ZHizn' ne v tom, chtoby zhit', a v tom, chtoby chuvstvovat', chto zhivesh'. - V.O. Klyuchevskij
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 248, Part I, 22 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
RYBKIN CLAIMS COURT MAY EXAMINE VALIDITY OF ELECTIONS. Duma Speaker Ivan
Rybkin said 21 December that the Constitutional Court may examine the
validity of the election returns since the four parties that won more
than 5% of the vote collectively received less than 50% of all the votes
cast. Common Cause's Irina Khakamada also voiced support for such an
appeal, while the Congress of Russian Communities' Sergei Glazev and
Derzhava's Aleksandr Rutskoi claimed that the results do not reflect the
number of votes they had actually received, Russian TV reported. The
Central Electoral Commission has yet to report the final results of the
party-list vote, fostering speculation about possible falsifications,
according to the 21-27 December issue of Obshchaya gazeta. -- Robert
Orttung
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

GOVERNMENT NEWSPAPER SAYS MAJORITY VOTED FOR REFORMS. In an
extraordinary interpretation of the election results, a commentary in
the official government newspaper Rossiiskaya gazeta argued on 22
December that the majority of Russians voted "for reforms." Aleksei Kiva
argued that people are "beginning to believe in democratic institutions"
instead of rushing "to the barricades." He also said voters did not
choose a return to the past, in that even Communist Party (KPRF) leader
Gennadii Zyuganov recognizes the need for private property and civil
rights. The author said many people split their vote, declining to vote
for pro-reform blocs in the party-list ballot but supporting individual
reformers like Sergei Kovalev and Sergei Yushenkov. (In fact, the KPRF
won 58 of the 225 single-member districts, while Russia's Democratic
Choice won only nine and Our Home Is Russia won 10). Rossiiskaya gazeta
resumed publication on 22 December, three days after editor Anatolii
Yurkov announced that financial difficulties were forcing the paper to
suspend publication. -- Laura Belin

SHUMEIKO MOVEMENT HOLDS FOUNDING CONGRESS. Federation Council Speaker
Vladimir Shumeiko's Reform-New Course movement held its founding
congress on 21 December and discussed nominating Boris Yeltsin as its
presidential candidate in 1996, NTV reported. Shumeiko said that
"changing the course of reform does not mean changing the government,"
Russian TV reported. The president's relations to the movement are
unclear. Although Yeltsin had earlier said the movement was "no good,"
he sent greetings to the congress and expressed the hope that it would
be a "significant political force." Federation Council Deputy Yelena
Mizulina suggested that some members of the movement support Grigorii
Yavlinskii for president. -- Robert Orttung

YELTSIN VETOES LAW BANNING ORT. As expected, President Boris Yeltsin
vetoed the law on reorganization, privatization, and liquidation of
state radio and television companies passed by the Duma on 24 November
and approved by the Federation Council on 9 December, ITAR-TASS reported
on 21 December. The president vetoed a similar measure in June. In
particular, the law would have suspended the creation of Russian Public
TV (ORT), created as part of a November 1994 presidential decree
ordering the restructuring of Ostankino. ORT has broadcast on Channel 1
since 1 April, and Ostankino was liquidated under a 6 October
presidential decree. -- Laura Belin

HEAVY FIGHTING IN GUDERMES. Fighting continued in the city of Gudermes,
40 km east of the Chechen capital Grozny, NTV reported on 21 December.
One hundred federal troops remain trapped in the city's railway station.
Nearly half the city's 50,000 inhabitants are reported to have fled.
Having besieged government positions for a week, Dudaev's forces were
reportedly trying to break out of the ring of federal units which now
surrounds the city. The fighting is thought to have claimed at least 100
lives. Chechen fighters also continue to occupy the towns of Urus Martan
and Achkhoi Martan. -- Scott Parrish and Peter Rutland

SHIPYARD WORKERS END BLOCKADE OF SUBMARINE. Shipyard workers at the
naval yard in Polyarnyi, on the Kola Peninsula, have ended their three-
day blockade of a nuclear-powered submarine, ITAR-TASS reported on 21
December. Complaining that they had not been paid since August, the
workers had prevented the repaired submarine from leaving the yard.
Russian TV reported on 21 December that the Northern Fleet threatened to
initiate criminal proceedings against them and to switch off heat
supplies to the 30,000 inhabitants of the city (the temperature being
minus 30 degrees C). The workers gave in when they were promised that
September's wages will be paid within four days. -- Doug Clarke and
Peter Rutland

