|Absence makes the heart grow fonder. -|
No. 212, Part I, 31 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 TOP STORY^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ OUTRAGE CONTINUES OVER YABLOKO REGISTRATION DENIAL. Russian politicians and media almost universally condemned the Central Electoral Commission's (TsIK) decision to deny registration to the Yabloko bloc. Izvestiya 's page one headline on 31 October said that the TsIK's actions could "wreck the elections." Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said the decision was "poorly thought out" and "a serious blow" to democracy in the country. Congress of Russian Communities leader Yurii Skokov was less sympathetic, saying that Yabloko did not meet the requirements of the law, a sentiment shared by Agrarian Party leader Mikhail Lapshin. Vladimir Zhirinovsky said that he trusts the decision of the election officials, Interfax reported. -- Robert Orttung ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^OTHER HEADLINES^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Chernomyrdin in Control During Yeltsin Illness Dzhaba Ioseliani in Exclusive Interview ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ RUSSIA RYABOV SAYS YABLOKO DECISION MAY BE REEXAMINED. The chairman of the Central Electoral Commission (TsIK), Nikolai Ryabov, told NTV on 30 October that he may take another look at the decision to deny registration to Yabloko. He suggested that if Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii appealed to the commission for another hearing, it could find a "compromise decision." Ryabov said there could be similar incidents in the future and possibly "more than one." The secretary of the TsIK, Aleksandr Veshnyakov, told the official newspaper Rossiiskaya gazeta that even though Yabloko is an influential party, "no one is allowed to break the law." -- Robert Orttung ELECTION SCANDAL THREATENS EU-RUSSIA ACCORD. International reaction to the disqualification of Grigorii Yavlinskii's Yabloko and Aleksandr Rutskoi's Derzhava has been uniformly negative. In Brussels, the European Parliament said it would hold up ratification of the EU-Russia partnership agreement signed in June 1994 until the dispute over registering Yabloko and Derzhava is resolved. French EU MP Helene Carrere D'Encausse, a well-known Russia scholar, told AFP that the delay was intended to send Russia a message "that there is a clause on democracy in the accord." The partnership accord will not go into effect until it is ratified by all member-states of the EU and the European parliament. In Washington, D.C., a spokesman for President Bill Clinton also expressed "concern" with the disqualifications. -- Scott Parrish SUPREME COURT BACKS SOME PARTIES THAT WERE DENIED REGISTRATION. The Supreme Court may overturn the refusal by the Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) to register Yabloko and Derzhava for parliamentary elections. On 30 October, the court instructed the TsIK to register Democratic Russia and the Federal Democratic Movement by 1 November, Russian media reported. Those parties had claimed that the TsIK unnecessarily delayed examining their registration documents. Galina Starovoitova, Gleb Yakunin, and Lev Ponomarev are co-chairmen of Democratic Russia. Former KGB General Oleg Kalugin is a prominent figure in the Federal Democratic Movement. The Supreme Court will hear appeals against the TsIK from Yabloko and Derzhava within the next few days, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Laura Belin CHERNOMYRDIN IN CONTROL DURING YELTSIN ILLNESS. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said that the power ministers and the foreign minister would have to get his approval for major decisions while President Yeltsin is in the hospital, ITAR-TASS reported 30 October. He said that the president entrusted him to deal with all issues, even those that are not usually part of the government's work. In 1994, Yeltsin had subordinated the power ministers and the foreign minister to himself directly, rather than to the prime minister. -- Robert Orttung ZAVGAEV READY TO MEET DUDAEV. Doku Zavgaev, head of the Moscow-backed Chechen government, told Russian Public TV (ORT) on 30 October that he would hold talks with any political force in Chechnya, including separatist Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev, if it would help produce a stable political settlement. Zavgaev also suggested former Russian Supreme Soviet Speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov should play a more active role in the political talks. Fighting in Chechnya slackened on 30 October, as two federal servicemen were killed in 27 attacks on Russian positions. -- Scott Parrish RUSSIA PROPOSES LIFTING YUGOSLAV SANCTIONS. Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigorii Karasin told ITAR-TASS on 30 October that Russia would press for UN economic sanctions against rump Yugoslavia to be suspended as soon as the Yugoslav peace talks open in Ohio. However, he later told Interfax that the other members of the international Contact Group had rejected the Russian proposal. Meanwhile, Defense Minister Pavel Grachev said that despite the recent Russian-U.S. agreement on providing logistical support troops for the proposed Bosnian peace implementation force, Russia also hopes to send 1,000 peacekeepers to help police any settlement. Grachev said command arrangements for those peacekeepers remained unresolved and would be addressed at an 8-9 November meeting with his U.S. counterpart, William Perry. -- Scott Parrish RUSSIA, IRAN, AND THE CASPIAN: MORE OF THE SAME. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksei Bolshakov arrived in Tehran for talks on 30 October. Predictably, the two sides called for the five Caspian Sea littoral states to share in the exploitation of its resources and announced their intention to cooperate in developing oil and gas fields in the Caspian, Western agencies reported. Following the 9 October decision to export so-called early oil via Georgia and Russia, Russia has emphasized the need to determine the legal status of the Caspian before exploitation begins. Iran has refused to be wooed by Azerbaijan's recent offer to join in the exploitation of the gas-rich Shah Deniz field as compensation for its being ousted from the Caspian pipeline project. Russia and Iran are threatening to disrupt such deals unless they are suitably compensated. -- Lowell Bezanis KURDS, TURKS, AND RUSSIA. A three-day meeting of the so-called Kurdish parliament-in-exile began in Moscow on 30 October, Yeni Yuzyil reported. The third sitting of the body, which Turkey considers to be connected to the insurgent Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK), is taking place in a building attached to the Russian parliament. The Turkish government has officially protested the fact that the meeting is being held in Russia. Russian interest in the welfare of the Kurds is a reliable barometer of overall Turko-Russian relations; of late they have been particularly strained over the issue of oil export routes for Caspian Sea and Kazakhstani oil. -- Lowell Bezanis RUSSIA SIGNS MILITARY PACT WITH GREECE. Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev and his Greek counterpart, Gerassimov Arsenis, signed a military cooperation agreement in Athens on 30 October, Western agencies reported. The agreement called for what Greek Defense Ministry officials called "unprecedented cooperation" in arms production, supply, and technical assistance. It means that NATO-member Greece will receive Russian arms and spare parts and the two will cooperate in arms production. More than a year ago, Arsenis said Greece was formulating a new defense policy that would keep it within the framework of its NATO membership but would take into account the "new strategic realities" in the region. -- Doug Clarke COMPROMISE REACHED ON BUDGET FORECAST. Russia's State Duma Committee and the Russian government reached a compromise on next year's inflation targets, eliminating a major stumbling block to approving the 1996 budget, ITAR-TASS reported on 30 October. The committee voted to base the 1996 budget on a forecast of average monthly inflation of 1.9%, up from the earlier government estimate of 1.2%. The government must now recalculate the budget based on the new forecast, and it will be submitted again to the Duma. Some deputies originally wanted the budget to allow for an inflation rate of 3-5%, but government officials want to continue pursuing their anti-inflationary policies. The government wants the budget approved before a new Duma is elected on 17 December. The current draft puts spending at 414 trillion rubles ($92 billion) and revenues at 333 trillion ($74 billion). -- Thomas Sigel UNLICENSED COMPANIES OPERATING IN STOCK MARKET TO BE CLOSED. Financial companies taking deposits without a license from Russia's Central Bank must seek licenses or transform themselves into investment funds, otherwise they will be closed and their property will be sold to compensate depositors for damages, Dmitrii Vasiliev, the executive director of the Federal Commission for Securities and the Stock Market, told Russian agencies on 30 October. Only two out of 883 unlicensed companies--Russkii Dom Selenga and Russkaya Nedvizhimost--have submitted applications to transform into investment funds. The practical steps will begin next week when regulations on licensing depositories and managing companies