We are so bound together that no man can labor for himself alone. Each blow he strikes in his own behalf helps to mold the universe. - K. Jerome
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 187, Part I, 26 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

MILITARY TO FIELD OWN CANDIDATES FOR DUMA. Arguing that the current
State Duma has not done enough to help the military, Defense Minister
Pavel Grachev announced that the army will nominate 123 servicemen, 23
of them generals, to run for parliament in single-member constituencies,
Russian and Western agencies reported on 25 September. Grachev
particularly criticized Duma Defense Committee Chairman Sergei
Yushenkov, an outspoken critic of the military campaign in Chechnya.
Article 97 of the Constitution prohibits state employees from
simultaneously serving in parliament, but according to a legal
commentary published last year, military officers and other civil
servants could go on leave while serving in parliament and be guaranteed
the right to return to their old jobs after their Duma terms expire. --
Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

DEPUTY TAKES CENTRAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION TO COURT. Duma deputy Vladimir
Lepekhin, chairman of the Union of Student Councils, has asked the
Supreme Court to force the Central Electoral Commission to revoke the
registration of several electoral blocs, Ekho Moskvy reported on 25
September. Lepekhin argues that the blocs were illegally registered,
since they do not have their own charters as required by the law on
public associations. But Nikolai Ryabov, the commission's chairman, told
ITAR-TASS that electoral blocs are only temporary associations;
consequently, the law on parliamentary elections does not require that
they have charters. The Supreme Court will hear the case on 27
September. According to Russian TV, the case could affect the status of
some prominent electoral blocs, including Yegor Gaidar's United
Democrats, Viktor Anpilov's Workers' Russia, and the recently declared
bloc of Stanislav Govorukhin. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

CONGRESS OF NATIONAL ASSOCIATIONS JOINS GAIDAR'S BLOC. The Congress of
National Associations of Russia, which unites more than 20 groups
representing ethnic minorities living in Russia, joined the electoral
bloc United Democrats on the grounds that "No one is more interested in
democracy in Russian society than national minorities," Russian TV
reported on 25 September. Yegor Gaidar's Russia's Democratic Choice is
the most prominent party associated with the United Democrats bloc. --
Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

FORMER PROCURATOR GENERAL TO RUN FOR DUMA. Valentin Stepankov, Russia's
procurator general from April 1991 until he was sacked in October 1993,
is collecting signatures to run for the Duma in a single-member
constituency in Perm Oblast, ITAR-TASS reported on 25 September.
Stepankov, who says he does not belong to any political party, was
appointed deputy governor of Perm two months ago. He made his name as a
fighter against corruption and an opponent of the August 1991 coup but
opposed President Yeltsin's dismissal of parliament in September 1993.
-- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

PRAGMATISM, SKEPTICISM DOMINATE POPULAR VALUES. According to sociologist
Boris Grushin, speaking on Radio Rossii on 25 September, popular
attitudes towards democracy are more negative than in 1993. Only 21% of
people surveyed in polls by his organization, Vox Populi, have a
positive attitude towards democracy, while 55% voiced a negative
evaluation. Two-thirds of respondents consider that Russia is not headed
in the right direction. At the same time, those explicitly favoring rule
by an "iron hand" are in a minority--37% in favor and 49% against.
Grushin argues that most people are pragmatic and suspicious of any
given ideology. National-patriotic values are supported by 29%, and 49%
oppose them. While 38% would support a return to socialism, 43% would
not. -- Peter Rutland, OMRI, Inc.

POLITICAL LEADERS MEET ORTHODOX GROUP. Lt. Gen. (ret.) Aleksandr Lebed
and Sergei Glazev, leaders of the Congress of Russian Communities,
participated in a conference entitled "The Moral Foundations for State
Construction," which was attended by Orthodox priests. The meeting was
the first public act organized by the Orthodox Political Assembly, a
club set up to bring together priests and politicians who support the
church's policies, NTV and Russian Public TV reported on 25 September.
Glazev said that almost all political parties today want to benefit from
the authority of the church. The Russian Muslim Union has already
attracted press coverage, but this is the first serious attempt by an
Orthodox group to win support. The Orthodox Church's leadership has
already announced that the church will not support any political parties
or candidates. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

