Every individual has a place to fill in the world, and is important, in some respect, whether he chooses to be so or not. - Nathaniel Hawthorne
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 66, Part I, 3 April 1995

We welcome you to Part I of the Open Media Research Institute's Daily
Digest. 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.  Back issues of the Daily
Digest, and other information about OMRI, are available through our WWW
pages: http://www.omri.cz/OMRI.html

RUSSIA

RUSSIAN PUBLIC TELEVISION BEGINS BROADCASTING ON CHANNEL ONE. The
controversial, partly-private Russian Public Television company began
broadcasting throughout the former Soviet Union on 1 April, Russian and
Western agencies reported. The state owns 51% of the new company, giving
the government control over all personnel decisions and broadcasting
content. However, Russian Public Television board member Igor
Shabdrasulov denied any possibility of censorship on Channel One,
claiming the government would exercise its ownership rights
"intelligently, efficiently, and tactfully," Interfax reported. News
broadcasts on Russian Public Television currently are produced by the
same information agency formerly used by Ostankino TV, with the same
newsreaders and a similar format. Shabdrasulov said the temporary ban on
Channel One advertising would be lifted after the company finished
renegotiating contracts with private advertising agencies. Many have
linked the planned changes in advertising rules to the 1 March murder of
Russian Public Television Director General Vladislav Listev. Meanwhile,
opposition to the creation of Russian Public Television remains strong.
A bill to suspend the restructuring at Channel One has been submitted to
the Duma for a second reading on 5 April, Interfax reported. -- Laura
Belin, OMRI, Inc.

RUTSKOI TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT. Former Vice President Alexander Rutskoi
has been nominated by his "Derzhava" political movement to run for
president in June 1996, Russian and Western agencies reported on 2
April. At the Derzhava congress, Rutskoi blasted President Boris Yeltsin
for damaging "Russian statehood" and charged that he was plotting to
delay the presidential elections. Rutskoi pledged, if elected, to return
Russia to its "natural historic boundaries" by reuniting with Ukraine
and Belarus. After declaring his candidacy, Rutskoi told Interfax, "I
have learnt a unique lesson from Yeltsin--the lesson of how the state
should not be ruled." Rutskoi was an important ally of Yeltsin's during
the August 1991 coup after being elected vice president earlier that
year. In October 1993, Rutskoi led the rebellion against Yeltsin's order
to dissolve parliament and was subsequently jailed. He was granted
amnesty by the Russian parliament in February 1994. -- Laura Belin,
OMRI, Inc.

ZYUGANOV ANNOUNCES NEW COALITION OF PATRIOTIC GROUPS. Gennady Zyuganov,
the leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF),
announced a new coalition of groups that will include Mikhail Lapshin's
Agrarian Party, Yury Skokov's Russian Association of Producers, Lyudmila
Vartazarova's Socialist Party of the Working People, numerous women's
organizations, and the CPRF, Interfax reported on 31 March. Zyuganov did
not rule out the possibility of an alliance with former Vice President
Alexander Rutskoi's Derzhava movement, noting that they had reached
agreement on the basic principles of maintaining Russia's territorial
integrity, avoiding wars, and promoting the well-being of all citizens.
He said a coalition with Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party
(LDP) is unlikely because the LDP parliamentary coalition is
disintegrating. The new bloc is cooperating with the RAU Corporation,
whose president, Alexei Podberezkin, attended the press conference. He
said the Communists have long advocated the pre-eminence of the state
and the new coalition is willing to work with Yeltsin's administration
to meet the threat of expanding foreign capital. -- Robert Orttung,
OMRI, Inc.

