I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed. - Booker T. Washington
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 228, Part I, 22 November 1995

NOTE TO READERS: DUE TO THE OBSERVANCE OF A U.S. HOLIDAY, THE OMRI
DAILY DIGEST WILL NOT APPEAR ON 23 OR 24 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
COSSACK ATAMAN SENTENCED. According to Russian Television on 21
November, an Almaty court has sentenced Cossack Ataman Nikolai Gunkin to
three months in jail after finding him guilty of holding an illegal
demonstration in January of this year (see OMRI Daily Digest, 17
November 1995). The trial had been delayed for several days because
Gunkin had launched a hunger strike. Gunkin remarked that the trial
"showed once again how anti-democratic Kazakhstan's regime is." Trial
judge Mirakhan Akhmetshiyeva countered by saying that the defense and
political opponents are hoping to benefit from the publicity. -- Roger
Kangas
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

PRESIDENTIAL AIDES CALL FOR CHANGE IN ELECTORAL LAW. Presidential Chief
of Staff Sergei Filatov and aide Georgii Satarov have called for the
electoral law to be amended, saying that otherwise the elections could
be declared illegitimate, Russian Public Television (ORT) reported on 21
November. The two spoke at a meeting of a commission set up by the Civic
Accord, a Yeltsin-sponsored initiative to reduce political violence.
Other members of the commission denounced the proposals as attempts by
those in power to overturn the elections if they are unhappy with the
results. Duma Member Yurii Nisnevich (Russia's Choice) pointed out that
it would be impossible to agree on changes in the time remaining before
the elections, Russian TV reported. The commission recommended setting
up a conciliatory commission of both houses of the parliament and the
president to recommend amendments. -- Robert Orttung

SHUMEIKO DENOUNCES DUMA PLAN FOR FEDERATION COUNCIL. Federation Council
Speaker Vladimir Shumeiko criticized the Duma bill on the Federation
Council adopted on 17 November as "short-sighted." Shumeiko, who wants
the Federation Council to initiate the legislation concerning its
future, called on members of the upper house to finalize a proposal to
send to the Duma, ITAR-TASS reported on 21 November. Filatov said
Yeltsin would sign the Duma bill if the Federation Council agrees to it,
Radio Rossii reported. The Constitutional Court will hold hearings on
Yeltsin's request to clarify what the constitution says about the
Federation Council's formation on 7 December. -- Robert Orttung

KHAKAMADA, RUTSKOI SPAR IN FIRST DEBATE. Common Cause leader Irina
Khakamada and Derzhava's Aleksandr Rutskoi participated in the first
debate on Russian Public Television on 20 November, the BBC reported.
Most candidates have rejected offers to debate, preferring to address
the voters singly. Khakamada proposed that regional Interior Ministry
heads be elected locally to make them accountable to voters, arguing
that this would boost the fight against crime. Rutskoi denounced the
idea as "ridiculous." He called for a tough campaign against "the
criminal power that has criminalized society." -- Robert Orttung

RUSSIA'S CHOICE AND WOMEN OF RUSSIA DEMAND GRACHEV'S RESIGNATION. Two
parliamentary parties called for the resignation of Defense Minister
Pavel Grachev on 21 November, Russian and Western agencies reported. The
deputies criticized Grachev for involving the military in politics by
promising that the army would support Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin's Our Home is Russia (see OMRI Daily Digest, 20 November).
However, Moskovskii komsomolets of 21 November suggested that the way
the army votes will depend more on the attitude of junior officers than
of the high command. -- Constantine Dmitriev

RADIO STATION'S BROADCAST STOPPED. Russkaya Radio's broadcasts were
interrupted at noon on 21 November after 20 men armed with submachine
guns, some dressed in police uniforms, broke into the studio and damaged
the transmitter, Russian media reported citing chief producer Aleksandr
Bunin. A representative of the Interior Ministry department responsible
for broadcasting said that the transmission was interrupted because the
station lacked the proper licenses, adding that broadcasting could
resume as soon as the radio's papers are in order, ITAR-TASS reported.
Bunin, however, told Public Russian TV that the incident was the result
of the radio's decision to refuse air time to an unnamed extremist
right-wing politician. -- Anna Paretskaya

