Change is always powerful. Let your hook be always cast. In the pool where you least expect it, will be a fish. - Ovid
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 37, Part I, 21 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

CHECHNYA: RENEWED CLASHES, NEW CEASE-FIRE APPEAL. Western journalists in
Grozny reported renewed small arms fire and sporadic shelling in the
south of the city on 20 February, following the expiration of the cease-
fire. In an appeal carried by ITAR-TASS, the commander of Russian
federal troops in Chechnya, Col.-Gen. Anatoly Kulikov, called on the
Chechen population to cease hostilities immediately, release all
hostages and prisoners, and surrender heavy weapons. He then advocated
the formation of new bodies of self-government and talks with federal
representatives. Chechen presidential spokesman Movladi Udugov said the
Interior Ministry commander of Russian troops in Chechnya, General
Kvashnin, had held talks with Chechen military Chief of Staff Aslan
Maskhadov and that the two men had agreed to avoid further fighting,
Ekho Moskvy reported on 20 February. They also agreed that further talks
on a settlement should be conducted by politicians rather than military
representatives. Speaking at a press conference in Moscow on 20
February, the head of the Chechen government of national revival,
Salambek Khadzhiev, asserted that there was no point in conducting peace
talks with Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev. He claimed that he
controlled seven of Chechnya's 12 raions, but admitted only new
elections could restore "legitimate power" in Chechnya, ITAR-TASS
reported. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA HOLDS HEARING ON CHECHNYA. The first open session of the Duma
commission investigating the Chechen conflict, turned into a parade of
former top Soviet and Russian officials, Russian TV reported. None of
the officials still in power in Russia has agreed to address the
session. The hearing opened with a film showing scenes from the war
zone. Valery Tishkov, the former chairman of the Russian state committee
on nationalities, said military intervention was not necessary, because
Dudaev had been willing to negotiate with the Russian government on the
eve of the attack. Former Russian parliamentary speaker Ruslan
Khasbulatov predicted the entire North Caucasus would secede because of
Yeltsin's mishandling of the Chechen crisis. On the eve of the first
Russian operation against Grozny on 26 November 1994, Khasbulatov said
Dudaev had been immensely unpopular in Chechnya, but the intervention
has made him a national hero. The possibility of using force against
Dudaev had been raised as early as November 1993, according to former
acting Russian Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar. Gaidar said he had managed
to convince Yeltsin at the time, that such an option could lead to major
bloodshed and a guerrilla war in the Caucasian mountains. Human Rights
Commissioner Sergei Kovalev, claimed the military attacks on civilians
in Chechnya had caused tens of thousands of deaths during the first two
months of fighting. The head of the pro-Moscow puppet Chechen
government, Khadzhiev, was the only speaker at the session who said that
achieving a truce with Dudaev was impossible. All the rest demanded a
stop to the fighting. -- Julia Wishnevsky, OMRI, Inc.

SPECULATION ON ROOTS OF CHECHEN WAR AT DUMA HEARING. Many speakers at
the Duma hearings offered opinions on who was to blame for the Chechen
crisis. Vladimir Kryuchkov, last Communist chairman of the KGB and a
leader of the August 1991 coup against former Soviet President Mikhail
Gorbachev, said the KGB detected signs of a potential explosion in the
republic before August 1991, when radicals in President Boris Yeltsin's
entourage began promoting Dudaev because of his opposition to the coup
plotters. Yusup Soslambekov, former Chechen parliament speaker under
Dudaev, said the Chechen president owed his power to Yeltsin's top
democratic allies at the time--namely, Gennady Burbulis, Mikhail
Poltoranin, and Galina Starovoitova. Soslambekov suggested that Russian
forces be replaced by peacekeeping troops, to be made up of Tartar,
Backer, Calmed, and North Caucasian soldiers. Former Russian Vice
President Aleksandr Rutskoi said Yeltsin must be held responsible
because he prevented the declaration of a state of emergency in Chechnya
in November 1991, before Dudaev began forming his army. -- Julia
Wishnevsky, OMRI, Inc.

AIRBORNE COMMANDER BLAMES POOR PLANNING FOR INITIAL DEBACLE IN CHECHNYA.
Russian airborne commander Gen. Yevgeny Podkolzin said lack of
preparation caused the large initial losses in the Chechen operation,
Interfax reported on 20 February. He also cited the failure to prepare
public opinion properly, the lack of better trained troops caused by the
seasonal rotation of servicemen in November, and the weather factor
which caused aircraft to fly higher and drop bombs with less accuracy.
He added that the Federal Counterintelligence Service (FCS) could have
provided better information for the operation. The FCS later dismissed
Podkolzin's charges as "personal opinion" in a statement read on
Ostankino Television. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIA SHOWED RESTRAINT IN INITIAL ASSAULT ON GROZNY. The Russian
military showed restraint in its initial attack on Grozny in order to
limit casualties, according to Gen. Gennady Ivanov, who was representing
Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev at the Duma hearings, ITAR-TASS
reported. He said Grozny was assaulted because the military leaders
feared a rear attack after moving into Chechnya. He added, "There was no
storming of Grozny, only slow pressure" by Russian forces. A full scale
assault on Grozny would have required first mass air and artillery
barrages. Only then would troops have entered the city "where there
would have been no one left to shoot and no place to shoot from." He
said the Chechen forces numbered 30,000 initially, backed by 7,000
fighters from elsewhere. Russians troops at the beginning of the
campaign numbered less than 11,000, although they had clear superiority
in equipment. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

