|If you wish to make an apple pie truly from scratch, you must first invent the universe. - Carl Sagan|
No. 188, Part I, 27 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 RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT DEBATES ECONOMIC POLICY TOWARDS CIS. Sharp divisions emerged at a government meeting called to discuss President Boris Yeltsin's 14 September decree on the need for closer economic ties with the CIS, Rossiiskaya gazeta reported on 26 September. Some ministers argued in favor of extending credits to CIS firms to enable them to buy Russian machinery. First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais objected, arguing that this would undermine Russian budgetary stability, but he was overruled by Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. The head of the State Committee for Metallurgy, Serafim Afonin, revealed that Russian had threatened to cut off electricity supplies to Kazakhstan if it went ahead with a deal to lease chromium deposits to a Japanese mining company. -- Peter Rutland, OMRI, Inc. WOMEN OF RUSSIA PUSH FOR CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS TO STRENGTHEN DUMA. The Women of Russia bloc set its main legislative goal for 1996 as amending the constitution to give the Duma the power to name and remove ministers. Duma faction leader Yekaterina Lakhova said the purpose of the amendment is to "free Russia of ministers like [Defense Minister] Pavel Grachev," ITAR-TASS reported. The movement's list includes approximately 100 names for the 225 spots to be determined by party list and 50 candidates running in single-member districts. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. YAKOVLEV TO FIGHT FOR SOLZHENITSYN'S TV SHOW. Aleksandr Yakovlev, chairman of the Russian Public TV (ORT) board of directors, said he will fight to keep Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's talk show on Channel 1, Russian and Western agencies reported on 26 September. The show was dropped in a controversial reshuffling of ORT programming, to take effect on 1 October (see OMRI Daily Digest, 25 September 1995). Sergei Blagovolin, the ORT director general, has reportedly invited Solzhenitsyn to appear on different Channel 1 programs or host his own less frequent show, according to Reuters. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. NIZHNII NOVGOROD TO ELECT GOVERNOR, MAYOR IN DECEMBER. The Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast Legislative Assembly decided on 26 September that the oblast will elect its governor and Nizhnii Novgorod will elect its mayor on 17 December, the same day as the Duma elections, ITAR-TASS reported. President Boris Yeltsin authorized the elections as an exception to his decree that ordered all local elections to be held after the presidential elections in June 1996. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc. COMMUNICATIONS WORKERS THREATEN TO DISRUPT ELECTIONS. Transmitter stations in some parts of Russia are threatening to stop broadcasting television programs on 1 October and even to disrupt technical services during the December elections, if wage arrears to communications workers are not paid. According to Russian media reports on 26 September, communication workers are owed 70 billion rubles ($15.6 million) in back pay. Communications enterprises are owed about 700 billion rubles by Russian TV and Russian Public TV (ORT), and transmitter stations have already stopped broadcasting some programs in the Far East and parts of Tver Oblast. The communications enterprises, in turn, owe power stations about 130 billion rubles ($28.9 million). ITAR-TASS on 27 September said total debts to the energy industry exceed 25 trillion rubles ($5.5 billion). -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIA ASKS BELGIUM TO LET IN ZHIRINOVSKY. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said Russian authorities are taking "all possible steps" to convince Brussels to reverse its decision to deny an entry visa to Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), ITAR-TASS reported on 26 September. Belgium cited a possible "threat to public order" in denying Zhirinovsky permission to enter the country. While recognizing Belgium's right to refuse entry to private citizens, the ministry argues that the LDPR leader was requesting a visa as a member of an official State Duma delegation to the European Parliament. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc. KOZYREV ADDRESSES UNITED NATIONS. Speaking at the UN on 26 September, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, in a clear reference to the U.S. and NATO, accused "one state or a group of states" of unilaterally dividing the world into "friends and foes." Kozyrev lashed out at an August agreement between the UN Secretariat and NATO on the use of force in Bosnia, which was not explicitly cleared by the Security Council. In a speech to the 50th UN General Assembly, Kozyrev called upon the UN to "radically change its attitude" by offering more support for Russian peacekeeping operations in the CIS. