The universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper. - Eden Phillpotts
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 207, Part I, 24 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 specialist@omri.cz

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

YELTSIN-CLINTON SUMMIT: STYLE OVER SUBSTANCE? At a jovial 23 October
press conference, President Boris Yeltsin and his U.S. counterpart, Bill
Clinton, announced that they had agreed that Russian troops would
participate in policing a future Bosnian peace settlement, Russian and
Western agencies reported. But while the two presidents rhetorically
lauded the virtues of "partnership," their meeting generated few
substantive results. The two leaders admitted that the details of
Russian participation, after weeks of talks, remain unresolved. The
presidents agreed to push for rapid ratification of START-2, revision of
the flank limitations in the 1990 CFE treaty, and a total ban on nuclear
testing in 1996. The two sides had already been in general agreement on
those issues before the summit. -- Scott Parrish

YELTSIN HINTS AT PRESIDENTIAL BID. The tough tone of President Yeltsin's
22 October speech to the UN and his statements during his meeting with
UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali indicate that he will seek a
second term, according to Izvestiya on 24 October. During their meeting
in Washington, Yeltsin gave President Bill Clinton a pair of T-shirts
from the Moscow Penguins hockey team. The jerseys bore the names of the
presidents on the front and "96" on the back, AFP reported. -- Robert
Orttung

COUNCIL OF EUROPE CONSIDERS RUSSIAN APPLICATION. At a meeting in Moscow
on 23 October, a committee of the Council of Europe began hearings on
Russia's application for membership in the 36-member parliamentary
assembly, Russian agencies reported. Most Russian political parties
support Russia's entry into the council; it is opposed by Vladimir
Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party. Council officials expressed
optimism that Russia, which had its application frozen earlier this year
because of Chechnya, will be admitted to full membership in January
1996. Belarus and Croatia are also under consideration for membership;
Ukraine and Macedonia were admitted last week. -- Scott Parrish

YAVLINSKII PLAYS CHINA CARD. Speaking in Chelyabinsk, Yabloko leader
Grigorii Yavlinskii warned that an economic crisis is brewing in China
which could unleash a flood of immigrants into Russia, ITAR-TASS
reported. Yavlinskii claimed that there are already approximately 5
million Chinese living in Russia illegally, a figure much higher than
other data indicate. Li Fenglin, the Chinese ambassador to Russia, told
Tikhookeanskaya zvezda on 14 September that the problem of Chinese
immigration to Russia "simply does not exist." -- Robert Orttung

RYABOV: YELTSIN DID NOT VIOLATE ELECTORAL LAW. Central Electoral
Commission Chairman Nikolai Ryabov said President Yeltsin did not
violate the electoral law when he recently stressed the need to prevent
a Communist victory in the December parliamentary elections, Interfax
reported on 23 October. In an almost Orwellian phrase, Ryabov said the
article of the law prohibiting "federal bodies of power and their
employees" from campaigning for or against political parties does not
apply to Yeltsin, because as head of state he is neither a federal body
of power nor an employee of one. The Communist Party pledged to sue the
president following his 19 October remarks. However, while letting
Yeltsin off the hook, Ryabov suggested that Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin should step down from his government post for at least a
week or two before the elections, when he will be campaigning for Our
Home Is Russia, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. -- Laura Belin

BAD TIMES FOR DEMOCRATIC RUSSIA. Democratic Russia, the anti-Communist
umbrella movement that became one of the most powerful political forces
of the Gorbachev period, managed to acquire just 35,000 signatures this
year--far short of the 200,000 required to appear on the ballot,
Izvestiya reported on 24 October. Meanwhile, Democratic Russia co-
chairman Gleb Yakunin withdrew his candidacy for a Duma seat in a
single-member constituency in Moscow, according to Interfax. The Party
of Economic Freedom, whose leader Konstantin Borovoi is running for the
same seat, alleged that Yakunin failed to submit enough valid
signatures, but the secretary of the local electoral commission said
Yakunin himself decided to quit the race. -- Laura Belin

