The greatest happiness is to know the source of unhappiness. - Dostoevsky
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 51, Part I, 13 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

DUMA REMOVES KOVALEV AS HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSIONER. The State Duma, which
appointed Sergei Kovalev Human Rights Commissioner in January 1994, has
voted to remove him, Interfax reported on 10 March. Sergei Baburin's
nationalist Russian Way group proposed the motion, which passed by a
vote of 240 to 75 with three abstentions. Kovalev, a member of the
Russia's Choice group, was named 1994 Man of the Year by Izvestiya for
exposing official disinformation on the violence in Chechnya. However,
Kovalev's critics complained that his anti-war stance increased
international pressure on Russia. Russia's Choice issued a statement
saying the vote placed the Duma on the same moral level as the Communist
regime that imprisoned Kovalev in 1974 for his defense of human rights,
Russian TV reported on 10 March. On the same day, Kovalev told Russian
TV he was not "distressed" by the Duma vote, saying, "I have a higher
mandate." -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

MORE FALLOUT FROM LISTEV INVESTIGATION. Boris Uvarov, the chief
investigator in the case of the assassination of television journalist
Vladislav Listev, said two prime suspects have been cleared after being
identified as repairmen who had worked on Listev's apartment, Interfax
reported on 12 March. But Russian Deputy Prosecutor General Oleg
Gaidanov insisted, "We are more and more certain we will find the
killers," AFP reported. Meanwhile, Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov told the
newspaper Trud that the dismissals of Moscow head Prosecutor Gennady
Ponomarev and Moscow police chief Vladimir Pankratov were a
"misunderstanding" that would be canceled by executive order or reversed
in court. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIA PROPOSES NONAGGRESSION PACT WITH NATO. Russia is proposing a non-
aggression pact with NATO if the alliance decides to expand eastward,
The Washington Post reported on 11 March. One U.S. official said the
proposal is yet another sign that Russia has changed its unequivocal
opposition to NATO expansion. However, details of a possible pact remain
unclear. The Russian ambassador to the U.S., Yuri Vorontsov, said Russia
would ask for "guarantees that NATO is not directed against us." He
added that a mutual nonaggression pact could form the basis of those
guarantees and take effect when NATO admits new members. -- Michael
Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

CHECHNYA ROUNDUP. On 10 March, Chechen forces repulsed a mass Russian
attack on the town of Argun, east of Grozny, Russian and Western
agencies reported. On 12 March, Russian planes bombed Argun after the
expiry of an 11 March ultimatum calling on Chechen defenders in Argun,
Shali, and Gudermes to surrender within 24 hours, according to AFP. In a
statement issued by Interfax on 10 March, the head of the Moscow-based
Chechen government of national trust, Yaragi Mamodaev, advocated a 45-
day ceasefire beginning on 15 March during which time his government
would conduct a survey to determine whether the Chechen population
desired complete independence from Russia. In a commentary published in
The Washington Post on 10 March, Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev
denied that he was seeking "complete independence" and affirmed his
readiness for negotiations with Russia on a solution to the conflict
"based on international law." He called for an immediate unconditional
ceasefire, internationally mediated negotiations between the Russian and
Chechen governments, and new parliamentary and presidential elections in
Chechnya later this year. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

BOIKO LEAVES LEADERSHIP OF DEMOCRATIC CHOICE. Oleg Boiko, president of
the Olbi firm and the chairman of the board of directors of the National
Credit Bank, resigned as executive committee chairman of Russia's
Democratic Choice, Yegor Gaidar told the party's council on 11 March,
Russian TV reported. Boiko resigned because he disagreed with the
party's criticism of Yeltsin's policy in Chechnya. Also at the council
meeting, Sergei Yushenkov, the State Duma defense committee chairman,
said the party should end its close relationship with Yeltsin and become
a completely independent political party that supports Gaidar for
president. Gaidar has not announced his intentions yet. The party called
for the resignation of the power ministers and constitutional amendments
regulating the activity of the Security Council and the president's
security service. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

MARYCHEV LEAVES LDP. Questioning the mental competence of his leader,
Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Duma member Vyacheslav Marychev announced his
withdrawal from the Liberal Democratic Party's parliamentary bloc on 10
March , Interfax reported. On the same day, the party's press office
published a statement expelling him for "breaching faction discipline
and incompetence in legislative activities" as well as his "constant
buffoonery" in the parliament. Marychev had been the party's point man
in St. Petersburg and one of Zhirinovsky's top advisers. -- Robert
Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA VOTES NO CONFIDENCE IN YERIN AND ILYUSHENKO. The Duma passed a vote
of no confidence in Interior Minister Viktor Yerin and acting Prosecutor
General Alexei Ilyushenko because of their failure to tackle the crime
wave, Russian media reported on 10 March. The motion was proposed by
Russia's Choice and the Communist Party. It is unlikely to result in the
resignation of Yerin or Ilyushenko, as both men have the support of
President Boris Yeltsin. Commenting on the vote, Alexei Manannikov,
deputy chairman of the Federation Council foreign affairs committee,
said he was surprised that the Duma had not expressed a lack of
confidence in Federal Counterintelligence Service Director Sergei
Stepashin or Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, who are responsible for the
operation in Chechnya, Segodnya reported on 11 March. Another council
member, Viktor Kurochkin, said "the power ministers must be put on
trial--not over [Vladislav] Listev's death but over Chechnya." -- Penny
Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

