A thing well said will be writ in all languages. - John Dryden 1631-1700
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 223, Part I, 15 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
CONSTITUTIONAL COURT TO CONSIDER DEPUTIES' INQUIRY ON ELECTORAL LAW. The
Constitutional Court has agreed to consider the constitutionality of the
Duma electoral law, Russian TV reported on 14 November. A group of 103
Duma deputies say that the law contradicts eight articles of the
constitution and should be changed before the December parliamentary
elections. According to Vyacheslav Nikonov, a representative of the
deputies' group, the fact that the law allows for half of the deputies
to be elected by party list is a violation of the voter's constitutional
right to participate in his or her government because party-list
candidates represent the interests of their parties rather then those of
the voters, Ekspress-Khronika reported. The court will also examine the
rule that requires parties to win 5% of the popular vote to gain
parliamentary representation (see OMRI Daily Digest 10 November 1995).
-- Anna Paretskaya
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA


SUPREME COURT ORDERS REGISTRATION OF ANOTHER PARTY. On 14 November, the
Supreme Court ordered the Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) to
register the Union of Russian Housing Industry Workers for the Duma
campaign by 15 November, ITAR-TASS reported. The consequences of this
order are not clear since the TsIK has already determined the order of
parties on the ballot and the dates on which the parties will be given
free broadcasting time. -- Robert Orttung

POLL SHOWS ONLY THREE PARTIES CLEARING 5% BARRIER. A Public Opinion Poll
conducted 26 October shows that only the Communist Party, Our Home is
Russia, and Women of Russia would clear the 5% barrier if elections were
held now, with support from 14%, 7% and 6% of those polled respectively.
Such a result would inevitably mean that many voters would not have
party representation in the Duma if they supported one of the 39 other
parties that fell below the 5% barrier. -- Robert Orttung

TELEVISION CAMPAIGN FOR DUMA BEGINS. State-owned television and radio
stations in Russia began giving the 42 registered parties in the Duma
campaign free air time on 15 November. Russian Public TV (ORT) had
wanted to organize its broadcasts in the form of debates and round
tables between the parties to make the presentations more lively and
avoid "demagoguery and populism" according to ORT General Director
Sergei Blagovolin. But the vast majority of the parties, including the
Communists and Aleksandr Rutskoi's Derzhava, demanded solo appearances
instead. ORT announced on 14 November that each party would have its own
air time. Television played a major role in Vladimir Zhirinovsky's
success in 1993 and is expected to influence Russia's numerous undecided
voters this year as well. -- Robert Orttung

ROMANOV ACCUSES CHERNOMYRDIN OF ILLEGALLY GIVING ORT MONEY. Federation
Council Deputy Peter Romanov accused Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin
of illegally giving $10 million and 75 billion rubles ($16.7 million) to
Russian Public TV (ORT) on 14 November. Romanov doubted the legality of
the transfer because he considers ORT a private company. The state has a
51% stake in the station. Romanov said Chernomyrdin is using state
budget money to buy advertisements for his electoral bloc, Our Home is
Russia, Russian TV reported. Romanov is the director of a large
Krasnoyarsk chemical enterprise and has participated in the
nationalistic Russian National Assembly. -- Robert Orttung

SHUMEIKO OFFERS NEW PLAN FOR FORMING FEDERATION COUNCIL. Federation
Council Speaker Vladimir Shumeiko proposed that the next Federation
Council include the leaders of the local executive and legislative
branches but said it should be left up to each region to decide whether
or not the executive would be appointed by the president or elected
locally. According to his plan, either the heads of the local branches
or their deputies could join the upper house, ORT reported. The regions
could also decide to allow the current Federation Council members, who
were directly elected in 1993, to represent their interests. The members
of the Federation Council did not initially support those plans,
describing them as "undemocratic," and particularly objected to the idea
of including two presidential representatives in the upper chamber as
"illegitimate." Shumeiko's plan is unlikely to be more successful than
the two previous versions of the law vetoed by Yeltsin. -- Robert
Orttung

KRO REFERENDUM TAKES SHAPE. The Congress of Russian Communities (KRO) is
proposing that a referendum be held on the question, "Do you believe
that the activity of the government should be evaluated according to the
people's standard of living?" The idea for a referendum arose at the
KRO's 10 November meeting (see OMRI Daily Digest, 13 November 1995). The
KRO must collect 2 million signatures to place the issue on the ballot,
Radio Mayak reported on 14 November. -- Robert Orttung

