About 6,000 took part in the first protest meeting in the North Caucasus republic of Karachaevo-Cherkessia on January 23. The meeting, held in the republic’s capital of Cherkessk, called on President Boris Yeltsin to dismiss the head of the republic administration, Vladimir Khubiev, and to order a presidential election. Khubiev has been in power in one capacity or another since 1979, making Karachaevo-Cherkessia the only Russian region still governed by an appointed chief executive.
Last week’s demonstration began as a protest by workers of the largest local factory. This factory, Mercury — which produces vodka and mineral water and is the mainstay of the local economy — has been closed for over a month following accusations of tax evasion against its top management. Six thousand people are out of work. Locals believe that the charges are politically motivated and aimed against a former Mercury boss, Stanislav Derev. Derev is now mayor of Cherkessk and a potential challenger for the post of president. So far, Karachaevo-Cherkessia’s leaders have ignored public appeals and an order from the republic Supreme Court to set a date for a presidential election. (Kommersant-daily, January 27)
Ulmanis Crosses Water’s Edge in Rift with Prime Minister.