|Every individual has a place to fill in the world, and is important, in some respect, whether he chooses to be so or not. - Nathaniel Hawthorne|
No. 224, Part I, 16 November 1995
************************************************************************ 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 17 November issue examines the changing nuclear threat in the former USSR and Eastern Europe, including these titles: "Nuclear Arms -- A Soviet Legacy" "The 'Sapphire' File: Lessons for International Nonproliferation Cooperation" and "The Chornobyl Fallout Persists" The 1 December issue takes a special look at the Russian election campaign ahead of the crucial 17 December Duma elections with such articles as: "Are the Communists Poised for Victory?" "Divided Democrats Face Uncertain Prospects" and "Zhirinovsky's Uphill Battle" For subscription info, send an e-mail 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 ************************************************************************ 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 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS TO BE HELD 16 JUNE 1996. The Federation Council voted 123 to 0 to set the presidential elections for 16 June 1996, four days after Yeltsin's term in office expires, Russian and Western media reported on 15 November. A minimum of 90 votes (half the seats in the Council) was needed to take the decision. Earlier this week, President Yeltsin asked Council speaker Vladimir Shumeiko to hurry the vote on the election date to reduce speculation about possible post- ponement. On 14 November, Yeltsin said that he favored holding both presidential and parliamentary elections on time, but would like the electoral legislation improved first, Reuters reported. Among the possible presidential candidates are Lt. Gen. (ret.) Aleksandr Lebed, economist Grigorii Yavlinskii, Communist Gennadii Zyuganov, and ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky. Yeltsin himself has not announced yet whether he plans to seek another term. -- Anna Paretskaya ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ RUSSIA YELTSIN AIDE ON ELECTIONS. Presidential aide Georgii Satarov told ITAR- TASS on 15 November that he believes that the opposition won't get two- thirds of the Duma seats, a qualified majority that would allow them to override vetos from the upper house and the president. The same day, Ekho Moskvy reported that Satarov said if the Constitutional Court rules that the electoral law violates the constitution (see OMRI Daily Digest, 14 November 1995), the December elections might be cancelled. -- Anna Paretskaya CHAMBER RULES AGAINST CAMPAIGN ADS. The head of the Judicial Chamber on Informational Disputes, Anatolii Vengerov, said that a 15 November ad by Konstantin Borovoi's Economic Freedom Party was "illegal," ITAR-TASS reported. The ad included an accordion band singing a mischievous ditty about the other parties, according to Reuters. Such violations could result in the party being disqualified from the campaign, although the Chamber's decisions are only advisory and do not carry any sanctions. The Chamber has also ruled against an ad aired by Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) in which Peter the Great, Field Marshal Mikhail Kutuzov, and dissident Andrei Sakharov are said to support the LDPR. The Chamber ruled that these people did not know what the LDPR was and therefore could not support it. -- Robert Orttung CENTRAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION REGISTERS ANOTHER PARTY. The Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) registered the Union of Russian Housing Industry Workers on 15 November as the 43rd party to compete in the December Duma elections. Four other parties have complaints against the TsIK pending in the Supreme Court, ITAR-TASS reported. The Court has ruled against the TsIK in almost every case. The TsIK must have the final text of the ballot ready by 18 November, according to the electoral law. -- Robert Orttung DUMA OVERRIDES FEDERATION COUNCIL ON CONSCRIPTION LAW. The State Duma managed to override the Federation Council's earlier veto of proposed amendments to the conscription law, NTV reported on 15 November. The amendments stipulate that the extension of the service term from 18 to 24 months should not apply to those conscripts who were drafted before 1 October 1995 or those who have served in "hot spots." The amendments now go to President Yeltsin for his consideration. -- Constantine Dmitriev YELTSIN CAN VETO NATO ORDERS TO RUSSIAN TROOPS IN BOSNIA. President Boris Yeltsin will be able to countermand any order the NATO commander of the planned Bosnian peace implementation force might give the Russian contingent, Defense Minister Pavel Grachev told a Moscow news conference on 15 November. Western agencies reported him as saying that such