The only certainty is that nothing is certain. - Pliny the Elder
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 56, Part I, 20 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

NEW HEAD OF BROADCASTING SERVICE APPOINTED. President Boris Yeltsin has
appointed Valentin Lazutkin to head the Federal Television and Radio
Broadcasting Service, which oversees all broadcasting in the country,
Russian and Western agencies reported on 17 March. Yeltsin said
Lazutkin, who had been first deputy chairman of the broadcasting
service, commands the respect of Ostankino employees. Alexander Yakovlev
resigned as head of the federal broadcasting service and chairman of
Ostankino on 16 March in order to concentrate on building the Russian
Party of Social Democracy he launched in February. A replacement for
Yakovlev at Ostankino, which is being reorganized into a production
company, has yet to be appointed. Lazutkin declined Prime Minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin's offer to appoint him to the post, Interfax
reported. In 1994, Lazutkin resigned as vice chairman of Ostankino after
admitting the network's coverage during the 1993 parliamentary campaign
had been biased toward Yeltsin's supporters, Reuters reported. -- Laura
Belin, OMRI, Inc.

GRYZUNOV RESPONDS TO GOVERNMENT NEWSPAPER. Sergei Gryzunov, the State
Press Committee chairman, has responded to charges published in
Rossiiskaya gazeta that he mismanaged the committee, Segodnya reported
on 17 March. Gryzunov accused the government newspaper of intentionally
distorting the facts and called on the government to do some "hard
thinking" about whether to continue subsidizing the newspaper. He
claimed that Rossiiskaya gazeta received 24.8 billion rubles from the
federal budget in 1994, while all other Russian newspapers and magazines
combined received only 31 billion rubles. Gryzunov pledged to raise
those and other issues in court and said he is confident he will win the
case. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

YELTSIN SEES BIG ROLE FOR RUSSIAN PARTY OF SOCIAL DEMOCRACY (RPSD).
President Yeltsin believes that the new Russian Party of Social
Democracy (RPSD), led by Alexander Yakovlev, will play an "important
role in the election campaign," Russian TV reported on 17 March. He
envisions the new political organization as a united, democratic party,
according to Reuters. The new organization is intended to support
Yeltsin since Yegor Gaidar's Russia's Democratic Choice Party, which
formerly had close ties to him, opposes the president's policy in
Chechnya. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

RPSD MOSCOW BRANCH ELECTS FORMER FSK CHIEF AS LEADER. At its founding
conference, the Moscow branch of RPSD unanimously elected Yevgeny
Savostyanov as its leader, Interfax reported on 19 March. Until 2
December 1994, he was deputy director of the Federal Counterintelligence
Service (FSK) and the head of its Moscow department. More recently, he
has been an adviser to the chairman of the Federation of Independent
Trade Unions of Russia. Addressing the conference, RPSD leader Yakovlev
said the party has the support of "18 federal organizations," but
refused to name them. Savostyanov struck a very different note in his
remarks. He said the main problem with the democratic movement since
1991 was its inability to distance itself from the executive branch,
obliging it to take responsibility for the errors committed by that
branch. Citing one example, he blamed the executive for overestimating
the willingness of foreign partners to cooperate with Russia and said
that, to some extent, "foreign countries have betrayed our reforms."
Savostyanov said the main aim of the party is to build "a regime as
favorable for working people as possible" and to achieve "stability
meaning the ability to work on the basis of predictable rules and the
idea of restoring domestic production." The Moscow branch of the party
passed a resolution indicating its willingness to form a coalition with
the trade unions. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

IT'S OFFICIAL--GROMOV OUT. Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev ended
several days of confusion when he told Interfax on 17 March that his
former deputy, Col.-Gen. Boris Gromov, had been dismissed from his post
the previous day by a presidential decree. Grachev said Gromov would
hold the rank of a deputy foreign minister in his post as expert on
military issues at the Foreign Ministry. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

SIBERIAN OIL SPILL. A burst pipeline in Irkutsk Oblast in Siberia leaked
about 3,500 cubic meters of oil on 16 March, Russia's Ministry for
Emergency Situations said on 19 March. According to Interfax, the oil
spilled over an area of 19,500 square meters. Cleanup work has begun,
but there is a danger that the oil could seep into a nearby river during
the spring thaw. Aging pipelines have led to a series of oil leaks over
the past year, causing severe environmental damage in Russia's north. --
Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

ENERGY CRISIS IN PRIMORSKY KRAI. The Primorsky power station, which
provides 70% of the krai's electricity, virtually shut down operations
on 17 March owing to a lack of fuel, Kommersant-Daily reported on 18
March. The local power authority Dalenergo owes fuel suppliers in other
regions nearly 200 billion rubles. Electricity supplies from Khabarovsk
Krai have also stopped, owing to repair work on the power transmission
line. According to Interfax, electricity consumers in Primorsky Krai,
with the exception of vital enterprises and hospitals, are experiencing
severe power cuts. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA TO ENTER THE BLACK SEA FLEET DEBATE. The State Duma voted
overwhelmingly on 17 March to form a commission to consider the fate of
the former Soviet Black Sea Fleet, Interfax reported. Konstantin
Zatulin, chairman of the Committee on CIS Affairs, had proposed that the
commission be drawn from his committee and those on defense and
geopolitics. He criticized the draft agreement being worked out by
Russian and Ukrainian negotiators as having "little to do with [Russian]
national interests." The agency reported that deputies were concerned
that they had not seen the package of documents being prepared for
Yeltsin's upcoming visit to Ukraine. As a result, the Duma also approved
Zatulin's proposal that First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets--due
to visit Kiev on 20 March--make a report to the Duma when he returns. --
Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

