...ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country. - John F. Kennedy
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 202, Part I, 17 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

FILATOV WARNS OF OPPOSITION VICTORY. The victory of anti-reformist
parties in the December Duma elections could trigger a civil war because
they want to amend the constitution and redistribute property,
Presidential Chief of Staff Sergei Filatov told the heads of Russian
state-run television and radio companies, according to Interfax on 16
October. Filatov expressed concern about the falling popularity of the
democratic leaders and their inability to unite. According to a Public
Opinion Foundation poll, if the elections were held "next Sunday," the
Communist Party would receive 13.4% of the vote and the Congress of
Russian Communities 5.4%. The pro-reform Yabloko would get 6.7%. Those
were the only three parties that cleared the 5% floor in the poll, which
would entitle them to share half the Duma seats in the December
election. -- Robert Orttung

EXTREMISTS MEET NEAR MOSCOW. Aleksandr Barkashov's extremist Russian
National Unity party held a conference in the Moscow suburbs on 15
October, NTV and Russian TV reported. Delegates celebrated their defense
of the Russian White House and attack on Ostankino during the 3-4
October 1993 crisis with newly-minted medals. Speakers emphasized the
growing strength of the movement at the local level and its success in
instilling military-patriotic values in young people. The organization
will not compete in the Duma elections but will nominate Barkashov for
president next year. -- Robert Orttung

YELTSIN NOMINATES NEW PROCURATOR-GENERAL. President Boris Yeltsin asked
the Federation Council on 16 October to approve his nomination of the
relatively unknown Yurii Skuratov to the post of procurator-general,
ITAR-TASS reported. Skuratov, 43, graduated from the Sverdlovsk law
institute in 1973 and has been working as the director of an institute
attached to the Procurator-General's Office. Yeltsin urged the
Federation Council, which twice refused to approve the candidacy of
Skuratov's predecessor Aleksei Ilyushenko, to promptly confirm the
appointment. Viktor Ilyukhin, the head of the Duma Security Committee
and generally a Yeltsin opponent, praised the decision, noting that
Skuratov is experienced, honest, and "not entangled in Moscow
intrigues." -- Penny Morvant

TENSIONS, CONFUSION IN GROZNY. Russian federal officials in Grozny
intend to launch an investigation into the 15 October air raids on two
Chechen villages for which the Russian Defense Ministry has denied
responsibility, NTV reported. On 16 October, Russian presidential envoy
Oleg Lobov, Nationalities Minister Vyacheslav Mikhailov, and the deputy
head of the Russian delegation to the ongoing peace talks, Arkadii
Volskii, returned to Grozny to resume negotiations with Chechen
representatives that will be held outside Grozny because the situation
in the town is so tense, according to Interfax. In an interview with
Interfax, former Chechen parliament Speaker Yusup Soslambekov said
Moscow is unable or unwilling to resolve the Chechen conflict. He
condemned as counterproductive the renewed involvement in Chechen
politics of former Russian parliament speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov and the
reconvening of the Chechen-Ingush Supreme Soviet. A Russian atomic
energy official has refuted rebel leader Shamil Basaev's claims that he
possesses five containers of dangerous radioactive material, Radio Mayak
reported. -- Liz Fuller

CHUVASH PRESIDENT SUES OPPOSITION NEWSPAPER. Chuvash President Nikolai
Fedorov is suing the hard-line newspaper Sovetskaya Chuvashiya for 10
million rubles ($2,200) in damages for publishing what he called
"canards, lies, and utter nonsense," ITAR-TASS reported on 16 October.
The paper printed a series of highly critical readers' opinions in
September, including one that alleged: "People live in poverty and go
hungry, while Fedorov spends all the money on fireworks and holidays."
The State Soviet of Chuvashiya has called a referendum on abolishing the
institution of the presidency in the republic for 17 December, the same
day as nationwide parliamentary elections. Fedorov was elected president
in December 1993 with less than 30% of the vote. His lawsuit sends a
clear message to the newspaper to refrain from sharp criticism during
the upcoming campaign. -- Laura Belin