a veto would only be given after Yeltsin had consulted with his Security Council. A brigade of 1,500 Russian paratroopers, to be commanded by Gen. Leonid Shevtsov, has been designated to serve in the Bosnian force. Shevtsov will take orders from American Gen. George Joulwan but will notify Moscow should he question them. -- Doug Clarke YELTSIN ENDORSES ELECTIONS IN CHECHNYA. After meeting with President Yeltsin on 15 November, presidential representative in Chechnya Oleg Lobov told journalists that Yeltsin had endorsed holding simultaneous elections in Chechnya for the Duma and for a new Chechen head of state on 17 December, Russian and Western agencies reported. Separatist President Dzhokhar Dudaev has vowed to oppose any elections until Chechnya's constitutional status is settled. Lobov said an agreement delineating the division of local and federal powers between Moscow and Grozny, similar to those signed with seven other Federation subjects, would be concluded with Zavgaev's goverment soon. -- Scott Parrish GRACHEV WARNS AGAIN ABOUT NATO EXPANSION, SAYS RUSSIA WON'T MEET CFE DEADLINE. Grachev told senior military commanders meeting in Moscow on 15 November that the admission of East European countries to NATO would damage Russian political, military, and economic interests, and would call for "appropriate moves" from Moscow, Interfax reported. Western agencies quoted him as saying we would "reshape all our strategic nuclear forces" in the event of NATO expansion. Describing Russia's geopolitical situation as "fairly difficult", Grachev said that threats to Russian security had moved to a regional level. Grachev also told the Moscow news conference that Russia would not meet all the terms of the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty when they go into effect on 17 November. This especially concerns the flank limitations, which limit the amount of arms the Russians can deploy in the North Caucasus military district. "According to other western agencies, he charged that the treaty "ties us hand and foot." Western diplomats in Vienna and Brussels continued working in an effort to find a compromise, and a diplomatic source told Reuters that they were "still hopeful that it will all be worked out." -- Doug Clarke INTERNATIONAL ANTI-TERRORISM SEMINAR HELD IN MOSCOW. The Russian Interior Ministry has organized a closed international seminar on hostage-rescue operations, NTV reported on 15 November. Representatives of Russian security services, FBI and Scotland Yard met in Moscow to exchange information on rescue techniques and to watch videos of past operations. -- Constantine Dmitriev RUSSIA USES ARMS TO PAY FINNISH DEBT. Under the terms of agreement reached earlier, Russia will supply arms worth a total of 1 billion Finnish markka ($239 million) to Finland, Finansovye Izvestia reported on 16 November. Finland will pay only 150 million markka for the arms, while the remaining 850 million markka will be accepted as a payment of Russian debt to Finland. -- Constantine Dmitriev NUCLEAR REACTOR SHUT DOWN FOR REPAIRS. A reactor was shut down for unscheduled repairs at a nuclear power station near Yekaterinburg in the Ural mountains, AFP and Interfax reported on 15 November. The reactor, the only one at the Beloyarsk power station, 30 kms from Yekaterinburg, was shut down after fluctuations in hydrogen levels in a cooling unit, station director Oleg Sarayev said. There was no danger of a nuclear accident. -- Thomas Sigel TUBERCULOSIS ON THE RISE. Twenty-four out of every 100,000 Muscovites have tuberculosis, according to Moscow health official cited by ITAR- TASS on 15 November. Most afflicted are men between the ages of 40 and 59, and women between the ages of 20 and 29. The majority of the victims are alcoholics, former convicts, migrants, and homeless people. -- Thomas Sigel BUDGET ONE STEP CLOSER TO APPROVAL. The State Duma on 15 November approved by 237 to 77 the draft 1996 budget prepared by the Conciliation Commission, Russian media reported the following day. The surprisingly wide margin raised hopes that the budget will not fall prey to pre- election political maneuvering, and will pass the required three readings in the Duma and Federation Council before the Duma is dissolved for the December election. If so, it will be the first time since 1990 that the Russian parliament approved a budget before the beginning of the new financial year. The Duma rejected the draft the previous day, but agrarian deputies changed their vote after First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais addressed the chamber and promised to find an additional 4.9 trillion rubles ($1.1 billion) in subsidies for agriculture, defense, and social programs. -- Peter Rutland DETAILS OF BUDGET DRAFT. The draft budget for 1996 which the Duma approved on first reading on 15 November assumes a monthly