The absence of alternatives clears the mind marvelously. - Henry Kissinger
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 200, Part I, 13 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

GRACHEV WILL NOT SEEK A DUMA SEAT. Defense Minister Pavel Grachev
announced on 12 October that he will not campaign for a seat in the
Duma, ITAR-TASS reported. Grachev earlier had said that 123 officers
will seek election to represent the military's interests in the
parliament, leading many Russian journalists to speculate that he
personally would join the campaign. -- Robert Orttung

CHERNOMYRDIN DISSATISFIED WITH GOVERNMENT'S WORK. Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin described his government's work as "unsatisfactory" at a 12
October meeting with his ministers. He complained that the government is
not living up to the plans outlined in President Boris Yeltsin's 16
February speech to the parliament calling for the creation of a legal
basis to facilitate the country's economic renewal, Russian Public TV
(ORT) reported. Chernomyrdin said that only 50% of the required laws are
in place. -- Robert Orttung

OUR HOME IS RUSSIA CLAIMS 1.7 MILLION SIGNATURES. Our Home is Russia
claimed to have gathered 1.7 million signatures in support of its
registration for the Duma campaign, Rossiiskaya gazeta reported on 13
October. The vast majority of the more than 70 parties who have
announced their intention to participate in the race are "close to
panic" because they believe that they will have difficulty collecting
the necessary 200,000 signatures by the 22 October deadline, Moskovskie
novosti reported in its 8-15 October issue. -- Robert Orttung

CHARGES DROPPED IN "KUKLY" CASE. Acting Procurator-General Oleg Gaidanov
announced that the criminal case against NTV's satirical puppet show
"Kukly" has been closed, Russian and Western agencies reported on 12
October. The case against "Kukly" had been initiated by Gaidanov's
predecessor, Aleksei Ilyushenko, who was dismissed on 8 October.
Procurators charged the show's producers with insulting high government
officials on 14 July and filed tax evasion and currency dealing charges
against them on 18 August. NTV continued to broadcast "Kukly," and
network executives denounced the charges as attempts to intimidate the
independent media. -- Laura Belin

RUSSIA LACKS NATIONALITIES POLICY Speakers addressing a Moscow
conference on nationalities in the Russian Federation agreed that the
country currently lacks a unified policy on ethnic questions, Russian
public TV (ORT) reported the same day. Prime Minister Chernomyrdin,
addressing the conference, stressed the "unifying role of the Russian
nation" (ethnos). While recognizing the nations' desire for self-
determination, he argued this must not threaten the unity of the
federation. -- Peter Rutland

PROVINCES MAKE CONTROVERSIAL SUGGESTIONS ON LOCAL ELECTIONS. Voronezh
Oblast Governor Aleksandr Kovalev, who until recently supported holding
gubernatorial elections in the region, asked President Yeltsin to
declare a moratorium on all federal and local elections for at least two
years, ITAR-TASS reported on 11 October. Kovalev argued that election
campaigns destabilize society economically and politically. Meanwhile,
Belgorod Oblast authorities asked the president to allow them to hold
gubernatorial elections this year instead of postponing them till
December 1996, as proposed by the 18 September presidential decree on
local elections. Belgorod Governor Yevgenii Savchenko said direct
gubernatorial elections would break what he called "totalitarian methods
of administration." -- Anna Paretskaya

NEW COMMANDER IN CHECHNYA. General Anatolii Shkirko, the deputy
commander of Russia's Internal Troops, has been appointed the new
commander of the joint group of federal forces in Chechnya, ITAR-TASS
reported on 12 October, quoting a source in the federal press center in
Chechnya. Shkirko replaces General Anatolii Romanov who was seriously
wounded in an assassination attempt on 6 October. Romanov remains
commander of Russia's Interior Troops and the source denied he was being
replaced in that position as well. -- Doug Clarke

PRACTICE RAID ON UNSUSPECTING TV STATION IN SAKHALIN. Armed local OMON
special forces carried out a practice raid on the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk
television center without notifying the station's managers in advance,
ITAR-TASS reported on 12 October. Valerii Belyaev, director of the
Sakhalin television and radio company, complained that the raid had
frightened staff and caused material damage to the center. -- Laura
Belin

RUSSIAN AND INDIAN OFFICIALS OPTIMISTIC ABOUT TRADE. Russian Deputy
Prime Minister Yurii Yarov and Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee
hailed the results of their talks on economic and scientific
cooperation, Russian and Western agencies reported on 12 October. The
two sides discussed India's repayment of its currently estimated $6.1
billion debt to the former Soviet Union. Differences over debt repayment
have hampered bilateral trade. Nevertheless, Russian-Indian trade
continues to recover from its slump following the collapse of the Soviet
Union, and is expected to double from the $1.4 billion level attained in
1994. -- Scott Parrish

CASH SHORTAGE STRANDS COSMONAUTS IN ORBIT. Financial difficulties will
force the three-man crew of the orbiting Mir space station to spend an
additional 39 days in space, Russian and Western agencies reported on 12
October. Anonymous Russian officials said the crew, two Russians and a
German, was to return to earth on 13 January 1995, but a shortage of
cash has delayed the construction of the Soyuz U-2 booster rocket that
was to lift their replacements into orbit. Russian Space Agency
spokesman Anatolii Tkachev said the booster will be ready only on 21
February. -- Scott Parrish

KUZBASS MINERS STRIKE. Miners rallied throughout the Kuzbass on 12
October in a one-day action to protest wage arrears and demand social
protection for redundant workers. Work came to a complete standstill at
a number of pits, but Coal Industry Workers' Union Deputy Chairman Ivan
Mokhnachuk said many work collectives dropped plans to strike because of
government action the previous day to expedite the payment of wage
arrears and provide some subsidies and tax privileges for mining
enterprises. The main reason for the buildup of unpaid wages is debts
from coal consumers, which totaled 3.3 trillion rubles ($740 million) at
the beginning of September, according to ITAR-TASS. -- Penny Morvant

CORRUPTION IN MOSCOW POLICE. Confirming numerous previous reports of
rampant corruption in the capital's police force, a Moscow official said
on 12 October that 960 officers have been sacked this year for taking
bribes or otherwise abusing their positions. Disciplinary action was
taken against another 6,000 of Moscow's more than 100,000 police
officers, ITAR-TASS reported. Police are poorly paid and lack equipment,
while crime rates have soared. According to an 11 October report, 8,000
gangs are currently operating in Russia. -- Penny Morvant

CONTROVERSIAL POET FREED PENDING TRIAL. Alina Vitukhnovskaya, a young
poet who has been in prison for nearly a year awaiting trial on charges
of selling drugs worth about $20, has been freed pending the final
verdict. The case has attracted considerable media attention, with
Vitukhnovskaya's supporters, including the Moscow PEN center, seeing the
trial as a sign that Russia's new freedoms are under threat by the
state. Vitukhnovskaya published an article on drug-taking among the
Moscow elite in Novoe vremya last February, and her lawyers argue that
the Federal Security Service planted evidence against her in the hopes
of obtaining information about the drug trade. -- Penny Morvant

MILITARY CONSCRIPTS A POOR LOT. Russian military conscripts are less
healthy, more prone to suicide, less educated, and more likely to be
criminals than was the case three years ago, the military's top tank
officer said on 11 October. General Aleksandr Galkin added that the
health of new conscripts is "catastrophic." In the spring draft, 31% of
the conscripts were rejected for diseases in their internal organs, 20%
for surgical reasons, and 19% for mental disturbances. Galkin reported
that the number of suicides rose by 23% over the last seven years and
deaths caused by alcohol addiction were up 80%. Only 7,000 conscripts
(3%) have a higher education and 31% have not finished secondary school.
He added that 11,000 conscripts are former convicts. -- Doug Clarke

COMPENSATION FOR DEFRAUDED INVESTORS? Prime Minister Chernomyrdin told
Duma deputies that the government will move ahead with the creation of a
compensation fund for defrauded investors, ITAR-TASS reported on 13
October. Meanwhile, in a meeting with President Yeltsin on 11 October,
Nizhnii Novgorod Governor Boris Nemtsov persuaded Yeltsin to instruct
the Central Bank of Russia to release the reserves frozen after the
collapse of the Nizhegorodskii Kredit Bank, Interfax reported on 12
October. That will enable the bank to compensate some of its 100,00
stricken account holders. -- Peter Rutland

