It is the chiefest point of happiness that a man is willing to be what he is. - Erasmus
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 31, Part I, 13 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

CHECHEN MILITARY COMMANDER WANTS CEASE-FIRE. Chechen military commander
Gen. Aslan Maskhadov said his forces are ready to negotiate a cease-fire
with Russia, AFP reported on 13 February. Maskhadov said negotiations
could also deal with an exchange of prisoners, as proposed by Ingush
Vice President Boris Agapov. Meanwhile, Chechen leaders claimed their
forces had blown up a former Soviet missile-launching site controlled by
Russian troops, causing heavy casualties. On 11 February, Russian forces
inflicted heavy artillery bombardment on the city of Argun, about 15
kilometers east of Grozny. There was further fighting the next day in
parts of Grozny itself, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported on
13 February, noting that the campaign is far from over. -- Victor Gomez
and Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

FEDERATION COUNCIL APPEALS TO CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OVER CHECHNYA. The
Federation Council has asked the Constitutional Court to rule on the
constitutionality of Yeltsin's decrees ordering the use of force in
Chechnya. The request focuses on three specific presidential directives
issued on 1, 9, and 17 December. Seventy-two deputies supported the
motion, while according to the constitution, only 36 votes are required
to get the court to review a presidential decree. -- Robert Orttung,
OMRI, Inc.

PROTESTS AGAINST CHECHEN WAR CONTINUE. Another gathering was held on 11
February on Moscow's Pushkin Square to protest against the Chechen war,
Russian TV and Interfax reported. The event, organized by the human-
rights "Memorial" society, Democratic Russia party, and the Soldiers'
Mothers Committee, was the first in a series of actions planned by
signatories of the agreement, "For Peace and Freedom, Against Bloodshed
in Chechnya." "Memorial" activist Aleksandr Daniel said as many as 102
organizations had signed the document by the day of the protest action.
The signatories represent groups from across the political spectrum,
including the radically anti-communist Democratic Union and the
"internationalist" faction of the Russian Communist party. On the eve of
the meeting, Russian TV's "Podrobnosti" reported that the Soldiers'
Mothers Committee intended to prevent next spring's military service
draft and planned to dismantle the North Caucasian railway line. --
Julia Wishnevsky, OMRI, Inc.

JOURNALISTS EXPRESS CONCERN OVER FORTHCOMING ELECTIONS. A decree by
President Yeltsin to computerize the upcoming presidential and
parliamentary elections could give the secret police control over the
elections, according to a full front-page article in the 10 February
issue of Izvestiya. The decree calls for the Central Election Commission
in Moscow to collect data from all constituencies which will then
destroy their ballots. The newspaper speculates the system will give
control of the process to the Federal Agency on Government
Communications and Information (formerly a KGB department). Other
agencies that will be involved in the election are entirely dependent on
the president, who appoints both administration heads and the electoral
commission while representatives of the legislature or political parties
will have no control over ballot casting, Izvestiya claimed. The daily
implied that the December 1993 election and referendum were rigged, and
the election commission is reluctant to publish a detailed report on the
results. -- Julia Wishnevsky, OMRI, Inc.

GAIDAR CALLS FOR UNIFIED DEMOCRATIC BLOC. Russia's Choice leader Egor
Gaidar has called for the creation of an electoral bloc of all
democratic factions, Interfax reported on 11 February. He indicated his
willingness to form a coalition with Grigorii Yavlinsky's Yabloko party,
warning that democrats must not repeat "the mistakes they made during
the previous elections, when many hoped that they would be able to
achieve much by working separately." The Yabloko faction has been
opposed to the president's policies, while Gaidar had supported them
until Chechnya. Gaidar said the democrats must unite now because the
preservation of the free market and democracy in Russia is at stake.
Yavlinsky told Moskovsky Komsomolets that a coalition cannot be created
at once, but added that "Gaidar is a professional economist and it is
always possible to find common ground with a professional economist." --
Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

