Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought. - Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 238, Part I, 8 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
RUSSIAN-CHECHEN AGREEMENT SIGNED. Russian Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin, his Chechen counterpart, Doku Zavgaev, and the Russian
presidential representative in Chechnya, Oleg Lobov, signed an agreement
"On the basic principles of relations between the Russian Federation and
the Republic of Chechnya" in Moscow on 8 December, ITAR-TASS reported.
According to Chernomyrdin, the agreement gives Chechnya rights that are
equal to those of other constituent republics of the Russian Federation;
Zavgaev told Interfax on 7 December that the agreement would serve as
the basis for a full-fledged power-sharing treaty. Also on 7 December,
Russian TV quoted Defense Minister Pavel Grachev as affirming that he
had met in late 1994 with Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev in an
attempt to avert a war in Chechnya. Grachev said he had steadfastly
opposed starting a war but Dudaev had refused to make any concessions on
the grounds that to do so would inevitably lead to his ouster. -- Liz
Fuller
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

OSCE: CHECHNYA ELECTIONS PREMATURE. A report by the OSCE mission in
Chechnya argues that the republic's planned 17 December election for a
new head of state is being held prematurely, according to an RFE/RL
correspondent. The report, circulated at the 7-8 December OSCE meeting
in Budapest, concludes that the conditions for free and fair elections
do not exist and criticizes the lack of progress in the negotiations
between Russia and the Chechen separatists. -- Michael Mihalka

CONSTITUTIONAL COURT TURNS DOWN FEDERATION COUNCIL APPEAL. The
Constitutional Court refused to consider a Federation Council appeal to
clarify passages of the constitution concerning the formation of the
Council, on the grounds that the appeal did not specifically address the
law on the Council's formation recently adopted by parliament and signed
by the president, Russian media reported on 7 December. Article 96 of
the constitution states that the Council's formation must be determined
by federal law; it does not further specify how the two deputies
representing each region should be selected. Council Deputy Yelena
Mizulina told Russian TV that at its 9 December session, the last before
its term expires, the Council will draft a new appeal asking the court
to examine the constitutionality of the new law. -- Laura Belin

UNION OF MUSLIMS SUPPORT PRIME MINISTER'S BLOC. Russia's Union of
Muslims called on its supporters to vote for Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin's bloc, Our Home Is Russia, in the December Duma elections,
Russian TV and Interfax reported on 7 December. The union failed to
submit the necessary 200,000 signatures to the Central Electoral
Commission (TsIK) in time to be registered. Chernomyrdin, in turn,
supported the idea of building a Muslim humanitarian center and
university. On 4 December, three other blocs which were refused
registration, the National Salvation Front, Sazhi Umalatova's Our Future
bloc, and Zemskii Sobor, appealed to the Supreme Court to refute the
TsIK's argument that 50,000 signatures from each bloc were faked, ITAR-
TASS reported on 6 December. -- Anna Paretskaya

CONGRESS OF RUSSIAN COMMUNITIES' REFERENDUM IDEA REJECTED. The Moscow
Electoral Commission voted 9-3 to reject the registration of two
referendum questions proposed by the Congress of Russian Communities
(KRO), Russian media reported on 7 December. The first proposed question
would have asked whether the "main goal" of state policy and government
activities should be "to increase the well-being of the citizens of
Russia." The second question concerned amending the constitution to
define the Russian Federation as a "union of peoples of Russia." The
commission ruled that the second question contradicts the constitution.
Dmitrii Rogozin, a KRO representative who attended the commission's
meeting, said that the KRO will challenge the commission's decision in
court, Interfax reported. -- Anna Paretskaya

DUMA CANDIDATE MURDERED IN CHELYABINSK. Mikhail Lezhnev, a candidate for
the Duma and a leading local businessman, was murdered in Chelyabinsk,
Russian and Western agencies reported on 8 December. ITAR-TASS, citing
unofficial sources, said he had been shot in the head. Lezhnev, a
representative of Our Home Is Russia, was running in a single-mandate
district. He is the second Duma candidate to be murdered since the
campaign began. Senior Interior Ministry officials have announced
increased security measures to prevent violence from disrupting the 17
December vote. -- Penny Morvant