LIST OF CRIMINAL DUMA CANDIDATES RELEASED. On 23 October, Central
Electoral Commission (TsIK) Chairman Nikolai Ryabov handed Interfax the
list of 87 candidates running for the Duma who are currently under
investigation or had been formerly convicted (see OMRI Daily Digest, 4
October, 1995). Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR)
leads with 12 candidates who had served criminal sentences; two of them
were sentenced by military courts. Aleksandr Rutskoi's Derzhava movement
includes six people who have been sentenced. Four candidates from the
Communist Party, three from Forward, Russia!, and two each from Yabloko
and the Agrarian Party were earlier sentenced for various crimes.
Existing legislation bars a person from taking a seat in the Duma if
they have been convicted of a criminal offense, but once elected
deputies are immune from prosecution. -- Anna Paretskaya

MUHAMMADIYA MEDRESSE CASE RESOLVED. The disputed status of the former
Muhammadiya medresse and mosque in Kazan has been resolved, according to
Radio Rossii on 20 October. The government of Tatarstan has put the
complex under the jurisdiction of a medresse functioning there already;
it will not be put under the control of the republic's Muftiyat for
administrative purposes nor converted into an Islamic university as
Tatar Mufti Gabdullah Galiulla had demanded. Six months ago, the complex
was to be transferred to those operating the medresse, but others using
the complex dragged their feet on it. After Galiulla put forward his own
demands, the case became divisive for Kazan's Muslim community, while
non-Muslims who opposed both transfer options played up the specter of
Islamic militancy. The rector of the medresse, Vinerulla Yakupov, told
RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir service that Tatar President Mintimer Shamiyev
was instrumental in quickly resolving the dispute. -- Lowell Bezanis

PERSONNEL CHANGES IN CHECHNYA. As anticipated, the head of the pro-
Moscow Chechen government of National Revival, Salambek Khadzhiev,
formally announced his resignation on 23 October; he has been offered
the post of chairman of the Russian State Committee for Industry,
Russian TV reported. The head of the Chechen National Accord Committee,
Umar Avturkhanov, was quoted by Russian Public TV (ORT) as saying that
he has been offered the post of Russian tax police deputy chairman and
will also resign. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin has approved both
of the new appointments. Khadzhiev is likely to be succeeded by former
Chechen-Ingush Supreme Soviet Chairman Doku Zavgaev, and Avturkhanov by
his first deputy, Lecha Magomadov. -- Liz Fuller

RUSSIA, IRAN TO DRAW UP NEW LEGAL STATUS FOR CASPIAN. Russian Deputy
Foreign Minister Aleksei Bolshakov is due in Tehran on 24 October with a
new draft proposal on the legal status of the Caspian Sea, AFP reported,
quoting an interview given by Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas
Maleki to the Iran News. The draft excludes any partition of the sea by
littoral states, each of which would be limited to a 10-mile stretch of
territorial water for mineral exploitation and a 20-mile zone for
fishing; a board consisting of representatives form all five littoral
states would jointly oversee the exploitation of oil reserves lying
outside the 10-mile zone. -- Liz Fuller

RUSSIAN TROOPS GO TO KANSAS FOR EXERCISE. About 150 Russian servicemen
left Tomsk for Fort Riley, Kansas, on 23 October to participate in the
joint Russian-U.S. exercise, Peacemaker '95, Interfax reported. Russian
officials had postponed the exercise to protest NATO actions in the
former Yugoslavia. A similar joint exercise was held in September 1994
in Tomsk, Russia. -- Constantine Dmitriev

OREKHOV'S SENTENCE REDUCED. A Moscow court decided on 23 October to
uphold the charges against former KGB officer and dissident Viktor
Orekhov but to reduce his sentence to one year, NTV reported. Orekhov
was sentenced to three years' imprisonment in July for the illegal
possession of a weapon, but his supporters maintain that the charges
were fabricated and appealed the verdict on procedural grounds. In the
opinion of Valeriya Novodvorskaya, leader of the radical Democratic
Union, the security services were trying to even up the score with
Orekhov, who in the 1970s informed dissidents about KGB actions. --
Penny Morvant

CONCERN OVER PRISON OVERCROWDING. About 275,000 pre-trial prisoners are
being held in facilities designed to accommodate no more than 174,000
people, Duma Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin said in a
letter to presidential chief of staff Sergei Filatov. According to
Rossiiskie vesti on 24 October, more than a third of remand centers were
erected in the 17th-19th centuries and 26 of them are unfit for
habitation. Altogether there are almost one million inmates in Russian
prisons, and the number is rising by about 10% a year. -- Penny Morvant