FOREIGN MINISTRY: NO SHIFT AFTER ELECTIONS. Foreign Ministry spokesman
Grigorii Karasin said at a 21 December Moscow press conference that the
victory of communist and nationalist parties in the 17 December Duma
elections would not trigger any significant changes in Russian foreign
policy, ITAR-TASS reported. Karasin said that as before the election,
President Yeltsin would direct foreign policy, not the Duma. He added
that Russia's "foreign partners" should expect continuity, although he
admitted that the new Duma would exert influence on some aspects of
Russian policy and promised Yeltsin would take into account the opinions
of the new Duma majority. On the same day, U.S. President Bill Clinton
said the results of the elections "would not in any way affect our
relations with Russia." -- Scott Parrish

PRIMAKOV OUTLINES GOALS OF RUSSIAN FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE. Speaking before
a 21 December Moscow meeting marking the 75th anniversary of the Russian
Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), its director, Yevgenii Primakov,
declared that NATO expansion would create a "security threat" for
Russia, Western and Russian agencies reported. Primakov said that trying
to understand the "true motives" of those who advocate NATO enlargement
is a key task of the SVR, and added his agency would seek to block the
alliance's expansion while trying to establish good relations with
former Cold War adversaries. Primakov admitted that Russia no longer had
an obvious "main opponent" but said Russian policy should seek to
prevent the emergence of a global hegemony, a thinly veiled reference to
the U.S. Primakov also noted the importance of combating the threat to
Russian national security and territorial integrity posed by ethno-
national conflicts and terrorism. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIAN-ESTONIAN BORDER TALKS ADJOURN. Russo-Estonian border
negotiations ended in St. Petersburg on 21 December without producing
agreement on the disputed boundary between the two countries, Russian
and Western agencies reported. Russian delegation head Vasilii Svirin
told ITAR-TASS that some progress had been made on border demarcation,
the rights of citizens of both countries living near the border, and
other issues, adding that talks would resume in Tallinn on 25 January.
However, the Russian diplomat criticized Estonia, saying the dispute
could only be resolved if neither country had any territorial claims on
the other. Estonia claims the border should be based on the 1920 Tartu
treaty, which would result in the transfer to Estonia of about 2,000 sq.
km. of territory that has been under Russian jurisdiction since WW II.
-- Scott Parrish

CORRUPT OFFICIALS RELEASE CRIMINAL KINGPINS. Since the beginning of
1995, 25 crime bosses (vory v zakone) have been held in pre-trail
detention centers in Moscow, eight of whom have been released on bail,
Segodnya and Komsomolskaya pravda reported on 21 December. Vladislav
Selivanov, the deputy head of the Interior Ministry's Organized Crime
Department in Moscow, said the immunity of criminal leaders is due to
the "extremely high degree of corruption of the authorities." Police say
about half the earnings of criminal groups is used to bribe state
officials, judges, and journalists. -- Penny Morvant

ECONOMIC ISSUES FACING DUMA. Commentators agree that the Duma will have
very little scope to alter the government's economic policy over the
next six months and will probably focus on maneuvering for the
presidential elections. Speaking on Radio Rossii on 21 December,
Aleksandr Privalov suggested that the Duma will challenge the government
on four issues: social support for the poorer sections of society;
privatization and deprivatization; the role of foreign capital; and the
reintroduction of price regulation and state purchases. -- Peter Rutland

GOVERNMENT REJECTS DRAFT REGIONAL POLICY. A 21 December meeting of the
government chaired by First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets
rejected the draft regional policy document prepared by the
Nationalities Ministry, Rossiiskaya gazeta reported on 22 December.
Participants in the meeting, which included regional administration
heads, complained that the document does not contain a unified
governmental policy, only policies for individual sectoral ministries.
There was no agreement on how to restore central authority, but there
was a consensus of sorts on the need "to support certain regions that
can function as the engine pulling the national economy out of
recession," Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 21 December. Speaking on
NTV on 21 December, academic Sergei Mitrokhin argued that "at present
the government simply does not have a regional policy." -- Peter Rutland

