|There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in. - Graham Greene|
No. 245, Part I, 19 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 MAINTAIN LEAD AS VOTE COUNT ADVANCES. With 65% of the vote counted, Gennadii Zyuganov's Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) has won 22.3% of the vote on the party list, twice as much as its nearest competitor, the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, which received 10.9%, Russian and Western media reported on 19 December. The only other parties to break the 5% barrier were Our Home is Russia (9.6%) and Yabloko (7.6%). Zyuganov said the KPRF would form a shadow government in parliament and propose a "realistic" economic program. He said his party will decide next month whether to nominate him for the presidency. -- Laura Belin ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ RUSSIA DISAPPOINTMENT FOR GAIDAR. According to results released by the Central Electoral Commission at 12:30 Moscow time on 19 December, with 45 million votes counted Yegor Gaidar's Russia's Democratic Choice-United Democrats had only 4.4% of the party-list vote, trailing Women of Russia (4.7%), and Viktor Anpilov's Communists-Working Russia (4.5%). Gaidar chose not to run for a single-member seat, so he will not be a member of the new Duma if his party fails to clear the 5% barrier. Earlier reports had put Gaidar's party over 5%, but they were never confirmed. The Central Electoral Commission issued some contradictory statements about the proportion of votes counted on Monday, and has come under criticism for the unexplained delay in completion of the count. -- Penny Morvant COMMUNISTS CRUSH OUR HOME IS RUSSIA IN SINGLE-MEMBER DISTRICTS. Despite having recruited prominent local figures to contest many of the 225 single-member districts, Our Home Is Russia has also lost to the KPRF in the single-seat competitions. Returns from 179 districts indicate that the KPRF had won 45 seats to just nine for the prime minister's bloc, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 December. The Agrarian Party, which is ideologically close to the KPRF, won at least 15 seats. Yabloko won 12 seats, Russia's Democratic Choice-United Democrats won eight, Women of Russia won two, and the Congress of Russian Communities won a disappointing three seats. Independent candidates are likely to win more seats than any single party. -- Laura Belin WELL-KNOWN POLITICIANS ENTER DUMA IN SINGLE-MEMBER DISTRICTS. Many famous politicians will join the next Duma from single member districts, according to NTV on 18 December. They include current Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin, Power to the People's number two candidate Sergei Baburin, Party of Workers' Self-Management leader Svyatoslav Fedorov, My Fatherland leader Boris Gromov, former Soviet Prime Minister Nikolai Ryzhkov, Duma Defense Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin, presidential aide Gennadii Burbulis, film director Stanislav Govorukhin, and Congress of Russian Communities leader Aleksandr Lebed. Among the losers were hard-line Communist Viktor Anpilov and the MMM fund chairman Sergei Mavrodi. -- Robert Orttung in Moscow INTERNATIONAL OBSERVERS APPROVE DUMA ELECTIONS. At an 18 December Moscow press conference, international observers from the EU, Council of Europe, and OSCE characterized the 17 December Duma elections as free, fair, and democratic, NTV reported. The 434 observers from 32 countries concluded that the elections were carried out in accordance with democratic standards, despite isolated violations at some polling stations. The observers did however, criticize Russian Public TV (ORT) for biased campaign reporting, which gave a disproportionate amount of favorable coverage to Viktor Chernomyrdin's Our Home Is Russia and Yegor Gaidar's Russia's Democratic Choice, while running negative stories about various opposition parties. The observers praised Russian TV and NTV, on the other hand, for their unbiased election coverage. One issue that remains unresolved is that several parties have not yet provided a full account of their campaign spending. -- Scott Parrish in Moscow PRESIDENTIAL AIDES TRY TO STRIKE POSITIVE NOTE. Commenting on the preliminary election results on 18 December, presidential aide Georgii Starov told Interfax that he did not find them alarming. He denied that the "political pendulum" had swung to the left, arguing that