Счастье - по крайней мере однажды - стучится в каждую дверь. - У. Хэзлитт

No. 62, Part I, 28 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.


YELTSIN BEGINS WORKING VACATION. President Yeltsin began his two-week
journey by taking a train to the central Russian city of Ryazan, but
then unexpectedly changed his plans and flew to the town of Mineralnye
Vody in the North Caucasus and traveled on to Kislovodsk by car, ITAR-
TASS and Reuters reported. The agencies said that he will stay in
Kislovodsk for "a short rest." Yeltsin had intended to travel by train
to Southern Russia and there was no immediate explanation why he
scuttled his earlier plans. Ryazan is only 110 miles from Moscow. On 28
March, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported that he wanted to travel by train to
see how well Russia's railroads were functioning and because "for the
last twenty years I have not traveled by train." Reporters accompanying
the president said he looked tired but fit. The president also plans to
visit the republic of Kabardino-Balkaria and Sochi. -- Robert Orttung,
OMRI, Inc.

YELTSIN UNDECIDED ON RE-ELECTION BID. President Yeltsin has not decided
whether to run for re-election, according to an announcement he made at
a locomotive depot in Ryazan on 27 March, Interfax reported. He said his
trip through the country cannot be regarded as part of an election
campaign. Naina Yeltsin, Russia's first lady, told railway workers that
she opposed a re-election bid for family reasons. "I want him to be free
of all that in 1996, but my heart tightens when I think about who could
replace him," AFP reported her as saying. Yeltsin's popularity rating
has dropped into the single digits since the Chechen war and he has
struggled since then to regain his lost stature among the Russian
people. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

ELECTIONS. Federation Council Deputy Chairman Valerian Viktorov said
that support might grow among Russia's regions for postponing
parliamentary elections scheduled for December 1995, Interfax reported.
Viktorov said putting off elections would prevent the parliament from
rushing to adopt a new electoral law, and also would provide the
"political stability" needed to implement the government's program. He
said the elections could only be postponed if two-thirds of Russia's 89
regions supported such a proposal. However, Viktorov dismissed the idea
of delaying presidential elections scheduled for June 1996. He said
President Boris Yeltsin had been elected in June 1991 "for a perfectly
definite term." -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

Yabloko member Igor Yakovenko, the head of the State Duma commission
investigating the transformation of state-run Ostankino Channel One,
said deputies would challenge the legitimacy of the restructuring plan
in the Constitutional Court and the Court of Arbitration, Interfax
reported. In November 1994, Yeltsin ordered the reorganization of
Ostankino. The first step of the plan was the creation of the partly-
private Russian Public Television Company. Under the restructuring
decrees, Ostankino was to become a production company, and Russian
Public Television would assume control over programming and broadcasting
on Channel One. Yakovenko charged that the creation of Russian Public
Television had unlawfully appropriated state property and forced
Ostankino out of Channel One. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

Securities and the Bond Market has granted a profit tax exemption on
bonds and securities issued by Russian regions, the Financial
Information Agency reported on 27 March. Under a 23 March commission
resolution, regional bonds are to be exempt from profit tax and treated
on par with government securities. Earlier, a 15% profit tax was levied
on all securities, except government bonds. Government experts said that
caused regional capital flight. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

FUEL PRICES UP IN MID-MARCH. Russian fuel prices increased in mid-March
according to the government's Center for Economic Studies, the Petroleum
Information Agency reported on 27 March. Petrol product prices soared
17.9%. Meanwhile, experts point to a slower rise in electricity rates,
which rose by 3.2%. Coal prices rose 3.5% with coking coal prices at
87,000 rubles (4,800 rubles to $1) per ton and energy coal at 47,000
rubles per ton. Oil prices increased by 13.7% over February with the
average price at 181,000 rubles per ton. The price of natural gas
increased by only 1.1%, due to unchanged costs in West Siberia, Russia's
main gas supplier. Since the beginning of the year, shipping tariffs
have jumped 80%, while consumer prices are up 60%. Retail gasoline
prices average 922 rubles per liter. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

industry continued to decline in March, according to a poll of Russian
manufacturing managers conducted by the Institute for Economic Problems,
Interfax reported on 27 March. Eighty-one percent of the managers
predict rises in the prices of their output, compared to 87% in January
and 85% in February. Minimal inflation expectations have been registered
in the wood-working sector and maximum inflation is predicted in the
engineering sector. Almost half of the managers polled expect production
to remain stable during the next few months and 18% hope for an
increase. After two months of dropping demand, there has been a slight
rise in production, especially in engineering and construction.
According to official forecasts, March inflation will be at 9%, compared
to almost 18% in January. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

VORKUTA MINERS END HUNGER STRIKE. Mining union activists in Vorkuta
ended their 10-day hunger strike on 25 March following the visit of an
interdepartmental commission to the area, Ekho Moskvy reported.
According to Alexander Marmalyukov, chairman of the Independent Miners'
Union, a compromise was reached on the question of the payment of back
wages and the future of coal mines in the region. However, a number of
fundamental problems remain, in particular the lack of a state program
for the restructuring of the industry. Meanwhile, miners in Primorsky
Krai have vowed to go on strike if they do not receive wage arrears by 5
April, Russian TV reported on 27 March. They have stopped making coal
deliveries to customers who have not paid their bills. In a 23 March
interview with Pravda, Rosugol president Yury Malyshev said consumers
owe the coal mining industry about 2 trillion rubles. -- Penny Morvant,
OMRI, Inc.