EU OFFERS SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP TO RUSSIA . . . The EU has offered a
special relationship to Russia if it drops its objections to NATO's
eastward expansion and resolves the conflict in Chechnya, international
agencies reported on 19 March. Meeting in Carcassonne, France, the EU
foreign ministers said if those conditions are met, NATO should
negotiate an agreement with Russia that would include a special
consultative mechanism, regular political dialogue, and a mutual non-
aggression pact. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

.. . . BUT STALLS ON TRADE DEAL. The EU's foreign ministers have agreed
not to go ahead with an interim trade pact with Russia because not
enough progress has been made on assuring human rights in Chechnya,
international agencies reported on 18 March. Some of the ministers
expressed optimism that the pact could be signed by their next scheduled
meeting on 10 April. Russian Foreign Economic Relations Minister Oleg
Davydov complained that the EU's decision was economically motivated.
"We have learned Adam Smith better than you," he said, according to the
Financial Times on 18 March. "You are employing protectionist measures
against a weakened Russia." -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

HARSH RUSSIAN REACTION TO U.S. SENATE VOTE TO BLOCK RUSSIAN-IRANIAN
DEAL. Several Russian officials reacted harshly to a U.S. Senate vote on
16 March to block U.S. nuclear cooperation with Russia if it goes ahead
with its plan to provide further aid to the Iranian nuclear program,
Interfax reported. Yury Kotov, director of the Third Asian Department of
the Russian Foreign Ministry, said Russia will not "follow instructions
by third parties" and will continue cooperation with Iran. On 17 March,
Moscow TV reported that Vladimir Lukin, the head of the State Duma
Foreign Affairs Committee, said, "Not a single international law is
being breached." Citing U.S. President Bill Clinton's decision to cancel
the Conoco oil deal with Iran, Lukin added, "Now, however, when Clinton
has clearly shown that the desire to punish Iran is even stronger than
the interests of American companies, it will be far more difficult for
Russia to protect a profitable contract to construct the light hydrogen
industrial reactor [in Iran]." -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

CRACKDOWN FOLLOWS AZERBAIJAN COUP. Azerbaijani government troops and
Interior Ministry forces succeeded in defeating rebel police units on 17
March after fierce fighting in which dozens of people were killed or
wounded, Russian and Western agencies reported. Speaking at a press
conference on 17 March, President Heidar Aliev claimed that former
President Ayaz Mutalibov and disgraced former Prime Minister Suret
Huseinov had masterminded the coup attempt, according to ITAR-TASS.
Reuters quoted Interior Minister Namig Abbasov as claiming that the
insurgents led by Deputy Interior Minister Rovshan Dzhavadov had planned
to assassinate Aliev. Some 200 people were arrested on 17-18 March,
including former Interior Minister Iskander Hamidov, head of the radical
Boz Gurd party, some of whose members were allegedly aligned with the
insurgents. Azadlyg, the newspaper of the opposition Azerbaijan Popular
Front, was banned from publishing and Musavat Party leader Isa Gambarov
was detained and warned not to speak to the press, Reuters reported on
18 March. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

NEW KAZAKH GOVERNMENT NEARLY FORMED AS OPPOSITION DWINDLES. Kazakh Prime
Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin announced he has almost finished selecting
members for a new government. Although opposition from members of the
dissolved parliament persists, the threat is apparently not sufficient
to prevent Kazhegeldin from travelling to the United States tomorrow for
an eight-day official visit, according to Interfax. After Kazakh
President Nursultan Nazarbaev called for their resignations last week,
130 of the 177 members of parliament held a meeting and formed the
"People's Parliament" with 72 of the deputies participating in a hunger
strike. A day later, all but 22 of the deputies had stopped fasting, and
by 18 March, only 50 members still supported the opposition, Reuters
reported. Vladimir Chernyshov, one of the hunger strikers, was attacked
by unknown assailants on 18 March and taken to the hospital with head
injuries. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.

CLASH ON TAJIK BORDER, MURDER IN DUSHANBE. Russian troops killed six
people attempting to cross from Afghanistan into Tajikistan, Reuters
reported on 18 March. Several hours later, a Russian serviceman was
wounded en route from the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, to his base. On 17
March, Captain Andrei Romanov was shot and killed in the entryway to his
home in Dushanbe. Five other Russian soldiers have been slain away from
the border zone of conflict so far this year, and as yet, no one has
been charged in the crimes and police have no suspects. Col.-Gen. Valery
Patrikaev, commander of the allied peacekeeping forces in Tajikistan,
announced on 18 March that he intends to lodge a note of protest
demanding a proper investigation of those crimes and the arrest of the
culprits. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.

TURKMENISTAN TO RECEIVE WORLD BANK GRANT FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PROJECT. The
World Bank intends to grant Turkmenistan a $25 million credit for an
environmental project in the Aral Sea region during the first half of
1995, FIA-Interfax reported on 17 March. -- Lowell A. Bezanis, OMRI,
Inc.

ECO MEMBERS SIGN ONTO UNDCP. Although the third summit of the Economic
Cooperation Organization (ECO), which met in Islamabad on 14-15 March,
ended with an apparent lack of consensus on key proposals, an agreement
was signed with the United Nations Drug Control Program for mutual
coordination and technical assistance in narcotics control, AFP reported
on 16 March. ECO, which made little headway after its establishment by
Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan in the 1960s, was recently enlarged to
include Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.
Several members are major producers of opium and opium derivatives as
well as cannabis products. Key items on the Islamabad summit agenda,
notably accords on the establishment of an ECO Bank for Trade and
Development, a reinsurance company, an airline, and a shipping company,
were not all signed by all 10 member countries. -- Lowell A. Bezanis,
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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