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No. 46, Part I, 05 March 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ ZYUGANOV BECOMES FIRST REGISTERED CANDIDATE . . . The Central Electoral Commission has registered Communist Party (KPRF) leader Gennadii Zyuganov as the first candidate for the 16 June presidential elections, Russian and Western agencies reported on 4 March. Zyuganov may now officially begin campaigning and may collect money from the electoral commission, which will be allocated to all registered candidates. Along with a list of 1.7 million signatures supporting his candidacy, Zyuganov submitted tax returns for the last two years to the commission, declaring his total pre-tax income for 1995 at about 30 million rubles ($6,300), Reuters reported. -- Laura Belin ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ RUSSIA . . . BUT MAY LOSE HARDLINE COMMUNIST SUPPORT. Representatives of 25 left-wing groups, including Agrarian Party leader Mikhail Lapshin and Power to the People head Nikolai Ryzhkov, formed an electoral "bloc of popular patriotic forces" and signed an agreement supporting Zyuganov as their sole presidential candidate, Russian and Western agencies reported on 4 March. However, according to RFE/RL and ITAR-TASS, some hardliners including Viktor Anpilov's Workers' Russia, the Russian Communist Workers' Party, and Sergei Baburin's Russian Public Union refused to sign the document because it does not call for a restoration of the Soviet Union. Zyuganov said he still hopes to cooperate with politicians such as Aleksandr Rutskoi, Aleksandr Lebed, Svyatoslav Fedorov, and Stanislav Govorukhin, all of whom agreed last week to form a "third force" supporting neither Yeltsin nor Zyuganov for president. -- Laura Belin FIGHTING CONTINUES IN SERNOVODSK. Federal forces used artillery and helicopter gunships on 4 March to attack what they claimed was a force of 500 separatist fighters in the western Chechen town of Sernovodsk, Russian and Western agencies reported. Around 16,000 refugees have fled the town to neighboring Ingushetiya. Although journalists have not been permitted to enter the town, relief workers told NTV that shelling had destroyed a sanitarium that houses refugees, burying 300 people in the ruins. -- Scott Parrish GRACHEV CHANGES TUNE. Defense Minister Pavel Grachev retracted his earlier statement about his willingness to meet separatist Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev, Russian and Western agencies reported on 4 March. Earlier in the course of his one-day visit to Grozny Grachev had said "for such a meeting, I am willing to go anywhere." But following a meeting with Moscow-backed Chechen Head of State Doku Zavgaev, Grachev declared it is "time to forget about Dudaev," whom he described as a "murderer." Grachev, who later departed for North Ossetiya, was gathering information for a meeting later this week of the Russian Security Council, which will discuss ways to resolve the Chechen conflict. Security Council Secretary Oleg Lobov, who is in hospital recovering from heart bypass surgery, will miss the meeting. -- Scott Parrish CHERNOMYRDIN ON YELTSIN CAMPAIGN. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin told Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev in a meeting on 4 March that if a deputy prime minister is put in charge of Yeltsin's re-election headquarters, he will work in that capacity on a "voluntary basis," NTV reported. Yeltsin's campaign staff is currently headed by First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets. A spokesman for Soskovets said he currently works from 9.00 am to 6.00 pm for the government, and then another two to two and a half hours for the Yeltsin campaign. -- Laura Belin WOMEN'S GROUPS APPEAL TO DUMA. Representatives of 53 women's associations appealed to the Duma on 4 March to improve the legal status of women, ITAR-TASS reported. The groups are concerned by the disproportionate number of women are out of work (constituting 62% of the officially registered unemployed) and that women are discriminated against in hiring and firing. The appeal also drew attention to the sharp increase in salary differentials between men and women and the lack of women in senior positions. It proposed that the Duma create a body to assess all draft legislation from the point of view of equal opportunities for men and women. -- Penny Morvant NATIONALITIES MINISTRY REORGANIZED. President Yeltsin has reorganized the Ministry of Nationalities