MILITARY TELLS OF DRAFT PROBLEMS. The Defense Ministry has notified the
State Duma that it faces "a catastrophe" in recruiting unless the
present rules on deferments and length of service are changed, Interfax
reported on 20 February. The military reported that only one-fifth of
the men in the draft pool are actually drafted, with the rest taking
advantage of one of the 21 reasons for deferment. Unless the rules are
changed, the ministry predicted it would induct no more than 100,000 men
this year--only 60% of its requirements. To remedy this problem, the
ministry proposed that vocational school students, men having young
children, and those with elderly parents no longer be allowed to escape
the draft. It also proposed that army service for inductees be increased
to 24 months from the present 18. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

PLANS FOR GERMAN-RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPING EXERCISE CALLED OFF. The Russian
Defense Ministry has called off plans for a joint German-Russian
peacekeeping exercise originally scheduled for this summer, Interfax
reported on 20 February. A Russian military official cited comments on
Chechnya by the Bundeswehr command and German Defense Minister Volker
Ruehe as the reason. He said Ruehe's statements "can be considered only
as interference in Russia's domestic affairs." -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI,
Inc.

YELTSIN SPOKESMAN CRITICIZES CLINTON'S POSSIBLE POSTPONEMENT OF VISIT.
President Bill Clinton has no reason to put off a visit to Russia,
President Yeltsin's spokesman Vyacheslav Kostikov said on 20 February in
reaction to reports that the U.S. president would not come until after
the Chechen conflict is resolved, AFP reported. The spokesman said there
would be no reaction from Yeltsin. The Russian government had invited
Clinton to a summit to coincide with the 50th anniversary commemoration
of the Allied victory over Nazi Germany on 8 May. -- Robert Orttung,
OMRI, Inc.

CONSTITUTIONAL COURT FORMS TWO EQUAL CHAMBERS. Russia's Constitutional
Court passed a resolution on 20 February creating two equal chambers,
Interfax reported. Although one chamber has ten members and the other
only nine, both chambers are empowered to judge the constitutionality of
federal laws and presidential or governmental decisions. Members of the
larger chamber are: Judges Marat Baglai, Nikolai Vitruk, Gadis Gadzhiev,
Anatoly Kononov, Tamara Morshakova, Yury Rudkin, Nikolai Seleznev, Oleg
Tyunov, Boris Ebzeev, and Vladimir Yaroslavtsev. The smaller chamber is
composed of: Judges Ernest Ametistov, Nikolai Vedernikov, Yury Danilov,
Valery Zorkin, Viktor Luchin, Vladimir Aleinik, Vladimir Strekozov,
Vladimir Tumanov, and Olga Khokhryakova. Both chambers will have a
rotating chairmanship. Ametistov told Interfax that the court considered
"about one third of seventy [pending] appeals" on 20 February. Most of
the cases were simply sent back to the archive. Ametistov expects the
court to finish reviewing the other applications in the next several
days. He told Interfax that no appeal had been filed to consider the
constitutionality of the president's decrees authorizing the use of
force in Chechnya. On 10 February, the Federation Council had voted to
ask the court to look into this matter. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

OSTANKINO TO BAN COMMERCIALS. The state-run TV channel Ostankino
announced on 20 February that it would stop broadcasting commercials
until there are strict rules to regulate them in the interests of "the
economic development of society and ethical standards." The statement
did not say how the station would compensate for the resulting huge loss
of revenue. Two days earlier, Yeltsin imposed a ban on media advertising
of tobacco and alcohol, which advertising executives estimate could cost
Russia as much as $1 billion in direct investment over the next five
years, agencies reported. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

RUBLE PLUNGES FURTHER AGAINST DOLLAR ON MICEX TRADING. The Russian ruble
lost 25 points on MICEX trading, closing at 4,339 rubles to $1 on 20
February, the Financial Information Agency reported. A total of $53.5
million was sold, with initial demand at $53.52 million and initial
supply at $40.32 million. Forty-two commercial banks participated. The
Central Bank of Russia was the most active trading participant, selling
$13 million. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

CENTRAL BANK RECALLS LICENSES OF 10 BANKS. Since 16 February, the
Central Bank of Russia has recalled the licenses of 10 commercial banks
which have violated policies, including issuing risky credit, Interfax
reported on 20 February. From January to November 1994, the central bank
recalled licenses from 52 commercial banks. There are about 2,500
commercial banks officially registered in Russia. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI,
Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

KYRGYZ ELECTION RESULTS DELAYED. A press briefing scheduled to announce
the preliminary results of the Kyrgyz runoff elections on 20 February
was canceled following complaints from dissatisfied candidates and
allegations of widespread irregularities, Interfax and Reuters reported.
Voter participation was only 61%. A Central Electoral Commission
spokesman said another round of voting is scheduled for 26 February in
those constituencies where less than half the registered voters
participated, Interfax reported. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

CIS

YELTSIN IN BELARUS. President Yeltsin arrived in Minsk on 21 February to
sign a comprehensive treaty on friendship and cooperation with
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, international agencies
reported. Belarusian Foreign Minister Uladzimir Syanko stressed that the
agreement was not merely an arrangement to enable Belarus to receive
energy supplies from Russia at reduced prices. Rather, he said that it
would ease trade barriers and that any documents which infringed upon
Belarusian sovereignty would not be signed. The nationalist opposition
Belarusian Popular Front has said it will denounce the treaty if its
members win a majority of parliamentary seats in the May elections.
Belarusian Communist Party leader Viktar Chikin also criticized the
agreement, but for different reasons, Interfax reported. "It [is]
unusual for parents and children to sign friendship and cooperation
treaties," he said. -- 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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