|The only certainty is that nothing is certain. - Pliny the Elder|
No. 195, Part I, 6 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 YELTSIN HAILS BOSNIAN CEASE-FIRE AGREEMENT . . . Russian President Boris Yeltsin on 5 October praised the Bosnian cease-fire agreement announced that day, Russian and Western agencies reported. Yeltsin termed the agreement a "major step toward peace" in Bosnia and urged that it be followed by the lifting of UN economic sanctions against rump Yugoslavia, which he said would facilitate a comprehensive peace settlement. Reflecting Russian pique at being marginalized in the ongoing peace process, the president's statement omitted any reference to the American mediation efforts that produced the agreement; it mentioned only Russian initiatives. -- Scott Parrish . . .WHILE FOREIGN MINISTRY STEPS UP CRITICISM OF NATO AIRSTRIKES. Speaking to journalists before the announcement of the Bosnian cease- fire accord, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigorii Karasin accused NATO of employing double standards in Bosnia, Western and Russian agencies reported on 5 October. Karasin complained that NATO bombed Serbian missile sites on 4 October but did nothing after recent Bosnian Muslim attacks around Sarajevo. Russian Foreign Minster Andrei Kozyrev on 5 October rejected what he termed "NATO's claims to a monopoly" in enforcing a Bosnian settlement. Moscow wants to participate in the proposed peace implementation force for Bosnia but rejects placing Russian troops under NATO command. -- Scott Parrish CHERNOMYRDIN DISCUSSES TRADE IN CANADA. Following talks with Canadian officials, a Russian delegation led by Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin signed several Russian-Canadian economic accords, including a tax treaty, Russian and Western agencies reported on 5 October. The agreements covered bilateral cooperation in the areas of medicine, nuclear power, transportation, construction, and immigration. At a joint press conference, Chernomyrdin and his Canadian counterpart Jean Chretien pledged to double Russian-Canadian trade, which currently totals about $500 million annually, within the next five years. Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Zaveryukha told journalists that Russia might import grain from Canada for the Far East this winter, as it is cheaper to ship it from there than from European Russia. -- Scott Parrish FEDERATION COUNCIL PROPOSES EXTENDING ITS TENURE. The Federation Council proposed on 5 October that the State Duma consider legislation extending the upper house's current term until the members of the next session are able to meet, ITAR-TASS reported. The council's future membership is unclear because it has not been decided whether its members will be elected by popular vote or appointed from the local leadership of Russia's republics and regions. The Constitutional Court will examine the president's request to interpret the constitution in October, according to Interfax. On 12 August, Yeltsin vetoed a bill passed by both houses that would have mandated elections to the upper chamber. -- Robert Orttung DEFENSE MINISTRY PREPARES FOR DUMA CAMPAIGN. Defense Minister Pavel Grachev's announcement that the Defense Ministry will sponsor 123 candidates in the Duma elections has turned the ministry's Main Administration for Educational Work into a campaign headquarters, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 5 October. The office is now tracking political sympathies within the armed forces and among the civilian population, its leader, Lt. Gen. Sergei Zdorikov, told the newspaper. The ministry's analysis will lead to personnel changes in a number of regions, according to the paper. Military experts predict that the Communists, Our Home is Russia, Yabloko, the Congress of Russian Communities, and the Liberal Democratic Party will win 10-20% in the party-list voting and that candidates from Our Home is Russia and the Communist Party will do well in the single-member districts. -- Robert Orttung OBSERVERS SAY ELECTORAL SYSTEM WILL NOT SERVE VOTERS. The law on parliamentary elections, under which half the seats in the Duma will be allocated by proportional representation, combined with the multitude of political parties that have very similar party platforms, have rendered Russian voters "incapable of making a responsible political choice" in the December parliamentary elections, according to an article published in Moskovskie novosti (no. 67). The authors argued that since voters will be forced to choose among personalities rather than political programs, and since few parties will overcome the 5% barrier to win party-list seats, the next Duma will poorly reflect the views of society, leaving most citizens "deeply dissatisfied." -- Laura Belin CHARGES OF CORRUPTION AS PARTIES COLLECT SIGNATURES. Aleksandr Kashcheev, former vice chairman of