|Be slow of tongue and quick of eye. - Cervantes|
No. 203, Part I, 18 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 MORE ALLEGATIONS OF FOUL PLAY IN SIGNATURE COLLECTION. Professional signature collectors are charging higher rates as the deadline for registering with the Central Electoral Commission approaches, and some are resorting to outright fraud, Izvestiya reported on 18 October. Political parties must turn in at least 200,000 signatures by 22 October in order to appear on the party-list ballot in December, but Izvestiya said only a few parties have a regional network strong enough to meet those requirements. At the beginning of the campaign, each signature cost about 1,000 rubles (23 cents), but now some parties are paying $1- 3. Meanwhile, a list of nearly 14,000 signatures supporting Grigorii Yavlinskii's bloc Yabloko were allegedly stolen in Petrazavodsk a day before they were to be sent to Moscow, Interfax reported on 17 October. -- Laura Belin CEC RATIFIES MORE PARTY LISTS. The Central Electoral Commission (CEC) validated the lists of signature turned in by three more parties on 17 October, ITAR-TASS reported. The Congress of Russian Communities turned in 340,000 signatures, the Liberal Democratic Party, 370,000, and Women of Russia, 264,000. The Communist Party is the only other party to pass this stage of the process. Nearly 80 parties have announced their intention to compete and must turn in signatures by the 22 October deadline. -- Robert Orttung OLSHANSKII LISTS MOST INFLUENTIAL POLITICIANS. Not including President Boris Yeltsin and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, the seven most influential men in Russia in October are: Aleksandr Korzhakov, chief of the president's security service, First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais, Director of the Federal Security Service Mikhail Barsukov, Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, Security Council Secretary Oleg Lobov, Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, and First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets, according to Dmitrii Olshanskii, director of the Center for Strategic Analysis and Prognosis. Olshanskii stressed that Korzhakov's influence continues to grow and that the generals, represented in the list by Korzhakov, Barsukov, and Grachev, have an increasingly strong voice in Russian politics, NTV reported 17 October. -- Robert Orttung YELTSIN AUTHORIZES FURTHER GUBERNATORIAL ELECTIONS. President Yeltsin authorized elections for administration heads in Orenburg, Tambov, and Tomsk oblasts as an exception to his 17 September decree postponing such elections until December 1996, ITAR-TASS reported 17 October. Orenburg and Tambov have historically been areas of low support for Yeltsin. -- Robert Orttung MOSCOW SIGNS TREATY WITH UDMURTIYA. Moscow and Udmurtiya signed a packet of documents defining the responsibilities of the federation and the republic concerning the division of state property, budget relations, law and order, defense industries, the use of oil and forest resources, and environmental protection, Russian TV reported. At the 17 October signing ceremony, Prime Minister Chernomyrdin said that similar treaties were almost ready for Kaliningrad Oblast, Krasnodar Krai, and the Komi Republic, according to Interfax. Moscow has already signed treaties with Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Kabardino-Balkariya, Northern Ossetiya, Yakutiya, and Buryatiya, Rossiiskie vesti reported 18 October. -- Robert Orttung RYABOV: KALMYKIYA ELECTIONS ILLEGITIMATE. "No genuine elections have been held in Kalmykiya," Nikolai Ryabov, chairman of the Central Electoral Commission, told Russian Public TV (ORT) on 17 October. Ryabov said the legislature of the Republic of Kalmykiya had been warned in advance that the 15 October presidential elections would not be considered legitimate. Running unopposed, incumbent President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was re-elected with about 85% of the vote. According to the commission's executive secretary Aleksandr Veshnyakov, federal law prohibits elections without alternative candidates, Radio Mayak reported. -- Laura Belin YAKUNIN: AGREEMENT BETWEEN FAPSI, CHURCH VIOLATES CONSTITUTION. Duma deputy and priest Gleb Yakunin asked acting Procurator-General Oleg Gaidanov on 17 October to rescind a joint declaration signed in May between the Federal Agency for Government Communications and Information (FAPSI) and the Russian Orthodox Church, Ekspress-khronika reported the same day. Yakunin said the agreement to cooperate in the "spiritual- moral and patriotic education of