|If we are to live together in peace, we must first come to know each other better. - Lyndon B. Johnson|
No. 216, Part I, 6 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ SHEVARDNADZE AHEAD IN GEORGIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. As widely predicted, preliminary figures show that Georgian parliament chairman Eduard Shevardnadze has swept the country's 5 November presidential elections, international media reported. In roughly half of the republic's electoral districts, including strongholds of the late former President Zviad Gamsakhurdia, Shevardnadze was leading with more than 70% of the vote, AFP reported the next day. A spokesman for the OSCE, which monitored the elections, said polling took place peacefully and without major violations. The results of the parliamentary elections, in which 8,200 candidates belonging to 53 different parties ran for 235 seats in parliament, are expected to be announced later this week. -- Lowell Bezanis ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ RUSSIA SUPREME COURT ORDERS REGISTRATION OF YABLOKO, DERZHAVA. The Supreme Court ordered the Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) to register Aleksandr Rutskoi's Derzhava on 3 November and Grigorii Yavlinskii's Yabloko the next day. One witness, former Yabloko candidate Valerii Galchenko, testified that Valerii Yegorov, a TsIK employee, had urged him in the name of the TsIK leadership to compromise Yabloko by giving false information, NTV reported. However, TsIK Chairman Nikolai Ryabov said the Supreme Court "exceeded its authority" in overturning his commission's refusal to register Yabloko, Russian Public TV (ORT) and ITAR-TASS reported on 5 November. The TsIK registered Derzhava on 4 November and is expected to register Yabloko on 6 November. -- Robert Orttung and Laura Belin YELTSIN REASSERTS CONTROL. Presidential spokesman Sergei Medvedev said that the power ministers remain directly subordinate to President Boris Yeltsin, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 November. Earlier, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin had said that they would have to work with him while the president is in the hospital (see OMRI Daily Digest, 31 October 1995). Both Medvedev and Chernomyrdin blamed the confusion on journalists' misinterpretation of the prime ministers' words. However, after meeting with Yeltsin on 3 November, Chernomyrdin said he did not support "overworking the president." On 3 November, Yeltsin appeared on Russian television for the first time since being hospitalized on 26 October, but he appeared stiff and slurred his words, according to Western media. -- Robert Orttung YELTSIN ASKS CONSTITUTIONAL COURT TO RECONSIDER DEPUTIES' IMMUNITY. President Boris Yeltsin asked the Constitutional Court to rule on the constitutionality of parliamentary immunity rules, Russian and Western agencies reported on 5 November. The president shares the public's concern that the current law attracts criminals who try to use the parliament as a shelter from justice, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported, quoting the presidential press service. All federal and local lawmakers enjoy immunity from prosecution and testimony. According to official statistics, more than 350 federal and local deputies have come under investigation in the past two years and are avoiding prosecution with parliamentary immunity. Last week, the State Duma failed to overturn the law on deputies' immunity (see OMRI Daily Digest, 26 October 1995). -- Anna Paretskaya CONSTITUTIONAL COURT REJECTS APPEAL ON ORT. The last parliamentary attempts to reverse President Yeltsin's November 1994 decree ordering the reorganization of Ostankino TV and the creation of Russian Public TV (ORT) have ended in failure. In a decision that cannot be appealed, the Constitutional Court refused to hear a parliamentary challenge to the decree's legality on the grounds that "the president's right to issue decrees of this nature follows from the constitution," ITAR-TASS reported on 4 November. ORT took over Channel 1 broadcasting privileges from Ostankino on 1 April, but opponents of the restructuring continued to fight the decree. The Duma and Federation Council passed a draft law annulling the creation of ORT, but Yeltsin vetoed it on 7 June (see OMRI Daily Digest, 6 April and 8 June 1995). -- Laura Belin KHASBULATOV LAUNCHES PEACE INITIATIVE. Speaking in Grozny on 4 November, former Supreme Soviet Speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov attempted to jump-start the stalled Chechen negotiation process by proposing a