and Regional Policy and renamed it the Ministry of Nationalities and Federal Affairs, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 March. Vyacheslav Mikhailov is to stay on as minister. -- Anna Paretskaya ST. PETERSBURG MAYOR OPPOSES EXPANSION OF LEGISLATURE'S POWER. St. Petersburg Mayor Anatolii Sobchak has turned down the city legislature's Law On State Power Structure in St. Petersburg and returned it to the city's Legislative Assembly, Ekspress-khronika reported on 5 March. According to the bill, two-thirds of the legislature's deputies could pass a vote of no confidence in any executive official of the city (see OMRI Daily Digest, 29 February 1996). Sobchak also signed laws on gubernatorial elections in the city, proposing that a simple, one-round election be held due to the lack of finances. -- Anna Paretskaya RUSSIA CONDEMNS TIGHTENING OF CUBAN SANCTIONS. Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigorii Karasin on 4 March criticized the toughened economic sanctions against Cuba contained in proposed U.S. legislation, Russian and Western agencies reported. In the aftermath of the recent incident in which Cuban fighters shot down two U.S. light civilian aircraft, U.S. President Bill Clinton has agreed to sign the bill, which contains provisions that have provoked objections from the EU, Canada, and Mexico. Karasin termed the bill "contradictory to international law" and said it "infringed on the rights of sovereign states" by allowing U.S. nationals to sue foreign citizens using expropriated property in Cuba formerly owned by U.S. citizens. -- Scott Parrish RUSSIAN ARMY EMPLOYS LARGE NUMBER OF GENERALS. Citing the General Staff's latest report, Obshchaya gazeta reported on 3 March that there are currently 1,800 generals in the 1.5 million strong Russian Armed Forces, with one general for each 833 servicemen. An additional 3,000 generals serve in paramilitary forces of the Interior Ministry, Federal Security Service, External Intelligence Service, and other government agencies. A general's average monthly salary is 2.1 million rubles ($438). -- Constantine Dmitriev RUSSIA TO BOOST MILITARY EXPORTS TO INDIA. A 70-member Russian delegation arrived in New Delhi on 4 March to participate in an international exhibition of military and civilian equipment, Russian and Western media reported the same day. Russian military manufacturers have brought samples of brand-new "Konkurs-M" anti-tank missiles, "S-300" air defense systems, "Smerch" multiple-launch rocket systems, and other kinds of military equipment. In 1994, the two countries signed a six- year agreement on military-technical cooperation worth $7 billion, and in 1995 Russia sold the Indian Air Force $220 million worth of MiG-29 jet fighters. -- Constantine Dmitriev FIRE CAUSES CHAOS ON MOSCOW METRO. A fire broke out in the Moscow metro on 4 March, bringing the city's circle line to a halt during the morning rush hour, Russian and Western agencies reported. Four people were slightly injured as a result of the incident, caused by a short circuit in a stretch of high-voltage cable in a tunnel. Concern over subway safety mounted last year following a fire in the Soviet-era metro in the Azerbaijani capital Baku that killed about 300 people. Moscow subway workers have long complained that maintenance work is underfunded, and Izvestiya quoted the head of the Metrostroi company as saying equipment in older stretches of the system is so worn out that there could be a repetition of Monday's accident with more serious consequences. -- Penny Morvant STAVROPOL MANAGERS FINED FOR WITHHOLDING WAGES. The Stavropol Krai labor inspectorate has fined the heads of 34 businesses and organizations in the region for paying wages late, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 March. The fines varied from 500,000 rubles to 3 million ($100 to $600). Managers of another 92 organizations have been set deadlines for the payment of wage arrears. Krai Governor Petr Marchenko, appointed by President Yeltsin after the Budennovsk hostage crisis last summer, issued a resolution threatening to fire managers and officials guilty of withholding wages. Also on 4 March, presidential economics adviser Aleksandr Livshits reiterated the government's intention to eliminate budget wage arrears by the end of March. -- Penny Morvant NEW ATOMIC POWER STATIONS. Atomic Energy Minister Viktor Mikhailov said on 4 March that four atomic reactors of the new light-water VVER-640 design will be built in the