|The highest possible stage in moral culture is when we recognize that we ought to control our thoughts. - Charles Darwin|
No. 213, Part I, 1 November 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ DEMOCRATIC RUSSIA THROWS SUPPORT BEHIND YABLOKO. Just one day after winning their Supreme Court appeal to be included on the ballot, the leaders of Democratic Russia (DR) announced that they would withdraw their party list from the December election and throw their support behind Yabloko, Russian media reported on 31 October. DR co-chairwoman Galina Starovoitova said the movement's 73 regional branches will urge supporters to vote for Yabloko's party list so as not to split the democratic electorate. However, she told NTV that DR will still field candidates in some single-member districts where they will not be in direct competition with Russia's Democratic Choice or Yabloko. DR was the core organization of the democratic movement after its appearance in 1990. It helped found Russia's Choice in 1993, then split with the party the following year. * Laura Belin ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^OTHER HEADLINES^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ KARIMOV BLASTS NIYAZOV, RUSSIAN INTENTIONS NEW LINEUP FOR KAZAKHSTANI OIL CONSORTIUM ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ RUSSIA YELTSIN ASKS FOR CLARIFICATION OF REGISTRATION DENIAL. Following the Central Electoral Commission's (TsIK) decision not to register Yabloko, President Boris Yeltsin asked TsIK Chairman Nikolai Ryabov to provide more information on whether any parties had violated the law and whose lists had been registered, ITAR-TASS reported on 31 October. However, Ryabov told Russian TV that Yeltsin had not requested any explanation and the reports were "fabrications." The TsIK registered an additional eight parties yesterday but denied registration to two minor parties, without scandal. * Robert Orttung KORZHAKOV VISITS YELTSIN. The head of the presidential security service, Aleksandr Korzhakov, visited President Yeltsin in the hospital on 31 October, NTV reported. Doctors have prevented all but Yeltsin's guard and family from seeing him, although a visit with his top aide, Viktor Ilyushin, is planned for 1 November. Although doctors held their first press conference to reassure the world about the president's health on 31 October, Izvestiya and Komsomolskaya pravda both complained the next day that they did not have enough information about the president's condition to evaluate his ability to run the country. The Russian press is full of speculation about how much influence the president's aides are exerting while Yeltsin is incapacitated. Ilyushin sought to quash those rumors by stating that the president's stay in the hospital would not affect domestic or foreign policy and that Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin continues to run the government with Yeltsin's support. * Robert Orttung RUSSIA'S CHOICE SUPPORTS SPECIAL DUMA SESSION. Yegor Gaidar's Russia's Choice Duma faction is collecting the 90 signatures necessary to call a special Duma session to amend the electoral law. The session would be held on 4 November, at least a week before the next scheduled session, ITAR-TASS reported on 31 October. The deputy chairman of the faction, Boris Zolotukhin, said the proposed amendments to the electoral law would prevent "intentional or unintentional mistakes" by the Central Electoral Commission, such as its decision not to register the Yabloko bloc. * Robert Orttung COURT DECISION CLARIFIES CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT PROCESS. The Constitutional Court ruled that amendments to the constitution are "special legal acts" and clarified the process by which they are to be adopted, Russian TV and ITAR-TASS reported on 31 October. Amendments must be approved by two-thirds of the Duma, three-fourths of the Federation Council, and two-thirds of the legislatures of Russia's 89 regions, after which they must be signed by the president. The Duma had asked the court to clarify Article 136 of the constitution, which does not specify whether the president has the authority to veto amendments (see OMRI Daily Digest, 19 October 1995). * Laura Belin AIDE URGES COMPROMISE BETWEEN KRASNOYARSK AND TAIMYR. Presidential aide Nikolai Yegorov urged a special session of the legislature of Krasnoyarsk Krai to conclude an economic cooperation agreement with the Taimyr Autonomous Okrug, which is located in the