ITALIAN COMPANIES TO MANAGE REGIONAL INVESTMENT FUND. Two Italian
companies, SOFIPA and IRITEX, have won a tender to manage a $50 million
investment fund for small business development in Vologda, Novgorod,
Pskov, and Tver oblasts, Delovoi ekspress reported on 21 December. The
fund is one of 11 regional investment funds set up in Russia by the G-7
states. Seven of the funds are financed by individual countries and four
by the EU. -- Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

KARIMOV SACKS PRIME MINISTER. The Uzbek Oily Majilis dismissed Prime
Minister Abdulkhosim Mutalov on 21 December, a decision prompted by
President Islam Karimov. Previously, Karimov noted that "a fresh
approach to the economy" is needed, especially with respect to
stabilization measures and increasing foreign trade. Recently,
Uzbekistan has experienced monetary problems, with the black market rate
for the sum at 50 to $1 compared with the official rate of 36 to $1.
Mutalov's replacement, the 46-year-old Utkir Sultanov, is an experienced
politician and knowledgeable about economic matters, having held the
post of foreign economic relations minister. With the dismissal of
Mulatov, Karimov has almost completely removed the core of supporters he
had when he rose to power, which included such officials as former Vice
President Shukhrulla Mirsaidov, former Justice Minister and Ambassador
the U.S. Babur Malikov, and former Foreign Minister Said-Mukhtar
Saidkasimov. -- Roger Kangas

REGIONAL SHAKE-UP IN UZBEKISTAN. Uzbek President Islam Karimov replaced
the hokims of two wilayatlar, or regions, in Uzbekistan late last month,
RFE/RL reported. The local governments in Samarkand and Kashkadarya have
been the subject of much criticism in recent weeks, for delays of up to
six months in the payment of wages. The new hokim for Samarkand is
former Justice Minister Alisher Mardiyev, a close ally of Karimov, and
Azat Fermanov will take over on Kashkadarya. Karimov himself is from
Samarkand and had political experience in Kashkadarya--regions which
were thought to be strongly supportive of his administration. Sirajuddin
Mirsafayev will take over from Mardiyev at the Justice Ministry. --
Roger Kangas

KAZAKHSTAN ELECTION ROUNDUP. President Nursultan Nazarbayev issued a
decree that grants him the right to remove any minister or replace the
entire government "on his own initiative," ITAR-TASS reported on 20
December. The decree also bars ministers from being deputies in any
representative body. Meanwhile, the Central Electoral Commission
reported that of the 32 Majilis deputies elected, 26 are Kazakhs, four
Russians, one Ukrainian, and one Korean. No candidates have been elected
from Akmola, North Kazakhstan, and Torgai oblasts. Only one out of three
Majilis seats have been filled in Kokshetau and Semipalatinsk oblasts,
both by independent candidates; and two out of the four candidates
elected in East Kazakhstan oblast are non-government candidates,
denoting a unhappiness with the government's policies in the Russian-
dominated eastern and northern regions of the country. Run-off elections
for 24 Majilis seats and re-elections to another seat are to be held on
23 December. -- Bhavna Dave in Almaty and Bruce Pannier

ONE LAST APPEAL BEFORE KYRGYZ ELECTION. The three candidates who were
disqualified from running in the 24 December Kyrgyz presidential
election called off their hunger strike on 21 December, while still
calling for the elections to be recognized as unconstitutional, RFE/RL
reported. The three candidacies were rejected after the Central
Electoral Commission ruled that some of the 50,000 signatures they had
collected were forged. -- Bruce Pannier

GEORGIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST REQUESTS ASYLUM IN GERMANY. Giorgi
Kervalishvili, president of the Georgian Association for the Protection
of Human Rights, met the German deputy ambassador to Georgia and handed
him a letter addressed to Chancellor Helmut Kohl and requesting
political asylum in Germany, Iprinda news agency reported on 20
December. In his conversation with the deputy ambassador, Kervalishvili
said that basic human rights are still being violated in Georgia and
that he himself is under "constant moral and psychological pressure from
the authorities." -- 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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