The greatest happiness is to know the source of unhappiness. - Dostoevsky
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 183, Part I, 20 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

FURTHER DETAILS ON YELTSIN'S DECREE ON LOCAL ELECTIONS. President Boris
Yeltsin's decree on local elections calls for gubernatorial elections in
Moscow, Novgorod, and Omsk oblasts on 17 December 1995 as an exception
to the rest of the governor's elections which will be held in December
1996. He also called for elections of local governments below the level
of federation member to be held in December 1996, rather than within six
months as the recently adopted law on local government had stipulated,
ITAR-TASS reported. Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov said he was surprised by
the decree and noted that it will put off the city's planned mayoral
elections from June 1996 until December, Izvestiya reported on 20
September. However, Sergei Filatov, the presidential chief of staff,
told Ekho Moskvy that the mayoral elections may take place in June
despite the decree. The decree seems to be an attempt by the president
to postpone local elections that will probably go against him until
after the June 1996 presidential elections. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI,
Inc.

ZYUGANOV ANNOUNCES PLANS TO COOPERATE WITH OTHER OPPOSITION FORCES. In a
swing through the Russian Far East, Communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov
announced that if his party returns to power it will not arrest the
current leaders of local governments. He also said the party had
informal agreements to work with the Congress of Russian Communities,
Power to the People, and the Agrarian party, Segodnya reported on 19
September. He said the Communists and Agrarians had already agreed on 40
mutually-acceptable candidates in the single-members districts. Zyuganov
said that with the support of provincial voters, the left opposition
could win more than 50% of the seats in the new Duma if the election
returns are tabulated honestly. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

EX-GOVERNOR OF BRYANSK DISMISSED FROM OUR HOME IS RUSSIA. The second
conference of the Bryansk Oblast branch of Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin's bloc, Our Home Is Russia, confirmed the impression that
the prime minister's bloc is mainly interested in recruiting politically
powerful officials. Delegates voted unanimously to dismiss the bloc's
regional chairman, Vladimir Karpov, who had been elected chairman while
he still was the governor of Bryansk, ITAR-TASS reported on 19
September. Yeltsin signed a decree removing Karpov from the governor's
post on 16 August, ostensibly at Karpov's request. The Our Home Is
Russia conference in Bryansk also removed Karpov and his deputy, former
vice-governor Sergei Solovev, from the bloc's regional council. -- Laura
Belin, OMRI, Inc.

PROSPECTS FOR CHECHEN ELECTIONS POOR. Speaking at a briefing in Grozny
on 19 September, the deputy secretary of the Russian Security Council,
Vladimir Rubanov, ruled out elections to a new Chechen parliament before
the process of disarmament is complete, Interfax reported. Also on 19
September, a spokesman for the Russian federal troop command in Chechnya
similarly said Russian troops would be withdrawn from Chechnya only once
the population has surrendered its arms. The Chechen co-chairman of the
joint commission to supervise the disarmament process, Aslan Maskhadov,
protested for his part that the figure of 30,000 guns which Chechen
armed groups are to surrender far exceeds the actual number in their
possession. Russian military and Chechen sources again accused each
other of violating the ceasefire agreement. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

NATO AGREES TO REVISE CFE TREATY. NATO will offer to alter the terms in
the CFE treaty to accommodate Russian concerns, international media
reported on 19 September. A NATO spokesman said the offer will be
approximately half-way between the flank limits set in the CFE for the
Caucasus and Leningrad districts and what the Russians say they need.
The treaty sets limits of 1,300 tanks, 1,380 armored fighting vehicles
(AFVs), and 1,680 heavy artillery pieces. Two months before the treaty
comes into force on 17 November, the U.S. Defense Department estimates
that Russia has 3,000 tanks, 5,500 AFVs, and 3,000 artillery pieces in
the region. The proposal will be presented at a 20 September NATO
meeting in Brussels with the Russian ambassador to NATO, Vitalii
Churkin. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