ZHIRINOVSKY PROPOSES COOPERATION WITH COMMUNISTS. Vladimir Zhirinovsky,
leader of the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party, has proposed
linking his party with the Communist Party of the Russian Federation in
preparation for the upcoming legislative and presidential polls, AFP and
Interfax reported on 12 February. A letter signed by Zhirinovsky
instructed his regional party leaders "to work with communist trade
unions and parties, and in particular, the Russian Communist Party led
by Gennadii Zyuganov." Prospects for such a union seem dim, however, as
both Zyuganov and Zhirinovsky are planning to run for president. --
Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

YASIN CALLS DOMESTIC FOOD SHORTAGES "ALARMING". Russian Economy Minister
Yevgeni Yasin told parliament on 10 February that food shortages in
grain, meat, butter, and vegetable oil were particularly alarming and
urged the government to change its food policy, Interfax reported. Yasin
called for an increase in customs duties on cheaper imported products
and a ban on exports of certain farm goods in order to create a
"favorable environment for Russian producers". Yasin said his ministry
wants to ban wheat exports because it predicts shortages will be at
least 3.5 to 4 million tons in 1995. Yasin emphasized that the country
has a good overall supply of food, but resources are unequally
distributed among different areas and certain regions will experience
shortages as early as March. As of 1 January, only 101,000 tons of meat
were available, in comparison to 316,000 tons a year ago, and 12,000
tons of butter were available, down from 88,000 tons. Only 800,000 tons
of vegetable oil were available while Russia needs 1.7 million tons to
satisfy consumers. More alarming, if oil producers sell 2.5 million tons
of oil yielding seeds as planned for 1995, production will fall to as
low as 30,000 tons, making the shortage even more severe, according to
Yasin. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

FEDERATION COUNCIL APPROVES RISE IN MINIMUM WAGE. The upper house of
parliament voted on 10 February to raise the minimum wage from 20,500
rubles to 54,100 rubles ($13), agencies reported. The minimum wage is
used as a basis for calculating benefits and pay for all public
employees. Labor Minister Gennadii Melikyan told ITAR-TASS the increase
would cause major problems for the government, but he admitted in an
interview with Trud that the minimum subsistence level was 240,000
rubles ($57) a month. The draft law is a major obstacle to a $6.4
billion standby loan from the IMF, which is included in the draft 1995
budget. The president is likely to veto the increase, just as he did a
proposed hike in the minimum pension, but parliament can overrule him
with a two-thirds majority. The deputy head of the reformist government
commission on economic policy, Maksim Boyko said, "This wage increase
would undermine the budget and destroy our prospects of an agreement
with the IMF," the Financial Times reported on 11 February. -- Penny
Morvant and Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

COMPROMISE LAW ON FOREIGN ADOPTIONS. The State Duma passed legislation
on 10 February prohibiting commercial agencies from dealing in adoptions
and increasing the categories of children eligible for adoption by
foreigners, AFP reported. The law is a compromise worked out after
President Yeltsin vetoed legislation in December that banned the use of
intermediaries in the adoption process, in effect precluding adoptions
by foreigners. Under the new law, families can be represented by non-
profit agencies registered with the Russian government, but paying fees
to obtain children is forbidden. The new legislation also makes any
child for whom no Russian family can be found eligible for foreign
adoption. At present, only children with medical problems, those with
alcoholic or mentally ill parents, or non-Russian children who are older
are eligible--a restriction that has led would-be parents to bribe
middlemen or orphanage directors to reclassify healthy children. --
Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA PASSES LAW ON CIVIL SERVICE. The Duma passed the law on state
service in its third reading, Interfax reported on 10 February. The
draft legislation bars civil servants from simultaneously serving on
federal or local legislative bodies, and holding other positions apart
from teaching, research, and similar "creative" jobs. They are also
forbidden from accepting payment for publications or speeches that are
part of their duties and are required to submit a yearly declaration of
income. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

