|No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear. - Edmund Burke|
No. 204, Part I, 19 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. 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 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ JOURNALISTS: A directory of OMRI analysts covering Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union is now available. You can access it from OMRI's World Wide Web page (http://www.omri.cz/SD/SDIntro.html) or request a hard copy by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ RUSSIA YELTSIN ANNOUNCES KOZYREV TO BE SACKED. President Boris Yeltsin told a 19 October Kremlin news conference that he intended to replace Andrei Kozyrev as foreign minister, Russian and Western agencies reported. Yeltsin said he "remained unsatisfied" with Kozyrev, who he added had "failed to coordinate the work of the Foreign Ministry and other ministries." Kozyrev will remain in his post, however, until a "suitable successor" can be found. Among the possible candidates for the job are First Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, Ambassador to Belgium Vitalii Churkin, Deputy Defense Minister Andrei Kokoshin, and Duma International Affairs Committee Chairman Vladimir Lukin. -- Scott Parrish LEBED CRITICIZES DUMA, MILITARY LEADERSHIP. Congress of Russian Communities (KRO) leader Lt. Gen. (ret.) Aleksandr Lebed described the State Duma as a "democratic decoration built on the basis of a defective constitution" in an 18 October press conference, NTV reported. He said he would not rule out an alliance with the Communists but dismissed the idea of cooperating with liberal Yegor Gaidar. The general refused to discuss his sources of financial support, Russian TV reported. Lebed currently ranks as the most popular politician in Russia. -- Robert Orttung DEFENSE MINISTRY IDENTIFIES SYMPATHETIC CANDIDATES. More than 120 military servicemen have collected the necessary signatures to register as Duma candidates in single-member districts, ITAR-TASS reported. In addition, the Defense Ministry has identified more than 1,000 candidates who represent the military-industrial complex, veterans' organizations, and military pensioners. The military counts among its electorate 7 million servicemen and their relatives, 8 million veterans, 27 million workers in the military-industrial complex and their families, and 2 million Cossacks. The ministry believes that the military's strict discipline will deliver the necessary votes. However, in the 1 October elections to the Volgograd City Duma, all 30 military candidates lost. -- Robert Orttung CONSTITUTIONAL COURT EXAMINES AMENDMENT PROCESS. The Constitutional Court is reviewing an appeal from the State Duma to clarify Article 136 of the constitution, Russian media reported on 18 October. Article 136 states that constitutional amendments must be passed by two-thirds of the Duma, three-fourths of the Federation Council, and two-thirds of the legislatures of Russia's 89 regions, but it does not specify a role for the president in the process. The Duma, which is currently considering 20 constitutional amendments, asked the court to grant them the status of "federal constitutional laws," which the president may not veto. President Yeltsin's representative to the court, Valerii Savitskii, unexpectedly announced that he agreed with the deputies' suggestion, perhaps because the amendment process is so arduous that few proposals are ever likely to be passed. -- Laura Belin DUMA APPROVES DEFENSE LEGISLATION. The State Duma has adopted on its second reading a defense law that allows the president to use the armed forces for military or other purposes only in accordance with the federal laws, and that bans all unofficial paramilitary units, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 October. In addition, the Duma passed a resolution expressing "extreme concern" with the unsatisfactory state of Russian national security. By a vote of 227 to 16 the Duma urged President Yeltsin to submit a national security doctrine for approval by 31 December, Interfax reported. -- Constantine Dmitriev YELTSIN WARNS U.S. ON MISSILE DEFENSES. On 18 October, President Yeltsin warned in an interview with The Guardian that Russia might halt reductions in strategic offensive nuclear weapons under the START-1 and START-2 agreements if a plan pending in the U.S. Congress to deploy limited ballistic missile defenses is put into effect. Yeltsin said President Bill Clinton had assured him in May that the U.S. remains committed to the 1972 ABM treaty. Yeltsin will visit the U.S. on 23 October. -- Scott