If we are to live together in peace, we must first come to know each other better. - Lyndon B. Johnson
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 30, Part I, 10 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

MIXED SIGNALS OVER ELECTIONS IN CHECHNYA. Deputy Prime Minister Sergei
Shakhrai said elections to a new Chechen parliament could take place in
December 1995, at the same time as elsewhere in the Russian Federation,
Interfax reported on 9 February. Shakhrai suggested that elections to
local Chechen bodies of power could take place earlier. He also
disclosed that a referendum in Chechnya was planned in which he hoped
the population would vote in favor of abolishing the presidency. Also on
9 February, Central Electoral Commission Chairman Nikolai Ryabov told
Interfax he has no plans to organize or hold elections in Chechnya
despite President Boris Yeltsin's decree asking the commission to assist
the Chechen Provisional Committee for National Accord to do so.
Meanwhile, the head of the Russian Federation's Territorial
Administration in Chechnya, Nikolai Semenov, held a conference on
restoring the Chechen economy and local administration. One of the
speakers was opposition Provisional Council's armed forces leader Beslan
Gantemirov who has been restored to his former post as mayor of Grozny.
-- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

MORE THAN 1,000 MILITARY DEAD IN CHECHNYA. Col.-Gen. Mikhail Kolesnikov,
the Russian armed forces chief of staff, told a 9 February Moscow
briefing that 1,020 federal troops had been killed in the Chechen war
between 11 December and 8 February. Radio Mayak stressed these were only
losses suffered by the armed forces and did not include Interior
Ministry or Federal Counterintelligence Service troops. Kolesnikov
reported that 6,690 Chechen fighters had been "eliminated" and another
671 taken prisoner. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

GRACHEV DENIES CORRUPTION . . . Defense Minister Grachev, who has come
under attack for alleged corruption and his mishandling of the Russian
operation in Chechnya, rejected press reports that he had a secret
foreign bank account and said the real target of the attacks on him was
President Yeltsin, agencies reported on 9 February. His critics "want to
force President Yeltsin out of office in the nearest future, and I get
in their way," he said. Grachev added that the botched Chechen campaign
was not the fault of senior commanders but of lower-ranking officers in
the field. The defense minister's remarks came on the same day as a
report on German television claiming that Russian troops took home more
than $4 billion in illegal earnings during their four-year withdrawal
from eastern Germany. The program quoted German investigators as saying
that the illegal deals, involving cars, electronic goods, fuel,
cigarettes, and alcohol, "clearly show the participation or knowledge of
generals," Reuters reported. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

. . . BURLAKOV FIRED AGAIN. President Yeltsin issued a decree dismissing
Deputy Defense Minister Matvei Burlakov, who has been charged with
corruption in connection with his tour as commander in chief of the
Western Group of forces in Germany, ITAR-TASS reported on 9 February.
Yeltsin had already suspended Burlakov late last year. The latest decree
also announced the dismissal of Deputy Defense Minister Georgii
Kondratev, who opposed the Chechen operation. Generals Boris Gromov,
Kondratev, and Valerii Mironov were omitted from the list of deputy
defense ministers released on 16 January. The 9 February decree does not
mention Gromov or Mironov, so apparently they continue to serve in
tandem with the officers appointed to replace them. -- Doug Clarke,
OMRI, Inc.

YELTSIN, RYBKIN MEET ON ELECTORAL LAWS. President Yeltsin and Duma
Chairman Ivan Rybkin met on 9 February to discuss draft electoral laws
for parliament, Interfax reported. Rybkin said the law for the
Federation Council, currently under discussion in the Duma, does not
conform with the constitution because it does not propose electing the
body directly, but rather, forming it from the heads of legislative and
executive branches of the constituent members of the federation. In the
aftermath of the events of October 1993, Yeltsin decreed that the
council be elected for a two-year transitional period, with each of the
Russian Federation's 89 members entitled to two representatives. The
majority of council members, however, supported a proposal to have the
legislative and executive branches of each unit of the federation
nominate candidates who would then stand for popular elections. Seventy-
three of 106 council members voting, supported the proposal. There are
176 members. Only 33 members backed a proposal by the council's
chairman, Vladimir Shumeiko, to automatically make the heads of the
local executive and legislative branches members of the Federation
Council, as Rybkin and Yeltsin discussed. On the same day, the Central
Electoral Commission Chairman Nikolai Ryabov told journalists the Duma
would probably be elected by temporary regulations approved by
presidential decree, Interfax reported. Ryabov explained that he doubted
the Duma members would be willing to accept Yeltsin's proposal to change
the proportion of deputies elected by single-member district and party
list. In 1993, 225 deputies were elected by each method. Yeltsin now
wants to have 300 members elected in single-member districts and 150 by
party lists. Ryabov claimed Duma deputies support permanently adopting
the interim law issued for 1993 elections, but if it is adopted, Yeltsin
will veto it, and the Duma will have to find a two-thirds majority to
override his veto, which is unlikely, Ryabov explained. Such an
eventuality could cause legal difficulties because the constitution
stipulates that federal laws regulate parliamentary elections. -- Robert
Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

