There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in. - Graham Greene
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 4, Part I, 5 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
MIXED ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE IN 1995. Monthly inflation fell to 3.2% in
December, down from 17.8% in January, Interfax reported on 4 January.
Prices rose 131% during 1995 as a whole, compared with 215% in 1994 and
840% in 1993. Economy Minister Yevgenii Yasin said that industrial
production fell by 3% in 1995, compared with 21% in 1994, while GDP fell
4%, after a 15% fall in 1994. Real income dropped by 8%, but Yasin
claimed that income differentials had stabilized, with the richest 10%
of Russians earning 13 times more than the poorest 10%. Yasin said
bringing down the inflation rate was the government's main achievement.
"Inflation is the big thief which climbs into the pockets of every
family, especially those on low or average incomes," he said. -- Peter
Rutland
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

ATTEMPTS TO FORM PRO-REFORM AND CENTRIST DUMA FACTIONS. Sergei
Yushenkov, a leading figure in Russia's Democratic Choice, has recruited
22 deputies elected from single-member districts to join a new "Inter-
regional Deputies' Group," Ekho Moskvy reported on 4 January. (The new
faction is named after the influential pro-reform group in the USSR
Congress of People's Deputies elected in 1989.) Its members include
independent candidates Andrei Kozyrev, Galina Starovoitova, Gennadii
Burbulis, as well as figures from parties that did not clear the 5%
threshold, such as Sergei Kovalev (Russia's Democratic Choice),
Yekaterina Lakhova (Women of Russia), and Konstantin Borovoi (Party of
Economic Freedom). Meanwhile, Artur Chilingarov, one of five deputy
speakers in the last Duma, is organizing a centrist deputies' group,
reportedly to include Ivan Rybkin, Sergei Shakhrai, Telman Gdlyan, and
Col. Gen. Boris Gromov. A Duma faction must have at least 35 deputies in
order to be officially registered. -- Laura Belin

NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA'S TOP 100 POLITICIANS. According to a survey of 50
experts published monthly in Nezavisimaya gazeta, President Yeltsin and
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin remained the two most influential
Russian politicians in December. Communist Party leader Gennadii
Zyuganov was ranked the third most important politician, up from fifth
place in November (in a similar experts' poll in February 1995, Zyuganov
was in 27th place). Grigorii Yavlinskii was ranked fourth, up from ninth
place in November. Vladimir Zhirinovsky posted the sharpest rise, from
20th in November to sixth in December following his surprising second-
place showing in the Duma election. Leaders of the Congress of Russian
Communities, which failed to gain 5% of the vote in the election, lost
influence in the view of the experts; Aleksandr Lebed dropped from tenth
place in November to 17th in December, and Yurii Skokov fell from 13th
place to 36th. -- Laura Belin

COMMUNIST GROUP NOMINATES ROMANOV FOR PRESIDENT. The Central Electoral
Commission registered an initiative group nominating Krasnoyarsk factory
director Petr Romanov for president, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on
4 January. Romanov was elected to the Federation Council in 1993 and ran
for the Duma in 1995 on the Communist Party of the Russian Federation
(KPRF) list. He has proposed that two or three Communist candidates run
for president in 1996, suggesting that he will not step aside if the
KPRF nominates Gennadii Zyuganov or another figure for president. --
Laura Belin

ROKHLIN GIVES UP DUMA SEAT. Lt. Gen. Lev Rokhlin, who was third on the
Our Home Is Russia party list, announced on 4 January that he will give
up his Duma seat to continue to serve in the army, NTV reported. The top
two NDR candidates, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and film director
Nikita Mikhalkov, have also declined their parliamentary mandates. --
Laura Belin

DUMA TO HAVE TWO LEBEDS, FOUR ZHIRINOVSKYS. Russia may yet see the
revival of political "dynasties," at least in parliament, according to a
4 January Radio Rossii political commentary. Army Colonel Aleksei Lebed,
like his brother Aleksandr Lebed, was elected in a single-member
district, and three relatives of Vladimir Zhirinovsky will join the Duma
from the LDPR party list. However, Zhirinovsky's sister, Lyubov, lost
her bid to unseat Andrei Kozyrev in a Murmansk constituency. -- Laura
Belin

