To get rid of an enemy, one must love him. - Leo Tolstoy
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 251, Part I, 29 December 1995


Note to readers: The OMRI Daily Digest will not appear on 1 January
1996.

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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 RETURNS TO KREMLIN. Russian President Boris Yeltsin returned to
his office in the Kremlin on the morning of 29 December after a two-
month absence due to heart trouble. In an interview with ITAR-TASS,
Yeltsin said the two most important international events of the year
were the 50th anniversary of the UN and the Dayton peace accord. The
most important domestic events were the holding of the Duma election
and, for himself, the birth of his fourth grandchild. -- Peter Rutland
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

GOVERNMENT PURGE IN OFFING? On 28 December, President Boris Yeltsin gave
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin two days to fire those responsible
for "sabotaging" the government's economic program, NTV reported the
same day. Presidential spokesman Sergei Medvedev said the president was
angry with the Economics Ministry because it had failed to provide the
investments he had promised during a visit to the Krasnoyarsk combine
plant last year. The Finance Ministry is also being criticized for
failing to release routine budget funds. The acting head of the Defense
Ministry's finance department, General Vasilii Kuznetsov, said that his
ministry did not receive any money in December, according to Interfax of
28 December. ITAR-TASS on 25 December quoted Yurii Malyshev, the head of
Rosugol, as saying that the 500 billion rubles ($108 million) the
government promised for coal miner's wages had also not been paid. --
Peter Rutland

OUR HOME IS RUSSIA SUPPORTS YELTSIN FOR RE-ELECTION. Although
Chernomyrdin is frequently mentioned as a presidential contender,
representatives of his bloc, Our Home Is Russia (NDR), continue to
express loyalty to President Yeltsin. Sergei Belyaev, leader of the NDR
Duma faction, said his party will select a presidential candidate at a
conference in January or February, and will support Yeltsin if he runs
for re-election, Russian media reported on 28 December. He also said the
NDR will have as many as 80-100 deputies in the new Duma, providing the
only real competition for the Communists in parliament. The KPRF will
have at least 158 Duma seats. NDR won 44 on the party list and 10
single-member districts, but Belyaev said many independents were joining
the faction as well. -- Laura Belin

LEBED TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT. Retired general Aleksandr Lebed, a leader of
the Congress of Russian Communities (KRO), announced on 28 December that
he intends to run for president in 1996, Russian and Western media
reported. Lebed reportedly hopes that his candidacy will be supported by
the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. During the campaign he
suggested several times that KRO and the Communists form an alliance,
but the idea was rebuked by Yurii Skokov, another KRO leader. KRO had a
disappointing showing in parliamentary elections and failed to make the
5% cut-off. However, most Russian commentators are already saying that
if Lebed were to win Communist backing he would be the clear favorite in
June's presidential race. -- Laura Belin

COMPETITION LIKELY FOR COMMUNIST PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION. Lebed's
announcement adds another wrinkle to the KPRF's plans to choose a
presidential candidate in January. The party has not yet formally
responded to Lebed's offer of an alliance during the presidential
campaign. KPRF leader Gennadii Zyuganov, who is considered to lack the
charisma needed to win a presidential election, has insisted that the
Communists will unite behind a single candidate. Aman Tuleev, the
outspoken governor of Kemerovo who was third on the KPRF party list for
the Duma elections, told Radio Rossii on 26 December that he will run
for president if Yeltsin runs for re-election. (Tuleev finished fourth
in the 1991 presidential elections with 6.8% of the vote.) Furthermore,
Petr Romanov, a prominent Krasnoyarsk factory director elected to the
Duma on the KPRF list, continues to prepare for a presidential bid. --
Laura Belin

GORBACHEV ALSO LEANING TOWARD PRESIDENTIAL BID. Former Soviet President
Mikhail Gorbachev said he is leaning toward running for president in
1996 as part of a "broad coalition of democratic forces," Izvestiya
reported on 28 December. He added, "I cannot remain on the sidelines
during a time of difficult ordeals for Russia." -- Laura Belin