MORE ON COMECON REVIVAL. Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Demurin told
journalists on 19 September that Russia had indeed sent a memorandum to
East and Central European embassies in Moscow, urging the revival of
"historical commercial links" between the countries of the region and
Russia, RFE/RL reported. Demurin denied that the memo amounted to a
proposal to revive COMECON, the former communist-block trade
institution. However, Polish and Czech diplomats revealed details of the
document to RFE/RL correspondents, and its proposals for economic
cooperation bear a striking resemblance to the previous operations of
COMECON. Both Poland and the Czech Republic have now officially rejected
the proposal, although they also expressed the desire to increase trade
with Russia. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

DEPUTIES CALL FOR ARMS TO BOSNIAN SERBS. While the Russian government
has toned down its verbal blasts against Western policy in the former
Yugoslavia, the opposition has not. Displaying shrapnel they claimed had
come from Bosnian Serb homes bombed by NATO, a delegation of Duma
deputies who recently returned from Serbia and Bosnia accused NATO of
"genocide" on 19 September, Russian and Western agencies reported. --
Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

ONE ACTIVIST JAILED, OTHERS FINED FOR OREKHOV RALLY. One activist
received a five-day jail sentence and a dozen others were fined on 18
September for taking part in an unauthorized demonstration to protest
the imprisonment of Viktor Orekhov, a former KGB officer who was sent to
prison for eight years in 1978 for warning dissidents of imminent
searches and arrests. The demonstration, organized by the radical
Democratic Union, took place in Moscow on 17 September, Russian and
Western agencies reported. Orekhov was sentenced to three years
imprisonment in July for illegal possession of a firearm, but many human
rights activists believe the case against him was fabricated (see OMRI
Daily Digest, 7 August 1994). -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

MIGRATION TRENDS. Migration has slowed in recent years despite reports
to the contrary, according to Kuranty on 19 September. The paper said
the number of Russians moving to cities from the countryside declined
from 5.01 million in 1981 to 2.58 million in 1993, before rising again
last year to 2.92 million. Migration between Russia and countries
outside the former USSR is also relatively low: 45,000 people moved to
Russia in 1994, while 113,900 left. Immigration from other former Soviet
republics is higher, up from 923,000 in 1993 to 1.15 million last year,
but the number of Russians leaving plummeted, from 369,000 in 1993 to
232,000 in 1994. The report attributed those trends to the higher
standard of living in Russia relative to the other former Soviet
republics, except the Baltic states. It also noted, however, that the
net inflow began in the mid-1970s. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

VORKUTA MINERS PROTEST. Miners in Vorkuta picketed the local coal
administration on 19 September to demand that the government reach a
decision on the future of the Pechora coal basin and that wages in the
third quarter be indexed and arrears paid, Russian media reported.
Rosugol immediately agreed to take steps to alleviate the situation,
which prompted miners to postpone planned mass protests until October.
Elsewhere, Sakhalin miners resumed coal deliveries on 15 September after
the local administration advanced 21 billion rubles ($4.7 million) to
pay wage arrears. The government must be keen to prevent trouble in the
coal industry before the December elections. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI,
Inc.

CONTRARY TRENDS IN 1995 BUDGET. The head of the State Tax Service,
Vladimir Gusev, announced on Russian TV on 18 September that by the end
of August firms owed 28 trillion rubles ($6.3 billion) in unpaid taxes
to the federal budget. Petr Mostovoi, the head of the Federal Insolvency
Administration, said that half of those tax arrears were owed by 46
large firms (in the fields of oil, gas, metallurgy, auto production, and
railways). Many of those firms are running at a profit, Mostovoi noted.
Despite the high level of arrears, Gusev pointed out that thanks to
inflation, tax revenues are expected to be well above planned levels for
1995. -- Peter Rutland, OMRI, Inc.

