|Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand. - Thomas Carlyle|
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 through Friday by the Open Media Research Institute. The OMRI Daily Digest is distributed electronically via the OMRI-L list. 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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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