[America,] it is the only place where miracles not only happen, but where they happen all the time. - Thomas Wolfe
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 233, Part I, 1 December 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/Index.html

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^TODAY'S TOP STORY^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
YELTSIN CONCERNED ABOUT FEDERATION COUNCIL LAW, DUMA TO HOLD SPECIAL
SESSION. President Boris Yeltsin sent a letter to both houses of the
parliament expressing his concern about their inability to agree on how
to form the next Federation Council. Yeltsin is worried that the current
Council will no longer be legitimate after its term runs out on 12
December, two years after the previous elections. Yeltsin proposed that
the speakers of both houses find a compromise agreement in consultation
with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and Central Electoral Commission
Chairman Nikolai Ryabov, ITAR-TASS reported on 30 November. The Duma
will hold an extraordinary session on 5 December to discuss the
Council's 28 November rejection of its version of the law. -- Robert
Orttung
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

COMMUNISTS GAIN AS SUPPORT FOR AGRARIANS WEAKENS. In a 30 November
meeting with President Yeltsin, Chief of Staff Sergei Filatov informed
him of polls conducted by the administration's analytical center which
show that the Communists are gaining popularity because rural residents
prefer them to Agrarian Party leader Mikhail Lapshin. Filatov said there
is no guarantee that the Communists will preserve democratic electoral
procedures in the future simply because they won power democratically,
ITAR-TASS reported on 30 November. A VCIOM poll published in Izvestiya
on 1 December predicts that the Communists will win 28-31% of the 225
seats determined by party-list voting, while the Agrarians will not
cross the 5% barrier necessary to win seats in the Duma. -- Robert
Orttung

SATAROV ON POSSIBLE ELECTION OUTCOMES. Presidential adviser Georgii
Satarov told RFE/RL on 1 December that only the Communist Party,
Yabloko, Our Home Is Russia, and the Congress of Russian Communities
have good chances of winning at least 5% of the vote nationwide, and no
more than five parties in all will do well enough to gain Duma seats
from party lists. Satarov did not rule out a possible cabinet reshuffle
in the event of a poor showing by Our Home Is Russia, but he said
"Yeltsin does not like to make decisions under pressure." He also said
the authority of the current Federation Council is likely to be
extended, since the upper house of parliament recently rejected a third
version of the law on its formation. -- Laura Belin in Moscow

YELTSIN NOMINATED TO RUN FOR SECOND TERM. A group of supporters have put
forward President Yeltsin's name as a candidate in the June 1996
presidential elections, Russian and Western media reported on 30
November. The initiative group of more than 200 people from 25 regions
was formed by the presidential representative in Moscow, Vladimir
Komchatov, who said that only Yeltsin could preserve the country's
stability and prevent a return to the communist past. Presidential aide
Georgii Satarov said Yeltsin would not decide whether to run in the
presidential poll until after the December parliamentary election,
Reuters reported. Russian Public TV (ORT) reported that the Central
Electoral Commission rejected the application documents it received from
Vladimir Voronin, head of the TIBET Association of Investors and the
first person to put his name up for the presidential elections, saying
they were incorrectly prepared. -- Anna Paretskaya

CONSTITUTIONAL COURT ANNULLED KALININGRAD OBLAST DUMA IMMUNITY DECREE.
The Constitutional Court has decided to annul the recent Kaliningrad
Oblast Duma's decision to grant its members immunity from prosecution,
saying it violated federal laws, ITAR-TASS and Russian Public TV (ORT)
reported on 30 November. The court ruled that the local legislature does
not have the authority to grant immunity. Federal law extends immunity
to Federal Assembly deputies, but the status of local deputies is not
specified. -- Anna Paretskaya

PRESIDENT OF YAKUTIYA AGAINST REFERENDUM ON PROLONGING HIS TERM. The
president of the Sakha Republic (Yakutiya), Mikhail Nikolaev, asked the
republican Federal Assembly to cancel its decision to hold a referendum
on the extension of the president's term of office until the year 2001,
Radio Rossii reported on 30 November. The Federal Assembly had decided
to hold a referendum on 16 November after 204,000 signatures were
collected in its support (see OMRI Daily Digest, 17 November 1995). --
Anna Paretskaya

