We are so bound together that no man can labor for himself alone. Each blow he strikes in his own behalf helps to mold the universe. - K. Jerome
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 46, Part I, 6 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

CRIME CONTROL DEBATED FOLLOWING LISTEV'S MURDER. In the wake of the
murder of Vladislav Listev, the Security Council is meeting on 6 March
to discuss ways to tackle organized crime and corruption, which even
President Boris Yeltsin has acknowledged is pervasive in Russian
political and economic life, agencies reported. Yeltsin has also urged
the State Duma to quickly approve the draft law on organized crime,
scheduled to receive its third reading later in March, according to a 3
March RFE/RL correspondent's report. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

YELTSIN TO LET PONOMAREV STAY? According to NTV, quoting unnamed Kremlin
sources, President Yeltsin has decided to let Moscow Prosecutor Gennady
Ponomarev and Moscow MVD chief Vladimir Pankratov -- who were dismissed
following Listev's assassination -- stay on if they meet an unspecified
deadline for solving the case. In a 2 March speech, Yeltsin had blamed
Ponomarev for failing to stop the mafia's growing power in Moscow.
Meanwhile, employees of the Moscow Prosecutor's Office held a meeting on
3 March to protest Ponomarev's imminent dismissal, Interfax reported. In
a message to Yeltsin and parliamentary leaders, the prosecutor's office
employees said that firing Ponomarev "will not only fail to help the
[Listev] investigation, but will play into the hands of the forces
destabilizing legal order." Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov called Yeltsin's
order an emotional reaction to the killing, because firing Ponomarev
would only be welcomed by gangsters, Interfax reported on 4 March. Duma
deputies of various political orientations have defended Ponomarev,
charging that he has been made into a scapegoat for the journalist's
assassination and other problems in the prosecutor's office. Ponomarev
himself was not present at his colleagues' protest, but has said that
after crimes such as Listev's murder, "someone" should resign. -- Penny
Morvant and Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

THOUSANDS ATTEND LISTEV FUNERAL. Many of Russia's top political figures,
including Yeltsin's chief of staff Sergei Filatov, First Deputy Premier
Oleg Soskovets, and Duma Deputy Speaker Artur Chilingarov, attended
Listev's funeral, Interfax reported on 3 March. The public funeral was
held at Ostankino's concert studio, and the line of people wishing to
pay their last respects to the popular television journalist stretched
for two kilometers outside the building. The funeral had to be postponed
for several hours after an anonymous caller threatened to blow up the
studio. (No bomb was found on the premises.) Listev was buried next to
the legendary Russian folk singer Vladimir Vysotsky at Moscow's
Vagankovo Cemetery. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

CHECHEN ROUNDUP. Talks in Ingushetia between Chechen military leaders
and Russia's administrator for Chechnya, Nikolai Semenov, on
implementing a conditional ceasefire agreement failed to take place as
arranged on 4 March, Western agencies reported. An Ingush official told
Interfax that Russian commanders had prevented the Chechen delegation
from attending. Meanwhile Russian troops strengthened their hold over
southern Chechnya on 3 March and on 4-5 March intensified artillery
bombardment of the towns of Samashki and Argun where Chechen forces are
concentrated, Western agencies reported. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIA HINDERS OSCE MISSION. An OSCE diplomat has accused Russia of
hindering the organization's latest mission to Chechnya, AFP reported on
3 March. He said, "The mission was taken for a ride" by the Russians.
The mission could not travel to Dagestan or Igushetia to investigate the
refugee situation there. The OSCE press release stated, "The mission's
findings confirmed the seriousness of the human rights situation. It
also confirmed that the most urgent problems are the distribution of
relief goods and [Red Cross] access to Chechnya, the security of the
civilian population, and refugee problems. The mission believes the
fundamental issue remains a negotiated ceasefire as the condition for
any substantial improvement." -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

