The highest possible stage in moral culture is when we recognize that we ought to control our thoughts. - Charles Darwin
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 21, Part I, 30 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

BOMBARDMENT OF CHECHNYA CONTINUES AS RUSSIA DISMISSES TERROR THREAT
Russian artillery bombardment of Grozny and of towns to the east and
south continued from 27-29 January, Western agencies reported. On 29
January, the Russian government issued an official statement dismissing
as unrealistic Dudaev's threat to extend the war to Russian cities if
the aggression against Chechnya continues, Western media reported. --
Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

MOSCOW APPOINTS NEW CHECHEN REPRESENTATIVES. An attempt by Chechen
President Dzhokhar Dudaev on 27 January to arrange a new meeting between
his envoys and Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin failed,
Russian media reported. After meeting with Chechen religious leaders in
Moscow on 27 January, Chernomyrdin said elections could be held in
Chechnya in 2-3 months. Also on 27 January, Russian President Boris
Yeltsin appointed Nikolai Semenov, as federal representative in
Chechnya, Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported. Semenov, who was first
secretary of the Grozny gorkom from 1976-1985, will replace Nikolai
Egorov, who is hospitalized with pneumonia. On 28 January, Chernomyrdin
named as Semenov's deputies Salambek Khadzhiev, head of the Moscow-
appointed Chechen government, opposition Provisional Council chairman
Umar Avturkhanov and warlord Beslan Gantemirov, ITAR-TASS reported. --
Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

AGREEMENT ON OPPOSITION AGAINST CHECHEN WAR SIGNED IN MOSCOW. Various
Russian political and social organizations signed a joint document
denouncing the war in Chechnya on 28 January in Moscow's Parliamentary
Center. The state-owned ITAR-TASS agency reported that 40 organizations
had taken part, but organizers told Russian TV there were 72 groups. The
signatory parties included Russia's Democratic Choice, the Democratic
Party of Russia and the human rights "Memorial" society. Human Rights
Commissioner Sergei Kovalev addressed the session, saying that the
agreement marked the emergence of a civil society in Russia. -- Julia
Wishnevsky, OMRI, Inc.

OSCE MISSION TOURS GROZNY. A mission from the Organization for
Cooperation and Security in Europe (OSCE) to investigate human rights
abuses in Chechnya arrived in Grozny 29 January on the final leg of a
tour scheduled to visit Moscow, North Ossetia and Ingushetia, Reuters,
AFP and Interfax reported. The military prevented the Human Rights
Commissioner Sergei Kovalev from accompanying the mission because he
didn't have a pass for the military airport. The United States has
requested an explanation for this action. The five-member mission met
with Chechen opposition leader Umar Avturkhanov on 28 January and held
talks with local political and religious leaders opposed to Dudaev.
Delegation head Istvan Gyarmati stressed that he had no mandate to
mediate the conflict nor to investigate specific human rights
violations. He said the OSCE considered a democratic resolution of the
conflict important for Russian stability. Gyarmati added that the
delegation was particularly eager to talk to Russian-held Chechen
prisoners, especially since Russia has not allowed the International Red
Cross to see them and does not recognize them as prisoners-of-war under
the Geneva Convention. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev said, on
26 January, that the OSCE mission made little sense because some members
of the delegation couldn't speak Russian and Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin was already mediating in Chechnya. -- Michael Mihalka,
OMRI, Inc.

SURVEY FINDS KORZHAKOV INFLUENCE GROWING. The head of Yeltsin's security
service, General Alexander Korzhakov, ranks number two on a list of the
country's most influential people, according to a survey conducted by
NTV's "Itogy," AFP reported 29 January. Every month the program asks
politicians, political analysts, journalists and other opinion-makers
for their top-ten listings of the country's most influential people,
excluding Yeltsin. Only Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin ranked higher
this time. Korzhakov ranked seventh in October, fourth in November, and
third in December. The survey results reflect a growing perception in
Moscow that Korzhakov has become a dominant figure in the president's
inner circle of advisers. He has been accused of supporting the use of
military force in Chechnya and opposing some aspects of economic reform.
-- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

COMMUNIST ACCUSES YELTSIN OF REVIVING INSTITUTIONAL CONFLICT. Vladimir
Semago, a Communist member of the Duma, denounced Yeltsin's statement in
Lipetsk that it was unconstitutional for the Duma to set up a commission
to investigate the causes of the Chechen crisis, Interfax reported 27
January. He characterized Yeltsin's remark as "a covert signal to
bureaucrats" not to cooperate with the Duma and "the start of an open
confrontation with the legislature." He warned that a confrontation
between the president and parliament might degenerate into armed
conflict. He stressed the need to complete the establishment of the
Constitutional Court to prevent such an eventuality. -- Robert Orttung,
OMRI, Inc.

INSTITUTE SAID DRAFT SITUATION CRITICAL. Manning the armed forces "has
become the most acute problem of Russia's defense capability," according
to Russia's Institute for Social and Political Studies, Interfax
reported on 28 January. The institute cited a demographic crisis in the
country and the large numbers of deferments as causes of the problem.
The report noted that the number of people between the ages of 15 and 19
in the population had dropped by nearly 1.2 million in the past fifteen
years. The law allows so many valid reasons for being deferred that 84%
of draft-age men evaded conscription in 1994, compared to 48% in 1989.
As a result, last spring's draft was said to have brought the armed
forces up to 75% of their desired personnel, with ground forces able to
fill just over half of their billets. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

SPACE OFFICIALS WARN OF RUIN. Unless more money is provided to Russia's
space program, the country will lose its ranking as a great space power,
warned top officials of the Russian Space Agency and one of Russia's
largest rocket and space enterprises in a 26 January Interfax report.
The space agency's director said 104 of the 177 Russian spacecraft
currently in orbit have exceeded their design lifetime and could fail at
any moment. In 1994, Russia was able to complete only 49 of 102 planned
launches. Gen. Vladimir Ivanov, commander of military space forces, said
at most, only half of the 72 space launches planned for this year could
be achieved. The director of the Energiya Corporation declared that
underfinancing over the past two years had caused the curtailment of
several space programs and the loss of 7,500 specialists. Another 30,000
jobs were threatened without additional funding. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI,
Inc.

