Every custom was once an eccentricity; every idea was once an absurdity. - Holbrook Jackson
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 16 part I, 23 January 1995


We welcome you to Part I of the Open Media Research Institute's Daily
Digest. The Digest is distriubed in two sections. This part focuses on
Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia, and the CIS. Part II,
distributed simultaneously as a second document, covers East-Central and
Southeastern Europe.

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

CHECHNYA--RESISTANCE CONTINUES. Following the withdrawal of Chechen
fighters from the ruined presidential palace in Grozny on 19 January,
the focus of hostilities shifted on the next day to the new Chechen
center of resistance on the east bank of the Sunzha river, Western
agencies reported. On 21 January, Grozny was reported comparatively
quiet, although Russian artillery bombardment continued; fierce fighting
was reported to the west and southwest of the city as Russian troops
tried to establish control of major roads and cut off the Chechens'
retreat. Fighting in Grozny intensified again on 22 January. A proposal
by the two senior Chechen government officials who held informal peace
talks with Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin in Moscow last
week to meet in Nazran with Russian military representatives to discuss
a possible cease-fire was rejected by the Russian government, Interfax
and ITAR-TASS reported on 22 January. Speaking on Russian TV on 20 and
21 January respectively, Chernomyrdin and Federal Counterintelligence
Service (FSK) Director Sergei Stepashin both admitted that serious
mistakes had been made during the military operation in Chechnya.
Stepashin further claimed that there had been "practically no civilian
casualties" in the fighting. Meeting in Cairo on 22 January with Arab
League Secretary-General Esmat Abdel-Maguid, Russian Federation Council
Deputy Chairman Ramazan Abdulatipov sought to counter perceptions that
Russia's war in Chechnya was directed against Islam, arguing that the
fighting is being directed "against common criminals," Reuters reported.
-- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

RALLIES PROTESTING CHECHEN WAR HELD IN RUSSIA. Several rallies and
meetings were held across Russia to protest the military's involvement
in Chechnya. People chanted Orthodox and Muslim prayers in front of the
former KGB headquarters in a 22 January gathering held to mourn victims
of the war. The rally, organized by the human rights "Memorial" society
and broadcast on Russian TV, was attended by many Russian celebrities,
including former acting Prime Minister Egor Gaidar, songwriter Bulat
Okudzhava and Human Rights Commissioner Kovalev. Similar rallies
attended by politicians and relatives of Russian conscripts took place
21 and 22 January in many other cities, including St. Petersburg;
Syktyvkar, the capital of the Komi republic in Northern Russia; and
Petropavlovsk on the Kamchatka peninsula. At another demonstration in
Chuvashia, thousands of people came out to back Chuvash President
Nikolai Fedorov, who is refusing to send people to the war. Yeltsin had
earlier annulled Federov's decree. While distraught mothers suggested in
speeches at the rally that Yeltsin should be shot for sending their sons
to die, Fedorov told "Vesti" that he was unlikely to implement Yeltsin's
decree. According to the Los Angeles Times, the president of
Bashkortostan and other Volga region leaders were thinking of following
Fedorov's lead -- Julia Wishnevsky, OMRI, Inc.

GRACHEV ATTACKS YUSHENKOV; KOVALEV LAMBASTES YELTSIN. Defense Minister
Pavel Grachev lashed out at the chairman of the Duma Defense Committee
Sergei Yushenkov in a 20 January speech broadcast on Ostankino's
"Vremya," calling him "a vile toad" who defies the army that made him a
lieutenant colonel. Grachev also said "18-year-old Russian soldiers die
with a smile" and turned on another critic of the war in Chechnya, Human
Rights Commissioner Sergei Kovalev, saying, "This--what's his name--
Kovalev, there's nothing about him that's decent, he is the enemy of
Russia, a traitor to Russia." According to the Russian TV "Vesti" of 22
January, Grachev's remark on Kovalev may have cost him a trip to a
prestigious international security conference in Munich, the hosts of
which have suggested that Grachev "had better reconsider" his earlier
decision to attend the event. For his part, Kovalev, in an address to
the Anti-Fascist congress, in Moscow on 20 January, indirectly accused
President Boris Yeltsin of falsehood and contempt for his own people.
According to Kovalev, the authorities have constantly lied to the
Russian public. In a clear reference to Yeltsin's interview on the
occasion of the seizure of the presidential palace in Grozny, broadcast
on Russian TV a day earlier, Kovalev noted that the authorities
responsible for the deaths of untrained Russian conscripts and for
bombings of civilian targets, "have accused [Chechen President Dzhokhar]
Dudaev of committing genocide against his own people," and thus
demonstrated that they regard the Russian public as ignorant. But
Kovalev also added, "we deserve this, since we allow them to treat us
that way." -- Julia Wishnevsky, OMRI, Inc.