KHASBULATOV TO RUN FOR CHECHEN HEAD OF STATE. On 30 November, former
Russian parliament speaker and head of the People's Union for the
Rebirth of the Chechen Republic Ruslan Khasbulatov officially registered
as a candidate in the 17 December Chechen elections for a new head of
state, NTV reported. Chechen Prime Minister Doku Zavgaev, the only other
registered candidate, has invited Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev and
guerrilla commander Shamil Basaev to run against him, according to
Rossiiskaya gazeta on 30 November. -- Liz Fuller

RUSSO-CHINESE BORDER ADJUSTMENT COMPLETED. The survey of the final
segment of the long-disputed Russo-Chinese border in Primorsk Krai was
completed on 30 November, Russian and Western agencies reported.
Fulfilling the terms of the 1991 Soviet-Chinese border agreement, the
survey resulted in the transfer to China of about 1,500 hectares of
territory formerly claimed by Russia, adjusting the border in various
locations from five to 350 meters in favor of China. According to ITAR-
TASS, the population in the border regions of Primorsk Krai are unhappy
with this transfer of "Russian land" to China, and have complained about
the loss of valuable cedar forests and hunting areas. Primorsk Governor
Yevgenii Nazdratenko has opposed the implementation of the border
agreement, and will likely use the issue in his campaign for re-election
next year. -- Scott Parrish

GRACHEV AND CHERNOMYRDIN CLASH OVER SACKING. An article in Rossiiskaya
gazeta on 1 December reported that Defense Minister Pavel Grachev and
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin disagree over the sacking of Col.
Gen. Vasilii Vorobev, who served as budget director of the Defense
Ministry (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27 November 1995). Grachev told a
recent meeting of the Defense Ministry collegium that he could not
understand why Vorobev had been removed and added that he had been fully
satisfied with the budget director's work. That comment drew a sharp
reaction from Chernomyrdin, who reportedly "expressed great surprise" at
Grachev's statement. Chernomyrdin and Grachev have frequently had public
disagreements on policy issues in the past. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIA REPAYS ITS FINNISH DEBTS BY ARMS. Finnish Defense Minister Anneli
Taina announced that Russia would supply Finland with advanced SA-11 air
defense systems worth 1 billion Finnish markka ($238 million) to reduce
part of its 5.5 billion markka debt to Finland (see OMRI Daily Digest,
16 November 1995), ITAR-TASS reported on 30 November. The missiles will
be used by air defense forces in the Helsinki region. No date has been
set for repaying the remaining debt. -- Constantine Dmitriev

GRACHEV IN ISRAEL. Defense Minister Pavel Grachev began a five-day visit
in Israel by signing a bilateral military cooperation agreement with
Israeli Prime Prime Minister and Defense Minister Shimon Peres on 1
December, ITAR-TASS reported. The agreement provides for exchanges
between Russian and Israeli military personnel and also expands the
scope of Russo-Israeli military-technical cooperation under an April
1994 agreement. It also calls for Israel to purchase military transport
aircraft from Russia, and Israel has reportedly expressed interest in
jointly producing weapons for export to third countries. While in
Israel, Grachev will also discuss the Middle East peace process, of
which Russia is a co-sponsor, with Israeli officials. -- Scott Parrish

TRADE UNION DAY OF ACTION. Thousands of workers across Russia took part
in meetings and demonstrations on 30 November as part of a day of action
called by the Federation of Independent Trade Unions (FNPR) to protest
wage arrears and rising unemployment. The form of action and the number
of people who participated varied considerably from region to region.
There were no demonstrations in Moscow, St. Petersburg, or Novgorod,
according to Russian Public TV (ORT). According to the FNPR, workers are
owed 11.5 trillion rubles ($2.5 billion) in wage arrears, up from 8
trillion in September. It estimates open and "hidden" unemployment at
about 15% of the working-age population. According to International
Labor Organization criteria, the unemployment rate is 8.1%. -- Penny
Morvant

