One must learn by doing the thing; though you think you know it, you have no certainty until you try. - Sophocles
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 244, Part I, 18 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
COMMUNISTS LEAD IN RUSSIAN DUMA ELECTION. With about 30% of the votes
counted, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) is the
clear leader with about 22% of the vote on party lists, Russian and
Western media reported on 18 December. The KPRF is followed by Vladimir
Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia with 11.2%. A jubilant
Gennadii Zyuganov, the KPRF leader, described the results as a vote of
no-confidence in the Chernomyrdin government. Of the other parties, only
the pro-government Our Home Is Russia and Grigorii Yavlinskii's Yabloko
look certain to clear the 5% barrier necessary to get into parliament.
Only 225 Duma seats will be allocated on the basis of party-list voting.
The other 225 will be filled by winners of individual races in single-
member districts. -- Laura Belin
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

PRELIMINARY PARTY-LIST RESULTS. As of 9 a.m. Moscow time on 18 December,
44% of the votes had been tallied. Russian and Western agencies reported
the following preliminary results in the party-list contest: Communist
Party of the Russian Federation 21.8%; Liberal Democratic Party of
Russia 11.2%, Our Home Is Russia 9.5%; Yabloko 8.4%; Russia's Democratic
Choice-United Democrats 4.8%; Women of Russia 4.5%; Communists-Working
Russia 4.3%; Congress of Russian Communities 4.1%; the Workers' Self
Government Party 4.1%; and the Agrarian Party 3.7%. -- Peter Rutland

FIRST RESULTS FROM SINGLE-MEMBER SEATS. By 12 p.m. GMT, results had been
reported in 57 of the 225 individual constituencies, Reuters reported on
18 December. Of the 57 deputies elected, 20 were independents and 10
were Communist Party supporters. Our Home Is Russia had six deputies
elected, the Agrarian Party five, Yabloko four, and Russia's Democratic
Choice three. Among those elected were former Soviet Premier Nikolai
Ryzhkov, 1993 coup leader Albert Makashov, and human rights campaigner
Sergei Kovalev. -- Peter Rutland

ANOTHER ZHIRINOVSKY SURPRISE. Vladimir Zhirinovsky appears to have
surprised the pundits again. Preliminary returns showed his Liberal
Democratic Party of Russia in second place with 11.2% of the vote, well
below the 23% he gained on the party lists in 1993 but still much more
than the 5% which most observers had predicted. However, the LDPR's
share of the vote could decline as districts in western Russia are
counted; he appears to have polled only 4-5% in Moscow and St.
Petersburg, down from the 13% and 18% he received in 1993. Zhirinovsky's
success in beating out other challengers for the nationalist vote can be
attributed to his charismatic style and effective advertising campaign.
-- Laura Belin

DEMOCRATS DESPONDENT. Grigorii Yavlinskii's Yabloko appears to have
emerged as the strongest democratic party, with 8.4% support, little
changed from what it gained in the 1993 elections. It was too early to
say whether Yegor Gaidar's Russia's Democratic Choice-United Democrats
would clear the 5% barrier; the latest report placed it at 4.8%.
Gaidar's party finished second in 1993, with 15.5% of the vote. The
other democratic parties are way below the 5% barrier, although their
individual leaders appear to be doing well in single-seat races. --
Laura Belin

OUR HOME IS RUSSIA LEADING IN MOSCOW, YABLOKO IN ST. PETERSBURG.
According to preliminary results, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's
bloc, Our Home Is Russia (NDR), is leading in Moscow with 20.3% of the
vote and Grigorii Yavlinskii's Yabloko is ahead in St. Petersburg with
16%, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 December. In Moscow, NDR is followed by
Yabloko and the Communist Party (each with 15%), and Russia's Democratic
Choice-United Democrats (11%). In St. Petersburg, the Communist Party
and Our Home Is Russia are running second and third behind Yabloko, each
with 13%, followed by Russia's Choice (12%). Although NDR is leading in
Moscow's party-list vote, the leaders of other pro-reform parties
(Russia's Democratic Choice, Common Cause, Pamfilova-Gurov-V. Lysenko
bloc, and Party of Economic Freedom) won in the single-mandate
districts. -- Anna Paretskaya

