The sum of human wisdom is not contained in any one language, and no single language is capable of expressing all forms and degrees of human comprehension. - Ezra Pound
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 39, Part I, 23 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

GRACHEV ON CHECHNYA. Defense Minister Pavel Grachev said "several more
years might be required for eliminating all bandits in Chechnya,"
Interfax reported on 22 February. He discounted the possibility that
Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev's forces are capable of carrying out a
significant military operation on 23 February, the anniversary of the
deportation of the Chechen people from their homeland by Josef Stalin.
The National Congress of the Chechen People had earlier declared that 23
February would be a day of popular retribution. Grachev said all
organized Chechen units had been defeated in the fight for Grozny. Only
gangs of 10 to 15 men remain, with some of them under no one's command,
he claimed. Artillery shelling of Grozny's southwest suburbs, which are
controlled by Dudaev's supporters, has practically stopped, Interfax
reported. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIAN REGIONS TO HELP RESTORE GROZNY. Deputy Nationalities Minister
Andrei Chernenko announced that Grozny has been divided into 28 sectors,
each of which will receive aid from an individual region in Russia,
Interfax reported on 22 February. Additionally, the State Committee for
Higher Education has set up a system to transfer students from Grozny's
universities to other institutions around the country. -- Robert
Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

OSCE HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP TO CHECHNYA. An OSCE human rights mission
departed on 22 February for talks in Moscow and the Chechen region,
according to an OSCE press release. The group will conduct talks on how
to provide humanitarian assistance to the region and the possibility of
setting up a commission to investigate human rights violations during
the Chechen war. It is the second OSCE mission to the region. The group
will hold talks with Justice Minister Valentin Kovalev and senior
officials at the Foreign and Emergency ministries on 23 February, and
move on to Chechnya two days later, Interfax reported. Recently, Russia
denied visas to a human rights mission from the European parliament. --
Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

PROSECUTOR-GENERAL'S OFFICE: NO "THREATS AND ULTIMATUMS" FROM
PARLIAMENT. The Russian Prosecutor-General's office has responded to
demands for information from Stanislav Govorukhin, chairman of the State
Duma's commission to investigate events in Chechnya. In a declaration
published in Rossiiskaya gazeta, the office informed deputies that the
"new tone of threats and ultimatums they have adopted in communications
with state institutions will hardly add to their authority or promote
fruitful cooperation." However, the prosecutor's office pledged to turn
over all relevant materials to the Duma commission "in full accordance
with legislation on criminal legal procedures." -- Laura Belin, OMRI,
Inc.

CONFUSION OVER LEBED'S ALLEGED NOMINATION. Franz Klintsevich, chairman
of the Union of Afghan War Veterans, dismissed as "a provocation"
reports that the union had voted to nominate Gen. Aleksandr Lebed as its
candidate in the next presidential election, Russian TV reported on 22
February. The reports had appeared a day earlier in various Russian and
Western media, including Ostankino TV (see also OMRI Daily Digest of 22
February). Klintsevich said the issue was not even discussed at the
union's recent congress. Meanwhile, Col. Matvei Bergman, the Tiraspol
army garrison commander and Lebed's right-hand man in the 14th Army,
said Lebed had agreed to run in the election as a candidate for the
Afghan war veterans, Russian TV's "Vesti" reported. As usual, Lebed
denied any intention of becoming Russia's second president. -- Julia
Wishnevsky, OMRI, Inc.

GORBACHEV, RUTSKOI START PRESIDENTIAL RACE? Former Soviet President
Mikhail Gorbachev said his decision on whether to run for president in
the upcoming election depends on the wording of an electoral law to be
passed by parliament, Interfax reported on 22 February. Gorbachev was
concluding a four-day visit to Novosibirsk in what Interfax described as
the opening of his campaign. The agency reported that Gorbachev was
invited to the city by the local branch of the Democratic Russia
Movement, the same organization of radical anti-communists who had
assisted President Boris Yeltsin in his struggle for power against
Gorbachev in 1990-91. Meanwhile, the Derzhava (Great Power) movement
nominated its leader, former Russian Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi,
as its presidential candidate. -- Julia Wishnevsky, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA OVERRIDES YELTSIN VETO ON DEMONSTRATION LAW. The State Duma
overrode a presidential veto of a new law on demonstrations, Interfax
reported on 22 February. A total of 309 deputies -- nine more than the
300 required for a two-thirds majority -- voted to approve the law
without the presidential amendments. The Duma rejected an attempt by
Yeltsin to ban gatherings of people in the immediate vicinity of public
buildings. Deputies Alevtina Aparina and Tatyana Gudima protested that
the purpose of demonstrations is to make public opinion known to
government officials and that in many Russian cities, the central and
only square is right outside a government building. For the override to
take effect, two-thirds of the upper house must also reject Yeltsin's
amendments. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

FILATOV: DEMOCRATIC AUTHORITY REQUIRES DIALOGUE. Sergei Filatov,
President Yeltsin's chief of staff, published an article in Rossiiskie
vesti calling for "constructive dialogue" among democratic political
forces in Russia. Filatov described the lack of unity in the democratic
camp and the weakness on the leftist side of the democratic political
spectrum as "alarming." He appealed to Russia's democratic forces not to
respond to the crisis in Chechnya with "banal, and at times vulgar,
sloganeering." Differences between the government and democratic
political parties are "natural," wrote Filatov, but opposing views,
"even on the most critical problems, are no reason to cut off dialogue
and cooperation." Filatov praised the newly-formed Russian Social
Democratic Party and its leaders, which suggests that Yeltsin hopes the
RSDP will create a political base for him. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

