Science and art have that in common that everyday things seem to them new and attractive. - Friedrich Nietzsche
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 243, Part I, 15 December 1995



************************************************************************
Do you need sharply focused economic news? OMRI's weekly Economic Digest
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This week's edition includes stories on the successful privatization of
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For subscription and rate information, please send a message to
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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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
FIGHTING BREAKS OUT IN CHECHNYA. The tenuous six-month ceasefire in
Chechnya came to an end on 14 December when Chechen forces took the town
of Gudermes and repulsed an attempt by Russian federal troops to
dislodge them, Russian media reported. Up to 16 Russian servicemen were
killed in the fighting. Also on 14 December, voting began in Chechnya
for the Russian State Duma and for a new Chechen republican leader;
District Electoral Commission Chairman Abdulkerim Arsakhanov told
Russian TV that 45% of the registered voters in Grozny had cast their
votes. -- Liz Fuller
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

GROUP NOMINATING RUTSKOI FOR PRESIDENT DENIED REGISTRATION. Last month,
Aleksandr Rutskoi successfully appealed to the Supreme Court to overturn
the Central Electoral Commission's (TsIK) 28 October refusal to register
his Derzhava movement for the parliamentary elections. Now the TsIK has
denied registration to an initiative group supporting Rutskoi for
president in 1996, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 14 December. TsIK
Chairman Nikolai Ryabov said some of Rutskoi's supporters had not filled
out the documents correctly, listing their places of residence as
"Moscow" without indicating their precise addresses. -- Laura Belin

RYABOV: ELECTION PREPARATIONS COMPLETE. Ryabov also announced on 14
December that the TsIK's preparations for the 17 December parliamentary
elections are complete, Russian TV reported. He said 96,000 regional,
local, and district electoral commissions have been created, and that
50,000 observers (including 900 international observers) will monitor
their activities on 17 December. Ryabov predicted a high turnout, and
Russian TV said the presidential administration believes that more than
60% of eligible voters will participate in the elections. Turnout in
December 1993 was officially put at 54%, but that figure is widely
believed to have been inflated by fraud. -- Laura Belin

COMMUNIST OBJECTS TO VIDEO OF DRUNK DEPUTY. Duma Deputy Eduard Kovalev
of the Communist Party (KPRF) complained that the 13 December Russian TV
program "Podrobnosti" attempted to "compromise" the Communists on the
eve of parliamentary elections by showing a video of KPRF Duma Deputy
Igor Bratishchev in police custody while drunk, Russian TV reported on
14 December. Kovalev said the footage of Bratishchev, one of the authors
of the KPRF economic program, was filmed three years ago, in 1992. --
Laura Belin

LAST-MINUTE DEBATE PREPARATIONS. The KPRF has apparently agreed to
debate Yegor Gaidar on live television on 15 December, the last day
campaign appearances by politicians will be allowed in the mass media.
Gaidar told Russian TV on 14 December that he would like to face KPRF
Duma Deputy Anatolii Lukyanov, and that the debate may take place on
Russian Public TV (ORT) at 7:30 p.m.. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin, who had previously declined offers to debate Grigorii
Yavlinskii, announced on 14 December that he is now prepared to debate
the Yabloko leader, NTV reported. It was not clear whether a debate
could be arranged on such short notice. -- Laura Belin

KORZHAKOV URGES RUSSIANS TO VOTE . . . In a rare public appearance,
Aleksandr Korzhakov, head of the presidential security service, urged
Russians to vote in the Duma elections in order to prevent a Communist
victory. He said he intended to vote for Ivan Rybkin, head of a flagging
center-left bloc set up with the president's blessing, while his wife
would opt for Viktor Chernomyrdin's Our Home Is Russia. Korzhakov, who
is believed to exert considerable influence over the president, spent
much of the interview reminiscing about his years in Yeltsin's service.
He said Yeltsin would decide in February whether to run for the
presidency again. Yeltsin, who has not made any public pronouncements
for several days, is due to give a taped television address later today.
-- Penny Morvant

