Всякая жизнь, хорошо прожитая, есть долгая жизнь. - Леонардо да Винчи

No. 227, Part I, 21 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 refused to consider an appeal by more than 100
State Duma deputies and the Supreme Court challenging the
constitutionality of the electoral law, Russian Public Television
reported 20 November. The petitioners argued that the law's 5% barrier
violates the constitution as it will deny political representation to a
significant part of the population. The Chairman of the court, Vladimir
Tumanov, told journalists that he was not yet ready to explain the
reasons for the court's decision. By declining the case, the court has
continued its policy of avoiding political conflict. -- Robert Orttung


REACTION TO THE COURT'S DECISION. Presidential Press Secretary Sergei
Medvedev said that the Constitutional Court's decision not to review the
electoral law "does not remove the high level of tension created by
doubts about the quality of the Duma electoral law." He suggested that
the court was leaving it up to the Duma to change the law, ITAR-TASS
reported. The leaders of Russia's Democratic Choice, the Communist Party
and the Liberal Democratic Party supported the court's decision. The
status quo helps the larger parties because they are more likely to
clear the barrier. Russian Television commented that any attempts to
change the law a month before the elections would only serve the
interests of those who want to postpone them. Declaring the 5% barrier
unconstitutional would undermine the legitimacy of the current Duma,
since it was elected with this provision. -- Robert Orttung

Staff Sergei Filatov announced 20 November that all employees of the
presidential administration who are running for the Duma have taken
leave as of 15 November, Russian Television reported. According to
Rossiiskie vesti on 18 November, they are competing on a variety of
lists including Russia's Democratic Choice, the Inter-ethnic Union, the
Federal Democratic Movement, and For the Motherland!, which includes
Black Sea Fleet Commander Eduard Baltin and former Deputy Prime Minister
Vladimir Polevanov. The presidential representatives to Russia's regions
are also on a variety slates including Our Home is Russia, Bloc 89,
Social-Democrats, Bloc of Independents, and Sergei Shakhrai's Party of
Russian Unity and Concord, which split from Our Home is Russia on 30
August. -- Robert Orttung

Lebed, deputy leader of the Congress of Russian Communities (KRO), said
he would probably run for president in 1996, ITAR-TASS and Radio Mayak
reported on 20 November. Lebed said that his decision would depend on
the KRO's results in the December parliamentary elections. He also said
that there is no split in the KRO leadership over the candidate for the
forthcoming presidential elections. The day before, NTV reported that
KRO's number one on the party list, Yurii Skokov, was planning to
contest the presidential elections himself, and suggested that the
leaders' ambitions might cause tensions within the bloc (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 20 November 1995). On 15 November, Radio Mayak reported that
Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii confirmed that he would also run,
though he described the elections as "virtually tantamount to electing a
tsar." -- Anna Paretskaya

of the Communist Party, hailed the victory of Aleksandr Kwasniewski, the
presidential candidate of the post-communist Polish left, Russian and
Western agencies reported on 20 November. "Across Europe there is a
movement to the left, and this is taking place here [in Russia] as
well," Zyuganov added. Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Krylov
expressed hope that Kwasniewski's election would trigger improvement in
Russian-Polish relations. Defeated incumbent Lech Walesa distrusted
Russia, and some in Moscow hope that Kwasnieski will be more flexible on
issues of importance to Russia, like NATO expansion. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIAN PRESS ON POLISH ELECTIONS. The results of Poland's presidential
election also attracted attention in the Russian press on 21 November,
as analysts looked for parallels with the ongoing Russian parliamentary
campaign. The Communist daily Pravda tried to generalize from the Polish
outcome, attributing Walesa's defeat to his "failed attempt to play the
worn-out anti-communist card." Liberal and centrist papers, however,
said Kwasniewski had beaten Walesa because of factors specific to the
Polish election, suggesting that its results would not be duplicated in
Russia. Nezavisimaya gazeta said he had skillfully capitalized on
accusations of tax evasion against Walesa, while Izvestiya and Segodnya
noted that Kwasniewski's party was significantly different in
orientation that Genadii Zyuganov's Russian Communist Party, adding that
Kwasniewski's victory "would not stop "the construction of capitalism in
Poland." -- Laurie Belin and Scott Parrish

announced on 20 November that Russia has fulfilled its overall
obligations under the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty (CFE), ITAR-
TASS reported. During the 40-month reduction period provided by the 19
November 1990 treaty, Russia decommissioned 3,188 tanks, 5,419 APC's,
660 artillery pieces, 1,029 military planes, and 99 combat helicopters.
Almost 70 inspection groups are to visit Russia to verify the final arms
levels. Although Russia has complied with the overall limits in the
treaty, it is in violation of its "flank limits," on which talks are
continuing. On the same day, a Turkish spokesman urged Russia to comply
with all aspects of the CFE treaty as Turkey had. -- Constantine
Dmitriev and Doug Clarke

council approved a framework for future ties with Russia on 20 November,
Western and Russian agencies reported. The document says that "good
relations" between Russia and the EU are essential to "stability in
Europe," and says Russia should be included in discussions of a future
European security order. It also pledged that the EU will develop a
"genuine partnership" with Russia; push for Russia's rapid admission to
the Council of Europe; support the Russian application to the World
Trade Organization; and implement the interim EU-Russia trade agreement
signed on 17 July. However, Russian-EU textile talks broke off without
agreement on 15 November, amid Russian charges of EU protectionism. --
Scott Parrish

