The only certainty is that nothing is certain. - Pliny the Elder

No. 20, Part I, 27 January 1995

We welcome you to Part I of the Open Media Research Institute's Daily
Digest. The Digest is distributed 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.


CHECHEN MINISTER THREATENS TERROR As artillery shelling of Grozny
continued on 26 January, Chechen Foreign Minister Shamseddin Yussef,
speaking in Washington, threatened to launch a terrorist campaign in
Moscow. Meanwhile, Chechen Military Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov
issued a statement affirming that the Chechens will not retreat from
Grozny and have made preparations for conducting a prolonged partisan
war, Reuters reported. - Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

journalists on 26 January, Federation Council Chairman Vladimir Shumeiko
outlined the reconstruction plan for Chechnya adopted by the Security
Council the day before, Interfax reported. Pending the election of a new
government, presumably this year, an interim administration will be
formed on the basis of the National Salvation Committee, a body
comprising members of the former Chechen-Ingush parliament, the Chechen
diaspora, and the clergy. The council plans to analyze the state of the
economy and infrastructure in greater detail before drafting a plan of
assistance. Electricity, water supply, telecommunications, and oil
extraction should be restored first. According to Shumeiko, revenue from
4 million tons of crude oil a year could offset the costs of
reconstruction. A special zone will be set up along the Russian border
area that crosses the territory of North Ossetia, Ingushetia, Chechnya,
and Dagestan. A member of the Russian cabinet, with the rank of deputy
prime minister or higher, will remain permanently in the Chechen
Republic to implement the measures. - Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

VOROBEV ON CHECHNYA MILITARY DEBACLE. Former first deputy commander of
Russian ground forces, Col.-Gen. Eduard Vorobev, said 26 January that
the Chechen campaign was poorly planned and too hastily executed,
Russian and Western agencies reported. Vorobev, who was fired by Defense
Minister Pavel Grachev for his refusal to lead the attack, laid blame
for the ensuing high "human, economic, and political losses" on the
minister's reluctance to inform Yeltsin that more time was needed to
plan the operation. - Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

KOVALEV MEETS CHERNOMYRDIN. Russian Human Rights Commissioner Sergei
Kovalev met with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on 26 January to
discuss the Chechen war, according to Ostankino's "Vremya." In the
meeting, which lasted 90 minutes instead of the scheduled 40 minutes,
Kovalev said he tried to convince Chernomyrdin to negotiate directly
with President Dzhokhar Dudaev, as the only Chechen leader who commands
respect and obedience in the republic. He also told the prime minister
that it is "senseless" to talk with representatives of the Chechen
diaspora in Moscow or with leaders supported by the Russian government.
At the end of the meeting, Kovalev said he was not sure whether the
prime minister agreed with him but added, "Chernomyrdin stopped short of
repeating the official formula of Yeltsin's administration that they
would not talk with 'bandits.'" Earlier that day, the New York-based
human rights organization, Freedom House, announced their decision to
give this year's Freedom Award to Sergei Kovalev, whom they credited
"with galvanizing Russian public opinion against the war in Chechnya." -
Julia Wishnevsky and Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

IMF DEAL WITH RUSSIA THREATENED A combination of factors threaten the
prospects of the IMF deal with Russia, Reuters reported on 25 January.
An IMF delegation is in Moscow to assess the country's economic
prospects in light of a possible $6.25 billion standby loan. The IMF has
already lent Russia $4 million. Political chaos and the Chechnya
troubles are undermining prospects for a tight 1995 budget, which is
necessary to secure the loan. The removal of Privatization Minister
Vladimir Polevanov, who had sought to renationalize some natural
resource firms, provides one hopeful sign that discipline may be
restored. But Grigorii Yavlinsky, head of the Yabloko group in the Duma,
said the situation remains fluid and there is no guarantee that
Polevanov's replacement will have different ideas on nationalization.
"How do we know that tomorrow, someone from the circus or the zoo won't
be appointed to his position? The truth is Yeltsin is surrounded by
advisers giving him wrong advice. Just like (ex-Soviet leader Mikhail)
Gorbachev, he has a special talent for plucking these people from
obscurity." However, in the final analysis, the fate of the IMF loan
depends on the attitude of the Group of Seven (G7), whose finance
ministers meet in Toronto on 3-4 February. - Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

RUBLE TUMBLES TO RECORD LOW. The Russian ruble fell 16 points in MICEX
trading on 26 January, closing at 4,004 rubles to the dollar, reported
Russian agencies. A total of $207.81 million was sold with an initial
demand of $229.72 million and initial supply at $202.81 million, and 61
commercial banks participating. The central bank was the main bidder in
the trading session and purchased about $150 million. MICEX
representative, Oleg Osemnuk, told Interfax that overshooting the 4,000-
ruble mark "has psychological rather than economic overtones." He said
buyers will have to adjust to the new rate. Meanwhile, Aleksandr
Potemkin, director of the central bank's foreign transactions
department, told the Financial Information Agency that the fall of the
ruble in January, at a weekly rate of 4.5%, reflected inflationary
processes. Potemkin said the status of the currency market was
predictable and could be attributed to the central bank's monetary moves
to "put an end to panicky dollar-buying and selling of rubles." Since
the beginning of the year, the central bank has increased the annual
refinancing rate from 170% to 200%, to keep a step ahead of inflation. -
Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

Department of Defense will provide Russia with $20 million to improve
the physical security and accounting of nuclear-weapons-grade uranium
and plutonium currently being held in laboratories, research institutes,
and nuclear processing plants, according to a 24 January Pentagon press
release. The release said the assistance package had been under
negotiation for nearly a year, and the 20 January agreement marked the
first time Russia had agreed to accept U.S. help in protecting these
materials. - Doug Clarke , OMRI, Inc.

