We were born to unite with our fellowmen, and to join in community with the human race. - Cicero
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

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
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Copyright (C) 1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights
reserved. ISSN 1211-1570


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