When two people communicate, they each can be enriched - and unlike traditional resources, the more you share the more you have. - U.S. Vice President Al Gore
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 38, Part I, 22 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

RUSSIA RULES OUT FURTHER TALKS WITH DUDAEV LEADERSHIP. Russian troops
launched a new offensive against the last pockets of Chechen resistance
in the northeast and south of Grozny as well as in Argun and Gudermes,
Western agencies reported on 21 February. They succeeded in gaining
control of the last road leading into Grozny. Meanwhile, three separate
proposals by the Chechen leadership to Russian military headquarters in
Mozdok to cease hostilities remained unanswered, ITAR-TASS reported. A
Russian military spokesman denied Chechen presidential spokesman Movladi
Udugov's statement of 20 February that Chechen and Russian commanders
had agreed not to resume hostilities, Interfax reported. In Moscow,
Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev said no talks would be held with
Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev's representatives, ITAR-TASS reported.
A Chechen delegation headed to Nazran for a further round of Ingush-
mediated talks with the Russian federal military command was intercepted
at the Chechen-Ingush border by Russian Interior Ministry troops and
refused permission to enter Ingushetia. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

AROUND 8,000 TROOPS WOUNDED IN CHECHNYA. Around 8,000 soldiers and
officers have been wounded in Chechnya, according to Col.-Gen. Yevgeny
Vysotsky, head of the Defense Ministry's Personnel Department, Interfax
reported on 21 February. He said those servicemen would be offered new
jobs "corresponding to their physical ability." Vysotsky said most of
them might end up in administrative jobs. The individual's requests
would be considered and they would be sent to units near their homes. He
also indicated that many wounded enlisted personnel would be promoted to
warrant officer. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

KOVALEV: 24,000 DEAD IN CHECHNYA. Russian Human Rights Commissioner
Sergei Kovalev estimates that some 24,000 people in Grozny and the
surrounding area died between 25 November 1994 and 25 January 1995, the
Czech daily Lidove noviny reported. Kovalev said most of those were
unarmed civilians, including 3,700 children under the age of 15. He said
a special method was used to arrive at the estimates and the numbers
could be off by up to 20%. An estimated 400,000 people have been
displaced by the war in Chechnya. Kovalev attacked the UN commission for
human rights for adopting an attitude of "indifferent cynicism" towards
the war. He said he is preparing for another trip to the republic. --
Victor Gomez, OMRI, Inc.

SOSKOVETS APPOINTED TO RESTORE CHECHEN ECONOMY. First Deputy Prime
Minister Oleg Soskovets has been appointed head of the state commission
for restoring the economy in Chechnya, Interfax reported on 20 February.
In line with a Russian government resolution, signed by Prime Minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin, the commission includes leaders of all federal
ministries and departments, including the Federal Counterintelligence
Service and the Federal Border Service. Soskovets said the commission
will "take decisive measures to restore Chechnya's economy." Among the
first steps to restore normal life, he said, is to resume paying wages
to the republic's inhabitants. In addition, Soskovets announced that a
number of enterprises in Chechnya will be privatized by auction and the
money obtained will be used to help the republic's economy recover.
Soskovets noted that Chechnya's oil complex will remain state-owned for
some time. He also mentioned that the company Lukoil is showing interest
in the restoration of oil-producing and refining installations in
Chechnya. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

LISTEV INTERVIEWS YAVLINSKY. Grigory Yavlinsky, the most popular
politician in Russia according to recent polls, appeared on the 21
February edition of Ostankino TV's "Rush Hour." The interview, conducted
by the station's director, Vladislav Listev, appeared to be an ice-
breaking event, given that both major Russian TV channels have so far
been reluctant to cover Yavlinsky's campaign for the presidency.
Yavlinsky, an economist who heads the liberal Yabloko faction in the
State Duma, reasserted his doubts on whether the forthcoming
parliamentary and presidential elections would be fair. He also
reaffirmed his party's unwillingness to form a coalition with former
acting Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar, unless he "recognizes the fatal
political errors" of the past few years. Speaking in an unusually frank
manner by Russian standards, Yavlinsky revealed that his father was
Russian and his mother is Jewish. -- Julia Wishnevsky, OMRI, Inc.

AFGHAN WAR VETERANS: LEBED FOR PRESIDENT. The congress of Afghan war
veterans almost unanimously nominated Gen. Aleksandr Lebed as its
candidate for the next presidential election, Ostankino TV's "Vremya"
reported on 21 February. Lebed, the controversial commander of the 14th
Russian Army stationed in the self-proclaimed Dniestr republic of
Moldova, served in Afghanistan during the Russian invasion of that
country in the 1980s. The congress was attended by many important
Russian politicians, such as Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Pastukhov,
who also served in Afghanistan, and former Soviet Deputy Defense
Minister Valentin Varennikov. Despite the conservative mood that
prevailed at the congress, the veterans adopted a resolution condemning
the Russian Army's intervention in Chechnya, Ostankino reported. --
Julia Wishnevsky, OMRI, Inc.

DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF RUSSIA TO CONTEST ELECTION ON ITS OWN. The
Democratic Party of Russia will draw up its own list to contest the
parliamentary elections, according to Yevgeny Malkin, the party's
political council chairman, Interfax reported on 21 February. The party
will launch its election campaign and adopt a new program at a
conference to be held in May, the fifth anniversary of its founding. --
Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

OFFICIALS SAY REACTORS ARE CAPABLE OF PRODUCING PLUTONIUM. Alexei
Yablokov, chairman of the Security Council commission for ecological
security, said the nuclear plant in Bushehr, Iran, that is to be rebuilt
with Russian help, will be capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium,
ITAR-TASS reported on 21 February. His remarks contradict assurances
given last week by a Nuclear Power Ministry spokesman that the reactor
could not produce weapons-grade material. Another Russian official, Yury
Vishnevsky, head of the government's nuclear oversight committee, said
Iran could use the reactors to generate electricity and pay a third
country to produce plutonium with the spent fuel rods. The U.S. is
urging Russia to cancel the Bushehr project to prevent Iran from
becoming a nuclear power. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

GRACHEV: MILITARY BUDGET TOO LOW. The Russian military is not satisfied
with the budget submitted to the State Duma for consideration, Defense
Minister Grachev said at a Minsk news conference on 21 February. He
claimed it amounted to only one-third of the military's needs. Grachev
added that the military was not a creation of its military leaders but
"a powerful state institution meant for the provision of Russian
security. The country will have order only when everyone starts working
for that institution and quits saying it consumes the whole budget and
Russia is weak," ITAR-TASS reported. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

CHERNOMYRDIN SAYS NO TO MILITARY DRAFT PROPOSAL. The government does not
plan to consider a Defense Ministry proposal to draft students into the
military and to extend the term of military service, Prime Minister
Chernomyrdin said, addressing a meeting of the Women of Russia faction
in the State Duma on 21 February. The previous day, the ministry said
the armed forces faced "a catastrophe" unless such measures were taken,
Interfax reported. The military plans to sharply reduce the number of
educational institutions with military faculties which entitle students
to receive deferments. Their number would drop from 256 to 80. -- Doug
Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

COMMITTEE PROPOSES ANOTHER 20 TRILLION RUBLES FOR TOP-PRIORITY BRANCHES
OF ECONOMY. The State Duma budget committee will propose that the
Russian parliament allocate another 20 trillion rubles for top-priority
branches of the economy on 22 February, Interfax reported on 21
February. According to the Financial Information Agency, the committee
expects to obtain the money by cutting about 14 trillion rubles (4,357
rubles/$1) in miscellaneous expenditures and half a trillion rubles in
maintenance of the state apparatus. In addition, a special 1.5% tax
could generate 5.3 trillion rubles. Committee chairman Mikhail Zadornov
told a news conference that the additional funds would be used to
finance investment programs (3.356 trillion rubles), offset last year's
agricultural debt (1 trillion rubles), repay a debt to the defense
ministry for purchases of arms and equipment in 1994 (2 trillion
rubles), and subsidize the coal mining industry (1 trillion rubles). It
is proposed to use part of the money to finance culture (150 billion
rubles), health care (250 billion rubles), and support elite
universities (300 billion rubles). -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

IMPACT OF KOMI PIPELINE LEAKS. An environmental group in Komi said that
between August 1994 and January 1995 the republic's Usinsk region was
contaminated by 400,000 tons of oil-containing liquid, Russian and
Western agencies reported on 21 February. Last year, an estimated
60,000-100,000 tons of oil leaked from defective pipelines in the
republic, polluting the Pechora River basin which flows into the Arctic
Ocean. There were two more accidents in January, but those caused less
damage. The World Bank has offered the Komineft corporation a $100
million loan to replace the Vozei-Usinsk pipeline and finance the clean-
up operation. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

CIS

YELTSIN AND LUKASHENKA SIGN ACCORDS. Russian President Yeltsin and his
Belarusian counterpart Alyaksandr Lukashenka signed three treaties in
Minsk on 21 February, international agencies reported. The first was a
broad accord on friendship and cooperation valid for ten years and then
renewable upon mutual assent. The two men also signed an agreement on
customs regulations and an agreement on the joint protection of borders.
Despite the fanfare attached to the agreements, preliminary analysis
indicates they do not represent any real steps toward integration.
Earlier agreements, such as the one on monetary union signed in 1994,
have not been implemented. The latest accord has been opposed by the
Belarusian nationalist opposition and watered down so that the country
receives few of the benefits it hoped for, reducing it to a letter of
intent for future cooperation. So far Russia has not lifted customs
restrictions on Belarusian imports and has continued to heavily tax oil
shipped to Belarus. As for any military coalition, Russian Defense
Minister Grachev said it is too early to speak of Russian-Belarusian
coalition forces, but that two early-warning systems on Belarusian
territory will be under Russian jurisdiction. On the issue of joint
defense, the agreement only calls for consultations in the event that
one of the two countries is attacked. Previously, Belarusian politicians
have resisted any alliance that would require their forces to serve
outside the country. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

CIS COUNTRIES RUNNING ANNUAL TRADE DEFICIT WITH RUSSIA. The CIS
countries have run up a 15-trillion-ruble debt with Russia as of 1
January 1995, Deputy Minister for CIS Cooperation Vladimir Pokrovsky
said on 20 February, Interfax reported. Gennady Galakhov, the head of
the Russian Government Department for Relations with the CIS Countries,
said Russia exported 31 trillion rubles worth of goods to CIS countries
but imported only 28 trillion rubles in 1994. The trade and debt picture
are determined largely by the export of oil to Ukraine, Belarus, and
Kazakhstan. Pokrovsky also said the process of putting together the
executive bodies of the CIS economic committee was moving slowly because
several CIS countries have yet to appoint a representative. -- 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
distributed electronically via the OMRI-L list. To subscribe, send
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