The person who knows how to laugh at himself will never cease to be amused. - Shirley MacLaine
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 45, Part I, 3 March 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

YELTSIN SACKS MOSCOW MVD CHIEF AND PROSECUTOR. At a mourning ceremony
for murdered Russian Public Television Director Vladislav Listev,
President Boris Yeltsin promised a new crackdown on organized crime,
declaring the authorities had the means "to make the mafia quaver,"
agencies reported. "Because we have been afraid of [being accused of]
turning Russia into a police state, we have been afraid to step up the
fight against bandits," he added. Yeltin singled out Moscow as the crime
center of Russia, accusing city officials of turning a blind eye to
mafia penetration of the Interior Ministry and the capital's
administrative bodies. He announced the dismissal of Moscow Prosecutor
Gennady Ponomarev and the capital's police chief, Vladimir Pankratov,
and appointed a high-level government commission, headed by Interior
Minister Viktor Yerin, to investigate the killing. Law enforcement
bodies have been harshly criticized following Listev's assassination.
Russian TV chairman Oleg Poptsov said the crime demonstrated their
"complete helplessness," adding that "nothing changes, but they want to
increase the strength of the militia and the Federal Counterintelligence
Service, they want to have the right to bug, to spy, to compile dossiers
on citizens." Duma security committee chairman Viktor Ilyukhin said the
issue of Yerin's resignation might be raised again in the parliament,
but he noted earlier calls for his dismissal (after, for example, the
assassination of Duma deputy Andrei Aizdrdis) had been ignored by the
president. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

DEPUTIES SPEAK OUT AGAINST DISMISSAL OF PONOMAREV. The chairmen of the
legal committees of the State Duma and Federation Council, Vladimir
Isakov and Issa Kostoev respectively, issued a joint statement defending
the dismissed Moscow prosecutor. They described Ponomarev as one of the
country's best prosecutors who was known for his unbiased position and
argued that he was being made a scapegoat for disorder in the Russian
Prosecutor's Office, which has had "no legitimate leader" for more than
a year. (The parliament has consistently refused to confirm the
appointment of acting Prosecutor-General Aleksei Ilyushenko.) Isakov and
Kostoev warned that if Ponomarev were actually removed, they would raise
the issue in parliament, saying "prosecutors themselves need protection
. . . .;. The arbitrariness of crime must not grow into a criminal
arbitrariness of power." Duma security committee head Viktor Ilyukhin
said he has evidence that the Moscow prosecutor was to be sacked in the
spring and contended that the authorities had used Listev's death as a
pretext to dismiss Ponomarev beforehand, Interfax reported. Federation
Council deputy Yury Boldyrev said Ponomarev's dismissal was "a typical
case of using the death of a well-known person in political games." He
noted that Ponomarev had begun a criminal case against Ilyushenko on
charges of "fabricating a case against former Vice President Alexander
Rutskoi." -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

JOURNALISTS REACT WITH SORROW, ANGER TO LISTEV'S MURDER. Coverage of
Listev's assassination dominated the Russian press and television on 2
March. All six Russian television channels broadcast Listev's photo from
noon to 7 p.m., the first time Russian programming was so drastically
altered since the death of Communist leader Konstantin Chernenko in
1985, Reuters reported. Russian newspapers of nearly every political
orientation prominently featured tributes to Listev. A headline in
Nezavisimaya gazeta was typical: "Now anything is possible in Russia."
On the same day, Russia's Union of Journalists released an angry
statement, complaining that while political figures try to put more
restrictions on the press, "Not a single journalist's murder has been
fully investigated," Interfax reported. Eduard Salagaev, chairman of
Russia's private TV Channel 6, demanded the immediate resignation of the
heads of Russia's "power ministries" (interior, defense, and FSK).
Russian TV chairman Poptsov told Interfax that Russia's journalists must
unite to save the country from further catastrophe: "We hold the key to
society's conscience and we will either wake it up or will die along
with it." -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

LISTEV KILLED FOR FINANCIAL GAIN . . . Russian observers are divided on
whether financial or political motives lie behind Listev's murder.
Yeltsin's spokesman, Vyacheslav Kostikov, told reporters on 2 March that
Listev's "contract killing" was connected to "disorder in the
advertising sector, which is probably controlled by the mafia." Russia's
Choice leader Yegor Gaidar suggested on Ekho Moskvy that Listev "crossed
the path of someone whose income was based on the illegal sale of
advertising time." On 1 March, Ostankino TV chairman Alexander Yakovlev
had estimated that Ostankino's new rules on advertising would have cost
unnamed "moguls" at least 30 billion rubles ($6.6 million) a month. The
State Duma press and information committee chairman Mikhail Poltoranin
said the November 1994 reorganization of Ostankino Channel One into
Russian Public Television Ostankino was "a hastily planned adventure,"
Interfax reported on 2 March. He added, "The old mafia around Ostankino
will not give up such a juicy morsel as channel one without blood." --
Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

.  .  .  OR FOR POLITICAL REASONS? Other observers suggested that
Listev's assassination was politically motivated. After first blaming
those who would have suffered financially from the advertising rules,
Yakovlev changed his tune on 2 March, telling Yeltsin that "ultimately
this was a political murder." Vsevolod Bogdanov, chairman of the Union
of Journalists, also linked the killing to a battle for "influence" in
Russian society. Sergei Gryzunov, chairman of the Russian State Press
Committee, whose dismissal was suspended by President Yeltsin on 28
February, told Interfax that Listev's murder "has nothing to do with
criminal activity" but is connected to recent attempts to restrict press
freedoms, as well as Russia's upcoming election campaign. Meanwhile,
others expressed fears that politicians will use the atmosphere of
crisis following Listev's murder to consolidate power. Alexander Lisin,
editor of Vechernaya Moskva, believes the assassination will be
"profitable to those who want to impose a state of emergency in Russia
and extend the powers of the State Duma and President Yeltsin
indefinitely." Television director Nikolai Svanidze told viewers of the
Commonwealth television network, "There will be elections and people
will follow the first bastard to say, 'I will restore order, I will
defend you.' And we, like a flock of frightened sheep, will choose a
wolf to protect us and he will use us for his own purposes." -- Laura
Belin, OMRI, Inc.