. . . AND CRITICIZES DEFENSE MINISTER. Asked what he thought of Defense
Minister Pavel Grachev, Korzhakov was hardly effusive in his praise.
"Pavel Sergeevich loves his wife very much," he said. "Pavel Sergeevich
loves his children very much. Pavel Sergeevich loves his friends very
much. As a commander, Pavel Sergeevich is very good at giving reports,
but he's particularly talented at staging parades." Grachev, who is
widely believed to have persuaded Yeltsin to launch the military
operation in Chechnya, has been heavily criticized in many quarters but
has managed to retain Yeltsin's support. Korzhakov also said he would
vote for Yurii Luzhkov if he ran again for the office of Moscow mayor,
but would not support him if he ran for the presidency in 1996. -- Penny
Morvant

GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE QUITS RACE IN PRIMORSK KRAI. Former Primorsk
Krai Legislative Chairman Igor Lebedinets, who is one of the top
candidates in the krai's gubernatorial elections, has dropped out of the
race, ITAR-TASS reported on 15 December. Lebedinets asked his supporters
to vote for former Vladivostok Mayor Viktor Cherepkov. Lebedinets and
Cherepkov hope that together they can defeat current Governor Yevgenii
Nazdratenko. The gubernatorial election will take place on 17 December.
Meanwhile, on 14 December, the krai legislature asked the federal
parliament to postpone legislative elections in the region until October
1996 on the grounds that local legislation has not been harmonized with
the federal law on local self-government, Radio Rossii reported.
According to an 18 September presidential decree, local legislatures
must hold elections by March 1996. -- Anna Paretskaya

CHUVASHIYA TO HOLD REFERENDUM ON PRESIDENCY. Chuvash Republic President
Nikolai Fedorov ordered the government to allocate money to the 17
December republican referendum on whether the republic needs a
president, ITAR-TASS reported on 15 December. Fedorov said he has been
forced to allocate money to the referendum, despite the fact that he
himself considers it to be an opposition ploy. The Federal Council of
Chuvashiya voted to hold the referendum two month ago after a group of
citizens submitted the number of signatures necessary to make a request
for such a vote. -- Anna Paretskaya

SEGODNYA COMMENTATOR BLASTS THOMAS PICKERING. Pavel Felgengauer, a
Segodnya expert on military issues, argued in a front page commentary
published on 14 December, that U.S. Ambassador to Russia Thomas
Pickering's remarks on the South Kurils problem reflect a calculated
effort to worsen U.S.-Russian relations. Felgengauer argues that as a
"career diplomat," Pickering could never say anything "off-the-cuff,"
indicating that there are "influential advocates of bad relations with
Moscow" within the U.S. administration. -- Constantine Dmitriev

LAVROV: RUSSIA IS AGAINST MULTINATIONAL ARMED FORCES IN BOSNIA. The
permanent spokesman for Russia at the UN, Sergei Lavrov, told
journalists on 14 December that Russia welcomes a UN peacekeeping force
in Eastern Slavonia but opposes a multinational coalition armed force in
that region, ITAR-TASS reported. With regard to the UN secretary
general's recent proposal to send a 9,300-strong multinational division
to Eastern Slavonia instead of the 1,600 Russian and Belgian soldiers
stationed there, Lavrov said that a resolution of the UN Security
Council calls for a UN force in that region. -- Constantine Dmitriev

TEACHERS RESPOND TO STRIKE CALL. Teachers in many Russian regions,
including St. Petersburg, Arkhangel Oblast, Krasnodar Krai, and
Buryatiya, went on strike on 14 December to demand more money for the
education sector (see OMRI Daily Digest, 14 December 1995). Teachers in
other areas, including Moscow, took part in demonstrations in support of
their colleagues, ITAR-TASS reported. Unions say the government owes the
education sector 550 billion rubles ($118 million) and that some
teachers have not been paid since the new school year began.
Nevertheless, the strike call was not heeded in every region, apparently
because local officials had already taken steps to meet the teachers
demands. Education Minister Yevgenii Tkachenko blamed the difficult
situation in some regions on the attitude of local governors, saying
some "simply pay no attention to education," according to ORT. -- Penny
Morvant