are to come into effect, Vasiliev said. -- Thomas Sigel TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA DZHABA IOSELIANI INTERVIEW. In a 30 October interview with OMRI, Dzhaba Ioseliani, the leader of Archevnebi [elections], said his political organization "emphasizes professionalism" and support of "specific individuals" and will self-liquidate after the elections. The group is opposed to party politics in parliament and favors judicial and administrative reform. Ioseliani termed the constitution "half-baked" as it contained no reference to land reform, private property, or the "ideal" administrative system. He said Archevnebi is strongly opposed to the division of Georgia into provinces and alleged that parliamentary chairman Eduard Shevardnadze had violated the constitution by appointing local governors. He predicted that both the parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for 5 November would fail to produce clear winners. Ioseliani, who founded the paramilitary Mkhedrioni, said he had not been arrested to date because the authorities could not find anything concrete against him and it would be too embarrassing for Shevardnadze. "After all, I was the one who brought [Shevardnadze] back to Tbilisi," he said. -- Liz Fuller in Tbilisi MOBIL OIL MAY GET 10% SHARE OF TENGIZ FIELD. Kazakhstan is prepared to sell 10% of its share of the Tengiz oil field in western Kazakhstan to the U.S. company Mobil Oil, according to Interfax. Presidential spokesman Dulat Kuanyshev said Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbaev had discussed the matter while visiting the U.S. during the 50th anniversary celebration for the UN. The U.S. company Chevron Oil is already a partner in the Tengiz joint venture and company officials say they are not interested in selling "a single percent" of their stake. Earlier this year, in response to export difficulties, Chevron cut its planned investments for 1995 from $500 million to $50 million. -- Bruce Pannier TAJIK OPPOSITION CLAIMS TO HAVE RELEASED 17 HOSTAGES. Said Abdullo Nuri, leader of the United Tajik Opposition, said 17 of the 54 government soldiers taken hostage have been released as a good will gesture, according to Interfax. The soldiers were captured on 13 October in the Tavil-Dara region east of the Tajik capital, Dushanbe. The opposition seems to be using the hostages to pressure the Tajik government to return to the negotiating table. The Tajik government has not confirmed the release. -- Bruce Pannier KAZAKH FIRM SAYS ARMS SHIPMENT TO NORTH KOREA LEGAL. The director of the Kazakh firm Ulan claims the shipment of weapons bound for North Korea that was detained by Russian border guards had all the required documents. In an interview published on 27 October in the daily Kazakhstanskaya pravda and cited by the BBC, the director, whose name is given only as T. Ibraev, said a contract had been concluded with the permission of the Kazakhstani government in accordance with the regulations of the CIS for shipment to North Korea. He also stated that advance permission had been given by Russian authorities and the "unjustifiable detention" of the cargo is "causing serious damage to Kazakh-Russian relations." -- Bruce Pannier EMERGENCY CORPS IN CENTRAL ASIA. At a meeting of the CIS Emergencies Council in Tashkent it was decided that a corps for emergencies in Central Asia will be established, ITAR-TASS reported on 26 October. At least 4,000 people, including a civil defense regiment and special rescue teams, will be involved. Aside from Turkmenistan and the Baltic states, all former Soviet republics participated in the meeting. Other branches will be established for Russia, another for Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova, and a third for the Transcaucasus. -- Lowell Bezanis [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. To receive the OMRI Daily Digest by mail or fax, please direct inquiries to OMRI Publications, Na Strzi 63, 140 62 Prague 4, Czech Republic; or electronically to OMRIPUB@OMRI.CZ Tel.: (42-2) 6114 2114; fax: (42-2) 426 396 Please note that there is a new procedure for obtaining permission to reprint or redistribute the OMRI Daily Digest. Before reprinting or redistributing this publication, please write firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy of the new policy or look at this URL: http://www.omri.cz/Publications/Digests/DigestReprint.html OMRI also publishes the biweekly journal Transition, which contains expanded analysis of many of the topics in the Daily Digest. For Transition subscription information send an e-mail to TRANSITION@OMRI.CZ Copyright (C) 1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
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