|The fool wonders, the wise man asks. - Benjamin Disraeli|
No. 219, Part I, 9 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ RUSSIAN CENTRAL BANK HEAD DISMISSED. Russian President Boris Yeltsin relieved Tatyana Paramonova of her position as acting head of the Central Bank, Russian and Western agencies reported on 8 November. Yeltsin nominated her first deputy, Aleksandr Khandruev, as the new acting head. Khandruev was an academic economist and moved to the State Bank of the USSR in 1988. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, he became deputy chairman of the Central Bank of Russia. -- Natalia Gurushina ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ RUSSIA REACTION TO PARAMONOVA DISMISSAL. Presidential economic aide Aleksandr Livshits attributed Tatyana Paramonova's dismissal to the Duma's repeated refusals to confirm her appointment, while commentators said it was because of her tough line towards the commercial banks. Most observers believe the appointment of her first deputy, Aleksandr Khandruev, will not result in radical changes in the bank's policies. "Paramonova and Khandruev are members of the same team," said Sergei Glazev, head of the Duma's Economic Policy Committee. Khandruev is reported to have support in the Duma, but approval of the bank head may be postponed until after the December election. -- Natalia Gurushina PARTY REGISTRATION ENCOUNTERS DIFFICULTY. Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) Chairman Nikolai Ryabov expressed frustration on 8 November at the difficulties he is encountering in trying to comply with the Supreme Court ruling to register a number of blocs. After registering the Bloc of Independents as the 39th competitor, the TsIK could not register the Federal-Democratic Movement because one of its candidates, Valerii Kamshilov, is also running on the Common Cause list. Kamshilov denied that he had agreed to join the Common Cause list. The TsIK put off its final decision until 9 November, Russian Public Television (ORT) reported. Ryabov also excoriated the Russian Association of Lawyers for so far failing to turn in its documents, making it difficult for the TsIK to register it by the court-imposed 10 November deadline. The TsIK has an additional four parties to evaluate, Ekho Moskvy reported. -- Robert Orttung MORE RUMORS OF KOZYREV SACKING. Citing anonymous sources in the Foreign Ministry, Izvestiya reported on 9 November that Andrei Kozyrev will soon be sacked. The paper reported that a presidential decree firing Kozyrev had already been drafted; only Yeltsin's illness has delayed its signature and release. Kozyrev is no longer signing official documents at the Foreign Ministry, signaling his imminent departure, according to the report. Yeltsin's foreign policy aide, Dmitrii Ryurikov, is to be appointed as his replacement. -- Scott Parrish KULIKOV STEPS UP CAMPAIGN AGAINST CORRUPTION. Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov said that when he was named to his position in July, he could not have imagined "the level of corruption in state bodies, particularly the Interior Ministry," that he ended up finding. He said that if he had not started by cleaning house in the ministry, the battle with organized crime would have only addressed "superficial" problems, ITAR-TASS reported on 9 November. Kulikov announced that he is creating a new internal department directly subordinate to himself to investigate ministry personnel. Kulikov was appointed the commander of the special and operational forces of the ministry (i.e. the military wing) in 1992. In February 1995, he was placed in charge of operations in Chechnya. -- Robert Orttung PERRY, GRACHEV AGREE ON BOSNIAN FORCE FORMULA. The Russian and U.S. defense ministers announced at a Brussels press conference on 8 November that they had agreed that Russian troops would join the Bosnian peace implementation under the operational control of NATO but not under NATO command, Western agencies reported. They said that a Russian brigade of two or three battalions would be part of a Russo-U.S. division. U.S. General George Joulwan, NATO's supreme military commander in Europe but also in command of all U.S. forces in Europe, would have "operational control" of the division. A Russian general would make any specific orders to the Russian troops. Grachev and Perry agreed that the question of political control over the Bosnian operation has yet to be worked out. -- Doug Clarke RUSSIA, JAPAN AGREE TO BUILD NUCLEAR WASTE PLANT. According to an official from the Russian Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Russia and Japan will soon conclude a contract to construct a liquid radioactive waste processing plant in the Far East, ITAR-TASS reported on 8 November. The Japanese government will finance construction of the plant by the Japanese Tomen company, as a