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No. 199, Part I, 12 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 MEETS WITH LEADERS OF OUR HOME IS RUSSIA. President Boris Yeltsin met with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and other leaders of Our Home is Russia 11 October, laying to rest rumors of a rift between them. Campaign manager Sergei Belyaev said that Yeltsin would not express a preference for any particular party but that he assigned the bloc leaders the task of getting a democratic majority for the Duma, ITAR-TASS reported. Earlier, Yeltsin had predicted that Our Home is Russia would win 8-12% of the vote. During the meeting, Yeltsin named the Communist and Agrarian parties as "the most serious opponents in the elections." During the course of the meeting, Yeltsin also ordered the government to compensate people whose savings accounts had lost their value because of inflation and to ensure the timely payment of pensions. -- Robert Orttung DUMA OFFERS SOME COMPROMISES TO PRESIDENT ON FEDERATION COUNCIL. On 11 October, the Duma, with 242 votes, passed a bill on forming the parliament's upper house based on the suggestions of the president but adding several amendments that he did not recommend. Only 91 deputies supported the president's idea of appointing regional executive and legislative branch leaders directly to the Federation Council. In its amended form, the bill requires all regional leaders to be popularly elected before they can become members of the upper chamber. Those republics and regions that do not currently have elected executives will have eight months from the time the law goes into effect to hold elections. Yeltsin appointed many of the current executives to their positions and 17 September issued a decree postponing most gubernatorial elections until December 1996. The Duma version of the bill would considerably reduce Yeltsin's influence over the country's regional executives before the elections. -- Robert Orttung COST OF POLITICAL ADS ON RUSSIAN PUBLIC TV ANNOUNCED. Placing a one- minute campaign advertisement on Russian Public TV (ORT) will cost political parties $30,000 during prime time (7 p.m. to 10 p.m.) on Fridays, $20,500 during prime time on other days, and $1,500 between midnight and 5 a.m., ORT director general Sergei Blagovolin told ITAR- TASS on 11 October. He said those rates were lower than what the network charges for typical commercials. ORT will provide each political party with 30 minutes of free time between 15 November and 15 December; it will broadcast paid political advertisements between 1 November and 15 December. -- Laura Belin ST. PETERSBURG'S CHANNEL FIVE JOINS THE "BIG THREE." St. Petersburg's Channel Five has joined Russian Public TV (ORT) and Russian TV to form the "big three" of Russian national television channels. President Boris Yeltsin issued a decree enabling St. Petersburg's main channel to broadcast to 70 million viewers from northwest Russia to the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk without interference, Smena reported on 11 October. The decree forbids local authorities from blocking Channel Five in favor of their own broadcasts. Yeltsin also proposed making the channel a joint stock company with 51% of the shares held by the federal government and the remaining shares held by private investors. -- Brian Whitmore in St. Petersburg CONFERENCE PRAISES SECURITY SERVICES. A White Book on the Russian Special Services, published by the Spiritual Heritage movement, was presented at the 11 October conference "Strong special services--Strong Russia," Nezavisimaya gazeta reported. The monograph examines the history of the security services since the 18th century and the legal framework of their current activity. Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov attended the conference and called for more state support for the security organs. -- Anna Paretskaya CHECHEN MILITANTS THREATEN RENEWAL OF HOSTILITIES. The Chechen State Committee for Defense, chaired by President Dzhokhar Dudaev, announced on 11 October that in reaction to uninterrupted Russian artillery attacks on Chechen villages, it would suspend its participation in the ongoing talks on implementing the 30 July agreement on disarmament and the withdrawal of Russian forces, Ekho Moskvy reported. The committee also demanded that a UN peacekeeping force be dispatched to Chechnya. On 11 October, Chechen chief negotiator Khodzh-Ahmed Yarikhanov