Science and art have that in common that everyday things seem to them new and attractive. - Friedrich Nietzsche
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 29, Part I, 9 February 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.

RUSSIA

RUSSIAN FORCES CONSOLIDATE HOLD OVER GROZNY. Russian forces gained
ground in Grozny on 8 February, advancing toward the city's southern
fringe as artillery and warplanes continued to bomb Chechen positions,
AFP reported. Chechen military spokesman Aslan Maskhadov insisted that
his men have no plans to abandon Grozny. A Chechen presidential
spokesman told Interfax on 8 February that Dzhokhar Dudaev's forces
still possess "substantial amounts" of heavy military equipment. He
reiterated that Dudaev is ready to conduct negotiations with the Russian
leadership "at the corresponding level." -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA FAILS TO PASS AMENDMENTS TO MEDIA LAW. The State Duma failed to
garner the two-thirds majority vote necessary to overcome President
Boris Yeltsin's veto on amendments to the media law, Russian TV reported
on 8 February. The amendments would have barred state bodies from
setting up their own newspapers and journals. The Duma lacked the votes
because Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party boycotted the
session. -- Julia Wishnevsky, OMRI, Inc.

ZHIRINOVSKY BOYCOTTS DUMA SESSIONS. Vladimir Zhirinovsky's faction
staged a walkout at the Duma's 8 February session to protest the
legislature's disapproval of proposals put forward in connection with
the death of LDP Deputy Sergei Skorochkin. Zhirinovsky had urged that
Minister of Internal Affairs Viktor Erin and Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin be
removed from their posts for failing to protect Skorochkin and two other
deputies who have suffered violent deaths in the past nine months. The
Duma did accept a motion to discuss Erin's performance, but only in the
minister's presence. Erin has gone to Chechnya. The LDP chairman said
his party would boycott only plenary sessions, while continuing to
participate in committees and commissions. -- Julia Wishnevsky, OMRI,
Inc.

SENATORS TURN DOWN BILL ON COURTS OF ARBITRATION. The Federation Council
voted down a courts of arbitration bill on 8 February, Russian TV
reported. While many observers consider the legislation essential for
Russia's transition to a market economy, it was rejected by the council
which is composed of Russian republic leaders. The courts settle
economic disputes. Isa Kostoev, chairman of the chamber's legislation
committee, told "Vesti" the vote reflected a conflict of interest
between republican leaders, who want the power to appoint judges on
their own, and the federal executive powers. According to the
constitution, the naming of judges is a presidential prerogative. --
Julia Wishnevsky, OMRI, Inc.

YELTSIN APPOINTS KRASNOV AS LEGAL AIDE. President Yeltsin appointed
Professor Mikhail Krasnov as an aide to provide legal backing to the
president's legislative initiatives and other legal acts worked out by
the administration, Interfax reported on 8 February. Krasnov, a well-
known 45-year-old lawyer, had worked for Yeltsin's National Security
Adviser Yury Baturin and was a department head at the Russian Academy of
Sciences' Institute of State and Law. Yeltsin had nominated him for a
seat on the Constitutional Court, but the Federation Council refused to
confirm him. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

YELTSIN CONVENES CONFERENCE ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT. President Yeltsin
signed orders to convene a conference on local government to take place
in Moscow on 17 February, Interfax reported on 7 February. Yeltsin did
not specify if he would attend, but parliament, government, various
regions, public groups, and research institutions will be represented,
AFP reported. According to Sergei Filatov, the president's chief of
staff, the Duma is now considering a variety of bills on local
government. One bill proposes the restoration of the Soviet system
abolished by Yeltsin in October 1993. Yeltsin's bill guarantees the
local bodies control over property and revenue. Filatov also claimed
federal bodies will not be allowed to interfere in local affairs without
the consent of local bodies. However, he reiterated his warning that
"local leaders are still trying to grab more powers from federal
authorities." He did not elaborate. Federation Council Chairman Vladimir
Shumeiko strongly believes parliament should leave behind a package of
laws on power sharing before its term expires. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI,
Inc.

RUSSIA'S CHOICE PUSHES FOR CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS. Russia's Choice is
pushing for an amendment that will increase the legislature's control
over the executive branch, Boris Zolotukhin, vice-chairman of the
parliamentary faction, told Interfax on 8 February. The amendment would
change article 101 to include a provision giving parliament the right to
set up commissions "for investigating issues of special interest." It
also proposes that officials in question be required to attend sessions
of parliamentary commissions and present any documents requested. The
motion has 40 deputies' signatures and needs a total of 90 to get on the
Duma agenda. Zolotukhin is a member of the Duma commission investigating
the causes of the Chechen conflict whose work Yeltsin has declared
unconstitutional. The parliament has also had trouble inducing
government officials to testify at its hearings. -- Robert Orttung,
OMRI, Inc.

