To live is so startling, it leaves little time for anything else. - Emily Dickinson
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 229, Part I, 27 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
RUSSIA AND UKRAINE SIGN MILITARY AGREEMENTS. Following a meeting in
Sochi, Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev and his Ukrainian
counterpart, Valerii Shmarov, signed 26 bilateral documents, Ukrainian
and Russian agencies reported on 25 November. Grachev hailed the meeting
as a "change in the military and political climate between the two
countries." However, as has already become traditional in Ukrainian-
Russian meetings, many difficult problems were deferred rather than
resolved. NTV, for example, reported that while agreement had been
reached on forming a jointly-financed ballistic missile defense system
using former Soviet radars located in Ukraine, the two sides remain
divided on the issue of a CIS air defense system. Grachev and Shmarov
did, however, sign a number of agreements and protocols covering such
issues as the transit through Ukraine of Russian troops now based in
Moldova, Russian purchase of Ukrainian strategic missile systems and
heavy bombers, and the flank limitations of the 1990 CFE treaty. -- Doug
Clarke and Scott Parrish
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

RUSSIA TO BUY UKRAINIAN MISSILES, BOMBERS. At the Sochi meeting, Russia
agreed to buy from Ukraine 32 SS-19 ICBMs--probably all that remains of
the 130 ex-Soviet SS-19s once deployed in Ukraine. The head of Russia's
Strategic Missile Troops, Col. Gen. Igor Sergeev, told Interfax that the
acquisition would allow "Russia's nuclear potential to be maintained at
the necessary level until 2009." The purchase marks a shift in Russian
strategic planning, as 10 of the 170 SS-19s deployed in Russia itself
have already been destroyed. Under the terms of the still unratified
START II treaty, Russia would retain 105 SS 19s as single-warhead
missiles in silos, but it is now proposing that it be allowed to keep
all 170 SS 19s as single-warhead missiles in their silos. In addition,
Russian Air Force chief Petr Deinekin told Interfax that his country had
decided to eventually buy all 19 Tu-160 "Blackjack" and 25 Tu-95 "Bear"
bombers and more than 300 strategic cruise missiles from Ukraine. --
Doug Clarke

COURT WILL NOT EXAMINE ELECTORAL LAW IN THE FUTURE. Constitutional Court
Chairman Vladimir Tumanov said that it is up to the parliament to decide
how to set up the country's electoral system, not the court. The court
decided not to review the electoral law on 20 November after the
question came up in the heat of the campaign, saying that any action on
its part could "complicate the electoral process without justification,"
ITAR-TASS reported on 24 November. On the same day, the Duma also
rejected any attempts to change the electoral law before the vote. --
Robert Orttung

SHUMEIKO FOUNDS NEW MOVEMENT. A group of 22 initiators, including
Federation Council Speaker Vladimir Shumeiko, Sverdlovsk Oblast Governor
Eduard Rossel, and former Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Polevanov, are
planning to create a new political movement in December with the
tentative name Russian Reforms-New Course, Russian Public TV reported on
21 November. Shumeiko has been unfailingly loyal to President Yeltsin
and has until now not joined any political parties. Speculation in
Moscow suggests that the party's goal is to support Yeltsin in the June
1996 presidential campaign, or possibly even Shumeiko if he enters the
race, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 23 November. The leaders of the
regions in the new movement are calling for Moscow to sign treaties
guaranteeing the regions' powers, similar to those signed with the
ethnic republics. Yeltsin himself met with Rossel on 24 November, and is
reportedly close to signing such an agreement for Sverdlovsk. -- Robert
Orttung

DUMA RULES ORT ILLEGAL. The Duma passed a bill on reorganizing and
privatizing state television and radio stations on 24 November that
makes the recent transformation of Ostankino into Russian Public TV
(ORT) illegal. The bill would require privatization to be conducted
according to rules established in federal law and all privatizations
that took place before the rules are established would be overruled,
Radio Rossii reported. Yeltsin organized the creation of ORT in November
1994. It is 51% state owned. On 25 November, ORT reported that Yeltsin
had already vetoed a similar bill and claimed that, if approved, the law
would force the closure of NTV and a number of independent regional
stations. -- Robert Orttung

