Live all you can: it's a mistake not to. It doesn't so much matter what you do in particular, so long as you have your life. If you haven't had that what have you had? - Henry James
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 215, Part I, 3 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
CONGRESS OF RUSSIAN COMMUNITIES BACKS AWAY FROM ALLIANCE WITH
COMMUNISTS. The Congress of Russian Communities (KRO) will not cooperate
with the Communists in the single-member districts, according to KRO
spokesman Vladimir Klimov. Klimov said that taking such a step now that
the campaign has already started would be a "tactical mistake," Interfax
reported on 2 November. Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov
clarified his statements from the day before, saying that an alliance
could only take place after the elections. He also expressed concern
about disagreements within the KRO leadership, Russian TV reported. --
Robert Orttung
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
RUSSIA

ST. PETERSBURG METROPOLITAN IOANN DIES. St. Petersburg Metropolitan
Ioann died of a heart attack in his apartment on 2 November, Ekspress-
khronika reported. He was 68. Ioann became metropolitan on 20 July 1990.
Since September 1992, he has published a series of articles in extreme
Communist and nationalist newspapers such as Sovetskaya Rossiya and Den.
He denounced "the imperialist West" and "money-grubbers" who "ravage and
sell out Russia." He supported building a strongly centralized state and
rejected nations' right to self-determination. He wanted to reintegrate
Ukraine and Belarus into Russia, supported friendly ties with all Slavic
countries, and sought to limit Russian participation in international
organizations. One of his aides is the third candidate on Aleksandr
Rutskoi's Derzhava party list. -- Robert Orttung

CHERNOMYRDIN MEETS WITH ZYUGANOV. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin met
with Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov as part of a series of
meetings with Duma faction leaders, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on
2 November. Zyuganov said that they discussed their mutual interest in
opposing groups who want to discredit the electoral law or foil the
elections. They also discussed the state of affairs in Russia's
provinces and possible disturbances as the Communists mark the
anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution on 7 November. -- Robert Orttung

DUMA DEPUTIES TRY TO AMEND ELECTORAL LAW. . . Duma deputies Irina
Khakamada and Vyacheslav Nikonov are leading a charge to revise the
electoral law before December's parliamentary elections, Russian media
reported on 2 November. They want to lower the 5% minimum of votes
required to gain Duma representation from party lists and introduce a
second round in the 225 single-member districts to prevent candidates
from winning with a plurality of just 10-15% of the vote. Nikonov said
so many parties have been registered for the elections (at least 35 so
far) that the majority of votes may be wasted. Earlier this year,
Khakamada split from Forward, Russia! leader Boris Fedorov, and her
Common Cause movement is running for the Duma independently. However,
she said the law itself, not political parties, is the root of the
problem, adding that "if you let a goat into your garden and it eats all
your cabbage, the goat cannot be blamed." -- Laura Belin

. . . AND CHALLENGE LAW'S LEGALITY IN COURT. An appeal on the legality
of the electoral law, signed by more than 90 Duma deputies, will be
submitted to the Constitutional Court within two days, centrist Duma
deputy Vyacheslav Nikonov told Interfax on 2 November. In particular,
the deputies are questioning whether the law's provision granting the
Central Electoral Commission "legislative and judicial powers" is
consistent with the constitutional principle of separation of powers. --
Laura Belin

ZHIRINOVSKY ACCUSES GAIDAR'S BLOC OF BREAKING CAMPAIGN RULES. Liberal
Democratic Party of Russia leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky filed a complaint
with the Central Electoral Commission against Yegor Gaidar's electoral
bloc, Russia's Democratic Choice-United Democrats, Russian TV reported
on 2 November. He charged that a grocery store in Moscow has been using
posters for Gaidar's bloc to wrap customers' purchases, even though the
electoral law requires parties to refrain from campaigning until they
are officially registered (Gaidar's bloc was registered on 30 October).
The commission forwarded Zhirinovsky's complaint to the Moscow Electoral
Commission to verify the facts, Interfax reported. -- Laura Belin