north of the krai, Radio Rossii reported on 31 October. In May, the Taimyr legislature voted to annex the city of Norilsk, a center for nickel production that is located in Taimyr but currently pays taxes to Krasnoyarsk. According to ITAR-TASS, Yegorov said that if Krasnoyarsk and Taimyr are unable to reach a compromise, aides will suggest that the president take "tough measures" to resolve the conflict. * Laura Belin ZAVGAEV SAYS LOCAL ELECTIONS IMPOSSIBLE IN CHECHNYA. Doku Zavgaev, head of the Moscow-backed Chechen government, rejected early local elections in Chechnya, telling Interfax on 31 October it would be "immoral" to hold them while people continued to live in bombed-out buildings lacking heat, electricity, or water. His statement appeared to contradict earlier promises by Russian officials to hold local elections next spring. Meanwhile, NTV reported that the Russian military is preparing for a winter campaign, while Russian Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov told a press conference in Rostov-na-Donu that "all means of firepower" should be used to disarm "irreconcilable" separatist fighters. Kulikov added that political negotiations should now shift to direct talks between Zavgaev's government and individual Chechen field commanders, excluding separatist Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev. * Scott Parrish RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY DISAVOWS KURDISH "PARLIAMENT." The Russian Foreign Ministry on 31 October condemned attempts to portray a seminar in Moscow on the problems of Kurds as a session of a "Kurdish parliament-in-exile," Western and Russian agencies reported. In response to a protest by Turkey, the ministry said Russian officials had nothing to do with such attempts, which it attributed to "foreign citizens" among the participants in the seminar organized by the Duma Committee on Geopolitics. Russia favors the development of "mutually beneficial relations" with Turkey, according to the ministry, and "does not encourage any separatist tendencies." * Scott Parrish RUSSIA SUBMITS CFE REVISIONS IN VIENNA. At a 31 October conference on the 1990 CFE treaty in Vienna, Russian diplomats presented proposed amendments which would loosen the "flank limits" Russia must meet under the agreement, Russian and Western agencies reported. The Russian proposals, which emerged from Russian-U.S. talks on the issue, exclude certain districts from the treaty's definition of Russia's northern and southern flanks, allowing Russia to station more heavy weapons there than the treaty currently permits (see OMRI Daily Digest, 30 October 1995). Turkey immediately objected to the Russian proposal, and the Baltic States, Finland, and Norway have also expressed reservations about revising the treaty. Any formal changes in the agreement, which is to go into effect on 17 November, must be accepted by all 30 signatories. * Scott Parrish RUSSIA DISMANTLING "BURAN" SHUTTLES. The two unfinished "Buran" space shuttles are being dismantled at the production site, Interfax reported on 31 October. The dismantling is probably the final episode in the history of the world's most powerful space system, Energiya-Buran. The Russian space shuttle program fell victim to a lack of funds. The Buran manufacturer, the Tushino Engineering Plant, is to be converted for the production of Ikarus buses, disposable syringes, and diapers. * Natalia Gurushina ALTAI KRAI POWER SUPPLY THREATENED. Russia's Sibirenergo, an electricity supplier, has threatened to cut off the power supply to the regional utility company in Altai Krai unless it repays its energy bill of 380 billion rubles ($84 million) soon, Interfax reported on 31 October. The krai has to import electricity to cover 50% of its energy needs. At the same time, local consumers owe the regional Altaienergo company about 500 billion rubles ($110 million). * Thomas Sigel YUKOS TO SELL 78% OF SHARES AT AUCTION AND INVESTMENT TENDER. Yukos, a major Russian oil company, intends to begin accepting bids on 31 October for an investment tender and an auction on the transfer of 78% of the federally owned shares in Yukos as collateral security under the shares- for-equity scheme, Interfax reported on 30 October. A source in the Russian Federal Property Fund told Interfax that the 45% bloc of shares offered for the auction would have a starting price of $150 million. A 33% bloc of shares in Yukos will be sold through an investment tender at a starting price of $350 