Russian military for detecting and tracking a Norwegian research missile
on 25 January. The event caused a stir after Interfax erroneously
reported that the missile had been aimed at Russia and then shot down by
air defense forces. Yeltsin said he had used his "black box" for the
first time during the event, Interfax reported on 26 January. "I
immediately contacted the defense minister and the generals, and we kept
track of that missile from beginning to end," he said. He added that the
military leadership did not think it had the capability of detecting
such a small missile immediately, "but we did, and found where it
landed, fairly far from our coasts." The missile was launched from
Andoya in northern Norway, and landed in the vicinity of the Svalbard
Archipelago. The closest it came to Russia was about 250 kilometers from
the country's airspace. - Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

RECENT MEDIA APPOINTMENTS. Ostankino will become the most widely
watched, most powerful, and most competitive Russian TV channel,
according to its new general director, Vladislav Listev. The Russian TV
star was named to the post at the first meeting of the Board of
Directors of Public Russian Television (Ostankino), according to
"Vremya" on 25 January. Former acting chairman Aleksandr Yakovlev was
elected chairman of the board. In a separate development, "Vremya" said,
Marina Nekrasova has been appointed head of Yeltsin's information
center, where she will be in charge of the president's press service.
Sergei Nosovets, acting chief of the Directorate on Information
Guarantees for the Presidential Administration, will serve as
Nekrasova's deputy. Since Nosovets' appointment to the directorate,
Nekrasova produced Ostankino's propaganda programs "Moscow, the Kremlin"
and "First Hand," which aired official points of view. - Julia
Wishnevsky, OMRI, Inc.

YELTSIN VISITS LIPETSK. In his first trip outside Moscow since the
beginning of the Chechen crisis, Yeltsin traveled on 26 January to
Lipetsk, a Russian city located some 400 kilometers south of the
capital. Presidential aide Viktor Ilyushin claimed the trip symbolized
the normalization of events in Chechnya, Komsomolskaya pravda reported.
Public access to the president was confined to workers in three
factories which have benefited from his reforms, The Washington Post
reported. At the airport, he told journalists he will "make monthly
visits to the regions, if there aren't any disruptions," Rossiiskie
vesti reported. At one of the factories, Yeltsin declared the Duma had
no right to set up a commission to investigate the Chechen events and
said he would set up his own committee for that purpose, Interfax
reported. - Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA ENDORSES MEDIA BILL. The Duma passed a bill "On TV and Radio
Broadcasting" in its second reading, Interfax reported 26 January. The
bill will be returned to the legislature for final debate and possible
passage by 10 February. In its present form, the bill bars federal,
regional, and other local authorities, as well as individuals and public
associations, from controlling the programming policy of a TV or radio
company. There are exceptions, however, for broadcasts of elections,
advertisements, erotic programs, and broadcasts from zones where a state
of emergency is in force. The legislation provides for a 16-member
commission on radio and TV broadcasting. The president will appoint its
members to six-year terms on the basis of candidates submitted along
party lines by the president himself and both houses of the Federal
Assembly. The commission's operating procedures must be approved by two-
thirds of its members. - Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.


officers arrested three members of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation
(Dashnaktsyutyun) in Erevan on 26 January, Interfax reported. A
spokesman for the intelligence service denied any knowledge of the
arrests. The federation was suspended for six months for alleged
involvement in terrorism and drug trafficking. - Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

KOZYREV ON TAJIKISTAN. Addressing a conference of foreign ministers from
Central Asia in Moscow on 26 January, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei
Kozyrev argued that attempts by the CIS to "normalize the situation in
Tajikistan" do not conflict with parallel efforts by the UN or the OSCE,
Interfax reported. A member of Kozyrev's staff criticized the UN's
reluctance to provide peacekeepers for Tajikistan and advocated
increasing the number of UN observers stationed in the republic. There
are 18 at present. He also predicted that a date will soon be announced
for the fourth round of UN-sponsored talks in Moscow between the Tajik
government and the opposition, which are tentatively scheduled for early
February. - Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.


intergovernmental agreement on cooperation between border regions,
Interfax reported on 26 January. The accord paves the way for increased
interregional trade and the simplification of customs controls for
border-area residents. But the timetable for implementing the agreement
remains uncertain. Bolshakov was quoted as saying Russia will not remove
customs posts until Kazakhstan has brought its legislation into line
with the customs agreement signed by Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan in
Moscow on 20 January. - Penny Morvant and Michael Mihalka., OMRI, Inc.

YELTSIN ON UKRAINE. President Yeltsin said on 26 January that relations
with Ukraine are not as good as desired, Interfax reported. He said that
he had planned to visit Ukraine last November and sign a treaty on
friendship and cooperation, but did not go because the agreement had not
been drafted. Yeltsin blamed Ukraine for this, saying the country's
opposition to dual citizenship had stalled the process. Yeltsin said
Russian cannot make concessions over this issue and said he would not
visit Ukraine until the treaty is drafted. - Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

[As of 12:00 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
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Telephone: (42 2) 6114 2114 Fax: (42 2) 426 396

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