We are always the same age inside. - Gertrude Stein
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

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

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