ABORTIONS OUTNUMBER BIRTHS BY 2:1. The Russian Family-planning
Association said on 23 October that more than 3 million abortions are
carried out in Russia every year, ITAR-TASS reported. In 1992, there
were 216 abortions for every 100 live births; in 1993, 235; and in 1994,
217. Health officials are most concerned about the increase in the
number of terminations among teenagers. The number of girls under 18
undergoing abortions has more than doubled over the last five years. --
Penny Morvant

DUMA APPROVES NEW FAMILY CODE. The Duma has passed the draft Family Code
in its third reading, Russian TV reported on 21 October. The new code,
two years in the making, provides the legal basis for resolving numerous
problems related to the family such as custody of children and alimony
payments. Meanwhile, the Social Security Ministry announced on 19
October that the number of teenaged mothers in Russia is increasing
every year. According to Interfax, one in six children were born to
women aged between 15 and 19 in 1994. -- Penny Morvant

FOREIGN INDEBTEDNESS INCREASES. Russia's indebtedness to foreign
creditors has reached $113 billion, Russian TV reported on 21 October.
Russia owes $35 billion to private creditors (the Paris Club), $28
billion to official creditors (London Club), and $8 billion to foreign
companies. Another $16 billion in interest and repayments will fall due
in 1996. At the same time, Russia claims that developing countries owe
it about $170 billion. -- Natalia Gurushina

GOVERNMENT PROGRAM TO STIMULATE INVESTMENT. The government has adopted a
new program to stimulate domestic and foreign investment in Russia,
Segodnya reported on 21 October. The bulk of investment in the country
is self-financing by firms: federal investment programs in 1996 will
only account for about 1.5% of GDP and commercial bank credit for 3%. It
is hoped that the proportion of foreign investment in the total amount
of investment will increase from 3.3% in 1995 to 5.2% in 1997 and 10% by
the end of the decade. -- Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

RUSSIAN-ABKHAZ AGREEMENT ON RAIL TRAFFIC. On 20 October, Russian Deputy
Prime Minister Aleksei Bolshakov and Abkhaz Prime Minister Gennadii
Gagulia signed a protocol on the resumption of rail traffic from the
Russia through Abkhazia to Tbilisi and Baku, Interfax reported on 23
October. Traffic was halted after the onset of hostilities between the
Abkhaz secessionist government and Tbilisi in 1992; Russian and Georgian
officials signed an agreement on its resumption during Prime Minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin's visit to Tbilisi in September. Also on 23 October,
Russian border guards moved to blockade the Abkhaz port of Sukhumi as
part of a move to disrupt sea traffic between Abkhazia and Turkey. --
Liz Fuller

KAZAKHSTANI OFFICIALS JAILED FOR ILLEGAL EXPORT OF WEAPONS. The former
deputy defense minister of Kazakhstan, General Valerii Sapsaev, and a
senior defense official, Colonel Zhailaubai Sadibekov, have been
sentenced to eight- and four-year jail terms respectively for illegally
exporting $2 million worth of weapons, Reuters reported on 23 October.
Sapsaev is the first senior official to be sentenced since the
government began a concerted inquiry into allegations published in
Karavan of top level corruption within defense ranks (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 7 and 12 September 1995). The convictions coincided with the
seizure by Russian customs officials of a trainload of weapons on their
way from Kazakhstan to North Korea. -- Bhavna Dave

WORLD BANK POSITIVE ON UZBEK ECONOMY. A report recently released by the
World Bank praised Uzbekistan's economic performance over the first six
months of 1995, Interfax reported on 23 October. The monthly inflation
rate dropped from 17% in January to 1.6% in June, even though price
liberalization continued. Uzbek President Islam Karimov has tried to
avoid "shock therapy" and has pursued privatization and monetary reform
in a more gradual fashion over the past three years. -- Roger Kangas

MILITARY MANEUVERS IN TURKMENISTAN. The Turkmen national army recently
completed its first military exercises, according to Zaman on 24
October. Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov, Defense Minister and
Chief of the General Staff Danatar Kopekov, and a host of diplomats and
journalists watched the exercises, which allegedly involved tanks
supported with air cover. Other details have not been made available. --
Lowell Bezanis

[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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