|I'm going to turn on the light, and we'll be two people in a room looking at each other and wondering why on earth we were afraid of the dark. - Gale Wilhelm|
No. 191, Part I, 2 October 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 SUBSIDIES FLOW AS ELECTIONS APPROACH. Over the weekend several government ministers announced special subsidies for hard-pressed economic sectors. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, visiting drought- stricken Orenburg, promised that prices for the region's transport and energy supplies would be frozen till the end of the year, ITAR-TASS reported on 30 September. He also banned electricity cutoffs to husbandry farms and food processing plants in the region. The same day ITAR-TASS reported that Fuel and Energy Minister Yurii Shafranik promised 1.3 trillion rubles ($290 million) to help firms buy winter fuel; while First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets, visiting Tatarstan, promised federal money for Tatar shipyards and to pay for trucks the Defense Ministry ordered from the KamAZ plant. -- Peter Rutland OUR HOME IS RUSSIA REJECTS POPULIST MEASURES. The campaign manager for the pro-government Our Home is Russia bloc, Sergei Belyaev, acknowledged the government's unpopularity among voters but rejected any populist moves to attract more support, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 29 September. However, the government is developing a program to help the estimated 35 million investors who lost their savings in risky investment funds, Kommersant-Daily reported on 30 September. Belyaev said that he expects only a third of the voters to participate in the elections and that his bloc will garner 8-12%. -- Robert Orttung LAWYERS JOIN THE CAMPAIGN. Arguing that "professionals should make laws," the Association of Lawyers of Russia has nominated its own party list of 137 attorneys, procurators, judges, and investigators for the December parliamentary elections, Russian TV and ITAR-TASS reported on 29 September. Federation Council deputy Anatolii Fedoseev, who is on the list, said a shortage of jurists in the current Duma was to blame for its "extremely low" productivity and what he called the "catastrophic legal illiteracy" of a number laws passed. -- Laura Belin COMMUNISTS WIN THE ELECTIONS TO VOLGOGRAD DUMA. Communist Party candidates won in 22 out of 24 constituencies in the 1 October elections to the Volgograd City Duma, which were contested by 193 candidates, ITAR-TASS reported. However, Volgograd Mayor Yurii Chekhov, who quit his membership in the Our Home Is Russia political bloc before the election campaign, won the mayoral elections held the same day. Meanwhile, the Tambov City Duma voted to restore the Soviet of Peoples' Deputies and its executive committee (ispolkom), instead of maintaining the current bodies, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 September. -- Anna Paretskaya SHCHERBAKOV CALLS ON DUMA TO DISBAND. Vladimir Shcherbakov, one of the leaders of the bloc uniting the Federation of Independent Trade Unions and the Russian United Industrialist Party, called on the State Duma to disband itself. He said that such a move would create equal conditions for all candidates, whether they are incumbents or not, NTV reported on 29 September. He argued that the deputies will only try to score political points in the waning days of the session and that they can no longer be trusted to adopt important decisions. He said that as the elections near, there will be an increasing number of calls to end the Duma's session early. -- Robert Orttung SOURING RELATIONS BETWEEN YELTSIN AND CHERNOMYRDIN. The relationship between President Yeltsin and Prime Minister Chernomyrdin is souring, according to Segodnya on 30 September. In recent days, news agencies have twice reported that the two leaders would meet at Yeltsin's vacation residence in Sochi, but no such meetings took place. Recent remarks by members of the government and presidential advisers have added to the perception that a rift has occurred between them. Presidential economic adviser Aleksandr Livshits, for example, recently suggested that the prime minister continue working in the government rather than take a leave of absence to campaign for the Duma. A break between Yeltsin and Chernomyrdin could undermine the government's ability to continue its current reform policy. -- Robert Orttung CHUVASH LEGISLATURE POSTPONES REFERENDUM DECISION. The State Soviet of Chuvashiya postponed for at least one week a vote on whether to call a referendum on abolishing the presidency in the republic, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 September. Chuvash President Nikolai Fedorov was elected in