MINERS DEMAND ADDITIONAL 500 BILLION RUBLES. At a meeting in Moscow on
30 November, the Coal Industry Workers' Union demanded another 500
billion rubles ($110 million) from the government in order to cover
unpaid wages, ITAR-TASS reported. The previous day, the government had
announced the allocation of an additional 500 billion to the coal
industry, but union leaders say that sum is insufficient and are
planning a day of protest on 6 December. However, the regional strike
due to begin on 1 December in Vorkuta has been called off. -- Penny
Morvant

RUBLE TO BE DEVALUED . . . The ruble corridor has been extended for the
six months beginning on 1 January, and the ruble will be allowed to
float between 4,550 and 5,150 to $1, instead of the present 4,300-4,900
band, NTV reported on 30 November. That means the ruble will be allowed
to devalue by up to 13%. First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais
and others oppose devaluation because it will tend to increase
inflation. (New figures for November show inflation to be holding at
4.5% per month.) Exporters want the ruble to fall in order to restore
their profitability, and had strong support from certain ministers. That
probably explains why the decision was announced at a televised meeting
in President Yeltsin's sanitarium, rather than at the usual Thursday
government meeting. The move can be seen as a compromise in that it
simply keeps the same width as the current corridor (600 rubles) and
takes the current market exchange rate as the new floor. -- Peter
Rutland

. . . AND EXPORT DUTIES CUT. In another step aimed at helping exporters,
President Yeltsin signed a decree abolishing from 1 December all export
duties on refined oil and timber products, ITAR-TASS reported on 30
November. From 1 January 1996, export duties on all other products will
be scrapped, except those on crude oil, gas, and some industrial goods,
on which export duties will be halved. The government is responding to
the fact that crude oil exports fell 5.1% in the first 10 months of this
year, Interfax reported on 22 November. The tax on crude oil exports is
currently 20 ecu per metric ton. The duty on gas exports was increased
in early November from 2 ecu to 5 ecu per 1,000 cubic meters. -- Natalia
Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

MAJORITY OF PEOPLE IN KAZAKHSTAN AGAINST CUTS IN RUSSIAN PROGRAMMING.
Nearly 70% of respondents to a recent poll in Kazakhstan said they are
against cuts in Russian television broadcasts, ITAR-TASS reported on 28
November. The results of the poll, conducted in 88 towns and villages
throughout Kazakhstan, show that not only the Russian population (about
36% of the population of Kazakhstan) is against the cuts, but 58% of
Kazakhs polled also want the broadcasts restored. In the capital,
Almaty, 88% of respondents opposed cuts and 17% said they want more than
what they used to receive. The Kazakhstani government reduced the amount
of Russian programming in October to eight and a half hours daily from
Russian Public TV (ORT) and five hours daily from the Russian TV
Channel. -- Bruce Pannier

ASIAN DEVELOPMENT BANK EXTENDS $120 MILLION CREDIT TO KAZAKHSTAN. The
Asian Development Bank has agreed to give $120 million in credit to
Kazakhstan to fund agricultural and educational development, Interfax
reported on 28 November. The bank's representative in Kazakhstan, Roza
Savadskaya, said $100 million is slated for agriculture and the
remainder for education. Sadavskaya also added that if formalities are
taken care of quickly, half of the money for agriculture could arrive
before the end of 1995, and the rest after the new year. -- Bruce
Pannier

UNESCO TO FUND RENOVATION OF HISTORIC CITIES IN UZBEKISTAN. The UN
Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has begun a
fundraising campaign to restore the historic sections of Samarkand,
Bukhara, and Khiva, AFP reported on 30 November. The immediate goal of
the project is to raise $20 million at a conference to be held in
Tashkent for the initial work in Samarkand. Michael Lane, a UNESCO
representative, noted that the renovation will include not just
monuments and mosques, such as the Registan in Samarkand, but the
caravanserais and shops around them that were neglected during the
Soviet era. -- Roger Kangas

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

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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