|Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand. - Thomas Carlyle|
No. 196, Part I, 9 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 RUSSIAN TROOPS COMMANDER IN CHECHNYA INJURED IN ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT. The commander of the Russian troop contingent in Chechnya, Lt. Gen. Anatolii Romanov, was gravely injured and three other men killed in a 6 October explosion in a tunnel in Grozny through which Romanov's car was driving, Russian agencies reported. Oleg Lobov, the Russian presidential representative in Chechnya who escaped uninjured in a similar explosion on 19 September, accused unspecified forces who oppose the ongoing peace process of perpetrating the attack; both Lobov and Russian Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov accused Dudaev's forces of failing to comply with last week's agreement on surrendering weapons. A spokesman for Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev denied responsibility for the attack which he blamed on forces loyal to Grozny Mayor Beslan Gantemirov, according to Interfax. The chairman of the pro-Moscow Chechen government, Salambek Khadzhiev, expressed reservations over the proposed introduction of a state of emergency throughout Chechnya. -- Liz Fuller DUMA APPEALS TO CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OVER ELECTIONS. The State Duma has launched an appeal in the Constitutional Court against President Boris Yeltsin's 17 September decree on local government, ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin's decree postponed most local elections until after the presidential election, but the Duma argued that Russia's republics and regions have the right to set the elections for their legislatures and municipal governments independently. The Communist faction, which initiated the appeal, pointed out that Yeltsin's order postponing municipal elections until December 1996 directly contradicts a law he signed on 28 August calling for municipal elections to be held no later than February 1996. The Duma statement argues that combining the local elections with the December Duma elections does not contradict the constitution or existing federal legislation. Yeltsin wants to postpone the local elections because the Communist Party has been doing well in those held so far this year, most recently in Volgograd. -- Robert Orttung BRYANSK DUMA AGREES TO POSTPONE LOCAL ELECTIONS. The Bryansk Duma has voted to hold municipal elections in 1996 even though the local Communist faction wanted them to take place in December on the same day as the Duma elections. In an unusual show of unity between the local executive and legislative branches, the majority of the deputies acceded to the wish of recently-appointed Governor Vladimir Barabanov not to directly contradict Yeltsin's 17 September decree. On 6 October, Russian TV characterized the vote as the beginning of regional political stabilization. -- Robert Orttung DUMA APPEALS FOR CHANGE IN FEDERATION COUNCIL PROCEDURES. The Duma has appealed to the Constitutional Court to change the procedure by which the Federation Council approves or rejects Duma legislation. According to Segodnya on 6 October, the Duma wants the Federation Council to be able to reject a Duma bill only if more than half of its members vote against it. At the moment, any bill that does not gain the support of a majority of the upper house is considered rejected. Since many Council members do not attend its sessions, it is difficult to get legislation approved. Changing this procedure would greatly reduce the Council's voice in the legislative process. The Duma can override a Council veto with a two-thirds majority. -- Robert Orttung YELTSIN DISMISSES ILYUSHENKO. President Boris Yeltsin issued a decree on 8 October relieving acting Procurator General Aleksei Ilyushenko of his duties at his own request, Russian and Western agencies reported. The move came as no surprise, since the president had publicly criticized Ilyushenko in September following allegations in the press that his wife was involved with underworld business and that he had used his position to enrich himself and his friends. Ilyushenko was also attacked for cracking down too hard on the Kremlin's critics, in particular for his campaign against NTV. Ilyushenko was made acting procurator general in February 1994, but parliament twice refused to confirm his appointment. Oleg Gaidanov, a deputy procurator general, has been named the new head of the Procurator's Office, but Yeltsin's press spokesman, Sergei Medvedev, said it is only a temporary appointment. -- Penny Morvant MAVRODI EXPELLED FROM PARLIAMENT. The State Duma on 6 October expelled Sergei Mavrodi, president of the notorious MMM pyramid fund, for violating the law by continuing to run a business, Russian and Western agencies reported. The first ever expulsion from the parliament was passed by 303 deputies with no one opposed, paving the way for Mavrodi to be prosecuted for deceiving shareholders. Earlier this year, he escaped prosecution when the Duma rejected the procurator general's request to lift his immunity. Mavrodi won the seat in a November 1994 by-election, two months after the collapse of MMM share prices. Last week, Mavrodi told reporters that he would seek re-election in December to avoid prosecution despite the Central Electoral Commission's recent refusal to register his party, Reuters reported on 6 October. -- Anna Paretskaya YELTSIN APPROVES LIQUIDATION OF OSTANKINO . . . President Boris Yeltsin has instructed the government to liquidate the Ostankino television and radio company, Russian media reported on 6 October. Ostankino, the successor to the official central Soviet broadcaster, was restructured under a November 1994 presidential decree, when its assets were transferred to Russian Public TV (ORT). ORT took over Channel 1 broadcasting privileges on 1 April, but Ostankino has continued to function as a production company. The radio stations Golos Rossii, Radio 1, Orfei, and Yunost, which currently exist under the Ostankino umbrella, will become separate state companies once Ostankino is disbanded. Yeltsin's wide-ranging decree also approved plans for the partial privatization of Radio Mayak, Yunost, Radio 1, and St. Petersburg TV-5, with the state retaining at least 51% of the shares. (ORT was partly privatized under a similar arrangement.) A government spokesman said that only as joint-stock enterprises would the companies achieve real financial independence, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Laura Belin . . . AND BANS UNAUTHORIZED INTERRUPTIONS OF BROADCASTING. In the same decree, Yeltsin demanded that unauthorized interruptions of major television and radio companies be halted, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 October. The decree specified six companies that broadcast to at least half of the 89 Russian Federation subjects: Russian