|Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal. - John F. Kennedy|
No. 234, Part I, 4 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ ROSSEL WANTS SHUMEIKO BLOC TO JOIN HIS TRANSFORMATION OF THE FATHERLAND. Sverdlovsk Governor Eduard Rossel confirmed that he will work with Federation Council Speaker Vladimir Shumeiko's new movement but only under certain conditions, Interfax reported on 1 December. A special congress of his Transformation of the Fatherland movement will discuss merging with Shumeiko's Russian Reforms-A New Course. He objects to the New Course name and wants the movement to adopt Transformation of the Fatherland as its name. Rossel said that President Yeltsin had banned the creation of the organization until after the Duma elections. The founding congress is scheduled to take place on 21 December. -- Robert Orttung ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ RUSSIA VOX POPULI: SEVEN PARTIES TO ENTER DUMA. The Communists, Our Home Is Russia, the Congress of Russian Communities, the Agrarian Party, the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, Women of Russia, and Yabloko are likely to win representation in the Duma in the 17 December elections according to a recent poll conducted by Vox Populi, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 2 December. Women of Russia and the Congress of Russian Communities have dramatically improved their position, while Yabloko and Yegor Gaidar's Russia's Democratic Choice-United Democrats (which is not among the parties now likely to enter the Duma) have lost support in comparison with an earlier poll published in the same paper on 21 November. -- Robert Orttung CHUBAIS: ELECTIONS COULD STOP REFORM. First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais warned on 1 December that the Duma elections could slam the brakes on reform, Reuters reported. Chubais said that the worst outcome would likely cause a slow down or a halt to the creation of a legal base for reform, but he said he could not imagine any steps being taken to undo the reform process. Chubais believes that the Communists' recent overtures to Russian and foreign entrepreneurs shows that they are willing to compromise on their economic ideas. -- Robert Orttung FEDOROV HAS CANDIDATES SIGN CONTRACT. At the third congress of Boris Fedorov's Forward, Russia! movement in Moscow on 2 December, parliamentary candidates signed a contract of 15 measures they will implement if the movement is able to form a government after the December elections (even though the Russian government is not formed from a parliamentary majority). The promised measures are: a guarantee of strict adherence to the constitution and all laws, elimination of the nomenklatura's privileges, enactment of tougher measures against crime, and a referendum within a year on a union with Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. The strategy is clearly modeled on the U.S. Republican Party's successful "Contract with America" during the 1994 campaign, and after the signing Fedorov told OMRI that his party of conservative democrats is philosophically close to the Republicans. Fedorov's comments on his party's prospects, its aggressive advertising strategy, and its differences with Yegor Gaidar's Russia's Democratic Choice will be published in the 5 December OMRI Special Report on the Russian Elections. -- Laura Belin in Moscow NEW PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES APPEAR. Aleksandr Rutskoi, the former vice president and leader of the social-patriotic movement Derzhava, confirmed that he would run for president in the June 1996 elections, Russian and Western media reported on 3 December. Rutskoi has said he intends to quit politics if he loses both the Duma and presidential elections. Another potential candidate for the presidency, Grigorii Yavlinskii, announced on 1 December that he has already collected 800,000 of the 1 million signatures required to register for the presidential elections, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. The number three candidate on the Communist Party list for the Duma elections, Aman Tuleev, said he would run for the presidency if President Yeltsin decides to run for a second term. In 1991, Tuleev won about 7% of the vote. Petr Romanov, another candidate, was nominated for the presidential race by the Assembly of National Democratic and Patriotic Forces of Russia, Interfax reported. -- Anna Paretskaya LDPR GETS BIGGEST FINANCIAL SUPPORT FROM VOTERS. According to the Central Electoral Commission's report on campaign funding, Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) has obtained more money from voters than any other party, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 December. More than 700 people have donated a total of 1 billion rubles (about $222,222) to the LDPR campaign. The Communist Party has received donations from about 400 people totaling more than 140 million rubles (about $31,000). The Pamfiliva-Gurov-Lysenko bloc received 500,000 rubles from just one supporter. -- Anna Paretskaya ACTING HEALTH MINISTER APPOINTED. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin has appointed Aleksandr Tsaregorodtsev as acting health minister in the wake of Eduard Nechaev's dismissal from the post on 28 November, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 December. Tsaregorodtsev was made a deputy health minister in 1994 and first deputy this year. Nechaev had been severely criticized following a number of financial scandals within the ministry, and he was jeered at during a recent congress of doctors devoted to the sorry state of Russian health care. -- Penny Morvant COMMUNISTS AND PATRIOTS LEAD IN BY-ELECTIONS IN CHUVASHIYA. According to preliminary results, candidates from the Communist and Patriotic blocs are leading in the 3 December by-elections to the Chuvashiyan Federal Assembly, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 December. The Federal Assembly was elected in March 1994. Fourteen parliamentary deputies were dismissed this summer after the Russian Federation's Constitutional Court ruled that they were elected illegally; the case was put forward by Chuvashiyan President Nikolai Fedorov. The second round of the by- election is scheduled to be held on 17 December, the same day as the State Duma elections. -- Anna Paretskaya GRACHEV PROPOSES SECURITY SYSTEM FOR MIDDLE EAST. During his visit to Israel (see OMRI Daily Digest, 1 December 1995), Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev extended an offer to help set up a new regional security system for the Middle East, ITAR-TASS reported on 3 December. Grachev said that Moscow is attempting to pursue a balanced policy in the Middle East, strengthening its ties with Arab countries as well as with Israel. Meanwhile, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Viktor Posyvaliuk, the presidential envoy to the Middle East, held talks with officials in Syria, Lebanon, and Israel. Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Mussa blasted the Russo-Israeli agreement on military cooperation, saying it complicates the regional peace process. -- Constantine Dmitriev FNPR RENOUNCES STRIKE ACTION BEFORE ELECTIONS. The Federation of Independent Trade Unions (FNPR) said on 1 December that it would refrain from calling strikes until after the 17 December parliamentary elections, ITAR-TASS reported. It may, however, organize demonstrations and meetings. FNPR spokesman Andrei Isaev attributed the decision to an agreement reached between Vorkuta miners and the state coal association Rosugol on paying wage arrears. Commenting on the 30 November day of action (see OMRI Daily Digest, 1 December 1995) Isaev said the largest rallies took place in Krasnodar (30,000 participants), Bryansk (13,000), and Voronezh and Belgorod (10,000 each). -- Penny Morvant DEFENSE MINISTRY SAYS NO NUCLEAR WEAPONS IN CHECHNYA. A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman on 1 December denied a Komsomolskaya pravda report that Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev had nuclear weapons stored near the settlements of Shali and Bamut in Chechnya. The spokesman said there have never been any nuclear weapons at those locations. That claim contradicts a January statement by Col. Gen. Viktor Yesin, the chief of staff of the Strategic Missile Forces, who said that there had been an R-12 (SS-4) intermediate-range nuclear missile base near Bamut in the 1970s. Yesin said the base's weapons and equipment were destroyed when the location was abandoned in 1980. -- Doug Clarke REGIONAL LEGISLATION ON THE INCREASE. Addressing a conference of regional officials in Volgograd, Aleksandr Morozov, head of the Volgograd Oblast Duma Budget Committee, said that since 1993 many oblasts have started passing their own statutes to plug the gaps in federal legislation, Radio Mayak reported on 1 December. Morozov noted that Volgograd has passed laws regulating non-state pension funds, the issuance of promissory notes, and credit unions. Morozov complained that the courts and Procurator's Office are still waiting for instructions from federal authorities and are not adapting to the emergence of regional legislation. -- Peter Rutland EXPORTERS WELCOME SHIFT IN RUBLE CORRIDOR. Representatives of the forestry industry welcomed Friday's ruble devaluation, Interfax reported on 1 December, claiming that the imposition of the ruble corridor had cost them 5 trillion rubles ($1.1 billion) in lost exports since July. However, the Russian Metallurgy