When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years. - Mark Twain
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 239, Part I, 11 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS IN KAZAKHSTAN. The 9 December elections to
Kazakhstan's lower house of parliament (Majilis) failed to fill one-
third of the chamber's seats, Russian and Western agencies reported.
Despite turnout estimated by the government at 78%, run-off elections
will have to be held in the 23 seats where the winning candidate
received less than 50% of the vote. The 43 deputies elected are two
short of the number required to form a quorum. One district, Kostanai,
has been delayed in turning in its results because of heavy snowfall.
(See related story in Transcaucasia and Central Asian section below).
-- Bruce Pannier
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

FEDERATION COUNCIL'S AUTHORITY EXTENDED FOR ONE MONTH. At what was
planned to be its final session on 9 December, the Federation Council
acted on President Boris Yeltsin's request not to suspend its
legislative work and voted to extend its authority until a new Council
meets in January, Russian and Western agencies reported. Council Speaker
Vladimir Shumeiko told NTV the same day that the Council will consider
the 1996 budget and other laws recently passed by the State Duma on 19
December. Also on 9 December, the Council approved an appeal to the
Constitutional Court questioning the legality of the law on the
Council's formation (see OMRI Daily Digest, 7 December 1995). -- Laura
Belin

DUMA PASSES LAW ON POLITICAL PARTIES. Russia's so-called "divan
parties," in which all the members could fit on a single sofa, may
become a thing of the past under a law on political parties passed by
the State Duma on 8 December. The law stipulates that only a group of at
least 100 people can found a political party, ITAR-TASS reported.
Parties that seek to violently change the constitutional order or to
violate the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation would be
prohibited, as would the creation of armed groups or parties that
promote racial, ethnic, or religious hatred. The law has been sent to
the Federation Council for approval. -- Laura Belin

FEDERATION COUNCIL APPROVES LAW SUSPENDING TV AND RADIO PRIVATIZATION.
Also on 9 December, the Federation Council approved by a vote of 96 to
two a law suspending the reorganization, privatization, and liquidation
of state-owned television and radio companies, as well as the transfer
of state property to private television or radio companies, until a
special federal law is adopted on the matter, Russian media reported. A
similar law was passed by parliament last spring but vetoed by President
Yeltsin in June. The law specifically targets 51% state-owned Russian
Public Television (ORT), which was created under a November 1994
presidential decree restructuring the fully state-owned Ostankino
television and radio company. ORT took over Channel 1 broadcasting
privileges on 1 April; a 6 October presidential decree ordered the
liquidation of Ostankino (see OMRI Daily Digest, 9 October 1995). --
Laura Belin

NO FAVORITES YET IN PRESIDENTIAL RACE. A poll by VCIOM found that there
would be no clear favorite for the post of president if elections were
held now, Interfax reported on 9 December. Communist Party leader
Gennadii Zyuganov and Aleksandr Lebed each received the support of 6% of
respondents, followed by 5% for eye-surgeon Svatoslav Fedorov, and 4%
each for Boris Yeltsin, Grigorii Yavlinskii, and Vladimir Zhirinovsky.
Such polls cast doubt on the argument that parties can use the Duma
elections to launch their presidential candidates. Interfax also quoted
Congress of Russian Communities leader Yurii Skokov as saying at a
Moscow rally that his party has not yet decided which of its three
leaders (Skokov, Lebed, and Sergei Glazev) to nominate for president. He
said that choice will depend on the type of challenge facing the country
by the time of next June's presidential elections--political, military,
or economic. -- Peter Rutland

ANNIVERSARY OF USSR'S END PASSES WITHOUT INCIDENT. The fourth
anniversary of the Belovezhskaya agreement signed by Russia, Ukraine,
and Belarus which brought an end to the USSR was marked on 8 December by
a small group of demonstrators in central Moscow. The organizers,
Working Russia, had anticipated a crowd of 20,000, NTV reported the same
day. Stanislau Shushkevich, the former Belarusian leader, revealed that
he had suggested inviting Mikhail Gorbachev to the meeting, but
President Yeltsin vetoed the idea. -- Peter Rutland

