|Life is what happens to us while we're making other plans. - John Lennon|
No. 22, Part I, 31 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ YELTSIN CONSOLIDATES ADMINISTRATION INTO SIX DEPARTMENTS. President Boris Yeltsin has reorganized his administration into six departments, ITAR-TASS quoted Chief of Staff Nikolai Yegorov as saying on 30 January. The departments are: constitutional guarantees of citizens' rights, domestic and foreign policy, state-legal matters, personnel, analysis, and oversight. Yegorov will have one first deputy and six deputies who will head each of the departments. The administration will cut its current 43 subdivisions to 19 and its staff from 2,100 to 1,500 employees. Yegorov stressed that Aleksandr Korzhakov's Presidential Security Service and the president's advisers will remain directly subordinate to Yeltsin, Radio Mayak reported. He described his relationship with the government and its staff as one of "partnership." -- Robert Orttung ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ RUSSIA DUMA EYES CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS. Emboldened by their increased numbers, opposition deputies in the Duma intend to pass about 10 constitutional amendments this year to increase parliamentary oversight of the executive branch, Kommersant-Daily reported on 30 January. One proposal would give the Duma the power to confirm not only the prime minister, but also all deputy prime ministers and the "power ministers" (defense, interior, and head of the security services). Another would allow the Duma to force the removal of individual ministers; currently parliament can only pass no-confidence votes in the government as a whole. These proposals are unlikely to succeed: changes to the constitution must be approved by two-thirds of the Duma, three-fourths of the Federation Council, and two-thirds of the legislatures of Russia's 89 regions. -- Laura Belin HOW A CONVICTED CRIMINAL WAS ELECTED TO THE DUMA. Mikhail Monastyrskii, convicted of four crimes and sentenced to a total of 20 years in prison, has become a Duma deputy on the party list of Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), Izvestiya reported on 31 January. Zhirinovsky dropped Monastyrskii and 10 other candidates with a criminal past from the LDPR list in October. However, four days after the December elections, the party asked the Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) to reinstate Monastyrskii on its list. The TsIK decided that Monastyrskii could be registered as a Duma deputy since its 29 November resolution removing him from the party list had not yet been officially published. Izvestiya reported that Monastyrskii is a major financial backer of the LDPR, citing an anonymous source. -- Laura Belin LUZHKOV: TOO MANY FOREIGN-LANGUAGE SIGNS IN MOSCOW. Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov has criticized draft rules on advertising in the capital, chiefly because they do not include precise regulations on foreign- language signs, ITAR-TASS reported on 30 January. According to Izvestiya on 31 January, the mayor suggested that foreign-language signs should be placed in shop-windows rather than on the facades of buildings, with letters no taller than 10 cm. He also called for creating a special service within the city's Press and Information Department to assign and sell advertising space as well as oversee financial and linguistic issues. Izvestiya quoted one official who estimated that the Moscow city government has lost up to $200,000 due to the practice of selling advertising space on huge billboards for as little as $25. -- Laura Belin MOSCOW MOST EXPENSIVE CITY. According to the latest Eurostat survey, Moscow is the world's most expensive city for business visitors, Russian and Western media reported on 31 January. The basic daily expenses of a business visitor (including a night in a four- or five-star hotel) costs $543 in Moscow, followed by $516 in Tokyo and $468 in Buenos Aires. Minsk and Erevan were among the cheapest cities, at $125 and $132 respectively. -- Peter Rutland PRESIDENT ORDERS AID TO KEMEROVO. President Yeltsin ordered the government to pay its more than 200 billion ruble ($42 million) debts to the Kemerovo coal miners and government employees, Western agencies reported on 30 January. Miners across the country have set a national strike for 1 February. In the 1995 Duma elections, 48% of Kemerovo's voters supported the Communist Party, largely due to the popularity of Kemerovo Oblast legislative leader Aman Tuleev. -- Robert Orttung ST. PETERSBURG MAYORAL ELECTION AGAIN IN JEOPARDY. St. Petersburg's mayoral election, scheduled to coincide with Russia's