He who knows nothing is nearer the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors. - Thomas Jefferson
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 43, Part I, 1 March 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

RUSSIAN MILITARY COMMAND ASSESSES CHECHNYA OPERATION. On 28 February, a
four-day conference opened in Moscow at which representatives of the
Russian military and civilian leadership are to assess the performance
of Russian troops in "restoring constitutional order" in Chechnya,
Interfax and Nezavisimaya gazeta reported. Defense Minister Pavel
Grachev rejected as largely unfounded both widespread criticism of the
abysmal performance of Russian ground troops and what he termed
"populist pronouncements by individual senior military officials"
concerning inadequate preparation and planning. In the latter case, he
was presumably referring to his rival General Aleksandr Lebed, who
dismissed the entire conference as a pointless "show." Grachev said he
had held talks with Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev in Mozdok on 6
December, at which Dudaev had said his position was hopeless, but
claimed he was a hostage of his entourage, and therefore could not
comply with Russian President Boris Yeltsin's ultimatum to disarm.
Grachev further claimed that Dudaev's forces, which allegedly include up
to 6,000 mercenaries from Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Turkey,
and the Baltic states, are currently retrenching in the towns of
Gudermes and Shali. Col.-Gen. Fedor Ladygin, head of the General Staff
Main Intelligence Department, predicted it will not be possible to
eliminate Chechen resistance in the near future. However, Chechen
opposition Provisional Council chairman Umar Avturkhanov said there will
be no large-scale guerrilla war in Chechnya and that resistance to
Russian forces would not last for long. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

GRACHEV PROPOSES MILITARY RESTRUCTURING. At the same conference, Grachev
said the contract servicemen had not shown their worth in combat, and
the military would have to rely on conscription. Training should be
adjusted to prepare troops for local disturbances and urban combat
rather than for a major war, he said. Grachev told the commanders the
Russian armed forces could not drop below 1.7 million men, and a large
contingent would be required in the Caucasus region for some time. --
Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

GRACHEV WARNS OF TERRORISM; BOMB EXPLODES AT EMBASSY IN RABAT. Grachev
also warned that troops could expect continued acts of terrorism in
Chechnya, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 February. Meanwhile, terrorism
occurred on another front as a suicide bomber blew himself up at the
Russian consulate in Rabat, Morocco. He died, but no injuries were
reported among embassy staff. He was reportedly wearing a placard with
the word "Chechnya" written on it in Arabic. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI,
Inc.

INSTITUTE DIRECTOR SAYS $5 BILLION SPENT ON CHECHNYA. About $5 billion,
or 2.5% of Russia's GNP, has been spent on military operations in
Chechnya, according to Andrei Illarionov, director of the Institute of
Economic Analysis. The calculations were based on official statistics
provided by Russia's Defense Ministry for the operation in Chechnya
beginning last December, Interfax reported on 28 February. The numbers
do not include assets required to restore the republic's economy.
Illarionov said defense expenditures, which amounted to 4.1% of the GNP
over 11 months of 1994, jumped to 6.6% last December. That caused the
federal budget deficit for 1994 to rise to 10.4% of the GNP. Meanwhile,
Illarionov noted that while January inflation reached 17.8%, February's
rate should be around 12%. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