GENERAL WHO HALTED ADVANCE IS PROMOTED. The commanding officer of the
76th Guards Airborne Division, Maj.-Gen. Ivan Babichev, has been
promoted to head an army corps, ITAR-TASS reported on 3 March. Babichev
gained notoriety last December during the Russian attack on Grozny by
halting the column he was leading when confronted by Chechen civilians.
Western agencies reported him as saying he would not fire on civilians
and telling the crowd that the military operation violated the
constitution. Babichev, however, soon ordered his troops to continue
their advance, and played a key role in the capture of Grozny. -- Doug
Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

ARMY BACK IN COMMAND OF FORCES IN CHECHNYA. Col.-Gen. Anatoly Kvashin,
the newly-appointed commander of the North Caucasus Military District,
has been placed in command of the Russian armed forces in Chechnya,
ITAR-TASS reported on 3 March, quoting a spokesman at the press center
of the joint federal forces headquarters. On 1 February, the post had
been turned over to General Alexander Kulikov, commander of the Russian
Interior Troops. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

RADIO STATION EMPLOYEE KILLED IN PRIMORSKY KRAI. The body of radio
engineer Igor Kaverin was found on the morning of 3 March in Primorsky
Krai, Interfax reported. He was an employee of Free Nakhodka. Police
said he was shot at point blank range and that they are seeking three
23- to 25-year-old men as the suspected assassins. Kaverin's murder is
the second serious crime against media personnel in the Primorsky Krai
in the last six months. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

DEMOCRATIC LEADERS CONCERNED ABOUT ELECTIONS. Boris Fedorov, leader of
the new Forward Russia party, called for a congress of democratic forces
to work out common election tactics and agree on forming a coalition
government after the elections, Interfax reported. Fedorov said he has
long supported such a congress because a split in the democrats on the
eve of the elections could lead to the restoration of dictatorship.
Yegor Gaidar, Russia's Choice leader, has also called for such a
coalition on numerous occasions. Speaking in Omsk on 3 March, Gaidar
said he is worried about the elections and that it is difficult to
predict their outcome, since "Russia has come to reconsider its
priorities every now and then." -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

CHINA TO BUY MORE RUSSIAN SUBMARINES. China has agreed to buy six
Russian Kilo-class diesel powered submarines in addition to four others
it recently acquired, the Hong Kong South Morning Post reported on 4
March. The paper quoted Beijing sources as saying the two countries had
also finished preliminary discussions on the Chinese purchase of an
additional 12 Russian submarines during the next five years. Western
officials had voiced concern after the first submarine sale that Russia
was upsetting the naval balance in the region. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI,
Inc.

FOOD CRISIS MUST BE RESOLVED. The Russian food crisis must be resolved
immediately, Deputy Premier Alexei Bolshakov told Interfax on 3 March.
Bolshakov said the government was taking all necessary measures to
create a steady supply of food, develop a network of wholesale food
markets, and restore relations with the CIS countries. According to
Russian Trade Committee statistics, the production of meat fell 25% in
1994 against 1993, dairy products by 17%, butter by 33%, sugar by 36%,
and flour by 14%. The agricultural sector is unable to meet the
consumption needs of the population. As a result, the Ministry of
Foreign Economic Relations reported the nation had to import three times
more meat and fish in 1994 than in 1993, 4.3 times more poultry, and two
times more milk powder. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

YELTSIN WON'T VISIT AUSTRIA. The Russian ambassador to Austria, Valery
Popov, announced on 3 March that President Yeltsin will not visit
Austria in April as previously planned, Reuters reported. Popov said
Yeltsin would be too busy for a visit in April. The Austrian president
had invited Yeltsin, along with leaders of the US, Britain, and France,
to Vienna to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the
second Austrian republic. However, Russia had come under fire from
Austrian politicians over Chechnya and its demand that Austria reaffirm
its neutral status. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