NATIONAL-PATRIOTS FORM UNIFIED BLOC. A new bloc called "For a United
Russia" will bring together the country's national-patriotic movements
to coordinate efforts for the coming elections, Russian National
Assembly Chairman Aleksandr Sterligov said at a news conference,
Interfax reported on 9 February. The Second Congress of the Russian
People decided to form the new organization, to be headed by Federation
Council member Pyotr Romanov, at its recent meeting in Volgograd.
Sterligov believes that "officers, Cossacks, employees of law
enforcement bodies, and agricultural workers" would make up the core of
the membership. In spite of the decision to contest the elections,
however, he believes that parliamentary government has "discredited
itself in Russia" and the people should address the Patriarch of All
Russia Alexei II with a request to convene a popular assembly to resolve
the country's problems. The assembly would devise new state institutions
for Russia and form the new government. Sterligov believes that an
active fifth column -- those "working in the interests of Western
capital against the Russian people" -- is preventing Russia from
overcoming its crisis. He rejected accusations of fascism and reported
that the Volgograd conference urged the president to stop Jews in his
administration from calling the Russian National Assembly fascist
without providing proof. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

LEBED DENIES HE CALLED FOR YELTSIN'S RESIGNATION. The 14th Russian army
head, Lt.-Gen. Aleksandr Lebed, denied a Reuter's report that he had
called for President Yeltsin's resignation, ITAR-TASS reported on 9
February. He said he never made the interview in the Ekho Kishineva
paper cited by Reuters. He also denied rumors that he was a candidate to
become the next defense minister. "I am not a graduate of a General
Staff academy. I am an army commander and I intend to remain as such,"
he said. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

RYBKIN CONCERNED OVER FARM SECTOR HARDSHIPS. State Duma Speaker Ivan
Rybkin has drawn attention to the plight of farm producers resulting
from delayed subsidies, Interfax reported on 9 February. In a letter to
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Rybkin said the parliament-approved
law on government purchases of farm products and food is ineffective
because of the cabinet's failure to decide how to implement it, thus
putting farm producers in a financial crunch for this year's sowing. The
letter said most farms are short of fuel, fertilizers, and pesticides,
while 70-80% of machinery and equipment needs repairing. Rybkin also
wrote that the majority of farms are insolvent and spoke of "grim
prospects" and "dire consequences" that may follow against the "backdrop
of other political events." Rybkin urged Chernomyrdin to help pass a
government resolution immediately to enforce the law on financing the
agro-industrial sector. Meanwhile, the Federation Council suggested on 9
February that the government decide in 10 days about offering 12
trillion rubles (4,170 rubles/$1) in centralized credits to agriculture
and related industries. The council also urged the cabinet to lend 4
million rubles to farms for purchasing farm machinery, vehicles, and
pedigree cattle in the first six months of 1995. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI,
Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

MINIMAL PROGRESS IN KARABAKH TALKS. The latest round of talks on the
Karabakh conflict, mediated by the Organization for Security and
Cooperation in Europe, ended in Moscow on 9 February, Interfax reported.
Only one provision of the new draft agreement -- formed by merging the
previous Russian and OSCE peace plans -- was agreed on. A major sticking
point was specifying the number of parties to the conflict. The
Azerbaijani delegation is now insisting that the conflicting parties
recognize either two sides (Armenia and Azerbaijan) or four (Armenia,
Azerbaijan, and the Armenian and Azerbaijani communities of Nagorno-
Karabakh). On 8 February, a spokesman for the Presidential Press service
of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic reiterated that talks
on a political solution should not begin until after an international
peacekeeping force is deployed in the region.-- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

REGISTRATION OF CANDIDATES FOR TAJIK ELECTIONS COMPLETED. Tajikistan's
Central Electoral Commission Chairman Kholmurod Sharipov said
registration of candidates for parliamentary elections on 26 February is
complete, Interfax reported on 9 February. A total of 399 candidates
will contest 181 seats in the new unicameral parliament. The four
registered political parties -- the Communist Party, the Popular Party,
the Party of Popular Unity and Accord, and the Party for Economic and
Political Revival -- have nominated 31 candidates. The Islamic
opposition is boycotting the elections and has also rejected Moscow as
the venue for the fourth round of UN-mediated talks on a settlement to
the conflict. Sharipov dismissed as unwarranted OSCE and UN proposals
that the elections be postponed in order to facilitate opposition
participation. Speaking in Almaty on the eve of the CIS summit, Kyrgyz
Foreign Minister Roza Otunbaeva expressed concern at the international
community's alleged lack of interest in resolving the Tajik conflict and
called for CIS peacekeeping troops in Tajikistan to be given UN status.
-- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

CIS

SUMMIT OPENS IN ALMATY. Security and economic integration issues are
scheduled to top the agenda at the CIS summit which opened on 10
February in Almaty, international agencies reported. President Yeltsin
was particularly enthusiastic about a peace and stability pact proposed
by Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbaev. Before departing for Almaty on
9 February, he said, "I believe that the document on collective security
of all countries of the CIS will be signed at the commonwealth summit in
Almaty." Earlier, at a meeting of CIS Defense Ministers, the proposed
pact was watered down into a memorandum. That meeting also saw the
failure of a plan for a common air defense system and external border.
Nazarbaev will also use the summit to push for his Euro-Asian Union.
Nazarbaev's press secretary, Dulat Kuanyshev, said, "This union will not
replace the current Commonwealth of Independent States. It will rather
resemble a body like the European Commission within the European Union."
This could mean that the union would serve as an executive agent for
economic matters within the CIS. President Askar Akayev of Kyrgyzstan
also supports the plan which has received a lukewarm reception from the
Russians. During a meeting in July with the leaders of Kazakhstan and
Uzbekistan, Akayev said, "It is our goal to build a Euro-Asian Union
that would mitigate the problems arising from an amorphous structure
like the CIS," AFP reported. -- Michael Mihalka, 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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