One must learn by doing the thing; though you think you know it, you have no certainty until you try. - Sophocles
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 220, Part I, 10 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
TsIK DENIES REGISTRATION TO MUSLIMS, OUR FUTURE. The IK) refused to
register the Muslim Union of Russia and Our Future because they do not
have the necessary 200,000 signatures. The Muslim Union attracted a lot
of media attention earlier this year as the first Muslim party to
contest the elections. Our Future is led by the extreme Communist Sazhi
Umalatova. A Chechen, Umalatova resigned from Gennadii Zyuganov's
Communist Party in January in protest over what she considered his weak
attempts to oppose President Boris Yeltsin's decision to use force in
the republic. The TsIK has so far banned seven parties and registered
41, including the Federal Democratic Movement which had its registration
delayed the day before because one of its candidates was on two blocs.
The process will continue on 10 November. -- Robert Orttung
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

CONSTITUTIONAL COURT ASKED TO EXAMINE ELECTORAL LAW. The Supreme Court
has asked the Constitutional Court to rule on the legality of Article 62
of the law on parliamentary elections, which sets the minimum turnout
for valid elections at 25% and stipulates that parties must gain at
least 5% of the vote nationwide to win any of the 225 Duma seats
allocated from party lists, Russian media reported on 9 November.
Constitutional Court Chairman Vladimir Tumanov said an examination of
the case may take time. According to Russian TV, the court will become
involved in a "high stakes political game" if it decides to hear the
case; if the court strikes down the law soon, Duma elections could be
postponed, and if it strikes down the law after 17 December, the
election results could be declared illegitimate. Last-minute amendments
to the electoral law are scheduled to be debated in the Duma on 10
November. -- Laura Belin

ORT CHOOSES DEBATES OVER MONOLOGUES. Sergei Blagovolin, director-general
of Russian Public TV (ORT), announced that the network will devote its
campaign coverage to debates and round tables, rather than candidates'
monologues, Russian media reported on 9 November. Each officially
registered party (at last count, there were 41) will be represented at
one morning debate for 30 minutes and at another for 30 minutes during
prime time. Random drawings will determine which parties will face each
other in the debates. Most parties criticized the decision, arguing that
they should be allowed to structure their own television campaign
appearances. But Anatolii Vengerov, the chairman of the President's
Judicial Chamber on Information Disputes, told ORT the network's
proposal was consistent with the rules on campaign coverage and would
benefit voters by allowing them to compare candidates side by side.
Parties that can afford it will be able to buy additional political
advertising time on ORT. -- Laura Belin

JOURNALIST ATTACKED AND ROBBED IN CHECHNYA. Aleksandr Yevtushenko, a
correspondent for RFE/RL and Komsomolskaya pravda, was attacked in the
Nadterechnii region of Chechnya (near the border with Ingushetiya) on 8
November, ITAR-TASS reported the next day. Yevtushenko said five armed
men took his car and equipment and threatened to shoot him but released
him with a warning to "keep quiet." Upon returning to Grozny, he
reported the incident to the Chechen Interior Ministry, where he was
told the Nadterechnii region is not controlled by the police. -- Laura
Belin

DUDAEV DELEGATION PROPOSES PRISONER EXCHANGE. At a 9 November meeting of
the Special Observer Commission in Grozny, Chechen military commander
Aslan Maskhadov proposed the resumption of the long-stalled prisoner
exchange called for in the 30 July Russian-Chechen military accord,
Russian agencies reported. Dudaev negotiator Kazbek Makashev told NTV
that the Chechen side proposed exchanging 14 Russian servicemen for
145 separatist fighters, as had been agreed by the two sides in
September, before the attempted assassination of Lt. Gen. Anatolii
Romanov led to the suspension of negotiations. Russian officials refused
to comment on the offer. Meanwhile, NTV reported that the frequent
protest meetings of pro-independence Chechens in front of the
Presidential Palace in Grozny have been increasing in size in recent
days, despite attempts at security checkpoints around the city to keep
the protesters out. -- Scott Parrish