NAVY CONFIRMS SUB SALE TO CHINA. Russia has signed a deal to deliver
several Kilo-class diesel submarines to China, a Russian Navy spokesman
said on 10 February. He denied, however, that the sale would alter the
balance of power in the region, Interfax reported. The spokesman also
said the first submarine had been built, but not yet delivered to China
as claimed in Western media. He also charged that the Americans were
dramatizing the sale because "they feel hurt about the sale of our
diesel submarines, which are known for their noiselessness and are
capable of neutralizing American submarines." -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIA DISOWNS ARMS SHIPMENT TO PERU. The Foreign Ministry denied that a
Russian-made aircraft which landed in Brazil on 8 February had any
connection with the government, according to a statement released on 11
February. The plane was suspected of carrying arms destined for Peru.
The statement said, "competent Russian agencies responsible for trade in
armaments have nothing to do with the cargo carried by the aircraft,"
Interfax reported. Moscow has provided Peru with many of its weapons,
and several weeks ago a government spokesman confirmed trade would
continue "depending how the situation in the region develops." -- Doug
Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

CIS

CIS SUMMIT PRODUCES LITTLE OF CONSEQUENCE. The CIS summit ended on 10
February with only a few pieces of paper to show for its efforts.
Viritually every proposal was either rejected or watered down,
international agencies reported. The pact on peace and stability became
a non-binding memorandum which simply provides principles for
signatories to apply in mutual relations. Before the summit, Ukrainian
President Leonid Kuchma said, "I am clearly and fully aware that a
shapeless organization like the CIS has no future," Reuters reported. A
peacekeeping operation for Tajikistan under UN aegis was agreed to by
the summit participants. Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan,
Tajikistan, Russia, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan also approved guidelines for
a joint air defense system. Yeltsin failed to attend the post-summit
news conference, and was seen stumbling and supported by aides. His
speech was slurred and he appeared ill. The next CIS summit is expected
to take place on 26 May in Minsk. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

KAZAKHSTAN, KYRGYZSTAN AND UZBEKISTAN FURTHER ECONOMIC COOPERATION. Some
bilateral and multilateral deals were concluded on the sidelines of the
CIS summit, international agencies reported. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and
Uzbekistan agreed on 10 February to provide greater institutional
substance to their "common economic space" agreement of1994. They intend
to form an interstate council to coordinate governmental relations in
the economic sphere and to provide seed capital for a Central Asian Bank
to be based in Almaty. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev said, "The
task is to draw up, by 1996, a six-year integration plan, taking into
account the potential of Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan." --
Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIAN DEPUTY CRITICIZES RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN TREATY. Russian Duma Deputy
Sergei Glotov has called upon the legislature to examine the treaty on
Russian-Ukrainian friendship and cooperation initialed in Kiev on 8
February, Ukrainian radio reported on 11 February. Glotov believes
several articles in the treaty contravene earlier resolutions of the
Russian parliament. In particular, Glotov said this applies to items
dealing with the Black Sea Fleet. The Duma has appointed two committees-
-one dealing with CIS affairs and the other with foreign affairs--to
analyze the text of the agreement and report their findings to the
chamber. -- 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
"SUBSCRIBE OMRI-L YourFirstName YourLastName" (without the quotation
marks and inserting your name where shown) to
LISTSERV@UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU No subject line or other text should be
included. The publication can also be obtained for a fee in printed form
by fax and postal mail. Please direct inquiries to: Editor, Daily
Digest, OMRI, Na Strzi 63, 14062 Prague 4, Czech Republic or send e-mail
to: omripub@omri.cz

Telephone: (42 2) 6114 2114 Fax: (42 2) 426 396


[English] [Russian TRANS | KOI8 | ALT | WIN | MAC | ISO5]

F&P Home ° Comments ° Guestbook


1996 Friends and Partners
Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole
Please visit the Russian and American mirror sites of Friends and Partners.
Updated: 1998-11-

Please write to us with your comments and suggestions.

F&P Quick Search
Main Sections
Home
Bulletin Board
Chat Room
F&P Listserver

RFE/RL
1999
1998
1997
1996
1995
1994
1993
1992
1991
Search

News
News From Russia/NIS
News About Russia/NIS
Newspapers & Magazines
Global News
Weather

©1996 Friends and Partners
Please write to us with any comments, questions or suggestions -- Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole