...ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country. - John F. Kennedy
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 247, Part I, 21 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
YELTSIN SEES NO TRAGEDY IN ELECTION RESULTS. "There is no reason to
worry or to view the elections as a tragedy," President Boris Yeltsin
announced on 20 December at the Barvikha sanitarium. He was confident
that the new Duma would not prevent him from carrying out his current
political course, Radio Rossii reported on 20 December. He said that the
majority in the Duma would support reforms and human rights because the
Communists received 20%, Vladimir Zhirinovsky's party lost support in
comparison to 1993, and the Agrarians did not even cross the 5% barrier.
He warned that a return to Marxist ideology would be "criminal for
Russia and Russians" and that he would "not allow it to happen."
Meanwhile, a final count for the party-list vote had still not been
announced by noon Moscow time on 21 December. -- Robert Orttung
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

GAIDAR: DEMOCRATS MUST NOMINATE ONE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. Russia's
Democratic Choice leader Yegor Gaidar said he will not run for president
in June 1996, NTV reported on 21 December. Instead, his party will work
to unite all of Russia's pro-reform parties, including Our Home Is
Russia, behind a common candidate. He predicted that the "Communist
wave" rising in the country would be short-lived but warned that if
democrats could not agree on a single presidential candidate, Russia
would be left with a choice between Communist Party leader Zyuganov and
Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky in the second
round. -- Laura Belin

SHAKHRAI TO LEAVE GOVERNMENT FOR DUMA. Deputy Prime Minister Sergei
Shakhrai is planning to leave his position in the government to take his
seat in the Duma, NTV reported on 20 December. He was elected in a
Rostov-na-Donu constituency. Russian law prohibits simultaneous
membership in the government and Duma. Although Shakhrai's government
position is more powerful than being a Duma member, his hold on the
office may be tenuous. Shakhrai's Party of Russian Unity and Concord
campaigned against Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's Our Home Is
Russia after splitting with the bloc on 30 August. Communist leader
Gennadii Zyuganov has also identified Shakhrai as one of the ministers
he most wants to replace, making him a likely sacrifice. -- Robert
Orttung

LEAVING THE COUNTRY IS NOT TREASON. The Constitutional Court ruled that
leaving for a foreign country or refusing to return from abroad cannot
be considered a form of treason, Ekho Moskvy reported on 20 December. It
therefore declared Article 64 of the Russian Criminal Code
unconstitutional. The court was considering a case brought by Valerii
Smirnov, who claimed political asylum in Norway while on an official
visit in 1981. He returned to the Soviet Union four months later, only
to be sentenced to 10 years in prison for treason. The court found that
Smirnov did not break the law by refusing to return but left open the
question of whether he committed treason by revealing confidential
information from his work at a state instrument-making institute. --
Laura Belin

ZHIRINOVSKY AGAIN FAILS TO APPEAR IN COURT. Nearly two years have passed
since Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev described Vladimir Zhirinovsky's
views as "fascist" on NTV in January 1994, but the ensuing slander case
remains unresolved. The case was postponed for the third time on 20
December, after Zhirinovsky and the presiding judge both failed to
appear for court hearings, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. Kozyrev told
journalists that he came to court "to defend my right to call fascists
what they are" and referred to Zhirinovsky as a "Fuehrer." -- Laura
Belin

YELTSIN MEETS AKAYEV. President Boris Yeltsin met with his Kyrgyz
counterpart, Askar Akayev, at the Barvikha sanitarium outside Moscow on
20 December, Russian agencies reported. The two presidents released a
statement endorsing the "further deepening of Russian-Kyrgyz cooperation
. . . within the framework of the CIS." Akayev said he will make an
official state visit to Moscow soon to sign more than 20 bilateral
economic agreements, including one formalizing Kyrgyzstan's entry into
the Belarus-Russia-Kazakhstan customs union. He also announced that the
mandate of the CIS forces on the Afghan-Tajik border would be extended
to the end of 1996. Akayev downplayed the results of the Duma elections,
saying they would not hinder democratic reform in Russia. -- Scott
Parrish