STABILITY DEPUTY MURDERED. Duma Deputy Sergei Markidonov was shot dead
on 26 November while campaigning in the town of Petrovsk-Zabaikalskii in
Chita Oblast in eastern Siberia. Police said Markidonov was assassinated
by his bodyguard, who then tried to commit suicide, according to Russian
and Western media. The 34-year-old Markidonov was elected to the Duma as
a member of Russia's Choice but later moved to the centrist group
Stability. He is the fourth deputy to have been murdered since the
December 1993 elections, and his death is likely to provoke a renewed
outcry over the government's failure to deal with the current crime
wave. -- Penny Morvant

YELTSIN FIRES MILITARY'S TOP FINANCIAL OFFICER. President Boris Yeltsin
fired the Defense Ministry's budget director on 23 November for "gross
financial violations and insufficient compliance with a government
resolution," ITAR-TASS reported. Interfax quoted presidential spokesman
Sergei Medvedev as saying that Col. Gen. Vasilii Vorobev had been warned
of the need to make sure troops were paid on time and also to meet the
military's obligations to local power companies. On the same day,
Yeltsin issued another decree banning power cuts to military
installations and instructing the government to pay the military's debts
for utilities and other supplies. -- Doug Clarke

LOCAL PAPER UNDER PRESSURE IN VOLOGDA. Roman Romanenko, deputy editor of
the Vologda newspaper Russkii Sever, was attacked and beaten by unknown
assailants, shortly after publishing an article asking where Vologda
Governor Nikolai Podgornov acquired the money to build a lavish new
dacha on a civil servant's salary, Izvestiya reported on 25 November.
The Vologda paper has faced persistent pressure from the authorities
since August, when it reprinted an Izvestiya article containing
allegations against Podgornov. -- Laura Belin in Moscow

KOZYREV "OUT OF THE LOOP" ON UKRAINE AND BOSNIA TALKS. Speaking with
journalists after a 24 November meeting with his Turkmen counterpart,
Boris Skikhmyradov, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev said his
ministry was not involved in preparing the military discussions between
Ukraine and Russia. Kozyrev added that Defense Minister Pavel Grachev
was handling the negotiations and reporting directly to President
Yeltsin. Kozyrev also admitted he knew little about the Russian position
in ongoing talks with NATO about the planned Bosnian peace
implementation force, in which Grachev is also representing Russia.
Kozyrev's exclusion from the negotiations is a further signal that
Yeltsin is not confident in him and demonstrates the uncoordinated
character of Russian foreign policy decision-making. -- Scott Parrish

FUROR OVER ARTICLE BY U.S. DIPLOMAT. An article by a U.S. diplomat that
describes the Russian government as an oligarchy in which political and
economic power is held by narrow cliques prompted a formal protest from
the Russian Foreign Ministry on 24 November, Russian and Western
agencies reported. The article, "The New Russian Regime" written by
Thomas Graham, a political officer at the U.S. embassy in Moscow,
appeared in the 23 November edition of Nezavisimaya gazeta. The ministry
demanded "an official public explanation" of the article's content.
Graham told journalists the article had been cleared for publication by
the State Department, while Richard Hoagland, an embassy spokesman, said
the article expressed only Graham's personal views, not those of the
U.S. government. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIA, TURKEY AGAIN AT ODDS OVER STRAITS. Rules recently imposed by
Turkey on merchant shipping through the Black Sea straits have inflicted
significant economic damage on Russia and are a violation of the 1936
Montreux Convention, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigorii Karasin
told a Moscow briefing on 23 November. Interfax quoted Karasin as saying
that Russian ships had been detained 249 times since the new rules went
into effect on 1 July 1994, causing a loss of $670,000. On 25 November,
ITAR-TASS reported that Russia had sent a letter to the UN arguing that
the new rules violate the convention. Worried about the dangers of an
accident in the Bosporus and Dardenelles straits, Turkey now allows
large vessels to pass through the straits only during daylight and
requires them to give 24-hour advance notification before making the
transit. There are separate special notification requirements for
vessels with nuclear or chemical cargoes. -- Doug Clarke

