Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand. - Thomas Carlyle
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 36, Part I, 20 February 1995

We welcome you to Part I of the Open Media Research Institute's Daily
Digest. The Digest is distributed 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

EXTENDED CHECHEN CEASE-FIRE EXPIRES. Chechen and Russian military
commanders have agreed to extend an ongoing two-day cease-fire until 19
February, Russian and Western agencies reported. The two sides also
reached agreement on exchanging lists of prisoners at their third
meeting in Ingushetia on 17 February. Chechen military Chief of Staff
Aslan Maskhadov, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai, and
Ingush Vice President Boris Agapov called for talks at the political
level to resolve the Chechen crisis. In contrast, Sergei Filatov, head
of Yeltsin's presidential staff, told Interfax on 18 February that the
Chechen people must first elect a new leadership before such talks can
take place. Chechen mufti Muhamed Alsabekov said at a 17 February news
conference in Moscow that Chechen religious leaders would support
neither the head of the government of national trust, Salambek
Khadzhiev, nor Provisional Council chairman Umar Avturkhanov, nor Ruslan
Khasbulatov, according to Interfax. Meanwhile, in an interview with the
Los Angeles Times on 18 February, Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev
threatened a terrorist campaign in Russia. On 19 February, Col.-Gen.
Anatoly Kulikov, the commander of Russian federal troops in Chechnya,
accused Chechen forces of violating the cease-fire with an attack on
Russian troops south of Grozny on 18 February, ITAR-TASS reported.
Although Kulikov said the possibilities for stopping hostilities were
"exhausted," Ostankino television and ITAR-TASS reported on 19 February
that Russian and Chechen military representatives were discussing a
possible time and venue for future talks. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

THREE NEW PARTIES SET UP IN RUSSIA. Three new political parties held
founding congresses on 18-19 February, but President Yeltsin sent a
welcoming address to only one of them, Russian TV's "Vesti" reported.
Yeltsin's address to the congress of the Social Democratic Party was
read by the president's chief of staff, Sergei Filatov. The congress
elected Aleksandr Yakovlev, the Federal Broadcasting Service chairman,
to lead the new party and former Moscow KGB head Yevgeny Sevastyanov to
be one of Yakovlev's five deputies. In an interview with ITAR-TASS,
Yakovlev, the architect of liberal reform under former Soviet President
Mikhail Gorbachev, denied claims that the new political group is in the
pocket of the president. Yakovlev specifically named Yegor Gaidar's
Russia's Choice and Grigorii Yavlinsky's Democratic Alternative parties
as potential allies. At a similar founding congress, former Finance
Minister Boris Fedorov launched the new "Forward, Russia!" party. He
also pointed to Gaidar and Yavlinsky as potential partners. At the same
time, Fedorov identified "Forward, Russia!" as the party of democratic
opposition to Yeltsin. Meanwhile, State Duma member Viktor Kobelev
founded a third new political movement, Vozrozhdenie derzhavy (Revival
of the Great Power), to contest the coming elections, Interfax and AFP
reported 18 February. Kobelev was a former ally of Vladimir Zhirinovsky,
but left his party after coming into conflict with him. The leader of
the new party rejected alliances with other political groups because
their platforms were too "dogmatic." The main plank of the movement's
platform is "to save and resurrect Russia." -- Julia Wishnevsky and
Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

CONFERENCE ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT HELD. A conference on local government
bringing together federal and provincial leaders took place in the
Kremlin on 17 February, Interfax reported. President Yeltsin told the
conference that "an updated system of municipal self-rule will work for
the territorial integrity of Russia." In his speech, Prime Minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin said that, traditionally, local governments have
been seen as extensions of the federal authorities and that it will take
many years to overcome that legacy. The writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
told the conference that local governments are the key to Russia's
future. He supported the sections of Yeltsin's draft legislation that
emphasize separating power between federal and local authorities and
granting the local governments financial independence. Deputy Prime
Minister Sergei Shakhrai said Yeltsin will now set up a "public council"
to put together a final draft for consideration by parliament. Chuvash
President Nikolai Fedorov rejected a proposal to abolish the ethnic
republics advanced by a number of speakers, including Solzhenitsyn. Both
Solzhenitsyn and Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov warned that it would not be
wise to adopt a single law on local government for both Russia's cities
and rural areas. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