YELTSIN PROMOTES BARSUKOV AND KULIKOV. President Boris Yeltsin signed a
decree promoting Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Mikhail
Barsukov and Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov to the rank of army
general, ITAR-TASS reported on 9 November. Both were previously Colonel
Generals. Barsukov had graduated from the Frunze Military Academy, while
Kulikov graduated from both the Frunze Academy and the General Staff
Academy. -- Constantine Dmitriev

VOLGA COSSACKS AGAINST ALLIANCE WITH COMMUNISTS. The Volga Cossacks will
desert the Congress of Russian Communities (KRO) if it forms an
electoral coalition with the Communists, ITAR-TASS and Radio Rossii
reported on 9 November, quoting Boris Gusev, ataman of the Volga Region
Cossack units. He said the Cossacks' ideology is to serve the Russian
state and not political parties. In spring 1995, the Volga Cossacks
joined KRO under the assumption that it was non-partisan. The Cossacks'
attitude towards the Communist Party and its ideology varies in
different regions. Don Region Cossacks have backed the Communists for
the upcoming parliamentary elections, while in Voronezh Oblast, three
Cossacks were ostracized from the community for distributing "Communist
Party propaganda." -- Anna Paretskaya

GRACHEV OPENS NATO MISSION. During a visit to NATO headquarters that had
not been included in his original itinerary, Defense Minister Pavel
Grachev opened a Russian military mission to NATO under the Partnership
for Peace program, ITAR-TASS reported on 9 November. Grachev expressed
confidence that Russia and NATO will cooperate in the planned Bosnian
peace implementation force. Meanwhile, Federation Council Security and
Defense Committee Deputy Chairman Petr Premyak complained that Grachev
had not consulted the Council prior to agreeing to send Russian troops
to Bosnia. Article 102 of the Russian Constitution specifies that the
Council should approve the use of Russian armed forces outside the
country. -- Constantine Dmitriev

YELTSIN ENDORSES KOZYREV. Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev met with
President Yeltsin at his hospital in Moscow on 9 November, after which
he told an NTV interviewer that Yeltsin had "expressed his support for
the foreign minister." On the same day, ITAR-TASS reported that Yeltsin
signed a decree appointing Vasilii Sidorov, currently Russia's first
deputy UN representative, as deputy foreign minister. Sidorov will
handle administrative and cadre affairs, which Kozyrev has been
criticized for neglecting. Meanwhile, Yeltsin vetoed a bill calling for
Russia to unilaterally exit from UN sanctions against rump Yugoslavia.
He vetoed a similar measure on 14 September. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIA PLANS TO BUILD FIVE NEW NUCLEAR POWER STATIONS. The Russian
Ministry of Nuclear Energy is planning to construct five new nuclear
power stations in Russia, Vitalii Lebedenko, president of Rosenergoatom,
told Interfax on 9 November. Lebedenko said two would be constructed in
the Far East, one in the Urals, and two in European Russia. The first of
the Far East plants is already under construction. Lebedenko claimed
that Russian public opinion, which turned against nuclear power after
the Chornobyl disaster in 1986, has now become more supportive of it.
Russia currently has nine nuclear stations, generating 13% of its
electricity needs. In 1992, Prime Minister Chernomyrdin announced a
program for a 60% boost in nuclear power capacity by 2010. -- Scott
Parrish

CHUBAIS SAYS CENTRAL BANK CHANGE WILL HAVE NO NEGATIVE IMPACT. First
Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais, responding to concern among pro-
reform observers at Aleksandr Khandruev's appointment to the post of
acting Central Bank head, said the bank-government relations will not be
fundamentally altered, Russian agencies reported on 9 November.
Meanwhile, the bank's deputy chairman, Andrei Kozlov, told an
international conference on the Russian stock market in Moscow that he
was upset by the removal of Tatyana Paramonova. He said that
Paramonova's "competence and professional skills could not be doubted."
Paramonova had become a symbol of the government's tough monetary
policy, so her departure is causing some unease among pro-reform
observers. -- Thomas Sigel