Parrish YELTSIN SAYS NO TO NATO NUCLEAR MISSILES, COMMAND. In an 18 October Kremlin interview with French television, President Yeltsin accused NATO of planning to "take the countries of Eastern and Central Europe and stuff them with nuclear arms." Yeltsin described this policy as "madness," adding Russia would "do everything" to prevent NATO nuclear weapons from being deployed near Russia's borders. Yeltsin reiterated that Russia would not send troops to Bosnia under NATO command to enforce a future peace settlement there. In Brussels, a NATO spokesman denied that the alliance would deploy nuclear weapons in any new Eastern European member-states, but both Poland and the Czech Republic have announced that they would permit such deployments if they joined the alliance. -- Doug Clarke and Scott Parrish YELTSIN "RECOMMENDS" THAT GRACHEV ATTEND COURT HEARING. Hoping to defuse a scandal, President Yeltsin has recommended that Defense Minister Pavel Grachev postpone a previously scheduled visit to Greece in order to attend a court session, Interfax reported on 17 October. Judge Olga Govorova had summoned Grachev to court last month after his refusal to attend the case that he initiated in 1994 against a journalist who accused him of corruption (see OMRI Daily Digest, 28 September 1995). According to Interfax, Grachev will postpone his visit to Greece until 1 November. -- Constantine Dmitriev "THE NORTH WILL DIE SOON," if urgent measures to change the social and economic situation are not taken, the president of the Far North and Polar Cities' Union, Igor Shkiper, said at the union's congress in Moscow, Russian TV reported on 18 October. On 10 October, the Federation Council announced that the government has so far provided the northern territories with only 77% of the oil supply, 63% of coal, and 64% of food allotted to them in the 1995 budget. -- Anna Paretskaya BELLONA SUSPECTED OF DIVULGING OFFICIAL SECRETS. The Federal Security Service has launched a criminal investigation into the Norwegian-based environmental group Bellona under Article 75 of the Criminal Code on divulging state secrets. According to ITAR-TASS on 18 October, the security services found secret information on the Northern Fleet in raids on Bellona's offices in Murmansk and the homes of Russian members of the group in St. Petersburg. Bellona began researching nuclear waste disposal in northern Russia in 1990. It says it recognizes issues of military secrecy and has obtained all its information from public sources, Western agencies reported. -- Penny Morvant PANSKOV ON PENSIONS. Finance Minister Vladimir Panskov told Business- TASS on 18 October that the government will spend 8 trillion rubles ($1.77 billion) by the end of the year to ensure the timely payment of pensions, ITAR-TASS reported. He said an extra 4.7 trillion rubles has already been generated from the country's hard-currency and gold reserves and additional revenue to the federal budget. On 18 October, the Duma passed a law approving the budget of the Pension Fund for 1995 at 92 trillion rubles ($20 billion). The government is striving to eliminate pension arrears before the December elections. -- Penny Morvant RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT NEGOTIATES IMF LOANS. The IMF delegation in Moscow met Russian government officials on 18 October to negotiate an Extended Fund Facility (EFF) loan for Russia, Finansovye izvestiya reported on 19 October. If negotiations are successful, Russia's 1996 borrowings from the IMF could be increased from $2 billion to nearly $6.5 billion. The EFF loan is reported to be conditional on the Duma approving a budget for 1996 that assumes inflation at no more than 1.8%. -- Natalia Gurushina INVESTMENT NEEDS OF ELECTRICITY SECTOR. The Russian Unified Electricity System (REES) invested $2 billion into the sector this year, and expects to invest more than $3 billion in 1996, according to Vitalii Gorin, an REES official who was addressing a Moscow conference on power generation, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 October. REES expects to build 44 new power stations and 10,000 km of new line by 2005. Only eight minor projects had received foreign funding to date, although the World Bank is considering a $500 million loan for a hydroelectic station in Krasnodar. Russia also plans to increase electricity exports to Eastern Europe. -- Peter Rutland COMPENSATION FOR SAVINGS BANK DEPOSITORS? The conciliation commission set up by the government to investigate compensation for Savings Bank depositors has come up with a set of recommendations, NTV reported on 17 October. The 