LEBED TRIUMPHS IN TULA, BUT KRO BELOW 5%. According to preliminary
results, Lt. Gen. (ret.) Aleksandr Lebed won twice as many votes as his
nearest rival, local Mayor Nikolai Tyaglyvi, in a single-mandate
constituency in the city of Tula, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 December.
However, the moderate-nationalist Congress of Russian Communities (KRO),
the party Lebed heads along with former Security Council Secretary Yurii
Skokov, looks unlikely to clear the 5% barrier. -- Penny Morvant

KOZYREV LEADING IN MURMANSK. Early returns showed Foreign Minister
Andrei Kozyrev leading the field of 16 candidates (including Vladimir
Zhirinovsky's sister) in the single-member district in Murmansk where he
is running for re-election, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 December. In 1993,
Kozyrev was affiliated with the Russia's Choice movement, but this year
he ran as an independent. He was one of the first cabinet ministers to
announce that he would not join the pro-government Our Home Is Russia.
-- Laura Belin

YELTSIN WARNS AGAINST RETURNING TO THE PAST ON ELECTION'S EVE. On 15
December, the last day the electoral law allows for campaigning before
the 17 December elections, President Boris Yeltsin spoke on Russian
Public TV (ORT) to warn voters against supporting parties who wanted to
take the country back into the past. He particularly cautioned against
parties that support a command economy, a prohibition on the buying and
selling of land, a redistribution of property, and the risk of worsening
relations with neighboring states in the name of restoring the Soviet
Union. -- Robert Orttung in Moscow

YELTSIN SAYS HE WILL NOT ABANDON REFORMS. As he voted in the Barvikha
sanitarium outside Moscow, President Yeltsin said he has no intention of
abandoning market reforms and wants to keep Viktor Chernomyrdin as prime
minister, Russian and Western agencies reported. The president is not
obliged to change the prime minister whatever the outcome of the
elections, but Yeltsin did not rule out the possibility of a government
reshuffle. On 18 December, ITAR-TASS quoted presidential adviser Mark
Urnov as saying that the results had been expected, and they showed
"that the leftist electorate had become more accountable" by switching
from Zhirinovsky to the Communists. -- Penny Morvant

HIGH TURNOUT IN DUMA ELECTIONS. According to a Central Electoral
Commission (TsIK) spokesman, the turnout for the 17 December Duma
elections was 64.95%, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 December. TsIK Chairman
Nikolai Ryabov said that in every region of the Russian Federation, the
turnout was higher than the 25% necessary for the elections to be
considered valid, ranging from 69.2% in Altai Republic to 39.2% in
Ingushetiya. In the 1993 Duma elections, the turnout was officially
reported at 50.6%, although critics claim that the figure was inflated.
Presidential adviser Emil Pain said the surprisingly high turnout may
have been increased by the fact that the Duma voting coincided with
gubernatorial races in 13 regions, where 25% of the population reside,
Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 17 December. -- Anna Paretskaya

OBSERVERS SAY ELECTIONS FREE AND FAIR. The head of the OSCE delegation,
Sir Peter Emery, described the Duma elections as free, fair, and
democratic, and said they were an improvement on those held in December
1993, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 December. About 800 international
observers have been monitoring the elections. The representative of the
Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly, David Atkinson, said the
elections were "100% fair and democratic," and that he would advocate
the Russian Federation's admission to the Council of Europe at its
meeting on 25 January 1996. -- Anna Paretskaya

SHOKHIN CALLS FOR COALITION BETWEEN OUR HOME IS RUSSIA AND YABLOKO. As
the first results were coming in from the Far East, Aleksandr Shokhin, a
party-list candidate for Our Home Is Russia, called for a parliamentary
alliance between his bloc and Yabloko to create a union of democratic
forces in the State Duma. Shokhin spoke just after midnight on 18
December at Our Home Is Russia headquarters. He said Yabloko leader
Grigorii Yavlinskii's presidential ambitions are the only obstacle to
the coalition. He said that if the Agrarian Party did not cross the 5%
barrier necessary to get into parliament, other parties could claim
spots in the government. As the early results came in, Shokhin said he
was most surprised by the apparently strong showing of Communists-
Worker's Russia-For the Soviet Union and the weak showing of Yegor
Gaidar's Russia's Democratic Choice-United. -- Robert Orttung in Moscow