EX-DEPUTIES TO BE GIVEN GOVERNMENT JOBS. According to a statement issued
by Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin, all the deputies who failed to be re-
elected in December will be given positions in top government agencies
and Moscow residency permits, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 December. Only 93
of the Duma's 450 deputies won re-election on 17 December. Officials of
the Moscow Mayor's Office complain that almost all the deputies who lost
their seats in the recent election are refusing to leave the apartments
they received from the city, NTV reported on 26 December. The city has
supplied 250 deputies with apartments since 1993. The deputies should in
theory leave their apartments by the end of January. In the meantime,
new deputies will be accommodated in the Hotel Rossiya. -- Peter Rutland

PRESIDENTIAL COUNCIL RECOMMENDS 20 DECREES ON LOCAL SELF-GOVERNMENT . .
. The Presidential Council on Local Self-Government ruled that the
federal government should issue about 20 decrees to make the law on
self-government workable, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 December. Sergei
Filatov, head of the presidential administration, said bills are
urgently needed in the areas of self-government structure, local
financing, and taxation. Filatov added that he fears that local
governments could become "sovietized" following the Communist Party's
recent electoral victory. -- Anna Paretskaya

. . . WHILE REGIONAL LAWS TO BE EXAMINED. Filatov also said the
Presidential State Legal Administration (GPU) has prepared
Constitutional Court cases against various bills passed in 70 of the
country's 89 federation subjects that allegedly contradict the Russian
constitution, Segodnya reported on 27 December. Filatov said President
Yeltsin would soon establish a commission to harmonize local legislation
with the constitution. GPU experts say they have also found several
examples of federal laws that contradict the constitution as well as
other federal legislation. On 29 December, President Yeltsin vetoed a
Duma bill on relations between krais and oblasts composed of autonomous
okrugs, saying it contradicted the constitution. -- Anna Paretskaya

INGUSH PARLIAMENT CALLS FOR ABOLITION OF INTERIM COMMITTEE. On 28
December, the Ingush parliament appealed to President Boris Yeltsin and
the Russian government to abolish the interim committee created to deal
with the situation in North Ossetiya's disputed Prigorodny Raion
following violent clashes between Ossetiyans and Ingush in the autumn of
1992, ITAR-TASS reported. The parliament argues that the committee has
not been able to stabilize the situation in Prigorodnyi Raion and
proposed that special rule be imposed on the districts that have been
set aside for the repatriation of Ingush refugees. The presidents of
North Ossetiya and Ingushetiya, Akhsarbek Galazov and Ruslan Aushev, met
with Yeltsin's aide for nationality issues, Nikolai Yegorov, in Moscow
on 16-17 December and subsequently ratified an agreement on normalizing
relations between their respective republics. -- Liz Fuller

FOREIGN TRADE MINISTER IN TEHRAN. Russian Deputy Prime Minister and
Minister of Foreign Trade Oleg Davydov initialed two intergovernmental
economic protocols with his Iranian counterpart during a three-day visit
to Tehran, Russian and Western agencies reported on 28 December. One of
the protocols covers mutual debt repayment. The other which outlines
bilateral economic cooperation for the next 10 years, calls for the
creation of joint oil and gas companies, a move certain to draw
criticism from the U.S. which has imposed a unilateral trade embargo on
Iran. At a press conference Davydov termed Iran a "strategic partner"
for Russia. The two ministers indirectly threatened Azerbaijan by
jointly declaring that under a pending agreement on a new legal regime
for the Caspian Sea, no single country will be permitted to exploit the
sea's mineral resources. -- Scott Parrish

