Fear of life in one form or another is the great thing to exorcise. - William James
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 190, Part I, 29 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'S INNER CIRCLE JEALOUS OVER CHERNOMYRDIN'S NEW VISIBILITY. In
its 28 September issue, Obshchaya gazeta reported that President Boris
Yeltsin's advisers are plotting to limit the increasing prominence of
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. Part of the campaign against him,
the newspaper argued, is Federation Council Vladimir Shumeiko's recent
criticism of Our Home is Russia and his support for Sverdlovsk Governor
Eduard Rossel's Transformation of the Fatherland bloc, which reportedly
was instigated by Yeltsin. Yeltsin's staff sees Rossel's movement as a
possible counterweight to Chernomyrdin's bloc following the collapse of
Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin's left-center bloc. Congress of Russian
Communities leader Yurii Skokov denied rumors that he had discussed the
possibility of becoming prime minister with the president, ITAR-TASS
reported. Skokov is often cited in press reports as a possible
replacement for Chernomyrdin. -- Robert Orttung

CENTRAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION CLARIFIES MILITARY'S ROLE IN CAMPAIGN.
Those currently serving in the military have a constitutional right to
run for the Duma, the Central Electoral Commission declared on 28
September. However, the law "On Defense" prohibits any political
agitation within military units or institutions, ITAR-TASS reported.
During their free time and off the military base, members of the
military may participate in campaign activities. Defense Minister Pavel
announced earlier this week that the army will nominate 123 servicemen
in single-member districts. -- Robert Orttung

POLL SHOWS THAT MANY DOUBT INTEGRITY OF ELECTIONS. A July poll showed
that 56% of respondents believe that some election rigging took place in
the 1993 parliamentary elections and constitutional referendum and that
48% believe that it will occur again in the December elections. The
Washington-based International Foundation for Electoral Systems,
American Viewpoint, and the Moscow Institute for Comparative Social
Research conducted the poll and its results were released on 28
September. IFES's Moscow representative Michael Caputo attributed the
high level of skepticism to the voters' low level of knowledge about the
elections, ITAR-TASS reported. The poll found that only 32% are
interested in politics, but that 74% claim they will participate in the
elections. -- Robert Orttung

COMMUNISTS BLAST YELTSIN FOREIGN POLICY. In a sign that foreign policy
issues will play a major role in the Duma election campaign, the
Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF), issued a statement on
28 September blasting the current government for a failed foreign
policy. The statement blamed the government for "the loss of great power
status," and transforming Russia "into a second-rate country." Duma
Speaker Ivan Rybkin, recently returned from the rump Yugoslavia, called
for an end to the "senseless" UN sanctions against that country and
claimed they had cost Russia $50 billion since their imposition. --
Scott Parrish

JOINT VENTURE DIRECTOR ARRESTED. Peter Yanchev, director of the Russo-
British firm Balcar Trading, has been arrested on suspicion of illegal
dealing, Izvestiya reported on 26 September. Balcar Trading originated
as an auto-dealer in Balashikha, near Moscow, in 1992, but it
subsequently became the exclusive exporter for the Noyabrskneftegaz oil
corporation. Thanks to its contacts in government circles, Balcar was
able to export 10 million tons of oil in 1994. In January and March of
this year, Balcar won government licenses to sell eight and then 25
million tons of oil to Mobil Corporation, which would in turn arrange
loans for the Russian government. -- Peter Rutland

REHABILITATION OF KUBAN COSSACKS. The Krasnodar Krai legislature finally
approved a bill on the rehabilitation of the Kuban Cossacks, ITAR-TASS
reported on 28 September. The bill denounces the forced deportation of
the Cossacks from the region and the lack of independent representation
for them in state institutions as a destruction of their ethnic unity
and a violation of human rights. However, articles granting privileges
to the Cossack-run associations, enterprises, and mass media and putting
real estate at their disposal free of charge were excluded from the
final version of the bill as too radical. -- Anna Paretskaya