GDP DROPS 47% OVER LAST FOUR YEARS. Russia's GDP dropped 47% over the
past four years, according to a government report prepared for the
United Nation's Anti-Poverty Summit in Copenhagen, Interfax and AFP
reported on 11 March. Industrial output fell by half and agricultural
production dropped 25%. The report attributed the sharp decline to "new
conditions under the market economy and the inability of most Russians
to adapt to it rapidly." -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

ONE BILLION DOLLARS AT STAKE. Russia will lose up to $1 billion if it
fails to finance new communication satellites on time and will be forced
to purchase Western satellites and equipment, Russian Space Agency
general director Yuri Koptev told Interfax on 10 March. If satellites
are not replaced, Koptev said Russia would have only one operational
satellite in 1996. Currently, six of the 10 Gorizont communication
satellites are already out of service. In 1995, three new systems and
one Express satellite must be put in space while one Ekran satellite
will be replaced. Meanwhile, 80-85% of the ground infrastructures,
including 7,000 relay stations for TV Channel 1 and more than 4,000
relay stations for Channel 2, can operate only in conjunction with
domestic communication satellites. Koptev said the use of foreign
satellites would require replacing part of the ground equipment, thus
increasing expenses. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

TATAR NATIONALIST PARTY OPPOSES  REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP. Fauziya
Bairamova, the leader of the Tatar Party of National Independence
Ittifak, said her organization will switch to hard-line opposition to
President Mintimeir Shaymiev, Interfax reported on 10 March. She lost
her race in Naberezhnie Chelny against Rais Belyaev, the former leader
of the local Communist Party, where she ran in the 5 March elections.
"The Tatar people sold me out for packs of tea which were handed out by
certain candidates," she said. Bairamova said seven nationalists went on
a hunger strike to protest the results. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

PROFESSIONALS AND SOLDIERS' MOTHERS TO FORM ANTI-CRIME BLOC. The All-
Russian Association of Independent Professionals chairman Petr Filippov,
Soldiers' Mothers leader Lyubov Lumar, and Economic Analysis Institute
Deputy Director Mikhail Dmitriev announced on 10 March their intention
to set up an electoral association called "Against Crime and
Corruption," Segodnya reported on 11 March. Noting that "corruption in
the judiciary, the replacement of arbitration by gangsters' showdowns,
[and] the penetration of the police by organized crime . . . have
exhausted citizens' patience," they call on all those who support the
rule of law to set aside differences on social and economic policy and
strive together to restore justice in Russia. Filippov argues that the
best way to achieve that goal is to elect professionals to the
parliament who will enact fair and workable legislation on taxation and
commercial practices. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

KAZAKH PRESIDENT DISSOLVES PARLIAMENT. Kazakh President Nursultan
Nazarbaev upheld on 11 March a Constitutional Court decision that
declared the Kazakh Parliament illegitimate. Earlier in the week,
Nazarbaev had vetoed a measure which cited irregularities in the
elections of March 1994. However, at an 11 March news conference, he
said the court's 10 March overruling of his veto is in keeping with the
constitution, according to Interfax. As a result, all power is now
concentrated in the president's hands but Nazarbaev was quick to add
that he will not be a dictator and that human rights will be observed.
Nazarbaev has appointed Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin to head a new
government and has retained the services of the deputy premiers, the
defence, interior, finance, and foreign ministers, as well as the
counterintelligence chief, AFP reported. Nazarbaev said he expects to
hold new elections in 2-3 months. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.

AZERI OIL TO TURKEY VIA GEORGIA BY RAIL? Hayrettin Uzun, General Manager
of Turkey's national pipelines company Botas, said on 7 March that Azeri
oil will be transported both by the railways and the existing pipeline
to Batumi in Georgia and then shipped to Turkey by tankers, pending the
construction of a new pipeline. The arrangement, in which Turkey would
receive oil in return for building part of the pipeline on Turkish
territory, has yet to be finalized, according to EBA Newsletter of 9
March. -- Lowell A. Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

ARMENIAN WOMEN'S GROUP APPEALS AGAINST NEWSPAPER CLOSURE. In an appeal
circulated to delegates at the Copenhagen Conference on Social
Development on 10 March, the Armenian Relief Society protested the
Armenian government's unexplained closure of the women's weekly
newspaper Aragast, according to an RFE/RL correspondent. -- Roland
Eggleston & Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

WIDOW CLAIMS GAMSAKHURDIA WAS MURDERED. Ousted Georgian President Zviad
Gamsakhurdia was shot by his bodyguards on orders from Georgian
parliament chairman Eduard Shevardnadze, according to a Trud interview
with his widow Manana Archvadze-Gamsakhurdia summarized by Reuters on 10
March. When Gamsakhurdia's death was first reported in early January
1994, Archvadze-Gamsakhurdia said her husband had committed suicide. --
Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

CIS

IMF TO MEDIATE IN RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEBT TALKS. The IMF managing director,
Michel Camdessus, said the fund will mediate in the debt talks between
Russia and Ukraine, the Financial Times reported on 13 March. He said
the two standby arrangements concluded with each country in March are
indirectly related and that the IMF must coordinate stabilization
programs for both countries. He added, "We must make sure that in
helping one, we do it in a way which is compatible with the interests of
the other." In order to qualify for a $1.8 billion standby loan from the
IMF, Ukraine must reschedule its $2.5 billion debt with Moscow. --
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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