GRACHEV ON CHECHNYA OPERATIONS. On 2 March, Krasnaya zvezda printed a
long extract from Defense Minister Pavel Grachev's 28 February report to
the armed forces leadership on the operations in Chechnya. In it, he
described what he believed to be a well-planned operation that went awry
because of unseen circumstances, but also because of a number of serious
shortcomings in performance, training, organization, and equipment. As a
result, the advance on Grozny, which was planned for a three-day period,
took 16 days to complete. Additional reinforcements had to be called in
before northern Grozny could be seized, and this stage took 20 days to
complete rather than the allotted four. Specific shortcomings included
poor cooperation between the military, interior troops, border troops,
and Federal Intelligence service personnel, and even between different
branches of the army, officers poorly trained in the command and control
of lower units, the poor combat effectiveness of rocket artillery and
reconnaissance equipment, and poor troop education and motivation.
Grachev explained that the reinforcing units had to be formed with
inputs from many military districts because no single unit was fully
manned and equipped. In the future, he said, every district should have
one or two fully deployable divisions and two or three combat brigades.
-- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

ELECTION PLANNING UNDER WAY. All legislation necessary for electing
local legislatures will be ready by December, State Duma Speaker Ivan
Rybkin told Interfax on 2 March. Rybkin urged legislators to speed up
the process because the electoral laws must be published at least four
months before voting can take place. He also said the electoral law for
the State Duma must be adopted and signed by the president by 12 August,
in preparation for the December elections. It will be submitted for its
second reading in March. According to Nezavisimaya gazeta of 1 March,
the current Duma version calls for 225 deputies to be elected by party
list, which is more than Yeltsin is willing to accept. Additionally, the
Federation Council confirmed four of the five members proposed by
Russia's regions and republics to the Central Electoral Commission,
which will oversee the parliamentary and presidential elections, Russian
TV reported on 2 March. The Duma and the president also will propose
five candidates each to the 15-member body. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI,
Inc.

DEMOCRATIC RUSSIA SEEKS ALLIES. The Democratic Russia Party is ready to
work with any democratic groups in the elections, party co-chairman Lev
Ponomarev told Interfax on 2 March. The Yabloko group has already
rejected ties to the party because Democratic Russia refused to denounce
Yeltsin's use of tanks against the Russian White House in October 1993.
Ponomarev said he supports the president's efforts to reduce the number
of deputies elected on party lists because he believes voters are not
mature enough to sort out party programs and instead vote for
personalities. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

KOZYREV PRAISES SINO-RUSSIAN RELATIONS. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei
Kozyrev is particularly enthusiastic about the state of Sino-Russian
relations, ITAR-TASS reported on 2 March. "There is every reason to
think that the last five years of this century and the start of the next
millennium will be marked by unprecedented stability, benevolence, and
neighborly relations between the great states which are Russia and
China," he said. Deng Rong, the daughter of Deng Xiao Ping, said the
Chinese leadership places considerable significance on Russia's
reaffirmation of the 1991 border deal, Interfax reported. Kozyrev
discussed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty with the Chinese and
cited the need for further cooperation. He also defended Russia's
nuclear deal with Iran. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

CHERNOMYRDIN SHOPS FOR INVESTMENT, TRADE. Russian Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin ended two days of talks in Britain on 2 March, Reuters and
AFP reported. He told British officials that economic reform will not be
derailed and that he thinks Russia will conclude an IMF deal within the
next 10 days. He said Russia is currently receiving $4 billion of
foreign capital a year, but it could easily absorb up to three times as
much. "The scope of potential operations is limitless," he said,
stressing that "attracting foreign capital is certainly of major
importance in pursuing our economic reforms." He signed a memorandum on
2 March to set up a framework for attracting foreign investors, Interfax
reported. Chernomyrdin said he thinks oil pipelines, power stations, and
automobile factories are particularly good areas for foreign investment.
-- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIA TO SELL BLOCKS OF SHARES OF PRIVATIZED ENTERPRISES. Russia will
sell 15-20% blocks of highly efficient privatized industrial enterprises
at money auctions beginning in late spring, according to Alexander
Braverman, the head of the Russian State Property Committee's consulting
group, the Financial Information Agency reported on 2 March. The federal
government expects to receive 9.13 trillion rubles (4,531 rubles/$1)
from such sales. More than 70% of the sales are expected to come from
oil and gas enterprises. Unsold shares of LUKoil and Yukos, Russia's
largest oil companies, will be sold at the auctions. Braverman said the
State Property Committee is drafting decisions concerning the early sale
of government shares in transport, machine-building, chemical, and
timber enterprises. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

NATO MAJOR PROBLEM IN RUSSIA RELATIONS WITH WESTERN EUROPE. Russian
Deputy Foreign Minister Nikolai Afanasyevsky said European security
cannot be assured without taking Russia into account, Interfax reported
on 2 March. He said, "All problems connected with relations between
Russia and Western Europe are centered on NATO," and added NATO and
Russia must develop a mechanism to consult on major security issues. He
said NATO expansion would have been more acceptable had it occurred in
the context of an overall revision of European security. He stressed the
importance of the OSCE, given that Russia and other countries that are
not represented in other European institutions, work on equitable
conditions within it. -- 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
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