40 million Savings Bank (Sberbank) depositors, who saw their savings wiped out by inflation, are distinct from the investors who have been defrauded by pyramid schemes and bank failures. The commission proposes compensation of 3-4,000 rubles for each ruble held in Sberbank accounts in June 1991. That compensation will not be in cash but in the form of government securities or some other type of non-cash bank deposits. Certain categories of depositors, such as invalids or retired army officers, may be compensated first. The recommendations have been forwarded to the government for approval. -- Peter Rutland TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA OPPOSITION PARTIES PROTEST ELECTION BAN. On 18 October, about 100 representatives of four banned parties banned from participating in the 12 November elections picketed the commission's main building in Baku in protest, Reuters reported the same day. -- Lowell Bezanis TURKEY AFFIRMS SUPPORT FOR GEORGIAN OIL EXPORT PIPELINE. The Turkish embassy to Azerbaijan refuted a report in the Azerbaijani weekly Ayna on 14 October that Turkey had reneged on its commitment to finance construction work and repairs on the oil export pipeline from Baku to Georgia's Black Sea coast, Azerbaijani TV reported on 17 October. Turkey has proposed either to finance the pipeline or to form a joint venture to do so together with other members of the international consortium and "talks will begin soon on getting the Georgian route into operation," according to a statement issued by the embassy. -- Irakli Tsereteli UZBEKISTAN ANNOUNCES 1995-1996 SOCIAL PLAN. President Islam Karimov's cabinet unveiled its social plan for the 1995-1996 fiscal year which is to address issues ranging from the "right to work" to "social guarantees for citizens" with respect to invalids and Afghan War veterans, according to a 17 October Narodnoye slovo report cited by the BBC. Although the details have not been fully presented, the social plan is consistent with the government's policy of maintaining a social welfare program that can ensure stability in the country. -- Roger Kangas TURKMENISTAN TO LEASE LAND. State property in Turkmenistan can be leased to other countries according to a new law endorsed by President Saparmurad Niyazov, Interfax reported on 17 October. Although only limited information on the law is available, it is clear that the cabinet or any cabinet-authorized body can act as the lessor. Annual rents will vary from $172-955 per hectare depending on soil quality; other unspecified rates will apply to urban areas. -- Lowell Bezanis ANOTHER TAJIK JOURNALIST ARRESTED IN MOSCOW. Mirzo Salimov, a journalist for the dissident Tajik newspaper Charogi Ruz, was arrested in Moscow on 13 October for insulting the president, according to a correspondent for RFE/RL. Moscow plans to extradite Salimov to Tajikistan but an article in Segodnya on 18 October reports that Salimov has been an adviser to the UN on the inter-Tajik negotiations and therefore should be immune to prosecution. The leader of the Islamic Renaissance Party, Ali Akbar Turadzhonzoda, said his party would not attend the next round of talks until Salimov is released. -- Bruce Pannier RUSSIAN LUKOIL SHARES IN KAZAKHSTAN-CHEVRON DEAL? Russia's largest oil company, LUKoil, is negotiating a 20% share in the Kazakhstan-Chevron joint venture in the Tengiz oil fields, Interfax reported on 18 October, citing a Kazakhstani Oil and Gas Ministry official. LUKoil won a 10% stake in the $9 billion international consortium for drilling Caspian Sea oil off Azerbaijan. Chevron slashed its investment plans at Tengiz due to difficulties in transporting oil to the world market. Russian and Kazakhstani oil officials have held preliminary talks on building a pipeline between Tengiz and the Black Sea, but LUKoil has not yet held direct talks with Chevron. -- Bhavna Dave KAZAKHSTANI GOVERNMENT FILES LAWSUITS AGAINST 60 ENTERPRISES. Kazakhstani Deputy Prime Minister Nagashbai Shaikenov said his government has filed lawsuits in an arbitration court against 60 enterprises accused of a failure to repay foreign credits taken against government guarantees, Interfax reported on 17 October. Shaikenov added that "competent agencies" are inquiring into the matter; more names have been withheld. Kazakhstani Deputy Finance Minister Sauat Mynbaev said that in the next 3-4 years, the Finance Ministry will have to set aside $250 million of budget money every year to pay the foreign debt. -- Bhavna Dave [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. 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