YELTSIN HAILS BOSNIA AGREEMENT. President Yeltsin praised the Dayton
agreement as a "big step" towards resolving "the most tragic conflict in
Europe since WW II," Western and Russian agencies reported on 21
November. The hospitalized president called on the warring parties to
"strictly abide" by the terms of the agreement, and urged the immediate
lifting of UN sanctions against rump Yugoslavia. Yeltsin added, however,
that Russia would decide "later" whether to participate in a NATO-led
peace implementation force in Bosnia. Russian Col.-Gen. Leontii
Shevtsov, who is slated to command the Russian contingent in the force,
had said earlier that his troops would be assigned to guard the
strategic Posavina corridor, which links Serb-held territory in eastern
and western Bosnia. -- Scott Parrish

MILITARY LACKS MONEY TO DESTROY WEAPONS ON TIME. Russia will be unable
to meet the 31 December deadline for destroying weapons shipped east of
the Urals in 1990 and 1991, a senior Defense Ministry official told
Interfax on 21 November. Gen. Dmitrii Kharchenko said that the military
does not have enough money to destroy the weapons, and has proposed that
the deadline be extended until the end of 1998. To break an impasse over
ratification of the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty, then
Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in June 1991 pledged to destroy 6,000
tanks, 1,500 armored vehicles, and 7,000 artillery systems from the
weapons the Soviet military had shipped east to exempt them from the
treaty. Kharchenko said so far only 1,141 tanks, 608 armored vehicles,
and 2,709 artillery systems have been destroyed and that about 100
billion rubles ($20 million) are needed to complete the task. -- Doug
Clarke

GENERAL DENIES RUSSIA HAS 100,000 TONS OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS. Col.-Gen.
Stanislav Petrov, head of the Chemical, Radiological, and
Bacteriological Defense Troops, told ITAR-TASS on 21 November that
Russia has only 40,000 tons of chemical agents in storage, as it had
declared on 26 October (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27 October 1995). Petrov
refuted testimony earlier that day from the head of the Interagency
Commission on Ecological Security of the Russian Security Council,
Aleksei Yablokov, who told the Federation Council that Russia had
100,000 tons of chemical weapons in storage at secret sites. Petrov
reiterated that all Russian chemical weapons storage facilities have
been declared and many visited by monitors under international
agreements. -- Scott Parrish

OFFICIAL: RED MERCURY DOES NOT EXIST. A new book, The Secrets of Red
Mercury, has been published by Gen. Aleksandr Gurov, Rossiiskaya gazeta
reported on 21 November. Gurov was the head of a Ministry of Internal
Affairs team that investigated rumors about the smuggling of red mercury
in 1990. The substance, which supposedly can be used to accelerate
nuclear explosions, attracted sensational publicity in the West in the
early 1990s. Gurov concludes that red mercury does not exist and blamed
the rumors on "international swindlers" and foreign adversaries trying
to discredit Russia's nuclear program. -- Peter Rutland

LATEST UNEMPLOYMENT FIGURES. During the first 10 months of 1995, 5.9
million people, or 8.1% of the economically active population, were
without jobs, according to Goskomstat figures reported by ITAR-TASS on
21 November. The number of officially registered unemployed was 2.2
million, or 3% of the country's 73-million-strong labor force. -- Penny
Morvant

MOSCOW PLANS TO TACKLE VAGRANCY. In an interview with ITAR-TASS on 21
November, Moscow social security official Igor Syrinkov said that the
local authorities are planning to tackle the problem of vagrancy and
begging, described as "permanent features of Moscow's streets." He said
that the porous borders with other former Soviet republics and the lack
of legislation against vagrancy meant that poor people from the CIS were
gathering on Moscow's streets and stations. He said vagrants without the
right to live in Moscow would be expelled, while those who were, or had
been, registered in the capital would be found places in shelters and
homes run by clinics. -- Penny Morvant