YELTSIN DISSATISFIED WITH HIS REPRESENTATIVES IN THE REGIONS. On 4
January, President Boris Yeltsin ordered Sergei Filatov, head of the
Presidential Administration, to improve the performance of the
president's representatives in the regions, Russian and Western media
reported. Presidential spokesman Sergei Medvedev said the president
views the work of several of his envoys as unsatisfactory and told
Filatov to prepare a list of those who should be dismissed for
incompetence. Yeltsin also said it was a mistake to hold the
gubernatorial elections in some of regions at the same time as the Duma
election because governors tended to focus on getting themselves re-
elected rather than preparing for the election to the national
parliament. -- Anna Paretskaya

GUBERNATORIAL ELECTIONS IN MOSCOW OBLAST SAID TO BE RIGGED. Valerii
Galchenko, deputy speaker of the Moscow Oblast Duma, has appealed the
result of the 30 December gubernatorial election in the oblast to the
Supreme Court, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 4 January. Galchenko, who
lost the election, is accusing the regional electoral commission of
violating several laws, such as calling the runoff too soon after the
initial vote on 17 December and forcing people to vote in the second
round to get the 25% turnout required for valid elections. In the second
round, Anatolii Tyazhlov, supported by Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin's bloc, Our Home Is Russia, was re-elected governor with
70.7% of the vote (see OMRI Daily Digest, 2 January 1996). -- Anna
Paretskaya

IRKUTSK AUTHORITIES EXTEND THEIR TERMS OF OFFICE. On 4 January, Irkutsk
Oblast Governor Yurii Nozhikov signed a decree that extends the regional
legislative assembly's term in office, which was slated to end on March
1996, for two more years, ITAR-TASS reported the next day. Nozhikov said
he extended the assembly's original two-year term because of "the need
to finish the formation of regional and local legislative bases." The
decree requires that the next election be held no later than March 1998.
-- Anna Paretskaya

MIKHAILOV ENDORSES CHECHEN PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS. On 4 January, as
fighting continued, Nationalities Minister Vyacheslav Mikhailov endorsed
a proposal by Chechen head of state Doku Zavgaev to hold legislative
elections in Chechnya this March or April, Radio Rossii reported.
Mikhailov said there should not be a "large gap" between the 17 December
elections for Chechen head of state, which provoked strong objections
from the OSCE, and parliamentary elections in the republic. On the same
day, outgoing federal forces commander Lt. Gen. Anatolii Shkirko said
his replacement by Lt. Gen. Vyacheslav Tikhomirov did not indicate a
change of strategy by federal forces in Chechnya (see OMRI Daily Digest,
4 January 1995). Shkirko added that any further negotiations with
Chechen military commander Aslan Maskhadov would be useless. Shkirko
blames Maskhadov for both the recent fighting in Gudermes and the
failure of the 30 July Russian-Chechen military accord. -- Scott Parrish

FEDERATION COUNCIL APPROVES DISPATCH OF TROOPS TO BOSNIA. On 5 January,
by a vote of 137-2, the Federation Council endorsed a proposal by
President Yeltsin to send a brigade of Russian paratroops to Bosnia to
participate in the NATO-led peace implementation force (IFOR), ITAR-TASS
reported. Under the Russian constitution, the council must approve any
use of Russian troops outside the country. Meanwhile, on 4 January,
Russian military officials told ITAR-TASS the brigade, numbering 1,500
men, is ready to depart from its Kostroma base for Bosnia. The Russian
troops are scheduled to be deployed early next month in the strategic
Posavina corridor, together with elements of the U.S. First Armored
Division. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIA TO OPEN OFFICE IN TAIWAN. Russia plans to open an informal
representational office of the Russian-Taiwanese Trade and Cultural
Commission in Taipei during 1996, Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr
Panov told ITAR-TASS on 4 January. Taiwan has had such an office in
Moscow since 1993, and Panov said China has no objections to the opening
of the Taipei office. Russian trade with Taiwan was almost $3 billion in
1995. Also on 4 January, a spokesman for the Nuclear Energy Ministry
denied a report from Taipei that indicated Taiwan plans to send up to
5,000 barrels of low-level radioactive waste to Russia for storage,
Reuters reported. Georgii Kaurov said that Russian law prohibits
radioactive waste being brought into the country. In Taiwan, a director
of the power company with the waste told the state radio that details of
the transaction with Russia are "still under negotiation." -- Scott
Parrish and Doug Clarke