DUMA BILL TO PROTECT ELECTRICITY USERS. On 11 October the Duma passed on
first reading a law which would forbid cutting off electricity to
certain categories of consumers, including defense installations,
Interfax reported the next day. The bill also proposed Duma regulation
of electricity prices from January 1996. Speaking in Bashkortostan the
same day, Prime Minister Chernomyrdin said that electricity and
transport prices would be frozen until the end of the year. -- Peter
Rutland

RUSSIAN OIL FOR CUBAN SUGAR. Over the next three years, Russia will
supply Cuba with 10.5 million tons of oil in return for 4 million tons
of sugar, Interfax reported on 11 October. The deal is a concrete
manifestation of the "strategic partnership" between the two countries
which has been declared during the current visit of First Deputy Prime
Minister Oleg Soskovets to the island. In May of this year, Russia
agreed to supply 3 million tons of oil for 1995 in return for 1 million
tons of sugar. Russians consume more than 4 million tons of sugar a year
and produced only 1.7 million tons from domestic sugar beet in 1994. --
Peter Rutland

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

OPPOSITION: TAJIK PRESIDENT OBSTACLE TO PEACE. Tajik opposition leader
Saud Abdullo Nuri criticized President Imomali Rakhmonov for his
inflexibility on the choice of a site for the next round of peace
negotiations, Interfax reported on 12 October. The Tajik government
wants the talks held in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, a country Nuri says has
nothing to do with inter-Tajik talks. Nuri claimed that the 1st brigade
violated the 1994 Tehran agreement by moving to the Vakhsh valley. He
said Rakhmonov is seeking to "strengthen his own position" and prevent
returning refugees from taking part in political life. -- Bruce Pannier

AKAEV PROMISES CHANGES IN KYRGYZSTAN. Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev vowed
to reshuffle and change the structure of the government if he is re-
elected in December, Interfax reported on 11 October. Akaev also said he
has a plan to create as many as 150,000 jobs during 1996-97 and a
program to stabilize economic growth that features six unspecified large
projects worth $600 million. He also said wants to stem the emigration
of the Russian-speaking population and resolve any conflicts between
inhabitants of northern and southern Kyrgyzstan. Russian TV reported on
12 October that more than half the southern population are extremely
dissatisfied with the fact that almost all key government positions are
filled with northerners. The report claims many are ready to fight to
keep Akaev out of office next year. -- Bruce Pannier

AKAEV PROMISES CHANGES IN KYRGYZSTAN. Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev vowed
to reshuffle and change the structure of the government if he is
reelected in December, Interfax reported on 11 October. Akaev said he
planned to revive the economy through six unspecified large projects
worth $600 million. The Kyrgyz president wants to stem the emigration of
the Russian-speaking population and resolve tension between the
inhabitants of northern and southern Kyrgyzstan. Russian TV reported on
12 October that the people of southern Kyrgyzstan are dissatisfied with
the fact that almost all key government positions are filled with
northerners. -- Bruce Pannier

POLITICAL OPPOSITION ACTIVITY IN UZBEKISTAN. The fragmented opposition
movements in Uzbekistan are attempting to find common ground, Interfax
reported on 10 October. A new Opposition Coordinating Center will open
in Tashkent under the leadership of Shukhrulla Mirsaidov, former Uzbek
vice president. Among the groups that will participate in the center are
the Democratic Party Erk, Birlik, Tumariz, and Mirsaidov's own Khaq Yul-
Adolat, which was formed this past year. Previous attempts to mount a
united front against President Islam Karimov have failed, mainly due to
personality conflicts among opposition figures and government pressure
-- Roger Kangas

UZBEK-TAJIK NEGOTIATIONS ON GAS DELIVERIES. Tajik First Deputy Prime
Minister Mahmadsaid Ubaydullayev arrived in Tashkent to discuss the
recent disagreement over Uzbek shipments of gas to Tajikistan. According
to an Interfax report on 10 October, Uzbekistan stopped all gas
deliveries on 6 October because Tajikistan owed $2 million for gas
previously shipped. Uzbekistan charges $84 per 1,000 cubic meters; Tajik
officials are hoping to work out a deal with Turkmenistan for cheaper
gas ($43-50 per 1,000 cubic meters). -- Roger Kangas

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

The OMRI Daily Digest offers the latest news from the former Soviet
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Copyright (C) 1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights
reserved. ISSN 1211-1570


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