DEFENSE MINISTRY OFFICIAL DISCUSSES THE FALL DRAFT. Col. Gen. Vyacheslav
Zherebtsov, head of the Main Organization and Mobilization Department of
the General Staff, said up to 224,000 people will be drafted from
October to December 1995, Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported on 28
September. In accordance with legislation passed this spring, the term
will increase from 18 months to two years on 1 October to provide the
army with a sufficient number of enlisted personnel. The armed forces
will then total 1.47 million servicemen, less than the 1.7 million
target set by the president. Zherebtsov said that this fall, a two-year
alternative service will start being offered to Russian citizens,
although he favors at least a four-year alternative service. --
Constantine Dmitriev

CLINTON ORDERS MORE HELP TO RUSSIA ON SECURITY OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS. U.S.
President Bill Clinton on 28 September directed several federal agencies
to increase their cooperation with Russia to improve the security of
nuclear weapons, Western agencies reported. He told the Energy
Department to assist in improving the accounting systems for nuclear
materials and tasked the Defense Department to speed construction of a
nuclear material storage facility. Lt. Gen. Sergei Zelentsov, a
consultant to the Russian Defense Ministry, said the ministry's control
over nuclear weapons is "highly effective," ITAR-TASS reported. The
agency quoted Viktor Kruglov, deputy chief of the ministry's Nuclear
Safety Inspectorate, as saying that 120 decommissioned nuclear-powered
submarines are being kept under constant surveillance and that accidents
from their reactors are "fully ruled out. -- Doug Clarke

RUSSIA CRITICAL OF NATO EXPANSION PLAN. "We are still opposed" to NATO
expansion, Vitalii Churkin, the Russian ambassador to Belgium, said
following the release of the new NATO study on the criteria and
procedure for accepting new members, Russian and Western agencies
reported. In a later interview with Russian Public TV (ORT), however,
Churkin said that the new NATO study made clear that the alliance will
not expand rapidly. This will allow Russia to "do everything necessary"
to ensure its national security, presumably by seeking to delay the
process as long as possible. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIA EXPRESSES REGRET OVER KURILS FISHING INCIDENT. At a meeting with
Japanese diplomats in Moscow, the Russian Foreign Ministry expressed
regret over the shooting of a Japanese fisherman who had violated
Russian territorial waters near the disputed South Kuril Islands,
Russian and Western agencies reported (See OMRI Daily Digest, 28
September 1995). The ministry added, however, that Tokyo had been warned
that Japanese vessels violating Russian waters would be fired upon and
said the incident underlined the need to conclude an agreement on
fishing rights in the area. Three rounds of talks on the issue, which is
linked to the larger territorial dispute, have made little progress.
Meanwhile, Interfax reported that the two fishermen captured in the
incident will be charged with poaching in Russian territorial waters. --
Scott Parrish

CURRENCY EXCHANGE GUARD AND CASHIER MURDERED IN MOSCOW. A guard and
cashier at a hard currency exchange were shot and killed in Moscow in
the early hours of 28 September, Interfax reported. They were found at 3
a.m. at an exchange point of the Zomoskvoretskii Bank in a northwestern
raion. The murderers escaped with $53,000 and a Kalashnikov assault gun
which belonged to the guard. The guard is the second police officer to
die at the hands of gunmen in Moscow during the day and the sixteenth
since the beginning of the year. -- Thomas Sigel

LANDSLIDE BURIES AT LEAST 17 IN INGUSHETIYA. A landslide, triggered by a
construction crew's improper use of explosives, buried at least 17
people in the Sunzhenskii Raion of Ingushetiya on 27 September, Russian
and Western agencies reported the next day. Rescue workers from Moscow,
led by Deputy Russian Emergency Minister Sergei Khetagurov, arrived at
the disaster scene on 28 September. -- Thomas Sigel

MOBS STEAL TONS OF AMBER. Nearly a ton of amber is smuggled out of
Russia's richest amber region, Kaliningrad, every day, Argumenty i Fakty
reported on 28 September, according to Western sources. The newspaper
cited Colonel Boris Levenkov of the Federal Security Service as saying
amber poaching has increased almost 10-fold since the Soviet collapse.
Poaching is so profitable that people are willing to pay bribes as high
as $3,000 for jobs in the mine and factory that give them access to
amber, the newspaper reported. It estimated that total losses from amber
smuggling could run as high as $1 billion. -- Thomas Sigel

