The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none. - Thomas Carlyle 1975-1881
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 55, Part I, 17 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

YAKOVLEV RESIGNS AS HEAD OF OSTANKINO, CONTINUES AT RUSSIAN PUBLIC
TELEVISION. Alexander Yakovlev resigned as the head of the Ostankino
State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company on 16 March after
fourteen months in office, ITAR-TASS reported. He said he "can no longer
work with demagogues" and criticized the staff for a "lack of
professionalism" and for blocking his attempts to reform the station. The
company is known for widespread corruption in its lucrative advertising
policies. Yako-vlev's resignation came immediately after a group of
employees accused him of incompetence because he had never worked in a
radio or television station, and appears symbolic since he will continue
in his post as managing director of the newly formed Russian Public
Television company, with 49% private investment, which will take over
Ostankino on 1 April. After the reorganization, which is extremely
unpopular among the employees, Ostankino will be a production company and
Russian Public Television will take over broadcasting responsibilities,
giving it the power to accept or reject Ostankino's programming, AFP
reported. Yakovlev also leads the recently-formed Party of Social
Democracy, which has close links to Yeltsin. His simultaneous leadership
of both the station and the party will make him one of the most powerful
players in the parliamentary and presidential electoral campaigns.
-- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

GRYZUNOV TO SUE GOVERNMENT NEWSPAPER. Sergei Gry-zunov, the State Press
Committee chairman, plans to sue Rossiiskaya gazeta, a state-funded organ
of the Russian executive branch, over a 14 March article that accused
Gryzunov of misappropriating 678.8 billion rubles allocated for press
subsidies and using the money for the press committee's internal budget
instead, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported. Gryzunov denied the allegations
and told Ekho Moskvy that Rossiiskaya gazeta's main goal is "not to allow
a financial-management audit of this publication," which the press
committee had begun under Gryzunov's leadership. On 27 February, Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin announced that Gryzunov would be sacked
after serving as press committee chairman for five months. President
Yeltsin suspended the dismissal the next day after editors-in-chief of
nearly every major newspaper signed an open letter defending Gryzunov.
The 14 March Rossiiskaya gazeta article charged that all the signatories
had benefited from Gryzunov's favoritism in allocating funds to
newspapers. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

FEDOROV: FINANCIAL GROUPS HOLD REAL POWER IN RUSSIA. Boris Fedorov,
former finance minister and leader of the "Forward, Russia!" movement,
told a group of young politicians in Yekaterinburg that eight financial
companies in Moscow wield real power in Russia, Radio Mayak reported on
16 March. Fedorov refused to name the eight companies, but he said their
activities run counter to the public interest, and that "someone" profits
from Russia's high crime rate. His remarks were likely aimed at the eight
companies backing the new Duma faction Stability, which supports Yeltsin
and opposes holding parliamentary elections scheduled for December 1995.
On 16 March, Interfax quoted Fedorov as stating in Yekaterinburg that he
will not run for president in 1996, because "I do not want to try on the
tsar's crown." In a 17 March interview with Nezavisimaya gazeta, Fedorov
said he still believes in rapid economic reform, and that his movement
stands for moving toward "world civilization, a normal standard of
living, and order." -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

YELTSIN URGES CLINTON TO ATTEND VE-DAY CELEBRATIONS. President Boris
Yeltsin has urged U.S. President Bill Clinton to attend VE-Day
celebrations in Moscow on 9 May, The Financial Times reported on
17 March. In a significant concession, Yeltsin offered to do away with
the planned display of military might, including 10,000 troops, 250
vehicles, and 70 airplanes, Interfax reported. He said the Chechen war
would not hinder Clinton's visit because all military activities there
have ceased. He expressed sympathy for Clinton's difficulties with the
Congress in trying to secure ratification of START-2, saying he has the
"identical problem" with his parliament. Yeltsin also repeated his
opposition to "a sudden, accelerated, large-scale expansion of NATO."
-- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

CHUBAIS CRITICIZES RUSSIA'S DEMOCRATIC CHOICE OVER DECISION NOT TO
SUPPORT YELTSIN. Anatoly Chubais, first deputy prime minister and a
member of the Russia's Democratic Choice Party political council, called
the council's 11 March decision not to support Yeltsin's reelection bid a
"political error," Interfax reported on 16 March. Chubais said it is too
early to predict the political situation in June 1996, and that Yeltsin
may end up competing in a runoff against a candidate like nationalist
Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov, or former Vice
President Alexander Rutskoi. In such a race, 95% of the members of
Russia's Democratic Choice would support Yeltsin, he predicted. In
response, party leader Yegor Gaidar said a future party congress would
decide on the party's candidate. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

DEMOCRATIC RUSSIA WILL NOT NOMINATE ITS OWN CANDIDATE FOR THE PRESIDENCY.
Lev Pono-marev, co-chairman of Democratic Russia, told a meeting of
voters in Nizhny Novgorod that the party will not name its own candidate
for the presidential elections and will probably work with Grigory
Yavlinsky's Yabloko bloc, Interfax reported on 16 March. Democratic
Russia had been a strong supporter of Yeltsin until he began the Chechen
campaign. Now it sees Yavlinsky, who has long opposed Yeltsin, as closest
to its ideological position. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

GROMOV'S STATUS UNCERTAIN. While two aides of Col.-Gen. Boris Gromov said
on 16 March that President Boris Yeltsin had issued a decree to relieve
him of his duties as deputy defense minister, the presidential press
office told Interfax it knew nothing of such a decree. Gromov--who has
sharply criticized Defense Minister Pavel Grachev over the military
operations in Chechnya--was named chief military expert in the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs in February. He has kept his title of deputy defense
minister. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

