Increase The Peace. - John Singleton
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 22, Part I, 31 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

"FINAL ASSAULT" ON GROZNY IMMINENT? Russian troops are preparing for the
"final assault" on Grozny, according to a Russian government press
service statemetanuary. The statement comes six days after Russian
Defense Minister Pavel Grachev claimed the army had liquidated Chechen
resistance in the city. One third of Grozny is estimated by Western
correspondents and Chechen officials to remain under Chechen control.
Russian artillery bombardment of the city continued on 30 January. In
addition, Russian reinforcements were being deployed south of Grozny in
an apparent attempt to seal off the city, AFP reported. In an interview
given to a Kuwaiti weekly paper and summarized by ITAR-TASS on 30
January, Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev affirmed that continued
resistance to Russian forces had been planned "on a scientific basis,"
and the center of Chechen resistance would be relocated from Grozny to
the mountains. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

OSCE DELEGATION REPORTS ON CHECHNYA. The Organization for Security and
Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) fact-finding mission returned to Moscow from
Grozny on 30 January, the Los Angeles Times reported. Delegation member
Audrey Glover said she had never seen anything as horrific as the
consequences of the Russian attack on the Chechen capital, the Czech
daily Lidove noviny reported. "It is only possible to compare Grozny to
the state Dresden was in after the Second World War," she said.
Delegation head Istvan Gyarmati specifically condemned Russian bombing of
Chechen cities, which have killed thousands of people. However, he found
no evidence that Russian soldiers are torturing and summarily executing
Chechen prisoners. Gyarmati said both the warring sides had agreed to
allow representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross to
visit their prisoners of war. This was the first international mission to
Chechnya during the seven-week war, and its conclusions were at odds with
Moscow's official version of events. -- Victor Gomez and Robert Orttung,
OMRI, Inc.

SEMENOV TO RECONSTRUCT CHECHNYA. Reconstructing most important industries
in Chechnya will require a special effort because of the flight of many
qualified workers from the republic, the new Russian governor of
Chechnya, Nikolai Semenov, said at a 30 January news conference broadcast
on Russian TV. Semenov called for an end to artillery bombardment and
advocated negotiations with all local political powers. According to
"Vesti," Semenov also said he did not intend to talk with Chechen
President Dzhokhar Dudaev. He added that it is up to the military to stop
the fighting. Semenov said he intended to rely in his work on a so-called
National Salvation Committee that he has begun forming, presumably
comprised of members of the pro-Moscow opposition to Dudaev. -- Julia
Wishnevsky, OMRI, Inc.

BURLATSKY: EGOROV INITIATED CHECHEN WAR. Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai D.
Egorov provided the first push for the military campaign in Chechnya,
Fedor Burlatsky charged in Nezavisimaya gazeta on 31 January. According
to Burlatsky, Egorov was probably influenced by the emotions of Cossacks
who suffered from living next door to a criminal zone. In this scenario,
the president's advisers prepared the decision, but the president himself
made it, and the Security Council was only a deliberative body. However,
when the decision was made, no one considered the character or the
consequences of the war. Burlatsky claimed the decision-making process
for Chechnya was the same as Josef Stalin's decision to start the Korean
War and Nikita Khrushchev's decision to place missiles in Cuba. -- Robert
Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

SECURITY COUNCIL DEEMED USEFUL. In the same article, Burlatsky argued
that the Security Council plays a necessary role that the media has not
understood. He denied that the recent inclusion of parliamentary leaders
in the body limits their ability to control the executive branch.
Russians, he charged, are too concerned about the idea of a separation of
powers. Such a separation cannot work when politicians refuse to
cooperate with each other. "Therefore it is necessary to have an
institution in which the main figures come together and collectively
resolve the most important problems." The speakers of both houses can use
their position effectively to represent the collective will of the
legislature in the Council, he claimed. He advocated the adoption of a
new law on the Security Council which would restrict its decision-making
power to protecting state security at home and abroad, and fighting armed
groups, the mafia, and corruption. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

SHUMEIKO PROPOSES CONFERENCE ON THE PARLIAMENT. In a letter to President
Yeltsin, Federation Council Speaker Vladimir Shumeiko proposed the
convocation of an all-Russian conference on the future of parliament,
Izvestiya reported on 31 January. He warned that the level of
disagreement about how to elect a new parliament was so high, that
without the conference, the country might fall into another
constitutional crisis. The events in Chechnya have deflected the
country's attention from the fact that, in a year when parliamentary
elections will be held, the country has no electoral law. "Now there is
no hope that the parliamentarians will be able to find a quick solution
in the eleven months before the elections," Izvestiya wrote. In the Duma,
the current members want to protect their interests by preserving the
seats elected by party lists. One consequence of this system has been
that many members come from the Moscow area. Many Federation Council
deputies are unhappy with the president's policies and with their own
inability to influence them. The council's impotence has raised concerns
that important regional elites will not be interested in it or in the
electoral law used to choose its members. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

DEFENSE MINISTRY SAID TO HAVE BEEN TOLD ABOUT NORWEGIAN MISSILE. A
Russian Foreign Ministry official said his department had twice passed on
advance information to the Defense Ministry regarding the 25 January
launch of a Norwegian research rocket. The military at first thought the
missile might be headed toward Russia and while it was in flight,
President Yeltsin consulted with top military officials using his "black
box" emergency communication equipment. Yuri Fokin, Russia's new
ambassador to Norway, said the confusion was caused by "a
misunderstanding which must not be repeated," Interfax reported on 30
January. Fokin confirmed that Norway had complied with the usual
notification procedures regarding the rocket launch. -- Doug Clarke,
OMRI, Inc.

