Science and art have that in common that everyday things seem to them new and attractive. - Friedrich Nietzsche
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 189, Part I, 28 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 DISCUSSES CABINET POSITION WITH RYBKIN. During their vacations
in Sochi, President Boris Yeltsin discussed with Duma Speaker Ivan
Rybkin the possibility of appointing him deputy prime minister for
foreign policy or foreign minister, according to a source close to
Rybkin quoted by Interfax on 27 September. They also discussed the
creation of a State Council that would be above the president's
administration and led by Rybkin. Rybkin reportedly turned down both
offers since he expects to be the speaker in the next Duma or the next
prime minister. Spokesmen for both Yeltsin and Rybkin denied the report,
according to NTV. -- Robert Orttung

LEADERS CALL FOR UNIFICATION OF SLAVIC PEOPLES. The governor of Belgorod
Oblast, Yevgenii Savchenko, has initiated a drive to bring the
presidents of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus to Belgorod to "activate the
process of unifying the Slavic peoples," ITAR-TASS reported. The same
day, Yurii Petrov, one of the leaders of Ivan Rybkin's bloc, proposed
that Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan form a new confederation
of independent states that could later be joined by countries in the
Transcaucasus region and Central Asia. He said the new confederation
would not infringe on the political sovereignty of the countries, but
that they "would have to sacrifice some rights for the sake of a
compromise." Petrov presumably thinks that such an appeal will attract
popular support for his party in the upcoming elections. -- Robert
Orttung

RUSSIANS VALUE LAW, STABILITY. A recent poll asked 1,500 respondents
from different regions to name those ideas that they found most
attractive in the election slogans of political parties, Vechernyaya
Moskva reported on 27 September. The list was topped by the concepts
law, human rights, and justice, followed by peace, order, labor, family,
conscience, and stability. Democracy ranked 17th on the list ahead of
internationalism, dictatorship, and nationalism, which were the least
popular values. -- Peter Rutland

JUDGE ORDERS DEFENSE MINISTER TO APPEAR IN COURT. Krasnopresnenskii
Moscow District Judge Olga Govorova ordered Defense Minister Pavel
Grachev to appear at the next court hearing of his suit against
journalist Vadim Poegli of Moskovskii komsomolets, who in October 1994
accused Grachev of being involved in corruption in Russia's Western Army
Group in Germany, Interfax reported on 27 September. Grachev has refused
to attend the 25 October court hearing in which he is a plaintiff,
saying he is too busy--an explanation Govorova has rejected. It is
unclear how the court's decision will be implemented. -- Constantine
Dmitriev

THE ELECTIONS TO MOSCOW CITY DUMA POSTPONED UNTIL 1997. The Moscow City
Duma has decided to conduct its next municipal elections in December
1997 instead of 1995 as previously planned, ITAR-TASS and Ekho Moskvy
reported on 27 September. The proposal to delay the elections was sent
to the Duma by Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov after President Yeltsin's 17
September decree on elections to local governments (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 19 September 1995). -- Anna Paretskaya

RUSSIAN COSSACKS SEEK UNITS IN REGULAR ARMED FORCES. The Union of
Russian Cossacks Ataman Aleksandr Martynov told a press conference in
Moscow that the union plans to form 29 units as part of the Russian
armed forces, and 31 units to support the Border Troops, Interfax
reported on 27 September. Martynov claims that the union has at least
3.5 million members. It is not clear whether the Defense Ministry plans
to incorporate the Cossack para-military units into the Russian regular
army. Martynov claimed that Cossack regiments have been involved in
combat operations in Chechnya, and were decorated with the Cross for
Faith, Freedom, and Fatherland. -- Constantine Dmitriev

CHERNOMYRDIN SIGNS DECLARATION IN SEOUL. Russia and South Korea continue
to reinvigorate their bilateral ties. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin
and his South Korean counterpart, Lee-Hong Koo signed a declaration on
joint ventures and economic cooperation in Seoul on 27 September,
Western and Russian agencies reported. The declaration included a
proposal for a pipeline linking South Korea with Siberian gas fields
near Irkutsk via Mongolia and China. Russian relations with South Korea
have warmed and cooled several times since diplomatic ties were
reestablished in 1990. Mutual trade amounted to $2.2 billion in 1994 and
is expected to reach $3 billion in 1995, although South Korean
investment in Russia has remained modest. -- Scott Parrish