BURYATIYA TO HOLD LOCAL ELECTIONS THIS YEAR DESPITE YELTSIN DECREE.
Buryatiya will hold municipal elections on the same day as the Duma
elections in December, Mikhail Semenov, the speaker of the republic's
parliament announced on 25 September. He said the decision does not
contradict President Boris Yeltsin's 17 September decree postponing
local elections until after the presidential elections in June 1996
because the president's administration did not object to elections that
had been prepared before the decree was issued, ITAR-TASS reported on 25
September. Buryatiya's parliament had adopted a decision to hold the
elections on 8 September. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

CHECHEN DISARMAMENT SCHEDULE TO BE REVISED. The joint Russian-Chechen
special observer commission charged with monitoring compliance with the
30 July agreement on disarmament decided on 25 September to extend the
deadline that expired on 24 September for the surrender of arms by units
loyal to Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev, Russian media reported. The
head of the Russian delegation to the peace talks, Vyacheslav Mikhailov,
toured several Chechen raions together with former Chechen-Ingush
Supreme Soviet Chairman Doku Zavgaev and held talks on disarmament and
the prospects for holding new elections with several of Dudaev's field
commanders, according to Russian TV. Also on 25 September, Chechen
fighters congregated in the town of Sernovodsk on the border with
Ingushetiya in anticipation of an attack by Russian federal troops,
according to Interfax. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

VOLSKII ON CHECHNYA. In an interview with Russian Public TV on 25
September, the deputy chairman of the Russian delegation to the Chechen
peace talks, Arkadii Volskii, disclosed that an opinion poll conducted
in five Chechen raions had established that the most popular political
figure among respondents is former Chechen-Ingush Supreme Soviet
Chairman Doku Zavgaev, followed by former Russian parliament Speaker
Ruslan Khasbulatov, with Dzhokhar Dudaev in third place. Volskii also
hypothesized that the 20 September attempt to kill presidential
representative Oleg Lobov may have been perpetrated by shadowy Russian
financial groups engaged in a deal with local political figures to
misappropriate government funds intended for reconstruction in Chechnya.
-- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

DAGESTAN WANTS TO RETURN CHECHEN REFUGEES. Dagestani Minister for
Nationalities Magomedsadykh Gysaev expressed his concern over the 70,000
Chechen refugees currently present in the republic, Izvestiya reported
on 26 September. Almost 150,000 Chechen refugees fled to Dagestan
earlier this year during the war in Chechnya. More than half of them
have already left Dagestan under increasing pressure from the local
administration. Dagestan's leadership complains of a lack of funds, and
is blaming the refugees for an increase in the crime rate. Dagestan is
also concerned about Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev's territorial
claims on the republic. -- Constantine Dmitriev, OMRI, Inc.

GRACHEV PROPOSES JOINT COMMAND FOR BOSNIA FORCE. Defense Minister Pavel
Grachev said on 25 September that Russia will propose the establishment
of a joint NATO-Russian peace implementation force in Bosnia, Russian
and Western agencies reported. Grachev said President Yeltsin will
present the proposal during his planned October trip to UN headquarters.
He ruled out Russian participation in any joint force commanded
exclusively by NATO. The minister also reiterated categorical Russian
opposition to the eastward expansion of NATO, emphasizing that if the
Baltic states join NATO, Russia will be forced to take countermeasures.
-- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

TEACHERS PROTEST FALL IN LIVING STANDARDS. About half a million teachers
across Russia--15% of all education sector employees--are taking part in
a one-day protest today against low pay and wage arrears, ITAR-TASS
reported on 26 September. Teachers in some areas have canceled classes
and are holding meetings and rallies, but schools in Moscow, where
teachers are relatively well paid, are operating normally. Educational
establishments are currently owed 350 billion rubles ($79 million) by
the state; and in some schools the academic year has yet to begin
because of a lack of money to pay for electricity and water supplies or
repair buildings. In August, Yeltsin decreed a 50% increase in teachers'
salaries from September and a further rise in November. On 23 September,
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin ordered the government to release 253
billion rubles to cover overdue wages. Teachers earn an average of
314,000 rubles ($70) a month, Interfax reported on 21 September. --
Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