BARSUKOV PROHIBITS CONTACTS WITH MEDIA. Russian Federal Security Service
(FSB) Director Mikhail Barsukov has signed an order prohibiting FSB
employees, except members of the service's public relations department,
from estalishing contact with the mass media, Komsomolskaya pravda
reported on 7 December. As of 7 December, FSB employees have been
ordered to report any unauthorized contacts with the media to their
superior. -- Constantine Dmitriev

RUSSIAN SECURITY EXPERT BLASTS MODIFICATIONS TO ABM TREATY. General
Viktor Gumenkov, an expert on defense and security issues, told ITAR-
TASS on 8 December that proposed modifications to the 1972 ABM Treaty
could threaten Russian national security (see OMRI Daily Digest, 7
December 1995). Gumenkov claims that the Pentagon deliberately leaked
information on the Russo-U.S. modifications agreement to prepare public
opinion for major changes in the treaty. Gumenkov claimed that
Washington wants to have a free hand to deploy missile-defense systems
that would eliminate nuclear parity between the U.S. and Russia and thus
threaten global security. -- Constantine Dmitriev

MORE REFUGEES FLEE TO RUSSIA FROM CIS COUNTRIES. More than 946,000
refugees and forced migrants are registered with the Russian Federal
Migration Service (FMS), Radio Mayak reported on 7 December. According
to FMS experts, majority of the migrants come from Tajikistan and
Kazakhstan. It also reports a large number of Russian speakers moving
out of Uzbekistan, Georgia, and Azerbaijan. -- Constantine Dmitriev

MEETING OF CIS GENERAL PROSECUTORS IN MOSCOW. The general prosecutors of
all the CIS states signed an extradition treaty and other accords
designed to bolster the struggle against cross-border crimes, Russian TV
reported on 7 December. According to the Russian Procurator-General
Yurii Skuratov the agreements are aimed at coordinating the CIS
countries' efforts to reduce crime and at eliminating the bureaucratic
formalities that delay the process. At the meeting, Skuratov was
appointed chairman of the new Coordinating Council of the CIS General
Prosecutors. -- Constantine Dmitriev

GENERAL MOTORS TO SET UP JOINT VENTURE IN RUSSIA. The Russian government
and U.S. car manufacturer General Motors have signed a joint-venture
agreement to produce 50,000 Chevrolet Blazers a year in the town of
Yelabuga in Tatarstan, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 December. General Motors,
which has a 50% stake in the venture (the remaining 50% is divided
equally between the Russian and Tatar governments), will invest about
$250 million in the project. Production will begin in late 1997, and the
cars are expected to sell for about $24,000. The venture will eventually
create some 8,000 new jobs, including some at defense sector plants,
which will produce parts for the new cars. -- Natalia Gurushina

MEZHDUNARODNAYA FINANSOVAYA KOMPANIYA WINS SIDANKO AUCTION. The bank
Mezhdunarodnaya Finansovaya Kompaniya (MFK) won a 51% stake in the oil
company Sidanko at the loans-for-shares auction, ITAR-TASS reported on 7
December. MFK offered $130 million (guaranteed by ONEKSIMbank). The
Sidanko auction was one of four loans-for-shares tenders held on 7
December. The other three companies whose shares were on offer were
LUKoil, Murmansk Sea Lines, and the Novolipetsk Metallurgical Plant. The
auctions will raise some 952 billion rubles ($207.7 million) for the
federal budget. -- Natalia Gurushina

RUSSIA RETURNS TO THE WORLD GRAIN MARKET. According to a spokesman for
the Russian Agriculture Ministry, Roskhleboprodukt (a private company
linked with one of the largest Russian commercial banks, ONEKSIMbank)
has paid about $300 million for 1.5 million tons of wheat and corn from
Austria, Hungary, and the U.S., Reuters reported on 7 December. The deal
raised expectations that Russian firms will make further purchases on
the European and world grain markets and boosted Chicago wheat futures
prices above $5 per bushel. The ministry's spokesman stressed that the
Russian government, which has neither cash nor credit lines to buy
wheat, will not finance grain imports this year. -- Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

