The road uphill and the road downhill are one and the same. - Heraclitus
OMRI DAILY DIGEST Part I

Vol. 1, No. 15, 20 January 1995

We welcome you to the Open Media Research Institute's Daily Digest Part
I--a compilation of news concerning Russia, Transcaucasia and Central
Asia, and the CIS. Part II, covering East-Central and Southeastern
Europe, is distributed simultaneously as a second document.

The Daily Digest picks up where the RFE/RL Daily Report, which recently
ceased publication, left off. Contributors include OMRI's 30-member
staff of analysts, plus selected freelance specialists. OMRI is a unique
public-private venture between the Open Society Institute and the U.S.
Board for International Broadcasting.

RUSSIA

CHECHENS ABANDON PRESIDENTIAL PALACE. In what Russian Defense Minister
Pavel Grachev described as a "turning point" in the war in Chechnya,
Russian troops took control of the devastated presidential palace in
central Grozny during the afternoon of 19 January after the Chechen
defenders decided to abandon the building and establish a new center of
resistance elsewhere in Grozny, Interfax and Western agencies reported.
Interfax quoted Russian military intelligence sources as claiming that
the Chechens had suffered "substantial losses." In a statement issued
after the Russian military took control of the palace, Russian President
Boris Yeltsin claimed that the military stage of reestablishing
constitutional order in Chechnya was almost completed, and that Interior
Ministry forces would take over the mission of restoring law and order.
Yeltsin further voiced his respects for the Russian soldiers killed
during the fighting and for the "suffering of the civilian population."
Also on 19 January, Russian Interior Ministry forces consolidated
control of eastern Chechnya, according to Reuters. Grozny was subjected
to intensive Russian artillery fire during the night of 19 January in an
attempt to wipe out remaining pockets of Chechen resistance, AFP
reported. On 20 January, Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev met with
journalists in Khasavyurt, Dagestan, and declared that Chechen
resistance would continue; as quoted by Reuters, he claimed that neither
Yeltsin nor Chernomyrdin was in control of the situation. -- Liz Fuller,
OMRI, Inc.

CHERNOMYRDIN REJECTS TALKS WITH DUDAEV. Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin rejected the possibility of talks with Dzhokhar Dudaev,
saying "I do not talk to gangsters," Interfax reported 19 January. He
told a group of journalists that the situation in Chechnya is often
fanned by "the likes of you," implying the media, and by "some hot heads
in parliament." He said that there is no war party in the cabinet or
Russia in general. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

KOVALEV TO MEET CHERNOMYRDIN, NOT YELTSIN. Human Rights Commissioner
Sergei Kovalev returned to Moscow from the Chechen capital Grozny on 19
January. Russian television newscasts broadcast footage of Kovalev's
news conference at Vnukovo airport in Moscow where he stated that the
Chechen war would not be finished even after the Russian occupation of
Grozny. The military has been preparing for a guerrilla war, Kovalev
added, showing a leaflet in which a Russian commander stationed in
Chechnya threatens rural villages with destruction if they shelter
Chechen fighters. Kovalev said that he was going to meet with Viktor
Chernomyrdin, not Boris Yeltsin--indirectly hinting that he blamed the
atrocities in Chechnya on Yeltsin. On the same day, Yeltsin's closest
ally, Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, told the RTV program "Details,"
that he could not name anyone in the world as knowledgeable on human
rights as Kovalev. -- Julia Wishnevsky, OMRI, Inc.

ATTEMPT TO IMPEACH YELTSIN FAILS. Following three days of heated
debates, the upper chamber of the Russian parliament approved on 19
January a resolution on the Chechen crisis, Russian television newscasts
reported that day. The Federation Council senators rejected nearly all
strong measures proposed by the various committees of the house.
Proposals included starting the impeachment process against Yeltsin; and
prosecuting him for exceeding his authority and violating the
constitution in the form of dispatching the army to Chechnya without
declaring either military or emergency rule. Although approximately half
of the senators present voted for the resolution, the total votes (61)
fell far short of the necessary 90 votes required. A vote of no
confidence in Chernomyrdin's government received 66 votes, also short of
the 90 needed. A third failed proposal entailed barring the Federation
Council's speaker, Vladimir Shumeiko, from participating in sessions of
the President's Security Council. The chamber succeeded in passing a
resolution introducing amendments into the constitution to ensure
parliamentary and public control over the executive branch of the
government. Another resolution approved called on acting Russian
Prosecutor-General Aleksei Ilyushenko to bring criminal charges against
those responsible for illegal sales of Russian weaponry to Chechen
forces. (In his address to the Council of Federation, the chairman of
its Defense Committee, Petr Shirshov, named Russian Defense Minister
Pavel Grachev as being responsible such actions.) -- Julia Wishnevsky,
OMRI, Inc.

