|Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most times he will pick himself up and carry on. - Winston Churchill|
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 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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