ALEXEI VEDENKIN TO SEEK SEAT IN DUMA. Alexei Vedenkin, who was arrested
on charges of threatening to kill certain liberal members of the Duma
and then released from jail the day Yeltsin issued a decree cracking
down on fascism, has announced his intention to run for the late Sergei
Skorochkin's Duma seat, Kommersant-Daily reported on 31 March.
Skorochkin's seat became vacant when he was murdered in February.
Vedenkin wants the immunity from arrest that parliamentary membership
provides. According to the newspaper, he visited the electoral district
in Kolomna on 28 March, violating his release agreement which confined
him to Moscow. The paper speculates that Vedenkin may have powerful
supporters who want to discredit the electoral process by electing a
"fascist." Vedenkin's success is not guaranteed, however, because
several nationalist and Communist candidates are competing in the 14 May
by-election. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIAN FORCES TAKE SHALI, GUDERMES. Russian federal troops took the
town of Shali, 30 km south of Grozny, on 31 March and finally dislodged
the last Chechen defenders from Gudermes, Western agencies and ITAR-TASS
reported. In Moscow, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets
said "active fighting" in Chechnya is now over and preparations for free
elections are underway, while Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev
predicted that hostilities in Chechnya would definitively end by late
April. Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Yegorov reported that 1,436 federal
troops had been killed in combat in Chechnya and slightly more than
4,500 wounded, Interfax reported on 1 April -- Liz Fuller and Doug
Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

U.S. AID TO RUSSIA CANNOT BE HELD "HOSTAGE" TO DEAL WITH IRAN. Speaking
in Moscow on 2 April, U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry said aid to
Russia will continue despite his government's displeasure with Russian
plans to provide nuclear aid to Iran, international agencies reported.
In order to dissuade further Russian support for the Iranian nuclear
program, the U.S. government has supplied a secret intelligence report
to Moscow detailing the scope of Iran's nuclear weapons program, The New
York Times reported on 3 April. According to the report, Iran is
importing materials needed to build nuclear weapons, has attempted to
buy enriched uranium form Kazakhstan, and is using techniques similar to
those used by Iraq and Pakistan in their quest for a nuclear weapon. In
addition, the U.S. is also apparently offering several tens of millions
of dollars in nuclear cooperation if Moscow drops its $1 billion
contract to help build up to four reactors in Iran. The U.S.
intelligence report is intended to counter a recent one by the Russian
intelligence agency which gives the Iranian nuclear program a clean bill
of health. The U.S. government is hoping Yeltsin will cancel the project
before President Bill Clinton's visit in May. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI,
Inc.

KOZYREV CONTINUES MIDEAST TOUR. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev
gave assurances to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin that there is no
reason to fear Russian aid to the Iranian nuclear program, international
agencies reported. Kozyrev also urged Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-
Proliferation Treaty, but Rabin said his country would do so only after
it had concluded peace accords "with all Arab countries as well as
Iran." Rabin expressed unhappiness about the state of relations between
Iran and Russia, re-stating his accusation that Iran "organizes
international terrorism." On 1 April, Kozyrev said he had "warm and
positive" talks with PLO chief Yasser Arafat in the Gaza Strip. --
Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIANS MOST CONCERNED ABOUT INFLATION AND CRIME. Asked what Russia's
worst problems are, 70% of respondents in a recent poll named rising
prices, 56% crime, 33% unemployment, and 20% pollution and corruption,
the state-controlled Rossiiskaya gazeta reported on 31 March. Fifty-five
percent of respondents said their economic situation had deteriorated
over the past six months, 31% said it had remained the same, and 13%
said it had improved. But despite the worsening situation, 38% said
converting to a market economy is the right policy for Russia as opposed
to 33% who thought the policy was wrong. Only 24% said mass
demonstrations would improve matters, while 59% said they would not. A
quarter of the respondents said they think Russia is very likely to
break up while 40% said they believe such a scenario is not very likely.
A majority of respondents (62%) think of themselves as Russian citizens
rather than as citizens of the USSR (20%) or the CIS (4%). The poll of
2,000 people in urban and rural areas in 12 regions in European Russia,
Siberia, and the Far East was carried out by the Russian Academy of
Sciences' Sociological Institute, Yekaterinburg State University, and
Kazan State University. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

