|He who knows nothing is nearer the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors. - Thomas Jefferson|
No. 211, Part I, 30 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 *********************************************************************** TODAY'S HEADLINES -- SUBWAY FIRE KILLS MORE THAN 300 IN BAKU. -- TsIK DENIES REGISTRATION TO YABLOKO. *********************************************************************** TOP STORY SUBWAY FIRE KILLS MORE THAN 300 IN BAKU. Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev declared two days of national mourning after an underground train fire killed at least 330 people and injured half as many just outside of Baku on 28 October, international media reported. A preliminary investigation indicates riders on a five-carriage train were trapped in a tunnel when an electrical fire broke out. -- Lowell Bezanis RUSSIA TsIK DENIES REGISTRATION TO YABLOKO . . . The Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) refused to register Yabloko's party on 29 October alleging the bloc could not prove that 13 of the candidates included on the party's list had voluntarily agreed to run, according to TsIK spokesman Parmen Shenshin. Yabloko's only recourse is to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, which it plans to do immediately, ITAR- TASS reported. Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii told NTV that the TsIK had accepted 421,000 signatures from his bloc and denied registration on a technicality, an action he described as a "political purge." Yegor Gaidar announced that Russia's Democratic Choice would not participate in the election if Yabloko was not registered because the bloc's absence would turn the elections into a "political farce." Communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov slammed the decision as a step toward canceling the elections, AFP reported. -- Robert Orttung . . . AND RUTSKOI'S DERZHAVA. The TsIK also denied registration to Former Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi's Derzhava movement on the grounds that 86 of the movement's candidates had been removed from the party list since registration documents were first submitted and two candidates had been included without their permission, Russian media reported on 29 October. TsIK Chairman Nikolai Ryabov said voters who signed petitions in support of those candidates were thus deceived. Many observers questioned the commission's decision, since 40 candidates have left Our Home Is Russia after the bloc submitted its list. Similarly, the TsIK registered the Bloc of Ivan Rybkin, even though almost as many candidates have deserted that bloc as Derzhava, according to ITAR-TASS. Rutskoi vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court to overturn the decision. -- Laura Belin YELTSIN REMAINS IN HOSPITAL. Presidential spokesman Sergei Medvedev described President Boris Yeltsin's condition on 29 October as "stable," but Western agencies claimed that Yeltsin is in worse shape than his aides admit. Yeltsin's doctors said he would remain in hospital until the end of November and limited visitors to his doctors, guards, and family members, Kommersant-Daily reported on 28 October. -- Robert Orttung DUMA OVERRIDES FEDERATION COUNCIL VETO ON FORMATION OF UPPER HOUSE. On 27 October, the Duma overrode the Federation Council's 25 October veto of the bill on the formation of the parliament's upper house with a vote of 309 to 1, ITAR-TASS reported. The bill meets the president's demand that the Federation Council automatically include executive and legislative branch leaders from Russia's 89 regions and republics but requires that they all be elected at the local level. Many of the current local executives are Yeltsin appointees. -- Robert Orttung MOSKOVSKII KOMSOMOLETS JOURNALIST SENTENCED AND AMNESTIED. In what his lawyer denounced as a "monstrous precedent," Moskovskii komsomolets journalist Vadim Poegli was sentenced to a year of "corrective labor" (working at a job specified by the government) with 30% of his salary withheld after a court found he had insulted Defense Minister Pavel Grachev by calling him a "thief" in print, Russian media reported on 27 October. His sentence was immediately suspended under an amnesty declared by the Duma shortly before celebrations of the 50th anniversary of V-E Day. However, Poegli has vowed to appeal the verdict and not to accept the amnesty. The outraged Moskovskii komsomolets editorial board on 28 October repeated the contention of Poegli's October 1994 article "Pasha-Mercedes": "A thief should be in prison, not the defense minister." -- Laura