CHelovek redko mozhet zastavit' lyubit' sebya, no zastavit' uvazhat' sebya mozhet vsegda. - Fontenel'
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 242, Part I, 14 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
CHERNOMYRDIN: GOVERNMENT WILL STAY REGARDLESS OF ELECTION OUTCOME. At a
press conference held to mark the three-year anniversary of his
appointment as prime minister, Viktor Chernomyrdin said his government
of "professionals" had made progress toward stabilizing the economy and
would continue those policies regardless of the outcome of upcoming
elections to the State Duma, Russian media reported on 13 December. He
noted that under the constitution the president, not parliament, chooses
the head of the cabinet, and a new government need only be appointed
upon the election of a new president, not a new parliament. However,
there may be a government reshuffle after the election. In January 1994,
Yegor Gaidar, Boris Fedorov, and Ella Pamfilova left the cabinet
following the disappointing performance of Russia's Choice in the
December 1993 parliamentary elections. -- Laura Belin
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

BONNER BEGS SMALL DEMOCRATIC PARTIES TO DROP OUT. Anxiety within
Russia's "democratic camp" about their bleak electoral prospects
continues to grow. The last day that opinion polls could be published
before the elections was 13 December, and polls suggest that none of the
democratic electoral blocs (except Yabloko) may make it over the 5%
threshold. Former dissident Yelena Bonner, widow of Andrei Sakharov,
appealed to four small democratic blocs to withdraw from the party-list
ballot and support either Yabloko or Russia's Democratic Choice-United
Democrats, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. So far none of the four
bloc leaders, Irina Khakamada (Common Cause), Ella Pamfilova (Pamfilova-
Gurov-V. Lysenko), Konstantin Borovoi (Party of Economic Freedom), and
Gavriil Popov (Social-Democrats), have accepted Bonner's suggestion. --
Laura Belin

DIRTY TRICKS DEPARTMENT. Russian Public TV reported on 13 December that
a "dirty tricks" entrepreneur had approached an unnamed election
candidate and offered his services--such as $1,500-7,000 to arrange a
car accident or $5,000-15,000 for bombing a campaign office. Meanwhile,
the Russian TV show "Podrobnosti" ran a video tape featuring Duma Deputy
Igor Bratishchev, a university professor and one of the authors of the
Communist Party economics program, in a police drunk tank in Rostov. The
tape showed an officer trying to get a drunken and abusive Bratishchev
to give his address so that he could be taken home. -- Peter Rutland

FIRST INITIATIVE GROUP FOR PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS REGISTERED. The
Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) has registered the first initiative
group for the 1996 presidential elections, which supports National
Association of Russian Trade Unions Chairman Aleksandr Alekseev for the
presidency, ITAR-TASS reported on 13 December. The association is a
completely independent body that criticizes the government as well as
reform-oriented parties and the Communists. The group can now start to
collect the 1 million signatures required for the candidate's
registration. TsIK Chairman Nikolai Ryabov said the group supporting
former Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi would be considered next. Last
month, the TsIK rejected the application documents it received from
Vladimir Voronin, head of the TIBET Association of Investors (see OMRI
Daily Digest, 1 December 1995). -- Anna Paretskaya

JOURNALIST KILLED IN CHECHNYA. Shamkhan Kagirov, a journalist for the
official government newspaper Rossiiskaya gazeta and the local newspaper
Vozrozhdenie, which supports the pro-Moscow Chechen government, was
killed 40 km outside the Chechen capital Grozny on 12 December, ITAR-
TASS reported the next day. He was the 13th journalist killed since the
war in Chechnya began. The same day, unidentified individuals shot at
the Russian Public TV (ORT) film crew near Grozny, injuring the
cameraman. -- Anna Paretskaya

IRKUTSK LEGISLATURE EXTENDS ITS TERM. The Irkutsk Oblast Legislative
Assembly approved a two-year extension of its term by a vote of 31-10 on
the grounds that current legislation on regional administration and
local self-government is inadequate, ITAR-TASS reported on 14 December.
The assembly's decision is in accordance with the 18 September
presidential decree setting elections to regional legislatures for
December 1997. The current assembly was elected to a two-year term in
March 1994. -- Anna Paretskaya