YELTSIN, CLINTON DISCUSS YUGOSLAV CONFLICT. Attempts continue to repair
the damage done to U.S.-Russian relations by recent rhetorical warfare
over NATO actions in the former Yugoslavia. Speaking by telephone on 27
September, U.S. President Bill Clinton assured his Russian counterpart
Boris Yeltsin that Russia is welcome to participate in a proposed NATO-
led peace implementation force for Bosnia, Russian and Western agencies
reported. Although Russian officials have opposed participating in a
force commanded by NATO, Yeltsin expressed confidence that the two sides
could "reach an agreeable approach." The two presidents are scheduled to
meet on 23 October in Hyde Park, New York, following ceremonies to mark
the 50th anniversary of the UN. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIANS FIRE ON, SEIZE JAPANESE FISHING BOATS. The Russian Border
Troops seized two Japanese fishing boats on 27 September, after firing
on them and wounding one of the captains, ITAR-TASS reported. The
incident took place in La Perouse Strait, which separates the northern
Japanese island of Hokkaido from Sakhalin. The Russians claimed that the
two boats were among 10 that were poaching octopus two nautical miles
inside Russian territorial waters. Rear Admiral Sergei Skalinov, chief
of staff of the Russian coast guard service, told ITAR-TASS that the
Japanese government is encouraging such confrontations because of its
demands that Russia return four islands in the Kuril chain to Japan. --
Doug Clarke

MINERS STAGE UNDERGROUND PROTEST. About 79 miners held an underground
protest in a mine in the Vorkuta Oblast in Russia's far north on 27
September over government plans to close unprofitable pits, ITAR-TASS
reported the same day. Miners at the Promyshlennaya mine said they would
remain underground until a government commission visited them to hear
their grievances. The action began on 25 September when 42 miners
refused to come to the surface. The miners are seeking back wages dating
to early July and assurances on compensation and pensions when pits are
closed. -- Thomas Sigel

FIRST SEMINAR ON SOCIALIZING AND SAFE SEX HELD IN MOSCOW. A first of its
kind seminar, devoted to the issue of safe sex, is taking place in
Moscow, Izvestiya reported on 28 September. According to statistics
provided by the "ESOP" center, 60% of men and women under the age of 19
regularly have sex and only 13% of them use modern methods of
contraception. Of the female youths under 18 who admitted having regular
sex, 31% became pregnant but only 17% gave birth, the remainder
preferring abortion. During the last four years, the syphilis rate has
increased from five to 40 cases per 100,000 members of the population
and gonorrhea has increased 900%. -- Thomas Sigel

HUMAN RIGHTS SEMINAR IN MAGADAN. A two-week seminar on human rights,
organized by the International Association of Human Rights, opened in
Magadan on 27 September, Radio Rossii reported. Boris Miller, vice
president of the Russian section of the association, said the focus of
human rights work in Russia had shifted in recent years. Previously,
freedom of speech and other political rights had been the main concern
of activists. Now, the main problems are the rights of prisoners, army
conscripts, children, and the disabled. Miller estimated that 30,000
people are being illegally held in Russian jails while awaiting trial.
The report noted that officials from the local administration and police
had not taken up an invitation to attend the seminar. -- Peter Rutland

YOUTH ACCOUNT FOR MAJORITY OF DRUG ADDICTS. Two-thirds of Russia's drug
addicts are young people, Megapolis-Express (No. 39) reports. Drugs are
sold in nightclubs, entryways, disco clubs and in student hostels, the
report indicated. Prices vary from 40,000-50,000 rubles ($8-$10) per box
of marijuana, to $200-$250 per gram of heroin or cocaine. The demand is
increasing. In 1994, 82 tons of drugs were confiscated in Russia,
although some experts say that accounts for only 20% of the total amount
of drugs smuggled into the country. -- Thomas Sigel