APPROVAL FOR DEFENSE CONVERSION PLAN. The Russian Government's
Commission for Operational Questions has approved a 18.6 trillion ruble
($4.2 billion) plan to subsidize the conversion of defense plants to
civilian production in 1995-97, ITAR-TASS reported 19 September. The
federal budget will provide 7.3 trillion rubles and the remainder will
come from special credits and other sources. Deputy Economics Minister
Yakov Urinson claimed that conversion programs saved 650,000 jobs and
generated 3.9 trillion rubles of civilian production in 1992-94. He
suggested that the whole program be placed in an off-budget fund,
presumably to protect it from Finance Ministry cost-cutting. -- Peter
Rutland, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIA LOOKS TO VIETNAMESE OIL INDUSTRY. Russian Fuel and Energy
Minister Yurii Shafranik is on a visit to Vietnam, Business-TASS
reported 20 September. The corporation Vietsovpetro, founded in 1981,
accounts for 90% of Vietnam's oil production and has assets of $1.5
billion. Shafranik plans to visit the Hoabin hydroelectric station that
was built in cooperation with Soviet and Russian firms and tripled the
electricity generating capacity of northern Vietnam when it came on
stream last December. -- Peter Rutland, OMRI, Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

FORMER AZERBAIJANI FOREIGN MINISTER ARRESTED. Tofik Gasymov, one of the
leaders of the Azerbaijan Popular Front and foreign minister in
President Abulfaz Elchibey's administration, was arrested in Baku on 19
September on charges of involvement in the alleged March coup attempt by
Deputy Interior Minister Rovshan Dzhavadov, Russian media reported. --
Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

AKMOLA RATIFIED AS THE NEW CAPITAL OF KAZAKHSTAN. Kazakhstani President
Nazarbaev signed a decree on 16 September transferring the country's
capital from Almaty to Akmola, Russian and Kazakhstani media reported on
the same day. Akmola is to function as the nation's full-fledged capital
by 2000. Both Almaty and Akmola are designated as presidential
residences. Nazarbaev's proposal to transfer the capital to Akmola was
approved by the parliament in July 1994. The extreme southwestern
location of Almaty, its proximity to China, and its high population
growth have been officially mentioned as reasons for the move. The
transferal of the Kazakh-dominated state bureaucracy to Akmola, located
in a Russian-populated region of Kazakhstan, is intended to restore a
political balance between Russians and Kazakhs, NTV noted on 16
September. Akmola was known as Akmolinsk during the early Soviet years
until former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev decided to call it
Tselinograd or Virgin Land City. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc.

TAJIK TALKS, NEW PROBLEMS. The fifth round of inter-Tajik talks,
scheduled to begin on 18 September, have been postponed. Russian Public
Television reported on 18 September that in a meeting with Russian
President Boris Yeltsin and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Tajik
President Imomali Rakhmonov said he had no intention of having a
government delegation come to the negotiating table as long as the
opposition insists on focusing on the constitution, restructuring the
present government ministries, and the return of refugees instead of the
establishment of peace. Another issue is the location for the next round
of talks. The Tajik government favors Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, while the
opposition prefers Tehran, Iran. The UN special envoy, Ramiro Piriz
Ballon, offered Vienna as a compromise to which the opposition has
agreed. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.

DEVALUATION OF TURKMEN CURRENCY. The Central Bank of Turkmenistan
devalued the new official exchange rate for the Turkmen manat on 19
September from 75 manat to $1 to 200 manat to $1, ITAR-TASS reported.
The rate applies to government transactions. Individuals will be allowed
to buy up to $200 for personal trips abroad at a rate of 500 manat to
$1. Only citizens leaving the country for medical treatment or to study
abroad and civil servants sent abroad have the right to exchange manat
for foreign currency. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.

CIS

CHERNOMYRDIN, LUKASHENKA DISCUSS ECONOMIC COOPERATION. Illustrating the
difficulties of reintegrating the economies of the former Soviet
republics, Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and Belarusian
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka discussed the uneven implementation of
the Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan customs union in Moscow on 19 September,
Russian and Western agencies reported. They agreed to eliminate export
duties on trade between the two countries. The two leaders also
discussed arrangements for continuing the supply of Russian natural gas
to Belarus, which owes Russia $320 million for previous deliveries,
according to Russian Public TV. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

[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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