The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none. - Thomas Carlyle 1975-1881
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 209, Part I, 26 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

RUSSIA

TRETYAKOV DESCRIBES YELTSIN CAMPAIGN STRATEGY. President Boris Yeltsin's
19 October attack on the Communists was part of a strategy to cement
alliances with the "New Russians," those who have benefited from his
reforms and fear the consequences of a Communist comeback, Nezavisimaya
gazeta Editor in Chief Vitalii Tretyakov wrote on 25 October. However,
he argued that Yeltsin will not do much to prevent a Communist victory
because such an outcome would guarantee his success in the June 1996
presidential elections. Russian voters would not support Communist
control of both branches of government, ensuring a second term for
Yeltsin. -- Robert Orttung

FEDERATION COUNCIL REJECTS LAW ON ITS FORMATION. The Federation Council
rejected a Duma draft of the law on the formation of the upper house by
a vote of 10 to 87. The bill, adopted by the Duma on 11 October, called
for including elected leaders of the local executive and legislative
branches in the upper house. Council members believe that it violates
the constitution because it would require holding gubernatorial
elections in regions where governors are currently appointed within the
next eight months, NTV reported. Council Speaker Vladimir Shumeiko also
objected to the Duma version because it did not contain President
Yeltsin's proposal that representatives of the federal government sit on
the Council as well. More than half of the current Council members,
including Shumeiko, do not represent local bodies and are unlikely to
have a second term under the proposed rules. The Federation Council is
planning to develop its own version of the bill by 14 November. --
Robert Orttung

KHAKAMADA DENOUNCES PARTY LIST VOTING. Duma Member Irina Khakamada
denounced the Russian electoral law's provision for party-list voting as
"idiocy" on 25 October. She told NTV that the system cannot reflect the
interests of the voters because they see only the top three names of
each party on the ballot. According to a little-noticed study she
conducted on the 1993 elections, many of the members of Vladimir
Zhirinovsky's party who joined the Duma on the party list had lost in
single-members districts, which she said demonstrates that they did not
have the confidence of the voters. She added that the current electoral
law could cause Russia considerable harm. -- Robert Orttung

BRIBE OFFERED TO DEPUTY ON PARAMONOVA VOTE. Russia's Choice Duma Deputy
Boris Zolotukhin announced that a member of the Duma staff had offered a
$1,500 bribe to independent Duma Deputy Vadim Boiko during the vote on
the nomination of Tatyana Paramonova to the post of Central Bank head,
Russian TV and ITAR-TASS reported on 25 October. Duma Speaker Ivan
Rybkin said the matter should be turned over to the procurator-general.
Boiko did not comment. -- Robert Orttung

ZHIRINOVSKY PROPOSES NEW FEDERAL STRUCTURE. Liberal Democratic Party
leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky called on President Boris Yeltsin to divide
the country into 40 provinces and personally name the governors of each
one on 1 January 1996. On 1 March, Zhirinovsky declared, he should
announce the "East European Commonwealth with Moscow as the Capital" and
invite all governments who want to be part of Russia to join, ITAR-TASS
reported. He also called for the creation of a council, including the
president, prime minister, power ministers, and party leaders, that
would take steps to lead the country out of its crisis. -- Robert
Orttung

INTERIOR MINISTRY ACCUSES ELECTORAL COMMISSION OF INACCURACY. . . The
Interior Ministry has accused the Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) of
releasing false information on the criminal records of several
candidates running for the Duma, Russian and Western media reported on
25 October. Among 87 people listed by the TsIK as convicted criminals
running for parliament, six were imprisoned for their political
activities under the Communists for their role in the 1991 and 1993 coup
attempts, and several more were confused with criminals bearing the same
names. TsIK member Yurii Vedeneev said the commission released the names
only to "inform" voters; he admitted that people who have served
criminal sentences have the right to run for parliament. Nevertheless,
Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky has already dropped
11 out of the 12 candidates from his party who appeared on the TsIK's
list, AFP reported. -- Anna Paretskaya

