, where some 250 supporters of President Dzhokhar Dudaev blocked an approach road to the city to demand the withdrawal of all federal troops from the country, as alarming. A Russian military spokesman rejected charges by Chechen military commander Aslan Maskhadov that Russian troops had repeatedly violated the 30 July ceasefire agreement, most recently by attacking the village of Chernoreche on 18 September, according to Interfax. At a 17 September meeting, members of Dudaev's leadership condemned the alleged failure of the OSCE mission in Chechnya and raised the possibility of formally requesting a UN peacekeeping mission; they also voted to postpone the presidential elections scheduled for 27 October when Dudaev's four-year term in office expires. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc. CHERNOMYRDIN AND VIDENOV DISCUSS OIL PIPELINE. In yet another maneuver in the ongoing struggle for control of the Caspian region's oil, Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and his Bulgarian counterpart Zhan Videnov discussed a Russian-Bulgarian-Greek pipeline project, Western and Russian agencies reported on 18 September. The proposed pipeline, running from the Bulgarian port of Burgas on the Black Sea to the Greek Aegean port of Alexandroupolis, would permit the export of Caspian shelf oil via Russia without sending tankers into the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits, through which Turkey has unilaterally restricted tanker traffic. Talks to be held in October will finalize the details of the project. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. BOSNIAN SERB REPRESENTATIVE APPEALS FOR RUSSIAN AID. The "foreign minister" of the self-proclaimed Bosnian Serb Republic, Aleksa Bukha, arrived in Moscow on 18 September to request assistance, including weapons, Russian and Western agencies reported. ITAR-TASS reported that he would meet with Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and President Yeltsin's special envoy to the former Yugoslavia, Aleksandr Zotov. Meanwhile, at the UN, Russia demanded that the Bosnian Muslims and Croats halt their offensive in Western Bosnia. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIAN PARATROOPERS TO ENFORCE PEACE SETTLEMENT? A Russian Airborne Forces spokesman told ITAR-TASS on 18 September that Major-General Nikolai Staskov, deputy head of peacekeeping operations, had recently begun an inspection tour of the 1,500 Russian peacekeepers currently stationed in Eastern Slavonia and around Sarajevo. U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry's earlier statements that Russia should participate in implementing any Bosnian peace settlement have triggered speculation that Russian troops will be dispatched to the region to reassure the Bosnian Serbs. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. GERMANY AGREES TO RESCHEDULE RUSSIAN DEBT. Germany and Russia have signed an agreement to reschedule DM 4.8 billion ($3.2 billion) in Russian debt over a 15-year period, Western and Russian agencies reported on 18 September. The German Finance Ministry said the agreement implements part of an accord reached between Russia and the 17-member Paris Club of creditor nations this June (see OMRI Daily Digest, 5 June 1995), which called for the rescheduling of $7 billion in Russian debts that fell due this year. In 1993 and 1994, Germany also rescheduled more than $8 billion in Russian debt, the ministry added. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. LAWMAKER: CONSCRIPTION SYSTEM NEEDS TO BE CHANGED. On 1 October, a new wave of conscripts will be joining the Russian army for two years of service. In April, President Yeltsin signed a controversial law extending the draft from 18 to 24 months. Sergei Yushenkov, chairman of the State Duma Defense Committee, urged Yeltsin to cut the length of service by 10 to 12 months, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 September. Yushenkov said Yeltsin has three amendments to the law on military service on his desk: one would increase the length of service to two years only for those drafted after 1 October of this year; the second would limit the time of service of those serving in trouble spots to 15 months; the third restored draft exemption to those whose parents are over 50 years of age. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. INDEPENDENT TRADE UNIONS FORM LABOR CONFEDERATION. A number of Russia's free trade unions, primarily from the transport sector, have united to set up the Confederation of Labor of Russia, Radio Mayak reported on 18 September. Among the participating groups is Solidarity, a regional association that includes all the free trade unions in the St. Petersburg area. Anatolii Kochev, one of the leaders of the confederation, said the organization would defend the social and professional interests of workers in dealings with the government. The free trade unions have no ties with Mikhail Shmakov's Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia (FNPR), which has formed the Union of Labor electoral bloc with Vladimir Shcherbakov's United Industrialist Party. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. ENVIRONMENT THREATENED BY "FLOATING CHORNOBYLS." Aleksei Yakovlev, chairman of the Russian Security Council's ecological security commission, described some of Russia's older nuclear submarines as "floating Chornobyls" in an interview with Germany's ARD television channel on 18 September. He said 10 of the submarines have defective reactors, but Russia cannot dismantle them with its current resources. Admiral Oleg Yerefeev, the commander of the North Sea Fleet, told the same program that the vessels could sink at any moment, leading to "an ecological disaster." Meanwhile, at the opening session of the International Atomic Energy Agency's annual general meeting in Vienna, Russian Nuclear Energy Minister Viktor Mikhailov said Russia is concerned that the agency is focusing on "regulatory and inspection functions" to the detriment of concentrating on new technologies that would enhance nuclear safety and help dispose of waste, AFP reported. