|No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear. - Edmund Burke|
No. 249, Part I, 27 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ AKAYEV EASILY WINS ELECTION. Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev won an overwhelming victory in his country's presidential election on 24 December, international media reported. Central Electoral Commission spokesman Mambetjunus Abylov reported that 81.8% of the 2.36 million registered voters took part in the election and 73.9% of those who voted cast their ballots for Akayev in Kyrgyzstan's first election since independence in 1991. Absamat Masaliev of the Communist Party and former parliament speaker Medetken Sherimkulov took about 20% and 3% of the vote respectively. Both said they intend to protest the results. Masaliev claims there were numerous incidents of fraud on election day. Most international monitoring organizations have yet to make any comments on the election, but U.S. State Department spokesman Glyn Davies said that the voting "was basically free and open despite some violations of election law." -- Bruce Pannier ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ RUSSIA ELECTORAL COMMISSION ANNOUNCES "FINAL PRELIMINARY" RESULTS. On 25 December, eight days after the Duma elections, the Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) announced "final preliminary" results, Russian media reported. TsIK Chairman Nikolai Ryabov told ITAR-TASS on 26 December that the final official figures may be released later this week: (party list) party-list single-member total seats 1993 (225 total) (225 total) seats KPRF 22.31% 100 58 158 45 NDR 9.89% 44 10 54 na LDPR 11.06% 50 1 51 64 Yabloko 6.93% 31 14 45 25 APR 3.78% 0 20 20 55 DVR 3.9% 0 9 9 76 VN 2.1% 0 9 9 na KRO 4.29% 0 5 5 na ZhR 4.6% 0 3 3 23 PST 4.01% 0 1 1 na KTR 4.52% 0 0 0 0 Note: Independent candidates have won 77 out of the 225 single-member seats, and a number of small parties have won up to three seats each Abbreviations: Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF), Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), Our Home Is Russia (NDR), Women of Russia (ZhR), 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). (Source: ITAR-TASS on 22 December.) * Laura Belin CLOSING SESSION OF FIFTH DUMA. The Fifth State Duma met for the last time on 22 December, having passed 461 draft laws in two years, 282 of which were signed into law by President Yeltsin. Speaker Ivan Rybkin read out a letter from the president praising the lower house for furthering Russia's transition "to civilized parliamentarism," ITAR-TASS reported. However, the same day Yeltsin vetoed the law on corruption which had earlier passed the Duma and Federation Council, citing various technical irregularities. Among the last acts of the Duma on 22 December was its approval of the second half of the Civil Code, governing economic activity. More than 500 partly drafted laws will be referred to the Sixth Duma, which will hold its opening session in mid-January. -- Laura Belin and Peter Rutland MORE CABINET CHANGES DISCUSSED. Although Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin has repeatedly said that the election results would not force any cabinet reshuffles, in a 25 December interview with ITAR-TASS he did not rule out the possibility that representatives of the Communist Party could join his government. The next day, prominent KPRF figure Gennadii Seleznev rejected the offer: "We do not intend to share responsibility for what is going on in the country with the current cabinet." On 26 December, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai announced his departure from the government to serve in the Duma. Shakhrai's Party of Russian Unity and Concord won less than 1% of the vote nationwide, but he was elected in a single-member district in Rostov-na-Donu. -- Laura Belin YELTSIN LEAVES SANITARIUM. President Boris Yeltsin checked out of the Barvikha sanitarium and moved to his nearby country residence on 26 December, Russian and Western agencies reported. Yeltsin had been under medical supervision since being hospitalized on 26 October, following a recurrence of the heart problem that had put him in hospital for nearly a month in July. Yeltsin has now spent about three months this year undergoing medical treatment for his heart condition. On 22 December, Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev announced that Yeltsin's first overseas trip of 1996 would be to China this coming March. A scheduled Yeltsin visit to Beijing this November was canceled due to the president's illness. -- Scott Parrish YELTSIN FORMS PRESIDENTIAL FOREIGN POLICY COUNCIL. On 26 December, President Boris Yeltsin signed a decree creating a Presidential Foreign Policy Council, Russian and Western agencies reported. The new council, to be chaired by the President, will include the ministers of foreign affairs, defense, foreign trade, CIS affairs, and finance, as well as the heads of the Federal Security Service, Foreign Intelligence Service, Federal Border Service, and the president's foreign policy aide. The formation of the council is the latest sign that Yeltsin intends to concentrate foreign policy decision-making in his own hands in an effort to impose order on the chaotic Russian foreign policy process. -- Scott Parrish YELTSIN APPOINTEES DEFEATED IN NOVOSIBIRSK AND TAMBOV. Because no candidate received a majority of the vote on 17 December, runoff elections for the post of governor were held in Novosibirsk and Tambov oblasts on 24 December, Russian agencies reported. In Tambov, with 52.5% turnout, Communist Party (KPRF) candidate and current head of the oblast duma, Aleksandr Ryabov, garnered 52.6% of the vote to defeat incumbent Yeltsin appointee Oleg Betin, who received 43.5%. In Novosibirsk, bad weather did not prevent voter turnout from reaching 40%, more than the 25% needed for a valid election. Preliminary results showed former oblast administration head Vitalii Mukha, who was dismissed by Yeltsin in October 1993 for refusing to implement a Yelstin's decree #1400 to disband parliament and local soviets, defeating incumbent Yeltsin appointee Ivan Indinok. Meanwhile, in Moscow Oblast, a runoff election pitting incumbent Anatolii Tyazhlov against Valerii Galchenko will be held on 30 December, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Scott Parrish RUSSIAN MILITARY REGAINS CONTROL OF GUDERMES. After fierce fighting on 22-23 December, by 25 December Russian troops had reestablished control over the