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. COUNCIL OF EUROPE REACTIVATES RUSSIAN APPLICATION. The parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe voted on 26 September to reactivate Russia's application for membership in the 36-member body, which had been suspended in January because of Chechnya, Russian and Western agencies reported. Council officials said Russia could become a full member by next January. Russian commentators, including Vladimir Lukin, chairman of the Duma International Affairs Committee, have complained that Russia has been held to different standards than other former Soviet republics, and even suggested that Russia should forego membership in a body that treats it unfairly. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. SOUTH KOREA TO GET RUSSIAN TANKS THIS YEAR. Russia will deliver T-80U tanks, BMP-3 armored fighting vehicles, and "Igla" anti-tank missiles to South Korea this year, the head of the state-owned Rosvooruzhenie arms export company told ITAR-TASS on 26 September. The deliveries, which will run for three years, are part of a deal signed earlier this year in which South Korea agreed to accept weapons in partial payment for Russia's debt to that country. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. SIX ARRESTED IN CITIBANK COMPUTER THEFT. Police in St. Petersburg have made six more arrests in connection with the theft by computer of $10 million from Citibank, ITAR-TASS reported. Bank and law enforcement officials say a gang based in St. Petersburg broke into the bank's computerized cash-management system on numerous occasions and transferred money into their own accounts. Several people have already been arrested outside Russia and are facing charges in the U.S. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. SWEDISH POLICE OFFICER SUSPECTED OF GIVING RUSSIA SECRET INFORMATION. A Swedish police officer has been accused of giving out secret information on Russians seeking political asylum in Sweden, Western agencies reported on 26 September. The man is suspected of accepting bribes to pass information on asylum-seekers' passports to Russian security officers. A Swedish state prosecutor said the officer has been accused of misconduct and breaking police regulations but no formal charges have yet been filed. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc. REBURIAL OF THE IMPERIAL FAMILY. The remains of Russia's last Tsar, Nicholas II, and his family will be reburied in the imperial family vault of the St. Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg on 25 February 1996, the Orthodox feast of Absolution, Reuters reported on 26 September, quoting Mayor Anatolii Sobchak. The bones of the tsar, his wife, and three of their five children who were killed by Bolsheviks in 1918 near Yekaterinburg, were recently identified by DNA tests; the remains of the other two children have not been found. -- Anna Paretskaya, OMRI, Inc. DUMA BLASTS PRIVATIZATION PROGRAM. Russia's State Duma denounced the government's program to sell state-owned shares in major companies, calling it "illegal," Russian agencies reported on 26 September. The Duma earlier refused to endorse the program, which is now being implemented by presidential decree. Deputy Speaker Gennadii Seleznev warned investors that their purchases could be revoked by the Duma in the future, Interfax reported. The scheme, initiated by First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais, aims to sell banks the right to run major state companies in exchange for loans to cover the budget deficit, which reached 73 trillion rubles ($16 billion) this year. The government hopes to generate 9 trillion rubles in loans by the end of the year. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. GOVERNMENT BEGINS ISSUANCE OF SAVINGS BONDS. In an effort to tap public savings to help close the budget deficit, the Russian government will begin issuing savings bonds worth 964 billion rubles ($215 million) on 27 September, Russian and Western agencies reported. The three-month bonds will carry an annual return of 103%, which is twice that offered by Sberbank, the national savings bank, and 15% more than the rates of commercial banks, Moskovskii komsomolets reported on 26 September. Russians who entrusted their savings to financial institutions have seen them eroded by high inflation, low interest payments and the collapse of risky investment funds. They now hold an estimated $20 billion savings in cash, primarily dollar bills. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA RUSSIA NOT READY TO LIFT CUSTOMS CONTROL ON KAZAKHSTANI BORDER. Russia is not yet ready to lift customs control on its border with Kazakhstan, a high-ranking officer of the Russian State Customs Committee told Interfax on 26 September. Kazakhstan unilaterally decided to close its customs offices on the border. The official said Kazakhstan is not yet ready to harmonize its system of regulating foreign economic relations with that of Russia and Belarus, which is the major condition for effectiveness in the customs union formed by the three countries in January 1995. Also, the closure of Russian customs offices on the 7,000 km. Russia-Kazakhstan border would mean "an open road for drugs from Central Asian republics, with which Kazakhstan has transparent borders," and an inflow of Chinese goods that are already abundant on the Russian market. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc. CASPIAN STATES MEET IN ALMATY WITHOUT RUSSIA. The second meeting of foreign ministry from four of the five Caspian states--Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Iran--opened in Almaty on 26 September, Interfax reported the same day. Kazakhstani Deputy Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Gizzatov lamented Russia's conspicuous absence "for unforeseen reasons." Russia and Iran prefer to define the Caspian Sea as a lake with resources that should be shared equally by coastal states; while Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan argue it is a sea that should be carved into sectors. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc. KYRGYZ LOWER HOUSE APPROVES PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. The Kyrgyz People's Assembly on 26 September voted 63-2 in favor of holding the presidential election on 24 December of this year, RFE/RL reported. The legislative assembly approved the election on 21 September. The constitutionality of this move is unclear, however. The constitution sets the president's term at five years, and President Askar Akaev was elected in October 1990 by the communist-era Supreme Soviet and then again following independence in October 1991. The announcement followed the defeat of a proposed referendum to extend Akaev's term until 2001. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc. TAJIKISTAN'S NEW ECONOMIC REFORM PROGRAM. Tajikistan plans a radical privatization program in order to revive its war-ravaged economy, according to a BBC report, citing a 19 August article in Tajikistan's Narodnaya gazeta. Privatization will begin in the areas of agriculture and services, later moving on to large industry. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc. RIVAL TAJIK UNITS REACH COMPROMISE. A Tajik government commission in the Kurgan-Tyube area has met with representatives of the 1st and 11th brigades and concluded an agreement on 25 September for the two sides to withdraw their heavy guns from the district center, according to ITAR- TASS. However, the commander of the 1st brigade, Makhmud Khudoyberdyev, refused to hand over weapons captured from the 11th during the fighting. The BBC reports that the death toll from the week's fighting has risen to 350, with 500 wounded, according to the BBC. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIAN ROLE IN CENTRAL ASIA QUESTIONED. Anvar Rashidov, program anchor for the state-run Uzbek TV, sharply criticized Russia's trade and fiscal policies toward the Central Asian states, Interfax reported on 26 September. He said that the introduction of such measures as a currency corridor will only weaken Russia's ability to maintain its economic presence in the region. Those measures, coupled with an increased role for outside trading partners, will probably result in Russia being cut out of the region's strategic materials and cotton markets. -- Roger Kangas, OMRI, Inc. KAZAKHSTAN, RUSSIA EXCHANGE BAIKONUR LEASING DOCUMENTS. Kazakhstani Foreign Minister Kasymzhomart Tokayev and Vyacheslav Dolgov, the Russian ambassador to Kazakhstan, exchanged ratification papers on the lease of Baikonur cosmodrome in Almaty on 25 September, ITAR-TASS reported. The lease agreement, signed in December 1994, was ratified by the Kazakhstan in April 1995 and by Russia in May 1995. Under the treaty, Russia will rent Baikonur for 20 years at $115 million annually. The treaty will be followed by 20 supplementary agreements, including one on the joint administration of the adjacent town of Leninsk which will be largely financed by Russia (see OMRI Daily Digest, 12 September 1995). -- Vyacheslav Kozlov, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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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