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No. 214, Part I, 2 November 1995
********************************************************************** The new weekly OMRI Economic Digest will be delivered free of charge to Daily Digest subscribers on four successive weeks beginning on 2 November and ending on 23 November For more information about the Economic Digest, including subscription rates, please contact OMRI in one of the following ways: --send an e-mail message to ECON@OMRI.CZ --call OMRI in Prague, Czech Republic, at (422) 6114-2114 --fax: (422) 6114-3184 --through our World Wide Web page: http://www.omri.cz/Econ/Info.html ********************************************************************** 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CONGRESS OF RUSSIAN COMMUNITIES, COMMUNISTS MAY FORM BLOC. Sources close to the leadership of the Congress of Russian Communities (KRO) claim that the bloc may announce an electoral alliance with the Communist Party, Russian TV reported on 1 November. Observers expect a statement about those plans on 3 November when KRO leaders Yurii Skokov and Lt. Gen. (ret.) Aleksandr Lebed return from a campaign trip to Krasnoyarsk Krai. Communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov said that he sees a strong basis for cooperation and that he is in regular contact with the KRO leaders, NTV reported on 1 November. Lebed did not rule out the idea of cooperating with the Communists in an 18 October press conference, but Skokov is less receptive to the idea. The reports did not specify what form the alliance would take. -- Robert Orttung ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ RUSSIA YELTSIN'S HEALTH UNCERTAIN. "I cannot say that the president looks healthy," first aide Viktor Ilyushin told reporters after a 10-minute visit with Boris Yeltsin in the hospital on 1 November, NTV reported. He made it clear that the president himself realizes that his situation is "no joking matter." Ilyushin's remarks contradicted the optimistic assessment that the head of the Presidential Security Service, Aleksandr Korzhakov, made on 1 November and the upbeat tone set by the president's press service. Korzhakov was the only aide to see Yeltsin during the first six days of his illness. In answer to reporters' questions, Ilyushin said Korzhakov is not interfering in his work. Yeltsin has not set a time to meet with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, ITAR-TASS reported on 2 November. -- Robert Orttung YABLOKO, DERZHAVA APPEAL TO SUPREME COURT. The Supreme Court has three days to consider appeals filed on 1 November by Grigorii Yavlinskii's Yabloko and Aleksandr Rutskoi's Derzhava against the Central Electoral Commission (TsIK), Russian media reported. The court is likely to find in favor of the claimants, as it has already instructed the TsIK to register four parties who filed similar complaints: Democratic Russia and the Federal Democratic Movement on 30 October, and Our Future (led by the extreme communist Sazhi Umalatova) and Assembly of the Land on 1 November. -- Laura Belin RYBKIN DEFENDS DUMA'S RECORD. During its almost two years' work, the State Duma has adopted 360 laws, 240 of which Yeltsin signed, according to Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin. He said that the Duma itself had prepared most of those laws and criticized the government for not introducing more bills. He said the government's low output was due to internal disagreements within its ranks and the inability of the various factions to compromise. Rybkin suggested reducing the number of deputy ministers while increasing the importance of the ministers. He said the president should be required to gain the Duma's approval for naming key ministers. Under the current constitution only the nominee for prime minister must be submitted for parliamentary approval. -- Robert Orttung PAPER SPECULATES ON PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES. The outcome of the 1996 presidential elections will depend on the ability of each of the four "super-parties"--the "party of power," the democrats, the communists, and the nationalists--to agree on a single candidate and thereby get past the first round, according to Nezavisimaya gazeta on 1 November. The paper speculated that the "party of power" is for now loyal to Yeltsin but will switch to Chernomyrdin if the president's health continues to deteriorate. Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov has solid financial backing, but he is unlikely to attract popular support outside the capital. The democrats could unite behind Grigorii Yavlinskii, but not all their supporters may be willing to back his candidacy. So far the communists appear to be sticking with Gennadii Zyuganov. The main nationalist candidate will be either Vladimir Zhirinovsky or Aleksandr Lebed, depending on the outcome of the December parliamentary elections. -- Laura Belin JOURNALIST WHO CALLED GRACHEV A "THIEF" FILES APPEAL. Moskovskii komsomolets reporter Vadim Poegli, who was convicted last week of insulting Defense Minister Pavel Grachev but immediately amnestied, has appealed the ruling, Ekho Moskvy reported on 1 November. On 31 October, the paper reprinted Poegli's October 1994 article, "Pasha Mercedes," signed by the entire editorial board. -- Laura Belin VLADIMIR AUTHORITIES CLASH OVER REGIONAL ELECTIONS. Vladimir Oblast and city legislatures, both dominated by Communist deputies, are insisting on holding mayoral and gubernatorial elections on 17 December, the same day as Duma elections, while regional executive officials consider that date to be too early, Radio Rossii reported on 1 November. The Central Electoral Commission allowed the regional electoral commission to start preparations for elections but added that they would not necessarily be held on 17 December. Nikolai Yegorov, Vladimir's presidential representative, and Oblast Governor Yurii Vlasov said they will follow the 17 September presidential decree, which instructed the majority of regions to elect local executive heads and local legislatures in March 1996. -- Anna Paretskaya ZAVGAEV APPOINTED CHECHEN HEAD OF STATE. In a move likely to increase tensions in Chechnya, a meeting of the Chechen Supreme Soviet on 1 November unanimously elected Doku Zavgaev, prime minister of the Moscow- backed Chechen government, as "head of state" of the republic, Russian and Western agencies reported. The new post, which is equivalent to that of president, was created in order to facilitate "stability" in Chechnya, a spokesman for Zavgaev told Interfax. The session also appointed Sanakii Arbiev as first deputy prime minister and Grozny Mayor Baslan Gantemirov as deputy prime minister, in what appears to be a consolidation of all forces opposed to separatist President Dzhokhar Dudaev. Nevertheless, 1,000 pro-Dudaev demonstrators held a protest meeting in central Grozny on 1 November, and Dudaev's negotiator, Khodzh-akhmed Yarikhanov, denounced Zavgaev as a "puppet" of "the occupation regime" in an interview with Interfax. -- Scott Parrish CHECHEN CAPTIVE TO BE EXCHANGED? Russian officials plan to exchange a Chechen captive, Tamarlane Kunta Avtorkhanov, for five Russian border guards, Interfax and Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 1 November. Avtorkhanov is the son of Abdurakhman Avtorkahnov, a dissident and well- known author who fled Chechnya during World War II. He will be traded to separatist fighters for five Russian border guards who have been held prisoner since 24 August. Before his capture in Dagestan a few weeks ago, Avtorkhanov had reportedly been serving as an aide to President Dudaev. Interfax reported allegations that Avtorkhanov has links to Western security agencies, having served as an instructor at a Western intelligence academy. -- Scott Parrish and Lowell Bezanis RUSSIA MAY RESUME DUMPING RADIOACTIVE WASTE AT SEA. Russia cannot guarantee that it will not resume dumping liquid radioactive waste at sea because of financial difficulties, storage facilities that are full, and the lack of sufficient reprocessing capacity, Viktor Kutsenko, a high-ranking official of the Russian Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, told ITAR-TASS on 1 November. Kutsenko predicted that Russia would make an announcement to that effect at an international conference on marine pollution in December. He complained that international aid to help deal with the problem that was promised after Russia last dumped liquid waste into the Sea of Japan in 1993 has been insufficient. He said the situation is becoming increasingly serious as Russian nuclear submarines are decommissioned under the START arms control agreements. -- Scott Parrish BRYANSK AUTO WORKERS PROTEST. One person died during protests at the Bryansk auto plant, where workers have not been paid for five months, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 November. Two people were run over by a truck as workers tried to block access to the plant. Bryansk Mayor Nikolai Borisov said the plant owes the workers 6.5 billion rubles ($1.5 million). He said the city is lending the plant 1.5 billion rubles ($335,000) to help pay some of the overdue wages. On 30 October, the Russian government