FSK SAYS INCREASED ACTIVITY OF FOREIGN SPECIAL SERVICES THREATEN RUSSIAN
SECURITY. In 1994, the Federal Counterintelligence Service (FSK)
uncovered 22 Russian agents of foreign intelligence services, an FSK
official said on 31 March, Interfax reported. "The widening intelligence
and subversive activities of foreign special services presents a serious
threat to Russia's national security," the FSK representative said. He
added that the FSK has noted activity by the intelligence services of
East European and Baltic states "controlled by Western special services"
and is concerned about the intelligence operations of several Muslim
countries that are "striving to exploit the national religious factor in
their work." According to the FSK, about 10 spies were uncovered in
large state economic departments, while the "foreign special service
status" of another 90 experts and advisers was "beyond doubt." More than
100 firms in the banking sphere were also said to be used as a cover by
foreign agencies. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

DAVYDOV OBJECTS TO HIGHER IMPORT DUTIES. Higher import duties on
numerous foodstuffs will result in a new rise in prices and will not
help Russian agricultural producers, according to Deputy Prime Minister
and Foreign Economic Relations Minister Oleg Davydov. The minister told
Interfax on 31 March that the government, under pressure from the
Agrarian Party, is likely to hike import tariffs on foodstuffs, although
it highly objects to those measures. Davydov said the government must
keep people supplied with foodstuffs, rather than rendering basic
staples unaffordable. Instead of implementing a "protectionist tariff,"
he argued that the farm sector would benefit more from credits,
donations, and tax benefits which would encourage farm production.
Davydov added that increased import duties could jeopardize talks on
Russian membership in GATT/WTO, which are scheduled to begin in May.
Protectionism in the agricultural sector can also trigger retaliatory
steps in countries which sell foodstuffs on the Russian market and could
harm Russian food exports, Davydov said. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

MARCH INFLATION DOWN TO 8.9%. Consumer price growth in March was below
10% for the first time since October 1994, Interfax reported. March
inflation ran at 8.9% compared with 11% in February and 17.8% in
January. The National Board of Statistics said that in the last week of
March consumer good prices were up 1.6% against 2.5% the previous week.
Experts say foodstuff prices have been leveling over the past few
months. Consumer good prices have risen an average of 42% since January.
The basic monthly grocery list of 19 essential foodstuffs costs an
average of 157,300 rubles (4,900 rubles to $1); in Moscow the cost is
close to 200,000 rubles. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

KYRGYZ PRESIDENT ADDRESSES PARLIAMENT. Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev
delivered his state-of-the-nation address to parliament on 31 March,
Interfax reported. Akayev had originally planned to speak to the new
parliament on 30 March, but disagreements over the selection of
government members caused him to postpone his appearance by a day.
Akayev renewed his commitment to economic reform and privatization and
called for strict law and order without which ". . . anarchy will await
us and we will become a banana republic." Akayev said he wanted the
creation of a national ideal along the lines of the "American dream,"
and a nationwide patriotic movement for the "well-being of Kyrgyzstan's
future." -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.

CIS

CIS: DRAFT BORDER AGREEMENT SIGNED. Delegations of eight CIS states
signed draft accords on 30 March for cooperation in guarding their
external borders, Interfax reported. Russian Federal Frontier Service
director Andrei Nikolayev said the heads of the eight states would
probably sign both documents with amendments. Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan,
and Ukraine refused to sign the draft texts and the Moldovan position
remained unclear since that country was not represented at the meeting.
Even some of the eight states who signed the draft accords, which are
Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan,
and Uzbekistan, had some reservations about the agreements. Georgia's
head of frontier forces Valery Chkheidze said his government would sign
only after its sovereignty is restored along the length of its borders.
The meeting also addressed the complex situation along the Tajik-Afghan
border. -- 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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