MAFIA VIE FOR FISHING PROFITS. Oleg Ten, the general director of one of
the largest fishing companies in the Russian Far East, Primorybprom,
narrowly escaped an assassination attempt on 4 January, ITAR-TASS
reported the next day. His car was sprayed with automatic fire that
killed his bodyguard and driver. Ten's predecessor as director of
Primorybprom, Andrei Zakharenko, was killed three months ago. -- Peter
Rutland

GOVERNMENT REJECTS PLAN FOR "SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT." The Russian
government sent back for reworking the Economy Ministry plan for long-
term ecological conservation at its 4 January meeting, Rossiiskaya
gazeta reported the next day. The plan was criticized for vagueness and
a lack of relevance to Russia's current economic problems. The document
was prepared in response to the UN conference on "sustainable
development" which took place in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. In February
1994, President Yeltsin issued a decree pledging that Russia would also
draw up plans to limit its economy's impact on the environment. -- Peter
Rutland

ECOLOGICAL PROBLEMS IN CASPIAN SEA. While the Aral Sea is disappearing,
the level of the Caspian Sea is rising. In recent years, 300,000
hectares of coastal land in Dagestan have been inundated. On 4 January,
the federal government agreed to allot $38 million for conservation work
this year with another $34 million to be spent by local authorities, AFP
reported. -- Peter Rutland

NUCLEAR REACTOR PLANT IN RECEIVERSHIP. A court has ordered the
replacement of the management of Atommash in Volgodonsk, the plant which
was built in 1978 to mass-produce reactors for Russia's nuclear
industry, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 January. Those fired include the
general director, Vladimir Yegorov. The plant does not have any new
orders, and has fallen into a "debt hole," owing money to suppliers and
utility companies, and unpaid taxes. All the plant's social facilities
have been transferred to the city council. -- Peter Rutland

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

UK FOREIGN MINISTER TOURS CAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA. After meeting with
the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan during visits to those
countries, British Foreign Minister Malcolm Rifkind was cautiously
optimistic about prospects for a resolution of the negotiations to
resolve the Karabakh conflict, Turan reported on 4 and 5 January. After
signing several bilateral agreements in Baku, and a brief visit with
Azerbaijani opposition leaders, Rifkind flew to Tashkent to begin a two-
day visit to Uzbekistan. According to ITAR-TASS on 5 January, Rifkind
will meet President Islam Karimov to discuss the Aral Sea environmental
crisis. -- Roger Kangas

PENSIONS IN KYRGYZSTAN TO BE RAISED. Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev has
issued a decree to increase pensions in the Central Asian republic
starting on 1 February, according to a 2 January Kyrgyz Radio report
cited by the BBC. Akayev promised both before and after the presidential
election that he would raise pensions. The minimum pension after
February will be 200 som (about $18) but those people presently
receiving less than 300 som per month are entitled to a 15-35% increase
in their pensions. -- Bruce Pannier

KAZAKHSTANI DIPLOMATS SPEND BIG IN ISRAEL. Kazakhstani diplomats, who
remained in Israel after accompanying Kazakhstani President Nursultan
Nazarbayev there to lay the ground work for opening an embassy, went on
a large shopping spree on 3 January, Ekho Moskvy reported. Apparently,
dozens of diplomats, including the ministers of health, energy, and
justice along with Nazarbayev's son, descended upon Jerusalem's
commercial center and engaged in a three-hour buying frenzy, spending a
total of $250,000. The citizens of Kazakhstan "emptied entire shelves in
various stores," according to the report. One diplomat reportedly bought
$1,000 of candy, saying it was "a present for the children." Other
purchases included more than $30,000 in jewelry and more than $10,000 in
clothing. The average monthly wage in Kazakhstan is equivalent to about
$20-30. -- 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) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
                       All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
 
         

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