told Interfax that the question of exporting Azerbaijan's oil northwards to Novorossiisk via Chechnya should be coordinated with "the legitimate Chechen authorities." On 10 October, Interfax quoted unidentified Russian military sources as claiming that Azerbaijan had provided training for Dudaev's military air crews. -- Liz Fuller YELTSIN MEETS WITH NORTH OSSETIYAN, INGUSH PRESIDENTS. Russian President Boris Yeltsin met on 11 October in Moscow with the presidents of Ingushetiya and North Ossetiya, Ruslan Aushev and Akhsarbek Galazov, and with the Russian administration's temporary representative for the region, Sergei Lozovoi, to discuss the repatriation of Ingush refugees to North Ossetiya, Interfax and Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. Government-level talks in August between the two republics on the refugees, who fled their homes following fighting in November 1992, broke up without reaching agreement. -- Liz Fuller WILL KOZYREV RESIGN SOON? Viktor Ilyushin, a presidential adviser, told ITAR-TASS on 11 October that a recent Kremlin meeting had expressed "great unease" with the Foreign Ministry but denied rumors that Andrei Kozyrev would be sacked. On 6 October, however, Kozyrev registered as a candidate for the Duma in a single-member district in Murmansk, where he currently holds a seat. According to the constitution, deputies of the current Duma can serve in the government, but members of the next Duma will be forbidden from doing so. Should he be elected, Kozyrev will be forced to choose between his Duma seat and his ministerial post, providing a possible graceful exit for the politically unpopular minister. -- Scott Parrish ZOTOV ACCUSES BOSNIAN GOVERNMENT OF "BLACKMAIL." After the second postponement of a comprehensive ceasefire agreement in Bosnia, Aleksandr Zotov, presidential envoy to the former Yugoslavia, accused the Bosnian government of "blackmailing the international community" by "advancing more and more conditions for concluding" the ceasefire, Russian and Western agencies reported on 11 October. Zotov rejected the notion that delays in reopening a Russian gas pipeline to Sarajevo had caused the postponement. -- Scott Parrish ILLEGAL MIGRATION THREATENS RUSSIAN SECURITY. Illegal migration from China, Vietnam, Africa, and the Middle East is undermining Russian national security, the Security Council concluded at a recent meeting according to ITAR-TASS on 11 October. Justice Minister Valentin Kovalev said Russia's porous borders with fellow CIS states and the country's lack of immigration experience has made it an attractive destination for migrants from all over the world. Security Council migration experts argue that illegal migrants use Russia for the purposes of transit migration to the West as well as for commercial, criminal, and even intelligence activities. -- Constantine Dmitriev NO NEW BUDGET PLANS DESPITE INFLATION DOUBT. The Russian government has no plans to issue a new 1996 draft budget despite criticism from within the State Duma that inflation estimates are unrealistic, Finance Minister Vladimir Panskov told ITAR-TASS on 11 October. The draft budget calls for a monthly inflation rate of 1.2%. Inflation has dropped from 17.8% in January to 4.5% in September, the lowest increase since economic reforms began in 1992. Mikhail Zadornov, head of the Duma Budget Committee, said that a 3% target for monthly inflation is more realistic; other deputies claim 5% is more on target. The 1996 draft budget puts spending at 414 trillion rubles ($92 billion) and revenues at 333 trillion ($74 billion). -- Thomas Sigel CHUBAIS UPBEAT ABOUT ECONOMY AT WASHINGTON MEETING. Russia will enjoy economic growth next year for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais said at the annual meeting of the World Bank and the IMF in Washington on 11 October, Russian and Western agencies reported. Chubais said the decline in industrial output slowed to 4% in the first nine months of this year, compared with 16% last year. Growth has already resumed in some industries, such as oil and gas, he said. Chubais added that the budget deficit is down to 3% of GDP, compared to 10% last year, and foreign exchange reserves have more than doubled since the start of 1995. He noted that the government has repealed all forms of previously granted tax exemptions and said that the privatization program will be intensified in the near future. -- Thomas Sigel ST. PETERSBURG OFFERS BAVARIA BREWERY SHARES. The