There is one thing more exasperating than a wife who can cook and won't, and that is the wife who can't cook and will. - Robert Frost
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 3, Part I, 4 January 1996


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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
ELECTED DEPUTIES MUST ANNOUNCE INTENTIONS BY 5 JANUARY. Central
Electoral Commission (TsIK) Chairman Nikolai Ryabov announced that newly
elected deputies to the State Duma must confirm by 5 January that they
have given up any other jobs "incompatible with their new status,"
Interfax reported on 3 January. In December, the TsIK reminded all
deputies that if they serve in the next parliament, they cannot
simultaneously "be employed by the government or hold paid jobs in any
fields except teaching, scientific research, and creative expression in
general." Lawmakers in the previous Duma were allowed to hold jobs
outside the legislature, and several cabinet ministers were also
deputies. Perm Oblast Governor Boris Kuznetsov has submitted his
resignation to President Yeltsin in order to take up his Duma seat,
ITAR-TASS reported on 4 January. The Sixth Duma is scheduled to hold its
first session on 16 January. It is still unclear whether Foreign
Minister Andrei Kozyrev will hold on to his government post or give it
up to take the Duma seat that he won in a Murmansk constituency in the
17 December election, Russian agencies reported on 3 January. -- Laura
Belin, Anna Paretskaya, and Scott Parrish
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

MIKHALKOV GIVES UP DUMA SEAT. Oscar-winning film director Nikita
Mikhalkov, who was second on the Our Home Is Russia party list, will
give up his Duma seat in order to concentrate on his next film project,
an epic about Russian army officers, Russian and Western media reported
on 3 January. He told ITAR-TASS that he joined the prime minister's bloc
to help prevent a victory for "the radical opposition," not because he
planned to become a deputy himself. Mikhalkov added that only political
stability can create the conditions for solving Russia's other problems,
including poverty, crime, and the destruction of "national culture."
Unlike government officials, Mikhalkov was not forced to choose between
his creative work and serving in parliament. -- Laura Belin

OUR HOME IS RUSSIA FACTION TO DIFFER FROM PARTY LIST. Our Home Is Russia
(NDR) will have at least 55 deputies in the next Duma, but the
composition of the faction may be very different from the slate of
candidates that 10% of Russians voted for on 17 December. Prime Minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin has already announced that he will continue to lead
the cabinet rather than serve in the Duma. Early reports after the
election indicated that General Lev Rokhlin, NDR's #3 candidate, would
also give up his Duma seat to stay in the armed forces, but according to
NTV on 3 January, Rokhlin has still not made a final decision. The
future of Nikolai Travkin, currently minister without portfolio in the
government and the administrative head of the Shakhov region of the
Moscow Oblast, is unclear. Two city government officials in Moscow,
Vladimir Resin and Vladimir Sister, have requested that their Duma seats
be passed to candidates lower on the NDR list so that they can remain in
their current jobs, Interfax reported. NTV noted that some of the 10 Our
Home Is Russia deputies elected in single-member districts also are
heads of local governments or large enterprises and have not yet
announced their intentions. -- Laura Belin

NEW FEDERAL OFFENSIVE IN CHECHNYA? Despite a recent lull in the fighting
in Chechnya, which has slackened since federal forces retook Gudermes
from separatist fighters, the appointment of Lt. Gen. Vyacheslav
Tikhomirov as the new commander of federal forces in the republic has
triggered speculation that a renewed government offensive may be in the
offing. Some commentators have noted that Tikhomirov is a regular army
officer, while his predecessor, Lt. Gen. Anatolii Shkirko, was from the
Interior Troops. Military sources told Interfax on 3 January that
Tikhomirov is a "decisive" commander, predicting that "federal troops
will begin to actively disarm illegal armed formations." Meanwhile, NTV
reported that the 8th Guards Corps, which participated in the storming
of Grozny last year, may be redeployed to Chechnya, although a spokesman
for the unit, currently on tactical exercises near its Volgograd base,
refused to confirm the reports. -- Scott Parrish