servicemen" and develop courses for FAPSI employees on "the history of the Russian state" violated federal laws on the status of servicemen and on freedom of religion, as well as Article 14 of the Russian Constitution, which guarantees the separation of church and state. The Church defrocked the dissident priest Yakunin in the 1960s; he was reinstated in 1987 but defrocked again in 1993 for defying a Church order not to run for parliament. -- Laura Belin CONTACT GROUP MEETS IN MOSCOW. High-ranking diplomats of the international Contact Group on the former Yugoslavia met in Moscow on 17 October, Russian and Western agencies reported. Following the meeting, both U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke and Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov expressed optimism that the group would succeed in forging a common approach to a Bosnian peace settlement. A subsequent meeting between Ivanov, Holbrooke, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, and Russian military officials discussed details of Russian participation in a proposed NATO-led "peace implementation force" for Bosnia, and ITAR-TASS reported that the issue will be addressed by presidents Yeltsin and Clinton at their upcoming summit in Hyde Park, New York. -- Scott Parrish GOVERNMENT MILITARY HOUSING PROGRAM FAILING. The government's program to build housing for the military is close to failure according to Col. Gen. Anatolii Solomatin, the deputy defense minister. ITAR-TASS reported that Solomatin, who heads the military Construction and Quartermaster Service, said at a 17 October news conference that only up to 160,000 of the planned 220,000 new apartments would be finished by the end of the year. He said that 125,000 officers' families do not have apartments while 40,000 others live in substandard accommodations. -- Doug Clarke SECURITY SYSTEM INSTALLED AT URANIUM STORAGE FACILITY. A special system for monitoring uranium and plutonium stocks has been installed at a storage facility at a physics institute in Obinsk located in Kaluga Oblast, Rossiiskaya gazeta reported on 18 October. The system includes perimeter alarms and digital inventory control of the seven tons of fissionable materials stored at the facility. A joint Russian-American team installed the system, which is intended to serve as a model for similar systems at nuclear storage facilities across Russia. Funds to upgrade Russian facilities were appropriated by the U.S. Congress under the Nunn-Lugar Act. -- Scott Parrish DUMA REJECTS 1996 BUDGET. On 18 October, the Duma rejected the draft 1996 budget on first reading by 138 votes to 129, Western and Russian agencies reported. The draft budget will now go to a joint parliament- government commission to work on a compromise variant. -- Peter Rutland CUT IN OIL EXPORT TAX? Foreign Economic Relations Minister Oleg Davydov said the government is considering dropping the export tariff on oil from 18 ECU ($22) to 6 ECU per ton, Business-TASS reported on 17 October. Oil exporters have been complaining that the stabilization of the ruble's value has undermined their profits. Davydov also said the government is considering the introduction of "anti-dumping" quotas on imports of alcohol and certain chemical products. -- Peter Rutland INTERNATIONAL LENDING FOR 1996. An IMF team in Moscow to discuss future lending expressed satisfaction with the government's economic policy this year, Business-TASS reported on 17 October. The government plans to raise $8.5 billion from international loans in 1996, including $3.5 billion from the IMF. In an interview in Kuranty the same day, Forward Russia! leader Boris Fedorov warned that Russia is turning into an "international bankrupt" and advised against accepting further credits. -- Peter Rutland TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA TURKEY AND GEORGIA. A third Turkish-Georgian border gate is scheduled to be opened on 31 October. Speaking at a press conference the day before, Georgian Customs Minister Guram Mamalishvili denied allegations that Georgia is not ready for the opening; on the contrary, he said Turkish officials had yet to sign the agreement on the new border gate at Aktas, the Turkish Daily News reported on 18 October. Total revenue from the existing two gates is estimated to be $1 billion; the new gate is expected to be popular with cargo carriers as it is shorter by 300 kilometers than the first gate at Sarp. -- Lowell Bezanis ANOTHER OPPOSITION PARTY BARRED FROM AZERBAIJAN ELECTIONS. On 17 October Azerbaijan's Central Electoral Commission banned the opposition Musavat Party from participating in the 12 November