St. Petersburg Property Fund is planning an investment tender in early November to sell 20% of the shares in one of Russia's oldest breweries, the Bavarian Joint Stock Company, formerly Krasnaya Bavaria, Interfax reported on 11 October. The winner will be offered 20% of the shares in return for a pledge to invest $7.44 million over the next two years. -- Thomas Sigel TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA EXXON TO START ITS FIRST PROJECT IN KAZAKHSTAN. The U.S. oil company Exxon will launch its first project in Kazakhstan next year with an exploration on the Myortvy Kultuk block south of the Tengiz oil and gas field on the northeastern coast of the Caspian Sea, according to Interfax on 11 October. Exxon founded a joint venture with the Oryx Kazakhstan Energy Company and plans to invest about $10 million in the first phase of the project. -- Bhavna Dave OSCE OFFICE OPENS IN TASHKENT. The OSCE formally opened its Uzbekistan regional office in Tashkent this week, reported ITAR-TASS on 11 October. Ambassador Alios Resnik, who has been working as head of the office since August, stressed the need to focus attention on issues of regional stability and greater cooperation, themes which dominated an OSCE- sponsored conference in Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyzstan this past June. The Tashkent office's first task is already underway, as a conference on environmental protection began this week. -- Roger Kangas CANDIDATES ANNOUNCED IN KYRGYZ PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. The former speaker of the parliament, Medetken Sherimkulov, has been forwarded as a candidate for the presidency by the Human Rights Movement of Kyrgyzstan, according to a Kyrgyz Radio broadcast monitored by the BBC. Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev was nominated by representatives of public movements, creative unions and the clergy. Other candidates expected to announce are Omurbek Tekebaev from the nationalist Ata Meken Party, Yuruslan Toychubekov, head of the Adilet (Justice) Civic Movement, Absamat Masaliev, head of the Communist Party and former First Secretary of Kirghiziya (1985-90). The elections are scheduled for 24 December. -- Bruce Pannier WORRIES OVER TAJIK BORDER. Since the postponement of the fifth round of inter-Tajik talks in mid-September the Afghan-Tajik has grown increasingly tense. On 11 October, Pavel Tarasenko, the commander of the Border Guards in Tajikistan, said in the last few days the situation on the border has deteriorated, ITAR-TASS reported. He warned that an estimated that 1,500 opposition militants have massed the border. The Tajik government revised casualty figures from an attack on Russian troops near Khorog, saying that seven people are dead and five wounded, which represents the greatest losses reported by the border guards in a single attack since the fighting earlier this year in April. The Tajik government has protested to the Afghan government over events. -- Bruce Pannier TAJIK AGRICULTURAL REFORMS NOT YIELDING RESULTS. Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov expressed his dissatisfaction with agricultural reforms at a government meeting on 7 October, according to a Khovar news agency report cited by the BBC. The Tajik government has abolished export licenses, freed prices for agricultural products, and now allows farmers to sell 30% of their cotton crop themselves. The Khovar report said none of those measures are helping. Rakhmonov promised to sign a decree to grant 50,000 hectares of land to farmers for individual use. -- Bruce Pannier CHESME TRIAL IN AZERBAIJAN. Western diplomats and the Paris-based Reporters Without Frontiers have expressed their concern over a trial of four journalists connected to the satirical publication Chesme (Spring) in Azerbaijan, AFP reported on 12 October. The defendants, all of which have connections to the two main opposition parties in Azerbaijan (Azerbaijani Popular Front and Musavat), are accused of "insulting the honor and dignity" of the president, a violation of Azerbaijan's criminal code, and have been awaiting trial since their arrest last March. The trial is similar to others carried out in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Although the defendants may be pardoned in the end, the trial serves to intimidate both journalists and opposition. -- Lowell Bezanis [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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