Calmness of mind does not mean you should stop your activity. Real calmness should be found in activity itself. - Shunro Suzuki
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 17 part I, 24 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

CHECHEN RESISTANCE "WEAKENING": DUDAEV AGAIN CALLS FOR TALKS. Artillery
bombardment and street fighting continued in Grozny on 23 January as
Russian troops backed by reinforcements attempted to dislodge the
Chechens from their new positions east of the Sunzha river, Russian and
Western agencies reported. Interfax quoted a senior Russian military
spokesman in Mozdok as claiming that the Chechen resistance "was
weakening." In a telephone interview with Radio Liberty's Russian
Service on 23 January, Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev again called
for peace talks with Russia but said that the issue of Chechnya's
independence "is not negotiable." Speaking in Minsk on 23 January,
Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev suggested that Dudaev should
"abandon the armed struggle" against Russia and present his case for
secession to the Russian parliament, Reuters reported. -- Liz Fuller,
OMRI, Inc.

REGIONAL LEADERS TO MEET. Legislators and government officials of
southern Russian and the northern Caucasus will meet at a two-day
conference in Stavropol beginning 24 January to discuss the Chechen
crisis, Interfax reported. Federation Council Deputy Speaker Ramazan
Abdulatipov and other deputies tried to hold the conference earlier this
month, but it was twice postponed by the Security Council. Republican
Party leader Vladimir Lysenko said the Council feared that the regional
governments in southern Russia would coordinate their moves against
Moscow in reaction to events in Chechnya. The conference will bring
together deputy regional leaders responsible for ethnic issues from all
the republics as well as the Krasnodar, Stavropol, and Rostov regions.
On 23 January, Kremlin Chief of Staff Sergei Filatov said at a news
conference that "the issue of power redistribution between the federal
authorities and the federation's constituent members has been placed at
the top of the agenda once again," Interfax reported. He warned that the
issue could not be resolved through pressure. Only new legislation on
power redistribution, currently under consideration, could "dot the i's
and cross the t's and put an end to the dispute," he said. -- Robert
Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

EU FOREIGN MINISTERS GIVE GREEN LIGHT TO PARTNERSHIP ACCORD WITH RUSSIA.
Contrary to expectations and a vote by the European parliament, EU
foreign ministers did not endorse the suspension of the interim economic
agreement with Russia, AFP and Reuters reported. However, they may take
strong measures if the situation in Chechnya worsens, and they called
for an immediate end to hositlities. The German foreign minister, Klaus
Kinkel, said the signing of the interim accord would go ahead on 9
March. "We all agreed that economic sanctions at this point are not
appropriate," Kinkel said, protesting that sanctions would only
strengthen the nationalists in Russia. He added, "We have to wait and
see how things develop but we don't want to make a menacing gesture.
That would only help the wrong forces in Russia." Britain also supported
the German position. "We have given a clear signal that we want to
continue our aim of partnership with Russia, but what has been going on
in Chechnya makes that difficult," British Foreign Secretary Douglas
Hurd said. Both Ireland and Sweden had argued for stronger action
against Russia. For now, any further EU response will await the report
of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE)
mission to Chechnya. The EU will review its relations with Russia at  a
meeting on 19 March. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

TWO CHECHEN RAIONS SEEK TO REJOIN STAVROPOL KRAI. A letter signed by
50,000 residents of Naur and Shelkov Raions in Chechnya demanding that
they be annexed to neighboring Stavropol Krai was sent to President
Boris Yeltsin, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, and the speakers of
the two houses of Russia's parliament, Interfax reported on 23 January
citing government sources. The two areas were placed under Chechen
jurisdiction by former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in 1957. The
letter claims that under Dudaev "ethnic Russians have been robbed,
killed, raped, and humiliated." The Stavropol Krai administration is
said to be "distancing itself" from the issue, but the request has the
support of Cossack organizations there. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

ELECTORAL LAWS TO BE ADOPTED SOON? An article complaining that draft
laws for Russia's presidential and parliamentary elections have not been
published yet, although they were adopted in their first reading,
appeared in the 15-22 January issue of Moskovskie novosti. The newspaper
speculates that final versions will be adopted soon. However, it warns,
nobody is paying attention to the laws' potential defects. Both
presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled for the next
eighteen months, although events in Chechnya have spurred calls for
early elections. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

RUEHE'S CRITICISM OF GRACHEV CREATES STIR IN RUSSIA. Defense Minister
Pavel Grachev's recent outburst at liberal critics of the war in
Chechnya are "totally unacceptable" said Yeltsin's chief of staff
Filatov, the powerful head of Yeltsin's administration, at a 23 January
news conference in Moscow. Filatov was reacting to Grachev's 20 January
statements on Ostankino's "Vremya" in which he called Human Rights
Commissioner Sergei Kovalev "a traitor of Russia" and lashed out at Duma
Defense Committee Chairman Sergei Yushenkov, calling him a "vile toad."
Filatov said that no responsible official should use such language
against critics and added that the Yeltsin administration would soon
make a judgment on the incident. Grachev has already been informed by
German Defense Minister Volker Ruehe that he is no longer welcome to
attend a February conference on European defense in Munich. In a 21
January interview with Bild, Ruehe accused General Grachev of
"unacceptable slander" against his liberal opponents. -- Julia
Wishnevsky, OMRI, Inc.

