|Experience is in the fingers and head. The heart is inexperienced. - Henry David Thoreau|
No. 192, Part I, 3 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 VOLGOGRAD: MILITARY LOSE IN ELECTIONS. In the recent elections for the Volgograd City Duma, which saw Communist candidates gain 90% of the seats, local military officers made a concerted but unsuccessful effort to win seats. None of the 30 military officers running for the seats managed to win, Komsomolskaya pravda reported on 3 October. The candidates all came from the locally based 8th Army Corps, which stormed Grozny in December. The commander of the 8th corps, General Lev Rokhlin, is one of the national leaders of Our Home is Russia. Rokhlin's deputy competed for the post of Volgograd mayor but gained only about 20% of the votes. Their election campaign included daily parades of the military orchestra and honor guards, and on election day military teams patrolled poll stations to "keep order," ITAR-TASS and NTV reported. -- Anna Paretskaya IS BEREZOVSKII RUNNING RUSSIAN PUBLIC TV? The leadership of Russian Public TV (ORT) is plagued by infighting and Boris Berezovskii, the board deputy chairman, now makes the most important decisions at Channel 1, according to Obshchaya gazeta (No. 39). The article noted that Aleksandr Yakovlev, chairman of the board, publicly protested the decision to drop Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's talk show. In addition, the network did not purchase a long documentary produced by the REN television company, an ORT shareholder, even though Yakovlev and Sergei Blagovolin, ORT general director, themselves commissioned the documentary for Channel 1. REN-TV also produces Sergei Dorenko's news magazine "Versii," which was recently canceled by ORT ("Versii" reappeared on the independent NTV on 2 October). Obshchaya gazeta concluded that the successful businessman Berezovskii, head of the Logovaz empire, is the driving force behind ORT's new programming schedule, designed to boost the network's ratings with fewer political programs and more films and foreign serials. -- Laura Belin SUPREME COURT REJECTS APPEAL TO REVOKE BLOCS' REGISTRATION. The Supreme Court affirmed the legitimacy of 10 electoral blocs, including Nikolai Ryzhkov's Power to the People and Yegor Gaidar's United Democrats, when it rejected Duma deputy Vladimir Lepekhin's appeal to revoke their registration, NTV reported on 29 September. Lepekhin claimed that the blocs did not have their own charters and were therefore illegally registered for December parliamentary elections. The court ruled in favor of the Central Electoral Commission, which argued that since electoral blocs are only temporary organizations, they are not required to have charters. The Justice Ministry has registered at least 269 electoral associations; on 2 October, the ministry issued a statement refuting charges that it has allowed too many groups to participate in the campaign, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Laura Belin NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA REAPPEARS. Thanks to new financing from private investors, in particular the Obedinennyi Bank owned by Boris Berezovskii's Logovaz empire, Nezavisimaya gazeta resumed daily publication on 3 October after a hiatus of more than four months. Vitalii Tretyakov is still editor in chief of the paper he helped create in December 1990, which suspended operation in May on the brink of bankruptcy. -- Laura Belin DUMA FOUNDS ITS OWN WEEKLY NEWSPAPER. The State Duma has founded a weekly publication Narodnaya Duma in order to increase public discussion of draft laws and thereby "broaden the social base of legislation," ITAR-TASS reported on 2 October. The parliament has lacked a newspaper fully under its control since the government took over Rossiiskaya gazeta in October 1993. Narodnaya Duma will have an initial circulation of 50,000. Its executive secretary is Natalya Polezhaeva, a close ally of Duma Press and Information Committee Chairman Mikhail Poltoranin. Polezhaeva had been editor in chief of Rossiiskaya gazeta from late 1993 until she was sacked in July. -- Laura Belin MOSCOW AGREES TO RENEW GAS SUPPLIES TO SARAJEVO. In a move designed to burnish Moscow's tarnished image as an "honest broker" in the Yugoslav conflict, Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin agreed with his Bosnian counterpart, Haris Silajdzic, to resume supplies of Russian natural gas to Sarajevo, Western and Russian agencies reported on 2 October. Chernomyrdin said gas delivery could begin following approval by the UN Sanctions Committee, adding that separate talks would resolve Bosnia's outstanding $100 million debt to Russia for previous deliveries. Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov argued that the resumption of gas deliveries demonstrated that Russia still had an important role to play as a member of the international Contact Group. The reopening of the Sarajevo pipeline removes one of the main obstacles to the conclusion of a comprehensive ceasefire in Bosnia. -- Scott Parrish RUSSIA SPURNS NATO EXERCISE. Russia will not be participating in a NATO- sponsored Partnership for Peace exercise in the Czech Republic because of the situation in the Balkans and NATO's plans to expand eastward, a high-ranking Defense Ministry official told ITAR-TASS on 2 October. The official charged that the exercise which started that day had been under preparation for eight months and was to involve only 10 countries, but at the last minute four other countries whose NATO membership would be particularly objectionable to Russia were invited to participate. He said NATO headquarters in Brussels had every opportunity to have the list of participants "screened" by Russia but did not even notify the Russians of the changes. -- Doug Clarke HALT TO SLUMP IN RUSSIAN-CHINESE TRADE. Russian-Chinese trade is slowly recovering after experiencing a 34% slump in 1994. According to Chinese statistics released on 2 October by ITAR-TASS, Russian-Chinese trade totaled $2.74 billion for the first seven months of this year, up 3.9% from 1994. Russian exports to China were up by 5.3% compared to 1994, while Chinese exports increased by 0.9%. Chinese officials attributed last year's slump to the shift from barter to cash and credit transactions, which now account for 80% of Russian-Chinese trade. In 1994, bilateral trade totaled $5.1 billion, a figure the officials said would easily be exceeded in 1995. -- Scott Parrish UNIONS CALL STRIKE FOR NOVEMBER. The Federation of Independent Trade Unions (FNPR) will hold a nationwide two-hour warning strike on 30 November to press for the creation of jobs and an end to delays in the payment of wages, ITAR-TASS reported on 2 October. Workers are now owed 8 trillion rubles ($1.8 billion) in unpaid wages. However, presidential economics adviser Aleksandr Livshits was quoted by 2x2 TV on 27 September as saying that government agencies are only responsible for 15% of that sum. By the end of September, 2.4 million people were officially registered as unemployed. According to criteria used by the International Labor Organization, 5.5% of the labor force was out of work. -- Penny Morvant ZAVERYUKHA DENIES STATE INTENDS TO IMPORT GRAIN. Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Zaveryukha denied that grain imports would be discussed during his visit to Canada this week, Russian and Western agencies reported on 2 October. Zaveryukha has repeatedly ruled out state grain purchases this year despite a poor domestic harvest. Peasant Party leader Yurii Chernichenko, speaking on Ekho Moskvy, said that he expected commercial firms to import grain instead of state agencies. Agriculture Ministry officials forecast this year's grain harvest at 67 million tons, the lowest output in 30 years, down from 81.3 million tons in 1994. Meanwhile, Canada confirmed that it has agreed to reschedule Russia's credits for past grain purchases to bring them within the US$1.5 billion limit. Their current exposure is US$1.4 billion. -- Thomas Sigel YELTSIN TO TAKE CONTROL OF STATE SHAREHOLDINGS. Under a new decree issued by President Yeltsin, any decision on selling or transferring the state's holdings of shares will have to be approved first by a cabinet resolution and then a presidential order, ITAR-TASS reported on 2 October. Yeltsin's economic aide, Aleksandr Livshits, said the new rules are aimed at bringing order to an uncoordinated process now characterized by back room deals. The move is thought to be a response to last week's decision to vest the state's shares in metallurgical plants in a new holding company, Russian Metallurgy. First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets and President Yeltsin agreed on the step without consulting Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Russian TV reported on 2 October. -- Thomas Sigel ANTI-MONOPOLY AGENCY SEEKS BROADER ROLE. The head of the State Committee for Anti-Monopoly Policy, Leonid Bochin, pledged to eradicate special restrictions on