|The soul that is within me no man can degrade. I am not the one that is being degraded on account of this treatment, but those who are infliciting it upon me. - Frederick Douglass|
No. 231, Part I, 29 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ FEDERATION COUNCIL REJECTS DUMA BILL ON ITS FORMATION. With its term about to expire, the Federation Council rejected the most recent Duma bill on the rules of the Council's formation with a vote of 22 to 73 in an emergency session on 28 November, Russian TV reported. Most senators objected to the Duma bill on the grounds that they want the upper house to be a full-time legislature, with each region authorized to send deputies if the heads of local legislatures and executives choose not to join the body. President Yeltsin's representative to the Federal Assembly, Aleksandr Yakovlev, said the president's team supports the Duma version of the law. The Duma needs a two-thirds majority to override the Council's veto and send the bill to the president. -- Robert Orttung ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ RUSSIA RYABOV GIVES OVERVIEW OF ELECTIONS. The 43 parties registered for the elections are fielding 5,675 candidates for the 225 seats to be determined by party list, three times more than in 1993, Central Electoral Commission Chairman Nikolai Ryabov announced on 28 November. There are some 2,700 candidates running in the single-mandate districts, of which roughly 1,000 are independents. Seven blocs are the most active in the districts: the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (187 candidates), the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (131), Our Home Is Russia (108), the Congress of Russian Communities (90), the Agrarian Party (90), Russia's Democratic Choice-United Democrats (75), and Yabloko (71). The number of candidates in each district ranges from three to 27, with an average of 12. Women make up 10% of all candidates, while residents of Moscow make up 20%. Overall, the government has set aside 374 billion rubles ($83 million) for conducting the elections, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Robert Orttung YELTSIN DISMISSES HEALTH MINISTER; OTHER GOVERNMENT CHANGES. President Boris Yeltsin signed a decree on 28 November dismissing Health Minister Eduard Nechaev, ITAR-TASS reported. Nechaev, who was appointed in December 1992 to replace Andrei Vorobev. Yeltsin also agreed to a proposal from Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin that newly appointed Central Bank Chairman Sergei Dubinin and Russian Academy of Sciences head Yurii Osipov be given the status of federal government ministers with the right to full participation in government meetings. Finally, Yeltsin appointed Vladimir Kuramin to head the State Committee for Development Questions in the North. Born in 1937 in Saratov Oblast and an engineer by profession, Kuramin most recently held the post of first deputy minister for nationalities and regional policies. -- Penny Morvant COMMUNIST SPLITS BENEFIT KRO. Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov's recent "non-aggression pact" with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and his decision to support the government's budget has caused increasing dissension within Communist ranks, according to an article in Trud on 28 November. The greatest threat to the party is the growing strength of the Congress of Russian Communities (KRO), which is attracting discontented Communists. The paper claims that many of KRO Deputy Chairman Aleksandr Lebed's meetings with local voters are being arranged by Communist activists, and that the KRO has taken the "patriotic idea" away from the Communists. For the first time in 18 months, Public Opinion Foundation polls show that the Communists are falling in the polls. Further evidence of the split among the Communists can be found in Pravda which has recently published both articles that praise KRO and others that denounce it. -- Robert Orttung KHABAROVSK GOVERNOR FAVORS CREATION OF FAR EASTERN REPUBLIC. Khabarovsk Krai Governor Viktor Ishaev said he was in favor of creating a Far Eastern republic, Izvestiya reported on 29 November. He said Khabarovsk has to send 50% of its tax receipts to the federal budget, while the ethnically-based republics pay less than 25%. He regards this a violation of the constitution, which declares the equal rights of all federation's constituent members. "We do not want to secede from Russia," Ishaev said, but raising the status of the region to the level of republic may be the only way to improve its economic situation. Decrees issued by President Yeltsin ordering increased asistance to the far east are not being implemented by executive authorities, he added. -- Anna Paretskaya CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RULES ON FEDERATION MEMBERS' NAMES. The Constitutional Court has ruled that the president has no authority to refuse name changes proposed by subject-regions of the Russian Federation, and that he must formally sign them into the constitution, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 November. Last week, a group of Duma deputies asked the court to clarify Article 137 of the constitution. According to this law, each federation member is free to change its name, although they are prohibited from choosing names which include such phrases as "Islamic republic" or "soviet," because they violate constitutional principles. -- Anna Paretskaya RUSSIA AND U.S. COMPROMISE ON MISSILE DEFENSES. U.S. officials announced an agreement with Russia that partially resolves a dispute over the terms of the 1972 ABM Treaty, Western agencies reported on 28 November. U.S. Undersecretary of State Lynn Davis and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Georgii Mamedov agreed that only systems which could intercept missiles with a velocity greater than 5 km/second or a range of more than 3,500 km would violate the treaty, while those which target missiles travelling at less than 3 km/second would not. The agreement will allow the U.S. to proceed with the development of "tactical" defenses against short-range ballistic missiles, which Russia had contended would undermine the treaty. The agreement still leaves some issues unresolved, such as what to do with planned U.S. defensive systems with velocities greater than 3 km/second but lower than 5 km/second. -- Scott Parrish KOZYREV CRITICIZES U.S. DIPLOMAT'S ARTICLE. Speaking at a 28 November press conference, Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev sharply criticized Thomas Graham, a political officer at the U.S. embassy in Moscow, for his recent article in Nezavisimaya gazeta, Russian and Western agencies reported (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27 