CORRUPTION CHARGES AGAINST RUTSKOI OFFICIALLY DROPPED. The Procurator's
Office has officially dropped corruption charges against former Vice
President Aleksandr Rutskoi, Interfax reported on 13 December, citing
sources within the procuracy. The case against Rutskoi, who now heads
the Derzhava political movement, was closed due to the "absence of a
crime." The affair began in the summer of 1993, when Rutskoi, then a
leader of the parliamentary opposition to President Yeltsin, and allies
of the president were trading corruption allegations. A presidential
anti-corruption commission accused Rutskoi of diverting state funds to a
Swiss bank account among other crimes, but the Moscow Procurator's
Office dismissed the charges as groundless in January 1994, concluding
that they had been trumped-up. Rutskoi told Interfax on 13 December that
he hoped the procurator-general would investigate those who initiated
the corruption accusations, which he called a "dirty political
provocation." -- Penny Morvant

CHERNOMYRDIN LEAVES FOR PARIS. Russian Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin left for Paris on 14 December to attend the signing of the
Dayton accord on Bosnia, ITAR-TASS reported. Before leaving for Paris,
Chernomyrdin welcomed the release of two captured French pilots and
expressed hope that Russo-French cooperation would continue. In a 13
December press conference, Chernomyrdin criticized recent statements by
U.S. Ambassador to Russia Thomas Pickering about the ownership of the
South Kurils, and said that Russia and Japan would resolve the problem
on their own without any prompting from Pickering. (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 11 December 1995). -- Constantine Dmitriev

JAPANESE MINISTER MAKES GESTURE TOWARDS SOUTH KURILS. According to a
Japanese newspaper, the Japanese Minister for Post and Telegraph Issei
Inoue announced his intention to introduce the Japanese domestic postal
rates for all letters to the South Kurils, ITAR-TASS reported on 14
December. In response, a ministry official told ITAR-TASS that the
minister actually meant to say that the new tariffs would be introduced
after the return of the South Kurils. -- Constantine Dmitriev

RUSSIAN PLANES CRASH IN VIETNAM. Three Russian Su-27 fighters returning
home from an air show in Malaysia crashed in Vietnam, Russian and
Western agencies reported on 13 December. The planes appear to have
crashed into a mountain in bad weather while trying to land on 12
December, and their pilots are presumed dead. Russian and Vietnamese
teams continue to search for the missing jets. The SU 27 is one of the
world's most advanced fighter aircraft, worth some $20 million per
plane. -- Constantine Dmitriev

RUSSIA DELIVERS ROCKET SYSTEM TO KUWAIT. A Russian delegation is in
Kuwait to turn over the "Smerch" ("Tornado") multiple rocket launcher
systems that Kuwait purchased in 1994, ITAR-TASS reported on 12
December. Col. Gen. Nikolai Dimidyuk, the commander of artillery for the
Ground Troops, said, "After Russia, Kuwait is the first country in the
world to be armed with this state-of-the art, unique, and promising
piece of military technology." The "Smerch," or BM-30 system, has 12
300-mm rockets mounted on a truck chassis. The Kuwaiti crews were
trained in St. Petersburg to fire the missiles. -- Doug Clarke

NORWAY TO HELP WITH RUSSIAN NUCLEAR WASTE. Norwegian Defense Minister
Joergen Kosmo, on a state visit to Moscow, told his Russian counterpart,
Pavel Grachev, that Norway wants to help Russia dispose of military
nuclear waste, especially refuse from the nuclear-powered submarines
laid up on the Kola Peninsula, Reuters reported on 13 December.
Relations between Norway and Russia have been strained since Russian
federal agents arrested members of a Norwegian environmental group which
had been preparing a report on the Arctic region's nuclear waste. --
Doug Clarke