TENSION HIGH IN CHECHNYA. Despite sniper fire, Russian engineers defused
a 36 kg bomb in the Presidential Palace in Grozny on 2 November, Russian
and Western agencies reported. Russian Public TV (ORT) quoted Federal
Security Service (FSB) officials as saying the bomb was intended to
inflict casualties on the large crowd of pro-independence demonstrators
that gathers daily outside the palace. Meanwhile, the commander of
federal forces in Chechnya, General Anatolii Shkirko, accused Chechen
military negotiator Aslan Maskhadov of complicity in the recent attack
on a Russian military convoy near Vedeno, which killed 18. Shkirko
suspended further talks on implementing the 30 July military accord. One
Russian soldier was killed and two wounded in 28 attacks on federal
positions on 2 November, ORT reported. -- Scott Parrish

CIS DEFENSE MINISTERS MEET IN MOSCOW. Defense ministers from all CIS
members except Georgia and Moldova attended the 2 November session in
Moscow to discuss military-technical cooperation, peacekeeper training,
and the situation in Tajikistan, Russian agencies reported. Russian
Defense Minister Pavel Grachev subsequently announced an agreement on
assisting Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, and
Uzbekistan to upgrade their air defense systems. This agreement
implements a 10 February 1995 decision made in Almaty to create a
unified CIS air defense system. Moldova, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan
are still refusing to participate in the system. Grachev also pointedly
said that if NATO expands eastward, Russia will be forced to look
elsewhere for military allies: in the CIS, the Far East, and the Middle
East. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIA AGAIN THREATENS UNILATERAL ACTION IN CASPIAN. An anonymous
diplomat at the Russian Foreign Ministry reiterated Russian threats to
take unilateral action to prevent "unlawful" use of the Caspian Sea,
Interfax reported on 2 November. The diplomat accused Azerbaijan and
Kazakhstan of taking unilateral actions to illegally seize natural
resources in the Caspian basin and said Russia would take action to
block those moves if the two countries did not show willingness to
discuss the joint use of Caspian basin resources by all five littoral
states, a position which he said is supported by Russia, Iran, and
Turkmenistan. -- Scott Parrish

CHERNOMYRDIN APPROVES DRAFT DECREE ON COMPENSATION FOR DECEIVED
DEPOSITORS. Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin approved a draft
document on compensation for depositors deceived by financial companies,
Russian agencies reported on 2 November. The matter concerns about 883
financial pyramid schemes which attracted the public's money without
license from Russia's Central Bank. About 30 million citizens
participated in these operations, losing 2 trillion rubles ($444
million). The decree calls for the creation of a state compensation fund
to offset the damage to the deceived depositors. -- Thomas Sigel

YELTSIN DELAYS SALE OF PLEDGED SHAREHOLDINGS. President Boris Yeltsin
signed a decree on 2 November that only allows those holding shares
pledged as collateral to sell them after 1 September 1996, Russian
agencies reported the same day. The decree is aimed at preventing the
stock market from being flooded with shares. Meanwhile, Russia's State
Property Committee and the Federal Property Fund issued a press release
refuting press reports that it intends to accept bids for an investment
tender and an auction on the transfer of 78% of the federally owned
shares as collateral under the shares-for-equity-scheme, Radio Rossii
and Interfax reported on 2 November (see OMRI Daily Digest, 1 November
1995). -- Thomas Sigel

FEDERAL FIRE SERVICE ANNOUNCES STATISTICS. There were over 320,000 fires
in 1994, the Federal Fire Service said on 2 November, ITAR-TASS
reported. The blazes killed 16,000 people, destroyed 70,000 buildings,
and caused about 22 trillion rubles ($4.9 billion) in damage. The
service said that petrochemical and natural gas facilities have grown
increasingly vulnerable to fires. For example, on 2 November, a natural
gas pipeline exploded in the Ural city of Yekaterinburg. Officials
blamed the accident on aging equipment and said the pipeline received no
repairs since it was built 16 years ago. -- Thomas Sigel

