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

No. 64, Part I, 30 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

YELTSIN TO REMAIN SECLUDED DURING VACATION. President Yeltsin has
canceled his plans for a cross-country train journey and decided to
remain in his dacha near Kislovodsk, ITAR-TASS reported. The third
change in plans since the vacation began three days ago again stirred
speculation that Yeltsin's health was deteriorating. Additionally,
Yeltsin's security staff may have urged him to abandon the trip for fear
it exposed the president to unacceptable risks, as Mikhail Berger, a
political commentator for Izvestiya, told the Los Angeles Times. During
Yeltsin's 19 February visit to Almaty, the president's most recent trip
out of Moscow before his vacation, television footage showed him
receiving assistance to climb stairs. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

GAIDAR, COMMUNIST REJECT BANKER'S CALL TO POSTPONE ELECTIONS. Yegor
Gaidar, the leader of Russia's Democratic Choice Party, rejected the
idea of postponing the federal elections in an interview published in
the 26 March-4 April edition of Moskovskie novosti. The most visible
advocate of delaying the balloting now is Oleg Boiko, a successful
banker who recently resigned from the leadership of Gaidar's party.
Gaidar told the newspaper, "I do not think the ruling authorities will
take this extremely dangerous path. However, this option cannot be fully
ruled out." Vladimir Semago, a State Duma member from the Communist
Party, said in the same issue, "it is clear who wants to retain the
current 'stability:' those who have established personal contacts with
the executive authority." He argued that if the elections bring new
groups to power, it will dramatically hurt the financial interests of
the banks associated with Boiko. Meanwhile, Federation Council Chairman
Vladimir Shumeiko warned that Russia may run into a political impasse by
holding the parliamentary elections in 1995 because an electoral law is
unlikely to be passed this year, Segodnya reported on 29 March. --
Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

"REANIMATION OF THE KGB" POSSIBLE IN RUSSIA? Despite official
reassurances, Russia's increasingly powerful and centralized security
services have made the "reanimation of the KGB" entirely possible,
according to a 30 March article in Nezavisimaya gazeta. The article
claimed that Yeltsin's 28 March decree, which created the Federal
Security Service (FSB) out of the Federal Counterintelligence Service
(FSK), vastly broadened the authority of the special services. The
author cited "independent experts" speculating that Alexander Korzhakov,
the head of Yeltsin's personal security service, might be behind the
reorganization. Nezavisimaya gazeta asserted that Korzhakov's "future
plans" might include becoming the head of the powerful FSB in the run-up
to the 1996 presidential elections. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIAN FORCES SURROUND SHALI. Russian troops have encircled the town of
Shali, Interfax reported. Only the road leading directly to the south
remains open and it is constantly under fire. The town is one of the
last bastions of resistance for troops loyal to Chechen President
Dzhokhar Dudaev. The Russians began their final push to capture Shali on
27 March with day-long air raids, artillery barrages, and tank advances,
backed by helicopter gunships, AFP reported. Some Chechen fighters
managed to slip out through gaps in the Russian lines. Uvaz Natiyev, a
doctor who made his escape before Shali was completely surrounded, said,
"They pulled out. They decided it was useless." The press center of the
joint command of federal troops told Interfax that Gudermes, the only
other stronghold of resistance, was also encircled. AFP cited
unconfirmed reports that the town had been stormed. -- Bruce Pannier,
OMRI, Inc.

SOLDIERS' MOTHERS PROTEST BAN ON PEACE MARCH. The Committee of Soldiers'
Mothers picketed the Defense Ministry in Moscow to protest a ban on
their peace march to Grozny, Russian TV reported on 29 March. On 26
March, OMON troops blocked the road from Nazran to Grozny and turned
back the mothers, who had pledged to bring their sons back from the
front. Col.-Gen. Anatoly Kulikov said he could not guarantee the
mothers' safety from "provocation" by Chechen fighters. However,
representatives of the mothers' committee told Russian TV that armed
troops had "held the defenseless mothers hostage" on 26 March and forced
them to leave the next morning. Maria Kirbasova, the leader of the
nationwide Soldiers' Mothers Committee, told Interfax on 27 March that
the peace marchers were "more afraid of provocation from the federal
troops than of shelling by illegal armed formations," Interfax reported.
-- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

GRACHEV PROMOTES ZHIRINOVSKY. Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev
promoted Vladimir Zhirinovsky to the rank of reserve lieutenant colonel
on 27 March, Interfax reported on 29 March. The press office of
Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) told the agency
that the promotion came on the eve of their leader's fiftieth birthday
and was in recognition of his "outstanding contribution to strengthening
Russia's defense capability . . . " -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIAN PUBLIC TELEVISION TO BEGIN BROADCASTING ON SCHEDULE. Russian
Public Television will begin broadcasting as scheduled on 1 April,
Russian and Western agencies reported. Russian Public Television was
created in November 1994 to take over broadcasting on Channel One from
the state-run Ostankino company, but the reorganization plan has been
controversial and highly unpopular among Ostankino employees. Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin mediated talks on 29 March between
representatives of both companies, and he promised that the state would
continue to order cultural and educational programs produced by
Ostankino radio and television, Interfax reported. In addition,
officials from Ostankino and Russian Public Television agreed to create
a fund to support Ostankino employees whose jobs are to be eliminated in
the restructuring, AFP reported. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