GRACHEV MEETS WITH PATRIARCH. Defense Minister Pavel Grachev met with
the Patriarch Aleksii II at St. Daniel's Monastery on 14 November to
mark the 18-month anniversary of a cooperation agreement between the
army and the Russian Orthodox Church, ITAR-TASS reported. Grachev said
that liaison officers for cooperation with religious organizations will
be stationed in military units. Meanwhile, a group of young Muscovites
demonstrated outside the Defense Ministry to demand that Grachev be
replaced by a civilian, Russian TV reported. -- Constantine Dmitriev

RUSSIA DELIVERS SUBMARINE TO CHINA. Under the terms of a bilateral
agreement on military-technical cooperation, a Russian delegation, led
by Admiral Valentin Selivanov, chief of the Russian Naval Staff, has
handed over a newly-constructed "Kilo" class diesel-electric submarine
to China at the port of Ninbo, (see OMRI Daily Digest, 6 September
1995), ITAR-TASS reported on 15 November. Russian and Chinese military
experts dismissed speculation that Russian sales of submarines to China
may change the strategic balance in the North Pacific. ITAR-TASS cited
an official from the U.S. State Department who said that Washington does
not think that such deliveries will significantly increase Chinese naval
capabilities. -- Constantine Dmitriev

LOBOV CALLS FOR MORE SPENDING IN CHECHNYA. Presidential representative
in Chechnya, Oleg Lobov, told journalists on 14 November that financing
of federal forces and reconstruction in the republic is totally
inadequate, Russian agencies reported. Lobov blamed the Finance
Ministry, which he said had delayed scheduled payments from the federal
budget. As a result, he said, federal troops were dying for lack of
necessary equipment and supplies. Lobov added that he would recommend
the expenditure of 14.7 trillion rubles ($3.3 billion) from the federal
budget on reconstruction in the republic during 1996. ITAR-TASS reported
on 15 November that sporadic fighting the previous day left 6 federal
servicemen dead. -- Scott Parrish

YELSTIN MEETS NAZARBAYEV. President Yeltsin met with Kazakhstani
President Nursultan Nazarbayev at the Central Clinical Hospital in
Moscow on 14 November, Russian and Western agencies reported. During
their televised meeting, Yeltsin angrily dismissed reports that he
requires an operation for his heart condition as "foolish nonsense." The
two presidents discussed bilateral and CIS issues, and Yeltsin told
Russian Public TV (ORT) that he hoped Russian ties with Kazakhstan would
develop "along the same lines as with Belarus." Despite the apparently
friendly meeting, on the same day the Russian Ministry of Nationalities
sent a letter to Kazakhstan protesting the recent arrest of Semirechie
Cossack Ataman Nikolai Gunkin. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIA RECALLS AMBASSADOR TO NIGERIA. Joining a chorus of criticism from
around the world, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigorii Karasin
sharply criticized the Nigerian military regime for executing nine
political activists despite international calls for clemency, Russian
and Western agencies reported on 14 November. Karasin announced that
Russia would recall its ambassador from Lagos for consultations. The
U.S., Great Britain, and several other Western powers have also recalled
their ambassadors from Nigeria to protest the executions. -- Scott
Parrish

JOINT U.S.-RUSSIAN VENTURE TO MARKET SPACE ROCKET. The Russian
association Energomash and the U.S. company Pratt & Whitney plan to set
up a joint venture to develop and market a liquid-fueling rocket engine
which they hope will be chosen to modernize the American Atlas booster
rocket, Interfax reported on 13 November. The new RD-180 engine will be
based on the RD-170 engine now used in the first stage of the Russian
Zenith space booster. It will be built by Energomash in Khimki, near
Moscow. The U.S. space company Lockheed-Martin will announce the winner
of the Atlas contract in January 1996. -- Doug Clarke

