If there is technological advance without social advance, there is, almost automatically, an increase in human misery. - Michael Harrington
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 201, Part I, 16 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 ASKS DUMA FOR "NON-AGGRESSION PACT." Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin proposed a "non-aggression pact" between the Duma and the
government in order to pass vital legislation before the December
parliamentary elections, Russian and Western agencies reported on 13
October. Chernomyrdin's call for "peaceful coexistence" with parliament
reflects a major theme of Our Home Is Russia's campaign rhetoric: Russia
should be governed by "professionals" who will set aside political
wrangling in the interests of stability. Izvestiya noted on 14 October
that many Duma deputies did not attend the prime minister's address,
having skipped the session to work on their campaigns instead. -- Laura
Belin

DUMA POSTPONES DECISION ON 1996 BUDGET. The Duma avoided direct
criticism of the government during the first reading of budget on 13
October, Russian TV reported. However, the lower house adjourned without
taking a vote or setting up a commission to draft a compromise budget
with the government. Prime Minister Chernomyrdin reassured the deputies
that the government would pay wage and pension arrears, compensate
investors, and increase military spending. The only point of sharp
disagreement was over Finance Minister Boris Panskov's insistence that
the projected monthly inflation for 1996 will be 1.2%. Deputies want the
budget to assume inflation of 5% a month, allowing a higher level of
spending. Commentators suggested that deputies were compliant because
they wanted to appear respectable before the December elections, others
argued that they do not really care because they expect the Duma to
rewrite the budget after the elections. -- Peter Rutland

YELTSIN MEETS WITH REPUBLICAN LEADERS. At a 16 October meeting in the
Kremlin, President Boris Yeltsin assured the leaders of Russia's 21
ethnically defined republics that he would stick to peaceful methods of
resolving the Chechen crisis during, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported.
First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais told the republican leaders
that the government would increase financial aid to the regions by 160%
to 38 trillion rubles ($8.5 billion) in 1996, NTV and Radio Rossii
reported. Instead of receiving 27% of value-added tax as they now do,
the republics will keep 15% of all federal taxes they collect, a change
the federal authorities hope will encourage them to collect the taxes
more quickly. -- Robert Orttung

LEBED FORMS NEW SOCIAL MOVEMENT. Lt. Gen. Aleksandr Lebed (ret.)
announced the formation of a new social movement called Honor and
Motherland, ITAR-TASS reported 15 October. The movement will support the
revival and strengthening of the Russian military. Lebed stressed that
the creation of the new organization does not affect his position as
deputy chairman of the Congress of Russian Communities and that it does
not have political goals. -- Robert Orttung

YELTSIN CONCERNED CRIMINALS WILL ENTER PARLIAMENT . . . At a meeting
with regional leaders on 13 October, President Yeltsin said some
regional candidates for the December parliamentary elections have
already come under pressure to drop out of the race to boost the
electoral chances of criminal candidates, ITAR-TASS reported. The
previous day, new acting Procurator-General Oleg Gaidanov said that at
least 100 people with criminal records are running for parliament and
that he feared gangsters might win seats in the new Duma. -- Penny
Morvant

. . . WHILE AIDE SEES CRIME AS MAJOR THREAT TO NATIONAL SECURITY.
Organized crime poses one of the greatest threats to Russian national
security, but the authorities lack funds to combat it, presidential aide
Yurii Baturin told reporters in Moscow on 13 October. He said cases
often fall apart in court because of the intimidation of witnesses and
corruption, adding that the situation is unlikely to improve much in the
short term due to insufficient funds, Russian and Western media
reported. According to acting Procurator-General Oleg Gaidanov, recorded
crimes increased 5.2% in the first nine months of 1995, but the number
of murders, rapes, and cases of grievous bodily harm declined, Interfax
reported on 12 October. -- Penny Morvant

