Ne zadavajte mne nelepyh voprosov, i ya ne budu govorit' vam nepravdu. - Goldsmit
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 235, Part I, 5 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 VETOES BILL ON MILITARY SERVICE. President Boris Yeltsin vetoed
on 4 December amendments to the Military Service Act passed by the State
Duma on 15 November (see OMRI Daily Digest, 16 November 1995), Interfax
reported. The Duma wanted to release current conscripts after 18 months
instead of prolonging their service to two years. Yeltsin rejected the
law, citing procedural violations. However, Yeltsin did issue a decree
on 3 December allowing troops to be discharged after 18 months if they
had been wounded or involved in combat duty for at least a month. --
Constantine Dmitriev
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

"UNDECIDEDS WILL WIN" IN DECEMBER POLL. Speaking on NTV on 5 December,
pollster Dmitrii Olshankii predicted that "the undecideds will win" in
the Duma election since only 55% of Russia's 102 million electors intend
to vote. Of those, another 10% may spoil their ballot or not vote for
the party-list candidates, which means that the parties may be competing
for only 45% of registered voters. He expects the Communist Party to win
14%, Our Home Is Russia 8%, the Congress of Russian Communities 8%,
Yabloko 8%, the Liberal Democrats 7%, Women of Russia 6%, and Democratic
Choice of Russia 6%. He predicts a tight and unpredictable race for the
single-mandate seats, principally between the Communist Party and Our
Home Is Russia. -- Peter Rutland

CANDIDATES ATTEND ORTHODOX CHURCH CONFERENCE ON RUSSIA'S FUTURE. Liberal
Democratic Party of Russia Chairman Vladimir Zhirinovsky told a
conference on "Russia in the 21st century" that he sees the Russian
Orthodox Church as the basis for the country's spiritual revival and
that Orthodox Christianity should remain the only state-recognized
religion in Russia, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 December. The conference,
organized by the Russian Orthodox Church, was attended by the leaders of
17 other electoral blocs, including Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin,
Federation Council Speaker Vladimir Shumeiko, State Duma Speaker Ivan
Rybkin, Russia's Democratic Choice leader Yegor Gaidar, Communist Party
leader Gennadii Zyuganov, and Agrarian Party leader Mikhail Lapshin.
Lapshin said he sees Russia as a great agricultural country in the next
century, while Gaidar stressed the fatal consequences of a halt to the
reform process. -- Anna Paretskaya

DUMA DEPUTY'S APARTMENT BOMBED. On the night of 2 December, a small
bomb, estimated to contain 150 grams of TNT, blew in the windows of Duma
Deputy Artem Tarasov's Moscow apartment, Interfax reported on 4
December. Coincidentally, in a 1 December television election broadcast
for the Kedr (Cedar) Ecological Party monitored by the BBC Tarasov had
said, "Like contract killings, there are contract public opinion polls,
according to which a particular party comes ahead of others. They are
made to order, hence their results vary so much." -- Peter Rutland

SHOOTING IN MOSCOW RESTAURANT. One person was killed and five wounded in
a shooting at a Moscow cafe over the weekend, Russian and Western
agencies reported on 4 December. Police say two gunmen burst into
private rooms at the Angara cafe on Novyi Arbat Street, killing a
Muscovite and wounding two of his friends. The other casualties,
including a British businessman, were injured when the gunmen opened
fire in the dining room as they fled. Also on 4 December, ITAR-TASS
reported that Albert Apollonov, a prominent local businessman, was
murdered in Petrazavodsk in Kareliya in what police say was a contract
killing. Apollonov headed the Rosika company that trades in oil
products. Interior Minster Anatolii Kulikov called on 1 December for the
creation of a special bureau to investigate the large number of contract
killings. -- Penny Morvant

RUSSIAN CUSTOMS FINISH DEMARCATION OF RUSSO-BALTIC BORDER. State Customs
Committee Chairman Anatolii Kruglov opened the last checkpoint on
Russia's border with the Baltic states, Shumilkino, ITAR-TASS reported
on 4 December. According to Kruglov, up to $67 million and 20 billion
rubles ($4.4 million) were spent on the demarcation of the Russian
borders with Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. Meanwhile, Estonia and
Latvia continue to insist on border revisions despite Russian
objections. -- Constantine Dmitriev