parliamentary elections on the grounds that some 5,000 signatures collected in support of its registration bid were allegedly forged, AFP reported. Party chairman Isa Gambar said he will appeal the ban, Turan reported. -- Liz Fuller KYRGYZ MOVEMENT DEMANDS THAT PRESIDENT STEP DOWN. The Human Rights Movement of Kyrgyzstan has demanded that Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev step down, according to Res Publica on 10 October, as cited by the BBC. The article claimed free thought is being persecuted, opposition newspapers are being shut down, journalists criticizing the government are barred from their professional activity, and there have been physical attacks on members of the opposition. Referring to the president's election in 1990 and again after independence in 1991 the movement claims Akaev is now running for a third term, which is prohibited by the constitution. The movement's leader, Medetken Sherimkulov, is a candidate for the presidency. -- Bruce Pannier SOLDIERS TAKEN HOSTAGE IN TAJIKISTAN. Interfax reported that 48 government troops were captured on 14 October near the village of Tavil- Dara about 280 kim east of Dushanbe. The Tajik opposition confirmed the capture but claimed they have at least 54 soldiers. The situation began when government troops and opposition forces found themselves in close proximity to one another. In an attempt to avert bloodshed, the commander of the government troops agreed to talk with opposition representatives but was taken hostage at the meeting and forced to call others to the area, according to ITAR-TASS. -- Bruce Pannier TAJIK OPPOSITION TO VISIT TURKMENISTAN. In a further twist involving the dispute over the venue for the fifth round of inter-Tajik talks, Radio Voice of Free Tajikistan reported that Tajik opposition leaders would travel to Ashgabat to hold talks with Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov. The chairman of the Islamic Renaissance Party, Said Abdullo Nuri, has rejected the Tajik government's efforts to hold the postponed talks in Ashgabat; it appears that his deputy, Akbar Turadzhonzoda, will nevertheless go to Turkmenistan for talks with Niyazov. -- Lowell Bezanis MEMBERS OF CRIME FAMILY SENTENCED TO DEATH IN UZBEKISTAN. Five members of a family charged with 25 crimes have been sentenced by an Uzbek court to be executed, Reuters reported on 17 October. Sharafutdin Zakirov, his two sons and two grandsons were found guilty of crimes ranging from murder to theft. In addition, Zakirov's daughter and daughter-in-law were found guilty of lesser charges and each sentenced to 14 years in prison. No word was given as to the full extent of the family's criminal history. -- Roger Kangas MEDIA SHAKE-UP BY NAZARBAEV. Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbaev has abolished the Press and Mass Information Ministry, replacing it with a new body called the National Agency for Press and Mass Information, Kazakhstani TV reported on 14 October. Altynbek Sarsenbaev, who headed the now defunct ministry, has been appointed chairman of the new agency. This newly-created agency, along with another new body created by the president, the Observation Council on the State Mass Media, will work directly under Nazarbaev's supervision. The two bodies are to offer "objective information to the citizens of the republic" and "grant citizens their constitutional rights to freedom of speech and implement public control state mass media," according to the report. -- Bhavna Dave CIS TWO DIFFERENT VIEWS ON CIS MILITARY BLOC. Georgian Defense Minister Vardiko Nadibaidze declared on 17 October that a CIS military bloc is "inevitable" while Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma the same day said that Ukraine "resolutely opposes Europe's split into two camps" and would not enter a CIS military bloc, according to ITAR-TASS. Nadibaidze also said Georgia's military doctrine has been approved and would be made public in November. Kuchma, speaking to a delegation from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, told the delegates Ukraine would be "unhappy" if it became a buffer between NATO and the CIS. -- Doug Clarke BLACK SEA FLEET CAUSES LOSSES FOR SEVASTOPOL. A draft program prepared by Sevastopol's local executive committee claims the city loses 12.1 trillion karbovantsy ($69 million) every year due to the presence of the Black Sea Fleet, Interfax reported on 17 October. The document attributed the losses to unpaid energy supplies, lost tourist trade, and other expenditures. -- Ustina Markus [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. 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