|To live is so startling, it leaves little time for anything else. - Emily Dickinson|
No. 226, Part I, 20 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ DUMA PASSES FEDERATION COUNCIL LAW. In a third attempt to reach agreement with President Boris Yeltsin, the Duma voted on 17 November by 263 to 27 to approve a draft law on the formation of the parliament's upper house, Russian and Western agencies reported. Under the bill, the chamber will include the heads of the executives and legislatures of Russia's 89 regions, but the governors must be elected by December 1996. The previous version had called for gubernatorial elections before the June 1996 presidential elections (see OMRI Daily Digest 12 October). The change is a concession to Yeltsin, who signed a decree on 17 September calling elections in December 1996 for all the governors he had appointed (see OMRI Daily Digest, 19 September). Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin said that he had shown the new draft to Yeltsin in the hospital and that the president's reaction was positive. -- Robert Orttung ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ RUSSIA IT'S FINAL: 43 PARTIES TO COMPETE FOR DUMA. The Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) has approved the party-list ballot, which includes 43 parties, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 November. The ballot will be printed on a sheet of paper the size of a newspaper. The Supreme Court denied the appeals of the Union of Patriots, Our Future, the Russian Union of Muslims, and the Assembly of the Land to overturn the TsIK's earlier decisions rejecting their registration. -- Robert Orttung PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES DECLARE THEMSELVES. Stanislav Govorukhin, film director and leader of his own electoral bloc, announced on 17 November that he would run for president in 1996, Ekho Moskvy reported. Govorukhin said his previous statements that he had no intention of running were made in jest, according to Radio Mayak. Meanwhile, NTV reported on 19 November that Yurii Skokov, number one on the Congress of Russian Communities (KRO) list, had told close advisors that he intends to run for the presidency next summer. The report could damage his alliance with Lt. Gen. (ret.) Aleksandr Lebed, deputy leader of the KRO, who also has presidential ambitions. Lebed unexpectedly cut short a campaign trip in southern Russia to return to Moscow on 17 November. -- Anna Paretskaya COURTS SAID TO LIMIT PRESS FREEDOM DESPITE GOOD MEDIA LAWS. Although the constitution and the Law on the Mass Media protect the press against censorship in theory, in practice court decisions substantially limit journalists' freedom to criticize public figures, according to participants at a 17 November roundtable sponsored by the Center for the Study of Constitutionalism in Moscow. Maks Khazin, who represents Izvestiya in legal disputes, said several libel suits brought and won by politicians have had a chilling effect on press freedom. Several speakers, including Glasnost Defense Foundation chairman Aleksei Simonov, noted that Defense Minister Pavel Grachev's recent court victory over Moskovskii komsomolets journalist Vadim Poegli (see OMRI Daily Digest, 30 October) also set a dangerous precedent. -- Laura Belin in Moscow ELECTION UPROAR CONTINUES IN CHECHNYA. On 18 November the self- proclaimed Chechen Supreme Soviet approved plans to hold elections on 17 December for the Chechen head of state, Russian and Western agencies reported. The Supreme Soviet did not, however, endorse holding Duma elections on the same day, saying that should be decided by federal authorities. Movladi Udugov, a spokesman for separatist President Dzhokhar Dudaev, warned on 17 November that participation in the elections would be regarded as "treason" by pro-Dudaev forces and punished according to "wartime realities." In a rare public appearance near Urus-Martan, only 20 km from Grozny, Dudaev on 18 November threatened that the planned elections could have "sweeping consequences" in Russia. -- Scott Parrish BOMB ATTACK MISSES ZAVGAEV. An attempt was made to assassinate the head of the Moscow-backed Chechen government, Doku Zavgaev, on 20 November, Russian agencies reported. A large bomb was detonated on a sidewalk in central Grozny as Zavgaev's motorcade passed by, and snipers then raked the vehicles with automatic weapons fire from nearby roofs. The motorcade was able to escape the ambush, and Zavgaev was unhurt, although five of his bodyguards were wounded, according to ITAR-TASS. -- Scott Parrish KOZYREV WELCOMES CFE PLEDGE. Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev on 18 November welcomed a statement by the 30 signatories of the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty pledging to try harder to resolve Russia's objections to the so-called "flanks" limits, ITAR-TASS reported. Russia has more military equipment in the North Caucasus Military District than is allowed by the treaty, whose terms formally became binding on 17 November. "This decision corresponds to Russia's line on adhering to the CFE treaty," Kozyrev said, "while taking into account the interests of our country under new conditions." Russian ambassador to Georgia Vladimir Zemskii and Georgian First Deputy Defense Minister Mikhail Ukleba have discussed the possibility of temporarily deploying in Georgia some of the excess Russian military hardware from the North Caucasus Military District, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 November." -- Doug Clarke and Liz Fuller PRIME MINISTER SAYS GOVERNMENT TO PAY DEBTS TO MILITARY. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on 17 November told Russia's top military commanders that the government had decided to pay out all overdue budget allocations to the Defense Ministry, Interfax reported. He said the step would cost about 2.6 trillion rubles ($575 million). Defense Minister Grachev welcomed Chernomyrdin's statement and promised to urge service personnel to vote for the prime minister's party in the upcoming elections. -- Doug Clarke DUMA PASSES SECOND PART OF CIVIL CODE. The second part of Russia's Civil Code, which regulates the legal aspects of economic relations, was approved by the Duma in its first reading on 17 November by 295 votes to 47, ITAR-TASS reported. The first part of the new code came into force a year ago; the Soviet-era code, adopted in 1964, also remains in force for the time being. -- Penny Morvant TWO MORE CONTRACT KILLINGS IN MOSCOW. A local government official and the president of the Stinolneftegaz oil company were shot dead in separate