RUSSIAN, BELARUSIAN SECURITY SERVICES AGREE TO COOPERATE. Russian
Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Mikhail Barsukov and his
Belarusian counterpart, Uladzimir Yahorau, signed a cooperation
agreement last week, Krasnaya zvezda reported on 5 December. The
Belarusian service agreed to safeguard Russian troops temporarily
stationed in Belarus. The two directors also appealed to the Russian and
Belarusian governments to develop bilateral cooperation in combating
terrorism, drug trafficking, and arms smuggling. -- Constantine Dmitriev

YELTSIN PASSES AGREEMENT ON RUSSIAN-EU COOPERATION TO DUMA. President
Boris Yeltsin submitted an EU partnership and cooperation agreement to
the State Duma for ratification, Interfax reported on 4 December. The
agreement was signed on 24 June 1994. However, the interim trade accord,
which was part of the agreement, was frozen by the EU in January 1995
due to the war in Chechnya and then reactivated in April 1995 after the
opening of an OSCE mission in Grozny. The agreement grants Russia "most
favored nation" status and recognizes it as a "transition economy"
rather than a "planned economy," which makes it more difficult for the
EU to levy anti-dumping tariffs against Russian imports. -- Constantine
Dmitriev

VLADIMOV WINS BOOKER PRIZE. Former human rights activist Georgii
Vladimov has been awarded the Russian Booker Prize for best novel of the
year for his A General and His Army, Russian and Western agencies
reported on 4 December. Vladimov, who is living in exile in Germany, is
the first emigre writer to win the prize. His novel is devoted to Andrei
Vlasov, a captive Russian general who led a force of Soviet PoWs that
fought on the German side during World War II. There are still debates
about whether Vlasov was a cowardly collaborator or an anti-Communist
patriot. -- Penny Morvant

INTELLECTUALS IN DEFENSE OF CULTURE. Representatives of the "creative
intelligentsia" gathered in the Bolshoi Theater on 4 December to discuss
the crisis in Russian culture. Their discussion focused on the theme, "a
civilized market can only be built in a civilized society," Russian TV
reported. The conference was addressed by such figures as author Fazil
Iskander and Academician Dmitrii Ligachev, who warned against the "self-
isolation" of Russian culture. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin also
attended. He promised to double budget spending on culture to 2 trillion
rubles ($435 million) next year and to introduce tax breaks for cultural
organizations. -- Peter Rutland

SPENT FINNISH NUCLEAR FUEL SENT TO RUSSIA. A trainload of spent nuclear
fuel from a Finnish nuclear power plant arrived in Russia on 2 December
for processing at the Mayak plant in Chelyabinsk-65, Komsomolskaya
pravda reported on 5 December. According to the paper, it is not clear
whether the nuclear residue remaining after processing will be shipped
back to Finland or kept in Russia. Meanwhile, Interfax reported on 4
December that a German company has signed a contract with the Kursk
nuclear power plant to construct a nuclear waste storage facility and
240 containers to store the plant's radioactive waste. The German
Company for Nuclear Containers, a subsidiary of Nukem, will control
production quality, train specialists, and provide the know-how for
container production. According to Gosatomnadzor, the state agency
responsible for monitoring nuclear safety, the solid waste storage
facilities at the Kursk plant are full. -- Penny Morvant

NEW BILLS FOR OLD. The Russian Central Bank is taking steps to calm
anxiety about the U.S. government's plan to introduce a new $100 bill in
January. The bank's deputy chairman, Aleksandr Khandruev, said that
financial institutions will be forbidden from charging more than 2%
commission for exchanging the old bills, Russian TV reported on 4
December. The main fear is that the process will reveal large numbers of
fake old bills. Already there have been several cases of "new" $100
notes turning up--even though the U.S. has not yet released any. An
estimated $15 billion in cash is circulating inside Russia (see OMRI
Economic Digest, 16 November 1995). -- Peter Rutland