ZHIRINOVSKY, OUR HOME IS RUSSIA VIOLATE RULES ON CAMPAIGNING. The
Liberal Democratic Party of Russia and Our Home Is Russia violated the
rules on campaign agitation, according to Igor Yeremin, deputy chairman
of the President's Judicial Chamber on Information Disputes,
Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 16 December. On 6 December, Vladimir
Zhirinovsky proposed "napalm bombing five to six villages" for every
Russian soldier killed in Chechnya. Yeremin said the proposal violates
the ban on instigating interethnic conflict. Viktor Chernomyrdin used
his status as prime minister to stage numerous appearances on television
in the run-up to the election, which violated "all acceptable limits,"
Yeremin charged. He said that there are "no judicial sanctions for such
violations." The Central Electoral Commission has asked the Procurator-
General's Office to investigate Zhirinovsky's statements on the grounds
that they violate laws banning the promotion of interethnic hatred,
Radio Rossii reported on 15 December. -- Robert Orttung in Moscow

ZAVGAEV ELECTED IN CHECHNYA. Chechen Prime Minister Doku Zavgaev
received 80% of the votes cast in the 14-17 December elections to the
post of Chechen leader, Russian media and Western agencies reported.
Estimates of voter participation varied from 47% to 60%, according to
AFP. Russian media reported violations of voting procedure during the
elections, which were not conducted in the presence of foreign observers
after the OSCE mission left Grozny temporarily for security reasons.
There were also conflicting reports on whether voting had taken place in
Gudermes where Russian federal troops and Chechen forces loyal to
President Dzhokhar Dudaev have been engaged in sporadic fighting since
14 December, in which 32 Russian servicemen have been killed. -- Liz
Fuller

KOZYREV SAYS NO ASYLUM FOR MLADIC. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei
Kozyrev denied reports that Russia would grant political asylum to
Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic, who is wanted for war
crimes, Western agencies reported on 17 December. -- Constantine
Dmitriev

TURKEY AND RUSSIA CONTINUE DISPUTE OVER STRAITS. Turkey and Russia
recently sent letters to UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali
outlining their positions on Ankara's decision to regulate maritime
traffic through the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits, the Turkish Daily
News reported on 15 and 18 December. Turkey claims the letter sent by
Russia's UN representative, Sergei Lavrov, misrepresents the facts.
Ankara has also noted that it refuses "to open a debate" on an issue
which it considers to be within its national jurisdiction. Russia claims
that the regulations put into effect last year are a contravention of
the 1936 Montreux Convention and are aimed at preventing Russia from
transporting large volumes of Caspian Sea oil through the straits.
Turkey claims the regulations are designed to ensure the safety of the
straits and that it has the right to introduce such measures under the
terms of the convention. That position was recently backed by the
International Maritime Organization. -- Lowell Bezanis

RUSSIA'S GDP CONTINUES TO FALL. The State Statistics Committee announced
that in the first 11 months of 1995, Russia's GDP fell by 4% and
industrial output by 3% compared to the same period in 1994, Radio Mayak
reported on 16 December. GDP for 1995 is estimated at 1,650-1,700
trillion rubles ($360-368 billion). The rate of economic decline slowed
this year in comparison with 1994, when Russia's GDP and industrial
output were down 15% and 21% respectively. However, despite the
government's success in reducing inflation there is as yet little sign
of the long-awaited economic recovery. Official figures also show a12%
fall in real income over the first 11 months of 1995. -- Natalia
Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES FIRST MINISTERS. The Georgian parliament
approved some of the government's proposed new cabinet on 15 December,
Interfax reported the same day. Irakli Menagharishvili was appointed
foreign minister with by a vote of 157-2. According to parliamentary
chairman Zurab Zhvania, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze has
appointed Foreign Minister Alexander Chikvaidze to the post of
ambassador to Greece. The parliament appointed former Interior Minister
Shota Kviraya to the post of state security minister, and his former
deputy at the Interior Ministry, Kakha Targamadze, has been promoted to
minister. According to Georgian Radio, the economics, finance, and
defense ministers are to remain in their posts, the latter despite
accusations by deputies representing the National Democratic Party that
he follows a pro-Russian line. The parliament suspended deliberations on
former Deputy Prime Minister Bakur Gulua's candidacy for the post of
agriculture and food industry minister, Iberia news agency reported on
16 December. -- 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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