incidents in Moscow on 17 November, Russian and Western agencies reported. Crime has risen by more than 10% this year in comparison with 1994. -- Penny Morvant YELTSIN SIGNS DECREE PROTECTING INVESTORS. President Yeltsin signed a decree on 17 November instructing the government to come up with a plan to compensate defrauded investors, ITAR-TASS reported the next day. A special fund will be established, with funds raised through sales of bankrupt companies' assets. The decree appears to be vague on specifics and does not satisfy the demands of defrauded investors, who are estimated to number from 20 to 40 million. Mikhail Shevtsov, addressing the first congress of the All-Russian Union of Investors in Moscow, claimed that 2,000 companies had cheated investors, ITAR-TASS reported on 20 November. He said that 2 million investors have formed 500 groups to reclaim their assets. Prime Minister Chernomyrdin told Russian Public TV on 18 November that investor groups will be directly involved in running local compensation funds. -- Natalia Gurushina and Peter Rutland FIRST EQUITY/LOAN AUCTIONS HELD. On 17 November the first two auctions were held under a government scheme to swap federally owned shareholdings in return for loans. Euroresursy won 15% of the shares in the Nafta Moskva company by offering a $35 million loan, while Oneksimbank gained 38% of the shares of Norilsk Nickel with a $170 million loan, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 November. Kommersant-Daily had reported on 11 November that Oneksimbank itself was in charge of running the auctions. The loan scheme was devised to get around the parliament's refusal to approve a bill on the sale of federal shares. On 11 November Yeltsin vetoed a bill that gave parliament control over the disposition of federal shares, and on 15 November Interfax reported that the Federation Council overrode the veto. -- Peter Rutland TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA SECOND ROUND OF GEORGIAN PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS. The second round of parliamentary elections in single-mandate constituencies took place in Georgia on 19 November, Russian TV reported. The turnout was not as high as in the first round on 5 November, and international observers and representatives of the Central Electoral Commission registered no major violations. Of the 147 deputies who won seats on 5 November, 91 represent the Union of Citizens of Georgia, led by Eduard Shevardnadze; 31 belong to the National Democratic Party, led by Irina Sarishvili; and 25 to the All-Georgia Union for Revival, led by the head of the autonomous republic of Adzharia, Aslan Abashidze. The inauguration of Shevardnadze, elected president on 5 November, and the swearing in of the new parliament will take place on 26 November. -- Irakli Tsereteli UZBEK FOREIGN MINISTER IN SAUDI ARABIA. Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Komilov arrived in Riyadh on 18 November for a series of meetings with Saudi government officials, ITAR-TASS reported. Komilov and Saudi Prince Saud al-Faisal signed a general agreement on cooperation, covering issues ranging from trade and cultural exchanges to the official opening of a Saudi embassy in Tashkent, scheduled for early 1996. In an interview with the Egyptian news agency MENA, Komilov stressed that such agreements are between equal states, declaring that Uzbekistan will not tolerate the policies of Islamic powers that wish to "extend their influence" in Central Asia. The same, he noted, applies to Russian policies as well. -- Roger Kangas NEXT ROUND OF TAJIK TALKS SCHEDULED FOR 30 NOVEMBER. The Tajik government announced on 18 November that it is prepared to send a delegation to Ashgabat to meet representatives of the opposition on 30 November, Russian and Western agencies reported. The fifth round of talks was initially scheduled for 18 September but has been repeatedly postponed because of disagreements over venue and agenda. Fighting in the Garm region, 240 km east of Dushanbe, has seen 54 government soldiers captured and 50-60 killed since October, -- Bruce Pannier KYRGYZ PRESIDENTIAL RACE TO HAVE 13 CANDIDATES. The Kyrgyz Central Electoral Commission said on 18 November that 13 candidates have been nominated for the presidential election scheduled for 24 December, according to an RFE/RL correspondent. To complete the registration process candidates must hand in lists of 50,000 signatures from voters by 3 December. The current president, Askar Akayev, has already met this requirement, turning in 800,000 signatures. -- Bruce Pannier REGISTRATION COMPLETED FOR KAZAKHSTANI ELECTIONS. Kazakhstan's Central Election Commission head Yurii Kim told Interfax on 17 November that the registration of candidates for the country's parliamentary elections in early December has been completed. Indirect elections to the 47-seat Senate (upper house) will be held on 5 December, and the 67-seat Majlis (lower house) will be elected by popular vote on 9 December. Among the pro-government parties, the Party for National Unity has nominated 38 candidates, the Democratic Party 22, the Cooperation Party 15, and the National Rebirth Party 5. From the opposition, the communists have fielded 9 candidates and the People's Congress Party 8. Other opposition groups are boycotting the elections. -- Bhavna Dave DUMA EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER RUSSIANS IN KAZAKHSTAN. The Russian Duma has issued a statement expressing "deep concern" over "violations of the rights of ethnic Russians in Kazakhstan," ITAR-TASS reported on 17 November. It demanded the release of the "illegally arrested" Semirechie Cossack leader Nikolai Gunkin and called on President Yeltsin and the Russian government to protect the rights of Russians in Kazakhstan. Radio Rossii on 19 November reported that Cossack groups in Russia's Kurgan Oblast threatened to mount an economic blockade of the border and called for the suspension of diplomatic relations between the two countries. -- Bhavna Dave TURKMENISTAN TO SUPPLY GAS TO UKRAINE. The newly established Russian- Turkmen natural gas company Turkmenrosgaz will supply 23 billion cubic meters of gas to Ukraine in 1996, Interfax reported on 17 November. The agreement was reached during a visit to Ashgabat by a Ukrainian delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister Pavel Lazarenk. As part of an education cooperation agreement, Turkmenistan will send 200 students to Ukrainian military academies for training. -- Lowell Bezanis [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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