COUNCIL OF FEDERATION EXASPERATED. The 18 January session of the
Federation Council became heated after it was snubbed by top Russian
officials. On the eve of the session, members of the chamber, who refer
to themselves as "the Russian senators," invited President Yeltsin,
Prime Minister Chernomyrdin, Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, Minister of
Internal Affairs Viktor Erin, secretary of the Security Council Oleg
Lobov and acting Russian Prosecutor-General Aleksei Ilyushenko to attend
the session, which was supposed to discuss the situation in Chechnya.
Only Ilyushenko arrived, while other officials told the chamber that
they were too busy to attend the session. According to Russian
Television newscasts, the deliberate absence of the other top officials
caused an uproar in the upper chamber and its members then proposed
several measures, starting with the dissolution of the Federation
Council and including demands for the resignation of Yeltsin,
Chernomyrdin and the "power" ministers. The senators particularly
lambasted the Security Council, which they hold responsible for the
decision to invade Chechnya, and their own speaker, Vladimir Shumeiko, a
Yeltsin appointee to the Security Council along with Ivan Rybkin,
speaker of the State Duma. Ostankino's "Vremya" broadcast two minutes of
the footage of the address of the famous reform-minded senator, Yurii
Chernichenko, attacking the Security Council as "the new Politburo," and
the "secretive, illegal, dictatorial body" that "has unleashed a civil
war" in Russia. -- Julia Wishnevsky, OMRI, Inc.

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT PUTS EU-RUSSIAN PARTNERSHIP ACCORD ON HOLD. The
European Parliament voted 19 January to put the partnership agreement,
signed with Russia in June, on hold, AFP reports. The European
Parliament, the legislative arm of the European Union, made the move to
show its displeasure with Russian military actions in Chechnya. The
action must be approved by EU foreign ministers, who are expected to
back the suspension. The European Parliament denounced "the totally
disproportionate measures taken by the Russia authorities, as well as
the flagrant violation of human rights which results from these
measures." The European Commission had been on the verge of implementing
the economic and commercial aspects of the agreement on an interim
basis. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

FILATOV WARNS RUSSIAN REGIONS. Sergei Filatov, President Yeltsin's Chief
of Staff, condemned various Russian regions' drive for greater autonomy
as "posing a danger to the integrity of Russia," Interfax reported 18
January. He said that some regions' adoption of charters designed to
give them more rights and limit federal authority had resulted in
numerous violations of the constitution. Filatov ruled out "tough
methods" for resolving the disputes and suggested instead that experts
from the president's State Law Administration should try to persuade
regional authorities to change their attitudes. If that doesn't work the
federal authorities plan to appeal to the Constitutional Court. In a
related development, Yeltsin met on 18 January with the president of
Tatarstan, Mintimer Shaimiev, Interfax reported. Tatarstan, like
Chechnya, refused to sign the Russian Federation Treaty but signed a
bilateral power-sharing agreement with Moscow on 3 February 1994.
Shaimiev commented that the Tatarstan model had great importance because
it "showed that members of the federation were able to establish normal
relations on a peaceful basis." -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