THIRD CONGRESS OF RUSSIAN COMMUNIST PARTY. Communist Party leader
Gennadii Zyuganov criticized Yeltsin in a speech on 21 January at the
party's third congress, calling him the figure primarily responsible for
all of Russia's ills over the past three years. Zyuganov stressed his
party's role as the initiator of a campaign aimed at pushing the Russian
president to resign, hold early presidential elections, and prevent the
postponement of parliamentary elections scheduled for 1996. He also
reiterated his party's opposition to the use of force in Chechnya.
Zyuganov was reelected as the party leader, along with his deputy,
Valentin Kuptsov. The congress, which opened on the 51st anniversary of
Vladimir Lenin's death, took place on 21-22 January. The fact that the
congress was held in the prestigious Column Hall of the House of Unions,
revealed a new tendency among the party's opponents to treat it like a
normal opposition grouping. In a sharp departure from past practices,
the tone of Russian TV's "Vesti's" reports on the congress was neutral.
-- Julia Wishnevsky, OMRI, Inc.

RELATIONS BETWEEN RUSSIA'S CHOICE, PRESIDENT CONTINUE TO DETERIORATE.
The Duma rejected General Prosecutor Aleksei Ilyushenko's request to
prosecute parliamentarians Gaidar and Sergei Yushenkov of Russia's
Choice for organizing unauthorized rallies in Moscow against sending
troops to Chechnya, Interfax reported 20 January. The request won only
132 of the necessary 226 votes. Ilyushenko objected to the character of
the slogans and placards at the rallies and their descriptions of the
president. At a news rally the same day, former KGB General Oleg
Kalugin, now the leader of the Defense Policy Commission of Russia's
Choice, said "the Russian president is personally responsible for the
military operation in Chechnya." The Commission demanded that Deputy
Prime Minister Nikolai Egorov, Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, FSK
Director Sergei Stepashin, and Secretary of the Security Council Oleg
Lobov be dismissed immediately. Russia's Choice was once Yeltsin's
closest political ally. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