NATIONWIDE MINERS STRIKE. Half a million miners at about 200 pits
throughout Russia staged a 24-hour warning strike on 8 February to
demand payment of wage arrears and a 10-trillion-ruble subsidy for the
coal industry, agencies reported. Union officials estimated the stoppage
would cost Russia 1 million tons in lost coal production. Yeltsin's
economic adviser, Aleksandr Livshitz, said the debt to the miners will
be paid back shortly and "the miners' fair demands will be met,"
Interfax reported. However, he said the debt is 1.5 trillion rubles, a
trillion less than the miners calculate, and cautioned that promising
privileges to the industry when virtually every branch of the economy is
underfunded "would be tantamount to cutting other vitally important
branches and putting up with a dangerous growth in the budget deficit."
If their demands are not met, the miners plan to picket government
buildings in Moscow for three days at the end of February, prior to
launching an indefinite strike on 1 March. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

NEW OSCE DELEGATION TO RUSSIA? A French Foreign Ministry spokesman said
a new Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe fact-finding
delegation should be sent to Chechnya, AFP reported. Russian Foreign
Minister Andrei Kozyrev has been very supportive of the organization.
"We understand that the Chechen conflict casts a shadow on Russia's
foreign policy. Nevertheless, Russia is seeking closer interaction with
international organizations, including the OSCE. This organization is
gaining momentum and we intend to expand our cooperation with it," he
told ITAR-TASS on 8 February. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

GAIDAR CALLS FOR MILITARY REFORM. Former acting Prime Minister Egor
Gaidar said his Russia's Choice party supports the creation of a smaller
but more efficient military. He said the operations in Chechnya
highlighted the "amazing incompetence" of Russia's senior military
officers, Interfax reported on 7 February. Gaidar charged that real
reform of the armed forces had yet to begin and said, "building an army
adequate for our current objectives and capabilities is not just the
problem of the military. It is Russia's strategic task." -- Doug Clarke,
OMRI, Inc.

KOKOSHIN SAYS STATE MUST PAY DEFENSE DEBTS. The state should pay the
debts it owes the armed forces and defense enterprises, First Deputy
Defense Minister Andrei Kokoshin told the Duma on 7 February. According
to Interfax, the Duma's Defense Committee estimates the government owes
3.2 trillion rubles for arms purchases and research alone. The report
said the government was allowing the Defense Ministry to sign contracts
for up to 80% of the money allotted to it in the draft budget, so as to
not disrupt 1995 procurements. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

YELTSIN APPOINTS NEW PRIVATIZATION CHIEF. In a move to speed up Russia's
privatization process, President Yeltsin appointed Sergei Belayev,
previously head of the Federal Bankruptcy Agency, as chairman of the
State Property Committee, Russian and Western agencies reported on 8
February. Belayev replaces acting chairman Pyotr Mostovoi, who himself
replaced Vladimir Polevanov, who was fired last month for suggesting
that key industries, such as oil and aluminum, be renationalized.
Polevanov had also barred Western advisers and their Russian employees
from entering the State Property Committee. Belayev, an ally of
reformist First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais, has already been
involved in carrying out Russia's privatization agenda. He aided Chubais
in devising and implementing the ambitious voucher sell-off campaign
which transferred more than 15,000 medium and large state firms,
representing 60% of the work force, into private hands. In his new job,
Belayev will have to deal with a parliament that is largely hostile to
Chubais' privatization program. The legislature has yet to approve the
government's plans for the program. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

EXPORT REVENUES UP IN 1994. Russia's foreign exchange revenues from
exports to countries outside the former Soviet Union increased from
$22.1 billion in 1993 to $36.8 billion last year, Vice-Premier and
Foreign Trade Minister Oleg Davidov said on 8 February, Interfax
reported. The positive trend follows a substantial cut in barter trade
and more effective currency and export controls, Davidov said. Last
year's volume of exports ran at $48 billion, an 8.4% increase over 1993,
and was attributed to growing exports of unfinished products and raw
materials. Exports of crude oil and oil products were up 11.3% and 10.6%
respectively. Last year's imports rose only 5.4%, reaching $28.2
billion, according to the minister. Davidov said any further increase
was "constrained by higher import tariffs and taxes, as well as the
ruble rate which started to plummet in the second half of 1994." --
Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

CIS

RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN FRIENDSHIP TREATY AGREEMENT INITIALED. Russian First
Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets and his Ukrainian counterpart
Yevhen Marchuk initialed a comprehensive agreement on friendship and
cooperation in Kiev on 8 February, international agencies reported. The
sticking points of dual citizenship and the Black Sea Fleet had held up
the agreement for months. The accord was initially meant to be ready for
signing by President Yeltsin in October 1994, but was delayed. Reports
indicate the touchy issues were not actually dealt with in the initialed
text. The problem of dual citizenship will be addressed within a
separate agreement and the fleet issue was not definitively resolved. In
addition, the problem of Ukraine's $4.3 billion energy debt was left out
of the treaty. A number of other agreements concerning the easing of
trade restrictions, cooperation in rocket and space technology, the
simplification of border crossings, and a common taxation pact were
agreed upon. Soskovets said Yeltsin should visit Ukraine in March to
sign the treaty. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

UNRESOLVED FLEET ISSUES. While it was agreed that Russia would lease
Sevastopol as the main naval base for its share of the Black Sea Fleet,
it did not specify a timetable for the division of the fleet and did not
say whether Sevastopol would also be the Ukrainian navy's headquarters.
Previously, Russia had been opposed to both countries sharing the base.
In April 1994 it had been generally accepted that Ukraine would take
only 20% of the fleet and sell the rest of its share to Russia to pay
off energy arrears. Comments by the Ukrainian defense minister, Valerii
Shmarov, indicate the issue has not been fully resolved. Shmarov was
quoted as saying he hoped for a resolution by the end of 1995. In
contrast, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets said the two
sides had "made considerable progress in bringing our positions closer
together," ITAR-TASS reported. -- Ustina Markus and Doug Clarke, 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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