|A disagreement may be the shortest cut between two minds. - Kahlil Gibran|
No. 246, Part I, 20 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ ESTIMATES OF SEAT TOTALS FOR PARTIES IN RUSSIAN ELECTIONS. With about two-thirds of the party-list votes counted and 215 of the single-member seats determined, the 450 seats in the Russian State Duma will be allocated among the top parties roughly as follows: %(party list) party list seats single-member seats total (225 total) (225 total) (projected) KPRF 21.0% 97 53 150 NDR 10.1% 42 10 52 Yabloko 7.2% 37 14 51 LDPR 11.0% 49 1 50 APR 3.9% 0 20 20 DVR 4.2% 0 10 10 VN na 0 7 7 KRO 4.1% 0 5 5 ZhR 4.7% 0 3 3 PST 4.2% 0 1 1 KTR 4.6% 0 0 0 Note: Independent candidates have won 73 out of the 225 seats determined in single-member districts, and a number of small parties have won up to three seats each. Abbreviations: Communist Party (KPRF), Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR), Our Home Is Russia (NDR), Women of Russia (ZhR), Agrarian Party of Russia (APR), Russia's Democratic Choice (DVR), Power to the People (VN), Congress of Russian Communities (KRO), Communists-Working Russia (KTR), Party of Workers' Self-Management (PST). (Sources: RIA-Novosti on 19 December and ITAR-TASS on 20 December.) -- Laura Belin ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ RUSSIA CHERNOMYRDIN: ELECTIONS WON'T FORCE CABINET RESHUFFLE. Following a 19 December meeting with President Boris Yeltsin, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin continued to insist that the election results will not force a cabinet reshuffle, Russian media reported. He said he and the president had discussed possible changes in the government but that these changes were not connected to the elections. The prime minister also said there "could be no doubt" that First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais will remain in the cabinet, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Laura Belin SATAROV: YELTSIN WILL WORK WITH NEW DUMA. Presidential adviser Georgii Satarov told Russian TV's "Podrobnosti" on 19 December that the president may consider offering some government posts to the Communist Party but will not offer it any key cabinet positions. Satarov said the president "answers for the whole country, he cannot allow himself such experiments." He added that Chernomyrdin had long ago offered the Communists a place in the government when they were only the third- or fourth-largest Duma faction, but they had refused. -- Laura Belin BATTLE BEGINS FOR DUMA SPEAKERSHIP. Both the Communist Party and the Liberal Democratic Party want one of their deputies to be named Duma speaker, but the position is likely to go to someone who is a not a member of either of the big parties, according to Izvestiya on 20 December. Representatives from smaller parties and independents will work to ensure that a major party candidate does not assume such a powerful position. The article claims that Zyuganov and Zhirinovsky are purging the leading members of their factions in order to remove "dangerous rivals." The Liberal Democrats' diminished faction in the new Duma, compared to the one elected in 1993, may allow them to win chairmanships of second-tier committees only. The Communists will likely maintain their leadership of the committees on legislation and security and possibly gain control of the committees on agriculture and information policy. -- Robert Orttung LEBED CHARGES THAT RESULTS WERE FALSIFIED. Aleksandr Lebed, one of the leaders of the Congress of Russian Communities, blamed his bloc's poor showing on "trickery" and "falsification," Reuters reported. His bloc appears very unlikely to cross the 5% barrier required to win representation in the Duma in party-list voting. He said that he would investigate the vote counting himself. Meanwhile, Central Electoral Commission officials have blamed the slow pace at which results have been coming in on bad weather, roads, and telephone lines. They said it is better to get the results right rather than to add them up too quickly, and they ruled out fraud. -- Robert Orttung and Penny Morvant ZHIRINOVSKY REJECTS ALLIANCE WITH COMMUNISTS. Liberal Democratic Party of Russia leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky rejected an alliance with the Communists on 19 December, Russia TV reported. He said that the election results would have little influence on the government, except to replace three or four ministers, "which would not change anything," ITAR-TASS reported. His party will hold its 7th congress on 10 January to officially nominate him as its presidential candidate. -- Robert Orttung ZYUGANOV CLAIMS SUCCESS FOR LOW COST STRATEGY. Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov claimed that his party's low cost strategy fueled the party's campaign success in an interview published in Pravda on 20 December. However, he accused Presidential Chief of Staff Sergei Filatov of intervening in the vote counting process and temporarily suspending the reporting of the results. He said that his party would work in the Duma with representatives of the Agrarian Party, Power to the People, trade unions, and goods producers. Zyuganov added that the percentage his party won in the Duma elections is not enough to win the June presidential elections and that much work remains to be done. He said that the left should name its candidates for the office of president, prime minister, and key ministerial posts. Earlier, he claimed, the opposition had discussed doing that, but at that time there were too many candidates for the positions. Now that the support for each group is clear, however, it will be easier to solve those personnel questions. -- Robert Orttung KOZYREV WARNS AGAINST OVERREACTION TO ELECTION RESULTS. As returns from the 17 December Duma elections continued to indicate a strong showing by communist and nationalist parties, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev warned against "drawing hasty conclusions," Russian agencies reported on 19 December. Kozyrev argued that despite a weak showing by liberal Western-oriented parties, "neither we, nor our foreign partners should fall into despair or panic." The embattled minister added that his own victory in a single-member constituency in Murmansk, a city with a large naval base, showed that Russians did not reject either the idea of partnership with the West or domestic reform, and said he would discuss his future in the cabinet with President Yeltsin within the next few days (see OMRI Daily Digest, 19 December 1995). -- Scott Parrish INTERNATIONAL REACTION TO DUMA ELECTIONS. U.S. Ambassador to Russia Thomas Pickering downplayed the impact of the elections, saying they would not cause "revolutionary" change in Russian policy, Izvestiya reported on 20 December. Pickering emphasized that U.S. policy toward Russia would remain unchanged despite the election results and pointed out that under the Russian constitution, the president directs foreign policy, not the Duma. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman told ITAR- TASS on 19 December that China would adhere to its current course of "constructive partnership" with Russia, irrespective of the final election results. Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen later said the election results showed the "dissatisfaction" of the Russian people, adding that "raising the living standards of the population is more important than any slogans." -- Scott Parrish ROSSIISKAYA GAZETA SUSPENDS PUBLICATION. The heavily-subsidized government newspaper Rossiiskaya gazeta has suspended publication, proving that even the official press is not immune to financial difficulties, Russian TV and NTV reported on 19 December. The paper's editor in chief, Anatolii Yurkov, complained that the Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) owes the paper 5 billion rubles ($1 million) for publishing about 100 pages of election-related materials during the campaign but refuses to pay. Rossiiskaya gazeta has a circulation of approximately 500,000. In addition to news coverage and commentary, it routinely publishes the full texts of official documents, including laws, presidential decrees, and some Constitutional Court decisions. -- Laura Belin FEDERATION COUNCIL TURNS DOWN CHANGES TO CONSCRIPTION LAW. The Federation Council on 19 December turned down amendments to the law on military service which had been approved by the State Duma on 8 December, ITAR-TASS reported. The changes would have granted exemptions from service to any draftees with a single parent over the age of 52. The Council Defense and Security Committee concluded that adopting the Duma's proposals would damage the armed forces by giving many university graduates a legal basis for avoiding military service. The Federation Council has consistently rejected attempts by the Duma to moderate the terms of military service. -- Constantine Dmitriev RUSSIA TO JOIN POST-COCOM. Twenty-eight countries, including Russia and several other members of the former Warsaw Pact, have agreed to create a new multilateral body to control the export of weapons and sensitive technologies, Western agencies reported on 19 December. The new body, named the Wassenaar Accord, will replace the Cold War era Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Control (COCOM) and will be based in Vienna. A spokesman said it would aim to prevent the export of arms and advanced technology to countries that "constitute a menace to peace and international security," including Iran, Iraq, Libya, and North Korea. The agreement has yet to be formally approved by the governments of the member states and no date has been set for an official signing ceremony, but the body will hold its first meeting in early April. -- Scott Parrish NEW NATO CHIEF CALLS FOR EXPANSION OF THE ALLIANCE. Former Spanish Foreign Minister Javier Solana formally took over as NATO secretary- general on 19 December and immediately pledged to expand the alliance eastward, Reuters reported. He said NATO's enlargement is "the single most important contribution the alliance can make to the aim of creating a more integrated and united Europe." He termed closer cooperation and the creation of stronger ties with Russia as one of NATO's main tasks, adding that Europe's new security architecture should be built with Russia rather than against it. -- Doug Clarke FEDERATION COUNCIL PASSES BUDGET . . . On 19 December, the Federation Council passed the draft 1996 budget by a vote of 90-14, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported the same day. The budget, which had been approved by the Duma on 6 December, now goes to President Yeltsin for signing. It is the first time since 1991 that parliament has approved a budget before the start of the financial year. The budget represents a continuation of the government's tight financial policy, although the Communist Party also voted for the budget in the Duma, after it was amended to include increased spending. -- Peter Rutland . . . AND PRODUCTION SHARING LAW. Parliament's upper house also approved a law on production sharing on 19 December, Reuters reported the same day. The absence of legislation allowing the direct allocation of proceeds from fuel and mineral extraction has been an important deterrent to foreign investors. A draft of the new law was passed by the Duma in June but was blocked by the Federation Council as deputies tried to limit the advantages for foreign investors. A joint commission was set up to work out a compromise bill acceptable to both houses, and on 5 December the Duma passed the bill with a majority sufficient to override a Federation Council veto. However, Segodnya on 15 December reported accusations that Duma Deputy Sergei Glazev switched texts at the last minute, which meant that the bill the Duma approved differed from that drawn up by the conciliation commission. Glazev's version gives the state the right to unilaterally amend production sharing agreements after they have been signed. -- Peter Rutland TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA OPPOSITION TO RECENT ELECTION RULING IN KYRGYZSTAN. Three former presidential candidates have started a hunger strike with 12 supporters to protest the Supreme Court's decision to bar them from running in the 24 December election, Western agencies reported. Jumgalbek Amanbayev, Mamat Aybalayev, and Omurbek Tekebayev were all removed from the presidential ballot due to "irregularities" in collecting the necessary 50,000 signatures required to stand for election. An estimated 100 people have set up a picket line outside the building in which the hunger strikers are staging their protest as a show of support. Interfax reported on 20 December that the three are also calling on the Kyrgyz Legislative Assembly to consider postponing the election date. The three candidates were not considered to have had a chance at winning the election. According to a recent poll, President Askar Akayev would receive 76.5% of the vote. -- Roger Kangas [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. To subscribe, send "SUBSCRIBE OMRI-L YourFirstName YourLastName" (without the quotation marks and inserting your name where shown) to LISTSERV@UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU No subject line or other text should be included. To receive the OMRI Daily Digest by mail or fax, please direct inquiries to OMRI Publications, Na Strzi 63, 140 62 Prague 4, Czech Republic; or electronically to OMRIPUB@OMRI.CZ Tel.: (42-2) 6114 2114; fax: (42-2) 426 396 Please note that there is a new procedure for obtaining permission to reprint or redistribute the OMRI Daily Digest. 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