departing on his vacation, President Yeltsin stressed that Russian
nuclear aid to Iran will be the most complex item on the agenda of his
May summit with U.S. President Bill Clinton, Interfax reported on 27
March. Yeltsin dismissed press accounts that little progress had been
made at meetings between Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev and
U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher on 23-24 March. He said
Kozyrev had been instructed to engage in preliminary discussions on
outstanding issues--not to resolve them. Yeltsin's comments give further
credence to report in the 18 March issue of Moskovskiye novosti that
Kozyrev was reprimanded for exceeding his brief in suggesting a possible
middle ground in Russia's debate over eastward expansion with NATO. --
Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

the latest OSCE delegation to visit Chechnya, Istvan Gyarmati, said
little or no progress had been made toward a political settlement in
Chechnya, Interfax reported on 27 March. He said, "We got the impression
that the popular government in Chechnya has not formed its local bodies
and is only helping federal troops, though things should be the other
way round." He added that he saw no prospects for a military solution to
the conflict. Gyarmati also announced that a six-member OSCE mission
will be set up in Grozny by mid-April. The mission is intended to
promote a political settlement, develop a constitution, assist in
holding democratic elections, and, if necessary, help mediate an
agreement between Chechnya and the Russian Federation. The European
Union set the establishment of such a mission as a pre-condition to
signing an interim trade accord with Russia. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI,


Nazarbaev has called for a nationwide referendum to be held on 29 April
to decide whether his term in office, which ends in 1996, should be
extended to the year 2000, Russian TV reported. On 24 March, the
Assembly of the People's of Kazakhstan advised Nazarbaev to hold the
referendum but the Kazakh president said he needed to review the
legality of such a move. The assembly was formed days before a ruling by
the Kazakh Constitutional Court to disband parliament was upheld.
Nazarbaev is quoted by Reuters as saying, "We hear cries that there will
be dictatorship, Yes, dictatorship will come but a dictatorship of the
constitution and of the law." He added, "There will be a real
dictatorship if, under democratic slogans, chaos and anarchy will be
created. Then the people will call for a firm hand." Meanwhile, Caravan,
a Kazakh newspaper critical of Nazarbaev, will not be printing this
story for two weeks. A fire broke out in the paper's warehouse on the
night of 23 March, causing it to lose 1,000 tons of newsprint. Although
the blaze was attributed to a spark from welding equipment, Caravan
employee Vera Avalyani said workers saw the fire start in four places
simultaneously, according to Reuters. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.

TAJIKS WANT IRANIAN OIL. Tajik Prime Minister Djamshed Karimov said his
country is interested in buying oil from Iran, the official Iranian news
agency IRNA reported. In a meeting with the Iranian ambassador to
Tajikistan, Ashraf Shabesteri, Karimov also mentioned Tajikistan's
interest in opening a direct air link between Dushanbe and Tehran.
Tajikistan, along with other Central Asian countries, is attempting to
reduce its economic dependence on Russia by establishing new trading
partners and obtaining access to Iranian sea ports, according to
NCA/Reuters. The Iranian ambassador said Tehran would be willing to help
in the exploration of mines, complete the construction of factories, and
transport goods for export to the Persian Gulf. Iran will send an
industrial delegation along with representatives of Iran's chamber of
commerce to Tajikistan to discuss trade relations sometime in the near
future, Reuters reported. Iran has been trying to establish closer ties
to the Central Asian republics since the fall of the Soviet Union. --
Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.


ZATULIN IN CRIMEA. A Russian delegation from the Duma commission on the
Black Sea Fleet, accompanied by the head of the Duma Committee on CIS
Affairs, Konstantin Zatulin, arrived in Crimea on 26 March, Ukrainian
radio reported the following day. The delegation was met at the airport
by the Crimean Procurator, Valentyn Kuptsov, who officially notified
Zatulin and the Duma commission that they should not make any
disparaging statements against Kiev and should not take part in any
activities aimed at worsening confusion over the Crimean situation.
Zatulin has distinguished himself in the Duma as being the leading
critic of Ukraine's 17 March decrees abolishing the Crimean constitution
and presidency. During his visit, Zatulin has been meeting with pro-
Russian officials. On the first day, he met with Crimean President Yuri
Meshkov and Crimean parliament speaker Serhii Tsekov. On 27 March,
Zatulin met with the commander of the Black Sea Fleet, Admiral Eduard
Baltin. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

Russian defense departments have agreed that Ukraine's $192.6 million
debt to Russia for natural gas could be written off in return for 44 ex-
Soviet strategic bombers, Interfax reported on 27 March. "An informed
source" told the agency that Ukraine had originally demanded $800
million for the 19 Tu-160 "Blackjack" supersonic jets and the 25 Tu-95MS
"Bear" turboprop missile-car-
rying aircraft left on its territory after the collapse of the Soviet
Union. However, several weeks ago, a Russian newspaper reported Ukraine
had agreed to sell the planes for $75 million. The source said the
aircraft would be transferred to Russia once the agreement was signed,
adding that it would not be tied to an agreement on the division of the
Black Sea Fleet. -- Doug Clarke, 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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