BRYANSK OFFICIALS WARN OF POSSIBLE "SOCIAL EXPLOSION." Local government
and union officials in southwestern raions of Bryansk Oblast, affected
by radiation from Chornobyl, have sent a telegram to the Russian
president, government, and parliament, warning of the danger of a
"social explosion" if arrears in compensation payments totaling 63
billion rubles ($14 million) are not paid. According to ITAR-TASS on 22
September, the situation is made worse by high levels of unemployment
and arrears in wages and pensions in the area. A local union leader said
that residents do not have the means to buy environmentally "clean"
produce and are being forced to consume locally grown fruit and
vegetables contaminated by radiation. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

SHARES-FOR-LOANS PLAN MOVES FORWARD. Russia plans to raise 3 trillion
rubles ($667 million) for government coffers by tendering state-owned
shares in 29 companies to banks in exchange for loans, State Property
Committee (GKI) acting Chairman Alfred Kokh announced on 25 September,
Russian and Western agencies reported. The list includes top oil
companies such as Lukoil, Yukos and Surgutneftegaz, Norilsk Nickel, the
Far Eastern Shipping Company, and Bratsk Timber Complex. President
Yeltsin signed a decree three weeks ago under which domestic and foreign
banks can bid for the right to hold state-owned shares in leading
companies in trust in return for loans to the government. First Deputy
Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais expressed confidence that the scheme
could attract major foreign investments, as well as reverse some of the
country's recent capital flight. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

FINANCE MINISTRY CLOSE TO AGREEMENT WITH LONDON CLUB. Russia and the
London Club are close to an overall agreement on the rescheduling of
debt inherited from the Soviet Union, Interfax reported on 25 September.
The head of the Finance Ministry's external debt department, Mikhail
Kassianov, said negotiations are "very advanced" and the club, which
brings together 600 private banks, is believed to be ready to accept
Russia's proposal to reschedule payments over "at least 25 years."
Russia owes nearly $25 billion to members of the club. Kassianov said
Russia's 1996 draft budget allocates $8.5 billion to service the debt,
of which $5.2 billion covers interest payments. The Finance Ministry
calculates that debts owed by Russia to private and state creditors will
reach nearly $124 billion by 1 January 1997. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

GEORGIA INTRODUCES NEW CURRENCY. The new Georgian currency, the lari,
was introduced into circulation on 25 September to replace the coupons
in circulation since 1993, Interfax reported the same day. National Bank
Vice President Givi Dzhigauri predicted that exchange rates will swiftly
stabilize. In an attempt to expedite monetary reform, stiffer penalties
have been introduced for violating currency exchange regulations. -- Liz
Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

RESHUFFLE IN NAZARBAEV GOVERNMENT? Kazakhstani President Nursultan
Nazarbaev has apparently confirmed rumors that a major government
reshuffle is imminent. At a government meeting on 22 September,
Nazarbaev said the immediate future will be "a period of constitutional
reforms . . . [and] . . . there will be personnel reshuffles,"
Kazakhstani TV reported the same day. He criticized the lack of
coordination in the activities of economic ministries, government,
foreign departments, and the national bank, accusing the latter of
"becoming a state within a state." Addressing the same meeting, Prime
Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin said he would submit proposals on changes
in the government to Nazarbaev "in the near future." -- Bhavna Dave,
OMRI, Inc.

KAZAKHSTAN TO FIGHT CRIME, CORRUPTION. Kazakhstani President Nursultan
Nazarbaev declared that the fight against growing corruption and
organized crime is a top priority for the republic, ITAR-TASS reported
on 26 September. At a meeting with the Committee for Combating Crime and
Corruption, Nazarbaev said there has been a 17% increase in the number
of serious crimes, including dozens of contract murders, committed
during the first half of this year. He said that the first six months of
the anti-crime drive, launched in March 1995, has resulted only in
"taming street hooligans" and has not prevented major economic crimes
and corruption among high-ranking officials. However, more than 3,000
police officials have already been punished for various offenses in the
first half of this year. -- Vyacheslav Kozlov, 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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