YELTSIN SUSPENDS GRYZUNOV'S DISMISSAL. President Yeltsin has asked Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to suspend the dismissal of Sergei
Gryzunov, chairman of the State Press Committee, Interfax reported on 28
February. A presidential source said Gryzunov's case would be
reevaluated, citing protests from journalists and the public. Although
Chernomyrdin told reporters, "You know why" Gryzunov was fired, the
reasons remain unclear and have sparked a debate in the Russian press.
Rossiiskie vesti wrote on 1 March that "the lack of an intelligible
official explanation" indicates serious decisions are now made "in the
undercover style of cadre politics." On the same day, Komsomolskaya
pravda wondered which "government circles" decided to fire the press
chairman, since Gryzunov was "the last to know," while Yeltsin claims to
have been "misinformed" on the matter. Many journalists say Gryzunov is
being punished for refusing to take part in official disinformation on
the Chechen crisis. Gryzunov said Mikhail Poltoranin, chairman of the
Duma press and information committee, may have lobbied for his
dismissal. Recently, Gryzunov had proposed that the finances of one of
"Poltoranin's favorite" newspaper's, Rossiiskaya gazeta, be
investigated. Gryzunov told Interfax on 28 February that even though he
was fired without cause, the public controversy over his dismissal
proves that democratic reform in Russia is irreversible. He praised the
Russian public and Yeltsin for rejecting "behind-the-scenes intriguing"
in the affair. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

FINANCE MINISTRY TO DEVELOP SECURITIES MARKET. Russia's Finance Ministry
plans to further develop a securities market in an attempt to improve
the system of state borrowings and balance the internal state debt,
Deputy Finance Minister Andrei Kazmin said at a Moscow seminar on 28
February, Interfax reported. According to Kazmin, introducing a
securities market with longer terms of repayment, together with a
reasonable level of accessibility and attraction to investors, will help
lower Russia's high inflation rate. Kazmin said the number of banks
which have licenses to distribute treasury bonds has increased from 9 to
17, and another 15 commercial banks are on a reserve list. The decision
to issue treasury bonds was adopted on 9 August 1994. The total amount
in the first issuance reached 4 trillion rubles with repayment terms of
three months, six months, and 12 months. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

CIA: RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT MAY NOT RATIFY START II. A CIA analyst told
Congress that Russia might not ratify START II, AFP reported on 28
February. Peter Clement, head of the CIA's Russian affairs division,
told the U.S. Senate foreign affairs committee that some Russian
lawmakers say the country's nuclear forces should not be reduced because
the Chechen war showed that conventional forces are ineffective. The
upcoming elections "will complicate matters further," he added. --
Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

U.S. GROUP VERIFYING START I ARRIVES IN MOSCOW. The first U.S.
commission to verify Russian compliance with the START I treaty arrives
in Moscow on 1 March, Interfax reported. The group will verify initial
data about numbers and types of strategic nuclear weapons on 56
inspection tours within Russia. The group will also visit Ukraine and
Russian military installations in Belarus and Kazakhstan. Another U.S.
team will carry out a "demand" inspection on 2 March in which the
Defense Ministry will have nine hours to take the team to any area it
requests. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

FEDERATION COUNCIL REJECTS DUMA LEGISLATION ON DEMONSTRATIONS, MEDIA.
The Federation Council failed to muster enough votes on 28 February to
override a presidential veto of the law on political demonstrations,
Interfax reported. Only 28 deputies supported the override, far short of
the 118 necessary for a two-thirds majority. The State Duma had
overridden the presidential veto on 22 February. Yevgeny Krestyaninov,
chairman of the Federation Council regulation commission, said deputies
must now start working from scratch on a new law. The Council also
failed to pass two laws already approved by the Duma: "On Television and
Radio Broadcasting" and "On Changes and Amendments to the Decree on Mass
Media." The Council rejected the legislation because some of its terms
were unacceptable, but did not specify exactly which provisions. --
Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIA ARRESTS EXTREME NATIONALIST. The Federal Counterintelligence
Service has arrested Alexei Vedenkin, deputy chairman of the Russian
National Unity party, Interfax and Reuters reported on 28 February. In a
recent television broadcast, entitled "Fascism in Russia. Who?," he said
he wanted to execute Russian Human Rights Commissioner Sergei Kovalev
and State Duma defense committee chairman Sergei Yushenkov, both of whom
had been critical of the use of force in Chechnya. Vedenkin said he had
drawn up a hit list of 150 other liberals and proposed erecting a statue
to Defense Minister Grachev. The television program showed Vedenkin
sharing meals with Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky,
but that party appeared to dissociate itself from Vedenkin when it
released a denunciation of fascism on 27 February. Moskovsky komsomolets
reported on 1 March that Vedenkin is no more than an "adventurist" who
tries to make himself appear more important than he really is, and,
therefore, was an easy target for the security services. Nevertheless,
Andrei Loginov, head of the presidential administration's department on
relations with political parties, associations, and parliamentary
factions, urged the adoption of "urgent police measures" to oppose the
fascist threat. He said a presidential decree currently being drafted
will take a tough approach to the problem. Yeltsin is also planning to
hold an anti-fascist conference, possibly in the second half of April.
-- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

