|[America,] it is the only place where miracles not only happen, but where they happen all the time. - Thomas Wolfe|
No. 198, Part I, 11 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 CHERNOMYRDIN AGAINST GUBERNIYAS. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin denounced the idea of taking away the special status of Russia's 21 ethnic republics while speaking in Ufa, the capital of Bashkortostan. The republic was marking the fifth anniversary of its sovereignty within the Russian Federation, ITAR-TASS reported. Chernomyrdin said Yeltsin is personally working on a new nationalities policy. Several oblast leaders and parties such as the Congress of Russian Communities have recently called for reforming the federal structure to treat all regions equally. -- Robert Orttung ST. PETERSBURG DPR BREAKS WITH GLAZEV. The St. Petersburg branch of the Democratic Party of Russia (DPR) does not want to follow its leader Sergei Glazev into the Congress of Russian Communities (KRO) because it wants to preserve its name. The majority of the local party members will instead work with DPR Duma leader Stanislav Govorukhin who has set up his own bloc, ITAR-TASS reported. Glazev told party members in St. Petersburg that working with the KRO would greatly improve their chances of getting into the Duma, while Govorukhin's bloc has considerably fewer prospects. The KRO has been relying on the five-year-old DPR's regional branches to reinforce its own weak regional network. -- Robert Orttung SIGNATURE COLLECTION CREATES REGIONAL ALLIANCES. The need to collect 200,000 signatures for the December Duma campaign has forced parties to work together in the regions. The 89 bloc, a successor to the Russia's Choice movement, is helping Boris Fedorov's Forward, Russia!, hoping that Fedorov's party will split Vladimir Zhirinovsky's vote, Kommersant- Daily reported 10 October. The Communists are assisting Nikolai Ryzhkov's Power to the People because they see him as a potential presidential candidate for the united left-opposition parties. Yabloko may be in trouble because it has managed to collect only 80,000 of the signatures necessary, reflecting its weak presence in the regions and its refusal to work with other parties. The signatures are due by midnight, 22 October. -- Robert Orttung YELTSIN SIGNS REFERENDUM LAW. President Boris Yeltsin signed a law defining the terms under which referendums can be held, Russian and Western agencies reported on 10 October. Under the law, a referendum may be called to adopt a new constitution. It cannot be called to extend the term of the president or parliament, to change the structure of the Russian Federation, or to change budgetary or tax legislation. (see OMRI Daily Digest, 4 October 1995). -- Laura Belin YET ANOTHER DECEIVED INVESTORS' MOVEMENT HOLDS CONGRESS. Investors deceived by 53 commercial enterprises across Russia attended a Moscow meeting of the United Congress of Investors and Shareholders, which pledged to fight for the interests of defrauded citizens, ITAR-TASS reported on 10 October. The movement is planning a nationwide referendum on returning funds invested in state and commercial enterprises and on the public's confidence in the current government. At least six different movements claiming to represent the interests of deceived investors exist in Russia, but they do not coordinate their activities. The United Congress of Investors and Shareholders planned their strategy just four days after a new All-Russian Movement of Investors was founded with its own program to compensate investors for losses (see OMRI Daily Digest, 10 October 1995). -- Laura Belin PATRIARCH URGES RUSSIAN YOUTH TO JOIN THE SERVICE. Aleksii II, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, called upon draftees to "serve the Motherland" and "protect and defend it from external and internal enemies as true Orthodox warriors," ITAR-TASS reported on 10 October. The patriarch's appeal reflects the Russian military's difficulties with the ongoing fall draft (see OMRI Daily Digest, 29 September 1995). According to Izvestiya on 11 October, the Duma wants to override the veto imposed last week by the Federation Council on a Duma bill that would retain the original 18-month service term for 1994 draftees. Legislation passed this spring extended the service term to two years. The Federation Council argues that the proposed amendments would leave the army with only 60% of the enlisted personnel it requires. -- Constantine Dmitriev ARGUMENTS FOR AND AGAINST CHECHEN STATE OF EMERGENCY. Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev called for a state of emergency to be imposed in Chechnya and for tougher actions by federal troops against Chechen militants, who he said should be required to surrender their remaining arms immediately, according to a 10 October interview with Interfax. The Russian Federal Security Service warned on 10 October that it had information that Chechen militants were preparing new violent provocations. Doku Zavgaev, chairman of the Chechen-Ingush Supreme Soviet which convened in Grozny on 7 October for the first time since its dissolution in September 1991, said he does not think a state of emergency would lead to the resumption of war. But he also argued for elections to be held in Chechnya on 17 December to coincide with Russia's parliamentary elections; that would not be possible under a state of emergency. The chairman of the pro-Moscow Chechen provisional govern- ment, Salambek Khadzhiev, complained that since no one is in control of the federal forces in Chechnya, a state of emergency should be imposed only after professional preparatory measures have been carried out. -- Liz Fuller SHUMEIKO: NATO EXPANSION WOULD DAMAGE RUSSIAN ECONOMY. Russia opposes NATO expansion for economic as well as political reasons, Vladimir Shumeiko, chairman of the Federation Council, told ITAR-TASS on 10 October. Following a meeting with German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel, a strong proponent of NATO expansion, Shumeiko complained that if the former members of the Warsaw Pact joined NATO and adopted its standards for military equipment, Russia's financially strapped military industry would lose a significant market for its products. Shumeiko also expressed fears that if NATO expanded, Russia would lose access to other markets in Eastern and Central Europe as well. -- Scott Parrish WORLD BANK LOAN TO RESTRUCTURE COAL INDUSTRY. Russia will receive a $500 million loan from the World Bank to restructure its coal industry, Interfax reported on 10 October. The World Bank funds will be used to close unprofitable pits and provide a social safety net for redundant miners. The World Bank also approved a $329 million loan to enable 14 Russian cities to purchase trolleys, trams, and buses to ease their acute public transport problems, Izvestiya reported on 10 October. Most of the equipment will have to be imported, as Russian production capacity of those items is limited. -- Penny Morvant OFFICIALS SAY NO THEFT OF WEAPONS-GRADE NUCLEAR MATERIAL. General Andrei Terekhov of the Interior Ministry said on 10 October that the authorities know of no cases of weapons-grade nuclear materials being smuggled out of Russia. However, Terekhov said 27 cases of theft of nuclear materials were registered in 1993 and 16 in 1994. He said that the vast majority were carried out by nuclear industry workers rather than by organized criminal groups. An additional 6,000 troops and extra armored vehicles were sent to protect nuclear facilities in 1994 and 1995. A Nuclear Power Ministry spokesman described Western reports of nuclear smuggling from Russia as an attempt by some Western countries "to contrive reasons for penetrating defense enterprises and taking control of production," Interfax reported. -- Penny Morvant CORRUPTION UNCOVERED IN HEALTH MINISTRY. Moscow police have arrested the head of the Health Ministry's finance and planning department, Aleksandr Shirshov, on suspicion of embezzling more than 1.5 billion rubles ($330,000) meant to provide medical vehicles for Chechnya, Russian and Western agencies reported on 10 October. Health Minister Eduard Nechaev said the money for the ambulances was paid into a bank that does not exist. According to Radio Rossii, Nechaev's suspicions were aroused when the ministry received only 10 out of 41 vehicles it had ordered late last year. -- Penny Morvant COMMERCIAL BANKS GIVE GOVERNMENT 1 TRILLION RUBLES TO IMPORT GRAIN. Commercial banks have lent the Russian government 1 trillion rubles ($222 million) out of the 3 trillion rubles ($667 million) the government plans to use to buy grain for the federal food fund, First Deputy Minister for Agriculture Vladimir Shcherbak told Interfax on 10 October. Meanwhile, Vyacheslav Zaolinskii, chairman of the Federation Council Committee for Agrarian Policy, claimed that Russia will have to buy 25-30 million tons of grain owing to this year's poor harvest, ITAR- TASS reported. The chairman said that this year's harvest will