announced it is setting up a joint working group with the Federation of Independent Trade Unions to examine the problem of wage arrears. -- Thomas Sigel IMF TALKS MAKE PROGRESS. Discussions between Russia and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on conditions for a three-year aid program potentially worth $18 billion have made "considerable progress," IMF Moscow representative Thomas Wolf said on 1 November, Russian and Western agencies reported. The IMF delegation that arrived in Moscow two weeks ago to discuss the plan left yesterday for Washington, where it will report its findings to IMF headquarters. In addition to talks on a new loan, the team is reviewing Russia's compliance with this year's $6.8 billion standby loan. Wolf said the government and the Central Bank of Russia appear to be on target. The 1996 budget, currently undergoing revision in parliament, is a key point in negotiations for a new loan. Russia is expected to show progress on reforming the agriculture and energy sectors and on private land ownership. -- Thomas Sigel CHERNOMYRDIN URGES BUSINESSMEN TO STRENGTHEN GOVERNMENT TIES. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin urged Russian businessmen to strengthen ties with the government to fight crime and boost the economy, Russian and Western agencies reported on 1 November. Speaking at the Russian Business Round Table in Moscow, Chernomyrdin said Russia's business corps is "the guarantor of political stability and economic reform in the country." He told the group that he would call on the Interior Ministry, Procurator's Office, and Federal Security Service to better protect entrepreneurs. In the past year, there have been more than 500 contract killings, most of which remain unsolved. Andrei Nechaev, president of the Russian Financial Corporation and a member of the Round Table board, said the government has failed to enforce the law. -- Thomas Sigel 42% OF RUSSIAN INVESTMENT ABROAD IS ILLEGAL CAPITAL. A spokesman for the EBRD said that Russian investment abroad now totals $43.1 billion, Western agencies reported on 1 November. Out of that amount, more than $18 billion (or nearly 42%) is considered to be illegally exported capital, most of which is held in cash, securities, and real estate. The remaining investment consists mainly of cash held by entrepreneurs operating in the so-called "gray economy" and of Russian companies' hard currency earnings. The EBRD's estimates show that about 85% of legal assets are held in cash. -- Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA CHINESE POLITBURO MEMBER IN UZBEKISTAN. Uzbek President Islam Karimov told visiting Hu Jintao, a politburo member of the Chinese Communist Party, that his republic adheres to a "one China" policy and opposes any form of separatist activity in China, Xinhua news agency reported on 31 October. Fearing support for Kyrgyz, Kazakhs, or Uighurs living in Xinjiang, China has extracted similar promises from other Central Asian leaders. -- Lowell Bezanis ARRESTED COSSACK LEADER IN KAZAKHSTAN ON HUNGER STRIKE. The imprisoned ataman of the Semirechie Cossacks, Nikolai Gunkin, declared his intention to go on a hunger strike, Russian TV reported. Gunkin, who plans to run for parliament in December's elections, was arrested on 28 October in Almaty for holding an unregistered rally. Kazakhstani Interior Ministry authorities now say he is being held for an unsanctioned rally he organized in January. Cossack organizations have lodged a protest over the arrest. -- Bruce Pannier ELECTIONS POSTPONED IN ABKHAZIA, SOUTH OSSETIYA. Georgia's Central Election Commission passed a resolution postponing elections in Abkhazia and the Tskinvali and Java constituencies of South Ossetiya, Iprinda reported on 31 October. The elections were planned as part of the nationwide Georgian elections scheduled for 5 November. Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba confirmed to Ekho Moskvy on 31 October that he would not allow the elections to take place. On 29 October, Georgian parliamentary chairman Eduard Shevardnadze said he would call for Abkhazia's full isolation at the next CIS summit. He also brought into question the future of Russian peacekeepers and military bases on Georgian territory if Russia fails to help restore Georgia's territorial integrity. In related news, Abkhaz Prime Minister Gennadii Gaulia was quoted by ITAR-TASS as saying the main obstacle to the resumption of Georgian-Abkhaz talks, the Russian blockade of Sukhumi, has been lifted. -- 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. 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