|When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain|
No. 236, Part I, 6 December 1995
OMRI DAILY DIGEST No. 236, Part I, 6 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ DUMA OVERRIDES VETO OF FEDERATION COUNCIL LAW. On 5 December, the State Duma overrode the Federation Council's veto of the law on the formation of the Council, by a vote of 311-0 and five abstentions. The upper house will be formed from the governors (chief administrators) and legislative heads in each of the 89 federation subjects. The governors must be popularly elected by December 1996. Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin said President Boris Yeltsin told him that he will sign the Duma's bill into law, Russian TV reported on 5 December. -- Peter Rutland ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ RUSSIA DUMA AVOIDS CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS. By moving to approve the formation of the Federation Council, the Duma has averted a potentially serious constitutional crisis. The term of the current Council expires on 12 December, and the constitution does not appear to allow the Duma to function as a law-making body without an upper house. The Duma acquiesced to Yeltsin's preference that the gubernatorial elections be postponed for up to one year. Among the 25 other decisions the Duma took yesterday was a vote overriding the Council's veto of a law on production sharing (the earmarking of a fixed share of output for investors). The absence of such a law has deterred foreign investors from entering energy and mining projects. -- Peter Rutland YAVLINSKII OUTLINES PROGRAM. Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii presented his electoral program at a meeting in Moscow on 5 December. He said that reducing Russia's dependence on exports of raw materials is his first priority, NTV reported on 5 December. His other goals are to correct the errors in privatization, to revive the Far East, and to rebuild ties with the CIS. "The present government and president are not only unable to solve these problems, they are not even able to identify them," he said. Yavlinskii confirmed that in contrast to other parties, Yabloko is not using its leader's face in its campaign advertising. Yavlinskii told Interfax on 4 December that he intends to use a strong showing in the Duma elections as "a springboard to win the presidential ones." He expects only three forces to emerge from the Duma elections: the present government, the Communists, and himself as the only viable democratic alternative. -- Peter Rutland DRAFT CONSTITUTION OF KARACHAEVO-CHERKESSIYA DEFINES RUSSIAN AS OFFICIAL LANGUAGE. The draft of the Karachaevo-Cherkess republic's constitution, which has been released to the public, defines Russian as the republic's official language, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 December. The draft guarantees equal rights for the languages of other nationalities residing in the republic. Russians form the largest ethnic group in the republic, making up 41% of the population. The rest of the population is made up of Karachais (30%), Cherkes (11%), Abazins (6%), and Nogais (3%). In the March 1992 referendum, 79% of republic's population voted for a united Karachaevo-Cherkessiya. Before 1991, Karachaevo-Cherkessiya was an autonomous oblast within Stavropol Krai. On 3 July 1991, it was granted the status of a republic. -- Anna Paretskaya VOTING BEGINS IN POLAR TUNDRA. Pre-election voting for the 17 December Duma elections has started in the polar tundra zone of Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 December. The law allows voters to cast early ballots if they will be unable to cast a vote on election day. About 20,000 people are expected to vote early in the okrug. According to opinion polls, 70% of Yamalo-Nenets voters plan to participate in the elections. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's bloc is leading in local polls with 15% support, followed by Grigorii Yavlinskii's Yabloko (9%) and Women of Russian (8%). Russian TV reported on 5 December that early voting also began among the 12,000 Russian Border Guards in Tajikistan. -- Anna Paretskaya DEATH OF GENERAL DMITRII VOLKOGONOV. Author and retired Col. Gen. Dmitrii Volkogonov died during the night of 5-6 December at age 67, Radio Rossii reported. He entered the army in 1949 and after teaching in military academies he became the leading specialist in psychological warfare. He emerged as an important public figure in the Mikhail Gorbachev era, when he wrote a critical biography of Josef Stalin, followed by books on Leon Trotsky and Vladimir Lenin. It was revealed that his own father had been shot in 1937. Many of the 30 books he authored were published in the West. He was elected to the Congress of People's Deputies in 1990 and became an adviser on military questions to President Yeltsin. -- Peter Rutland EXPLOSION ROCKS PARLIAMENT. An explosion damaged the Duma office of National Republican Party head Nikolai Lysenko on 5 December, Russian and Western media reported. There were no casualties. Lysenko, an ultranationalist deputy known for his outrageous behavior, told reporters the blast was caused by a small explosive device. He claimed it was an attempt on his life, blaming it on "the Caucasian mafia" or a Turkish group and linking it with his calls for a stringent border regime and tough measures against criminals from Central Asia and the Transcaucasus. Lysenko gained notoriety when he tore up a Ukrainian flag in the parliament during a debate on the Crimean port of Sevastopol and, on another occasion, seized a crucifix from around the neck of the priest Gleb Yakunin during a brawl in the Duma. -- Penny Morvant MOSCOW OFFICIAL MURDERED. The body of Aleksei Baryshnikov, a senior official in the Moscow government's Transport and Communications Department, was discovered on 4 December in the entrance to his apartment building, ITAR-TASS reported the following day. Police suspect three young Muscovites of murdering him. -- Penny Morvant TERRORIST ATTACK IN VLADIKAVKAZ. Three children died and seven people were injured when a would-be hijacker exploded a hand grenade in a Vladikavkaz kindergarten on 5 December, Russian media reported. The hijacker had demanded a bus and was negotiating with local police when the explosion occurred. -- Liz Fuller U.S. URGES NATO ALLIES TO RESOLVE CFE ISSUE WITH RUSSIA. The U.S. on 5 December urged its NATO allies to quickly resolve the dispute with Russia concerning the so-called flanks limitations in the CFE treaty, Reuters reported. U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher told the other NATO foreign ministers that the working group meeting in Vienna should intensify its work and that "policy-making officials, with decision-making authority" from national capitals should join it no later than mid-February. At the moment, Russia has more tanks, armored fighting vehicles, and artillery in the North Caucasus Military District than the treaty allows. -- Doug Clarke KOZYREV SAYS RUSSIA IS SET TO COOPERATE WITH NATO. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev arrived in Brussels to participate in a meeting of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 December. Before leaving Russia, Kozyrev said that President Yeltsin had instructed him to support cooperation with NATO but to oppose the alliance's eastward expansion. Kozyrev confirmed that Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin will head the Russian delegation to the signing of agreements on the former Yugoslavia in Paris on 14 December. According to Interfax, U.S. and Russian officers will prepare for the peacekeeping operation in Bosnia by participating in a joint exercise to be conducted between 11 and 15 December at a U.S. military base in Germany. Meanwhile, the chief spokesman of the Russian air defense forces, Leonid Shirobokov, accused NATO of conducting more than 900 reconnaissance flights along Russia's borders in 1995. -- Constantine Dmitriev PROCURATOR'S OFFICE ON CORRUPTION IN LAW ENFORCEMENT. Fighting crime within law enforcement agencies is one of the main tasks facing the Interior Ministry and General Procurator's Office, Vladimir Kirakozov of the Procurator's Office said at a briefing on 5 December. According to Russian TV, 773 criminal cases were opened against police officers and employees of the Procurator's Office for bribe-taking and abuse of office during the first nine months of 1995--a 20% increase on the same period of 1994. Participants in the briefing blamed the increase in corruption on the lack of highly qualified officers and low wages. Since his appointment this summer, Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov has been waging a well-publicized "clean hands" campaign against crime within law enforcement agencies. -- Penny Morvant REBELLIOUS BANKS ARE BARRED FROM YUKOS AUCTION. The consortium of Inkombank, Alfa-bank and Rossiiskii kredit will not be allowed to participate in the shares-for-loans auction for YUKOS, Russia's second largest oil company, due to be held on 8 December. ITAR-TASS reported on 5 December that the State Property Committee refused to accept their deposit because it consisted in part of treasury bills instead of hard currency, as stipulated in the regulations. Earlier, the three banks threatened to undermine the securities market by unloading a large amount of treasury bills to raise their $350 million deposit (see OMRI Daily Digest, 30 November 1995). The Central Bank warned that in this case it would not support the rebellious banks in their efforts to open branches abroad. -- Natalia Gurushina REGULATION OF ENERGY PRICES. President Yeltsin signed a decree creating a new Federal Energy Commission on 5 December, Russian TV reported the same day. The commission will regulate the pricing policy of "natural monopolies" including the transport of gas and oil and the supply of heat and electricity. The government froze energy prices during the last quarter of 1995: Rossiiskie vesti reported on 2 December that from 1 January energy producers will be allowed to increase prices but only in line with the general inflation level. -- Peter Rutland TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA GAS EXPLOSION IN TASHKENT. A gas explosion in downtown Tashkent on 5 December killed three people and injured 21, ITAR-TASS reported. The explosion was apparently caused by a gas leak on the premises of a commercial firm. A government committee has been formed to investigate the tragedy. -- Roger Kangas ELECTIONS TO KAZAKHSTANI SENATE. Indirect elections to the 47-member upper chamber of the Kazakhstani parliament, the Senate, took place on 5 December in which deputies from the 19 oblast legislatures (maslihats) of the country cast their votes, local media reported. Each oblast, as well as the capital Almaty, elected two deputies to the Senate. The remaining seven members of the Senate will be nominated by the president. The regional maslihats nominated a total of 67 candidates for the Senate; deputies who had already been elected twice to the previous parliament were given preference in the voting. In many oblasts, there were only two nominees for the two Senate seats. -- Bhavna Dave in Almaty MAJILIS ELECTION CAMPAIGN. The Party of National Unity of Kazakhstan (PNEK) and the Democratic Party are expected to win more than half of the seats in the 9 December elections to the Majilis, Kazakhstanskaya pravda reported on 5 December. The two parties will likely form a coalition government after the vote. Both of them, as well as a number of other parties running in the elections, were created by incumbent deputies and members of President Nursultan Nazarbayev's government. Most opposition parties have boycotted the elections, calling them "illegal," while a few opposition candidates have decided to run as independent candidates. The election campaign has been very low-key and the public has demonstrated little knowledge of the parties or their platforms. -- Bhavna Dave in Almaty DAMAGED PIPELINE IN GEORGIA REPAIRED. A high voltage power transmission line linking the Georgian and Russian energy systems, which was blown up at the beginning of November (see OMRI Daily Digest, 14 November 1995), has been repaired, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 December. The deputy chief of the Georgian Energy Department, Gogi Makashvili, said that the line is now ready to be re-connected to the Russian network. Russia is planning to send 300 MW of energy during peak hours, 120 MW during the day, and 100 MW at night, on the condition that Georgia will make payments every 10 days. -- Irakli Tsereteli [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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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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