PRESIDENT OF KALMYKIYA RE-ELECTED. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was re-elected
president of Kalmykiya for seven years on 15 October, Russian media
reported the next day. Running unopposed, Ilyumzhinov received 85% of
the vote. Aleksandr Veshnyakov, the executive secretary of the federal
Central Electoral Commission, told ITAR-TASS that the Kalmykian
electoral law does not correspond with federal legislation and may be
reviewed by the Constitutional Court. According to Yurii Oglaev of the
opposition People's Party of Kalmykiya, Ilyumzhinov called the elections
two and a half years before his term expired in order to extend his
presidential immunity and avoid being prosecuted for his suspected
involvement in corrupt financial dealings, NTV reported. -- Anna
Paretskaya

OPPOSITION BLASTS GOVERNMENT FOREIGN POLICY. Divergent views on how
Russian foreign policy should develop were revealed at a round-table
discussion sponsored by the Moscow Carnegie Center on 16 October,
Western and Russian agencies reported. Representatives of several
political parties criticized Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev. Andranik
Migranyan, a former Yeltsin adviser now affiliated with the My
Fatherland electoral bloc, accused him of driving Russia "into a corner"
with an "unrealistically" optimistic policy toward the West. Sergei
Baburin, representing the Power to the People bloc, called for
accelerated integration of the CIS with a "special role" for Russia,
while Vyacheslav Igrunov of Yabloko argued such integration is neither
feasible nor desirable. -- Scott Parrish

CHINA AND RUSSIA COMPLETE BORDER DEMARCATION. Russia and China have
completed the demarcation of their 4,380 km border, ITAR-TASS reported
on 17 October. An agreement was signed in Beijing marking the last
disputed 54 km segment of their border, bringing to a close the work of
the border commission which was created in 1991. The agreement leaves to
"future generations" the question of control over three islands in the
Amur and Argun rivers which divide Russia and China. During President
Yeltsin's upcoming visit to Beijing, Russia and China will sign an
agreement on military confidence-building measures along the border. --
Scott Parrish

MiG-29s BEST AMERICAN F-16s IN MOCK COMBAT. German Air Force MiG-29 jet
fighters were able to beat U.S. Air Force F-16s most of the time in a
recent NATO simulated air-to-air combat exercise according to a report
in the current edition of the trade journal Aviation Week and Space
Technology. The Germans inherited the MiG-29s from the former East
German air force. The MiGs are equipped with a helmet-mounted sight
which allows the plane's pilot to lock-on to a target and fire his
Vympel (AA-11) air-to-air missile by just looking at the target rather
than by maneuvering his aircraft to point at it. The report could boost
Russian foreign sales of the MiG-29. -- Doug Clarke

COURT: PRISONERS SHOULD RECEIVE PENSIONS TOO. The Constitutional Court
on 16 October ruled unconstitutional an article of the Law on State
Pensions that provides for pension payments to be withheld from
prisoners. According to ITAR-TASS, the court said the clause violated
the rights of prisoners and their dependents and removed the possibility
of deducting money to pay damages to crime victims. A representative of
the Pension Fund interviewed on Ekho Moskvy noted, however, that the
court decision emphasized that money will be withheld from pension
payments to cover the cost of keeping the detainees. The decision is to
take effect immediately. -- Penny Morvant

CASH PRIVATIZATION TO BE ACCELERATED. The acting head of the State
Committee for the Administration of State Property, Alfred Kokh,
predicted that sales of state shares will raise the target amount of 9
trillion rubles ($2 billion) for the federal budget in 1995, ITAR-TASS
reported on 6 October. So far this year, receipts from privatization
amount to 1.5 trillion rubles. In an interview with Izvestiya on 14
October, Kokh rebutted the argument that banks are too illiquid to raise
money to buy shares and to offer 3 trillion rubles under the loan/share
swap deal. Among the shares to be sold are 9% of the equity in the REES
electricity monopoly. -- Peter Rutland

CRITICISM FOR BUDGET IN FEDERATION COUNCIL. On 16 October, Federation
Council deputies expressed concern that the draft 1996 budget diverged
from the principles outlined in President Yeltsin's previous message on
budget policy. The upper house decided to start discussing the budget at
the same time as the Duma's deliberations rather than wait until the
lower house approved a draft. Deputies complained that planned grants to
the regions were cut this year in order to keep down the budget deficit
when 15 trillion rubles ($3.3 billion) of foreign loans failed to
materialize. -- Peter Rutland

