|Comedy is an escape, not from truth but from despair; a narrow escape into faith. - Christopher Fry|
No. 217, Part I, 7 November 1995
********************************************************************* The second issue of the weekly OMRI Economic Digest will be delivered free of charge to Daily Digest subscribers on 9 November. The third and fourth issues will also be sent to Daily Digest readers for free. 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ TsIK REGISTERS YABLOKO. The Central Electoral Commisthe Supreme Court and registered Yabloko as the 38th party to compete in the Duma campaign, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 November. The TsIK postponed its decisions on whether to register six additional blocs until 8 November. The TsIK denied registration to We serve Russia because it did not have an adequate number of signatures. On 10 November, the TsIK will hold a lottery to determine the order in which the parties will appear on the ballot and the schedule for the television broadcast of free party advertisements. * Robert Orttung ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ RUSSIA ZYUGANOV SEES "PRE-REVOLUTIONARY SITUATION" ON BOLSHEVIK ANNIVERSARY. At a meeting to mark the 78th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov said the situation in today's Russia is similar to the that on the eve of the 1917 revolution. However, as he read his "Twelve Lessons of the 20th Century," he made clear that the current Communists plan to take power through democratic elections rather than by revolutionary means, NTV reported on 6 November. A poll of people living in St. Petersburg, the cradle of the revolution, found that only 37% of the city's residents consider 7 November to be worthy of a holiday, Russian Public Television (ORT) reported. * Robert Orttung DUMA SPEAKER EXPECTS PRESIDENT TO SIGN BILL ON THE FORMATION OF THE UPPER HOUSE. Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin said it is very likely that President Yeltsin will sign the bill on forming the Federation Council, Russian media reported on 6 November. The Duma forwarded the bill for the president's signature after it overrode the upper house's veto in October. Yeltsin's signature will depend on two changes to the bill. The first revision is to exclude the provision that requires governors to be popularly elected before they can join the upper house of parliament. Yeltsin has appointed many of the governors to their positions. Second, he wants the speakers of local legislatures who have extended their terms in office to be barred from the Council. Rybkin believes that because the deputies want the bill to be quickly approved, they will accept the proposed amendments. * Anna Paretskaya SOSKOVETS MEETS WITH YELTSIN. First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets discussed key problems regarding Russia's economic development with President Boris Yeltsin at Moscow's Central Clinical Hospital on 6 November, Russian and Western agencies reported. Soskovets told reporters that the president looks very well and is being kept fully informed. * Thomas Sigel KHASBULATOV HOLDS TALKS WITH CHECHEN FIELD COMMANDER. Mediator Ruslan Khasbulatov, former speaker of the Russian Supreme Soviet, held talks in Grozny with Akhmed Zakaev, commander of Chechen separatist forces in the southwest of the republic, Russian TV reported on 6 November. After the session, Khasbulatov again called for renewed Russian-Chechen talks, which he said should postpone discussion of Chechnya's future status. Instead, he said talks should focus on ending the fighting and criminal activity which dominate everyday life in Chechnya. On 6 November, a quarrel between a Chechen vendor and a Russian servicewoman in the Grozny marketplace ended in a shoot-out which left the servicewoman dead and two bystanders wounded. Elsewhere in Chechnya on 6 November, there were 30 attacks by separatist fighters on federal forces, one of which destroyed a railroad bridge connecting Grozny and Gudermes. * Scott Parrish CHERNOMYRDIN MEETS CLINTON. Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin met briefly with U.S. President Bill Clinton on 6 November while the two leaders were attending the Jerusalem funeral of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Russian and Western agencies reported. Chernomyrdin reassured Clinton about the health of President Boris Yeltsin and told him that Yeltsin hopes to hold another summit meeting with his U.S. counterpart in the near future. Russian media noted that Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, whose future remains uncertain, did not accompany Chernomyrdin to Israel. When asked to comment by Radio Mayak, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Kozyrev was on vacation. * Scott Parrish ANKARA: TROOPS WILL NOT BE DEPLOYED ON BORDER WITH ARMENIA, GEORGIAN. On 4 November, the Turkish press widely reported on Ankara's decision to concentrate troops on its border with Georgia and Armenia in the event that Russia fails to reduce its conventional forces based in the Transcaucasus by 17 November, as stipulated by the CFE treaty. Two days later, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Omer Akbel said those reports were baseless, Cumhuriyet reported. Russia has called for revisions in the flank limitations of the CFE treaty on the grounds that the collapse of the Soviet Union has altered the strategic balance. * Lowell Bezanis NUCLEAR SALES ABROAD TO TOTAL $1.2 BILLION IN 1995. First Deputy Minister of Nuclear Energy Lev Ryabev told Interfax on 6 November that the ministry expects to earn $1.2 billion from foreign trade in 1995 and to increase that to $1.5 billion in 1996. Ryabev said that Southeast Asia could become a promising market for Russian nuclear power stations, adding that although no new contracts have been signed yet, Indonesia and several other countries in the region have expressed interest. Two thirds of the nuclear power industry's export earnings currently come from the sale of nuclear fuel (rather than technology), Ryabev noted. * Scott Parrish NUCLEAR WASTE PUMPED FROM DECREPIT TANKER. Liquid nuclear waste is being pumped from an ancient tanker aground in a bay near Vladivostok, ITAR- TASS reported on 4 November. Some 800 cubic meters of waste from nuclear submarines have been stored in a ship designated TNT-5 for several years, but the ship is in such poor condition that the Pacific Fleet is in the process of an emergency transfer of this material to another tanker, TNT-27. This ship, not in much better condition, gained notoriety in 1983 by dumping some waste into the Sea of Japan. A fleet official said the TNT-5 would be emptied in about a week and the waste would be treated at a new fleet facility that has been able to purify about 3,000 cubic meters of waste this year. * Doug Clarke NEW ROADS PLANNED FOR SIBERIA. Russia's Federal Road Department will develop new highways in resource-rich northwestern Siberia, Interfax reported on 6 November. At present there are no paved roads giving access to the oil and gas regions of Khanty-Mansii and Yamal-Nenets north of Tyumen. A new east-west highway will be built from Tomsk through Nefteyugansk to Khanty-Mansiisk, while another road will extend north from Yugorsk to the coal-mining region of Vorkuta. * Thomas Sigel COLD WEATHER CAUSES TRAFFIC FATALITIES. Cold weather turned Moscow roads into sheets of ice causing 48 serious road accidents that killed at least eight people, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported on 6 November. Cars ran over 36 pedestrians, and as many as 120 drunk drivers were detained, according to the reports. Snow mixed with rain on 3 November quickly turned into slick ice over the weekend when temperatures dropped to -7 C (19 F) in the capital. * Thomas Sigel KAMCHATKA ATTRACTS FOREIGN INVESTMENT. Data compiled by the Kamchatka regional statistical department shows that in the first six months of 1995 the inflow of foreign capital to that region reached $21 million, Interfax reported on 6 November. Kamchatka now ranks eighth in Russia in terms of incoming foreign investment (after Moscow, Tatarstan, the Tyumen Region, and four other regions). According to the report, the fishing industry, gold mining, and tourism attracted the largest amount of capital. * Natalia Gurushina OIL COMPANY PENSION FUND WINS THE FIRST LOANS-FOR-SHARES AUCTION. The Surgutneftegaz Pension Fund has beaten two other contenders at an auction for 40% of the shares in Surgutneftegaz, Russia's third biggest petroleum company, Interfax reported on 4 November. The Pension Fund offered the government a loan of 400 billion rubles ($89 million), in return for which they will be given the shares as collateral. An additional condition of the transaction is that the Pension Fund will repay the oil company's 1 trillion rubles ($227 million) debt to the federal budget within 10 days. * Natalia Gurushina LABOR PRODUCTIVITY INCREASES. Experts at the government's Working Center for Economic Reform claim that in the first nine months of 1995 (and for the first time since 1991) a number of key industries experienced an increase in labor