November 1995). Kozyrev expressed surprise at the article's content, saying, "some of its theses are somewhat unusual to come from an official." The State Department has defended the controversial article as expressing only Graham's personal views, not those of the U.S. government. -- Scott Parrish GROMOV BLASTS NATO MISSION IN BOSNIA. The Russian Foreign Ministry's chief military adviser, Col. Gen. Boris Gromov, blasted NATO's planned peacekeeping operation in Bosnia as an attempt to expand the Western alliance eastward, according to an interview published in Komsomolskaya pravda on 28 November. Gromov, who also heads the My Fatherland electoral bloc, said NATO's deployment in Bosnia will bring it closer to Russia's borders, a move he views as a "violation of the existing European balance." Gromov criticized the command arrangements for Russian participation in the operation, saying they are tantamount to placing Russian troops under NATO command. -- Constantine Dmitriev RUSSIA TO HAVE A VOICE IN NATO BOSNIAN DECISIONS. NATO agreed on 28 November to give Russia a voice--but not a veto--over the political control of the Bosnian peace implementation force, Western agencies reported. Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev and his U.S. counterpart, William Perry, unveiled the accord at NATO headquarters in Brussels. Vitalii Churkin, Russia's ambassador to NATO, has been appointed Moscow's official liaison to the North Atlantic Council, the body that will make the political decisions. "Everything is all right at this stage," Grachev said. "Now all we need is the formal approval by the NATO council and the Russian political leadership. I have no doubt that these will be approved in due time." He said that Russia would contribute a brigade of about 1,500 soldiers to the force and another 1,500 to participate in civil clean-up operations. -- Doug Clarke RUSSIA AGAIN PLEDGES TO HALT PLUTONIUM PRODUCTION. Russia will halt the production of weapons-grade plutonium by 2000, Nuclear Energy Minister Viktor Mikhailov said on 27 November. He said the last three reactors producing plutonium--two in Tomsk-7 and one in Krasnoyarsk-26--would be converted to solely peaceful purposes, ITAR-TASS reported. In 1994, Russia announced it would no longer fully process the weapons-grade plutonium at those sites and would place it in storage and in June of that year it agreed with the U.S. to shut down the three reactors by 2000 provided alternative energy sources would be made available. U.S. officials have been denied permission to visit the militarily sensitive reactors and several Western experts have suggested that they are unsafe. -- Doug Clarke COSSACK POGROM IN KUBAN TARGETS MESKHETIANS. Cossacks in the Krasnodar area have staged several progroms against Meskhetian Turks, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 28 November. On 11, 12, and again on 19 November, Cossacks attacked local Meskhetian Turks in their rural homes, beating them and burning at least one house. Local doctors refused to treat their injuries, saying that the Turks do not have permanent residency status. The Cossacks say the Turks, "are foreigners and occupy the living space of Russians." Meskhetian Turks had been forcibly resetlled under Stalin from Georgia to Uzbekistan. After Uzbeks launched pogroms against them in 1989, 208,000 of them left, and 70,000 now live in Russia. Their appeals to be allowed to return to Georgia remain unanswered. -- Alaina Lemon RUSSIAN BANKS CHALLENGE PRIVATIZATION AUCTIONS. Three of Russia's largest banks (Rossiiskii kredit, Inkombank, and Alfabank) have issued a letter criticizing the government's privatization program, NTV reported on 27 November. The banks claim that poor preparation of the current round of investment tenders and auctions "is leading to irretrievable losses for the Russian economy." They urged the suspension of the share/loan auctions and warned that Menatep bank is over-extended, with loan guarantees amounting to $600 million. A Menatep vice president said on Russian Public TV (ORT) on 28 November that the three banks were complaining "simply because they have no money" to participate in the auctions. -- Peter Rutland TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA ECONOMIC REFORM PLAN APPROVED IN KAZAKHSTAN. The government of Kazakhstan accepted an economic reform plan extending through 1998 and a draft budget for 1996 at a 28 November session, Interfax reported. Kazakhstani Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin pledged to continue macroeconomic stabilization and economic restructuring. The program aims to bring inflation below 12% in 1998, a significant drop from the 42.4% it ran in the first 10 months of 1995. It is hoped that next year's inflation rate will be 26% to 28%, while the tenge will drop from 63.3 to $1 down to 71 to $1. GDP should reach 1.31 trillion tenge. -- Bruce Pannier TAJIK BORDER GUARDS CLAIM 700 FROM OPPOSITION KILLED THIS YEAR. The head of the Russian Border Guards, General Pavel Tarasenko, said on 28 November that so far this year, guards along the Afghan-Tajik border have killed at least 681 Islamic rebels, according to Western sources. Tarasenko added that 62 border guards had also been killed, 20 of them Russians. At a 28 November news conference, the Russian Border Guards produced two of the six opposition militants allegedly handed over to them by Afghan border commissioners, Interfax reported. The two men confessed to taking part in a 10 October attack in which eight Russians were killed. The two also claimed they had acted under orders from United Tajik Opposition leader Said Abdullo Nuri and had been trained in Afghanistan by Iranian, Pakistani, and Arab instructors. All six could face the death penalty. -- Bruce Pannier FATE OF UZBEK CLERIC STILL UNKNOWN. Repeated requests for information on the whereabouts of Abduvali Mirzayev are still being met with silence from the Uzbek government, Reuters reported on 29 November. Mirzayev was last seen at the Tashkent airport on 29 August, when he was taken into custody by Uzbek security (see OMRI Daily Digest 16 October 1995). Mirzayev's assistant, Abdukarim Ramazanbeki, was also abducted at the airport. Family and members of the Juma Mosque in Andijan, where Mirzayev is the imam, report that they are harassed if they openly appeal to the government and have been denied permission to publicly demonstrate. This is not the first time religious officials have been taken into custody. Abdulla Utayev of Namangan, head of the Islamic Renaissance Party, has not been seen since his arrest in December 1992. -- Roger Kangas [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. 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