Russo-Chechen accord, providing for the demilitarization of Chechnya, a common currency and citizenship, and unhindered movement between Russia and Chechnya, Russian and Western agencies reported. Khasbulatov also called for federal authorities to drop criminal charges against separatist Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev and negotiate directly with him. Dudaev negotiator Khodz-Akhmed Yarikhanov reacted positively to Khasbulatov's proposal. However, on 4-5 November, 10 federal servicemen were killed and eight wounded in continued fighting. -- Scott Parrish CIS PRIME MINISTERS SIGN ECONOMIC AGREEMENTS. The CIS prime ministers signed 10 economic cooperation documents, including agreements on scientific and technical cooperation, the transport of natural gas, and civil aviation, at a 3 November meeting in Moscow, Russian agencies reported. Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan also formally agreed to join the Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan customs union. Prime Minster Viktor Chernomyrdin called for accelerated integration within the CIS but noted that CIS states owe Russia $5.8 billion, mostly for energy supplies. He said Russia could not endlessly finance its neighbors and suggested it would tighten credit next year. -- Scott Parrish MILITARY BALKING AT DESTROYING ARMS EAST OF THE URALS. Russia has destroyed less than one-quarter of the tanks and half of the other armored vehicles it promised to get rid of from the vast amount of equipment sent east of the Urals in 1990, the Defense Ministry's top armored officer told ITAR-TASS on 3 November. Col. Gen. Aleksandr Galkin noted that at a CFE treaty meeting in Vienna on 16 July 1991, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev made a "political commitment" to destroy 6,331 tanks and 1,988 armored vehicles beyond the Urals by the end of 1995. Galkin said only 1,518 tanks and 983 armored vehicles had been destroyed so far. According to the agency, the Defense Ministry and now feels that Gorbachev's promise is no longer in Russian interests. Galkin also reported that Russia would meet the CFE treaty deadline of 16 November to destroy its excess equipment west of the Urals even though only half of the necessary money has been allocated to it so far. -- Doug Clarke RUSSIA CONCERNED AT PLANNED U.S. TESTS. The possibility of the U.S. resuming nuclear testing is "certainly not an idle matter" for Russia, Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigorii Karasin told Interfax on 3 November. He said that the Russian embassy in Washington had already asked for "comprehensive information on this matter." Recently, the U.S. Department of Energy announced that it would conduct six tests over the next two years using high explosives and some nuclear material. The U.S. argues that the tests would not involve any nuclear yield from the fissile material. -- Doug Clarke TOP POLICE OFFICER FIRED FOR REVEALING CLASSIFIED INFORMATION. A top Moscow police officer was fired for passing classified information on to a criminal gang, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 November. Col. Gen. Anatolii Kulikov, the interior minister, who has vowed to stop corruption within his ministry, dismissed deputy police chief Maj. Gen. Valerii Aksakov on grounds of treason. According to ITAR-TASS, Aksakov allegedly passed classified information on a witness, linked to one of Russia's most notorious recent crimes, to an unidentified group. Aksakov could face criminal charges. -- Thomas Sigel CRIMINAL CHARGED WITH ORGANIZING LISTEV'S MURDER. Russian authorities charged a criminal gang member with organizing last March's assassination of the popular television host and director of Ostankino, Vladislav Listev, Russian and Western agencies reported on 4 November. ITAR-TASS said the accused belonged to the Solntsevo gang, named after a Moscow district and believed to be one of the most influential and dangerous organized crime groups in the city. The accused is suspected of acting on a contract from unknown planners who could benefit from Listev's death. The murder was rumored to be linked to the network's financial interests and Listev's plans to reorganize its lucrative advertising market. -- Thomas Sigel INFLATION 4.7% IN OCTOBER. Russia's consumer prices edged up in October by 4.7%, up from September's post-reform low of 4.5%, but well below January's 17.8%, Goskomstat announced on 3 November, according to Russian agencies. Prices of food products rose by 3.4% in October, while non-food products were up 5.1% and services 8.9%. The latest figures bring inflation for the first 10 months of 1995 to 114%. Officials now admit that Russia will not meet the government target of 1% monthly inflation by the end of the year. Bringing monthly inflation to below 5% has nevertheless been one of the government's main achievements this year. -- Thomas Sigel THE VOLUME OF INVESTMENT IN THE ECONOMY DROPS BY 15%. According to the Russian government's Center for Market Studies, the volume of investment in the economy dropped by 15% during the first nine months of 1995 compared to the same period in 1994 and now totals 144 trillion rubles ($32 billion), ITAR-TASS reported on 2 November. The largest drop (almost 30%) was recorded in the light and food industries, but investment also fell in the fuel and energy sector, engineering, and metallurgy. Only nine of the 207 investment projects listed in the 1995 Federal Investment Program have been finished. -- Natalia Gurushina GOVERNMENT TO HALVE VAT ON FOOD. Aleksandr Kalinin, head of the government's Department for the Agro-industrial Complex, said that the government intends to halve the VAT rate (from 20% to 10%) on a number of food products, including grain, meat, and poultry, Interfax reported on 4 November. Those products will be added to the list of goods (bread, milk, sugar, fish, and baby food) which had their VAT rates reduced last summer. There are increasing reports of a possible surge in food prices this winter, which the government presumably is keen to allay in the run-up to the December elections. -- Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA WARRANT FOR IOSELIANI'S ARREST. The Georgian Prosecutor's Office has issued a warrant for the arrest of Dzhaba Ioseliani, founder of the paramilitary organization Mkhedrioni, alleging he was involved in an attempt to assassinate parliament chairman Shevardnadze on 29 August. Ioseliani is running for re-election in the parliamentary elections; if he fails to win a seat he is expected to be arrested immediately, AFP reported. -- Lowell Bezanis AUCTION FOR KYRGYZ FIRMS. On 8-9 November, thirteen Kyrgyz enterprises will go on the auction block, Interfax reported. "Several dozen countries" have already filed 618 applications for buying shares in the businesses with the largest amount, 97, coming from U.S. firms. Also mentioned were Turkey with 71 applications, India with 22, and Russia with 14. One of the country's largest firms, the Kyrgyz Chemical and Metallurgical Plant will be included. The Kyrgyz State Property Fund said the enterprises would offer from 8-76% of their capital at the sales and that asking prices would range from $7,000 to $2.38 million. The international auction is the first for any former Soviet republic. -- Bruce Pannier HOMELAND DOORS OPEN TO KYRGYZ GERMANS. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel told a group of Germans in Kyrgyzstan on 5 November that "the door to Germany remains open," according to Western sources. The Germans in Kyrgyzstan are part of the legacy of a forced resettlement by Soviet ruler Josef Stalin. Since the late 1980s, tens of thousands of Germans living in Central Asia have taken advantage of the opportunity to move to Germany. The German government has given DM 58 million to Kyrgyzstan since the country's independence in 1991 in an attempt to provide support for Germans residing there and decrease the amount of people emigrating from the region back to Germany. Kinkel repeated promises of help to those Germans who wish to stay in Kyrgyzstan. The German foreign minister is in Bishkek for a two-day visit. -- Bruce Pannier NEW CASPIAN CONSORTIUM FORMED. A new consortium to extract an estimated 100 million metric tons of oil from the Karabagh field in the Caspian Sea over a 30-year period has been announced, Western and Russian media announced on 4 November. Participants in the consortium include LUKoil, Penzoil, Agip, and the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR). The stakes each has in the venture have yet to be disclosed. -- Lowell Bezanis KAZAKHSTANI GAS BLAST KILLS 28. A gas explosion in a residential building in the town of Arqalyk in Central Kazakhstan killed 28 people on 4 November, according to a 5 November Kazakhstani TV report cited by AFP. Another 32 people were injured in the explosion, believed to have been caused by a leak in heating gas, which also destroyed two stories of a five-story apartment block. Arqalyk, located about 1,000 km northwest of the capital Almaty, is one of the coldest places in Kazakhstan. -- Bhavna Dave [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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