TEACHERS CALL TWO-DAY STRIKE. At a press conference in Moscow on 13
December, leaders of the education workers' trade union announced a two-
day national strike to be held on 14 and 15 December, Russian TV and
Express-khronikha reported. As was the case during the one-day warning
strike on 26 September, in which about 400,000 people participated, the
teachers are demanding the payment of back wages and a salary increase.
Union Chairman Vladimir Yakovlev said that there had been no real
improvement in the position of teachers following the September protest
and that wages are overdue in four-fifths of Russia's regions. He said
that some of the extra funds released by the government have not reached
schools. Yakovlev warned that if the latest protest has no effect,
education workers will begin a one-week strike on 30 January 1996. --
Penny Morvant

PAYMENT OF PENSION ARREARS MAY SPARK INFLATION. In the run-up to the
election, the government has made an effort to pay off all pension
arrears, which had risen to 17 trillion rubles ($3.7 billion), according
to Moskovskii komsomolets on 14 December. President Yeltsin announced
that part of the money would be raised through the sale of gold
reserves, but Obshchaya gazeta reported on 7 December reported that no
gold had actually been sold. It had merely been transferred to the
Central Bank in return for loans, which is potentially inflationary.
Meanwhile, the government is trying to blame continuing delays in
pension payments on corruption in local pension funds. -- Peter Rutland

RUSSIAN BANKS SEEK ACCESS TO U.S. During a recent trip to the U.S.,
Association of Russian Banks head Sergei Yegorov hired a public
relations firm to combat the money-laundering image of Russian banks,
Ekonomika i zhizn reported in issue no. 49. Only one bank
(Vneshekonombank) is currently allowed to operate in the U.S. Yegorov
said that U.S. regulators are concerned by the weakness of Russian
Central Bank monitoring of commercial banks, and the fact that their
capital reserves are below those mandated by the Basel convention. Since
the beginning of the year, Russian commercial banks have transferred
funds amounting to $7.2 billion out of Russia. -- Peter Rutland

RUSSIA PLANS TO SWAP FOREIGN DEBT FOR SHARES. The acting head of the
State Property Committee, Alfred Kokh, said Russia would like to swap
part of its $130 billion foreign debt for shares in Russian companies,
Reuters reported on 13 December. However, such a scheme is unlikely to
be implemented before 1997, one problem being that the total market
value of all Russian companies' equities at present is a mere $6-7
billion. -- Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

MORE ON BBC CORRESPONDENT MURDERED IN TAJIKISTAN. The reasons for the 12
December murder of BBC correspondent Muhiddin Olimpur remain unclear.
Reports from Western agencies indicate Olimpur was shot several times
near the state university of Tajikistan in Dushanbe. One Tajik official
told ITAR-TASS the killing was "clearly" the work of political opponents
of the regime, while a spokesman for the Tajik opposition, Ali Akbar
Turajonzoda, told Interfax Olimpur "had no political enemies" and
attributed the correspondent's death to bandits. However, the murderer
did not steal Olimpur's documents or his gold ring, according to Western
agencies. Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 13 December that Olimpur
had belonged to a moderate wing of the opposition since 1990. Almost all
sources describe Olimpur as a popular figure in Tajikistan and one of
the few journalists who stayed in the country to cover events throughout
the civil war. -- Bruce Pannier

BREAD PRICES TRIPLE IN TAJIKISTAN. The price of bread and related
products such as flour have tripled after prices were liberated on 11
December, according to a Tajik Radio report cited by the BBC on the same
day. According to the report prices now "depend on the cost of
transport, processing and sales." The increases come in the wake of an
announcement in November that electricity use would be rationed to six
hours a day per household until April. -- Bruce Pannier

COMPENSATION FOR VICTIMS OF INVESTMENT FRAUD IN KYRGYZSTAN. President
Askar Akayev has decreed that citizens who lost money in illegal
investment schemes will be compensated with privatization coupons,
according to a Kyrgyz Radio report monitored by the BBC. The government
has been ordered to issue the coupons before 15 January 1996. Besides
compensating those who were cheated in the investment deals, the coupons
are seen as a way of improving non-state support for citizens,
shareholders, and depositors in Kyrgyzstan. The timing could not be
better as such schemes have especially affected people with low incomes.
Kyrgyz Tuusu reported on 5 December that the minimum monthly salary in
the republic is about $6.40 and the minimum monthly pension is about $6.
-- 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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Natasha Bulashova,Greg Koul
Updated: 1998-11-

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