next few years, ITAR-TASS reported. A new complex is under construction at Sosnovyi Bor near St. Petersburg, and other blocs will be added to the existing Kalinin and Novo-Voronezh reactors. Russia currently has 29 reactors at nine sites, four of them added in the last decade. Eight of the first-generation reactors are due to be dismantled by 2001. -- Peter Rutland SOME GOOD NEWS FROM MURMANSK. The 150,000 worker Apatit chemical and fertilizer plant, which was bought by Menatep Bank in 1994, is now showing signs of economic recovery, according to a report in the pro- communist Pravda on 5 March. Output has fallen by half since 1991, and by the end of 1995 the average wage was only 400,000 rubles, and the minimum consumption basket for Murmansk Oblast, where Apatit is located, is 560,000. However, in response to worker protests wages were raised 30% in January and the factory reintroduced subsidies for canteen food and public transport. Fertilizer is one of the few sectors of the Russian economy which saw output grow in 1995 (by 17%), largely driven by rising exports. -- Peter Rutland DIAMOND DEAL DETAILS. ITAR-TASS released on 4 March some details of a three-year agreement between Russia and South Africa's De Beers signed on 23 February. De Beers' will continue to sell 95% of the first $550 million of Russia's rough diamond exports. Russia will be allowed to independently export 20% of diamonds above the $550 million level, and promised to curtail the "leakage" of stones onto the world market outside the De Beers contract. Russia was estimated to have some 25% of the $5 billion world trade in uncut stones in 1995. -- Natalia Gurushina MOSCOW-BERLIN ART EXHIBITION OPENS. The exhibition "Moscow- Berlin/Berlin-Moscow," covering Russian and German art from 1900 to 1950, opened on 5 March at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow, Russian and Western agencies reported. ITAR-TASS reported that the exhibition is aimed at illuminating "objectively and without bias" both the positive moments in the two nations' histories and the destructive results of the clashes between them. However, some works shown in the Berlin Gallery were removed from the Pushkin Museum version, including two portraits of Hitler and Stalin working at their desks and another pair of similar paintings depicting idealized family life in Nazi Germany and Stalin's USSR. -- Laura Belin TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA TRIAL OF OPON REBELS IN AZERBAIJAN. The military bench of Azerbaijan's Supreme Court found Elchin Aliev, a former OPON police officer, guilty of murdering Deputy Parliamentary Chairman Afiyaddin Jalilov and Security Chief Shamsi Ragimov in 1994, Reuters reported on 4 March. Both men were close aides of Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev. Three other OPON officers were sentenced to jail terms of 13 or 14 years and one other received two years. Elchin Aliev and other rebel OPON members fled to Russia but were extradited in late 1995. -- Lowell Bezanis VELAYATI-HASANOV TRADE ACCUSATIONS. During his recent visit to Baku, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati traded barbs with his Azerbaijani counterpart, Hasan Hasanov, at a joint press conference on 3 March, Western agencies and Turan reported. Velayati repeated Tehran's demand that Azerbaijan limit its ties with Israel, while Hasanov criticized Iran for its close ties with Armenia. He accused Tehran of helping circumvent the Baku-imposed economic blockade on Armenia. Relations between the two countries have been particularly frosty since April 1995 when Baku, at the behest of the U.S., effectively insured that Tehran would not participate in the exploitation of three offshore Caspian Sea oil fields. -- Lowell Bezanis GEORGIA CALLS FOR TIGHTER BLOCKADE OF ABKHAZIA. A spokesman for Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze complained that food and fuel are still reaching Abkhazia "without permission," Reuters reported on 3 March. He claimed that food is being delivered by sea from Turkey and fuel from Stavropol Krai in Russia. The Abkhaz authorities have decided to set up a new battalion, named Kolkheti, in Gali District, Iberia news agency reported on 2 March. It will be staffed by ethnic Georgians and headed by Yurii Badzaghua, a comrade-in-arms of former Georgian president Zviad Gamsakhurdia. -- Irakli Tsereteli and Lowell Bezanis [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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