The fool wonders, the wise man asks. - Benjamin Disraeli
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 53, Part I, 15 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.

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RUSSIA

STANDOFF BETWEEN FEDERAL AND MOSCOW AUTHORITIES CONTINUES. Moscow Mayor
Yury Luzhkov has rejected the candidacy of Oleg Gaidanov for the post of
Moscow city prosecutor. Prosecutor General Alexei Ilyushenko had
nominated Gaidanov to replace Gennady Ponomarev, who was sacked
following the murder of TV journalist Vladislav Listev. Luzhkov is
appealing the dismissals of Ponomarev and Moscow police chief Vladimir
Pankratov to the Constitutional Court, on the grounds that the federal
government must first consult Moscow authorities before firing city
officials. Luzhkov told Moscow TV on 14 March that the "powerful
political attack" on the city's authorities resembled "theater of the
absurd," for which Listev's murder was only a "pretext." Luzhkov also
said the Russian government had refused to release funds allocated to
Moscow, which is tantamount to an "economic blockade" of the city.
Luzhkov denied having presidential aspirations and described his
relations with Yeltsin as "excellent," Interfax reported. He blamed
Yeltsin's security service, led by Alexander Korzhakov, for causing the
confrontation, NTV reported. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

CHERNOMYRDIN ENDORSES DRAFT CHECHNYA PEACE PLAN. Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin has given his written approval to a five-stage peace plan
for Chechnya, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai informed the
conference "Peace Initiative in Chechnya" in Moscow on 14 March,
Interfax and AFP reported. The plan envisages a cessation of military
operations; humanitarian actions; talks on a cease-fire conducted by a
Russian-Chechen military commission that will also include Russian Human
Rights Commissioner Sergei Kovalev and Ingush President Ruslan Aushev; a
formal peace settlement on the basis of talks at the republican and
local levels; elections to a new Chechen parliament; and the conclusion
of a power-sharing treaty between Russia and Chechnya "similar to that
signed between Russia and Tatarstan." Shakhrai also stated that Yeltsin
is about to announce a new Chechen peace initiative, according to AFP.
-- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

TRADE UNION FEDERATION PROPOSES NATIONWIDE PROTEST. The Russian
Federation of Independent Trade Unions proposed on 13 March that its
members consider staging a nationwide day of protest against falling
living standards, Interfax reported the following day. Alexei Surikov,
federation deputy chairman, said the protest, provisionally called for
12 April, could vary in form from region to region and industry to
industry. He also said the federation, through its electoral
association, Unions of Russia, intends to nominate candidates for the
upcoming legislative elections independently and enter into alliances
with political parties and movements, such as the Communists, Agrarians,
and the Socialist Workers' Party. Meanwhile, Ekho Moskvy reported on 13
March that trade unions in Primorsky Krai plan to hold rallies on 27
April to protest against the "critical" economic situation in the
region. They will call for the resignation of the government and early
presidential elections. -- Penny Morvant

YELTSIN APPOINTS NEW PRESS SECRETARY. President Yeltsin appointed
television journalist Sergei Medvedev, 37, as his new press secretary,
replacing Vyacheslav Kostikov who will now become Moscow's ambassador to
the Vatican, Reuters and Interfax reported on 14 March. Medvedev said
his most pressing tasks will be to keep Yeltsin in touch with the
outside world and establish better relations between the president's
team and the media. Medvedev was the first television reporter to
publicize Yeltsin's resistance to the August 1991 coup and was
instrumental in summoning people to the White House to counter a hard-
line takeover. More recently, he has been the host of the political news
program "News Plus" on Ostankino. His appointment is a clear attempt to
bolster Yeltsin's image before the June 1996 presidential election.
Kostikov, who held the job since 1992, is famous for his savage attacks
on Yeltsin's political opponents during the president's confrontation
with parliament in 1993. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIA TO EXPORT 2 MILLION TONS OF ALUMINUM. First Deputy Economics
Minister Yakov Urinson told a cabinet meeting that Russia intends to
export about 2 million tons of aluminum in 1995, Interfax reported on 14
March. Urinson said rising prices and Russia's position as a leading
producer of aluminum should make 1995 a favorable year for exporting the
metal. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

CURRENCY DEMAND INCREASES ALMOST 150%. Initial demand for currency at
MICEX trading on 14 March was $192.71 million, up $110.82 million or
almost $150% from 13 March trading, the Financial Information Agency
reported. Supply was at $168.87 million. The ruble fell 28 points
against the dollar to 4,723 rubles. According to the dealers, when the
rate reached 4,722 rubles to $1 the Central Bank sold $1 million. When
the ruble fell to 4,723 rubles to $1, the bank continued selling, first
$1 million, then $15 million, and finally $6.83 million which brought
its total intervention to $23.83 million, $9.83 million more than in 13
March trading. Commercial banks were not very active and withdrew
$10,000 from sale. Dealers told the news agencies that the dollar's
slowdown on the inter-bank market is related to the accumulation of
rubles for the upcoming auction of treasury bonds. -- Thomas Sigel,
OMRI, Inc.

LUKIN: DEAL ON CFE FLANK LIMITS WOULD FACILITATE NATO EASTWARD
EXPANSION. State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Vladimir Lukin
said in a 14 March interview with Nezavisimaya Gazeta that lifting the
flank limits in the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty would
facilitate an agreement with NATO on eastward expansion. He said if
"Russia is allowed to deploy its armed forces as it wishes, then NATO
approaching our borders will not be so dangerous." He also questioned
the value of the START-2 treaty given the "very bad geopolitical
situation" in which Russia finds itself. He said Russia should form
alliances with its immediate neighbors and that progress in that regard
has already been made with Belarus. He added that he thought "Ukraine
will soon find itself in a precarious situation. We should explain to
our Ukrainian friends that all talk about Western aid is a trifle
compared to the consequences they will have to face when they find
themselves outside a collective security system." -- Michael Mihalka,
OMRI, Inc.