million. The deadline for submitting bids for the auction and the investment tender is 5 December. * Thomas Sigel POLICE BATTLE TAX EVASION. The head of the Russian Tax Police Department, Sergei Almazov, announced that in the first nine months of this year his department discovered 9,000 cases of large-scale tax evasion, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 31 October. The resulting loss of budgetary revenue equaled 5 trillion rubles ($1.1 billion), a threefold increase compared to the same period in 1994. According to the Tax Police, many of those cases lead to criminal groups, which account for nearly 40% of trade turnover in Russia. * Natalia Gurushina RUSSIA MAY LOSE FINANCIAL CONTROL OVER ITS FLEET. Officials at the Sea Transport Department fear that the transfer of federally-owned shares in shipping fleets and ports to foreigners might result in Russia losing control over its commercial fleet, Interfax reported on 31 October. Currently, foreign companies' share in the equity capital of Russian fleets ranges from 11% (Murmansk sea lines) to 29% (Baltic sea lines). On 17 November, the government plans to auction off its stakes in the Far East, Novorossiisk, and Murmansk fleets and the Arkhangelsk and Murmansk ports in exchange for new credits. If the government fails to repay the loans, federal shares will pass to new owners-private Russian and foreign companies. Department officials recommend that at least 25% of the commercial fleet's shares should remain under federal ownership. * Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA KARIMOV BLASTS NIYAZOV, RUSSIAN INTENTIONS. In an interview broadcast on Uzbek TV on 27 October, President Islam Karimov sharply criticized his Turkmen counterpart, Saparmurad Niyazov, and "various forces" who are aiming to restore the Soviet Union. He censured Niyazov for failing to attend a 20 September UN conference on the Aral Sea crisis, which affects Turkmenistan "first of all." He went on to say "forces, movements, and demonstrations" in Russia threaten "our development and future." He warned neighboring states who use Russian troops to guard their borders, a veiled reference to Turkmenistan, that "nobody will guard you for nothing." He went on to suggest they were "fools" and would lose control over their countries. * Lowell Bezanis NEW LINEUP FOR KAZAKHSTANI OIL CONSORTIUM. Kazakhstan has suspended Oman's participation in the Caspian Oil Consortium for failing to meet its financial obligations, Interfax and AFP reported. Oman's share in the project was given over to Western companies. Also involved in the project, which includes the construction of a new pipeline estimated to cost $1.8 billion, are Mobil Oil, British Gas, and the Italian company Agip. Interfax reported that Russia and Kazakhstan each have a 25% share with the remaining 50% being divided up between the other companies. Kazakh Oil and Gas Minister Nurlan Balginbaev said Oman could still join in and will "receive as much as it invests." In a related deal, Chevron Oil agreed to hand over part of its 50% stake in the Tengiz oil field to the Russian company LUKoil. * Bruce Pannier KYRGYZSTAN SEEKS BETTER ECONOMIC TIES WITH RUSSIA. Kyrgyz Prime Minister Apas Jumagulov said his country would seek to mend broken economic ties with Russia, Interfax reported. Speaking at a news conference, Jumagulov stated that an improved relationship with Russia would help lower inflation and stabilize the national currency. In September, Kyrgyzstan expressed its desire to join the customs union of Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. The president of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, Arkadii Volskii, echoed Jumagulov's statements, saying "economic sovereignty is sheer nonsense." Volskii noted that agreements had been signed on cooperation in oil refining, electric engineering, oil prospecting, and tourism. * Bruce Pannier ABASHIDZE ATTACKED? An alleged terrorist attack on Aslan Abashidze, the chairman of the Supreme Council of the Georgian autonomous region of Adzharia, was averted on 29 October, the Black Sea Press reported on 31 October, quoting an Adzhar Security Service official. Two armed individuals who reportedly tried to force Abashidze's motorcade to a halt as he was returning to Batumi from Kobuleti have been arrested in connection with the incident. * Liz Fuller in Tbilisi [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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