STATE DUMA DELAYS CRUCIAL BUDGET APPROVAL. Russia's State Duma has
delayed a crucial vote on the 1995 draft budget until 24 February,
Russian and Western agencies reported on 22 February. Budget approval is
one of the conditions Russia needs to secure a $6.25 billion IMF loan.
The draft budget foresees a deficit of 73 trillion rubles ($17 billion),
according to levels set on 25 January, or less than 8% of GDP. In a
concession to the powerful Agrarian Party, deputies voted to reallocate
one trillion rubles ($230 million) to fund the economically ailing farm
sector and the coal mining industry which has been hit by strikes. The
agrarians had threatened to withhold support unless more funds were
allocated to the agro-industrial complex. The parliament budget
committee chairman said revenues earlier calculated at 175 trillion
rubles ($40 billion), would rise by 17.6 trillion rubles ($4 billion)
and noted the money would come from various sources including 2.6
trillion rubles ($600 million), previously allocated to service
government domestic debt, and a 1.5% value added tax proposed by the
agrarians. Duma Chairman Ivan Rybkin said time is running out for final
approval of the budget. The Duma has so far only adopted a law covering
state financing for the first quarter. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

DAVYDOV PROJECTS 8% FOREIGN TRADE INCREASE IN '95. Russia will increase
its trade turnover with foreign countries by at least 8% in 1995,
Foreign Economic Relations Minister Oleg Davydov said in an Interfax
interview on 22 February. He said Russia had already increased its
foreign trade turnover with all countries in January to $6.7 billion,
exceeding the 1994 level by 5.1%. Davidov noted that January exports
from Russia grew 6.8% compared with December 1994 and reached $4
billion. Russia also increased its imports in January to $2.7 billion,
exceeding last year's level by 6.8%. As much as $2.2 billion of this
amount represents trade with non-CIS countries, he said. -- Thomas
Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

VORKUTA MINERS ANNOUNCE POLITICAL STRIKE. Miners in the northern
republic of Komi announced on 21 February that they would begin a
political strike on 1 March, Interfax reported. Yury Vishnevsky, the
leader of the Vorkuta miners, said they were demanding early
presidential elections, the government's resignation, and a new social
policy. They are also calling for immediate payment of 28.7 billion
rubles in wage arrears. Vitaly Budko, chairman of the Russian Coal
Industry Workers' Union, described the Vorkuta miners' announcement as
hasty. He said some progress had been made in negotiations with First
Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais on miners' demands. The union held
a 24-hour national strike on 8 February. The Vorkuta miners held a
separate warning strike two days earlier. On 23 February, the Coal
Industry Workers' Union will decide whether to launch an indefinte
strike on 1 March. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL WON'T STOP RUSSIAN AID. U.S. State Department
spokeswoman Christine Shelly said the Clinton administration opposes
halting aid to Russia, even if it followed through with supplying
nuclear reactors to Iran, Reuters reported on 22 February. Although the
U.S. is against the Russian-Iranian deal, Shelly said, "The main purpose
of our aid to Russia is to support Russia's transition to a democratic
government and to a market economy, which are the key foreign policy
objectives of this administration . . . Conditioning U.S. aid to Russian
actions would be counterproductive to accomplishing these objectives."
The U.S. speaker of the lower house, Newt Gingrich, has said such aid
should stop if Russia goes ahead with the deal. On 23 February, Russian
Deputy Foreign Minister Georgy Mamedov will conclude talks in Washington
on Russia's role in European security and the Iranian deal. -- Michael
Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIA INTENDS TO SUPPLY NUCLEAR REACTOR TO INDIA. Russia has announced
plans to supply another nuclear reactor to India, Interfax reported on
22 February. The Russian Nuclear Energy Ministry said a detailed
contract would be signed in the near future. The ministry dismissed
concerns expressed by the Nuclear Suppliers' Group that India does not
adhere to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty saying the intended
reactor's design does not permit the "industrial production of war
plutonium." -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

CIS

EU TO EXTEND AID PROGRAMS FOR FORMER SOVIET REPUBLICS. The EU Commission
has announced plans to extend its technical aid program to the former
Soviet Union beyond the end of this year when it is due to expire,
Reuters reported on 22 February. Technical Assistance for the
Commonwealth of Independent States (TACIS) is the EU's main aid program
for the region. Between 1991 and 1994, $2.2 billion was allocated to the
program and $596 million has been budgeted for this year. Some new
features have been attached to the aid, including provisions for
"appropriate measures" to be taken should human rights or democratic
principles be violated and encouragement for joint ventures between EU
firms and small to medium-size businesses in the CIS. -- Michael
Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIA TO BUY UKRAINIAN BOMBERS. Russia has agreed in principle to buy
Ukraine's 42 strategic bombers after having ascertained that the planes
are in good condition, Kommersant reported on 22 February. Russia does
not intend to pay for the 23 TU-95s and 19 TU-160s in cash, but is
looking to write off part of Ukraine's energy debt in exchange for the
aircraft. The Russian gas monopoly, Gazprom, which is owed over $1.5
billion by Ukraine, is reportedly opposed to the deal. The gas giant
would prefer to be paid in cash or acquire Ukraine's gas facilities in
lieu of the debt and gains nothing from Russia's acquisition of the
bombers. -- 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
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