IMPORTED DUTY RISE FOR TOBACCO, CUT ON CARS. Russia will increase excise
taxes for imported tobacco goods from 1.2 to 2 ecu (1.296 ecu/$1) per
1,000 units from 1 December 1995, Interfax reported on 2 November.
Meanwhile, the excise rate for imported cars was lowered from 35-70% to
10-25% of their customs value, depending upon the engine size. -- Thomas
Sigel

BUDGET COMMISSION PROPOSES RAISE IN NATURAL GAS EXPORT TAX. The joint
Duma/Federation Council budget commission voted to increase the natural
gas export duty from 2 ecu to 5 ecu per 1,000 cubic meters starting next
year, Interfax reported on 2 November. The commission also rejected the
government's proposals to drop the export tariff on crude oil from 20
ecu to 10 ecu and raise the oil excise duty. The increase in gas tariffs
could trigger retaliatory action by Gazprom, such as a cut in gas
deliveries to Western Europe. The director of the Finance Ministry's
Hard Currency Department, Vadim Volkov, claimed the decision to leave
oil export tariffs unchanged may further weaken the position of Russian
oil exporters, who currently lose $6-7 on each metric ton of oil. --
Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

LUKOIL JOINS THE CHEVRON-TENGIZ DEAL. Russia's largest oil company,
LUKoil, has joined the Tengizchevroil joint venture between Kazakhstan
and Chevron, according to a PIA-Interfax report. LUKoil is seeking a 20%
share in the Tengizchevroil deal--10% each from Kazakhstan and Chevron.
LUKoil is expected to give Tengizchevroil a part of its oil export quota
in return or else make concessions to Chevron in the Caspian Pipeline
Consortium (CPC). Chevron is seeking to join the CPC founded by Russia,
Kazakhstan, and Oman to deliver Tengiz oil to a Russian port on the
Black Sea. Kazakhstan recently suspended Oman's participation in the CPC
due to that country's failure to meet its financial obligations. --
Bhavna Dave

TAJIK DEPUTY ARRESTED. Interfax reported that Khuja Karimov, former
field commander in the Popular Front and member of parliament, was
arrested on 2 November. Karimov is accused of several murders in 1993.
Police found a number of weapons in Karimov's house including two
grenade launchers, ITAR-TASS reported. Karimov was stripped of his
parliamentary immunity allowing police to pick him up in the parliament
building. Also arrested were his body guard and driver. -- Bruce Pannier

NEW COMMANDER FOR TAJIK PEACEKEEPERS. The Council of CIS Defense
Ministers have replaced Lt. Gen. Valentin Bobryshev as Commander of the
peacekeeping force in Tajikistan, according to a 2 November Interfax
report. Taking Bobryshev's place will be Lt. Gen. Viktor Zavarzin. The
new commander faces a difficult task. Shelling of border guard positions
from Afghanistan increased dramatically during October as did the
incidence of attacks by small armed bands of the opposition. At the
start of October, eight border guards were killed and six wounded on the
outskirts of Khorog, near the Afghan border. Zavarzin's new position is
expected to be approved at a meeting of CIS heads of state in late
November. -- Bruce Pannier

SALARIES AND ELECTIONS IN GEORGIA. The Georgian government has raised
salaries on the eve of elections. Salaries are to range from 6 to 25
lari (approximately $5-$20) a month; defense, law enforcement, and other
officials have received a 10% pay hike, those working in state run
organizations and veterans rose by 50%, Georgian TV reported on 1
November. In other news, opinion polls conducted by the Georgian Academy
of Sciences institute of demography at the end of October found that 70%
of respondents planned to vote for Georgian leader Eduard Shevardnadze
and his party, the Citizens' Union of Georgia. Dzhumber Patiashvili,
former Georgian Communist Party boss, ran second to Shevardnadze with 9%
support. -- Lowell Bezanis

RAILWAYS FOR GEORGIA? Russia has pledged to reconstruct the Abkhaz
section of a railway linking Russia and Georgia at a cost of more than
10 billion rubles, Interfax reported on 2 November. Two days before,
Georgian parliament chairman Eduard Shevardnadze confirmed that Turkey
had offered to build a 100 km railway line that would run through the
town of Akhalkalaki. -- 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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