GOVERNMENT PRE-ELECTION SPENDING SPREE WIDENS BUDGET DEFICIT. According
to First Deputy Finance Minister Vladimir Petrov, additional spending in
December may widen the federal budget deficit from the projected 3.2% of
GDP to 4%, Western agencies reported on 4 December. The government has
promised to spend an additional 9 trillion rubles ($1.96 billion) on
defense and 5.8 trillion rubles ($1.3 billion) for the Pension Fund, and
to pay off a large amount of wage arrears. The government has recently
renewed efforts to collect taxes from delinquent enterprises, and hopes
to raise several hundred million dollars from the auction of a 78% stake
in the YUKOS oil company, which will take place on 8 December. Petrov
also reported that the IMF has agreed to double the next two monthly
payments under the 1996 standby loan. At the same time, the IMF warned
the Russian government to stay within the target budget figures. --
Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

SEVEN UZBEK NEWSPAPERS CEASE PUBLICATION. Financial difficulties have
forced a prominent Uzbek publishing house to suspend publication of
seven Tashkent-based newspapers, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 1
December. The Sharq publishing house, which owns the papers, is
currently facing a debt of more than 2 million sum ($57,000). The papers
that ceased publication on 30 November are Tashkentskaya pravda,
Toshkent khakikati, Turkiston, Molodezh Uzbekistana, and the dailies
Watan, Vecherniye Tashkent, and Toshkent oqshomi. No word was given as
to when they will resume publication or if the publishing house is
repaying its debt. -- Roger Kangas

KARIMOV AND AKAYEV MEET TO DISCUSS ECONOMIC COOPERATION. Uzbek President
Islam Karimov held talks in the Uzbek sity of Andijan on 4 December with
his Kyrgyz counterpart, Askar Akayev, Interfax reported. The leaders
focused on increased economic cooperation, particularly in the field of
natural gas and oil deliveries from Uzbekistan to energy-starved
Kyrgyzstan. Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev will reportedly
join the meeting to discuss the Central Asian economic union established
in January 1994. To date, in spite of calls for regional cooperation,
the union has achieved very little. -- Roger Kangas

FOUR CANDIDATES FOR KYRGYZ PRESIDENTIAL RACE. The deadline for hopefuls
in the 24 December Kyrgyz presidential election passed on 3 December and
the field of candidates has been narrowed from 13 to just four, Radio
Rossii reported. The officially registered candidates are President
Askar Akayev, former speaker of parliament Medetken Sherimkulov, former
Communist Party First Secretary and current Communist Party Chairman
Absamat Masaliev, and former Communist Party Secretary and current
Deputy Prime Minister Jumgalbek Amanbayev. Ata Meken Party leader
Omurbek Tekebayev, Adilet Movement leader Yuruslan Toychubekov, and the
former director of the Kadamzhay Antimony plant, Mamat Aybalayev, had
their applications for registration rejected for unspecified reasons. --
Bruce Pannier

RADIOACTIVE WASTE PROBLEM IN KAZAKHSTAN. The amount of radioactive waste
accumulating at uranium mining and processing plants in Kazakhstan is
reaching alarming proportions, according to ITAR-TASS on 4 December.
Since the country became independent in 1991, the quantity of
radioactive waste stored in Kazakhstan has grown to 219 million tons.
The republic's Ministry of Ecology and Biological Resources claims the
aggregate radioactivity from the waste comes to 250,000 curies, which is
"many times more than the accepted norm." Kazakhstan does not have the
means to deal with the waste because under the Soviet Union disposal was
a national responsibility carried out by the government in Moscow. --
Bruce Pannier

TAJIKISTAN OPENS EMBASSY IN ANKARA. Tajikistan opened an its first
embassy outside the former Soviet Union in Ankara on 4 December, AFP
reported. In August, reports surfaced that former Interior Minister
Yaqub Salimov would be Tajikistan's ambassador to Turkey. Salimov was
removed from office that month amid charges that he headed a personal
army of 20,000 troops. In 1994, Turkey opened an embassy in Dushanbe in
an effort to show that it was not only focusing on the Turkic-speaking
republics of the former Soviet Union. -- Lowell Bezanis

CURFEW IN DUSHANBE. The Tajik government imposed a curfew on the
capital, Dusahnbe, effective on 1 December, according to a 2 December
report on the opposition's radio station, the Voice of Free Tajikistan.
The radio interpreted the move as a preventative measure to ensure
stability in Dushanbe during the peace negotiations between the
government and opposition in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. -- Bruce Pannier

[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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