CONFLICT OVER PRIVATIZATION OF TIMBER FIRM A scandal is brewing around
the privatization of the Ust-Ilimsk Forestry Complex (UILK), Business-
TASS reported on 16 October. In July, 51% of UILK shares were sold in an
investment tender to Polimit, a subsidiary of Menatep bank. Polimit
promised to invest $73 million within a month, and another $73 million
by the end of the year. On 9 October, the State Committee for the
Administration of State Property in Moscow agreed to replace the top
managers at UILK with Menatep appointees. The national holding company
Roslesprom is appealing the decision in court, on the grounds that
Menatep has not yet transferred any funds to the company. -- Peter
Rutland

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

OPPOSITION TO BOYCOTT KAZAKHSTANI ELECTIONS? At an 11 October meeting in
Almaty chaired by Serikbolsyn Abdildin, the former speaker of the
previous Kazakhstani legislature, several opposition groups expressed
concerns about participating in what many called the "illegitimate"
December parliamentary elections, according to a 12 October Kazakhstani
TV report cited by Interfax. The leaders of Azat, the Workers' Movement,
and the Social Democratic Party stated that "the complete dependence of
the future parliament on the executive structures" will thwart its
functioning as a "full-fledged legislative body." Communist Party
members who were also present at the meeting said they will contest the
elections. -- Bhavna Dave

NEARLY 55% OF GEORGIANS SUPPORT SHEVARDNADZE. Recent opinion polls show
that nearly 55% of Georgians support the candidacy of Eduard
Shevardnadze in the 5 November presidential elections, according to a
Kontakt news agency 17 October report cited by the BBC. Former Communist
Party leader Dzhumber Patiashvili is running at 17% in the polls and the
other four candidates have no more than 3-4% each. As for the
parliamentary elections, the Georgian National Democratic Party is in
first, followed by Shevardnadze's Union of Citizens of Georgia. --
Irakli Tsereteli

AKAEV PROPOSES REFERENDUM ON STATUS OF RUSSIAN. Kyrgyz President Askar
Akaev has proposed holding a referendum on 24 December over whether to
grant state language status to Russian placing it on an equal footing
with Kyrgyz, Kabar reported on 12 October. The referendum would coincide
with the presidential elections. At his news conference, Akaev said one
of his main tasks upon re-election is "to come closer to Russia and to
reduce the emigration of the Russian-speaking population." -- Bhavna
Dave

UZBEKISTAN TO JOIN CIS CUSTOMS UNION. Uzbekistan will join the CIS
Customs Union founded by Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan in January
1995, Radio Mayak reported on 15 October. The move followed Kyrgyzstan's
entry into the union last month. Although the details are still to be
worked out, the union will ostensibly allow for free trade among the
states. Kazakhstan, for example, agreed to lift customs control along
the Russian border in September (see OMRI Daily Digest, 21 September
1995). -- Roger Kangas

NEW DEFENSE MINISTER APPOINTED IN KAZAKHSTAN. Kazakhstani President
Nursultan Nazarbaev has appointed General Alibek Kasymov to the post of
defense minister, ITAR-TASS reported on 16 October. The 41-year-old
former first deputy minister and chief of the main headquarters has been
in the Kazakhstani army since 1992 and earlier served in the Baltic and
Transcaucasian military districts. He is a graduate of M.V. Frunze
Military Academy. The previous defense minister, General Sagadat
Nurmagametov, has become an adviser to the president. The new
appointment is the latest development in Nazarbaev's ongoing cabinet
reshuffle (see OMRI Daily Digest, 6 October 1995). -- Vyacheslav Kozlov

HOUSE RULES IN KYRGYZSTAN. Another complication has arisen for Kyrgyz
presidential candidates: they must gather 50,000 signatures that must be
collected from each of Kyrgyzstan's seven regions in proportion to that
region's share of the total number of voters in the country. The
requirement places some candidates at a disadvantage, as they may be
well known in their own regions but little known in other areas. The
rule was adopted for use in referenda and when it was voted on in the
Legislative Assembly it caused "a storm of indignation," according to a
Kabar report cited by the BBC. RFE/RL's Kyrgyz service reported that
several deputies walked out in protest saying the Central Electoral
Commission had exceeded its authority. -- Bruce Pannier

[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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