Bol'shinstvo lyudej schastlivy rovno na stol'ko, naskol'ko oni k etomu prisposobleny. - Avraam Linkol'n

No. 240, Part I, 12 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

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^TODAY'S TOP STORY^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Chairman Vladimir Shumeiko marked the 11 December anniversary of the
military incursion into Chechnya by arguing that the invasion had been
undertaken in order to enable the Russian leadership to negotiate with
Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev "from a position of strength,"
according to Interfax. Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov claimed that
Chechnya had become a hotbed of criminal activity and therefore a threat
to Russia, but he admitted that the military intervention had been
botched. Some 2,000 Dudaev supporters demonstrated in Grozny on 11
December amid heightened security precautions to protest the Russian-
Chechen agreement signed on 8 December and the planned 17 December
elections, Russian TV reported. They also demanded the withdrawal of
Russian troops from Chechnya. -- Liz Fuller


FEDERAL CASUALTIES IN CHECHNYA MOUNT. More than 2,300 members of the
Russian federal armed forces have died in Chechnya since the military
operation began there one year ago, Interfax reported on 11 December.
Citing the press office of the Defense Ministry, the agency reported
that nearly 1,930 of the dead were army personnel, 360 were Interior
Ministry troops, and 27 were border troops. Slightly less than 5,500
servicemen were wounded. Russian forces are still suffering daily
casualties despite the truce in Chechnya. -- Doug Clarke

Kovalev's Memorial, the Moscow Helsinki Group, and the Moscow Center for
Human Rights Studies issued a joint statement on 11 December demanding
that the 17 December elections in Chechnya be canceled, Interfax
reported. The groups warned that the elections will not be fair, because
they will be held in a "virtual state of emergency" and a large
proportion of the republic's population, including thousands of
refugees, will not be able to vote. However, Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin told Radio Mayak on 10 December that the elections would be
a "step forward" toward peace and must be carried out despite attempts
at "intimidation." -- Laura Belin

LEBED IS THE MOST POPULAR GENERAL. A recent poll of 1,360 urban
residents conducted by the Public Opinion foundation asked respondents
which of the generals running for the Duma they most trusted to protect
their interests, Interfax reported on 11 December. Congress of Russian
Communities leader Aleksandr Lebed was the most popular with 30%,
followed by Boris Gromov (My Fatherland) with 15%, Aleksandr Rutskoi
(Derzhava) with 10%, and Lev Rokhlin (Our Home Is Russia) with 5%. --
Peter Rutland

Oleg Soskovets just completed a 20,000 km pre-election trip to defense
industry cities in Siberia, Russian TV reported on 11 December. Among
the places he visited was the Transmash company in Omsk, which in the
past two years has not sold a single one of the tanks it produces. The
association had recently started producing tractors, "but for some
reason nobody bought those either." Soskovets encouraged them to follow
the example of their neighbor, the Polet enterprise. It has started
producing the AN 72 civil transport aircraft and is negotiating with
Mercedes to assemble buses. -- Peter Rutland

last week Murtaza Rakhimov, Bashkortostan's president, signed a decree
allowing restricted ownership of small plots of land, the question of
unrestricted trade for landowners will be decided in the republican
referendum on 17 December, Russian media reported on 11 December. The 6
December presidential decree grants citizens the right to own land for
personal use, as well as the right to sell, lease, and mortgage land
plots, although owners are prohibited from using individual plots of
land for anything other than their original purpose. According to
opinion polls, less than 18% of voters favor unlimited private land
ownership and the number of people who support the free trade of land
may go down following Rakhimov's decree, Russian Public TV (ORT)
reported. The referendum will also ask whether or not the republic
should seek greater economic independence from the Russian Federation.
-- Anna Paretskaya

Andrei Demurenko, head of UN security forces in the Sarajevo sector,
complained that plans to move the Russian peacekeeping brigade further
east, away from the town of Brcko, may make their participation in the
overall operation "pointless" and "decorative," ITAR-TASS reported on 12
December. The colonel said that it had been agreed with the Serbs that
the 1,500 man Russian brigade would police the area around Brcko in the
crucial Posavina corridor, which links the two halves of the Bosnian
Serb entity. -- Peter Rutland and Michael Mihalka

UN TRIBUNAL REJECTS RUSSIAN REQUEST. The chief prosecutor for the UN
International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague, Richard Goldstone,
rejected a Russian request to put genocide charges against Bosnian Serb
leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic on hold (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 11 December 1995), Western agencies reported on 11 December.
Goldstone told journalists that the Russian ambassador in the
Netherlands who made the request did not provide acceptable reasons for
putting the charges on hold. Goldstone added that Russia's request could
be connected to France's demand that the Bosnian Serbs provide
information on two French pilots downed three months ago. -- Constantine

RUSSIA STARTS TO PAY OFF UN DEBTS. Russia announced on 11 December that
it will contribute $284 million to the UN's peacekeeping budget, ITAR-
TASS reported on 12 December. That covers Russia's contribution for 1995
and includes $54 million towards the payment of arrears. Already this
year Russia has paid off its remaining $63 million debt to the regular
UN account. Russia's total debts to the UN are $600 million, while the
U.S. owes $1.5 billion. -- Peter Rutland

KOVALEV ON HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES. Human rights abuses in Russia are
"systematic and flagrant" in many areas, according to a report being
prepared by Sergei Kovalev, chairman of the presidential commission on
human rights. Kovalev told a meeting of activists on 10 December that
the report will reveal widespread and growing abuses and the systematic
violation of the country's constitution by officials, Interfax and
Reuters reported. He said that "in many cases citizens are detained,
beaten, and humiliated by Interior Ministry bodies without reason" and
that "tortures and murders are also practiced." He argued that Russian
security bodies are returning to Soviet-style practices with regard to
official secrecy and surveillance, warning that "the lack of control
over the actions of the security organs is the path back to a
totalitarian regime." Following his harsh criticism of the Russian
operation in Chechnya, Kovalev's commission has been ignored by
President Yeltsin but not formally disbanded. -- Penny Morvant

taking additional security measures to prevent terrorist attacks as
election day approaches. On 11 December, police and Interior Ministry
troops began extra patrols in public places such as railway stations and
bus stops, Interfax and Ekho Moskvy reported. Police will guard all
polling stations as of 16 December and firefighters will inspect them
before the voting begins. Special measures are being taken in Chechnya.
-- Penny Morvant

SYPHILIS AND AIDS SPREADING. Some 200,000 cases of syphilis were
registered in Russia in the first 10 months of the year, according to
Yevgenii Belyaev, the chairman of the State Committee for the Prevention
of Epidemics. He said the figures were unprecedented in Russia and
blamed the increase on the easing of travel restrictions, the rise in
immigration, and a "lapse in moral standards," Interfax and Ekho Moskvy
reported. On the subject of AIDS, he said that there are now 1,033
registered HIV-carriers in the country and that more and more cases are
being diagnosed among high school and college students. AIDS support
groups believe that the official figures for HIV infection should be
multiplied by a factor of 10 to get a true picture of the situation in
Russia. -- Penny Morvant

OLD SOVIET SATELLITE FALLS TO EARTH. A space satellite launched nearly
25 years ago re-entered the Earth's atmosphere south of Hawaii at 11
p.m. Moscow time on 10 December and burned up, Interfax and Western
agencies reported on 11 December. Experts originally feared that the
satellite would scatter fragments weighing up to 200 kg across the
ocean, but only a few small pieces were reported to have hit the Earth's
surface. Cosmos-398 was launched on 21 February 1971 as part of a
program to study the moon, and has been designated as "space trash"
since March of that year. According to Russian TV, it is not powered by
a nuclear reactor. -- Doug Clarke

firm Sokolniki, headed by industrial lobbyist Yurii Gekht, was given
control over a DM 1 billion pulp and paper factory in Pirno near Dresden
for the symbolic sum of one mark, NTV reported on 10 December. Gekht was
supposed to invest DM 270 million ($186 million) but only managed to
come up with DM 15 million, and the factory has laid off all 800 of its
former workers. Gekht complained that his plans to raise money by
exporting coal had been blocked in Moscow. Meanwhile, the Russian
company MES (International Economic Cooperation) announced plans to set
up joint ventures with three Hungarian agricultural producers, Interfax
reported on 11 December. MES plans to supply Moscow and St. Petersburg
with $200 million of food every year. -- Peter Rutland


has announced that it will temporarily suspend its participation in the
inter-Tajik talks, Interfax reported on 11 December. Speaking in
Ashgabat, Ali Akbar Turajonzoda, a UTO representative, said the Tajik
government's continued military action in the Tavil-Dara region of
Tajikistan has made it "impossible to hold talks on political issues." A
group of observers from the opposition and the UN have arrived in
Tajikistan to assess the situation but have been unable to visit the
conflict area because, according to the opposition, government troops
are still fighting. The government has countered that the observers
should be flown to Shuroabad in the south where border guards have been
attacked several times during the last two weeks by rebel groups
crossing from Afghanistan, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 7 December.
The opposition delegation will remain in Ashgabat to hold meetings with
the UN special envoy. -- Bruce Pannier

UZBEK-SOUTH KOREAN RELATIONS. The charge d'affaires of Uzbekistan,
Vitalii Fen, is in Seoul, South Korea to open a diplomatic mission,
according to ITAR-TASS on 12 December. South Korea has said it will
reciprocate by opening a consulate in Tashkent a year from now. Some
220,000 Koreans live in Uzbekistan. In the 1930s, Soviet leader Joseph
Stalin forcibly moved thousands of Koreans from the Far East to the
Central Asian republic. -- Bruce Pannier

ARMENIA REJECTS TURKISH CFE REQUEST. Armenia has rejected a Turkish
request to inspect Russian military units based in Armenia, Turkish
Daily News reported on 12 December. Turkey made the request in early
December on the basis of the monitoring provisions of the CFE treaty.
Erevan had initially granted Turkey permission to conduct observation
flights above the units on 7 December, but then withdrew it without
explanation two days later. The paper pointed out that the Armenian
rejection is in keeping with Russia's refusal to comply with the CFE
treaty in the Caucasus. -- Lowell Bezanis

appointed Niko Lekishvili, former mayor of Tbilisi, to the post of
minister of state, Georgian Radio reported on 8 December. His duties
will include coordinating the executive authorities and acting as a
liaison with the legislature and judiciary. According to ITAR-TASS, he
is second in the state hierarchy after the president, since the post of
prime minister doesn't exist under the new Georgian constitution. On the
same day, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze appointed Badri
Shoshitaishvili, formerly premier of the Tbilisi municipality, to the
post of mayor. Shoshitaishvili was first secretary of a raikom in one of
the Tbilisi districts in the late 1980s. -- Irakli Tsereteli

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez

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

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