GOVERNMENT CONSIDERS  FIXED RUBLE RATE. Speaking at the annual World
Economic Forum in Davos on 27 January, Russian Minister of Economics
Yevgenii Yasin said that once price stabilization occurs, the government
will consider introducing a fixed ruble rate, Interfax reported.
According to Yasin, a fixed rate would enable the Central Bank to keep
the ruble in line with hard currency interventions. It would also reduce
the scale of speculations. Yasin declined to indicate when stabilization
would happen. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais said a fixed
ruble rate could be introduced no earlier than three months from now.
Russian bankers attending the event were skeptical that such measures
could have a positive impact on currency stabilization and market
reforms, Interfax noted. The president of Toko Bank, Viktor Yakunin,
said a fixed rate would lead to "the death of the currency exchange and
the emergence of a black market for currency." -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI,
Inc.

CUSTOMS COMMITTEE PROPOSES LOWER IMPORT DUTIES. Russia's State Customs
Committee has proposed an average one-third reduction of customs duties
on 50 imported items, including tobacco, liquor, and cars, Interfax
reported on 27 January. Customs committee Chairman Anatolii Kruglov told
the press that current taxes do not meet today's consumer market
requirements. An estimated 30% of all exports bypass customs because
excessive duties are compelling people to smuggle goods, he said.
Kruglov urged the government to set up a council for representatives of
the customs committee, the Foreign Trade Ministry, and other departments
to work out a balanced customs regulation policy. In 1994, the committee
raised 14.14 trillion rubles for the state, amounting to 21.3% of the
country's budget revenues. This year, the Committee is expected to
contribute 23.3 trillion rubles to the budget. Last year, the customs
committee initiated 25,000 suits on tax payment irregularities, issued
130 billion rubles in fines, and confiscated 40 billion rubles in goods.
-- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

OSCE KARABAKH MEDIATION RESUMES. On 26 January emissaries of the newly
combined Russian and OSCE Karabakh mediation missions, Anders Bjurner
and Vladimir Kazimirov, held talks in Baku with Azerbaijan's President
Heidar Aliev, Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported. Aliev affirmed that his
country will spare no effort to maintain the ceasefire, in force since
May 1994, noting that it had held despite the absence of peacekeepers.
On 28 January, however, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry issued a
statement, reported by Interfax, registering official concern at alleged
violations of the cease-fire by Armenian forces in the north of Nagorno-
Karabakh. Bjurner and Kazimirov proceeded to Erevan on 28 January for
talks with the Armenian leadership, ITAR-TASS reported. Meanwhile
Interfax on 28 January cited a Karabakh official as claiming that about
25,000 ethnic Armenians, who had fled the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh
in recent years, returned to their homes last month.-- Liz Fuller, OMRI,
Inc.

ABKHAZ TALKS TO RESUME NEXT MONTH. Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba
linked the repatriation of ethnic Georgian refugees with the lifting of
border restrictions, imposed by Russia in December 1994 to prevent
Abkhaz militants from joining the Chechen fighters, Interfax reported on
26 January. The comments came at a meeting in Sukhumi between Ardzinba
and a delegation from the CIS Inter-parliamentary Assembly and the CIS
Committee of the Federation Council. On 28 January, the Russian
delegation traveled to Tbilisi for talks with Georgian Parliament
Chairman Eduard Shevardnadze, whose chief negotiator for Abkhazia,
Dzhaba Ioseliani, subsequently told Interfax that the next round of UN-
sponsored talks on a political settlement of the Abkhaz conflict would
take place in Geneva on 7-9 February. In a statement probably meant more
for domestic consumption than as a basis for negotiations, Ioseliani
said Georgia would demand that repatriation of the estimated 200,000
Georgian refugees be completed before 15 May, when the mandate of
Russian peacekeepers in the area expires. He reiterated that Georgia
would offer a federal model for Abkhazia, guaranteeing "all political,
economic and cultural rights," but not independence. -- Liz Fuller,
OMRI, Inc.

CIS

BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION CRITICIZES RUSSIAN-BELARUSIAN AGREEMENTS. The 6
January agreement between Russia and Belarus represents a means for
Russia to gain control over the Belarusian economy and the country's
assets, according to Zyanon Paznyak, leader of the opposition Belarusian
Popular Front (BPF). At a 26 January press conference of the BPF shadow
cabinet, reported by Belarusian radio, Paznyak attacked clauses in the
agreement which allow Russian exports free transit across Belarusian
territory and the stationing of Russian troops in the country free of
charge. Paznyak said the agreement has a political character which is
ruinous to Belarusian sovereignty and paves the way for the republic's
incorporation into the Russian Federation. Shadow cabinet prime minister
Uladzimir Zablotsky said Prime Minister Mikhail Chyhir did not have the
right to sign the agreement since it contravened the country's
constitution and only the president can sign international accords.
Paznyak also said the free-trade and customs union agreement would mean
that Belarus is subject to any sanctions imposed on Russia because of
the conflict in Chechnya. -- 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
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