YELTSIN: YES TO PRIVATIZATION. The Russian government has no intention
of stopping its privatization program or of re-nationalizing the
industries that have already been privatized, President Yeltsin said at
a news conference on 18 January. Yeltsin was referring to a
controversial statement made by his newly appointed Chairman of the
State Property Committee, Vladimir Polevanov, who told a news conference
on 29 December of his plans to introduce "state control" over some
privatized industries. (According to Anatolii Chubais, who was in charge
of privatization in his capacity as Polevanov's predecessor as the State
Property Committee's Chairman, Polevanov's statement had cost Russia
billions of rubles in the form of lost foreign investments.) Yeltsin
explained Polevanov's unfortunate remarks in terms of the latter's
personal vendetta against Chubais, citing Polevanov's lack of experience
in top government. The former head of the administration of the Amur
Region at the Russian-Chinese border, Polevanov was unexpectedly
promoted to an important position in Moscow, Yeltsin said, adding that
Polevanov had erred by failing to understand that he had to work in one
and the same team with Yeltsin's other ministers. In all fairness, it
may be added that Chubais' privatization scheme that distributed the
shares of formerly state-owned industries free of charge has been
lambasted by many market-oriented Russian economists, such as former
Minister of Finance Boris Fedorov. -- Julia Wishnevsky, OMRI, Inc.

PRESSURIZED RUBLE HITS RECORD LOW. The ruble plunged to a record low of
3,947 rubles/$1 in MICEX trading on 20 January, Western and Russian
agencies reported. Dealers expected the currency to hit new lows, partly
due to fears that Russia's military campaign in Chechnya will spike
inflation. The ruble's previous record low was 3,926 rubles/$1 on
historic "Black Tuesday," 11 October 1994. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIA'S FOREIGN TRADE INCREASES 7.2% IN 1994. Due to expanding trade
links, foreign trade rose 7.2% in 1994 with a total of $76.2 billion,
Russia's Foreign Economic Relations Ministry reported to Interfax on 18
January. Among Russia's largest trade partners were Germany (13% of
total turnover), the US (7.3%), Britain (6.4%), Italy (5.7%), China
(5%), the Netherlands, Finland, Switzerland, and Japan (from 4.2 to
4.8%), the report said. In 1994, the majority of Russia's exports (67%),
went primarily to industrialized countries of Europe. On the import
front, volume in 1994 reached $28.2 billion, up $4.3 billion, or 5.4%
from 1993. The main share of imports (69%), also came from industrially
developed countries. Raw materials predominated the export scene, while
food products and consumer goods comprised 50% of the import market. --
Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

80 COAL MINES TO CLOSE? Interfax reported on 17 January that Russia is
examining plans to close 80 unprofitable coal mines over five years;
450,000 jobs would be lost out of a total coal-mining work-force of
about 800,000. An official from the mining company Rosugol neither
denied nor confirmed the report, telling Reuters "the government still
has to approve the program and allocate funds to help cut the number of
mines." According to Segodnya, the World Bank, which plans to lend
Russia $500 million to help restructure its ailing coal industry, wants
15-25 loss-making mines to be closed a year, cutting output to match
demand. A first draft of the World Bank program, submitted to the
government in 1994, was rejected by Rosugol and trade unions. -- Penny
Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

FORMER UZBEK VICE PRESIDENT TO FOUND NEW POLITICAL PARTY. In the wake of
the recent Uzbek parliamentary elections that resulted in an
overwhelming victory for the former Communists, Shukrulla Mirsaidov, who
resigned as vice president three years ago to protest the policies of
Uzbek President Islam Karimov, told Interfax on 18 January that he
planned to found a new political party. To be called the Social
Democratic Adolat (Justice) Party, he said it would function as a
"constructive opposition" to the existing government. Mirsaidov said the
party would focus on democracy, freedom of the press, private
enterprise, tax reform and greater involvement of religious leaders in
public life, and that it already had the necessary number of supporters
to gain official registration. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Pete Baumgartner

The OMRI Daily Digest offers the latest news from the former Soviet
Union and East-Central and Southeastern Europe. It is published Monday
through Friday by the Open Media Research Institute. The Daily Digest is
distributed electronically via the OMRI-L list. To subscribe, send
"SUBSCRIBE OMRI-L YourFirstName YourLastName" (without the quotation
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included. The publication can also be obtained for a fee in printed form
by fax and postal mail. Please direct inquiries to: Editor, Daily
Digest, OMRI, Na Strzi 63, 14062 Prague 4, Czech Republic or send e-mail
to: omripub@omri.cz

Telephone: (42 2) 6114 2114 Fax: (42 2) 426 396


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