RUBLE'S EXCHANGE RATE ME-CHANISM TO REMAIN. Russia will not radically
change its system for setting the ruble's exchange rate after receiving a
$6.25 billion IMF stand-by credit, a senior official at the Central Bank
told the Financial Information Agency on 16 March. The source said it is
useless to reject the well-functioning system of the ruble's controlled
floating exchange rate unless the economic situation warrants a fixed
rate against the U.S. dollar. The bank official noted that the IMF credit
was crucial to support economic reforms, but it would not be the main
factor for planning and implementing the bank's interior credit-monetary
policy. The ruble's floating exchange rate was introduced in July 1992.
The official rate is used in accounting by commercial banks, for inter-
state payments, and customs duty payments. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

CRIME ROUNDUP. Duma Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin said at a
roundtable on organized crime that state bodies are increasingly being
penetrated by criminals, Radio Mayak reported on 16 March. He added that
a quarter of those recently convicted for bribery worked in law
enforcement. At a 14 March press conference, Deputy Interior Minister
Alexander Kulikov announced that the overall crime rate rose by 5% in the
first two months of 1995, compared with the same period in 1994, and that
murders were up 10%, Reuters reported. Another prominent businessman,
Oleg Zverev, the head of the Union of Entrepreneurs, was killed in Moscow
on 13 March. The number of crimes committed by minors has risen by 74%
over the last six years, Interfax reported on 15 March. The agency quoted
Deputy Education Minister Mariya Lazutina as saying that most juvenile
delinquents do not go to work or school and that many are homeless.
However, technical and high school pupils are also committing an
increasing number of offenses, she added. -- Penny Morvant
VORKUTA MINING UNION LEADERS GO ON HUNGER STRIKE. About 20
representatives of the Russian Coal Miners' Union and the Independent
Trade Union of Miners in Vorkuta went on hunger strike on 16 March in
support of demands that wage arrears and other state debts to the coal
industry be paid in full without delay, AFP reported. The previous day,
Interfax quoted Vorkuta union leader Viktor Semenov as saying the
situation in the region is explosive. Miners in other parts of the
country decided on 15 March to delay a protest action scheduled for 16-18
March following a meeting between First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly
Chubais and union officials, Interfax reported. Russian Coal Miners'
Union Chairman Vitaly Budko said agreement had been reached on major
grievances. Most notably, it was decided that a schedule for financing
the industry in the second quarter of 1995 would be worked out within a
week. The union continues to hold out the threat of industrial action if
the government does not honor its commitments to the industry. -- Penny
Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

CHILINGAROV: RUSSIA SHOULD INFLUENCE NATO ON A PAR WITH U.S. State Duma
Deputy Chairman Artur Chilingarov held talks on 16 March with Karsten
Voigt acting in his capacity as chairman of the North Atlantic Assembly,
NATO's parliamentary arm, Interfax reported on 16 March. Voigt is also
foreign policy spokesperson for the German opposition Social Democratic
Party. They discussed NATO expansion, Che-chnya, and the dismissal of
Sergei Kovalev as human rights commissioner. Chilingarov said it will
take a long time before the Russian people understand that NATO bears
them no ill-will. He added that as a nuclear power, Russia "has the right
to claim influence in NATO on a par with the Americans." Voigt said
Germany could more readily cooperate with Russia if countries such as
Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic joined NATO. -- Michael Mihalka,
OMRI, Inc.

TRANSCAUSCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

AZERBAIJAN GOVERNMENT TROOPS ATTACK REBELS' BASE. Eight people were
killed on 16 March when Azerbaijani government troops tried
unsuccessfully to storm the Baku headquarters of rebel Interior Ministry
forces under Deputy Minister Rovshan Dzhavadov, Western agencies
reported. President Heidar Aliev issued a decree granting an amnesty to
those insurgents who surrender their arms by 10 p.m. Baku time on
17 March. Despite assurances by Aliev that no further attempt would be
made to neutralize the rebels before then, government forces again
attacked the base in the early morning of 17 March. Numerous people,
including Dzha-vadov and some civilians living in the vicinity, were
killed in the ensuing fighting, according to ITAR-TASS and AFP. -- Liz
Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

ENTHUSIASM OF KAZAKH OPPOSITION WANES. "We will see this through to the
end." Despite those words of poet and political activist Olzhas
Suleimenov, members of the "shadow parliament" in Kazakhstan seem to be
resigning themselves to the recent dismissal of the assembly by Kazakh
President Nursultan Nazarbaev. The former deputies have been locked out
of their offices, had their phone lines cut, and are presently kept from
entering the parliament building by security forces. The group of 72
deputies who began a three-day hunger strike on 15 March numbered only 22
by day's end on 16 March, according to Interfax. Only a handful of people
turned up for a planned meeting of the "People's Parliament," on 16
March, Reuters reported. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.

DRUG TRAFFICKING IN CENTRAL ASIA CAUSE FOR ALARM. The dramatic increase
in drug use and narcotics related business has prompted the UN Program
for Drug Control to place special emphasis on efforts to combat the
problem immediately before the area becomes a new Columbia. Arrests
connected to narcotics have risen from 909 in 1990 to 2544 in 1994, Slovo
Kyrgyzstana reported on 1 March. Tajikistan is also experiencing a crisis
with two major drug-trafficking routes running through the republic: one
from Gorno-Badakhshan to the Kyrgyz city of Osh and the other from
Fedzhikent in northern Tajikistan through the Uzbek cities of Samarkand
and Urgut to Turkmenistan and Russia. Central Asian leaders will meet in
September or October to sign an agreement on cooperation in fighting the
threat, Interfax reported. -- Bruce Pannier, 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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