December 1993 with less than 30% of the vote and has since been at odds with the majority in the legislature. Although more than 30,000 signatures have been gathered in support of holding the referendum, Fedorov recently told Obshchaya gazeta (No. 37) that calls for abolishing his office bother him "less than a mosquito bite." -- Laura Belin FEDERAL SECRET SERVICE DIRECTOR ANNOUNCES WAR ON CORRUPTION. FSB Director Mikhail Barsukov has started a corruption purge within his own agency, Komsomolskaya pravda reported on 28 September. According to a recent presidential decree, the FSB will monitor corruption in the Interior Ministry, the Federal Agency for Government Communications and Information, and the Tax Police. This arrangement existed under former Soviet leader Yurii Andropov but was later changed under pressure from the Interior Ministry. -- Constantine Dmitriev NEW RUSSIAN MILITARY DOCTRINE?. An anonymous source in the General Staff reported that a new version of the Russian military doctrine was recently completed, Komsomolskaya pravda reported on 29 September. According to the draft version, Russia will counterbalance NATO's eastward expansion by deploying tactical nuclear weapons in western Russia, Belarus, and in the Baltic Sea. Komsomolskaya pravda also reported that the Defense Ministry wants to amend the CFE treaty and to change the current international nuclear nonproliferation regime. -- Constantine Dmitriev NATIONAL REPUBLICAN PARTY HEADQUARTERS RAIDED. Two armed men raided the headquarters of the ultranationalist National Republican Party in St. Petersburg on 29 September, Russian and Western agencies reported. The assailants beat a party activist and made off with lists of 30,000 signatures the party had collected in preparation for the December parliamentary elections. (Parties need 200,000 signatures to register.) A police spokesman said the attack could have been carried out by the party's political rivals, but he did not rule out the possibility that the party had staged the raid itself for publicity reasons. Party leader Nikolai Lysenko was the instigator of the fistfight in the Duma on 9 September, when he lunged at fellow deputy Gleb Yakunin. -- Penny Morvant YAKUBOVSKII'S LAWYER MURDERED. Yevgenii Melnitskii, a St. Petersburg lawyer defending Dmitrii Yakubovskii, was murdered on 25 September, Russian and Western media reported. The controversial Yakubovskii was arrested late last year in connection with the theft of rare manuscripts worth about $100 million from St. Petersburg's National Library. The head of St. Petersburg's criminal investigations department, however, expressed doubts that Melnitskii's murder was linked to the case, noting that Melnitskii had recently become active in local politics. -- Penny Morvant RUSSIAN OFFICIALS BLAST NATO EXPANSION DRAFT. In response to the release of a NATO study on enlarging the alliance eastward, Russian officials issued warnings on 29 and 30 September against any expansion of the alliance, Russian and Western agencies reported. First Deputy Foreign Minister Nikolai Afanasevskii told Interfax that Russia would "take adequate response measures" if the alliance started accepting new members. Russian officials have previously cited withdrawal from CFE, the formation of a CIS military bloc, and forward deployment of tactical nuclear weapons as possible reactions to NATO enlargement. -- Scott Parrish SOBCHAK AS POLITICAL COMMENTATOR DRAWS CRITICISM. Anatolii Sobchak's twice weekly televised political commentary on St. Petersburg's Channel Five has drawn criticism from the Legislative Assembly, Smena reported on 29 September. The deputies sent a letter to the television company arguing that the mayor's position as a state official disqualifies him from acting as an objective political commentator. Chas pik reported on 29 September that the St. Petersburg branch of Yabloko issued a statement criticizing Sobchak for endorsing pro-government parties in his commentary. It noted that when Prime Minister Victor Chernomyrdin was in St. Petersburg, the mayor had billboards advertising Our Home is Russia erected. -- Brian Whitmore, OMRI Inc in St. Petersburg RUSSIA SAID TO GET U.S. WEAPONS FROM SERBS. The Russian military has been given two American "Tomahawk" cruise missiles and electronic equipment from a downed U.S. reconnaissance aircraft by Bosnian Serbs, Ekho Moskvy reported on 28 September, citing an officer "from one of the special services." The two missiles are part of the group of three that failed to explode after they were fired at Bosnian Serb targets earlier in the month. -- Doug Clarke POLL SURVEYS ATTITUDES TOWARD U.S. A poll conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation and reported in the weekly Obshchaya gazeta on 28 September showed a slight overall increase in positive attitudes towards the U.S., with 23% of respondents reporting improvement in their opinion of the U.S. since 1985, while 51% reported no change, and only 13% reported deterioration. While 43% of respondents across Russia said they would welcome U.S. investment in their region, 32% would oppose it, and 13% expressed indifference. -- Scott Parrish ZOTOV SAYS RUSSIA MUST PARTICIPATE IN YUGOSLAV SETTLEMENT. Attempting to bolster Russia's dwindling role in the Bosnian peace process, Aleksandr Zotov, the special presidential representative to the former Yugoslavia, told ITAR-TASS on 29 September that Russia could not be excluded from the implementation of any political settlement there. Zotov reiterated Russia's opposition to the creation of an exclusively NATO-commanded peace implementation force and said Russia would also demand that the UN Security Council approve any such deployment. First Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov claimed the agreement recently signed by the warring parties in New York was not an achievement of U.S. diplomacy alone but resulted from the work of the entire Contract Group. -- Scott Parrish ATLANTIC-RICHFIELD ACQUIRES STAKE IN LUKOIL. The Atlantic-Richfield Company (ARCO), a U.S. oil giant, invested $250 million to buy a 5.7% stake in Lukoil, Russia's biggest oil corporation, Western agencies reported on 29 September. This represents one of the largest single investments by a foreign firm in post-Soviet Russia and one of the first times a foreign oil company has purchased an equity interest in a major Russian oil concern. ARCO purchased bonds which will be converted into $40.9 million worth of voting shares in April 1996. The Los Angeles- based ARCO agreed not to try to increase its stake to more than 7.99% of Lukoil's voting stock. -- Thomas Sigel WORLD BANK LAUNCHES HOUSING PROJECT. With the assistance of a $400 million World Bank loan, Russia launched a $758 million housing construction project on 29 September, Russian Public TV announced on 29 September. Five Russian cities--St. Petersburg, Novgorod, Nizhnii Novgorod, Tver, and Barnaul--were selected for the first stage of the project, which includes plans for auctioning land and assisting private construction firms. -- Thomas Sigel TRANSCAUCASIA & CENTRAL ASIA NIYAZOV FOR LIFE. The Democratic Party of Turkmenistan will debate awarding the republic's president, Saparmurad Niyazov, life-long powers to rule the party and state, the Turkmen Press news agency reported on 27 September. The decision was reached at the eighth plenum of the political council which met the same day in Ashgabat, according to the report monitored by the BBC. The Turkmen Communist Party renamed itself the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan in December 1991 under Niyazov's leadership; there is one other government-sponsored party in the republic, the Peasants' Justice Party. -- Lowell Bezanis FORMER UZBEK COMMUNIST PARTY LEADERS RELEASED FROM JAIL. The "victims" of the Uzbek "cotton affair" continue to be rehabilitated in post-Soviet Uzbekistan. According to a 27 September Interfax report, Uzbekistan's Supreme Court dropped all charged against a former party boss, Viktor Yesin. Yesin, who held the post of Navoi Obkom first secretary, had been serving a six-year prison sentence since 1989 for bribery. This is the latest in a series of reversals from the original anti-corruption campaign that dominated the 1980s. Other notables most recently released from prison include the first secretary of the Uzbek Communist Party from 1986 to 1989, Imanjon Usmankhojaev, former Supreme Soviet speaker Akil Salimov, former Ideology Secretary Ideology Rano Abdullayeva, and former Prime Minister Narmonkhonmadi Khudaiberdiyev, all prominent Uzbek officials in the late 1980s. -- Roger Kangas PROTESTS IN KYRGYZSTAN. The decision to hold presidential elections in December has drawn a crowd of more than 200 demonstrators to the parliament building in the capital, Bishkek, according to RFE/RL. Striking miners in southern Kyrgyzstan's Osh region have linked their cause with that of the demonstrators in Bishkek. Their strike, originally against corruption in management, has expanded to include the policies of President Askar Akaev. A state of emergency, implemented after the 1990 riots, is still in effect in the Osh region. According to a 28 September report by Kyrgyz Kabar cited by the BBC, the state of emergency will have to be lifted before elections can take place. -- Bruce Pannier [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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