RIGHT-WING OFFICERS ASSEMBLY MEETS. The ultra-nationalist and unofficial
"All-Russia Army Officers Assembly" opened its annual meeting on 18
February in Moscow by singing both the Russian and Soviet national
anthems and then continuing with its usual attacks on the government,
the defense minister, and the West, Interfax reported. Retired Col.-Gen.
Vladislav Achalov railed against the media and the authors of "the
uncountable number of books of reminiscences" for revealing military
secrets to the West--which he said was aiming to "weaken the Russian
military potential and obtain Russian know-how." He asked the 300
delegates to work out concrete measures that would "contribute to
uniting the aspirations of all patriotic forces in restoring the combat
preparedness, honor, and dignity of the Russian armed forces." Retired
Gen. Valentin Varennikov called for a law forbidding the use of the army
in internal armed conflicts. He charged that the military was being used
as a scapegoat for the failure of politicians to solve the crisis in
Chechnya. On 19 February, Stanislav Terekhov, leader of the Union of
Officers, told Interfax that the conference would become a permanent
body which would "act for strengthening the defense capacity of the
country and unmask anti-national forces which destroyed the USSR and are
completing this process in Russia." -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

BOOK ON SOVIET NUCLEAR WEAPONS. President Yeltsin has signed a decree
calling for the publication of archive documents dealing with the
history of nuclear weapons in the Soviet Union, Interfax reported on 18
February. The project "aims at reconstructing an objective picture of
the emergence of the national nuclear industry and the history of the
creation of nuclear weapons in the Soviet Union," according to the
decree. The report said an unclassified book would be published covering
nuclear developments through 1954, but it did not indicate when it would
be available. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

CHUBAIS VOWS TO SLASH CREDITS TO AGRO-INDUSTRIAL SECTOR. The Russian
government intends to "stop or radically reduce the allocation of
centralized credits to the agro-industrial sector," First Deputy Prime
Minister Anatoly Chubais said at a conference with leaders of
territorial property management committees, property funds, and
bankruptcy agencies, Segodnya reported on 18 February. Chubais said the
process of crediting the countryside is ineffective. "In receiving a
credit, everybody understands that it can neither be returned nor can
interest be paid on it," he said. The minister noted that assistance to
the countryside must be provided, but in the shape of budget financing
and by introducing a special tax patterned after a value added tax. --
Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

CHUBAIS CALLS JANUARY FINANCIAL RESULTS "CATASTROPHIC." First Deputy
Prime Minister Chubais called January's financial results "catastrophic"
in a speech before an expanded board meeting of the State Property
Committee, Segodnya reported on 17 February. Budget revenue was 6
trillion rubles (4,314 rubles to $1) instead of the 13 trillion rubles
planned. Chubais said the main reasons for the crisis were the slow pace
of cash privatization and delays in IMF talks on a $6 billion loan which
had been included in first quarter budget revenues. The budget envisions
the sale of state property to generate 9.1 trillion rubles in revenue.
In January, the proceeds amounted to only 13 billion rubles. Chubais
also noted that by the end of 1994, privatization measures came to a
virtual standstill and he called upon the State Property Committee to
move the process along. "The domestic economy will not survive
investment postponement for another year," he said. -- Thomas Sigel ,
OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIAN STOCK MARKET FACES CRISIS. The Russian securities market has
been in crisis since the fall of 1994, Securities and Stock Market
Commission director Dmitry Vasilev said at a conference on 17 February,
Interfax reported. The director said the crisis was caused by low demand
for Russian bonds and securities which is linked to lack of consumer
confidence due to imperfect legislation regarding stock exchange
operations. Neither the government nor market agents have devised an
effective market control mechanism. Vasilev also said Russia's
unfavorable economic situation and the Chechen crisis have affected the
bonds and securities market. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