only meet 65-70% of Russia's grain requirements. -- Thomas Sigel GOVERNMENT TO PRIVATIZE TELECOMMUNICATIONS GIANT. In one of the biggest privatization programs ever to be launched in Russia, the government said on 10 October that it intends to sell 25% of the telecommunications company Svyazinvest by 31 December, with a further 24% to be sold next year, Russian and Western agencies reported the same day. The sale of the initial stake, which will be offered to international telecommunication companies, could bring in $1.5-2 billion. The state will retain a 51% stake. Svyazinvest controls 85 local telephone companies across Russia, accounting for over 20 million of the 25.5 million phone lines currently installed in the country. -- Thomas Sigel SEPTEMBER ENERGY PRICES INCREASE. Producer energy prices increased 5.3% in September, while monthly inflation ran at 4.5%, Interfax reported on 10 October. Electricity and coal tariffs rose by 6.6% and 5% and those for crude oil, gas, and petroleum products by 2.5%. Last month's oil producer prices increased by 6% to 273,000 rubles ($61) per ton, which is still less than two-thirds of the world oil market price. Gasoline increased by the steepest margin, at 3.8%. Retail prices for gasoline ran at 1,607 rubles (36 cents) per liter, compared with the producer price of 509 rubles (11 cents). -- Thomas Sigel TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA HELICOPTER CRASH IN KAZAKHSTAN. A helicopter carrying 15 passengers, including seven foreigners, has crashed in the mountains close to Almaty, killing one of the pilots, Interfax reported on 10 October. The helicopter was rented for an excursion by foreign participants attending the international oil and gas exhibition in Almaty. Another Russian-made Mi-8T helicopter crashed on account of bad weather and lightning in the mountains in Kyrgyzstan last week, killing all 15 aboard. -- Bhavna Dave KAZAKHSTANI-CANADIAN JOINT VENTURE ON GOLD FIELD. The Princess Resources company of Canada is to sign a contract with two Kazakhstani companies to set up a joint venture for developing Vasilkovskoye, Kazakhstan's largest gold field, located in its northern region, Marat Bitimbaev, the deputy minister of geology of Kazakhstan, told Interfax on 9 October. The venture's charter capital will be equally distributed between Canadian and Kazakhstani companies. Canadian Placer Dome Inc., which was to become the joint venture's main Western partner, refused to participate directly in the project a month ago. Placer Dome sold 27.5% of its shares to Princess Resources and has received a 38% stake in it. Some 382 tons of gold is to be mined in this $275 million project. -- Bhavna Dave CHEVRON, CASPIAN PIPELINE CONSORTIUM CLASH OVER PIPELINE. The U.S. company Chevron and the Caspian Pipeline Consortium, set up by Kazakhstan, Oman, and Russia in 1992 to implement the project for transporting Kazakhstan's oil to the Russian Black Sea coast, are holding "difficult talks" on the construction of the second phase of the Caspian pipeline, according to a source from Petroleum Information Agency (PIA), Interfax reported on 9 October. Chevron is demanding a proportional share to the size of its investment in the project for building the second phase of the pipeline. The PIA source said that the Russia-Oman dominated Consortium, in which Kazakhstan acts only as observer "under Russia's pressure," had offered Chevron a block of nonvoting shares, and no guarantees of receiving an equivalent profit. The second phase of the $1.2 billion project envisages the construction of a 1,500 km pipeline from the Tenghiz oil field (developed jointly with Chevron) to Tikhoretsk in southern Russia. -- Bhavna Dave SIX KILLED, THREE TAKEN HOSTAGE IN TAJIKISTAN. Three Tajik police officers were captured on 9 October by an unidentified armed group, ITAR-TASS and Western sources reported. The officers were abducted in the Garm area, east of Dushanbe, and are believed to be held in an opposition force camp in the mountains. On 10 October, six Russian soldiers were killed and four wounded when a supply convoy was ambushed near Khorog, the capital of the Gorno-Badakhshan region in Tajikistan's southeast. Both Garm and Gorno-Badakhshan have served as bases for guerrillas who continue to fight President Imomali Rakhmonov's government since it took power in late 1992. -- 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. 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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