TENDER ON SAKHALIN OIL PROJECT ENDS IN FAILURE. An international tender
for prospecting and developing several Sakhalin off-shore oil fields
(Sakhalin-4 project) failed to find a Western company capable of
implementing the project on terms suitable for Russia, according to the
Petr Sadovnik of the Sakhalin Regional Committee for Geology and Natural
Resources, Interfax reported on 28 September. Only the U.S. firm Exxon
submitted a bid, although over 20 corporations showed interest at the
presentation of the tender in Denver last November. Sadovnik said
Exxon's proposal did not meet the minimum conditions set by the Russian
government for production sharing and the payment of resource fees. --
Thomas Sigel

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

ASHGABAT'S TIES TO RIYADH ON THE MEND? Turkmenistan and Saudi Arabia
reached agreement on 26 September to open embassies in their respective
capitals, according to a Turkmen agency report monitored by the BBC.
Relations between the two countries got off to a bad start after Turkmen
President Saparmurad Niyazov traveled to Riyadh in 1992 and offended his
hosts when he contravened diplomatic and Islamic practices and
prematurely tabled a request for a $10 billion loan; Ashgabat's ties to
Iran and Israel have also put a damper on closer ties with Riyadh. --
Lowell Bezanis

KAZAKHSTAN ELECTION DECREE. Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbaev is
likely to sign a decree on the election procedure in the republic soon,
according to "well-informed sources" cited by ITAR-TASS on 28 September.
According to the constitution, the new parliament will consist of two
chambers and be elected for four years. The upper chamber--the Senate--
will consist of two representatives nominated by Kazakhstan's 19 regions
and the capital Almaty. The lower chamber--the Majilis--will consist of
67 members to be elected in single-seat territorial constituencies.
Nazarbaev has promised elections to the Majilis in December. -- Bhavna
Dave

CASPIAN STATES MEETING ENDS IN ALMATY. A two-day meeting on the legal
status of the Caspian Sea, attended by Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan,
Azerbaijan, and Iran, ended in Almaty on 27 September, Kazakhstani Radio
reported that day. Kazakhstani Deputy Foreign Minister Vyacheslav
Gizatov described Russia's absence from the meeting as "a manifestation
of a non-constructive approach." Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Albert
Chernyshev told Interfax the same day that Russia could not attend due
to "purely technical reasons." He said Russia's request for a
postponement of the meeting was turned down by other participants,
though Russia was not offended by it. Gizatov said that Kazakhstan is
willing to accept the position of Russia and Iran by regarding Caspian
as a lake, compromising its earlier stand that it be defined as an
inland sea. Kazakhstan's proposal of a demarcation of territorial waters
into national sectors and the creation of neutral water zones was
discussed at the meeting. Russia has proposed a common ownership of sea-
bed resources. -- Bhavna Dave

SIX NAMES ANNOUNCED AS CANDIDATES FOR GEORGIAN PRESIDENT. Georgia's
Central Electoral Commission reported that six candidates for president
had gained the required number of signatures for nomination, BBC
reported on 29 September. Eduard Shevardnadze is leading with 105,310
signatures on the nomination list of the Union of Citizens of Georgia
and 79,776 on the nomination list of the Socialist Party. He is followed
by: Dzhumber Patiashvili (former first secretary of the Georgian
Communist Party)--105,906 signatures; Kartlos Gharibashvili (former
chairman of the Democratic Party of Georgia)--75,925; Roin Liparteliani
(chairman of the Agrarian Party of Georgia)--74,164; Akaki Bakradze
(writer and opposition figure)--64,495; and Panteleimon Giorgadze
(chairman of the United Communist Party of Georgia)--54,430. -- Irakli
Tsereteli

CIS

KAZAKHSTAN, UKRAINE URGE MORATORIUM ON NUCLEAR TESTS. Ukraine and
Kazakhstan, two of the four former Soviet republics which had nuclear
weapons on their territory, urged other nations to join them in
renouncing nuclear weapons, Western media reported on 28 September.
Speaking at the UN General Assembly, Kazakhstani Foreign Minister
Kasymjomart Tokaev called for a moratorium on nuclear tests, urging that
a comprehensive test ban treaty be concluded no later than next year.
Kazakhstan has expressed its concern over Chinese nuclear tests in Lob
Nor in the Uigur Autonomous region of Xinjiang, which borders on
Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. -- Bhavna Dave

[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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