YELTSIN SUSPENDS SANCTIONS AGAINST RUMP YUGOSLAVIA. On 28 December,
President Yeltsin issued a directive ordering the suspension of UN
economic sanctions against rump Yugoslavia, Russian and Western agencies
reported. The directive was issued in accordance with UN Security
Resolution 1,022, passed on 22 November, which suspends the sanctions as
part of the Dayton agreement. The directive does not suspend Russian
participation in sanctions against the Serb-held areas of Bosnia,
however, which remain in place until Bosnian Serb military forces
withdraw behind demarcation lines laid out in the Dayton accord.
Meanwhile, in New York, Russian UN Delegate Sergei Lavrov called on the
Security Council to adopt a resolution condemning the "gross and mass
violations of human rights" by Croatian authorities in Krajina, citing a
recent report on the issue by the UN secretary general. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIA TO RESTRICT TEXTILE IMPORTS. Dmitrii Sukhoparov, the head of the
department for regulating foreign trade at the Foreign Economic
Relations Ministry, announced that Russia will soon introduce quotas
limiting textile imports from the EU, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 December.
Sukhoparov complained that the EU limits Russian textile exports to $180
million a year while it sells $740 million worth of its own textiles to
Russia. The Russian Justice Ministry recently prepared a document
authorizing the imposition of such anti-dumping measures, which
Sukhoparov claimed are fully in accord with GATT and WTO rules. Import
quotas are also being considered for other items, such as cash
registers. -- Peter Rutland

GOVERNMENT SELLS 16% STAKE IN LUKOIL. The Russian investment company
Nikoil has won a share auction for a 16% stake in LUKoil, Russia's
largest oil company, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 December. Nikoil's offer
to invest 800 billion rubles ($170 million) in LUKoil in return for the
shares beat out the sole rival bidder. Earlier this month, the State
Privatization Committee transferred a 5% federal stake in LUKoil to the
company itself and Imperial Bank in exchange for a $35 million loan.
Nikoil is thought to be a front company for LUKoil, having been created
in order to trade in the shares of LUKoil and other petroleum companies.
If so, it will be another entry on the list of auctions with
predetermined outcomes. Earlier this week, one of the few privatization
auctions to be won by an outsider, STET's bid for a stake in
Svyazinvest, fell through. -- Natalia Gurushina

TWO MORE OIL COMPANIES HOLD AUCTIONS. On 28 December, Neftyannaya
Finansovaya Kompaniya and Stolichnyi Bank bought 51% of the shares in
Sibneft with a Menatep Bank guarantee, ITAR-TASS reported. The bid was
$100.3 million, $300,000 above the start price. On the same day, the
auction of 15% of the shares in Nafta-Moskva, the former
Soyuznefteeksport, was held for the second time. It was won with a bid
of $20.01 million by Nafta Moskva and Unibestbank, with a guarantee from
Onekismbank (which also organized the auction). The bid was just $10,000
above the reserve price. The first sale of Nafta shares, on 17 November,
was reversed after the winner proved unable to come up with the money.
-- Peter Rutland

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

NEW CHAIRMAN OF UZBEK CONSTITUTIONAL COURT ELECTED BY PARLIAMENT. The
Uzbek Oliy Majlis elected Bahodir Ishanov to head the country's
Constitutional Court, according to an Uzbek Radio report cited by the
BBC on 28 December. Ishanov, who was President Islam Karimov's nominee,
is currently a the chairman of the Oliy Majlis Committee on Legislation
and Court Issues. Under Uzbek law, Ishanov must step down from his
position in the Oliy Majlis to assume his new post. A deputy chairman
and two standing members were also elected to the Constitutional Court.
-- Roger Kangas

107 DEAD AS CYCLONE WRECKS NORTH KAZAKHSTAN. At least 107 people are
dead and many more are missing following a devastating cyclone and
bitter cold weather in the Akmola, Kokshetau, Kostanai, and Karaganda
oblasts in north-central Kazakhstan, Karavan-Blitz reported on 28
December. -- Bhavna Dave in Almaty

OBSERVERS SATISFIED WITH KYRGYZ ELECTIONS. Representatives of the UN
Development Program and the OSCE in Kyrgyzstan released a statement on
28 December describing the country's recent presidential election as
"generally free and open" despite some violations of voting procedure,
Reuters reported. The statement noted that there had been some reported
cases of the titular head of a household voting on behalf of an entire
family. Pre-election registration rules for candidates and the exclusion
of three candidates from the election for allegedly violating those
rules "raised some legal and constitutional concerns," but the observers
"for the most part found the presidential elections to be a step
forward" from the country's February parliamentary elections. The final
results show that with 86% of eligible voters participating, Akayev won
71.6% of the vote. -- Bruce Pannier

[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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