Our Home Is Russia, Yabloko, and Democratic Russia, will together have enough seats to balance the Communists, Radio Rossii reported. Yeltsin's economic adviser Aleksandr Livshits said he did not think that the composition of the new Duma would be radically worse than the old one from the point of view of economic reform. However, the president's chief of staff Sergei Filatov said the number of votes won by the Communists and the LDPR reflect the dissatisfaction of poorer sections of society and the need to alter government policy, NTV reported. Yeltsin himself refrained from public comment on the election results. -- Penny Morvant CHERNOMYRDIN PUTS BRAVE FACE ON OUR HOME IS RUSSIA'S SHOWING. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said he is "satisfied" with the election results, characterizing his bloc's worse than expected showing as neither a success nor a failure. "The Communist Party has existed for 97 years and won only 20%. Our Home Is Russia has worked only four months and we were able to win 10%," he told Russian TV on 18 December. He did not say whether he planned any cabinet changes but described the government as a "living organism," which suggests that changes cannot be ruled out. -- Robert Orttung in Moscow and Penny Morvant LUKIN: "NOTHING SUPER-DRAMATIC" IN EARLY RESULTS. Yabloko's Vladimir Lukin declared that there was "nothing super-dramatic" in the early returns of the elections before noon on 18 December, Russian media reported. He said that the Duma will be balanced between the democratic parties and the communist and nationalist parties. Lukin also said that Yabloko is willing to work with other pro-reform parties, including Our Home Is Russia, and urged the "non-left" forces to unite behind a single candidate for the presidency. Speaking on NTV on19 December, Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii welcomed the victory of only four parties in the party-list contest as a sign that Russia had outgrown the "infantile stage of multi-partyism." -- Robert Orttung in Moscow KOZYREV TO LEAVE FOREIGN MINISTRY FOR DUMA? According to preliminary data released by the Central Electoral Commission, Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev is almost certain to win the Duma seat from the Murmansk single-member constituency, NTV reported on 18 December. Kozyrev, running as an independent, faced 12 opponents in the district, including Vladimir Zhirinovsky's sister. Should Kozyrev take the seat, he will likely resign as foreign minister. Under the 1993 constitution, members of the just-elected Duma will not be permitted to hold ministerial posts. Resigning to take a seat in the Duma would be a face-saving way for the heavily-criticized Kozyrev to leave the government. -- Scott Parrish in Moscow EARLY RETURNS IN GOVERNORS' RACES. Incumbents appear to have triumphed in most of the 13 regions that also held gubernatorial elections on 17 December, Russian TV reported on 18 December. Boris Nemtsov was re- elected in Nizhnii Novgorod with more than 60% of the vote, and Primorsk Krai Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko also won about 60% compared with just 15% for his main rival, the ousted mayor of Vladivostok, Viktor Cherepkov. Yaroslavl Oblast Governor Anatolii Lisitsyn, Orenburg Oblast Governor Vladimir Yelagin, and Novgorod Oblast Governor Mikhail Prusak were also re-elected. Observers reported that the gubernatorial races generated more media coverage than the Duma elections in those regions. -- Laura Belin BASHKORTOSTAN REFERENDUM RESULTS. Voters in Bashkortostan were also asked to give their opinion on land reform and the republic's economic policies when they went to the polls on 17 December. According to preliminary results cited by Ekspress-khronikha, about 83% of voters voted against the unrestricted sale of land, while about 80% voted in favor of strengthening the republic's economic independence. According to Interfax, the Communists won about 30% of the vote in Bashkortostan, the Agrarians 20%, and Our Home Is Russia 16.5%. -- Penny Morvant MIXED VERDICT IN LIBEL CASE AGAINST YELTSIN. Former Supreme Soviet Deputy Iona Andronov plans to appeal to the Supreme Court following a mixed verdict in his libel case against President Yeltsin, Pravda reported on 19 December. Andronov was called a fascist in the English- language version of Yeltsin's memoirs Presidential Notes. The judge found that the book incorrectly labeled Andronov a fascist but rejected the plaintiff's demand that Yeltsin apologize publicly and pay damages. Andronov spent several years in the U.S. during the 1980s as a correspondent for Literaturnaya gazeta. He was a close supporter of Yeltsin during the 1991 presidential campaign. In late 1991, he became the main foreign policy adviser to then-Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi. -- Laura Belin RUSSIAN ADVANCE PARTY TO BOSNIA. An advance team of 12 paratroop officers flew to Belgrade on 18 December, then on to Croatia where they joined other Russian peacekeepers, Interfax reported. The team, led by Maj. Gen. Nikolai Staskov, second in command of the Airborne Troops, will travel to Tuzla where, among other things, they will establish an air traffic control center to receive the Russian brigade that will be part of the international peace implementation force. Interfax also quoted the Ministry of Defense as saying that the brigade, from the 106th Airborne Division, was also leaving for Bosnia that day. -- Doug Clarke RUSSIA SIGNS DEBT-RESTRUCTURING AGREEMENT WITH TURKEY. The Russian and Turkish governments signed an agreement on rescheduling Russia's $370 million debt and on the clearing of mutual debts amassed by companies in the two countries, Segodnya reported on 16 December. Under the agreement, Russia's debt to Turkey will be reduced by $112 million (via $100 million in arms deliveries from Russia and the writing off of Turkey's $12 million debt to Russia). The deal is expected to stimulate Turkish investment in Russia. Turkey will also open a $350 million credit line to the Russian government. -- Natalia Gurushina PLANE WRECK FOUND. The wreckage of the TU-154 airliner that went missing on 7 December en route from Sakhalin to Khabarovsk Krai with 97 people on board has been found in Khabarovsk Krai, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 18 December. The chairman of a government commission investigating the accident said he does not believe that anyone could have survived the crash. -- Penny Morvant WAGE ARREARS EQUAL 13.6 TRILLION RUBLES. The total amount of overdue wages in Russia increased by 11.7% in November, reaching 13.6 trillion rubles ($2.9 billion) on 1 December, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 December, citing officials from the Economics Ministry. Delays in the payment of wages are the main cause of industrial disputes in the country. -- Penny Morvant TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA IMF EXTENDS NEW CREDIT TO UZBEKISTAN. The IMF approved a $259 million credit to Uzbekistan on 18 December, which will be used to continue market reforms in that country, Western sources reported. As part of a larger two-year aid package, the new credit will include $185 million in stand-by credit and $74 million from the IMF's systemic transformation facility, and will be used to help turn around the decline in GNP as well as hold the annual inflation rate to an anticipated target of 21- 25%. IMF officials expressed their approval of the Uzbek government's tight monetary and fiscal policies, paralleling an October World Bank report (see OMRI Daily Digest, 24 October 1995). -- Roger Kangas TAJIK OPPOSITION RELEASES 17 PRISONERS. After a month of promises, the Tajik opposition has released 17 government soldiers, part of a larger group taken hostage in the Tavil Dara region in the middle of October, Radio Rossii reported on 16 December. Despite the release and the ongoing peace talks in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, the fighting in Tavil Dara continues. -- Bruce Pannier THREE CENTRAL ASIAN REPUBLICS LOOK TO FORM UN PEACEKEEPING FORCE. The presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, meeting in Zhambyl, Kazakhstan on 15 December, agreed to ask for UN approval to form a joint peacekeeping battalion, according to Reuters. Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev said the force could serve "anywhere in the world, including Bosnia." All three countries currently have peacekeeping troops in Tajikistan, but they operate under CIS auspices. It is unclear whether the units now in Tajikistan would be part of the proposed UN force. The three leaders also sanctioned investments by the new Central Asian Bank for Reconstruction and Development. -- Bruce Pannier [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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