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND ORENBURG OBLAST SIGN ACCORD ON POWER SEPARATION.
Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and Orenburg Oblast Governor
Vladimir Yelagin signed an accord on the division of powers between the
federal authorities an Orenburg in the areas of economic and
agricultural policy, natural resources, international relations and
trade, and military industries, ITAR-TASS and Russian TV reported on 9
December. Orenburg is the first oblast to sign such an agreement;
previously, the federal government had only signed such accords with the
Russian Federation's republics. Chernomyrdin said similar agreements
will be signed with Krasnodar Krai and Sverdlovsk, Kaliningrad, and
Murmansk oblasts. -- Anna Paretskaya

NEGATIVE REACTION TO CHECHEN-RUSSIAN AGREEMENT. A spokesman for Chechen
President Dzhokhar Dudaev condemned as "a provocation" the Russian-
Chechen intergovernmental agreement signed on 8 December, the
Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported on 9 December. Former Chechen Prime
Minister Salambek Khadzhiev told NTV the agreement will exacerbate
tensions in Chechnya and former Russian parliament speaker Ruslan
Khasbulatov argued that Chechen Premier Doku Zavgaev is not empowered to
sign the agreement on behalf of the Chechen people, Russian TV reported
on 8 December. On 9 December, Khasbulatov withdrew his candidacy for the
17 December elections for a new Chechen republican leader, arguing that
the vote would give rise to new bloodshed and "could split Chechnya into
two parts," according to NTV. Also on 9 December, President Boris
Yeltsin appealed to the Chechen people to participate in the 17 December
elections which he termed crucial to the future stability of Chechnya.
-- Liz Fuller

U.S. AMBASSADOR'S REMARKS PROMPT PROTEST. The Foreign Ministry on 8
December formally protested remarks made by U.S. Ambassador Thomas
Pickering during a recent visit to Sakhalin Island, Russian agencies
reported. According to ITAR-TASS, Pickering said that the four
southernmost islands in the Kuril chain are Japanese and should be
peacefully transferred to Japan. Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail
Demurin told Interfax that Pickering's remarks represented unacceptable
interference in Russian internal affairs and contradicted Washington's
declared policy of partnership with Russia, although he acknowledged
that the U.S. has long supported Japan's claim to the southern Kurils.
-- Scott Parrish in Moscow and Constantine Dmitriev

RUSSIA ASKS THE HAGUE TO FREEZE CASES AGAINST KARADZIC AND MLADIC.
Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev told journalists that Russia has
asked the International Tribunal in The Hague to put its cases against
Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic on hold, ITAR-TASS reported on 10
December. Kozyrev also said that the Bosnian Serbs had asked Moscow to
make the appeal. Russia called upon the tribunal to carefully re-examine
the problem, taking all circumstances and facts into consideration. At
the same time, Kozyrev said that Serbia should explain the fate of
French pilots downed over Serbia if Belgrade does not want to find
itself in international isolation. -- Constantine Dmitriev

DUMA DEPUTY KILLED IN CAR CRASH. Vitalii Savitskii, the head of the
Christian Democratic Union electoral bloc and a Duma deputy, was killed
in a car crash in St. Petersburg on 10 December, ITAR-TASS reported.
Savitskii was head of the Duma Committee on Religious Affairs and
president of the Christian Democratic Union of Eastern Europe. He
championed environmental causes in parliament and pressed for the
revision of legislation on religion to crack down on sects such as Aum
Shinri Kyo. Savitskii is the third candidate to die in the current
election campaign. -- Penny Morvant