part of its aid program aimed at dismantling old Soviet military nuclear equipment in Russia. The plant will be capable of processing up to 7,000 cubic meters of liquid nuclear waste annually. -- Constantine Dmitriev YELTSIN, MINISTERS, DISCUSS CHECHNYA. President Boris Yeltsin met with Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov and Minister for Nationalities Vyacheslav Mikhailov on 8 November to discuss Chechnya and other issues, Russian and Western agencies reported. In a statement released after the one-hour meeting in the Central Clinical Hospital where he is recovering from heart problems, Yeltsin endorsed the efforts of federal authorities and the new Chechen government of Doku Zavgaev to bring about a peaceful settlement in Chechnya. Meanwhile, the presidential press service denied reports that Yeltsin's condition is worsening and that he may soon seek treatment abroad. -- Scott Parrish POWER SHUTOFF OF MILITARY AND OTHERS BANNED. The government on 8 November once again adopted a resolution banning power stations from cutting off utilities to the most import facilities of the country, including those of the defense, interior, and emergency services ministries, the secret services, and the border guards, ITAR-TASS reported. The ban, which will remain in effect until 15 May 1996, also applies to vital civil facilities such as power stations, water supply stations, and sewage facilities. On 23 September, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin signed a similar resolution. -- Doug Clarke WORKERS DEMONSTRATE IN FAR EAST. Thousands of demonstrators in the Russian Far East city of Bolshoi Kamen called for the resignation of President Boris Yeltsin and the government of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, ITAR-TASS reported on 8 November. Most of the town's population work at the Zvezda plant, Russia's largest nuclear submarine repair installation. The head of the factory's trade union, Olga Skripko, said the plant had not received payment for orders completed last year. Many of the employees have not been paid for six months. Workers also complained that electricity in the city is shut off for up to 12 hours a day and many housing complexes are not heated. -- Thomas Sigel BUDGET COMMISSION VOTES TO INCREASE 1996 DEFICIT TO 3.85%. Russia's Budget Commission voted to increase the 1996 projected budget deficit to 3.85% of GDP, which represents an increase of 6 trillion rubles ($1.3 billion), Interfax reported on 8 November. First Deputy Finance Minister Vladimir Petrov said that the government-proposed budget deficit of 82 trillion rubles ($18.2 billion) will be increased to 88 trillion rubles ($19.6 billion). Petrov did not mention how the increased deficit would be financed. The commission was formed by the Duma and Federation Council to come up with a compromise acceptable to both houses, after the Duma rejected the government's proposed budget on 18 October. The Duma is to consider the revised draft budget on 10 November. -- Thomas Sigel OIL PRODUCTION CONTINUES TO SLIDE. Interfax reported on 8 November that Russian oil output was 236 million metric tons in the first 10 months of 1995, which is a 12% decline from the previous year's levels. The Tyumen region alone accounted for two thirds of total production (154 million tons). The largest companies were LUKoil (46.4 million tons), YUKOS (29.9 million), Surgutneftegaz (27.8 million), and Rosneft (10.6 million tons). Oil production in 1994 amounted to 316 million metric tons. -- Peter Rutland *********************************************************************** Would you like more details and expanded analysis on many of the topics covered in the Daily Digest? OMRI also publishes the biweekly journal Transition. The 3 November issue takes a special look at the Balkan conflict, including these titles: -- "An End Game in Croatia and Bosnia?" -- Tuzla: "Where Will All These People Go?" -- Mostar: "A Test Case for the Muslim-Croat Federation" -- Other articles include an interview with Albanian writer Ismail Kadare. The 17 November issue examines the changing nuclear threat in the former USSR and Eastern Europe with such articles as: -- "Nuclear Arms - A Soviet Legacy" -- "Kazakhstan Staggers Under Its Nuclear Burden" and -- 'The Chornobyl Fallout Persists" -- For subscription info, send e-mail inquiries to TRANSITION@OMRI.CZ By mail to OMRI Publications, Motokov Building, Na Strzi 63, 140 62 Prague 4, Czech Republic. Tel.: (422) 6114 3303; Fax: (422) 426 396. *********************************************************************** TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA ARRESTED KAZAKHSTAN COSSACK LEADER'S LAWYER ATTACKED, DROPS CASE. Ivan Kravtsov, the defense lawyer for Ataman Nikolai Gunkin of Semirechie Cossacks in Kazakhstan, bowed out of handling the case after he was