|Forty is the old age of youth; fifty, the youth of old age. - Victor Hugo|
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 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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