the Our Home Is Russia (NDR) bloc's Stavropol branch, said he has been threatened by NDR activists and hampered from collecting signatures after he resigned from the bloc to campaign independently, Interfax reported on 5 October. According to Komsomolskaya pravda on 3 October, people in Voronezh have been forced to sign NDR petitions in exchange for an appointment with a Social Protection Committee inspector. Earlier, on 29 September, Segodnya reported allegations that Khabarobsk Foreign Ministry official Vyacheslav Mikhaltsov, an Agrarian Party single-seat candidate, demanded signatures in his support in exchange for passport and visa services. On average, signatures for political blocs cost between 500 and 2,000 rubles, Russian newspapers report. -- Anna Paretskaya FORMER BRYANSK GOVERNOR FACES CRIMINAL CHARGES. A criminal case has been opened in Bryansk Oblast against former Governor Vladimir Karpov, ITAR- TASS reported on 5 October. Law enforcement officials said the charges are connected to Karpov's "abuse of his official position." Several commercial enterprises allegedly linked to Karpov also face criminal investigation. Karpov resigned as governor in August; he had frequently been accused of corruption in both the local and national Russian press. He was expelled from the Bryansk regional branch of Our Home Is Russia in September. -- Laura Belin GRACHEV CANCELS GERMAN VISIT. Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev canceled his November visit to Germany, where he was to take part in a seminar on European security with German Defense Minister Volker Ruehe, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 October, quoting German newspaper Die Welt. While Grachev explained that he was too busy, the paper said that German government officials thought the step was prompted by the general deterioration in Russo- German relations. -- Doug Clarke GRACHEV OFFERS NEW FORMULA FOR MANNING MILITARY. Calculating the number of members in the Russian armed forces according to the "European standard" of 1% of the country's population is inapplicable to Russia because of its "geostrategic situation and the specifics of its territory," Defense Minister Pavel Grachev said. ITAR-TASS reported that he told a group of veterans on 5 October that the calculation should be based on the density of troops per kilometer of external borders. Russia has 28 soldiers for each border kilometer, while for the United States the figure was 62, Germany 77, France 79, and China 86, he claimed. (Grachev's calculations do not take Russia's Border Troops into account, a military force none of those countries possesses.) -- Doug Clarke REAL INCOME DOWN 12% SO FAR IN 1995. Real income fell by 12% during the first nine months of 1995 in comparison with the same period last year, according to Economics Ministry data cited by ITAR-TASS on 5 October. It is estimated that real income for the year will be down 10%. (In 1993 and 1994, living standards improved somewhat despite galloping inflation, with real incomes rising by 10% and 16%, respectively.) The report also said that in August a 15% increase was registered in Russians' expenditure on foreign currency, while holdings in savings accounts and shares declined. This follows a marked fall in spending on foreign currency in the spring owing to the appreciation of the dollar against the ruble. -- Penny Morvant ELECTORAL COMMISSION DENIES IT HAS LIST OF CRIMINALS RUNNING FOR PARLIAMENT. Central Electoral Commission Chairman Nikolai Ryabov said on 4 October that he had not received lists from the Interior Ministry of candidates running for the Duma elections suspected of committing a crime. Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov said his ministry had submitted a list of 85 names to the commission on 3 October. Ryabov added that if he were to receive such information, his commission would ask representatives of the blocs whose lists were affected to carry out thorough investigations, ITAR-TASS reported. The commission would reserve the right to publish the names if its call was not heeded. -- Penny Morvant SEPTEMBER INFLATION AT 4.5%. Preliminary reports put Russia's inflation rate for September at 4.5%, down 0.1% from August, Economics Minister Yevgenii Yasin said on 5 October according to Interfax. January's inflation rate stood at 17.8%. Speaking in parliamentary hearings devoted to next year's federal budget, Yasin said that conditions must be created in 1996 for industrial recovery and large-scale investment in the economy. The government aims to achieve monthly inflation of 1-2% in 1996. -- Thomas Sigel YASIN SAYS BREAD PRICES WILL NOT RISE. In spite of the poor grain harvest this year (65-66 million tons, down from last year's 81.3 million tons), the government will try to prevent a rise in bread prices, Russian Economics Minister Yevgenii Yasin announced on 5 October, ITAR-TASS