presidential election on 16 June, is in jeopardy, St. Petersburg's presidential representative, Sergei Tsiplaev, told Nevskoe vremya on 30 January. Tsiplaev was quoted as saying that mayoral election will not happen until the city's legislative assembly passes a law on local elections. According to Tsiplaev, President Boris Yeltsin does not want voters in the presidential election to be distracted by regional concerns. Yeltsin has stated that all elections for regional executive positions should take place in December 1996, with the exception of Moscow. -- Brian Whitmore, OMRI Inc. in St. Petersburg U.S. AND RUSSIA SIGN ECONOMIC ACCORDS. Closing the sixth session of the Russo-U.S. economic and technical cooperation committee which they co- chair, Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and U.S. Vice President Al Gore announced the signing of several bilateral accords, Russian and Western agencies reported on 30 January. They include an agreement on the use of satellites to monitor ecological disasters, an accord outlining joint work on the international orbital space station scheduled to go into operation in 1998, a tax agreement, and accords on drug and food safety. An expected deal for joint exploitation of the Timano-Pechorskii oil fields was postponed. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of Energy Hazel O'Leary said the two countries are "very close" to signing an agreement allowing for verification that the uranium which the U.S. is purchasing from Russia actually comes from dismantled nuclear warheads (see OMRI Daily Digest, 30 January 1996). -- Scott Parrish $1 BILLION AIRCRAFT DEAL FOR RUSSIA. On 30 January, the U.S. Export- Import Bank announced that it will provide a $1 billion loan to enable Pratt and Whitney engines and other U.S. made equipment to be used in the construction of 20 Ilyushin-96 aircraft, ITAR-TASS reported on 31 January. The aircraft will then be leased to Aeroflot Russian International Airlines. In return, the Russian government is expected to lift a 30% import tariff on the sale of Boeing planes to Russia. -- Natalia Gurushina MILITARY CALLS LATEST DRAFT A SUCCESS. As many as 224,000 young men were called up in the autumn draft, according to Col. Gen. Vyacheslav Zherebtsov, chief of the General Staff's Main Organizational and Mobilization Directorate. Russian media quoted him as saying that the successful call-up means that the Ground Forces and the navy are manned up to 75% of their authorized strength and the other services up to 80%. Zherebtsov said that no conscript would be sent to Chechnya during the first six months of service. He said that draft evasion remained a problem, with about 31,000 potential conscripts on the run. -- Doug Clarke MIXED RESPONSE TO EDUCATION STRIKE CALL. Teachers in many areas of Russia stopped work on 30 January to protest wage arrears. Galina Merkulova, a teachers' union official, said about 225,000 teachers from 51 regions had resolved to participate, but she claimed that pressure from local authorities might keep some teachers at work. Most reports said support for the strike call was patchy, with teachers remaining at work in Moscow and many other regions. Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Kinelev said that local authorities owe teachers 1.2 trillion rubles ($255 million). He said that last December the government had allocated an additional 1.7 trillion rubles to the regions to pay teachers' wages but that in many cases the money had not reached schools. -- Penny Morvant GOVERNMENT LAUNCHES NEW ALCOHOL CAMPAIGN. The Russian government adopted a package of measures to re-establish state control over the alcohol industry on 27 January, prompting an intense debate in the Russian media. Kommersant-Daily on 30 January compared the measures to Gorbachev's ill-fated 1985 anti-alcohol campaign. Regulations had been almost entirely lifted in 1992, causing state revenues from alcohol sales to fall from 4% to 1% of GDP, according to First Deputy Economics Minister Yakov Urinson, speaking on Russian TV on 30 January. Quotas will be introduced to limit imports, which now account for more than 50% of alcohol sales. New procedures will be instituted to ensure that all domestic producers pay taxes and duties, which could generate another 40 trillion rubles ($8.5 billion) for the budget. These steps may cause a rise in the retail price of alcohol. -- Peter Rutland OIL TRANSPORT RATES GO UP. The Fuel and Energy Ministry announced a 10% increase in oil transport rates, Russian agencies reported on 30 January. Rates on domestic routes will range from 3100 to 3700 rubles (65-78 cents) per ton per 100 km. In transporting oil across CIS