NEMTSOV PROPOSES NEW ECONOMIC POLICY. Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast Governor
Boris Nemtsov, who was re-elected on 17 December, has proposed a new
economic policy for the oblast, Radio Rossii reported on 3 January.
According to Nemtsov, the policy's main aim is to establish the best
possible conditions for producers and entrepreneurs and set aside
"fruitless political debates." The policy includes proposals for lower
taxes and the creation of offshore and free economic zones. -- Anna
Paretskaya

RYURIKOV ON FOREIGN POLICY COUNCIL. The new Presidential Council on
Foreign Policy, created by a Yeltsin decree on 26 December (see OMRI
Daily Digest, 27 December 1995), is not directed at any particular
ministry or minister, presidential foreign policy aide Dmitrii Ryurikov
told Interfax on 3 January. He said the new council would help the
Foreign Ministry by fostering "the coordination of Russian foreign
policy and unification of all its spheres." Ryurikov stressed that the
primary task of the new council would be to monitor the implementation
of foreign policy decisions made by the president, a job which would be
handled by the new council's secretariat, he added. Indirectly admitting
that Russian foreign policy-making is uncoordinated, Ryurikov described
the formation of the council as "the only way to make every department
carry out state policy." -- Scott Parrish

RUSSO-UKRAINIAN DISPUTE OVER OIL PIPELINE. Anonymous Russian officials
blamed Ukraine for the suspension of oil shipments to Eastern Europe via
the "Druzhba" pipeline, which crosses Ukrainian territory, Interfax
reported on 3 January. The pipeline shut down on 1 January because of a
dispute between Russia and Ukraine over transit fees. The officials
accused Ukraine of violating an intergovernmental agreement by trying to
unilaterally impose a 10% increase on transit fees. Oleksandr Sverdelov,
a Ukrainian spokesman, attributed the shutoff to Russian insistence that
oil be shipped at the old tariff until new transit fees are negotiated.
Sverdlov said Ukraine wanted to raise the transit fee for shipping one
metric ton of oil to $5.20, from the current $4.53, although he said a
"realistic" price would be $7.20. -- Scott Parrish

MORE THAN 45 BILLION RUBLES SPENT ON CENTERS FOR REFUGEES AND FORCED
MIGRANTS. The Federal Migration Service spent more than 45 billion
rubles in 1995 on centers to temporarily house refugees and forced
migrants, ITAR-TASS reported on 3 January. There are 160 such centers in
Russia, 68 of which were set up in the North Caucasus to cope with the
influx of refugees from the Ossetiyan-Ingush conflict and Chechnya.
Refugees are supposed to stay in the centers for no more than three
months, but according to the Migration Service that is not enough time
to resettle them due to a lack of funds. In 1995, only 106 apartments
were found for refugees from the centers, which currently house about
25,000 people. Better-off immigrants receive interest-free loans to help
them relocate; most move to rural areas. -- Penny Morvant

INVESTIGATION OF MEN CASE CONCLUDED. The Moscow Oblast Procurator's
Office has closed the investigation into the murder of reformist priest
Aleksandr Men, who was slain with an axe in 1990, Russian TV reported on
3 January. Igor Bushnev, who has been charged with the murder, will be
tried by a court in the town of Sergiev-Posad. Men's relatives believe
that the case against Bushnev has been fabricated and that the true
killer is still at large, Ekho Moskvy reported. -- Penny Morvant

NEW ST. PETERSBURG METROPOLITAN APPOINTED. Following a meeting of the
Russian Orthodox Church Synod, Metropolitan Vladimir of Rostov and
Novocherkassk has been appointed to replace St. Petersburg Metropolitan
Ioann, who died on 2 November (see OMRI Daily Digest, 3 November 1995).
The 66-year-old Metropolitan Vladimir is a graduate of the Moscow
Seminary and Leningrad Theological Academy, Moskovskii komsomolets
reported on 30 December. He was ordained in 1953 and received a
bishopric in 1993. Among the other candidates considered for the post
were Metropolitan Filaret of Minsk, Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and
Kaliningrad, and Metropolitan Iuvenalii of Krutitsii and Kolomna. --
Penny Morvant