Yeltsin has called on State Duma Chairman Ivan Rybkin to adopt a federal
law on a civilian service alternative to military service, Interfax
reported on 20 November. The law was approved on its first reading last
December but has yet to be passed. The Ministry of Defense supports
alternative service only on religious grounds and demands that
conscientious objectors serve in auxiliary military units and spend two
or three times longer than military conscripts. -- Doug Clarke

governor of Primorsk Krai, Yevgenii Nazdratenko, threw two Japanese
reporters out of his office and confiscated their camera when they took
a photograph of him, Izvestiya reported on 21 November. He complained
that the questions, which the journalists from Hokkaido Shimbun had
submitted in advance, were "insulting." Nazdrantenko, who was appointed
governor in May 1993, is running for election to that post on 17
December. -- Peter Rutland

ANTI-AIRCRAFT MISSILES STOLEN. Members of the Interior Ministry's
Organized Crime Department seized two Russian Stinger-type rocket
launchers and 135 anti-aircraft missiles from two "unemployed persons of
no fixed abode" in the capital last weekend, Interfax reported on 20
November. Illegal arms dealing in Russia is rampant because of regional
conflicts, lax security, and corruption within the military. -- Penny

MINERS, TEACHERS STRIKE. Miners at the Yuzhnaya pit in Vorkuta, which is
scheduled for closure in 1996, are striking to protest delays in the
payment of their wages, ITAR-TASS reported on 20 November. Miners at the
pit have not been paid since July, although the average delay in wage
payments in the Vorkutaugol company has fallen to less than a month
owing to the more rapid payment of state subsidies. Meanwhile, about
3,000 education workers in Amursk in Khabarovsk Krai went on strike on
20 November to protest wage arrears and inadequate funding for
education. According to Pravda of 21 November, the Trade Union of
Science and Education Workers has called a national strike for 14-15
December to press for increased government expenditure on education. --
Penny Morvant

ALTAI WORKERS PAID IN MATCHES. Workers at the Barnaul Match Factory in
Altai Krai each received 5,000 boxes of matches in place of their salary
before being sent on administrative leave for two weeks, ITAR-TASS
reported on 21 November. The factory is facing a shortage of cardboard
for matchboxes and is in financial difficulties. In recent years, many
firms have been forced to pay their staff in kind, because of
interenterprise debt and delays in payments from the state. -- Penny

BALANCE OF PAYMENTS RESULTS. In the first half of 1995 Russia paid off
$1.7 billion of her external debts, whose overall total nevertheless
rose by $2 billion because of non-payment of interest, Ekonomika i zhizn
reported in issue no. 46. New credits amounted to $2.8 billion, of which
$1.7 billion came through the IMF stand-by facility. Segodnya reported
on 16 November that in the first nine months of the year official
foreign currency reserves rose to $10.9 billion and gold reserves to
$2.5 billion. Thus there is still no sign of the receipts from Russia's
healthy trade surplus being used to repay her external debts. -- Peter

FATE OF BUDGET STILL UNCLEAR. In addition to approving the budget on
first reading on 17 November, the Duma passed a number of measures which
call into question the revenue expectations of the draft budget,
Kommersant Daily noted on 18 November. Tax privileges for small
businesses and joint-stock company reserves were restored, and VAT was
reduced on construction work and on certain types of foodstuffs (from 20
to 10%). These steps will cut revenues by 10.2 trillion rubles ($2.25
billion). In addition, the 4.5 trillion rubles of additional spending
which was the price the Duma extracted for its positive vote will need
to be covered by additional revenues. -- Peter Rutland and Natasha

SOLZHENITSYN ESSAYS PUBLISHED. For the first time a collection of
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's non-fiction essays is being published in
Russia, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 November. The book includes 200 pieces,
such as his speeches at Harvard University and when accepting the Nobel
Prize. Further volumes are to follow. The editor, the author's wife
Natalya Solzhenitsyna, described it as more comprehensive than the
English-language collections already available. It is being published by
the Upper Volga Publishing House, with a print run of only 10,000
copies. -- Peter Rutland


UPDATE ON AZERBAIJAN ELECTIONS. The Azerbaijan Central Electoral
Commission has endorsed 72 of the 100 deputies to the new parliament
elected in single-candidate constituencies, Interfax reported. The
successful candidates include the son, son-in-law and a brother of
President Heidar Aliev; forty are members of Aliev's Yeni Azerbaycan
party. According to Turan, the list is virtually identical to one
circulated before the elections by former presidential advisor Nemat
Panakhov containing names of persons he claimed had been selected in
advance to be parliament deputies. The CEC also stated that 91.9 percent
of participating voters had voted in favor of the new constitution. --
Liz Fuller

KAZAKHSTANI PREMIER IN BRITAIN Kazakhstani Prime Minister Akezhan
Kazhegeldin addressed an EBRD-sponsored conference on Kazakhstan at the
beginning of his four day official visit to Britain, ITAR-TASS reported
on 20 November. Kazhegeldin highlighted Kazakhstan's achievements in
bringing down inflation from 3,000% in 1993 to 1,250% in 1994. In a bid
to woo British investment, he highlighted Kazakhstan's 15-month economic
program adopted in mid-1994, which entails a restructuring of economic
enterprises, formation of new market institutions, and "undertaking
harsh anti-inflationary measures as well as unpopular price
liberalization." -- Bhavna Dave

CRIME IN UZBEKISTAN. Uzbek Prosecutor-General Buritosh Mustafayev
claimed that Uzbekistan has the lowest crime rate in the CIS, reports
the BBC on 19 November. Mustafayev stated that "law enforcement organs
fully control the situation in Uzbekistan," thanks to a 30% increase in
governmental support this past year. At the same time, Uzbek forces are
teaming up with investigators from Kazakhstan to solve a crime that took
place on their shared border. Sixteen bodies were discovered in the
Keles River on 16 November. Kazakhstanskaya pravda, as cited by the BBC,
notes that no motives or suspects have been identified. -- Roger Kangas

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Roger Kangas

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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