reported. On 3 October, Agriculture Minister Aleksandr Nazarchuk said that bread prices could increase to 5,000 rubles ($0.90) a loaf by the end of the year. A big jump in bread prices on the eve of the December elections could undermine the Yeltsin government's claim to credit for curbing inflation and could boost public support for the Communists and other foes of Yeltsin's economic reforms. -- Thomas Sigel GOVERNMENT PREPARED TO RESTORE CITIZENS' SAVINGS. The Russian government is prepared to restore citizens' savings that have eroded since the beginning of economic reform, Economics Minister Yevgenii Yasin said on 5 October in the parliamentary hearings concerning the 1996 budget, ITAR-TASS reported. He said that the government would first concentrate on compensating the elderly. -- Thomas Sigel TRANSCAUCASIA & CENTRAL ASIA FORCED ABORTION IN UZBEKISTAN. Uzbek officials have been accused of forcing two women, currently in jail pending trial, to abort their pregnancies, according to a 5 October Reuters report. Nadira Khidoyatova and Asya Turaniyazova, environmental specialists studying the Aral Sea crisis, were arrested on 11 July on suspicion of attempting to export cattle skins. As local legislation does not permit the detention of pregnant women, authorities in Tashkent ordered the abortions. Khidoyatova is the niece of former Justice Minister and Uzbek ambassador to the United States Babur Malikov, a bitter opponent of President Islam Karimov who was awarded political asylum in the U.S . in 1993. -- Roger Kangas UZBEK GOVERNMENT TO OPEN NATIONAL BANK. President Islam Karimov signed a decree authorizing the replacement of the current central banking institution with the National Bank of Uzbekistan, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 October. The new institution will offer a wide range of services, including foreign currency deposits, and could attract a more active foreign market. -- Roger Kangas KAZAKHSTANI CABINET RESHUFFLE BEGINS . Kazakhstani president Nursultan Nazarbaev has appointed several new ministers, Kazakhstani radio and ITAR-TASS reported. A presidential decree issued on 3 October named Konstantin Kolpakov as justice minister, replacing Nagashbai Shaikenov. Shaikenov will retain his other post of deputy prime minister. Nikolai Baev replaced Svyatoslav Medvedev as minister of ecology and biological resources. Nazarbaev promoted Baltash Tursumbaev--an agriculture expert who was removed from his post as head of Kustanai oblast last week--as the new secretary of the Security Council. Tursumbaev replaces Tulegen Zhukeev, who is one of the leaders of the recently created pro- presidential Democratic Party of Kazakhstan. -- Bhavna Dave COSSACK LEADER COMPLAINS RUSSIANS PERSECUTED IN KAZAKHSTAN. Members of the Russian Duma's Council of Compatriots complained about Kazakhstani persecution of Russian communities, especially Cossacks, at a Moscow news conference on 3 October, ITAR-TASS reported. Yuri Bunakov, head of the Russian community in Kazakhstan, told a press conference that he had received a directive from Kazakhstani authorities warning of his organization's dissolution. Bunakov also complained that the recent constitutional referendum in Kazakhstan, which strengthened the president's power base and "drastically curtailed" the rights of ethnic Russians, was rigged. -- Bhavna Dave GEORGIA REJECTS SMALL RUBLE NOTES. As of 9 October, the National Bank of Georgia will stop exchanging banknotes of less than 5,000 Russian rubles for the lari, Georgia's recently introduced national currency, Interfax reported on 5 October. According to an official of the Georgian Cabinet of Ministers, the decision is prompted by the anticipated flow of Russian small bills onto the Georgian monetary market from neighboring Armenia and Azerbaijan. -- Irakli Tsereteli [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. To subscribe, send "SUBSCRIBE OMRI-L YourFirstName YourLastName" (without the quotation marks and inserting your name where shown) to LISTSERV@UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU No subject line or other text should be included. To receive the OMRI Daily Digest by mail or fax, please direct inquiries to OMRI Publications, Na Strzi 63, 140 62 Prague 4, Czech Republic; or electronically to OMRIPUB@OMRI.CZ Tel.: (42-2) 6114 2114; fax: (42-2) 426 396 Please note that there is a new procedure for obtaining permission to reprint or redistribute the OMRI Daily Digest. Before reprinting or redistributing this publication, please write email@example.com for a copy of the new policy or look at this URL: http://www.omri.cz/Publications/Digests/DigestReprint.html OMRI also publishes the biweekly journal Transition, which contains expanded analysis of many of the topics in the Daily Digest. 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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