half-destroyed town of Gudermes. They are now engaged in clearing mines and eradicating the remaining pockets of Chechen resistance. The pro-Moscow Chechen government and parliament issued an appeal to the Chechen population for assistance in "restoring order" in the republic. The U.S. government expressed concern at the fighting and called for a halt to hostilities, Radio Rossii reported. On 26 December, Russian TV quoted Russian Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov as stating that the Gudermes offensive has made further negotiations with Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev out of the question. The Round Table of Chechen political parties, meeting in Grozny on 23 December, decided to create a coalition council uniting all political forces including supporters of President Dudaev, according to Russian TV. -- Liz Fuller RUSSIAN BRIGADE DEPARTURE FOR BOSNIA NOT YET FIXED. The Russian brigade slated to join the NATO-led Bosnian peace implementation force (IFOR) will leave for Bosnia in late January, Russian and Western agencies reported on 25 December. However, Russian military officials said the brigade could leave only after the Federation Council approves its deployment. According to the Russian constitution, the council must endorse any use of Russian military units outside the country, and it is scheduled to debate the issue on 5 January. An advance team of airborne officers, led by Maj. Gen. Nikolai Statsenko, visited Bosnia last week. It stirred controversy by meeting with Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic, who is wanted for war crimes (see related Item in Central and Eastern Europe Section). A second 80-man advance force is expected to leave for Bosnia later this week. -- Scott Parrish SECTS INFILTRATING SCHOOLS. A meeting of the government's Commission on Religious Organizations warned that foreign based religious sects are infiltrating schools and colleges and violating the law on the separation of church and state, ITAR-TASS reported on 21 December. Commission members mentioned for example a school course called "The World and I" sponsored by the Church of Reverend Moon, and a "Hubbard hall" run by the scientologists in one of the libraries of Moscow State University. The shift from atheism to religious pluralism has made it more difficult to decide how to regulate such activities, according to the commission's secretary, Anatolii Krasikov. -- Peter Rutland LATEST UNEMPLOYMENT FIGURES. The number of registered unemployed has risen by 40% this year and now stands at 2.2 million, or 3% of the labor force, according to ITAR-TASS on 25 December. There are 350,000 registered vacancies. The unemployment rate ranges from 22% in Ingushetiya and 11% in Ivanovo to only 0.5% in Moscow. Under ILO criteria, the unemployment rate would be considerably higher, totaling around 5 million (8%). -- Peter Rutland ITALIAN FIRM WITHDRAWS FROM TELEPHONE DEAL. The deal under which the Italian firm STET offered a 6.5 trillion ruble ($1.4 billion) bid for the Russian telephone company Svyazinvest collapsed on 23 December, Russian media reported. On 1 December, it was announced that STET won the bidding for a 25% share in the company, which had been carved out of the former monopoly Rostelekom. However, the Russian side complained that STET subsequently began imposing additional conditions. Presidential adviser Aleksandr Livshits, speaking on Russian Public TV (ORT) on 26 December, blamed the deal's failure on "irresponsible comments by a number of opposition party leaders" during the election campaign. He said that a new tender will be arranged next year. -- Peter Rutland TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA TAJIK TALKS POSTPONED, LARGE-SCALE VIOLENCE ON BORDER. The UN special envoy to Tajikistan, Ramiro Piriz-Ballon, announced on 22 December that the fourth round of inter-Tajik talks has been suspended until mid- January, according to RFE/RL. A spokesman for the Tajik opposition, Ali Akbar Turajonzoda, said it is useless to continue the talks until CIS member states make their positions clear at a CIS summit scheduled for mid-January. The announcement touched off fighting on the Tajik-Afghan border in which at least 75 rebels were killed trying to cross into Tajikistan from Afghanistan. -- Bruce Pannier PRESIDENTIAL DECREE STRENGTHENS EXECUTIVE CONTROL OVER SUPREME COURT. Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev issued a decree that does away with the Soviet-era system of peoples' courts, and calls for only professional judges to be appointed to the to the Supreme Court and local courts, Kazakhstanskaya pravda reported on 27 December. Some judges of the Supreme Court are to be elected by members of the Senate and others are to be nominated by the president. The chairman of the Supreme Court endorsed the stand of Justice Minister Konstantin Kolpakov that only a strong executive can ensure the independence of the judiciary, adding that judges are under far more pressure now than in the Soviet period. -- Bhavna Dave in Almaty SHIKHMURADOV ON TURKMEN FOREIGN POLICY. Turkmen Foreign Minister Boris Shikhmuradov told Russian TV on 25 December that his country is suffering from the rupture of economic ties with Russia but expressed confidence that bilateral economic relations would soon improve. Shikhmuradov denied reports that Turkmenistan is sending officers to Turkey for military training, claiming that the country cannot afford to do so, but said that officers are being trained in Russia and Ukraine and that future trainees would be sent to India and Pakistan. He denied that the high Turkish commercial profile in Turkmenistan constitutes a threat to third countries, and reiterated Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov's affirmations that the country would not enter any alliance based on linguistic, ethnic, or geographic proximity. The broadcast characterized Shikhmuradov as a close associate of Niyazov, who in turn was said to be a passionate hunter and fond of chess, folk music, billiards, and cars. -- Liz Fuller ARMENIAN NATIONAL MOVEMENT NAMES TER-PETROSSYAN AS PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. At its seventh congress in Erevan, the ruling Armenian National Movement nominated incumbent Levon Ter-Petrossyan as its candidate for the presidential elections due in September 1996, Radio Rossii reported on 24 December. -- Liz Fuller [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. 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