SARATOV MASSACRE. Eleven people, including a local mafia boss, were
found dead in an office in Saratov on 20 November in what police believe
was the result of a turf war between local criminal groups, Russian TV
reported. The chairman of the Grozd wine concern and 10 other men had
been sprayed with gunfire at point-blank range. The shooting is being
investigated by a special unit headed by First Deputy Interior Minister
Vladimir Kolesnikov. -- Penny Morvant

QUESTIONS SURROUND EQUITY/LOAN AUCTION. Further details are emerging of
the first share/loan auctions that took place on 17 November. According
to Izvestiya of 21 November, the shadowy firm Euroresurs, which won 15%
of Nafta Moskvy in return for a $36 million bid, does not have the money
to make good its offer. In this case the shares will go to the bank that
served as the guarantor for its bid--the Bank of Tokyo. Nafta Moskvy is
the successor to the firm Soyuznefteeksport, which formerly handled 30%
of Russia's oil exports. The firm KONT is also questioning the rejection
of its $355 milion bid for 38% of Norilsk Nickel, in favor of a $170
million bid from Oneksimbank. The ostensible reason was that KONT's
bank, Rossiiskii Kredit, did not have sufficient assets to guarantee the
loan. -- Peter Rutland

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

YELTSIN ORDERS KOZYREV TO BREAK ABKHAZ DEADLOCK. Moving to reinforce
Russia's assumed role of "broker" in the Caucasus, President Yeltsin
instructed Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev to revive the currently
suspended Georgian-Abkhaz peace talks, Russian and Western agencies
reported on 21 November. Continuing the recent Russian tilt towards
Georgia, an anonymous Russian Foreign Ministry official blamed the
impasse on Abkhaz intransigence, which he attributed to hopes that the
17 December Duma elections will trigger a change in Russian policy. --
Scott Parrish

"TURKESTAN" FORUM OPENS IN TASHKENT. An international cultural forum for
the peoples of Turkestan opened in Tashkent this week amid fanfare and
controversy. According to an ITAR-TASS report of 21 November, the forum
of cultural and intellectual figures from the Central Asian states met
under the slogan, "Turkestan--Our Common Home." Uzbek President Islam
Karimov proclaimed that "Our homeland--Turkestan--is one big home, one
great household, one great family." However, some participants objected
to the very use of the term "Turkestan." According to RFE/RL's Uzbek
Service, there is concern that the forum will be used as a vehicle for
Uzbek regional hegemony. As has been the case for several regional
meetings this year, Turkmenistan declined to send a representative. --
Roger Kangas

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH TO OPEN AN OFFICE IN UZBEKISTAN. Members of Human
Rights Watch are meeting Uzbek officials in Tashkent with a view to
setting up a working office in the city, Interfax reported on 20
November. A representative of the group noted that Uzbekistan's past
record on human rights is cause for concern, adding that the situation
of "democratic liberties" in Uzbekistan should be a factor in
determining international aid to the country. -- Roger Kangas

KAZAKHSTAN OPENS CONSULATE IN IRAN. A Kazakhstani consulate was
officially opened on 21 November in the northern Iranian city of
Meshhed, ITAR-TASS reported. Kazakhstan is the fourth country to open a
consulate in Meshhed, after Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkmenistan. The
recent detainment in the city of several visitors from Kazakhstan,
accused of violating Islamic laws, may have played a part in the
decision to open the consulate. The visitors were eventually released
and sent home after the intervention of Iranian President Ali Akbar
Hashemi-Rafsanjani. -- Bruce Pannier

BACK TO AFGHANISTAN VIA TURKMENISTAN. The United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees and authorities from Afghanistan, Iran, and
Turkmenistan have reached agreement on repatriating 250,000 Afghan
refugees in Iran via Turkmenistan, IRNA reported on 20 November. The
move makes way for Iran to resume the repatriation of Afghan refugees
under UNHCR supervision, a process that was halted two months ago for
security reasons. -- Lowell Bezanis

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Penny Morvant

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
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              Copyright (C) 1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
                       All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570


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