ICON SMUGGLER FOUND GUILTY. A former Russian customs officer pleaded
guilty in a U.S. District Court in North Carolina on 8 November to
participating in a Moscow-based smuggling ring that authorities said
operated undercover for almost two years, Western agencies reported the
next day. Vladimir Veshkin was charged on one count of smuggling illegal
merchandise in February 1994. He was caught with 6 religious icons. But
federal agents linked Veshkin to at least 100 illegally imported icons
obtained by undercover agents or found at a shop in Winston-Salem, North
Carolina. Authorities said that Veshkin bought the icons on the Moscow
black market for $5 and resold them in the U.S. for as much as $400.
Veshkin, who is not a U.S. citizen, could be deported for his crime. He
also faces five years in federal prison and a $25,000 fine. -- Thomas
Sigel

LESPROMBANK PRESIDENT SLAIN. Lesprombank President Pavel Ratonin was
killed outside his Moscow home on 8 November, ITAR-TASS reported the
next day. Police described the murder of the 63-year-old banker as a
gang-style contract killing. Bankers and businessmen have been the most
prominent victims of ongoing killings in Moscow and other cities. The
Association of Russian Banks said organized crime groups are attacking
bankers to seize control of the profitable banking sector. Meanwhile, on
9 November, ITAR-TASS reported that police have arrested a suspect in
the murder of business leader Ivan Kivelidi, who was poisoned in his
office in August. Kivelidi was chairman of the Round Table lobby group
of business leaders. Nine of the group's 30 leaders have been killed in
the last year and the entrepreneurs have offered a $1 million reward for
information leading to the arrest of Kivelidi's murderers. -- Thomas
Sigel

DOMESTIC FOOD PRODUCTION IS FALLING, IMPORT IS INCREASING. In the first
nine months of 1995, the production of some foodstuffs fell by up to 33%
compared to the same period in 1994, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 9
November. The production of bread fell by 12%. A spokesman for the Trade
Committee said that domestic production meets only 74-89% of the demand
for meat and milk products and only 40-50% of demand for oil and sugar.
It is estimated that by the end of this year, Russia will have to import
300,000 metric tons of meat, 700,000-800,000 metric tons of milk
products, and 200,000 metric tons of vegetable oil. -- Natalia Gurushina

RUSSIA TO GET CREDIT FROM EXPORT-IMPORT BANK OF JAPAN. The Export-Import
Bank of Japan agreed to open a credit worth $400 million to Russia for
the technical reconstruction of the KamAZ car plant, Yaroslavl oil
processing plant and St. Petersburg's company "Impuls," Moskovskaya
pravda reported on 9 November. Russia and Japan also discussed the
possibility of converting a humanitarian credit of $500 million, which
had been agreed upon but not yet realized, into an additional industrial
loan. -- Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

TURKISH CONCERNS ABOUT MEDZAMOR. In light of what it termed "existing
risks," Turkey officially urged Armenia to halt its plans to revive the
Medzamor-2 nuclear reactor on 9 November, Reuters reported the same day.
A Turkish Foreign Ministry statement noted that the reactor, "whose
security is debatable," was built in an area prone to earthquakes and
any disaster there would directly affect Turkey. The day before,
Russia's Atomic Energy Minister Viktor Mikhailov and Armenia's Energy
Production Minister Gagik Martirosyan signed a protocol on reopening the
plant, Interfax reported. At a press conference, Martirosyan said
Armenia had been receiving political, technological, and financial
assistance from Russia since March 1993 to bring the plant on line
again. The plant began generating electricity on 6 November. -- Lowell
Bezanis

LOCAL ELITES HELP AKAEV. Regional leaders are actively aiding Kyrgyz
President Askar Akaev by refusing to verify signatures in support of
other presidential candidates in their area, the Russian newspaper
Ekspress-khronika reported on 9 November. The head of the Jumgalskii
region reportedly expelled "a group" for supporting one of the
opposition candidates, saying the region supported only one contender
for the presidency--Askar Akaev. Other reports say even local doctors
refuse to treat patients if they have not signed the petition endorsing
Akaev and school directors have been warned that they may be subject to
administrative measures if they do not hold rallies in support of Akaev.
-- Bruce Pannier

[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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