Belin NEW PHASE IN CHECHEN NEGOTIATIONS? After returning to Grozny on 29 October following talks in Moscow with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Doku Zavgaev, the head of the Moscow-backed Chechen government, told ITAR-TASS that he and Chernomyrdin had agreed that the negotiation process in Chechnya should now shift to an "internal political track." Recent comments by other Russian officials, including Minister of Nationalities Vyacheslav Mikhailov, also suggest that a political settlement should emerge from talks among different Chechen factions rather than negotiations between Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev and federal government officials. The situation in Chechnya remained tense, however, as 2,000 pro-independence demonstrators held a rally in Grozny on 27 October and Russian Public TV (ORT) reported that a bomb had been defused outside the headquarters of Zavgaev's government the same day. Meanwhile, one federal serviceman died after Russian troops came under fire 46 times on 29 October. -- Scott Parrish U.S., RUSSIA REACH PARTIAL AGREEMENT ON BOSNIA. Russia will send several thousand non-combat troops to Bosnia as part of a joint U.S.-Russian special operational contingent, according to an agreement worked out on 27 October between U.S. Defense Minister William Perry and his Russian counterpart, General Pavel Grachev. According to ITAR-TASS, the force will be under the joint command of U.S. General George Joulwan and Russian General Leontii Shevtsov. The joint contingent will land in Bosnia several weeks after the main disengagement forces have been introduced and they will be engaged in construction, transportation, and engineering tasks. -- Doug Clarke PERRY AND GRACHEV REACH CFE COMPROMISE. U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry announced on 28 October that the U.S. will support a new Russian proposal altering the flank limitations in the 1990 CFE agreement, Russian and Western agencies reported. Russia will present the proposal, which excludes the Pskov, Novgorod, and Vologda oblasts from the northern flank limit, and the Krasnodar, Stavropol, Volgograd, and Rostov regions from the southern flank limit, to the other signatories of the CFE treaty in mid-November. Defense Minister Pavel Grachev told Interfax on 29 October that Perry had accepted most of what Russia had asked for with respect to the southern flank limit, while the Russians had agreed to drop their demand that the Leningrad region be excluded from the northern flank restrictions. -- Doug Clarke and Scott Parrish RUSSIA TO BUILD BREEDER REACTOR TO BURN PLUTONIUM. Minister of Nuclear Power Viktor Mikhailov announced plans to build a fast breeder reactor to consume plutonium from decommissioned nuclear weapons, Russian and Western agencies reported on 28 October. Mikhailov said the reactor, which will be constructed in Chelyabinsk Oblast, will also help recycle nuclear waste from civilian nuclear power reactors and nuclear submarines of the Russian navy. Construction of the reactor will begin next year and be completed by 2005, at the cost of $800 million. Ministry experts cited by Interfax said Russia currently has a stockpile of 30 metric tons of plutonium, which presents serious long-term storage problems. -- Scott Parrish MORDOVAN DEPUTY MURDERED WHILE LECTURING. Saransk City Council Deputy Oleg Yenikeev was murdered while lecturing at Moscow State University on 27 October, Russian news agencies reported the same day. The 34-year-old professor of technical sciences who also headed one of the largest criminal groups in Mordoviya was shot by several hired killers. Police surrounded the university building, but failed to detain the gunmen, according to sources in the Mordovan Interior Ministry. The report said that a Southwestern criminal group, whose leader was killed two weeks ago, may have been responsible for the murder. -- Thomas Sigel SHAPOSHNIKOV APPOINTED HEAD OF AEROFLOT. Marshal Yevgenii Shaposhnikov was appointed to head Russia's national airline Aeroflot, on 27 October, ITAR-TASS reported. Shaposhnikov replaces Vladimir Tikhonov, whom the employees' union accused of fraud and various legal violations in the privatization of the airline. Shaposhnikov became Soviet defense minister after supporting former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev during the 1991 coup attempt. He later worked with the state-owned arms trading company Rosvooruzheniye. -- Thomas Sigel BANK INVESTMENT IN RUSSIAN INDUSTRY ON THE INCREASE. Bank investment in Russian industry, currently totaling from $50 million to $70 million (according to different estimates) is on the increase, Delovoi ekspress reported on 27 October. According to the Economics Ministry, member- banks of the Russian Assembly of Investors are prepared to inject another 2 trillion rubles ($440 million) into the Russian economy, if the government will guarantee banks' investments with state securities. -- Natalia Gurushina GROWING UNEMPLOYMENT IN THE MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX. Regions with a high concentration of military-industrial enterprises face mounting unemployment. The number of unemployed registered during the last year in the Amur Oblast increased by 250%, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 October. Estimates show that only 10% of those made redundant will be able to find another job. -- Natalia Gurushina CHERNOMYRDIN PROMISES SUPPORT FOR FARMERS. Prime Minister Chernomyrdin said that state financial support for agricultural enterprises of all types in 1995, including the postponement of debt repayment, will total 35 trillion rubles ($7.8 billion), ITAR-TASS reported on 27 October. According to Chernomyrdin, farmers have received only 27% of the funds allocated to them in the federal budget. Out of 80 billion rubles ($17.8 million) designated for the lease of agricultural equipment, only 50 billion rubles ($11.1 million) have been paid. As a result, 19,000 private farms in Russia (out of 283,000) went bankrupt in 1995. Chernomyrdin said that the government would adopt a program offering support to private farms and small-scale agricultural enterprises. The government plans to provide 100 billion rubles ($22.2 million) for leasing agricultural equipment and would guarantee the purchase of this year's harvest. -- Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA PRE-ELECTION ALLEGATIONS IN AZERBAIJAN. A recently sacked adviser to Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev has gone public with allegations of official wrong-doing in the run up to the 12 November parliamentary elections. At a 27 October press conference, Panahov, who was barred from running in the elections by the Central Election Commission the same day, provided journalists with a list of 36 candidates whom he said the president and his brother, Jalal Aliev, handpicked for election, Turan reported. He also charged that authorities had decided in advance to bar Musavat from the elections. He also noted that bribes "totalled millions" under former President Abulfez Elchibey, but that they "stand at billions" under Aliev. He specifically charged parliamentary speaker Rasul Guliev with corruption. In other news, the Azerbaijani Supreme Court has upheld a ban on the participation of Azerbaijan's Communist Party in the elections, Interfax reported on 26 October. -- Lowell Bezanis KYRGYZ AUTHORITIES HEAD OFF DEMONSTRATION. Local militia and Interior Ministry special forces (OMON) prevented a demonstration called for by Kyrgyz communist and nationalist parties from taking place in Bishkek on 28 October, AFP reported. About 200 people planned to hold a demonstration calling for fair and open elections in December on Alatau Place in the Kyrgyz capital, but the militia held what appeared to be an anti-terrorist exercise. More than 750 members of the militia and OMON armed with assault rifles and light armored vehicles used empty buses to simulate an attack on a terrorist held positions. A spokesman for the Erkin Kyrgyzstan Party said the demonstrators dispersed in order to "avoid an explosive situation." -- Bruce Pannier OPPOSITION CANDIDATES JOIN FORCES TO DEFEAT AKAEV? The BBC cited an article in the Kyrgyz newspaper Delo No... that claims some of the candidates running against President Askar Akaev are working together to prevent his re-election. The paper listed the leaders of Ata-Meken, the Communist Party, Adilet, the Human Rights Movement of Kyrgyzstan, and others, including parliament deputies, as being involved. -- Bruce Pannier KAZAKHSTAN TO CHANGE MILITARY'S ORGANIZATION. Kazakhstani Defense Minister Alibek Kasymov said his government intends to overhaul the Kazakh armed forces, Interfax reported on 27 October. Kasymov said the air force, air defenses and land forces will be reorganized "in order to have a small, mobile, well-prepared, and well-equipped army." He said ranks would be filled using volunteers and conscripts and that Kazakhstan will still cooperate militarily with Russia but will maintain relations with other countries such as China and the U.S. -- Bruce Pannier [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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