YELTSIN ISSUES DECREE ON ADVERTISING. President Yeltsin has issued a
decree barring the media from advertising alcohol, tobacco, and the
services of unregistered healers on the grounds that they pose a threat
to public health, Reuters reported on 18 February. Under the decree,
media that break the law will be sued and their revenues used to fund
public health programs. In December 1994 , the Duma passed a law on its
first reading banning tobacco and alcohol advertising. Public health has
deteriorated rapidly in Russia in recent years and life expectancy has
fallen sharply, particularly for men. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

INDEPENDENT TRADE UNIONS TO FORM ELECTION ASSOCIATION. The leadership of
the Russian Federation of Independent Trade Unions decided on 17
February to set up an electoral association, called Trade Unions of
Russia, and select candidates for a federal list, Interfax reported.
Federation chairman Mikhail Shmakov said other unions might also join
the association which would consider entering into a coalition with the
Agrarians, Communists, and the Socialist Workers' Party. -- Penny
Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

STRIKES INCREASE IN JANUARY. There was a sharp increase in the number of
strikes this January in comparison with the same month in 1994, Radio
Rossii reported on 18 February. Strikes occurred at 95 organizations,
mostly in the education sector. The main reason for the industrial
action was late payment of wages. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

SECOND ROUND OF KYRGYZ ELECTIONS. Despite the assassination of a
parliamentary candidate in Bishkek on 16 February and an appeal for a
postponement by representatives of the intelligentsia on 18 February,
the second round of parliamentary elections took place in Kyrgyzstan as
scheduled on 19 February, ITAR-TASS reported. Voter turnout was
estimated at more than 60%. Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev admitted
procedural violations, characterizing the voting as "free and
competitive but not absolutely honest," Interfax reported on 19
February. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

ANTI-GOVERNMENT DEMONSTRATION IN ARMENIA. Some 20,000 people attended a
protest meeting in Erevan on 18 February convened by the opposition
"Alliance for National Accord" to demand the resignation of President
Levon Ter-Petrossyan, ITAR-TASS reported. Meanwhile, 300 journalists
from a number of publications financed by the temporarily banned Dashnak
Party continued to demonstrate outside the president's official
residence demanding that the ban be lifted and that they be allowed to
resume work. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

CIS

BLACK SEA FLEET COMMANDER ON RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN ACCORD. Black Sea Fleet
commander Admiral Eduard Baltin said the treaty on Russian-Ukrainian
friendship and cooperation initialed in Kiev on 8 February did not
resolve any issues regarding the fleet, Ukrainian radio reported on 17
February citing an interview in Slava Sevastopolya. While the agreement
calls for future meetings between Russian and Ukrainian delegations to
resolve the division of the fleet, Baltin said it does not commit either
side to anything. Baltin also criticized Russian First Deputy Prime
Minister Oleg Soskovets who had initialed the agreement, saying he led
the talks badly and did not know the real state of affairs within the
fleet. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

UKRAINIAN-RUSSIAN MILITARY COOPERATION. Ukrainian Defense Minister
Valerii Shmarov on 18 February met with a Russian military delegation
headed by Viktor Glukhikh, Ukrainian Radio reported. The two sides
discussed joint production of military hardware, including the TU-70 and
TU-334 aircraft, and the exchange of military information. They also
signed an agreement on military-technical cooperation and on setting up
a financial group to be called "International Aviamotors." Interfax
reported on 17 February that Vyacheslav Chrnovil, leader of the
national-democratic Rukh, criticized Shmarov for attempting to restore
the ex-USSR military-industrial complex rather than building a national
one. -- 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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