COUNCIL OF EUROPE COMMITTEE APPROVES RUSSIAN MEMBERSHIP. A parliamentary
committee of the 38-member Council of Europe decided on 20 December to
submit Russia's application to a vote of the full parliamentary assembly
at its next session, Western and Russian agencies reported. Russia
applied for membership in 1992, but its application was frozen after the
December 1994 military intervention in Chechnya. The application was
reactivated this September once peace negotiations had begun in
Chechnya, but a final decision was postponed pending the outcome of the
17 December Duma elections. Council observers recently back from Russia
endorsed the elections as "fair and correct," allowing the application
to proceed. The council agreed that even if Russia does not yet meet all
of the body's standards, "integration is better than isolation."
Ironically, even as the committee was voting, renewed fighting was
underway in the Chechen town of Gudermes. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIAN PILOTS TO BE RELEASED SOON? A Russian delegation that hoped to
secure the quick release of the seven Russian air crew members held
hostage by the Afghan Taliban movement since 3 August returned to the
United Arab Emirates from Kandahar on 20 December without the pilots,
Russian agencies reported. Delegation head Yurii Kotov told ITAR-TASS
that Taliban has promised to release the crew by 30 December. Taliban
had earlier said it would release the crew only after clarifying the
fate of some 6,000 Afghans it claims were deported to the Soviet Union
during the Afghan War. Kotov said he had given the Taliban documentary
evidence that no Afghan citizens are being forcibly detained in Russia.
Although not entirely satisfied with that response, Taliban agreed to
release the pilots after studying the Russian documents for another 10
days. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPERS READY FOR BOSNIA. The Russian airborne brigade
which will form part of the multinational Bosnian peace implementation
force is preparing to depart from its base in Kostroma, ITAR-TASS
reported on 20 December. The brigade, with an overall strength of 1,500
men, consists of two battalions, drawn from the 76th and 98th Airborne
Guards Divisions. Russian military spokesmen praised both the
multiethnic composition and combat-readiness of the brigade, in which 23
different nationalities are represented, although 78% of the troops are
Russian. The brigade's officers have extensive combat experience, 30%
having served in Afghanistan, and 60% in Chechnya. The brigade'
commander, Col. Aleksandr Lenstov, served two years and Afghanistan and
was recently decorated for bravery in Chechnya. According to a statement
by NATO Supreme Commander General George Joulwan on 19 December, the
Russian brigade will be deployed in the Posavina land corridor together
with troops from the U.S. First Armored Division. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIA REFUTES REPORTS ABOUT POLISH PRIME MINISTER. Russian officials on
20 December reacted angrily to reports in the Polish media accusing
Polish Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy of serving as an agent for Soviet and
later Russian intelligence agencies, Russian agencies reported (see
related item in Central and Eastern Europe section). Alexander
Mikhailov, a spokesman for the Federal Security Service, called such
reports "deliberate rubbish," and Tatyana Samolis, press secretary to
Foreign Intelligence Service head Yevgenii Primakov, also denounced the
accusations as groundless. In a subsequent statement released to ITAR-
TASS, the Russian Foreign Ministry indirectly criticized outgoing Polish
President Lech Walesa, who has called for an investigation of the
allegations. The agency expressed "concern" with the release of such
"false reports," which it said only served to create tensions in Russo-
Polish relations. -- Scott Parrish

INDIA TO BUY RUSSIAN FIGHTERS, SUBMARINES. A high-ranking representative
in the Indian defense establishment told journalists in New Delhi on 19
December that India and Russia are about to sign an agreement on the
sale to India of two squadrons of Russian multipurpose Su-30MK jets.
ITAR-TASS reported that some of those aircraft would be used for
photographic and electronic reconnaissance. The two sides are reportedly
"very close" to a contract for the sale of six more Kilo-class
submarines to India, and are still negotiating the sale of the aircraft
carrier Admiral Gorshkov. -- Doug Clarke