RADIOACTIVE CONTAINER UNEARTHED IN MOSCOW PARK. A container holding low-
level radioactive cesium-137 was unearthed in Moscow's Izmailovskii park
on 23 November by NTV after Chechen commander Shamil Basaev told them
where his men had put it, Russian and Western media reported. Federal
Security Service (FSB) officials said the cesium posed no threat to the
population. NTV broadcast an interview with Basaev taped two weeks
earlier in which the Chechen commander said his men had smuggled four
such parcels into Russia and that at least two are packed with
explosives and could be detonated at any time. Basaev has repeatedly
threatened to use nuclear or chemical weapons in Moscow if the Chechen
conflict is not resolved. The FSB thanked the station for turning over
the container but chastised it for uncovering the material on its own.
-- Penny Morvant

THREAT OF ISLAMIC TERRORISM IN RUSSIA. International Islamic
organizations are responsible for much of the intelligence and terrorist
activity that takes place in Russia and more than 60 such organizations
are accredited in the Russian Federation, NTV reported on 25 November,
quoting an unnamed source in the Federal Security Service (FSB). The FSB
source said that many "tourists" who visit Russia from Muslim countries
become Islamic preachers once they arrive, and proceed to establish
terrorist organizations in the country and recruit people for training
abroad. The Interior Ministry and FSB say they are hamstrung by current
legislation in their fight against such organizations. -- Anna
Paretskaya

CENTRAL BANK INDEPENDENCE WILL BE PUT TO THE TEST. The head of the Duma
Budget Committee, Mikhail Zadornov, emphasized the Central Bank's
autonomy in an interview with Ekho Moskvy on 22 November. He claimed
that the bank "practically fully determines exchange rate policy" and is
independent of both the president and the Duma with regard to control
over credit emissions. He suggested that it is this independence which
made it possible for the Duma to almost unanimously approve the
appointment of Sergei Dubinin as its new head. However, certain
industrialists and their Duma supporters are putting increasing pressure
on the government to allow the ruble to devalue. A decision on the
future parameters of the ruble corridor (currently 4,300-4,900 to $1) is
expected later this week. -- Peter Rutland

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

KAZAKHSTAN COAL MINE EXPLOSION KILLS 10. A methane gas explosion at a
coal mine in Shakhtinsk in the Karaganda region of Kazakhstan killed 10
miners on 23 November, Reuters reported on 26 November. Although the
investigation is continuing, the methane build-up in the pit has been
attributed to defects in the ventilation system. -- Bhavna Dave

REFERENDUM ON RUSSIAN LANGUAGE TO BE HELD IN KYRGYZSTAN. A referendum
will be held in Kyrgyzstan on 24 December, the same day as the
presidential election, to decide the status of the Russian language in
the republic, Reuters reported. The move is aimed at curtailing the
exodus of Russian-speaking people but appears to be only a token
arrangement. Radio Rossii reported on 24 November that while Russian can
become an "official" language within the republic, the Assembly of
People's Deputies is against requiring the government to use it,
claiming that the constitution allows for only one government language--
Kyrgyz. -- Bruce Pannier

IRANIAN MILITARY TEAM IN TURKMENISTAN. In the first visit of its kind,
an Iranian Defense Ministry delegation arrived in Ashgabat two days of
talks on 21 November, the Turkmen Press news agency reported. At the
talks, delegates proposed that the two countries share their experience
in the development of a military. They also agreed on regular exchanges
of military delegations and considered joint undertakings, including
military exercises, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 November. -- 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 omripub@omri.cz 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

[English] [Russian TRANS | KOI8 | ALT | WIN | MAC | ISO5]

F&P Home ° Comments ° Guestbook


1996 Friends and Partners
Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole
Please visit the Russian and American mirror sites of Friends and Partners.
Updated: 1998-11-

Please write to us with your comments and suggestions.

F&P Quick Search
Main Sections
Home
Bulletin Board
Chat Room
F&P Listserver

RFE/RL
1999
1998
1997
1996
1995
1994
1993
1992
1991
Search

News
News From Russia/NIS
News About Russia/NIS
Newspapers & Magazines
Global News
Weather

©1996 Friends and Partners
Please write to us with any comments, questions or suggestions -- Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole