|Истиный друг есть величайшее из благ и вместе с тем то благо, о приобретении которого думают меньше всего. - Ф. Ларошфуко|
No. 237, Part I, 7 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 ************************************************************************ Do you need sharply focused economic news? OMRI's weekly Economic Digest provides thorough coverage of business and financial developments throughout the region. This week's edition includes stories on the economic turbulence in Macedonia caused by the lifting of sanctions, and the superior performance of Russia's privatized enterprises compared to state-run outfits. For subscription and rate information, please send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org *********************************************************************** ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^TODAY'S TOP STORY^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ DUMA APPROVES 1996 BUDGET. On 6 December, the State Duma passed the final draft of the 1996 federal budget on both second and third readings, by a vote of 253-71 with six abstentions, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 December. The budget puts monthly inflation at 1.9%, revenue at 347 trillion rubles ($75.8 billion), and expenditure at 436 trillion rubles ($95.1 billion), leaving a deficit of 88.6 trillion rubles ($19.3 billion). As a result of Duma objections during the first reading, planned spending has been increased for defense by 3.5 trillion rubles ($764 million), farming and housing construction by 8 trillion rubles ($1.8 billion), welfare by 2 trillion rubles ($444 million), and law- enforcement by 1.37 trillion rubles ($304 million). Deputies voted not to allocate an additional 5 trillion rubles ($1.1 billion) for reconstruction work in Chechnya. The budget's approval is an important prerequisite for reaching an agreement with the IMF on a three-year loan of $9 billion. The Federation Council will consider the budget on 9 December. -- Natalia Gurushina ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ RUSSIA YELTSIN SIGNS FEDERATION COUNCIL LAW. President Boris Yeltsin signed the law on the formation of the Federation Council, the upper house of parliament, one day after the State Duma overrode the Council's veto of the law, Russian media reported on 6 December. Under the law, each of Russia's 89 regions will have two representatives in the Council: the governor or chief administrator, and the head of the regional legislature. Federation Council Speaker Vladimir Shumeiko, who will lose his position once the law goes into effect, said he still considers the law unconstitutional but noted that it "must be fulfilled" now that it has been signed by the president, Russian TV reported. Governors must be popularly elected by December 1996, but Shumeiko, who is from Kaliningrad, said he would not run for governor in any region next year, according to NTV. -- Laura Belin YELTSIN VETOES CRIMINAL CODE. President Yeltsin has rejected the new Criminal Code passed by the Duma on 2 November, Russian media reported on 6 December. According to an explanatory note issued by the presidential press service, Yeltsin used his veto because the code has not been linked to the current Criminal Procedures Code--a situation that could make it virtually impossible to institute criminal proceedings and would thus result in a crisis in the country's law enforcement system. The president also expressed surprise that the code does not deal with a number of crimes, such as the obstruction of a journalists' professional duties, that threaten the development of a civil society. A conciliation commission will now be set up to amend the draft code. -- Penny Morvant PLANE DISAPPEARS IN FAR EAST . . . An Aeroflot plane en route from Sakhalin to Khabarovsk with 97 people on board disappeared from radar screens early on 7 December and is presumed to have crashed, Russian and Western agencies reported. Rescuers temporarily gave up their search for the missing plane, a TU-154, when darkness fell. A total of 302 people died in air crashes in Russia in 1994, up from 222 the previous year, according to Reuters. -- Penny Morvant . . . AND FOUR KILLED IN HELICOPTER CRASH. Four people were killed when a military helicopter crashed about 20km from the Ingush capital of Nazran early on 7 December, ITAR-TASS reported. The agency said the MI- 24 helicopter gunship was escorting an MI-8 transport helicopter evacuating Russian servicemen wounded in Chechnya. According to Ingush Vice President Boris Agapov, the MI-24 hit a high-voltage power line. Earlier reports quoting a spokeswoman from the Emergencies Ministry said that both helicopters had crashed. -- Penny Morvant NEW HEALTH MINISTER APPOINTED. President Yeltsin has signed a decree appointing Aleksandr Tsaregorodtsev to the post of health minister, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 December. Tsaregorodtsev, who has been acting minister since the dismissal of Eduard Nechaev (see OMRI Daily Digest, 29 November and 4 December 1995), is a specialist in children's diseases. He graduated from the Kazan medical institute in 1970 and was head of the Tatar ASSR Health Ministry from 1986 to 1989. -- Penny Morvant EDITORS DISCUSS PROBLEMS OF REGIONAL PRESS. A 6 December Moscow round- table discussion involving regional newspaper editors illustrated the limits on freedom of the provincial press in Russia. Some participants said newspapers are forced to choose between criticizing the authorities and survival. For instance, if a paper has the local administration as a co-founder, it may be protected, but to keep that protection it will have to support the authorities or at least refrain from open criticism. Sergei Titov, editor of the independent Simbirskii kurer in Ulyanovsk (considered one of the regions of Russia least changed by reforms), said the economic pressure on his paper amounted to a "blockade" by the authorities. He said some private businesses had been threatened with tax inspections if they placed advertisements in or otherwise financed his paper. When asked whether he had turned to the local chapter of the Union of Journalists for help, Titov noted that the chairman of the union's Ulyanovsk branch also works in the press service of the local administration. -- Laura Belin SECURITY TIGHTENED AFTER DUMA EXPLOSION. Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin said on 6 December that security at the entrance to the parliament would be tightened following an explosion the day before in the office of National Republican Party leader Nikolai Lysenko, Russian and Western media reported. Lysenko said he believed the blast, caused by three hand grenades triggered by a timing device, could have been the work of "the Caucasian mafia" or even the Turkish secret services. A spokesman for the Turkish Embassy in Moscow was quick to reject the latter allegation as absurd. A number of reports in the Russian press speculated that Lysenko staged the attack himself for propaganda purposes. Meanwhile, President Yeltsin met with Federal Security Service Director Mikhail Barsukov to discuss the upsurge of violence in Chechnya and moves to bolster national security in the run-up to the parliamentary elections. -- Penny Morvant MORE CORRUPTION IN VLADIMIR OBLAST. Ivan Morozov, the head of administration of the town Gus-Khrustalnyi in Vladimir Oblast, has been detained on suspicion of accepting bribes amounting to more than 20 million rubles ($4,370), ITAR-TASS reported on 6 December. The first deputy governor of Vladimir Oblast and the chairman of the region's department of the Central Bank have already been convicted on corruption charges, and two other oblast officials have been accused of bribe- taking. -- Penny Morvant KOZYREV: "YES TO PARTNERSHIP, NO TO ENLARGEMENT." With that phrase, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev expressed his country's policy toward NATO at the meeting of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council on 6 December, Western agencies reported. The day before, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Demurin said his country takes credit for engineering the "pause" in NATO plans for enlargement (see OMRI Daily Digest, 6 December 1995). A former member of U.S. President George Bush's staff, Peter Rodman, wrote an article for the December issue of National Review in which he suggests that U.S. President Bill Clinton assured Russia that NATO enlargement would be placed on the back burner in exchange for its support of the Bosnian peacekeeping operation. Izvestiya carried a commentary on the article in its 7 December issue. U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher, speaking in Brussels on 6 December, dismissed Rodman's claims as "nonsense." -- Michael Mihalka GRACHEV CALLS CHINA A KEY MILITARY PARTNER. Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev met with the Chinese Central Military Council Deputy Chairman Liu Huaqing to discuss bilateral military cooperation and Asia- Pacific security, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 December. After purchasing 26 Su-27 fighters in 1992, China is interested in manufacturing Su-27 warplanes under Russian license. According to Interfax, Russian and Chinese experts are currently working on an intergovernmental agreement to be signed by Liu before the end of his visit on 8 December. Grachev and Liu agreed that better Sino-Russian ties would serve to strengthen regional security and international peace. Russia views closer cooperation with China as a possible counterbalance to NATO's eastward expansion, but China is primarily interested in gaining access to Russia's advanced weapons' technology, and has ruled out the idea of a military alliance. -- Constantine Dmitriev RUSSIA, U.S. AGREE TO CHANGES IN ABM TREATY. During talks in Geneva, Russian and the U.S. officials reached an understanding on changes to the ABM treaty that would allow for some high-speed missile defense systems, Western agencies reported on 6 December. Negotiations aim at resolving the dispute over the terms of the 1972 ABM treaty. Russia argues that U.S. intentions to develop more sophisticated missile- defense systems are undermining the treaty (see OMRI Daily Digest, 29 November 1995). State Department spokesman Glyn Davies said that Russia would not oppose the deployment of an Upper Tier high-speed defense system, which is considered to be the most promising defense system in the U.S, AFP reported. Davies' statement contradicts earlier reports that the Upper Tier missile would be prohibited because it exceeds the velocity cutoff under the terms of the Russo-U.S. "agreement" published last week by the Washington Times. -- Constantine Dmitriev NORWAY FEARS RUSSIA, SWEDEN DOES NOT. The Norwegian government decided to conduct joint exercises with NATO close to the Russian border, thereby lifting its voluntary limitation on such exercises, Segodnya reported on 7 December. Norwegian Deputy Foreign Minister Siri Berke said that Russian military activities on the Kola Peninsula, including the disposal of nuclear waste, represent a new challenge to Norwegian security. Meanwhile, Sweden plans to reduce its military expenses by 4 billion Swedish krona by the year 2001, ITAR-TASS reported. Swedish Defense Minister Tage Peterson said that although Russia retains its nuclear capabilities, it has lost its economic and military might since the dissolution of the USSR. -- Constantine Dmitriev DEFENSE MINISTRY BLOCKS ROCKET DEAL. The Russian Defense Ministry is blocking export permits for the sale of NV-33 rocket engines by Samara Dvigateli to the California-based Aerojet company, Interfax reported on 6 December. The Russian government approved the $100 million deal in October, but a Defense Ministry official claimed that the U.S. side changed the terms to allow the rockets to carry military cargoes. The official also objected to the low price tag, describing the $5 million license fee as "absurd." Rather than selling the 25-year-old NV-33, the Defense Ministry would like to see the development of a new RD 180 engine, which is part of a joint venture by Pratt and Whitney and Energomash. The companies are bidding to supply engines to Lockheed- Martin's Atlas booster rockets. -- Peter Rutland RUSSIA WANTS MORE TIME TO CUT OZONE-THREATENING SUBSTANCES. At a conference in Vienna to review the 1987 Montreal Protocol on ozone protection, Russian Environment Minister Viktor Danilov-Danilyan said Russia needs more time and investment aid to develop substitutes to ozone-harming substances such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), AFP reported on 6 December. Under the protocol, signed by 150 countries, industrialized countries are to stop producing CFCs by 1996 and the rest of the signatories by 2010. Danilov-Danilyan said Russia is now producing only half the ozone- threatening chemicals it was in 1987, but he added that the drop was a byproduct of the fall in industrial output. -- Penny Morvant TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA UZBEK, US OFFICIALS DISCUSS MILITARY CONVERSION. Uzbek President Islam Karimov and U.S. Under-Secretary of Commerce Barry Carter discussed the conversion of the Uzbek military industrial complex in Tashkent on 6 December, Interfax reported. Karimov expressed the hope that U.S. businessmen accompanying Carter would propose joint ventures with Uzbek defense-oriented enterprises. -- Liz Fuller ZAVGAEV IN ALMATY. Chechen Premier Doku Zavgaev and Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev discussed the political implications of the Chechen crisis during talks in Almaty on 6 December, Russian TV reported. They signed a number of bilateral agreements on cooperation, including one that provides for the refining of Kazakhstani oil in Grozny once the political situation in Chechnya stabilizes. -- Liz Fuller [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. 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