KOZYREV: UN AND CONTACT GROUP HAS FAILED TO MEET COMMITMENTS TO
BELGRADE. In meetings with the rump Yugoslavia's defense minister, Pavle
Bulatovic, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev said, "The UN
Security Council and the Contact Group owe Belgrade," Interfax reported
on 28 February. Kozyrev added that he favored lifting sanctions against
Belgrade, especially since Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic had
supported the Contact Group's peace plan. He continued, "I am sure the
UN Security Council and the international Contact Group have not
fulfilled their . . . commitments." Referring to the military agreement
signed between Moscow and Belgrade on 27 February, he said any actual
military-technical cooperation between Russia and rump Yugoslavia must
await the lifting of international sanctions. Bulatovic's visit to
Moscow was featured prominently in Nasa Borba. -- Michael Mihalka and
Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.

CHUBAIS SAYS MINERS WILL NOT STRIKE. First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly
Chubais said Russia's miners would not go ahead with a strike scheduled
for 1 March, Interfax reported on 28 February. The Russian Coal Industry
Workers' Union had announced on 23 February that it was postponing an
indefinite strike called for 1 March until 15 March. Chubais said
agreement had been reached on many issues and that the government had
paid the miners a total of 1.6 billion rubles by the end of February,
Ostankino TV reported. Chubais admitted, however, that the money
disbursed by the government did not cover its entire debt and the
situation in a number of areas remains tense. A major problem, he said,
was nonpayment by consumers, particularly in Vorkuta and Primorsky Krai.
He added that the government intended to send a commission to those
regions and was taking steps to arrange payment by debtors. Meanwhile,
Interfax reported that miners in Primorsky still intended to strike on 1
March and they reserved the right to call an indefinite strike. -- Penny
Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

MINIMUM WAGE 12% OF SUBSISTENCE MINIMUM. The minimum monthly wage of
20,500 rubles is a mere 12% of the subsistence minimum, the Labor
Ministry told Interfax on 28 February. A Russian requires 170,000 rubles
a month to buy food and other essentials and pay utility bills. In
January, the average cost of the minimum consumption basket of 19 basic
items was 135,000 rubles. On 27 February, Labor Minister Gennady
Melikyan said average monthly pay was just over twice the subsistence
minimum. Melikyan also noted that the share of the population's income
earned at official jobs has been shrinking and that the difference in
pay between the lowest and highest income groups is continuing to grow.
Officially, the richest 10% earn 15 times the poorest 10%, but the
actual difference is much larger. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

CIS

CONGRESS OF UKRAINIAN NATIONALISTS ON CIS. The right-wing Congress of
Ukrainian Nationalists has issued a statement calling on Ukraine to
withdraw from the CIS immediately, suspend its nuclear disarmament, halt
negotiations with Russia over dividing the Black Sea Fleet and signing a
friendship and cooperation treaty, and fortify the country's borders,
UNIAR reported on 28 February. The statement was prompted by an
interview with Russian ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky published
in Vseukrainski vedomosti. Zhirinovsky told the newspaper that "The
Russian army will march over Ukraine, eliminating everything in its way,
and will deploy its garrisons everywhere it meets resistance." -- 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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