What you can become, you are already. - Friedrich Hebbel
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 185, Part I, 22 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 DECREE ON LOCAL ELECTIONS UPSETS REGIONAL LEADERS. The head of
the Novosibirsk Oblast administration, Ivan Indinok, said he will insist
that elections for oblast governor be held on 17 December 1995, when the
Duma elections are scheduled. In a 17 September decree, President Boris
Yeltsin ordered gubernatorial elections for December 1996, with earlier
elections to be held only in Moscow, Novgorod, and Omsk oblasts. Indinok
said that all parts of the Russian Federation should have the same
election rights, Segodnya reported on 21 September. Recently-elected
Sverdlovsk Oblast Governor Eduard Rossel said holding the elections at
various times will disrupt the work of the next Federation Council,
which will consist of a mixture of elected and appointed regional
leaders. The procedure for choosing members to the Federation Council is
still being debated. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

OFFICIAL CONCERNED ABOUT LARGE NUMBER OF PARTIES. There are almost 50
parties and 15,000 candidates competing for the 450 seats of the State
Duma, Nikolai Ryabov, the chairman of the Central Electoral Commission,
announced on 21 September. He criticized the Justice Ministry for
registering too many parties and allowing groups of rock-climbers and
beekeepers to enter the race, ITAR-TASS reported. Most of those parties
will probably not make it on to the ballot because of the requirement to
collect 200,000 signatures. On 20 September, Interfax reported that the
Communist Party had been the first to submit its list of 230,000
signatures. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

JOURNALIST TO SUE DUMA. The 1970s dissident and emigre journalist Kronid
Lyubarskii, currently deputy editor of Novoe vremya, is suing the State
Duma, Ogonek (no. 38) reported. At issue is the 21 July report released
by Stanislav Govorukhin's Duma commission on Chechnya, which accused a
number of journalists of taking bribes from Chechen President Dzhokhar
Dudaev. Lyubarskii was second on Govorukhin's list of
"collaborationists." He is asking the Duma to retract the report,
apologize for slander, and pay him a symbolic 1 ruble in compensatory
damages. Four out of 10 members of the Duma commission refused to sign
Govorukhin's blistering report (see OMRI Daily Digest, 24 July 1995). --
Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

IZVESTIYA ON SOLZHENITSYN. An article published in Izvestiya on 20
September described Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's weekly, prime-time talk
show on Russian Public TV as unsuccessful "political theater." It
accused him of romanticizing the past and ridiculed his frequent claims
that only the 19th-century institution of the zemstvo, or local council,
can save Russia (see OMRI Daily Digest, 8 September 1995). Since his
return to Russia in 1994, Solzhenitsyn has attracted much publicity and
toured the country several times, but his high profile has not
translated into significant influence on government policy. -- Laura
Belin, OMRI, Inc.

NATO PROPOSES GERRYMANDERING TO SOLVE FLANKS PROBLEM. The tentative
NATO-Russian agreement to assuage Russian concerns over the restrictive
"flanks" limitations of the CFE treaty involves moving some oblasts from
one military district to another, RFE/RL reported on 21 September. Since
the flanks limits apply only to the Leningrad and North Caucasus
military districts, making those districts smaller would allow the
Russians to allocate some of the weapons in them to other, unrestricted,
districts. Meanwhile, on 21 September, Kommersant-Daily suggested that
NATO proposed the CFE deal to Russia as "a consolation prize" in return
for the now inevitable eastward expansion of NATO. While welcoming the
CFE offer, the Russians made it clear they are still concerned over
possible NATO eastward expansion. Reuters quoted Foreign Minister Andrei
Kozyrev as saying that Russia "cannot accept any deals in exchange for
the expansion of NATO. We oppose NATO expansion and there can be no
horse-trading on this question." -- Doug Clarke and Scott Parrish, OMRI,
Inc.