POLTORANIN: DUMA LACKS POWER TO HALT OSTANKINO LIQUIDATION. In a 14
October interview with Radio Mayak, Duma Press and Information Chairman
Mikhail Poltoranin admitted that while parliament might "squeal" and
"get indignant," it ultimately lacks the power to block a recent
presidential decree ordering the liquidation of the Ostankino television
and radio company (see OMRI Daily Digest, 9 October 1995). Some Duma
deputies, including Igor Yakovenko, have alleged that the decree was
designed to eliminate evidence of financial abuses committed by former
Ostankino executives who now work for Russian Public TV (ORT). The Duma
sent the results of an audit of Ostankino's finances to the Procurator-
General's Office on 11 October. The Ostankino employees' union said it
will fight the decree in court, on the grounds that federal law requires
three months' notice of plans to liquidate a company, Nezavisimaya
gazeta reported on 12 October. -- Laura Belin

TRUST IN GOVERNMENT IN NIZHNII NOVGOROD? According to a VCIOM poll
conducted in the city of Nizhnii Novgorod, 40% of respondents believe
that the government can lead Russia out of its present crisis. Other
candidates for such a role included big industrialists (22% trust), the
nation's young people (20%), and a new president (14%). Only 10% of
respondents said they trust the army and communists for such a role and
only 4% trust the national-patriotic movement. -- Peter Rutland

ADYGEYAN PRESIDENT RESTORES PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS. Aslan Dzharimov,
president of the Adygeyan Republic, issued a decree on 13 October that
sets the republic's legislative elections for December 1995 instead of
1997, ITAR-TASS reported. Dzharimov said the Adygeyan parliament's
decision earlier this year to postpone elections until 1997 violated the
republic's constitution. -- Anna Paretskaya

RUSSIA AND CUBA SIGN ECONOMIC AGREEMENTS. Aiming to reinvigorate
Russian-Cuban ties, which have stagnated since the collapse of the
Soviet Union, the two countries signed eight economic protocols on 15
October, Russian and Western agencies reported. In addition to signing a
multi-year sugar-for-oil barter deal (see OMRI Daily Digest, 13 October
1995), the two countries agreed to move forward with the completion of
the Juragua nuclear power station, a project the U.S. Congress has
criticized. Although Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets
told journalists that Russian-Cuban relations would now be based on
economic cooperation, during his visit he discussed "military-technical"
cooperation with Cuban Defense Minister Raul Castro and also visited the
Russian electronic intelligence base at Lourdes, a facility he referred
to as "important" for Russian interests. -- Scott Parrish

ZHIRINOVSKY AND SADDAM HUSSEIN DISCUSS WORLD POLITICS. While on a visit
to Baghdad, Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky spent
an evening with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, drinking beer, eating
fish, and discussing international politics, Russian TV reported on 15
October. Zhirinovsky bragged later to journalists that he had dominated
the conversation, speaking for four hours, while Hussein only talked for
one. Zhirinovsky has frequently expressed admiration for Hussein and his
policies. -- Scott Parrish

KOREAN TOURIST BUS HIJACKED IN MOSCOW. A busload of South Korean
tourists was held hostage in Moscow by an unidentified gunman for nearly
10 hours before Russian commandos stormed the bus early on 15 October,
killing the assailant. The drama began early the previous evening as the
tourists boarded the bus near St. Basil's cathedral on Red Square. The
hijacker, armed with a pistol, demanded $10 million for the safe release
of the 25 South Koreans, their Russian guide and bus driver, Reuters and
ITAR-TASS reported. Negotiators secured the release of most of the
hostages by handing over $1 million before the Alpha anti-terrorist unit
went into action. None of the hostages was injured. The incident--the
latest in a series of hostage-takings in Russia--is likely to prompt a
review of security procedures for VIPs because of its proximity to the
Kremlin. -- Penny Morvant

DUMA VOTES TO RAISE PENSIONS. On 13 October, the Duma passed in three
readings a bill raising the minimum pension from 55,000 to 57,750 rubles
($13) a month as of 1 November, ITAR-TASS reported. Pensions would be
raised again on 1 December to 60,500 and on 1 January 1996 to 63,250
rubles. If passed, the law would require an additional expenditure of 8
trillion rubles ($1.8 billion) not included in the 1995 budget. At a
meeting with representatives of the Union of Pensioners the following
day, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said the government would take
steps to protect pensioners' living standards. -- Penny Morvant