productivity, Russian TV reported on 4 November. The report shows a 3.9% productivity increase in the fuel and energy sector, a 10.9% increase in metallurgy, and a 7.7% increase in the chemical and petrochemical industry. The figures indicate that those sectors have been shedding labor while maintaining, and in some cases increasing, the level of output. * Natalia Gurushina RYBKIN CALLS FOR TOUGHER STATE CONTROL OVER ECONOMY. The state should play a more active role in managing the economy, State Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin told ITAR-TASS on 6 November, following his trip to the Voronezh region in Central Russia. Rybkin urged the government to play a more active role in fixing energy prices and condemned energy-producing regions for "dictating" prices to their neighbors. * Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA PROTESTS CONTINUE OVER ARRESTED COSSACK LEADER IN KAZAKHSTAN. The Cossack community has mobilized international support to protest the treatment of Nikolai Gunkin, the ataman of the Semirechie Cossacks, who was arrested on 28 October for holding an unauthorized rally, Radio Rossii reported on 6 November. Those who have sent protests to President Nursultan Nazarbaev include Cossack organizations in Belarus, the Estonian Union of Russian Citizens, the leader of the Romanov house in Paris, Queen Elena Romanova, and the Russian Orthodox Center in Georgia. Gunkin also alleges that he has been denied registration as a candidate for the December parliamentary elections. * Bhavna Dave TAJIKISTAN MARKS ANNIVERSARY OF CONSTITUTION. Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov, in an interview on Russia's Radio Mayak, congratulated the Tajik people on the first anniversary of the constitution calling it a "historic event." Rakhmonov said there is room for many political parties in the country, although he also warned that they would have to operate within the framework of the country's laws. Anniversary preparations on 6 November were marred by an explosion in one of the capital's parks the previous day after a woman stepped on a land mine. The Tajik government and the opposition have agreed to hold their next round of negotiations in Ashgabat, according to a 6 November statement from the UN Security Council. The location has been a point of contention since the last round of talks were concluded in late May. No announcement has been made concerning the date. * Bruce Pannier PLOT THWARTED IN AZERBAIJAN? A report originating with the Azerbaijani Interior Ministry indicated Faig Baghshaliev, a former OPON commander in Agdam, has been arrested and will be put on trial for high treason for his role in an alleged plot to kill President Heidar Aliev. The plotters, also said to include Labor Party leader Mehmed Ali Aliev, former chief of staff General Shahin Musayev, Vahit Musayev and Huseyinbayla Huseyinov, allegedly planned to shoot down the plane in which Aliev would be returning to Azerbaijan, Turan and Milliyet reported on 6-7 November. Azerbaijani authorities claim that, once again, the plotters are connected with former President Ayaz Mutalibov and thereby implicitly with Russia, which has rejected Baku's demands to extradite him. In related news, the Russian Interior Ministry arrested Ilgar Safihavov, the former chief of the Azerbaijan's Interpol office, Turan reported on 4 November. He is also charged under article 57 of Azerbaijan's criminal code for his alleged involvement in an effort to overthrow Aliev in October 1994. This represents the fourth occasion on which Azerbaijani authorities claim they have prevented a coup. * Lowell Bezanis EREVAN BEGINS RECEIVING POWER FROM NUCLEAR REACTOR. One of the two reactors at the Medzamor nuclear power plant has begun supplying Erevan with electrical power for the first time in almost seven years. The plant, which is 25 km southwest of the capital, was given permission to begin operating on 14 October and on 27 October was formally switched on. According to a 6 November Reuters report, the plant will function at low power, producing only 50 mw of electricity a day, and will not reach its full daily capacity of 450 mw until next week at the earliest. Despite the controversy surrounding the opening, the International Atomic Energy Agency gave Armenian officials their approval, conditional upon extensive renovation of the plant. The plant was closed after the devastating Armenian earthquake which took place in December 1988. * Roger Kangas [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. 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