. . . AS DUMA REFUSES TO LIMIT IMMUNITY. Also on 25 October, the State
Duma refused to pass a bill that would have eliminated the immunity from
prosecution granted to candidates who are under arrest, awaiting trial,
or who are wanted by police, Ekho Moskvy reported. The Central Electoral
Commission's list of 87 Duma candidates with criminal backgrounds does
not include people under investigation, who are presumed innocent,
according to Russian Public TV (ORT). -- Anna Paretskaya

RUSSIAN BOSNIAN PARTICIPATION OUTLINED. As many as 2,000 Russian troops
under Russian tactical command might participate in the NATO-led
multinational operation to enforce a Bosnian peace accord, Reuters
reported on 25 October. Quoting NATO diplomatic sources, the agency
reported that the Russian force would probably operate out of Sarajevo
and would undertake joint operations alongside French troops. The
overall concept of operations would be determined by NATO's top
commander in Europe, but Russian generals would do the day-to-day
tasking of their troops. France, which is not a member of NATO's
integrated military structure, operates under the same principle. The
alliance will fix a ceiling of 2,000 Russian troops in a force that
could have as many as 60,000 troops. -- Doug Clarke

FEDERATION COUNCIL APPROVES LIFTING OF YUGOSLAV SANCTIONS. The
Federation Council unanimously approved a bill calling for Russia to
gradually, but unilaterally, cease upholding UN sanctions against rump
Yugoslavia, Western and Russian agencies reported on 25 October. The
Duma had already approved the bill on 6 October, and it will now go to
President Yeltsin. He vetoed a similar measure on 14 September.
According to Interfax, Federation Council members think that the
sanctions are no longer necessary, because rump Yugoslavia "is no longer
a participant in the armed conflict in Bosnia," and the sanctions have a
negative effect on the Russian economy. -- Constantine Dmitriev

KOZYREV AND INTERFAX TO SUE RFE/RL. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei
Kozyrev and the news agency Interfax have decided to sue RFE/RL for
broadcasting inaccurate and slanderous information, NTV reported on 25
October. Kozyrev and Interfax claim that RFE/RL reported on 18 October
that the minister had visited a major Russian news agency and criticized
President Boris Yeltsin's direction of Russian foreign policy. Although
Kozyrev did visit Interfax that day, both he and the agency deny that he
criticized the president. -- Scott Parrish

KOZYREV STRIKES BACK. In a 25 October interview with Russian TV, Foreign
Minister Andrei Kozyrev responded to public criticism from President
Yeltsin, saying he would remain in office only if the president treated
him as a "comrade-in-arms," not as a "servant." "If people are needed
who can be talked down to," said Kozyrev, "then it would really be
better to look for a new team." Kozyrev criticized Yeltsin for
undermining Russia's international position by "publicly sorting out our
relationship" on the eve of "extremely complex negotiations." The
embattled foreign minister added that Yeltsin is under "enormous
political pressure," to shift Russian foreign policy towards increased
confrontation with the West but declared himself willing to remain in
office and "continue fighting" if Yeltsin wants to continue the policy
of "partnership" with the West. -- Scott Parrish

DUMA REPORT RECOMMENDS START II REVISIONS. A confidential report
circulating in the Duma recommends that the START II agreement be
ratified only if amended, Reuters reported on 25 October, citing the
Washington Times. Quoting a cable from the U.S. embassy in Moscow, the
paper reported that the Duma document generally supports ratification
but only if the treaty is modified to permit Russia to retain some land-
based multiple-warhead missiles, which it now bans totally, and only
after an agreement with Washington on limiting U.S. development of
tactical ballistic missile defenses, which Russian critics claim would
violate the 1972 ABM treaty. START II has previously faced severe public
criticism in both houses of the Russian Federal Assembly, bringing its
ratification into question, despite its endorsement by presidents
Yeltsin and Clinton at their 23 October Hyde Park summit. -- Scott
Parrish

RUSSIA MIGHT HAVE TO IMPORT GRAIN TO FEED ARMY. Russia might have to
import grain in the next few months to feed the military, Deputy
Agriculture Minister Vladimir Shchebak said on 25 October. Interfax
quoted him as saying that the federal grain reserve which is used to
feed the military and remote Arctic towns is low because the government
has been slow in buying domestic grain. Reuters reported that Russia is
expecting its lowest grain harvest in 30 years: about 65 million tons
compared with 81.3 million tons in 1994. -- Doug Clarke

RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL DUMPED AT MOSCOW AIRPORT. A small lead container
full of radioactive substances was discovered in a rubbish bin in the
men's toilets at Moscow's international airport Sheremetevo 2, Russian
media reported on 25 October. Experts are trying to determine the exact
nature of the substances in the container, found by a cleaning lady. --
Penny Morvant

NEW MEASURES TO STABILIZE ENERGY SUPPLY. The Federation Council has
passed a law on stabilizing the energy supply to the public,
organizations, and industrial enterprises, ITAR-TASS reported on 24
October. Under the law, power plants are prohibited from cutting off
electricity and heat if customers (including health, education, social
and municipal services, the Defense and Interior ministries, and the
most important industrial and agricultural enterprises) fail to pay
their bills. The law also bans fuel companies from withholding fuel from
power plants. In the first nine months of 1995, Russian electrical
stations received only 86% of the coal they needed and 81% of the fuel
oil, Interfax reported on 23 October. -- Natalia Gurushina

REDISCOUNT RATE GOES DOWN. The Central Bank has cut its annual
rediscount rate from 180% to 170%, Interfax reported on 24 October. It
is the third cut this year and, according to bank officials, it reflects
the relative stabilization of Russian industry and falling inflation.
Tatyana Paramonova, the acting head of the Central Bank of Russia, said
the bank intends to keep the rediscount rate above that of inflation.
According to Reuters report on 24 October, some foreign dealers in
Russian securities believe that the country still has one of the highest
real interest rates in the world. The rediscount rate cut had no impact
on Russian financial markets or exchange rates. -- Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

RUSSIA DISPUTES LEGALITY OF "DEAL OF THE CENTURY." Less than one month
after the Azerbaijani State Oil Company and the Azerbaijani
International Operating Company announced their decision to export
"early oil" from the Caspian Sea via both Russia and Georgia, Russian
Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev has again affirmed that the original
agreement on joint exploitation of three Azerbaijani oil fields is not
legally valid, AFP reported on 25 October, quoting ministry spokesman
Aleksandr Kodakov. -- Liz Fuller

TAJIK JOURNALIST RELEASED IN MOSCOW. A journalist from the Tajik
dissident newspaper Charogi Ruz, Mirzo Salimov, has been released by
Moscow police, according to a Radio Voice of Free Tajikistan report
cited by the BBC. The journalist was apprehended on 13 October by
Russian police and the Tajik prosecutor-general wanted to extradite him
to face charges in his homeland. The radio broadcast credits Salimov's
release to the efforts of the Tajik opposition and international
journalists' organizations. -- Bruce Pannier

BARCLAYS' CREDIT TO TURKMENISTAN. Barclays Bank is to open a $31 million
credit line to Turkmenistan for the purchase of British-manufactured
equipment to be used in the construction of a second landing strip at
Ashgabat airport, Interfax reported on 25 October. A new landing strip
may be in order as the recently constructed air control tower was built
without a view of the existing runway. -- Lowell Bezanis

IRANIAN-AZERBAIJANI RELATIONS. Commenting on Azerbaijan's recent
overtures to improve relations with Iran, Ali Majedi, a senior Iranian
Foreign Ministry official, said Tehran and Baku will have good ties as
long as Azerbaijan's behavior remains "rational," IRNA reported on 25
October. He welcomed Azerbaijan's "return to the fold" and noted that
Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Hasan Hasanov will visit Iran in the near
future. He also said Azerbaijan should not be "oversensitive" about his
country's ties to Armenia. Relations between Iran and Azerbaijan
deteriorated sharply in April when Iranian participation in the
international consortium exploiting three Caspian Sea oil fields was
rejected by Baku under U.S. pressure. When a two-track decision to
export the oil was announced in Baku on 9 October, Azerbaijan quickly
offered Iran a chance to join in the exploitation of the Shah Deniz
field in the Caspian. -- 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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