ACTIVISTS BLAST RUSSIA'S HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD. Russia's human rights
record has deteriorated significantly this year, according to a report
released by Human Rights Watch at a Moscow news conference on 8
December. It said that the war in Chechnya was waged with "total
disregard for humanitarian law" and accused the government of initiating
"a backlash against human rights in legislation and in government
institutions" and of failing to take steps to curb police brutality and
abuse in the army, stop state-sponsored gender and racial
discrimination, and improve the appalling conditions in Russian prisons,
Reuters reported. Tatyana Kasatkina of the Russian human rights group
Memorial said the backlash against civil liberties began after President
Yeltsin used tanks to crush the rebellion in Moscow in October 1993. --
Penny Morvant

FOREIGN MINISTRY DENIES ABM DEAL WITH U.S. At an 8 December Moscow news
conference, Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Demurin refuted Western
media reports that Russia and the U.S. had reached an agreement
clarifying the terms of the 1972 ABM treaty, Interfax reported (see OMRI
Daily Digest, 8 December 1995). Demurin said Russian and U.S.
negotiators in the Standing Consultative Commission (SCC), which
resolves disputes related to the treaty, are currently meeting in Geneva
to hammer out mutually acceptable technical parameters specifying which
defensive systems will be considered tactical and hence permitted under
the treaty, and which will be considered strategic and thus banned. --
Scott Parrish in Moscow

MENATEP GAINS CONTROL OF YUKOS. In an 8 December auction, Menatep bank
acquired 78% of the shares in Yukos, Russia's second-largest oil
company, through an intermediary company named Laguna, ITAR-TASS
reported on 8 December. Laguna offered $150 million (guaranteed by
Menatep) for a 33% stake in the investment auction and a $159 million
credit (guaranteed by Menatep, Tokobank, and Stolichnyi bank) for a 45%
stake in the loans-for-shares auction. The only rival bidder allowed was
another Menatep-sponsored company, Reagent. Menatep was also the
organizer of the auction. Under the terms of the tender, Menatep will
have to invest a total of $350 million over three years: $200 million on
reconstructing some 2,500 disused oil wells, $80 million on oil-
refineries, and $60 million on storage facilities and gasoline stations.
-- Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

IRREGULARITIES IN KAZAKHSTAN ELECTIONS. Once again, international
observers complained that there were many cases in Kazakhstan's 9
December elections where one individual voted for their entire family.
Other observers said they were not allowed to watch the vote counting.
Similar charges were considered by President Nursultan Nazarbayev as
adequate grounds for disbanding the previous parliament in March 1995.
The Communist Party complained that only nine of the 28 candidates they
put forward received registration, while 38 candidates were registered
for the Party of National Unity founded by Nazarbayev two years ago.
Adding to voter confusion was the fact that ballots listed only the
candidates' names, not their party affiliation. -- Bruce Pannier

IRAN OPTS OUT OF SHAKH-DENIZ. Speaking at a conference in Tehran on 10
December, Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Mahmoud Vaezi stated that his
country has rejected an offer from Azerbaijan to participate in the
exploitation of the Caspian Sea's Shakh-Deniz oil and gas deposits as
"unserious," AFP reported. Azerbaijan had solicited Iranian
participation after initially caving in to U.S. pressure in April and
withdrawing an offer to Iran to participate in the international
consortium to develop a separate group of three major Caspian oil
fields. Iran's Minister for Oil Gholamrezah Aghazadeh warned that the
failure of Caspian littoral states to cooperate in exploiting the
region's resources could increase tension and instability in the region
but added that Iran will be guided by economic rather than political
considerations in deciding on its participation in international
projects, according to Interfax. -- Liz Fuller

DEMIREL VISITS BAKU. Turkish President Suleyman Demirel paid a largely
symbolic two-day official visit to Baku beginning on 7 December, Turkish
and Azerbaijani media reported. Demirel signed one agreement with his
Azerbaijani counterpart, Heidar Aliev, under which Turkey will provide
Turkish-state television broadcasts to Azerbaijan. Demirel also met with
opposition political leaders and visited refugees from Armenia and
Nagorno-Karabakh. -- Lowell Bezanis

[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
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              Copyright (C) 1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
                       All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
 
         

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