Treat your friends as you do your pictures, and place them in their best light. - Jennie Jerome Churchill
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

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
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              Copyright (C) 1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
                       All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
 
         

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