Public TV (ORT), Russian TV, St. Petersburg TV-5, Radio Mayak, Radio 1, and Yunost. Angered by wage arrears resulting from debts owed to transmitting stations, communications workers have switched off radio transmitter centers in 40 different regions this year, Radio Rossii reported on 5 October. Television broadcasts have been affected as well, most recently on 2 October in Primorsk Krai. Yeltsin's decree did not specify penalties to be imposed for interrupting broadcasts, but on 5 October, an inspector with a power agency in Khabarovsk Krai was sentenced to two months of corrective labor for switching off a transmitter, according to ITAR-TASS. -- Laura Belin KOZYREV HAILS DELAY IN NATO EXPANSION. Speaking to journalists on 6 October, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev hailed as a positive decision media reports that a 5 October meeting of NATO defense ministers had decided to delay any expansion of NATO until 1997, Russian and Western agencies reported. In Moscow, however, a Foreign Ministry spokesman told Interfax that Russia could not be fully satisfied by a decision merely to delay expansion and called on NATO to cancel altogether plans to consider adding new members. (See related story in Central and East European section) -- Scott Parrish GRACHEV AND PERRY MAKE PROGRESS ON BOSNIA FORCE. Slow progress has been made towards the formation of a joint NATO-Russian peace implementation force for Bosnia in recent days. Following an 8 October meeting in Geneva with U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry, Defense Minister Pavel Grachev said the two sides had reached an agreement in principle on Russian participation in a Bosnian peace implementation force, although many differences over the mission and command structure of the proposed joint force remain unresolved. He added that the force would not be commanded exclusively by NATO thereby fulfilling a key Russian condition for participation. Grachev said a delegation of Russian officers will go to NATO headquarters in Brussels this coming week to discuss details of the joint operation. -- Scott Parrish RUSSIA TO TAKE PART IN JOINT EXERCISE AFTER ALL. Russia will participate in the joint military peacekeeping exercise that begins later this month in the U.S., ITAR-TASS reported on 8 October. Defense Minister Pavel Grachev agreed on Russian participation at his meeting that day in Geneva with U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry. Last month, Russia had suspended preparations for the exercise in reaction to NATO air strikes on Bosnian Serb positions. -- Doug Clarke SLIDE IN RUBLE REQUIRED TO PREVENT DECLINING EXPORTS. Russia's ruble should fall about 2.5-3% against the U.S. dollar to maintain the competitiveness of key exports, the Central Bank of Russia announced on 6 October, according to Russian and Western agencies. The bank noted that the ruble's rise against the dollar last spring and its stabilization in the summer has hurt the competitiveness of many of Russia's main exports. Rising domestic costs combined with stagnant world-market prices for oil and metals have worsened the problem. The bank calculated that the ruble should be trading at 4,900 rubles to $1 by December to retain competitiveness. But since the government and the bank announced a target corridor zone of 4,300-4,900 rubles to $1 in July, the ruble has remained relatively stable. On 6 October, the ruble closed at 4,493 rubles to $1 on MICEX trading. -- Thomas Sigel AGREEMENT REACHED WITH PARIS CLUB. Russia reached an agreement with its Paris Club creditors to hold a further round of talks on Russian debt in October, First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais told Russian and Western media on 7 October after a meeting with Christina Noyer, the French chairman of the Paris-based negotiating group. Russia, which has secured several one-year debt rescheduling deals from the Paris Club, wants a long-term agreement of up to 25 years to give it extra time to pay. Russian figures show that Moscow owes other countries almost $70 billion in former Soviet debts. It owes foreign banks and companies a further $40 billion. Russia's own debts, bilateral credits, and loans from international organizations amount to just over $11 billion. -- Thomas Sigel TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA RUSSIAN-AZERBAIJANI AGREEMENTS SIGNED. A two-day visit to Baku by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksei Bolshakov culminated in the signing on 7 October of seven bilateral agreements on cooperation in the fields of science and technology, medicine, energy, plus a joint declaration affirming both sides' commitment to further negotiations on the joint use of the Caspian Sea, Radio Rossii reported on the same day. ITAR-TASS also reported that a Russian delegation will remain in Baku to discuss military cooperation, including the renewed Russian use of the over-the-horizon radar station at Gebele and the creation of a unified air defense system. -- Liz Fuller CUTS TO RUSSIAN TELECASTS CRITICIZED. The Karaganda regional assembly criticized as "shortsighted and provocative" a decision by Ashirbek Kopishev, the president of Kazakhstan's State Television and Radio, to cut Russian TV telecasts to Kazakhstan from 14 hours to five hours, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 October. The manager of Kaztelekom, the Kazakhstani telecommunications joint-stock company, told RIA on 3 October that the move was a reaction to the high cost of Russian TV programs and added that if Russia is prepared to bear some of the cost of broadcasting to Kazakhstan, the number of telecasts could go up again from the beginning of 1996. -- Bhavna Dave STATE OF EMERGENCY LIFTED IN OSH REGION. Kyrgyzstan's Assembly of People's Representatives has voted to lift the state of emergency in the Osh region of southern Kyrgyzstan, Kyrgyz tuusu reported on 30 September. A state of emergency has existed in the Osh region for nearly five years following riots between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in 1990 during which more than 200 people were killed and it took authorities more than a month to restore order. On 28 September, the Kabar news agency reported that the state of emergency must be lifted before presidential elections can be held in December. -- Bruce Pannier UZBEKISTAN SIGNS AGREEMENT WITH EGYPT. In Cairo, Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Komilov and his Egyptian counterpart, Amr Mussa, signed a protocol outlining the training of diplomats in each others countries. It is the latest in a series of agreements between the two states that have marked improving political and economic relations. -- Roger Kangas [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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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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