RUSSIA HAILS END TO NATO AIR STRIKES. Presidential Yeltsin's envoy to
former Yugoslavia, Aleksandr Zotov, on 21 September guardedly approved
the NATO decision to suspend air strikes against Bosnian Serb positions,
saying it allowed the revival of peace talks, Russian and Western
agencies reported. Zotov also demanded that future air strikes be
approved by the UN Security Council, not merely agreed upon by the UN
Secretariat and NATO. Meanwhile, at the UN, Russian ambassador Sergei
Lavrov expressed satisfaction that the Security Council had "finally"
passed a Russian-sponsored resolution condemning Croatia and the Bosnian
Muslims for recent offensive actions in Western Bosnia. -- Scott
Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTER TO MEET YELTSIN. In another sign of improving
relations between Russia and China, Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen
arrived in Moscow on 21 September for meetings with Russian officials,
Russian and Western agencies reported. Qichen will fly to Sochi on 22
September to meet with vacationing President Yeltsin and discuss his
planned November visit to Beijing. Further underlining the importance of
good relations with China at a time of Russian isolation in the West,
ITAR-TASS reported that the Russian Defense Ministry is planning to
deepen military cooperation with China, while Federal Border Service
Director Andrei Nikolaev praised Chinese authorities for aggressively
combating smuggling, poaching, and illegal emigration under the terms of
a border policing agreement signed last month. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI,
Inc.

POWER CUT-OFF NEARLY CAUSES NUCLEAR SUBMARINE DISASTER. The reactor in
an obsolete nuclear-powered submarine in the Northern Fleet began to
overheat after the local power authorities cut off electrical power to
the submarine base and the back-up local system failed to function
properly, ITAR-TASS reported on 21 September. A potentially disastrous
reactor meltdown was only avoided when the base authorities were able to
convince the power authorities to restore power to the base. The report
said that the Defense Ministry owed power suppliers more than 20 billion
rubles. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

MAKHACHKALA HOSTAGES FREED. Security forces stormed a hijacked bus in
the capital of Dagestan on 22 September, freeing all eighteen remaining
hostages and arresting the two hijackers, Russian and Western agencies
reported. One woman hostage was released shortly after the gunmen, a
Russian and an Avar from Dagestan, seized the bus the previous evening.
Several hostages sustained minor injuries during the assault, carried
out by officers from the Interior Ministry and the Federal Security
Service's newly established Anti-terrorism Center. The hijacking was
financially motivated. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

TRADE UNIONS PLAN FALL OFFENSIVE. The Federation of Independent Trade
Unions is planning a series of actions in the fall to protest wage
arrears, according to its chairman, Mikhail Shmakov. In an interview
with Obshchaya gazeta (no. 38), Shmakov said wage arrears now total 8
trillion rubles ($1.8 billion)--a situation he blames primarily on the
government's failure to pay for state orders. Asked about the FNPR's
electoral pact with Vladimir Shcherbakov's Industrialists, Shmakov said
both employers and employees have similar economic interests at present
but added that those interests are bound to diverge once wage levels
become an issue. The FNPR organized days of action last spring and fall
but succeeded only in partially alleviating the payments problems in
certain sectors. The first group to take action this time will be
teachers, who have called a one-day strike for 26 September. -- Penny
Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

HARD CURRENCY DEALING NO LONGER CAPITAL OFFENCE. Russia has now dropped
the death penalty for illegal trading in hard currency, ITAR-TASS
reported on 20 September. Article 88 of the Criminal Code, which allowed
the death penalty for such dealing, has been replaced by Article 162,
which stipulates a maximum one-year suspended jail sentence. Around
1,000 people were prosecuted for illegal dealing in hard currency and
precious stones in 1995. Under current law all sales of goods should be
in rubles. -- Peter Rutland, OMRI, Inc.

BANKS FACE DIFFICULTIES. More than 300 Russian banks face liquidity
problems for reasons not linked to the August interbank market crisis,
Olga Prokofeva, director of the Central Bank of Russia Supervision
Department, told Segodnya on 21 September. Prokofeva blamed the banks'
cash flow problems on their lending policies. Central bank figures show
that 83 commercial bank licenses have been revoked so far this year. --
Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

SAKHALIN CUTS GAS SUPPLY TO KOMSOMOLSK. The supply of Sakhalin gas to
the Russia Far East city of Komsomolsk-na-Amure has been stopped, the
local power station has been closed, and 49 enterprises in the
Komsomolsk power-consuming area have been denied electricity, Segodnya
reported on 21 September. The Komsolmolsk TV station, which also
broadcasts to Sakhalin, was forced to shut down. According to a Sakhalin
city administration report, gas supplies will not resume until the Amur
Krai pays for the fuel in full. Debts are more than 75 billion rubles
($16.8 million). -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