CONTROVERSIAL JUBILEE OF SOVIET WRITERS' UNION. Seven organizations of
Russian writers have protested against planned festivities to mark the
sixtieth anniversary of the Union of Soviet Writers, Russian TV's "Vesti"
reported on 30 January. Formed in August 1934 by Josef Stalin's chief
ideologist Andrei Zhdanov, the Writers' Union played a key role in the
oppression of Soviet writers and the suppression of artistic freedoms in
the former USSR. The writers' union jubilee is scheduled for next month
in the highly prestigious Column Hall of the Unions' House. The gala
event will be presided over by 82-year-old poet Sergei Mikhalkov, a co-
author of the Stalin-era Soviet anthem. -- Julia Wishnevsky, OMRI, Inc.

UNEMPLOYMENT, WAGE DIFFERENTIALS INCREASING. Federal Employment Service
head Fedor Prokopov said more than 2 million jobs will be lost in 1995
and the number of officially registered unemployed will rise to
3,600,000, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 January. He expects half a million
jobs to be lost in industry, another half a million in agriculture, and
200,000 in construction; only the service sector is expected to expand.
On 29 January, a representative of the union of textile and light
industry workers told RIA that 400,000 people could lose their jobs in
these industries by the end of February, largely because of shortfalls in
cotton imports from Uzbekistan. Also on 29 January, Interfax reported
that the richest groups in society now earned 15 times as much as the
poorest groups. In 1991, they earned only four times as much as the
poorest sector. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

CASH-STRAPPED ZIL RESUMES PRODUCTION. After a two-week halt in
production, ZIL, Russia's leading mid-range truck manufacturer, resumed
operations on 30 January, Interfax reported. The Moscow company
temporarily ceased production due to a cash flow crisis resulting from
debtors' inability to pay ZIL for truck parts. Interfax said ZIL is
counting on state aid and planned to produce 100-150 trucks a day over
the next two weeks, down from a daily average of 200 vehicles over the
past two months. Last year, the factory produced 30,000 trucks, a
fraction of its 250,000 vehicle capacity. ZIL is best known for its black
limousines, which, in the Soviet heyday, were reserved for the highest
ranking government officials. But it also came close to bankruptcy in
1994. Consequently, a restructuring plan was implemented which resulted
in layoffs for 20,000 of its 85,000 employees. The government promised to
give the troubled company a boost by offering a subsidy of 180 billion
rubles ($44.5 million). That subsidy has yet to be seen. According to
Interfax, ZIL's chief executive, Valerii Satkin, said the factory's total
debt is 420 billion rubles (about $104 million). -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI,
Inc.

COMPANY TO SELL AIRLINERS TO BRITISH FIRM. The Samara-based Aviakor
aircraft company plans to sell ten Tu-145M airliners to the British
leasing firm TTG, in a deal worth about $50 million, an official from the
Russian plant announced on 26 January. Vladimir Safronov told Interfax
this would be the first major sale of Russian aircraft to a West European
country. The former Samara Aircraft Plant was one of the largest
producers of Tu-154s in the USSR, but only sold two of its planes in
1994. Last July, it entered bankruptcy hearings and sent most of its
workers on forced leave. The hearings were later suspended for one year.
-- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA & CENTRAL ASIA

ENERGY SITUATION IN KAZAKHSTAN IMPROVES; SOME COAL MINERS RETURN TO WORK.
The energy situation in Kazakhstan improved 30 January as some coal
miners, who had been on strike for 17 days, returned to work, Reuters
reported. Deliveries of coal to the massive steelworks at Karmet, which
had been threatened with shutdown, resumed after the company agreed to
pay part of its debt for past deliveries. About 100,000 coal miners from
the Karaganda field went on strike to demand payment for wages due to
them since autumn. Although miners returned to one pit, most of the other
pits remained on strike. Strike leader Vyacheslav Sidorov said the
situation is tense. "The mood of the miners is still to take to the
streets." Job security is the miners' main concern as the government
intends to close the smaller, unprofitable pits. "Payment of wages is
only a partial solution--the main problem is the fate of the Karaganda
coal basin," Sidorov added. Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mette was
expected in Karaganda, 800 km north of the capital Almaty, on 30 January
to hold talks with the miners. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

NAZARBAEV PROPOSES "ALTERNATIVE" TO OPEC. Speaking at the World Economic
Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev called
for increased Western investment in his country's energy sector, AFP and
ITAR-TASS reported on 30 January. Nazarbaev stressed that at present,
only about 1% of Kazakhstan's oil potential is being exploited. The
country has an estimated 4.5 billion tons of oil and 5.9 trillion cubic
meters of natural gas in reserves. Western investment in the Russian and
Kazakh energy sectors would be mutually beneficial and reduce Western
dependence on OPEC, he argued. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

CIS

RUSSIA OBJECTS TO US INVOLVEMENT ON UKRAINIAN DEBT. US mediation over the
issue of Ukraine's energy debt to Russia is "unreasonable and out of
place," according to a statement issued by the Russian Petroleum
Information Agency on 30 January. Last December, Thomas Pickering, the
U.S. ambassador to Russia, proposed that his country act as a mediator in
resolving the debt problem. The agency statement said Russia views
Ukraine's debt as a bilateral issue between the two former Soviet
republics. It also said Russia supports a plan for Ukraine to use western
credits in paying off its energy debts. -- 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
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