KOZYREV PROMOTING NPT ON MIDEAST TRIP. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei
Kozyrev is using his current Mideast trip to promote the Nuclear Non-
Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Interfax reported on 29 March. At a 28 March
press conference in Cairo, Kozyrev said one of the major purposes of his
trip was "to estimate the contribution which the Russian party can make
in the nuclear non-proliferation regime both on the global and the
regional level." He applauded Egypt's stance on the NPT as "well-
balanced and just" and criticized Israel for failing to adhere to the
treaty. Although Russia favors an indefinite extension of the NPT, Egypt
is refusing to support renewal until Israel agrees to reciprocate.
Alluding to Russian nuclear aid to Iran, he said, "All member-countries
of the NPT should have access to the peaceful utilization of atomic
energy. This is the essence of the treaty." Egypt does not favor an
indefinite extension of the NPT as promoted by Russia. Arriving in
Damascus March 29, Kozyrev expressed satisfaction with the talks, saying
he and his Egyptian counterparts were on the "same wavelength." ITAR-
TASS reported that Kozyrev is scheduled to meet with Syrian President
Hafez al-Assad and Foreign Minister Faruq al-Shar' on 30 March. --
Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

INVESTMENT NEEDED FOR ECONOMIC RECOVERY. Russian economic recovery is
impossible without improving the investment climate, Economics Minister
Yevgeny Yasin said at a conference on investment incentives in Moscow on
29 March, Interfax reported.  Yasin spoke of a rapid decrease of capital
investment in the Russian economy in recent years and noted that
investment fell by 26% in 1994 from the previous year. Almost 50% of
investments were channeled to housing construction. The minister said
the government must now shift to a "new investment regime" which
includes financial stabilization, government support for private
investment, and lower investment risks caused by crime, corruption, and
bureaucracy. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

TEENAGE CRIME ESCALATES IN MOSCOW. Teenagers committed 60 murders in
Moscow in 1994, compared to only three in 1991, Russian and Western
agencies reported on 29 March. "The modern juvenile criminal is much
younger than his predecessors; he is not studying or working and often
commits a crime without reason and with extreme cruelty," commented
Tatyana Maximova, an Interior Ministry spokeswoman. Maximova cited a
gang of children led by a 10-year-old, which robbed shops, kiosks, and
state institutions and surprised the police with their effectiveness.
Under Russian law, criminals under the age of 14 cannot be held
responsible for their crimes, but their parents can be fined. Although a
1993 presidential decree called for the establishment of reform schools
for juvenile criminals, no such schools have been established in Moscow,
according to Maximova. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

MINERS STAGE HUNGER STRIKE. About 30 miners in the city of Partizansk in
far eastern Russia began a hunger strike on 29 March against the
Avangarde mine in an effort to obtain three months of back pay, AFP and
Interfax reported. Vladimir Guetoun, the Avangarde mine director, said
negotiations were underway to remedy the situation. Miners at Vorkuta in
the far north of Russia staged a strike in mid-March for the same
reason. Miners' unions in many regions of Russia have threatened for two
months to strike for back pay, but have delayed the protest several
times. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

AZERBAIJANI MEDIA PROTEST CENSORSHIP. Fourteen Azerbaijani newspapers
have indefinitely suspended publication to protest alleged government
censorship, international media reported on 29 March. Following the
suppression of a rebellion by a special police force earlier this month,
Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev has clamped down on opposition
parties and newspapers. Government officials have been censoring all
articles that refer to the failed mutiny. Newspapers in Azerbaijan
currently have to pass three official censors: military, political, and
state of emergency. They also must have presidential approval to
publish. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

.. . . AND AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION LEADERS ARRESTED. Following the banning
of the third congress of the Azerbaijan Popular Front in Baku on 25
March, four of its leaders have been arrested, AFP reported on 29 March.
Three vice presidents--Asim Mollazade, Ibragim Ibragimli, and Mirmakhmud
Fattayev--and the head of the front's women's section, Nouvella
Dzhafarova, were detained at front headquarters in Baku and taken to a
police station, according to party sources. Some 400 arrests have been
made in the wake of a failed special police revolt earlier this month.
The four front leaders are charged with "having organized mass
demonstrations in violation of regulations under the state of emergency"
which has been in force since autumn in Baku and Gandzha. -- Lowell
Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

UZBEKISTAN PROSECUTOR GENERAL ON NEED FOR SHAKE UP. Prosecutor General
Buritosh Mustafayev struck out at the professionalism of Uzbekistan's
managerial corps in an interview with the pro-government newspaper,
Narodnoye Slovo, saying they do not meet the "scope and standards" of
economic reforms, Interfax reported on 29 March. He noted that 19,000
officials faced varying degrees of punishment last year and suggested
the figures would be much lower if managers were more competent both
"legally and professionally." -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

CIS

CIS JOINT EXERCISES BEGIN IN TAJIKISTAN. A CIS peacekeeping exercise was
scheduled to begin on 29 March in Tajikistan, Interfax reported on 28
March. Russian Ground Forces Commander Vladimir Semenov said in Dushanbe
that the exercise has an important political component, arguing that it
will provide "a display of force for those who may cherish plans to
destabilize the situation in the region." Russian and Uzbek units,
totaling 1,500 troops, are to be involved. Tajik government forces
cannot participate because of a 26 April cease-fire agreement with the
opposition. It is the third such exercise to be held since 1993.
Meanwhile, Russian and Armenian forces are holding their first joint
exercises, from 28 March to 1 April at a Russian training center in the
Caucasus, as part of the CIS collective security agreement. -- 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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