GOVERNMENT PREDICTS TOUGH WINTER. Acute fuel shortages throughout Russia
may lead to a difficult winter, First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg
Soskovets said on 27 September, Radio Rossii and ITAR-TASS reported the
same day. The minister said the situation is most difficult in the
Russian Far East, the Arkhangelsk Oblast in northern Russia, and Altai
Krai in Western Siberia. Those regions have only about 30% of the fuel
needed for power plants. Meanwhile, Interfax reported that thermal power
plants at Konakovo and Kostroma in central Russia have little fuel oil
in stock. Soskovets said coal stocks are down and suppliers have cut
natural gas deliveries by 30% compared with last year. The main reason
for the low supplies is a failure of the power plants to pay suppliers
for fuel. The plants complain that they cannot pay for fuel because they
are not being paid by consumers. -- Thomas Sigel

SBERBANK TO PAY INCOME ON STATE BONDS. Russia's largest savings bank,
Sberbank, will act as the Finance Ministry's general agent in cashing
coupons of state savings loan bonds, Interfax reported on 27 September.
The first tranche of bonds has reached 48 authorized banks and financial
companies for distribution, according to Bella Zlatkis, head of the
Finance Ministry's Securities and Financial Market Department. The
bonds, which went on the market on 27 September, will have four coupons
on which interest will be paid every three months. It is expected that
banks will start selling the bonds to the general public within the next
week. -- Thomas Sigel

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

RIVER DIVERSION PROJECT RESURRECTED? According to a 27 September report
in Komsomolskaya pravda, Russian Water and Resource Chairman Nikolai
Mikheev raised the possibility of resurrecting the Siberian River
Diversion project, abandoned in 1986. In his speech at the UN-sponsored
conference on the Aral Sea Crisis in Nukus (see OMRI Daily Digest, 22
September 1995), Mikheev stated that, "My government is ready to return
to considering the project of redirecting the flow of the great Siberian
rivers . . . " Afterwards, Uzbek President Islam Karimov praised the
Russian minister, noting that if the project is completed, a statue in
his honor will be erected in Nukus. -- Roger Kangas

KAZAKHSTAN ASKS RUSSIA TO RAISE OIL TRANSIT QUOTA. Kazakhstani President
Nursultan Nazarbaev asked Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to double
the country's oil transit quota, up to 6 million tons for 1996, Interfax
Petroleum Information Agency reported on 27 September from Almaty.
Kazakhstan also intends to purchase the unused quotas of Russian oil
companies, according to Nazarbaev's letter. The increase of Kazakhstan's
oil transit quota may mean a postponement of the new pipeline to carry
Kazakhstani oil to the Black Sea, which is being planned by the Caspian
Pipeline Consortium, consisting of Russia, Kazakhstan, and the Oman Oil
Co. -- Vyacheslav Kozlov

STRONG REACTION TO ANNOUNCEMENT OF KYRGYZ ELECTION. Medetken
Sherimkulov, the former chairman of parliament, blasted President Askar
Akaev for citing his appointment in October 1990 as a rationale for
holding elections this year, in an article of Res Publica on 26
September. Sherimkulov reminded the president that if his term began on
27 October 1990, elections should be held on this date and the Central
Electoral Committee should have declared this publicly four months prior
to the event. A letter from nine deputies of the legislative assembly
noted that a referendum in January 1994 on confidence in the president
referred to his term in office as beginning in 1991. -- Bruce Pannier

KAZAKHSTAN BEGINS SHOOTING OF MARATHON SOAP OPERA. Kazakhstan begins the
shooting of Crossroads, a soap opera expected to exceed the popular
Santa Barbara in the number of its episodes, the coordinator of the
project Yelena Molchanova told ITAR-TASS on 26 September. The British
governmental Know-How foundation is financing the $2.25 million project
as a ploy to offer cultural assistance to the CIS countries. Local
screen writers are working with their British counterparts, including
the creator of the popular Brookside serial. Kazakhstan's first soap
opera will tell about present-day life, "the difficult way from
socialism to capitalism," and love between a Kazakhs and Russians. --
Bhavna Dave

RUSSIANS IN AZERBAIJAN WANT RUSSIAN AS SECOND STATE LANGUAGE. The
dwindling Russian community in Azerbaijan has launched a campaign to
demand that a referendum be held on designating Russian a second state
language in the country's new constitution, Rabochaya tribuna reported
on 26 September. President Heidar Aliev has frequently expressed concern
over the emigration of qualified Russian specialists that has reduced
the Russian community from over 500,000 in 1989 to 200,000 last year. --
Liz Fuller

[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
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Copyright (C) 1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights
reserved. ISSN 1211-1570


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