KamAZ TRUCK PLANT SCALES BACK OPERATIONS. The KamAZ Joint-Stock Company,
Russia's largest truck producer, is introducing a three-day work
schedule, Segodnya reported on 21 September. Lack of funds to buy truck
components from subcontractors and their refusal to supply products on
credit, was a decisive factor in the move. The Tatarstan-based company,
which originally aimed to produce 3,000 heavy trucks in 1995, will now
produce 2,700. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

PROBLEMS IN AZERBAIJANI OIL SECTOR. Oil workers in Azerbaijan may lift
their strike, begun a month ago to protest delays in wage payments,
Interfax reported on 21 September. Economy Minister Samad Sadykov,
speaking to a meeting at the State Oil Company (SOCAR), promised to take
steps to force companies to pay outstanding oil bills, which total $245
million. President Heidar Aliev pledged to root out corruption in the
energy industry, Interfax reported. "We have information that at the
western borders of Azerbaijan, part of the oil and gas supplies are
being resold to Armenia via Georgia," he said. -- Peter Rutland, OMRI,
Inc.

ARAL SEA CONFERENCE IN NUKUS CONCLUDES. The three-day conference on
regional solutions to the Aral Sea crisis ended on 20 September with the
signing of the Nukus Declaration in which the five leaders pledged to
cooperate in areas of irrigation and environmental protection strategies
to save what remains of the sea, Interfax reported on 20 September.
Agencies and countries, including Russia, have pledged $200 million.
Four of the five Central Asian presidents attended the conference, with
only Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov absent due to his recent
meeting with Indian Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao. -- Roger Kangas,
OMRI, Inc.

TATAR DELEGATION FAILS TO NEGOTIATE RELEASE OF RUSSIAN JET CREW. The
seven-week ordeal of an Aerostan IL-76 commercial jet crew appears to
have no end in sight. The seven-member crew has been held hostage by
members of the Afghan Islamic opposition movement, Taliban, since its
plane, carrying ammunition for the government in Kabul, was forced down
on 3 August (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 August 1995). A delegation led by
presidential aide Timur Akulov of Tatarstan failed to even meet with the
supreme council of the Afghan Islamic opposition movement Taliban,
Interfax reported on 21 September. A report that Taliban is apparently
responsible for a second hijacking has complicated matters. This time, a
Boeing 727 belonging to the Ariana Afghan Airlines was taken as it was
completing its Dubai-Jalalabad route. A 21 September ITAR-TASS report
confirmed that the plane was forced to land in Qandahar, where the
Russian crew is still being held. -- Roger Kangas, OMRI, Inc.

KAZAKHSTAN, UKRAINE SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENTS . . . Kazakhstan and
Ukraine signed several cooperation agreements following talks between
Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbaev and visiting Ukrainian
President Leonid Kuchma, Russian and Kazakhstani media reported on 21
September. The agreements concerned cooperation in science and
technology, military training, education, and pensions. Nazarbaev told
ITAR-TASS on 21 September that a joint commission headed by the first
deputy prime ministers of both states will soon meet to promote a
considerable increase in the volume of trade and resolve transportation
problems between the two countries. Ukraine plans to purchase 5 million
tons of coal from Kazakhstan. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc.

. . . BUT CRITICIZE CUSTOMS UNION WITH RUSSIA. At a meeting with
businessmen in Almaty, President Kuchma said the customs union between
Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan fails to meet Ukraine's national
interests and only strengthens Russian dominance in the region, ITAR-
TASS reported on 21 September. President Nazarbaev assured Kuchma that
Kazakhstan's participation in the union will not harm its ties with
other countries, especially since, "like other CIS structures, the
customs union has so far failed to work properly," Kazakhstani Radio
reported the same day. However, an official of Russia's State Customs
Committee told Interfax on 21 September that Russia, Belarus, and
Kazakhstan are at "different stages" in implementing the customs union
agreement, signed in January 1995, with Russia and Belarus having
achieved a higher level of cooperation. Kazakhstan recently issued a
decree lifting customs controls on its border with Russia. -- Bhavna
Dave, 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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