AGENCY SET UP TO INVESTIGATE MOSCOW CONTRACT KILLINGS . . . A special
service of procurators and detectives will be set up to investigate
contract killings in the capital, Moskovskii komsomolets reported on 20
December citing sources within the city Procurator's Office. Only two of
the 45 contract killings in Moscow this year have been solved. Half the
victims were businessmen, and the other half belonged to criminal
groups. Interior Minster Anatolii Kulikov called on 1 December for the
creation of a special bureau to investigate the large number of contract
killings in Russia. -- Penny Morvant

. . . DEPUTY KILLED IN KOMI. A Komi State Council deputy, Yevgenii
Leontev, was gunned down outside Vorkuta airport on 20 December, ITAR-
TASS reported. Leontev, who died as he was being taken to hospital, was
the director of a coal-exporting company. The agency said that a number
of businessmen involved in coal exports have been killed; thus, it seems
likely that Leontev's death was also linked to his business activities.
-- Penny Morvant

COST OF MOSCOW METRO RIDE INCREASES. The cost of a Moscow metro ticket
went up 50% on 21 December to 1,500 rubles (32 cents), ITAR-TASS
reported. But according to the Moscow Mayor's Office, even the new price
covers only a quarter of the real cost of a trip. The last increase was
on 20 September, when the cost of a token went up from 800 rubles to
1,000. Metro workers have repeatedly complained about safety, claiming
that none of the trains on the network are in good working order. The
metro has carried 9 million passengers a day since its inauguration
under Stalin in 1935. -- Penny Morvant

ECONOMICS MINISTRY ISSUES 1996 INVESTMENT FORECAST. The Economics
Ministry expects investment to grow by 4% in 1996, and reach 310
trillion rubles ($67 billion), Segodnya reported on 20 December. Of
this, two thirds will be raised from companies' internal resources, and
some 50 trillion rubles ($11 billion) will be invested by commercial
banks. However, the head of the Association of Russian Banks, Sergei
Yegorov, doubted whether firms and banks would be able to generate such
a level of investment. He noted, for example, that the banks only
managed to raise 4.5 trillion rubles ($1 billion) to participate in the
recent round of share auctions. -- Natalia Gurushina and Peter Rutland

FOREIGN TRADE CONTINUES TO PROSPER. During the first 11 months of the
year, Russian foreign trade turnover was $113 billion, 21% up over the
same period last year, Delovoi mir reported on 20 December. Exports rose
21% and the trade surplus widened to $31 billion, belying reports that
the ruble corridor had made exports unprofitable. Exports to non-CIS
countries rose 28%, to $59 billion, while exports to the CIS fell 3.5%,
to $12.4 billion. -- Peter Rutland

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION RESULTS CONTESTED IN KAZAKHSTAN. Appeals from
unsuccessful candidates in the 9 December elections to the lower house
(Majilis) of the Kazakhstani parliament have reduced the number of
occupied seats in the house from the originally announced 43 to 32,
according to Western agencies. This could complicate plans for opening
67-seat Majilis which needs at least 45 deputies to hold a quorum. The
Central Electoral Commission has not yet commented on the results. A
run-off election involving the two leading candidates from each
electoral district will be held on 23 December to fill the empty seats.
An appeal by a defeated candidate in the March 1994 parliamentary
elections, Tatyana Kvyatkovskaya, started a review process that led to
the previous parliament being dissolved in March 1995. However, that
scenario is unlikely to repeat itself. -- Bruce Pannier

KAZAKHSTAN GETS RUSSIAN WARPLANES. The Kazakhstani air force received
eight MiG-29s from Russia on 19 December, ITAR-TASS reported. Sources in
the Russian Defense Ministry told the agency that Russia also plans to
export Su-25 close air support planes and Su-27 fighters to Kazakhstan.
The sources said the exports are part of the concept of collective CIS
border protection. -- Doug Clarke

[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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