inflation rate of 1.9%, Rossiiskie Vesti reported on 16 November. Planned income will be 343 trillion rubles ($7.6 billion) and spending 431 trillion ($9.6 billion), leaving a deficit of 88.6 trillion ($2 billion). The government's initial draft envisioned inflation of 1.9%, revenue of 443 trillion rubles, and expenditure of 414 trillion rubles. Thus the Duma increased spending by 17 trillion rubles and only agreed to raise taxes by 10 trillion, widening the deficit by 6.7 trillion rubles. The draft expects to raise foreign loans worth 33 trillion rubles to help finance the deficit. -- Peter Rutland CONFIRMATION OF NEW CENTRAL BANK HEAD IS LIKELY. The Duma Budget Committee voted unanimously on 15 November to approve the candidacy of Sergei Dubinin, Yeltsin's new nominee to head the Central Bank, Russian media reported. The full Duma will probably consider the nomination next week. Speaking on Russian Television, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin described Dubinin as a " a good, tough, market man" (tverdyi rynochnik). Even Communist party leader Gennadii Zyuganov described Dubinin as "relatively sober and competent," in an interview with Radio Rossii. -- Peter Rutland TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA IOSSELIANI ARRESTED. Dzhaba Iosseliani, the founder of the Mkhedrioni paramilitary organization, was arrested in a night raid on 15 November, Western and Russian media reported. A warrant for his arrest was issued 30 August, accusing him of possession of drugs and weapons, and subsequently of involvment in the attempted assassination of Georgian President-elect Eduard Shevardnadze. As a sitting deputy Iosseliani was immune to arrest, but he lost his seat in the 5 November elections. The central election commission called for his release on the grounds that his immunity lasts until the person who won his seat is officially registered next week. The procurator's office argues that they had information that Iosseliani planned to flee the country. Russia's NTV reported that Interior Minister Shota Kviraya personally carried out Iosseliani's arrest. -- Lowell Bezanis EXPERTS DISAGREE OVER CAUSE OF EXPLOSION IN BAKU METRO. Experts investigating the fire in the Baku metro on 28 October in which about 300 people died do not agree on what triggered the explosion that caused the fire, Ekho Moskvy reported on 15 November. The specialists of the Kharkov plant Dinamo who had repaired the train in which the explosion occurred said poor maintenance of the train carriages was the reason for explosion. However the experts of the Russian manufacturer Metromash assert that a mere short circuit could not have caused such large-scale damage, as inspection after the accident showed the wiring to be in "ideal condition." -- Bhavna Dave NEW PARTY IN TAJIKISTAN. A new Justice and Progress of Tajikistan Party has been formed, according to a Radio Voice of Free Tajikistan broadcast monitored by the BBC. The co-founders of the Khojent-based party are Karim Abdulov, former press secretary to the Tajik president, and Safarali Kenjayev, the former chairman of the Tajik parliament. Kenjayev's role in the party is especially alarming for the opposition as he was the head of Tajikistan's Security Committee (KGB) during the riots in Dushanbe in April and May of 1992. Kenjayev, after being forced from this position, led an attack on government buildings in Dushanbe in October 1992 in an attempt to overthrow the Islamic-Democratic coalition government. Many in the country still blame Kenjayev for thousands of deaths during this period. The radio broadcast asserts that Kenjayev is trying to gain politically what he could not gain militarily. -- Bruce Pannier NAZARBAYEV ATTACKS RUSSIAN PRESS, LEADERS AGAIN. In a press conference in Almaty Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev expressed anger at the "negative statements" on events in Kazakhstan by several Russian leaders, ITAR-TASS reported on 15 November. Nazarbayev said certain Russian figures would go to any length "in slandering neighboring friendly states and interfering in their affairs" in order to further their own electoral prospects. -- Bhavna Dave RUSSIANS RELEASE TRAIN WITH KAZAKHSTANI ARMS FOR NORTH KOREA. A train carrying howitzers and radars from Kazakhstan to North Korea that was detained by Russian customs agents in the Far East on 20 October has been allowed to continue its journey, ITAR-TASS reported on 14 November. A senior Russian customs official told Interfax that the train had arrived in North Korea on 12 November and had been allowed to pass following a special order from the State Customs Committee in Moscow. -- Doug Clarke [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Pete Baumgartner 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. 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