BANKS CONTINUE TO DISPUTE YUKOS AUCTION. The president of Inkombank,
Vladimir Vinogradov, announced that the three-bank consortium which was
barred from bidding for shares in YUKOS, Russia's second largest oil
company, will take the case to court, NTV reported on 14 December.
Vinogradov refuted suggestions that the government might retaliate
against Inkombank by taking away key clients such as Transneft and
Rosvooruzhenie, which control oil pipelines and arms exports. The latest
news belies an earlier report that Menatep, ONEKSIMbank, and MFK, the
winners in the loan/share auctions, had struck a deal with their
adversaries. Segodnya reported on 9 December that they had agreed to
form a consortium with Alfabank, Rossiiskii kredit and Inkombank which
would sell 24% of the shares in the three privatized enterprises to
foreign investors. -- Peter Rutland

INSIDER DEALS SEAL SHARE AUCTIONS. On 13 December, 20% of the shares of
the Novorossiisk shipping company were auctioned under the government's
loan scheme, Segodnya reported on 14 December. Novoship, a firm created
by the shipping company itself, offered a loan of $22 million guaranteed
by Tokobank, beating out rival bids from Menatep Bank and ONEKISMbank.
The auction of shares in the Arkhangel fleet, also due to take place on
13 December, was canceled due to the lack of bids. Kommersant reported
on 14 December that Menatep bought 51% of the shares in the Kareliyan
wood processing firm Pitkyarant for $20 million, in an auction organized
by Menatep. -- Peter Rutland

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

MANDATE OF UN OBSERVERS IN TAJIKISTAN EXTENDED. The UN Security Council
voted unanimously on 14 December to extend the mandate of the UN
observer mission in Tajikistan by another six months, according to
RFE/RL. The 40-member mission's term was due to expire on 15 December.
The extension hinges on whether the Tajik government and opposition
continue to show progress in achieving peace in the republic -- Bruce
Pannier

KYRGYZ COURT BARS THREE CANDIDATES FROM ELECTION. The Kyrgyz High Court
has narrowed the field of candidates competing in the 24 December
presidential election from six to three, RFE/RL and Radio Mayak
reported. The court ruled on 13 December to bar Deputy Prime Minister
Jumgalbek Amanbayev, Ata Meken member Omurbek Tekebayev, and independent
candidate Mamat Aybalayev from participating in the election because of
mistakes on their registration applications. The court claims that the
amount of signatures collected by the candidates in some regions exceeds
the number of voters and that some of the signatures were not approved
by the regional councils. The three remaining candidates are President
Askar Akayev, former parliament speaker Medetken Sherimkulov, and
Communist Party leader Absamat Masaliev. -- Bruce Pannier

INFLATION MAY BE RETURNING IN KYRGYZSTAN. The monthly inflation rate
jumped from 1.1% in October to 2.6% in November, Interfax reported on 13
December. The Kyrgyz National Statistics Committee attributed the rise
to "seasonal factors," a 3.8% increase in food prices, and a 1.3% rise
in tariffs on services. Over the first 11 months of 1995, however,
consumer prices rose by only 27.6%, compared with an 80.6% rise during
the same period in 1994. -- Bruce Pannier

KAZAKHSTAN JOINS THE ISLAMIC ORGANIZATION. Representatives of the
Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) voted unanimously on 12
December to accept Kazakhstan as a member, according to a Saudi Arabian
news agency (SPA) report cited by the BBC. Kazakhstan becomes the 52nd
member and fifth former Soviet republic--along with Kyrgyzstan,
Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Azerbaijan--to be accepted into the
organization. -- Bruce Pannier

FORMER GEORGIAN DEPUTY SECRET SERVICE CHIEF GIVES TESTIMONY. Former
Georgian Deputy Secret Service Chief Temur Khachishvili, a member of the
dissolved paramilitary organization Mkhedrioni, gave testimony in the
case in which he is charged with involvement in the 29 August attempted
assassination of Georgian leader Eduard Shevardnadze, Russian media
reported on 14 December. Khachishvili said that former security chief
Igor Giorgadze and Mkhedrioni leader Dzhaba Ioseliani organized the
assassination attempt. Ioseliani has been in custody since 15 November,
while Giorgadze has escaped from prison (see OMRI Daily Digest, 16
November 1995). -- Irakli Tsereteli

[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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