|One must learn by doing the thing; though you think you know it, you have no certainty until you try. - Sophocles|
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 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. Before reprinting or redistributing this publication, please write email@example.com 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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