Committee was disappointed that the shift in the corridor was so modest. The committee estimates the devaluation will only boost metal exports by 1.2 trillion rubles, while exports of 8.5 trillion rubles were lost this year because of the ruble corridor. On 1 September, the government helped them out by slashing taxes on non-ferrous metals by 30% and on iron and steel by 50%. -- Peter Rutland ITALIAN COMPANY WINS RUSSIA'S BIGGEST PRIVATIZATION DEAL. The Italian state-controlled company, STET, won a 25% stake in Svyazinvest, the smaller of Russia's two national telecommunications companies, Reuter reported on 1 December. STET, which beat out a consortium of France Telecom, Deutsche Telecom and US West, is offering 2.9 trillion rubles ($640 million) for the shares. Svyazinvest has a controlling interest in 85 regional telecommunications companies. Under the terms of the deal, STET will also invest at least 3.5 trillion rubles ($764 million) over the next two years. The results of the tender revived the government's hopes to raise 8.7 trillion rubles ($1.9 billion) from privatization for the federal budget by the end of 1995. To date only 3.5 trillion rubles ($764 million) has been raised. -- Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA TAJIK TALKS BREAK DOWN ON FIRST DAY. The Tajik opposition called off talks with Tajik government officials on the first day of the UN- sponsored negotiations in the Turkmen capital Ashgabat on 2 December, Russian and Western agencies reported. The chief opposition representative, Ali Akbar Turajonzoda, forwarded a complaint from United Tajik Opposition (UTO) leader Said Abdullo Nuri, saying that Russian planes were bombing opposition outposts in the Garm and Pamir regions of Tajikistan. Turajonzoda said his delegation would remain in Ashgabat but would not resume negotiations until Russia ceased its "direct interference in the internal conflict." The Tajik government delegation countered by offering to allow opposition rep-resentatives to travel to the areas in question to see the situation for themselves. -- Bruce Pannier MORE BODIES FOUND ON UZBEK-KAZAKHSTANI BORDER. Following the discovery of 16 bodies in the Keles River bordering Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan last month, a joint investigation team has found up to 14 more bodies in a case in which a Tashkent drug mafia is suspected of killings, Kazakhstanskaya pravda reported on 2 December. One of the suspected murderers is a former convict who was sentenced to life imprisonment in Kazakhstan several years ago but was later released. -- Bhavna Dave in Almaty CONCERNS OVER LOW ELECTION TURNOUT IN KAZAKHSTAN. Noting widespread voter apathy toward next week's parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan, Central Electoral Commission Chairman Yurii Kim told Panorama in an interview on 2 December that the elections will be considered invalid if less than 50% of the registered electorate turns out to vote. He likened the candidates' passive election campaigns to "students who prepare for exams only on the very last day, despite being given ample time," adding that the incumbent parliamentary deputies and candidates with prior election experience have displayed a more "professional" approach. Kim noted that so far he has received fewer complaints from candidates than in the previous elections. He promised legal action against incumbent deputies and akims (oblast heads) who are using their official positions to prevent other candidates from campaigning. -- Bhavna Dave in Almaty ALMATY ASSUMES MORE DIRECT CONTROL OVER EAST KAZAKHSTAN OBLAST. Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin removed East Kazakhstan Oblast Akim Yurii Lavrinko from his post on 29 November and appointed Deputy Akim Leonid Desiatnik as the new regional head, Panorama reported on 2 December. Kazhegeldin denied claims published in Karavan-Blitz on 30 November that protests by pensioners, who blocked public transport during a demonstration, and the Slavic movement Lad led to Lavrinko's removal. Lavrinko was named to take over the Ministry of Transport and Communication. The largely Slavic oblast of East Kazakhstan fell into a serious economic crisis after the closure of several industrial plants, including the bankrupt Ust-Kamenogorsk metallurgical plant which is now seeking a foreign buyer. Kazhegeldin said he plans to visit East Kazakhstan more often in order to deal with the economic crisis and has given the new regional head "six months to improve the region's economy," Karavan-Blitz reported. -- Bhavna Dave in Almaty [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 email@example.com 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
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