PARLIAMENTARY ANALYSTS SAY AIR FORCE FALLING APART. Financial problems
are destroying Russia's armed forces, and particularly the Air Force,
say experts from the Federation Council's Analytical Center. According
to a 22 January Interfax report, analysts noted that Russian pilots had
been averaging 30-40 hours per year since 1991, little more than one-
tenth that of Western pilots. The Air Force needed 280 new aircraft but
was only able to purchase 33. Roughly half of the military's jets are
grounded because of a shortage of spare parts, while less than half the
needed fuel is available. The analysts found that the air bases were in
similar shape. Of 209 airfields, 133 needed major repairs. -- Doug
Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

MINERS STRIKE IN ROSTOV. Miners at eight pits belonging to the
Rostovugol association have been on strike since 20 January and will be
joined by miners from another 18 pits on 1 February if their demands are
not met, according to the chairman of the Russian Coal-mining Industry
Workers' Union, Vitalii Budko. Interfax reported that Budko said Rostov
miners have not yet received their wages for October 1994 and that
tension is mounting in other coal-mining regions for the same reason.
The miners' leader argued that the situation could be stabilized if the
government allocates 800 billion rubles for the industry in the short
term. He expressed concern that the draft federal budget envisages only
6.3 trillion rubles for the industry, noting that even Economics
Ministry experts believe the sector requires 10 trillion rubles. If
funds are not increased, the price of coal will have to be doubled or
tripled, making it unaffordable for consumers, who still owe 2 trillion
rubles for deliveries last year, he said. A wave of miners' strikes
swept the country in the winter of 1993-1994. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI,
Inc.

CENTRAL BANK DEVELOPS REGULATIONS ON COLLATERAL LOANS. The Central Bank
of Russia has developed regulations on collateral loans in which
commercial banks will be able to take Central Bank loans in exchange for
stocks, the Financial Information Agency reported on 23 January. A
Central Bank spokesman told the press that commercial banks will be
allowed to take out collateral loans for a term of up to 30 days. The
collateral interest rate will be set by the Central Bank board. The
Central Bank hopes that introducing collateral loans will help increase
liquidity within the banking system and will give a boost to banks that
are experiencing temporary insolvency. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

KITOVANI'S GUILT "INDISPUTABLE." Ex-Georgian Defense Minister Tengiz
Kitovani, arrested on 13 January after an alleged abortive attempt to
reconquer Abkhazia by force and/or prepare a coup against the Georgian
leadership, could be sentenced to ten years' imprisonment as "his guilt
is indisputable," according to Georgian Deputy Prosecutor-General Revaz
Kipiani as quoted by Interfax on 19 January. In addition, Kitovani is
likely to be charged with the illegal sale to Azerbaijan in 1992 for 300
million rubles of two military aircraft. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

ARMENIAN BLOC REJECTS US CRITICISM. A bloc of six right-wing Armenian
political parties, including the ruling Armenian National Movement,
rejected on 23 January the US State Department's criticism of a six-
month ban imposed on the opposition Dashnaktsyutyun party, ITAR-TASS
reported. The bloc called the criticism "unacceptable to forces that are
struggling for statehood, democracy, and universal values" and
"interference in Armenia's internal affairs." It further termed
"understandable, but regrettable" statements by Communist deputies of
the Russian State Duma in support of the Dashnak Party. -- Liz Fuller,
OMRI, Inc.

CIS

CIS LEADERS TO DISCUSS "PEACE AND ACCORD PACT." A 10 February meeting of
CIS heads of state and prime ministers in Almaty will debate a draft
"Peace and Accord" pact drawn up by Russian President Yeltsin, which
"would be a blessing for all peoples in the post-Soviet era," Kazakh
President Nursultan Nazarbaev told journalists in Moscow on 23 January.
Nazarbaev described the agreements on Russian-Kazakh bilateral
cooperation, signed on 20 January, as a precedent for closer integration
within the CIS, affirming that Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan could
spearhead this process, Interfax reported. Evgenii Utkin, deputy head of
the CIS Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, similarly told
Interfax on 23 January that integration, primarily economic, is
increasing within the CIS. Utkin also gave a positive assessment of the
concept of a Eurasian Union proposed by Nazarbaev in 1994. But not all
CIS leaders share this enthusiasm. Turkmen President Sapurmurad Niyazov
argued in a speech to the Ukrainian parliament on 20 January that the
CIS should remain a purely consultative body; he rejected attempts to
create alliances or supranational pacts as "prompted by overtly selfish
interests," Interfax reported. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

EU SIGNS PARTNERSHIP ACCORD WITH KAZAKHSTAN. The European Union (EU)
signed a partnership and cooperation accord with Kazakhstan on 23
January, AFP and Reuters report. The agreement, similar to others
already signed with other former Soviet republics, is intended to
promote trade, commercial, and political contacts between the EU and
Kazakhstan. Kazakh President Nazarbaev signed the accord at an EU
foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels. He said the economic,
commercial, and technical help provided by the EU will help reforms in
his country. The agreement also signals an important new phase in
Kazakhstan's entry into the world marketplace. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI,
Inc.

KUCHMA IN MOSCOW. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma arrived in Moscow on
23 January for talks on trade and economic issues, Ukrainian radio
reported. Among the topics to be discussed are trade agreements for
1995, energy imports, and the delivery of components for goods
manufactured in Ukraine by companies which have ties with Russia. The
"zero option" and Ukraine's share of the former Soviet Union's debt will
also be discussed, but it is not expected that Ukraine will agree to
turn over its share of the former Soviet Union's assets in exchange for
Russia taking over its share of the debt. -- Ustina Markus, 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
distributed electronically via the OMRI-L list. To subscribe, send
"SUBSCRIBE OMRI-L YourFirstName YourLastName" (without the quotation
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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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