countries, the Russians propose to use these domestic rates plus a supplement of $3.2 per 100 km. -- Natalia Gurushina TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA TROUBLE IN ANOTHER TAJIK CITY. Local law enforcement officers in the northern city of Khojent have been able to apprehend a group, led by General Muminjon Mamadjonov who stole 100 sub-machine guns from a local recruiting center and attempted to flee to the nearby city of Kanibadam, according to a 30 January Radio Voice of Free Tajikistan report cited by the BBC. Meanwhile, authorities are still negotiating with former Popular Front commanders Ibodullo Baimatov and Mahmud Khudaberdiyev who have occupied buildings in the cities of Tursun Zade and Kurgan-Tyube, respectively. According to unconfirmed reports, emergency measures have been taken in almost every major city in Tajikistan including the capital, Dushanbe. -- Bruce Pannier MORE ON PRIMAKOV VISIT TO TASHKENT. Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov, his first deputy, Boris Pastukhov, Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, and Uzbek President Islam Karimov held "strictly classified" discussions in Tashkent on 28 January. On 30 January, Segodnya speculated that Moscow is attempting to persuade Tashkent to promote an easing of tensions in Tajikistan in exchange for combat equipment and humanitarian aid, some of which would be transferred to Tajikistan. The paper suggested that Moscow wants Karimov to use his influence among restive ethnic Uzbeks dwelling in Khojent--who have been increasingly at odds with the Kulyabi dominated government in Dushanbe as evidenced by two uprisings led by Uzbek commanders--and ease the confrontation between the Tajik government and opposition. The article also noted that Karimov dodged Russia's renewed efforts to raise the question of broadening the mandate of CIS peacekeepers along the Tajik-Afghan border. -- Lowell Bezanis CAMECO WILL INVEST $160 MILLION IN KYRGYZSTAN THIS YEAR. Canada's Cameco plans to invest $160 million in the Kumtor gold field in 1996, Kumtor Operating Company President Len Khomenyuk told the Russian media on 30 January. In 1995 Cameco invested $215 million in the project, which is Kyrgyzstan's largest. The project is expected to yield 15 metric tons of gold annually, worth about $200 million. Production is scheduled to begin in 1997. -- Bruce Pannier NEW KAZAKHSTANI PARLIAMENT CONVENES. President Nursultan Nazarbayev inaugurated the new bicameral parliament that was elected last December, thus formally ending the presidential rule in effect since the dissolution of the former parliament in March last year. Criticizing the old parliament for its inaction on economic reforms, Nazarbayev hailed the economic progress made under presidential rule, ITAR-TASS reported on 30 January. On its first day, Omirbek Baigeldiyev, the 57-year-old former head of Zhambul Oblast and adviser to the president, was elected Senate speaker. Murat Ospanov, the 47-year-old former deputy speaker of the ex-Supreme Soviet, was elected chairman of the Majilis. The same day several dozen people gathered outside the parliament to protest wage arrears, low salaries, and the lack of heating and electricity in the capital and other regions, Russian media and NTV reported on 30 January. -- Bhavna Dave BREAD PRICES RISE IN GEORGIA. Bread prices in Georgia are to rise by 40% beginning on 15 February bringing the cost of 1 kg of bread to 42 tetri (about 35 cents), Georgian Finance Minister David Yakobidze told the Russian media on 30 January. Since the minimum monthly wage and pension amount to 6 lari in Georgia, the population will receive monthly compensation payments of 1-1.50 lari (80 cents to $1.25). Only 138,000 metric tons is expected to arrive this year, compared with Last year, Georgia received 504,000 metric tons of "humanitarian" grain, but only 138,000 tons is expected this year. -- Irakli Tsereteli [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 Monday through Friday by the Open Media Research Institute. The OMRI Daily Digest is distributed electronically via the OMRI-L list. To subscribe, send "SUBSCRIBE OMRI-L YourFirstName YourLastName" (without the quotation marks and inserting your name where shown) to LISTSERV@UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU No subject line or other text should be included. 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ISSN 1211-1570 Greg Cole, Director Center for International Networking Initiatives The University of Tennessee System Phone: (423) 974-7277 2000 Lake Avenue FAX: (423) 974-8022 Knoxville, TN 37996 Email: email@example.com
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