NEW LIST OF DEPUTY DEFENSE MINISTERS. President Boris Yeltsin issued a
decree appointing new deputy defense ministers, Interfax reported on 19
January. As expected, Generals Boris Gromov, Georgii Kondratyev, and
Valerii Mironov were not on the list, nor was the previously fired
General Matvei Burlakov. Speaking on Ostankino TV on 20 January,
Kondratyev said, however, that he, Gromov, and Mironov were still
carrying out their duties despite the fact that others had already been
appointed to their posts, and were working alongside them--a situation
he described as "quite incomprehensible." Civilian Andrei Kokoshin
retained his post of first deputy minister as did Chief of Staff Mikhail
Kolesnikov. Col.-Gen. Anatolii Solomatin took over as deputy minister
for construction and billeting of troops -- a position he had been
filling in an acting capacity. Col. Gen. Vladimir Churanov was
identified as the new deputy of logistical support. This list was said
to authorize six deputies, rather than five as had been previously
announced. Another holdover was Col.-Gen. Konstantin Kobets, the
inspector general of the armed forces. The sixth name was that of Col.-
Gen. Vladimir Toporov, who had been in charge of logistics. Toporov is
now said to be a deputy minister "without portfolio", although the 20
January issue of Kommersant-Daily added that such things as physical
fitness training and cultural and recreational activities would fall
under his purview. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIANS ACCUSE U.S. OF DENIGRATING ARMS FOR COMMERCIAL REASONS. Stepan
Sulakshin, chairman of the State Duma's subcommittee on the problems of
the military-industrial complex, told RIA on 20 January that American
military experts are spreading "groundless" rumors about the poor
quality of Russian tanks in an effort to undermine Russia's position "as
one of the world's largest arms exporters." He blamed the relatively
high loss of armored vehicles in Grozny on shortcomings in military
planning and tactical mistakes. He also said that the troops did not
utilize their full fire power in order to spare the civilian population.
Sulakshin did not mention that Russian military leaders were also
concerned about their armor. On 18 January Interfax reported that
representatives of military research institutes and weapons design
bureaus had been sent to Chechnya to find out why their products had
performed so poorly. One designer, who preferred to remain anonymous,
said some of the design bureaus had received an urgent order to develop
better protection for tanks that are operating in an urban combat zone.
He said the means to protect T-72 and T-80 tanks had not been upgraded
in over a decade. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

KINKEL MEETS KOZYREV IN BERN. German officials are putting increasing
pressure on Russia to cease military action in Chechnya, Reuters
reported on 22 January. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel, in a 22
January meeting in Bern with his Russian counterpart, Andrei Kozyrev,
said, "The bloodshed in Chechnya must stop immediately." In contrast to
U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher's statement last week that
economic assistance may be cut off if the military action does not stop,
Kinkel said that economic sanctions are not the answer. Kozyrev welcomed
Kinkel's support for a political solution within the framework of the
Russian Constitution, meaning that Chechnya would remain part of the
federation. Kinkel also welcomed Russia's acceptance of a mission from
the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to assess
human rights. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA REJECTS SECOND READING OF 1995 DRAFT BUDGET. Russia's Duma failed
for the second time to adopt the 1995 federal budget, with 195 votes in
favor, 142 against, and 1 abstention, Interfax reported on 20 January.
The draft would have confirmed budget expenditures of 243,196.5 billion
rubles (3,947 rubles/$1) and revenues of 168,922.3 billion rubles. The
maximum budget deficit was planned at 74,272.2 billion rubles, or 30.5%
of expenditures. The main obstacle in passing the budget was opposing
views in the State Duma and Federation Council budget committees on the
necessity for a special tax in support of certain "branches of the
economy," Interfax said. Sergei Shulgin, head of the Duma Sub-Committee
on Tax Legislation, argued that a special tax could "kill industry." The
Federation Council Budget Committee argued that the tax is necessary to
support the agri-industrial sector. The Duma Committee on Budget, Taxes,
Banks, and Finances will meet on 25 January for further discussions. --
Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

CIS

YELTSIN, NAZARBAEV MEET. In a joint declaration issued after their talks
in Moscow on 20 January, Russian President Yeltsin and his Kazakh
counterpart Nursultan Nazarbaev announced measures to coordinate
security policy, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. They vowed to create a
combined military force later this year and to cooperate closely in the
sphere of foreign policy. The two presidents also signed an agreement on
the legal status of Russian citizens living in Kazakhstan and Kazakhs in
the Russian Federation and announced that a treaty would be signed on 10
February for the joint defense of their external frontiers. The Russian
and Kazakh prime ministers, Chernomyrdin and Akezhan Kazhegeldin, signed
several economic and military agreements on the creation of a customs
union, the introduction of uniform regulations on foreign economic
activity and stipulating the terms for Russia's use of military
facilities in Kazakhstan, and on the status of Russian troops stationed
there. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

[As of 1200 CET[

Compiled by Victor Gomez

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
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to: omripub@omri.cz

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



Jeff Gardner
Information Services Dept.
Open Media Research Institute
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Na Strzi 63
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Tel: 42/2 6114 2114;  42/2 6114 2122
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