1996 BUDGET SIGNED INTO LAW. President Yeltsin signed the 1996 budget
into law on 31 December, Russian TV reported on 3 January. The budget
envisions a deficit of 88.6 trillion rubles ($19 billion), or about 3.8%
of GDP. This is above the 1995 deficit, which was 3.5% or GDP, but below
1994's 10% figure. The budget plans to bring inflation down to 1.9% a
month, compared to 7% per month in 1995, which should clear the way for
the $9 billion credit currently being negotiated with the IMF. Finance
Minister Vladimir Panskov admitted on Russian TV on 3 January that many
budget organizations have not been able to pay wages since October, and
that these funds will have to come out of the new budget. He noted that
this has happened at the end of every year since 1991. -- Peter Rutland

LEGAL CHALLENGE TO CURRENCY CONTROLS. Despite the government's success
in macroeconomic stabilization, the rules of the economic game in Russia
are still unclear. The Moscow Arbitration Court recently overturned a
$3.5 million fine which the Federal Foreign Currency and Export Control
Service had imposed on Pervyi Professionalnyi Bank for violations of
currency regulations, Finansovye izvestiya reported on 28 December. The
court ruled that the agency lacked the legal basis for levying the fine
because it was operating under governmental decree rather than a Duma-
approved law. Further evidence of the lack of clear rules of the game in
economic policy came from the deputy chair of the Central Bank S.
Aleksashenko, who was quoted in Kommersant on 28 December as saying that
"the Finance Ministry and Central Bank often learn of each other's
decisions from the newspapers, which can hardly be considered normal."
-- Peter Rutland

MAGNITOGORSK STEEL WORKS FACING GRIM FUTURE. The giant Magnitogorsk
steel works faces a profound crisis, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on
3 January. In the past, the Magnitka works relied on importing ore from
deposits 450 km away in Kazakhstan. However, the new private managers of
the Sarbaevsk mine prefer to sell their ore to buyers in China because
they pay on time. The nearest Russian ore deposits are located 2,500 km
away in Lebed, and transporting the ore that distance is not
economically viable. -- Peter Rutland

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

REFERENDUM CALLED FOR AMENDMENTS TO CONSTITUTION IN KYRGYZSTAN. Kyrgyz
President Askar Akayev announced on 3 January that a national referendum
would be held on 10 February on changes to the constitution, according
to Interfax. Akayev has already made his intention to hold such a
referendum after his victory in the 24 December presidential election.
The Kyrgyz president complained that there is "a vacuum of power and
responsibility" and is seeking a constitutional basis for the separation
of powers. The amendments have not been announced yet, but observers
speculate Akayev will use them to gain more power over the formation of
government and a greater say in foreign and domestic affairs. -- Bruce
Pannier

KAZAKHSTANI DEFENSE MINISTER ON MILITARY REFORM. In an interview with
Voin Kazakhstana (#86), Kazakhstani Defense Minister Lt. Gen. Alibek
Kasymov outlined the present plan to reorganize Kazakhstan's armed
forces. After several years of chaos and insufficient organization, the
country's military has been able to solve its problems, partially as a
result of recent agreements within the CIS and the NATO Partnership for
Peace program. In addition, the Defense Minister added, the
establishment of a viable infrastructure that includes social services
for the military personnel, has been a critical factor in this
evolution. "The ultimate aim of the military reform is to create compact
and mobile armed forces, capable of carrying out the tasks of defending
Kazakhstan's national interest," Kasymov said. -- Roger Kangas

TURKMENISTAN TO ENCOURAGE MORE FOREIGN INVESTMENT. The government of
Turkmenistan hopes that 1996 will be a lucrative year for foreign
investors in the country, Interfax reported on 3 January. The Khalq
Maslakhty (People's Council) recently passed an investment program which
estimates foreign investment at $335.1 million, including $308.3 million
in credits. Most of the support will be directed toward agriculture
($149.4 million), as well as transport and communication ($80 million).
Specific projects to be completed with the funds include the
Bezmeinskaya hydroelectric power-station. -- Roger Kangas

[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. It is published
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              Copyright (C) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
                       All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
 
         

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