MAFIA TIES TO LATIN AMERICA. The Moscow organized crime gang known as
Solntsevo is planning to organize large-scale drug smuggling from Latin
America to Russia, Izvestiya reported on 15 November. Many Russian
criminals have dual citizenship and some have acquired the status of
honorary consuls to Latin American countries. The leaders of the
Solntsevo gang have established close relations with the Russian
diaspora in Israel, Austria, and the U.S. and are now turning to Latin
America. Costa Rica is particularly attractive because it is a small,
quiet, and economically stable country, according to the report. --
Thomas Sigel

ENVIRONMENT MINISTRY SEEKS DELAY IN CFC BAN. Russia will ask for a four-
year delay before it conforms to a global ban on ozone-destroying gases
that takes effect on 1 January 1996, Izvestiya reported on 15 November.
The Environment Ministry said it needs $600,000 and time to convert
industry to ozone-safe methods that comply with the 1987 Montreal
protocol on phasing out production of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).
Industry in Russia is still emitting 90,000 tons of ozone-destructive
gas each year. Scientists and environmentalists argue that ozone
depletion results in increased cancer incidents and lower crop yields.
-- Thomas Sigel

STORMS IN FAR EAST CAUSE EXTENSIVE DAMAGE. Storms ripping across
Russia's Far East last week killed three people, one on Sakhalin Island
and two on the mainland, and injured dozens, Russian and Western
agencies reported on 14 November. The hurricane-force winds caused $19
million in damage. The Kamchatka Peninsula city of Petropavlovsk-
Kamchatskii was hit hardest as some 200 families were left homeless and
their apartment buildings were destroyed by the 10 November storms. --
Thomas Sigel

YELTSIN NOMINATES NEW CENTRAL BANK CHIEF. President Boris Yeltsin
informed the Duma that he is nominating Sergei Dubinin to be the new
permanent head of the Central Bank, NTV reported on 14 November.
Dubinin, 44, is an academic economist who served as acting finance
minister from February to October 1994 and was fired after the ruble
collapse on "Black Tuesday". He currently heads the government
Commission on Credit Policy and is a deputy chairman of Imperial Bank
and a member of the Gazprom board. Yeltsin's move ends speculation that
Aleksandr Khandruev, who only last week was appointed acting head of the
bank, would be a candidate for the permanent position. Dubinin's
candidacy must be approved by the Duma. Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin and
Budget Committee Chairman Mikhail Zadornov came out in support of
Dubinin. However, he may be opposed by anti-reform deputies as he is
seen as the most monetarist of the commonly mentioned candidates. --
Peter Rutland

EURASIANS DREAM OF ALASKA. The weekly Russian Asia, published in
Novosibirsk, wants to integrate Siberia into the global economy. To this
end, it proposes reviving a 1906 project to build a railway tunnel under
the Bering Straits, ITAR-TASS reported on 15 November. The idea of
linking Russia with Alaska by such a tunnel was postponed due to World
War I. An equally implausible idea the paper proposes is to build a new
7,200 km railway along the northern Arctic coast. In the meantime, a new
640 km line is currently being built from Tynda (Amur Oblast) north to
Yakutsk, an important center of mining activity. -- Peter Rutland

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

KAZAKHS, COSSACKS, AND RUSSIANS. Recent media coverage of imprisoned
Cossack Ataman Nikolai Gunkin prompted Kazakhstani government officials
on 13 November to release a statement denying any discrimination toward
the Russian-speaking community in the Central Asian republic, according
to Interfax. Meanwhile, the Cossacks of Russia's Kurgan Oblast, which
borders Kazakhstan, have sent letters of protest to both the Russian and
Kazakhstani governments over the matter. The Cossacks say they are
prepared to block roads along the border in order to obtain a solution
to the Gunkin problem as well as to the larger issue of the Russian
speaking population's rights. -- Bruce Pannier

UZBEK PRESIDENT IN GERMANY TO IMPROVE ECONOMIC RELATIONS. Uzbek
President Islam Karimov arrived in Stuttgart, Germany on 14 November to
begin a three-day visit. An ITAR-TASS report of the same day noted that
Karimov is scheduled to meet with representatives of several major
companies, including the auto firm Daimler-Benz, and the shoe
manufacturer Salamander AG. The latter plans to set up a plant that will
produce more than 500,000 pairs of men's shoes per year, according to a
Reuters report of 15 November. Germany remains one of the key investors
in the Uzbek economy, with bilateral trade at over $700 million in 1995.
Roger Kangas

[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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