|Life is what happens to us while we're making other plans. - John Lennon|
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 Union and Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. It is published Monday through Friday by the Open Media Research Institute. The OMRI Daily Digest is distributed electronically via the OMRI-L list. 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