the local sale of goods imposed by regional authorities, Ekho Moskvy reported on 2 October. Addressing a two-day meeting of regional heads of the committee, Bochin accused the Finance Ministry of "leading the most destructive policy it is possible to imagine for the past two years" by allowing regional administrators to offer special economic privileges. -- Peter Rutland TRANSCAUCASIA & CENTRAL ASIA FORMER GEORGIAN SECURITY SERVICE CHIEF CHARGED WITH TERRORISM. The Georgian Prosecutor's Office has sanctioned the arrest of Lt. Gen. Igor Giorgadze, former chief of the Georgian National Security Service, and two of his supporters, Russian media reported on 2 October. A group of Georgian officials have flown to Moscow, where the suspects are believed to be residing, to carry out the arrests. Interior Minister Shota Kviraia said they masterminded four terrorist acts, including the attempted assassination of Georgian leader Eduard Shevardnadze on 29 August. According to Kviraia, the terrorist plan against Shevardnadze was drawn up at the flat of Giorgadze's father, General (ret.) Panteleimon Giorgadze, who is registered as one of the candidates in Georgia's 5 November presidential elections. -- Irakli Tsereteli AKAEV FIRES LOCAL LEADERS. Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev has decreed the dismissal of five local district administration heads for "grave shortcomings in their work," mainly failure to pay wages, the BBC reported on 29 September. Four of the five are from the southern regions of Kyrgyzstan, scene of rioting in 1990 and one of the politically troublesome areas for Akaev. -- Bruce Pannier KARIMOV-NIYAZOV MEETING POSTPONED. The two-day meeting between the Uzbek and Turkmen presidents was abruptly canceled with both sides giving different versions of what happened. Reuters reported on 28 September that the visit of Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov to Tashkent was called off because of disagreements over water policies. A 28 September broadcast of Radio Mayak reported that there is conflict over "the use of important water conservancy installations that are located in Turkmenistan's territory, but were constructed during the time of the USSR using Uzbekistan's resources." Niyazov has missed several important regional meetings in the past year, including the recent Nukus conference on the Aral Sea (see OMRI Daily Digest, 22 September 1995). -- Roger Kangas KAZAKHSTAN PROPOSES A CENTRAL ASIAN UN MILITARY CONTINGENT. Kazakhstani Foreign Minister Kasymzhomart Tokaev proposed that a military contingent be established in Central Asia under UN auspices, ITAR-TASS reported on 30 September. Addressing the 50th UN General Assembly session, Tokaev appealed to Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan to contribute to Kazakhstan's initiative, aimed at promoting peace and security in the Central Asian region, "notorious for the presence of hotbeds of tensions." Tokaev also proposed to establish a UN permanent commission on Central Asia. The call by Tokaev is a follow-up to the conference on regional security held in Tashkent on 19-20 September to explore the possibilities of creating a regional security system. -- Vyacheslav Kozlov KAZAKHSTAN PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS IN DECEMBER . . . Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbaev set the dates for the parliamentary elections on 2 October, Russian and Western sources reported the same day. Elections to the 57-member upper house or Senate--comprising three representatives from each of Kazakhstan's 19 regions--will be held on 5 December. The 67-member lower house or Mejilis will be elected on 9 December in single-seat constituencies. The national parliament elected in March 1994 was dissolved by Nazarbaev one year later after the Constitutional Court declared the 1994 elections invalid. The new election decree requires candidates for either chamber to pay a fee of 30,000 tenge (about $500) to the Central Electoral Commission. -- Bhavna Dave . . . FOUR OBLAST LEADERS SACKED. As part of his attempts to overhaul his government, Nazarbaev issued a presidential decree on 29 September dismissing four regional leaders, Kazakhstani TV reported the same day. They are: Baltash Tursumbaev, Savely Pachin, Syilbei Shalkhamanov, and Lazzat Kiinov--the heads of Kustanai, Aktube, Kzyl Orda, and Mangishlak oblasts respectively. -- Bhavna Dave [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. 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