AFTERMATH 0F MISSILE ACCIDENT IN VORONEZH OBLAST. The governor of
Voronezh Oblast has sent a letter to Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin
stating that if the Buturlin air force testing range is not closed, the
local public are likely to stage protests, Izvestiya reported on 15
March. A missile launched during a training flight over the range on 10
March went out of control and exploded close to a village and the
Novovoronezh nuclear power station. A special commission is
investigating the accident, and residents have been assured that no
further flights will take place until the government determines the fate
of the range. Noting that the authorities made no statement about the
accident until 13 March, three days after it took place, Izvestiya drew
parallels with the official reaction to the Chornobyl disaster in 1986.
-- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

KOZYREV: "NO FUNDAMENTAL CHANGES" IN RUSSIAN FOREIGN POLICY. Foreign
Minister Andrei Kozyrev announced there would be "no fundamental
changes" in Russian foreign policy after a meeting of senior ministry
officials with President Yeltsin, Ostankino TV reported. The meeting had
been put off several times for "technical reasons." Kozyrev added that
the Russian leadership was "unanimous" in objecting to "any hasty and
reckless expansion of NATO," which is the "main obstacle" obstructing
Russia's partnership with the alliance. RIA reported that Yeltsin wants
the ministry to conduct better strategic analysis which should improve
its coordination with other federal offices. He also said it should pay
more attention to the needs of ethnic Russians living abroad. -- Michael
Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

SOLZHENITSYN: RUSSIA BECOMING A "COLONY" OF THE WEST. Nobel prize-
winning author Alexander Solzhenitsyn charged that Russia is letting
itself become an "ideological colony" of the West, during a 13 March
interview with Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Vladimir Lukin on
Russian TV. Solzhenitsyn claimed that Russia has pursued a foreign
policy of "infantilism" in recent years and singled out Radio Liberty,
an "ambiguous organization," for conducting "direct interference in our
affairs." While admitting that RL "was once irreplaceable," he said
Russians no longer need the service and claimed the U.S. Congress now
uses it to promote Siberian separatism. Solzhenitsyn said Russia also
needs to boost its "ideological defense" against scientific and cultural
grants from the Soros Foundation, as well as American trade unions, U.S.
government-funded organizations to promote democracy, and various
Western charities that use the Russian media to undermine Orthodoxy. --
Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

COUP UNDERWAY IN AZERBAIJAN. Azerbaijani government troops surrounded
the headquarters of the OMON special police near Baku, ITAR-TASS and
Interfax reported on 15 March. Fighting between government troops and
OMON forces is reported elsewhere in the country. Deputy Interior
Minister Rovshan Dzhavadov has reportedly called for the resignation of
President Heidar Aliev and the Azerbaijani government, charging that
they have brought the country to the verge of ruin. Aliev's whereabouts
are unknown. Aliev had cancelled a scheduled visit to Pakistan to attend
the ECO heads of state meeting after an incident on 13 March when OMON
forces occupied two towers in northern Azerbaijan. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI,
Inc.

TAJIK OPPOSITION LEADER READY TO TALK AS VIOLENCE CONTINUES. Sa'id
Abdullo Nuri, leader of the Islamic Revival Movement based in
Tajikistan, has indicated he is ready to hold talks with Tajik President
Emomali Rakhmanov "at any time and at any place," Interfax reported on
14 March. Nuri, who was speaking to General Hassan Abasa, head of the UN
military observers in Tajikistan, added that the opposition "will not
initiate any combat operations on the Tajik-Afghan border this Spring."
However, talk of peace did not prevent six masked gunmen from kidnapping
and executing Zainiddin Mukhiddinov, a newly-elected member of the Tajik
parliament. Meanwhile, three Tajiks, described by the chief of the Tajik
Foreign Ministry section Zafar Saidov as militants, were fired upon as
they tried to cross into Tajikistan from Afghanistan. Saidov told
Interfax that one of them was killed and the other two fled back to
Afghanistan. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.

MEMBERS OF DISSOLVED KAZAKH PARLIAMENT MEET. On 14 March, 130 of the
former Kazakh parliament's 177 deputies met and decided to continue
working, Interfax reported. They requested that the UN and other
international organizations send independent experts to assess the
legality of recent events. President Nursultan Nazarbaev dissolved
parliament on 11 March after a Constitutional Court verdict. The
deputies are disputing the verdict, claiming that it refers to only one
electoral district and that the court ruling has not taken effect
because it has not been published or sent to any government institution.
-- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.

CIS

CIS SECRET SERVICE CHIEFS MEET. The heads of the CIS secret services are
scheduled to meet in Moscow on 15 March to discuss ways of cooperating
in their fight against crime, Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported. Federal
Counterintelligence Service department head Yuri Demin said the aim of
the conference is to develop an alliance among the secret services which
have so far only cooperated on a bilateral basis. He suggested that
Interpol is a good model for multilateral cooperation that would save
money and increase effectiveness. Demin dismissed the notion that such
an arrangement would lead to the resurrection of the KGB, insisting that
cooperation will focus only on those crimes which threaten national
security including terrorism, money laundering, corruption, smuggling,
and sabotage of strategic installations. Each service will retain its
independence. -- 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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