GENERAL GROMOV IN JAPAN. In his first trip as the Foreign Ministry's
military expert, Deputy Defense Minister Col.-Gen. Boris Gromov took
part in the first high-level bilateral military talks between Russia and
Japan on 3 March in Tokyo, ITAR-TASS reported. Gromov was a member of
the delegation led by Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev. Gromov said
Russia had offered Japan a long list of cooperative measures, including
invitations to military exercises, personnel exchanges, aircraft
overflights, and joint naval maneuvers and port visits. He said the main
purpose of those initiatives was to "contribute, with due account of our
agreements with the United States and China, to the . . . security of
the Asia-Pacific region." -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

KOZYREV: DISCUSSES KOREA, CHECHNYA IN JAPAN. During his visit to Japan
on 3-4 March, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev said Russia should
supply light-water nuclear reactors to North Korea as part of a program
to allow inspections of its nuclear facilities, ITAR-TASS reported on 4
March. North Korea has rejected the proposal that South Korea supply the
reactors. Meanwhile, Japanese Foreign Minister Yohei Kono told Kozyrev
that Japan will provide $500,000 to Russia for assistance to Chechen
refugees. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

CENTRAL ASIAN STATES MEET OVER ARAL CRISIS. At a one-day summit in
Dashkhovua, Turkmenistan to discuss ways to alleviate the shrinking of
the Aral Sea, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev chided the other
Central Asian states for a lack of effort, Reuters reported on 3 March.
He said the international community has done its part, but that Central
Asia has only paid 15% of its capital pledge into a fund for saving the
Aral Sea. He noted that Kazakhstan has paid 30% of its initial pledge,
Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan 2%, and Turkmenistan and Tajikistan nothing at
all. The meeting was to have been held at the CIS summit last month, but
was put off because Turkmenistan's President Saparmural Niyazov failed
to show up. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

CEASEFIRE EXTENDED IN TAJIKISTAN. Representatives of the Tajik
opposition, the UN, and the OSCE held talks in Islamabad on 3 March to
discuss the venue for the fourth round of UN sponsored talks on a
settlement of the civil war, a Radio Liberty correspondent reported. In
a 3 March interview with Interfax, the head of the Tajik opposition
Islamic Revival Movement, Akbar Turadzhonzoda, said he did not recognize
the 27 February elections as valid. He denied aspiring to seize power in
Tajikistan and proposed that power be transferred to a new state council
representing both the present leadership and the opposition. On 4 March,
Turadzhonzoda sent a letter to the UN announcing that the ceasefire
agreed to in September 1994 would be extended until 26 April, AFP
reported on 4 March. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

MKHEDRIONI STRIKES AGAIN. Georgian parliament chairman Eduard
Shevardnadze has demanded "severe punishment" for some 200 members of
the paramilitary organization Mkhedrioni who briefly occupied the
mayor's office in Rustavi on 3 March, Interfax reported on 5 March. The
group was protesting planned measures to prevent the illegal extortion
of motor vehicle drivers in transit through southern Georgia to Armenia
and Azerbaijan. Mkhedrioni is reportedly deeply involved in the
extortion. Shevardnadze stated that such actions undermine Georgia's
statehood and could jeopardize parliamentary elections scheduled for
autumn 1995. On 2 March, the Tbilisi deputy police chief was shot dead
by a subordinate, according to AFP. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

CIS

FIRST STEP TOWARDS CIS AIR DEFENSE SYSTEM. Georgian parliament chairman
Eduard Shevardnadze held talks in Tbilisi with the chairman of the CIS
Committee on Air Defense, Col.-Gen. Viktor Prudnikov, on 4 March,
Interfax reported. They discussed how to develop the Georgian air
defense system in light of an agreement reached at the CIS summit in
February. The Georgian Defense Ministry said earlier that the Georgian
air defense system had fallen apart after the Russians left and much of
the equipment was stolen. -- 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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Digest, OMRI, Na Strzi 63, 14062 Prague 4, Czech Republic or send e-mail
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