robbed in his Almaty apartment and his wife beaten up by "four unidentified Kazakhs," Interfax reported on 8 November. Interfax reported that the procurator of Almaty earlier threatened to strip Kravtsov of his legal license and reported allegations that prison officials poured ice cold water over Gunkin to force him end his 11-day- old hunger strike. Gunkin was arrested on 28 October in Almaty while trying to register as a candidate for December elections on charges of holding an unauthorized rally in Almaty earlier this year. -- Bhavna Dave KAZAKHSTAN TO RECEIVE IMF LOAN DESPITE RISE IN INFLATION. Inflation in Kazakhstan jumped from 2.4% in September to 4.1% in October, according to First Deputy Prime Minister Nigmatzhan Isingarin told Interfax on 8 November. Consumer prices rose 48.2% in the first 10 months of the year, while industrial prices rose 29.7%. Industrial production went up by 9.4% in September, after falling 16% in the first half of the year. Isingarin noted that "four to five months of continuous growth are needed" before one can talk of successful stabilization. He added that nonpayment of debts remains the most serious problem of the country's economy: electricity arrears alone amount to 47.2 billion tenge ($7.6 million). Interfax reported on 8 November that the IMF will release a $150 million loan to Kazakhstan at the beginning of 1996. The first $50 million tranche of the Systemic Transformation Facility loan was paid earlier this year. -- Bhavna Dave PLAN TO RENOVATE GEORGIAN OIL PIPELINE. Talks in Tbilisi between Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, the president of the Azerbaijani National Oil Company (SOCAR), Natik Aliev, and the chairman of the Azerbaijani International Operating Company (AIOC), Terry Adams, ended on 8 November, Russian and Western media reported. The talks focused on the renovation of the Baku-Batumi pipeline so it can begin to carry "early oil." Aliev said a $245 million oil terminal with a capacity of 220,000 metric tons will be built off Supsa in "a few" months, with or without Turkish financing. Meanwhile, another top SOCAR official told AFP that a deal between Penzoil, Agip, and LUKoil to prospect for reserves in the off-shore Karabagh oil field had been reached and would soon be signed. -- Lowell Bezanis PRICE HIKES IN TURKMENISTAN. The government increased retail fuel prices by 250% on 8 November, Interfax reported the same day. The move aims at ensuring "thrifty use of fuel resources and fuller compensation for production costs." Prices will range from 20-25 manats per litre; as the manat is exchanged on the black market for 500 manats to $1, fuel prices remain dramatically below the international market price. Bread prices also jumped 8-10 times the same day; Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov condemned the increase and the "artificial creation of an artificial deficit." His press office announced that the head of Ashgabat's bread-baking plant and its storehouse chief will be sacked soon. -- Lowell Bezanis KYRGYZ AUCTION DISAPPOINTING. An attempt to privatize former state companies in Kyrgyzstan has not yielded the expected results. On 8 November, the first day of the auction, only a few shares of one of the 13 companies on the block, the Tokchuluk meat processing company, received bids, Western sources reported. A specialist for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) said the high asking prices were to blame. The starting price from between $24,000 to $2.38 million proved too costly to potential investors who can participate in a closed auction on 9 November at which bidders have greater control over starting prices and share amounts. As much as 70% of the 13 companies are available to interested purchasers. -- Bruce Pannier KYRGYZ CENTRAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION ANSWERS CHARGES. The chairman of the Kyrgyz Central Electoral Commission, Mambetzhunus Abylov, rejected a statement recently released by a group of presidential candidates alleging that "all state media bodies are electioneering in favor of one candidate--Askar Akaev," according to Interfax on 8 November. The statement was authored by, among others, the heads of the Communist and Ata-Meken parties and the Adilet (Justice) movement. So far, the only candidate registered for the 24 December election is the incumbent, Akaev, who has gathered a reported 800,000 signatures, representing about one third of the eligible voters. Other candidates have until the end of November to collect the required 50,000 signatures. -- Bruce Pannier [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Victor Gomez The OMRI Daily Digest offers the latest news from the former Soviet Union and Central, Eastern, 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. 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