NAZARBAYEV ASSURES, "PARLIAMENT WILL BE ELECTED." Kazakhstani President
Nursultan Nazarbayev told observers from the OSCE and the European
parliament "not to worry," adding that the "parliament will be elected,"
Kazakhstani media reported on 7 December. An OSCE observer alluded to
the absence of opposition in the Senate elected on 5 December,
specifically the "friendly relations between the deputies and the
government," to which Nazarbayev responded by stressing the need for
cooperation between the government and parliament in times of crisis.
Nazarbayev noted that his administration had passed about 70 decrees,
including laws on taxation and land ownership, which "for years were
being debated by the deputies." Those decrees have the force of law but
"can be reviewed by the new parliament," he added. -- Bhavna Dave in
Almaty

KAZAKHSTANI ELECTORATE STILL IGNORANT ABOUT ELECTION. Only 27% of
respondents to a survey of Almaty residents said they knew the names of
the candidates in their constituencies, Kazakhstanskaya pravda reported
on 6 December. At a 7 December press conference attended by
international election observers, representatives of private television
channels pointed out that each candidate is allowed only 15 minutes of
advertising time on state television, 10 minutes on state radio, and
about 100 words in the state newspapers. The Central Electoral
Commission allocates $2,500 to each candidate for campaigning purposes;
unlike in Russia, Kazakhstani private enterprises have little interest
in the elections. As a result of sketchy information on election
procedures, parties, or candidates, and the fact that this is the second
parliament to be elected in less than two years, many voters have lost
interest in the procedure. -- Bhavna Dave in Almaty

KAZAKHSTAN, RUSSIA CREATE TRANSNATIONAL OIL COMPANY. Representatives of
the Russian Fuel and Energy Ministry and the Kazakhstani Oil Industry
Ministry agreed to create a transnational oil company on 6 December,
Radio Rossii reported. The Russian oil company ONAKO and the Kazakhstani
oil company Aktyubinskneft were also involved in the deal. The agreement
is seen as a revival of links severed after the collapse of the Soviet
Union. -- Bruce Pannier

JAPANESE GIVE MONEY FOR KYRGYZ ELECTIONS, TWO MORE CANDIDATES NAMED.
Japan pledged to give Kyrgyzstan $100,000 to pay for voting booths and
ballot boxes to be used in the country's upcoming presidential election,
AFP reported on 8 December. The Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry has described
the donation as a sign of support for democratization. Meanwhile, two
additions have been made to the original list of four candidates: Mamat
Aybalayev, former director of the Kadamzhay Antimony plant, and Omurbek
Tekebayev, leader of the Ata Meken (Fatherland) Party. The insertion of
new candidates is unlikely to have much effect on the outcome as
President Askar Akayev appears to have the support of nearly three-
quarters of the voters. -- Bruce Pannier

TAJIKS COME BACK TO THE TABLE. The inter-Tajik talks, postponed amid
accusations from both sides of ceasefire violations, have resumed in the
Turkmen capital, Ashgabat, according to RFE/RL, although rifts have
started to appear in the United Tajik Opposition (UTO). In a 7 December
interview with Russian TV, the chairman of the Coordinating Council of
the Democratic Party of Tajikistan, Azam Afzali, questioned the
competence of the representatives of the Islamic Renaissance Party
conducting the negotiations who "somehow forgot" to include other
branches of the UTO, such as the Democratic Party, at the table. Also, a
unilateral ceasefire, called for by UTO leader Said Abdullo Nuri, has
been ignored along the Tajik-Afghan border. The border posts there have
been shelled 69 times since 1 December, according to NTV on 6 December.
The opposition argues the shelling is a retaliation for government troop
attacks on rebel forces in Tajikistan's Tavil-Dara region. -- 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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