CHERNOMYRDIN ON SOCIAL ISSUES, PAYMENTS CRISIS. In a 13 October speech
to the Duma on the state of the economy, Prime Minister Chernomyrdin
said that the population's real incomes had fallen by 12% in the first
nine months of this year and that 40 million Russians are living in
families with an average per capita income below the subsistence
minimum, ITAR-TASS reported. He attributed the fall in living standards
to the failure to meet inflation targets. With regard to the problem of
enterprise debts, he said that the cabinet will introduce a plan that
will oblige firms to hand over shares to creditors in exchange for debt
cancellation. Military and educational institutions will be exempt.
Meanwhile, Duma Social Policy Committee Chairman Sergei Kalashnikov
complained that the 1996 draft budget projects a cut in social spending
in real terms. -- Penny Morvant

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

ISLAMIC THEOLOGIAN STILL MISSING IN UZBEKISTAN. Russian Muslim
organizations are circulating an appeal to find the whereabouts of
Abduvali Mirzaev, an Uzbek cleric, ITAR-TASS reported on 13 October.
Mirzaev was apparently on his way to Moscow to attend a theological
conference on 29 August when he was detained by security officials at
the Tashkent airport. Since then, repeated efforts by relatives and
others to find him have met with no success. -- Roger Kangas

UZBEKISTAN SIGNS MILITARY AND SECURITY MEMORANDUM WITH U.S. Uzbek
Defense Minister Rustam Akhmedov and U.S. Defense Secretary William
Perry signed an agreement in Washington, DC that formalizes bilateral
ties as outlined by NATO's Partnership for Peace program, VOA reported
on 13 October. In addition, Akhmedov suggested that a battalion of Uzbek
troops be used in future UN peacekeeping missions. -- Roger Kangas

RUSSIA READY TO POLICE SINO-KAZAKHSTANI BORDER. Russia is ready to set
up a common defense unit to police the porous border between China and
Kazakhstan, AFP reported on October 13. General Vladislav Prokhoda, the
head of the Russo-Kazakhstani cooperation unit in Almaty set up under
the bilateral agreement on mutual defense outside the CIS, said that the
1,000 km Sino-Kazakhstani border is patrolled by about 15,000 Russian
and Kazakh soldiers. -- Bhavna Dave

KAZAKHSTAN'S GRAIN OUTPUT RECORD LOW. Kazakhstan's grain output of 10
million tons this year--its lowest for the last 30 years--rules out
grain export, according to Kazakhstani Agriculture Minister Zhanibek
Karibzhanov, Interfax reported on 12 October. Kazakhstan's sharply
lowered output may aggravate the grain crisis in CIS as Russia's grain
output of 65 million tons is also its lowest in 30 years. Kazakhstan
supplied over 1 million tons of grain to Russia in 1994. -- Bhavna Dave

FORMER GEORGIAN SECURITY CHIEF ACCUSES RUSSIA OF WOODRUFF MURDER.
Speaking at a news conference in Tbilisi on 13 October, former Georgian
Security Service head Irakli Batiashvili claimed that the murder of CIA
operative Fred Woodruff near Tbilisi in August 1993 had been instigated
by the Russian intelligence service, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. A
teenage Georgian serviceman arrested and charged with the killing stated
at his trial in early 1994 that he had only confessed under torture to
shooting at random at the car in which Woodruff was traveling; he was
sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment. -- Liz Fuller

CIS

BALTIN ON BLACK SEA FLEET MORATORIUM. Black Sea Fleet Commander Admiral
Eduard Baltin welcomed a 6 October moratorium on the unilateral division
of fleet forces, assets, and infrastructure passed by the Russian State
Duma, Radio Mayak reported on 14 October. He noted the role that
Konstantin Zatulin, chairman of the Duma Committee for CIS Affairs,
played in producing the moratorium. Zatulin has distinguished himself as
a hardliner in his dealings with CIS states and was vocal in criticizing
Kiev when it abolished the Crimean presidency and suspended its
constitution in March. Decisions by the Russian Duma do not have legal
force in Ukraine. -- Ustina Markus

[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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