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. DRAFT BUDGET RELEASED FOR 1996. The government has published a draft of the 1996 budget, Rossiiskaya gazeta reported on 19 September. It projects an end to the fall in GDP and inflation of only 35% for the year 1996. The budget expects to raise 15% of revenue from non-tax sources (the sale of assets and the issuance of bonds)--down from the 22% of revenue which these sources were supposed to generate in 1995. Defense spending will rise 16% in real terms to 79 trillion rubles ($17 billion), although the ministry requested a 55% increase. Of this sum, 41 trillion rubles will be spent on the upkeep of the armed forces and 12.7 trillion on equipment. The budget includes sharp cuts in some spending items (such as a 50% reduction in subsidies to northern regions) that are sure to meet with parliamentary opposition when the Duma reconvenes and considers the budget in October. -- Peter Rutland, OMRI, Inc. SHAKHRAI PUSHES FOR INCOME DISCLOSURE LAW. Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai has drafted a law that would require all government ministers, parliamentary deputies, and candidates to file a public declaration of their personal income and assets, Komsomolskaya pravda reported on 19 September. Shakhrai, the leader of the Party of Russian Unity and Accord, proposed a similar law prior to the 1993 elections. Shakhrai released a statement listing his own income and assets. He earned 2.5 million rubles a month ($560) in 1995, and has a mere 14,000 1993 rubles in the bank ($3 at the current exchange rate). He has no shares or foreign bank accounts, and his family owns one car, four bicycles, and no computer. -- Peter Rutland, OMRI, Inc. BUDGET EXPERIMENT IN SAMARA. Samara Oblast is being allowed to retain federal revenues for certain programs, rather than remitting the money to Moscow, Russian TV reported on 15 September. Konstantin Titov, governor of Samara Oblast and a leader of the Chernomyrdin bloc, complained that in the first half of 1995 Samara had sent 1.8 trillion rubles ($400 million) to Moscow but had only received 200 billion rubles ($45 million) in federal spending in return. In future, the oblast will be able to retain 100% of the revenues raised to finance the construction of military housing and health and education facilities. That will give the oblast authorities an incentive to make sure federal taxes are paid. -- Peter Rutland, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA UN OBSERVER KILLED IN TAJIKISTAN. An Austrian lieutenant colonel of the UN observer mission was killed in the Kurgan-Tyube region on 18 September, Western sources and ITAR-TASS reported. Wolf Sponner was traveling to the area to investigate the clash between the 1st and 11th brigades that broke out on 17 September. Sponner is the first UN observer killed in Tajikistan since the UN began work there in October 1994. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc. NEW PUBLIC MOVEMENT IN KYRGYZSTAN. A group of Kyrgyz parliament deputies from the Communist and Peasant's parties have joined with others to form a new public movement called "Adilet" (Justice), according to a 12 September article in Res Publica cited by the BBC. The movement issued a statement that criticizes the economic performance of the government of President Askar Akaev. The statement mentioned the dissolving of the Kyrgyz parliament in September 1994 and the possibility of a referendum extending Akaev's term as president until the year 2001, saying "the president and his entourage are continuing to preach the basic principles of democracy in words, but in their deeds they have turned to usurping power." -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc. CHINA AND KAZAKHSTAN TO JOINTLY MONITOR EFFECTS OF NUCLEAR TESTS. Kazakhstan and China will set up commissions to work jointly to monitor the effects of Chinese nuclear tests on the environment in Kazakhstan, Xinhua reported, citing a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman on 15 September. President Nursultan Nazarbaev had discussed the issue of Chinese underground nuclear tests at Lob Nur in the Xinjiang Autonomous Republic with Chinese President Jiang Zemin during his official visit to China last week. Xinhua quoted the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying that China's nuclear tests have not had a negative effect on the environment in Kazakhstan, a fact he claimed is confirmed by Kazakhstani ecological experts. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc. [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Victor Gomez 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. Before reprinting or redistributing this publication, please write email@example.com for a copy of the new policy or look at this URL: http://www.omri.cz/Publications/Digests/DigestReprint.html OMRI also publishes the biweekly journal Transition, which contains expanded analysis of many of the topics in the Daily Digest. For Transition subscription information send an e-mail to TRANSITION@OMRI.CZ Copyright (C) 1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
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